Matt Driscoll writes about the political dangers of struggling transit projects.

The mission of Trailhead Direct has changed slightly ($).

I-5 traffic will be re-routed onto and off of Montlake Boulevard this weekend, likely slowing down the 48, 255, 271 and 542.

Sound Transit report mentions cost overruns for West Seattle, along with other issues.

Alon Levy writes that local representation on public transit planning boards is bad.

Sound Transit staff has recommended prioritizing Lynnwood light rail service over an East Link “starter line” in recent board committee meetings.

Stride bus projects slip further behind, while locals don’t like street widening. Converting a general purpose lane to a bus-lane would save money, speed up the project, and eliminate the need to widen the street. I guess that is too obvious a solution.

This is an open thread.

280 Replies to “Open Thread: Priorities”

  1. LA related but been seeing a lot of chatter amongst transit folks about the $10K “la sombrita” bus pole LADOT unveiled yesterday.

    LADOT spent $200K to a consultant firm on design and travel research of bus stops around the world for this bus stop redesign of stops without shelters currently. Which is grating on a lot of transit folks nerves just for how much research and design was done by the firm and yet produced a fairly underwhelming overengineered product as an end result. Some people pointing out how this doesn’t really solve a problem, how it ignores giving proper shade, the continuation of hostile architecture that punishes transit riders, and how off the shelf shelters exist that’d do the same thing for less money. There is also the conversation of how consultants eat a lot into transit projects costs when a lot of these things could be done internally instead for less cost.

    1. Leaving aside the cost, one thing I would love to see is the design justifications. Like, clearly this doesn’t solve the problems people feel need solving (like shade-providing, etc.) but what problem _does_ it solve? Is it something that people are just not thinking about but still practical, is it purely aesthetics, etc.

      For a similar example closer to home, I think that it was the UW Hub bus stop shelter that has a similar issue – it’s aesthetically pleasing but doesn’t really shelter from the rain, which… well, around here it’s a problem, obviously. Even the standard bus stops do a poor job of that at times but that one I remember being particularly bad.

      1. The eastbound stop west of Rainier Vista is worse: you can’t see the bus if you’re sitting inside the shelter. It’s way at the back of an ultra-wide sidewalk, and opaque on all but one side. So you have to get out of the shelter periodically and walk closer to the stop (in the rain) to see if the bus is coming, or risk the bus will pass you. The reason it’s this way is because it was designed in the mid 20th century, when architects just put benches and shelters anywhere they looked pleasing on an architectural map, and had less awareness of practicality needs or sight lines or what people sitting on benches want to look at.

      2. Oh yeah! I remember that one too.

        One advantage of that one’s setup is that it’s often the last stop where you can snag a seat on the 372 until somewhere up near NE 55th St. So if you’re brave enough to brave the elements, you can wait right where the front door of the bus will be and be the first to get on, while everyone else is still hiding from the rain underneath the roof of the shelter.

        I may have used that trick a few times…

      3. When Link terminated at UW Station I walked to the Rainier Vista bus stop to take the 75. But there’s no place to sit there or cover from the rain, so eventually I started going to the stop west of it with its problematic shelter. Later I realized the 65 ran nonstop from UW Station to U Village, so I’d take it and transfer to the 75. That was when the 65 ran every 10 minutes, making two transfers more viable.

      4. Something like this would be a great April Fool’s Day joke from Metro. After a few years of study from consultants, a couple million dollars, they unveil a new shelter design. But it’s something ridiculous-looking and impractical, like a thin pole.

    2. I think it’s important to remember that LA only gets less than 15 inches of rain a year. Its environment is different than Seattle’s.

      Plus, this is rolled out as a pilot. LA MTA is really good about testing things before implementing things across the service area. It will be interesting to see what feedback they get.

      I get how the challenge is to place something that is cheaper than a shelter for wider spread installation and not a magnet for loitering yet provides something that can be seen at a distance if someone is looking for a bus stop, casts some light on the waiting area and gives a single rider a bit of shade during the day depending on the sun angle.

      I could see that this could be lined up as two or three or four in a row to better serve busier a bus stop. It doesn’t have to be solo at a stop.

      There are many streets in Seattle where there isn’t room for a shelter. However the design here would need to be modified to fill those holes (a clear plexiglass overlay?) to be practical here.

      1. I know loitering is real when I see four people at the H Line shelter across the street, and three of them still there once the bus passes by.

        But I don’t see them doing anything particularly anti-social. Just sitting down on a public bench, chatting with friends or strangers, and enjoying a little shade on a hot day. What of it?

        If we don’t want people who aren’t waiting for the bus hanging out at the stop, then maybe benches and shelters somewhere other than a bus stop serves our Seattle Freeze. Just like if we don’t want people experiencing homelessness to use transit as the shelter of first resort, open more shelters.

      2. The LA “Sombrito” is apparently not designed as such in order to deter loiterers, but rather because this was the size and type of structure that could be designed to keep sidewalk clearance, not protrude into the roadway, and in a variety of other ways to dodge reviews and bureaucracy that could gum up the whole thing.

      3. Thank you, Andrew.

        So, it sounds like there are good (in the sense of “legally required”) reasons to have the design as it is, even if to regular transit users the design seems silly. That’s kind of what I expected, TBH – but I thought it was best to see what people find out.

        Thank you for digging into this!

    3. I see one problem this shelter solves: No broken glass to keep cleaning up and replacing.

    4. Community Transit’s Swift line had a similar issue. Their shelter/station design was aesthetically modern but 1) provided little protection from the rain and 2) minimized waiting space by placing the benches in the middle of the platform.

      Thankfully (and surprisingly) they listened to feedback and fixed the issue by using a wider, longer-extended roof and pushing back the benches. The new design will be used for the Orange line and all future Swift routes.

    5. Another article on the Sombrita ($).

      It says the small size is because that’s the maximum allowed without a permit, which would cause installation delays. There are four Sombritas deployed, because this is just a pilot.

      I’m scratching my head at how it can provide shade for more than one person. The pictured Sombrita also does nothing to shade the benches next to it.

      Jarrett Walker is quoted in the article:

      “Jarrett Walker, an Oregon-based public transit planning and policy consultant who was not involved with the project, said that adding trees or larger bus stop shelters is difficult because sidewalks are small in many car-dependent American cities. “We have inherited streets where everyone expects there to be four, or even six, traffic lanes and a parking lane,” Mr. Walker said. “The sidewalk is whatever space is left over after you’ve allocated all of that, and therefore the sidewalk is inadequate.” “We’re trapped inside of this unjust street design and this unjust situation,” Mr. Walker said, adding that “therefore things you tried to do to solve the problem inside of that box are going to sometimes look kind of sad and inadequate.”

      Many cities, Mr. Walker said, have policies and permit requirements in place that can often limit improvements for public transportation.

  2. A “veteran-owned” enterprise named “Liberty Electric” has a problem with Sound Transit, not the City of Tacoma Engineering Department who supplied the utility maps, because there have been some “surprises” in the under-street environment along the hundred and twenty year old streets of Hilltop in Tacoma. A different Republican-owned construction company that is building the trackway for the same project in the same hundred and twenty year old streets does a lousy job of it which forces some sections to be torn up and rebuilt to better “gauge”. And these problems of cut-rate workmanship and poor estimating by privately owned, willing bidders who want more money to complete their respective tasks then become fodder for a political attack on an agency which he in part heads by a partisan Republican County Executive.

    And the TNT’s trusting environmentalist reporter concludes that Democrats can’t do “large projects” throughout the State.

    Yes, Sound Transit under Peter Rogoff was, like its head, arrogant and sleazy. To get the extensions to Everett, Tacoma Dome, West Seattle and Ballard it produced insufficiently detailed, “back of the napkin”-quality estimates for the cost of those projects and manufactured the foolish Issaquah to South Kirkland project nobody had asked for, seemingly from an opium dream. All of this slopping the hogs of suburban mini-cities with oversized dreams of grandeur would have been fair game for a TNT thumbsucker.

    Instead the reporter simply repeats the bleatings of a guy who probably got the contract in part because of “veterans’ preference” and blames the chaos of double-construction on the agency that by law had to choose a low-bidding highway contractor to build its very first trackway as a learn-by-doing exercise.

    Veterans’ Preference and Lowest Bidder are both constraints historically on forced on State procurement by Republicans in the name of “Good Government”. I don’t have a good alternative to what seems on its face to contain enormous “incentives” for shoddy work. The “lowest bidder” rule came from the late Nineteenth Century Tammany Hall insider favoritism, which was worse.

    But the reporter ought to put the whining of these newbies in context. If you can’t cut the mustard, don’t put your knife in the jar.

    1. Don’t forget minority and women owned subcontractor mandates, prevailing wage (union) mandates. and 1% for the arts that has given us some terrible public art.

      Before selecting the lowest bidder any agency has to determine which contractors are qualified to do the work before selecting the lowest bidder.

      Any project like this with zillions of change orders should have a healthy project cost contingency, usually around 30%, and insurance. Many of the large contractors will no longer bid on ST projects which further narrows the field of qualified bidders. What stood out to me is ST selected a bidder who hadn’t laid this kind of rail before. What I don’t know is why ST determined this contractor was qualified, and whether any contractors who had done this kind of work before bid on the project.

      I can understand the confusion over why the contractor blames ST over inaccurate utility maps rather than the local utility company, but the contractor should be allowed to rely on those maps if told they are accurate, and there should be a 30% cost contingency which ST rarely includes in its cost “estimates” so always looks over budget.

      These huge projects tend to have mishaps, like 520 and the Alaskan Way tunnel, but in the end get finished and work. If we demand perfection on these huge and messy public projects with a bunch of political mandates we won’t be able to begin any. ST’s big problem that this project might highlight is the most qualified contractors who have done this work for ST before no longer bid on these projects.

    2. Why whine about Republicans when the Democrats have a legislative trifecta?

    3. Instead the reporter simply repeats the bleatings of a guy who probably got the contract in part because of “veterans’ preference”

      The reporter did more than “simply repeat the contractors bleatings”. Just read it:

      Sound Transit previously acknowledged the overruns, citing incorrect locations on city utility records as one factor, when board members openly discussed project delays last year. Jackson called the Liberty Electric dispute a one-off situation, not reflective of transit jobs across the Puget Sound region.

      However, some of Grohs’ frustrations overlap with findings by a technical advisory group the board recruited to guide megaproject strategy.

      The panel, led by former Bay Area Rapid Transit general manager Grace Crunican, said frayed contractor relations threaten Sound Transit’s ability to attract bidders, as the agency builds future rail and bus lines in three counties, for an average $4 billion a year 2024 to 2037, “a sobering amount of work.”

      Contractors told the panel they add a 15% premium to Sound Transit bids, to cover extra financial risks. “Given a choice, they prefer to work for other agencies,” reported panelist Connie Crawford, director of rail and transit projects for ASTM North America.

      Thus the reporter made the very good case — backed by findings of a panel — that the problems were due to poor management by Sound Transit. It is very easy to blame the contractors, whether it is for the pliths to the East Side, the soil conditions in Federal Way, or whatever it is that is delaying this streetcar. But there are systemic problems within ST, and this is just one example.

      Suggesting the problem is due to the contractors being veterans is a low blow, and similar to the racist or sexist attacks found when minority or female owned contractors win the bid. There is nothing to suggest that this contractor — who has worked with ST before, and is experienced — was doing anything unusual.

      All of this misses the point of the editorial. The Seattle Times reported on the issue a while back. It extends beyond implementation, to planning. The streetcar is a silly projects. Tacoma doesn’t need a streetcar — it needs the buses to run more often (and avoid traffic). This is a classic example of what Alon Levy wrote about — bad projects done poorly. But the point of the editorial was not to wallow in the poor planning and bad management of Sound Transit. The author is emphasizing the political fallout from it. When the dust settles, the area will have spent a huge amount of money for very little. This will make it very difficult to implement cost effective projects in the future.

      1. Yeah, Driscoll is a Liberal with a capital “L”. The guy lives in and loves Tacoma… and there’s nobody who understands Pierce County politics better.

        A huge majority of Tacoma, pretty much anybody not named McCarthy, thinks the Tacoma Link is trash and likely to have never ridden the damn thing more than 6 times. It’s a turd that doesn’t go anywhere.

        But don’t believe me…. ride any PT bus and ask fellow riders what they think of the train…. and the crap bus service. They’ll set you straight right away.

  3. According to Levy suburban areas in PA are filled with snobs and Nimby’s who want to prevent poor “urbanites” from accessing critical services in these suburban areas by bus. When Levy writes like this he sounds like an idiot when ironically the basis for his demand to abolish local involvement in siting transit projects — or I guess any essential service — is these folks who live there are not a smart as he is, although 99.9% of them have no idea who is, and wouldn’t care anyway. Just another blogger with a keyboard very few read.

    In the U.S. you have state and federal environmental laws that allow local jurisdictions or citizens who feel harmed by a proposed project to sue. For years. . Plus many of the permits must come from the city. The main reason we have a state and federal EIS process is to avoid these lawsuits. Probably Robert Moses is the prime example why we need these protections, along with gold mines in sensitive environmental areas (especially if you don’t wear gold like me).

    Levy makes a classic mistake progressives and transit advocates make: because THEY think their passion is the most important in the world local citizens, cities, etc. must agree and get out of the way, even if the project is terrible (CAHSR, another local airport, Issaquah Link).

    When you point out to someone like Levy that fewer than 10% — really closer to 5% — of all trips are by transit so not surprisingly 95% of the citizens don’t share his passion for transit — they will inevitably use a tautology: the reason only 5% of trips are by transit is BECAUSE of Nimby’s getting in the way, which really means having different priorities than Levy.

    I find Levy’s writings to be pedantic and amateurish, at least when it comes to politics. Transit theory bores me because it is often devoid of the realities of money, politics, and ridership. Folks don’t want to live near highways either.

    Anytime I see a professional writer like Levy use the term NIMBY I know he is very unsophisticated about law, land use, and human nature. Maybe 0.5% of citizens prioritize transit in their daily lives, and where they live, because 95% don’t use it. Telling folks they are Nimbys because they prioritize their lives and communities, and elect folks who understand those priorities, is not just foolish, but axiomatic.

    Because someone prioritizes something different than you does not make them a NIMBY. Or maybe a better way to look at it is we are all NIMBYS. The fundamental problem for folks like Levy is they don’t begin with an honest acknowledgment of how many people in the US use transit, which right there will tell you 95% will be “Nimbys” no matter what. It is like telling me I need to fund all day Sounded S service for “the good” of transit or out of fairness.

    Now, if you want to talk about siting cell phone towers — another contentious land use issue in the suburbs — when 95% of citizens own a cellphone then you begin with a much smaller percentage of NIMBYS whose minds can never be changed, although even then neighborhoods value some things over cellphone coverage and fight towers, so demand towers that look like trees or are hidden.

    If I could request one thing on this blog it is stop using the term NIMBY. Like Levy it makes someone sound foolish. People prioritize things differently than you do. Understand that, especially with transit that accounts for maybe 5% of trips, even less in these suburban areas that Levy wants to “get out of the way”.

    1. Anytime I see a professional writer like Levy use the term NIMBY I know he is very unsophisticated about law, land use, and human nature.

      If I could request one thing on this blog it is stop using the term NIMBY.

      What word should we use instead?

      1. When it comes to an alternative term for Nimby — especially for a professional writer like Levy — my suggestions are:

        1. Don’t use a term that is clearly a pejorative, like NIMBY, especially in conjunction with “snob”. Just because a community may disagree with a proposed project does not make them unreasonable or obstructionists.

        2. Look for a term that suggests the writer has at least tried to understand the community’s objection or concerns although they don’t live there.

        3. Look for a term that reflects the writer understands whether there is ANY benefit to them. [ah: continuing use of incorrect personal pronouns]

        4. Try to not be SHOCKED at the objections, and then to moralize about land use disagreements. For example, a transit expert like Levy should not be surprised a suburban community does not want bus loads of “poor urbanists” bused to their community on their nickel, to use Levy’s term.

        5. Try just a little bit to be less judgmental.

        6. Try to not write for only the writer’s base because that often leads to ridiculous straw man arguments for the one sided applause. Do “poor urbanists” really want to ride buses to the suburbs for their “critical services”? Of course not. Does anyone think the best use of limited transit resources is MORE bus service in the suburbs, especially post pandemic?

        7. Pick a term that reflects we are all Nimbys. [ah]

        I guess if there is one term I would suggest instead of NIMBY it is “SEPA”, which of course is the legal opposite of Levy’s proposal that local interests be ignored when designing projects, but only for transit projects when around 98% of those in the PA suburb don’t ride transit, it is a poor use of funding to increase their bus service, and “poor urbanists” don’t need to ride a bus to a remote suburb for essential services.

        The SEPA process would reveal those flaws in Levy’s proposal, which is why no area in the U.S. (or France) eliminates local control or input for siting essential public facilities, which usually just leads to long and protracted litigation the plaintiffs will win just on procedural grounds if the court finds local interests were not considered along with mitigation if necessary.

        Which means the project gets to start all over again, which usually dooms it, which of course was the goal of the “Nimby’s”, but on substantive not procedural grounds. But hey, if the agency is going to hand a SEPA procedural win to the plaintiffs on a silver platter after years of litigation and hopefully a change in the local agency or politicians pushing the project they won’t complain.

      2. So let me get this straight. You want to use the word “SEPA” to replace “NIMBY”, because in the end, we are all “SEPA”. Is that right?

        So let me try and use it in a paragraph:

        The protestors made it clear that they don’t oppose the project. But they simply don’t want it in their neighborhood. “We are being SEPA, that’s all”, said one of the protesters. “You get it. I bet if it was your neighborhood you would be protesting too. Everyone can relate to a SEPA”.

        Is that right? Where did you get the word SEPA anyway — what does it stand for, and why is it less offensive than “NIMBY”, if it essentially means the same thing?

      3. I mean you’re getting hung up over semantics because you don’t like the word despite the fact that NIMBY is what it is and you can’t put the genie back in the bottle on a commonly and generally accepted term amongst the public because it’s not “legal and specific” enough. Maybe focus on the “why” as to why people use the term NIMBY as shorthand instead of getting mad that a journalist used it “incorrectly and improperly” because their tone of language is different from scholarly or legal language. From my perspective, eloquent academic or legal language can be quite frankly dry as sandpaper at times and about as fun as reading the US Tax Code. Collaquial Language like NIMBY and other such terms exists because not everyone has expertise in something and you need to explain something short, quick, to the point of what you want to say instead of being bogged down by what you’re trying to say with overly flowery or eloquent academic language that’s only really understood by a small group of academic people. Language is a beautiful thing, it can be complex or as simple as you want. But that also dictates to what kind of audience you are trying to speak to based on the language you use.

      4. SEPA stands for State Environmental Policy Act. It is the state partner to the national EPA. SEPA is what cities generally use to object to essential public facilities, or demand mitigation.

        Just about every city — especially Seattle — has used SEPA, or the threat of litigation under SEPA, to obtain mitigation from ST. It was SEPA the CID was essentially using to object to a station for DSTT2 on 5th., along with good old fashion identity politics in Seattle.

        SEPA really isn’t a verb. It is a process that allows cities and stakeholders to participate in public projects, including design and mitigation.

        If this public process is not performed in good faith let alone at all a court will — after several years — remand the matter back to the agency to do it directly, whether sonar testing near whales, plane noise on Whidbey, gold mines in Alaska, or DSTT2. It is what Ballard and WS will use to shape Link in their area. Those with standing know delay due to litigation alone often defeats a project.

        Usually the SEPA permit is the first processed, because there is no point to processing land use and building permits until there is a valid SEPA permit.

        Basically everyone in the SEPA process is a NIMBY. Rarely do stakeholders join a SEPA process and state they love the project. For example the UW didn’t want Link on campus but still wanted $70 million for seismic retrofitting.

        The problem with the term NIMBY is it depends on whether the accusers agree or disagree with the project. If they don’t (say a new highway or DSTT2 or TDLE or Issaquah Link) they are NIMBYS to those who support those projects.

        Every community is different. The want different things. Since they live there or the project is in their city SEPA grants them standing to assert harm. If you don’t live there but support the project and think objections are NIMBYISM SEPA doesn’t give a damn about what you think because you can’t show harm because you don’t live there or have a business there.

        The ultimate problem with the accusation of NIMBYISM is legally it is irrelevant, and the community couldn’t care less what someone who doesn’t live there thinks, and those folks have no standing. When Levy or some on this blog accuse others of Nimbyismfor not agreeing with them about a project that can’t possibly harm the accusers it is foolish and pointless because those folks don’t have standing, and those who do would reply no shit, Sherlock, we don’t want this project in our back yard and we have standing. Without legal standing your opinion on an essential public facility is worth nothing, which is why agencies ignore them.

        But if you do have standing and are organized and funded (DSA, Seattle, Bellevue) agencies prefer to work with those groups rather than litigate for years.

      5. I don’t care if you use the term NIMBY Zach, but Levy should be more sophisticated and precise. [ah]

        [ah] Folks who might not like SEPA or NEPA when it comes to transit might like them when Navy sonar testing is damaging whales.

        [ah] Blah blah blah followed by “NIMBY”. So predictable.

        [ah] Is anyone on this blog suggesting we allocate more Metro service while routes are being cut or reduced to Eastside suburban areas so “urban” folks can take the bus to their “critical services” there?

        I live in suburbia and pay a lot of taxes for transit although my city has very little transit and I think that is a stupid idea. So I guess I am a NIMBY because I don’t want Metro to cut runs like the 7 to fund more buses to suburbia for the folks who used to ride the 7.

        But ironically a court would likely find I have no standing because what is the harm from more bus service on existing stops on MI when the real Nimbys would be the folks who ride the 7 and don’t want their service cut, folks Levy wants to silence because transit decisions are like the 10 commandments (when personally I think a lot of transit decisions are plain dumb).

      6. I think Daniel might be saying that the word NIMBY is so overused that it can be a sign of lazy, unoriginal writing. The more buzzword-filled an article (NIMBY, car sewer, exclusionary zoning, etc.), the more likely he is to view the writer as a hack.

      7. Exactly Sam. The terms you mention are used as pejoratives without understanding there is a mountain of legal and political nuance for each.

        For example “exclusionary zoning” drives me nuts. ALL zoning by definition excludes some uses or limits the scale of buildings or even their design. That is what zoning is. What people who use “exclusionary zoning” are trying say is SFH zones are racist because of redlining that was abolished by federal law in 1968 and sooner in most states.

        Unfortunately for them discussing uses, regulatory limits, and minimum lot size does not allow virtue signaling when no matter what is decided some things will be excluded in the zone. Just like Capitol Hill has zoning that excludes things.

        My main complaint about NIMBY is whether a community or person is a NIMBY depends on whether the accuser — who never lives in the impacted community — agrees with the project or not. Are native fisherman suing to block a gold mine in Alaska Nimbys? Yes, because they live there and fear the gold mine will harm their way of life. Was the CID Nimbys for objecting to a decade of construction for a second station for DSTT2 for basically no mitigation? Yes. Are they bad people for objecting? No. Are their objections valid? That is what should be debated, without pejoratives and lazy moralizing.

      8. NIMBY is an emotion; SEPA is a state law. They aren’t comparable.

        SEPA literally means “State Environmental Policy Act”. Environmental laws vary from state to state. Plus many states don’t have a law like SEPA. Other states call it something else like California (CEQA). These laws exist because that National Environmental Policy Act doesn’t have much teeth so some states want more regulatory authority.

        My quick perusal is that no such comprehensive state environmental law exists in Pennsylvania. I wouldn’t expect Levy to use the term.

      9. Daniel prefers a label other than NIMBY , but also doesn’t want to respect another person’s preferred pronoun. ( Personally, I think BANANA is more appropriate for some comments that I’ve seen in apps like NextDoor.)

        Also, Daniel thinks that blocking housing development is comparable to a community trying to stop highly polluting industry setting shop nearby. There was (I think) a 60 minute or PBS episode about the copper miners planning to **permanently** dump/store toxic chemicals in a pool as high as the surrounding mountains. I don’t see how this level of environmental imposition on the community, in earthquake prone Alaska, with a rich fishing bay that would be destroyed in a leak, is in any way similar to the NIMBYs that stop new housing development in their neighborhood or city.

      10. NIMBY is an emotion; SEPA is a state law. They aren’t comparable.

        Right, which is why I assumed that Daniel was not referring to the same thing. It makes no sense in this context.

        So here we are, several comments and dozens of paragraphs into a discussion, and yet we have no idea what his complaint is. If this was the first time this happened, it would be one thing, but it is part of a pattern. Everything becomes a moving target. Instead of trying to clarify the muddled prose, new nonsensical statements emerge. For example:

        Basically everyone in the SEPA process is a NIMBY.

        First of all, for someone who feels like we shouldn’t use the word “NIMBY”, Daniel sure throws the word around a lot. This is the part that makes no sense to me. If someone on here used the word “Oriental” to refer to a person, a lot of people (including myself) would tell them not to use that word, and use “Asian American” instead.

        Yet Daniel has not suggested there is a good substitute for the word NIMBY. So much so, he routinely uses it himself! At this point, we can only conclude that it is not the word itself that Daniel objects to, but the argument put forth by Alon based on it. Back to the word. Here is the Oxford dictionary definition for NIMBY:

        NIMBY — a person who objects to the siting of something perceived as unpleasant or hazardous in the area where they live, especially while raising no such objections to similar developments elsewhere.

        (Emphasis mine). This is different than general opposition, based on some other principle. I can think of dozens of examples. There are people who support wind turbines, but don’t want them nearby, because they think they are ugly. This is a good example of NIMBY. In contrast, there are people who are opposed to coal plants, everywhere. This is the opposite of NIMBY. There are also people who object to loss of habitat, or the extinction of animals. This is not NIMBY (which is why the previous statement about SEPA being based on NIMBY is absurd). Sometimes NIMBY and non-NIMBY arguments intertwine. Sometimes the argument is location based, but extends beyond mere NIMBYism. For example, a community may be especially vulnerable, while also being special in some other way.

        This is the case with the argument against the new CID station and tunnel. Yes, some object on NIMBY grounds — they don’t want to see the disruption as it would personally hurt them — but they also are concerned about a neighborhood that is unique to the area, a neighborhood that has been ravaged by previous public words projects (the worst of which was the freeway). Then there are those who object from a more general cost/benefit basis. Building a second tunnel is not a good value, and will result in transit that is much worse than sharing a tunnel. In this manner, summarizing the opposition to the new CID station (and new tunnel) as purely NIMBY is incorrect (as I’ve hopefully explained). But there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the word NIMBY in this case, nor anything fundamentally wrong with the idea.

        So what, then, is the rebuttal to Alon’s editorial? Again, it isn’t clear. Alon makes the case that one particular group is opposing a project purely on NIMBY grounds. Daniel has produced no contrary evidence or argument, but simply objects to this line of reasoning. Daniel is simply being nonsensical at this point. He is not making a rebuttal — he isn’t actually making any sort of argument — but merely critiquing Alon’s prose (while continuing to ignore the pronouns Alon chooses to use — at best sloppy prose on his part). The critique of Alon’s prose (and not the arguments) is not limited to word choice. One objection is that Alon is judgemental. This is bizarre, as every editorial requires making a judgement.

        Again, Daniel ignores the basic argument put forth by Alon. What if those who oppose the project only oppose the project because it will be located close to them? What if those who object to the project based purely on its proximity to them have undo power? Clearly this can happen, and clearly it isn’t good.

        This is a fairly simple argument, and one that anyone who has ever considered political systems is familiar with it. It is why many systems gravitate towards large entities. Too much local control, and you have no sewage system at all (a variation of the tragedy of the commons). The reverse happens as well. For example, various districts want to retain military bases, for the money it brings into their communities. Congress decided the best way to deal with self-interested communities was to establish a national commission when closing military bases.

        In the case of Sound Transit, it is largely the latter. Representatives push for major rail projects to their district, no matter how ineffective. Board members are quick to defer to local interests, for fear there will be backlash for their particular project. All the while, members are ignorant of general transit principles, let alone the efficacy of the specific ideas they push for.

        This is not NIMBY — again, it is the opposite — but allowing too much local control creates the same problem. There is a set of poorly planned projects that could have been avoided if the board was designed differently.

      11. My specific complaints about Levy’s article I posted before are:

        1. Levy claims the PA suburban community that apparently objected to a bus stop are “NIMBYS” BECAUSE they are snobs. Levy doesn’t know this. This is a classic case of demonizing the other side’s position to appear more moral in order to win your argument. If I said Levy is a snob or some other insult does that diminish his argument? For progressives it does.

