NE 130th construction update: “Current construction at NE 130th St Infill Station is focused on the concrete platform and canopy structural steel. This work will be completed prior to electrification of the Lynnwood Link Extension overhead traction power, which allows operational testing prior to Lynnwood Link’s projected opening in July 2024…. The station finishes contract was issued for bid this spring and includes construction of station finishes and plaza and roadway improvements. This final station construction work is anticipated to begin in October 2023. The final station contract is pending Q2/Q3 board action from the Sound Transit Board…. Construction of station finishes, streetscape, and roadway improvements is anticipated to take approximately two years to complete, with the NE 130th Infill Station opening in Q2 2026.” This is from a Sound Transit email announcement. More about the design.

The Urbanist worries that new Denny station alternatives could delay Ballard Link.

Everett Link is about to start environmental review. ST’s System Expansion Committee will meet June 8 to consider alternatives to study.

Aurora Avenue has rechannelization workshops through June 15. (Urbanist)

Phoenix halts housing construction due to water limits. ($) New subdivisions will require a 100-year water supply from a non-groundwater, non-well source. This is an Arizona state mandate on parts of Maricopa County. “The decision means cities and developers must look for alternative sources of water to support future development — for example, by trying to buy access to river water from farmers or Native American tribes, many of whom are facing their own shortages. That rush to buy water is likely to rattle the real estate market in Arizona, making homes more expensive and threatening the relatively low housing costs that had made the region a magnet for people from across the country.”

A journey on the Elizabeth Line ($) in London. A photo tour of four station areas along the line. The Elizabeth Line, aka Crossrail, opened a year ago.

What if the US never built the Intestate highway system? (Geography by Geoff podcast) This 1.5 hour podcast is mostly about the creation of the Interstate program. The last third gets into what if that hadn’t happened. Co-host Hunter Shobe is a geography professor at Portland State University, and the author of “Upper Left Cities: a cultural atlas of San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle”. (I haven’t read the book.)

This is an open thread. If you know of any projects looking for feedback now, leave them in the comments.

259 Replies to “Open Thread 9”

  1. I am a bit befuddled at how ST claims that ST3 needs 90 more vehicles from 460 to 550 (20% increase above the original calculation which already accounted for spares) — and why that’s an issue that must be discussed before a full ST opening in 2026!

    https://www.soundtransit.org/st_sharepoint/download/sites/PRDA/ActiveDocuments/Presentation%20-%20Long-Term%20Light%20Rail%20Fleet%20and%20Storage%20Challenges%2006-01-23.pdf

    Because the need for vehicles won’t be fully realized until:
    1. Ballard Link opens in full (2039 but more likely in the 2040’s).
    2. The Issaquah-Kirkland Line opens at 6 minute headways and four car trains. This line alone appears to need 32-40 vehicles with ST’s latest assumptions.
    3. Every other line in the system (is 6 minutes reasonable all the way to Everett, Tacoma Dome, Downtown Redmond and West Seattle?) with four car trains.
    4. Eventual automation could change the kinds of vehicles purchased, vastly save labor costs and enable variable service patterns.

    I really think this issue of long term vehicle needs does not need to be discussed until at least 2026 when the ridership results of all of the ST2 extensions are realized. Discussing it now would be like discussing what kind of car does someone need to plan for in 2045 or 2050! Staff energy should instead be focused on how to bring new trains online between now and 2026 and how to devise an operational scenario that has additional service inside Seattle because if four car trains are justified for capacity reasons at the extremities, trains will be too full for Seattle residents to board them.

    1. “I am a bit befuddled at how ST claims…”

      Me also. Frankly that presentation for me raised more questions than what it answered. For instance, with the 90 additional LRV’s assumption that is being made by staff, the OMF-N and -S will also need to be increased in size according to the presentation. Has the updated financial plan been adjusted to reflect these changes?

      Frankly, I would rather have seen the presentation in a worksheet format, including the replacement vehicles that will be needed along the same timeline.

  2. Big Tech willing to cancel a SLU station? Maybe the Seattle ST3 proposal should have been put out for public comment (or if the blog editors at the time had tried to reach out to their friend Scott Kubly, as a few commenters suggested, to get a sense of what he might be proposing before it became an official proposal)

  3. The Phoenix headline and commentary provided in the blog post are a little misleading, IMHO (sorry, Mike).

    Here is a quote from another article: https://www.azfamily.com/2023/06/01/live-gov-hobbs-provides-update-arizonas-water-resources-highlights-new-investments/

    “The study, Phoenix Active Management Area Groundwater Model, revealed that about 4% or nearly 5 million acre-feet of the groundwater demand needed for the Valley would not be met if nothing is done. So, as required by law, Hobbs said the state is pausing new construction in the Phoenix area that relies on groundwater. She also announced a $40 million investment to help with water conservation.”

    Note the specific clarification of “that relies on groundwater”. From later on in the article, what does that entail, in practice?

    “According to the Arizona State University’s Kyl Center for Water Policy at Morrison Institute, the new construction pause won’t affect new developments in areas with a Designation of an Assured Water Supply (DAWS), which is most of the Valley. “This pause will not affect growth within any of our major cities where robust water portfolios have been proven to cover current and future demands,” Hobbs said.”

    And then later on:

    “But two communities in Phoenix that don’t have a DAWS and are growing fast are Buckeye and Queen Creek, according to ASU. Buckeye told Arizona’s Family it continues to “enhance” its water portfolio and there’s no single solution to get more water. But the city says it’ll grow for decades. “Currently, Buckeye has the water resources available to sustain our existing customers and the projected growth that already have Certificates of Assured Water Supply (CAWS) issued by ADWR. Buckeye’s water future is secure and the amount of CAWS already issued will support another 20-25 years of growth,” the city said in a statement. Queen Creek made a statement assuring residents it has a 100-year assured water supply and that it’s working to diversify where it gets its water. ”

    My own editorializing: this is not to say that water shortage is not a problem in AZ, of course it is. The problem is that claims of having stopped development due to this are… clearly incorrect, given statements from the relevant parties. The shortage is viewed as small, there are excuses made as to how mitigation can play out, and in the meantime it’s… business as usual, mostly. So anyone who was rejoicing about AZ no longer adding population (which included me, for about five minutes flat) is going to be as sad as I am. Which is to say, pretty sad.

    1. In SLU, rather than a station consolidation, ST could also consider shifting both stations west; the Harrison Street station could straddle 5th Avenue North and serve the Seattle Center, Gates, and routes 3 and 4. The original Harrison Street station seemed quite deep, costly, and disruptive.

      Regarding the long term LRV fleet, the line between South Kirkland and Issaquah might have one or two cars.

      It is good to plan. Note ST did not really have an adequate fleet for U Link in March 2016; was ST a bit surprised by the truncation of routes 71-72-73? What if the SR-520 routes had also been diverted to the UW Link station (e.g., routes 252, 255, 257, 268, 311, 424, 545).

      1. I recall ST’s fleet being enough to handle demand when U-link opened. They just didn’t have enough LRVs to run 3-car trains every 6 minutes. Sure, they could have reduced frequency a little to run all 3-car trains, and spread the passengers out more evenly, but those lobbying the loudest preferred the frequency.

      2. Brent, yes, I agree. but capacity was a concern when SR-520 routes 545, 252, 257, 268, 311, and 424 were considered. Six-minute headway was best; it would be today.

      3. Clock-face timing of every six minutes forced variable-length trains. When riders realized some (most, when U-Link started) of the trains were two cars, they waited by and crammed into the first two cars, while leaving the third car half empty.

        Seattle Subway lobbied for, and convinced ST, to run 3-car trains all day, with 2-car trains added during peak. But the unevenness between cars persisted.

        My hope is that ST will run all 4-car trains, and stick with them, when Lynnwood opens. I hope they throw all the available trains they have into service during peak, at roughly even intervals, but not necessarily clock-face, until they decide upon a long-term service plan based on the first few weeks of ridership data. That plan could involve turning some trains back at the switch south of Stadium Station.

      4. “Seattle Subway lobbied for, and convinced ST, to run 3-car trains all day …” Why wouldn’t ST already know to do that? Presumably, the have highly educated and qualified employees whose job it is to study such things. It’s disturbing that a blog needs to tell them what to do.

      5. ” Seattle Subway lobbied for, and convinced ST, to run 3-car trains all day”

        Yeah, that’s a ridiculous claim, though it’s entirely possible Seattle Subway imagines themselves to have such influence.

      6. @Brent White,

        “ When riders realized some (most, when U-Link started) of the trains were two cars, they waited by and crammed into the first two cars, while leaving the third car half empty”

        Ah, no. The reason early Link riders tended to fill the lead cars first had nothing to do with ST running mixed length trains, it was because of Metro. It was Metro’s fault.

        Most transit riders around here only had experience riding Metro buses, and after 50 years of being told (with rare exceptions) to “board at the front”, most transit riders had a tendency to, you know, BOARD AT THE FRONT! So it was only natural that early Link trains tended to fill up from the front. Because Metro!

        But Link riders are much more savvy now. Trains are much more evenly filled, and people don’t rush as much to get on. People are used to Link and are using it well. As it was explained to me recently by a long time friend, “it’s almost as if Seattle is becoming a real city”.

        As per how long the trains should be in the future, they should be whatever length is required to meet demand and not one car longer. There is no need to run excessively long trains just so people learn to “spread out”. Riders have already learned that.

        But even if lead car overcrowding did still occur, this would actually benefit those people who are still concerned about social distancing. Just get on the last car! Supposedly it is less crowded.

      7. “The reason early Link riders tended to fill the lead cars first … was because of Metro .. 50 years of being told (with rare exceptions) to “board at the front””

        Was there even one Link passenger who thought that? People grow up with movies of trains and subways boarding at all doors. I already knew that when I took my first train trip in 1985 on BART. It was part of the rail vision that led to Link. The reason Metro required front-door boarding was to pay the fair next to the driver, but Link riders have already paid at the entrance and there’s no checking at the door.

      8. @Mike Orr,

        People are creatures of habit. If you have spent 50 years congregating near the front of the bus stop because that is where you have to board, then people will just naturally tend to continue that behavior.

        It doesn’t matter what they may have seen in the movies, or whether or not they know they don’t have to, it just comes natural.

        It’s been about 80 years since this city had real mass transit. Old habits die hard. But progress is being made, and people are much better about using Link today then they were back in 2009.

      9. Since we had “board everywhere” all through downtown during the ride-free area, the assertion that it’s all Metro’s fault seems specious at best. No offense, Lazarus, but that doesn’t pass the smell test to me :)

        Neither does the “Metro isn’t real mass transit” system. It is unfortunate that you see it that way, but in the end, it’s your opinion, and you are welcome to it. Those of us who have ridden it every day (other than during the pandemic) for decades know better, and we will continue to prove you wrong with our feet, when we continue to ride it, and use it to get where we need to go. It’s great that Link can be part of that journey at times, too, so please don’t feel left out :)

        Finally, I would like to extend the invitation to you that you get on a Metro bus one day and ride it. You may even find it enjoyable. The 7 has at least one great driver (Nathan Voss) who would be happy to tell you all about how Metro is, in fact, a real mass transit system in far more eloquent ways than any of us can ever do.

      10. @ Anonymouse,

        Yes, I am fully aware of the RFZ, hence my caveat “with rare exceptions”.

        But the RFZ was generally considered to be a failure and had to be ended. And people still preferred to board through the front door even in the RFZ, undoubtably because they had to board that way everywhere else in the system, and they had already been preconditioned to do so.

        And, yes, I do occasionally ride Metro, and I still do sometimes. I was even on a Metro bus once that puked out its transmission in the middle of the freeway! That was an adventure.

        But I would much rather walk than take a Metro bus. It’s nicer, healthier, and better for the environment. And more reliable.

        And I don’t have to wait to start walking.

      11. “But the RFZ was generally considered to be a failure and had to be ended.”

        Do you have a citation for that? Asking because maybe you’re right and I don’t recall this.

        “And people still preferred to board through the front door even in the RFZ”

        This I will disagree with. It is not my recollection, at all, it was in fact very common to board the 71/72/73 buses through both doors, and they were packed enough that drivers directed new passengers to one door or the other as needed towards the North end of the tunnel.

        ” I was even on a Metro bus once that puked out its transmission in the middle of the freeway!”

        That sounds like a fun experience :) Hope it all turned out for the best. I’ve had that experience with an old 60 footer CT bus one morning years ago, we had to disboard and get on a replacement bus somewhere around LCW onramp on the express lanes.

        “And I don’t have to wait to start walking.”

        I often do that when buses are late, and catch them at a later stop. And I’m all for walking, too, especially in nice weather. So I definitely can relate to you there.

    2. Why do you care what happens in Arizona?

      Doesn’t Seattle have enough problems to worry about?

      1. It was posted in the news summary, I am only pointing out that there is a bit more to the story than the summary suggests.

        A number of people on the blog have been worried about climate change “refugees” from the desert SW moving into more water-rich territories; there have also been discussions about having water from the Columbia shipped/piped/whatever down to the SW, so the concern is warranted, I believe.

      2. CA that has enormous senior rights to the CO River recently agreed to the same cutbacks junior holders like AZ, NV and UT have already implemented: a 13% decrease, which is closer to 25% of the total reductions due to CA’s large water rights.

        Plus last winter was an historic winter for rain and snowpack. CA’s problem is it hasn’t invested in water storage such as dams or just increasing the height of its existing dams despite the citizens voting fir $8 billion in levies to do so because water from the CO was free. Instead CA grows water intensive crops like rice and almonds. Now it will have to.

        Last winter just the early season rains dumped 22 trillion gallons of water on CA but that water was not captured and flowed into the ocean.

        Water usage like everything depends on how much it costs. There is plenty of water depending on its price.

      3. I posted it because it’s a real-time case of restrictive housing construction, which would lead to higher prices if demand keeps up. So we can see what happens.

      4. Actually California and Arizona have more water than what they know what to do with. Half of it, at least the residential part, is just sprayed on lawns.. Las Vegas already outlawed lawns…. so there are real easy solutions to any water shortage if (when?) finally happens. No more rice and almond farming in California… it’s brutal, but it has to happen. There are thousands of homes in AZ that have water hauled in by a tanker truck…. the people in those mobile homes use way, way less water than the rest of us. It’s not rocket science… just supply and demand.

        Solutions dealing with a lack of water in the SW and California are so much more straight forward than finding a solution to other chronic problems like homelessness. They’re not going to stop building homes in Arizona. California could double its fresh water supply with investments in infrastructure.

        Often the problem with the blog is the belief in some sort of long term master plan to deal with population growth, transit, environmental issues… at the expense of short term fixes that help now. Let California and Arizona worry about their water issues. They’ll have to at some point. Northwesterners don’t have a dog in that fight, right?

        So how about that Puget Sound bus driver shortage? That seems to be problem the region could actually solve a year or two.

        So who’s onboard for curbing new rail projects for bus service upgrades? That seems like the real transit question for Puget Sound. Start with Mike Orr. Money for buses? Money for trains? How are you going to spilt it up? And yeah, it’s politically difficult. But at some point choices need to be made.

      5. The idea of climate change “refugees” to Seattle is farfetched. First, if we are talking about actual refugees — people displaced because of the direct or indirect problems caused by climate change — then we are screwed either way. Bangladesh is a very big country.

        If folks are suggesting that Seattle will suddenly become more popular because of the climate, they are mistaken. People like it hot. I think it is nuts, but people walk around with umbrellas in the summer in Phoenix. The World Cup was just held in a city where the average high in the summer is 108. Average, mind you. Not high for a particular month. Average.

        Likewise, people ignore the natural resources and existing infrastructure of a city, otherwise they would move to the industrial Midwest. They have plenty of water, roads, sewers, etc. Sure, a lot of it needs to be repaired, but that is much cheaper than building it from scratch.

        None of that really matters. People retire to places that are warm. They move because the jobs are there. The only reason Seattle had such a crazy boom is because not one, but two major companies decided to locate here (first Microsoft, then Amazon). Before that, our booms and busts were dependent on Boeing. Before that, gold. This idea that Seattle is, or will suddenly become inherently more attractive because of the natural resources we have, or the pleasant climate ignores the fact that we have water problems too, and the smoke that has occurred the last few years is freakin’ miserable. It makes Pittsburgh sound quite attractive.

      6. @Anonymouse,

        Regarding climate refugees moving to Seattle, it’s already happening. I’ve already met two just in my neighborhood. These were people who moved out of Arizona specifically because they couldn’t get access to water for their homes (not connected to municipal water, can’t legally drill, tanker trucks becoming unreliable, etc). It’s a real thing.

        I rafted the Grand Canyon 2 years ago with one of the guys who is tasked with solving the water allotment problem for the southwest. He says the problem is a lot worse than what is being reported in the press.

        So I expect we will be seeing a lot more climate refugees in the near future. Our rail system had better be ready.

  4. There was someone looking for old transit maps a while ago. I came across this site about old transit info in the Toronto area which some may find interesting. It’s not paywalled, unlike my usual articles from the Toronto Star, either :)

    https://transittimewarp.com/

  5. This Week in Seattle Guide, from 1947. (If you delete this comment due to the offensive ad for the racist restaurant, I understand. Btw, 85th & Bothell Way is 85th & Lake City Way). I’m posting it because on the left side you’ll see regional bus service by North Coast Lines, to cities like Tacoma, Everett, Portland, etc., with the hours of operation and frequency. Surprisingly, they had fairly frequent service for the time. Next to that is a list of all of Seattle Transit’s different bus routes, where they go, and where to catch them downtown.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/seattlemunicipalarchives/3060193556/

  6. I don’t have the link, but according to a recent article from the Urbanist, sound transit now thinks they can open the east Link starter line without impacting Lynnwood Link after all, provided that operating hours are reduced to 14 hours per day (2 work shifts) to reduce staffing needs. Frequency would still be every 10 minutes, all day.

    They also say that the starter line might end up waiting for completion of the downtown Redmond section, depending on when that finishes. A transit option between downtown Redmond and downtown Bellevue that takes 20 minutes instead of 45 will be a game changer, not unlike how U-link dramatically reduced travel times between the U district and Capitol Hill. While 6 AM-8 PM is not ideal operating hours, it’s still way better than nothing, and only a temporary situation until more drivers can be hired. (And, yes, as drivers become available, I think operating the starter line should be a higher priority for the Eastside than restoring service from next September’s cuts, if push comes to shove).

    1. @asdf2,

      Maybe you read it somewhere else?

      But Lynnwood Link is currently expected to be ready in July of 2024, Redmond Link in Spring 2025. So if any proposed East Link starter line included Redmond Link, then there shouldn’t be conflict between the two openings. And that should also provide some time after Lynnwood Link opens to hire and train the necessary staff for the starter line.

      As per the “temporary” service reductions that Metro is planning, Metro should take a long hard look at whether or not these routes should be restored at all. Properly supporting Link is clearly a higher priority than restoring bus service that is only generating 1 passenger mile per bus mile.

      1. Yes, a hard look should be taken at each individual bus route in the queue for suspension, as opposed to general statements of ideology.

        Most of the routes are so infrequent, as in roughly hourly, that it appears most of the routes being suspended would free up 1 FTE of operators per route. How many FTEs will it take to staff the starter line, much less the whole length of the 2 Line?

      2. ST Express ought to participate in the analysis of peak-direction-only service that can no longer be justified.

        Start with the N Line.

        Then look at why ST Express 510 still goes all the way downtown.

        Why is STExpress 513 only going in the wrong direction to serve Paine Field?

        Why does ST Express 560 still serve Westwood Village to Burien TC? (That’s all day, seven days a week, requiring several additional FTEs, while the riders are overwhelmingly choosing the H Line.)

        Why does ST Express 566 still serve Auburn Station? Why is it not slated to be retracted to Downtown Bellevue Station when the starter line or 2 Line opens?

        Why is ST Express 586 still going?

        Why do we still have the longest STExpress route (595) serving Gig Harbor, which is not in the ST taxing district?

      3. @Brent White,

        “ How many FTEs will it take to staff the starter line, much less the whole length of the 2 Line?”

        That is easy. The answer is 1/10th.

        Or, stated the other way around, one Link operator can move as many passengers as 10 Metro bus operators. And this is comparing Link to 60 ft attics, but since many of these suspended routes used low capacity 40 footers the number is actually much greater.

        This is some powerful and easy math.

        So it this region were to prioritize moving people as opposed to generating operator hours, then using our scarce operators for Link is the better value.

        And the operators prefer operating Link anyhow. So Metro is going to have to figure out how to deal with this on their end, because that is where the problem is. .

      4. A four car Link train can hold 596 riders SRO. An articulated bus around 100 to 105 SRO. ST doesn’t always run 4 car trains and frequency varies. Metro and ST Express don’t always run articulated buses and frequencies vary. No doubt Link has more capacity if frequencies are equal, but at a much higher capital cost. If the riders are there and buses don’t have dedicated lanes Link can be worth the cost (Northgate to Sodo). If ridership is light and buses have dedicated lanes (550/554) Link is not worth the cost which is why ST inflated ridership estimates on East Link that also has an unfortunate route in a huge and undense area.

        Pre-pandemic Link from downtown Bellevue to downtown Seattle was probably a wash if buses could access a tunnel, but the route turned into a development wish list and skipped downtown Bellevue where ridership that would validate Link on the Eastside stopped. Post pandemic — plus the bridge issue — East/Redmond Link is probably not worth the cost even at $5.5 billion for a very wealthy subarea. Neither is Issaquah Link. Just not enough likely riders in an area in which truncation of feeder buses will be problematic.

      5. How many bus drivers staff Metro? Wiki says 2700 part-time and full-time. How many Link operators are there? I couldn’t find that answer. Does anyone know?

      6. Lazarus, just because a Link train can “carry as many people as ten buses” is far from the same as “will carry” and there’s only a tiny probability that the ridership south of Northgate will increase more than a few percent. If people are going to use CT feeders to get to Lynnwood, they’re already using them to get to Northgate. There may be a few “walk-up” riders from the station areas, and a few park-n-riders from Lynnwood and MLT, but not many.

        Basically, if Link can run on ten minute headways now it won’t need five minute headways after Lynnwood opens, certainly not before 130th opend the gates to efficient and quickLake City and Bitter Lake transfers..

        And yes, we all know you have the contrarian idea that people from those areas won’t transfer to Link. So don’t argue that point needlessly.

      7. “ If people are going to use CT feeders to get to Lynnwood, they’re already using them to get to Northgate.”

