Metro, Sound Transit, Kitsap Transit, and the Seattle Streetcars will be free July 11-12 (Monday and Tuesday) fo the All-Star Week baseball tournament. This includes Link, Sounder, buses, streetcars, the King County Water Taxi, and the Kitsap Fast Ferry. Other agencies are not participating (i.e., not Community Transit, Pierce Transit, the Monorail, or Washington State Ferries). The linked announcement page has a short video message by King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Link will run every 8 minutes all day July 8 (Saturday), 10 (Monday), and 11 (Tuesday). Enjoy a taste of more-frequent service. Sounder will have extra runs on the 10th and 11th. Metro’s fareboxes and ORCA readers will be covered. Sound Transit’s readers will be adjusted to charge zero if you tap.

Update: Metro has a downtown map with more information. Metro has extra service July 7-11 on routes C, D, E, H, 7, 36, 101, 150, and 255. ST Express has extra service on routes 522, 545, 550, and 554. Route 21 will be rerouted to 4th Ave S after events on July 8, 10, and 11.

This is an open thread.

212 Replies to “Transit Fare Holiday”

  1. I’m surprised yet delighted to see a joint regional effort to be proactive in anticipating a large event. Just wish this type of coordination could be applied to other practical issues that affect daily riders.

    1. Note that Seattle likely gets lots more tourists as well as local incidental transit riders during LGBTQ Pride every year including a few weeks ago — and fares are fully enforced and expected. Note too that it’s not just making the ride to the game free (as in using a game ticket as a transit pass) but it’s making every ride free for a few days. Note that saving a few dollars with free transit is likely not significantly changing the transportation choices of a tourist going to the game — while riding with smelly vagrants who won’t have to pay fares might . Finally note that it’s not being touted as a “Try Transit” period designed to attract new or returning riders.

      I see that Link will also be bumped to 8 minute frequency all day rather than just near game times. While nice for riders it is an increase in needed drivers at a time when there is a shortage.

      This is a feel good gesture that seems pointless to me. The only benefit would seem to be a slight bump in average monthly ridership statistics.

      I’d much rather see that the money went to some driver overtime so that the trains and buses can operate later on those days. Having the last train leave SeaTac at 11:45 pm will be a much bigger inconvenience to the many arriving tourists landing late.

      1. Having the last train leave SeaTac headed through Downtown to Northgate at 11:45 pm …

      2. “while riding with smelly vagrants who won’t have to pay fares might”

        Smelly vagrants don’t usually jump onto transit when it’s free for a couple days. You can check Monday and Tuesday whether there are more than usual, but I doubt it.

      3. It’s not necessarily about the cost as much as the “having to even take out your wallet.” So, mostly a psychological nudge, but hey, we’re all humans after all.

        Most tourists staying in Town would likely not drive themselves to the game anyway, dealing with rental car counters, hotel parking, traffic, venue parking–it’s a miserable experience for being on vacation, and for many, in an unfamiliar city. It might people to opt for the train rather than an Uber, though.

        Fortunately locals get to enjoy the benefit this time around as well, some people might try transit when they otherwise wouldn’t consider it, eg. people traveling in groups and having to pay a fare for each person. Link really should run later than last call at the bars, though!

      4. Most hotels in urban areas charge between $25 to $40/night for parking. I don’t know many people who rent a car in an urban city anymore. Uber, or transit, avoids this cost, finding parking at one’s destination, getting to the destination in a strange city (Uber drops you off at the door), and the hassle of driving in an urban area.

        Whether local public transit competes with Uber for this affluent demographic depends on the public transit, and the safety of the streets and stations. I don’t think the cost between the two is much of a factor for this group. Probably a bigger competition for Uber is walking, if the city is dense enough. Much of tourism is walking.

        For example, we drove to CA to see our daughter. Along the way we stayed at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. Parking was $40/night. We had to pay it because we didn’t want our car vandalized and stuff stolen. But while in San Francisco we Ubered everywhere, in large part because of safety issues, and because you can drink alcohol without risk of a DUI, and the Uber driver knew where we wanted to go. Had we flown to San Francisco we would have not had a car or used the parking.

        Even for an excursion out of the city renting a car and driver for the day is a better deal than renting a car and paying for the hotel parking. This is very popular in Europe in which the driver serves as a kind of guide.

        My guess is this is what the majority of folks flying in for the All Star game will do. My guess is most concierges will recommend Uber over public transit due to safety issues, especially at night.

      5. Even if money is unlimited, Uber doesn’t work well for crowded events
        There’s only so many drivers and so much unloading space. If 10,000 people all tried to book a separate Uber at the same time from the same place, the result would be extremely long lines of cars and extremely long lines of people waiting for them.

        That, right there, is the incentive for affluent people to ride transit. Even if money is unlimited, they still value their time, and waiting in line for an hour to get an Uber that takes you to the same place you can get too on a train that runs every 8 minutes is just dumb. We’re talking here about trips from one end of downtown Seattle to the other, an entire train ride that lasts all of 5 minutes, not a trip to some random location out in the suburbs where cars are faster.

        As to the crime argument, you always exaggerate it, but the crime risk is always greatest when the train, stations, and downtown streets are empty. With a major event, they will be full, so the risk is minimal. It’s also not like Uber is risk free either. The background checks that drivers undergo are not very robust, and there have been instances of passengers getting kidnapped or assaulted by Uber drivers.

      6. @ Daniel and adsf2 .. you both make valid points. Carless tourists often use Uber/Lyft as their primary way of getting around. But Daniel as I commented elsewhere in this post, I’ve been noticing an obvious increase in summer tourists returning to the city and using transit (at least getting to/from the airport) But Uber/Lyft has a disadvantage during events as they often get stuck in traffic, a hard to find after events and of course surge pricing.

      7. Most of the homeless population already qualifies for the Subsidized Annual Pass, so making transit free for two days should not induce any additional rides among this population.

        I don’t know how tourists are supposed to find out about transit being free.

      8. Tickets to events at Climate Pledge Arena serve as day passes on transit because determining if a ride is to or from an event is too much of an administrative nightmare.

        I don’t know why Lumen Field has not implemented a similar policy.

      9. Tourists have come back to downtown Seattle, and the cruise ships are bringing large numbers of people. It’s office workers who are the most missing. Ballgame visitors may range from upper middle-class people who stay in big-name hotels and don’t take transit and use the concierge extensively, to backpackers who stay in hostels and always use transit, to budget travelers in between, to people who stay with relatives/friends and might want to use transit. All these visitors may make different decisions for going to stadium events vs going other places at other times. They also have to get from the airport to their hotel, and they may have heard of Link.

        How visitors will know about the free fares is King County’s problem. It doesn’t seem to have done a good job. I only heard about it because Brent White emailed the contact address yesterday. That’s only four days before it starts. I don’t know how much it has been publicized to baseball fans or visitors or the rest of the public. I checked the Seattle Times. There’s an article today on things to do during All-Star Week ($) but it doesn’t mention transit. There was an article two days ago on getting around Seattle during the week ($). It mentions the extra Link and Sounder runs, but it talks about buying tickets, so the decision on free fares must have been made after that. Which means it was made very recently, with little time to publicize it.

  2. Let’s increase resident’s property taxes to fund sound transit only to give free fares to all the visitors in town for the baseball.

    1. Great idea! I believe tourists should get a transit map and ride 5 days for free. It’s not like these folks aren’t going to drop some pretty serious cash in the region anyway. Sign up online, pay a small handling fee, ride all the trains, buses and walk on ferries for free!

      1. decades ago, it was suggested to include transit script and a Route 194 timetable in all plane ticket envelopes.

    2. Maybe the Mariners are funding this; I don’t know. But two free days won’t make a dent in the annual budget. And it may be to avoid gridlock on the streets, which is a public interest.

      1. ORCA agencies could contract with hotels to include ORCA cards as part of the hotel tab. Add $5 to a hotel bill per card, which is tiny, and provide an ORCA card for say 2 days. My guess is most tourists would gladly pay $5 rather than figure out how to buy an ORCA card, and the hotel concierge could teach them how to use it.

        Then clean up the stations and streets. Because my guess is for most intra-urban trips, folks in a hotel will use Uber, in part because that is what the concierge will tell them to use. The cost differential between Uber and transit when compared to the cost of travel, hotels, meals, drinks, events like the All Star game, is irrelevant, especially as there will likely be more than one person, and everyone already knows how to use Uber, which takes you door to door. I really don’t know anyone who uses public transit in an urban area anymore, whether there on pleasure or business, even NYC. Mostly for safety, time of trip, and convenience.

      2. @ Daniel, if you haven’t been on Link lately south of downtown, then you wouldn’t have noticed the return of tourists and their usage of transit. I’m a Sodo user and always see out-of-towners using Link for the airport. I also see them at Chinatown going to/from King Street station. Tourism isn’t what it used to be but it’s heavy enough where I’ve helped a few visitors in recent weeks navigate our streets & trains.

      3. “I really don’t know anyone who uses public transit in an urban area anymore, whether there on pleasure or business, even NYC. Mostly for safety, time of trip, and convenience.”

        Say what?
        Even those folks I know who seldom use transit in their normal routines will do so when visiting NYC, SF, Chicago, DC, London, Paris, Tokyo, well you get the idea.

        I just recently got back from a trip to Charlotte, NC for a family event. We used the light rail line just about every day we were there. If the event had been held in the city itself we likely wouldn’t have rented a car at all.

      4. @Daniel Not a bad idea for hotels to give free transit passes to guests. When you are paying a $40/night resort fee at a downtown hotel with no pool, gym or free breakfast, it is nice when guests get some perk for their money that a decent number of people can use. Doubt it will happen though.

    3. Why aren’t restaurants and hotels aren’t making their services free during All-Star week? If the government can make riding public transit free, why can’t private businesses make meals and lodging free for the week?

      1. Lol. Too bad my spouse’s family doesn’t have their restaurant anymore. They would surely get on board with your idea there, Sam.

    4. Sam, I want you to research who’s paying for these free days. If it’s taxpayers, what are the public interest benefits they cite for it? How much of it is due to congestion concerns (cars clogging the roads) vs marketing image (how tourists feel about King County)?

      1. My comment was snarky, and, as you often like to point out, I’m comparing apples to oranges. So, here’s a serious question. How common is it for cities, when there is a big event in their town, like the Olympics, a major league sports championship, Coachella, Lollapalooza, the world’s fair, etc., for the host city to make their public transit free for the duration of the event. No snark this time. I’m truly curious if it’s a common thing to do.

      2. I was going to ask that myself. I haven’t heard of it. Germany does what Climate Pledge Arena does: your ticket doubles as a transit pass for the day.

      3. I assigned you to report on the funding because you’re always trying to assign me things.

      4. People have already touched on this but the fiscal resources should go into running better service during a big event than make it free.

      5. Making it free is an investment in better service, when the ridership skews heavily towards out-of-towners who would be otherwise delayed having to purchase transit.

  3. Yesterday, while riding my bike across the 520 bridge, I passed a broken-down route 255 bus, right in the middle of the bridge, with passengers on board. I wonder how long they had to wait for a rescue bus and how they were able to get the passengers off of one bus onto the other safely.

    This is also, of course, the kind of thing that happens when an agency is short on mechanics and 40% of the fleet is inoperable.

    1. I was shocked to find out that a whopping 40% of the fleet is down. After working years in transit (and now in the private transportation sector), I HIGHLY suspect the issue has less to do with the supply chain and more to do with labor shortages and union bullsh–. CT and PT aren’t having fleet issues and most of their buses are the same as Metro’s.

    2. Hmmm. I suppose they have the assistance of WA State Patrol to facilitate the safe transfer of passengers from one coach to the other, no?

      A relative of mine just recently left his private sector job to go work as a mechanic for ST. So, one down and (x) to go?

  4. I hope Metro/ST will restock the mask dispensers. The sportsball tourists need not take special edition souvenirs, like 1.16, 1.9.1, 1.9.2, or 2.3, home with them.

    1. The majority of ST routes are operated by CT and PT. Given that they don’t stock masks on their own buses, I highly doubt they’ll do the same for their ST routes. Only the Eastside routes *may* have them cuz they’re Metro-operated (plus the 522).