        2. Levy’s basis for a bus stop is so ridiculous: to spend more limited transit resources on more buses to suburbia so “poor urbanists” can get to suburbia for their “critical services” when none of the suburbanites use transit. What critical services are available in this suburban area that are not available in the urban area, or are available at all?

        How many times has Ross pointed out you allocate transit service to where the riders are and folks need to go. If I were to argue that as Metro cuts bus service throughout the system it should increase bus service on MI — so I would be a YIMBY — who on this blog would agree with me, and would those who disagree be Nimbys? Levy is held to a higher standard than a post on this blog by less educated transit experts.

        When Ross distinguishes opposition to a project in your area to opposition to the same project anywhere he is just outlining who has “standing” under SEPA to sue which requires personal harm. Lots of folks like coal plants, refineries, natural gas plants, pipelines, more highways, gravel mines, rare earth mines, hog farms, you name it, but SEPA requires an individual to show personal harm. A citizen is not a form of private AG running around opining on projects.

        Maybe the best example for this progressive blog is Link itself, and many on this blog called the CID “Nimbys” for objecting to a station for DSTT2. Of course the CID didn’t want decades of construction in their back yard.

        Virtually every area has objected in one way or the other to Link. Mainly it has to do with tunnels which dramatically increase the cost even though they actually reduce accessibility and don’t increase capacity. Stakeholders don’t mind Link but they don’t want to see it.

        Whether the additional cost of tunneling and underground stations is worthwhile is a SEPA balancing act. But only those with standing count. That is why there is no Link in Bellevue Way (Bellevue had standing and the resources to fight) or a station at Midtown. ST was just smart enough to not pick a fight under SEPA with a powerful stakeholder.

        So when we look at any “essential public facility” it is important to understand two things:

        1. Different people have different opinions, and whether someone is a “NIMBY” — a pejorative term incorporating snob — usually depends on whether you favor that project and so like Levy want the actual stakeholders to get out of the way. If they don’t get out of the way the common progressive argument is to characterize their opposition as a character flaw or moral failing (usually not understanding they don’t care what you think and have pretty dim views of your side).

        2. SEPA and the.courts only care about those with standing who can show personal harm. After all, if they can’t show personal harm from a project they don’t have legal standing and CANT be NIMBYS.

        The final point I made about Levy, and often make on this blog, is if around 5% of all trips are by transit, and are mostly poorer citizens, transit is always going to have an uphill political fight. Folks on this blog got worked up about DSTT2 and CID N and the CID’s objections but 98% of the rest of the citizens didn’t care. At all. That puts transit agencies in a difficult position whe negotiating with powerful stakeholders, which is why so much of Link runs along freeways and every once of Link north of CID is underground, and apparently so will be WS and Ballard when the subarea does not have the revenue for that.

        I complain about that, and sometimes the gold plated demands of Seattle when it comes to Link are “NIMBYISM” if I thought that term had any relevance, but I don’t live there, it isn’t my subarea, so no one cares what I think. Just like the PA suburb doesn’t care what some blogger called Levy thinks, and if they did know of Levy their PPO union would be as dismissive as Levy’s is about them.

        The suburb would be right about two things: 1. The bus project looks stupid from a transit point of view whether everyone in the suburb is a snob or not; and 2. Levy doesn’t get an invite to the dance.

      12. My problem with Alon’s article is a problem I have with other article’s of its type, and that is when an idea starts drifting too far off into fantasyland, I lose interest. I know it’s popular here to point out what some other city or country does, and then wonder why we can’t do the same, but it’s mostly a pointless exercise. That’s why I couldn’t get into Alon’s piece. It is too … “Wouldn’t it be great if we could be more like these other places when it comes to how transit decisions are made?” It’s an academic exercise that is out of touch with the realities of our region’s political … realities. (Austin Powers reference).

      13. “Alon’s prose (while continuing to ignore the pronouns Alon chooses to use”

        How is he to know which pronouns Alon uses? I think Alon uses “they” based on one or two comments made by others several months ago. That’s easy to forget, and new readers wouldn’t know, and it’s not even authoritative that it’s accurate. It’s not in a signature around the article, and people aren’t going to read through every word in an article to see if there’s a clue about pronouns before commenting. We aren’t even Pedestrian Observations commentators who have regular exposure to Alon and any discussions about pronouns that may be in comments there.

    2. Really, DT? Punching down on people who use they/them pronouns with a Florida joke?

  4. “But the reporter ought to put the whining of these newbies in context.”

    Absolutely. +10
    With some exceptions, overall what passes for journalism these days is crap.

    1. Darn. This reply didn’t nest correctly. It was meant as a reply to Tom T’s comment above.

  5. Ross, you seem to know much more about this dispute than what is asserted in the TNT article.

    The long quotations about the technical questions you provided are not in the article, but I now see that they are from the Times article linked by the TNT.

    So far as the contractor, it is a Clackamas, Oregon company, and the Times article. (only) mentions that it had worked for ST before, but not what it did. Has the contractor claimed that ST “vouched for” the utility maps, or did the contractor just assume they were complete?

    If the article glossed over such an important nuance, why was it just linked as an authoritative “take” without some caveats in the post? Some warning that the article is biased would have been in order.

    And so far as my mentioning that the company is “veteran-owned” company, in the first sentence of the portion of the article concerning its dispute with ST the article describes the company in that way. Was it a “low-blow” for the TNT to highlight it, too? It may well have been a part of the reason that the contractor was chosen.

    1. Tom Terrific,

      It’s common knowledge that Sound Transit treats contractors like crap. Read the audits, listen to a couple stories. Nobody really wants to work with ST.

      Liberty Electric is a huge outfit. It’s not some mom and pop outfit in a couple of vans. There’s only a handful of companies who can do the electrical work ST wants done in the whole NW. And yet, Sound Transit continues to burn bridges…..

      If Trimm is any good, her first job would to fix the relationships ST has destroyed with big contractors over the last decade.

      1. Complaining about ST when the sitings fault was in the city’s utility records? Openly adding a 15% premium to ST bids (which should be illegal IMO)? Sounds like the contractors are the problem, not ST.

      2. A Joy, why would you place the blame on the contractor for map errors for utility location. How else would a contractor know about the location of decades old utility locations, or how to bid?

        I agree with you inaccurate utility location doesn’t seem like ST’s fault. I think the issue between ST and its contractors is more systemic, and the outside consultant’s report noted that. It seems like a combination of arrogance and construction ignorance — along with optimistic project cost estimates by ST — are the main culprits.

        Contractors bid based on getting the project and making a profit. ST isn’t harmed by a contractor submitting a bid even if the contractor adds an additional 15% because they think working on ST projects requires that to make any profit and the over all hassles. Contractors always factor those intangibles into their bids knowing ST will select the lowest from a qualifying contractor.

        My bigger concern is there are not many contractors who can do these large projects, and they either don’t want to bid on these projects, or the ones that have worked for ST and have experience doing these projects either won’t bid or add a premium to their bid which often means the winning lowest bid is someone who has never worked for ST on these kinds of projects and so doesn’t include a premium in their bid and so is low bidder.

        ST doesn’t build anything, and with current construction private projects and the infrastructure bill starting to kick in there is plenty of work other than ST.

        ST in many ways is like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain. ST doesn’t manage or operate its existing transit and it doesn’t build anything. If you are going to build something ST should be less arrogant and start to understand the culture of those who do build things if ST’s wants the best to bid.

      3. Just how many electrical contractors on the entire West Coast can wire a rail system? And most of them are busy at ports and big industrial sites already. Liberty Electric doesn’t need Sound Transit– it’s the other way around. Sound Transit is at the mercy of a handful of huge construction conglomerates…. of course there have been huge cost overruns!

        I think NW transit outfits (starting with ST) and their supporters have been living in the real world for the last 10 years… we passed ST3 to make up for the shortfalls of ST2. There’s no ST4 to “fix” ST3 this time….

        Sound Transit spent decades poisoning relationships with contractors. That’s not easy to fix. There’s so little public goodwill towards transit now– the public is absolutely not going to bail out over budget projects with another tax increase. We’ve had a “operator shortage” of bus divers system wide for what? 5 years? That’s not temporary. Top to bottom, the whole system sucks. Admit it. Own it. Fix it. Because the problems are going away.

      4. tacomee, I expect that a LOT of contractors can install utility poles. Maybe Liberty is uniquely skilled to do the actual wiring of the overhead, but drilling the holes, placing the poles vertically and pouring the concrete to keep them that way is pretty much “Parking Garage Construction 101”.

        I SAID that the agency acted like a bunch of jerks under Rogoff, because as an organization is led, so does it act. Julie Timm seems like she may very well be able to fix that tendency. We can certainly hope that she will.

        To the issue of having to bend the knee to electrical contractors, I believe that ST should hire an in-house cadre of workers to hang and maintain the catenary, both for Link and Tacoma Link, itself. This “contract for everything” way of “management” is stupid and ridiculously expensive.

        It’s not like the agency avoids the cost of “public employees” because all the contracts have to be Davis-Bacon and other fairness guarantees compliant because there’s Federal money involved. Central American immigrants aren’t digging those holes and hanging that wire, and those who are are getting top dollar anyway because of the Federal requirements.

        So just hire thirty folks yourself, ST, and get on with the job of powering your trains.

      5. @DT, I place the fault mainly on the City of Tacoma, but Liberty Electric should have expected these issues just by looking at the site. Their foresight failure should be their financial burden. That’s how businesses work.

        Everyone but the contractor is harmed when a contractor adds premiums to a bid without cause like this. It is fraudulent to present to ST, wastes taxpayer dollars, and can be used to justify unwarranted inflation of future bids. If the job isn’t profitable, you don’t bid on it. Plain and simple. Factoring in intangibles is little more than guesswork and has no place in a system like this.

        @tacomee, nobody needs a business that operates like Liberty Electric if this is how they behave. Public and private industry is better when bad faith actors leave the industry to make space for good faith actors.

        “Sound Transit is at the mercy of a handful of huge construction conglomerates…. of course there have been huge cost overruns!”

        Exactly. And the solution is to give better construction companies room to grow by kicking out the cruft so they can get bids without those huge cost overruns. The businesses are the problem here, not ST.

      6. A Joy, a contractor can’t bid on what they don’t know. In those situations the bid contains contingencies. If Tacoma had told ST and the bidders the location of the underground utilities could be different than shown on the map every bidder would have included a contingency for that, above the usual contingency on projects like this.

        My guess is more experienced contractors who had worked with ST before suspected the utility map would have errors or omissions and so included that in their bid, which is probably why Liberty was low bidder

        Next time Liberty will know better and the low bid ST must accept will be by another contractor who has not dealt with ST before.

        It isn’t a case of good or bad contractors. Everyone is doing this tough work for the money. And there isn’t some back bench of “good” contractors trying to get this work because they are too small or don’t have the sophistication.

        I think you will get your wish: more and more contractors are choosing to not bid on ST projects, but there are not a lot of them who can do this work.

      7. @DT, every contractor always bids on what they don’t know. It’s a gamble, seeing if one can do the job for what they quoted and turn a profit. That’s how a healthy market works. That’s why adding premiums to a bid is such an issue. They’re now seeing if they can do the job for their quote +15% and turn a profit. And that’s shady as all hell, which is why it should be illegal.

        “I think you will get your wish: more and more contractors are choosing to not bid on ST projects, but there are not a lot of them who can do this work.”

        Then let those contractors fail, and decrease the surplus population of bad faith actors in the industry.

      8. I’m wondering is part of the problem are the local governments giving ST a hard time, too. I could see that ST is the main hassle, but when an agency is building in multiple jurisdictions, the municipal building departments can add hassles.

    2. tacomee, Ross, whose fault is it that Liberty wasn’t allowed to march down the street in some sort of efficient linear order installing the poles? This is apparently a significant portion of the contractor’s request for cost over-run compensation.

      Was it the result of conflicts between the need for curb-to-curb access for the trackway re-construction and Liberty’s need to dig the holes with heavy machinery in the street? Was it Sound Transit capriciously re-ordering Liberty’s planned sequence without stating a reason or claiming a foolish one? Was it the City of Tacoma refusing to give street and/or parking closures in response to business complaints?

      If the first, then the trackway contractor seems liable for some of the additional costs. If the third, Tacoma should help pay. Only in the second case is it obviously ST’s sole responsibility.

      Obviously, this not an exhaustive list of possible causes, but it illustrates the breadth of the possibilities.

      1. I can tell you first hand, there were plenty of street closures. It’s not on Tacoma.

      2. Cam, “plenty” is pretty subjective. Your “plenty” implies that you were inconvenienced more than a few times by closures. But “plenty” to Liberty, who implied they would have liked to march down the street doing one pole after the adjacent one, and have the right to drill the hole today and erect the pole tomorrow, would (at least) mean getting those thousand foot curb closures mentioned in the Time article.

      3. The Mass Transit version of the article says they wanted to do 3 poles per day, but were stuck averaging 1 pole per day due to the amount of time required to deal with inaccurate underground utility maps.

        When TriMet was dealing with the Westside line in 1988, 10 years before opening, they had already performed a detailed survey of all that, so their initial cost estimates on building what and where were not thunderously off. That way, the EIS process actually evaluated real construction costs, not random guesses.

        (This was an important part of ruling out a line along the Tualatin Valley Highway because there is a high pressure sewage line through that area.)

        It sounds like working for ST and working for TriMet was an unfortunate culture shock for Liberty.

      4. I was rarely inconvenienced, because I rarely drive. But I do ride parallel to MLK and 6th almost daily. Some portion of MLK was closed between division and 19th nearly every day for almost 2 years. They were shifting closures up and down the route constantly. I didn’t focus specifically on electrical work, but contractors working on the tracks didn’t appear experienced, and they needed to jackhammer up track and redo track-work and the concrete multiple times. I’m not an expert, but that doesn’t seem like it should be necessary.

      5. Cam, the trackwork contractor didn’t “gauge” the difficulty of the work correctly……. ;-)

      6. Glenn, what a catastrophe that TV Highway option would have been. Look at the enormous development that has occurred along the old Oregon Electric ROW. It would not have happened, and wouldn’t have happened along TV Highway either, because there weren’t large parcels of otherwise pretty cheap land along it.

        And what a difference in the rider experience between sitting in the middle of six lanes of traffic rather than listening to the birds sing at Beaverton Creek or Elmonica.

        I did not know that anything other than the rail ROW was ever considered. Thanks for this information.

  6. Another article about the Crosstown Eglinton LRT project in Toronto, this time from the perspective of the prime contractor responsible for the project. Given the discussion about ST vs. its own contractor relationships, I thought that it may be interesting to see how this plays out in a different jurisdiction (yet one more similar to us than to, say, European projects).

    1. For the past few years, Ontario has been ruled by a Trump-like Conservative party that’s been on a crusade against healthcare, education, and various other items of public benefit.

      As with Trump, there are numerous ties with Russia, including some C $1 billion in contracts to a contractor partly owned by a sanctioned Russian oligarch:

      In short, don’t expect much to get better in Ontario until the next election.

      1. It’s unclear whether the next election will lead to any significantly different outcome. The Liberals are still in disarray and the NDP seems weak at the moment. But yes, while not nearly as ineffective (from a regular person’s perspective) as their counterparts in the US, the Progressive Conservative party is nevertheless fairly subject to the same sorts of issues as conservative parties here are, too, as you indicated.

    2. Anonymouse, there’s a paywall, and this is the first time I’ve visited the Toronto Star site and don’t expect to return. Can you summarize what it says? Thanks.

      1. Sorry, thank you for reminding me to mention the paywall. I will do so in the future. I think that there is a small number of free articles per month, but I don’t remember exactly how it works.

        The TL;DR is that the relationship between Crosslinx (the prime contractor), Metrolinx (which is sort of like ST in that it is a bigger-scope entity primarily focused on building rather than operations), and TTC (which is our Metro’s equivalent, and will operate the line) is frought with tension. The most immediate dispute is that the TTC is requesting too many changes outside the scope of the contract (e.g. tighter integration between signaling systems), and Crosslinx is requesting that they be allowed to stop work until the contractual issues have been resolved. Metrolinx is however blaming Crosslinx for breach of contract by falling behind schedule. There are also issues related to poorly manufactured parts and water damage in some of the stations. Two other lawsuits by Crosslinx have resulted in payments (to them) of $237M and $325M, respectively (by Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario).

        Despite all this, it sounds like most of the outstanding issues can be resolved by the end of the year, so the project is probably relatively close to completion. However, neither Crosslinx nor Metrolinx are committing to a schedule at this point.

        As I said, it seemed like a lot of the same sort of issues we see here – obviously there are differences (the relationship between ST and Metro is probably less strained than Metrolinx vs. TTC) but overall I thought that it is important to get the outside perspective and note that the sorts of issues we see in building ST2 projects are not at all unlike what happens in other places. I’m sure that Alon Levy would have plenty of examples where things are much better, but I’m not them, so I can only speak for what I know :)

        On a side note, curious what ChatGPT would have produced as a summary of the article. If someone has an account and wants to try it, they may get a different perspective of the issues than the ones I included in my own summary.

  7. Getting back to old business:

    Based on this map from 2021, ST Express 542 and King County Metro 255 use the bus stop on the west side of UW Station (or rather, a gratuitous little walk north therefrom), and then turn left onto Pacific Pl, before continuing up Pacific St.

    Unless routes have been adjusted since then, Metro routes 48 and 271 turn left to drop off on the south side of the Triangle for the stop closest to the station. Shifting to using the stop next to the station would be a nice addition to the Lynnwood Link bus route restructure.

    As the 1 Line extends north, there are more connections between route 48’s and 271’s neighborhoods and destinations along the 1 Line to serve better with an easier transfer.

    For riders on route 271 transferring to the 1 Line to get to Capitol Hill, downtown, SLU, or First Hill, there is no time like the present to make the AM transfer a little easier and safer.

    1. Brent, there are tradeoffs. First, the special signal cycle allowing the westbound routes 255 and 542 to turn left to NE Pacific Place from Montlake Boulevard NE may have a limited capacity; it takes green time. Second, that pathway takes riders further from the UWMC, a major market that serves essential workers and some with limited mobility. Those are aspects to study; note the scale could be quite large with routes 252, 257, 268, 311, and 545 in play. Third, if the proposal wins the day, it need not wait for Lynnwood Link (fall 2024?); it could be done sooner.

      1. It is a legitimate tradeoff. Although, it should be noted the Link connection is really about much more than just downtown. It’s also how you get to Capitol Hill, Northgate, Rainier Valley, SeaTac airport, and much more. Even the north end of the U-district, hopping on Link for one stop to 45th is often faster (but only if the final destination is north of 45th, so you have both the skipped stoplights and the shorter walk to compensate for the transfer overhead). When the 1 and 2 lines converge and Link frequency doubles, the attractiveness of connections like this will only increase.

        My personal opinion is that, for the sake of consistency, all buses to/from the eastside should just follow the 255’s route in the Montlake Triangle, while the 48 should remain as-is. But, it doesn’t make a huge deal of difference on way or the other, and I have much bigger quibbles around routing choices in other parts of the transit system.

    2. I believe the argument for the Montlake stop for the 255 and 542 was that a significant number of riders would continue downtown; the 255 originally went downtown, and the 542 is a essentially a shorter overlay of the 545. For the 255 specifically, an easy transfer was the political compromise to make truncation more palatable.

      The 48 and the 271 never went downtown and serve different markets, and I’d assume more riders are going to the U-District than downtown, as there’s other opportunities to go downtown along their routes. The front-door stop for the 255 and 542 adds at least a minute of travel time for folks not going to light rail, along with spreading out the bus load as eddiew said.

    3. I’ve never ridden the 271 in the “to downtown” commute setting (I always commuted into Bellevue on it instead) but it’s worth noting that both directions are important. The UWMC stop is a big transfer point, with many people hopping off of it in the afternoon to catch the 45 and 73, not just to transfer to Link. There were also a number of people transferring to the 65 and 372 (fewer for the latter); the 65 was always a painful transfer because the 271 just missed it, most of the time, this particular transfer could be improved by looping around the North end of the triangle. The 372 was kind of a lost cause because the long walk up Rainier Vista is tedious – it was a crapshoot as to whether to risk it and just miss it, or definitely wait for the next one by going up to Campus Parkway on the 271.

      Having said that, I would say that a good chunk of transfers even in the afternoon were to Link; definitely not a majority, but quite likely as strong as the 45.

      1. The 271->Link connection has its usefulness. Assuming no Montlake exit or Montlake bridge issues, the connection actually beats the 550 on travel time when your end destination is near the north end of downtown. It’s also nice for riding Link to other places besides downtown, for example, Capitol Hill, Northgate, etc.

        It will become more useful once the Montlake lid is finally finished and the 271 can avoid peak-hour congestion at the Montlake exit ramp.

    4. One more reason to have all of 48, 255, 271, and 542 serve the UW Station stop is to have frequent options for riders exiting UW Station to hop on a very close bus to continue up Pacific Pl/St. Since a bunch of riders will be alighting at the stop, and these buses would be mostly on virtual drop-off-only mode after the UWS stop, they would be the ideal buses for the purpose.

      If the stop could be moved as close as possible to the north station exit, maybe turning left all the way from the far-right lane might not be necessary. Regardless of that, and regardless of which routes serve that stop, if that stop is where it is now in order to be closer to the basketball arena, I think it is worth a little money to put it where the vast majority of riders would want it: the shortest possible distance from the north station exit. If the stop is where I recall it being, then the walk to the stop is undoing some of the advantage of having that stop next to UWS.

      1. I think it is worth a little money to put it where the vast majority of riders would want it: the shortest possible distance from the north station exit.

        That makes sense for the 255, but not the other buses. Consider them, one by one:

        48: Most of the riders have alternatives for getting downtown, or to Link stations. It is true that some riders take the bus to connect to Link and continue north, but in all likelihood, they are a minority of the riders. The vast majority of riders on the 48 who take the bus up to the U-District are headed to U-District destinations. Going counter-clockwise around the triangle is an unnecessary delay, and for a trip to UWMC takes them well out of their way.

        271 — Similar, in that riders from downtown Bellevue headed to downtown Seattle (or the south end of Seattle) would take the 550. Eventually those riders will take Link.

        542 — Again, same idea. Riders headed downtown take the 545.

        I don’t want to suggest that no one takes the 48, 271 or 542 and then transfers to Link at the UW Station. What I’m saying is that they are vastly outnumbered by people going to other U-District destinations. For that reason, the current design makes sense. It is quite possible that riders of the 255 are mostly transferring to Link, simply because there is no other way for them to get downtown. That isn’t true for the other buses.

        As for people getting off at UW Station and transferring, it is worth mentioning the 44, which would have to loop around the other direction if we wanted full stop consolidation. I just don’t see it. So you basically have the 44 on the side next to the hospital, and the 255 going next to the station. If the other buses join the 255, you have a shorter walking distance for riders getting off of Link, but a longer walking distance for those headed to the hospital. You also have less overall frequency, simply because the 44 is bound to run more often than the 255.

        Sometimes detouring a bus is worse than asking people to walk a little bit. This is one of those times.

      2. Thank you for bringing up route 44.

        If it circled the Triangle counter-clockwise, it could drop riders off much closer to UWMC, as well as UWS and on the campus side of Pacific Pl. Three awkward street crossings could be avoided. Last I checked, it still live-loops and lays over at the west terminus. I’m just not sure the trolley wire is in place for this maneuver.

        Route 44’s frequency has not come back fully, but I expect UW will figure it out that they really need to embrace distance learning and campus learning simultaneously (even after COVID is gone), if they are to better meet the state’s need for more people to get college educations. Be boundless!

      3. If it circled the Triangle counter-clockwise, it could drop riders off much closer to UWMC, as well as UWS and on the campus side of Pacific Place.

        That would require another light so the bus could make a left turn from the far right lane (from Pacific Street to Montlake Boulevard). It would require restructuring the intersection, because as of right now, you can’t make that left turn at all ( That would make both intersections quite similar. It would take a fair amount of work, but I could see it. Buses would only operate in a counter-clockwise direction. Pacific Street already has bus lanes on the southbound direction. Montlake Boulevard has bus lanes on both sides. The ones on the west side (the inside) would no longer be necessary. Likewise, the special right-turn lane to get from Pacific Place to Montlake Boulevard (used only by buses) would no longer be necessary. The bus lane could shift to the other side of the street (westbound).

        I could see it working, but it would require quite a bit of work. A lot of curb work, as well as some wire moving. The tricky part is what eddie mentioned. You have to get the signal timing right, otherwise it is worse than today.

        The good news is that you can favor a fairly limited set of turns, as the buses would all go the same direction. This would enable you to go further, and restrict traffic as necessary. For example, Pacific Place merges with Pacific Street (westbound). You could favor Pacific Place, since that is where all the buses come from. I would go a step further. Pacific Street is two lanes westbound between Montlake Boulevard and Pacific Place. Since it is only cars, I would have one lane going west after the merge point (the right lane would be “right-turn only”). This would reduce the number of vehicles on the north part of Pacific Place, allowing the buses to travel with less congestion, while adding more sidewalk space. Likewise, southbound Montlake Boulevard between Pacific Place and Pacific Street could merge to be one lane, as buses wouldn’t go that way. Again, the right lane would be “right turn only” (Montlake Boulevard to Pacific Street) while the left lane is the only through lane.

        Of course I would make all sorts of other changes, probably long before this. Eastbound Pacific Street should be one general purpose lane and a BAT lane, starting at The Ave all the way to Montlake Boulevard. The BAT/bus lane should continue over the Montlake Bridge (and beyond, as necessary). Once the 520 work is done, there should be one general purpose lane from 520 to the Montlake Bridge (along with a northbound bus lane). If general traffic backs up trying to get onto Montlake Boulevard, so be it. So many of the streets are overbuilt and outdated. They are practically begging people to drive into very busy areas, and then people wonder why those areas are so congested. SR 522 in Kenmore is one thing — that is a suburb between the city and another suburb. But the U-District should have one general purpose lane and BAT (or bus) lanes as the standard.

      4. Of course, SOVs going through campus should cease Being Boundless.

        UW still has the perverse incentive to discourage transit use because of how it pays roughly per ride for the U Pass program. That incentive structure could use a rethink, and cooperation from transit entities to not make transit use so expensive for UW.

        Then, they’ll all just agree that the state should pay for the U-Pass program.

      5. There aren’t that many personal vehicles (single occupancy or otherwise) on campus – the actual parking near buildings is very limited, all student parking is over in the lots across Montlake and the two other large lots are right on the edge of campus or underneath Red Square (so with access only from along 15th). So it’s not that UW encourages a lot of driving on campus – it’s just that even the very limited driving that __does__ happen on campus is enough to muck things along. And, honestly, it’s a terrible experience for drivers, too – the couple of times I’ve been in a car which was driving along Stevens Way it felt extremely frustrating and other than the fact that we had someone with mobility issues, it would have been far easier to park in the garage underneath Red Square instead.

        I can’t speak for the incentive part. I know that not having free bus passes for staff was always viewed as weird and annoying by a subset of staff members. I vaguely remember that that was changed recently but I may be misremembering.

      6. As of last summer, all UW employees get free U-Passes.

        Driving on Stevens Way means rolling the dice. Most of the time, it’s not so bad. But heaven help you if you happen to be driving through campus during one of the 10 minute passing periods between classes.

      7. Larry, do you know how many parking lots and garages the UW was able to shed after the opening of UW Link? Also, do UW employees get to park for free in UW lots?

      8. UW only pays for staff passes. Students pay for student passes via a tuition surcharge. Parking at UW creates increased parking space constraints and staffing needs, which the UW would probably rather do without. And UW has to show compliance with its state commute-trip reduction plan.

  8. With regards to widening SR-522 in Lake Forest Park for bus lanes…I drove that section of SR-522 earlier today, and I think there’s better options than the traffic engineer’s knee-jerk solution to every road space problem, widening the entire street.

    Two big observations is that 1) there is already a bus lane in the southbound direction, we just need one going northbound and 2) there’s a big stretch with a center left-turn lane serving a handful of houses that probably gets very minimal use. You could get a bus lane a lot of the way simply by removing the center lane and asking the residents to go straight past their homes, make a u-turn at the next light, and turn right into their driveways, rather than left.

    This still leaves the issue of the 153rd bus stop where the bus currently uses a pullout, which means waiting who-knows-how-long for a gap in the traffic to merge back in after completing the stop. The simple and cheap solution here is to just move the curb so that the bus stops in-line, and cars stuck behind the bus just have to either wait or go around in the other lane.