        There are currently 12 CT expresses that go to downtown Seattle and 5 that go to Northgate. Considering how slow the peak expresses are due to the traffic on I-5, I don’t see how they would want to continue running those all the way through all that time consuming traffic.

        Furthermore, stuff like Edmonds to UW might become much easier, depending on the ultimate decision of the fate of the 416.

      8. Glenn, I think Tom’s point is Link ridership at Northgate won’t increase much when Lynnwood Link opens because those riders take CT to Northgate now and transfer.

        Pre-pandemic some thought more people would ride Link than rode the buses Link replaced. Some like me thought total ridership would be about the same, although the ride could be better on Link depending on first/last mile access and traffic congestion including HOV lanes.

        I still think the latter although post pandemic the total number will be lower with WFH. No one in SnoCo decides to ride a bus or train to Seattle for the hell of it. 40,000 Amazon workers didn’t
        sign a petition begging to take transit to SLU. Those who needed to take a bus to Seattle will take a train when it opens, and likely a bus to catch the train, except closer to their home than Northgate.

        As has been noted on this blog many times before with Link
        openings, some transit trips will be better and some will be worse. If you have to go from SnoCo to Seattle on transit one way or the other your trip will be on Link because you have to go to Seattle.

      9. A train running every 3, 5, or 10 minutes will tend to attract more people over time than a bus running every 15, 20, or 30 minutes. Especially when it’s immune to traffic congestion and car accidents, and it’s a one-seat ride to many areas that express buses from Snohomish County don’t go.

        Actual ridership depends on thousands of people’s individual choices, so we can’t say for certain what the increase will be. The people themselves may not know yet, or may not live in the area yet. And as we saw in Rainier Valley, some people who think they won’t ride a future rail line, turn out later to be riding it.

      10. “, I think Tom’s point is Link ridership at Northgate won’t increase much when Lynnwood Link opens because those riders take CT to Northgate now and transfer. ”

        Which is clearly not currently the case.

        I will repeat again for those that didn’t read it the first time:

        “There are currently 12 CT expresses that go to downtown Seattle and 5 that go to Northgate. ”

        Clearly, the riders of the 12 express routes (plus the 510) that don’t stop at Northgate but instead continue to downtown Seattle do not, in fact, transfer to Link at Northgate. They can’t, since those buses don’t even stop there.

        In fact, if you want to get from one of those routes to the UW, it’s a 3 seat ride: express to Montlake Terrace, transfer to one of the Northgate expresses, then take Link. The two groups of routes are that exclusive.

        With the sheer number of routes involved, Link ridership south of Northgate absolutely will increase significantly, depending on the ultimate bus restructure.

      11. https://www.communitytransit.org/maps-and-schedules/maps-and-schedules-by-route

        Glenn, based on the greatest peak weekday frequency all 12 buses to Seattle if truncated at Northgate or 130th equal at most two additional four car trains per hour. For a two hour window in the am and pm.

        The point is Lynnwood Link can open before East Link without capacity issues, and DSTT2 isn’t really needed for capacity.

        Will Lynnwood Link draw car drivers who drive now to transit? I don’t know, but WS Link is estimated by ST to move 600 car drivers PER DAY to Link, and I suspect that estimate is high.

        Folks who take a CT bus to Seattle today will take Link if forced to, unless they WFH or switch to driving depending on transfers.

        As Lazarus likes to point out one four car train can equal 10 buses spending on how full the buses are.

      12. I’m curious how many people who comment on CT buses here (on this thread, particularly) have taken CT buses, in particular the ones discussed here (the “12” and “5” specifically). I have, though not since Northgate Link opened, so I can at least give my take on how things were in the “before” times and how the routes relate to each other. I have ridden most of the previously-to-UW routes and about a third of the 12 “to downtown” ones over the years.

        The 5 routes going to Northgate all went to UW before. Four of them (821, 860, 871, 880) came from various cities and were a sort of “express to UW” rush hour bunch which were primarily used by UW staff and UW Medical workers, and to a lesser extent UW students. 810 was the “after hours” (i.e. mid-day and evening) routes and were more diversely used. There was also an 850 or 855 (I forget) which went only to Lynnwood; at some point it was replaced by Lynnwood TC stops from some of the others.

        It is worth noting that out of the five, only two (810 and 880) are not “direct to P&R” routes, as far as I know. The 880 has the largest set of “local” stops and loosely overlaps with the 417 (as well as, to an extent, 413 and 415) commuter routes to downtown Seattle; there are also transfers possible at Swamp Creek and Ash Way. Out of the others, 860 is sort of like part of the 412 but misses the long tail to Silver Firs; transfers are possible at McCollum P&R. 871 is basically like the 405, direct to Edmonds P&R, but the 416 does have local stops and there is a connection point to it at Edmonds P&R as well. Finally, 821 is like the 421, with stops at the same locations in Marysville (including the P&R). The 810 is a weird beast in that it has local segments through Mountlake Terrace and North Lynnwood; the latter overlaps with the 410 and both go to Mariner P&R. I don’t think that there is a commuter bus that does the Mountlake Terrace local stops anymore (there was one but I don’t remember the route number it used to have; maybe the 414 was it).

        Anyway, to get around to my point; out of the 12 commuter routes, I don’t think that it is likely that there would be transfers at Mountlake Terrace from the ones I mentioned above, as there are more convenient connection points. The 402 is only a Lynnwood P&R route so no transfers are needed, and the 424 travels through Eastside and then across 520 so there is no overlap.

        That leaves only 3 routes to transfer from: 422, 425, 435. Out of these, from what I see in the current schedule listed on CT’s website, 422 and 425 stop at Lynnwood P&R, not Mountlake Terrace (but transfers there would be possible), and the 435 does stop at Mountlake Terrace so there would be transfers there.

        Hope this helps people get a clearer picture of how the routes work and what transfers are possible or likely where.

        Finally, from my experience taking all these routes, transfers were made to the local routes, not to the commuter routes. That is a more complicated story and I won’t try to detail all the possible connections here.

      13. Lazarus, an FTE (full-time equivalent) is 40 hours per week. So, 1/10th of an FTE is 4 hours per week.

      14. @Brent White,

        You miss my point entirely.

        It doesn’t matter whether you look at it on a per hour, per shift, per week basis, or even on the basis of a year. One Link operator can move roughly 10 times the number of passengers as one bus operator.

        Stated the other way around, it takes 1/10th the number of Link operators to move the same number of passengers as it would take Metro using buses. It doesn’t matter what the time frame is, it’s a ratio.

        This is why Link employs so few operators even though it has high ridership. It’s just more efficient.

      15. I didn’t miss your point Lazarus. It’s okay to ask what an acronym stands for when you don’t know,

        If you don’t mind answering the question I actually asked: How many operators will it take to operate the starter line? And how many will it take to operate the 2 Line?

      16. If should be fairly easy to roughly estimate how many Link starter line operators will be needed if you know the frequency, and you know how long it will take to get from Red Tech Station to South Bellevue Station, and hours of operation. I’m not going to try to figure it out, but I’ll take a wild guess. They’ll need 25 Link operators for the starter line. One thing they may also do is train some current Link operators on the starter line, then for some of the starter line hours they need to staff, they’ll pay 1 Line operators overtime to work a shift on the starter line on their days off.

      17. @Brent White,

        I knew what “FTE” meant, it was just irrelevant to the discussion.

      18. While it’s true that a Link driver can carry 10 times the number of riders that a bus driver can, Link also requires additional staff to run. That includes more security, track maintenance, station upkeep and fare check staff. I’ve not looked at the exact FTE implications but I would guess that the result on entire FTE (not just drivers) is about 2-4 times better rather than 10 times better.

      19. @Anonymouse — Good summary. I agree it is important to know the history. I’ve ridden a few CT routes, but since I don’t live in Snohomish County, I’ve never been on the 400 or 800 series (peak-hour expresses). One thing I would add is that in some cases, the number of runs of a particular route is relatively small. For example, the 405 runs four times a day southbound and five times a day northbound. If memory serves, some routes ran only a couple times a day.

        @Tom
        there’s only a tiny probability that the ridership south of Northgate will increase more than a few percent. If people are going to use CT feeders to get to Lynnwood, they’re already using them to get to Northgate.

        Yes and no. The number of feeders will increase. In a lot of cases, people have one less transfer to make. For example, instead of taking a bus to the Lynnwood Transit Center, then taking the 512, then taking Link to the UW, they will take one bus to Lynnwood, then Link to the UW. The same goes for trips to downtown. It will be easier. Will it add up to a lot of rides? I’m not so sure.

        It is worth noting that Northgate is now our busiest station. With all due respect to Northgate as a station, that is clearly a terminus effect. Basically everyone north of there (who ends up taking Link) uses that station. A lot of the bus riders *as well as drivers* will switch to other stations. Remember, Northgate has oodles of parking — it is basically nothing but a giant parking lot next to the station (and transit center). Of course people walk from the surrounding neighborhoods, but it is generally a long walk. The big reason that so many people ride Northgate Link is because it is the northernmost station, and it has lots of parking and feeder buses. Many of those riders will switch to using a different station. This may save them a lot of time and hassle, but it may not add up to a lot of new ridership.

        Of course there will be an increase, but I don’t expect a huge increase. Partly because the numbers weren’t that big to begin with. The 512 and 510 had good ridership, but not great ridership. In the case of the 512, I don’t see a huge increase in ridership, just because they avoid transferring at Northgate. The 510 has low ridership now (less than a 1,000 riders a day). I don’t know about the CT numbers. I’ve never found a breakdown of ridership per route. The entire Community Transit set of buses peaked at about 35,000. From what I can tell, the “commuter” buses accounted for about a quarter of that. This includes the 400 and 800 series buses. If I had to guess, I would say somewhere around 5,000 people rode express buses to downtown Seattle via CT buses.

        But remember, that was before the pandemic. With working from home being relatively common now, the farther people are from their destination, the less likely they are to commute at all. Even if you include the 510 ridership, as well as the increase due to improvements, you are probably still way less than 10,000 people. Whether you view that as a big increase or not depends on your perspective.

        Basically, if Link can run on ten minute headways now it won’t need five minute headways after Lynnwood opens, certainly not before 130th opens the gates to efficient and quick Lake City and Bitter Lake transfers.

        I definitely agree with that, but ten minute headways is a different thing. That is all-day service, and you are absolutely right — there won’t be a huge increase in people switching from the CT buses to Link in the middle of the day, because those buses don’t run in the middle of the day. Neither does the 510. It is really only peak that could possibly be a problem (when the trains are running every 8 minutes). Thus it is quite possible that we do get some crowding (if we don’t run the trains more often) even though the overall increase in Link ridership is relatively small. That is the nature of commute-oriented service. You can get a big surge, and then almost nothing. South Sounder had trains averaging around 800 riders during peak, and less than 100 in reverse-peak (even though it connected to Tacoma, an obviously attractive peak destination). Thus a typical Sounder train is carrying more than a Link train can comfortably handle, and yet the total ridership (less than 20,000 a day before the pandemic) would be an embarrassment for a mass transit system.

        As Link extends northward, a lot of the ridership from there mimics Sounder, which is why they may want to retain the express buses until they can increase the *peak* frequency of Link.

      20. I just want to point out that the I-5 express busses have been encountering quite a bit of traffic delays between Lynnwood and Northgate–in both directions. Congestion even in the HOV lanes. Also, if you decide to just drive to Northgate, it’s not fun, between the time penalty of getting to/from the further away garages and the terrible ramp queues going NB in the evening (one big advantage if you take the bus!). When you can instead park or get dropped off at Lynnwood or Mountlake Terrace and take Link directly, you bet there will be more SnoCo riders than just the people currently doing the bus-rail transfers. Also more opportunities for direct local bus transfers that don’t result in 3-4 seat rides, e.g., Community Transit route 130 in my case (I can deal with the half hourly frequency at the end, but not if it’s a 3 or 4 seat trip.)

      21. “(I can deal with the half hourly frequency at the end, but not if it’s a 3 or 4 seat trip.)”

        This. So much this.

        For those of us who are transit-dependent but willing to plan our trips a little, half hour frequency in one or two-leg trips is totally doable, if the second leg is frequent. I used to do this pretty often with NE Seattle routes and the 271, for example.

        Adding a third leg which is also half hour frequency at the other end, though, would have been killer. I’ve explicitly refused to make career-opportunistic job changes because of this issue, in the past.

        This is why I am personally skeptical that the North Link extension will help that much with trips outside the main Link corridor; as long as the SnoCo local routes are infrequent, the chances that people would be willing to swap to another infrequent route to reach locations in NW Seattle seem low. Yes, they can help with some locations, like First Hill, etc. – but even getting into Fremont could be a slog if you do something like CT130 –> Link –> 44. Let alone into Ballard. So, yes, Link will be game-changing for many, but there will be limitations.

      22. “When you can instead park or get dropped off at Lynnwood or Mountlake Terrace and take Link directly, you bet there will be more SnoCo riders than just the people currently doing the bus-rail transfers.”

        Brandon, I have stated that at least on the eastside that park and rides that directly serve East Link will be the one possibility of getting folks out of their cars if they are going into Seattle IF Link goes to their ultimate destination. But not for intra-eastside trips. Those will always be by car if they are by car today. Throw in a feeder bus and ST will get very, very few car drivers switching to Link in any of these suburban Link lines.

      23. Glenn, I did forget that there are the 400’s still going downtown. My apologies. However, since CT Expresses are stated to be running at about 1/3 capacity and carried about 4,000 folks per day in 2019, that means they’re in the 1300-1500 riders per day range now. That’s four full Link trains per day!, maybe a couple more by opening day.

        So ten-minute headways from Lynnwood will be more than sufficient to carry the now-bussing load that bypasses Northgate. But surely six more trains per hour between Northgate and CIDS will be plenty to handle any conceivable immediate peak increase south of Northgate. That does leave the question, “Where do the short-turns reverse on the south end?”

        The bulk of peak ridership will have deboarded between Capitol Hill and CIDS, but trains can’t reverse at CIDS. There is the center platform which might be used for reversing, like Tri-Met does at Beaverton Central, but there is no platform adjacent to it. So the short-turns have to go farther south.

        There is the pocket track just south of Stadium which might be used, but it is a rudimentary facility compared to the pocket at Northgate, which has an adjacent paved walkway. The pocket at Stadium has only a graveled section between the ballasted tracks; it’s useful for staging even trains, but it’s not a proper turnback site. So that means that the short-turns will probably use the outer loop at Forest Street.

        Trains are currently scheduled between Northgate and SoDo at 25 minutes, so that’s 50 minutes “revenue” run time in a round trip. It might take six to eight minutes to reverse at Forest Street, because the outer loop has a 10 mile per hour speed limit between the eastbound wye and the northbound ramp up. So that means 60 minutes from the southbound platform at Northgate to the northbound platform on the return. Reversing in the pocket there can surely be completed within ten minutes if the trains are double-seated during the reversal.

        The operator who ran the previous round trip can depart the now-rearmost car after the reversal for a ten-minute break and become the operator boarding the rear of the next train reversing.

        Since this operation should run only three hours in the morning and four in the afternoon, a ten minute break every seventy minutes should be adequate. If the union does not agree, then the break can be twenty minutes with an arriving driver taking the second reversing train after their arrival.

        The point is that there would only be seven additional trains required for the turnback service, or twenty-eight LRV’s. One potential “gotcha” is that there cannot be a train staged in the pocket to respond to emergencies. One of the tails at Lynnwood would have to be reserved for that purpose.

        The short-turns could be the oldest Kinki-Sharyo’s to lengthen their remaining service lives. I think that ST’s panic about LRV availability will prove to be pointless, since the only segment to be overcrowded will be between Northgate and CIDS. Nothing much will change south of there.

        I note that Daniel has already said essentially the same thing about the demand and schedule issues, and I agree with his points. I just wanted to discuss the turnback issues in detail. Perhaps someone at ST will consider them as well.

  7. I struggle at times with the goal of “urbanists” that feel the need to implement road diets and perpetually eliminate general purpose lanes of traffic.

    Aurora Avenue provides a valuable alternate to I-5 in the event of catastrophe. Think about the fish truck incident back in 2015 where SR 99’s closure resulted in the city being locked up for hours. That included many transit routes in and out of the city. I-5 is well beyond capacity and can’t do more during the peak commuting periods for additional traffic. Integrated corridor management is not just cars but a multimodal effort, so transit is also involved.

    The recent culling of many bus routes really highlighted my concerns as a former Shoreline to Seattle commuter. How will I get to work in a reasonable amount of time without having to take a slow circuitous bus route to a transit center and then take another trip on light rail. I believe for transit to be successful it needs to be convenient to users.

    Rapid Ride on Aurora is not rapid transit. There’s nothing rapid about the route. The trip from Shoreline to Seattle isn’t much shorter than the former 358; even with dedicated bus lanes. It’s simply frequent bus service that regularly clumps into a platoon of three or four buses.

    Reducing Aurora to two general purpose lanes will result in what we are seeing on Rainier Avenue South. Folks just cut through the neighborhood at Rainier Ave speeds. Additionally, I regularly see car drivers cut into the transit lane and cut back into the GP lane before the next signal. With limited police, there’s not much that can be done.

    1. How many lanes is too many? And when is it time to serve people other than those that drive everywhere?

      There is a small but dedicated group trying to get 6th Ave in Bremerton narrowed to 2 through lanes because 1) there are already a dozen streets in Bremerton that are auto only 2) they really want a street that is safe for people to use 3) there is no reason 6th needs four lanes. There are two lane streets in many cities that have more traffic.

    2. I struggle at times with the goal of “urbanists” that feel the need to implement road diets and perpetually eliminate general purpose lanes of traffic.

      Then you must really struggle with me. I have been increasingly convinced that it is an essential way to improve the city. I’ve looked at the various studies, as well as cities around the world. There are a number of other, similar things that can and should be done, but reducing the number of general purpose lanes is a great way to eventually make the city better for walking, biking and riding transit. When that happens, the city is more enjoyable to live in, and much safer. Eventually far fewer people drive, as alternatives become more attractive. In some cases, driving actually becomes better, as fewer people do it (e. g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8RRE2rDw4k).

      How you evolve to that sort of city is the tricky part. When you reduce lanes without giving people alternatives there is bound to be political push-back. Conservatives become reactionaries. As a result, things can backfire, and you end up worse than when you started. There is also the danger of too many people driving the side streets (as you mentioned). A lot of work needs to be done in many areas, which is why I use the word “evolve”. Eventually, the city evolves to be a lot less car dependent.

      It is easy to look at a city like Amsterdam (shown in that video) and think they were always that way. After all, it is an old city, and maybe they never were car dependent. And yet, they were. This is a great article describing the evolution of the city: https://inkspire.org/post/amsterdam-was-a-car-loving-city-in-the-1970s-what-changed/. Just look at the picture: https://cdn.inkspire.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/amsterdman1.jpg. Now imagine someone saying “what we need is fewer lanes”. People would think you are nuts. They would say we need a freeway, or maybe a tunnel underneath. We need some way for all those cars to get where they need to go. But instead, they made it much easier for people to get where they need to go without cars, and harder to get there by car. As a result, there are a lot fewer cars on the road, and the city is much nicer for everyone. No one wants to go back.

    3. Rapid Ride on Aurora is not rapid transit. There’s nothing rapid about the route.

      That is simply not true. Where there are bus lanes, the bus is much faster than surrounding traffic. If you look at the average speed, it is one of the fastest buses in our system, and as fast as some subway lines. For really long distances it takes a while, but that is true of any regular transit line. An express or skip-stop route would be faster, but it would make a huge portion of the trips more time consuming.

      The biggest weakness of the E is that it still experiences congestion, the same way that many buses in Seattle (and the surrounding area) experience congestion. The answer isn’t to just throw up our hands and say “Oh well, can’t make it fast”, but to actually make it faster, by adding BAT and bus lanes.

      1. Ah, let’s see what Google says right now:

        Aurora Village to 1201 3rd by car: 16 mins.

        Aurora Village to 1201 3rd by bus (E): 55 mins.

        That is 3.4375 times SLOWER than just driving. That is a lot.

        There is no way that RapidRide E can be considered to be truly “rapid”. Which is why Lynnwood Link will be such a game changer for the Northend.

      2. I don’t think that the problem is the lanes. I suspect that the problem is that there are about 24 stops on RapidRide E between the city limits of Shoreline (and more the further north in Shoreline one goes) and the Columbia stops that are closest to our tallest building. If it’s the busiest travel time, the bus may be stopping at almost every stop. That creates a very slow ride! The large number of busy stops also tends to create bus bunching as adding or de boarding riders will slow the lead bus down.

        Compare that to RapidRide C, which has only 12 stops between this point and the Fauntleroy ferry terminal at the far end of West Seattle. Or compare that to Link, which will have 9 stops once a rider gets on at 148th and gets off in Pioneer Square.

        How can Metro make riding the bus faster for riders? Eliminate the number of stops!

        I can see several ways to do this:

        1. Eliminate several stops for all RapidRide E buses.
        2. Turn RapidRide E into a limited stop service and have another bus make all stops (see Swift Blue Line with CT 101 literally just up the road).
        3. Split RapidRide service into two routes — with both halves jogging to a Link station like Roosevelt or Northgate.
        4. Overlay peak express buses for far northern stops (Route 301) but do it lots more than 15 runs a day. (Note that Metro will eliminate Route 301 when Lynnwood Link opens).
        5. Overlay the street with local buses that go to a nearby Link station (Lynnwood restructure proposed bus routes north of 130th) but offer that as a frequent service (Metro proposes 15 minutes for upcoming Route 333 but only 29-40 minutes for upcoming Route 334).

        It looks like Metro intends to go with option 5, but the frequencies don’t seem to be great and all those left and turns off of Aurora is a big problem for buses with the stops on the right. I think Metro is afraid that it may detract from RapidRide E usage or they would have been more bold.

        The new structure is presented here:
        https://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/programs-projects/fares-routes-and-service/lynnwood-link-connections.aspx#route-proposals

        My guess is that the buses to Link (Routes 333 and 334) will be quite popular and that they will lure riders off of RapidRide E in Shoreline. I would expect Metro to be responsive enough to monitor usage and adjust frequencies as needed. Metro seems willing to reassign buses and change frequencies. However, I don’t see Metro revisiting the adopted restructure once in place for at least several years.