    1. As someone who has worked in transit for several years, I can attest the supply chain issue has softened and is an excuse for a labor shortage that is caused by 1) ineffective hiring processes 2) archaic union bullsh** 3) stale workplace culture & policies 4) constant exposure to dangerous customers who aren’t removed from buses. Both CT and PT have similar New Flyer coaches like Metro but they’re not having fleet issues. They are all, however, suffering from driver shortages caused by the aforementioned issues.

      1. I always hear about seniority being king when it comes to getting hours and the most desirable routes (e.g., #2 above). With the inflation we have right now, fewer people can really afford to start as part time and work their way into a full time role, even if they’re training you for a CDL, you got bills to pay.

      2. @ Sam… I’m sorry to go on a rant but I can’t help it….

        1) It takes several weeks for your application to be reviewed. If you’re pre-approved”, you have to complete several online assessments. If you pass the pre-approval, you have to take time out of your schedule and attend a physical exam, drug test and visit the DOL for testing – all of this FOR A PART-TIME JOB. Community Transit had a similar process but realized it was turning away recruits. They’ve since remolded their hiring process.

        2) The union prevents hiring on for full-time. You have to work your way up, based on seniority, into a full-time position. Currently, that should be easy given the shortage. But when you achieve full-time, your schedule will likely be split – working during the am and peak with a midday break in between. Don’t get me started on other union BS, like route bids…which is a major contributor to chronic delays. Or protecting bad workers..

        3) Public service is void of creativity and innovation. There’s no recognition for good work or incentive to do good work. It’s culturally dead. The only thing that keeps you is the good pay and benefits. That’s one of the reason public servants are notorious for bad attitudes. Also (please dont hate me), the vaccine mandate kicked out drivers and mechanics. So the labor shortage is partially self-inflicted.

        Compare this to the many jobs out there and it shouldn’t be a surprise that no one is applying. And the new-hires that do come onboard don’t stay for long.

      3. The Unions don’t design the route bids. Management does that. The Unions just get to decide whether it is worth it to give up some pay in order to get rid of split shifts.

      4. I really don’t know anyone who uses public transit in an urban area anymore

        C’mon, Daniel. A law-school classmate of the Gov with a Mercer Island home likely has a “Friend List” rather different from that of the Median Voter. People — real, honest biological Homo sapiens “people” — in their millions do actually use public transit when they visit cities other than their own. Even [gasp!] here in North America. Nor does every one of them have a heart-to-heart with The Concierge.

        Jordan has met some of them recently on Central Link, as he points out.

        “I am Everyman” is a common illusion, but often not supported by the lived experience of all those other Everymen.

      5. Whoops, wrongly placed reply. I had two tabs open to STB and replied in the wrong one. Oh well.

        Jordan, I don’t see how transit can avoid the split-shift problem as long as there are peaks and drivers want full-time work. Yes, it consumes their whole day, but they do get the middle of it off, and here in the north that’s often the most desirable time. Not in current summers, of course.

      6. A split-shift has more benefits than drawbacks. I’ll prove it. Someone, list all the benefits of a split-shift vs all the drawbacks, from the driver’s perspective.

      7. PT gets paid $2/hour for hours in between splits. Which I believe is used to get them closer to overtime pay. But if you just want to do your 40 hours, I imagine splits suck.

      8. Cam, here are some reasons I came up with why some drivers may prefer a split shift:

        – The two halves may not add up to 8 hours Example, 3 hour AM shift. 4 hour PM shift, so the driver works 7 hours, but gets paid for 8.
        – Driving a single route for 8 hours might be boring for some. A split shift offers more variety, letting a driver drive two different routes during the day.
        – Choosing a split shift may allow a low-seniority driver to work at a base they might not otherwise have the seniority to work at.
        – Some drivers might physically or mentally not be able to work a straight 8 hours. They need a midday break.

        And then, drivers who work split-shifts often don’t do so five days a week, unless they chose to do that. What’s more common is a driver will work a few days of a straight 8 hours, then one or two days may be split-shift. Also, drivers who choose to work “the board,” or agree to be assigned something different every day, are also agreeing to the possibility of being assigned split-shifts. Working the board is popular with higher seniority drivers because it offers more variety, and I heard they can make more money.

    1. I also don’t believe Metro increased security at the transit center since the murder.

    1. Wow, shades of Robert Moses and more than a bit redolent of the 1950’s and 60′ fetish for Negro removal er, ah “Urban Renewal” ……

      I can’t believe that the City of Everett really wants a strip six blocks long ripped out of its downtown. What do they expect to be there after construction of an elevated railway is finished? A park maybe, but that’s a lot of tax revenue lost permanently. Or will the trackway be to one side of the strip of blocks and the other halves be redeveloped? That’s not how the map shows it, but it’s pretty large scale.

      Also, look at all those wasted acres for surface parking in the station plan diagrams. What a bunch of amateurs the consultants are.

      1. Daaang Tom…headed for Defcon 3 with your comments on Evdrett Link. Yes it looks atrocious but let’s all speak up now so it won’t happen later.

    2. I made an article for this, because I have a feeling the discussion will be long.

      My internet went down right before publishing so I had to wait for it to come back up.

  5. I can’t wait to see what the streets will look like after the upcoming Taylor Swift concerts …I hope ST has the foresight in adding extra trains at night. A Sounder train woulda been nice too.

  6. Added an update with Metro’s downtown map and a list of routes with extra bus service.

  7. “July 6, 2023 – Sound Transit CEO, Julie Timm, will appear at the July 13 Lake Forest Park City Council meeting. Please join us in front of city hall for a critical rally at 6:30 pm.”

    Saw this item on the website for the group “Citizens Organized to Rethink Expansion” (CORE) which has objections concerning the planned 522 STride line through their community.

    1. Thanks Tisgwm. Having read the link and following this issue before on this blog I agree with LFP that allowing buses to bypass congestion is better fiscally and aesthetically with no degradation of transit service. ST’s old plan is from its Robert Moses days, and reflects how ST has never understood the more suburban areas, or how a community could prioritize a forest over an extremely expensive BRT lane that is no better than the bypass.

      Prior posts on this blog have accused LFP as being elitists, as though questioning ST or any transit proposal during the SEPA process is like attacking the King. But when you look at the dispute FROM A TRANSIT point of view bypass lanes are better all around, especially if money does not grow on trees.

      It is like the issue whether to route the 554 to Bellevue or MI when East Link opens. Once you remove the reflexive animosity toward anything suburban on this blog or anyone daring to question transit plans you see LFP is correct from a transit point of view.

      I don’t know if ST can or will see this as their mindset is so calcified, but ST is a much weaker agency than when it fought MI for all those years, and fortunately I think Timm understands this. Hopefully ST goes with the bypass, preserves the forest, which like routing the 554 to Bellevue was always the better decision, unless like ST you are blind.

      I am impressed Timm is going. Rogoff never came to MI, or anywhere. He thought he was the incarnation of Robert Moses, and yet left in disgrace.

      Cities like MI and LFP need folks like Timm to go there and listen. Cities like Bellevue and Issaquah don’t because they don’t have to ask, let alone God forbid litigate.

    1. My comments. Unfortunately I’ll be out of town, so email as all I got.

      Given your fiscal challenges and increasing delays, the obvious thing to do is to revisit your decision not to take a general purpose lane excluding right-of-way for Stream on Pacific Avenue. This is he clear and necessary choice, particularly for the Tacoma section:
      The AADT is not much more than 10K each way, and vastly lower than that above 38th.
      Peak travel volumes should be revisited in our current high work from home environment.
      The road is incredibly dangerous. It’s designed as a highway, and people drive highway speeds. The only possible way to have any hope of slowing the road down and achieving Vision Zero goals in the corridor is to narrow the lanes and drop the number of general purpose lanes.
      Using current general purpose lanes would;
      – substantially drop the price,
      – substantially drop the time it take to complete,
      – substantially lower the impacts on businesses and neighbors who are already
      organizing to fight for their parking and buffers,
      – decrease the likelihood of litigation due to takings.

      There is a concurrent safety project and health impact assessment that I would hope Pierce Transit is actively coordinating with. If the city, county and Pierce Transit all worked together to increase safety, this corridor could be transformational for this part of the city, while making the project much cheaper and closer to on-time.

      Do the right thing for these poor, and highly impacted, diverse neighborhoods this corridor has for far too long been a violent scar through the middle of.


      1. Cam, I attended the special study session on Monday and this comment wasn’t read. Did you put it in as a public comment? If so, I’m concerned. Because they said they had received no written comments during the special study session.

  8. Saturday midday report. Link frequency is uneven, varying between 6-17 minutes. Luckily I only had to wait 2 minutes both ways. Ridership at U-District and Capitol Hill seems lighter than usual. Maybe everybody is at the ball game? I saw ten people in baseball shirts going southbound.

    1. I rode Link to the all star events today. It was very well used but not crush loaded. No signs of DT’s feared vagrants. The real time signs are still inaccurate, but actual headways seemed to be 8-10 minutes with a mix of 3 and 4 car trains.

    2. The first row in the next-train displays accurately said “2 minutes” or “Now”. I didn’t stay to see whether there was really a 17-minute gap before the next train.

      1. Mike Orr: I think the gap on the Real time displays is caused by trains laying over at Northgate. When I’m looking at the Transit app, there’s no problem with Link schedules.

    3. I’m seeing data issues with Link. Travelling southbound on Saturday, Google Maps and One Bus Away both said there would be a train at Roosevelt in 3 minutes. the display screen said 10 minutes. The train came in 3 minutes.

      But then travelling northbound later that day at U District, both Google Maps and One Bus Away said there would be a train in 6 minutes and the display said 14 minutes. The train came in 14 minutes. In hindsight it would have been faster for me to stay on the surface and catch the 67 bus.

      So 1 time, the apps got it right, and the other time the station display got it right. It’s frustrating that at no time did all of the data sources agree with each other, and that at any given time I don’t know what data to trust.

      1. I was standing at Westlake waiting for a train midday on Friday.

        The arrival sign was very erratic, as it has been at other times these past several weeks. The next three train arrivals were not progressing consistently. It would change by several minutes on a moments notice. One of the next trains would disappear from the display.

        I don’t think it’s the app that’s the problem. I think it is probably something going on with the original train locator system. Instant arrival changes make no sense so I can’t even speculate what the source problem is.

    1. It’s a thorough article but repeats what every other thorough article has said on the issue.

      Even low income riders said levels of service were much more important than fares. What does better LOS need? More money. Why is transit suffering today? Lack of farebox recovery.

      Farebox recovery is down from around an average of 33% in 2019to 12.5% today.

      A different tax must be implemented to replace fares. After all, if the Governor of CA didn’t want to allocate more general taxes to Bart and Muni who will. The CA legislature allocated 1/2 of what the agencies claimed was needed to cover operations and capital investment for 2 years. Despite fares.

      Any increase in ridership comes from those who would walk or bike, not drive.

      What wasn’t mentioned is what kind of rider is attracted with free fares, and how much will it cost to keep those folks off transit, and what is the legal basis to keep them off y transit if fares are free. Like Metro just wait until the shift ends and leave the doors to the bus open?

      The folks who really benefit financially are those who today pay a full fare: upper income riders and businesses who subsidize fares for workers.

      The fundamental question is whether transit will be faster, more reliable. more coverage, cleaner and safer, without fares. I don’t think so.

      After all, isn’t that is what is going on today: fewer riders means less farebox recovery means less service, and fewer normal riders.

      The real debate coming up for cities and states is the same as for Bart, Muni and MTA: whether to increase general tax subsidies on top of farebox recovery to maintain LOS, or in many cases preserve the transit system at all. That means getting the middle class vote and vote of those who don’t ride transit. Good, clean safe transit that just needs more funding will do better at the polls with riders paying a fair share rather than free transit that needs even more general tax subsidies but is not safe, clean or pleasant for the normal rider.

      Long term transit is going to have to earn that rider back or significantly reduce its LOS. I don’t think free fares are the magic bullet, in large part I don’t see voters or legislature or Congress or councils allocating more general fund tax revenue to transit, certainly if fares are eliminated, in large part because they don’t have the money because 2023 is the year of new normal for tax revenue and rising costs. Bart’s and Muni’s real problem is CA went from a $100 billion estimated state surplus to a $32 billion deficit, not good for a governor who dreams of being President.