    But, with a little bit of thought, making an already excessively-wide street even wider and removing tree cover to do it is simply not necessary.

    1. “You could get a bus lane a lot of the way simply by removing the center lane and asking the residents to go straight past their homes, make a u-turn at the next light, and turn right into their driveways, rather than left.”

      I’m not sure what’s N and what’s South(its E W here), but that is what is being proposed at 155th, I think.

      See the photos near the bottom.

    2. Yeah, I went by there just yesterday and was thinking the same thing. Like Cam wrote though, this may already be baked into the plans. Looking at the roll plots*, there is a disconnect. ST plans on keeping the southbound turn lane onto 153rd. But north of there, from 155th to 165th, there would be no turn lanes. This is part of the stretch where they plan on adding the retaining wall. This may be what Lindbloom was getting at. It is quite likely that the retaining wall is being added primarily so that each lane can be very wide. If we narrow the lanes a bit — which would require a change in the speed limit — it leaves several options:

      1) Keep the turn lanes for 165th. This would eliminate the need for about half of the wall. This would save a lot of money, and be a lot less disruptive.

      2) Eliminate the turn lanes for 165th as well. This would eliminate the need for the wall entirely, while still retaining two general purpose lanes each direction (and the bus lanes). In my opinion, there would be significant traffic impacts. These impacts would largely effect those that are fighting against the wall though. The impact on traffic close to the water would be minimal. Southbound drivers would simply turn on 45th instead ( To the north it is a different story. There are several options, but all mean sending traffic through residential streets. One is to turn on 145th, and head north: Another is to stay on 522 longer, and turn left on Brookside, and loop around:

      3) Eliminate the southbound turn to 165th, but keep the northbound turn lane. The elimination of the southbound turn lane would send a fairly small number of cars onto the residential streets. This would eliminate the need for a retaining wall north of 165th. You still might need a widening of the street, but it would be minor, at most effecting a handful of properties.

      In my opinion, the second option should be the default. Sound Transit should pursue it, simply to save money. Those who live right along the highway would not lose any of their property, nor would they have to deal with a new retaining wall. Other people, however, would see more cars driving through their residential street. This becomes a choice for the community, with the third option being a good compromise.

      * The roll plots can be found here and here. The key parts are on sheets 2 and 3.

      [Note: I moved this comment, as it didn’t next properly the first time].

      1. 165th NE is the primary connection from Bothell Way to a large part of Lake Forest Park, so a east/west bound turns are required. The Brookside route
        is a no go. The Brookside school slows to 20 mph. This route was tested a couple of years ago when a tree fall closed Bothell way. It took 1/2 hour instead of 1 minute.

      2. 165th NE is the primary connection from Bothell Way to a large part of Lake Forest Park

        Yes, I hope I made that clear. But there is an important distinction between the areas to the east and those to the west. To the east (towards the lake) the driving alternative is easy, and very few trips are involved. To the west the alternatives involve major detours, involving quite a few places. This is why I think a compromise of sorts could easily work: Have northbound left-turn lanes from SR 522 to 165th, but not southbound left turn lanes.

        I also think it is quite reasonable to allow left turns either direction, with a left turn arrow, but no left turn lane. This is exactly what I described in the comment here: Lots of people turn left on Lake City Way to head north on Roosevelt and 15th. My guess is, these numbers greatly exceed those that turn left on 165th. Yet there is no turn lane. It causes congestion, but isn’t the end of the world.

        There are several good options, but it starts with lowering the speed limit (a little bit) and having narrower lanes. Just doing that would mean a dramatic decrease in costs and construction, as you would need a lot less street widening. At that point, you have several choices:

        1) Allow left turns, but don’t add a turn lane (making it like 15th or Roosevelt on Lake City Way). This is the cheapest option, although the one with the most congestion.

        2) Allow left turns each direction, but only add a left turn lane northbound. This would cost a little bit, but not a lot. You save quite a bit by eliminating the southbound left-turn lane. Northbound, traffic would flow as it does now. Southbound, you would see some occasional congestion, as a car in the left lane tries to turn left, toward the lake.

        3) Allow left turns in the northbound direction only, with a turn lane.

        I would be OK with any option, but it seems like the third one is a very good compromise. For very little money, and very little in the way of detouring, you retain the same level of congestion as exists today (while greatly reducing the travel time for the buses).

  9. The piece On Stride in The Urbanist touches on a number of issues discussed on this thread.

    1. First is the delay in opening Stride that Tisgwm first raised. These projects are way behind schedule, especially for bus lines over existing roads. For the money Stride appears to be a good investment (at least compared to the huge cost for Link), although at the same time S1, S2 and S3 look to me to be commuter oriented with questionable first/last mile access, and may suffer the same loss of ridership (from estimates) as Sounder S.

    2.”“These potential delays reflect constraints in the construction industry and slower procurement timeframes,” program manager Bernard Van De Kamp said in April. “Currently, the issue is with design-build procurements that are going a little bit slower than we had anticipated.”

    This rather opaque quote in the article makes me wonder if the reluctance of contractors to bid on ST projects is becoming a factor, or whether the infrastructure bill spending is creating competition for these contractors.

    3. The next paragraphs from the piece touch on the issues surrounding SEPA and standing that were discussed yesterday and Saturday:

    “Well-connected residents — some city councilmembers — have bombarded Sound Transit officials for months over proposed bus lanes through Lake Forest Park. The latest designs would shift some elements of SR 522 and expand it to accommodate a new northbound business access and transit (BAT) lane on a 1.2-mile stretch of the eight-mile corridor. It’s the highway expansion that has stirred up opposition since it would mean some removal of trees, taking of private property, and construction of new retaining walls.”

    “In response, Lake Forest Park officials are pursuing special regulations for retaining walls when built as public infrastructure. That could complicate matters for Sound Transit. Draft legislation would give the city broad authority over design approval and calls for special architectural finishes with vegetation.”

    “Sound Transit staff have raised several issues with the legislation. The agency says that native vine species that climb walls, like the retaining walls Sound Transit is considering, don’t exist in the Pacific Northwest. Substitutes like Boston Ivy or Carolina Creeper would be the closest option. The agency also says that growing vines from wall gaps isn’t compatible with the project and wall coverage goals should be targets rather than outright requirements.”

    What these paragraphs highlight (something I wish Levy was more aware of) is a very small percentage of residents who live in the area (suburbia) take transit, even less post pandemic, and almost none moved to this area for transit. These folks have standing, issue local permits, and love trees more than transit even if transit advocates don’t.

    Here is how a court would look at the dispute if Lake Forest Park brought suit under SEPA or if it and ST got into a permit fight with ST having to prove the BAT lane is an essential public facility to override local permitting (MI unfortunately waived its SEPA rights so had little legal authority for its reluctance to issue local permits):

    ST’s argument:

    “However, the BAT lane is projected to save about 2.3 minutes on average and up to 10 minutes during the most congested periods.”

    “What alternatives exist for Sound Transit? We’re building BAT lanes and widening the road to do that so that we provide that reliable and timely service,” Millar said. “An alternative would be taking an auto lane and converting it to a BAT lane. Another alternative would be running a very expensive regular bus versus [bus rapid transit]. Are there other alternatives out there aside from just refining the designs to mitigate impacts where we can but taking that land to have that BAT lane?”

    Lake Forest Park’s argument:

    “Meanwhile, a group called “Citizens Organized to Rethink Expansion” or CORE have argued that Sound Transit should forego the highway expansion and instead focus on targeted speed and reliability techniques like queue jumps and transit signal priority. They claim that this would retain somewhere between 50% and 80% of the time savings over a BAT lane and save 490 trees from removal.”

    “CORE has also claimed that the highway expansion could top $250 million, so not moving forward with it could save a substantial sum of money, though Sound Transit contends that the costs are closer to $102 million as of 2022.”

    “Something that Sound Transit has not seriously considered is simply taking a general purpose lane and rechannelizing the highway to fully achieve the project goals in Lake Forest Park. In November, Washington State Department of Transportation Secretary Roger Millar pondered as much during an agency meeting on the topic.”

    What CORE and Lake Forest Park don’t raise that I would raise is I think ST’s ridership estimates on this S route are probably much higher than reality, especially post pandemic, so the time savings become less important. 2.3 minutes during non-peak times in trip savings end to end for $100 million to $250 million and a large loss of trees (although nothing compared to East Link that will also have much less ridership than estimated) is looking less and less like an “essential public facility” when 95% of the local residents don’t use transit.

    Two big issues in SEPA are alternatives, and mitigation, and I think any court would be skeptical about saving 2.3 minutes over the objections of the local community.

    1. I think the key here is that ridership on the bus will still exceed the number of daily people making left turns from SR 522 into private driveways. The latter numbers about 10-15, about the number of people the bus will carry on a single trip. Just get rid of the center lane, restripe the road, add a curb bulb to make the 153rd st. stop in lane, rather than a pullout, and call it a day.

      I don’t like your argument which is essentially saying that because fewer people ride buses than drive cars, and beggers can’t be choosers, there should never be bus lanes. But, I do agree that taking out all those trees to widen the road seems unnecessary, and a little bit of value engineering to get 80% of the benefit for 10% of the cost seems worthwhile, even if it means 10 people have to drive a half mile out of their way and make a u turn to pull into their driveway.

      1. They are eliminating most of the left-turn driveway access anyway (as I wrote above). They are also eliminating left turn access to 38th and 39th. There will be no left-turn access between 153rd and 165th.

        The widening of the street extends a bit each direction to accommodate these left turns, but most of the widening is to allow for wider lanes, which is due (in part) to the high speed limits.

      2. The turn lanes are not just there for convenient, they are also for safety, to ensure that crashes don’t happen. You can mitigate this by not just putting a “no turns” sign but explicitly putting in barriers to block the turn, but now we’re talking about other road projects, not just restriping.

      3. The turn lanes are not just there for convenient, they are also for safety, to ensure that crashes don’t happen.

        Not really. If safety was the main concern, they would lower the speed limits, and reduce or eliminate all non-signalized left turns. Having a left-turn lane is there primarily to keep traffic moving (so someone turning left doesn’t hold up traffic). I suppose the extra lane might reduce rear-end crashes, but those are rare, and not nearly as bad as pedestrian or bike related crashes that are the result of unrestricted left turns, or “T-Bone” crashes as a car cuts in front of another car.

        You can mitigate this by not just putting a “no turns” sign but explicitly putting in barriers to block the turn, but now we’re talking about other road projects, not just restriping.

        Which is precisely what they are doing. I get why asdf2 raised the issue. But as been explained many times now, they are getting ridding of those left turns. I don’t know how else to say it, so I’ll try bold:

        They are getting ride of the left turns and the left turn lanes from 153rd to 165th.

        All those turns folks are talking about? Gone! Just look at the roll plots (, It isn’t just the driveways. It is access to 38th and 39th. So trips like this:, or this: Gone! Drivers will have to go around.

        Folks on here are basically arguing for a pedestrian bridge connecting North Seattle College with the Northgate Transit Center. Great idea, but guess what? They built it!

    2. The schedule selling pitch for ST3 in 2016 was always that they would save years by reducing the number of alternatives and studies under SEPA. That’s why many reasonable alternatives about many components of ST3 have not been fully studied.

      With bad cost estimates and with community issues, I think this selling point has lately been increasingly proven bogus at its core. Everything is getting pushed back including Stride.

      I’m not making excuses for petty disputes on the route. I’m merely pointing out that ST schedules presented to voters in 2016 were mostly off by several years because they made this assumption.

      One problem with setting pre-defined routes too early through a referendum is that it takes away bargaining power by ST. If Stride 3 was one of 10 Stride routes being evaluated, the cities on the route would be trying to make it easier for ST to build; as it is, they already got awarded their “gift” project in 2016 and now they view ST as a cash cow to get other things done. ( If someone is wondering what viewing ST3 as a cash cow to do other things looks like, look no further than the County building CID North preferred alternative scheme that got railroaded in only a few months without any cost-benefit study or effect on ridership forecasts.)

      At least Stride is a bus technology, so that the buses do have routing options if a segment isn’t ready on time.

      1. “The schedule selling pitch for ST3 in 2016 was always that they would save years by reducing the number of alternatives and studies under SEPA.”

        That was ST asking the stakeholders to agree on one or two alternatives to study. The stakeholders didn’t. ST couldn’t promise that because it’s outside ST’s control. The EIS by law has to consider all reasonable alternatives, otherwise somebody can sue and say the EIS was incomplete.

      2. That is a very good point Al. I was always suspicious of these claims. I think they were based on BS — just like the so-called “Seattle process”. There is this bizarre assumption that we are fundamentally different than other cities, when we aren’t. But there were two main reasons why I thought the stated approach was bound to fail:

        1) It wasn’t the main reason these projects will take so long. Funding is. Ballard Link hasn’t even started serious planning, and it is being delayed (again).

        2) There are no real shortcuts to the process.

        This is the part they don’t seem to get. Every step builds on each other. Folks who build airplanes get this. Folks who build software don’t. In the case of building projects like these, it requires two key planning steps:

        1) Establish communication with the community to figure out what their priorities are. In Seattle, for example, we are willing to put up with a lot of congestion. You can take a lane. In this particular area, I don’t think that will fly. There are bound to be a mix of interests. Deal with them.

        2) Consider the various options, with an eye towards saving money, while still ensuring the main goals of the project.

        Now repeat these steps as necessary. For the most part, they have actually done this. That is the irony here. Folks (apparently) are OK with losing their left turns. Thus much of the retaining wall is not necessary, as long as you narrow the lanes. The problem is, they still want to widen the street. Lower the speed limit, and much of the community avoids a wall, and ST spends a lot less money.

        If nothing else, this should be done. But they can go farther, as I’ve outlined in the other comments. This involves a lot of discussion with the community. For example: What is more important, keeping those left turns to 165th, or avoiding the construction of a new retaining wall? Could you get by with northbound-only left turns? Could you have left turns, but without turn lanes?

        These are all questions for the community, and there may not be a consensus. But this is the dirty work of planning. ST should make it clear that there priority in this case is to keep costs down, while improving bus speeds. But if they have to build a wall, they will build it.

      3. “If Stride 3 was one of 10 Stride routes being evaluated, the cities on the route would be trying to make it easier for ST to build; as it is, they already got awarded their “gift” project in 2016 and now they view ST as a cash cow to get other things done.”

        An alternate universe take on this hypothetical: “If Stride 3 was one of 10 Stride routes being evaluated, the people living in the cities of each of the 10 routes would all be voting against ST3, as the cost is very high and the relative benefit to them is low, and now they view ST as a cash cow for others to get things done.”

        The devil, of course, would be in the details – were all 10 routes serving loosely the same people? Or are we pitting one city against another with different routes? The latter is not a good thing – Ross mentioned aerospace, but I have no doubt that he remembers the competition Everett had to be in in order to land some of the Boeing assembly lines, and how that played out (I’m sure that you do as well, Al – don’t mean to imply otherwise).

        I agree with the broader points, though – consider your “clients”, consider your “opposition”, do your homework, build consensus, find the best of many likely bad options.

      4. I agree Anonymouse. Things have changed so much since 2016, and so much of ST 3 was planning on the back of a napkin, certainly on the eastside. I think Ross makes a good point too: Lake Forest Park is different than Seattle in what folks prioritize (although it you are talking construction disruption not the CID or DSA).

        I think if the Lake Forest Park area was given the opportunity to vote on ST 3 today knowing what they know, post pandemic, they would vote no, and not just about the money. They don’t see the benefit of Stride. Just a little faster bus with a transfer now at Link. Whoopee.

        I think at least on the eastside we romanticized or fantasized ST 2 and 3 before the votes, and ST did too. The future was huge population growth, huge density growth in the commercial/retail zones, folks zipping by train from downtown Bellevue into Seattle, a city growing into a world class city. No one ever thought about first/last mile access or transfers. Or WFH.

        East Link has been delayed so long, and now Stride, doubts are creeping in, that when folks see the actual designs in a much different world with light rail to some strange stations while rarely going to downtown Seattle they decide maybe they don’t like or need it.

        What has happened is eastsiders went dormant on East Link and ST. Generally, these are folks who distrust change in their neighborhoods. I often tell the MI city council the best course of action 99% of the time is do nothing in suburbia, especially when it comes to parks, trees, and residential neighborhoods. No one ever thinks about transit or ST until the design comes to your city, and ST claims they are at 30% design which means 60%, or 60% which means 90%, (neither of which allows any change according to ST), and everyone asks when did that happen (usually in very poorly advertised public meetings with some drawings no one went to or understood). ST just hates citizens, or dealing with them, let alone selling a design, which was apparent in the debacle with the CID which we saw years before on MI.

        What ST never quite understood is citizens tend to think they are the boss of their city, and love thier city, which always is the challenge of siting an essential public facility, and can change their mind. Issaquah is famous for this. Issaquah pays no attention throughout the process because it figures it can make up its mind whenever it wants so waits to the end, and next thing you know the 554 is going to Bellevue Way and years of litigation between MI and ST over the intensity of the bus intercept was pointless. We wouldn’t be having this discussion if LFP was Issaquah. Bellevue had no problem delaying East Link for several years over a tunnel and rerouting it from Bellevue Way nearly 10 years after ST 2 passed, THE one key place East Link needed to go. The CID waited until the HEARING on the DEIS to object to a station on 5th when that had been the design from the beginning. Just decided they didn’t want it.

        It’s the same with Lake Forest Park. Folks are not riding transit as much, especially during peak times when a BAT lane makes the most sense, and even pre-pandemic very few rode the bus. Eastsiders tend to get worked up over trees (while Seattle is gutting its tree ordinance to increase GFAR on SFH and multi-family lots).

        The key admission for me — and I got the feeling this was something Millar was struggling with — is the trip time savings end to end from a $100 to $250 million BAT lane (when based on ST’s cost estimations in the past will lean toward $250 million) is a whopping 2.3 minutes, plus the loss of 480 trees, and loss of left hand turns folks have used for decades. Meanwhile ST thinks nothing of adding at least 10 minutes to every rider from the south when transferring from DSTT2 to DSTT1, and even the most ardent transit advocates don ‘t see 2.3 minutes as critical.

        The problem isn’t so much the BAT lane. It is the surrounding areas are not seeing the benefit from Stride in this post pandemic world. Al is right that everyone wanted their piece of ST 3, they just didn’t know what it was, whether Issaquah Link (which Issaquah will wait until the very last second to design or change or eliminate) or Stride. Now that they see it they aren’t sold, just like the CID or MI or Bellevue, and these were never transit folks to begin with.

      5. “If Stride 3 was one of 10 Stride routes being evaluated”

        Were there 7 other Stride corridors beyond the 3 that were selected? Where were they? Or are you referring to multi-line BRT on 405?

        “f Stride 3 was one of 10 Stride routes being evaluated, the people living in the cities of each of the 10 routes would all be voting against ST3, as the cost is very high and the relative benefit to them is low”

        That’s the opposite of what they said in 2012-2016! The Northshore communities were very positive and insistent and cooperative on Stride 3. They’re more pro-transit and cooperative than almost anywhere outside Seattle. Part of it is doubtless the narrow geography that funnels everything to 522 and has no feasible alternative, and part of it may be the lower economic level of that area compared to the high-paying Bellevue and Seattle job centers.

        This sounds like the usual grumbling of nimbys — yes, nimbys — wanting to keep their GP lane and left turns and trees. That may be a distinct group of people from those that pushed so hard for Stride 3. The yimby/nimby difference. Or it may just be people wanting to have their cake and eat it too, which also happens often. This is where ST needs to put its foot down and say Stride 3 must exist and be fast for the good of regional mobility, and any mitigations must not be excessive or slow it down significantly. The trees of course are an ecological concern, and I hope some win-win solution arises.

      6. I agree Mike. Let’s look at the facts:

        1) One group of concerned citizens have started an organization opposed to the changes.
        2) They have focused their complaints about one particular aspect of the changes — specifically the wall in Lake Forest Park.
        3) They have not voiced concern over any other aspect of the project. In fact, they have made it clear that they support transit in general, and this project specifically.
        4) Their opposition started when Sound Transit made a subtle change of plans. Instead of expanding the street southward (towards the lake) they plan on expanding northward.

        Meanwhile, leadership outside of it (e. g. in Kenmore) considers the case closed. “There was full disclosure on this. I can’t tell you how many meetings Sound Transit has had with Lake Forest Park. And for a group of homeowners to now, this far in, to start with these complaints is pretty amazing,” Baker said.

        There is no organization of the sort Daniel imagines. This is the only organized opposition, and they are complaining about a very specific aspect of this project. It is ironic that so many people — including Daniel — miss the elephant in the room. You can avoid much of the cost, and much of the wall, by simply lowering the speed limit:

        A fallback option would be to lower the 40 mph speed limit to 35, neighborhood advocates say. Doing so might enable the Washington State Department of Transportation to approve 10-foot general traffic lanes instead of the planned 11-foot lanes, and maybe thinner shoulders.

        ST should be focused on doing precisely this. They need to get with WSDOT to allow the narrower lanes. Once they do that, they can greatly minimize the cost and scope of these changes, while still guaranteeing fast transit speeds.

    3. “I don’t like your argument which is essentially saying that because fewer people ride buses than drive cars, and beggers can’t be choosers, there should never be bus lanes. But, I do agree that taking out all those trees to widen the road seems unnecessary, and a little bit of value engineering to get 80% of the benefit for 10% of the cost seems worthwhile, even if it means 10 people have to drive a half mile out of their way and make a u turn to pull into their driveway.”

      Asdf2, that is not what I was trying to say. I think your analysis is very good and pretty much what a court would do in a SEPA analysis, which is probably why ST and WSDOT will work with the community. The real issue is whether this BAT lane is truly necessary (which means determining the real time savings), worth the cost, and whether there are better alternatives. You and CORE sound like you both agree using the center turn lane makes more sense.

      Not you, but others (including Levy) look at any local opposition to a project they support (upzoning, transit) and blindly yell “Nimby” without looking at the validity of the project first. The city and folks living here have standing since this project directly impacts them, and so alternatives to a BAT lane (which looks very expensive) to save 2.3 to maybe 10 minutes, and mitigation, are factors.

      It is why I don’t like the term “Nimby”, especially by folks who don’t live there. Ross doesn’t like using “SEPA” instead of Nimby, and maybe the best alternative term is the term courts use, “standing”. If you have standing it means you can show potential personal harm to your property from a project, and the dispute is between the agency proposing the project and those directly impacted or harmed.

      When I mention the number of trips by transit I don’t mean beggers can’t be choosers (and I doubt the riders on this Stride route are beggers by any means), or there should be no bus lanes, but don’t be surprised if the number of project supporters vs. opponents is not what a transit advocate would hope for.

      Right now, the really contentious projects are WSBLE and DSTT2, and those stakeholders (other than maybe the CID which had to resort to racism) are some of the most powerful, from WS to the DSA to SLU businesses to Ballard. These groups certainly are not beggers. And guess what? Around 5% of them take transit. So don’t be surprised if there is not station on 5th for DSTT2, no midtown station, tunnels in WS and Ballard (if affordable) and so on. Too bad ST can’t bury the Stride line.

      1. Not you, but others (including Levy) look at any local opposition to a project they support (upzoning, transit) and blindly yell “Nimby” without looking at the validity of the project first.

        It is why I don’t like the term “Nimby”, especially by folks who don’t live there.

        Which is why your crusade against the word NIMBY is pointless and a waste of time. It is not the term you object to, but the very idea. You seem to live in a fantasy land, where NIMBYs don’t exist. Of course there are times when a NIMBY argument coincides with a more general argument, but there are also times when an argument is based purely on the self-interest of locals.

        Imagine a city needs a new sewage plant. They do a study, and conclude that the cheapest option is to build it in a particular neighborhood. It is also the best from an environmental standpoint, and will effect the fewest number of people. Now imagine that people *in that neighborhood* object, and base their case purely on the fact that they don’t want the sewage plant in their neighborhood. They rally neighbors, hire lawyers, and do everything they can to delay the project.

        Clearly that is a NIMBY attitude, and using some other word (“standing”) doesn’t change this fact. Do you honestly believe that no one ever builds their case purely on the fact that it would hurt their neighborhood? If so, that sounds remarkably naive.

        You seem to object to the word NIMBY when it is used too often, and yet in the case of Levy, you presented not a single shred of evidence to suggest that Levy was wrong in that assessment. You just assumed that Levy was using the word too broadly, as you’ve seen people use it too broadly in the past. That is a silly argument. If you think these people weren’t being NIMBYs, then state why.

      2. The classic definition of NIMBY literally has the words “back yard” in the term. The term originates from how people oppose projects as adjacent land owners.

        These people somehow realize that their voices need other nearby residents to support them. Thus the term often moves from adjacent property owners to those within a few blocks that believe that they are affected by noise or traffic or on-street parking intrusion or whatever.

        However, when does a NIMBY person just become a whiny jerk? A person located next to a development can have legitimate localized impact concerns but a person who lives 2 miles away probably doesn’t.

        I’ve always been particularly amused by those who complain when a transit project creates too much new traffic. Unless it comes down to which street someone uses, it makes no sense as rail stations are just a place where people change modes rather than a place that’s an actual destination.

      3. “You seem to live in a fantasy land, where NIMBYs don’t exist. Of course there are times when a NIMBY argument coincides with a more general argument, but there are also times when an argument is based purely on the self-interest of locals.”

        No Ross, I think that everyone is a NIMBY. Including you. Everyone is self interested when it comes to their neighborhood but not so self interested in someone else’s neighborhood. That is why SEPA exists. It really depends on whether someone who accuses others of being Nimbys supports the project whether they think folks who oppose the project they favor is a NIMBY.

        My biggest complaint about NIMBY is those who use it sound very naive, but maybe that is because I am a lawyer. Establishing standing is the first thing in any complaint, especially land use because there are so many (legitimate) Nimbys with standing, and so many gadflies without standing. Like Levy.

        A sewer project is an interesting example because where does the treatment plant usually go? In a park. No one wants a sewage plant in their neighborhood. If it is in your neighborhood great. Everyone is a NIMBY when it comes to a sewage plant in their neighborhood, and so the permitting agency looks for an alternative or mitigation after years and years of public meetings and hearings you suggest is a short decision. The siting decision is not made first, before the SEPA process (ideally). The days of Robert Moses are over.

        Since everyone is a NIMBY, or often has an opinion whether the project will impact them at all, courts limit the parties with standing to those who can establish personal harm. What you or I think about the project in PA or Lake Forest Park is completely irrelevant, at least legally.

        To repeat one last time, my issues with Levy are he equated Nimby (when like I said everyone is a NIMBY) with “snob” when he has never visited this PA neighborhood from his home in Paris or met any of these folks which makes him sound naive although he thinks it makes him sound smarter and more sophisticated, and he failed to address the validity of the bus stop/route in PA which to me sounded like a very bad project.

        I just don’t think Levy is all that sophisticated of an urban planner. Maybe that is why there is no Wiki page for him. More of a blogger. If he had used the SEPA paradigm he would have made a case why spending limited transit funds for a bus stop and line in suburbia was necessary to get “poor urbanists” (more lazy characterization) to their “critical services” (more lazy writing) in suburbia of all places.

        There may be a valid argument but Levy never made it. Lazy writing which he hopes to camouflage with morality and the terms snob and Nimby.

        I agreed with asdf2’s analysis of 522. IMO — although I have no standing even though my subarea is paying for at least some of this project — eliminating the left hand turn lane (with, as Anonymouse notes, barriers), using that width for the BAT lane (if one is really necessary for 2.3 minutes in total trip time savings), saving tens of millions of dollars, and 480 trees, is something I think Millar and ST will study closer because a court would and it sounds like Millar is already leaning that way although ST gets dug in. A lot of times “Nimby’s” are right, especially with ST.

        The opposite of “Nimby” is someone who sees the acronym “BAT” and automatically agrees no matter what the cost or validity or tradeoffs or neighborhood impacts for a BAT lane are so good so those opposed must be Nimbys (bad), because they think there is some inherent good in BAT lanes, no matter how many trees must be removed, or the cost. I suppose if transit is your passion maybe there is some inherent good in BAT lanes, although again the problem is 5% of trips are by transit, and the judge probably drove to work, and even when wrong “Nimbys” can delay.

        Although I don’t have standing and my opinion is irrelevant, what would concern me the most if I were Millar or ST in a SEPA contest is the BAT lane will save only 2.3 minutes on a very long run. For $250 million. Fortunately it looks like there will be large park and rides because saving 2.3 minutes end to end with no first/last mile access is kind of foolish IMO. The good news is the local citizens don’t oppose the park and rides and so are not Nimbys for those.