      3. Aurora Village to 1201 3rd by bus (E): 55 mins

        Yes, and that is 14 miles! That is a long distance for urban transit. Consider a similar trip, using the NYC Subway: https://goo.gl/maps/SK7QzUN4cnVMxmSTA. That takes 48 minutes. Why?

        Because of all the stops. Obviously. The greatest subway system in North America, and one of the best in the world actually has a lot of stops. Go figure. As a result, it takes a long time to go a long distance on the local trains. Sure, it sucks if you have to take the train a really long ways, but you more than make up for it with trips along they way. (New York does have express trains, because, well, it is New York.)

        The simple fact is, relatively few people are actually going from Aurora Village to downtown. Way more people are going from one part of Aurora to another. On a southbound bus, less than 700 people a day board north of 180th. Over 1,200 people get off before the bus reaches downtown. Another 1,900 get off downtown, and 300 of those are people who get on and off downtown. The idea that we should focus on the relatively small number of people going from Aurora Village to downtown is absurd.

        It also misses the entire point. The claim was that the RapidRide E isn’t Rapid — that the bus travels slowly on Aurora. That simply isn’t the case. Without traffic, a car can make it the entire distance in about 28 minutes. The bus takes 34 (as of this writing). Of course the bus is slower — it is making more stops. But when there is traffic, the bus lanes help make up for the additional stops, even for a really long trip (that few take). For trips that make up the bulk of the ridership, the E is quite competitive with taking a cab. It would be better with more in the way of bus/BAT lanes.

      4. How can Metro make riding the bus faster for riders? Eliminate the number of stops!

        Yes, eliminate all the stops and it will be really fast!

        Sorry, but you are missing the point. The E is hugely successful. Why? Because it has standard international stop spacing. If you look at the boardings on Aurora, every stop has good ridership. The graph of boardings is fairly level, without huge peaks and valleys. The alighting (going the same direction) is the same. Skip a few stops, and you kill ridership.

        Look at your ideas:

        1. Ridership would plummet.
        2. You would have to reduce frequency on the E to make up for the express (which carries fewer riders). Ridership would plummet.
        3. This would force a transfer for the majority of trips. It would also cost more to operate. To pay for it, you run the buses less often. Ridership would plummet.
        4. Yes, we’ve had express overlays for a long time now. They used to run downtown — now they connect to Link. They perform very poorly now, which is why they are on the chopping block now.
        5. There will be several buses that connect to Link. But the reason many of them run infrequently is because we simply don’t expect that many riders to use them. Look at the 301. It is exactly the type of bus you suggest. It runs very quickly from the far north end of the county to a Link connection. Even during rush hour it doesn’t have enough riders to justify its existence (because of the driver shortage). The money for extra frequency has to come from somewhere. Where would you cut service so that we can run these buses — the E? Ridership would plummet.

        Sorry to be so negative, but the RapidRide E is designed right. A transit consultant from Europe would consider it normal, even before they looked at the stop numbers (which confirm the choices made). The various things you are suggesting are unusual, and there simply isn’t a case for them.

        As it turns out, once Lynnwood Link gets here, only a relatively small portion of Aurora riders will have infrequent connects to Link. Swift will pick up riders from Aurora Village. The 348 will connect to 185th. The 333 (or some sort of bus) will serve 160th and 155th. The 65 will serve 130th, and the bulk of the riders close to 145th. You could make things much better by having Swift use Aurora, and stopping at the RapidRide stops. That would leave some gaps (in frequent connections to Link) but there are worse things.

      5. Ross, I didn’t say that all five options were good options. I only said they were options. Every option improves things for some riders and makes things worse for others. None are universally bad or good.

        Charlotte Royal simply stated that the trip took too long. I just responded with generic ways to speed up the trips. I’d also say that the journey should ideally be at least 10 minutes faster since there are plenty of places that riders can reach in 45 minutes from Downtown Seattle that are further than Shoreline is.

        It looks like Option 5 has been decided so the discussion is mostly theoretical. There doesn’t need to be more discussion about it until Lynnwood Link and the accompanying Metro restructure are operating. We can all opine about how ridership will change but in the end the decision of frequency will be decided by the riders.

        Unlike you, I strongly believe that Lynnwood Link and the Metro restructure will noticeably cut into RapidRide E ridership from the Shoreline segment. The question is how much.

        As to tolerable travel times, a rider can get considerably further in 55 minutes than what RapidRide E from north Shoreline offers. Consider that Lynnwood to Westlake will be 28 minutes. Even today, the Mountlake Terrace median stop to Marion Street is posted at taking 38 minutes at 8 AM on Route 510.

      6. I agree with Lazarus Lynnwood Link could be a game changer if the riders for that route show up and first/last mile access does not negate the trip speed benefits of Lynnwood Link. Link has large stop spacing and Lynnwood Link has few walkable stops.

        The pre-pandemic premise behind Lynnwood Link is a lot of riders from Lynnwood need to go to Link stops between UW and Sodo because those areas don’t need last mile access, and that stops along that route would fill TOD because it would be more affordable for those working or going to Seattle and a one shot trip on Link during peak congestion.

        Few from Lynnwood will take Link to Shoreline or Mount Lake Terrace. Why would they?
        Not worth the first/last mile access to Link.

        I also don’t see a lot of riders taking Link north to any of the stops along Lynnwood Link as their first trip. Why would they. None of those areas are walkable.

        If a lot of folks from the stops along Lynnwood Link need or want to go to UW to Sodo it should do well IF the first Mike access is good, which I am not sure it will be. These are some pretty rural like areas.

      7. Charlotte Royal simply stated that the trip took too long.

        No, Charlotte Royal stated that “Rapid Ride on Aurora is not rapid transit. There’s nothing rapid about the route. ”

        This is absurd. That is my point. It is definitely rapid. Not every Rapid Ride is rapid, but the E definitely is. If you are trying to go a couple miles on Aurora — the type of trip the vast majority of riders on the E take — then the Rapid Ride E Line is quite rapid. It is almost as fast as driving — and sometimes it is faster. It would be even faster if they added more bus/BAT lanes.

        Then Lazarus made a silly comparison of driving from the very end of the routes, with times that rarely represent reality. My attitude is, so what? Very few people make that trip. I don’t get the ridiculous obsession with long-distance trips, as if that is what we should focus on.

        I just responded with generic ways to speed up the trips.

        Right. Except ultimately what you came up with was ways to make some trips faster, and many more trips slower. That is my point. I don’t mean to jump on you, but this happens all the time. People somehow think that with a bus like the E, most riders are headed downtown. Worse yet, they think most of the riders come from far away. This is just not the case. What you are arguing for is fundamentally no different than saying the bus should detour a couple blocks to get closer to my house. Sure, it makes my ride faster, but it makes everyone else’s ride slower.

        Stop spacing is a fascinating topic, but ultimately, the world (after much trial and error) has settled on roughly a quarter mile as being standard. Research on human behavior has backed this up. Of course there are exceptions. But in the case of the E, this pattern serves it extremely well — there are no major peaks and valleys in boardings or alightings, which means deviating from the standard would likely make things worse. Every other argument follows from it. It is like trying to make the most efficient two-dimensional shape. You can try all sorts of things, but you still come back to the circle. All of the things you suggested would ultimately cost people time, either because they have to walk a lot farther or wait longer for the bus.

        Unlike you, I strongly believe that Lynnwood Link and the Metro restructure will noticeably cut into RapidRide E ridership from the Shoreline segment.

        Nice strawman. Unlike you, I don’t make false claims about what the other person wrote. I never made any prediction about RapidRide E ridership from the Shoreline segment. Now that you brought it up, I agree with your claim. I believe that Lynnwood Link and the Metro restructure will noticeably cut into RapidRide E ridership from the Shoreline segment.

        But again, so what? That represents a relatively tiny amount of ridership of the E. You keep ignoring the ridership pattern of the bus. Most of the trips take place exclusively in Seattle, and don’t involve Shoreline at all. Most trips do not involve downtown. The second biggest destination on Link (the UW) is a large, but not dominant alighting stop. Basically, the Shoreline riders that will switch to Link are a relatively small minority of overall ridership. Sure, it will be noticeable, but the E is not the type of bus that people assume that it is.

        It is important to note that the RapidRide E did not live in a vacuum. The 301 was an express overlay that ran during peak. These are the riders that will switch to using Link. Many did (until, of course, they cancelled the bus).

      8. For whatever it’s worth, the couple of times I have had to take the E, it was from Aurora Village to 45th/46th St. My experience was similar to what others mentioned; it was long, slow, and tedious. Maybe the E counts as “Rapid Transit” but it did not “feel” rapid. Not even in Seattle, where it got stuck at every other light and stopped at every stop.

        I am not disputing that it is a very useful route. Clearly it is. But it is not a particularly useful route as means to travel from Aurora Village to somewhere near the ship canal, let alone farther South of there. It is particularly bad if you are traveling from even farther North to start with, as I was doing. In subsequent trips, I tried to time them better to catch another bus to Lynnwood TC to take the 512 from there, not go down to Aurora Village to catch the E. Lesson learned :)

      9. As suggested before, some sort of cooperative express between CT and Metro on Aurora would probably be popular. Just hit something like the 20 most important stops between Jackson & 4th and Everett.

      10. @Glenn in That Other City,

        Yep, as pointed out on this blog multiple times before by a plethora of commentators, there is very little “Rapid” in RapidRide. But I’m not sure the solution to such slow and unreliable service is to double down on more end-to-end service from Everett to Seattle.

        A better solution would be to break the E up into segments that run along Aurora for a few miles and then turn to the East to feed the Link stations at Lynnwood, Mountlake, 185th, and 145th.

        Link will be the true rapid and reliable transit service on this corridor. Metro would do well by the traveling public to pivot to feeding more of their ridership base to this high quality service.

      11. “A better solution would be to break the E up into segments that run along Aurora for a few miles and then turn to the East to feed the Link stations at Lynnwood, Mountlake, 185th, and 145th.”

        Lazarus, you need to go back to the drawing board. That’s not one of your best ideas. You do realize that as part of the restructure there will be other bus routes connecting Aurora to Link stations, don’t you?

        “But, Sam, it has the word rapid is in the name! And E line isn’t rapid! I even did some research, and the E Line is a lot slower than a car! And I have ridden on the E Line before, and each time, the ride wasn’t rapid!” Lazarus, the word rapid isn’t meant to be taken literally. It’s a marketing name.

      12. “Has Lazarus heard of a “grid?”

        “Don’t try multiplying it by 1/10th.”

        That is a good point, Brent. Link depends on feeder buses or park and rides (which often still require feeder buses) for many of its riders to access Link, so the better comparison is how many fewer bus drivers will be necessary due to truncation. It isn’t like the bus goes away, or frequency on the feeder buses can be crap, because then trip time on Link is crap. Link is like a queen bee: without the worker bees (buses) feeding it it won’t live.

        I thought Anonymouse’s post about CT bus routes and just how many can really truncate along Lynnwood Link was interesting (maybe not many) because it turns out SnoCo is huge and undense, and had wondered why the 12 CT buses that go to Seattle today Glenn brought up don’t truncate at Northgate Link already.

        Ross also raised an interesting point in a throwaway line about buses I have raised before: this area is not dense. The route Link will take from Tacoma to Everett to Redmond is mostly REALLY not dense, which is why maybe the question about transformative Link stations should have focused on the extent they require first/last mile access. Which of course is why the OFM and PSRC and ST and transit fans claim 1 million new residents are moving here, and will live in TOD.

        We have arguments on this blog about park and rides, in part because some transit fans hate cars. But at least in the subarea where I live park and rides are the one first/last mile access folks will use (if the park and ride is a one seat ride to their destination).

        At least on the eastside I have my doubts about bus truncation. The 554 and 630 may be the tip of the iceberg. I don’t think TOD will be very popular because folks didn’t move to the eastside for TOD — and even in the MI town center that is perfect for TOD few use transit — and I don’t think folks will drive to a park and ride to catch a bus to catch East Link.

        Granted East Link is not as good a route as Northgate Link to CID, but after that the route ain’t great, or where folks want to live, in huge and undense counties, so the buses better be frequent and fast enough going east to west to Link — the worst trip of all in an hourglass shaped city — to make up for the transfer, which means lots of bus drivers or trip time on Link will suck and folks will drive.

      13. CT has already approved their bus route restructure. The 400 and 800 series routes go away, replaced by seven 900 series routes. Only four of those will go to Lynnwood Station. The others will go to Mountlake Terrace Station, Bellevue TC, and Seaway TC. The Orange Swift Line will open the same day, serving Edmonds College and the Blue Swift Line to the west, and Ash Way P&R and Mill Creek to northeast. The Blue Swift Line will extend from Aurora Village to Shoreline / 185th Station. ST hasn’t yet decided it’s express restructure.

        Both of those Swift lines are planned to have 10-minute midday headway., and so may account for more Link transfers than the express routes will, and use up some FTEs freed up from other bus routes.

      14. Again, folks are missing the point here. The RapidRide E Line is rapid for the vast majority of trips that people take. For example:

        105th & Aurora to downtown — The 105th stop has the highest ridership north of downtown. For a southbound bus, there are plenty of people who get off before downtown, but it would not surprise me if most riders at this stop are heading downtown (simply because there are fewer stops before there and downtown). Travel times:

        Bus: 25 minutes. Driving 22 minutes. But again, that isn’t how it should be measured. Consider the average speed. It is 8.3 miles (according to Google). That averages out to almost 20 MPH! Holy cow, that is blazing fast for an urban transit system. It is faster than the average speed of the NYC Subway system, which is completely grade separated, and has a combination of both “local” and “express” service.

        185th & Aurora to 135th & Aurora: These stops aren’t arbitrary. Although the E does not have great peaks and valleys, these are peaks. For a southbound bus, 185th has the second most boarding in Shoreline, and 135th has the highest alighting north of 105th. Travel Time:

        Bus: 11 minutes. Driving 9. This works out to around 14 MPH for a 2.5 MPH trip. That is still respectable for a subway system, let alone a surface one.

        These are the types of trips that make up the bulk of E ridership. This is not an express bus — which explains why it has so many riders. This leads me to another statement:

        As suggested before, some sort of cooperative express between CT and Metro on Aurora would probably be popular. Just hit something like the 20 most important stops between Jackson & 4th and Everett.

        Sorry, but that would not be popular. Simply put, not that many people would ride it. The E carries so many riders because it already hits the most important stops. Or, to put it another way: There are no unimportant stops on the E. That is because the planners did the right thing. They didn’t try to mimic Swift; they built something better. They simply adopted what is standard all over the world, and put the stops roughly every 400 meters apart, AKA every five blocks. As a result, most of the trips are along Aurora itself. There are no big peaks and valleys in boardings or alightings. Of course you could run a different version of the E — you could say the same thing about any bus. Run an express bus from Garfield High School to downtown, bypassing First Hill. Riders would love it. But could it compare to the extremely slow 3/4? No! Just like the old 301 (that bypassed Aurora completely, using the very fast I-5) it had lower ridership per hour.

        Ponder that for a second. During peak — when the E is so crowded that running an express overlay makes sense* — the 301 got about 35 riders per service hour, while the E got 53. Outside of peak, the numbers grew, when the E managed a whopping 55 riders per service hour, and the 301 (a much faster alternative) managed to get only 29. This is because there simply aren’t that many people taking really long trips. A limited-stop express would be almost as expensive as the E, but get a lot fewer riders. Unless you are willing to subsidize those riders to a ridiculous degree, it doesn’t make sense.

        * The main value of expresses are to reduce crowding. They make sense if the buses are so crowded that you are running them every couple minutes. At that point, an express actually saves the agency money. You can run the regular bus *and* the express bus frequently. Both fill up, which means that both help address crowding. But the express takes less time to run, so it costs less to operate. In Seattle, this only happened during peak, which is why these expresses made sense then, while streetcars don’t. Now, it isn’t clear if it is happening anywhere, which is why buses like the 15 (which had much better ridership per hour than the 301) are being suspended.

      15. @Brent White,

        You are assuming I actually read Ross’s post. I usually don’t. I have a busy life.

      16. I’ll offer a synopsis then.

        Ross did a lot of research to back up his comments.

        You clearly were not putting much thought in today. You are capable of doing much better. I’ve seen it.

        The better part of wisdom is to know what you don’t know, and not try to pretend.

      17. Ross:

        The E is popular for what it does, but Aurora is one continuous corridor. The ridership on the E drops off quite a lot north of about 160th because it doesn’t go much further. The situation is mirrored on Swift Blue.

        Sure, people can transfer at Aurora Village, but your own numbers show there are a number of people traveling from one spot on Aurora to another. That demand doesn’t magically end at the county line, but the bus routes sure do.

        Imagine how much more popular the stop at 185th (Fred Meyer) would be if people could also get from there to points further north.

        Currently, none of the auto traffic that flows through there has to stop for 15 minutes and change cars at the county line.

      18. @Brent White,

        One of my undergrad engineering profs once said, “the skill of an engineer is inversely proportional to the amount of paper he uses”.

        I don’t find the exceedingly long posts by a few of the authors on this blog (you know who you are!) to be very insightful or worth spending much time to read. Normally they are simply word salads of oddly tangential information that aren’t worth addressing, and that the authors themselves often appear to not fully understand.

    4. I struggle at times with the goal of “urbanists” that feel the need to implement road diets and perpetually eliminate general purpose lanes of traffic.

      A transportation system relying on most people using private cars for most trips doesn’t scale to the population density we have in many of our neighborhoods today, nor to the population density we will have in many of our other neighborhoods in upcoming years.

      To support newcomers using cars as much as existing residents already do, we would need to add lanes to many of our streets. Road widening is something most urbanists might prefer to avoid for quality-of-life reasons, but that’s a matter of opinion on which reasonable people can disagree. What’s not controversial is that road widening is also really expensive. The political will to raise taxes enough to do that doesn’t seem to be there.

      So: what to do? Many of our streets are already clogged with traffic, and for better or worse we have no intention of widening them. The only way forward is therefore to reallocate the road space we do have away from cars to more space-efficient modes of transport. That means more bike lanes, more bus lanes, fewer car lanes.

      1. That sounds good in theory, but transit has too many negatives: safety, first/last mile access, convenience, ability to carry things, etc. it is fools gold to try and force folks onto transit. Seattle can try and disadvantage cars, but those people (which is 95%) will go someplace else. Like U Village.

        Pre-pandemic there were 4 hours/day cars did not scale: peak hours WFH has solved much of that. Future population growth looks tone flat.

        People who drive think cars scale. It was only the peak commute to downtown Seattle with dry high parking prices they felt cars didn’t scale, although they hated that commute.

        Take WS Link. It wi cost billions. Even when WSBLE is completed with DSTT2 ST only estimates 600 car drivers will switch to Link, which means closer to 300.

        Right now Seattle is considering spending $300 million for CCC even though 3rd Ave is packed with buses running north/south. But even Seattle urbanists won’t use 3rd, which is exactly why they won’t use the CCC.

        People who live along 1st and 2nd have a lot of money. Those condos are expensive. Tourists have a lot of money. So do folks going to conventions. They will all use Uber because it is safe and even faster and more convenient than driving and parking your own car and can carry 4. Transit is an urban area has a very hard time competing with Uber even if safe because the cost is irrelevant.

        And BTW I never hear folks complain about the cost of roads.

      2. @DT,

        “ability to carry things, etc”.

        Ha! I was on Link a couple of months back and a guy was transporting a 50 inch flatscreen. And the box was huge!

        And I’ve seen people on Link carrying annuals for their garden.

      3. That sounds good in theory, but transit has too many negatives: safety, first/last mile access, convenience, ability to carry things, etc. it is fools gold to try and force folks onto transit.

        For someone who thinks transit is a terrible idea you sure spend a lot of time talking about it.

        Nobody is going to force you out of your car. You may find however that as we reallocate more space away from cars toward buses and bikes that driving becomes inconvenient and unpleasant more often than it is today.

        Pre-pandemic there were 4 hours/day cars did not scale: peak hours WFH has solved much of that. Future population growth looks tone flat.

        Amazon is returning to the office most of the week. Seattle’s population growth was among the highest in the country last year.

        A few days ago I attended an event in a downtown Seattle office tower at 5:30 PM. The folks I shared an elevator with were complaining about how bad traffic was. Maybe rush hour traffic went away for a while, but it’s back now. You do realize “cars only don’t scale during the times most people are traveling” isn’t actually a great argument in favor of cars, right?

        And BTW I never hear folks complain about the cost of roads.

        That’s funny. I hear people complain about taxes all the time. How do you think we pay for our roads, and where do you think the money would have to come from if we were to expand them? It’s taxes! Tolls would work too, but people complain about those as well.

      4. That sounds good in theory, but transit has too many negatives: safety

        It is amazing how your argument falls apart, right off the bat. Your very first point — that transit is not as safe as driving — is complete nonsense. But hey, don’t let that stop you. Continue…

        People who drive think cars scale. It was only the peak commute to downtown Seattle with dry high parking prices they felt cars didn’t scale

        Wow, this one doesn’t even need facts or research. It is a logical fallacy. The word “scale” is short for “economy of scale”. It is a concept borrowed from economics. Basically, somethings “scales” if the more people use it, the cheaper or better it gets. And there you are, explaining that the more people drive, the worse it gets. Thus you clearly explain that driving does *not* scale. It is in fact, a diseconomy of scale.

        Your arguments are like warmup exercises for a high school debate team. Full of logical and factual holes — easy to rip to shreds. Come on man, if you are going to make blanket anti-transit statements, give us something difficult, OK.

      5. “ability to carry things”
        Folding grocery carts with handles exist, which I use from time to time and many people in Europe use for grocery shopping for the week.

      6. Ross, 95% of trips are by car. You figure it out.

        If the hope is future population growth, TOD, or forcing drivers to transit I am afraid that won’t happen. Transit lost 30% of its ridership — 100% fare paying ridership — from WFH. Basically overnight. Because people didn’t like taking transit. The WS bridge closed and still those folks drove.

        My point is transit ridership is fixed or might decline more as fewer folks commute to urban centers. That is the point of Metro’s suspensions. Whether there is a driver shortage or not is irrelevant if the routes have inadequate ridership. There must be some dollar per rider mile baseline. This grid concept post pandemic is silly.

        So plan from there. Current ridership is future ridership, at best. My guess is Metro and ST O&M revenue will decline but costs will increase. So figure out how to configure the best transit for that.

        IMO — and granted I am in the minority on this blog — that means not spending $4.2 billion on DSTT2 or $300 million on CCC. I don’t think the riders to justify either will show up.

