Meetings

Sound Transit:

System Expansion Committee Meeting: Thursday June 8, 1:30pm – 5:00pm. details

Community Oversight Panel Meeting: Wednesday June 14, 5:30pm – 8:15pm details

Board of Directors Meeting: Thursday June 22: 1:30pm – 4:00pm details

King County Metro:

Transit Advisory Commission Meeting: Tuesday June 20, 6:00 – 8:00pm. details

Regional Transit Committee Meeting: Wednesday June 21, 3:00 PM. details

Community Transit:

None

Pierce Transit:

Board of Commissioners Meeting: Monday June 12: 4:00 PM. details

Everett Transit:

Transportation Advisory Committee: Thursday June 15: 8:00 AM. details

Puget Sound Regional Council:

Transportation Policy Board Meeting: Thursday June 8, 9:30am – 11:30am. details

Seattle City Council:

Transportation & Seattle Public Utilities Meeting: Tuesday June 20: 9:30 am. details

King County Mobility Coalitions:

Snoqualmie Valley Mobility Coalition Bimonthly Meeting: Friday June 9: 10:30am – 12:00pm. details

North King County Mobility Coalition Bimonthly Meeting: Thursday June 22: 10:30am – 12:00 pm. details

Other Events

June is Ride Transit Month in Washington.

Transportation Choices Coalition hosts Transit Talk: How Riders Can Shape Transportation. Wed, June 21: 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM. details

Transit Trivia with Transportation Choices Coalition at Metier Brewing (Central District, Seattle). Wed, June 14: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM. details

Ride Transit Night At the Ballpark with Transportation Choices Coalition at T-Mobile Park. Fri, June 30, 7:00 PM. details

Seattle Mobility Candidate Forum for City Council – District 3. Sat, June 10 at 2:00 pm. details

Seattle Mobility Candidate Forum for City Council – District 4. Mon, June 12, 6:00 – 7:30pm. details

Seattle Mobility Candidate Forum for City Council – District 1. Wed, June 14 5:00pm – 6:30pm. details

Please add any relevant events we’ve missed in the comments below.

This is an open thread.

197 Replies to “Transportation Events June 7 – July 5”

    1. “Authorizes the chief executive officer to execute a design-build contract with Absher Construction Co. for the Auburn Station Parking and Access Improvement Project in the amount of $60,000,000, with a 15
      percent contingency of $9,000,000 and authorizes an alternative concept allowance not to exceed $2,000,000 to fund maximum cost of added value improvements for the Auburn Station Parking and Access Improvements Project for a total authorized contract amount not to exceed $71,000,000.”

      “The Design-Build contract with Absher Construction Co. includes all work necessary to complete the design, permitting and construction of a structured parking facility with up to 675 stalls. The project also includes access improvements such as an intersection improvement, new sidewalks,
      landscaping, and pedestrian crosswalks.”

      “In November 2008, voters approved access improvements to the Puyallup, Sumner, Kent, and Auburn Sounder Stations as part of the ST2 ballot measure to expand mass transit throughout the region. Subsequently, the Sounder Station Access Study was conducted to identify potential access improvements at Sounder stations. The August 2021 re-alignment action identified the Sumner, Kent and Auburn projects as Tier 1 projects to proceed to implementation.”

      “This action is within the baseline budget and sufficient monies remain after approval of the action to fund the remaining work in the construction phase. This action does not impact the affordability of any other system expansion project.”

      “The baseline budget for the combined Sumner, Kent, and Auburn Stations Parking and Access Improvements project is $359,650,000. The proposed action will commit $71,000,000 (including contingency and alternative concept allowance) for the design-build contract for the Auburn portion of
      the combined Sumner, Kent, and Auburn Stations Parking and Access improvements project and leave a remaining budget of $6,811,000.”

      —————————————————————————————–

      This project was part of ST 2, and apparently the subarea(s) have the funds. My guess is the cities receiving the parking structures see these parking garages as multi-use. As I have noted before once you get into these suburban areas park and rides are the favored first mile mode. Makes me wonder why the eastside’s ST 3 park and rides were put on hold if these parking structures are going ahead.

      I wonder if the delays for FWLE and TDLE are forcing ST and the subareas to continue Sounder S. even though ridership has fallen and farebox recovery is something like 11% when the goal is 23%.

      Not my subarea(s) so not my call, but I would not be surprised if these projects were added to get the votes to pass ST 2 even though these areas don’t get light rail. If you cut Sounder S. or first mile access the promise of “ST2 ballot measure to expand mass transit throughout the region” rings hollow. FWLE does not serve these areas.

      Some from this area have posted on this blog Sounder actually accesses the town centers in this area while Link accesses I-5. I thought Timm was planning to meet with BNSF about increasing track usage. There is also the $1 billion in ST 3 I think to enlarge platforms and other Sounder improvements. I would cut those first before the parking structures if ridership is expected to stay low (even if all day service is increased) because the parking structures have dual uses in the city center.

    2. Federal Grant commitments, use it or lose it as per the outlined project it is given to.

    3. With the out-of-control costs, it didn’t make sense even when Sounder ridership was high. But it’s a political priority for South King no matter the price tag. They feel they are owed this because it was an ST2 project and neither high cost nor low ridership will dissuade them.

      1. I find it to be a hypocritical approach that ST says it promised things like this in a ballot measure as the reason for spending this money, yet will abandon promises for a transfer station at CID saying that it’s too expensive. Where is the financial oversight?

        It’s also particularly galling here that so many of the spaces are to serve riders who do not pay any ST3 auto tags or property taxes.

        It reminds me of how some interpret some things in religious texts as “sins” yet disregard other “sins” out of convenience.

      2. I’m moderately supportive of completing this project, but I agree the political/legal “but we promised”/”it’s a approved by the voter” is completely disingenuous. If it’s really hard to overcome an obstacle, ST will give up. If an idea isn’t interesting to staff or the board, it will be declared out of scope. If something is really important to a board member or local leader, then the board will say we legally have to deliver it.

      3. AJ, I would distinguish ST projects that the subareas and stakeholders want and those they do not want but may have been in the levy ballot or even EIS. Or those it turns out they can’t afford although ST is loath to admit that.

        So yes, if a project is in the levy, the subarea relied upon that project when voting (or it wouldn’t be in the levy), the subarea still wants the project, the funding is there, and no stakeholders are opposed the project should get built. Or have a revote.

        My guess is in 2008 the voters wanted a park and ride next to the station to avoid the dreaded trip to park and ride, to bus, to train. Sounder S. ridership was never great but the route and speed are good — better than Link, but it is basically what they have because they don’t get Link, and of course ST promised millions more would move to the region and take Sounder S. to Seattle so these cities would have wealthy Seattle white collar workers who can actually use transit to commute moving in so would need huge park and rides.

        Things changed. But parking garages in the town center are expensive. MI’s settlement with ST provides $4.5 million in matching funds for a MI only commuter garage, but $9 million only gets you 100 stalls that could be dual use outside commuter hours. Today that project is on pause because there is no demand, but I doubt MI will forego an underground parking garage and the $4.5 million, and the 453 park and ride already along N. Mercer Way is mostly used for ballgames or employee parking, or overflow multi-family housing that had too low of onsite parking stalls per unit. They use the park and ride, just not the transit.

        So the cities want the parking garages even more. The problem is some on this blog think folks in other subareas think like they do, or care about transit, or urbanism, or the greater good. They want their cut, Sounder ridership has tanked, Link bypasses them, but a town center can always use a parking garage.

        My bigger problem is ST changing what was in the levy, whether a bus intercept on MI (not even in the 2011 EIS) or the park and rides on the eastside when the money is there for those because transit folks who don’t live here don’t like park and rides although everyone outside of Seattle loves them, or gold-plated design changes in N KC that are not remotely affordable. I think if it was promised in the levy and is affordable it is legally required, unless ST wants a revote, which I doubt they do today.

      4. I agree Dan. These parking garages are a terrible value. I agree with your point as well Al. ST seems committed to them, even though they were quick to abandon a station at First Hill.

        Perhaps a similar swap would be in order. Obviously a streetcar would be stupid, but a promise of bus service over an extended time could provide much greater value to Auburn. A parking garage does nothing for Auburn itself. At best a few of its residents get easier parking on their commute to Seattle. That doesn’t build the downtown. In contrast, regular bus service to downtown can improve business there. There may be other civic projects that Auburn has considered, but didn’t have the money for. For example, a new community center close to the station. A little extra transit service and a few downtown projects and Auburn would be much better off.

        I’m afraid the folks involved have no vision. They are pushing for something that in the long run, won’t help the city at all. In the last few decades, Auburn growth has been based on cheap land. Much of the development is not sustainable, and will be expensive per resident to maintain. Unless there is a strong sense of place, Auburn could easily become a suburban slum, of which there are many in the United States. Building a giant parking lot that is largely empty most of the time won’t help.

      5. ST seems to building a monument to auto dependency. South King County subarea funds could be much better spent. Office work and Sounder ridership are both way down. Does ST need a monument to auto dependency? Does car storage equate to mobility? We need housing on the land next to frequent transit service and scarce transit funds used to reduce headway and waits. Is it 1,500 spaces at $200,000 each for $300 million? Annualized, that might buy about 300 weekday bus hours ($300,000,000/20/255/$200). ST could buy peak trips on routes 181, 184, 915, and 917 and PT routes. That would attract more riders and help the cities more. Parking space = two rides per day if there was demand, but there is not today.

      6. “We need housing on the land next to frequent transit service and scarce transit funds used to reduce headway and waits. Is it 1,500 spaces at $200,000 each for $300 million?”

        Eddie, here is the rub we are seeing with Shoreline and MLT which both are hesitating on TOD: cities don’t want to build a bunch of low-income TOD, folks outside the urban Seattle core don’t really want to live in an urban core (let alone next to a freeway or train station), what makes you think TOD next to Sounder would result in increased ridership when the chances these folks have office jobs in downtown Seattle is very remote and there is no other “destination” for Sounder S. which is why ridership plummeted when Seattle office work plummeted, and who wants to live in TOD or an apartment in “downtown” Sumner or Auburn? Folks moved here for the affordable SFH.

        Look at all the urbanists on this blog. How many live in one of these three cities? Or even visit?

        Ross does have one point: if ST went to these three cities and told them they could spend the money for the parking garages on a different use on the same property would they accept that? Probably, if the amount of money was the same, although it wouldn’t be low-income housing. Maybe a mall, or retail center, a new city hall, but whatever other use was built on that property it would need lots of parking.

      7. DT: I do not see Shoreline and MT hesitating. They are allowing housing growth. Low income housing often requires subsidy in addition to zoning change. Newness is an expensive trait in housing. There are bus transit networks next to the Sounder stations at Kent and Auburn. The tenants might work many places. Route 161 serves Kent, SeaTac, and Amazon; Route 160 serves Kent, Valley Medical, and Renton; Route 181 serves Federal Way and Green River College. They could walk to employment in Auburn. I doubt ST offered to buy service; service is more scarce than parking spaces. The Kent and Auburn P&R lots have largely been empty since the Sounder improvements. Route 152 was deleted.

      8. Eddie, MLT and Shoreline both accepted higher than mandated GMPC future housing growth targets because they hope to gentrify their cities with new development. Same with Lynnwood. Both have increased zoning near Link. The hope was white collar Seattle office workers would move to these cities because the housing would be more affordable, or less urban, and the OFM was predicting another 1 million residents would move into the region and work downtown.

        I haven’t seen any actual development permit applications for the newly upzoned areas. Zoning is not construction, let alone the desired construction. I am sure ST is thinking affordable housing, but I doubt these cities see affordable housing built along a freeway as the path to gentrification.

        All these cities hope that upzoning will result in Totem Lake. But Totem Lake was a carefully planned master plan development in an area with a very high AMI that supports a very good retail mall. Transit was not a driving force for Totem Lake, or why folks live there, although good transit is important in such a dense development, or was pre-pandemic.

        Do I think a Link station will gentrify an area? No. At least it hasn’t happened before. Do I think upzoned development around a Link station and freeway will create the kind of gentrification these city councils are dreaming of? I don’t know, but I think each of these cities will be disappointed if they think simply upzoning an area will result in the kind of development like Totem Lake they hope for, especially with the loss of the downtown Seattle commuter. My advice would be to master plan these new upzoned areas.

        If the goal is simply to increase Link ridership, I think the park and rides along Lynnwood Link are the better and quicker route although not a good path to gentrification, and if I were a developer or bank I would want to see how full these park and rides are before spending tens of millions of dollars on TOD.

      9. Nathan, there’s definitely large scale development in the pipeline for Shoreline. Just do a search for Shoreline in the Daily Journal of Commerce or in the Puget Sound Business Journal.

        The linked project below is for 550 units on a development site adjacent to the future 145th St station on the Shoreline side. The latest satellite imagery from google earth shows the site assemblage with all building cleared in preparation for construction.

        https://www.djc.com/news/re/12154351.html

    4. It’s a Sounder project, so FW Link is irrelevant.

      Seattle (and SF/NYC) continue to be a global aberration when it comes to RTO trends, so I don’t find Sounder’s current ridership metrics particularly relevant, either. When the offices fill up, the Sounder ridership will return.

    5. That should be enough money to provide redundant elevators within the garage. It seems what is left of downtown Auburn is being turned into Northgate.

      Perhaps savings from truncating ST Express 566 at Kent or Tukwila Sounder Station will make it worth it over the next millennium.

  1. Well, the garages are paid from ST 2 funds, not ST 3, and they pay into that. It is their subarea(s) so doesn’t affect other subareas.

    The station for DSTT2 on 5th at the CID was an internal subarea fight too. Auburn, Sumner and Kent did not have anything to do with that. A stakeholder — the CID — did not want it. N KC does not have the $850 million for a station on 4th S. (or $20 billion for WSBLE), but how is that the responsibility of these subareas that do have the money for their promised projects. These subareas have the funding for their garages, and want them. Meanwhile the subareas funding the park and rides have to pay $275 million to N. KC for DSTT2. Now there is a rip off since they really don’t have access to any Link that isn’t miles away.

    I think it is Cam who points out Sounder S. has the much better regional route over Link, and goes to the city centers in that area: Kent, Auburn, Sumner. It is also much faster than Link to Seattle. How does Link serve them? Why should their ST 2 projects that passed in 2008 be delayed over FWLE, which is also delayed and does not serve them.

    If we wanted to focus on “promised projects” that are a terrible fiscal deal look no further than WSBLE.

    Some folks get worked up over spending for park and rides, but these suburban areas like park and rides, especially if it is a dual use parking garage in the cities’ town center, which is why ST promised them in the levies, and which is why I think it was wrong for the Board to suspend E KC’s park and rides to meet the debt limit for WSBLE. What is up with that fraud. Let the subareas decide what they want with their money.

    If you are Sumner, Kent and Auburn and you have $650 million to spend and it has to be ST related where would you spend it? On FWLE? I don’t think so. On Link to Auburn, Kent and Sumner? No, because they don’t get Link. On DSTT2? Talk about subarea fraud.

    These cities know Sounder S. has low ridership, which is why they want to spend their ST money on something their city can use anyway: free parking in the town center. Can you think of any better use of the money that meets ST’s guidelines, is consistent with what was promised in the levy, and benefits their city because they know visitors want free and obvious parking.

    Sounder S. might go away, but not those parking garages.

    1. The issue here is that more parking at the stations doesn’t do anything for anyone unless the existing parking is full. It’s not like adding bus trips, which benefits existing riders, regardless of whether the buses are full or not.

      You bring up one potential point, which is that the “transit” parking could theoretically be used as a way to get sound transit to pay for parking for nearby businesses for people who are not riding transit. Except that this is Auburn we’re talking about, not Seattle – all the nearby businesses already have their own parking and don’t need an additional parking garage across the street paid for by Sound Transit.

      Also, using a Sound Transit parking facility to walk to a nearby business is technically a violation of Sound Transit’s parking policy, which could (in theory, but very unlikely in practice) cause your car to get towed. I don’t think that policy is changing, nor I am sure that it even can change, at least not without suggesting to the FTA that the garage is just a ruse to use transit money to subsidize the parking for somebody’s private business across the street, and getting the grant money revoked.

      1. One thing I’ve learned over the years: If your downtown (or neighborhood) is very difficult to park in, you are doing it right. Businesses are bustling, money if flowing into local government coffers — life is good. If, on the other hand, parking is easy and has been for a while, you are in trouble. You have a much bigger space to maintain. The businesses are not bringing in as much money per space, and as a result, government has less money to work with. You may be OK for a while, but you may also collapse, as so many similar communities have done across the country.

        Thus the goal of Auburn is to be like the former, not that latter. If Auburn is to survive, and thrive, it needs to focus on its downtown, and it needs to eventually get so busy that parking is difficult. Transit to the downtown should improve. It is easy to sketch out a general plan (civic improvements centered on the downtown along with a downtown-hub transit system) but the locals probably have some of that in mind as well. ST should help pay for both, instead of this parking lot expansion. If you get to the point where people are charging money to park in lots downtown, and ST is routinely ticketing people for parking in the garage and wandering off to visit the shops, Auburn will be a complete success, and the number of parking spots at the garage will be irrelevant. If, on the other hand, Auburn is given something it really doesn’t need (more parking) and the new money from sprawl stops coming in (while the bills from maintaining old sprawl piles up) and the downtown is seen as a place you go through (not to), Auburn will really struggle.

      2. “One thing I’ve learned over the years: If your downtown (or neighborhood) is very difficult to park in, you are doing it right. Businesses are bustling, money if flowing into local government coffers — life is good. If, on the other hand, parking is easy and has been for a while, you are in trouble. You have a much bigger space to maintain. The businesses are not bringing in as much money per space, and as a result, government has less money to work with. You may be OK for a while, but you may also collapse, as so many similar communities have done across the country.”

        That depends Ross on whether the demand for parking outstrips supply or whether there is just inadequate parking, which tends to kill businesses. The one area that has restrictive and expensive parking is downtown Seattle and it has the deadest retail despite being the urban core. Meanwhile the malls and U Village and my guess Northgate Mall are thriving.

        You are confusing retail vibrancy with parking. The retail vibrancy comes first. Restricting parking won’t do anything to create retail vibrancy. Just the opposite. If parking is difficult despite lots of parking a city or mall is doing things correctly. If it is simply difficult to park generally an area is not going to be retail vibrant.

        Creating vibrant retail density is about the most difficult thing to do, mostly because there is not enough retail go to around in this huge region so retail density requires zoning, and planners have been pretty bad in doing it. Ironically it was the SFH zones that restricted retail that account for most of the retail density (which is just traditional zoning that segregates uses for good reasons).