      4. Daniel,

        please do not misgender Alon Levy. The first time was, I believe, an honest mistake; the subsequent ones are harder to justify. You make, I also believe, reasonable points about the reasonableness of their position, but the argument is greatly detracted from by misgendering them. It is a shame, given that you have supported other marginalized communities through your posts in the past, and it is something I have generally valued a lot when reading your comments here.

      5. You seem to be going on this crusade because you’ve clearly heard it used in the context of Mercer Island and the whole attitude of certain neighbors of yours who have been called out for such behavior or comments about redevelopment around the link station and town center on the Island. Maybe recognize that people’s attitudes on change to the status quo can just be terrible or stink and that having a town frozen in amber is rarely a healthy thing. And I say this as someone who is a preservationist at heart.

        Like I enjoy where I grew up in Tacoma, but I’m also aware that change and evolution is necessary to keep a neighborhood from becoming stagnant and improving quality of life.

      6. They don’t necessarily have to be transgender, and it is not your place to inquire. You simply need to respect their wishes. Ignorance is only an excuse once.

        You are now way over the line.

      7. Zach, I admit I am a Nimby when it comes to my city, and I don’t want someone like you who doesn’t live here making decisions for us because you can’t possibly understand our lives or city just like I can’t understand yours. If you move here then you can have standing and participate. Sure we fought ST. Who hasn’t? And of course some on this blog wanted it to come down to class warfare, although that didn’t work so well with the CID (and they won).

        At the same time, I don’t care what Tacoma does. I may have an opinion if asked, but I don’t really care. That is up to Tacoma, and you. From what I can see Tacoma is gentrifying fast and housing is becoming less and less affordable, Some like the T-Line and some don’t, some think TDLE is a good location and some think it is a terrible location, but as I say that does not affect me and I don’t live in Tacoma.

        No doubt a lot of folks are making a lot of money on Tacoma’s gentrification. If you think Tacoma should preserve some of its old buildings, a tragic mistake Seattle made during its nouveau riche stage, get involved. There are good and bad things with gentrification, mainly depending on how much money you have. The wealthy, and middle class — if they own — love gentrification: better restaurants, bars, and class of neighbors (in their opinion, and with gentrification pretty soon they are the only ones living there). Just look at Columbia City. I really like going there for sushi, but it is as white as MI.

        People in other neighborhoods just don’t care what you think, (or what I think), and posting on this blog is not legal standing to actually do anything about it. That is just moralizing. If you email a ST Board member, county council member, city council member, the first thing they want to know before reading your email is can you vote for them (and second is whether you donated to their campaign). If not they stop reading.

        If you want to use the word Nimby go ahead. You can use any word you want. No one you accuse of being Nimby will ever read your post, or care, because OF COURSE THEY ARE NIMBYS. Folks on MI didn’t go around worried about The Urbanist calling them Nimbys over a bus intercept. My God, it is The Urbanist. Many still live with their parents. Tacoma is ranked the 19,955 best city in the U.S to live in and 418 in WA.,in%20the%20United%20States%20and%20%23418%20in%20Washington so there is some room for improvement there, but what that improvement is isn’t up to me.

      8. It’s confusing to continually read references to Alon Levy judging the people of suburban PA. Perhaps I’ve missed something about Pennsylvania, but the linked article mentions Paris, France; Westchester, NY; and Springfield, MA…

      9. No Ross, I think that everyone is a NIMBY.

        So what? That is like saying I don’t like the word “arrogant” because everyone is arrogant, to some degree. It is nonsensical, and ignores the purpose of using the word. Again, I refer to the definition, which you keep ignoring:

        a person who objects to the siting of something perceived as unpleasant or hazardous in the area where they live, especially while raising no such objections to similar developments elsewhere.

        If *the only* reason you object to something is because it is close to you, then it is a very weak argument. It is inherently selfish. It is like saying “raise taxes for everyone else but me. Why? Because I don’t like paying taxes”.

        Is everyone selfish like that? Maybe, but so what? When their argument is based purely on self-interest, it should be called out.

    4. Lake Forest Park is notorious for this. They delayed repaving and updating the Burke Gilman, trying to use the EIS process to delay it.

      A bike path. Environmental impact. If that’s not disingenuous and improper use of an EIS, I don’t know what is. For transit, same rules apply.

      It’s a vocal minority. Lots of people use transit in Lake Forest Park, or they did when I lived near there. Same old NIMBY stuff.

      1. As an addendum, they started placing cops on the bike path, and issuing speeding tickets to bicyclists after they lost in court. Vindictive NIMBYs are the worst kind of NIMBYs.

      2. Although the title is State Environmental Policy Act, SEPA addresses many more issues, like traffic, harm to property values, mitigation, and so on. Basically it gives standing to those who can show harm from the project.

        For example, the UW never raised the environment in its objection to a Link station on campus, or its demand for $70 million in mitigation for seismic retrofitting. The CID did not raise the environment per se. Neither did the DSA for a midtown station. Neither will WS and Ballard when demanding underground stations and tunnels, and the location of those, or the number of houses to be demolished.

        I agree with CORE and asdf2 that from my review of this project eliminating the left-hand turn lane to create a BAT lane on the existing road and saving 480 trees and $250 million makes more sense, and wonder if saving 2.3 minutes for a BAT lane at a cost of $250 million makes sense anyway post pandemic. I think this is my subarea so I have some “standing” when raising these questions, when someone living in Pierce has zero standing. My advice is to not believe ST is always right about everything, or that wealthy or semi-wealthy areas — especially in suburbia — are always wrong or obstructionists. That is the mistake Levy makes.

      3. I’m not saying ST is always right, I’m saying Lake Forest Park has long shown they are obstructist. They don’t like change, and are willing to go great lengths to avoid it. Anyone in the ST taxing district has standing, or should.

        Personally, I’d save the trees and just HOV 3 a general purpose lane.

      4. Cam, you live in Tacoma. My guess is you have never taken transit on this route. So why do you care? These are not the privileged eastsiders you imagine. Should Lake Forest Park have standing on transit/road/bike issues in Tacoma?

        This is a summary of the 2007 GMA hearing examiner decision allowing King Co. to widen the trail through Lake Forest Park.

        “King County intends to widen the trail to 12 feet from the 8- to 10-foot width that now exists in some stretches, said Kevin Brown, county parks director. Eight existing “stop” or “yield” signs would be removed from the trail at crossings or driveways — so that the more numerous bike and pedestrian users get the right of way, rather than motorists. Improvements could begin in mid- to late 2008, he said.

        “Attempts to reach Lake Forest Park city leaders were unsuccessful.

        “In a January interview, Mayor David Hutchinson said the city had tried to compromise. He said officials would like to keep bike speeds low so the trail can be enjoyed by pedestrians, children anWSDOTd senior citizens.”

        Current minimum bi-directional mixed use trail width is 14′. Trail speed is a big issue for kids, pedestrians, slower bikes, and so on, and there have been deaths due to collisions with speeding bicycles. WSDOT awarded MI a $500,000 grant to reduce bike speeds through the lid park on the Sound to Mountains trail. I have been involved in this issue for 10 years and am amazed someone has not been killed by speeding bicyclists coming down the hill through the park around a blind corner on a mixed use trail WHICH BY LAW GIVES PEDESTRIANS THE RIGHT OF WAY. So it looks like a roundabout will be installed to reduce bike speeds to 10 mph through this part of the park (most serious bicyclists use West Mercer Way), at the suggestion of WSDOT. Is WSDOT Nimbys?

        Anyone who has ever used the Burke Gilman trail will tell you speeding bicyclists are a huge problem.

        It would be like arguing residential streets in Seattle should have no speed limits, and if residents demanded speed limits and enforcement, they are Nimbys.

      5. Personally, I’d save the trees and just HOV 3 a general purpose lane.

        You wouldn’t even need to do that. Just lower the speed limit, make the lanes narrower, and at most get rid of a turn, or turn lane. Just look at the exact same highway, a few miles to the south. This is what it looks like northbound: Two lanes, going each direction. If you want to take a left, you move into the left lane. You might have to wait a while. So much so, that there is a left turn signal (that tends to operate only around rush hour).

        As I’ve written several times now, the only street in question is 165th. If you make 165th like that, you can add the BAT lanes, and avoid cutting down a single tree. No retaining wall, just new paint (and a lower speed limit). This would add to congestion around 165th, just as this particular intersection is a bit congested. If you would like to favor through-traffic, just get rid of all turns there. That is the case just a couple blocks to the north ( You can’t turn left there, either direction.

        I feel like this was presented as a false dichotomy. I’ll admit, I initially believed that the only way to add a BAT lane (so that they exist both directions) was to either take a lane, or widen the street. That simply isn’t the case. There are two alternatives that would not involve any widening at all:

        1) Eliminate left turns onto 165th.
        2) Keep left turns onto 165th, but eliminate the left turn lane.

      6. Cam, you live in Tacoma. My guess is you have never taken transit on this route. So why do you care?

        Cam cares for the same reason everyone should care. We are citizens. We want good projects for the people who live there.

        As for the bike path, you are quite naive if you believe every objection to it is based on the same spirit, and never NIMBY in nature. Do you honestly think that those who held up the “missing link” in Ballard are just concerned for the greater good? Seriously?

      7. Sounds like we need a new term – YISEBY (“Yes In Someone Else’s Back Yard”) – back in the day, I think we used to call them ‘busybodies’ but you know :)

        On a serious note – both NIMBY and YISEBY can be valid or not, as the case may be. I think that Cam’s “concerned citizen” take on LFP is perfectly reasonable. On the other hand, people in power have used their power to push projects in others’ back yard before, too, sometimes with clear racial bias involved. So the devil is in the details. I give everyone here the benefit of the doubt, but I don’t think that saying “not in my back yard” is intrinsically wrong. An example of it is the CID opposition to recent ST3 plans.

      8. “So the devil is in the details. I give everyone here the benefit of the doubt, but I don’t think that saying “not in my back yard” is intrinsically wrong. An example of it is the CID opposition to recent ST3 plans.”

        The mistake there Anonymouse was years of indifference and arrogance that the neighborhood feels is racially motivated and is very sensitive about. Poor brown people can be Nimbys too if we are all Nimbys, and let’s face it Link north and south are two entirely different systems, and DSTT2/WSBLE only continues that.

        ST and the Board should have anticipated the CID would not want years of construction for a station that would primarily serve S. Seattle (call it racism if you want). Neither did the DSA at Midtown and those folks are white, and we are just beginning with the WSBLE DEIS hearings.

        The key with the CID was beginning negotiations long ago, making the CID feel like they were equals and important, acknowledging everyone is a NIMBY, and pretty much no one wants a decade of construction at their front door, so the key was MITIGATION.

        Cash. And Zoning. And some local control over shelters, drug treatment centers someplace else, shorter construction schedule, fewer homeless and tents, police presence, schools, scholarships, public parking, and so on. Pretty much all the things the white areas in Seattle got from ST.

        Instead ST assumed the CID did not have the money and organization and GUTS to oppose a second station (which is what they did with MI), which only affirmed the CID’s feelings they were treated disparately based on race, and so ST offered the CID nothing. So the CID had NOTHING to lose.

        Bad move. Racism is a nuclear issue in Seattle politics because the white folks are terrified of being called racists, and the CID used it perfectly to defeat ST. ST was expecting a frontal SEPA attack and go blindsided when the Board and politicians bailed on ST because they were terrified of being called racists.

        I had a high school football coach who used to say never blame the winner for winning.

      9. “My guess is you have never taken transit on this route”

        I’ve ridden the 522 hundreds of times? How about you? It’s not “standing” room only.

      10. I’ve personally ridden the 522 only a handful of times, if that, but ridden the 372 a bunch. It was definitely not standing room only that far North, only down to around NE 75th and South of there. I guess occasionally it could get overfull but it was very rare, from my experience.

      11. Sorry. I making a joke at Daniel’s expense.

        When I rode it, it was often SRO.

      12. Yeah, I chose to not get dragged into that particular side conversation and instead take the comment at face value :)

        I vaguely remember the 522 being more full than the 372 through Lake City, yeah. But I was just not that interested in it since it didn’t go where I needed to go.

    5. S1, S2 and S3 look to me to be commuter oriented with questionable first/last mile access,”

      S1 and S2 are freeway-oriented. Whether they’re commuter-oriented or not depends on who uses them. There’s no fast north-south street except 405, so it’s either transit here or no fast north-south transit at all. The fundamental problem is land use, and the answer is to fix the land use, not simply declare that fast north-south transit won’t exist. That gives no way to get from Bellevue to Bothell or Kirkland to Bothell in a reasonable amount of time.

      There is a way to modify this to make it work better. Multi-line BRT might have overlapping lines like Bellevue-Bothell, Bellevue-Kirkland, Woodinville-Kirkland, etc. That puts the trunks on the freeway but the ends deviate to city centers. Where multiple lines overlap for your trip pair, you can take any of them for extra frequency.

      ST considered both single-line and multi-line alternatives. It went with single-line because it costs less. But the infrastructure can still be used for multi-line later.

      S3 is not freeway-oriented. Only part of 522 is characterized by little around it. It’s the only sensible location for a route, because the surrounding streets don’t go through and are much slower.

      1. Multi-line BRT might have overlapping lines like Bellevue-Bothell, Bellevue-Kirkland, Woodinville-Kirkland, etc.

        Building a real network based on 405 would be challenging. You have two fundamental problems: Not enough money; not enough riders. There are other problems; the “spine” is along the freeway and your transfer spot(s) are at freeway stations. Overlapping routes are OK — and may actually be very good — if there are lots of people going from one shared stop to another. Being next to the freeway doesn’t really help that. Ideally a transfer point is in an area that is a destination in itself. Downtown Seattle, Downtown Bellevue and the UW are all major destinations and major transit hubs. I don’t see any transfer spot being as good.

        All that being said, I could see it evolving that way. I could see this for the north end:

        1) S2 (Lynnwood to Bellevue).
        2) Lake Washington Institute of Technology/Totem Lake to UW Seattle.
        3) Woodinville to downtown Kirkland (via 85th).

        This makes the freeway station at Totem Lake the main transfer point (although riders could transfer in other places). This expands the number of good two-seat rides (e. g. Woodinville to Juanita). Unfortunately, I don’t see how you pay for it. There is no obvious way to shift service to these routes (except maybe in Woodinville, with this basically replacing the 522). It would not be nearly as expensive as a lot of the work that is being done, but with the exception of improving the connection to the UW, it is hard to argue for it over simply increasing the frequency of the existing routes (or the routes that will exist after East Link).

      2. It would cost little compared to a Link line. ST could have increased the Stride 2 budget for the additional lines, and taken it out of Issaquah Link, or even just the Issaquah Link extension to South Kirkland P&R. These are regional transit destinations (downtown Kirkland, Woodinville) that ST exists to serve. I hadn’t thought of Woodinville to UW or Kirkland to UW as part of Stride, but they could be.

        Buses from Bellevue to Kirkland could either get off at 85th and terminate at Kirkland TC, or get off at 70th, stop at 68th & 108th, and then go to Kirkland TC. I’d first check whether that way would be slow. I don’t know if there’s anyplace that should have a stop between 68th and Kirkland TC.

        Ideally there would also be an express corridor from downtown Kirkland to Totem Lake. A Woodinville-Kirkland line would include that.

        Totem Lake is a designated urban growth center, so an appropriate place for ST to serve and have transfers at. I don’t know how much of Totem Lake is within walking distance of the station. (E.g., Are Evergreen Hospital and Lake Wash tech institute? Or do they need additional last-mile support?)

        I’m not sure if Stride 3 was initially intended to serve Woodinville, but the ST3 plan didn’t. ST asked Woodinville what it might want instead as a mitigation, either a shuttle route to Bothell station or a peak express to downtown Bellevue. I think it wanted the latter.

      3. “ST considered both single-line and multi-line alternatives. It went with single-line because it costs less. But the infrastructure can still be used for multi-line later.” Also, the infrastructure can be used for KCMs routes/lines to overlay and leverage the Stride line.

        KCM can run tangential routes – peak or all-day – that use a freeway station as a transfer node to Stride. This works best when there are distinct anchors, otherwise (as Ross notes) the transfer is best done at the major destinations themselves. Because East Link crosses at I90, I think both SR520 and 405N are suitable for matching tails (Kirkland, Redmond, Bothell, etc.) with major destinations (UW, Seattle downtown, Bellevue downtown).

        Ross makes a good point about budget, and I agree much of this is low-ish priority, but I think the I90 corridor is a good example: STX routes provided the all-day trunk, and then KCM ran express routes with alternative tails in Issaquah, which both provided additional coverage and better peak capacity. I could see something simillar, where KCM supplements Stride serve at peak, but with district tails; if certain tails demonstrate sufficient ridership, they can grow into all day routes over time .

      4. “Totem Lake is a designated urban growth center, so an appropriate place for ST to serve and have transfers at. I don’t know how much of Totem Lake is within walking distance of the station. (E.g., Are Evergreen Hospital and Lake Wash tech institute? Or do they need additional last-mile support?)”

        What Totem Lake really needs is an underground Link station IN Totem Lake, like the station at Capitol Hill. Probably only area on the eastside Link makes sense other than Bellevue Way and maybe downtown Kirkland, three areas that won’t have Link stations. Totem Lake is more like the PSRC’s vision of self-contained urban villages in which you work, shop and live in Totem Lake and don’t leave. Like many attractive and relatively wealthy communities it does not want to serve as a bus intercept.

        The issue with Totem Lake is the same with most of the eastside: development has been along 405, but not next to 405. The 405 exits near Totem Lake are totally unwalkable (and nearly undrivable), and Totem Lake is not an easy walk end to end hence plenty of retail parking. The Evergreen Medical Complex is not within walking distance of 405, and is HUGE and spread out and maze like even with free parking, with a crazy eastside jumble of streets even apps can’t navigate.

        Same with downtown Bellevue or Kirkland or Bothell. Since the design was folks would drive on 405 to those cities the first/last mile access from 405 to the actual density was a car. The cities are along 405 but not next to 405. It would be like having the UW link station on 45th and I-5, but worse. The quilt of overpasses and exit/enter ramps on 405 are awful to walk near or across.

        That is the issue with Stride along 405. How do riders get to it, and how do they get to wherever they are going when they get off because very little is built within walking distance of 405, and which of them doesn’t need to carry anything so can take transit?

        The other issue some might not want to acknowledge is you have differences in folks from Burien to Renton to Bellevue to Totem Lake to Bothell. North/south eastside has some of the same differences as north/south Seattle.

        There is a reason East Link runs east/west when in fact the worst congestion is along 405, and the greatest growth south on 167. Bellevue wanted it East Link to run west, not south.

        The reality is those disparate groups of north/south citizens don’t mix often (how many Totem Lake residents will take Stride to Renton), so to paraphrase TT on FW Link where are those folks going that they somehow got to Stride on 405 and are standing at the bus stop in the middle of a freeway going to some other area along 405 but not along 405? That will tell you how many will ride Stride along 405 in this post pandemic world.

        Maybe TOD is the solution (it always seems to be with Link or Stride), but TOD along 405 is no better than TOD along I-5, and you really are mixing disparate groups of people who have different jobs and income levels. If you don’t have a lot of money you are not taking Stride from Renton to Totem Lake for dinner and cocktails.

        I don’t know. I understand Lake Forest Park. It is hard to get excited about Stride, which is the bus with fewer stops and a BAT lane that saves 2.3 minutes. I just think that many when voting yes for ST 2 and especially ST 3 thought that they would get MORE. At least a light rail train, and maybe expensive underground station. Not a surface bus along 405 with stations in the median that sounds pretty depressing for a city or area hoping for something shiny at least like a light rail train. Wow, a BAT lane a decade from now, curb your enthusiasm LFP.

    6. “S1, S2 and S3 look to me to be commuter oriented”

      Your glasses need to be cleaned; they’re obscuring the view. You say the same thing about East Link. But Stride and Link are about much more than commuting or going to downtown Seattle. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t run all-day or bidirectionally or accept passengers for non-downtown trips. Their purpose is to fill the hole in all-day regional transit between all cities at all times for all reasons, both work and non-work. That’s what metros with high transit ridership have, and why they have it.

      1. “S1, S2 and S3 look to me to be commuter oriented”

        “Your glasses need to be cleaned; they’re obscuring the view. You say the same thing about East Link. But Stride and Link are about much more than commuting or going to downtown Seattle. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t run all-day or bidirectionally or accept passengers for non-downtown trips. Their purpose is to fill the hole in all-day regional transit between all cities at all times for all reasons, both work and non-work.

        I don’t know Mike. Look at ST express bus ridership on the eastside today. Ridership is way down and the commuter rider is gone. I don’t think there is any doubt Stride on the eastside was designed based on peak commuter ridership.

        Sure you can run buses all day long and generally need to since some folks need transit, although frequency needs to match ridership at some point, but we are talking about Stride and BAT lanes that were designed pre-pandemic to carry a lot of folks during times of heavy traffic congestion. You don’t build Stride to carry a few riders during non-peak times along freeways. I don’t quite understand how Stride “fills a hole” in midday transit ridership. Buses run during the non-peak hours today. There is no “hole”.

        I don’t think Stride would be approved today based on the cost and current ridership on ST express buses. Stride is not going to have better trip times or access than the 550 (once the highest ridership ST express bus) or 554 that go right to downtown Seattle in dedicated lanes on I-90 with no congestion, but where are the riders?

        People take the bus because they need to get from A to B, and on the eastside because for some reason they can’t drive. I don’t think the ridership is there anymore to justify Stride, and that is what LFP is thinking if 480 trees have to be removed. The main excuse I hear for Stride is it is less expensive than Link, which is true, but really questions the costs of much of Link.

        Yes, ST and transit advocates state that today “Stride and Link are about much more than commuting or going to downtown Seattle” but that is because the commuter to downtown Seattle Stride and Link were predicated on is gone. So now it is midday riders and future TOD along freeways that will justify Link and Stride. I just don’t think the riders will show up.

      2. “That’s what metros with high transit ridership have, and why they have it.”

        They have it because they have the ridership to support it, though, and the ridership is there because the destinations warrant it.

        The problem with Stride 2, at least, is that none of the major destinations are right along the line. UW-B is a walk up the hill from the planned station, I believe; as was just pointed out, it’s also not convenient for Totem Lake residents, and certainly it’s a hike up to Evergreenhealth. It doesn’t go to Google in Kirkland, it doesn’t go to downtown Kirkland, it doesn’t go to LWTC. So the question is, why would it get a lot more ridership than the current 535?

        For the record, my experience with the 535 is that it’s slow but the ridership, at least mid-day, is pretty well distributed at most of the stops. I’ve not taken it often, but whenever I did, there were definitely people getting on and off at every stop. More at UW-B than elsewhere, yes, but certainly elsewhere, too. Perhaps riding Stride would be a little faster, but if it comes at the cost of more two seat rides, it needs to be a lot faster to warrant the transfer cost.

  10. Well, the report that ST CEO Julie Timm was apparently reviewing on one of her recent trips to Alki Beach has finally been released on the agency’s website….

    the “2023 Annual Program Review Report”.

    It’s full of updates on each of the capital projects currently in planning (ST3) and construction (ST2). The Spring 2023 update to the long-range financial plan is also included. There’s a ton of information included in the report so perhaps our editors here could create a separate post centered on the new report. (Pretty please. :) ) With that in mind, I’ll hold off commenting further.

    Here’s the direct link to the .pdf file.

    1. I’m sure there will be a post on it since it’s the first report to factor in the consequences of delaying the selection of a preferred alternative on the SODO to Ballard segment — specifically Ballard Link now projected for 2039 instead of 2037. Given the current state of affairs, the 2039 estimate may be an optimistic one.

      1. “I’m sure there will be a post on it…”

        I hope you’re right. I finished reading the entire report last night. Apparently “scope changes” will be ST’s “go-to” narrative to try to explain project delays going forward. For example (excerpt taken from the Executive Summary portion of the report):

        “Projects in planning
        ▪ Scope changes: Projects are facing cost increases and schedule delays due to scope changes. For example:
        •Ballard Link Extension: Additional time required for the selection of a preferred alternative and additional environmental process requirements associated with the addition of new station and alignment alternatives have caused delays for the Downtown to Smith Cove segment beyond the affordable schedule, with a new forecasted service date of 2039.
        •Tacoma Dome Link Extension: The team identified the need to consider an additional alignment alternative and station options in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which the Board approved in March 2023. Given this additional scope and associated costs, we are now managing the project toward a 2035 delivery (delayed from 2032). ”

        I think this is the essentially the point Al S. was making in his commentary up above.

      2. Thanks Tisgwm. When I get the time I plan to read the report.

        Mike wants ST to “put its foot down” when it comes to S3 and the alignment and $250 million BAT lane to save 2.3 minutes end to end, but it sure doesn’t sound like ST is putting its foot down when it comes to “scope changes” for Link.

      3. In WSBLE there are some things ST should put its foot down on and other things it shouldn’t. The representative alignment we voted for is better than almost all the changes since. We didn’t know the downtown stations would be so deep or so far from the existing stations, and ST probably didn’t know either. That creates an unusual situation: good transfers are essential for a multi-line subway, and should be in the minimum requirements. So asking for alternatives that restore good transfers, or considering deleting the second tunnel to avoid bad ones, are not some extra like landscape beautification or an extra plaza or temporary construction mitigation — they’re core things that bring WSBLE back to what it was intended to be. ST needs to keep its eye on the ball and ensure that we really have high-quality regional transit.

      4. The depth issue at Westlake is one very good reason to axe DSTT2 south of there and instead make as shallow as possible a station for the new line on Sixth and continue due south under Sixth to about Seneca and then turn uphill under the freeway.

        If you don’t have to dive down to North of CID, Westlake doesn’t have to be as deep, and a station straddling the freeway doesn’t have to be very deep — deep enough to underrun the express lanes, yes, but that’s only about 50 feet below street level at Sixth and Seneca. Then wander up through First Hill with a couple more stations, one at Ninth and Spring and one at the south edge of the Harborview campus, with an entrance for Yesler.

        Make it automated with a Maintenance Facility in South Interbay.

        This can be afforded and would provide better transit. Without West Seattle, there would only be two lines in the tunnel, 1 and 2. Since 1 would need to turn back at Northgate, maybe there would be a need for a Line 3 which just runs through the high-ridership segment. But that’s easy enough to provide if it’s needed.

        Has everyone forgotten how horrible West Seattle will be? [I know you haven’t, Ross]

      5. When it comes to ST3, there are a lot of things that could be changed for the better. The tricky part is the politics. It is easy to argue that we should replace West Seattle Link with better bus service, but very hard to make it happen. I have no idea how to do that. Even something as simple as *considering* reusing the tunnel, or making Ballard Link completely independent (and automated) doesn’t seem to get anywhere.

      6. In the long run, nobody will care about the delays or cost overruns if the project is good.

        Unfortunately, the likelihood is that we will have delays and cost overruns for a project that could easily be better.

        “Scope change” is what is delaying the project. The board needed to choose from the list of alternatives in the DEIS if they wanted to complete the project on time, they didn’t do that, so the project is going to be delayed.

        Future delays will occur and they will be the result of other factors that are listed the report. There are 5 factors listed that could delay West Seattle beyond 2032: (1) additional environmental process requirements; (2) challenging topography and waterway crossings; (3) real estate acquisition; (4) higher costs of real estate acquisition and construction; (5) coordination/approvals for permitting.

        Most of that comes with trying to blast a new above-ground right-of-way through a bunch of environmentally critical areas with established homes and businesses, which was obviously going to be a problem from the moment the extension was conceived. They should have stayed along the established right-of-way instead of detouring through Delridge and Youngstown, which ended up resulting in a station that will be only one block south of the West Seattle Bridge, while creating a bunch of additional environmental issues w/ Longfellow Creek, conflicts with Nucor, and several complicated relocations of community resources. There’s a reason these extensions either follow highways or are underground.

      7. In the long run, nobody will care about the delays or cost overruns if the project is good. Unfortunately, the likelihood is that we will have delays and cost overruns for a project that could easily be better.

        Agreed. I also think that in general, people in Seattle still think the projects are good. Most don’t get into the nitty-gritty, like the controversy over the new tunnel stations. They know there is a fight for the station itself, but just assume that we need a new tunnel. Reconsidering this idea (by way of a study) should be the least controversial change but most people are unaware, or assume that we are doing the right thing (more or less). To get them to rethink the fundamentals (i. e. West Seattle is in appropriate for rail) would be even more challenging.