        I agree with Sam’s concept about Levy: all this theoretical transit stuff is crap.

        But I could be wrong and others on this blog right.

        If instead the argument is the special interest that uses transit believes it should have more road capacity — it doesn’t pay for — or more general tax revenue I understand that political (not moral) argument, but if 95% don’t use transit don’t be surprised if 95% of tax revenue or road capacity goes there, especially since those folks have the money. As I noted people have alternatives if parking is too expensive or congestion artificially constricted. As I tell my friends who live on 1st they are like the Omega Man.

        I think one of the biggest mistakes transit fans in this country made is believing transit is somehow moral or can change society. That made it easy for them to supply shitty service or wasting billions without any consideration of dollar per rider mile. It was that thinking that led to Uber which is a much better urban mode of TRANSPORTATION, especially if is too dangerous to wait on 3rd.

        Like I said, I might be wrong, but I think the transit cuts are just beginning. Spending $300 million on the CCC because even Seattle urbanists are afraid to walk two blocks to Third Ave. suggests there is a bigger problem. Interlining in DSTT1 is a similar admission the ridership claims for Link were fantasy.

        Time will tell.

      7. Zach, the main thing people carry is KIDS. And then dogs. Or when our kids were home 8 bags of groceries including pet food and litter. Do you know how heavy cat litter is?

        To Lazarus’ comment, when I was in graduate school in Dublin in the early 1980’s my roommate and I took a bus to a remote residential neighborhood and bought a very heavy used TV. We had to carry it nearly a mile back to the
        bus and then to our apartment. We only got 3 channels: BBC 1 and 2, and the new Sky channel. We actually watched chemistry classes on TV.

      8. Ross,

        One minor point that bears repeating:

        The word “scale” is short for “economy of scale”.

        This is the way you use it; however, I have pointed out before that it is not the only definition. I know that you likely remember it because we had a pretty interesting conversation on the topic, so I would be happy to see you acknowledge the different definitions of the term in subsequent posts, or at least not assume that the one you prefer is universally accepted as the primary one.

        Given that you talked about “putting words in someone’s mouth” in another comment in this same post, I hope that you can see how I hold you to a very high standard :)

        Thanks in advance for your agreement (I do not mean this in a patronizing way; I genuinely have faith in it being the case).

      9. “Scale” is up to the driver when considering all options (including Uber). If driving does not scale a driver won’t make the trip or will use another mode. Other folks don’t make that decision just like that driver doesn’t make that decision for you. It isn’t theoretical. It is in the data. How many trips are by car and how many by transit. Not rocket science.

        WFH doesn’t reduce the number of cars or drivers. WFH reduced the number of trips, trips folks didn’t want to make.

        If you want to reduce the number of car trips focus on trips folks don’t want to make. Door Dash, Amazon delivery, WFH, trips closer to home, all reduce the number of cars on the road (and transit). You will never reduce the number of trips by car without reducing the number of trips by transit although that is the holy grail of transit fans.

      10. “You will never reduce the number of trips by car without reducing the number of trips by transit although that is the holy grail of transit fans.”

        That has definitely not been the experience of places that have built good quality transit systems, such as vast swaths of Europe.

      11. Daniel, I used to be someone like you who was pretty much anti-transit, as recently as five years ago. I thought the car was the best way to get around and I got mad about Seattle doing road diets on it’s four lane arterials to add bike lanes. However in recent years, my opinion has completely changed on this.

        I did have some experience with buses in Seattle over ten years ago while I was in high school since my school (Nathan Hale HS) gave us all bus passes and so I took the bus to school for my freshman and part of my sophomore year until I discovered that riding my bike to school was faster than taking the bus since I no longer had to walk 15 minutes (0.9 miles) to get to the bus stop for the 65. So that wasn’t the best public transit experience for me, but was about half a mile away from the 41 so I could easily get to downtown, which was nice.

        Although I sort of took buses for granted back then and didn’t really have a whole lot of appreciation for them, looking back on it, it was nice having buses to get around as it gave me more independence as a teenager without a driver’s license.

        I got my license at 18 (a bit later than most kids) and than my family moved to Lynnwood a year later, do I didn’t do much bus riding after that. I even got rid of my ORCA card that the school gave me!

        Anyway, over time, I realized that driving wasn’t all that great. I especially don’t like driving in traffic (who does, really?) or dealing with left lane hogs when there’s no traffic.

        In 2018, I got a job in downtown and my employer gave me a Navia benefits card that would either pay for parking in their garage, or for adding money to an ORCA card. I drove the first day, but hated it so much that I went and got an ORCA card and took the bus into work every day after. I no longer have that job (for various other reasons) but I miss that commute, especially Community Transit’s awesome double decker buses.

        Riding the bus was and is so much better than driving downtown that I don’t think you really need to force people to take transit. Now that the light rail goes up to Northgate, I swear I will NEVER, ever, ever drive into downtown Seattle ever again.

        So, this ended up being a longer comment than I thought it would be, but basically, to sum it up, as someone who used to be pretty car-brained and not supportive of other modes of transportation, if someone like me could become a fan of transit, anyone can. Sure, transit is not good everywhere (getting from north Lynnwood to my current job in Woodinville on transit takes 3x as long as driving in traffic, so sorry, I’m not doing that), but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t invest in it and try to make it a better option for people.

      12. The figure of 95% of trips being by car is an average over the entire United States, which includes rural areas, exurban areas, and parts of the country with much worse transit than what Seattle has. Within Seattle itself, I don’t know what the figure is, but it’s definitely not 95%. For the specific case of rush hour work commutes to downtown Seattle, SDOT has conducted surveys in that regard, and the drive alone rate is under 50%, even post pandemic.

        “I struggle at times with the goal of “urbanists” that feel the need to implement road diets and perpetually eliminate general purpose lanes of traffic.”

        Contrary to how the right-wing media portrays it, the road diets are not a “war on cars” or an effort to force people onto public transit. Rather, it’s a safety project. Simply put, road capacity beyond what’s necessary to avoid congestion (e.g. needing to wait for multiple light cycles to get through an intersection) offers extremely little time savings for drivers (on the order of a few seconds), but makes the street far more dangerous. The danger factor comes from a combination of needing to cross more lanes of traffic to cross the street and the increase in excessive speeding you get when people have room to pass people.

        Of course, a lot of the justification for the street having all that extra road space to begin with is fanciful projections about ever-increasing needs for car capacity. But, just as one should be skeptical about purported “needs” for excessive transit capacity, one should also be skeptical about similar claims regarding road capacity, and road diets should not be vetoed simply due to some fanciful projection about future traffic growth that may or may not actually happen. And even if overall traffic, regionwide, grows, that doesn’t mean that traffic on that particular street will grow. There’s only so many people that have a reason to use any particular street, and only so much road capacity leading into it.

    5. Aurora, where BAT lanes typically occur is 6 lanes + a turning lane. 2 of these lanes are BAT lanes to give buses priority. Aurora carries approximately 30k cars per day and 10k bus riders. Cars average approximately 1.5 occupants per car which gives us roughly 45k people traveling by car. On a per lane basis, the bus lanes carry a proportional amount of people as the general purpose lanes and provide real utility when it comes to moving people to where they need to go.

      One thought to speed buses up would be to provide signal priority where lights cycle to green exclusively for oncoming buses. Not sure if signal priority is already implemented in some fashion but a thought to inch travel times forward.

      Additionally, Seattle Met has a long form feature on Aurora that just came out touching on pedestrian safety, a little on transit, sex trafficking, and the immigrant food scene that goes under the radar. Highly recommend reading.

      https://www.seattlemet.com/news-and-city-life/2023/05/up-and-down-aurora-avenue

      1. The challenge of transit signal priority there is that Aurora is very wide and takes quite a bit of time for a pedestrian to cross. A bus can’t just turn a light green when it approaches because the crosswalk phase takes about 40 to 50 seconds to complete and it’s unsafe to suddenly turn a crosswalk time to 0.

        Because there many stops only a few blocks from each other, the bus also can’t give downstream signals much notice when that bus coming because the system doesn’t know how long a bus needs to be stopped to load riders at the prior stop. The bus may be just a 30 second ride up the street at an earlier stop. That’s in contrast to Link on MLK — where there are much longer distances between stations so there is much more time for an advanced signal system to kick in to give the train priority.

        If Aurora bus service was restructured to run a limited stop overlay route that only stopped every 3/4 to mile, signal priority is much more of an option to consider for that kind of service. However, RapidRide E is used for both short and long trips so that’s not a very reasonable concept either.

        The branding of “RapidRide” is tricky thing. What part of the term “rapid” is the most relevant — the frequency or the speed? Is it better to have a shorter wait but a slower ride (because there are so many stops being made to serve short trips), or a longer wait but faster ride? The sweet spot likely varies by corridor.

      2. That’s a good point Al S. Aurora is a pretty dangerous street as it is for pedestrians. Since ridership is already strong, signal priority is probably not needed. Pedestrianization along stretches such as Lincton Springs are probably a better use of funds.

      3. “2 of these lanes are BAT lanes to give buses priority.”

        Only in Shoreline. Seattle has a few short BAT/transit segments, but the rest of the time it’s stuck in the same peak congestion as cars.

        BRT is supposed to be a poor man’s alternative to rail for secondary corridors, so it needs full transit-priority lanes to reach its potential. Shoreline, South King County, and Snohomish County understand this. In Seattle some car-oriented business owners on Aurora have too much influence to do this.

    6. RR is the short-wait bus. It is low grade BRT, but BRT. WSDOT, Shoreline, Seattle, and Metro collaborated to improve its flow; the transit speed improved up until 2020 when the deep opened even though background traffic was heavier. Route 358 was better than its former network; the E Line was better than Route 358. Each provided shorter waits. The E line can be successful and Lynnwood Link can be a game changer; they will complement each other; they will be like the rails of a ladder; the local routes will be like the steps. I hope Metro focuses its hours on fewer more frequent local routes to reduce waits.

      1. The E Line is already successful as Metro’s flagship highest-ridership bus route. It has become the most frequent route because the ridership requires it.

        The 1 line is so successful its ridership dwarfs the ridership of every other transit agency in the state except King County Metro. It also accounts for the overwhelming majority of Sound Transit’s ridership. And it is just beginning…

        I wish the E Line could have stops on Aurora north of N 200th St next to the Blue Line stops.

    7. “Rapid Transit” has multiple meanings, some more honest than others. The “rapid” part comes most commonly from high frequency, second from priority right of way, and third from wider stop spacing (anywhere from 1/4 mile minimum to 1 mile limited-stop). Some make a technological difference: Link can’t be rapid transit because it’s not third rail, or the Chicago L is rapid transit but an equally-frequent Metra couldn’t be. And some agencies have it in their name, the “X Rapid Transit District”, when there’s nothing rapid at all about their network, it’s just substandard bus service.

      In areas that have three levels of transit, “rapid transit” is often the middle level. In Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and London, buses are the slowest and most comprehensive level. The “rapid transit” L/Subway/BART/Underground run every 2-10 minutes, with stop spacing ranging from local to limited, but not serving all areas. The “express” Metra/LIRR/buses/mainline rail serve only the largest stations within the city. They’re not called rapid transit because they’re (usually) not as frequent as the middle level. So they may be higher speed but the longer waiting counteracts that.

      I find that when I’m in another city, I usually prefer the most frequent route, so I tend to take the middle level, even when it’s not the absolute fastest, to avoid longer waiting. So I’ll take a 10-minute rapid transit line rather than wait 30 or 60 minutes for an express line.

    8. Rainier’s issues will be solved immediately when cameras are installed.

      Remember when hundreds of cars were illegally crossing the Spokane St low bridge to get out of West Seattle during the high bridge closure, and then suddenly one day it wasn’t a problem anymore?

      1. Has the state allowed Seattle to have more than one lane camera backed up by fines?

    9. I think the point here is that transit shouldn’t run in general purpose lanes, and indeed, can be very inefficient when it does.

  8. The September service cuts are slowly happening already, with another route on the list cut every week or two.

    301 and 304 are suspended for next week. Like 162, I don’t think they are coming back.

    If Metro’s queue for elimination is based on public feedback, I expect the routes with the most affluent riders will go last.

    Whenever the next class of new operators graduates, hopefully that will stem the bleeding.

    But if Metro is losing operators faster than they can hire new ones, we have a serious problem.

    1. People like to say, if Metro paid more, they’d attract more applicants, but that’s a truism that applies to most jobs. What I want to know is, aside from those who retire, what are the top reasons drivers are quitting? I don’t remember this being a problem pre-covid. Has the job changed or gotten worse in the last three years?

      1. In 2019, the USA’s death rate was 8.8 per 1,000 people. In 2023 it’s now 9.1 per 1,000 people.

        Immigration into the USA remains a tangled mess.

        If you turn a deadly virus loose in society while making it difficult for that society to obtain workers from the outside, you can expect a shortage of workers across a large number of fields. This means people are much more mobile in their ability to change employers and careers. Places that are unpleasant and low paying are the worst impacted (ask any of the restaurants how easy it is to find people willing to work for them), but is impacting employers across the board.

        So, it’s not just Metro, but they are a very publicly visible example. The help wanted sign in your favorite restaurant might mean the food takes an extra 20 minutes to prepare because they really need more people, or in some cases some restaurants are so short of help they have to close (Friday Harbor lost at least 4 in 2022, and there aren’t that many to begin with), or maybe your latest unnecessary gadget takes an extra day to arrive due to a lack of warehouse workers. For the most part, people don’t notice that or shrug it off as the impact isn’t that big in the grand scheme of things.

        Across the board cutbacks in bus service, weather that be Metro or school districts eliminating school bus routes, are much more noticeable.

      2. If Metro is trying to avoid chasing off operators, they would do well to restock the buses with masks in the here and now. ST would do well to restock the trains with masks, and have two dispensers on each LRV.

        I know those masks only do so much to protect the wearers, but they protect everyone around the wearer pretty well. One of the several people I know who got COVID in the past month got it despite wearing a standard (non-N95) mask.

        If Metro really wants to protect and keep operators, they would do well to provide them with free N95s every day. Some won’t take them. Some will. That 50 cents of love they could be showing operators every day would help reduce call-outs for the week and several days of random trip cancellations for each COVID call-out.

      3. Brent, I believe you said you work in the transportation industry, so you may know more about this than most. Do you believe one of the top reasons Metro drivers have quit over the last couple of years (excluding those that retire), is due to covid related concerns on the bus?

      4. One of the top reasons operators quit was that Metro paid them to do so back in 2020. I predicted that a lot of the junior operators who were let go would not come back. I suspect some did, though, but those who found other jobs stuck with them. I know some who returned to driving jobs at other employers.

        I don’t have access to Metro’s data, but I know a number of professional drivers who struggle to make the shifts work with their outside family lives. Some end up having to quit when they can’t. COVID has exacerbated the family struggle by decimating the day care industry, and ballooned the cost of child care, to the point that it is cheaper to just stay home. That said, you might have noticed how overwhelmingly male the Metro operator force was in the Before Times.

        I’m pretty sure 2020 was Metro’s worst year for employment related fatalities.

        I know some operators who have been disheartened with each removal of health protections, but I have no anecdotes of anyone quitting because of them.

        There were some who quit over the vaccine mandate, and I know of some who plan to return. I’m pretty sure the ground has been salted for any further vaccine mandates.

        I have yet to hear of or from any quitting because of fentanyl, violence, or an increase in passengers using transit as shelter.

        From what I hear, transit providers are still struggling to find job applicants. But Metro is at the top of the food chain in terms of ability to scavenge drivers from other employers. That was already a thing in the Before Times.

      5. I can’t speak to Metro but I had a family member who recently worked for USPS for about three months before quitting and it illustrated some of the issues that all of these public sector union jobs are facing. The job is enjoyable enough and the pay and benefits are fantastic, but the hours and specifically the lack of flexibility are horrible. New hires are offered the worst hours and the worst routes. They are constantly pressured or forced to take on overtime in order to compensate for short staffing. This can go on for years.

        The only way it makes sense is if your plan is to deliver mail or drive the bus for decades, to put up with the right of passage in order to eventually work your way up the seniority ladder. Not many people want to do that, especially those who are capable and reliable enough to have other decent jobs available to them.

        Maybe there is eventually a pay threshold that will get more new drivers to stick around, but for now if the new drivers are continually stuck with the worst routes and the worst hours, most of them are probably going to quit. And it seems like the biggest thing right now is that it’s a feedback cycle with things being especially bad for the new hires being pressured to work more to compensate for the shortages and unemployment being low so there are other jobs available.

      6. Traditionally, one of the deterrents to applying at Metro has been that everyone starts as a part-timer. And that the available extra work is gulped up by senior operators. The time one has to wait before going full-time has been slowly shrinking. In that regard, the job is slowly getting better and better.

      7. Pierce Transit doesn’t have the part-time requirement. They pay time and a half for weekends and another bump for holidays, so seniority gets you those shifts. So PT drivers start full-time, weekdays. Sometimes it’s 5am, Sometimes it’s an evening shift, but not terrible schedule, and 40 hours. Though you don’t get the time and a halfs, the long-timers do.

      8. And the difference in may between Metro and PT are too small to coax anyone to jump ship.

      9. I’d wager that the quit rate hasn’t changed much, and instead the issue is with hiring rate. A job like bus driver has high churn, especially with new(ish) drivers, and with the Covid lockdown and then tight labor market, bus agencies have struggled to hire sufficiently.

        Additionally, there has been an acceleration of retirements, which can also causes a shortage of operators.

      10. I think Pierce Transit actually tries pretty hard to do right by employees. I’m friends with a couple of long time drivers and it’s not like they have any ill will towards Pierce Transit.

        The real problems are inflation and insane housing prices. Back in the 80’s driving full time for PT often meant you qualified for a 30 year mortgage on a house in Tacoma (South of the freeways of course). Yeah, your schedule was sometimes wack, but you had a house to come home to.

        And everything true about driving bus is also true about teaching school in Tacoma. High teacher turnover is crushing public education.

  9. PIMS seems mostly successful. I’m at UW station.

    Angle Lake sign says trains in 6, 18, 48 minutes; current time 12:56

    Northgate sign says trains in 2, 9, 19 minutes; current time 7:56

    So aside from apparent 30 minute southbound headway and a time bubble between northbound and southbound, all good.

    1. Interesting. When I took the train from SeaTac station to Beacon Hill station on Wed night the system was not working and they were running those announcements about it being in test mode. So this is great news if what you’re reporting holds!

      On the downside, after once again making that long trek from the terminal to the station, the first thing I notice is a broken escalator. (Sigh.)

  10. Anyone else miss the Sunday Open Thread video posts? Some were Seattle oriented, but others were from all over the world. I’d be willing to help search out potentially relevant and useful videos.

    1. The video links have been temporarily displaced by everything else going on. I have a backlog of videos I haven’t evaluated yet. If you email the contact address, I can send you those to evaluate, and you can send us any you recommend.

      With the smaller number of authors and articles now, I don’t think we can sustain a single video on Sundays. There’s more than one worthwhile video per week, and the open threads seem work well spaced around five days apart. Or do you or others disagree?

      1. The news item open threads are nice to have more often.

        The Sunday open threads were nice because of the broad range of the videos (historical, worldwide, sometimes whimsical) but also the Sunday open threads had no set topic or articles other than the video.

        But, I can certainly understand the lack of hours available.

      2. The lack of videos is primarily because there’s been one big thing after another: the Link downtown alternatives, the CID activist blowup, the Westlake busted ceiling and single-tracking, the RapidRide G restructure, the Lynnwood Link restructure, Metro’s cuts in September, the East Link starter line and delays, adding a new author (Andrew Bowen), Harrell doubling down on the CCC streetcar, other open thread links, and me getting more links to ST/Metro meetings we want to mention. So all that has crowded out the videos. But when things calm down somewhat, there will be more videos again,.

  11. Question. Which Link station has been, or will be, most transformational or game-changing to a neighborhood or area? Especially in terms of transit, not in terms TOD or gentrification, etc.

    1. My hunch is Roosevelt due to the ridership generated at that station which exceeds other neighborhood based stations by a wide margin.

      Also, seeing the transformation in North Beacon Hill has been fascinating to me. Over the past decade there’s been an emergence of a lively restaurant and bar scene with packed outdoor seating and the clanging of silverware and glasses. I remember when the neighborhood felt a lot more sleepy. It feels like there’s been strong adoption of LINK and has connected the neighborhood in a real way with other neighborhoods.

      1. I would guess U Dist. if we are talking about non CBD stations. My guess is that station is the main driver of ridership from Northgate or Roosevelt, or stations from the south. I doubt Roosevelt is a destination station

        Sadly none of the stations I can think of has been transformational south of Sodo although that segment opened first. The stations are not very nice. The one area of gentrification in S. Seattle has been Columbia City (and Georgetown) and that is not Link driven.

        Transit serves. It does not create.

      2. In terms of transit only, in that before Link, it was a big hassle taking a bus to and from an area, I’d say SeaTac station has been the biggest game-changer.

      3. The issue with SeaTac Link is few use it. Airport parking and ride share have dominated airport access. Maybe when Link opens to Tacoma that will change.

      4. The express bus service to SeaTac that ran from Downtown was pretty fast before Link opened. While Link made Seatac easier to reach from many places, I think that Link didn’t really improve the time it took to get to and from Downtown — and may have actually added travel time when the slog through the parking garage is added in.

      5. On the topic of most transformational Link stations, I am quite surprised that nobody mentioned Capitol Hill. Before Link, getting to Capitol Hill on a buses was a pain. Slow buses from downtown and the U-district, transfers to said slow buses from nearly everywhere else. With Link, it’s a fast ride to or from any Link station along the entire line. I myself have visited Capitol Hill far more often after Link opened than before, and anecdotally, the Link station itself seems to be among the busiest.

        With respect to SeaTac, yes, there was the 194 that had faster travel times than Link on paper, but Link has numerous advantages that made the train the superior option in practice. It runs more frequently than the 194 did, and for more hours each day. It doesn’t get stuck in traffic getting to the airport stop. It can load 20+ people – with suitcases – in under a minute (vs. 5-10 minutes for the bus). People who live in places such as Beacon Hill or Columbia City can get off at the station near their house, saving nearly an hour over the alternative of needing to all the way downtown and backtrack on a bus. Residents of north Seattle also save huge amounts of time simply by being able to remain on the train past downtown rather than needing to get off and wait downtown for a bus connection.