        No one likes commuting on transit or in a car to work. It is uncompensated time, and it is a waste of time even if the transit is pleasant. What folks do like is retail vibrancy, which is walkability when they get there. They don’t care if they have to drive or take transit to get there as long as the retail is vibrant and dense.

        The pros who do retail for a living know this much better than transit advocates. U Village, Northgate Mall, Bell Square, Issaquah,
        all have massive amounts of obvious and free parking. If they didn’t, they would fail, there would be no retail vibrancy, few customers, and no matter how much parking there is it would be plenty.

      3. In theory, lack of parking can “kill businesses,” or more likely, prevent businesses from coming in in the first place. However, I don’t believe there is anywhere in America that qualifies, because we have built out more than enough parking. Instead, it seems that the places with “not enough parking” are invariably places where business is decidedly not dead. See also: “It’s too crowded, nobody goes there.”

      4. The one area that has restrictive and expensive parking is downtown Seattle and it has the deadest retail despite being the urban core.

        That is simply not true. I honestly don’t know where you get these ridiculous ideas. If you look at downtown Seattle, the place is bustling like crazy. On a typical afternoon, there are way more people out and about shopping than any mall this side of Calgary. It got hit hard with the pandemic, but it is recovering despite what the “Seattle is dying” crowd wants to believe.

        In theory, lack of parking can “kill businesses,” or more likely, prevent businesses from coming in in the first place. However, I don’t believe there is anywhere in America that qualifies, because we have built out more than enough parking. Instead, it seems that the places with “not enough parking” are invariably places where business is decidedly not dead. See also: “It’s too crowded, nobody goes there.”

        Exactly. Think of the places that people complain about. Ballard (“I can’t park there anymore, I just went around in circles”). The UW (“I used to park there, now I can’t — even the lots are full”). These are extremely busy places that trounce the malls in terms of retail vibrancy. It wasn’t always this way. Not too long ago, Ballard was fairly sleepy, and you could park there easily. Same with the U-District. Sure, maybe in the case of the U-District you had to park a few blocks away (or pay — oh my) but that is because everything was concentrated just on the Ave. Now the Ave is thriving, and this has spread in every direction.

        It all comes down to space. If you have tons of space for parking, you don’t have as much for shopping. If it is easy to park, chances are your businesses simply aren’t that busy, or at best, your business district isn’t that big (like a typical mall).

    2. Well let’s not get into how our ST projects end up becoming less user friendly and more expensive as local elected leaders see it as a means to achieve other things.

      Have you spent time in Downtown Auburn? It makes Mercer Island look like Capitol Hill!

      And as far as broken promises go, where is the First Hill/ Harborview light rail station promised in 1996? ST has no problem breaking some promises. And that broken promise had nothing to do with a 70% decline in line ridership — before a high frequency light rail service with huge garages opens just 2-3 miles away. To take even more riders away.

      1. For 60 million you could build 200 or so micro-apartments on that parking lot. You’d get more riders that way than with a parking garage.

      2. Cam, you assume the folks living in micro units in Summer or Auburn will what? Take Sounder to Seattle and then catch a bus to SLU at their job at Amazon that pays $200,000/year? Or maybe to the 1201 building and their job at Perkins Coie (that plans to cut its office space by 60% in three years). “Downtown” Auburn is not walkable. Real men don’t walk. Do you think any city along Link or Sounder wants a housing project of “micro units”?

        You seem amazed at the infrastructure in “downtown” Auburn and that it is not more like Capitol Hill. These folks tend to be married with kids and dogs and work with tools. Any parking garage needs to be striped for F-150’s, not e-bikes. These folks chew tobacco. They are not urbanists. I like them more than progressives.

        So yes, if I were mayor of one of these cities and ST promised us parking garages because we don’t get Link or drink brave Chardonnays you bet I would demand that parking garage.

        After all, is it Auburn’s, Sumner’s or Kent’s fault that Seattle progressives have made it so no one wants to go to Seattle, let alone on Sounder, and the only possible reason anyone in one of those cities would take Sounder is because they HAD TO.

        I know a lot of these folks. They HATE Seattle and they hate transit. They want to live an entirely different life. Stop recommending a life for them you would never live.

      3. I will be the first to say I respect your honesty and applaud your “Real Men of Auburn” fetish.

        Isn’t that kind of besides the point, though?

        I really just want our transit dollars spent well. A 60 million dollar parking garage, in the middle of a sea of parking lots, at an under-utilized train station, is not money well spent. It would be better spent giving it to you in singles and buying you a ticket to The Thunder Down Under.

      4. Again, the issue with parking has nothing to do with how people in Auburn get around. It’s an issue that if existing parking offers plenty of capacity to meet demand, adding more capacity benefits no one. After all, it’s not like having 1000 empty parking spaces at the station vs. 500 empty parking spaces at the station will make any difference in people choosing whether to ride the train or not. Those that want to drive to the train and park will be able to do so, regardless of whether this new parking is built or unbuilt.

        So, if the new parking will not get more people on the train, what is it there for? As I mentioned, using a transit park and ride facility to walk to adjacent businesses is illegal and punishable by towing. So, it cannot be used as parking for other stuff. Nor is such parking even necessary to begin with because, as Daniel has said many times, this is Auburn we’re talking about, and every business under the sun already has more parking than they will ever possibly need.

        The truth is, there really is no such thing as a cost effective use of transit dollars down there because the land use is so awful. But if you’ve got money to spend, at least running more buses gives you some nonzero increase in riders in exchange for it – even if 99% of the population will never ride these buses, that’s still an extra few hundred bus riders per day, which is not nothing. But, as I’ve said before, simply adding more empty parking spaces on top of existing empty parking spaces nets you exactly zero riders for the money and no more. Not because I’m under the illusion that Auburn is a clone of capital hill where people ride buses, but because there simply isn’t enough people commuting to Seattle anymore to fill up the existing park and ride capacity. If that changes in the future and the existing parking lot fills up, then you can consider building more parking. But it’s something you do when and if you actually need it, not something you do preemptively, just in case you ever need it, and maybe end up never needing it.

        I won’t comment on the microhousing idea except to say that if people in Auburn aren’t commuting to Seattle, building microhousing won’t change that… unless, of course, you fill the microhousing with homeless population from Seattle. While an outcome like that would be quite good for Seattle (housing the homeless is cheaper in areas with lower land costs, and people would still have the train to commute to jobs), Auburn would have no reason to accept it and plenty of reason not to accept it. Simply put, politicians in the suburbs love the world where they can “solve” their homeless problem by dumping all of their homeless population in Seattle and making it Seattle’s problem, then railing about how it’s supposedly Seattle’s fault for being too progressive and how they’re doing a much better job. When, the reality is that Seattle is actually doing the rest of the region a favor by taking the “trash” population that nobody else wants and giving them basic services that nobody else wants to pay for.

      5. I’ve been to downtown Auburn. It is actually walkable, certainly more so than Northgate.

        I’m not holding my breath for affordable housing to be built next to any of the stations north of Pioneer Square or east of Jimi Hendrix Park.

        But ST happily builds car Trantors next to stations even if the neighbors oppose it.

      6. @Daniel — The point is, Auburn isn’t Naperville. And perhaps Naperville is an extreme example. It went from being a small town to a high end suburb. But Naperville — for all its typical American sprawl in the surrounding countryside — has a thriving downtown area. This is main street: https://goo.gl/maps/g8iVyTkVDpnCog7v9. Flip it around, and look at it the other way. Sure, the streets are way too wide, but notice how there is a definite sense of place. You have a thriving set of businesses along several corridors. You have new big apartment buildings nearby, and businesses (on the first floor) there as well. You may arrive by car, but once there, you would prefer walking, even if it is godawful hot, and the humidity reminds you of why you hate visiting your Midwest relatives in the summer.

        So how do you go from being Auburn to being Naperville? You sure as hell don’t spend money on a very expensive parking garage you don’t need.

      7. “ After all, it’s not like having 1000 empty parking spaces at the station vs. 500 empty parking spaces at the station will make any difference in people choosing whether to ride the train or not. ”

        This is to me is the right issue to debate. It reflects what should be considered versus what promises were made in a vote years ago.

        I went back and reread the item in ST2. It’s pretty clear that there was not a hard core commitment to the garage with a specific number of spaces. In fact, the item states that the funds can be used for all sorts of things, and the item specifically describes taking a “flexible approach” to defining how spend money to improve access. That’s why the project is listed as “access improvements” rather than “expanded parking” in the first place.

        https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/s18b_sounder_parking_garage_at_auburn_station.pdf

        Making these decisions should in my mind be justified with demand data. How many more parking spaces are needed? Ignoring data is silly no matter what the agenda is.

      8. Some transit advocates are just philosophically opposed to park and rides, and not surprisingly they tend to live in more urban areas. It is hard to have a discussion about whether a park and ride is a good investment with them.

        On the other hand, some of us live in suburbia, or the semi-rural areas in SE KC and Pierce Co. There is no other first/last mile access to transit. Even on MI, which is a few miles from downtown Seattle, there is no neighborhood bus service, although Metro is experimenting with micro transit in Sammamish, although I can’t see how that is economical. At least with a park and ride the cost of the driver, vehicle, gas, insurance etc. is borne by the transit rider, and the number of transfers reduced.

        When it comes to the park and rides in Auburn, Sumner and Kent (or S. Bellevue, Lynnwood Link, Angle Lake, and so on) these were added to ST 2 and voted on in 2008. At that time the Office of Financial Management was predicting decades of very high future population growth, ST was estimating fantastical ridership growth (even pre-pandemic), and the PSRC was predicting most of the future growth would go to areas outside Seattle and King Co. or be in TOD.

        So ST asked each subarea to ask its cities how transit could best serve them so the levies passed. If ST 2 and/or 3 had not passed we would not be having these stupid arguments, especially ST 3. Getting to and from a transit stop is the very first step in serving someone. You simply can’t walk to a bus stop in these semi-rural areas, or even on MI since there is so little transit.

        Then in 2016 the OFM and ST doubled down on future population growth and ridership estimates, and promised every subarea the moon to pass ST 3 in order to complete ST 2, and the PSRC continued with its predictions of TOD and “regional” growth and transit interconnectiveness. So in addition to all the park and rides in ST 2 more were added, and Sounder S was slated for $2 billion in station and platform upgrades to handle this huge future ridership. Present population or ridership was meaningless to ST.

        Meanwhile cities like Sumner, Kent and Auburn were not idiots. They could see Link would not serve them (and those Link stations have park and rides too). The problem with bus service in this huge undense area is there is no real center. There is no “there” or last mile access when you get off a bus, and so many down there can’t take transit to work. They don’t have those kinds of jobs. These folks are not going to move to an apartment in “downtown” Sumner or Kent so they can catch a bus or train, in part because they don’t want to go where the bus or train goes. If they had the income from a white collar job in downtown Seattle they likely would not be living in Auburn. Auburn is where all the construction workers live, which is why 18 and 405 are packed at 7 am and 3 pm as they wind their way to their jobs on the eastside.

        So then the pandemic hit and WFH. What does the ST Board and ST do? Continues to double down on their estimates. East Link will still have 43,000 to 52,000 riders/day. Lynnwood Link will need 3 minute frequencies at Northgate when it opens. Link will be necessary to Everett and Tacoma. A second tunnel will be necessary to handle capacity. All those empty park and rides will be full, because until they are feeder buses are not necessary.

        Even many on this blog continue to claim all those downtown Seattle office workers are coming back, and transit ridership will return to pre-pandemic levels, and another 1 million residents will move to this region by 2039. Or if we just negotiate all day service on Sounder S. ridership will explode.

        So what does the mayor of Auburn state in the Times’ article: the same shit ST and the Board state: you have to “plan for the future”, and if the present contradicts those estimates than the present is wrong. Does she believe this? Of course not, but she wants those park and rides, and the Board can’t suddenly state their estimates are rubbish.

        Will those Sounder S. park and rides ever be full again? Or will the new park and rides be filled with folks from this undense region taking Sounder S. to Seattle because that is the only place it makes sense. Who makes the effort to drive to a park and ride in Sumner to take Sounder to Kent or Auburn, because when Sounder gets there you still are not at your ultimate destination.

        The answer is NO. We all know that, but admitting that undermines all the other false estimates of the future ST and the Board are unwilling to admit. If the Board or some on this blog were totally honest — since they are correct about the use and value of these parking garages, at least when it comes to transit ridership — they would have to cancel DSTT2, WSBLE, TDLE, Everett Link, and probably should cancel FWLE.

        The final issue is Sumner, Auburn and Kent chose these park and rides as their cut of the pie in ST 2 (and ST 3) because they couldn’t think of any other benefit for them (and IIRC correctly they voted no on ST 3, and may have voted no on ST 2). This shit was forced on them. Running buses in this area is impossible. This region makes Sammamish and MI look like downtown Manhattan. You can’t walk to a bus stop, and the bus isn’t going where you want, and requires a zillion stops because the area is so spread out.

        So these three cities want their parking garages. $350 million is a lot, normally, but not if WSBLE will cost $20 billion have even worse dollar per rider mile than Sounder S. New parking garages are better than old ones, they are downtown because Sounder actually serves these cities, 98% won’t ever use Sounder S. or the park and ride, at least for transit, or FWLE either.

        Balducci didn’t have a choice in her vote. It isn’t her subarea or her money, she wants an even more foolish plan to open a limited East Link early, she voted for DSTT2, and of course there are not going to be any more ST levies or votes for park and rides. Even E KC if they want those park and rides will get them, and Balducci has no say in that. It is just that those eastside Link riders are not going to show up and the eastside doesn’t need those parking garages for other reasons.

        In hindsight the greatest mistake was trying to create a regional transit system that was based on false assumptions. Naturally it was Seattle centric, which does not work outside Seattle, even on the eastside let alone Sumner, Kent, or Auburn. All of our transit should be subarea specific, but with much smaller subareas, really micro-subareas, and each should be allowed to opt in or out to any of these levies. Sumner, Auburn and Kent can’t be blamed for demanding the parking garages they never voted for.

      9. Suburbanite who lives near one of the new park and ride garages here.

        If the reason for park and rides is poor “last mile” access to the station, building a garage does not address this underlying issue, actually. YMMV, but in my case, just running the local connecting bus more frequently and later into the evening would benefit me more than the park and rides. We have only one car in a multi person household with different work and school schedules. We could all take the bus, but only one of us can drive to the park and ride at a time. No more constantly shuttling people back and forth, it would be great! And many people living along the local bus lines don’t have regular access to a car–period, and end up spending $$$ on Uber.

        Question is: do you bring in more riders by improving local transit access (and/or building more housing in walking distance) using the same $$$ you would have spent on the park and ride garage? In the case of Lynnwood, probably yes. In fact, if Lynnwood depends on the garage for most of its ridership, it would be regarded as a complete failure! That garage looks big from the highway, but cars also take up a lot of space. It’s what, 1600 stalls at the end of the day?

        For somewhere like Auburn? Can’t say I am as familiar with it, the parking may well pencil out vs. any reasonable enhancement to the local bus situation, much lower density as well. Nevertheless, if enough parking already exists, it is a pretty moot point–any additional parking is arguably a waste, and a big one if it’s hundreds of thousands per stall.

      10. I agree, Brandon. I’ve been in the same boat. I had a family, lived in the suburbs (Lynnwood) and at the time, didn’t own a car at all. But the same thing applies if you own one car (been there as well). It also applies when people visit you. Yeah, sure, you can pick them up, but it is a pain.

        As far as Auburn goes, it is the same situation. As Mike noted, someone from Auburn is more likely to use the train, simply because the place the train is going to (downtown Seattle) is so far away. This means that you really don’t need to entice riders with the convenience of a giant park and ride at the station. Simply having some reasonable means to get there is enough, even if it means leaving you car at a different park and ride. If, on the other hand, you can walk or bike to a bus stop, it benefits a lot more people. The two are not incompatible. For example, the 596 has got to be the most park-and-ride oriented bus in the entire Puget Sound, as it merely goes from a park and ride to a station. And yet it actually does work for people who live in apartments (https://goo.gl/maps/DauJh1RwvYXbxSMN8). If I lived in that apartment, not only could I commute into town, but friends could visit me in the evening without driving.

        [OK, that’s Sumner, not Auburn, but it is the same idea. Even a minimalist feeder bus can add a lot of value.]

      11. Brandon, if you live next to the park and ride why do you or your family need to drive to it? Why not walk? Or at least bike?

        Right now the park and rides are mostly empty. When you ask ST why it is building new, large park and rides for Lynnwood and FW Link ST will say the same thing it says about DSTT2 or WSBLE or the mayor of Auburn said about that city’s Sounder garage: “You have to plan for the future”.

        Few have been as skeptical about that “future” as I have but I don’t make the decisions. I just hope Link doesn’t end up like BART or Muni because Rogoff was pretty clear in his final address to the Board that farebox recovery and future O&M is the ticking time bomb, which is what killing BART and Muni. Sounds to me Newsom is as skeptical about those riders returning as I am.

        BTW each P&R stall costs ST around $115,000, around 20% more than a private developer pays.

      12. At what point are you going to face the facts that Sound Transit is just a huge stinky poop burrito?

        “Well let’s not get into how our ST projects end up becoming less user friendly and more expensive as local elected leaders see it as a means to achieve other things.”

        Does political leaders jacking Federal transit cash and ST taxes for projects that have little transit value surprise you? I mean, really? Do you fallow local politics at all?

        At the very least, 30% to 50% of all the ST dollars will be sunk into cost overruns and bad projects. The very architecture of Sound Transit….. a huge taxing zone, no directly elected leadership and “one and done” elections that seal decades of public spending….. all of this breeds corruption.

        So is Sound Transit about regional transit, or it about a bunch of local fiefdoms and pols getting pet projects do with “outside” money?

      13. Some transit advocates are just philosophically opposed to park and rides, and not surprisingly they tend to live in more urban areas. It is hard to have a discussion about whether a park and ride is a good investment with them.

        On the other hand, some of us live in suburbia, or the semi-rural areas in SE KC and Pierce Co. There is no other first/last mile access to transit.

        You write this despite strong contrary evidence on this very thread! First, you have my comments, which have been consistent. I have stated over and over that park and ride lots have their place, but these particular ones are a terrible value. Then you make an ad hominem attack on urban people. Meanwhile, you completely ignore the fact that Brandon lives in a suburban area, and criticizes park and ride lots, or that I used to live in Lynnwood, and feel the same way. Finally, you completely ignore what we’ve been writing for a really long time now:

        There is no other first/last mile access to transit.