        My guess is the projects will simply continue, with delays and cost overruns across the board (from Everett to Tacoma). Many will complain about these, without looking at the big picture. They will assume this is the best we could have gotten, warts and all. They will shrug when not that many people use it, and find some other excuse for why other cities — even our closest neighbor, Vancouver — are so much better at this. The biggest problem with Ballard Link is not that it will take so damn long, and cost so damn much, is that it won’t be that good when they finally finish it.

      8. “In the long run, nobody will care about the delays or cost overruns if the project is good.”

        That’s a pretty big “if”.

        Additionally, these delays extend to multiple projects. “Scope change” is just such a convenient catch-all phrase with no real definitive meaning behind it. And, as Al S. reminded us up above, the limited number of alternatives selected as a result of the scoping rounds was a policy decision that was SUPPOSED to expedite the project delivery timelines. So here we are.

        I suppose to a large extent, at some point in the distant future when the current capital program is wrapping up and folks are utilizing the system expansions, little will be made of the “sausage-making” we have before us now. But that always seems to be the case with large infrastructure projects. And frankly how someone 20 years from now perceives the busted budgets and tardiness of various program elements going online doesn’t particularly interest me. Frankly, I most likely won’t be around to see the end results anyway. What does concern me are the opportunity costs and knowing that we are squandering both time and resources on some pretty bad ideas.

      9. I have great don’t that the opening dates of projects after 2030 are still optimistic as listed in this report.

        There is no way West Seattle extension opens in 2032. Even Tacoma Dome extension is out at 2035 now, and the latter project involves no underground stations, which typically add a few years to complete the project. Consider too that East Link broke ground (property acquisition and funding fully in place) in 2016. Early on, it was supposed to be finished in 2022 and now opening is set for 2025. I don’t see West Seattle Link having its corridor ready for construction until 2026 which seemingly puts the opening at 2035.

        DSTT2 and SLU and Ballard seem still delayed by firm plans, a preferred alternative that wasn’t in the DEIS, and we still haven’t seen the revised ridership forecasts (almost certain to be lower due to added transfer difficulties) nor has the FTA funding rating been made. There are some expensive and complicated unresolved design issues in building through Downtown and SLU and Interbay and Ballard that I think will delay the start of construction until 2029 or 2030 even if the money is there. Keep in mind that ST has reported to FTA that the entire WSBLE is still $12.2B as shown here (and lots of New Starts money is needed to pull it off):

        The thing is, nobody important seems to care much about the rolling opening dates of Link as Joe Z says. Why is that? Is it that leaders really believe that it’s a productive project, or that its benefit is so little to even a transit rider that no one is in a rush? Is it just too embarrassing to publicly mention?

        Looking at a crystal ball for 2026, it will be a critical year for ST. Either the riders will be on the ST2 extensions or not. The operation of the system and the appearance of so many new stations (including the operation of vertical conveyances) will make or break the perception of ST. West Seattle may be ready to break ground but not before increasing the budget of this phase (noting that the FTA info from March 2023 submitted by ST is listed as $3.2B and the 2022 report is as $3.9B and a note that it’s no change).

      10. For the record, the original timelines for East Link’s revenue service were to Bellevue in 2020 and Overlake in 2021, if I’m not mistaken.

      11. I thought the DEIS only involved DSTT2. The only “alternative” was a station on 4th Ave. S that would cost $850 million. I agree with the Board member from SnoCo that it was a mistake to include such an unaffordable option in the DEIS because for some folks money grows on trees, and I thought the four other subareas made it pretty clear their contribution to DSTT2 was capped at $275 million and they did not want any more delays (although I don’t know how they will react to the recent delays in the new report).

        My guess is ST won’t really study 4th Ave. S. any more than it will study interlining (unless the budget requires it, but then I think a second tunnel accessing SLU is the top priority). If Harrell and Constantine have made it clear they prefer CID N/S, or that is what is politically feasible, I think Timm will take note of that (and can you believe what Nimby’s Harrell and Constanine are).

        I thought that when Tisgwm first raised the new report the point he was really trying to make was we are missing the forest from the trees, and “scope change” means much more than a BAT lane on 522.

        I think what ST is trying to tell the Board in vague language is we don’t have the revenue for most of these ST 3 projects. Delay or “realignment” is no good in a high interest rate environment when the outside consultant noted ST loses $50 million for each month of delay WITH LOW INTEREST RATES. Over five years that is $3 billion. The DEIS for SLU, Ballard and WS is not going to be any easier than for DSTT2, except the four other subareas probably won’t care since they don’t have to contribute to those projects.

        At some point ST and the Board are going to have to admit that delay does not make any of the projects more affordable. In fact just the opposite. All project delay does is delay the reckoning because delay costs more than the ST revenue it raises. I suppose if I were on the Board and represented N KC or E KC and SnoCo, S KC and Pierce started complaining about delay I would say show me your money for your projects, because that is why we are delaying them. Or shut up. Especially if I were N KC and had just spent a fortune running Link from the SnoCo border to S. King Co.

      12. “In the long run, nobody will care about the delays or cost overruns”

        Who remembers or cares what DSTT1 cost, or I-5 or 520 or Sea-Tac airport?

        “if the project is good.”


        That’s the issue right there: people are grateful their ancestors built infrastructure that still has benefits today. But that assumes it has benefits.

      13. It’s been obvious since “realignment” that the plan for WSBLE was to fast track West Seattle-SODO and endlessly delay SODO-Ballard. Realignment was essentially a budgetary trick to make it so that all of West Seattle’s cost overruns were applied to SODO-Ballard. Even in the recent selection of the preferred alternative, the board (more specifically the West Seattle residents who are also board members) added another $100 million in cost to West Seattle ($50 million for adding an entrance to the Junction Station and $50 million for adjusting the location of the Delridge Station). And that Delridge station adjustment added in the extra environmental permitting needed for Longfellow Creek which was mentioned in the recent report as another potential landmine that could cause further delays.

        I agree with Al S. that the 2032 date for West Seattle is going to need a miracle, but if there’s one WSBLE project that WILL happen it is West Seattle. I have no idea what is going to happen with SODO-Ballard. I think the ideal scenario (given the reality that West Seattle is going to built first and there’s nothing any of us can do about it) is to sacrifice Ballard in exchange for 4th Ave in the CID. Terminate at Smith Cove and reopen the discussion of a 20th Ave Ballard station for ST4 or whatever package Seattle ends up passing to extend the line at a later date.

      14. As tensions cool I think in a few years taking some of that $850 million for a station at 4th Ave. S. and using it for “mitigation” for a station on 5th is possible. ST made a mistake in not taking the CID seriously, especially when it came to mitigation, and the CID made a mistake leaving hundreds of millions of dollars and other mitigation like zoning control and more parking on the table. The best way to cure the legacy of racism is with money (and zoning control). Hopefully a sub rosa part of the DEIS is reaching out to the CID.

        That would still leave a gap at midtown. CID N at least gets close to midtown while replacing the station on 5th at the CID. If the station is on 5th next to CID there has to be another station somewhere before Westlake. Somehow the DSA is going to have to be sold on that, and somehow disruption reduced without extremely deep stations. I don’t know how to do that. though. I don’t see ST “putting its foot down” with the DSA and Harrell.

        Joe may be correct that with Constantine Board chair and not leaving his job as county exec. a WS to Sodo spur may come first, although I think WS will be very obstinate about route and stations and disruption because those are not transit folks and the bridge is excellent so there is little benefit to WS from Link, but I think Harrell’s main priority is getting a/the tunnel to SLU.

        Getting a tunnel to SLU would be my main priority. Running light rail to WS (at $360,000/ride over 30 years) or to Ballard when that route goes through so much nothingness never made sense. Give Ballard Lake Forest Park’s BAT lane.

      15. “Joe may be correct that with Constantine Board chair and not leaving his job as county exec. a WS to Sodo spur may come first, although I think WS will be very obstinate about route and stations and disruption because those are not transit folks and the bridge is excellent so there is little benefit to WS from Link, but I think Harrell’s main priority is getting a/the tunnel to SLU.”

        I really don’t understand the stereotype on STB that West Seattle is anti-transit. Does it come from reading comments on the West Seattle Blog? Metro’s ridership numbers say otherwise. The 2016 ST3 vote says otherwise. Like every other Seattle neighborhood there are the folks that live in big single-family homes with views of the water and spend their afternoons commenting on the WS blog, and then there is the bulk of the population that lives in higher density areas close to transit. The areas around the proposed stations already have high transit ridership — which is the best critique of the West Seattle extension — it won’t bring many NEW people to transit because the people being served are already served well.

        The route and station discussion is already done, the preferred alternative has been selected. There was never any loud, organized opposition. People asked for a tunnel to the Junction and they got a tunnel to the Junction. Yes, there are people (myself included) who have asked for other modifications but nobody has ever tried to kill the thing on an organized level. And why would we? It’s up to the folks in Ballard to make the argument that they should be moved to the front of the line.

      16. “It’s been obvious since “realignment” that the plan for WSBLE was to fast track West Seattle-SODO”

        The West Seattle-SODO stub was first in the original ST3 schedule.

        “Realignment was essentially a budgetary trick to make it so that all of West Seattle’s cost overruns were applied to SODO-Ballard.”

        Realignment was ST3-wide across all subareas. It didn’t affect the relative costs of West Seattle vs SODO-Ballard. They were already separate in 2016.

        Reading between the lines, ST3 reused the ST1&2 tax streams and added a third one on top of it. But the ST1 and ST2 streams are maxed out until ST2 construction finishes and the bonds are substantially paid down. So ST3 is getting only a third of the tax money until that point, so progress is slow now. ST scheduled a few “early deliverables” during that stage, including the West Seattle-SODO stub and the RapidRide C & D improvements. Ballard-SODO would go through planning and start construction, but the full revenue streams wouldn’t be applied to it until after 2024.

        Realignment reprioritized each ST3 project, but the relationship between WS-SODO and Ballard-SODO remained the same. The RapidRide C and D contributions were deprioritized to a later tier, which is nonsensical because their purpose was interim enhancements until WSBLE is finished. When WSBLE opens they’ll be restructured into other non-downtown lines, so what would the ST contributions apply to then?

        At the same time, the RapidRide C & D money is supposedly available but Metro/SDOT still haven’t specified what enhancements it will be used for, so the money is just sitting there waiting for an agreement.

      17. “I really don’t understand the stereotype on STB that West Seattle is anti-transit.”

        Not anti-transit. More like transit agnostic. Certainly among those who don’t currently use transit in WS.

        The DEIS itself notes WS Link will move a total of 600 car drivers to transit (and I would imagine a stub even fewer), at a cost of between $180,000 and $360,000/ride over 30 years. Even during the bridge closure transit use went up very little. The West Seattle Bridge is excellent access and ties into I-5, I-90 and 99. WS residents went crazy when the bridge was closed. I think your characterization of WS drivers as wealthy people looking out over the water posting on WS blog is not representative of the very small wealthy segment and very large middle-class segment in WS who drive.

        The other thing to consider as Ross and others have pointed out is Link goes to one place from WS: downtown, when buses go to many areas with one seat, and not all WS transit riders are going to downtown Seattle, probably less post pandemic.

        WS Link (dollar per rider mile) is just terrible transit and IMO a huge waste of taxpayer dollars. To say the representative route is chosen, EXCEPT WS demanded underground stations and tunnels, is a little inconsistent, and if we have learned anything it is objections usually come when construction starts or gets close, like in Lake Forest Park. A month ago I could have said the representative route for DSTT2 was chosen.

        I don’t think Ballard Link is any better.

        Where I do think we agree is there isn’t enough subarea revenue in N KC to build all of WSBLE, especially if WS and Ballard want tunnels and underground stations. ST still estimates DSTT2 will cost $2.2 billion plus an additional $160 million for CID N (that was estimated in about one day). I think Harrell thinks extending Link to SLU is most important, I think you are right Constantine thinks WS Link should be first, which means Ballard is odd man out.

        I am glad I live in a different subarea, although we have our Issaquah Link, but that is a lifetime (literally for me) away.

      18. “ Delay or “realignment” is no good in a high interest rate environment when the outside consultant noted ST loses $50 million for each month of delay WITH LOW INTEREST RATES. ”

        Was realignment a bogus shell game? I mean I get wanting to lengthen the timelines to generate more revenue, but if the projects open later and the costs increase faster than the annual revenue and the bonds are getting kicked down the road to 35 years or more, it just looks like the overall capital need won’t really change. It could actually get worse.

        I’m not a finance expert but it does seem problematic if the cost increases counter the revenue increases.

      19. “WS demanded underground stations and tunnels”

        West Seattle and Ballard asked for tunnels, not demanded them. The difference is that asking is a request, while demanding implies ST has an obligation to provide them or they’ll try to cancel Link if it doesn’t have a tunnel. The representative alignment in the ballot measure had elevated in West Seattle and Ballard, so the budget was scaled to that, and ST has no obligation to provide tunnels there. The only place ST committed to tunnels was between the west side of Queen Anne Hill and CID. If West Seattle and Ballard wanted tunnels or couldn’t stand Link without them, they should have said so before 2016.

        “ST made a mistake in not taking the CID seriously, especially when it came to mitigation”

        The 5th Avenue Shallow station was also in the representative alignment, so if the CID couldn’t live with that, they should have said so before 2016. Bringing it up now is johnny-come-lately. I don’t know what you mean about ST taking the CID seriously; it sounds like code-speak for not letting those activists dictate the station details. ST can’t let one CID faction do that when no other stations have that.

        The CID anti-5th faction doesn’t sound like it would accept any level of mitigation. If it did, it could have asked ST to negotiate on that. But it seems like they think 5th & Jackson is unacceptable, period, and would destroy the neighborhood, so no amount of mitigation would compensate for that. It’s not ST’s job to chase them and beg them to accept much more mitigation than other station areas get.

      20. I really don’t understand the stereotype on STB that West Seattle is anti-transit.

        It probably stems from the bridge being out. Transit was basically unchanged. Sure, it took a little longer to use the lower bridge, but they actually added service, to help encourage people to take the bus. Yet there was an attitude, expressed by many, that West Seattle was suddenly isolated. They had T-Shirts, with things like “Welcome to East Vashon”. Funny, but it clearly implies that the only way to get anywhere is in a car (or boat, that is largely accessed by car). When the bridge opened up, there was a great celebration. So my guess is, a lot of people assumed that West Seattle was relatively suburban, and considerably different than say, the Central Area. Personally I think that is a fair assessment. You could say the same thing about a lot of Seattle (Magnolia, and a lot of smaller neighborhoods). I don’t want to paint with a broad brush — there are plenty of places in West Seattle that are more urban — but overall there is a fairly suburban attitude, in that driving is the default.

        Does that mean they are anti-transit? Of course not. Nor does it really matter. The problem with West Seattle Link is not the attitude towards transit in West Seattle, but the fact that it is a very poorly thought out project. There are only three new stations, and yet it costs a fortune. The vast majority of transit riders in West Seattle live nowhere near the stations. Those that do make up a teeny-tiny part of West Seattle transit ridership. For this to make sense, you would have to have skyscrapers in West Seattle. It would have to be like North Vancouver (which, as it turns out, is not part of SkyTrain). It is as if folks are trying to have it both ways by playing semantic games. It implies it serves all of West Seattle (a fairly large, sprawling area) but it really doesn’t.

        The other aspect of it is that the station will largely benefit those that already have fairly fast, frequent service along the exact same corridor. Other than trips to SoDo (the lowest performing stop in our system) there is very little value added. Riders at the Junction already have the C. For Avalon you have both the 21 and C, and for Delridge you have the H. These buses take a while to travel the peninsula, but at the point where they encounter the future station(s), they operate as high-speed expresses. The time savings for these riders — of which there will be relatively few — is not very big. For those that live farther away, things will likely get worse (as they truncate the buses) or they will simply ignore Link (if they don’t).

        In contrast, consider the Central Area. The ridership per mile of the 3, for example, is much higher than the ridership per mile of any West Seattle bus. Unlike a West Seattle bus, it takes a very long time to get from the Central Area to downtown, any time of day. I’m not saying that we should build a train from the Central Area to downtown, but if we did, it would save a lot more people a lot more time.

        Somehow West Seattle jumped in front of the line. Partly this was due to the head of Sound Transit being there. Partly it was due to traffic during rush hour — a very suburban mindset (i. e. transit only makes sense for rush-hour trips to downtown, instead of as a way to get everywhere anytime). Partly it was due to a poor understanding of transit fundamentals — people equate it to freeway infrastructure. If we were purely focused on getting cars to various places in the city, and had no freeways at all, then building the West Seattle freeway would make way more sense than, say, a freeway from the Central Area. There is a natural convergence there — creating congestion, and making a freeway (which largely bypasses all the places along the way) extremely valuable. But transit doesn’t work that way. What you want with transit is a string of very urban stops that can’t be easily accessed by buses (or cars) any time of day.

        West Seattle Link isn’t like that. West Seattle Link is very expensive, and adds very little. It is worse than a lot of people assume. If you think of it as being from SoDo to West Seattle, it is bad enough, but that is only one aspect of it. For whatever (stupid) reason, ST feels like we can’t have three lines converging into one. Thus this very expensive, very flawed second tunnel simply wouldn’t have been considered if not for West Seattle Link. Planners would have either been focused on two lines from each end, or making Ballard Link independent, and sending it somewhere besides the same downtown stops as the main line (e. g. First Hill, Yesler Terrace, Jackson & Rainier, Judkins Park, Mount Baker).

        The problem isn’t West Seattle itself, it is that ST used the wrong tool for the job. Oh, and you can say the same thing for Tacoma, Everett and Kirkland as well.

      21. The 5th Avenue Shallow station was also in the representative alignment, so if the CID couldn’t live with that, they should have said so before 2016. Bringing it up now is johnny-come-lately.

        To be fair, the complaints had way more to do with the construction issues surrounding the station than the station itself. Unlike, say, Mercer Island (where some locals thought Link might bring crime) I’ve never heard anyone in the CID complain about the station itself. They just don’t want to see the street torn up, which ironically will make a lot of transit worse (at least in the short term). None of this was known until recently.

        This gets back to what Al mentioned. There was way too little planning before the vote. We basically lock ourselves into a general plan based on very little information. There is plenty of wiggle room, but big-picture questions are not reconsidered. Does West Seattle Link really make sense anymore, given the much higher cost and disruption? Do we really need a second tunnel? Does Ballard Link make any sense anymore, or should we go back to looking at Ballard to UW? These are questions that were supposed to be answered a long time ago, but weren’t because they never dug into the details. Holy cow, they never realized that the soil underneath the proposed line for Federal Way Link is unstable! They had cost overruns in north Seattle because the slope was steeper than they expected! This is basic stuff, really, that they largely ignored, in their attempt to keep things moving. As Al put it, this was back-of-the-napkin engineering. The planning was way too optimistic.

        The problem at this point is that as a result, we aren’t considering alternatives. To me, Ballard Link is the only major project in ST3 that is any good. But if it costs ten times what they expected, it is simply not worth it. Other projects — hell, even just bus lanes — become a much better value. There are very few projects where the costs don’t matter much, or flaws in design aren’t a big deal. For Seattle, this is limited to UW to downtown. You really can’t screw that up. But every other project is not like that. Costs matter. I’m a huge fan of Ballard to UW — but if it costs a fortune and you can’t even build a station in the heart of Ballard, it is time to consider alternatives.

        The complaints from CID residents is just part of a bigger problem, which is a dysfunctional agency more interested in passing the next big proposal than it is building a good transit system.

      22. “The complaints from CID residents is just part of a bigger problem, which is a dysfunctional agency more interested in passing the next big proposal than it is building a good transit system.”

        I probably would have said “The complaints from CID residents is just part of a bigger problem, which is a dysfunctional agency more interested in selling ambitious but unproductive plans and playing Santa Claus to developers and property owners than it is in building and operating a good transit system.”

        The work that ST has been doing is rarely about benefitting riders! No one is talking about basic performance measures on this projects or how to make them more productive. It’s all about dealmaking and quieting squeaky wheels on the limousines of extremely wealthy people.

        I increasingly see that ST3 is not viewed by our leaders as a successful future transit operation but instead as a way to pay off people who just see it as a way to either make a better profit or avoid a direct disincentive.

        I even wonder at this point if they even want the ST2 stations on Link to open. It’s more fun to spend money on dreams than it is to effectively operate the trains, elevators, escalators and other things.

  11. I’ll start a new thread, though it fits with all the NIMBY discussions of earlier.

    I just happened to read this article and it seemed relevant to the discussion of what counts as (let’s say “bad”) NIMBY.

    As an example, the three lines discussed in the article are opposed by the Nature Conservancy – an organization which spans every state and a number of other locations outside the US. I personally don’t think this does not qualify them to oppose the power lines – but it is hard to claim that the locations they are opposing are in “their” back yards, at the same time.

    On the other hand, some of the other organizations, like Protectors of Tule Springs, are truly local, thus closer to a “NIMBY” in the technical sense (if perhaps not the moral one which Alon Levy and others are using). It is not clear to me whether they are opposed to all transmission lines or just those which are affecting that particular location – so it’s hard to judge beyond that. But it would be interesting to see which locations they would be okay with, for example.

    Anyway, I have no strong opinion in the matter, other than that it’s a complicated issue, and not surprising (to me) that people have strong feelings on it. Just like most interesting topics :)

    1. Anonymouse, one of the gripes in rural America is urban areas use all the electricity but want it generated in rural America and transmitted over surface power lines, transformers and poles until it reaches the city and goes underground. Coal plants, gas plants, wind turbines, solar panels, nuclear plants are all sited in rural areas when those folks don’t need all that electricity and it is destined for urban areas. Electricity is a wonderful thing, but the methods to generate it generally unsightly. I guess this is one Nimby issue that unites urban and suburban areas.

  12. Over the weekend, my spouse and I took a drive/walk around the North City area of Shoreline. (A family member used to own a property here so I’m pretty familiar with the neighborhood. He sold the property and it has since been demolished courtesy of Sound Transit.) The neighborhood around the 185th St Station looks very different today. American Capital Group acquired six parcels just north of the station and is currently constructing a new 240-unit mixed-use apartment building on the consolidated property. The developer will be participating in the city’s property tax exemption program and thus 20% of the units are slated to be income-limited.

    Anyway, just thought I’d share this. More info can be found at the links below.

    Subscriptions needed for these:

    Background on the developer, ACG:

      1. Oh cool. It will be quite the transformation for this particular residential section of the North City neighborhood with the new station and this ACG Kinect project on these former SFH lots.

        I do wonder what will happen with the power line ROW on the next block over to the east. Do you have info on that by any chance?

      2. I grew up in Ridgecrest. It has been there many decades. I expect it would be very costly to change. There is a transition to wood poles from metal towers in the 18300 block. The power line extends south via 8th Avenue NE and crosses the Jackson golf course. It goes northeast into Snohomish County; on Google Maps, I followed it to a large electrical yard in Bothell on 156th Street SE; it must be part of the electrical grid. We need juice.

      3. Thanks for the reply. Yeah, what I actually meant was that I was wondering to what extent the area in the power line ROW that has been used as a staging/parking area will be restored to its former “buffer” state.

        We definitely need the juice. ;)

  13. Metro’s stop post layout gets me triggered badly.

    How is this new schedule post layout:

    5:00 5:15 5:35 5:50
    6:10 6:35 7:00 7:30
    8:05 9:35 10:55 am pm
    12:30 1:45 3:00 3:15

    better than the old one:

    5:00 | 6:10 | 8:05 |12:30 | 3:45
    5:15 | 6:35 | 9:35 | 1:45
    5:35 | 7:00 |10:55 | 3:00
    5:50 | 7:30 |am pm | 3:15

    when you are glancing at the post?

    1. I prefer the first one. I tend to read across (left to right). So let’s say it is 7:15. In the first case I’ll quickly read across, and realize I need to keep going. I basically skim until I get to the second line, where I see the 7s, then look at the 7:00 and 7:30 times. In contrast, with the second one I get initially confused. I think there is an hour gap in the morning (between 5:00 AM and 6:10) and then wait, what? Basically I read it wrong, whereas in the first case I don’t.

      That may be me, though. It depends in part on how wide the columns are, and a lot of other little things. If you can fit it into one long column, then that probably makes the most sense. But if you have several, I prefer the second one.

    2. The ASCII art confused me, as I thought the question was about separation between values in a row, not about row vs. column format.

      Like Ross, I prefer the row format, but it’s a cultural thing (I grew up reading left-to-right, top-to-bottom). I also think that some separation between values within a row is needed to make the rows more readable.

  14. I might have missed another post, but SDOT/Metro have a survey on Route 40 improvements. The transit improvements look pretty good, though it would be nice to get improved pedestrian crossings at 15th & Leary, and all-way walk at Fremont & 35th to improve transfers if the northbound 40 is split off from the 31/32/62. It would also be nice to see more safe crossings on Westlake and Holman considering the speed and aggressiveness of drivers on those roads.

    Given that Fremont Chamber of Commerce and North Seattle Industrial Association are already against it, it would be good for STB readers to fill out the survey to give some balance to the responses.

    1. I meant to comment on that. It looks pretty good to me. I’m disappointed that they are getting rid of the curb-side left turn signal at Westlake and 9th, especially since the reason given was driver confusion. Forcing the bus to get out of the bus lane, and change lanes because drivers are stupid seems like very poor reasoning. That was my only criticism. Everything else looks good to me.

      1. I forget to mention on my comment for the Metro 40 project that a left turn from the rightmost lane has precedent: I should have remembered this, since we have been discussing this turn up above. Folks here can handle it, so folks on Westlake should be able to handle it.

      2. Route 40 project.

        SDOT continues to use the term bus lanes for Westlake Avenue North, North 36th Street, and Leary Way NW; this will attract more political opposition. SDOT should use the term BAT lane as right turns to/from garages, cross streets, and parallel parking will undoubtedly be allowed. SDOT knows what both bus lanes and BAT are. BAT = business access and transit; the business aspect is important.

        SDOT proposes a PBL for northbound Fremont Avenue North between North 34th and 35th streets and to divide the bus stop; Route 40 would have a new stop on northwest bound Fremont Place North; routes 31, 32, and 62 would have a new stop on eastbound North 35th Street. The transfer point is very important and should not be sacrificed. Riders transferring to/from Route 40 will have to cross two arterials; this will add minutes and danger to their trips. A northbound lane is also lost to the PBL; will that delay northeast and northwest bound transit. I have biked through that block many times. The transfer point is too important to sacrifice.

      3. One thing that could improve the transfer between the northbound 40 and 31/32/62 would be an all-way walk in the Fremont/35th intersection. Given the number of phases, pedestrians are already waiting a long time, but this would at least give a way to turn two arterial crossings into one.

  15. Three residential towers planned for the northeast corner of Bellevue Way & Main St. The last time I drove past that location it was an Ernst-Malmo. Not sure if it’s still there. Here’s a paywalled link showing what it will look like. And, let me save the comment section the trouble of saying the following … “See! East Link should have gone up Bellevue Way!”

    1. I go past that once a month or so. If your last experience was Ernst then you haven’t been there for thirty years. It has had several different retailers since then, and a satellite building was added in the parking lot next to the sidewalk. It was a sporting goods store and then a couple other things. It may be a Petco-type store now?

      You should see what they did to Main Street west of there, between Bellevue Way and 100th. Old Bellevue has been spruced up, with brick buildings right up to the sidewalk, totally pedestrian friendly, and landscape features. It’s the best aesthetic neighborhood in the Eastside I think. The drawback is many of the storefronts are fancy expensive restaurants, relevant to a fraction of the population. I’d like to see a wider variety of destinations, and the aesthetics spread to more areas. Starting with Main Street east of Bellevue Way toward the Link station.

      1. I must admit that Ernst-Malmo was so long ago that I had to search for its meaning! It predates Circuit City closures by a décade! It was written a bit ambiguously referenced so that I thought it was a New Urbanist term! Lol

      2. Ernst Hardware was our lumber store when I was a kid. Pay n Pak was also from that era. I don’t remember if Malmo was always part of the official name (the way Sears was Sears Roebuck but nobody called it that) or if Ernst and Malmo merged. Was Malmo a nursery, or does it just have a name similar to Molback’s?

        In elementary school we each wrote a letter to a company, and I wrote to Sears. I asked why its marketing used to say “Sears Roebuck” but was now just “Sears”. An executive replied and said Roebuck was a partner who had passed away.

        I also read that Dorothy Sayers pronounced her own name “says”.