      6. I didn’t mention Capitol Hill because of its close proximity to downtown, and its wealth of frequent and varied bus service to downtown and elsewhere. That isn’t to say Link isn’t very beneficial to the neighborhood, but it seems like it’s just icing on the cake.

      7. Yeah, I would go with Capitol Hill as well. In many ways, Capitol Hill is a prime example of a great, urban transit stop. There are a mix of uses. It has a college nearby, a lot of restaurants and pubs, along with plenty of people who live in the area. It is an area served by a lot of buses, but the average speed of those buses is very slow, because it is in a typical urban neighborhood. In contrast, as important as the UW stations are, they were connected to downtown via express bus service.

        There is an argument to be made that we shouldn’t have spent a dime on rail in this city — we just don’t have the density. We should have simply ramped up the buses to various places (including the UW and the airport). The counter-argument to that starts with Capitol Hill.

    2. I can’t seem to sasily separate the term “TOD” from the term “transformational”. I guess it’s possible to examine which station has the biggest impact on reducing or increasing travel times, but that’s more about transformational trip pairs than transformational stations.

      That said, the reduction in transit travel times between UW and Downtown is what I would say has had the most profound transformation. Of those stations, I would probably say that UW (Husky Stadium/ UWMC) Station has been the biggest transformation simply because it took so long to ride anywhere from the Montlake Triangle before Link opened. Of course, U District and Capitol Hill travel times have also been transformational but Link didn’t improve on their Downtown travel time as much as it seemed to for UW Station.

      1. Transformational also in the sheer number of bus driver hours saved. Can you imagine what the Metro bus route cutbacks would look like if all those 7x routes were still stuck in traffic all day?

      2. “Transit-Oriented Development” has a specific meaning that’s often distorted. It means the building has been optimized for walking to the transit stop. The entrance faces the stop, the walking path is the shortest possible, and setbacks are shallow. The aesthetics are scaled to be pleasing from the sidewalk rather than just from a speeding car. TOD is usually medium/high density and mixed-use, but this is not strictly necessary,. Middle housing can be transit-oriented too.

        “Transit-Adjacent Development” is similar but not transit oriented. Its entrance may on another side from the bus stop. (E.g., the VA Hospital, Lowe’s on Rainier, Sky Nursery). There may be a large surface parking lot in front (Fred Meyer in Lake City/Ballard/Greenwood.) So you have to walk around two or three sides and through a large parking lot to get to the entrance. It may have deep setbacks (open space) you have to walk past.

        1950s-style buildings had one or two rows of parking in front (one aisle). I’ve even grown to accept four rows of parking (two aisles) as a reasonable compromise. But many supermarket and big-box lots are much larger, and that’s the opposite of transit-oriented.

    3. Good question. Most Seattle stations are simply increasing existing trends, so there’s no obvious shift from low-ridership to high-ridership. When ultra-high U-Disrict becomes ultra-higher, it looks like more of the same. Neighborhoods like Capitol Hill are the closest to New York or London, so they’re getting more so with busy platforms all day.

      The most transformational aspect of Link is not a single station but connecting larger areas, especially Snohomish County to North Seattle. Before Link there were sometimes-frequent expresses to downtown, and to a lesser extent the U-District, but the rest of North Seattle was inaccessible. I’ve known several people in Snohomish County who worked in Licton Springs, Ballard, or Sand Point, and it would be a two-hour transit trip each way on local buses because the expresses bypassed them. North Seattle has a lot of shopping/cultural/recreation destinations and neighborhoods that Snohomish residents go to. And people in North Seattle go to Snohomish County for work, shopping, relatives, events, or church. Northgate Link makes this more feasible, and Lynnwood Link even more so. So that’s Link’s sleeper hit that many people didn’t expect.

      My friend in North Lynnwood grubles that the 512/4xx truncations make her downtown trips longer (and she often just misses the transfer bus), but it’s a dramatic improvement to get to the U-District, Capitol Hill, and Roosevelt.

      East Link may have a similar transformation, but I think there’s more resistance to transit there, so we’ll have to see. The north end seems more open to transit due to lower average income, more non-office workers, fewer roads, and more traffic congestion.

      For SeaTac, Link’s biggest advantage is not getting caught in a traffic jam that may cause you to miss your flight. And Snohomish County is particularly interested in Link to the airport, because alternatives take so long.

      Roosevelt is one of the most interesting cases. Many people don’t realize the variety of destinations or transfers there. It’s not just any medium-sized village. It’s a strategic transfer to Sand Point and Greenwood. Ravenna Park and Greenlake are nearby. The neighborhood has a concentration of stereo shops. It has a vacuum cleaner shop, a produce shop (at 65th & 15th), a foam shop (at 55th if it’s still there), a Greek pizza place, Whole Foods, and some other bars and shops. All that is within walking distance of the station. Similar destinations in other areas either don’t exist or are further from stations. If you don’t have a car, you may prefer to go farther to a destination right on a frequent line, passing similar destinations that are harder to get to. For instance, the Whole Foods in SLU and Madison aren’t as close to a Link station as the Roosevelt one is.

    4. I’ll nominate Highline Station as most transformational. Quick trips to Highline College and WSU-DesMoines should balloon the student population.

      The new underpass for I-5 should make getting from Kent Station to many other places noticeably faster. Indeed, that route should have been next in line for RapidRide treatment.

      In time, once Tacoma Dome Link is open. the south-end ST Express to downtown Seattle could start at Highline.

      If Highline opens before Federal Way City Center, Highline could become the mid-way Link connection stop on ST Express 594.

      In terms of housing, King County neighborhoods are still seeing the ripple effects of the RV/trailer park that was closed to make way for construction of the Angle Lake to Highline segment. That’s probably how the neighbors vs. RV war started.

      If permitted to cast a ranked ballot on the stations that will be open by 2027, I’d start with

      1. Highline
      2. Jimi Hendrix Park
      3. Tomb of Roosevelt
      4. The Northgate formerly known as Mall
      5. Roberto Maestas (which enabled me to switch from the 132 to the 60 as my main ride)

      If considering all ST3 stations, the transformation from opening King County Admin Bldg Station will have a profoundly negative impact on the transit network dwarfing the positive impact of any other station.

    5. “Transformational or game-changing to a neighborhood… in terms of transit” I think Lynnwood TC and how it will completely reorient how people travel across all of Snohomish. The neighborhood transforms from simply a bus where busses happen to converge into arguably the most important transit hub outside of Seattle city limits.

      In terms of improved travel times & reliability, U District station.
      In terms of changing the way people think about travel & non-commute transit, Bellevue TC and how it will transform cross-lake travel.
      In terms of TOD, KDM. East Link development would have occurred with or without transit (but is much more transit oriented because it will follow Link), and I think Northgate and Lynnwood would have grow with zoning eventually. KDM as a midrise regional center I think only happens with Link.

  12. > The Urbanist worries that new Denny station alternatives could delay Ballard Link.

    It looks like they want to drop the SLU station (the one near sr 99/Mercer) and only have the Denny station. The amount of “savings” around 400 million from the station merger also seems to be the same amount required for the CID north and south plan. So it seems their solution is to just cut out another downtown station

  13. A little late in the open thread but I was thinking this morning about housing costs and one thing that people often talk about here is how certain cities (e.g. Tokyo, Montreal, Vienna) have much better conditions.

    I don’t know much about Montreal specifically but I can at least read the local media :) so I found a couple of articles from local-ish sources, which I thought might be interesting to people here. One is focused specifically on Montreal, the other is more generally about Quebec but with discussion about Montreal specifically as well (neither is paywalled).

    https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/all-we-need-is-a-game-plan-thats-solid-to-address-quebecs-housing-crisis-duranceau

    https://montreal.citynews.ca/2023/03/22/quebec-budget-plante-housing-crisis/

    What I found interesting is how similar the discussion points are to stuff we regularly see in our own local media. To give a couple of quotes from the first article:

    “Greater Montreal would need to add 23,100 dwellings every year till 2041 for the local housing market to return to balance, according to a study released Monday by the Chamber of Commerce that was presented to attendees. That’s considerably more than the 13,900 that are expected to be built annually, the report said. Vacancy rates in a balanced market are about three per cent.”

    And

    “Housing affordability has emerged as a major issue in Quebec’s biggest city. Montreal households now need to set aside 5.1 times income to buy a condo, up from 3.4 times in 2007, according to the Chamber of Commerce study. Average selling prices soared 90 per cent between 2007 and 2022, outpacing a 40-per-cent increase in household incomes. Over the same period, average rents rose 44 per cent.”

    Given that the rhetoric in the media is the same, despite the clearly better zoning setup in Montreal, I feel like something has to give… is it that the numbers are even more skewed here? Is it that the articles are overly sensationalized and things aren’t that bad in Montreal, after all? Is it something else?

    Look forward to hearing what others (who know more about it than I do) have to say. I’m just giving food for discussion.

    1. A 3% vacancy rate is very low and suggests a shortage of housing because at least 3% of units will be vacant due to turnover or maintenance. Seattle right now has a 5.2% vacancy rate. Generally 6% is the vacancy rate at which builders pause building because of concerns about a glut.

      Housing affordability has two factors: AMI and the cost of housing. Too often folks focus on the cost of housing and compare the cost of housing to their own city without comparing AMI. What affordability really means is what ratio of household income goes toward housing in any given city, which the federal standards put at 30% gross income as the maximum to be “affordable”. Of course, how many incomes are in the household also matters.

      The issue with Montreal is it has a very low AMI and many folks live alone or have one income in the household. The issue with Seattle is it has one of the highest AMI’s in the nation, and indeed the world, nearly 2X Monreal. https://www.point2homes.com/CA/Demographics/QC/Montreal-Demographics.html

      Ironically, it was only a few months ago some on this blog touted Montreal as an example of affordable housing because it has a fairly large missing housing market, although the multi-family housing is not very dense, often two stories with a backyard, but quite attractive as the buildings are former industrial buildings. Not unlike Pioneer Square but even less dense.

      “Average selling prices soared 90 per cent between 2007 and 2022, outpacing a 40-per-cent increase in household incomes. Over the same period, average rents rose 44 per cent.”

      Here is the rub: folks wanting to buy but not being able to afford to. Seattle is seeing some positive movement in this area. https://www.king5.com/article/news/local/seattle/seattle-millennials-home-owners/281-1ee2e513-da2c-4f88-9c71-a5b7dd33fc02 For the first time over 50% of millennials are now homeowners, doubling over the last five years, which is not surprising considering Millennials got older and also made more money. This then relieves pressure on the rental market, except unless those buyers are buying former rental housing, which mostly occurs with SFH’s, and of course those in shortest rental supply.

      A 90% increase in selling prices over 16 years is under 5%/year compounded during a time of very low interest rates which tend to increase housing prices. I recently posted an article noting how this region’s housing market is cooling due to high interest rates. https://www.seattletimes.com/business/real-estate/king-county-assessed-property-values-decline-as-housing-market-cools/?utm_source=marketingcloud&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=TSA_060123212010+King+County+assessed+property+values+shift.+Here%27s+how+that+may+affect+tax+bills._6_1_2023&utm_term=Registered%20User The real point is AMI has only risen 40% in those same 16 years in Montreal, around 2%/year compounded, and much of that has to do with terrible economic policies in Quebec and Montreal that have stagnated that economy. My guess is a glass of wine has also risen close to 90% over those same 16 years. It has in Seattle.

      Seattle actually has a pretty good income to housing ratio, especially for a city in which so many live alone. With an AMI of $115,000 someone living along has over $2900/mo. to put toward housing and be below the 30% threshold, someone with 70% AMI has $2012.50/mo, and two people earning 50% AMI have over $2900/mo. A couple both earning 100% AMI has nearly $6000/mo. to put toward a mortgage, which was a lot when mortgage rates were 3% (which is why home ownership among Millennials doubled over the last five years), and still not bad in today’s market with housing prices softening.

      By far the worst is to be in a city like Montreal with bad economic policies that stagnate incomes while housing construction costs and prices for just about everything around the world are rising much faster now.

    2. I love Montreal! It’s a lot like Seattle with the same housing problems.

      Both cities draw a lot of immigration from other places. The problem is the income disparity between the different sorts of people moving in. If you’re a computer programmer, Wow! what a great city to explore! If you’re a Haitian dishwasher…. a high cost of living is going to make your life very hard.

    3. Montréal is fairly quirky in terms of the big Canadian cities. It’s the only one that’s fairly bilingual amongst large cities (Ottawa is probably second), major college town for multiple prestigious universities, and a major centre of government, finance, commerce, pharmaceutical, cinema, and arts in Canada. Some would compare it to a blend of Boston meets Philadelphia with a touch of New York City.

      As to the one major difference between it and other Canadian cities is its slow market price growth. It’s been more sluggish to move compared to Toronto or Vancouver. Canadians sorta joke that Montréal is the “cheap” big city in Canada. Some of this is urban design and zoning policy. Some of it is the difficulty of doing business and attracting talent in Quebec compared to other Canadian cities.

      Quebec is kinda hostile in some people’s eyes to conduct and grow a business there due to the quirks of Quebec as a province. French is the main language in Quebec. Quebec Government very insistent on French as the primary language for business within the province even if the company doesn’t conduct business with many French clients or vendors. Quebec Language Laws also make it difficult to attract talent willing to go through immigrating from abroad or moving from other provinces as the Quebec government adds a lot of hurdles to settling in Quebec compared to other provinces.

      Montréal is also cold, like really cold. Even colder than Toronto. So that can also stave people off from moving there as well.

      So Montréal in general exists in a space where it could have a much worse affordability crisis but doesn’t to the degree of other cities due to the quirks of it geographically and politically.

    4. Montreal was once the New York of Canada, until French language laws tightened and corporate headquarters fled to Toronto.

      “If you’re a computer programmer, Wow! what a great city to explore! If you’re a Haitian dishwasher…. a high cost of living is going to make your life very hard.”

      By the rising AMI theory, if highly-paid computer programmers decide to move to Montreal, dishwashers will have to move to Manitoba, and that’s fine because dishwashers no longer deserve to live in Montreal. Never mind if Manitoba is car-dependent or Montreal’s restaurants need dishwashers or these people have lived in Montreal for generations.

      1. I have a friend, who is a Tacoma native, who I has been living and renting in Montreal for thec last decade. He went to school there and is now working and raising a family. The difference in the cost of living and the ability to live without a car there, makes it prohibitive to ever move back to Tacoma. Tacoma. That’s all I really need to know.

      2. Cam Solomon,

        Much of life boils down to being at the right place at the right time. Tacoma worked out for me and the Mrs. because we were lucky. If we were 20 years older…. we would never have stayed in Tacoma.

    5. This piece regarding the San Francisco area’s public transit status is interesting as a comparison to this area. Having lived in both locales for decades each, I can broadly say that the customer experience in the Bay Area has always been terrible, from frequency to on-bus / on-train behavior to alignment (or lack thereof) between multiple connecting counties. The Seattle area is quite similar both in topographical challenges, multi-county involvement, and an intense focus on the downtown core rather than a more node-based system like NYC or London.

      Anyway.

      https://missionlocal.org/2023/06/muni-bart-death-spiral-california-budget-scott-wiener/

      1. Thanks for posting that!

        Currently, the County and City governments are dead set on using ST money/projects to “renew” downtown Seattle. Is to good transit? I doubt it.

        Looking at transit spending for Pierce Transit and much of it has been spent within a mile of 19th and Market. Is that good transit? Nope, it’s not.

      2. Great article TransitGirl and eerily reminiscent of Seattle.

        I have lived in or visited a lot of the major capital cities in the western world, and San Francisco was probably my favorite. It just made Seattle look like a big dump unsophisticated town, which it mostly is with two huge tech employers. At least once downtown Uber was a game changer because before then a restriction on taxi’s made them difficult to get and public transit was poor within the city. The great thing about vibrant dense cities is for a $10 Uber fare you feel like you travelled to a different part of the world.

        I would have never imagined San Francisco dying. The wealth, international corporations, sophistication, zillions of tourists, world class art and restaurants… Yes housing and living costs were high, but that was because everyone wanted to live or visit San Francisco.

        The article just goes to show transit is a slave to just about everything else: public funding (and CA just went from an estimated $100 billion budget surplus to an estimated $32 billion deficit so BART and muni should not hold out hope of state funding), WFH, horrible policies on crime and homelessness, and mainly most of all political naivete.

        People on this blog often state density is key to transit. Really VIBRANT density is key to transit. Transit is SF is dying because no one wants to go to SF these days, or live there, so who needs transit. My guess is Uber rides are way down too.

        The lesson for Seattle is Link is based on downtown Seattle because no other area in the region has the density for Link. Link was designed to bring folks into downtown Seattle where there is no “last mile access” issue, not from Seattle. Who is going to take Link to Mountlake Terrace or Lynnwood or Wilburton or Federal Way of Angle Lake if they don’t live there?

        Seattle is not as bad as San Francisco right now, but the problem is so much of our regional and transit planning was based on a bustling, safe, vibrant downtown Seattle with another 1 million residents moving here. The “new normal” is not that, and I think Harrell has basically gone as far as he can to revitalize Seattle, especially since he refuses to hire more police officers.

        So one has to start wondering what is the point of Link, at least for those of us who live in the suburbs. I am not taking East Link to S. Bellevue, Wilburton, The Spring Dist. (which is just a name), or any stations east of there, let alone Shoreline or Lynnwood.

  14. Good gawd. I just walked by a Metro bus that was laying over and you could hear air escaping from the right front tire.

    The operator came over when she saw me looking at it and was obviously new and unfamiliar with bus “technology”.

    I had to convince her that air escaping from a tire was a problem. I even had to take her to another bus and show her how it was “not making the same sound”. She eventually agreed to call it in.

    But holy cow. Why should an average citizen just walking down the street be required to intervene to keep Metro buses safe? What the heck has happened to Metro training?

    This is ridiculous.

    1. There was a bus (not sure if Metro of ST) disabled on MI the other day at the bus stop on N. Mercer Way. There was a repair crew out working on it. They must have fixed it because it is gone. I wondered how you tow a bus.

    2. I wonder what kind of general preventative maintenance instruction bus drivers and other on-street employees like police officers, parking enforcement officers and pavement maintenance staff get. I witness signals all the time that change for side streets when there is no car or pedestrian there. A signal that changes for phantom side street activity slows down buses (and even Link on MLK) and can seem to continue malfunctioning for months!

      Seattle has greatly increased the number of signals in the past decade but I’m not sure if the maintenance staff size has kept pace. It may be that malfunctioning signals get reported but there isn’t enough staff to fix the problem in a timely manner.

      1. @Al.S,

        In the operator’s defense, she is obviously from a part of the world where women aren’t normally employed, and where women certainly aren’t involved with the operation or maintenance of road vehicles. But it was still very obviously a problem.

        And I suspect that, if I wasn’t able to address her with a few words in her native language (probably in violation of Metro policy), she wouldn’t have listened to me and the defective bus would still be out on her road.

        That said, I would think that Metro training would cover identifying the obvious maintenance issues in the field. Things like air leaks, flat tires, fluids on the pavement, and weird smoke and sounds. Plus brakeing and steering issues. You know, at least the obvious issues.

        So I’m a bit baffled. But at least the bus is off the road.

      2. I was unaware Metro had any policy governing which languages operators and those who converse with them can use.

        They certainly have lots of materials in several different languages, and interpreters available via phone.

      3. This is referring to a recent case, where a couple Metro employees were reprimanded for speaking their native language to each other.

      4. It appears the supervisor who reprimanded the two involved supervisors was reprimanded for those reprimands. I sense there must be more going on that makes the Metro back office a hostile environment for immigrants. I suppose that may be one more way Metro might be losing operators.

        Cringy comments about the culture of where a commenter thinks an operator he is belittling came from don’t help.

  15. Meanwhile. The NV platform at Westlake is our of servicebagain due to busted elevators and no down escalators. Remind me again how great our transit is. Stssuggestion is to go an extra station and switch back the other way. Great solution einsteins!

  16. All this chatter about Lynnwood Link got me curious about ST’s projections.

    Northgate is now the busiest Link station. It had about 10,400 average weekday boardings in April 2033, or a likely 20,800 in ridership.

    The Lynnwood Link Extension web page says that be 2026, the extension will have 47,000 to 55,000 average weekday riders. I get how there will be two lines rather than one (and more frequent trains) and that thousands of new parking spaces will open up, but I don’t see this level of growth happening. Even if all of the Northgate riders are coming from routes from the north that already terminate there, that still leaves an expected increased demand of well over 100 percent (26,000 to 34,000 more riders) that would come from the remaining buses to Downtown as well as induced usage. While I would congratulate ST for great Northgate ridership and I would expect to see an increase when the extension opens, it seems overly optimistic to me.

    Plus, it’s important to remember that Northgate will probably lose lots of boardings once the extension opens. That projection is not additive; part of the ridership will come from transfer station switching.

    1. CT presumably has the weekly boarding numbers for all the 400 and 800 expresses, right? It’s reasonable to assume that the vast majority of these will be Link riders (the 800 ones already are post-truncation). My experience with the 400 expresses is that at least all the ones in the 7:30 onward hour (in the morning) are pretty packed on the “core” routes – 402, 413/415, 412. I have not ridden the very far North county expresses (421/422/424/425) hardly ever so I can’t speak for those. But even assuming say half capacity for the rest we can make some rough estimates of the ridership. Mind you, all my numbers are pre-pandemic, but that was my experience riding those.

      We can put some “discount factors” on the pre-pandemic numbers (e.g. 40%, 70%, 100% revival of commuter traffic) and get a range of possibilities, together with what the “delta” would need to be in order to bridge the gap to the full number estimated by ST.

      On top of that, we can guess where some of the ridership might come from: added ToD in certain areas, like downtown Lynnwood and near Mountlake Terrace freeway station; improved local service in-county, which might ferry more people to the Link stations; and improved access to other parts of Seattle, such as South of downtown and NE Seattle. I will (for now) discount the possibility of a large number of riders to other destinations, even though some point out the possibility, simply because 3-seat rides are going to remain distasteful to long distance commuters, especially when two legs (the SnoCo side and the cross-town side) both have low frequency.

      Anyway, this is not an analysis – this is the framework of an analysis. Before anyone starts jumping on trying to fill in the numbers (including me) it’s probably worth vetting the process to ensure we aren’t missing anything big.

      1. Just a note on TOD: These are 2026 forecasts. Chances are that if the TOD is not ready to break ground with the financing lined up, it probably won’t be occupied by 2026.