        Bullshit! There is a clear and obvious alternative: Feeder Buses! I even give examples of feeder buses that are remarkably successful. You write statements like “You can’t walk to a bus stop”, even though I showed that the 596 is only a five minute walk from an apartment complex. Holy cow — the bus only makes two stops (the park and ride and the station) and yet it still serves an apartment complex! In Bonney Lake, an area that according to you “requires a zillion stops because the area is so spread out.” You write that “Running buses in this area is impossible.”, even though I listed a bus that was very successful. The 586 gets over 1/3 of the station’s ridership — even though it has only one stop! Someone points out why Pierce Transit doesn’t provide transit to Sumner, making the case for back-filling it with ST buses even stronger. I list data from the census maps, and yet you ignore that as well. Holy cow, man, how many times do we have to describe this to you.

        Look, either people go back to taking the train or they don’t. If they do, then the buses will be a much better value than a bigger park and ride lot. Either way, in the mean time, you build transit that enables more than just a trip on Sounder, but one that gives many people a way to get to other jobs or activities in these underserved areas. You also encourage the development of the various downtowns, which will be essential for avoiding a financial downfall in the future.

    3. > If you are Sumner, Kent and Auburn and you have $650 million to spend and it has to be ST related where would you spend it?

      SR-167 bus rapid transit with direct access ramps? Though it is a bit complicated routing with either having to exit to reach Kent or staying on the freeway but then having a freeway station instead.

      > Some folks get worked up over spending for park and rides

      I mean I don’t really understand what you want in this case? The park and rides garages won’t be used if built considering the low Sounder usage. I’m not sure the subareas still need/want them.

      1. “Some folks get worked up over spending for park and rides

        “I mean I don’t really understand what you want in this case? The park and rides garages won’t be used if built considering the low Sounder usage. I’m not sure the subareas still need/want them”.

        I didn’t see any objections from Sumner, Auburn or Kent to the garages. Did you WL? They were in the 2008 ST 2 levy. There was a public comment period. If like, say, Lake Forest Park these cities are saying they don’t want the project or like the design that is different, but I did not see that.

        Yes, the garages will get used, just maybe not by Sounder riders. Just like the future garage on MI will get built — even though only $4.5 million compared to $350 million for these three garages, MI is not going to leave that money on the table — there is always a use for a parking garage in a town center. They are just very expensive to build.

        I don’t live in the subareas or the cities so what I want is irrelevant. All I am saying is I understand why the cities want the parking garages even though Sounder S ridership is down, and if they were in the levy and they have the money they are owed the parking garages. I can’t think of a better use of the money for these cities, whether it is 100% transit related or not.

      2. @Daniel Thompson

        > I didn’t see any objections from Sumner, Auburn or Kent to the garages. Did you WL?

        I don’t really see people clamoring for it either with the postponements. I did checkout the more recent surveys they had at https://www.soundtransit.org/system-expansion/auburn-station-parking-access-improvements

        And notably they actually do have an faq responding to common questions from residents about the parking garage such as:
        Why is Sound Transit building a new garage when the current one is not full?
        Why isn’t Sound Transit building housing on this site rather than parking?
        Can Sound Transit incorporate retail in the garage?

        So it seems some Kent, Auburn and Sumner residents are questioning (though there is no breakdown of how many) why exactly the parking garage is being built as well.

        > All I am saying is I understand why the cities want the parking garages even though Sounder S ridership is down, and if they were in the levy and they have the money they are owed the parking garages.

        Sure if they really want the parking garage it is their money, I’m not saying they couldn’t build it if they really desire it. But all the articles I see about the parking garage desire was for the Sounder riders, do these cities really still want the parking garages? Or is this just more about inertia since it was planned a long time ago. Even the more recent approval of the scaled down parking garages for Sumner, Kent, Auburn the officials for the cities seem pretty ambivalent or aren’t even paying attention about construction of the garages in their comments.

    4. “> If you are Sumner, Kent and Auburn and you have $650 million to spend and it has to be ST related where would you spend it?

      The obvious answer is more ST express bus service. When Sounder isn’t running, the region has some huge service gaps, requiring some 90 minutes to reach Tacoma and 60 minutes to reach Seattle. Running the 566 or 567 more hours each day so that getting to Bellevue doesn’t take all day would also help. If the extra service costs $6.5 million/year, that means $650 million would theoretically pay for it for 100 years. That seems better than building empty parking garages next to existing parking garages that are nowhere near full.

      1. You could probably pay for a mix of express bus service and local feeder service. I would also pay for community development projects in each city. Folks seem to ignore this. If these places become low income suburban slums, very few people will commute into Seattle. If, on the other hand, these town become real cities, with a strong central core, the rail line will become increasingly popular (as will bidirectional bus service). It seems like a stretch to shift money to something that isn’t directly transit related, but if you build up the area around the station and add local and express bus service, you increase ridership.

    5. ”Well, the garages are paid from ST 2 funds, not ST 3, and they pay into that. “

      There are no separate ST2 or ST3 funds. Anyway, these projects were deferred from the original ST2 plan when they ran out of money.

  2. “With the abysmal ridership decline of South Sounder, why is the Board committing $60M in Auburn [for a Sounder P&R]?”

    David Kroman in the Seattle Times asks the same thing. ($)

    ST boardmember Nancy Backus (mayor of Auburn) is for the P&R: “We build for the future.”

    Roger Millar (WSDOT) is doubtful about P&Rs, saying in 2020: “Times change and we have to be thinking about more than building parking stalls at hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece.”

    Claudia Balducci (King County, former mayor of Bellevue), voted for the P&R with reluctance. “It may be the last time she votes this way,” observes Kroman. Balducci says: “There’s lots of different ways that we can provide access without devoting some of the best development land we have, right within walking distance of a station, to something that is so low utilization. Really, from a big-picture perspective, a parking garage is just not the greatest land use.

    1. There are few more annoying displays from elected officials than practiced helplessness.

    2. It seems that for the most part, Balducci “gets it”, and yet doesn’t seem to do anything about it. The board is rather dysfunctional, as most have provincial interests, often very poor ones. Millar is one of the few that is looking at the big picture, which is why he is so often the voice of reason.

  3. Don’t look now, but Metro just announced that they are starting their service trims next week. Apparently they. Old t even make it to Sept 1st.

    https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/metro-transit-suspends-some-understaffed-commuter-routes-next-week/

    It’s not really clear what is going on at Metro, or exactly what this announcement means for the full summer and the cuts in Sept. I’m sure more info will come out.

    One has to wonder if this is a sign that we have reached “Peak Metro”. Should Metro start making these cuts permanent and start downsizing slightly?

    1. Sounds good, Metro can start by taking away all the Link drivers to reassign to their own routes :)

      Realistically, I think it’s just acknowledging the status quo. If these are the conditions, why keep the routes on the schedule if they are never staffed.

      1. @Anonymouse,

        I believe that Metro operators have the freedom to work for Link if they so choose. And most prefer the better working conditions offered by Link.

        Additionally, each Link operator moves a lot more riders per operator hour than a bus operator. So forcing Metro operators to move back to buses against their will would be a very inefficient and dysfunctional way to provide transit service. Metro would be hurting the many to serve a few.

    2. “As of March, the six suspended lines totaled an average 790 weekday passengers in March, including as few as 13 on Woodinville-Bellevue Route 237. That’s less than 0.5% of Metro’s daily clientele.

      “The routes generally serve corridors where other buses are available nearby, Metro says. The agency posted other travel options online at kingcountymetro.blog.

      “Metro carried 6.3 million riders in April 2023, which is 58% of April 2019 pre-pandemic ridership, according to the National Transit Database.”

      Whether the buses are there or not the riders are not. At some point coverage and frequency have to match ridership, which would suggest a 42% reduction in service, and I suppose to some extent a switch to Link. The loss of 42% of ridership has nothing to do with induced demand, and running these buses is not economically sustainable, drivers or no drivers.

      This isn’t some kind of tragedy in which poor transit riders no longer have transportation. The lost riders simply now WFH. Nothing can induce them to return to transit because they didn’t quit transit due to frequency or coverage. You could build Link right next to their doorstep and they wouldn’t take it.

      I don’t see this as a bad thing. WFH is better for workers for the most part. Not having to commute to work on a bus is a benefit, not a detriment.

    3. The September cuts were described as standardizing what’s already on the ground, shrinking the schedule to match the number of drivers available, to avoid last-minute or mid-season cancellations. So most of the future cuts are already occurring, just not necessarily on those routes or with advance warning.

      “One has to wonder if this is a sign that we have reached “Peak Metro”. Should Metro start making these cuts permanent and start downsizing slightly?”

      By “2019” I mean the baseline all-day frequency. Extra peak runs that are solely to avoid crowding can be scaled down to match the ridership. But we must have a robust frequent all-day network, because that makes the difference in whether transit is viable for some trips and whether some people will choose transit. Again, as Canada and Europe and Asia and Latin America already know.

      Hopefully not. Hopefully in a few years we’ll get back to 2019 level of service, eliminate the driver shortage, renew Seattle’s TBD at the 2016 level, and then we can build up from there and finish Metro Connects. Then the future Metro will be a good complement to your beloved can-do-no-wrong Link. Like the transit networks other countries have and prioritize building.

      1. @Mike Orr,

        “But we must have a robust frequent all-day network, because….”

        Why exactly do we need a robust all-day network? Because a robust network without robust ridership is just a waste of money.

        And what exactly is Metro doing here? The route suspensions are only for one week. What happens after that? Is Metro using the service reductions to back fill operators on the suspended routes? Is that why the suspensions are only for one week?

        And if a route is only drawing 13 riders per day, is it really worth keeping at all? Why backfill an operator to a route that is only drawing 13 riders per day? Just cut your loses and move on.

        And why suspend a route for a week, then restore it, then suspend it again in 3 months? That can’t be good for ridership.

        Right sizing is hard, but it might be time. There will be a lot of changes over the next 3 years. Link will continue to increase its role as the heavy lifter of local transit. Metro’s role will change to more of a support role. We might be at Peak Metro right now.

      2. “And what exactly is Metro doing here? The route suspensions are only for one week. What happens after that?”

        I meant to address that. Sometimes agencies suspend routes for a week to save a bit of money. Metro may have done that at some point. This case is due to lack of drivers, so the first thing I’d guess is several people taking vacation or sick leave at the same time. Metro has to fit in everybody’s two weeks somehow. Beyond that, you’d have to ask Metro why.

        “And if a route is only drawing 13 riders per day, is it really worth keeping at all? Why backfill an operator to a route that is only drawing 13 riders per day?”

        We don’t need to dwell on one route out of 20. It’s only one route’s worth of hours. Metro thinks it’s justified, and it would probably take over an hour to get from Woodinville to Bellevue without it. That makes a big difference in terms of being able to use transit. Is it justified? That’s a larger issue and an ongoing discussion here, all those long-distance smaller-city expresses. Metro evaluates a lot of factors in deciding routes — some objective, some political — so we should find out Metro’s reasoning before fully condemning the 237. And the network will change in a few years with East Link and Stride 2 and 3 anyway. This may be a stopgap until then.

      3. @Mike Orr,

        “ We don’t need to dwell on one route out of 20”

        Ah, no we don’t, but we shouldn’t just sweep it under the rug either just because it is the worst performer.

        Only 13 riders per day is pretty horrific, but apparently there are 6 routes total that Metro feels are poor enough performers to be suspended.

        How bad are they? We don’t really know. Real economic data would be helpful, but Metro hasn’t released it.

        And things will only get worse as Link ramps up with all the openings starting next year. ST will pull a lot of operators out of Metro bus operations. Does Metro have a plan to deal with that?

      4. “Only 13 riders per day is pretty horrific, but apparently there are 6 routes total that Metro feels are poor enough performers to be suspended.”

        They’re only being suspended because Metro doesn’t have enough drivers. It it did, it wouldn’t be suspending them, because it has already determined the routes are worthwhile. Otherwise they wouldn’t exist now, especially after recent restructures.

        “ST will pull a lot of operators out of Metro bus operations.”

        You’re worried about a couple dozen operators out of thousands? Metro has a year before it starts, and lines will come in gradually over three years. The estimates are built into the restructure proposals. If the driver shortage is still severe by then, the restructures will be a bit more disappointing than expected, but they’ve been disappointing for three years now, so what else is new? In any case, some of Link’s operator hours will come from the 550, 545, and 512. So that’s several operators right there.

    4. “including as few as 13 on Woodinville-Bellevue Route 237”

      You’re cherry-picking the worst-performing route. Most routes get more than that. The 237 is also a long-distance express to the furthest northeast corner of the county, where the nearest urban center is Bothell or Totem Lake. So it would be expected to the have lowest ridership, for the same reasons you often mention: people who drive everywhere tend to choose to live furthest from urban centers. The high cost of that unidirectional peak express and deadheading can be compared to the low cost of a frequent local route to Bothell and future Stride 2. That’s the direction Metro should go.

      1. “including as few as 13 on Woodinville-Bellevue Route 237”

        “You’re cherry-picking the worst-performing route.”

        Mike, I was quoting from the article Lazarus linked to. I didn’t cherry pick anything. I think the Seatle Times article was pretty clear 13 was the low point. 790 total weekly riders divided by 6 routes is an average of 131/day. If one route is 13/day then another must be more than 131/day.

        I never stated the drop in ridership was because these were “people who drive everywhere [and] tend to choose to live furthest from urban centers”. I said they probably WFH now. They don’t drive or take transit to work.

      2. “Urban dwellers just don’t understand suburbia”

        It’s a stupidly sweeping statement, as DT’s often are. But it’s not wrong to point out that classes of people have blind spots. Any impartial reader of this comment section sees intellectual blind spots everywhere. And it’s certainly low on the scale of ad hominems which everybody understands to be an attack on an individual taking the place of a response to an argument. Deleting such comments would be a wildly inconsistent reading of the rules – no such standard is applied to the hostile responses I see to DT’s comments all the time.

      3. Deleting such comments would be a wildly inconsistent reading of the rules – no such standard is applied to the hostile responses I see to DT’s comments all the time.

        Not when he is warned about it twice. Again, the problem isn’t tone, but substance. He is clearly trying to discredit an argument he disagrees with by making an attack on the personal characteristics of the person making it. If anything, a blanket attack (e. g. “There you go again with your ….”) carries less weight, because everyone sees through it. Clearly this isn’t the case here. He is basically begging for a response. You go down that road, and folks spend way too much time arguing about their own particular bonafides instead of actually presenting reasonable arguments. This is the whole reason the rule was added in the first place (as opposed to just the rule about name calling).

      4. @Dan Ryan,

        To get to your point of wild inconsistencies in enforcing the rules, somehow the statement:

        “urbanists don’t understand”

        Is considered an ah attack and gets the author reprimanded, but the statement:

        “ Sound Transit is just a huge stinky poop burrito”

        Is somehow considered perfectly OK per the rules? And isn’t reprimanded?

        I get it that the moderators have a certain pro-Metro, pro-bus, pro-urbanism point of view, but at some point free and open dialog requires that people be allowed to express their opinions in a free and open manner. I worry that that isn’t happening here.

      5. Fair enough, “urbanists” was too broad.

        But I didn’t want to mention Ross by name (nor did Sam) because he is so thin skinned, and his argument that major Link stations that ST estimates will have thousands of boarders per day could be served by an endless series of private micro park and rides that have various hours of availability and often must be changed due to availability that would make a duplicate feeder bus a slow milk run for work commuters in an undense suburban or semi-rural area at double the cost of a park and ride at the station when Link already adds a transfer was such a stupid idea that even ST understood it (as did Sam) that I wanted to save Ross the embarrassment of singling him out.

        My apologies to all urbanists.

      6. I usually like to say things like … “the comment section says,” or “some say,” or create a straw man, not to avoid saying anyone’s name, but because it amuses me. I once used the term “radical urbanist fundamentalists” to describe urbanists. It sounds like a terrorist organization. I thought it was funny.

      7. Daniel, that second paragraph two replies above is one corker of a sentence! I reread some of mine after too rashly hitting “Post Comment” and am embarrassed by the circumlocuity. However,this masterpiece of breathless run-on is Champeen ‘a de Woild!

        It does have one comma in it, which might ooch it down to runner-up. But whatever rank it deserves, it’s a Lollapalooza!!!

    5. More news.

      Apparently Metro just announced that they will make the route suspensions last 2 weeks instead of 1. But they hope a 3rd week isn’t required. “Hope”.

      This doesn’t sound encouraging.

      1. It’s just more of the suspensions that have been happening for two years now. Sometimes they get worse, sometimes they get better. It’s nothing new to worry about.

      2. I wrote this before, so sorry about beating a dead horse, but what I don’t get is why ST routes — which have alternatives, and have terrible ridership per service hour numbers — are not being touched. The 586 is a prime example. Last month it had 108 riders a day. That works out to an average of less than 7 riders per bus, on a route that takes a very long time to complete. This is a route that has a clear alternative (a bus or Sounder to downtown Seattle, followed by Link) and yet ST doesn’t end this route, and leaves Metro to do the dirty work.

      3. @RossB,

        “ and yet ST doesn’t end this route, and leaves Metro to do the dirty work.”

        This isn’t ST’s problem. I wouldn’t expect ST to come to the rescue of Metro just to be nice. Metro’s problems are clearly not ST’s responsibility.

        Additionally, there were some on this blog who felt it was pure genius for Metro to defer maintenance on the DSLRT and run it into the ground just before handing it over to ST.

        Well, as they say, “payback is a b*tch”. I wouldn’t expect heroics on ST’s part just to save Metro from itself.

        And 108 is still a lot more than 13. A lot more.

      4. Wouldn’t the 586 be a Pierce Transit driver? It wouldn’t help metro to cut it.

      5. @Cam — You may be right. I assumed that Metro ran that bus, but they probably don’t. I’ve yet to find an actual breakdown on who runs each bus.

        This isn’t ST’s problem.

        Yes it is. The driver shortage is a regional problem. It is why ST cancelled the increased frequency of ST Express buses. As an employee (or at least a really big fan) of ST, you should know this. What I’m saying is that if cuts have to be made, we shouldn’t preserve extremely wasteful buses like the 586, which probably performs worse than every Metro route.

        Just do the math. It takes about 90 minutes to make each run. There are 16 in all. That works out to 24 hours of service time each day. They get 108 riders a day, which means 4.5 riders per service hour. That is micro-transit level. Seriously, before the pandemic, that was not only below every Metro bus, but it was below every DART bus. Oh, and this doesn’t include the deadhead! If the bus just turns around and goes back, the ridership per hour likely drops to around 3 or so.