      3. Living in Kirkland, I’m used to things like restaurants and such being a little expensive, but when I went into the deli Gilbert’s on Main in Old Bellevue not too long ago, and their tuna sandwich was $25, even I was shocked. Everything on their menu is extra-expensive. The guy who owns that place is a big Bernie Sanders supporter, so I like to think he charges more so he can pay his employees a living wage. And I was jk about Ernst. I know it hasn’t been there in decades. But, now with the planned condos, the entire Main Street corridor is really starting to go more upscale beyond what was already upscale west of Bellevue Way.

        I’m trying to think, if someone lived near Bellevue Way and Main Street, how should transit be restructured so people can get to a Link station frequently? Should there be a bus going to East Main? Or, should a bus to Bellevue station get the most service?

      4. Sam, based on the prices in Old Main St. do you think those folks after dining at Carmines are going to take a bus to East Link? Especially in the dark? Most of the places have some parking, Carmines has valet parking, and Uber is popular.

      5. Daniel, point taken. But, as you know, before East Link opens, Metro will restructure its Eastside routes. Will a large percentage of Bellevue residents have no need or interest in trying to make their way to the light rail line? Yes. My question speaks more to the Metro restructure. Should there be a circulator route? Should there be a route that connects Old Bellevue to East Main station? Etc. These are some questions Metro will need to ponder.

      6. I’m trying to think, if someone lived near Bellevue Way and Main Street, how should transit be restructured so people can get to a Link station frequently? Should there be a bus going to East Main? Or, should a bus to Bellevue station get the most service?

        Assuming no major changes, riders will head to the main Bellevue Station either via the 554, or the 249. The 554 will run every 10 minutes peak, 10-15 minutes midday, and 15-30 minutes night and weekends. The 249 will run every half hour at best, and every hour at night. Basically, riders will catch the 554, although occasionally they will catch the 249 by accident.

        I think this is the best they can do. Fifteen minute frequency (in the middle of the day) is good for the East Side, but not especially great. I don’t see an east-west line on Main being anywhere as good. It would water down the already service-starved East Side bus network. The 554 could turn and head to the East Main Station, but I don’t see that working at all.

        Oh, and I got the Ernst-Malmo reference. Makes me feel old.

      7. Sam: the downtown Bellevue circulator question has been asked and answered several times. Such services are not cost-effective. The service grid should address trips better. Connecting local service with Link is much the same as connecting with Route 550. At Northgate, connecting with Link was much the same as connecting with Route 41.

      8. The distance is short enough that you don’t need any shuttle bus down Main – simply walking would be faster than waiting for it nearly every time.

        Yes, there are some people with various physical conditions that can’t walk that far. Almost all of these people have cars, they can drive to south Bellevue park and ride to catch the train. But, for an able-bodied person, walking from down Main the few blocks from Bellevue Way to 112th is the quickest and simplest way to access Link.

      9. “Oh, and I got the Ernst-Malmo reference. Makes me feel old.”

        So did I, and likewise but I’m ok with that (because I am indeed old). I still have a tape measure from Pay ‘n Pak, a drill set from Ernst and a hand saw from Eagle Hardware (on the Sick’s Stadium site where Lowes now is). Thanks for the trip down toolbox memory lane, Sam!

      10. “do you think those folks after dining at Carmines are going to take a bus to East Link?

        Do you think Carmines doesn’t have cooks and servers?

        Theoretically a frequent bus could run along Main Street, but I didn’t see one in Metro’s restructure proposals. Somebody said Bellevue is planning a driverless circulator shuttle around downtown, so that could potentially include this segment.

  16. “Three residential towers planned for the northeast corner of Bellevue Way & Main St. The last time I drove past that location it was an Ernst-Malmo. Not sure if it’s still there. Here’s a paywalled link showing what it will look like. And, let me save the comment section the trouble of saying the following … “See! East Link should have gone up Bellevue Way!”

    Sam, you miss the whole point, which is that these towers are being built DESPITE the fact East Link will not serve them. We all know East Link should have run along or near Bellevue Way. But not because this area needed East Link, but because East Link needed this area. The new owners of these units don’t take public transit even if it stops at their front door. There will be plenty of onsite parking and an Uber drop off/pick up zone.

    I think three other points are important:

    1. These are residential towers, not office. As early as 2020 the Toronto School Of Regional and Urban Planning was saying that post pandemic cities will survive on whether people want to live in them and want to visit them. Much easier to build new residential units if the land is vacant than convert expensive office towers after a foreclosure.

    2. A point Ross first raised is in this market only the true Class A office and residential development will go forward (or survive). Bellevue Way is the Class A for Bellevue, even this far south. Unfortunately, East Link runs along mostly B/C and C/D office/residential land.

    3. The PSBJ is a favorite forum for developers to advertise grand new projects in the planning phase. In this interest rate environment either the developers are hoping for a lowering of rates while they go through the permit process, or these units will have to be condos with a lot of pre-sales. The Wall St. Journal has a front-page article today noting how smaller apartment building owners are getting wiped out because as interest rates rise on their loans their properties are being foreclosed. The main person profiled in the article has lost 3000 of his 7000 rental units in the last year due to foreclosures and lost millions for his investors.

  17. The next homeless expansion: the elderly. ($)

    “Nearly a quarter of a million people 55 or older are estimated by the government to have been homeless in the United States during at least part of 2019,”

    “People 55 and older represented 16.5 percent of America’s homeless population of 1.45 million in 2019, according to the most recent reliable data. Dennis Culhane, a professor and social science researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, said the population of homeless seniors 65 and older will double or even triple 2017 levels in some places before peaking around 2030.”

    “In Maricopa County, which encompasses the Phoenix metro area, an annual count in January documented more than 2,000 homeless people 55 and above, and nearly a third of those were 65 or older.”

    “In years of researching homelessness, Kushel has cataloged the countless paths to sudden homelessness for older adults. It often involves the death of a spouse or parent, which means income is lost and rent and mortgages can no longer be paid”

    “Homeless people bounce from homeless shelter to hospital, then to a nursing home for a short-term recuperation stay. Once that short-term stay ends, nursing homes must decide if the person is infirm enough to qualify for long-term care. If the answer is no, they must leave the nursing home, starting the cycle over again.”

    1. This is one reason why I find the occasional ageism displayed by people (e.g. “ok, boomer”) so grating. There are so many elderly who barely scrape by – and a sadly far too large number who do not, in fact, manage even that. The idea that all senior-age people are wealthy is risible.

      Thank you for bringing this up.

    2. California has the most homeless any state, and it’s the state with the highest rate of homelessness. California’s response? To spend $128 billion dollars on high speed rail.

      1. California is also the nation’s most populous state. It probably has the best environments for living outdoors for much of the year (this past winter excepted) so there is less urgency to fight one’s way out of homelessness. It’s also the third largest by land area.

      2. California needs both universal housing and high-speed rail. Many countries less wealthy than California manage to do both.

      3. Mike Orr,

        “California needs both universal housing and high-speed rail. Many countries less wealthy than California manage to do both.”

        Washington State and California don’t haver the money for both enough affordable housing and rail centered transit.

        Honestly, how many Seattle area seniors on a fixed income qualify for public housing? Take 25% of that number and multiply that times say, $350,000 (unit price for public housing… on the low side). What you think the final bill for affordable senior housing would be for the City? 10 billion wouldn’t be enough.

        So what do you think the number of people who are currently homeless, have been homeless or are on the brink of homelessness in Seattle? Can we agree on a number like say, 40,000? (low end) What’s your rough math for fixing this?

        California, Washington and the rest of the County are dead broke because of decades of underinvestment in housing and infrastructure. Things are different in other countries because they invested in public works at a far greater rate than Washington State. There’s no way to make up for 30, 40, 50 years of underinvestment in your lifetime.

        **** A side note to any young person reading this. Don’t be like California. Invest in your future. Buy a house with a 30 year mortgage. When you’re old like me, you won’t be living in tent. *****

      4. “Things are different in other countries because they invested in public works at a far greater rate than Washington State. There’s no way to make up for 30, 40, 50 years of underinvestment in your lifetime.”

        To get out of a hole you have to stop digging. Spending more on transit than car infrastructure would be a start.

      5. California problems are due primarily to three mistakes:

        1) Proposition 13. This favors the wealthy, as those that already own a home are better off than those that want to buy one. It also pushes up housing prices.

        2) The war on crime. Way more people in California are part of the prison-industrial complex, which ends up costing a huge amount of money.

        3) Zoning.

        All three contribute to homelessness. Zoning is probably the biggest culprit, but Prop 13 pushes up the cost of housing as well. The war on crime is a huge budget problem, but it also adds to the number of people who struggle to get jobs. The number of people in jail awaiting trial peaked in 1993, but is still much higher than it was before 1980. Even if found innocent, this has a major impact on employment, and thus your ability to house yourself. Imagine you are working at McDonald’s, and can’t show up to work because you are in jail for a crime you didn’t commit, but are awaiting trial. By the time you get out, that job has been filled.

        As Mike put it, the first step is to stop digging. California has started doing that in some ways, but still has a lot of work to do. Even if they change the zoning tomorrow, it will take a huge amount of building to reduce the cost of housing, which means it may take years to put a dent in the homelessness problem.

      6. I agree on Prop. 13, but citizens felt CA politicians were going to tax them out of their homes. CA public schools are terrible and have created a generation of poorly educated kids with HS degrees. Half a menu is misspelled. CA has some of the highest taxes in the country, including an income tax, but the point of property taxes is those funds are dedicated to education whereas income taxes get siphoned to other uses.

        CA has some of the most lenient criminal enforcement. No one looking at San Francisco and its former recalled DA who refused to prosecute crimes and think a war on crime is the issue. Just the opposite.

        Zoning has almost nothing to do with CA’s problems. It is a huge state. Yes if you want to live in Malibu or pre-pandemic in Nob Hill (that today has the highest percentage of human and animal excrement on its sidewalks) prices were high. If the issue is high rental costs look to AMI which not surprisingly is highest in the most expensive areas. The shit show of homeless in LA in the last five years is not due to zoning which has liberalized over the years, which means builders have focused on expensive new construction for high AMI citizens which has gentrified formerly affordable areas.

        Another factor is CA’s rapid population growth, and how over the last 70 years those new residents have gone from highly educated to little education or skills. This has placed a tremendous cost for social services on cities. Today CA for the first time is seeing a net loss of citizens, mostly from the Uber progressive northern cities that ironically like SF are becoming more affordable because so many are leaving. The big problem is those leaving tend to be high wealth and education while those coming in are low wealth and education. Even Newsom has noted the burden this is placing on the state which has gone from a projected $100 billion surplus to $32 billion deficit.

        The other irony is these high wealth Californians fleeing the state are increasing living costs for the cities they relocate to, from Seattle to Phoenix to Austin to FL to Tacoma.

      7. I should have also mentioned fentanyl which is killing over 100,000 citizens/year and impacting every major city, but especially in CA. Fentanyl is not unlike the crack cocaine epidemic that nearly destroyed a generation of urban Black Americans.

        The Seattle Times recently had a piece about how widespread fentanyl addiction is in the homeless camps, although the percentage who are homeless due to fentanyl addiction vs. the percentage who became addicted while in the camps isn’t clear.

        What is clear is solving the homeless crisis is much harder if someone is addicted to fentanyl, especially if you hope that someday they will reestablish some wage earning capacity to help pay for their housing, medical, food, clothes, utilities, transportation and so on. A housing voucher program is impossible for someone addicted to fentanyl, and every landlord will reflexively suspect a voucher holder is addicted, and according to the Times’ article their suspicions are warranted. Living with someone who is poor is much different than living with someone addicted to fentanyl.

        I think historians will look back at efforts to decriminalize drugs as one of the biggest mistakes, like OR. The intent was good, but the execution and outcome tragic for all.

  18. The article originally appeared in One Story To Read Today and was reprinted in The Atlantic. The author once wrote for The Stranger and is now a student at UW law school. I believe this was his first article in The Atlantic which has taken a hard lurch left after its purchase: Privileged white writers accusing privileged white communities of being too privileged and white. I thought it was ironic the writer made a big deal that MI is 70% white. That is what Seattle is.

    Although I was quoted from one of my posts I was never contacted by the author although I know some who were and dispute what the author claims they said. Basically, the article is based on a highly unqualified council candidate who got crushed in the election because she came across as unhinged and belligerent, and was running against a very popular female candidate Lisa Anderl. There were two other council races that election — the winners were one conservative and one progressive — and no one is suggesting ND influenced those elections.

    In a nutshell, the candidate Kate Akyuz is well known on MI. She has posted for years on ND, and is like fingernails on a chalkboard. Right before announcing her candidacy, she deleted her account and then immediately opened up a new ND account which deleted all of her old posts. She then suddenly changed her positions, except so many of her old posts had been screen shotted.

    Her supporters then created a hit list of citizens who needed to be targeted and suspended from ND by a mass email campaign to ND Support in San Francisco, which one supporter accidently posted on Facebook.

    The Community Review system was created in response to Leads on MI pulling dirty tricks for progressive candidates on MI in 2017 when the progressive candidate claimed she had graduated from Cornell, and when Cornell disputed that actually purchased and posted a photo of a fake diploma. Despite this, and a later criminal investigation (there is a specific criminal statute on this) the state 41st Democrat Party supported her during the general election while trying to have anyone who questioned the diploma suspended or banned from ND, which she lost. I asked ND to create the CR program to curb the influence of Leads.

    The real issue is ND relaxed the rules for using one’s full and real name on any posts, and verifying their home address. That made it much easier to create fake accounts, although I was surprised fake accounts could become CR’s. The reality is on ND 20/24 months of the year no moderation is necessary because it is mostly about missing pets, trees, bad drivers, coyotes, and so on. Then the trolls come out for the election season.

    The irony is the complaints by those progressives in the article are the same complaints Donald Trump is making. Trump claims that ideological moderation at Twitter and Facebook, and the involvement of the FBI to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop, a letter signed by 51 national security “experts” claiming it was a Russian hoax, and the claim the Steele dossier was legitimate influenced the 2020 (and 2016) elections against him.

    Everyone now admits the Hunter Biden laptop is legitimate, Elon Musk has confirmed Twitter manipulated its moderation to hurt Trump, and so did Facebook that actually met with the FBI during the election, and the Durham report has confirmed the false claims over the Steele dossier.

    The article quotes an anonymous CR who showed him data on the voting records of the fake CR’s to supposedly prove they were anti Akyuz, something I first suggested. I know who that CR is, and she reached out to me a year ago. However, when I asked to see any data at that time she told me ND only keeps the voting records of CR’s for one month, and so any voting records for October and November before the election were no longer available. So where did the data come from that was shown to the reporter? And why has it never been shared with anyone?

    In the past, before ND, the citizens had no way to communicate. The 41st Democrat Party dominated the debate and elections for council (which are supposed to be non-partisan) with their bare knuckle politics, but those councils were so terrible and so untransparent that by 2018 58.5% of the citizens voted no on Prop. 1 because they were so angry. Four years later they voted 66% for renewal of the parks levy.

    Did the fake CR’s make any difference, on any side. No. In 2018 former mayor Bassett — a bare knuckle progressive mayor — hired an outside consultant to survey the citizens because the council wanted to place Prop. 1 on the ballot that year. The surveyor reported back in a council meeting that the 2012-18 council and its policies (tragic policies from out of scale residential development, signing away the SEPA rights for light rail without a written agreement, the 2016 town center code rewrite debacle, paving part of Luther Burbank Park for a regional surface parking lot, paving a large part of Mercerdale Park for MICA, or the public shaming of Londi Lindell who was fired from the city for complaining about a sexually hostile work place in which the city ended up paying her $1 million and $196,000 for litigation fraud, to name just a few) was far too unpopular to pass Prop. 1, which I had been telling the council and city manager Underwood for over a year, begging them to let a better and more popular council in 2020 place the levy on the ballot.

    Bassett asked the outside consultant if ND could be why the council was so unpopular. The outside consultant laughed, and said no, social media is simply a mirror of the council’s policies, the reason the council was so unpopular was the council, and mainly Bassett. He actually had to leave the Island when his term ended in 2019.

    Still the council went ahead and placed Prop. 1 on the 2018 ballot and as predicted it got creamed, 58.5% to 42.5%. It took later councils under Mayor Nice (who was the conservative who won in 2021) until 2022 to renew and increase the parks levy by 66%.

    One interesting truth from the article is the number of U.S. citizens who are on ND, nearly 1/3. Mayor Bassett once famously said ND (which he hated obviously) was like a bad car accident: you know you shouldn’t slow down to look but you can’t help yourself. This blog and The Atlantic would like to think everyone on ND is white and privileged and wealthy and Nimby’s clutching at pearls, but there are not that many white, privileged, wealthy folks who own pearls in the U.S. And probably even less than 5% of those 100 million ND members ride transit, a good thing to keep in mind.

    1. And, that they don’t “ride transit” is an equally excellent reason to ignore their natterings. This is a place for people who want to improve transit. Why should we listen to people who are proud of their ignorance of the topic?

      If they are going to vote against transit taxes, so be it. The great thing about Democracy is that the people get the government they want and deserve.

      As Mencken said, “good and hard,”

      1. “And, that they don’t “ride transit” is an equally excellent reason to ignore their natterings. This is a place for people who want to improve transit. Why should we listen to people who are proud of their ignorance of the topic?”

        Because Tom, these folks are the DSA, CID, Lake Forest Park, Ballard, WS, the ST Board like Balducci, Bellevue Council, and so on, the normal folks, the folks who issue the permits ST needs. You don’t last very long in politics if you can’t count votes.

        “If they are going to vote against transit taxes, so be it.”

        Ok. So we will go to a 100% farebox recovery system? Boy, that will show these ND folks who is boss.

        The point is to TEACH them about transit where they go to read. Otherwise, they start with 100 million votes and this blog has maybe 1500. They don’t “natter” about transit. That is the whole problem. They don’t talk or think about it at all, so how will agencies ever get them to ride transit, or to get past the stereotypes that unfortunately Seattle and the Seattle Times are confirming every damn day about streets and transit.

        You make a classic mistake hating a very powerful group without understanding them, or understanding how transit needs them. To say screw levies, transit does not need them, or general taxes, is pretty cavalier for systems that have maybe 20% farebox recovery (unless you are Sounder S).

        Right now those folks have a perception of transit that is not very attractive, and folks on this blog have a perception of these folks that is not very attractive. But our transit systems in this country are in triage because they stopped commuting by transit. The idea that TOD or midday travel by the poorest among us will replace that is, as Earl would say, optimistic.

        I would bet you dinner Balducci and Constantine follow their ND but not this blog. Why? Because that is where the voters are, and that is all that counts. If you don’t understand that you can never understand the DEIS we just went through that basically screwed DSTT2 forever (and all riders from the south). But not one peep on ND or Facebook or even The Seattle Times. Boy, we showed those folks on ND with the DEIS.

      2. Daniel, you’re right, but so what? I rode a bike one mile each way to the grocery store yesterday, mostly taking back streets and riding on the sidewalk. I STILL had two pretty close calls. One driver didn’t even bat an eyelash, the other gave me the bird simply for delaying his opportunity to turn.

        Jerks like that are driving [pun intended] the country off the cliff in their selfish short-sightedness. The rest of the world is getting very tired of our self-indulgent consumption of a quarter of the world’s energy and the resultant effluvia. Even England and France will probably join in a general nuking of us, and it’s well-deserved.

      3. “the folks who issue the permits ST needs.”

        This is one of the problems with local control. The way it should work is that a transit/transportation board plans a project based on transit best practices, we vote on it, and then it gets built. The system we have allows cities where part of the line goes through to come back afterward and deny permits or extort extra things from the transit agency.

      4. “But our transit systems in this country are in triage because they stopped commuting by transit.”

        Extra peak-hour service is the most expensive to provide. The agencies are better off without it. Fares pay 20% of operating costs more or less, so all those commuters are a net cost, not a net gain in revenue.

      5. Mike, transit frequency and coverage and mode ARE money. The drivers and mechanics are doing it for the money. Otherwise we are just talking theory.

        Ridership and farebox recovery in the end will determine the transit grid. That is just how it is.

        2023 will be the year of right sizing and we see that beginning now. . I think some of that should be good, but pre-pandemic the region embarked on a regional transit system that is so expensive — way more expensive than subarea revenue can hope to cover — that we won’t be able to pivot to the transit system and mode that provides the best dollar per rider mile or provides frequency and coverage. We chose mode over coverage and frequency.

        I thought Tisgwm’s first post on the new report was existential although he didn’t say that. We are at a juncture in which ST knows subarea revenue can’t complete the promised projects and delays in project commencement actually go backwards.

        A BAT Lane in LFP or CID N are really the trees from the forest. It is too late to pivot to what is affordable. We built a Link system for a population and density that will never be there. TOD or future population growth are fools golf. Developers know that.

        The subterfuge was all of King Co. paid toward transit but the suburbs got a disproportionate amount of service, which is the point of equity. Then we spent a fortune running Link to these transit agnostic suburbs so the subsidy for those who actually ride transit is gone. The irony is metro pursues equity but Link is the opposite and fixed.

        The heart is operations and maintenance costs. Rogoff told the Board that last June in his last report to the Board. ST like every other transit system steals from the future replacement fund to cover shortfalls in O&M hoping for a federal bailout. But with a $32 Trillion deficit that bailout is not coming. Santa is dead.

        At some point the Board will have to admit ST projects in every subarea except E KC are not affordable, and ironically Link or transit in that subarea is the least productive but with subarea equity what can you do. . I think that this most recent report is staff trying to tell the Board that.

        What to do next I don’t know. But no pun intended, when in a hole stop digging.

        If WSBLE is abandoned, and subarea contribution to DSTT2, and upgrades to Sounder S and maybe Sounder itself, and a little subarea theft from E KC, TDLE, Everett Link, and extending Link to SLU is doable.

        But the ridership will never be there for these suburban lines to cover O&M costs. Transit advocates simply ignore O&M costs but without federal bailout that isn’t possible any more.

      6. And the O&M shortfall Daniel mentioned is merely the effect of the stupidity of TDLE and ELE.

        Somehow Seattle needs to get service into South Lake Union and through First Hill. Whether it’s a part elevated, part tunneled right angle bend at Capitol Hill as many have suggested or the current concept of a diagonal tunnel with a transfer station adjacent to Westlake Center, the only Link trackage not a part of the Lynnwood, Highline and Redmond “Spine” which is nearing completion that should be built is between Lower Queen Anne and Yesler Center, and it should have LOTS of fairly shallow stations.

        Since a connection downtown is too hard to engineer it would need a Maintenance Facility in Interbay, so it could still have a close-to-useless station at Smith Cove as well.

        If they can bring the Grand Gulch Bridge in under a billion, Federal Way is probably OK, mostly because it has been promised for so long. There’s a lot of sunk cost already south of the Gulch. And maybe it makes sense to extend Lynnwood Link to Alderwood Mall. It’s a major destination and would put a shopping center directly on Link. The DSA wouldn’t like it for just that reason.

        But, so far as I can tell, they opted to leave the poker game when they killed a station in the third densest office center west of Chicago. Craven is as stupid does.

        Yes, Pierce will be in high dudgeon. North and East King will owe them money, and I’d say it should carry a reasonable interest for the opportunity cost lost. They could have spent it on other things.

        I’m not stupid enough to assert that they would have used it for transit, though.

        And in case you haven’t figure it out yet, Genius, I don’t give a damn about your “politics” of selfish people yammering about their rights. I don’t mind being Cassandra; she got it right even though the Trojans wanted to kill her.

      7. “the region embarked on a regional transit system that is so expensive — way more expensive than subarea revenue can hope to cover — that we won’t be able to pivot to the transit system and mode that provides the best dollar per rider mile or provides frequency and coverage.”

        ST’s problems are not Metro’s problem’s. A large questionable ST3 does not preclude improving Metro. It’s not an either-or situation. It would take much less money to substantially improve Metro. Some people may have soured on all transit levies because of ST3, but that’s only some people.

        If ST3 is really unaffordable, ST will have no choice but to downsize it. That has little to do with Metro. You keep turning everything into a diatribe against ST3, as if that’s the only issue. There’s a whole world of transit beyond it.

      8. Local control is built into Sound Transit’s foundation. The ST board is made up of leaders from various local municipalities. In Mike’s scenario, often times the cities where the line goes through, those city’s mayors, council people, or the county executive sit on the ST board. So, it’s not the cities vs ST, it’s the cities are ST.

      9. So it’s the cities against themselves. Or the cities able to negotiate twice, where the first agreement isn’t their real position. I wonder what things would be like if this were common in business and Congress. Oh wait, Congress does have a precedent, the debt ceiling debacle, where Republicans can vote twice on the budget, and the budget they agreed on is not their real position.

        The fact that various mayors are on the ST board is another aspect of local control; it’s what Levy’s article warns against. I see both phenomena as aspects of the same thing.

        In ST’s case, it’s not all cities, and not always the same cities. Seattle always has two members on the board, but the other cities rotate at the whim of their county executive. So when Issaquah or Tacoma or University Place or Auburn or Redmond has a seat on the board, it’s at least possible that sometimes their positions will favor those cities, and their ultimate level of influence will depend on which part of an expansion cycle they sit during. So when Issaquah was on the board, it got Issaquah Link, even though Renton or Kirkland might have have been more deserving of a larger share of investment due to size or equity.

      10. I just wanted to make the point that the distinction between ST and local municipalities isn’t as clear as it’s sometimes portrayed.

      11. ST’s problems are not Metro’s problem’s.

        I disagree. There are three common right-wing talking points:

        1) We pay too much in taxes.
        2) The government is bad at what it does.
        3) We are spending money on the wrong things.

        ST3 is guilty of all of these. As a result, every agency suffers to some degree, but especially transit related agencies.

        Consider the third item, because I think that is the one with the most subtlety. On this blog we may look at it in terms of specifics (e. g. too much money for West Seattle Link). But from a larger standpoint, there are other alternatives, like spending money on schools, police, social services and of course roads. Roads versus transit has been a continuous debate for quite some time. Inside Seattle, transit wins, quite easily. Outside of Seattle, it has been a mixed bag. If we spend a fortune on a “once in a generation” transit system that is supposed to completely transform transit and it doesn’t, it makes it difficult for people to believe that spending money on transit is worthwhile. If modal share barely changes, and people still assume they will drive everywhere, then it become much more difficult to make other needed improvements.

        Good transit often creates a virtuous cycle. Spend money wisely, and ridership increases. Ridership increases, and you can spend more money.
        The same thing can happen from a political standpoint. A city that has confidence in its transit system is way more likely to support other transit projects. Build something really effective, and people want more. Spend a huge amount of money on something that is not very good, and people begin to question whether spending money on transit is even worth it. They begin to think like Daniel — that transit should shift to being only for those who have no alternative, while everyone else just drives. People may be painting with too broad a brush (Metro is a completely different agency, and a Metro levy would be focused on buses, not the train) but that is how people vote.

        Keep in mind, people often vote their displeasure in the most illogical ways. Vancouver has the best transit system on the West Coast, and may be on the verge of having the best transit system per capita in North America. And yet voters there rejected a sensible expansion. Why? They were unhappy with operations. Bad escalators — that sort of thing. The head of the agency resigned (so as not to hurt the vote) but it didn’t matter. Of course the “No” vote didn’t help improve operations — it merely delayed very good projects. The point being, that it wouldn’t surprise me at all if frustration over ST bleeds into frustration over transit in general, and Metro suffers. Imagine the argument:

        Opponent: “We have spent more per capita on transit than any city in the U. S., and have gotten very little out of it. Projects delayed, many homes destroyed, with very poor ridership on the new lines. Now you want to spend more money?”

        Metro: “That wasn’t us.”

        Logically, Metro is right. But voters are often illogical (and let’s face it, downright stupid).

      12. > Metro: “That wasn’t us.”

        The problem is, it wouldn’t even necessarily be entirely true. It would depend on how ideas cross-pollinated, how much people moved between agencies, etc. None of that is bad, of course – it’s part of a healthy “industry” to have such crossover. But the flip is that of course ideas spread, and so it’s not unreasonable that someone who sees one organization make the wrong decisions time and time again wonder if another organization working in the same space might be likely to make some (if not all) of the same wrong decisions, too.

        I will quibble a little with the “voters are downright stupid” bit. I don’t think it helps to demonize people. I look at it as I was taught to when I was in school. One of the jobs of a student is to convince the reader of the validity of their arguments (in an essay, or technical paper, or whatever). If the comments received seem nonsensical, it’s not because the reader was ill-intentioned; it’s because the argument was not sufficiently well targeted, given the imperfect world (which entails readers with different levels of attention spans, conflicting priorities, etc.) The same is true of voting, too – yes, it’s everyone’s job to do the best to inform themselves before voting, but we can’t wash our hands off of the responsibility to make that job easier and say “well, voters are stupid” when they vote against their own interests. We need to figure out what to change to help them not make that mistake as often next time around.