      1. “What wasn’t mentioned is what kind of rider is attracted with free fares, and how much will it cost to keep those folks off transit, and what is the legal basis to keep them off y transit if fares are free”

        This kind of denigration of the poor is repugnent. Stop it.

      2. Cam, you should have read the article. As it notes, lower income transit riders already receive subsidized or free fares. Those earning under $35,000 stated overwhelmingly the quality of transit is more important than fares (probably because they are paying a reduced or no fare).

        Clearly I was not talking about income. But if you want to live in a class warfare fantasy land and think low income transit riders like drug users and the homeless using transit as a home and toilet go ahead.

        The wealthy don’t ride transit, except rarely. But these cities and mayors want the wealthy to pay more for transit they rarely use. Do you think voters who don’t use transit —90% of voters — are going to vote for more taxes for transit — with or without fares —if the transit is unusable because it isn’t safe or clean?

        You are virtue signaling. You don’t give a shit about low income transit riders or you would have read the article and understood their fares are discounted, and the lower income transit rider wants what the middle class rider wants: safe, clean, fast reliable service. You would rather virtue signal and feel superior than provide transit the upper income rider wants to use because the lower income subsidized rider has no alternative and is not some lesser human being who should put up with transit that isn’t safe, clean, and reliable.

        After all, why do you think transit agencies use fare ambassadors or other security? To make sure upper income riders have paid their full fare? No. To make sure the experience is safe and clean for the hard working low income transit rider using transit for TRANSPORTATION.

        Virtue signaling won’t increase funding for transit or make transit better for those who must use transit. But your comment is all about you. It has zero empathy for the lower income transit rider who must use transit you think should have to put up with unsafe or unclean transit because they are poor and you are not.

      3. Cam, I don’t think Daniel was denigrating the poor. He was asking a legitimate question. What, if any, are the negative, unintended consequences of a fare-free transit system?

      4. Clearly I was not talking about income.

        What, other than income, prevents the “kind of rider is attracted with free fares” from boarding a bus? Please speak up, it’s hard to hear you over the dogwhistles.

        You are virtue signaling. You don’t give a shit about low income transit riders

        Daniel, you also don’t give a shit about transit, or the transit rider’s experience, so is it not virtue signalling for you to worry about the effects of fare-free operations?

      5. Nathan, again did you read the article. Low-income residents receive subsidized or free fares. They overwhelmingly value LOS over fares. The question is are buses and transit for transit use or other uses like housing and drug use? Of course the fare acts as a screening process. Will free fares make the transit rider experience, especially for those who must ride transit, better or worse? No one ever asks that question,

        “Daniel, you also don’t give a shit about transit, or the transit rider’s experience, so is it not virtue signalling for you to worry about the effects of fare-free operations?”

        No shit, Sherlock. As I noted in another post this a bunch of white middle class dudes on this blog or writing these articles, which is why the rider experience for those with free or subsidized fares is never considered. We can afford alternatives. The irony is affluent areas like the eastside and north Seattle do vote for more transit taxes, whereas the poor areas from SnoCo to S. King to Pierce vote overwhelmingly no. I am sure you can’t understand that, but I can. They don’t use transit, and any dollar taken out of their wallet hurts. The rest of us are just theorizing dilettantes.

        I support having employers (like our firm) subsidize employee transit fares at full rates. I support higher income folks like you and me paying full rates on transit, and I think the low-income riders deserve subsidized or free fares, and the same experience the middle-class riders demand, because your virtue signaling creates an experience that drives away that full fare paying rider who has alternatives and leaves the low-income rider who probably isn’t paying a fare with unsafe and unclean transit with less frequency and coverage because of the less farebox recovery.

        I am sure you care about the “poor”, but since you absolutely don’t understand them you support policies that make you feel better as a person but make their lives worse. Free fares would probably have little effect on transit on the eastside, although the loss of farebox recovery would probably reduce coverage and frequency (which probably should be cut anyway due to declining ridership). And the eastside could afford to supplement free fares, or just use some of the $600 million/year in ST revenue to offset free fares.

        But in the poorer areas of the counties it would likely result in a worse rider experience for the low-income subsidized rider. You care, but you just can’t see that because your life is so much removed from someone riding on transit on a subsidized fare. Virtue signaling often just means ignorance: since you (and I) don’t understand their lives we support policies that make us feel better, not make their lives better.

        I am not saying I should make the decision on free fares, even though I would likely be asked to pay for it (but our firm would then get free fares for our staff). I can’t understand all the effects, I don’t think additional general taxes will be approved to make up for lost farebox recovery, I do remember the free ride zone in downtown Seattle where I worked five days/week when it was in effect (both good and bad depending on the bus), and I think the rider experience on transit that has degraded so much already it will get worse for those who have no alternative.

        I could be wrong, and probably in the long run it would be a financial wash for me because our firm would not have to provide staff Orca cards, but I would like to see more articles and analysis of free transit fares that ask what do the low income riders want, and do THEY think free fares (which they already have) will make their transit experience better or worse. I wish you would address that question, which is not about you.

      6. Let’s not spiral down to the point I have to moderate things. Daniel’s “what kind of rider is attracted with free fares” does not refer to low-income people needing a ride to somewhere
        ; it refers to people who use transit for non-transit purposes (as a shelter/place to sleep/place to do drugs). I’ll just say he should word it more clearly and not let that ambiguity arise.

        “Virtue signaling” is a phrase that bothers me, because you don’t know what other people’s intentions are.

    2. I feel like the article is rather simplistic. There are many aspects to fare collection.

      For example, how are employer paid fare programs like unlimited Orca rides going to survive with free fares? Not only our systems here have to make up the list direct fares but all the revenue from employers. We would go from having employers pay for that part of the budget to the public covering that part of the budget. Keep in mind too that we have fare subsidy programs for low income people already.

      Then there is the issue of trip length. Most people that don’t own a car are looking to use transit for all trips rather than just for two trips a day to work or university. Those other kinds of trips tend to be short distance. I think a good case for short distance free fares is compelling while the long distance free fare trips seem less so. We live in a region where some people ride just 1 mile and others ride 50 miles. The 50 mile trips are likely not essential while the 1 mile trips are likely essential for living car-free. Other places address this by offering free or reduced fare transit on only circulator or feeder routes while leaving fares in place for long distance trips.

      Then there is the issue of overcrowding. There is already concern by some that we can’t get enough capacity on Link and on some major bus routes — and allowing rides for free will make this a bigger problem. Overcrowding isn’t a problem in Olympia.

      Finally the loss of fares would result in loss of service. Many truly car dependent people prefer transit but still must sometimes use a taxi or ride hailing app. Paying for one or two extra trips a week that way out of necessity (due to service reductions) can wipe out any savings a low income person can achieve through free fares.

      Anyway, these are just some of the issues of a free fare approach. The article mentions a few but not all of them. Many times reporters think that they prepare a thorough article but it ends up ignoring the complexities because that reporter is only looking at things on the surface.

      Rather than implying that free fares is some sort of idea that should be pursued everywhere, I think the reporter should have chosen just one system and assess how their program affects service quality and availability and whether it saves riders money in the long run or not.

      1. CT Route 422, Stanwood to downtown Seattle, is about 50 miles. Who is any of us here to say that someone who lives in Lynnwood should get a free ride to Seattle but someone who lives in Stanwood should not? Why should the poorer people who can’t afford to live in Lynnwood subsidize the system for the richer ones who can?

        Totally agree on most of the other points, but the distance one took me aback a little, I admit.

      2. Al, at its core I would entertain a transit system proposing to eliminate fares if that transit system had too much revenue, both farebox and general tax. Or at least reduce fares, although as you note upper income riders and employers are the biggest beneficiary as most low-income riders receive subsidized fares.

        Obviously, I don’t know too many transit systems whose problem is too much revenue (except maybe ST, although its future O&M deficit is quite large which is concealed today because it is a younger system unless you are Tisgwm).

        So before I would eliminate fares I would want to make sure the additional general fund tax revenue was in place to make up for the loss of farebox recovery, so in effect a transit agency did have too much money between farebox recovery and the new additional general tax revenue.

        Of course the problem with that approach is any levy or council action would be framed as: “raise property or other general taxes in order to eliminate fares”, and I think that would be tough sell, especially among those who don’t use transit or in less affluent areas like Pierce or SnoCo or S. King Co. so basically Seattle would end up subsidizing these areas. I am sure someone would calculate and publish the savings for companies like Microsoft and Amazon from free fares in any ballot measure.

        To abolish fares first, in order to remove that factor from a levy, with the hope the federal government, state, county, city or voters would step in afterwards to make up the difference, is a huge risk IMO. What happens if fares are eliminated and voters or politicians, like in CA, don’t vote to make up the difference?

        For the wealthy and affluent, probably not much would change in their lives since they have alternatives, and them leaving transit is the cause of the drop in farebox recovery in the first place. But for the poor and those who must take transit the loss of farebox revenue without some other tax to make up for that would make transit unusable for them, except they don’t have an alternative.

        The final issue is even if the additional general tax revenue is allocated how would free fares change the riders’ experience if anyone could ride transit for as long as they want and could never be removed? Is transit for non-transit uses? I think some progressives who virtue signal don’t really understand the poor, and think drug addicts or the homeless are the same, and so should be allowed on transit (especially affluent progressives because they don’t plan on using transit).

        The one demographic that does not benefit financially from free fares is low-income riders because their fares are free or subsidized. The one demographic that suffers the most if free fares change the rider experience for the worse is low-income riders because they will pay the same but have worse service.

        If there is one constant among all these wonky articles on free fares by urban or transit planners is they are never written by the poor, and probably anyone of color, or sometimes by folks who even ride transit.

        That is why the article Sam links to never even asks the fundamental question: would free fares improve the rider experience for those who use transit? For someone like me and the author that is an interesting intellectual exercise. For someone who must ride transit is it existential, but I don’t think their opinions are considered.

      3. I’m afraid you are missing my primary point about distance, Anonymouse. My point was about the non-commute trips that a person without a car needs to make — like trips to the grocery or pharmacy or library, for example. It’s not about whether a 50 mile trip should cost more than a 15 mile trip. It’s about a very short essential trip costing the same as a long trip — free or not.

        Sure a rider may need to occasionally travel a long distance to see a medical specialist, but neither anyone from Lynnwood or Starwood should be going that far to find a general dentist or primary care provider.

      4. The decision to go fare-free or not won’t be influenced by accountants, budget directors, or financial analysts. It will be made by politicians who want to score equity points. Whether it makes financial sense or not is beside the point.

      5. Not everyone “should” go that far, but people do, for a variety of reasons. We can debate whether those reasons are justified or should be supported by society but that’s a different argument.

        However, you are correct, I missed your point, because it sounded to me like you were saying the 1 mile trip should be free but the 50 mile one should not be, even if on the same system (e.g. the combined CT+ST system). This naturally begs the question of what a reasonable threshold is. My suggestion is – if you make some of it free, make all of it (i.e. every trip in the tri-county system which ST partially overlaps with). That means Metro, CT, PT, ET, ST, etc.

        If your point is about having a graduated distance-based cost, that’s fine too – Metro had this at some point, and then it went away. I believe that CT used to have this also – at least the Puget Pass system did, as I needed the more expensive Puget Pass to go to East County destinations like Sultan or Granite Falls without paying extra. I have not had to do that in over a decade so I don’t know how it works now.

      6. “ This naturally begs the question of what a reasonable threshold is. ”

        The issue of thresholds is complex and uniquely situational all by itself. Some places like LA have community shuttles that make full round trips in 30 minutes — leaving regular buses able to charge full fares and not be slowed down by a high volume of riders hopping in and off at every stop to make short distance trips. Others have a tap on/ off system that could be structured to ride short distances for free or cheaper.

        To apply a fixed distance to when a ride costs probably should vary by neighborhood. Groceries and pharmacies are usually further in lower density areas. However, as with local streets and sewers, lower densities do have a greater public cost to maintain.

        So for the sake of promoting compactness, I see nothing wrong with a very short distance fare discount or very short distance free fare in general, as long as affordable housing options exist. I just think that making everything across the region free fare would reward people for living in low density areas and incentivize sprawl.