        And again, this is for a bus that has a clear alternative. This is not a coverage bus. This is a bus that gives a very small number of riders an express, so that they can avoid taking Link. This is exactly the type of bus you attack when operated by Metro, and yet you have nothing negative to say about it when it is operated by ST.

        But if Cam is right, then cancelling it would help Pierce Transit (which also has a driver shortage) and not Metro.

      6. @Ross,

        LOL. I don’t think ST is running any routes that are drawing only 13 riders per day. That is a pretty low number!

        And it is odd that the other agencies are apparently facing the same issues with operator supply, but don’t seem to be having the same issues with service interruptions or route cancelations.

        It might be that Metro was too late to deal with the problem. Waiting too long to make service reductions will almost certainly drive unreliability into operations, as Metro seems intent on demonstrating.

        What will be really interesting is what happens when ST starts ramping up their employment for Lynnwood Link, East Link, and Federal Way Link. Metro is legally obligated to allow their operators to move over to ST if they so desire, and most certainly will.

        ST is not going to be willing to delay Lynnwood Link (with its 20,000 to 30,000 daily riders on day one) just so Metro can continue to operate routes that are only drawing 13 riders per day. That means a bigger employment hole on the Metro side, and Metro is already having trouble dealing with just this one small hole.

        It’s going to get really interesting. Hopefully Metro figures it out.

      7. It can’t come soon enough, though I still wonder what the point of running routes like the 20 (at least in its current full form) and 79 at 100% and the 44 regularly with 10-20% of its trips missed. Just do the September suspensions now and keep the productive routes productive.

      8. The comment section is contradicting itself again. First you say TC and P&R parking garages shouldn’t be built, and that money should go into a network of low ridership, last mile routes connecting low density neighborhoods with TC’s and P&R’s (i.e., people should take a bus to TC’s and P&R’s, not drive to them). But, now you are saying low productivity routes should be suspended, and only the high productivity routes should be kept. Make up your mind.

      9. I don’t think ST is running any routes that are drawing only 13 riders per day.

        You are focusing on the wrong thing. Yes, 13 riders a day is horrible, but consider that the bus that does that (the 237) only makes five trips a day (three trips to Bellevue, two trips back). Each trip is relatively short (less than a half hour). It adds up to just a bit over two hours of total service per day. This means 6.5 riders per service hour. That is really bad, and yet still better than the 586!

        Not only that, but the 237 is by far the worst performing route in Metro’s system. Not only in terms of total ridership (which is meaningless) but in terms of ridership per service hour. That was the case when they ran the numbers last year (https://kingcounty.gov/~/media/depts/metro/accountability/reports/2022/system-evaluation) and is probably the case now. And yet ST runs a bus that is worse.

        The issue is even worse than that. Cancelling the 237 will save Metro a tiny amount of service (a couple hours). Cancelling the 586 would save over 24 hours. Yet no one dare mess with ST, because it is a separate agency.

        You seem to have a perverse obsession with Metro, and delight in bad news befalling them. I get why you might not like particular routes (join the club) but your criticism goes way beyond constructive. This is another example. Yes, Metro put off these cuts. For good reason! These cuts are harmful for a lot of people.

        The same is true for the Sound Transit cuts. Instead of 15 minute service from Tacoma to Seattle, the buses run every half hour. The fact that the ST cut went into effect sooner rather than later does not make it any less painful. Metro thought things would pick up by now, but obviously they haven’t. The pandemic recovery is uneven (obviously) and so no one knows what the future will bring. Believing that the national driver shortage would be over by now (or at least not be as severe) was not a bad assumption when they made it. The fact that it didn’t work that way, and agencies like ST will continue to live with the cuts and Metro will make new ones is simply bad news. The fact that Metro’s cuts are worse than ST’s just show a dysfunction between the agencies. To put it simply, if this was all one giant agency, both the 237 and 586 would be eliminated, and we would have fewer cuts on more productive buses (and more reliable service overall).

      10. Ross, the Metro Ridership Dashboard has monthly data through April 2023, and it corroborates the thinking that the 237 is a turkey, and if anything has gotten a bit worse — March just had 4 weekday boardings, though April was back to 8(!). Back in 2019 it had over 100 so even during a good month it’s still down over 90%. I certainly can’t find any other route that has performed so terribly over the last year, even in comparison to other Eastside routes with similar schedules like the 232, which is getting 70 weekday riders and still showing signs of rebounding.

        In comparison to “bad” Seattle routes, though, these numbers are still not great. Even the much-maligned 79 gets over 150x the 237.

        Your point is a good one, though, that the lack of span and frequency really makes the 237 a moot point.

      11. @Ross,

        LOL. You miss the big picture.

        The reason Metro needs to cancel its low performing routes is that Metro can’t staff to the level required to support them. For the most part, this staffing issue doesn’t exist at other agencies, and that is why the other agencies aren’t facing as severe a problem as Metro is right now.

        Additionally, ST is under no obligation to cut back their low performing routes just so Metro can maintain their own low performing routes. That would be silly.

        And you make a fundamental mistake in your critique of the 586. The real metric should be passenger seat miles, and the 586 still outperforms the 237 on that basis.

      12. @Skylar,

        Wow. The 237 dropped all the way down to 4 riders per day? But now it is all the way back to 8 riders per day?!!!

        That is pretty darn bad.

        I suppose Metro didn’t want to cancel the route in short notice, but with numbers like that, they probably should have.

      13. Yes, ridership of the 237 has fallen off a cliff. It is below microtransit levels (which is really saying something). As of the last analysis, it had the worst performance of any Metro route, with 1.8 riders per service hour. That is worse than all of the DART buses at the time. The second worse was the 190, which had 3.8. I’m sure those buses have recovered a little bit, but like the 586, ridership per hour on those routes remains really poor.

      14. The reason Metro needs to cancel its low performing routes is that Metro can’t staff to the level required to support them. For the most part, this staffing issue doesn’t exist at other agencies, and that is why the other agencies aren’t facing as severe a problem as Metro is right now.

        That is simply not true. This is a national driver shortage. Every local agency has cut back, including Sound Transit. They simply cut back sooner. Sound Transit cut back on the 594 (it doesn’t run every 15 minutes). This is huge, and a much bigger hit than anything Metro will do. My point is to look at the big picture. Since this is a regional driver shortage, and ST is contracting with Metro to run buses, then it shouldn’t matter where the money comes from (Metro or ST). They should reduce service on the bus routes that perform the worst, and have alternatives. That would mean starting with the 586 (and quickly following with the 237).

        But as been pointed out, things get complicated because it is quite possible it is Pierce Transit that is operating the 586 (not Metro). Like the other agencies, Pierce Transit cut back on service because of the driver shortage as well. Pierce Transit might be able to restore other service quicker, but it is possible that the service they would restore does not get as many riders per hour as the 586.

        And you make a fundamental mistake in your critique of the 586. The real metric should be passenger seat miles, and the 586 still outperforms the 237 on that basis.

        That is ridiculous. That means giving a handful of riders very special treatment, just because their trip is long. Again, this is a driver shortage. There are two main considerations:

        1) How many people are effected per service hour.
        2) What the alternatives are.

        In the case of the 586:

        1) Very few riders for the amount of savings.
        2) Take a different express bus and then take Link.

        Are you saying that transferring to Link is really that bad?

      15. I wrote a bit about Orcas Island bus service two years ago, but haven’t hit publish on the article since they’ve not been able to operate in a meaningful way due to a shortage of drivers.

        Belair is only operating about half its pre-2020 service due to a shortage of drivers.

        Oregon is only operating a fraction of the Portland-Eugene Amtrak Thruway buses it once did due to a lack of drivers.

        The two bus operators on San Juan Island are down to one scheduled bus each plus charters due to a lack of drivers.

        None of these are public agencies, let alone King County Metro.

      16. Sam, you are correct that several commentators are inconsistent. But that is because they fundamentally don’t understand:

        1. Suburban and semi-rural areas.

        2. First/last mile access on the outbound trip.

        Here is what they don’t get: no transit agency has the budget to provide walkable coverage let alone frequency to these neighborhoods, whether it is MI, Sammamish or God forbid Sumner. Unless they are talking about Metro’s micro transit pilot project.

        So those folks have one of two choices if they can’t walk to a bus stop: 1. Drive to a park and ride; or 2. drive to their ultimate destination. Period.

        You are correct it makes little sense to place a park and ride along the way., and then have those folks wait for and catch a feeder bus the rest of the way. The beauty of the park and ride is the driver pays for the car, driver, insurance, maintenance and gas so you don’t need a feeder bus. That is why ST is building the park and rides AT THE STATION.

        The idea ST could contract with an endless series of small park and rides might make sense for the 630, although those lots are not available all day and night, but ST is estimating thousands of boardings per day at its stations. Not only are there HUGE park and rides like S Bellevue at the station, there are huge park and rides in Issaquah and Eastgate too. Those feeder buses carrying commuters would be slow, frustrating milk runs when Link already adds a transfer.

        I agree ridership and park and ride use post pandemic calls into question new park and rides AND feeder buses, but what it really calls into question is Link itself, and much of Metro.

        Areas like East KC and Sumner, Auburn, and Kent should have never been part of ST because there is no way to serve them. OF course it makes no sense today to build those park and rides, but ST believes the future will need them, and there is no other way to return the ST tax revenue those cities paid for them. When folks start to talk about bus service — door to door — in this undense SE region I just have to shake my head.

        Urban dwellers just don’t understand suburbia, which is why some of the first/last mile access ideas are so inconsistent. But it isn’t the park and ride that isn’t needed anymore in these areas, it is Link and ST Express and Metro.

        Folks opted for number 2: just drive to your ultimate destination. F the park and ride and feeder bus. Now you understand suburbia.

      17. I still wonder what the point of running routes like the 20 (at least in its current full form) and 79 at 100% and the 44 regularly with 10-20% of its trips missed.

        I don’t know if I would cut back on those routes in particular. Both the 20 and 79 got over 10 riders per service hour (as of the last service report) which is a lot better than a lot of routes. Both have unique service areas. Those buses are not particularly bad (again, as of the last report). I count about 20 buses that have worse ridership per hour. The 55, for example, had 6.9 riders per service hour; the 113 had 4.7, the 190 had 3.8.

        But it gets tricky, as one of the big concerns is what the alternatives are. Sometimes it means cutting frequency, other times it means eliminating routes altogether. Sometimes people have another (somewhat slower) alternative, sometimes people have to walk a ways to the bus stop.

        Then there is the fact that this is a moving target. Some buses are recovering faster than others. From what I can tell, both the 20 and 79 are recovering fairly quickly compared to last year, which means they may have passed many of the other routes (or put some distance between them and routes that are performing worse).

        There is a political aspect as well. The Seattle Times keeps focusing on the number or routes that are suspended, not the number of trips. A lot of the poorly performing routes make a handful of trips. For example the 113 and 114. Cancel a bunch of routes like that, and it seems like a bloodbath. Yet the number of trips cancelled really isn’t as big — and the number of riders impacted — as reducing frequency of a bus like the 20.

        I’m not saying I wouldn’t cut back routes, but I don’t know if I would single out the buses you mentioned.

      18. The comment section is contradicting itself again. First you say TC and P&R parking garages shouldn’t be built, and that money should go into a network of low ridership, last mile routes connecting low density neighborhoods with TC’s and P&R’s (i.e., people should take a bus to TC’s and P&R’s, not drive to them). But, now you are saying low productivity routes should be suspended, and only the high productivity routes should be kept. Make up your mind.

        No contradiction at all. First of all, the suspensions are temporary, not permanent. They are not due to lack of money, but due to a driver shortage. In contrast, the parking garages are permanent, and would pay for a lot of bus service (when we start hiring drivers again). Chances are, that would happen before the paint is dry on the new garages.

        It is worth noting that the feeder buses performed quite well back when people rode Sounder in big numbers. The 596, for example, had the highest ridership per service hour (and one of the lowest subsidies) of any bus in the ST system (https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/2020-service-implementation-plan.pdf#page=37).

      19. “Sound Transit cut back on the 594 (it doesn’t run every 15 minutes).”

        When did it ever run every 15 minutes? That has always been my complaint about it, and why I want to replace the 577 with a 594 Federal Way stop. When the 510 and 511 were combined into the 512, it allowed it to run every 15 minutes instead of each of them every 30 minutes. Something similar could happen with the 577/594. If there’s not enough hours to send them all to Lakewood, maybe half could terminate at Tacoma Dome. Then you’d have six buses per hour to Federal Way (with the 578), four to Tacoma Dome, and two to Lakewood. That would be better than four to Federal Way, two to Tacoma Dome, and two to Lakewood.

      20. Ross, in the absence of a driver/bus shortage, I wouldn’t have a problem with the 20 or the 79. They certainly perform better than a lot of routes outside Seattle, and perform better than the peak-only routes that Metro ran in the U-District years ago like the 45 and 46. The reason I bring them up a lot is we’re in the U-District quite a bit (I work for UW) and both of them layover a block away from my office.

        One of the problem right now is that the 44 is no longer frequent enough where a single missed trip can just be waved away — its weekend frequency is 15-20 minutes, so a missed trip now means potentially a 30-40 minute wait. That means it sometimes has a lower frequency than the 20, which very rarely has any canceled trips! Additionally, on weekends, the 44 is almost entirely 40′ buses while the 20 is 60′, so you have the added insult of seeing an empty articulated bus go by while waiting a while for a packed (sometimes SRO) 40′ 44. The 20 and 79 perform OK but still several times worse than the 44.

        On top of that, their segments in the U-District overlap entirely with other frequent routes (44, 45), and run parallel to others like the 67. This means that the ridership on the U-District segments is quite low. I have no doubt that the ridership dashboard is telling the truth, but it must be on the parts of the routes that aren’t in the U-District. It’s disappointing that Metro isn’t running a shorter Lake City – Northgate 20, or a Sand Point – Roosevelt 79 running on 75th.

        Finally, for the 79 specifically, I’ve actually only taken the 79 once despite working a block away from its first stop. That was for a work event at a bar on 55th in Bryant last year. By the time the event was done, it worked out better just to walk to 65th and take the 62 home because of its higher frequency.

        That’s a long way of saying that these routes are almost certainly useful, but running infrequent routes in an area as dense as the U-District at the expense of workhorse routes that effectively are becoming infrequent is not a good use of resources.

      21. Mike, re 15-minute frequency on the 594, I wonder if it was a reference to the proposal a couple years ago to boost the Seattle-Tacoma corridor (combined with the 590) to 15-minute all-day frequency. IIRC this proposal never happened (it included boosting the 550 to 15-minute frequency on Sundays as well) due to the driver and bus shortages. I guess we have now is a cut from that since it would have happened in “normal” times.

      22. “15-minute frequency on the 594, I wonder if it was a reference to the proposal a couple years ago to boost the Seattle-Tacoma corridor (combined with the 590) to 15-minute all-day frequency.”

        OK, but that’s not “cutting back”, it’s just not realizing an increase. Metro has had some of those too. I could really have used that 550 Sunday increase last year when I was going to Bellevue several times a week to visit my relative in the hospital and clear out her apartment, and it would have it easier to get other people to come help with the cleanup. People are more willing to do things if they only have to wait 10 minutes for a bus compared to if they have to wait 25 or 40 minutes. (There’s one 45-minute gap in the schedule, so I have to remember not to get caught in it between 6:45 or after 7:30pm.)

      23. Urban dwellers just don’t understand suburbia

        Consider that strike two, Daniel. Ad Hominem attacks are not permissible. One more and I start deleting your posts.

        I realize you are having trouble backing up your argument. People have presented counter arguments based on facts, and you can’t seem to come up with anything to support your theories. But that doesn’t mean you should stereotype those who disagree with you.

      24. That’s a long way of saying that these routes are almost certainly useful, but running infrequent routes in an area as dense as the U-District at the expense of workhorse routes that effectively are becoming infrequent is not a good use of resources.

        I’m just saying that there are other buses in other parts of town that should be cut first. If push comes to shove, then yes, we should prioritize the 44 over those buses. But we are nowhere near that point.

      25. OK, but that’s not “cutting back”, it’s just not realizing an increase.

        That is a distinction without a difference. The increase was promised, and never realized. If they had implemented it a bit sooner, and then rolled it back, it would be no different for users right now. Either way it is a cut from expected (and promised) service.

        It isn’t the only cut: https://seattletransitblog.com/2022/08/01/sound-transits-2023-service-plan-shows-no-signs-of-labor-shortage-relief/

        “Sound Transit reports that in October 2021, labor shortages have caused a reduction of 5% of ST service operated by King County Metro, 10% of ST service operated by Community Transit, and 20% of service operated by Pierce Transit. Mitigations included a sudden reduction of ST Express service, and the transfer of route 566 from Pierce Transit to King County Metro.”

        That sure sounds like cuts to me.

      26. @Ross,

        Huh? Not implementing an increase is fundamentally NOT the same thing as making emergency cuts to service levels like Metro is doing right now. They are two very distinct, and very different things.

        And nobody is saying that the other transit agencies haven’t had to deal with the labor shortage, because clearly they have. What people are saying is that the other agencies have adapted to the shortage better than Metro.

        For the most part the other agencies have gotten out ahead of the shortage and haven’t been seeing the same level of unreliability and spot cancelations as has Metro. Basically the other transit agencies have tackled the problem head-on and have already done the hard work of right sizing their operations to both meet reduced transit demand and reduced labor availability.

        But at Metro? Unpredictable and unannounced cancelations with no warning to the ridership base. And heroic efforts to preserve routes that only generate 13 riders per day, then shrink to 4 riders per day, and then miraculously climb all the way back up to 8 riders per day!

        And now Metro is supposedly “temporarily” implementing this week some of the reductions planned for September, supposedly followed by a restoration of that service in two weeks, then followed by a reduction again in September? Huh?

        One has to wonder if anyone is driving the Metro bus.

      27. Saying urbanists don’t understand shouldn’t be counted as an ah attack.

        Nonsense. It is a textbook example of one. From Wikipedia:

        Ad hominem (Latin for ‘to the person’), short for argumentum ad hominem, is a term that refers to several types of arguments, most of which are fallacious. Typically this term refers to a rhetorical strategy where the speaker attacks the character, motive, or some other attribute of the person making an argument rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself.

        It is a fallacious argument, but that isn’t the worst part. It lends itself to counter-arguments that are more personal in nature, while ignoring the substance of the argument. This is often a strategy employed by people on purpose, although I have no idea what Daniel’s motivation is.