        Some projects are well underway. Still one only has to look at some stations already opened to see that the new TOD part of new ridership won’t be this large.

      2. Yeah, I explicitly listed TOD for the two I am more personally aware of projects nearby, which are Mountlake Terrace and (especially) Lynnwood. I don’t think that TOD will matter too much at the Shoreline stations. But good call out overall, thank you for it.

      3. Thanks for the intelligence on CT commuter ridership, Anonymouse.

        I added the maximum number of buses per hour on each 400series route northbound, plus 510. It added up to 35 northbound buses in the peak of peak hour. Just pretending they are all double-deckers, and full (100 passenger capacity), yields a limit of 3500 northbound peak-of-peak bus riders bound for Snohomish County by bus, and probably by train after 2024.

        I did the same exercise for KCM 64, 302, 303, 320, and 322. That came to 10 northbound peak-of-peak buses. If each is an artic (capacity 80), that makes 800 more passengers during the peak-of-peak hour expected to shift to the 1 Line.

        4300 new train passengers / 800 passengers per train (crushload capacity) comes out to 5.325 more peak-of-peak trainfuls of passengers.

        The reality of how many riders there really are on these buses might be closer to DT’s estimate of two trainfuls, but ST doesn’t have the luxury of planning based on conservative estimates.

        There is a difference between riding an SRO bus all the way from downtown to Lynnwood, and having to stand through a crushload from UW Station to Roosevelt. I bet the new 1 Line riders will appreciate the difference.

      4. CT presumably has the weekly boarding numbers for all the 400 and 800 expresses, right?

        I’ve hunted around for it, and can’t find it. I can’t even find old data that I used to reference. I believe the link now sends me to a more recent report, and the old report wasn’t saved on the Wayback Machine (AKA Internet Archive). Even then, it grouped everything together. So the 400 and 800 series were just “commuter buses” (which are different than “Swift” or “local” routes). If you can find route data — or even just the 400 series as a whole — please let us know.

        My experience with the 400 expresses is that at least all the ones in the 7:30 onward hour (in the morning) are pretty packed on the “core” routes – 402, 413/415, 412.

        It might be easier — although tedious — to make an estimation that way. Figure out how many total buses run. You can look through each route, and see how many runs each one takes. I’ve done that in the past, but the new website makes that more difficult (I don’t like the new website — it looks prettier, but is less functional in my opinion). Then figure out the capacity of each bus. That gives you a range.

        There are other factors. I would assume that the buses that run the most often carry the most riders. If the bus runs very frequently (e. g. every 3 minutes) it is because of crowding (not because they want to make life easier on riders). The opposite is true as well. If a bus only has two trips a day, chances are, it doesn’t carry that many riders.

        But again, that gives you a range. As you mentioned, it may be that as of right now, the buses are that crowded (because of the pandemic) but still, an estimate of say, 20 riders per bus won’t be off by a factor of ten.

      5. @Another Engineer — Where did you get the CT data?

        In terms of ST data, the only two routes that matter are the 510 and 513. The 511 no longer runs, and the 512 terminates at Northgate. The (post-pandemic) peak of the 510/513 combination was in October, with 1,800 riders.

        So it turns out it wasn’t too tedious to count the number of CT runs. I get 68 trips (one way). Double that for the number of boardings (since people board going the other way as well). If there are 20 boardings per bus, that works out to around 2,800 riders. But it also wouldn’t shock me if there are double that (or around 5,600).

        So yeah, a pretty big range. Somewhere between around four and eight thousand is my guess. These are riders who will be asked to switch. There may be additional riders who find it convenient, for various reasons. Five to ten thousand seems about right (from Snohomish County).

      6. Awesome, Ross! Thank you for doing the legwork :)

        It would be interesting to see any statistics on the number of people who drive to downtown and the U District from Snohomish County. Not to gloat that driving is so much better, but rather because it would give an upper bound of “possible” Link ridership, if the improvements to local routes somehow managed to convert all of them, too. Obviously, in practice, the number would be much lower; but it would still be interesting to figure out what can be aimed for. Again, I would assume that CT has some of those stats, or SnoCo DoT should (not necessarily accessible to the public; but it seems like something that would inform both their decisions).

      7. The 513 also terminates at Northgate.

        The numbers ST really needs (and probably already has) are peak-of-peak ridership. We already know there will be ample capacity outside of that hour.

      8. If Community Transit does run express buses after Lynnwood Link opens, it will be interesting to see the numbers. This will be the first time (in the north end, anyway) where riders are given the choice of taking the bus or taking Link to get downtown. Interestingly enough, almost all of the express buses stop at Lynnwood TC or Mountlake Terrace Freeway Station. Only a handful don’t. I counted up the number of trips and this is what I came up with (one direction):

        402 11 — Lynnwood TC to downtown
        405 5
        410 6 — Stops at MT along the way.
        413 12 — Stops at MT along the way.
        415 9 — Stops at MT along the way.
        416 4
        417 4
        421 6 — Stops at Lynnwood TC along the way.
        422 2 — Stops at Lynnwood TC along the way.
        424 2
        425 3 — Stops at Lynnwood TC along the way.
        435 4 — Stops at MT along the way.

        You could try just cancelling the 402, since that probably doesn’t add up to that many riders (about half of those from Lynnwood). That way, the other riders can still transfer to Link (for trips to the UW, etc.) while you don’t overwhelm the system. You would also truncate the 800 routes at the first station it passes. The rest of the network could stay the same, waiting for ST to increase frequency. That saves CT some money in the short run, without worrying about crowding.

        It reminds of Metro’s plans for Lynnwood Link. The long term plan is based around the station at 130th, and without it, Metro has several choices. One is to pretend that nothing has changed, another is to pretend that the station exists, and the third is some sort of temporary restructure for this period.

      9. CT has already decided to end the commuter routes with the opening of Lynnwood Link. Four of the seven new 900-series “express” routes will terminate at Lynnwood Station. The other three will terminate at Mountlake Terrace Station, Bellevue TC, and Seaway TC.

      10. The 513 also terminates at Northgate.

        Oops, yeah, I forgot.

        The numbers ST really needs (and probably already has) are peak-of-peak ridership.

        Yeah. We are all just making guesses. So many of these routes (like the 510 and the CT buses) are peak-only though, so it gives us a rough estimate. Let’s say this adds 2,000 an hour during the busiest time. If you are running 8 train an hour, that is an extra 250 riders per train. If that is a four-car train, that is 75 per car.

        But at this point, the tough part might be estimating how full the trains are during peak. Even before the pandemic, Link was never routinely full (let alone “crush loaded”). After a game this would happen, but on a regular basis, it just didn’t.* Ridership has gone way up, but it is also more spread out. Link has recovered a lot better than Sounder in part because so much of it isn’t peak oriented. I’m not saying there isn’t a peak, but it is much less so than it was in part because of the pandemic, but also because the line is less commuter-oriented. As has been noted, one of the great things about Northgate Link is that you can get to the UW and especially Capitol Hill much, much faster than you did before. In contrast, getting to downtown at rush hour is actually slower. Yet ridership went way up when they extended the line. That is the nature of a successful subway system — it is far less peak dependent. Trips from Snohomish County, however, are likely very peak dependent (e. g. the all-day 512 just doesn’t carry that many riders). The trains may be able to handle the load just fine.

        * See page 47 of https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/2020-service-implementation-plan.pdf.

      11. @another engineer,

        Thanks for bringing some real numbers into the discussion. This blog has been sorely lacking in such data lately, and your numbers roughly agree with what I’ve been hearing.

        That said, the big mistake that Ross and others make is that they assume that ridership on Lynnwood Link will just equal what is currently occurring on the express buses, or that all Link ridership will come from bus transfers. Nothing could be further from the truth.

        Every Link opening has resulted in Link ridership that is substantially greater than what the pre-existing bus ridership was. And has also resulted in ridership that is substantially above the number of riders that are simply transferring to Link from buses.

        Why? Because fast, efficient, reliable transit free of congestion attracts new riders that weren’t willing to take the bus under the old system.

        It just makes sense.

        But hey, supposedly we are only a little over a year away from Lynnwood Link opening. That will be the biggest improvement in Northend transit in at least the last 80 years. I can’t wait.

      12. Out of the four that do not stop at Lynnwood or Mountlake Terrace, 405 gets off I-5 at Highway 104 (Exit 177), and 424 gets off at 520. 416 does go past Mountlake Terrace but it skips it in favor of getting off at the next exit without taking the slow route through Mountlake Terrace (like 810 does). And 417 does skip both but has a long local tail to get into Mukilteo, so that’s not too surprising. I guess that 417 will be replaced by one of those 900 expresses. Presumably another one will assume the duties of 421 and 422 combined; maybe a third will do 425 and something else (424 maybe?) – I could imagine a weird express from Monroe by way of Snohomish and Lake Stevens then back down I-5. It would be a significant degradation for the Monroe travelers but, as pointed out by Ross, it’s only a couple of routes. The fourth could assume the duties of 412 (Silver Firs) and 435 (Mill Creek/Bothell) – there’s a way to meander back into Mill Creek after swinging past McCollum Park&Ride, though this would extend the length of the trip for anyone riding all the way from Silver First quite significantly.

        Alternatively, they could keep the expresses only for the very far North or East county locations and make the rest be served by local buses. Either way, I expect that there will be some winners and losers – i.e. not everyone will be better off, even if there will be a number of new trips that open up, as the optimists suggest (I will not name check them all as I would rather not get into the details of where I agree or disagree with each).

        It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

      13. That said, the big mistake that Ross and others make is that they assume that ridership on Lynnwood Link will just equal what is currently occurring on the express buses

        Total lie. I never said such a thing. Just stop lying. Just stop.

      14. I don’t know who “others” are in Lazarus post, but in case they are including me in that term, I will point out the following from the post I made which they are replying to:

        “On top of that, we can guess where some of the ridership might come from: added ToD in certain areas, like downtown Lynnwood and near Mountlake Terrace freeway station; improved local service in-county, which might ferry more people to the Link stations; and improved access to other parts of Seattle, such as South of downtown and NE Seattle.”

        So, Lazarus, certainly a number of us have pointed out ways that ridership would increase beyond what is currently there on the express routes. I won’t claim that your previous post is a lie, but you may want to ensure that you are reading our posts correctly. If something is unclear, please feel free to ask questions – we are all here to learn from each other, after all :)

      15. @ Anonymouse,

        Thanks for your polite and thoughtful reply. We could use more of that on this blog.

        I do believe you are one of the people that attempted to draw a connection between current express bus ridership and future Lynnwood Link ridership, but it hardly matters. There have been several people who attempted to draw that comparison, with varying levels of equivalency and with varying degrees of caveats.

        However, the important thing is that such equivalencies are grossly inaccurate. Link has always outperformed pre-existing bus ridership, and for good reason. There is an unsatisfied latent demand for fast, reliable, high quality transit in the local region, Every time such high quality service has been introduced, the traveling public responds with increased ridership over and above what was being realized previously with buses. This is a good thing.

        Your comments about TOD increasing ridership are of course accurate, but they are not necessarily reflected in the ridership estimates. FTA compliant ridership estimates almost never include such future effects, and for good reason.

        Basically, when applying for FTA funding, the FTA wants a level playing field on which to judge the various applications. Clearly including miraculous levels of future TOD, winning seasons by the local sports teams, or massive amounts of feeder bus service could be used to “game” the application. Therefore, in most cases, the FTA ground rules out such effects.

        This doesn’t mean that touch effects don’t exist, because clearly Link will generate more TOD than RR E, it just means that they can’t be included in the grant applications, and therefore aren’t usually included in the initial ridership estimates.

      16. I have to concur with Ross’s request. Nobody is making an “assumption” unless they say they are.

      17. FWIW, I will re-echo my general take on writing comments: I try to explicitly state both my sources and my assumptions. I am not perfect in doing either, by any means, and appreciate when people call me out on it. I strongly encourage everyone to do the same, even at the cost of increased verbosity.

        This is not me trying to “moderate the chat”, before anyone asks (or asserts), simply stating what I have found has worked for me in terms of effective online discourse.

      18. It bears repeating that the exercise in estimating how many commuter bus riders will switch to Lynnwood Link is just that. Nothing more. Nothing less.

        Most of us have the humility to admit estimating the amount of new riders from other sources is out of our league.

        History gives us some guidance. Ridership to SeaTac Airport Station was waay beyond the ridership of Metro route 194. Of course, Central Link connected a lot more of Seattle and a part of Tukwila to the airport, and was more frequent.

        Ridership on U Link far surpassed that of Metro routes 71/72/73.

        I found the exercise of poking engineering holes in ST’s proposed service plans to maximize peak capacity on the 1 Line when it begins serving Lynnwood quite useful. I hope they keep publicizing their ideas, and have someone taking notes from the commentariat who won’t take the critiques personally.

      19. Where did I get the CT data? I know a guy. They are reliable.

        All those routes are relevant, including the 512, because all will be altered and likely terminate at Lynnwood. So most of those folks will become Link riders. But that is only part of the story. As others have mentioned, housing stock is and will continue to increase rapidly in MLT, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Marysville, Everett and even Arlington. Snohomish County is expected to take another 424,000 people in the Vision 2050 forecast. Travel demand and freeway LOS will diverge, leading to more transit users.
        https://www.psrc.org/sites/default/files/2022-02/v2050finalseis-appendices-march2020.pdf

        In addition, the whole CT network shifts to a more frequent, dense, local network feeding LTC, MLT and 185th stations:
        1. They are tripling the number of routes with 20-min or better frequency and doubling the number of routes with 30 or better.
        2. This includes a new BRT line with 10-minute frequency connecting Edmonds and Mill Creek to LTC.
        3. The CT 400/800 routes disappear altogether and are replaced with a new 900 series of 7 new express routes from Sno cities to Link. In short, CT is feeding every inter-county trip to ST. And making access to Link super easy, not to mention free for kids.
        https://www.communitytransit.org/transitchanges?q=2024%20beyond

        Throw in the downtown employers bringing people back to the office, and well, the ST numbers don’t look too crazy.

        [We still don’t know what’s happening with ST Express. But we know the ST2 Plan assumed the north end routes with be truncated to LTC, so it’s a safe assumption they will — unless ST can’t deliver the Link frequency to handle the load. That’s a very big “if”. ]

      20. “As others have mentioned, housing stock is and will continue to increase rapidly in MLT, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Marysville, Everett and even Arlington. Snohomish County is expected to take another 424,000 people in the Vision 2050 forecast. Travel demand and freeway LOS will diverge, leading to more transit users.”

        I wouldn’t put a lot of faith into the PSRC 2050 Vision Statement. That was based on 2018-19 data and was obsolete on the day it was signed. Even the PSRC recognized this and stated it would revisit the assumptions in the 2050 Vision Statement, but wants to wait until the “new normal”, or Inslee’s upzoning bills were considered last session.

        The biggest flaw was the OFM’s future population growth predictions that predicted 1 million new residents will move to this region between 2018-19 and 2038-39. So far we are 250,000 short based on the last five years as regional population has been flat.

        When it comes to new housing or TOD there are some problems:

        First the GMPC just completed a multi-year process and found the region is already zoned for population growth — including the 1 million new residents through 2044 — and already has zoning to accommodate that new housing. Of course, most of that zoning is in multi-family zones or town centers near walkable transit and retail, although HB 1110 completely reverses that. The question is why would someone live in new TOD construction in Lynnwood so they can commute to Seattle? They could find much better existing TOD much closer to Seattle and less expensive.

        Second vacancy rates are starting to suggest the region — at least Seattle — is moving toward a rental housing glut. The one form of housing in very short supply is the SFH.

        Third financing for any kind of multi-family housing — especially along I-5 in SnoCo –would be impossible.

        Shoreline, Lynnwood and MLT accepted greater housing targets than required under the GMPC allocations hoping to gentrify their cities with new housing. Except they were thinking Totem Lake filled with white collar downtown Seattle workers, not affordable housing along I-5.

        Downtown Seattle, the one destination other than maybe U Dist. or Capitol Hill, that needs no last mile access is imploding. A 44% occupancy rate and rising vacancy rate is a nightmare. The Wall St. Journal has an article today noting how west coast cities from SF to Portland to Seattle are getting crushed tax wise by WFH and the downturn in Tech employment.

        Gentrification of areas or cities has basically nothing to do with transit. Cities don’t get wealthy from transit riders. Bart did not create San Francisco (or kill it either). Bellevue, Issaquah and Kirkland have done quite well without Link, or really any transit. Otherwise, transit would not be so heavily subsidized. Lynnwood may gentrify, although in its current state that is really hard to imagine. The idea Shoreline or MLT will become hot multi-family areas like Totem Lake is incredibly unlikely. Those are just poor cities looking for a buck. The one thing of value in those towns is SFH.

        Finally, freeway LOS is actually reversing. WFH removed traffic congestion during the only peak hours it existed (except 405 which is really capacity related, and 405 will have no Link). If traffic congestion during pre-pandemic peak hours did not move the needle for transit it won’t post pandemic.

        The vast majority of people just don’t decide where to live based on transit access or mode. The issue with Link is if your final destination is not where the train goes you are screwed, or taking a third or fourth seat. The idea someone in rural Lynnwood would move next to a freeway and train station in Lynnwood so they could walk to Link is highly unlikely, as is the likelihood 424,000 new residents will move to SnoCo over the next 15 years, let alone live next to transit or ride transit. There are much better urban areas than Lynnwood.

        Like I said in another post, predictions for Link ridership depend on: 1. ST which was desperate to sell the levies and obtain federal grants and loans and goose farebox recovery rates; 2. whether the estimator supports Link over buses or cars or does not.

        At least Lazarus noted the federal government does not allow claims about future population growth or TOD or whether the local sports team will make a late season run influence ridership projections (and hopefully is especially wary of ST’s ridership estimates). Start with current bus ridership that will truncate at Link but does not today, because those folks have to take transit and have to go somewhere, and move the needle a tiny bit either way for actual ridership when Link opens and adds a transfer to most trips.

      21. Every Link opening has resulted in Link ridership that is substantially greater than what the pre-existing bus ridership was.

        That is simply not true. UW Link was remarkable in that it almost exactly equaled the buses that were truncated. Partly it was due to the aggressive nature of the truncation. A lot of people expected Metro to wait until Link got to the U-District. But because ST (inexplicably) didn’t start with that, Metro focused on saving service time. So riders got better frequency to the UW, but many just ignored Link. Ridership on the 49 and 70 shot up, as riders in the U-District didn’t feel like taking the bus, then going deep into the bowels of the system to make a simple trip to downtown or Capitol Hill.

        It wasn’t until Link got further north that you we got to see the full value of stations like Capitol Hill (the only station to have higher ridership now than before the pandemic). A trip from Roosevelt or Northgate to Capitol Hill is much faster than it was before, and folks have responded as expected.

        As I’ve mentioned several times now, everyone expects increased ridership from Seattle to Snohomish County because of Link. But the fact that the existing system is fairly fast (via the various buses) and ridership is not that high make people like me suspect of grandiose claims. One of the big issues is just the total travel time. Spontaneous trips (to places like Capitol Hill) become less appealing, the farther away you are. Then you have the fact that every station north of Roosevelt is a freeway station. While Northgate may be urban enough, every other station looks like a classic “TOD” freeway station, written about here: https://media4.manhattan-institute.org/sites/default/files/economics-of-urban-light-rail-CH.pdf. Thus it is quite likely that these areas are very commute-oriented, which is the case now. Again, this doesn’t mean there won’t be more riders — it is just that there won’t be a huge jump in ridership. For midday travel, the 512 is a very good starting point, simply because it serves exactly the same stops as Link does (in Snohomish County) and does so very quickly. For peak service the express buses are popular, which explains why CT didn’t truncate all of them at Northgate, and even ST followed suit by sending the 510 to downtown. It would be different if Link actually offered a major speed advantage, but alas, that is the problem with following the freeway envelope. At best you save a little time during rush hour (while asking riders to transfer) but the rest of the day it is about as fast.

      22. @Ross,

        “ That is simply not true. ”

        I stand by everything I wrote.

        And nothing I wrote should be meant to imply that some individual bus route somewhere in the system won’t see a bump in ridership during a restructure. Any bus restructure is going to have winners and losers. It’s just the nature of the beast.

        But please stop trying to twist my statements.

      23. @another engineer,

        And don’t forget, the opening of Lynnwood Link will roughly coincide with “Revive I-5” along that stretch of I-5, and that will substantially affect travel on all parallel surface routes in a very negative way. Lynnwood Link will quickly become the fastest, and most reliable way to travel from the northend into Seattle.

        While I don’t normally think any of the agencies should base ridership estimates on temporary circumstances, and they don’t, the length and the severity of Revive I-5 will certainly drive a large number of riders to the only transit option that is truly unaffected by this chaos – Light Rail.

        And, as history has shown, once people get used to the speed, reliability, and comfort of LR transit, they rarely go back to the bus unless forced to by other circumstances.

        Of course there is also the issue of weather or not Ross’s buses will get stuck in the traffic chaos on their way to or from the LR stations, but that is hardly a situation that ST has any control over.

        Hopefully Metro is prepared.

    2. I was curious about those estimates and decided to take a peak at the original 2015 EIS.

      Apparently with the no-build alternative they had starting with 19,400 bus passengers trips north of northgate (2011) and then estimated it’d be 32,000 bus transit trips by 2035. They guessed that all the bus passengers would use the light rail instead.

      The ridership* estimates were:
      Lynnwood 17,900;
      Mountlake Terrace 5,100
      185th 6,500
      145th: 2,600 (estimated at 6,000 before 130th opens)
      130th 5,100

      *This is station boardings for people getting on at that station, but not getting off

      https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/projects/north_hct/lynnwoodeis/ch3.pdf (Page 23)

      1. Ah yes. That one thing L thought ST got wrong ST actually got right. 130th St Station is worth building. ;)

      2. @WL,

        Take a closer look at your data. It indicates a net gain of 100 riders by 2035 from building the 130th St Station, at a cost of $250 million. Or $2.5 million per rider!!!!

        That is a bad investment, really bad. And to make matters worse, those 100 riders only came about by changing the parking assumptions at 130th and 145th St stations.

        But here is some more data.

        https://www.shorelinewa.gov/home/showdocument?id=21425

        Note page 2-1. Both Total Daily Transit Trips and Daily Light Rail Boardings are the same (or lower!) when the 130th St Station is included. No ridership gain!