      7. Where you see reward for sprawl, I see compensation for being priced out of the downtown core :)

        Which just goes to show that the problem is indeed complex, as you pointed out. And my “begs the question” bit was just trying to allude at that very point. It’s easy to start with the simple “1 mile = free, 50 miles = not free” but coming up with an equitable system is harder – a simple threshold almost certainly doesn’t do it, something like graduated fares may come closer but have their own problems, at some point the cost of administering the complex system starts to matter, too, etc. etc. etc.

        I certainly do not feel equipped to come to the right answer (just poke holes in others’ arguments, including my own ;) )

      8. “Where you see reward for sprawl, I see compensation for being priced out of the downtown core :)”

        Where you see priced out if the downtown core, I see the need to have access to a car and pay extra for that, which changes the equation of being “priced out”.

        My friends who rent do get a bit more room for their money further out but it’s not profoundly different, and it actually gets more expensive once car travel becomes involved — either through car ownership or forced to use taxis and ride hailing frequently.

      9. Oh, sure, cars are part of the equation. Thing is, they’re part of the equation in Lynnwood, too, even if you can commute on the bus or rail. Or even in Olympic Hills or other places like that. And, as I’ve pointed out, sometimes (often) families make do with only one vehicle even in such areas, which also changes the equation. Individuals can live car-free in places like that even if the household is not car-free; that should be encouraged, IMHO.

      10. Anonymouse, I just searched for apartments listed in Lynnwood and Stanwood and they are fairly comparable in monthly rent. Going out further doesn’t appear to make a unit much more affordable once one reaches Lynnwood.

        There are several older apartment buildings to the northwest of Lynnwood City Center station. There is a Fred Meyer nearby but Alderwood is still a mile away.

        Could someone live car-free there after Link opens? Probably. Swift Orange Line will offer something like a shuttle to Alderwood and other places in addition to Link. It may not always be pleasant walking next to arterials with speeding cars but it looks very doable.

        Would free short distance transit help? With Swift Orange Line already planned at high frequencies it might save riders some money for local trips but not really improve access. Would totally free transit help? Only if service doesn’t have to be reduced. While walking to Link is advantageous, having Swift Orange makes car free life much more comfortable there.

        A car free resident may just prefer a local monthly pass for $90 (or $45 if they are a student, senior or on Medicare). If fares go way, so do passes.

        I’ve known several people who have lived car-free near Northgate. They didn’t seem that inconvenienced. I see living similarly in Lynnwood after next year when the 1 Line and Orange Line start running.

      11. For whatever it’s worth, when we lived in Lynnwood there was a range of price points; we picked an apartment in the middle. I know that there were some really cheap but shabby places that we looked at but decided the mold problems weren’t worth the lower cost, and we could afford a couple hundred more a month.

        Admittedly, I’ve not looked at Stanwood, ever. I looked at Marysville around that same time period and the places in Marysville that were about as cheap as the dumpy places in Lynnwood were nicer. So that’s where my intuition comes from, but it’s a decade out of date.

        One thing I can say about Stanwood – we have a young (late teens to early twenties) relative who was looking at renting in the Stanwood area and they mentioned that the new places are indeed very expensive there. So it is possible that most of the rental market even up there is expensive now, yes. They thought that it might be in part due to Amazon establishing a big warehouse or distribution center up there and thus the prices going up due to demand also rising, I did not try to verify their intuition though.

        I agree that it should be eminently doable to live in Lynnwood car-free, as long as one has no family constraints which require driving (the two I have mentioned before are having relatives in the country whom we visit regularly, and having to drive relatives to medical appointments on a regular basis).

      12. When I’ve looked for apartments in smaller Seattle villages or Lynnwood, I’ve found the price differences to be less than $200-300 a month — not enough to justify fewer transit options and minimal walking options in my mind. That would change if I flat-out couldn’t afford inner-city Seattle prices, as I might someday. But the smallish difference also suggests that if I can’t afford Seattle’s prices, it wouldn’t be much longer before I couldn’t afford suburban prices either. I’ve only considered as far as Lynnwood or Kent. Maybe at some point I might consider Everett or Tacoma, but not Marysville or Stanwood, because it’s not feasible to get from there to Seattle or Bellevue regularly on transit, especially off-peak.

        I’ve mentioned that my friend in North Lynnwood shops more in Seattle than in Lynnwood/Everett, because it’s easier to get to the stores in transit. She still has to walk 40 minutes to Ash Way P&R or get a ride to it, but it also takes 40 minutes to get to a Lynnwood/Everett supermarket, and that’s just one generic supermarket, not a choice between Trader Joe’s, a co-op, Whole Foods, Pike Place Market, and a farmers’ market.

        This is all before Swift Orange, Lynnwood Link, and Stride 2 start, and downtown Lynnwood gets more walkable destinations. In that environment I may feel better about living in Lynnwood and she about shopping in Lynnwood. We’ll see in a few years.

        In the meantime we should monitor the rent differential. What have others found?

      13. In some cases, the effect of the fare in deterring ridership is not so much the financial cost of the fare, but friction in the payment process itself, particularly if you’re an out-of-town tourist.

        By “friction”, I’m referring to stuff like time spent in line at ticket vending machines, going online figuring out how to get an Orca card, or visiting a bank to get change for a $20 bill to ride the bus with cash.

        For locals, this type of stuff doesn’t matter much because once you’ve already taken the time to get an Orca card, you have it, and don’t have to think about it again until the balance runs out. But, for a visitor who might decide *spontaneously* to try transit on the way home from an event after seeing a long, snaking Uber line snaking, fare friction absolutely does matter, and the only way to eliminate it is to make the fares free.

        I also wouldn’t immediately assume that the loss of fare revenue for other event weekend is being absorbed by sound transit. It’s entirely possible that MLB is paying for it as part of the conditions for the event permit. And with most of the locals who ride transit regularly already possessing unlimited ride passes, the actual amount of lost revenue from one free fare weekend may be less than it seems.

        Also, I think the free fare was only Link, not buses. I rode the bus to Link Saturday morning and tapped my Orca card like normal.

      14. “Also, I think the free fare was only Link, not buses. I rode the bus to Link Saturday morning and tapped my Orca card like normal.”

        Free fares are only Monday and Tuesday. Metro said it would cover the ORCA readers; did it do so today?

  9. What about free fares on ferries? Certainly for walk on passengers and bicyclists and maybe motorcyclists. These riders have no option. Currently they (along with car users) pay 65% of the cost of the ferries. No doubt it would increase ridership, and I don’t even think there is a subsidized fare on ferries today for low-income riders. Some of the areas the ferries go to are mostly low income. Island Co. transit is free, if skeletal. Why charge low-income folks to take the ferry only to provide them free bus transit on the other side?

    1. I agree in principle that walk-on ferry fares ought to be lower. But then, where is the replacement revenue, and the money to pay for additional safety equipment that WSF hasn’t been purchasing?

      I don’t know how many people decide not to travel to Kitsap County because the fare is cost-prohibitive, but I am one of them.

      It is a shame WSF is limited to wealthy travelers (and now minors and 18-year-olds). It would still be the safest transit even with thrice the ridership, and might even bring in more revenue.

      1. I agree, especially since no other portion of state highways has a pedestrian charge. At the very least, WSF should integrate better with ORCA so pedestrians get the value of their monthly passes, and transfer to transit at either end using the value from their ferry ticket.

      2. I could see them raising the cost of driving, and lowering the cost of walk-ons, since rarely is the ferry full from a passenger standpoint. The exceptions are the high speed ferries, and the pedestrian ferry to West Seattle. These basically operate like buses, and are heavily subsidized (i. e. cost a lot per rider). Charging more for driving and less to walk-on is similar to increasing the gas tax to pay for more transit.

      3. “I don’t know how many people decide not to travel to Kitsap County because the fare is cost-prohibitive, but I am one of them.”

        I think it’s more important to lower the pedestrian price in order to encourage less drive-on passengers, which cost far more to handle.

        In the San Juan Islands, the inter-island walk-on passengers are free of charge, which I think is the primary reason the inter-island boat can be relatively small and rarely a waiting line.

        People make other arrangements instead, such as sharing rides, hitchhiking, etc

      4. WSF fares are set by the Washington State Transportation Commission. That body always seems to have some members who have somehow convinced themselves that the drivers are subsidizing the walk-ons.

        The Legislature could intervene and require accepting inter-agency transfers and passes, as well as having an ORCA LIFT fare (e.g. same as the RRFP fare).

        Indeed, the Legislature already intervened by requiring fare freedom for riders under 19, and providing revenue to partially or fully make up the difference.

      5. “ WSF fares are set by the Washington State Transportation Commission. That body always seems to have some members who have somehow convinced themselves that the drivers are subsidizing the walk-ons.”

        If the calculation was based solely on weight or volume, the cost of driving a car onto the ferry would be at least 10 times higher than a walk-on. One may even say 15 or 20 times because there are some huge vehicles on the ferry — but there are a some huge people too.

  10. It’s long past time to get rid of the domionist-inspired scheduling and run the same service seven days a week.

  11. It’s long past time to get rid of the dominionist-inspired scheduling and run the same service seven days a week.

  12. ST is still having problems with their real time arrival info system. I arrived at a station and as I was riding the escalator down I saw the message board update to indicate the next train would arrive in 2 minutes, so I set my stopwatch.

    How long did it actually take? 2 minutes and 10 seconds to doors open. That is a substantial miss in the digital age.

    Cue the Seattle Whine.

      1. @BW,

        I visited 4 different Link stations yesterday and did not encounter a single out-of-service escalator.

        Out of curiosity I checked the ST escalator dashboard and at the time they were only listing 3 out-of-service escalators. And all 3 of those escalators were in the old Metro bus tunnel. No surprise there.

        Metro maintenance – the gift that keeps in giving.

        And now 42% of Metro’s bus fleet is out-of-service too. When is the fun going to end!?

      2. @BW,

        Correction. I actually visited 6 stations yesterday. I visited 2 more after checking the dashboard.

        All the escalators I encountered were working.

      3. Remind me who does the maintenance on ST Express buses, Link train cars, and Sounder train cars.

      4. The dashboard does not show any vertical conveyances broken down in the old DSTT, but it does show two escalators at UWS down for “misuse”, and one elevator down. Thankfully, each has redundancy now, and passengers who need to know have a place to go look, if they know it is there, and that may be up to 24 hours out-of-date.

        Did ST ever fix its policy so that each vertical path has to be usable more than 99% of the time, replacing the garbage-in criterion of each individual conveyance just having to be operational 95% of the time?

      5. “ Did ST ever fix its policy so that each vertical path has to be usable more than 99% of the time, replacing the garbage-in criterion of each individual conveyance just having to be operational 95% of the time?”

        Elevators are listed as 97% here. However, ST apparently still doesn’t measure access in total; conveyances are still only counted separately. When a rider must use four devices for each entry and exit, that’s 8 total. So even at 97%, ST can claim adherence even if a rider only has a working device 78% of the time at some point on their one-way trip.

        I agree that the measure should be based on complete access paths rather than counting each device separately. If an escalator is out, the adjacent elevator should at least be working if not a nearby escalator. But measuring performance based on the rider seems too difficult of a measure for ST to comprehend, develop and apply.

        I would also find it interesting to learn how many riders are potentially affected with each outage. If the busiest escalators or elevators aren’t working, it affects lots more riders.

      6. ST Express is done by the agency that runs the bus. So mostly CT and PT, but KCM maintains a few buses for the few routes that it serves for ST.
        Link is done by KCM
        Sounder is done by Amtrak, IIRC. Maybe BNSF, but I think it is Amtrak that maintains the fleet.
        T-Link is done by ST direct employees.

      7. Doesn’t ST have at least 3x the budget that Metro has? If ST can throw more money at tunnel elevators and escalators, isn’t the much bigger budget the reason why?

      8. No, the tunnel is mostly a matter of execution of repairs and end of life maintenance. It’s more difficult to fix something after it has fallen apart, and ST only took control of the tunnel last year.

      9. @Brent White,

        When Metro finally let ST take over escalator maintenance the best Metro was doing in the old bus tunnel was 74% escalator availability at IDS, the worst was just 22% escalator availability at PSS. And nobody said a peep.

        Then, once ST actually took over, suddenly it was a monumental crisis and a failing of ST that these escalators weren’t at the ST standard of 95%. Oh, the horror.