      28. What people are saying is that the other agencies have adapted to the shortage better than Metro.

        Only because the other agencies made deeper cuts sooner (and yes, that includes Sound Transit*). Look, hindsight is 20-20. You are damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

        Remember when Metro tried to pass a county wide measure to *retain* current transit funding, in the face of an expected downturn in revenue? Some said the downturn wasn’t inevitable. Others said it was. The county wide measure failed, and Metro braced for a downturn. But then more money came in, and things were OK. They kept service the same, county wide. Had they made cuts, they would have had to restore service almost immediately. This costs money (bus stops have to be altered, you have to get the word out, etc.). In other words, If Metro took the exact same approach that you recommend (assuming the worst) it would have been a big mistake.

        The same thing could have happened here. Yes, Metro could have cut various bus routes a while ago. But this would have meant that a lot of riders would have been out of luck much sooner. If Metro managed to weather the storm, and get enough drivers to maintain service, people would complain about the routes that were cut “for no reason”. I can only imagine what you would write, but it would probably be something similar to: “One has to wonder if anyone is driving the Metro bus.”

        Oh, and I don’t know how many times we have to write this, but the bus that carries 13 riders a day isn’t the problem! It only uses about 2 hours of service time. Two hours! That is nothing. The savings from cancelling that bus are minimal, and would do little to alleviate the bus shortage. Bigger cuts have to be made. That is the problem. Holy cow, they are going to reduce service on the 7, a bus that carries almost 10,000 riders a day. Not because the bus isn’t productive, but because it uses a lot of service hours (and the assumption is that running every 10 minutes instead of 7.5 minutes isn’t that bad). Taking the strategy they are taking — putting off cuts until the last minute — is a reasonable one, as we simply have no idea how long the (nationwide, and region-wide) driver shortage will last.

        * From https://seattletransitblog.com/2022/08/01/sound-transits-2023-service-plan-shows-no-signs-of-labor-shortage-relief/: “labor shortages have caused a reduction of 5% of ST service operated by King County Metro, 10% of ST service operated by Community Transit, and 20% of service operated by Pierce Transit”

      29. For whatever it’s worth, I would be tempted to use “urbanists have different priorities” to make it clear that there are indeed differences, but they are (generally) reasonable ones.

        For whatever it’s also worth, I consider myself a supporter of urbanism, but not an urbanist myself. I enjoy living in busy cities but also enjoy plenty of things which are obtained by not doing so.

      30. We were just on a 40′ 44 that was SRO to the point of turning away riders, on a Sunday afternoon. Prior to that, we were on 60′ 20 with a total of 8 riders. Looking at Pantograph, the 44 is down 20% of its trips again, on UW graduation weekend, while the 20 yet again is at 100%.

        To say that Metro is not adapting to the current shortages well is a vast understatement.

      31. My friend that lives up there originally lived in Inner Magnolia (near 22nd and Barrett, in a backyard detached unit). Prices then dictated she move to Shoreline, near 185th and Stone Way.

        She really liked the urban environment in Shoreline better, as there was actually more things within walking distance, and a safer walking environment, than in Magnolia. That part of Magnolia has busy streets that cut through to the Outer Magnolia area, and most of the drivers go really fast and don’t stop for anyone in crosswalks. That area of Shoreline has traffic, but much of it moves slower and there are more traffic lights to easily get across intersections.

        Now, finances dictate she move to Snohomish. Here, nothing is within walking distance, and even if it were there are no sidewalks. People do sometimes walk places but at great peril due to narrow or non-existing shoulders. There’s at least one drug “house” (a battered RV with a stove pipe that produced foul-smelling chemical smoke regularly). Highway 9 is the only way in or out, is very loud (much worse than , and it requires quite some luck to be able to turn left or right onto it out of her neighborhood.

        Downtown Snohomish is nice and very walkable, though is very limited in what is there (sorta like Magnolia Village).

        So I think it’s useful to state just what parts of urban, suburban or rural life are being referenced, as there are urban, rural and suburban areas with disadvantages that make them more like one of the other types.

      32. @Skylar,

        Thanks for your firsthand report. I’m with you, I just don’t get what Metro is trying to do here.

        It’s simple, Metro doesn’t have the operators to support their current service levels. The best thing for Metro to do would be to suspend low performing routes and redistribute the operator hours to other routes so as to maintain reliability. Because there is nothing more frustrating for a passenger to be left standing on the curb waiting for a bus that won’t come because Metro just canceled it.

        The other agencies have already done this, Metro could too. It isn’t that tough. Just do it.

      33. So I think it’s useful to state just what parts of urban, suburban or rural life are being referenced, as there are urban, rural and suburban areas with disadvantages that make them more like one of the other types.

        Very good point. Western Magnolia is very suburban in the sense that it can be a very long walk to any amenity. On the other hand, it is fairly close to the center of Seattle (a reasonably short bike ride, if the hills aren’t too bad). There are places that are the opposite as well.

      34. “Urban dwellers just don’t understand suburbia”

        “Consider that strike two, Daniel. Ad Hominem attacks are not permissible. One more and I start deleting your posts.”

        I wouldn’t consider that ad hominen. That’s simply a statement of facts, which may be either true or false, but it’s not really attacking urban dwellers. It’s something I might say in reverse. (Although it’s not accurate, because there are many kinds of city dwellers and suburban dwellers, with different understandings and opinions.)

      35. “Urban dwellers just don’t understand suburbia”

        Good Lord folks, that is clearly an ad hominem attack. Daniel is suggesting that the argument I made is invalid because someone from the city made it. He is not arguing about the substance of what I wrote, only about the person making it. This is precisely what an ad hominem attack is. If you doubt me, look it up. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem, https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ad-hominem.

        I really don’t understand the confusion. An ad hominem attack does not have to be mean. It does not have to be rude. But if you are ignoring the substance of the argument, and focusing solely on the person making it, it is by definition, an ad hominem attack.

        I presented facts, such as ridership on feeder buses and census data. Daniel’s response: My argument is invalid because I am from the city.

        Again, this is more than just a logical fallacy. It leads to side arguments that are a waste of time. I have to spend time explaining that yes, I have actually lived in the suburbs. I further back up by “cred” by stating that I know what it is like to be poor in the suburbs, and that because he lives in Mercer Island, he has no idea. Then he probably responds by saying he wasn’t always been wealthy, and blah, blah, blah, we get into a regular pissing matching, instead of actually discussing the substance of the argument. (This type of back and forth actually has a name — Tu quoque — which is also mentioned in the Wikipedia article.)

        This is why this particular logical fallacy is banned. It is basically a form of trolling, whether the person instigating it meant to troll or not. Other logical fallacies may be annoying, but they aren’t singled out the way that this is (for good reason).

      36. “ Urban dwellers just don’t understand suburbia, which is why some of the first/last mile access ideas are so inconsistent. ”

        This seems to be a non-sensical comment. Consider that several Metro planners live in Kitsap County, and the opinion is about transit planners rather than all urban dwellers. Get your stereotypes clear! Lol

        It’s also true that many urban dwellers have lived in suburbs and vice versa. There isn’t some sort of zoning law or business practice that discriminates by the density of where people live. Many urban dwellers prefer a more urban life resulting from having lived around narrow-minded loud-mouth suburbanites who think their lifestyle is the optimal way to live for everybody, and not being able to even get coffee without driving a mile or two each way unless they are stranded without a car.

        To paraphrase a certain actress, “As God is my witness, I will never be stranded in the suburbs again!”

      37. “Urban dwellers just don’t understand suburbia”

        “Good Lord folks, that is clearly an ad hominem attack. Daniel is suggesting that the argument I made is invalid because someone from the city made it. He is not arguing about the substance of what I wrote, only about the person making it.”

        I think different people are interpreting the sentence in different ways.

        I read the sentence as nothing to do about Ross, but a common argument about the average city-suburban understanding. It’s no different from when I say, “The legislature is pro-car” or “Suburbanites exaggerate the level of crime in Seattle.” It means the average viewpoint. The average viewpoint is what determines voting majorities and policies.

        At the same time the statement may be either true or false. It would be more worthwhile to discuss whether city dwellers actually don’t understand the suburbs or not. I would say it’s a clash of values rather than non-understanding.

        If Daniel is banned it should be over something clear and obvious. I don’t think this should be a second of three strikes.

        As for some agency and poo, when I read it I didn’t think much about it, I was paying more attention to the overall arguments. What raises my anger and gets moderated is clear attacks against individuals, and outright spam. I have a higher threshold for irritation than Ross does, because I’m used to the idea that friends sometimes say not-nice things to each other but that doesn’t mean their not friends or don’t respect each other. And since I don’t follow the latest pop culture, I sometimes don’t understand cultural references or whether they’re insulting or not.

      38. I just found it to be a condescending micro-aggression. OF COURSE we all understand the suburbs. It’s the dominant culture in most of America. It’s unavoidable to constantly be hearing, rolling around in, and suffering under the suburban point of view.

        But then Daniel came out and admitted he was just trying to call Ross ignorant, not ALL urbanists ignorant. Which I interpreted as pretty much him admitting to an ad homonym attack.

      39. “OF COURSE we all understand the suburbs. It’s the dominant culture in most of America. It’s unavoidable to constantly be hearing, rolling around in, and suffering under the suburban point of view.”

        So Cam, you agree the suburbs and rural areas understand urban areas and the issues they face, and can make decisions for the urban areas, because we all understand the urban areas?

        The biggest problem is ST does not understand the suburbs. Never has. Because you don’t build subways and light rail in the suburbs. Period.

        ST has never understood first/last mile access starts at one’s doorstep, and most folks in the “suburbs” or semi-rural areas can’t walk to a bus or anything from their doorstep, which is how they like it because they have a car or truck in the garage. No agency would build Issaquah/S. Kirkland Link if it understood the suburbs, unless I guess the argument is it is the least bad transit investment for all that money. That really does not sound like understanding to me.

        What I see from Levy or many folks on this blog or your quote above is contempt for suburbia and the semi-rural areas, which is fine, except you really misunderstand suburbia if you think they care what you think, or even pay attention. You spend the time to actually have contempt for suburbia when suburbia doesn’t even care if you exist, and doesn’t care if transit exists. But if you are going to provide transit to suburbia it helps if you understand it.

        So no, I don’t think everyone understands suburbia (and of course there are a zillion different shades of suburbia), because generally if one understands an area they don’t have contempt for it. To have the major transit organization in charge of billions of our dollars with fundamentally no understanding of suburbia is more than frustrating.

        The fact is Link is just getting to the suburbs, so now we are seeing $350 million worth of Sounder garages in Kent, Auburn and Sumner, Issaquah/S. Kirkland Link, WSBLE, and then FW and Lynnwood Link followed by TDLE and Everett Link. So yeah, when I look at Link as it moves into the suburbs, which is everything basically outside downtown Seattle and maybe Bellevue, and see the decisions and crazy assumptions behind those decisions, I think a lot of folks don’t understand suburbia, which as noted begins with a very simple rule: you don’t spend the money on light rail in the suburbs.

        You use buses, and dedicated freeway lanes. There should have been one subarea, N KC, period, and that does not include WS or Ballard which are just suburbia incorporated into Seattle like 90% of all Seattle neighborhoods. Running light rail to Tacoma is a joke.

        The sad truth is this region has probably the worst urbanism I have seen in this country or in the world, and I have seen and lived in some great urban areas. The one possible urban area, Seattle’s CBD, is dead. Now I am being told downtown Bellevue is “urban”. I live on the eastside and don’t think so.

        The reality is the urbanists in this region don’t understand urbanism, which is too bad because they have some control over urban areas whereas they have no control over suburbia, We in suburbia are just terrified some of that “urbanism” is going to make its way over here, probably on Link since there is no fare enforcement, or maybe on the Metro buses serving as hotels in Sodo. What is killing urbanism in this region and in the suburbs is the urbanism we see is so tragic (unless I guess you mean downtown Bellevue, a faux kind of urbanism IMO).

      40. generally if one understands an area they don’t have contempt for it.

        So clearly then, you don’t understand Seattle. Specifically downtown Seattle, as you often describe it in contemptuous terms. For example, “Seattle’s CBD is dead.”

        The fact is Link is just getting to the suburbs,

        So Tukwila isn’t a suburb? Who knew?

        The reality is the urbanists in this region don’t understand urbanism

        Oh really?

        We in suburbia

        Wait, I thought you lived in Mercer Island? Are you saying that Mercer Island — closer to downtown Seattle than many places in Seattle — is a suburb, but Tukwila and SeaTac are not?

        Oh and who elected you as the spokesperson for all of suburbia? It seems to me that you have more in common with someone who lives in a nice house in Broodmoor than you do someone who lives in a trailer park in Auburn.

        What is killing urbanism in this region and in the suburbs is the urbanism we see is so tragic (unless I guess you mean downtown Bellevue, a faux kind of urbanism IMO).

        I’m surprised you have such contempt for downtown Bellevue. Obviously you don’t understand it.

      41. “The biggest problem is ST does not understand the suburbs. Never has. Because you don’t build subways and light rail in the suburbs. Period. ST has never understood first/last mile access starts at one’s doorstep,”

        Can we talk about all transit rather than just Link or Sounder? You keep introducing Link or ST into a general transit discussion as if it’s the only issue. This thread started on Metro cancellations, so it isn’t even about Link!

      42. Ross, you forget I worked in the CBD for 32 years, five days/week, even during the pandemic. I would guess I have spent more time in the CBD than anyone on this blog, and of course was born and raised and educated and lived in Seattle until 1993.

        As Talton noted, foot traffic in the CBD is 44% of levels in April 2019, which not coincidently is the same as office occupancy rates. Over 32 years I saw the good times and the bad times downtown. I couldn’t vote for him but supported Harrell over Gonzales, and hope he can revitalize Seattle, although 3rd will be tough, and losing Macy’s and then Nike are big hits. According to Harrell 8% of Seattleites approve of the city council. I also think Northgate could be a downtown retail killer, luring shoppers from the south and north.

        If my words sound like contempt it is probably because I am sad at the loss of downtown Seattle, like the 92% of Seattleites who think their council is terrible. I spent a lot of great years there. 33 years five days/week is a lot.

        There was a time when Seattle was the hottest city in the world, and I had a fabulous corner office on the 25th floor of The Smith Tower looking up 2nd and out over Puget Sound. I loved those times and loved the CBD (and still think the residential neighborhoods are the city’s crown jewels and have not been ruined yet). I live three miles away and am rooting for the CBD to come back, because downtown Bellevue is still suburbia. Nice, but still suburbia which is more than just location or tall buildings, and I already live in suburbia. I would love some vibrant urbanism to be honest once in a while.

  4. “Hopefully not. Hopefully in a few years we’ll get back to 2019 level of service, eliminate the driver shortage, renew Seattle’s TBD at the 2016 level, and then we can build up from there and finish Metro Connects. Then the future Metro will be a good complement to your beloved can-do-no-wrong Link. Like the transit networks other countries have and prioritize building.”

    That is a very good argument for building the parking garages for Sounder S. in Sumner, Auburn and Kent.

    1. How? My vision is frequent local routes between all the South King County cities. This includes the proposed RapidRides KDM-Kent-132nd-GRCC and Federal Way-Auburn, and filling in 15-minute evening and Sunday service on other routes. And Federal Way Link and existing Sounder South service. None of that has to do with P&Rs either for or against. The goal is to make it more viable to take a bus to Link or Sounder or between South King County cities. That would tend to decrease P&R usage, at least for Link/Sounder trips in a small way. So P&Rs are irrelevant to this. They can get larger, smaller, or stay the same.

      I make a distinction between things I think are realistic and we have a reasonable chance of getting politicians to do, vs more pie-in-the-sky ideals. My realistic ideas are as above. My pie-in-the-sky ideas are frequent Sounder South and converting some P&R land to something else. I’m not putting energy into trying to get these adopted now; it’s more of a theoretical discussion that might prepare the way for a future government/public to accept them.

      1. Yeah high frequency RapidRide connections between KDM or Federal Way stations and Auburn and Kent would be awesome and much more productive! It would also provide an alternative to get back at most hours of the day when Sounder isn’t operating so I think it would help increase Sounder ridership too.

        I could see a new RapidRide route from Des Moines Marina to Kent, then maybe south to Auburn and the mall or casino or east to GRCC. I could see extending RapidRide A to Auburn or RapidRide I to Federal Way Link. There are several options that could be considered.

      2. Having recently driven west to Kent from Federal Way, and having gone from Des Moines in the past, good luck with that. There are not good routes. Even by car, it’s a twisty turn 45 minutes in the quickest iteration. And often clogged with incredible traffic. Link simply can’t efficiently serve the valley. It’s a completely different catchement.

        All day sounder I’d really the only answer. Or just don’t serve them. At least not usefully.

      3. Cam, there’s a route from FW TC to Auburn Station, and a route from KDM Station to Kent Station, and both take about 20 minutes each. You also need to give up on your frequent, all-day S Line fantasy. It will never happen. A monorail or light rail line connecting Auburn, Kent, Renton, Rainier Ave, and downtown will happen first.

      4. It is important to note that Sounder operates like most commuter rail systems, in that there are very few people taking trips between stations. For a northbound train, almost everyone gets off in Seattle. Furthermore, there are often existing connections that happen to connect between stations. So the idea of running an all-day version of Sounder as a bus is not necessary. You just need to provide each stop with the connection to Seattle (and to a lesser extent, Tacoma).

        We already have an outline for this, in the form of the following all-day express routes to Seattle:

        Lakewood/Tacoma — served by 594. This is faster from Tacoma then Sounder.

        Puyallup/Sumner/Auburn — served by the 578.

        Kent — Served by the Metro 150.

        Tukwila — No express service to downtown.

        The 150 is not really an express. Metro has the audacity of making their routes cost effective, and express service from those stations would not be. But I could easily see ST spending the money and providing express service to all the stations.

        Then there is the fact that the 578 cuts over to Federal Way before heading downtown. It remains to be seen whether that continues once Link gets there. On the one hand, ending there means the bus could connect to Link, while saving a lot of service hours. On the other end, the detour costs riders time now — and will cost them even more if they are expected to transfer to Link. The Tukwila Sounder Station is fairly easy to access from Seattle, but a bit awkward from Kent Station.

        I think I would go with something like this:

        578 — Puyallup/Sumner/Auburn/Kent/Seattle — Not as fast as Sounder, but reasonably fast (since it follows the freeway most of the way, and doesn’t operated during rush hour).

        579 — Tukwila/Seattle. I would probably add a southern tail to it. I’m thinking Talbot Road and 43rd, to connect to the hospitals and the 160. So basically this: https://goo.gl/maps/XuuNJurQ4qaxUCYt7. It should be easy to find turnover/layover space.