        And “New Riders-Annual” actually goes down. Brilliant! Spend $250 million and get fewer new riders.

        The footnote explains it:

        “For alternatives with N 130th St Station, the increase of daily project riders in segment A is offset by a shift of 1,400 boardings from Northgate Station, compared to alternatives without the N 130th Street Station”

        Ya, so a really horrible investment.

        Pinehurst would have been better served by using that $250 million to provide better bus service between 145th St Station and Northgate Station.

        Northgate is the intellectual and cultural heart and soul of Pinehurst. Better bus service to Northgate and Northgate Station would have been more valuable to Pinehurst residents than a station that adds zero net new riders to the system.

      3. Allow me to offer some reasons I am delighted 130th St Station will happen.

        Metro route 65 will be taking over the path of route 75 along NE 125th St. Regardless of which of these two routes serve the length of 125th, it will have a nice straight path to the station.

        The route could then proceed west along N 130th St over to Aurora, feeding the 1 Line from both directions.

        Route 67 will still have to backtrack to Northgate after the upcoming restructure. After 130th opens, it could keep heading north along Roosevelt Way NE up to the new station.

        When I (used to) go to Enat Ethiopian Restaurant, I dreamed of having a station between 125th and 130th for an easy walk to catch the future light rail line downtown.

        I’m not a cyclist, but I recall the bike community fought hard for bike lanes along 125th. If I were a cyclist I would choose 130th over Northgate or 148th as my access point.

        As an urban hiker, I find 130th/125th much more hospitable to pedestrians than 145th, and certainly more than the car park Trantor that Northgate has become.

      4. I think we can mostly agree that some riders will get on Link further north — like about 50% of those that board at Northgate today? That would be 10K of the riders in total ridership (Northgate as about 10K boardings or 20K total activity) .

        Then another 10-15K from buses that run further south today.

        Maybe another 5K from induced ridership and new TOD and another 5K from new riders finding garages convenient.

        At the most it still appears to be about 35K total average weekday users (17.5K boardings) and that’s being optimistic by saying that.

        I wouldn’t focus too much trust on the EIS. If I remember correctly, the forecasts assumed less Seattle growth back then and instead thought those workers were going to come from Snohomish County. It seems lots of those workers have now chosen to live inside Seattle instead.

      5. Northgate is the intellectual and cultural heart and soul of Pinehurst. Better bus service to Northgate and Northgate Station would have been more valuable to Pinehurst residents than a station that adds zero net new riders to the system.

        This from someone who once called Pinehurst a “hellhole”, and said there should be a park somewhere near the center of Pinehurst (ignoring the fact that there is). Lazarus clearly doesn’t understand Pinehurst, and probably has spent very little time there. To say that Northgate is the “cultural heart and soul” of an adjacent neighborhood is just plain ignorant.

        I live in Pinehurst. When people ask me where I live, I say “Pinehurst”, and then when they look at me quizzically, I say “half way in between Northgate and Lake City”. This, basically, is where Pinehurst is. Northgate and Lake City are both draws. But so too is the adjacent Victory Heights, or Maple Leaf, up the hill. The biggest draw in the area is of course, the UW, with Roosevelt on the way. Northgate is nothing special, really. The main reason so many people go there now is because of Link. There are other reasons, of course, but Roosevelt and Lake City are on par with Northgate, and the UW is a much, much bigger destination.

        The biggest problem with the Northgate Station is its location. It takes a long time to access it, from every direction. It isn’t on a major north-south or east-west cross street. In fact, you can’t even access it from the west, nor can you access it directly from the east (you have to go around Maple Leaf, not through it).

        All of this is beside the point. Even if the station was at Roosevelt and Northgate Way — much easier to access from every direction — the station at 130th would make sense. When building a mass transit system with extremely long stop spacing, at a minimum you have to connect to the crossroads. The 125th/Roosevelt/130th corridor is one of the most densely populated corridors in the region. By building a station there, you save riders along that corridor a huge amount of time, while also connecting those communities.

        Lazarus’ newfound obsession with Pinehurst (hellhole one week, part of Northgate the next) misses this greater point. It is baffling to me that he routinely criticizes the 130th station, without bothering to question 145th. Without the 145th station, SR 522 buses would be sent to 130th via Lake City. This means that riders from Bothell, Kenmore and Lake Forest Park would be connected to Lake City, Pinehurst, Ingraham and Bitter Lake. Not only would it connect the riders from the north end of the lake to Link and those communities, but it would connect them to major north-south buses like the 5 and E. It would take a little bit longer, but not much, especially since ST seems to have abandoned their plans for improving travel times along 145th. If you really wanted to save money, then eliminating 145th would have been the way to go.

        But again, that would have been stupid. It doesn’t make sense to abandon major corridors. The station at 145th should have been at 155th, but there definitely should be a station between 130th and 185th. It does save some time for those coming from the north end of the lake, but more importantly, it saves a huge amount of time for those who live along 145th (and to the west, 155th/160th and Shoreline CC). It is all about the major east-west transit corridors.

        Which brings me back to 130th. Lazarus still doesn’t get it. It isn’t just about Pinehurst, it is about the entire corridor. Look at the travel times for the various neighborhoods:

        Lake City Way & 125th — Save about 5 minutes.
        125th & 15th NE — Save about 7 minutes.
        130th & Aurora — Save about 15 minutes.

        These are in the middle of the day — the difference in rush hour is much bigger. The idea that you can “just take a bus somewhere else” can be said about dozens of other stops, but as you do that, you make Link *and* the bus system worse and worse. Look at how the awkward places of Link-based Metro restructures and they are all about the lack of Link stations. People want to keep the 43, to give Montlake riders a connection to Link, because there is no stop at 23rd and Madison. Metro runs express buses from the north end to First Hill (literally right next to Link stations) because there is no First Hill station. Metro (and ST) aren’t quite sure whether to send Issaquah buses to Mercer Island or downtown Bellevue. If Link extended to serve Eastgate/BCC this wouldn’t be a problem; the bus network would be a lot better, and Link ridership would be much higher. I’m not saying that last one would have been worth building (it might have cost a fortune) but the overall transit network is important. You can’t just have stations literally miles apart(!) and then tell everyone to take the bus. If you are going to build Lynnwood Link — a line largely dependent on bus service — than you need to serve corridors like 130th.

      6. Take a closer look at your data. It indicates a net gain of 100 riders by 2035 from building the 130th St Station

        Take an even closer look at the data, and you can see the obvious flaw in the numbers. They ignored bus service! Of course they did. Metro is a completely different agency. They have no idea what sort of transit network Metro will build. What they build will have a tremendous impact on ridership, as is the case for every station in Lynnwood Link. Consider some options and their impact on stations:

        1) Community Transit abandons their new restructure, and continues to run express buses to downtown Seattle. ST follows suit, and continues to run the 510 to downtown.

        2) After much controversy, ST abandons the Stride S3, and just sends the 522 bus to Roosevelt.

        3) Metro doesn’t run a bus on the 125th/130th corridor.

        All of these would hammer ridership on particular Link stations, as well as Link overall. You get increased ridership by reducing the time it takes to take transit to your location. In the case of Link, that comes from reducing the time it takes to access the station. None of the stations in Northgate Link will have sizable walk-up ridership — in every case more riders will come from feeder buses. In every case, those riders have existing options for taking the train. For example, you can take a bus to Lynnwood TC, then the 512, then Link. The new network will save you some time. The bus to Lynnwood will run a bit more often, because the agency saves money by avoiding so many expresses into Seattle. You avoid the transfer to the 512. The savings aren’t huge, but they are enough to add riders. What is true of Lynnwood is true of every station, including 130th.

        it is clear that Metro will run a bus to the 130th station, which should definitely help ridership. Even then, though, the frequency of the route will make a big difference. Run the bus every five minutes, and you get a ton of riders. Run it every half hour and you don’t. It is quite likely they will run it in the 10 to 15 minute range, which should get plenty of riders along that corridor.

      7. @Brent — I think there is universal acceptance if not excitement for the new 65. There are some that wanted the 75 to follow that corridor. There are others who like it, but wish it went further north, to the college. I would say in general though, everyone I’ve talked to (from planners to ordinary folks) like it a lot. I can find issues with every route, but I think it is great, and basically told Metro to keep that bus as planned.

        The 67 is a different matter. The complete U-turn is an obvious flaw to the route design (in software circles, we said code like that had a “bad smell”). There are reasons for that, but I don’t think they are worth it. You could send it to 130th station, but then you overlap in Pinehurst, which seems wasteful. Perhaps the biggest problem is what to do after you have crossed over the freeway on 130th. Again, you would be doubling up on 130th, and it isn’t clear where you end.

        In contrast, consider a hybrid 348-67. In other words, take the 348 from the north end, and instead of turning to enter the traffic morass in Northgate, keep going straight to Roosevelt, and the UW. That gives a lot of people a one-seat ride to the UW, instead of Northgate. But more importantly, you save a huge amount of overlap, which can be put into running various buses (like the new 65, or the new 20, or the existing 44 for that matter) a lot more often. You lose some one-seat rides, but Roosevelt Avenue is actually not that far from 5th NE (a five minute walk) and the Roosevelt neighborhood is about as big a destination as Northgate (while the UW is much bigger destination).

        Northgate is an awkward station to serve with buses. It really only works in a northeast/southwest direction. Every other pathway involves going the wrong direction for a sizable distance. This is why I think the 20 is such an important bus. There should be other buses that go there, but mostly just for coverage purposes (although I would retain the current pathway of the 40 for now).

      8. The Lazarus point about Link is valid. North Link provides frequent and fast connections inside of dense urban centers that have slow transit (e.g., U District, Capitol Hill, downtown Seattle). Lynnwood Link will provide that to south Snohomish north King County riders who have not had it. Link will make trips to/from First Hill much easier; at Capitol Hill station, riders can use routes 9, 60, and the FHSC; at USS, riders can use routes 2, 3, 4, 12, and the G Line. There will riders making reverse peak direction trips that did not make sense before as I-5 was jammed in that direction. So, new riders will be attracted. The local operators should delete all their one-way peak-only routes unless they serve a market without Link. Note that even SLU has very frequent connections from Westlake in routes 40, 62, 70, and the C Line. One-way peak-only routes are very costly in a time of operator shortage.

      9. Ross, let me play devil’s advocate with regard to 130th drawing a lot of riders from Lake City … Currently, the average daily boardings of the route 522 as of April 2023 is 1736 riders. The route 522 connects Lake City to Roosevelt station. So, if there currently aren’t a lot Lake City residents catching the 522 to Roosevelt station, why will there be a lot of Lake City residents taking a bus to 130th station? Also, keep in mind that Northgate station will draw riders from southern Lake City, and 148th station will draw riders from northern Lake City. Only central Lake City residents will use 130th station.

        Also, in my opinion, most 130th & Aurora area residents will opt for a one-seat E Line over a little bit quicker, two-seat ride. And, most UW-bound Lake City residents will opt for the 372, as both UW Link stations are on the perimeter of campus. But, the 372 serves both the perimeter, and center of campus.

      10. When estimating future ridership through the Northgate station from Lynnwood Link to determine future train needs I think it makes sense to begin as a baseline with the number of SnoCo residents taking buses to Seattle that don’t truncate at Northgate Link but will truncate at Lynnwood Link.

        You certainly cannot believe ST when it comes to future ridership estimates.

        Some argue that figure may decline as more WFH, downtown leases roll off, or downtown businesses relocate.

        Others argue that folks who make this trip today but not on transit will shift to transit when it moves from buses to Link, assuming Link goes where they are going, so overall transit ridership will go up because the trip on Link will be faster or more convenient despite HOV lanes and transfers. That mostly means folks driving cars or trucks, and generally that has been a tough sell for ST, especially if the first/last mile access is burdensome.

        I am not sure many SnoCo residents will decide to take a discretionary transit trip to Seattle just because it is by Link. How many on this blog take a discretionary transit trip from Seattle to SnoCo? Downtown Seattle today does not offer much to draw in those discretionary transit riders. However, if Northgate Mall is done correctly and is kind of a poor man’s U Village I could see that being a big draw for SnoCo residents who don’t really have a good mall but don’t want to go to downtown Seattle. But that just means fewer SnoCo riders will continue past Northgate to downtown Seattle.

        I begin with the premise that those SnoCo residents on Link or on buses headed to Seattle don’t want to be on either but must, due to work and expensive parking, or traffic congestion. I doubt those driving that same trip want to be doing that if they did not have to. If they could avoid that trip — not unlike the 40,000 Amazon workers who signed the petition — they would gladly do it. These are not SnoCo urbanists. They live in SnoCo to get away from that kind of urbanism and downtown Seattle’s issues. That means each one of those riders is looking for a way to not make that trip without moving to Seattle. I don’t miss my 10-minute commute into downtown Seattle five days/week.

        My guess is the SnoCo bus ridership that goes to Seattle today that will instead transfer to Lynnwood Link is about what Lynnwood Link will add to Northgate station’s ridership. It is too speculative to estimate whether that figure will go up or go down based on some of the factors I note above, and those “estimates” tend to depend on whether the estimator is a Link fan or not, plus some unknown factors, although I doubt future population growth that increases SnoCo riders transit to downtown Seattle will be a major factor.

        In a year or so we will know for sure, although I am sure will argue the future will be different than the present.

      11. Sam,

        Can’t speak for all the combinations you suggest. However, consider that the 372 does not do a great job serving UWMC. One of the most popular stops on campus is the “Herb Garden” stop which has the closest connection to UWMC using an overhead bridge across Pacific. However, that bridge connects to the far end of UWMC, so people who work on the main part of the hospital campus will have a long walk through the building before having to hike up the hill across the bridge to catch the 372. That’s a potentially 10 minute walk in itself. I can see catching Link instead in that case, especially if it’s frequent and more reliable – the 372 gets bogged down making a left onto 25th Ave, gets rerouted because of games, etc.

      12. Sam, in 2019, there were about 1,500 weekday southbound boardings in Lake City on routes 522 and 312. In 2026, they might be split between the Roosevelt, Northgate, and NE 130th Street station. The latter is direct. The south part is subject to the ST and Metro dance over the NE 130th Street and Link service levels given the LRV storage issue. RossB seems correct on the power of the station. For Bitter Lake, Link will be more powerful than the E Line for longer trips and for trips to/from the intermediate markets (e.g. Northgte, Roosevelt, U District, UWMC, Capitol Hill).

      13. I think it is close to criminal negligence that actual costs for the 130th station are so much higher than cost estimates when those estimates are so recent. At first I supported the 130th station, although I had the same doubts about actual boardings at 130th, let alone new ridership as opposed to taking riders from Northgate as Lazarus does, but with the new actual costs 130th definitely was not worth it, unless one assumes transit funding is unlimited and dollar per rider mile is irrelevant.

      14. Eddie, all I’m saying is, on the spectrum of when a Link station will become successful, with, for example, CID and TIBS being a hit from day one, and a station like Bel-Red/130th taking a decade or more to become successful, 130th infill is closer to Bel-Red than CID. I hardly believe that’s a controversial take.

      15. Anon, of course there will be examples of where Link will be better for UW-bound Lake City residents. But, in my expert opinion, in most cases, the route 372 will be a better choice for Lake City residents headed to campus.

        Sam. STB’s leading Toronto expert.

      16. My most immediate takeaway from that dated ridership estimate document linked above is that ST staff seem to think the Stride 3 Line will be a ridership dud, but the only serious source of ridership at 148th. I think they are being overly pessimistic, even accounting for the doc being pre-pandemic.

        OTOH, estimating 130th to have twice as many boardings seems a little off.

      17. Don’t take this personally, Sam, but you sound like you know about as much about Lake City ridership as Ross and L know about the A Line.

        As a former Lake City denizen, I can attest that most of the riders on the 522 (in the Before Times) northbound emptied out before the bus reached Lake Forest Park. And the peak hour buses were usually crushloaded.

        Brent, STB’s resident expert on neat hikes along the platinum coast west of Lake City.

      18. Brent, show me where I’m wrong in my assumption. In the below link, if you select ST Express, then select 522 from the dropdown route list, it will show you the 522’s recent average boardings per day during April 2023: 1736. Down 66% from 2019, btw. So … Given that it is not a high ridership route. And given that it a long route, from Woodinville to Roosevelt. And given that that 1736 daily boardings are divided up between people in Lake City going to Bothell, and people on Bothell going to Kenmore, and people in Woodinville going to Lake City, etc., that tells me only a fraction of the 522’s 1736 daily riders will be Lake City residents going to Roosevelt Station. So … my question is, if only a small number of the 522’s riders are going to Roosevelt Station from Lake City, why should we assume hoards of riders will take a bus from Lake City to 130th infill station? And, again, Lake City residents headed for Link stations in the future will be split three ways. Some will go to Northgate, some to 130th, and some to 148th.

        https://www.soundtransit.org/ride-with-us/system-performance-tracker/ridership

      19. It should be noted that a 2015 document doesn’t include Stride 3.

        Also, Lynnwood Link will be the first extension opened with four new garages with them all at successive stations. The garage sizes were not studied but were sized on a whim. Will these spaces induce driving to Link and thus reduce Metro and CT feeder bus ridership? Will the aspect of free and over-supplied parking entice Link riders to park there and ride to other stations not in Downtown (like UW, UWMC, First Hill hospitals, SeaTac, Downtown Bellevue, Climate Pledge Arena, Microsoft)?

        It’s all going to be curious when it opens. I do wish ST published station pairs data so we wouldn’t have to interpret who’s riding.

      20. @Al.S,

        You are correct, Lynnwood Link will be the first extension to open with substantial parking at every station. That is a keen observation.

        I’m not sure how ST sized the parking at each station, but it is bound to have at least some impact on ridership. Whether or not that ridership is worth the cost is debatable, but having parking was probably at least in part a political requirement.

        It’s also interesting to note that when the 130th St Station eventually opens it will be the only station between Northgate and Lynnwood that doesn’t have at least some parking. Additionally, it also doesn’t have any substantial infrastructure for buses. Or, in some cases, even full sidewalk connectivity.

        So the 130th St Station Will certainly be an oddball station as far as Lynnwood Link goes. In many ways the 130th St Station will be the Potemkin village of Lynnwood Link.

      21. “Additionally, it also doesn’t have any substantial infrastructure for buses”

        The whole point of 130th is to allow buses to serve it while stopping on the street rather than subjecting thru riders into a detour into the station parking lot to some fancy “bus infrastructure”.

      22. @asdf2,

        There is a dedicated para-transit pullout and drop off area, but that is pretty much it.

        For regular buses there is a proposal to add “stops” on 130th St itself, but both would be simple affairs. And both would require transferring riders to cross at least one street to access the LR station. I don’t believe there is even a bus pullout.

      23. “You are correct, Lynnwood Link will be the first extension to open with substantial parking at every station. That is a keen observation.”

        IMO park and rides are very important for these more suburban Link stations, and are usually the first to fill up if ridership is high. Feeder buses are not necessary if the park and rides are not full.

        These park and rides will definitely help ridership on Lynnwood Link. People don’t like living next to a freeway or train station, but they don’t mind parking next to either. Plus, unlike TOD that can take years or decades, and has no guarantee the folks living there will use transit (the rub being if you want the same kind of residents as Totem Lake parking has to be available). I think for intercept stations only like 130th folks will be reluctant to get to a bus, take a bus to Link, and take Link to their ultimate destination, otherwise there will be a fourth seat. Especially with parking at Northgate and all four Lynnwood Link stations.

        We — or I — focus a lot on first mile access but not last mile access, which in some ways is more critical because most folks simply hate transferring to a bus after getting off Link, in part because the bus will be less comfortable, slower, with more stops, and the point of Link is to make the overall trip faster and more convenient. Who wants to take Link 20 miles grade separated and then crawl the last one or two miles on a bus?

        That is why Link does so well with stations that ARE last mile access: UW/U. Dist., Capitol Hill, downtown, Sodo for games. Link takes you where you are going.

        The problem in that group is downtown Seattle, THE last mile access, and some recent articles don’t give me a lot of hope many riders from the east or north will want to go there on Link (and not because of Link):

        https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/06/commercial-real-estate-crisis-empty-offices/674310/?utm_source=msn

        https://www.businessinsider.com/san-francisco-defaults-office-buildings-park-hotels-725-million-loan-2023-6

        https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/seattle-city-council-rejects-giving-city-attorney-power-to-prosecute-drug-cases/?utm_source=marketingcloud&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BNA_060723012640+BREAKING+Seattle+City+Council+rejects+giving+city+attorney+power+to+prosecute+dr…_6_6_2023&utm_term=Registered%20User

        Today the 1500 stall park and ride at S. Bellevue is mostly empty. Not because East Link is not open becasue the 550 is arguable a better route and has mostly dedicated lanes. Because S. Bellevue is for eastsiders taking transit to Seattle.

        I think the one city council in the world maybe worse than Seattle’s council is San Francisco’s council, that gets it now but now is too late. You can’t really blame Link for Seattle’s council (and the pandemic) from making downtown an area folks who don’t live there don’t want to visit. So now the mantra is Link isn’t about peak hour commuters anymore. But it always has been about downtown Seattle. That is why all Link lines run through Seattle.

        Seattle for good and bad has often followed San Francisco. Unfortunately, it followed the bad over the last several years. If BART and muni are in dire straits because folks don’t want to go to downtown SF, or even visit, once the most vibrant city I visited, and SF has so many similar policies and demographics as downtown Seattle, is it really likely Seattle will escape what is happening in SF and Portland, which looks irreversible?

        When we talk about zoning one thing I repeat is urbanism (the definition of last mile access) depends on dense, vibrant retail or the workers and visitors won’t come and spend money. It is very hard to predict where vibrant retail will sprout (who would have thought U Village would have the most vibrant retail in Seattle and The Ave. and downtown dead) but a few prerequisites are well known: public safety, clean streets, obvious and adequate parking, and transit access (although transit is the least important, according to Kemper Freeman and Simon Properties that own Northgate Mall a detriment).

        If SnoCo residents don’t want to go to Seattle (although Northgate Mall might be an attraction that only further depresses downtown retail and visitors) there is very little point in them taking Link. The park and rides provide the first mile access they prefer and will use, but there has to be something at the final end that is last mile access when you get off Link, and right now downtown Seattle is not that and there is nothing Link can do about that (or ST Express buses) except to cut service. You provide frequency and coverage because folks want to ride that transit. Or you cut it and move on, like Metro is doing.