        And now that ST actually has got the escalator availability system wide up to the 95 to 97% range, suddenly that isn’t good enough and the standard should be changed to 99%?

        Give me a break. ST has made significant progress, we should all be happy with that.

        But if there is anything we should be concerned about right now, shouldn’t it be the 58% bus availability at Metro? Why is it that you prefer to focus on the 3 to 5% of ST escalators that are out of service, but you won’t say anything about the 42% of Metro buses that are currently out of service?

        Shouldn’t Metro also be held to the same high standard?

      10. ST should have included budget to overhaul the DSTT stations when putting together ST3. They knew well before the package got placed on the ballot that they were going to take over the stations. They knew that tens of thousands of new riders were going to use those stations as new lines and extensions that would add riders in the DSTT got adopted.

        When San Mateo County / SFO BART extension was accepted it included modernizing Downtown SF Stations. There is precedence to attach the budget to extension projects, and it was even included in their DEIS.

        In my mind, ever since ST2 got developed, ST was well aware that they were getting stations that were almost 30 years old even at that point. For them to any sort of absolution of blame for DSTT renovations doesn’t hold much validity in my mind.

      11. Doesn’t ST have at least 3x the budget that Metro has?

        Yeah, pretty much. Metro could have focused on fixing the escalators, but then they have run the buses a lot less often. In contrast, ST could have focused on fixing the escalators (even when they were run by Metro) but it wasn’t a priority. It isn’t like this was some big surprise to ST. They knew the condition of the tunnel and the escalators the entire time. Obviously. No agency would be stupid enough to take over a project like that without doing due diligence. The idea that ST was shocked — shocked! — at the quality of the system when they fully took over the tunnel (after running their own trains inside it for years and years) is absurd, and silly finger pointing.

        It is worth noting that ST had plenty of problems with escalators *in their own stations*. From what I’ve read, it was been a combination of bad design, and bad maintenance team. In contrast, the design of the old tunnel was solid, it is just that the escalators and elevators were way beyond their stated lifetime. Again, this is common knowledge. ST had other problems with some of the contractors, but my understanding is the folks in charge now are simply doing a better job. ST has corrected the problem(s). Maybe the folks who oversaw the stations should have been in charge of the contractors laying the plinths for East Link.

      12. “nobody said a peep. Then, once ST actually took over, suddenly it was a monumental crisis”

        Lots of us have been complaining about the broken DSTT escalators for decades.

      13. I predict that ST, in a few years, will develop a repair fatigue, tiring of the never-ending “hazardous spills” that wear-down and disable the tunnel conveyances. But, give credit where credit is due. If ST is currently doing a great job, they deserve their props. But, don’t be surprised if 5+ years from now that 97% operational number is considerably lower.

      14. The vertical conveyance dashboard is gone, which I will take as good news that all vertical conveyances are functional.

        I don’t really expect each of the conveyances to be working 99% of the time. I do expect all passengers to have access to enter and (more importantly) exit the station much better than 99% of the time.

        The ongoing and widely-announced failures at Mt Baker, TIBS, and SAS are not the result of bad conveyances, but incompetent station design.

        Two elevators at Mt Baker would have been fine, if the architects knew that aerial stations should have center platforms.

        Three elevators were installed at TIBS, which would have been more than enough if it had a center platform. Two would have been enough, if they went all the way from street level to the platform, with a mid stop on the mezzanine if access to an ORCA vending machine was needed.

        SAS needed a second elevator on the east entrance, ideally down to the bus stop on the west side of Highway 99.

        Now, ST will have to eventually add six new elevators, because they did not require elevator redundancy in the station design requirements. They had exactly enough elevators, already, but the architects relied on the incorrect notion that it was okay to have the stations inaccessible to some riders up to 5% of the time.

        I should add that elevator redundancy is necessary, but not necessarily sufficient. The paired elevators need to operate independently of each other. (This would have saved riders at Beacon Hill Station a couple minutes getting in and out of the station.)

      15. “SAS”

        Special Air Service? Scandinavian Airlines? Southeast Asia Station?

        “the architects relied on the incorrect notion that it was okay to have the stations inaccessible to some riders up to 5% of the time.”

        I think they made the incorrect assumption the elevators would never break.

      16. “The ongoing and widely-announced failures at Mt Baker, TIBS, and SAS are not the result of bad conveyances, but incompetent station design.”

        It’s both!

        It is rather amazing that ST built several side platform stations. I don’t have any idea why they didn’t more deliberately want center platform stations but vertical conveyance redundancy is a primary reason to prefer center platforms. It’s also more desirable when transferring between rail lines (yeah transferring at CID and East Main will be a hassle).
        The latest design guidelines here ( does state that center platforms are preferred unless they can’t be built easily.

        The criteria are so general that an architect/ staff cannot calculate the minimum number of escalators and elevators that should be provided. I can’t find specific minimums on the number beyond having one elevator in their guidelines. Did I miss it? It’s a cumbersome document to review.

        It also amazes me that ST never asks architects to reserve space for adding conveyances even though they can plan for “optional” devices in the design criteria. (Mt Baker appears an easy place to do that but it’s never discussed and of course not ever budgeted.)

        Note too that ST unilaterally removed several vertical conveyances from Lynnwood Link stations to save a few million at the very end of the design process. They could have asked an affected jurisdiction if they wanted to come up with the funds to keep them instead — but didn’t. It just seemingly happened one day right before groundbreaking. The item was not specifically discussed by the Board but was simply changed within the final design documents as a cost savings move.

        And that points to the problem: understanding their value . It strikes me as irresponsible that ST feels that they have to provide exactly at least 500 parking garage spaces as a minimum but not 2 elevators to each new platform or both up and down escalators for a certain level of station use. It may be that the only way to ensure enough vertical devices is to get for better specifics into their design criteria.

      17. At least at East Main a rider will make a level crossing to change platforms, unlike CID where a rider needs to go up & over. I’m guessing the proximity to the Bellevue tunnel entrance is why ST didn’t go with a center platform there.

      18. I remember the vertical conveyance being eliminated – it was certainly discussed with the board. I’m not sure what you mean by “affected jurisdiction if they wanted to come up with the funds” – the relevant funds are the ST taxes. The relevant politicians, via the relevant board members, could have rejected the proposed changes and spent more of their subarea money. But that’s not the decision they made.

      19. “It is worth noting that ST had plenty of problems with escalators *in their own stations*. From what I’ve read, it was been a combination of bad design, and bad maintenance team.”

        And ordering light-duty escalators. That was the problem at UW Station, and why the escalators had to be replaced in less than five years under Link’s heavy load and their semi-outdoor location.

      20. “ I’m not sure what you mean by “affected jurisdiction if they wanted to come up with the funds”

        AJ, Bellevue signed an agreement with ST to provide $160M for East Link design elements. I’m not sure how much of the $200M ST was looking to cut were escalators but I remember finding out that it was $13-20M per escalator depending on the escalator but the savings was also from narrowing the platforms,

        A city could have been asked to help.

      21. That was funny money to grease a political agreement; Bellevue waved fees is was trying to extract from ST.

        ST made the right decision to value engineer away escalators.

        If a city wants to spend some money to improve local station access, they are better off improving the pedestrian experience through things under their direct control & responsibility: wider sidewalks, more street trees, improved wayfinding and/or lighting, etc.

      22. There are down escalators in most places where there are up escalators. Imagine Bellevue Square or Downtown Seattle Nordstrom or Emerald Queen Tacoma with only up escalators.

        Keep in mind that there are usually about 40 steps or more down at a Link station. That’s well over two floors of stairs if it was inside a house.

        For people with arthritis in their knees, it’s very painful to walk down 40+ steps. It’s estimated that 1/4 of adult women and half of seniors have arthritis. It’s also a hard walk for anyone carrying anything and is almost impossible to do with a stroller, heavy luggage or several large shopping bags.

        So despite what AJ says not having down escalators is a significant accessibility issue, especially if a station gets more than 5,000 boardings a day. I know people who are willing to walk several hundred feet to avoid going down that many steps to avoid the difficulty and pain.

      23. “There are down escalators in most places where there are up escalators. Imagine Bellevue Square or Downtown Seattle Nordstrom or Emerald Queen Tacoma with only up escalators.”

        Customers would walk out and go to another store if they saw the department store was so low-quality as to not have down escalators.

        Transit riders are seen as a captive audience rather than customers that are the raison d’etre of the network and significant members of society. You see that in the lack of down escalators, location of stations, frequency, etc. Transit riders are expected to tolerate things that people in other buildings or cars wouldn’t put up with. When ST decides on a station location or alignment, it listens to all stakeholders except passengers.

        “For people with arthritis in their knees, it’s very painful to walk down 40+ steps.”

        I have arthritis in my right hip now, so it’s hard to go up and down stairs. When I went to the University Street station entrance at 3rd & University and the only thing working was the stairway, and the other entrance was 1 1/2 blocks away often also has escalator/elevator issues, I considered that station closed and went to another station. I can only walk a few miles a day, so I plan one outing or shopping trip a day, and any extra walking to get around a broken entrance or closed sidewalk is a significant deal. Or walking five more blocks to go to an ATM shopping at the end of a longish trip is a significant deal I’ll often forego till the next day. So get those escalators and elevators working!

  13. “Other agencies are not participating (i.e., not Community Transit, Pierce Transit, the Monorail, or Washington State Ferries)”

    Nor Amtrak, nor Greyhound

  14. This might be worth its own thread, but finally one city is doing the obvious:

    “The city of Boston will launch an office-to-residential conversion pilot program this fall that offers a property tax discount of up to 75 percent for developers who “immediately” convert their “underutilized” downtown office buildings to residential use.”

    (Has a paywall, but perhaps Boston Globe could be convinced to provide some key bits of the article for a more extensive discussion)

    1. I think it is worth its own thread, plus I’d like to see other ideas from commenters on how to promote or incentivize either the building or conversion of more residential downtown, or near transit centers or stations. Or, to encourage individuals to move downtown, or move next to transit centers or stations.

    2. What part is obvious? I want to see an article on, “why are there so many articles on office to housing conversions, and why don’t reporters just link back to the the articles written in each previous business cycle?”

      Office to housing conversions are the housing version of traffic signal management. Both are very expensive, small marginal utility, and not scalable, but because there is no clear vested interest to oppose the effort, it is as an easy drum to beat by politicians.

      1. I agree AJ. Converting office buildings to residential has been studied by many qualified groups and agencies. Moody’s report that was the basis for an article in The NY Times is probably the best.

        First is cost. Moody’s estimated around $450 sf exclusive of building and land costs just for the conversion, so forget about affordable housing. Many developers pointed out it is much easier and more profitable to build from scratch, especially with land prices in the CBD declining due to WFH. Who would look at a brand new high rise going up in downtown Seattle or Boston and think that will be affordable housing?

        Next is financing. Office buildings have much higher leases per sf and lower costs because the workers go home at night. For building owners it is a catch-22: wait for occupancy to improve back to 95% or go bankrupt; or state you will convert the building to residential that will accelerate the loan and you will go bankrupt. Having $2 trillion in commercial office loans reset their interest rates in 2024-25 is going to be a blood bath.

        Third are structural issues. For example residential buildings have much higher fire standards because people — especially kids — sleep there. The plumbing in office buildings often has inadequate capacity. Garbage. Lighting. Elevators opening directly onto floors. Individual metering for each unit. Common area fees like HOA fees will be at least $1000/mo. per unit in new condos today. And buildings that are too narrow for residential when you try to remodel floors with hallways and windows in each room in units.

        According to Moody’s 3-5% of office buildings can be converted, and most of those are older concrete style buildings.

        Another issue is demolition of a steel and glass tower when obsolete. It is nearly as expensive taking down bit by bit as to put up.

        Finally many buildings like the city and county buildings near CID N are old, and have been empty so long they can’t be reopened, even as office buildings.

        Some progressives say let the building owners go bankrupt. After all, who likes developers. But like in SF what they do is walk away, banks don’t know how to manage these properties, they deteriorate further, and city tax revenue gets killed, the issue progressives are trying to solve due to WFH in the first place. The biggest concern is like San Francisco: when the first property owners start walking away. Then cities know it is real.