        These work with existing buses, like:

        Pierce County 400 — Puyallup to Tacoma
        Metro 165 — Kent to Highline CC (Sounder Station to Link).
        Metro 181 — Auburn to Federal Way (Sounder Station to Link).

        That about does it, really. It is likely overkill, but way cheaper than running the train all day. There are enough in the way of combinations to work reasonably well. If we owned the trail line, I would argue for all-day service, but we don’t.

      5. Ross, the idea of a tail for the mooted 579 is excellent. The Blue Streak model has real advantages to P-n-R-only expresses when there is a nearby dense area that is poorly served by “traditional transit”. The bus can often serve as a neighborhood collector/distributor for much lower cost than a dedicated shuttle that sits at the TC for long periods between runs that are very short. Think how well the 41 did between Northgate P-n-R (before Northgate TC) and Lake City Way.

        However, I don’t think that the Seneca/Spring ramps are right for such a bus. It is meant to serve employment and retail in Tukwila, not Seattle.
        There are a lot of people in West Seattle and Beacon Hill who would like to go to Southcenter or the industrial district to the south of it. Let them transfer at SoDo.

      6. “ It is important to note that Sounder operates like most commuter rail systems, in that there are very few people taking trips between stations.”

        This is the irony of South King. Sounder goes into historic downtowns but it doesn’t run at a high frequency all day to create the buzz to turn those downtowns into more dense employment centers like a Bellevue or Everett. Meanwhile, Link runs in next to a freeway in areas with acres of parking yet operates like a Metro line until new TOD gets built.

      7. This is the irony of South King. Sounder goes into historic downtowns but it doesn’t run at a high frequency all day to create the buzz to turn those downtowns into more dense employment centers like a Bellevue or Everett.

        I’m not sure how much difference it makes though. It really is a matter of priorities for the city. Are these towns or are they bedroom suburbs? If they are American suburbs, then you focus on building things for the commuter. If they are town, you try and rebuild your downtown, no matter where they put the station. I mentioned Naperville up above, and one of the more interesting things is that it is *not* built around the station. I’m sure the station itself, as well as the college, as well as other businesses nearby played a part in the success of the town. But more recently, they made a concerted effort to build up around their historic downtown area. It is not like the station area is bad — there are a number of nice things there — but it is heavy on parking (https://goo.gl/maps/ZJucDrbntEaZg9HDA). In contrast, the Naperville downtown is just a lot more lively, and has a lot more density. It really is all about priorities, and what the cities themselves want to build.

        But yeah, if they do rebuild these downtown areas and they become attractive, then it will be a shame that the train doesn’t run there much in the middle of the day. Still, express bus service at that time of day can do a lot.

      8. However, I don’t think that the Seneca/Spring ramps are right for such a bus. It is meant to serve employment and retail in Tukwila, not Seattle.
        There are a lot of people in West Seattle and Beacon Hill who would like to go to Southcenter or the industrial district to the south of it. Let them transfer at SoDo.

        I don’t follow you. This wouldn’t replace the 150, the F or any of that. It would simply be a midday express meant to complement the Sounder line, while also adding an express so that riders in what I assume is a transit rich area (by the hospitals) have a much faster ride to downtown Seattle (as well as a connection to the F). It would probably use the SoDo busway, like the 150.

        I’m not saying it would be a very productive bus. It would probably lag the 150 by quite a bit. But ST is OK with similar buses, and this would be a much better value than building big park and ride lots.

      9. Ross, your map has it using the Seneca/Spring ramps. If you’re good with it using the busway, then I agree completely with your idea of running an express to the catchment area around Tukwila Station.

      10. Ross, your map has it using the Seneca/Spring ramps.

        OK, I understand the confusion. That was basically shorthand. I only drew the map to show the section south and east of Tukwila Station. As it is, I can’t draw the map going on the SoDo busway — Google won’t let me draw it that way (since a car can’t go on it). Anyway, from I-5 to downtown would be identical to the 150, since riders might take one as a backup for the other.

  5. “Yeah high frequency RapidRide connections between KDM or Federal Way stations and Auburn and Kent would be awesome and much more productive! It would also provide an alternative to get back at most hours of the day when Sounder isn’t operating so I think it would help increase Sounder ridership too.”

    You would still need park and rides for those RR buses or Sounder (FW, Angle Lake, KDM and Star Lake stations will have parking at the station). Unless the RR buses use the same parking garages ST plans to build for Sounder in Sumner, Kent and Auburn for RR buses to Link. Or unless the RR buses will go neighborhood to neighborhood in SE KC and Pierce Co.

    And you need to identify where you will take that service from for those RR routes. If Metro (and PT) are cutting service due to driver shortages or other reasons, adding RR routes in this very undense but large area will require cutting bus service in other places. I believe the Board considers some of these areas equity areas and has shifted bus service to here from Seattle in the past.

    I would first want to see how full the park and rides are at Angle Lake, KDM, Star Lake and FW before committing to RR feeder buses and infrastructure, because riders will use the Link park and rides before driving to a park and ride to catch a bus to get to Link. It very well may be the Link park and rides are more than adequate, like on the eastside.

    I think Auburn, Kent and Sumner would object to their parking garages converting to RR to serve as feeder buses for Link. Link just does not serve these eastern cities. Too far away.

    1. Can we all agree that anyone who uses a transit center parking garage or lot, or P&R, forfeits the right to criticize Auburn’s transit garage? I’ll use myself as an example. In the past, I have driven to the South Kirkland P&R’s parking garage in order to take a bus. Therefore, I would be the biggest hypocritical pos if I then objected to Auburn Station’s garage, correct?

      1. That is silly. It is not about what we personally have or haven’t used. It is about whether it is a good use of money. Let’s face it, if this was cheap, this probably wouldn’t be an issue. Of course there would be people saying we shouldn’t build any park and ride lots next to the station, but the issue probably wouldn’t come up, especially since if it was cheap, it would be built by now. That clearly isn’t the case here.

        In general, there are two big guidelines for park and rides:

        1) They should be cheap.
        2) They should be small.

        You can probably get by with a large, cheap parking lot to serve your train, as long as you build your city center somewhere else. It is a big waste of space, but at least it doesn’t cost you much. But if you spend a lot of money on a big park and ride, you are making a really big mistake. Such is the case with ST.

      2. I think the more interesting way to frame this is – what do the locals think they’re getting out of it? And are they happy with it?

        Someone made a point that some parking garages (I forget if Auburn was one of them) are used by people outside the ST area, and therefore the people in that ST subarea, at least, should protest such uses. Maybe so, and it aligns with similar views that, e.g. Mercer Island parking garage should be for Islanders only, too. But there is still indirect benefit, in both cases; just as drivers also benefit from others taking transit (because the roads get emptier), maybe Auburn benefits from people parking in the ST garage because the roads get emptier, or people don’t park on their side streets, etc.

        It also keeps the whole debate on a more positive frame. Rather than telling people “you shouldn’t want X”, let’s figure out what problem they think they have that X solves; then maybe we can find a better way to solve it. Or maybe not, but it feels like it would ride better.

      3. Ross, so you’re not saying no to any transit parking lot or garage anywhere, you’re objecting to Auburn’s because of its cost and prime location?

      4. Some garages are for both transit riders and downtown parking, like Renton and Burien.

      5. Ross, so you’re not saying no to any transit parking lot or garage anywhere, you’re objecting to Auburn’s because of its cost and prime location?

        Exactly. I would also say that cost is a more important issue. I have no problem with a gravel parking lot in the middle of nowhere serving a rarely used rail station. But if you are spending a bundle on a new parking garage, the riders must be coming from somewhere, and you can better serve them with feeder service (even if that feeders service consists largely of park and ride lots). The best value in park and ride lots tend to be churches. Often the church will rent out the lot for very little money. The best model is one that is not limited to those park and ride lots, but also serve the surrounding neighborhoods (before or after the lot). Often times they grow to the point where the park and ride lot becomes superfluous. This happened with the 41. Initially, it was built around park and ride lots (at least three). One got closed down, and the other two became less and less important as people moved into apartments along the route. The same thing can happen with these routes — either that, or you might as well stick with the existing lots. I mean, these ones are cushy — they are paved and everything.

    2. “you need to identify where you will take that service from for those RR routes.”

      I’m taking about adding to existing service, not just shifting it around. Shifting it around doesn’t solve anything. I said it’s in the future when there’s more revenue and more drivers available.

      “You would still need park and rides for those RR buses”

      None of the existing RapidRides are known for their P&R usage. The highly successful A goes past at least three P&Rs and a future one (KDM), but the vast majority of trips are bus, bus+Link, or bus+bus. People drive to a P&R to take a train or express bus, not a local bus. RapidRide is for all those other trips that don’t involve driving, or even the P&R stops. Many of those trips are along the arterial the bus serves, from all those in-between businesses and residences. The C, D, and E are among Metro’s top ten routes, and the B gets honorable mention, but none of them are P&R oriented even when they go past P&Rs or people transfer at a P&R (because that’s where the transfer is).

    3. “I think Auburn, Kent and Sumner would object to their parking garages converting to RR to serve as feeder buses for Link. Link just does not serve these eastern cities. Too far away.”

      I’m not proposing that. Adding RapidRide and converting P&Rs are two completey different issues. The existing Tukwila International Blvd station has both a Link station, two RapidRide lines, and a P&R. The P&R takes up most of the space (as is typical with cars), but the percent of riders coming from cars is far less. It has to be, because there are only parking spaces for a fraction of the riders.

      So, one person comes in a car and takes Link. Another person transfers between Link, RapidRide A, RapidRide F, or another bus. Another person transfers between two buses. Another person walks over from one of the neighboring businesses or apartments. This is typical of what happens at Federal Way, Kent, and Lynnwood. It will be typical of Ash Way when Link and Swift get there. It’s typical at Kenmore, although there’s no other bus to transfer to (because Kenmore is so narrow).

      About the only places it’s not typical are South Bellevue and Issaquah P&R, where the P&R is in the middle of nowhere — intentionally to keep it far from the city center.

      1. Are you sure that South Bellevue was built in the middle of nowhere? My understanding is that it was built there to catch the Factoria, Somerset, Newport, etc. population who were commuting into Seattle, and that was the obvious location. Eastgate was built for the same purpose but for people farther East. The 554 (and various Metro routes) were/are catching the latter; the 550 the former. When Link replaced the 550 in the planning, the South Bellevue P&R was conveniently located, but it’s not that people said “oh gee golly, what a nice here spot away from downtown we got for a big structure”, it’s more that it literally already served that purpose and they added to it.

        For the record: I’ve only ever used South Bellevue for about two weeks many years ago, when I was carpooling with a coworker and he drove us from East SnoCo to South Bellevue, then we caught the 550 in the rest of the way.

      2. Anon, both things are true. The S Bellevue P&R was very popular with surrounding neighborhoods and towns. It was always full on weekdays. And, it was built in the middle of nowhere.

      3. “Are you sure that South Bellevue was built in the middle of nowhere?”

        I mean in terms of walking. You can walk to about ten houses, the wetland, or one restaurant (a rather long distance away). Factoria, Newport, and Somerset are miles away, accessible only by car or bus. And South Bellevue is not a likely transfer point for bus+bus trips; Bellevue TC is.

      4. Yeah, South Bellevue will have very few walk-up riders. I think it will get a significant number of riders arriving from a bus, but it is hard to say. The 550 got about as many riders along Bellevue Way as they did at Bellevue Transit Center. Almost all of those riders were traveling to Seattle. If the new 554 runs often enough, I could see plenty of riders using the bus as a way to get to South Bellevue Station and then Seattle. It is also the connection to Factoria. A lot depends on the quality of the feeder bus service. I agree though, it isn’t the natural feeder that say, Mercer Island is.

        It would be interesting to see the modal share of each station. Just about every station with good walk-up ridership also has good bus service. Same with those that have big park-and-ride lots. For example, Capitol Hill is probably largely successful because of the destinations within walking distance. But it also connects to the 8 (for trips to Uptown) and north-south transit (for trips to First Hill). Likewise, at first glance Northgate seems to a be a giant parking lot, but it is a transit center, and there are a ton of buses feeding it from every direction (albeit sometimes awkwardly). There are also plenty of people that walk from the surrounding neighborhood, or across the bridge to the college.

        I think the success of the stations depends on the overall transit network. Despite the extremely high cost, and the very long distance of the metro system, it will cover only a handful of places in the city. The city is not that stratified when it comes to density (of population, employment, attractions, etc.) nor does Link manage to get all of the big locations. Thus the success of many of the stations — if not Link itself — depends a lot on how the buses complement it.

      5. Not debating the “middle of nowhere” bit, more the “intentionally” bit. I didn’t get the sense that it was built there to keep it away from downtown Bellevue; it was built there because it was meant as an intercept for Seattle-bound drivers, and it’s literally as close to the freeway onramp as it could possibly be.

      6. No city wants above grade light rail in their town center. Other than the Seattle CBD and north Seattle no other area got the option of underground Link. So other than the most marginal neighborhoods in S. Seattle cities shunted Link to I-5 or other freeways, which had cheaper ROW, and land no one cared if ST condemned. (And some like the CID and DSA didn’t want underground Link).

        The problem with this is nearly every one of these suburban Link station needs first mile access. No one can walk to the station.

        The good part is since few want to live near a freeway or above grade Link station few care about the use of the land or its scale.

        That is why park and rides at these stations along freeways should be HUGE. 1500+ stalls. Like S. Bellevue, Lynnwood Link, Star Link, Angle Lake, Tacoma Dome. HUGE. Because there is no other first/last mile access in these areas that does not begin with a park and ride.

        If ST wants anyone to ride Link in these suburban routes they will need huge park and rides. Folks are not going to drive to a park and ride to catch a bus to catch Link. Eliminate the cost of the feeder bus AND park and ride that serves the feeder bus and build huge park and rides next to the station. If one way or the other you will need a park and ride put it next to Link where the land is worthless, make it huge, and save the cost of feeder buses or a park and ride to serve the feeder bus.

        Or don’t be surprised if we spent a fortune on these suburban Link lines and few use them.

        On the other hand, every city wants a free parking garage in their town center. Even Old Main St. in Bellevue. They are expensive however (except compared to Link: $350 million is chump change, less than tunneling through Roosevelt). It is the center piece of Brooks’ vision for small town centers: free and obvious parking that is subsidized by the city and not a cost to development. Like U Village although the property owner paid for the parking.

        Sumner, Auburn and Kent can’t be served by transit. Yes, a freight line goes through the town center but few of these residents will ever take Sounder to the only location it makes sense: downtown Seattle. So like Renton or some other areas these three cities want a “mixed-use” garage with THEIR ST revenue.

        It is pointless to tell them their money could be better spent for transit because they don’t care about transit. They voted against these Seattle centric urban transit levies.

        So these cities are correct. If Sounder ridership returns they “planned for the future”, like WSBLE but at a tiny fraction of the cost. If they are wrong and downtown Seattle and Sounder S ridership never recover they got a free parking garage in their town center to serve their retail businesses . Win win.

      7. “I didn’t get the sense that it was built there to keep it away from downtown Bellevue; it was built there because it was meant as an intercept for Seattle-bound drivers”

        I wasn’t around when South Bellevue P&R was built, and my perspective is as a bus-riding Bellevuite. To me the most striking thing is that Bellevue TC and South Bellevue P&R are separated, and that makes for a more walkable and pleasant downtown. In contrast, Renton, Burien, and Lynnwood have their transit center, P&R, and downtown garage all together, and it takes up a big chunk of the walkshed. I thought of South Bellevue P&R as intercepting Bellevue drivers as much as Factoria and Issaquah drivers. But you’re right, maybe it was to intercept from the south and east. To me that’s irrelevant though because I look at it from a walking/bus riding perspective.

      8. Oh yeah, don’t get me wrong – I am not sad that it’s not where BTC is, by any means.

        I guess that I would quibble a little with the Lynnwood location being that terrible, though. It’s not really in the center of “Lynnwood” – not in the commercial center, and certainly not in the civic center, either. I-5 has that weird diagonal trajectory through Lynnwood, and it’s well placed for riders to have a quick way to the freeway (and now to Link I guess, too) once they get on transit. So in that sense it feels pretty good, and it doesn’t detract from the walkshed of civic center area (44th and 192nd or so), nor from the commercial center (either Alderwood Mall area, or like… 196th and 44th), by too much, IMHO.

        I can’t speak for the other locations you listed, I am not familiar enough to have a “feel” for them.

      9. Mike, two points:

        1. I don’t care if Metro has a million drivers. Any route that has 13 riders/day should be suspended. Probably any route with fewer that 100 riders/day should be suspended or rerouted. Money does not grow on trees.

        2. If Bellevue didn’t want East Link on Bellevue Way it certainly didn’t want a 1500 stall above grade transit park and ride anywhere west of 405 near Bellevue Way. In fact, almost all of East Link including park and rides was located in disfavored areas hoping for some kind of gentrification. (Lincoln Square has massive parking but it is below grade, and Bellevue Square has massive at grade parking because its favored customer demands that and don’t use transit).

      10. The S Bellevue P&R was very popular with surrounding neighborhoods and towns.

        It was popular, but more people used the stops along Bellevue Way than the park and ride, and there were only four stops along Bellevue Way. The park and ride accounted for around 10% of the ridership.

      11. That is why park and rides at these stations along freeways should be HUGE.

        Any route that has 13 riders/day should be suspended.

        The implication being that it is OK to have very expensive parking lots that are empty, but God forbid we have a bus that isn’t. Clearly having only 13 riders a day is terrible — but so too is an empty park and ride. We have both right now. I have no idea what route you are referencing that has 13 riders, but before the pandemic the 596 had 600 riders a day. This brings me to another statement:

        Folks are not going to drive to a park and ride to catch a bus to catch Sounder.

        And yet they did exactly that! The 596 accounted for over 1/4 of the ridership of the Sumner Station. This for a bus that went from park-and-ride to park-and-ride. This for a station that is located in the weakest area of all the Sounder stations (there is not much there, besides the station). The idea that people won’t ride the bus to the station is absurd — people do it all the time. The problem is a lack of connecting buses. That is the only local bus service in Sumner that connects to the station. That’s it. So not only do people have no other option for park and rides (besides the one by the station and the one in Bonney Lake) but they have no other options for feeder bus service. Sumner is not without apartments, it is just that they don’t have any transit to them, at all.