        Induced demand is fool’s gold if simply frequency or coverage are the inducement. Induced demand means there is someplace or thing at the end of the trip that folks want to take transit to. Or they won’t go through the hassle of transit. Too many other options with free parking.

        So much of Link depends on Harrell and the next council, and Seattle voters, because Link ridership is not about these suburban stations that were never designed as last mile access (which is basically all East Link and Lynnwood Link). Those suburban stations need FIRST last mile access, which is not hard to do, like along Lynnwood Link or S. Bellevue. But to create last mile access on Link, which means you are there when you get off because it is dense and vibrant, is extremely difficult, and there are not many stations like that once you eliminate the stations in downtown Seattle.

        Northgate Link when it opened hardly increased total ridership. But not because the stations along Northgate Link are not good: they are two of the best. Ridership did not increase because fewer people wanted to go from Northgate Link to stations south, namely downtown Seattle. Reverse that — easier said than done with Seattle politics — and ridership will explode, including from the eastside.

        First mile access is the easy part unless ideology trumps reality. Last mile access is very, very difficult in this very undense region, and means you are THERE when you get off Link.

  17. I rode the Metro route 250 today and the empty mask dispenser has a sticker on it that say Masks Available from October through May. I’ve never seen that sticker before.

    1. Metro announced a month or so ago that they were ending the free masks for the summer, but would make them available for flu season henceforth.

      I have a few choice things to say about whoever made that decision that might get me banned from this blog.

    2. I heard from a friend of mine in Snohomish County that they had tested positive last week (and had gone through a serious bout of it just three months ago). I hope this time won’t be so rough.

      It’s still out there, waiting for us to enter, waiting to enter us. Until next time, try to enjoy the daylight.

      1. Brent, went to the Polyclinic today and it no longer has a mask requirement. Since I had brought a mask I wore it, but masks are not handed out anymore. Probably 60% of staff and patients wore masks. The signs do ask folks to wear masks if they are suffering from symptoms indicative of Covid.

      2. Kaiser and UW Med are still requiring masks, last I checked. So is the Health Sciences Shuttle.

        Group Health (now merged into Kaiser) provided free masks to visitors and staff as far back as I can remember, at least 15 years.

        Thanks for the info.

  18. Apparently the elevators at Westlake to the Northgate platform are still out. That’s an assumption since the last update on the st swenpage was like 30 hours ago…when will st learn that Ada compliance is not optional? Apparently they will have to learn the hard way.

    1. Well, as soon as Metro takes over the station, things will improve, as apparently that’s what it takes to fix elevators around here, according to some commenters :)

      On a serious note, yes, ST will have to learn the hard way, by someone filing a lawsuit against them.

      1. Wait. I thought st just took over westlake FROM metro.
        Is it switcing back? Metro’s negligence has been st’s primary excuse for non performance of rhe tunnel thus far. There have been zero metro buses in the tunnel for several years.

      2. No, I was being facetious. Some people here blame Metro for all the elevator problems and point out that the change of ownership was required to fix the underlying issue. I am simply extending that to ST’s own incompetence – the only thing that will fix it (again, this is tongue-in-cheek) is ST giving up ownership of its stations (new ones, anyway) to Metro :)

      3. @Good grief,

        Yes, buses were kicked out of the tunnel many years ago, but Metro still refused to turn over actual ownership of the tunnel to ST. Why Metro did that I still don’t really understand, but I suspect it had to do with add revenue.

        That said, ST is making fantastic strides on fixing the situation Metro gave them. Of course there are still issues, and there will be for awhile longer, but progress is being made!

      4. Are there plans for a vertical conveyance dashboard so riders can look up if a key (non-redundant) elevator or escalator is out of service, before setting out on a path that requires their use?

        This would be in addition to the frequent announcements about SeaTac, TIBS, Mt Baker, etc, not an attempt to make these essential announcements go away. The announcements are generally not accessible for deaf riders. I don’t know if the dashboard can be made accessible for blind riders.

      5. @Brent White,

        Ah, do you mean something like this? That has been up and available for a couple of years now? And is accessible from the ST homepage?

        https://www.soundtransit.org/ride-with-us/service-alerts

        Use the interweb thingy. That is why Al Gore gave it to us. It’s actually sort of useful.

        Yes, it is segregated by service, but that is sort of useful in its own clunky way.

  19. Today’s Mass Transit email issue for May/June may be of interest / entertainment /ridicule for readers of this web site:

    “How Sound Transit Controls Train-Borne Noise
    By diving deep into noise-measurement data and tapping industry expertise, Sound Transit has refined its wheel and rail maintenance programs to keep assets in a state of good repair.” [Emphasis mine]

    It’s one of those annoying NextBook things that comines all the disadvantages of digital documents with all the disadvantages of print media, but here it is anyway:
    https://www.nxtbook.com/endeavor/masstransit/may-june-2023/index.php#/p/16

    Now if only this could be applied to the escalator maintenance system….

  20. The dashboard us useful but note that the current Westlake northbound elevator issues are not showing. It’s really only useful if it’s correct. Personally I dontvsee much improvement in the runnel since st took over. To say that’ll have made “fantastic strides” is at best a stretch…what happened to the better response times under the new se4vice contract? Just st burning through tax dollars.

    1. It would also help to have an update when the conveyance is back up.

      A real dashboard would list all the conveyances at each station, and show which are in service and which are not.

      A useful side effect is that riders might discover conveyances they did not know are there.

      1. I remember running across one transit agency that had a really good web page for that. Stations were marked as green (all working), yellow (some not working but full access) or red (sufficient number not working to cause access problems).

        I thought it was CTA but it’s not. I’ve not been able to find it again.

      2. The colors (with letters for color-blind riders) would be a pretty concise front page for the dashboard. Some riders will then want to see the listings for the stations they are using to know how to detour through the station.

        The at-grade stations could be included to reassure first-time users, and make it look like the system is in a better state of repair.

  21. ST escalator email: “All escalators at University District Station and Roosevelt Station are currently inoperable due to a power glitch. Elevators are still in operation at both Stations. Maintenance is currently on scene troubleshooting. More updates to follow when available. “

    1. U-District escalators are back to normal. Roosevelt’s still have a power glitch.

  22. I heard a rumor that there is a line of buses parked out on some street outside a sodo bus base throughout the night. They are filled with passed out and sleeping riders. The police will no longer come to help get them off, and Metro doesn’t want them sleeping on the buses in the base yard, so the solution is to leave the buses out on the street.

    1. That seems highly implausible since KCSO has an entire transit division dedicated to doing this very thing. They don’t patrol beats, they don’t do drug busts. They do what the transit agencies need them to do, and they don’t exactly get to “no longer come to help.” Did you think normal SPD officers were doing this?

      1. The county employee who told me this didn’t say much, except what I mentioned. They did mention KCSO, and said because they are understaffed, they can no longer help with this, and that’s why Metro is doing this. I don’t know if this is every night, occasionally, or maybe it just happened once. And I don’t know if it’s a line of buses, or just one or two. I’d like confirmation on this. I would ask one of you to go out some night, preferably past midnight, and drive around down there … 4th Ave S, the busway, 6th Ave S … and scope out the situation out, but every time I ask one of you to do a story, you don’t do it.

      2. @Sam,

        If you really believe this info to be true, then please forward everything you know (about this topic) to Mike Lindblom at the Seattle Times. He has been a bit quiet of late and is probably looking around for something productive to do.

        And if that doesn’t work, then please forward it to KOMO. I’m sure they could wrap it up into some sort of “Metro is Dying” type report.

        Good luck, and I look forward to your report!

    2. You realize that people can’t get into a bus unless the doors are open, and if there’s no Metro staff remaining in the bus all night it would quickly become vandalized and rendered unusable, or campers would drive off with it. Then there would be reports of buses left in odd places or missing, or colliding into cars or buildings, and there would be an even larger number of run cancellations due to lack of buses. Since none of this has happened, and Metro wouldn’t leave a bus open and alone, this whole things seems implausable.

      Or is Metro paying operators to stay with the buses all night, and if so, which budget is it coming out of.

      And why can’t the city bring shipping containers or something other than a bus that people could stay in? Why does it have to be a bus?

      I would do the investigative reseach you assigned, on foot since I don’t drive, except staying up late in my middle age throws me off-kilter for days. So you’ll have to find another reporter, or maybe your eminent brilliance could do it himself.

      1. The way it was told to me was when very late night buses are done with their shift and return to some sodo base, if there are sleepers on board the bus … perhaps one’s that can’t easily be woken up by the driver? … that the bus is to park out out on some street just outside the base, and left there overnight with the sleepers on board. Anyway, I will dig into this further and report back at a later date.

      1. Jimmy James, will you write more about this is the most recent open thread? When I said there’s a rumor about this, some commenters were skeptical. Can you talk about what you know in today’s post/open thread? I’m curious myself.

      2. I don’t comment often. And I don’t like exagerating problems. But when I read your comments and know they are not rumors, I could not resist saying something. Especially when I can confirm that this happened. A bus fueler sent me videos of this happening. I will not share them. If you didn’t bring it up, I wouldn’t say anything. Metro has a security issue they are not telling people. Drivers have told me the same thing without pictures.
        Go to 6th and Royal Brougham at around 1-5 am on most nights and you can see it. Watch Metro managers, King county Sheriff’s and SPD show up try to get people to leave buses while the drivers get permission to abandon them and go home. See what hapoens hen come to your own conclusions.

      3. Thank you for sharing that. The comment section basically called me a liar when I shared that rumor.

      4. @Sam,

        You were right, unfortunately.

        But I’m curious about how long this has been going on, because I haven’t heard of this before.

        Is this a new problem resulting from Metro’s relatively lax fare enforcement practices following the pandemic?

        Because behavioral issues on the buses exploded during that period. Do we now have a subset of people who just ride the bus all day and get high? And then don’t want to, or aren’t capable of, exiting the bus when it goes out of service?

        Does Metro just allow these riders to stay onboard all day long? Only forcing them to exit at the end of the day?

      5. Does Metro clean and sanitize the buses people have slept in and gone the bathroom in overnight before putting them back in service. Does anyone know when these folks are finally kicked off the bus, and how much time Metro has to then clean and sanitize the bus. Or are the folks who slept on the bus overnight just allowed to stay on the bus when it starts its route again? I would hope Metro leaves the doors open overnight so someone sleeping on the bus could get off to go the bathroom, although would probably just go on the bus and open doors would attract others. But if it was cold outside leaving the doors open could encourage those on the bus to get off at some point, although they are likely too late for a shelter.

        I’d also be interested to know which routes this is happening on. I would think those routes would not be popular among drivers. Some areas Metro serves probably are pickier about foul buses than others too.

      6. @DT,

        It sounds like Metro is sweeping the buses when they go out of service at the end of the day, but that those sweeps are occurring just outside the bus base and are taking a significant amount of time. That would explain why they are releasing the operators to go home while they try to clear the buses.

        What I’m curious about is how prevalent this problem is and how long these people have been just riding back and forth on the bus. Because not only is this a security issue at the end of the day, but it is probably a safety issue during the rest of the day too.

        More information is needed.

  23. For weekends when the 255 is completely messed up due to 520 ramp/Montlake bridge closures, I wanted to share with you an alternate way to get from Seattle to Kirkland that completely bypasses the 255. Total travel time from downtown Seattle to Kirkland Transit Center this way is about 40 minutes.

    Step 1: From downtown Seattle, take ST 545 to SR-520/NE 51st St.
    Step 2: Take KCM route 245 the rest of the way to Kirkland

    Both routes run every 30 minutes, but the schedules are timed so that if the 545 encounters no delays, you can make it with only a short (< 5 minutes) wait.

    If the 545 is delayed and you will miss the connection, you utilize the backup option, which is to stay on the bus to Redmond Transit Center and take the 250. Be sure to check the 245 on OneBusAway before you commit to exiting the 545.

    I don't think trip planner software is smart enough to know about this trick, so I wanted to share it with you directly.

      1. I think that option would be slower, especially coming from Westlake. The 550 takes something like 30 minutes to reach Bellevue Transit Center, and the 250 takes another 20 minutes to reach Kirkland. That’s a minimum of 50 minutes, not including however long it takes to wait for the 250, which only runs every 30 minutes on weekends. Also, the 550 begins at Union which is a much longer walk from the north end of downtown than the 545.

        Also, the 545 offers a chance of getting lucky and discovering via OneBusAway that there’s a 255 right behind you going over the 520 bridge. It’s not a very good chance, but it’s greater than zero and, if it happens, you save quite a bit of time (you can switch to the 255 at Yarrow Point). The 550 offers no such chance. Once you board it, you are pretty much committed to the 250 for the other leg.

  24. This is a Goodworkaround with the added benefit of avoiding whatever link crap is going on rhat day.

  25. I like this 1911 photo of 3rd and Union. The building in the center with the awning that says Juan De Fuca Cigars is where Gelatiamo is today. Notice how busy the street life is despite a much smaller population. (Not one single person is not wearing a hat). One streetcar says to Capitol Hill, the other to N 40th St. Also, notice riders boarding one streetcar mid-turn. I’m sure it was stopped, but I wonder if that was its official stop, or a flagged stop.

    https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Third_and_Union,_1911.gif

      1. Per annotations on the image:

        Banner, partially obscured: “Dr. E.J. Brown | Socialist candidate for mayor | Headquarters Room 213 Liberty Building” and a hand with a finger pointing to the Liberty Building, presumably to that office.

        Brown lost this election, but became mayor in 1922.

  26. https://www.seattletimes.com/business/more-taxes-wont-solve-downtown-seattles-pressing-challenges/?utm_source=marketingcloud&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=TSA_060923193326+More+taxes+won%27t+solve+Seattle%27s+pressing+challenges+Jon+Talton_6_9_2023&utm_term=Registered%20User

    The city of Seattle is expecting a $200 million deficit in its operating budget by 2025 (other estimates put the deficit at $250 million).

    “Worker foot traffic in April stood at only 44% of its level in the same month four years ago. Third Avenue is mostly a sinkhole of boarded-up storefronts that once generated taxes for the city and a street of troubles.”

    [Someone on this blog recently posted much higher foot traffic figures].

    “City Hall’s tax receipts have increased 94% during the past decade, much higher than employment, population growth or inflation. Taxes imposed on businesses totaled $700 million since 2018.

    “The so-called “Amazon Tax,” or JumpStart Seattle, actually applies to more than 600 businesses. In its first year, 2021, JumpStart brought in $248 million. (One consequence, intended or not, is that Amazon now considers the Puget Sound region, not Seattle, as its headquarters and is moving jobs to Bellevue.)

    “In a statement Harrell said, “The City’s worsening revenue gap is unsustainable, and it’s insufficient for city leadership to only respond each year one budget at a time. This initiative will bring together some of our city’s brightest civic minds to comprehensively consider the fundamental and recurring issues facing our operating budget.”

    “According to my sources, it seems that this group was formed with a predetermined outcome of finding new tax streams or expanding them, rather than examining spending and where record revenues are being directed.

    “Asked on optimism regarding the city, 65% of respondents said it was on the wrong track. Sixty-one percent expressed concern about their personal finances. (The margin of error is 4.4 percentage points.)

    “Regarding the central core, 80% of respondents said downtown’s recovery was important to the city’s economy and 77% said it’s important to quality of life here. Also, 84% stated that downtown revival should be a top priority of city government.

    “Mayor Bruce Harrell received only 33% positive ratings on accomplishing the job, although 67% trusted him to accomplish it. Only 8% of respondents said the City Council was doing well.”

    ————————————————————————————–

    I think the bloom is coming off Harrell’s rose. Of course, he may have the worst city council in the country. I don’t see how he can revitalize downtown without the work commuter, and Bellevue is as big a risk as WFH.

    Although I am not sure Talton understands it, property tax reallocation will be as big an issue as lower tax revenue because as office towers pay less toward the property tax levy — and Seattleites vote for every levy including the upcoming $970 million housing levy — that property tax burden will switch to multi-family housing and rents. Money can always move; the poor are stuck.

    1. Daniel, I have a solution. Tell me what you think about this idea … As more employees work from home, and commercial leases aren’t renewed, property values lower, hurting the city budget. The city should then dramatically raise taxes to make up for the loss. That’s a smart idea, right? #urbandoomloop

      1. I’m not Daniel, but I have thoughts ;) Perhaps to no one’s surprise.

        The problem as you outlined it is quite serious. We basically have competing motivations. From an individual perspective, WFH is often more efficient. The same is potentially true for companies, too, if the remote communication is set up well (and we have seen that it can be set up well – not everyone does it, but it is possible). From a societal perspective, it is also good because it reduces “bad” energy consumption in the form of transportation/fuel costs. It also allows for more neighborhood businesses to strive (the “15 minute city” should not just hold in downtown, after all).

        On the other hand, as you very correctly pointed out, the commercial property tax revenue hit is serious, and so are the implications on the personal property tax rates. Cities are not currently well set up to deal with this, particularly in states, such as ours, where there is no income tax, thus forcing a relatively higher reliance on property tax. So that’s one option to deal with it – get the state to institute a state income tax for real.

        There are other implications, too, though. If there is no need to live near large employers, then property values will go down. That will help affordability (good) but a bunch of people will lose money (bad). It will make for less inequality overall, potentially (also good).

        So, it’s a mixed picture. Overall I think it’s the right direction, but it won’t be easy, nor will it be smooth.

      2. California, the state with the highest homeless rate, and the highest poverty rate, has a state income tax.

      3. “Daniel, I have a solution. Tell me what you think about this idea … As more employees work from home, and commercial leases aren’t renewed, property values lower, hurting the city budget. The city should then dramatically raise taxes to make up for the loss. That’s a smart idea, right? #urbandoomloop”

        Actually Sam, you are mixing up taxes.

        The total amount of property taxes Seattle can collect from all properties stays the same each year no matter what property values do, except for a 1% annual increase, or voters approving levies for housing, transportation, schools, etc. So Seattle will collect the same amount of total property taxes in 2023, 2024, 2025 et al as 2022 (plus any voter approved levies).

        However, office buildings will pay a smaller percentage of that total property tax since their values will decline. So other properties must make up the difference, including SFH and multi-family properties, which will raise rents.

        The loss of tax revenue the Times’ article is talking about comes from reduced B&O tax (very large), sales tax (including new construction), parking tax, utility tax. WFH directly reduces those taxes, as does declining retail, and in some cases reallocates that tax revenue to other cities where the WFH workers live.

        Meanwhile you have inflation going from almost zero to 6%, which affects CBA COLA’s, municipal bond rates, and just the cost of providing city services when property taxes can only increase by 1%/year. Pandemic related stimulus is exhausted, and has broken the federal debt.

        Although Talton’s article focuses on the dramatic growth of tax revenue in Seattle over the last decade, my bigger gripe is how that tax revenue has been wasted.

        If I looked at Seattle and it was a vibrant, safe, productive functioning city with capital projects coming in on budget or levies like Move Seattle, with new bridges and roads and buses and new municipal buildings staffed with workers, and safe streets and a full amount of police officers patrolling the city, I guess I could understand the endless demand for more taxes in the past. At least the money would have been well spent.

        Seattle has a council and has had a string of mayors who simply don’t know how to run a large city, probably the most difficult thing in the world to do. Instead population growth and revenue growth and tax revenue growth concealed that incompetence. Even worse, this council and past mayors ignored major infrastructure like roads and bridges that are like handing debt to the next generation. Around $3.5 billion.

        The council and its supporters thought money grew on trees, and ideology was the same as running a large city. Reality and the bill have hit home, as it has for many cities, and both public and private entities made some stupid decisions because borrowing money was free.

        At least Seattle, unlike say Milwaukee that was saved from bankruptcy by the R led state legislature with some painful restrictions on ideology, does not have huge legacy costs for pensions and retiree health care. Seattle’s biggest problem is the unfunded infrastructure repairs and replacement for a city basically built over water.

        Talton touches on the real issue: Seattle is driving business away. Other cities in the U.S. have had many more workers return to the city (including Bellevue) because they are pleasant places to go. More than high taxes it has been a declining quality of life in downtown Seattle. If/when 20,000 Amazon workers move from SLU to Bellevue that will be the death knell for Seattle (but good for Bellevue although Bellevue does not have a head tax). I also think the opening of Northgate Mall will really hurt downtown retail, which many Seattleites have already given up on.

        I always find it ironic that Seattle is a city of urbanists who have destroyed the one urban area in the region, but can’t see their involvement in that. I think that started when out-of-city wealthy folks started moving in at places like Amazon and suddenly the Seattleites already here were poor despite having the same AMI as before, and so the cause of urbanism became one of class warfare for folks at The Urbanist and things like upzoning SFH zones when it won’t create affordable housing, and a bad city council played to that. Now Seattle has to pray Amazon does not start moving its Seattle workers to Bellevue.

      4. Washington and Washington cities don’t have a PERSONAL income tax. However what WA and its cities have is a business and occupation tax that is effectively an income tax on a business’s GROSS revenue.

        WA state and Seattle have some of the highest taxes per resident in the country. WA is not a low tax low service state.

      5. “Pandemic related stimulus is exhausted, and has broken the federal debt.”

        This is highly off topic for this web site, so I won’t elaborate more, but I highly recommend people do their own research. The actual, true biggest source of the national debt is easily proven to be a different source.

  27. Trying to abide by the “open thread” rules here.

    I just re-watched the Crossrail program on Nova (PBS Passport — a great service). In it they stated that there were expected to be a billion riders per year. I don’t know if they’re meeting that projection from 2018, but it’s open now, so I guess we’ll learn soon.

    The program also said that it cost $25 billion (it’s Nova…), soooo, after 25 years, the capital cost — not the operating cost — will reach $1 / ride. At fifty years (assuming that London hasn’t been nuked by Putin’s grandson, Tsar Vlad III), it will be 50 cents per ride. In a hundred a quarter of a cent per ride.

    Of course there will be other capital costs along the way — new trains, new electrical systems, certainly new communications and control systems. And of course there is the operating cost to drive and maintain 72 600 meter long trains. But with a billion riders per year, the OPS cost is spread over a LOT of willing customers.

    Ah that Seattle were London. But then there would have been the Blitz, not just that lone Japanese submarine lobbing shells at Ilwaco.

    [Please, no lectures about how London is hyper dense. I know it is. Please no lectures about “it doesn’t serve suburbia”. Yes, it does, at either end. Please no lectures about how LRV’s could have done the job. No, they couldn’t. These are all open gallery cars, which makes for a pretty interesting visual when the train is on a straight-away. ]

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