        I think it will take 20 or 30 years to sort out WFH and the declining need for urban office space. Vacancy rates will rise as leases expire. Right now mayors and building owners don’t have a solution so they are doing nothing hoping for a miracle. Either way they are screwed.

        The key IMO is for cities to recognize the CBD of the future will be maybe half the size of current CBD’s. What they can’t do is zone too large an area for their CBD and end up with a bunch of vacant lots or empty buildings in between so you don’t have facade density. Seattle is famous for doing that throughout the city including in the UGA.

        The other thing some fast growing areas like Seattle need to be realistic about is future population growth. King Co. has lost 43,000 residents in the last two years. That is not a huge amount, unless the OFM estimated 1 million new residents by 2039. Apartment vacancy rates in Seattle are rising with several thousand new units about to come on the market. Is an office building owner really take the risk of conversion based on inflated future population growth estimates? No.

        It is wonderful to dream that someone will snap their fingers and those empty city or county buildings — or half occupied office buildings downtown — will magically be converted into affordable housing and all those low income tenants will rush out and replace the business activity from the lost work commuter who was writing it off and replace the lost business and property tax revenue but it is just a dream. Very few of the steel and glass buildings can be converted to housing, and none of them to affordable housing.

        The only urban CBD’s that have any hope of surviving let alone thriving are those that are so vibrant and exciting and safe folks will put up with the hassle and cost of living and visiting there. Seattle is blessed with a temperate northern climate in the summer and cursed with a terrible progressive council.

      2. Even if office to residential conversions were easy — there just really isn’t enough of them to really make a dent in housing. An office only allocated like around under 100 sqft per person while for residential it’s around 400 ~ 600 sq ft per person. It’s mainly just a feel good solution since it doesn’t require upzoning more land.

        Honestly I was kind of shocked at how small the residential upzoning was in Harrells announcement for new apartment buildings. It was just like a handful of blocks.

      3. AJ, Daniel, and WL, you shot down the Boston office-to-residential incentive program, but I didn’t see you come up with any ideas of your own. Boston will offer “a property tax discount of up to 75 percent for developers who “immediately” convert their “underutilized” downtown office buildings to residential use.” You say that’s a horrible idea. Then let’s hear some of your ideas.

      4. I didn’t say anything was a horrible idea Sam.

        I said the experts who have studied the issue have said that structurally around 3-5% of office towers could be converted to housing, it would be very expensive per sf, the banks would consider conversion a default of the loan since as soon as a developer announced the plan they can’t repay the loan because housing rents are much less than office leases with fewer defaults (and regulations applicable to residential tenants), a 75% reduction in property taxes is a drop in the bucket and defeats the purpose which is to restore the property tax revenue from office buildings for the city, the housing won’t be remotely affordable, and is likely not needed with rising vacancy rates after the U.S. has gone on a multi-family building boom since 2014 with almost zero interest rates.

        Right now cities and owners are in a state of denial. In 2024 over $2 trillion in commercial loans for commercial property begins to reset interest rates after a 5% increase in a year and the owners will walk away.

        There are no ideas. Just be glad you don’t own one of these buildings, although a lot of pension plans do. The progressive Mayor of Boston clearly does not know what she is talking about, The experts don’t need a naive mayor telling them the magic bullet is a reduction in property taxes when many of these buildings will see a 50% to 75% reduction in their property tax anyway because of declining property tax valuation because they are empty.

        It kind of reminds me of Harrell and Constantine claiming CID N will “capture” $168 million in development potential from vacant city and county buildings nearby. News flash: no, CID N won’t. Just because a politician says it or claims it is a good “idea” doesn’t make it true or remotely realistic.

        When politicians or people are desperate they say all kinds of things, and hope for miracles.

      5. @Sam

        Expand the amount of zoning allowed for residential housing in all of the downtown core, not this allowing residential zoning in just 2 more blocks. Too much is still for offices only. And decrease the setback rules the design committee keeps enforcing for these new apartments too wasting half the space.

        > You say that’s a horrible idea.

        It’s not a bad idea but one cannot just depend on that to actually add enough housing. It’s like only legalizing ADUs and then not changing parking requirements nor lot setback rules and then saying now we don’t need to legalize apartments.


        This is a good article explaining why supply really isn’t the issue with affordability. At least not today.

        WL and many others premise a housing shortage based on future population growth. Today vacancy rates prove there isn’t a housing shortage although there is an affordability shortage. But new construction increases average housing costs and replaces the older more affordable housing, including renovations.

        Current interest rates and financing will cool construction. Office tower conversions will add effectively zero housing. But unless another 1 million residents move to the region in the next 16 years we are overbuilt, and widely over zoned, and if they do the housing that will be built for them will be new construction in the least affordable neighborhoods as the article points out.

      7. @Daniel

        Im not sure why one would be afraid of over zoning. The worst case thing that happens is the developed build a couple too many apartments. Also Seattle and the surrounding cities have consistently been under zoning — not sure where you get this impression that suddenly the Seattle area cities approved much more residential zoning compared to offices

      8. @ Sam –
        1. Focus on redeveloping low-rise lots into mid or high rise housing. Malls and office parks are far more compelling projects than re-working towers. Focus the mega projects here.
        2. Allow for infill development across all residential neighborhoods. Focus small developers here.
        3. Facilitate parcel consolidation around high capacity transit that is currently under developed to unlock high/midrise development where this is currently lowrise/SF homes.
        4. A few old towers can perhaps be converted to housing.

        In a growing city (like Seattle or Boston), all office towers will be needed for white collared work. Perhaps a few old ones will be demolished, but generally at this point in the business cycle is when either rents drops until they are filled or a few Class B/C towers exit the market for major refurbishment (1~2 years of work) and then re-enter as Class A inventory

      9. The buildings likely to see conversion from office to apartments/condos is most likely small to medium sized older office buildings compared to office towers. While not cheap to renovate and convert. They’re a lot faster to renovate and repurpose compared to a tower. I have a friend of mine who is moving to Atlanta for work and he decided on buying a condo in Downtown that was previously an older grand office building that is now condos. So if Seattle did such a thing you’d see offices in Pioneer Square, Lower Queen Anne, or Belltown be converted most likely compared to a Downtown office tower.

  15. I noticed that the buses were free today. I didn’t know why until I came here. I didn’t go anywhere near Seattle – the furthest west I went was 152nd Ave NE. I have a monthly pass, so it really makes no difference to me.

    Seems pretty pointless. I have no idea what type of person can’t afford $2.75 for a ride. Even a beggar can scrounge that up in a matter of minutes. Cost is really not the problem here, rather it is that it is slow and unreliable.

      1. When you pay $300 per seat for a family of 5, the additional $100 to park your car isn’t that big a deal. It’s the world we live in.

    1. The buses would be even slower and less reliable if you have 5,000 people who have no idea how to pay a bus fare wandering around on the system.

      This is one of the primary motivations behind TriMet not charging a fare on light rail line opening days: if people can just get on quickly the system delays are minimal. If all the first time riders are trying to simultaneously figure things out, it doesn’t work well.

      I would assume someone made that calculation here.

      1. The Link Light Rail fare system is rather convoluted for first-timers, anyone trying to get a Link ticket or day pass covering the full length of the route, fare enforcers who don’t grasp the concept of clear-and-obvious proof of pre-payment, or anyone who misses a tap.

        I hope ST will do a fare system study before the 2 Line opens, and look at more ways to bundle transit passes with other purchases (e.g. Lumen Field event tickets, airline tickets, hotels), but also consider simplifying fares by matching them to Metro’s.

        A fare approaching that of Sounder or WSF is not the way to generate ridership or revenue.

      2. My guess is that once the ST2 extensions are complete, they may start reevaluating fares, transfer time, and fare structure. But we’ll see. I do think zones might be a better solution long term as the system spreads its wings.

      3. I agree Glenn, this seems to be mostly about ease of access for an event that is going to skew non-local much more than a typical major event.

      4. Yes, exactly. This is a basically a tourist thing. By the way, this is common around the country, if not the world. There is a general hesitancy for folks from out of town to mess with a bus (because of the fares). So they run free shuttles down main street. This is the same basic idea, just applied to the entire system.

      5. The one time I went to an event in Berlin, the event name tag was stamped with a symbol that allowed it to also serve as a regional transit day ticket.

        So, at least one event in one city worldwide does it that way.

  16. “consider simplifying [Link] fares by matching them to Metro’s.”

    How would that work? Link is currently less than Metro or the same for trips up to Westlake-Rainier Beach and Northgate-Mt Baker. Averaging fares would likely lead to higher fares on the most successful and transformative kinds of short trips like these. Metro’s flat fare (which subsidizes long-distance expresses like FW-downtown and Issaquah-downtown) are predcated on most of those only lasting a few more years before they’re truncated. Metro doesn’t operate in Lynnwood, Everett, or Tacoma Dome, so there’s nothing to compare the fares to. In contrast, we have Community Transit’s precedent of peak-express fares higher than Metro. At the same time, charging a 2-zone fare for short trips like Lynnwood-Northgate that cross a county boundary would be unfair.

    1. In a multi-agency environment that serves trip makes going both very short and very long distances, setting fares and defining how transfers and passes get used is more difficult than some may think at first glance. Every decision has unintended consequences and different winners/losers.

    2. I expect CT will do a fare study before Lynnwood Link opens, and decide on a fare that duplicates ST’s for reduced fares, including the SAP free fare, and sets a flat regular fare that applies across their system.

      Certainly, they aren’t going to charge $4.25 to ride the new 909 express between Mountlake Terrace Station and Edmonds Ferry Dock, are they?

  17. Watching the All Star game right now and saw 7 or 8 Metro buses lined up WB on Dave Neihuas Way (along the 1st base side of the stadium). I spotted them during an aerial pan during commercial break.

    Is metro providing ad hoc shuttles for people going downtown just as they did with thr pre-Covid 1st Ave shuttle after M’s games?? Anyone in the know, chime in please!

    1. The MI park and ride is full and there are a number of transit vans parked at the community center. Saw a sign on Monday on our way to Port Townshend to see Diana Krall that said “Event Parking: $75. Beautiful night and good exposure for Seattle.

    1. I’m going to write up something about the Metro plans for Lynnwood Link. I just need to get around to it. Hopefully I’ll have that done today. I’m surprised nobody at that Urbanist has written anything (I found out about it through them on Twitter).

      I haven’t looked at the ST plans, nor do I know of anyone working on a write-up. It will probably be mentioned in an open thread, if nothing else.

    2. In summary,

      After years of running ST Express 513 one way during peak, in the wrong direction (away from the employment center in the morning, and back in the evening), ST will fulfill its longstanding plan to make it 2-way, but still peak only, with Lynnwood Transit Center, a mere couple minutes’ walk from the station, as the new southern terminus.

      ST Express 510 will go away. ST Express 512 will run at Link frequency most of the time. It will still make that time-consuming loop-de-loop stop at the Ash Way surface park&ride despite the new Orange Swift Line and 201/202 providing that connectivity, and most park&riders switching to heading on down to the Lynnwood Station car park garage.

      ST Express 522 will stay put for now. ST wags its finger at Metro for not providing replacement service along Lake City Way.

      Not mentioned, ST Express 532 and 535 will remain as is. As will all the east side routes if the 2 starter line opens early.

      1. ST wags its finger at Metro for not providing replacement service along Lake City Way.

        Metro is going to provide replacement service along Lake City Way (the new 77).

        Anyway, I’m a bit disappointed in what ST came up with in Snohomish County. I guess they didn’t have the funding to provide much. Even as a scaled down system, I don’t like the rush-hour pattern. The first thing to keep in mind is that Ash Way does not have HOV lanes connecting it to the north. Buses have to leave the HOV lanes, engage with regular traffic, then loop around to get to the bus stop (before getting back on the freeway).

        The current 510 does not serve Ash way. It stays in HOV lanes the entire way, making it ideal as a peak-bus. The 512, in contrast, serves Ash Way (making it less than ideal during rush hour).

        511 used to provide peak service to Ash Way, ending there. This meant riders couldn’t easily go between Everett and Ash Way peak direction (e. g. Everett to Ash Way in the morning). Since there were very few riders actually doing this (and they could always take the 201/202) this wasn’t a big deal. Thus the 510 and 511 both stayed in the HOV lanes the whole way. The 512 wouldn’t run peak direction, which meant that riders from Everett didn’t have to figure out which bus to take. It was quite the clever, complementary system.