        You just can’t have it both ways. Either ridership returns or it doesn’t. Either we have enough riders for local feeder service, or we don’t have enough for a bigger park and ride. But in no world does it make sense to build a huge parking lot *instead of* decent feeder bus service. That is basically Cadillac service for a handful of people willing to drive all the way to the station, while everyone else — including people that might work at the local downtown — get nothing.

      12. It will be interesting to see how many of the people that catch the 550 on Bellevue Way actually end up taking the 554 at the same stop and riding that to Link. Assuming most of these riders are concentrated in the downtown area around Main and 4th St., a lot of them could easily end up just walking to Link instead.

        From Bellevue Way to 112th is 0.6 miles. However, if the ultimate point of origin is a block or two east of Bellevue Way the calculus works out to something like an 0.4 mile walk to Link vs. an 0.2 mile walk the opposite direction to the 554. And, with a choice like that, an extra two tenths of a mile walking to avoid the transfer feels like an obvious no-brainer.

        Of course, there are some stops on Bellevue Way further south, where the distance to Link is further and the case for waiting for a connecting bus stronger, but even there, it remains to be seen how many people will actually wait for the connecting bus when the option to drive to the train with free parking exists as an alternative.

        My guess is that the walk-up ridership at East Main. St. station will end up greater than people think, and ridership on the 554’s Bellevue Way stops, less than people think. In the case of East Main St. Station, very little of the ridership will come from Surrey Downs; rather, the ridership generator will be the sections of downtown Bellevue between Main and 4th, where staying on the train to 6th St. wouldn’t get you any closer than just getting off at Main.

      13. And also, to further expand on RossB’s comment, feeder buses aren’t just about connecting local residents to the trunk line (Link/Sounder). It’s also about last-mile trips reverse commutes.

        Park and rides can provide only first-mile service, not last mile service, unless you’re advocating that everybody who rides the train in the reverse direction go buy an additional car that sits in the park and ride overnight.

        So, unless you want to completely screw over anybody traveling in the reverse direction, you still have to run the feeder buses anyway, no matter how big the park and ride gets.

      14. “unless you want to completely screw over anybody traveling in the reverse direction, you still have to run the feeder buses anyway,”

        Nobody rides in the reverse direction, or suburb to suburb, or within a suburban city. And even if they do, they’re a small number compared to the P&R drivers who commute to downtown Seattle. And even if they’re not small in number, the P&R drivers are highly-paid professionals who pay high taxes and keep the economy running and feel they deserve top consideration. Even to the extent of a free P&R space that’s 12 times larger than a person, and requires a half-space buffer in front of it to get in and out of the space, because they’re VIPs darnnit. Or they’re “everybody”.

      15. To be fair, driving to a bus to a train may be more likely in Bonney Lake than the Eastside. In the Eastside it’s a short drive to downtown Bellevue or a medium-sized drive to downtown Seattle. In Bonney Lake it’s a long drive to both. And Tacoma and Pierce County don’t have comparable jobs. They put themselves in the position by living in Bonney Lake, so this is part of it. While somebody in Issaquah or Newport Hills or Kirkland has the alternative of a short drive to Bellevue or Redmond. We don’t know what Issaquahites will do when faced with the choice of a one-seat ride turning into a two-seat ride to Seattle. But it could go either way. Some may do a two-seat ride, some may drive to South Bellevue, and some may change jobs. We’ll just have to see what the proportions are.

      16. No city wants above grade light rail in their town center.

        Portland keeps building more and more of it. It now has two north-south spines, on Fifth/Sixth for MAX and 9th/10th for the Streetcar.

        Atlanta is rehabbing its surface streetcar to support greater capacity arriving from the proposed ring line. Dallas has delayed plans for a second downtown spine a half mile east of the current backbone, but there is no agitation to tunnel it.

        So I guess Portland and Hotlanta have been demoted to towns and Dallas is staring into the abyss. Good to know.

      17. To give my favorite example from North of the border, the Crosstown Eglinton project in Toronto, is partially (though not, admittedly, in its entirety) at grade. I don’t remember the details, but it’s something like half at grade, maybe a little less, while the rest is tunneled.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_5_Eglinton

      18. “No city wants above grade light rail in their town center.”

        “Portland keeps building more and more of it.”

        I interpreted above grade as elevated, and people objecting to concrete stanchions and overhead tracks blocking sunlight and trains making noise. Portland’s MAX and Streetcars are on the surface (at-grade).

        The problem with surface routing is collisions and speed limitations. Has MAX had collisons? Does MAX have fewer collisions than Link does?

      19. Not sure why Issaquah P&R is catching a stray here being grouped with S Bellevue – it’s immediately next to the Issaquah TC, the primary bus node for Issaquah. Issaquah’s center is not Olde Towne.

        RE: S Bellevue – it may not get much walk up ridership, but it should be a pretty solid ‘bike-up’ up, as it has great cycling access to the east & south, and with the the new bridge over Factoria Blvd and continue investments in Eastrail it will be a great option for people in Seattle that want to cycle on the eastside, for work or pleasure.

      20. “Nobody rides in the reverse direction, or suburb to suburb, or within a suburban city.”

        A quick look at the road shows that people drive in the reverse direction all the time. If people drive in the reverse direction, there are trips in the reverse direction, and people without cars should have access to such trips.

        Also, suburbs aren’t just houses. They also have jobs. Even if it’s just shopping centers, the people who work there have to be able to get there, and we’re talking minimum wage jobs where the financial costs of car ownership can be quite burdensome. When you apply to a retail chain to work, you don’t get to just pick the store by your house – you have to work at whatever store they tell you to work at, and if that store is in a different suburb 10 miles away, then that’s where you have to go because commuting back and forth is still better than going unemployed and having to live in a homeless shelter.

      21. “Not sure why Issaquah P&R is catching a stray here being grouped with S Bellevue – it’s immediately next to the Issaquah TC, the primary bus node for Issaquah. ”

        Issaquah TC and Issaquah P&R are the same thing, that’s the problem. The transit center — where buses transfer — is in the middle of nowhere. What can you walk to? And with Issaquah’s low frequency, you may be waiting 20 minutes for a transfer. In the middle of nowhere.

        “Issaquah’s center is not Olde Towne.”

        Where is it then? The only walkable parts of Issaquah I’ve found are the City Hall area and the Highlands. There’s Gilman Village but it’s just a shopping center, not a full-service city center.

        The best way to transfer between the 554 and 208 I’ve found is to get off at City Hall, walk two blocks south along the railroad trail, and wait at a stop with parks on two sides and a trailhead in the distance. Or going west you’re waiting at human-scaled City Hall, and if you have a few minutes there are train relics a block north on the railroad trail. You can’t do anything like this at Issaquah TC/P&R.

      22. “the the new bridge over Factoria Blvd”

        What’s this? And how do you bike from South Bellevue to Factoria? When I rode the 240 it got on I-90 in between.

      23. It will be interesting to see how many of the people that catch the 550 on Bellevue Way actually end up taking the 554 at the same stop and riding that to Link. Assuming most of these riders are concentrated in the downtown area around Main and 4th St., a lot of them could easily end up just walking to Link instead.

        This gets back to what I wrote about before: frequency. If the 554 is frequent, then lots of people will take it. If not, then some will walk to the station, others will drive to the park and ride. Ridership on Main was the following in 2019 (westbound boarding numbers):

        Bellevue Way NE & NE 4th — 349
        Bellevue Way SE & Main — 233
        Bellevue Way & SE 3rd — 104
        Bellevue Way & SE 11th — 44
        Bellevue Way NE & SE 16th — 105

        It is about a 9 minute walk from the first stop to the station (https://goo.gl/maps/8iq4wFX2rRXLD3E29). Obviously some people who used that stop lived closer to the station, so that will peel off some riders. But a ten minute walk is a bit much for most riders.

        Main Street is actually worse: https://goo.gl/maps/XYtc4fDHxpFnDNwc8. Again, some of the potential riders live or work east of there, so it takes less time, but if you live or work a bit to west, forget about it. The same goes if you live south of there. It is a classic “you can’t get there from here” situation. For example, from Bellevue High to the station it is less than half a mile as the crow flies, but if you are walking, you have to go up and around on Main (https://goo.gl/maps/Brj5M1DGF1xJ3Zvw6). I know a fair number of people think East Main won’t be that bad, but I think it will be pretty bad. Bellevue Way would have been ideal, but even 108th would have been much better.

      24. The biggest walk-up transit markets are Bellevue Way at NE 4th and Main. 4th has Bellevue Square. Main has Old Bellevue, the other businesses around Main Street, and a dense apartment cluster south of Old Bellevue. Both of these would be great stations for Link. NE 4th is only half-bad because it’s only an 8-block walk from the mall to the station on a pedestrian path (at NE 6th Street).

        Main Street and Bellevue Way is in a harder position because it’s a longish walk to the transit center. High school students do those kind of walks all the time but others might not. Going straight east to East Main Station may get some people, but there’s not as much in between to look at or go to and there’s a small hill.

        Bellevue High School is all alone at the top of a steep hill, so getting to a Main Street station is not just an easy saunter.

        A station at 108th & Main wouldn’t be as good as Bellevue Way & MaIIN; it’s like how Columbia City Station is three blocks from the middle of Columbia City. South of Main 108th it’s a small street with low-density houses. North of Main it has some office towers but is not known for retail.

        Would 108th & Main be better than 112th & Main? I don’t know. Don’t put it there just for the high school. For pedestrians from Bellevue Way or Old Bellevue, maybe, but I don’t think it’s that great a place, and the businesses have grown without expecting a light rail station or a bunch of pedestrians there. If that had been the plan in the last decade, the mix of uses and the design of the buildings might be different.

      25. 108th and Main would not be bad, actually. There is some retail (there’s an Office Depot there I think, and there’s a grocery store). It’s also much more convenient for the somewhat higher concentration of buildings along 106th. Even with a 2-block walkshed (which I think anyone who does not have physical disabilities could generally manage) you start to hit some interesting places. 112th and Main you get… nothing, right now, just about. And, yes, you can catch the high school kids, etc. too.

      26. Would 108th & Main be better than 112th & Main?

        Yes, by quite a bit. Again, it wouldn’t be as good as Bellevue Way, but it would still be a huge improvement. The problem is that the Main Street Station is east of the Downtown Bellevue Station. As a result, Main Street gets the riders to the east, while Downtown Bellevue gets the riders to the west. You have to be pretty far south (or east) to be closer to the Main Street Station. If you are west of 112th, you have to be south of NE 2nd until you are closer to Downtown Bellevue Station. For example: https://goo.gl/maps/P4VF5oJ2uUzomHVZ6 versus https://goo.gl/maps/x4XeDMC95RBCZpfd9. Basically Main Street has carved out an area to the south and east, where very few people actually live or work. It includes the freeway, as well as the low density Surrey Downs neighborhood. But even if the neighborhood added more people, it still has problems with the street grid (so close and yet so far: https://goo.gl/maps/xZE2B2CHfGcrsGq56). It does get a few people north of Main Street, but very few.

        If the station is moved to the west, then things change dramatically. West of roughly 110th, the dividing line moves much further north, up to 4th. For example: https://goo.gl/maps/WfmP3XRizCM9zCvN6 versus https://goo.gl/maps/hWKGRtV6gScQVWeg6. Thus the station at 108th would serve the areas to the north and west, which is where people live and work. It loses the areas to the east of 110th, but there are far fewer people there (because you run into the freeway).

        Again, I’m not saying that 108th would have been ideal, but it would have been much better than where they put the Main Street station.

      27. “And also, to further expand on RossB’s comment, feeder buses aren’t just about connecting local residents to the trunk line (Link/Sounder). It’s also about last-mile trips reverse commutes.”

        Each end of a transit trip has both first and last mile access issues even if walking, which is an issue when competing with cars that have no first/last mile issues.

        If you can’t walk to a transit stop then your choices are: 1. don’t take transit; or 2. drive to a park and ride. In the three-county region including Seattle most folks cannot walk to a transit stop, either because it is too far or there is no transit.

        For some reason suburbanites don’t mind driving to a park and ride as first mile access (and last mile access back home). I think part of this has to do with the fact that on the trip back home when any wait is excruciating there is no wait to get into your car, and you are usually near retail (like Issaquah) when you have to drive to retail anyway so after work shopping is easy. I know this drives a lot of urbanists crazy because their dream is transit kills the car, when in fact without the car there is not transit, at least in suburbia.

        If the drive is to a park and ride to catch a bus to catch East Link I don’t think that will fly, at least in my subarea. That trip dies on first mile access right out of the box. Eastsiders and commuters, at least, don’t think a two-seat bus/rail ride is better than a one seat bus ride when both basically follow dedicated lanes along I-90, and eastside buses are usually clean. Few are going past downtown Seattle.

        The other reality is folks expect there to be first/last mile access issues on one end of the transit run, but not both. That is why one seat buses from park and rides on the eastside were tolerable. When you got there (downtown Seattle) you were “there”, and there were just a few stops along I-90 on the way. Especially when the buses accessed the transit tunnel. When the stops moved to 4th and 2nd that created a whole new set of obstacles, and safety is not negotiable.

        It isn’t like these eastsiders like this one seat bus commute to downtown Seattle. But they didn’t want to live in Seattle, and liked the eastside for the public safety, schools, cleanliness, access to green spaces, and residential neighborhoods more than they hated their commute, and their jobs were in downtown Seattle. The drive to the park and ride and one seat bus to downtown Seattle was JUST BARELY tolerable. Add a transfer, or first/last mile access at the destination end (SLU), then the trip becomes intolerable.

        All that has changed. The pandemic empowered workers and forced employers to adopt WFH technology, and forced large Seattle employers with a lot of eastside workers to open eastside offices. Personally, I think Amazon will have less friction getting eastside workers to return to its Bellevue offices on Bellevue Way three days/week than commuting to SLU from any area. Especially with an 1100 stall parking garage and rotating teams working in office. From what I am told when Amazon opens its eastside offices and allows a worker to work in either that could transfer up to 20,000 Amazon workers from Seattle to Bellevue, but if using transit they will demand a one seat ride to Bellevue Way. Then congestion will return in downtown Bellevue and along Bellevue Way toward I-90, but ease in SLU.

        Those who have to go to downtown Seattle will still demand a one seat ride, but will simply drive to a park and ride that serves East Link (if the trains don’t return from Seattle dirty or with urine, needles or excrement in them). After all, they are already in their car and I-90 has little congestion, and at least today there is plenty of space in the park and rides. Like I said, eastsiders are agnostic when it comes to mode. You don’t need feeder buses if there is space in the park and rides.

        I don’t think East Link will be the issue when it opens for cross lake travel. Seattle is the issue. Hence the steep decline in cross lake express buses that started pre-pandemic (ridership on the 550 was down 30% and 554 17% in 2019).

        No eastsider is going to think it is a huge burden to drive to the MI or S. Bellevue park and ride or one of the other park and rides that serve East Link IF there is space at the park and ride because there are good grocery stores on MI, and the trip back home goes through Issaquah and there is zero wait for your car. Both park and rides are very safe. I just think fewer eastsiders will be willing to make that trip, and will look for WFH or eastside offices to avoid it. Who doesn’t look to reduce or eliminate their work commute?

        In that case, East Link’s problem is it does not serve the areas that today have the offices, unless you want a long walk uphill, which is a type of first mile access eastsiders do not like. Areas like East Main, Wilburton, The Spring District are looking to be decades away from development, and even then those areas will likely have poor retail and the office space will be B or C when only A office space will survive, and I can’t see any bank financing B or C office space construction.

        I think some of the Seattle urbanists on this blog don’t understand why folks who live in Auburn or Sumner or Kent or anywhere along Lynnwood Link would rather endure a long commute than move closer to Seattle. They can understand why eastsiders prefer to live on the eastside, but not these other less expensive and more rural suburban neighborhoods. It is because those “suburbanites” think the quality of life for them and their families is so much better in these suburban areas, and the endless stories in The Seattle Times about the problems in downtown Seattle only confirms these beliefs. Unfortunately most of the “urban planners” and transit planners over the last 20 years have all lived in the urban core.

        In a lot of ways we are spending $152 billion to build a “regional” light rail system to remote areas of a huge area because workers were forced to work in downtown Seattle but were unwilling to live there. Usually when there is this kind of tension something breaks, and that was working or visiting downtown Seattle, not living in their rural/suburban areas. Like I have said before, Link will live and die on first/last mile access, and the state of downtown Seattle. Hopefully it doesn’t go the way of Sounder S., with plenty of park and ride space but no riders, at least peak riders.

      28. Gee I’m not sure how the topic pivoted from discussing remote park and ride locations to debating Downtown Bellevue stations that are already built and ready to open — but here we are…

        As far as South Bellevue goes, there are several historic contributing factors to its evolution that must be mentioned:

        1. The South Bellevue lot was created as the last “local stop” so it was seen as the place to catch a bus and ride to Downtown Seattle quickly.
        2. The location is reasonably close to Newport and Newcastle, places that struggled with justifying frequent local service — and the place where wealthier Downtown Seattle workers lived. This would be more apparent had Eastgate’s parking not been built.
        3. There have been many discussions about tolling I-90 bridge for decades, as well as Mercer Island not wanting to be a regional parking hub for the Eastside. Intercepting drivers prior to the toll segment is an intuitive place to put a park and ride lot.

        As far as Issaquah TC goes, it was built similarly to many similar facilities at the time. However, it’s big failings are that it’s pretty far from the freeway requiring several signals to reach, that it’s not immediately surrounded by anyplace worthy of being a high activity destination, and is in a valley “corner” so it’s not got a great walkable catchment area. It probably should have been put somewhere between Gilman and I-90. The silver lining here is that planning for Issaquah Link is still a decade away so surely ST will study moving the center at that time, so — unlike debating already-built East Link locations — a discussion of this can lead to a better outcome for transit riders.

      29. Issaquah is an interesting city. It is based solely on the car and interstate. Unlike many eastside cities that develop away from the freeway Issaquah developed right along I-90. In fact, I-90 bisects it, which is why Issaquah has three exits from I-90. It is a long and fairly narrow city.

        It is also a geographically large city. The folks who moved to Issaquah never intended to live near the town center but in the surrounding SFH zones. Land was cheap in the town center and plentiful, so the commercial zone expanded out, not up. When we moved to MI in 1970 Issaquah was basically Pluto.