      13. Ross, I agree with everything you write except perhaps this comment:

        “They begin to think like Daniel — that transit should shift to being only for those who have no alternative, while everyone else just drives.”

        What I have really stated for some time is there is only so much money available for transit, whether farebox recovery or general tax revenue (including future O&M). So that means choices have to be made on mode, coverage and frequency.

        If money is unlimited then my point is irrelevant (although I still think there is a ceiling on how many who have alternatives will ride transit if they don’t have to). If money is not unlimited then choices need to be made.

        I think we both agree money is limited. Mike on the other hand is a utopian because he believes transit will change society so he assumes the funding will be found if they just build it. Of course, he has no alternative to transit.

        We both agree the cost of light rail only makes sense for the highest ridership routes, and generally in an urban area with underground stations and lines. For example, East Link — at least to downtown Seattle where most trips were anticipated — won’t be any better than the express buses, certainly if they had the center roadway, will have less flexibility (Bellevue Way), and post pandemic probably not the ridership to support that. Issaquah Link has these same problems IMO, but ironically the subarea has the funding for that.

        I think we both agree Link begins to make less sense as it moves more into the suburbs, and in reality most of this region including Seattle (WS, Ballard) are suburbs. The one difference, I think, is I believe there is a massive percentage of folks in these areas (90% to 95%) who can’t be coaxed out of their car and don’t want to change their land use patterns to take transit. The reason these areas have park and rides is no one has come up with another first/last mile access that works, and these folks will use.

        As Martin has noted, the DEIS expects WS Link to coax 600 car drivers onto Link despite frequency or mode. So no matter what the mode, ridership to areas like Sammamish or Issaquah (and WS) need to be realistic, and transit advocates need to stop believing TOD or massive regional population growth claims will justify mode or coverage or frequency if ridership does not support it now.

        Now that gets us to, ” that transit should shift to being only for those who have no alternative”. Depending on transit funding what I am saying is those are the folks who should receive priority when it comes to transit service if service is limited. Yes, MI pays a disproportionate amount of taxes toward transit for what it receives, but those folks have alternatives and are likely to drive no matter what the levels of transit service are, so why waste transit on them.

        The one very interesting point you have raised in the past is just what is transit “equity”. Some think it is race, some think it is neighborhood AMI, some think how many rode transit during Covid because that meant they had “no other alternative” and should receive priority for transit. You have argued all of the transit equity arguments are consumed in one metric: ridership, which suggests those folks are riding transit because they have no other alternative, which I tend to agree with. White people often don’t have alternatives either.

        Pre-pandemic transit survived in large part on those who had no alternatives, the peak work commuter who could not afford the parking or deal with the congestion. A good lesson is that as those commuters began to have alternatives — especially WFH — they stopped riding transit despite no change in frequency or coverage of their transit (until recently), and naturally a lot of the recent transit cuts are to those routes. Transit should first serve those who have no alternatives.

        Post pandemic, transit would like to compete for these discretionary riders because I think transit advocates want to believe these folks want to ride transit, and transit is just not for the poor, but I think that is going to be a tough sell, but to use your metric ridership will tell us that.

        Ideally that ridership would have already existed before spending billions on light rail to these more suburban areas, rather than claims about future population growth, future ridership growth, peak commuting, TOD along freeways (and don’t get me wrong, I like TOD like Totem Lake although it isn’t very transit oriented). The problem with spending our transit wad on Link to areas without the existing ridership to support it based on “optimistic” estimates of the future designed to support those Link lines is then a pandemic comes along, or Uber, or driverless technology, and the future changes but the money is spent for decades.

        I think the WS DEIS shows that it is a lot harder to lure discretionary riders to transit than some — especially ST — think.

        I have already posted enough about whether the rest of Link is affordable based on ACTUAL subarea revenue so will skip that.

        Otherwise, I thought your post was excellent.

      14. “So it’s the cities against themselves. Or the cities able to negotiate twice, where the first agreement isn’t their real position”.

        What you are suggesting Mike is a transit agency like ST hold the DEIS before a levy is placed on a ballot. Personally, I like that idea, but the cost would be enormous, and of course fewer levies would pass because the DEIS would require SOME honesty in the levy.

        I have been through the ST “planning” on MI, while ironically East Link was being completely reconfigured by Bellevue. The early design stages are very opaque. ST claims a 30% design approval (which means 60%), and then 60% approval which means 90%, neither of which allow any substantive changes although the levy was back of the napkin planning. Don’t forget it was ST that decided in 2018 to make MI a bus intercept although that was never part of the levy or even EIS, and originally buses were supposed to be complementary cross bridge transit in the center roadway. Of course, Issaquah deciding in 2022 to continue the 554 to Bellevue Way wasn’t either.

        The DEIS is really designed to protect the little guys, like LFP, or MI, or the CID (but apparently not S. Seattle). Seattle, the DSA, the SLU businesses, even WS because Constantine lives there, Issaquah, Bellevue, they don’t need protection. They don’t give a shit what is in the levy, or 30% design, or 60% design, or even a completed EIS. If you ask those power brokers why they are changing their minds at the last second — except any time before the EIS is completed is when these changes should be raised — they will simply say like Issaquah is famous for saying, “we weren’t paying attention before. Now we are.”

        Usually the DEIS is a farce for the little guys. An agency like ST runs over the little guys and of course controls the DEIS unless like the CID they can come up with a porcupine defense. But not the big dogs. Seattle, Issaquah, Bellevue, the DSA, Amazon, they don’t care what was in the plans before because they don’t think transit is why they are who they are, because they got that way without transit, and they make it perfectly clear, at least on the eastside, this is THEIR money. ST is just a bank clerk holding the money.

        Of course, you also fail to consider the changes ST must make because it does not have the funding for what it promised. How does ST build something it can’t afford, unless it can make changes? Or can only ST make changes?

  19. “This blog and The Atlantic would like to think everyone on ND is white and privileged and wealthy and Nimby’s clutching at pearls”

    I met a working-class Mercer Islander a couple weeks ago. He works at a non-office job on Capitol Hill and travels by bus, car, bike, and skateboard. He wishes there were more all-day transit throughout Mercer Island. I asked him if it was true that many houses are a steep hill down from the arterials, and he said his is one of them, but he could still make it up the hill to a bus if there were more buses. I told him about my idea of having Metro Flex on the island as a last-mile solution, and suggested he bring it up with his city council. He said the city has plenty of money for any kind of project like that if it wanted to.

  20. “The Atlantic which has taken a hard lurch left after its purchase: Privileged white writers accusing privileged white communities of being too privileged and white.”

    The Atlantic was already left when I subscribed in the mid 2000s. Now I get it once a year in December for Christmas reading and occasionally think about subscribing again. I don’t know about a change of ownership or hard lurch. But it has David Frum, a conservative writer I respect who used to be on “Left, Right, and Center”, one of the best radio talk shows (at

    What I dislike about the Atlantic is it tries too hard on the highbrow stuff (like The New Yorker), and some articles can be a bit annoyingly left, but it has a lot of good well-researched content too. Unless it changed recently.

    1. I’ve subscribed to the Atlantic for decades. I’ve heard this complaint for about that long. Not this, specifically, but more “It isn’t as good as it used to be”. I would say the only significant difference is that it tends to be more timely, instead of timeless. In my opinion, the worst was when they tried to predict the future of a campaign — one of the most annoying aspects of political reporting. The article — featured on the cover of all things — was how Gore was going to beat Bush in the debates. Was this true? Did this matter? Of course not. In contrast, you can read an article from twenty years ago making the case that marijuana should be legalized. Not too long ago, you can see how Coates lays out the argument for reparations. These are left wing arguments, but timeless arguments in keeping with its history (it started with the then far-left idea that slavery should be ended).

      The latest cover issue is about Ukraine. The previous issue was a scathing critique of the mental health system in America. The month before that was a report on extremism in America. Before that, a critique of social media. The biggest cover story in the last year was the report on how the Trump administration secretly pursued a policy of family separation at the border. Children were taken away from their parents, with neither ever knowing if they would get back together again. If Laurene Jobs is responsible for such top notch reporting, kudos to her. I fail to see how any of this is “uber progressive noblesse oblige”.


    Oh cool, staff proposes dropping another WSBLE station to save money.

    Also, apparently it’s cheaper to build a station on the one parcel where there is currently not a skyscraper. Who knew!! To bad there isn’t a large block of land in public ownership in the immediate vicinity that would make for a good station pit and then could become like a park or something afterwards.

    1. I see alternatives for the Denny Station location, but no dropped stations.

      If Denny Station were dropped, I would wonder how long the walk would be from another station to Whole Foods and the BECU and Xfinity branches.

      Page 8 has a comparison with one alternative saying “Streetcar effects” and “Avoids streetcar effects”. That’s so unimportant. We could shut down the SLU streetcar and make up for it with enhancements to the 40, 62, 70, and/or C.

    2. Al, I have long predicted SLU will be the mother of all DEIS’s. No Lake Forest Parks among this group of uber property owners and businesses Harrell is desperate to keep in Seattle. These are the DSA on steroids. ST won’t be putting its foot down in SLU. Basically SLU will be the midtown station redux. Where is the midtown station? Exactly.

      1. Why are we building Link in SLU? Because highrises need high-capacity transit to get people to them. If those same highrises don’t want it, we could revert back to the original plan of routing it through Belltown. But they could have said so in 2016.

    3. If they keep this up, there will be a subway from Smith Cove to Delridge with stops at The Gates Center, South of CID and SoDo. Ten billion for five useless stations.

      BUT, it’ll be really fast ! Way to go “consultants”!

      1. …All of which are 12 floors down and require 15 minutes of escalator navigation.

      2. Building this thing with no CID station, no Midtown station, and no SLU station would be incredible.

        Of course that assumes it will be built, but they are no closer to having shovels in the ground than they were in 2016.

    4. I understand the pessimism, but I think it is premature. Overall, the plans look fairly reasonable. I wish they considered stations further east, but they didn’t. The refinements have lead to significant improvements, but disruption and cost are still issues. It is mostly about trade-offs:

      Original proposal. This puts the station on Westlake, south of Denny. They don’t list entrances, but I assume somewhere around 9th and Blanchard, and somewhere around 8th and Lenora. This is the cheapest option, but it means shutting down all of Westlake between 7th and Denny for four years. The buses would have to rerouted, and the streetcar suspended. You could replace the streetcar with a bus of some sort, but given the detour, probably wouldn’t be worth it.

      Denny Station at Terry — I like this one the best. The original proposal has the station too close to the Westlake station. Moving it north helps, but then it comes closer to the “SLU” station. Moving east is best. Having entrances on both sides of Denny is great. Terry would be closed for four years, but buses don’t run on Terry (and the streetcar is unaffected). The only drawback is the cost — an extra $190 million.

      Denny Westlake Shifted North — This puts the station under Denny, presumably with entrance on both sides. This is an improvement over the original plan, as the station moves outside the shadow of Westlake. The streetcar would be suspended, but buses could run unimpeded. Thus we could easily run a “streetcar bus” if we felt it was necessary. Other, more important forms of transit (the 40 and C) would be fine. While an improvement in many ways, it would still cost $170 million. I would prefer Terry, even it costs an extra $20 million.

      Denny Station Shifted West — Oddly similar to “Shifting North”. It is only the angle of the track that changed (the southern end of the platform would be the same). This particular angle might save some money, if not for the fact that making the turn to serve SLU station becomes a bit more challenging. Thus they have rejected this as a separate station, and consider combining stations.

      Combining Stations — Basically the same as Denny North, but with a savings of $440 million, and no SLU station. This is a reasonable trade-off, simply because the plans for the SLU station look terrible. It is designed as a feeder station for Aurora buses. This sounds good, but there are two fundamental problems with that. First, the buses are largely going to the exact same place. Second, it puts the stations in the worst possible location in the area. The big question is, if you combine these stations, what do you do with the savings? If the answer is “Just pocket it”, then no. $440 million is way too much for that station, but overspending on a station is better than no station at all. If, on the other hand, it means that the Ballard Station could be moved to the heart of Ballard (or better yet, have two stations in Ballard) then this would be a decent trade-off. Unfortunately, that isn’t the plan. At best we would kill off this station, and move Ballard back to 15th, which is less than ideal.

      Personally I think Terry is the best option, with North Denny a close second. While I hate to spend a bunch extra, these are the best locations. Further study would give us more confidence in these prices (and additional details) but those seem like the best options.

    5. The question I have about these refinements is basic, but unanswered here:

      How deep are these stations?

      It really disappoints me to see that after all the discussion about station depth and conceptual entrances for the past few years , ST has reverted back to two dimensional diagrams of where only the platforms go — and expects the Board to make major financial decisions based on this.

      This is exactly what disgusts me about ST planning. The Board and the public get these detailed descriptions of impacts to street closures and cost estimates down to the nearest $100K, but we don’t get to see whether the resulting layout will benefit transit riders or not by being easier or harder to reach from the sidewalk.

      If the depth of the SLU station to get under the 99 tunnel can be reduced by combining stations, it starts to make some sense. However if it doesn’t change things, then it’s a negative.

      Show us the 3-D diagrams!

      1. Show us the 3-D diagrams!

        I agree, but to be fair, that might come later. Eventually the plans for CID did show the depth as well as important details, like the time it would take to get from one platform to the other, or from the platform to the street.

        A lot of this is relatively early. This is the first time the plan for Terry has included entrances. They may have a 3-D plan in mind, or it may still be very speculative. The more options you consider the more expensive is the detailed planning. If they found out that Terry costs $400 million, and North Denny costs $100 million, then Terry is out. There is no reason to go further, and figure out where the station entrances will be, or how many escalators people have to go down.

        Speaking of which, my guess is each option will be as deep as the other. So in that sense, the only thing a 3-D diagram will do is depress us (instead of giving us insight into which is the best option).

      2. Remember what Alon said, let transit professionals do their work. Even if the stations are much deeper than anyone likes, the experts know what’s best.

      3. “I agree, but to be fair, that might come later. Eventually the plans for CID did show the depth as well as important details, like the time it would take to get from one platform to the other, or from the platform to the street.”

        The presentation says to expect Board action in July. There is no “later” considering that the next presentation will include a recommendation.

        ST staff are again keeping basic facts about the project options from the Board and making them decide.

        This is bad planning for us riders. It needs major outrage!

        Reading the tea leaves, I fully expect the recommendation is to consolidate the stations and put the new combined station west of Westlake and north of Denny. Then a few months after that, I expect the station layout and depth to be revealed.

    1. “Why not have ChatGPT write a blog post?”

      Why not have ChatGPT design a transit system?

    2. That’s a good idea. You can have ChatGPT write it and you can paste it into a Page 2 article. You can sign it Sambot.

    3. Ask and you shall receive:

      Q: As a transit planner designing an ideal train system for a city like Seattle, I would consider several factors to create an efficient and effective transportation network. Here are some key aspects to consider:

      1. Comprehensive Coverage: The train system should provide comprehensive coverage across the city, connecting major residential areas, business districts, educational institutions, and popular destinations. The goal would be to offer convenient access to public transit for as many residents as possible.

      2. Transit Hubs: Identify key transit hubs where multiple train lines intersect with other modes of public transportation, such as bus stations or light rail stations. These hubs would act as central transfer points, facilitating seamless transfers between different transit lines and reducing travel time for passengers.

      3. High-Frequency Service: Implement a high-frequency service to reduce waiting times and encourage greater ridership. Trains should run frequently, particularly during peak hours, to accommodate the demand and ensure that commuters can rely on the system for their daily travel needs.

      4. Integration with Existing Systems: Coordinate with existing transit systems, such as buses and light rail, to create a seamless and integrated network. This includes convenient transfers, shared fare systems, and coordinated schedules to enhance connectivity and improve overall transit experience.

      5. Accessibility: Ensure that the train system is accessible to all members of the community, including individuals with disabilities. Stations should be equipped with elevators, ramps, and other necessary infrastructure to enable easy boarding and alighting for passengers with mobility challenges.

      6. Sustainability: Design the train system with a focus on sustainability by utilizing environmentally friendly technologies. This can include incorporating electric trains, implementing regenerative braking systems, and optimizing energy efficiency throughout the network.

      7. Community Engagement: Involve community stakeholders, including residents, businesses, and advocacy groups, in the planning process. Seek their input and feedback to ensure that the train system meets the needs of the community and aligns with their vision for sustainable transportation.

      8. Future Expansion: Plan for future expansion of the train system to accommodate population growth and changing travel patterns. Conduct feasibility studies and identify potential corridors for future lines, considering factors such as projected demand, land use patterns, and anticipated development.

      9. Information and Technology: Implement a robust information and technology infrastructure to provide real-time updates to passengers regarding train schedules, delays, and service changes. This can include mobile apps, digital signage at stations, and a user-friendly website for trip planning.

      10. Safety and Security: Prioritize safety and security measures throughout the train system. This includes well-lit stations, surveillance cameras, emergency call boxes, and adequate staffing to ensure the safety of passengers and deter potential criminal activities.

      By considering these factors, the ideal train system for a city like Seattle would aim to provide a reliable, efficient, and sustainable mode of transportation that meets the needs of the community and enhances the overall quality of life for residents and visitors alike.

      1. Sounds like the bullshit I (and everyone else) used to put in resumes when looking for that better paying IT job.

      2. “These hubs would act as central transfer points, facilitating SEAMLESS transfers between different transit lines and REDUCING travel time for passengers.” (emphasis mine)

        Is that what transit experts around the world say? ST should study that sentence.

        Note that ChatGPT says nothing that couldn’t be found in a generic book like Human Transit, and gives absolutely no guidance or suggestions on where specific routes and stations should be, which is what we’d really want to know.

        Maybe ask a more specific question, like which is the best route for a rail line in downtown Seattle or Ballard, or where north and south Link should terminate.

      3. Same Rules apply. Somewhere between a politician and a B+ 250 word senior thesis.

        which is the best route for a rail line in downtown Seattle or Ballard?

        Determining the best route for a rail line in downtown Seattle or Ballard would require a detailed analysis that takes into account various factors, including existing infrastructure, population density, projected ridership, land use patterns, environmental considerations, and community feedback. While I can’t provide real-time or site-specific information, I can offer some general considerations for selecting a rail line route:

        1. Demand and Ridership: Assess the current and projected demand for transit in both downtown Seattle and Ballard. Consider factors such as population density, employment centers, residential areas, and existing transportation patterns. A route that serves areas with high demand and potential ridership would be a crucial consideration.

        2. Accessibility: Prioritize a rail line route that enhances accessibility for residents, workers, and visitors. Identify key destinations, such as employment centers, educational institutions, medical facilities, and cultural attractions, and ensure the route connects these areas efficiently.

        3. Existing Infrastructure: Consider the existing transportation infrastructure in downtown Seattle and Ballard. Identify opportunities to leverage and integrate with existing transit systems, such as buses, light rail, and streetcars, to create a seamless and interconnected network.

        4. Connectivity: Evaluate the potential for connecting multiple neighborhoods, districts, and regions with the rail line. Identify opportunities for transfers or interchanges with other modes of transportation, such as bus stations or existing rail lines, to enhance connectivity and provide convenient travel options for passengers.

        5. Land Use and Development: Consider the current and future land use patterns along potential routes. Identify areas with potential for growth, redevelopment, or revitalization, and assess how the rail line could support and stimulate economic development and urban renewal.

        6. Community Input: Engage with community stakeholders, including residents, businesses, advocacy groups, and local government representatives, to understand their transportation needs, concerns, and preferences. Gather feedback through public meetings, surveys, and workshops to ensure that the selected route aligns with the community’s vision and priorities.

        7. Environmental Considerations: Evaluate the environmental impact of potential routes, considering factors such as noise, air quality, and ecological sensitivities. Seek to minimize negative impacts and explore opportunities for sustainable design and construction practices.

        8. Cost and Feasibility: Conduct a thorough cost and feasibility analysis for potential routes, considering factors such as construction costs, operational expenses, right-of-way acquisition, and potential funding sources. Assess the technical viability and engineering challenges associated with each route.

        It is important to note that selecting the best rail line route for downtown Seattle or Ballard is a complex process that requires input from various stakeholders and expertise from urban planners, transportation engineers, and environmental specialists. Local transit agencies and government bodies typically undertake comprehensive studies and engage in extensive public consultation to determine the most suitable route based on these considerations.

      4. “require a detailed analysis that takes into account various factors”

        That’s what we’re asking you to do. Analyze all the existing data in your vast memory and make the best recommendation, supported by the best experts in your database. That’s what brilliant AIs like yourself are supposed to do better than humans, right? You’re supposed to be almost as brilliant as Sam, so this should be a piece of cake.

        By the way, what do you think my last sentence means? Can you cook a transit network by mixing flour, water, eggs, and sugar? Who on average can cook the best transit network: grandmothers, chefs, zoomers, or stoners? What does a transit network taste like? Do you like the taste of a transit network?

        Also, colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

    4. As a transit planner, striking a balance between urban and regional connections is crucial for an effective transportation system. The focus would depend on the specific needs and characteristics of the city like Seattle. Here’s how I would approach this aspect:

      Urban Connections: Prioritize the development of an extensive urban transit network within the city limits. This includes designing a well-connected system of train lines that serve densely populated neighborhoods, major employment centers, commercial areas, and cultural destinations within the city. Emphasize high-frequency service and seamless transfers between different modes of urban transit, such as buses, light rail, and streetcars, to provide convenient options for local residents, commuters, and visitors.

      Regional Connections: Simultaneously, it is essential to establish strong regional connections to connect Seattle with surrounding areas and neighboring communities. Consider the commuting patterns, travel demand, and population centers in the wider region. Identify key regional corridors where train lines can efficiently link Seattle to nearby cities, suburbs, and employment hubs. This could involve collaborations with neighboring jurisdictions and transit agencies to ensure smooth integration and seamless transfers for passengers traveling between different regions.

      Transit Hubs: Designate strategically located transit hubs within the city that act as major interchange points connecting both urban and regional transit lines. These hubs can facilitate transfers between local and regional trains, as well as other modes of transportation, such as buses, ferries, or intercity rail services. This integration will enable commuters to travel seamlessly across different modes and regions, enhancing the overall connectivity and efficiency of the transit system.

      Multi-Modal Approach: Adopt a multi-modal approach that combines various transportation modes to offer comprehensive mobility options. While trains are an integral part of the transit system, integrating them with other modes like buses, light rail, ferries, and bike-sharing services ensures a holistic and interconnected transportation network. This approach accommodates different travel needs and enables passengers to reach their destinations efficiently, whether they are traveling within the city or venturing to regional destinations.

      Demand Analysis: Conduct detailed demand analysis to understand the travel patterns, commuting behavior, and preferences of residents and visitors in both urban and regional contexts. This analysis should inform decision-making processes, allowing the transit planner to allocate resources effectively and prioritize investments based on projected demand. A data-driven approach ensures that transit investments align with the needs of the population while accounting for regional connections.

      Ultimately, the goal is to strike a balance between urban and regional connections, creating a transit system that efficiently serves both the local population within the city and the broader region. By providing seamless connectivity within the city and robust regional connections, the transit system can enhance accessibility, reduce congestion, and promote sustainable travel choices for residents and visitors.

      1. I agree with all of that. I would add that for a city like (greater) Seattle, providing good suburban connections tends to cost very little in terms of capital, but more in terms of service. In contrast, within the city it is the opposite. If you find yourself straying from this, chances are, you are wasting money.

        Allow me to elaborate. Almost all of the density and major destinations are within Seattle proper, with a handful in nearby suburbs. The Seattle region is full of major freeways and highways, such as I-5, I-90, the West Seattle Bridge, and much of SR 99. Thus travel into the city is very fast. Yet travel within the city (full of its destinations and density) is not. Thus building (very expensive) grade separated rail inside the city is often a good value. But the best option for the suburbs is to leverage express buses connected to transit hubs, saving riders time and agencies money. For example, the Mercer Island Station will be a major transit hub for the I-90 corridor. It will save the transit agency quite a bit of service money. Yet this station is not very expensive. It is essentially an add-on to the more important Bellevue/Redmond to Seattle line.

        Or consider the northward expansion of Link. At some point, you get diminishing returns, no matter what you do, or where you go. The pattern lends itself to express bus service, both in ridership and travel patterns. There just aren’t that many people riding between Mountlake Terrace and Ash Way, for example (nor will there ever be). Thus extending rail that far gets you very little. At some point — probably before you leave the city limits — it makes sense to focus on connecting the trains to those express buses, so that riders don’t have to backtrack to reach important parts of the city (like the UW).

        In general, investing in major transit projects in the suburbs are bound to be a bad value. What they need most of all is just additional service. In contrast, a lot of the city has good transit service — it is just extremely slow. Capital projects are a much better value, and when they are built, service costs go down.

        Then there are particular geographic issues. West Seattle, for example, is a classic case where a trunk-and-branch express bus system makes the most sense. It doesn’t make sense to truncate those buses anywhere along the way, simply because there is so little along the way. It is also relatively close to the city. Truncating the Lynnwood buses at a 145th Station is a reasonable thing to do — truncating West Seattle buses in SoDo is not.

        As with your essay, just about any transit expert would notice this, once they did the research. I don’t think a bot would. By the way, this is an interesting essay from Walker about the limitations of the app:

      2. Just to be clear, this is CGPT’s essay, not mine. I’m not sure if I should be flattered or it should.

        Of course, it’s almost certainly consumed this entire blog, comments and all, has all your writing at its virtual fingertips, and is just regurgitating your ideas back to you. With keywords like Seattle, transit, and regional I would be surprised if it wasn’t pulling from here, as well as texts that you have read.

      3. Cam, that’s amazing. May I ask what you asked to get the “As a transit planner, ..” response?

      4. First Q in the thread (above):

        “If you were a transit planner, how would you design an ideal train system for a city like Seattle?”

        Then the follow-up, generating this response:

        “as a transit planner, would you focus more on urban or regional connections?”

        If you keep honing in under the same question, it makes some intuitive leaps as to what you are really looking for. Though it’s not really intuition per se. Nobody really understands how the neural net works, I don’t think. We have to be careful about anthropomorphizing.

      5. On the topic of “how it works” – it’s easy to think of the system as trying to complete a document (like auto-complete on steroids, as it were) – so your clarification questions are simply additional words in the document, which the system once again tries to complete, based on aggregate statistics (to simplify, things like counts of pairs of words, triples of words, etc.) which have been seen in its aggregate training data.

        The exact subsets of correlated words it tracks, and how those accumulate in higher level statistics, are not known, no – but at a high level we do know what the model does, just not the exact details of what each variable in the model is tracking.

        Hope this helps provide some intuition.

  22. The Seattle Times has an article today on the FW Link suspension bridge.

    The new opening date is 2026. The bridge will add $72 million to the $2.5 billion estimated price tag for 8 miles of Link. The Board voted to approve a $110 million increase to pay for the bridge and “to pay assorted lesser costs”. Also due to the delay the Board boosted a consulting contract $33 million to a total of $139 million for quality assurance, technical support, and construction management. According to ST the additional costs can be paid by the project’s own contingency funds without “siphoning cash from other transit improvements” due a large project contingency.

    The article also contains some information on the mechanics of the new bridge, and how the $110 million increase was necessary to maintain good relations with the contractor. According to ST the soil samples taken in 2010 were “hindered by woodlands”, but when the tree cover was removed to start construction the problems with the soil were discovered. (I didn’t know trees hindered soil samples). According to the Board there is no analysis at this time to open Kent/Des Moines early although the stations will be done in 2024.
    Since FW is in King Co. I am assuming these costs are the responsibility of the S KC subarea.

    1. Meanwhile, in Canada:

      On March 16, 2018, the provincial government approved the construction of the “Broadway Subway Project”, an initiative which will extend the Millennium Line west to Arbutus Street and add six new stations. The extension will be 5.7 kilometres (3.5 mi) long, all but 700 metres (2,300 ft) of which will be underground, and cost an estimated $2.83 billion. Originally scheduled for a 2025 opening, the expected opening was pushed back to early 2026 in November 2022. The delay was caused by a labor dispute involving concrete workers which started in June 2022.