        With the proposal, this is gone. Riders from Everett will be delayed as a result. There is now very little difference between the ST Express bus from Everett and the 201/202 .

        It is quite possible that you simply can’t justify service like the 511 anymore. I get that. But there are other options, such as extending on the surface streets (e. g. 164th). Meanwhile, the 513 is retained. Unfortunately, it follows the same pattern as the 512. Thus all riders have to deal with general purpose traffic between Everett and Lynnwood, and are thus delayed. There is no reason for both buses to serve Ash Way. At a minimum, I would use this approach:

        510: Follows the current route, but is truncated in Lynnwood. Runs peak-direction only.

        511: Express from Lynnwood to Ash Way (and nothing more). Should be designed to complement the 201/202 and 513, all of which run express between Ash Way and Lynnwood.

        512: Follows the suggested route. Does not run when the 510 is running. This makes riding it from Everett easier.

        513: Follows the suggested route. Runs as suggested (peak-only, both directions).

    3. Note that ST makes a point that Route 522 will continue to Roosevelt — while Metro shows Route 522 going to Shoreline South instead.

      1. Metro appears to be planning ahead for ST’s services changes not just in 2024 when Lynnwood Link opens, but for 2025 (when East Link is supposed to reach Lynnwood) and 2026 (when the 130th St station is supposed to open).

      2. No, ST has 522 rerouted to Shoreline South. The KCM PDF is a bit confusing because the “current state” (page 1) includes the full Lynnwood Link on the “2024” map, but if you toggle to pg 2 it shows Shoreline South.

        On the KCM site:

        On the ST site:

        In text:
        “There are no proposed changes to ST Express Route 522 in 2024. We are recommending that changes to Route 522 wait until the full 2 Line is open in 2025. When the full 2 Line extends to Lynnwood, Route 522 will be shortened to connect to the 1 and 2 Lines at Shoreline South/148th Station. Moving the connection north to Shoreline South/148th Station is consistent with future Stride S3 Line service.”

      3. No, ST has 522 rerouted to Shoreline South.

        Right, but not until after East Link. That is the weird part. With the previous restructure, the plan was to send it to 145th the day that station opened. Now it is being delayed for an unknown reason.

      4. I’m assuming it’s in case there’s initially higher Link frequency to Northgate the 522 is being sent to the station with more service.

        On another note, were escalators removed from Shoreline 185th Station? I don’t see any on the station map.

  18. I am pretty sure the eastside transit restructure is complete after phase 3. It was finalized because everyone thought East Link would open in 2023 (and before that in 2021) so we have had a lot of time to “restructure”.

    Overall I thought the eastside transit restructure made sense once Issaquah paid attention. The eastside is probably less complex than 130th in Seattle to serve. Also there are many more very large park and rides. Until those are full again feeder buses that require a transfer won’t have big ridership.

    I don’t think micro-transit in Sammamish will be a successful model for serving undense eastside SFH areas. Most of the park and rides are built. With a park and ride the rider pays for the driver, vehicle, insurance, fuel and maintenance.

    I think the four big questions will be:

    1. Will East Link be able to cross the bridge with four car trains at 50 MPH every 8 minutes, although I highly doubt that kind of capacity will ever be needed post-pandemic, at least on the eastside (or for Lynnwood Link).

    2. How many people on the eastside will ride East Link, and where? For example, will Microsoft stay WFH? Will Redmond have the estimated 1300 weekday boardings for a city of 83,000. Will ridership to Seattle be any different than on express buses today that have little congestion and serve the same routes. This will affect how many feeder buses Metro can afford to run to MI if folks are either not going to Seattle, or they are using the park and rides at stations that directly serve East Link rather than drive to a park and ride to catch a feeder bus to Link.

    3. Will the planned TOD along East Link stations on the eastside ever materialize. East Link serves a number of stations (east main, Wilburton, The Spring Dist.) that are based on future office and residential density. Office development is very risky today and hard to get financing, and multi-family residential not nearly as lucrative, especially when this area looks like a housing glut is coming. For example, Seattle has 13,105 apartments for rent today, and Bellevue has 2825 for rent today when the eastside is much more SFH focused.

    4. Will eastside cities demand or subsidize one seat buses to areas not served by East Link like the 630, or to SLU. One big problem is eastsiders are not keen on transfers in downtown Seattle, certainly not along 3rd where East Link runs.

    Who knows what 2025 will look like when it comes to transit on the eastside, but my guess usually is a lot like today absent something like a pandemic.

    1. “I am pretty sure the eastside transit restructure is complete after phase 3. It was finalized because everyone thought East Link would open in 2023 (and before that in 2021) so we have had a lot of time to “restructure”.”

      It’s not final until it goes to the County Council. The proposed legislation may have some differences if Metro changes its mind further. The council can also amend it, as it did in 2016 when it restored the 71 and took the hours out of the 45 and 67.

      I thought I remembered it being the second round, but maybe it was the third round. In any case, events have superceded it, because East Link was delayed and there’s a starter line proposal. So Metro will have to at least review it, and consider whether to make interim changes if the starter line goes forward, and whether to revise the final network plan for 2025/2026 conditions. It may or may not have another round of hearings, or it may go straight to legislation. When it goes to legislation, there will be time then to comment on it.

      1. Mike, what changes would you make to phase 3 of the eastside transit restructure for Metro? The one big change — moving the 554 from MI to Bellevue Way — is a ST bus.

        I would be surprised if the eastside restructure wound up in front of the council for final approval and Metro had a proposed change that the eastside cities did not agree with, or Metro would ask the council to decide a fight between it and one of the major eastside cities.

        At least in the eastside restructure meetings I observed Metro was very interested in the data being accurate (cough, cough, ST future ridership estimates), and what the eastside cities thought. I don’t follow Metro closely outside this restructure, but Metro seemed keen on understanding the positions of the eastside cities (especially Bellevue and Issaquah), and what they wanted, and cost. Not at all like ST.

        The non-East KC County council members will defer to eastside council members on an eastside transit restructure, and the eastside county council members are tight with the local mayors and councils (and some were mayors or council members).

        If the issue is Metro simply does not have enough money for an eastside ask that is different, and I guess the county can take resources from another part of the county if necessary. But if the issue is where to run Metro buses on the eastside and how frequently no way Metro is going before the county council asking them to overrule a local but powerful city. That dispute will get resolved long before it reaches the council.

        One issue down the road is if a city like Issaquah or Bellevue wants one seat buses to where East Link does not go, like First Hill or SLU or the 630. In that case it would make more sense to demand that from ST because the eastside subarea has so much money and it would not take resources from Metro or raise equity issues and so no other county board members would object, although ST would bristle.

        It is the eastside subarea’s money and has to be spent on eastside transit (even if it benefits Seattleites coming back the other way, on our nickel of course), and some eastside cities think that way. In that case the issue would go before the ST Board, and the rest of the Board would defer to Balducci and the eastside gang. I doubt it would even make it to the Board.

        One final issue down the road is what if the peak buses accessing MI are essentially empty because so few are riding to Seattle and they are using the park and rides that serve East Link. Metro claims peak buses must be at least 15-minute frequencies, and maybe Issaquah will insist empty buses run, but if the buses are empty another restructure might be necessary to consolidate a run or two from one Issaquah Park and ride.

        But unless you can point out a flaw in the eastside restructure no other city is raising right now it will get the rubber stamp at the county council.

        At this point I don’t see any city on the eastside asking for changes to phase 3 of the transit restructure so doubt Metro is interested in reopening the process or asking the council to override eastside cities, let alone picking a fight at the council adoption hearing.

    2. “1. Will East Link be able to cross the bridge with four car trains at 50 MPH every 8 minutes”

      That was always the question. We’ll see when it opens whether it can.

      “I highly doubt that kind of capacity will ever be needed post-pandemic”

      It’s not just a question of capacity (=avoiding overcrowding). It’s also a question of keeping waits reasonably short, and running evenly between Line 1’s 8-10 minute frequency in North Seattle.

      2. Who cares? Ridership is unpredictable because it depends on tens of thousands of people’s future decisions. They themselves may not know yet, or they may predict wrongly,. It will take a few years for long-term ridership changes to be fully established. We can review the network after it opens and see if ridership patterns have changed unexpectedly, and if there’s underservice/overservice in particular neighborhoods. Then Metro can figure out how to address it, within the resources it has then.

      3. You’re asking what the population and housing decisions will be in 2026 and 2030. The answer is, we don’t know. But it’s most likely that long-term trends will continue, rather than completely reversing themselves. So the population will increase. Some number of buildings will be constructed in that timeframe. All housing near Link stations will probably fill up.

      4. That’s always an issue: how big will the movement for one-seat rides and status-quo routes be? Again, we don’t know. But it hasn’t been a major issue in the previous rounds as far as I remember. I never heard a group of people insisting on keeping the 630, on keeping the 554 to Seattle, or on creating new Eastside routes to First Hill/SLU. Calls like this have generally diminished over time. They haven’t disappeared, but they’re not as widespread as they were in the 1990s and 2000s.

    3. “I don’t think micro-transit in Sammamish will be a successful model for serving undense eastside SFH areas. Most of the park and rides are built.”

      That’s because they’re not for your use case. I grew up in an area east of Crossroads that’s proposed to lose its coverage route and be Metro Flex only. I was too young to drive in junior high school. When I turned 16 I didn’t want to drive or get a car. My parents wanted an alternative so they wouldn’t have to drive everywhere. And now I’m visiting an adult family home that’s on the edge of the fixed-route area, and in an earlier round was in the flex-only area I think. Other teenagers rode Metro in the 80s, so I assume their counterparts would use Flex now. There was a guy on STB in Sammamish, Peyton, who wanted more all-day bus service there.

      1. So Mike, you support Flex in Sammamish? Kind of like intra-city or neighborhood feeder transit from buses or Link to SFH neighborhoods and back that are too difficult or expensive to serve with regular buses?

        Wait, isn’t that what a park ride is used for, except the resident pays for the vehicle, fuel, driver and maintenance to and from the bus or Link?

        Or are you suggesting Flex will be door to door in areas like Sammamish? Kind of like Metro Uber confined to a certain area, door to door.

      2. “are you suggesting Flex will be door to door in areas like Sammamish? Kind of like Metro Uber confined to a certain area, door to door.”

        That’s what Metro Flex is. Like Uber in a small service area, charging regular bus fare and taking ORCA and transfers. It’s currently operating in Sammamish, Juanita, Kent, and parts of far southeast Seattle/Renton/Tukwila.

        The Lynnwood restructure proposes to add it between Mountlake Terrace Station, Lake Forest Park, and Kenmore P&R. This is adjacent to the Juanita area.

        The East Link restructure suggests a Flex area east of 164th Ave NE, between around NE 24th Street and somewhere south of Main Street. Previously there was a Crossroads Connects pilot there.

        I’ve suggesting having Metro Flex on all of Mercer Island.

        One day when I was riding Link north between TIB and Rainier Beach, I saw three Flex cars waiting in an industrial parking lot for a call. So that’s where the Othello area is dispatched from, and the minimum number of cars it has. It’s a one-minute drive from there to Rainier Beach Station, and maybe three minutes to Othello station. From there the target users live in a mile-wide area.

      3. I think Flex will turn out to be a failed experiment. At first it seems quite reasonable, as you are able to get your bus when you want it. But as time goes on, it is clear that it doesn’t work if even a moderate number of people use it. People spend way too much time waiting for their bus.

        Meanwhile, the cost advantages are non-existent. I don’t see why they have drivers making these runs, given there is a driver shortage on routes that carry more riders per hour. It is political theater. The promise of something new, something special, when it is basically the same as old fashioned jitney service. It is one critical analysis away from being abandoned.

  19. It sounds like Metro is going to put route 77 on Lake City Way when Lynnwood Link opens, but ST 522 will also still also run on Lake City Way until the 2-line service opens on Lynwood Link, a year or so later. So there’s a year over overlap there with two frequent-ish bus routes on Lake City Way. Will KCM increase service on route 77 in 2025 when ST 522 leaves Lake City Way? I love everything about Route 77 in the proposal except the frequency, especially the 30 minute service on weekends. The routing for the 77 really solves the current problem of really inefficient rides from Lake City Way to any of the routes that you can’t pick up until the U District, forcing you to take Link for 1 stop.