        Due to the great access from I-90 and sheer size of the town center Issaquah –even though only 35,000 residents — became a retail juggernaut and generates a lot of money in retail sales tax. Many of the other eastside cities don’t want that kind of retail center, or don’t have the land for it, and there is only so much retail the area can support so condense it somewhere since no matter what you will have to drive to it (if just to carry your stuff home), which has become Issaquah. It has all the big box stores, huge parking lots that are surrounded by big box stores, and is virtually unwalkable, and has no intent of being walkable. Or bikeable. Why when Issaquah’s targeted customers need a car/SUV to carry their things home. There are plenty of surrounding trails if you want to walk and bike (Issaquah by far has the highest park acres per 1000 residents ratio of any city in the Puget S. region). Eastsiders like my wife love shopping in Issaquah.

        Then you have the demographic. I agree with Mike that the one area of Issaquah that is kind of walkable is Old Front Street, but even then most folks drive to the restaurant they plan to eat in and park right there. Not many stroll up and down the street. Whether east or west of I-90 no other area is walkable, unless you count the huge shopping areas with huge parking lots surrounded by huge stores bordered with very wide streets with a zillion cars zipping around on. I can’t imagine trying to cross Front St. east of I-90 on foot.

        Issaquah sees transit as work commuters. So why put the park and ride near retail. Those folks are leaving from the park and ride, and when they return they will get in their car and drive to one of the big box stores because you can’t carry what you buy from a Costco or Home Depot or Fred Meyer.

        When Issaquah Link gets closer what Issaquah might do is upzone housing along the existing park and rides (although Issaquah is not interested in cheap affordable TOD but more like Issaquah Highlands), but it won’t site the park and ride in the town center. Why? Folks are not going to walk from a park and ride to shop in Issaquah’s town center. They are going to get in their car and drive to that retail.

        The key to Issaquah Link is by the time a DEIS comes along I think the work commuter will be dead, or very, very low. Look at the park and rides now. Empty. So where will folks who live in Issaquah and Sammamish and North Bend and Snoqualmie be going that forces them to drive to a park and ride in Issaquah? What is there you can’t get in Issaquah, and why would you take transit to it?

        In the past the only reason folks from this huge region would take transit was working in downtown Seattle where parking was very expensive (and no Mike, the folks using these park and rides are not the doctors, lawyers, executives et al who drive to work). The eastside transit restructure recognized that commute is going away, so the 554 was rerouted to Bellevue Way. But how long until the commute from this area to Bellevue Way goes away. It isn’t like the folks from this huge area like driving to a park and ride in Issaquah to commute to downtown Bellevue, although they prefer that over downtown Seattle.

        We talk about the parking garages in Kent, Auburn and Sumner, but Issaquah Link is estimated to cost $4.5 billion all said and done. If transit is dead in Issaquah today, and the one transit user the work commuter is moving away from commuting to work, let alone Seattle that has parking that is too expensive, I can’t think a worse city than Issaquah to place Link, let alone a new park and ride. My guess is even the 554 when East Link opens will have low ridership. Like today.

        I am not sure you could find a more anti-transit city and area than Issaquah, and yet folks love it, both the SFH zones and shopping center(s).

      30. Mike, MAX has almost no collisions in the CBD because it runs at the Mall speed limit of 25. There aren’t many cars in the single adjacent lane. The east-west line runs on a pair of two-lane streets with one lane for MAX and one for cars.

        Two stations on thevesst-west line have been closed to improve the time required to pass through downtown.

      31. Through much of downtown Portland, MAX also has track paved in cobblestones so that it isn’t comfortable to drive on it. Lloyd Center area has a curb separating the track from the traffic.

        I’m quite glad TriMet didn’t build any median right of way with paved lanes, like Link has on ML King. I think MAX would have vastly more collisions with that arrangement rather than the ballasted track median used in most places.

        Still, there’s far too many stray automobiles that get into places they shouldn’t.

        Eg, the BMW that fell out of the sky on the Cedar Hills Transit Center a few years ago.

      32. “And how do you bike from South Bellevue to Factoria? When I rode the 240 it got on I-90 in between.”

        There is a bike trail that runs directly from Factoria to South Bellevue park and ride underneath the alongside I-90. Passes right underneath 405. 100% bike/ped trail, no cars, which is why you don’t see the bus go that way.

      33. Yes thank you asdf2 – S Bellevue as excellent bike access.

        Mike – yes, Olde Towne is where the public destinations are – library, city hall, senior center, etc. – but I’d put the center of gravity of Issaquah at roughly Gilman & 4th. There’s not much south of Olde Towne, but north of Olde Towne there’s the all the retail and services oriented along Gilman, there is everything along Lake Sammamish Parkway, there is Costco’s HQ (a massive source of latent ridership), and then Lake Sammamish State Park & Cougar Mountain Zoo a bit further afield but both an easy bike ride from the TC. Issaquah’s growth center does not include Olde Towne, so as midrise development slowly fills in there will be more within the 15 minute walkshed of the TC. All that said – yes, the TC would be a terrible spot for a Link station; Issaquah would be better off with a Stride project that would allow for 2~3 station on the valley floor and then 1~2 stations up in the Highlands.

      34. Glenn, thanks for mentioning the cobblestones. They are a good idea, and I forgot about them. They do make definite difference; it’s not only visual but auditory: YOU’RE NOT IN THE RIGHT PLACE!

    4. Sumner is in a ballpark all its own. It’s the most remote and isolated station between Tacoma and Seattle. There are semi-rural lots right downtown. Sumner is outside the PT district so it gets no local bus service. The PT district contracted in the 2010s to exclude the southeastern tax-haters that were killing bus levies. There’s no solution for them until they’re willing to pay for local bus service. Sumner has Sounder because it passes through there. Bonney Lake has an ST Express feeder to Sounder. That’s it for their transit.

      At the edges of the ST district, a substantial number of riders come from outside and don’t pay ST taxes. At Everett there’s Marysville, Mt Vernon, Lake Stevens, and maybe Snohomish. At Mukilteo there’s Whidbey Island. At Edmonds there’s the West Sound. At Kent there’s Covington and Maple Valley. At Dupont, Lakewood, and Tacoma Dome there’s Olympia. Kitsap Transit pays for part of ST Express 595 between Purdy and Tacoma College; but would all those runs continue to Seattle without it? Or would the money be shifted to other Pierce ST Express priorities? How the subareas feel about subsidizing them is an ongoing debate. Sometimes the cities are glad ST intercepts all that out-of-district traffic so it doesn’t continue further into Snohomish and Pierce Counties.

      1. The solution to people living outside the taxing district using Link is to lower general tax revenue subsidies and raise fares to cover more capital and operations costs.

        For example, people all over the world and region living outside the port’s taxing district fly through SeaTac, but their ticket costs cover a majority of the airport’s and airline costs. You pay if you use it.

      2. That would raise the cost beyond what frequent riders can pay, and would make transit uncompetitive with driving. We have public transit because it’s good for the public and for cities’ economies, and we want to position it so that people will use it more, up to however many trips are optimal for them. Because what’s optimal for them is what’s optimal for the economy and for people around them.

      3. The peak-only shuttle from Bonney Lake (the 596) is run by Sound Transit and accounted for over 1/4 of the ridership at the station. It runs just from park-and-ride to park-and-ride (no stops in between). There is also the 578, which serves as an all-day substitute for Sounder in some ways, as it connects to Puyallup, Sumner and Auburn Station every hour. I believe there were plans to bump up frequency to half hour, but they ran out of money. After serving those three stations, the bus runs to Federal Way and then express downtown. This puts the Bonney Lake rider in a bit of a jam. If they want to get back home in the middle of the day, they can get to Sumner, but then have to call a cab. At a minimum, I would extend the 596, and time it with the 578 in the middle of the day.

        Since Sumner is in Pierce County, Metro doesn’t serve it. The station is not served by Pierce Transit. Oddly enough, the 409 comes close; less than 2 miles (and 2 minutes) away (https://goo.gl/maps/jjrtBrfu18vASPiNA). The bus is hourly. It would be difficult if not impossible to time it with both the Puyallup and Sumner Station, so they probably just gave up. This means some riders have to backtrack, but at least they have some way of getting there (I have no idea if the bus is timed to work with the 578).

        Given the overall density, the satellite park-and-ride model might be the best bet. I can see why the 596 runs directly from the Bonney Lake Park and Ride to the Sumner Station. There is very little along the way, and the highway is a straight shot through there. But I could see it being extended somewhat, to pick up other riders on the plateau. I also think that another connector bus to the area directly east of the station could work. Most of the area is very low density, but there are about 4,000 people in that square mile census block to the east of the station, which is about as good it gets around there. I could definitely see a bus that connected to a few church park-and-ride lots and a handful of streets while connecting to the train/578. Those three buses (an all-day 596, an extended 409, and something serving the neighborhoods directly east of the station) could work out reasonably well, and be a better value than a bigger park and ride lot.

        It all comes down to cost. It is easy to say that those sorts of buses aren’t worth it, but if that is the case, neither is a bigger park and ride lot. The folks that would fill up that lot have to come from somewhere, and giving them a bigger lot is simply not a good value — not at the prices that are being quoted.

      4. “The bus is hourly. It would be difficult if not impossible to time it with both the Puyallup and Sumner Station, so they probably just gave up”
        Sumner and a few other East Pierce cities left Pierce Transit District Area over some squabbles with Pierce Transit cutting service on many routes after 08. PT also put forth a ballot question in like 2011 to raise taxes to keep service but it failed, so Sumner, Bonney Lake, and Buckley left the district after the failure of the ballot question.

      5. Sumner, Bonney Lake, and Buckley left the district after the failure of the ballot question.

        Wow, that sucks. And yet many are paying for this far more expensive boondoggle of a transit project. My guess is they opposed it, but weren’t given the chance to opt out individually, like with Pierce Transit.

      6. “ The solution to people living outside the taxing district using Link is to lower general tax revenue subsidies and raise fares to cover more capital and operations costs.”

        For a park and ride rider, the solution is fairly easy to implement. Everyone that forks over the annual district car tabs gets a sticker to place on their car somewhere and the plate automatically gets registered into the system. ST puts up a gate at the entry that only lets cars enter that pay $2 (maybe on plastic) or cars where the driver has typed in the license plate on a key pad (maybe an optical reader can read the plate so the driver only needs to confirm it) and that plate would have already been registered as having paid the district taxes so that vehicle gets in for free.

        The gates could go down just between 4 am and 10 am. The parking can be free the remainder of the day and on weekends. If the system fails on a particular day, the gate open and parking is free to all.

        You can think of it as raising fares only on those who both live outside of the district and drive.

      7. Here’s some political background on Sumner and it’s political relationship with transit.

        The general public in Sumner thought that getting a train station with a train to Seattle would mean all day service on a really cool train. Turned out there can only be a few trains a day. So it’s your classic Sound Transit oversell…. Feel free to jump in here and disagree if you think Sound Transit gave value for tax money to the residents of Sumner. I’m all ears here.

        Thanks to Sound Transit’s bullshit oversell and decades of taxing…. Pierce Transit is woefully underfunded and there’s zero goodwill out in the County to fund anything to do with transit. The citizens of Sumner are still waiting for those Saturday train trips to Pike Place Market, Team Sound Transit promised…

      8. “The general public in Sumner thought that getting a train station with a train to Seattle would mean all day service”

        Did they? When did ST indicate that? Or did Sumnerites make faulty assumptions they’re now blaming ST for? I remember ST promising “commuter rail on existing tracks, which can be started quickly unlike Link”. Most American commuter rail is peak-only unidirectional, and I assumed Sounder would be to. The outliers like Caltrain, Metra, PATH, LIRR, NJT, are so unusual that you have to specify “all-day” to refer to that kind of service.

        And why would Sumnerites be more prone to assuming a promise of all-day service than the rest of the Sounder service area?

      9. You can live in Sumner and commute to Seattle 5 days to week on a 1-seat express. I think that’s excellent value, just like Sounder North is excellent value for the very small number of people who can easily walk/park to the Edmunds and Mukilteo stations.

        I’m not sure who are these people who thought Sounder would run all day and why they would still exist after 2002.

  6. Where has the “Who We Are” page gone. I want to know who this newbie, Andrew Bowen, came from and why.

    1. “Who [they] came from and why”

      Tom… do we need to have the ‘birds and the bees’ discussion? :)

      1. Um, “No”, AM; the birds and the bees are handled. Bowen writes good articles, and I am grateful for his being willing to step up. But I don’t recall him commenting until three or four months ago, and now he’s “on staff”.

        How long has he lived in the PNW? How long has he been a student of transit? These are not trivial things to know about the folks who shape the discussion here.

      2. I agree that it would be interesting to know, but FWIW I am a strong supporter of people’s privacy, so it doesn’t personally bother me that we don’t know anything more than a (perhaps fictitious) name.

        I am also grateful for the added coverage of content topics which a new author provides, and I think that it’s great to have more names added to the list of authors.

    2. I emailed Frank asking about the “Who We Are” page. I think it and some other links fell off the menu in the last design update. I’ll leave it to Andrew to decide how much to say about himself.

    3. It’s the “About Us” link in the right column. The list of writers is a year out of date, so it will take some time to update that. I’m in the way bottom section, from when I only wrote occasionally. We’ll have to add Andrew Bowen and Martin Pagel.

      1. I see the problem now. I’m using a device more these days, and there’s no “right column”. It shows up on a Windows machine (and presumably a Mac).

        Thanks.

      2. @TT,

        When using a small screen those links get moved to the bottom of the page. Try scrolling down.

    1. https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2023/05/30/california-lawmakers-urge-transit-bailout-pushing-back-on-newsoms-proposed-budget-cut/

      Here is a non-payroll article on Newsom’s proposed budget cuts to transit and the pushback from transit agencies.

      “California lawmakers Tuesday pushed back on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget for trimming transit funding and declining to bail out transit agencies like BART, which are threatening deep service cutbacks as they struggle to rebound from a pandemic plummet in ridership.”

      “Newsom’s office hinted at a willingness to compromise Tuesday but noted how the state is scrambling to balance a projected $31.5 billion deficit, just a year after enjoying an unprecedented $97.5 billion budget surplus.”

      2023 is the new normal when it comes to city, state, and even federal budgets after the debt ceiling compromise. Unless transit ridership returns pretty deep cuts will be necessary.

      1. But, if you make deep cuts, you make the service so miserable that ridership can never come back. BART being reduced to once an hour would be nearly unusable.

        If California is looking for something to cut, the can take the money allocated for HSR construction and redirect it into the fund that keeps existing buses and trains on the road.

      2. What would be the political implications of doing so? Would that be likely to result in a reduced Democrat majority in the California state legislature?

        I don’t know the answer, ideally the answer would be “no”, of course. But politics is not always not a zero-sum game, if I may sound a bit convoluted. Or, to put it another way, are there other considerations beyond “fund transit the most effective way” that also need to be taken into account. This is very much a hypothetical, but let’s say that removing HSR money increased the risk of one of the state legislature chambers flipping to R. That would have implications on other priorities, including funding climate change efforts, housing improvements, etc. Do you sacrifice mobility in the Bay Area to fund housing in the LA __and__ Bay Area? I can see an argument, even if dealing only in probabilities.

        Don’t get me wrong, I agree with you in the abstract. Funding the HSR nonsense needs to stop, put that where it’s better used. But neither of us is in charge of living with the consequences of that decision.

      3. The California legislature is definitely not flipping “R” no matter what and, by this point, HSR is seen by most Californians as a boondoggle anyway.

        Of course, the outcome Republicans would really want is to defund both HSR and BART and pour the money into tax cuts for the rich, but that’s clearly not happening, not should it.

      4. Asdf2, that is the point. Democrats have super majorities in the legislature and have the Governor. R’s have nothing to do with this. CA by law must balance its budget and right now there is a $32 billion deficit. It has arguable the most liberal Governor in the U.S. who is recommending no state subsidies for local transit. You may disagree but it has nothing to do with R’s. Just money. If the cuts don’t come from transit no one is riding they have to come from some other place like housing, healthcare, education, the environment, police, fire, utility subsidies, clean energy, you name it.

      5. Would they close schools too due to lack of funding, or would they find a way to keep essential things open?

        I left California in the early 70s before any of the modern politics happened, but from what I’ve heard, Republicans lost California after a particularly racist campaign that turned people against the party for a generation. So they won’t get back in power anytime soon.

        What are California transit agencies’ funding structures? I know some states fund them partly at the state level. Washington doesn’t, except short-term grants for particular purposes.

      6. BART is unique among transit systems in many ways. Financially, BART always had an amazing farebox recovery so that needed operating subsidies were lower per trip.

        That culture led to cushy labor agreements with some categories like station agents. It also makes BART particularly vulnerable to lower ridership.

        When times have been good, the added revenue gets more spread around to employees. When the opposite happens, they can’t go the other direction.

      7. “Unless transit ridership returns pretty deep cuts will be necessary”
        I guess disabled people should suffer under that logic despite the fact that they have no other choice. And peoplw wonder why transit service n America that is so draconian despite this fetish by people to run transit like a profit driven business. Despite the fact that isn’t how you run transit in any way whatsoever, it’s a public utility not a business that realistically needs to make money like a traditional business.

  7. To “close” any of BART’s five lines would be criminal negligence, given how much they have cost to build, including newly opened segments and a subway being bored in San Jose now. Reducing service to once an hour on others would be equally foolhardy.

    There is a way to keep the system more viable while reducing service hours, but it comes at the cost of some friction for riders.

    The simple solution is to run the night system through the mid-day period. That is, have only the Contra Costa trains cross the Bay to Millbrae. Richmond to Berryessa would coordinate with the Pittsburgh-SFO trains at MacArthur and 19th and Dublin/Pleasanton at Bay Faire.

    Grant that this means two transfers for D/P riders, but maintaining 15 minute headways would be worth it.

    If 15 minute headways are not sufficient for San Francisco, then run the Red Line (Richmond) just to Daly City. This would give 7-8 headways through the Mission District and direct service between SF and UC Berkeley.

    The bottom line is that BART cost many billions of dollars to build while operations at a minimal level for usability is relatively cheap. Without it A-C Transit would have to run at least 50 buses per hour across the Bay Bridge. Operating BART is a bargain by comparison.

    1. Also, if push comes to shove, you can always save money by shortening trips. Suspending service altogether to Antioch and Pittsburg makes far more sense than reducing San Francisco to Oakland service to once an hour.

      1. Agreed. Back in the day, most of the ridership was within a handful of stations, all of which are fairly close together. The ratio has likely increased. In short, serving the more distant stations is not a good value, but serving the closer stations is.

  8. A little late to this thread, but….”Community Transit: None”. REALLY? How hard is it to do a quick web search? I mean, I know this is branded the “Seattle” Transit blog and all, but could you do a little bit better for folks to the north? They’re only the third largest agency in the state. Two taps from the home page:
    https://www.communitytransit.org/board-of-directors

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