      That was from Wikipedia. Now check out the page for Federal Way Link:

      The Federal Way Link Extension is a planned Link light rail extension of the 1 Line that will travel 7.8 miles (12.6 km) south from Sea-Tac Airport to Federal Way, along the west side of Interstate 5. It was approved in 2008, but scaled back in 2010 to terminate at Kent Des Moines station. The Star Lake and Federal Way Downtown stations were re-instated in 2016, with the passing of Sound Transit 3. The project began construction in 2020 and is expected to open in 2024 or 2025.

      (The Wikipedia page has not been updated). The SkyTrain is shorter than Federal Way Link, but has six stations, instead of four. It is almost entirely underground, while Federal Way Link is all above ground. It will take a full 18 years to build Federal Way Link, and 8 years to build the Broadway extension. The Broadway extension was delayed because of a strike. The Federal Way extension was delayed because of reduced tax revenue, escalating costs, and engineering mistakes (as well as a similar strike). One of the major advantages of above ground work is that it can be done fairly quickly, and has fewer cost overruns compared to a subway. And yet in this case, it was exactly the opposite.

      Oh, and these projects will cost roughly the same, and yet the Broadway extension will carry way more riders, and way more riders per service hour. In that sense, it is almost apples and oranges. It is just striking that it takes us so long to do the easy stuff, while they do the hard stuff so much faster.

      Perhaps a better example is the extension to Langley. Again, from Wikipedia:

      In July 2022, the extension received approval from the provincial government to be built in one single phase, opening in 2028 with eight stations … major construction is scheduled to start in 2024.

      So from the moment it gets full financial approval to full completion will take 6 years. This is for an above ground line with 8 stations and roughly 16-kilometres of track. The full extent of Federal Way Link (including Angle Lake) is 12.6 km, and has 4 stations. ST3 passed in 2016, and Federal Way Link (originally part of ST2) won’t be done until ten years after the ST3, despite this second phase being shorter and having a lot fewer stations.

      No matter how you cut it, Vancouver is doing a much job at well, everything (transit related).

      1. tbf to Vancouver, they still have had their own fair share of blunders while they build out the SkyTrain over the decades.

        Locals would argue that the Canada Line was woefully underbuilt for it’s needed capacity, slower speeds, and would require a funky retrofitting if they want to extend the line south of Brighouse Station to Delta or Riverpoint.

        Evergreen Extension was supposed to be a SkyTrain line back in the 90s then changed to LRT line somewhere partway through planning, but local politics ended up going back to SkyTrain after pushback and feedback from local Mayors and community activism.

        The Millennium Line existed in an odd limbo for about a decade after being built as people saw it as a bit of a white elephant due to how slow development was around stations compared to the Expo Line.

        The Langley extension itself exists due to how politically unpopular the Surrey City Council was when they went all in on a streetcar proposal to serve Guildford Mall – Surrey Central – Newton Exchange. A new political party, Safe Surrey Coalition swept the council in the 2018 election along with a longtime old hat of South of Fraser politics Doug McCallum, became mayor again. One of his promises was to kill the streetcar and revive the SkyTrain for Fraser Highway which did finally happen under his tenure.

        There’s also the replacing of the 99 B line with the Broadway extension. It was originally studied as a single line to UBC. Put on the ballot in the mid 2010s and failed to get a yes from voters. They did finally get the project off the ground, but only to Arbutus. Some people were not paticulary happy about that predicament, in paticular UBC students and faculty. It finally got funding, but only after UBC and both BC and Federal chipping in to plan and develop the second phase of the extension to open in the late 2020s/early 2030s.

        For all intents and purposes, SkyTrain projects has been done well and fared better than American counterparts. But I wouldn’t call them inherently better, but it also comes from how planning and breauacracy works in Canada compared to the US. In paticular EIS and NEPA reviews for transit projects. That aspect is done a lot better in Canada and abroad generally and iS less bogged down in the minutiae that a lot of NEPA proposals have to go through to get approved.

      2. For all intents and purposes, SkyTrain projects has been done well and fared better than American counterparts. But I wouldn’t call them inherently better,

        I would. It isn’t even close, really. Just look at the issues you raised:

        1) Lack of capacity on Canada Line. Boo hoo. The line is way more popular than expected. Most agencies wish they had that problem. That’s like saying a restaurant sucks because it is always crowded, with lines out the door for takeout. Oh, and they will increase capacity, by making a few, relatively inexpensive fixes.

        2) Extending south of Brighouse Station would be difficult. So what? You are deep into the suburbs by then. You can always run express buses at that point. Even if they had tracks heading south, begging to be extended, it might not be worth the money to cross the Fraser.

        3) Evergreen Extension was supposed to be a SkyTrain line, then they considered something different, then ended up extending SkyTrain after all. OK, I’m trying to see how that is a problem.

        4) At one point the Langley Extension was going to be light rail. That got shot down. Now it is SkyTrain. Again, I’m trying to see how that is a problem. Are you saying they should have built BRT instead? At worst the SkyTrain is overkill, but while Surrey definitely sprawls, it is huge and growing, with over 600,000 people. It doesn’t have the density to generate large walk-up transit numbers, but the line maximizes the grid. This is really the strength of SkyTrain. Yes, it covers most of the major attractions, but the city is not as dense as people assume. For example, the reason the Canada Line is so popular is because it fits the grid very well. It is all about the network.

        5) The planners wanted to replace the 99 B Line with SkyTrain. This proposal got voted down. Yet they are building it anyway. Again, I’m not seeing the problem here. The voters were stupid for rejecting the original plans, but it is getting built anyway.

        Now compare it to the screw ups by Sound Transit:

        1) They skipped First Hill.

        I don’t need to go any further. I could, but that would be piling on. Every agency makes mistakes. DC Metro should serve Georgetown, for example. But you combine all the various mistakes made in building the SkyTrain network, and they don’t equal one of the first mistakes made in building Link.

        But it isn’t about mistakes, it is about what Vancouver has, and will soon have. As of right now, their transit system is better than what we will have in forty years. In less than ten years, their system will be considerably better. Yet we are spending considerably more. Seattle is largely fixated on distance, while Vancouver is not. At worse TransLink is getting carried away by going all the way to Langley. But they aren’t sacrificing far more important changes in the city to do so. The UBC line will be built. Will the UW to Ballard Line ever be built? Will First Hill ever have a train station? Will we ever have the powerful and effective grid network that leads to half a million light rail users, and three-quarters of a million bus users every day, like Vancouver? I think the answer in all these cases is “no”, and it is because Vancouver did things much better than Seattle.

        Interesting side note: I commented on Twitter that with the Broadway Line to UBC (and the Langley Line) SkyTrain will soon be “done”. Someone there of course objected, and listed worthy projects. I couldn’t argue as to the justification of those projects — my point was that every city in North America has projects that are a better value. This is actually something to be proud of, as Vancouver has done well in creating an outstanding transit network. Someone then commented that Vancouver should not be compared to other North American cities. Maybe, but that just shows how well Vancouver is doing things (or how poorly North American cities are doing things). If your transit system has already surpassed the rest of North America, and you are now in the same league as European cities, you are clearly doing things right. Seattle, on the other hand, is not, and will quite likely go down as a textbook case for how bad decisions hampered transit mobility.

    2. Vancouver, population 675, 218 (city only). Three Skytrain lines within the city, built in 1985, 2006, and 2009. The first was extended multiple times, the second at least once.

      Seattle, population 733, 919 (2021). One Link line within the city. A second that might fully open by 2025. A third that probably won’t open until the 2040s if ever. And its frequency is much less than Skytrain and it has slow surface segments. Yet Seattle has the higher population. That should imply more transit than Vancouver, not less.

      1. Most of the problem is that US cities don’t take Vancouver as a model for what they should have. Instead they treat it as an outlier. If they even understand how extensive and effective Vancouver’s transit is. There’s also the video that says it’s not just rich white countries that show the US how it’s done, Guadalajara in Mexico is also a model.

      2. Most of the problem is that US cities don’t take Vancouver as a model for what they should have.

        I agree. The worst part is that Seattle didn’t, despite Vancouver being our closest neighbor, and the obvious similarities between the cities. People ignore the obvious strengths of their transit system, while focusing on things like density. Sure, Vancouver may have more density around some of the stations, but the Canada Line, for example, does not get extremely high ridership because each station looks like Brooklyn, let alone Hong Kong. Far from it. The density, at most, would account for good numbers, but it doesn’t account for overall outstanding mobility. There are really a handful of things that Vancouver does (or did) that account for that:

        1) When in doubt, put in a station. This is just standard, international practice, but it is common in the U. S. to skip stations. Urban stop spacing is the way to go.

        2) Focus on quality, not quantity. Again, this is standard, but many U. S. cities skipped good destinations in their zeal for distance. Dallas is a classic example. They wanted to go all the way to Fort Worth, which of course was bound to be expensive (and not that effective). In doing so, they cut corners. Important parts of Dallas were skipped. Ridership isn’t that high, and the train runs infrequently. BART is another example, as Oakland is way underserved, with literally miles between stations, skipping over dense, urban areas.

        3) For midsize cities (like Seattle and Vancouver) remember that buses will likely carry most of your riders, and thus the network is essential. Vancouver has an outstanding grid and while not every city can achieve that level of transit mobility, it should be a goal.

        4) Automate to improve frequency. This is very important in general, but especially important when considering the network. No one likes to transfer, but if the wait time is minimal, folks will do it.

        That is about it. Yet most American cities don’t approach transit that way. They start with the mode, and almost always pick “light rail”, because that is what everyone is doing (or it sounds good). They focus on areas of heavy freeway traffic, instead of dense, urban areas that are close to each other. They often put in stations next to the freeway, despite years of experience showing that doesn’t work well. They ignore the overall transit network, treating the buses and trains as completely different — essentially building the rail network and then telling the bus managers to deal with it. Then, after the dust settles, they wonder why so few ride transit, and blame it on something else (Americans love for cars). Seattle may be special in that we are spending a huge amount of money per capita on a system that won’t be that effective, but the root problem is that we are building things the typical American way, which is to say, poorly.


    “Seattle-area mortgage payments cost nearly double the rent”.

    “A few years ago, some Seattle-area residents had a lucky window to buy a home without adding much to their monthly costs.

    “With mortgage rates at rock-bottom levels, some tenants found that they could afford a monthly mortgage payment without spending much more than they were already paying in rent. That opened the door to homeownership, particularly for aging millennials willing to move to the suburbs.

    “Those days are long gone.

    “Owning a home in the Seattle area now comes at an 88% premium — meaning the median monthly mortgage payment costs 88% more than the monthly rent for the same home, according to a recent Redfin analysis. That is the fifth-highest premium among major metro areas in the country. California metro areas rank in the top four spots.

    “One major culprit: mortgage rates. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage currently stands at 6.6%, up from about 3% at this time in 2020 and 5% a year ago. Especially in an expensive market like Seattle, where a housing shortage has already driven prices up, monthly payments can snowball quickly as rates rise.

    “That adds a lot to borrowing costs, which makes buying a lot less affordable compared to renting,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather.

    “Redfin’s analysis compares a $6,040 mortgage payment for the median Seattle-area home to $3,208 rent for the same home. The Seattle-based real estate brokerage analyzed the median Seattle-area home costing about $761,000 and assumed a 5% down payment, homeowners’ insurance and property tax costs and a 6.5% mortgage rate. The analysis included detached single-family homes, town homes and condos.”

    Generally this means two things: 1. More SFH rentals are sold to someone who wants to live in the house; and 2. rental rates for SFH rise to match purchase costs. Most investors don’t buy a SFH to rent in order to lose $3000/mo., especially with SFH house values flat.

    The ticking time bomb for both residential and offices is the resetting of interest rates. Nearly all office buildings or large multi-family projects have loans that reset every 3-5 years, and many home buyers choose a 5/7 year fixed rate mortgage with the balance due at maturity because the initial interest rate is lower than a fixed 30 year mortgage, although any buyer or owner who did not lock in historically low 30 year mortgage rates over the last few years was taking a huge gamble unless they planned to sell before their loan matured.

  24. I don’t see any problems with getting rid of the SLU station which is not actually in SLU and serves to just shorten the Rapid Line E, but for what purpose? The Denny West station is perfect.

    The savings should go to building a shallow CID station on 4th though. The County Jail (CID North) and Salvation Army (CID South) stations are still terrible.

    1. The best an Aurora station can do is going from southeast Seattle or the airport to Aurora. Transferring from Aurora to downtown is marginal and not worth depriving most of the SLU walkshed of a station. Transferring from Aurora to Ballard would be idiotic, since you’re better off transferring to the 40 or 44. Transferring from Aurora to Smith Cove might be useful for Intebay workers, but those are few compared to the highrises in SLU and downtown. Transferring from Aurora to Seattle Center seems gratuitous: occasional event-goers will walk further than people going to/from SLU highrises every day. So the Aurora station is one of those things that looks logical on paper but isn’t if you think of what passengers would do and would want.

      1. So the Aurora station is one of those things that looks logical on paper but isn’t if you think of what passengers would do and would want.

        To be fair, I see Aurora to Seattle Center as a relatively popular transfer. The problem is, like the transfer to get to the south end, the time savings are not that big. It takes about six minutes on the 8. Given the time spent going down into the station and back up again, that doesn’t save you that much time.

        The station is just not that good. Then again, it isn’t horrible. I really hesitate to eliminate stations, since that is one of the biggest problems we have in our system. I go back to my main question: What will we do with the savings? The shallow CID station is not being eliminated because of money. If anything, it is the opposite. You could save a lot of money by interlining, and just reusing the stations. It is pretty easy to see a much more cost-effective system that includes combining those stations. Have two stations in Ballard, then the proposed stations, ending at Westlake. Except you don’t end at Westlake, you keep going to First Hill. Eventually you do roughly the following: Boren & Madison, Boren & Broadway, 14th & Jackson, Judkins Park, Mount Baker. For now, you just do what you can with the money (Boren & Madison would be nice).

        Except Sound Transit isn’t going to do that. Nor are they putting in a good station in Ballard, let alone two stations there. Nor are they going to have a shallow CID station on 4th. The problem isn’t money, it is vision. The folks in charge are just really bad at this. If we get rid of the “SLU” station, it is unlikely we get anything particularly good in return, making me very hesitant to suggest we do.

    1. As I said, rents are tending toward equalization across the region.

      The problem with focusing on the medians: the median income, the median home price, is that hundreds of thousands of people are below it. The people above it don’t need our attention or support, but the people below it do. If some of those hundreds of thousands move to Tacoma or South King County because the lower housing prices are closer to their income range, it causes those areas to increase rapidly. If those areas also have little housing construction, which is true in South King County and may be somewhat true in Tacoma, it pushes up prices even more. Seattle and Bellevue have built a lot more housing in the past fifteen years than South King County, so they can absorb more additional people than South King County can. When additional people go to an area that doesn’t have additional housing, it makes competition fiercer and pushes prices up. So it’s natural that prices would be rising faster in Tacoma and South King County than in Seattle now.

      Another way of looking at it is that prices are heading toward equalization. Higher-priced Seattle is moving more slowly, while lower-priced South King County and Pierce County are rising more quickly. If you project that into the future you end up with equalization. It will probably never be 100%, because there’s only one Space Needle, one downtown Seattle, one Lake Washington shore, one Medina, etc, so if you want to live near them there’s only one place you can live. But if you’re looking for generic features like a supermarket or school or yard, those are everywhere, you might as well go to the lowest-cost area. But a lot of other people are doing the same. When there are more households than housing units, prices rise everywhere.

      1. Mike, I think that you mentioned you do not have kids. If you think that a “school” is a generic feature, you haven’t paid attention to how parents evaluate school district quality when picking where to live.

        Not everyone has the luxury of doing so, of course; plenty of people live where they can and make the most of the school system they get there. But when a choice can be made, school district quality is one of the most important features parents will use, because it is viewed as so critical to their children’s future.

        I know that you made this as a throw-away comment; but I think it speaks well of something Daniel often brings up that I think some of us can dismiss a little too easily. There really are different priorities to life, and transit availability is just one of those, and particularly geared towards specific classes of people: younger, childless, or (no offense intended) with lower income. Not everyone wants a house with a yard and good schools, but plenty of people do, and for those people, those may be more important features than living in a small apartment or Condo on a good bus line in a part of Seattle with a less great elementary. Plenty of people still want those things, and we should accommodate them, but it’s quite possible that attempting to build out “just” Seattle, or “just” multifamily housing in Tacoma, just won’t do.

      2. Do Tacoma and Pierce County have good schools? I’ve never heard of anyone going there for the schools.

      3. According to this:

        University Place School District is ranked #7 in the Seattle Metro area, ahead of Seattle itself.

        Tacoma SD is lower, but it is ahead of other cities in the region, such as Federal Way, Highline, or Tukwila. So, if one has a choice between say Federal Way and Tacoma, I could imagine choosing a longer commute back to central King County in favor of a better school district. As I said, it’s a matter of trade-offs. People may not go to Tacoma for the schools (vs. say Bellevue) but they may well go to Tacoma vs. other places in south King or Pierce that are more convenient in other ways.

        Disclaimer: I know very little about the South King or Pierce school districts from personal experience, so my observations are general and based on sites such as the one I linked to, above. I defer to others’ observations if they do have first hand experiences, and look forward to hearing from them.

      4. I’d describe Tacoma SD as Above Average, like a B. Not great, but not terrible either. I did pre-k to 1st in Tacoma SD before going to local private schools in the Tacoma area for the rest of my K-12 and it was alright. I went to private for a variety of reasons (primarily smaller class sizes, special education needs, etc). But for the average student in the Tacoma SD, it’s a decent education. For people who have children with special education needs, it may not work best for you.

      5. My son goes to Stadium. I’d say it’s equivalent to maybe Hale, where he would have gone if we stayed in Lake City. Silas pulls from Proctor and has an even better reputation. They have some stem and arts magnates as well. Curtis in UP is probably the best public in Pierce. Tacoma is similar to Seattle with its North End / South end quality disparities. Follow the money.

        There is also Annie and Charles Wright on the private side, amd Bellermine is a catholic with a good rep.

      6. “…it’s quite possible that attempting to build out “just” Seattle, or “just” multifamily housing in Tacoma, just won’t do.”

        While I agree with most of your comment Anonymouse (as a SFH homeowner with a family and a thousand pets), but I think you don’t quite grasp how interconnected the various types of housing stock is.

        For example, my neighborhood is full of large, mostly gorgeous historic single family homes. But many of them are cut into 5 to 8 rental apartments because criminal zoning laws that have existed since the 50s that have blocked the building of needed multi-family housing in Tacoma. I’m currently starring out my window at a stunning 3000/sf Dutch colonial that has converted from 5 rental units, to SF, and back to 5 rental units just in the last 3 years, as the pressures of an increase in the educated wealthy moving down from Seattle and the skyrocketing rents collide and try to sort themselves out.

        I’m hopeful that the dozens of new, large apartment buildings, mostly on the hill, recently or about to come on line, as well as Home in Tacoma and HB 1110 becoming law, will loosen zoning enough going forward building will increase and rents and housing prices will stabilize, but there is still much that a determined NIMBY can do to stop needed housing in their neighborhood, laws be damned.

      7. As an aside, I did look at the census data last week to confirm what my lying eyes are showing me. The number of college educated in Pierce county started to increase about 10 years ago as housing and rents started going crazy after the great recession in Seattle, and moved from the high teens to pushing near 25% college educated (2 or 4 year degree) in Pierce.

        I haven’t looked at actually immigration patterns to confirm that Seattle is the source of the majority of the migration, but it doesn’t really matter in the end. We moved from Albuquerque, but Tacoma was attractive because Seattle had ceased to be, because of the cost of housing. Whether people move FROM Seattle or choose to not move TO Seattle makes little difference in eventual the impact.

      8. I tend to like this OSPI site to see how the various schools in my local district, Edmonds SD*, are doing in comparison to other districts in our region. What’s nice about this site is that one can drill down to the scoring metrics by school.

        *For the record, there is significant room for improvement for my district.

      9. According to this:

        I would caution against such measurements. They largely just reflect the economic demographic of the student body. A lot of wealthy kids, they do well. A lot of poor kids, they struggle. It is worthwhile to see if a city has trouble passing levies (since we have a very backwards way of funding schools) but the ranking goes beyond that, in that schools within the same district are ranked differently. Often these sorts of lists are based on test scores, which usually just a reflection of the economic makeup of the student body.

        To get know a school, you have to talk to other parents, students and faculty. For example, just the other day I talked with someone who goes to Ingraham, and his dad. If your opinion of Ingraham was based on what is the papers, you would think it has big problems. The parent — whose opinion I value — said the principal is outstanding. The student seemed happy with the school, although I didn’t talk to him in much detail. I feel quite confident that Ingraham is a good school, but if I was worried, I would talk to faculty (teachers especially). In general, it comes down to particulars. For example, if the only thing keeping my kid interested in school is playing drums, I would consider going to Roosevelt or Garfield. If they want to be a DJ, Nathan Hale makes sense. Ingraham has a good language immersion program, which I’m sure appeals to a lot of people.

      10. Ross, I agree wealth has a lot to do with a student’s success. It starts at home. The key for a child is stability and safety, and that is a lot harder if the family is poor or broken.

        Legislation post McCleary prohibits local levies from funding general education. That funding per student comes from the state although local levies can augment capital needs and special education. McCleary is because the elderly and affluent retirees in Port Ludlow rejected every school levy which starved my wife’s K-12 school Chimicum from revenue. Recently MI’ local capital levy was passed by a landslide despite grumbling over Covid closures while once again Kent rejected their levy. The key question today is whether McCleary’s state funding requirement for general education should apply to capital levies.

        Due to declining enrollment during Covid the legislature came up with a sleight of hand until those students return: local levies could be based on 2019 enrollment figures (levy rate X number of students) which was 10% to 15% higher than actual enrollment and school districts could “borrow” against the additional local levy funding for general education.

        So far the students haven’t come back. The state on average pays around $18,000 per student although different districts get different amounts per student, and K-12 education is by far the biggest component of property taxes.

        Nearly every school district from Bellevue to Seattle is facing large budget deficits due to declining enrollment. Many like MI borrowed against their capital levy. 2023 is the year difficult choices have to be made because they can’t borrow more and Covid stimulus has run out, such as cutting music and art programs in Seattle to closing and consolidating elementary schools in Bellevue.

        Pre-pandemic 22% of Seattle parents send their kids to private school, second highest in the nation after San Francisco. Not surprisingly those two cities have two of the highest AMI’s. Private K-12 schools in Seattle generally run around $20,000 per year, which is after tax. Even on MI we have seen parents elect to keep their kids in private schools after the public schools reopened. Although arguably MI’s public schools provide a better education more and more parents are concerned about what they are taught, and find the public schools opaque and arrogant. Just like MI’s ciuncil got replaced in 2019 after years of unpopular policies this year we will see a replacement of the entire school board that began in 2021. Parents want to get back to the basics, ironically led by the non-white parents, with more AP courses, more rigorous grading, and way less DEI 2 which came in dead last in a recent parent survey for school priorities. I don’t think the districts or teachers union really believed parents would vote with their feet due to the cost of private tuition.

        A trend sweeping mostly red states is to allow the state funding to follow the student, even for private and religious K-12 schools. Recently the Supreme Court allowed this. Online instruction during Covid gave parents a direct view into how their kids were being taught and many didn’t like it.

        Obviously the teachers union is adamantly opposed to this idea, but ironically is a large part of the cause. Imagine if every student in Seattle had $18,000/student to spend on their education and could select their school. My guess is that 22% figure would be much higher.

        It is the rare child who can overcome crummy parents — and there are a lot of crummy parents, or kids having kids — or an impoverished neighborhood. A lot of kids fail even in wealthy districts. The schools that have had success in those situations, like in S Chicago, are usually private charter schools, although the bigger problem are the poor rural schools.

        Anonymouse is correct parents or those who hope to have kids tend to prioritize schools very highly in their decision where to live (although affordability comes first). $20,000/year per kid for private tuition goes a long way toward the mortgage one can afford. MI is popular for renters for the schools, especially the special needs program my wife works in. The quality of local public schools is a major factor in property values because the reality is many can’t afford private tuition.

      11. “A trend sweeping mostly red states is to allow the state funding to follow the student, even for private and religious K-12 schools.

        When the student doesn’t meet the standards set by said private or religious K-12 schools, what happens to them?

      12. Cam Solomon,

        I’ve been in and out Tacoma and for near 40 years, and I’ve watched the place change, in some ways for the better, and in some ways for the worse.

        The story of Tacoma (like the rest of USA) is one of displacement. I showed up in 1983. and the town was pretty down and out financially, but culturally it was great. There were more artists around back then. The Community World Theater and Cristal Ballroom had great runs. Because it was cheap to live there, Tacoma had a pretty diverse cast of characters back then.

        Don’t take this personally, but by moving to a house in Tacoma from Seattle, didn’t you displace somebody? Are you the problem or the solution? Don’t feel bad… I own a big house chopped into apartments I overcharge yuppies for. Used to be market rate affordable housing. Now it’s Seattle chumps overpaying. Fuckers are ruining Tacoma… I might as well get paid.

        Nobody builds shit for the displaced. Those new apartment buildings are for new people moving in. As long as rent keeps going up, the building continues for people with money. You can’t turn things back.

        Years ago I was eavesdropping at the Parkway Tavern as Jim Merritt was explaining to investors how the light rail project on Hilltop would “clean up the neighborhood” and TOD would “bring in a better class of people”. True story. The North End money looked at Sound Transit as public funds for gentrification. Somehow there’s no money for buses South of the freeways and yet…. millions for trains on Hilltop? Should transit be about social justice or gentrification for the wealthy?

      13. “Don’t feel bad… I own a big house chopped into apartments I overcharge yuppies for. Used to be market rate affordable housing. Now it’s Seattle chumps overpaying. Fuckers are ruining Tacoma… I might as well get paid.

        Nobody builds shit for the displaced. Those new apartment buildings are for new people moving in. As long as rent keeps going up, the building continues for people with money. You can’t turn things back.”

        You want that unique artsy culture that Tacoma has had for a long time and yet push out said people who bring that to Tacoma by charging overpriced rents to as you quote “Seattle Chumps”. You can’t really have your cake and eat it too if you aren’t willing to help keep the unique local culture alive within your community.

        You made that conscious choice as to what you considered really important despite saying you wanted the other thing to stay alive.

      14. “Don’t take this personally, but by moving to a house in Tacoma from Seattle, didn’t you displace somebody? Are you the problem or the solution?”

        You focus on individual choices, I tend to realize that policy, impacting societal changes, matter far more than what one family does.

        So we needed jobs and a place to live, and we moved to Tacoma instead of Seattle. An individual choice that impacted Tacoma negligibly (we “displaced” retiring professionals who wanted to move to Reno to be closer to their kids).

        But at the same time, both professionally and as a private citizen I provide data that shows the association between restrictive zoning, increasing rents, vacancies and subsequent increase in homelessness. That data provides clarity for those in positions to change things and allows people to advocate for policies that make substantive society-level changes that should improve some of our most intractable societal problems.

        Play the hand you are dealt, but at the same time try to change the rules of the game so that it provides more equitable outcomes.

      15. Zack B.

        I’ve done nothing to set policy, or set the direction in Tacoma… All I do is react the best I can to forces going on around me. Right now the Tacoma City Council is scheming up some nutty rent control law… and I’ll scheme up some way to get around it if I have to. I built that triplex with my own two hands out of used and leftover pieces I brought home from work. I’ve done my part to make Tacoma a better place. What has the Mayor ever done? Except lie about going to college. If you think any positive change is coming out of City Council…. you’re going to disappointed.

        Westneat over at the Seattle Times and Anthony B. Robbins at Post Alley have really shown (greater) Seattle’s main problem… “Grandiosity”. Remember, it’s all about the Big Picture on this blog– trains. Who cares about the little things? Or the little people? So what if bus service is failure in Tacoma? or Lynnwood, or Federal Way? As long as Seattle has subways, it’s a win!!

  25. The WSBLE EIS split is proceeding. In an ST email update: “WSLE [West Seattle] will proceed to a Final EIS, which is anticipated to be published in 2024. Meanwhile a new Draft EIS will be completed for BLE [Ballard-downtown] to reflect the recent action by the Sound Transit Board. The BLE alternatives will be updated, including the preferred alternative, other refinements and alternatives identified in the March 2023 board motion. The new BLE Draft EIS will rely and build upon the existing work to date on the WSBLE Draft EIS (published in January 2022), including all previous scoping comments, public outreach and feedback and environmental analysis. We are still working on the details of the BLE environmental review and engagement timeline [so no date yet] and will share an update as soon as we know more.”

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