    Here’s a bold take: Reading between the lines in this proposal, my guess is Sound Transit has already decided to terminate some trains at Northgate when they open Lynnwood Link 1 line. Why else would ST hold off on moving ST 522 to 145th St until the 2 line opens? If they weren’t turning back some trains in between, the Link transfer frequency would be the same at 145th or at Roosevelt. Any rider capacity issues would be worse south of Roosevelt.

    1. “ Why else would ST hold off on moving ST 522 to 145th St until the 2 line opens? ”

      Possible reasons:

      1. Staying out of the way of Stride construction on 145th.
      2. Worrying about capacity before 2 Line opens (can more easily go into Downtown if trains are too crowded).
      3. Vagueness about multiple opening dates puts Metro in a schedule limbo leading to possible confusion (Lynnwood Link service, 2 Line service, Stride service, 130th Station).

      There doesn’t seem to be any reason to choose one ststion over the other in terms of overall travel times to major destinations.

      Generally, I think it’s bad to change routing more than once a year and hopefully less frequent than that. It confuses riders if things keep changing.

    2. That is an interesting theory. I started writing an article about the restructure, and found myself asking a lot of questions about it. As a result, I reached out to a Metro representative who is supposed to know. I asked him about that particular change, even though it may not be his area or expertise (since it is ultimately ST’s decision). Hopefully he (or someone else) will have an answer:

      I came up with the following theory (which is a variation on Al’s second idea):

      It is possible that a fair number of people who take the current 522 then take a surface bus to the U-District. There are a bunch of buses that go there. Given the time to go down to the station, the lack of stations and the (good, but not great) headways of Link, this is quite reasonable. In contrast, if the 522 goes to 145th, almost all of the riders will then take Link (instead of another bus). This is a degradation for some, but also adds to the number of riders on Link. When Link runs more frequently, the degradation is mitigated with better Link frequency, and crowding is no longer is an issue.

      I doubt the first or third reason is it. First, the 72 is sent along the exact same corridor. I also don’t think that there will be major construction along 145th (unlike Bothell Way). I don’t get the third reason either. This decision actually makes matter worse. There are two important stages when it comes to Lynnwood Link:

      1) Lynnwood Link opening.
      2) The 130th Station addition.

      Now ST has added a third, in the middle of those. There may be a good reason, but it certainly adds to the confusion.

      1. I used to live on 55th, halfway between Roosevelt and U-District Stations. So I might take the 522 to Roosevelt Station and transfer to the 67 or 45. A lot of people and trips overlap everywhere between Roosevelt and SLU, everything from apartments to retail, entertainment, and physical therapy. And some of those have one end between 65th and 45th.

      2. Interesting theory about ST keeping 522 going to Roosevelt because 522 riders can continue to the U District on a bus vs. on Link when Link is packed during Lynnwood Link 1-line-only operation. I do often want to get from Lake City Way to the U District and will sometimes hop on one of these buses (45, 67, 73) instead of Link if they’re coming within a few minutes. The 45 and 67/73 have different stops southbound, and drop you off in different parts of the U District, so you need to be a higher-information rider with OneBusAway to do it well. Northbound, 45/73 and 67 also have different stops in the U District. If there’s significant traffic anywhere along the surface routes, Link is almost always faster.

        I doubt very many people do/will do this, especially relative to the total ridership of the 522 wanting to get on Link to all other destinations. I still kind of like the theory that ST is going to run SODO to Northgate trains that turn back until the 2-line opens but the evidence is admittedly scant. It would be a nice way to have all-day 6-minute service on the core 1-line and 12-minute service elsewhere, but I wonder if it would be too hard for them to kick people off the trains at the ends efficiently enough to make it happen.


    “The Eco-blocks installed illegally on the streets of Seattle will likely stay where they are, unless those who placed the barriers remove them.

    “When asked about removing the eco-blocks, those concrete barriers that can weigh up to 2 tons from the SODO neighborhood, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Director Greg Spotts said it was unlikely his staff would be removing them now because it’s a critical time for construction on transportation projects.”

    Translation: Harrell likes the eco-blocks, especially after spending a fortune cleaning up Seattle for the All Star game, and this way he doesn’t take the blame for installing them. You know Spotts knows the company who is placing the eco-blocks, and a letter from the Seattle City Attorney would probably stop it. Look for a lot more eco-blocks in Seattle.

    On the other hand, Seattle did designate a parking lot along Interbay for RV’s, except that anyone parking in it must consent to leaving the RV and moving to housing. If you don’t like the city supplied housing don’t expect your RV to still be there.

    1. Again you’re projecting your own assumptions into other people. The explanation Spotts gave is probably right: there’s a short non-rainy season per year where all agencies try to concentrate construction projects, and they don’t have a lot of time for other things. This is like when you say the 554 proposal goes to Bellevue TC because Issaquah pressured it to because its residents want to go to Bellevue, Belleuve pressured it to because it’s trying to poach employers from Seattle, and ST did it because ST is a tool of Issaquah and Bellevue, without any evidence that that’s what they did or intended.

  21. Spokane City Line BRT opens tomorrow. Looked into what it takes to travel to Spokane via train or bus and its abysmal. Always knew the train got in in the middle of the night but bus service is terrible between Greyhound, Trailways and Flixbus… all leave around the same time mid-late morning from Seattle and get into Spokane late afternoon. Driving 4-5 hours is the only viable option for any weekend trips to Spokane. Don’t know how many have noticed just how much Greyhound has been decimated in the last 5-10 years, service is absolutely minimal, barely serves any communities outside of a handful of routes and bus terminals for the most part no longer exist.

    1. For a while now I’ve argued that Sound Transit should not function the way it does. It should be Washington State Transit (or WST) and be focused on connecting various cities by bus and rail (not building a high capacity transit system). It should work with various transit agencies on the edges, to provide better transit across them.

      Most transit exists within counties, if not cities. But this is exactly why the agency would be so valuable. Consider the Trailhead Direct service. It provides a good service. But compared to a typical Metro bus, it is horrible on every meaningful metric. The ridership per hour is abysmal. The same is true with many of the ST Express buses. The same would be true for buses that go between cities, like Seattle to Spokane. Likewise, it is unrealistic to think that counties or cities will subsidize or improve Amtrak. They need a large subsidy, and the subsidy should come from the state.

      1. “Washing State Transit” already exists, it’s called WSDOT. There is an Assistant Secretary Multimodal Development & Delivery. WSDOT funds Cascades and several intercity bus lines (Grape Line, Dungeness Line, Apple Line, Gold Line …), which appear to operate under a common brand “Travel Washington” ( … see map at the bottom).

        Ross wants ST to die and go away, and the tax revenues to be redirect to the county agencies, but saying it “should be WST” is a red herring, because 1. WST already exits, 2. ST’s service territory is for intraregional travel; strip out the branding but keep the funding and the ST Express network would look pretty simillar, 3. Since KCM operates Link, eliminating ST as an administrative layer just moves the planning & engineering staff into the KCM org chart, which unionizes those employees but otherwise I don’t see how it leads to a different outcome.

        So basically Ross wishes
        1. WSDOT ran Sounder
        2. Pierce Transit (or city of Tacoma) ran the Tacoma Streetcar
        3. King Count was on its own building out light rail.
        4. PSRC is the only venue for intercounty transit planning

        Better statewide funding for a train to Olympia or a bus to Spokane has nothing to do with Sound Transit’s existence.

      2. Of course the agency I have in mind would be under WSDOT. I’m saying the existing state agency is way too small, weak and doesn’t have nearly the budget it needs. Before Sound Transit, service across county borders was terrible. Even now it is a bizarre mix. Sound Transit runs buses that should be run by Metro (or other county agencies). Other buses across county lines that could be justified just aren’t built.

        Meanwhile, they don’t act as a liaison between the agencies. As a result, service across borders is bad. For example, the Swift Blue Line will be sent to 185th. That is good, but the current plans are for it to avoid Aurora, even though Aurora has potential riders, and is faster. Someone needs to act as a liaison between the two agencies so that they can get it right. Maybe Metro subsidizes CT. Maybe the state subsidizes CT. The main thing is that it shouldn’t be in the bureaucratic no-man’s land.

        So basically Ross wishes
        1. WSDOT ran Sounder
        2. Pierce Transit (or city of Tacoma) ran the Tacoma Streetcar
        3. King County was on its own building out light rail.
        4. PSRC is the only venue for intercounty transit planning

        First three are correct. Fourth is wrong. Again, that should be run by the state. The state should also be involved in making sure the various transit agencies cooperate on various projects. King County can build out the light rail system in the county, but it should interface with buses from other counties. It should be designed so that if the other counties want it extended further into their county, it can be. The state agency would be as much about cooperating with other agencies (Amtrak, BNSF, Metro, CT, Pierce Transit) as it is funding and designing its own intercounty transit network for the entire state.

      3. Ross, I also wish the state ran our inter-city transit. In addition to your wish list, I’d also like to see the state ferries allow walk-on and bike passengers at no more than bus fare, say $5/round trip rather than $10.

        I don’t think this position was viable, though, until the last few election cycles. As late as 2016, the state legislature was stacked with R’s who just wanted to take Puget Sound tax revenue and spend it on their pork barrel projects in their own sparsely-populated counties, and D’s who were milquetoast or even hostile towards transit. Unless I were sure that the current state-level political landscape is here to stay, it might be better to stick with mostly local funding, however imperfect our control over it might be.

      4. I think that it’s healthy to revisit taxing districts to see if they are relevant or governed correctly. Lines have to be drawn somewhere and structures need to stay responsive.

        I think that a fundamental geographic challenge of ST is that the district was conceived as an express bus focused regional service (so it’s at the right geography) but it’s long range end state is intended as light rail (so it’s too big of an area to cover cost-effectively). There is an oversight / management problem too but that’s driven more by its structure and not its geography.

        I think there should be focused transit working groups for Bellingham to Seattle, for Olympia to Seattle (or further to Vancouver and Portland) and for Ellensburg/ Yakima to Seattle. Not a “capital project” working group but a. “Integrated service strategy” working group. Maybe in time it can morph to be a taxing authority or service provider.

        What also amazes me is how the Washington State Ferry system isn’t part of a larger Western Washington regional transit strategy. It further amazes me how the Port of Seattle also runs SeaTac but a ferry-airport linkage is never given priority. The Kitsap fast ferries evolved to overcome the structural barrier of how the WSF system is still primarily viewed as a car bridge rather than a transit mode.

      5. @AJ,

        “ Ross wants ST to die and go away, and the tax revenues to be redirect to the county agencies”

        No greater truth has ever been spoken on this blog. And, if you could see me now, you’d witness a lot of eye rolls and head shakes.

        Ross wants to re-litigate policy decisions that were made in the last century. Personally I think there are better outlets for one’s angst.

        Anyone who actually lived in Seattle in the 80’s and 90’s knows why ST was formed.

        The greater Seattle metropolitan area was choking on its own success, and Metro was asleep at the switch. The problem wasn’t how to get to Spokane or the Tri-cities, the problem was that even getting to the UW, Cap Hill, or downtown in a fast, reliable manner was impossible with our bus system.

        The best Metro could offer was a bus tunnel, which they were never able to operate at full capacity. Things still melted down, and a solution seemed well beyond Metro’s reach.

        Along came ST, and for good reason. ST was specifically created to build fast, reliable, high capacity transit, and to do it across county lines. They are the agency tasked with that mission, and they have done reasonably well.

        As per Greyhound, they have been circling the drain for awhile now. According to the Bulgarian nationals at the airport yesterday, Greyhound is about to be absorbed into Flixbus.

        I don’t know it that is true or not, but if so, it will be another stake in the heart of rural America. Felixbus would cut a lot of money losing rural stops, and for good reason. Red state senators will cry up a storm and try to maintain rural stops via regulation as a condition for the merger approval, but the writing is on the wall.

      6. “ Ross wants ST to die and go away, and the tax revenues to be redirect to the county agencies”

        No greater truth has ever been spoken on this blog

        And yet I never said any such thing. It is amazing how people will put words in someone else’s mouth, instead of simply asking for clarification. It isn’t like I’m a rare visitor to the blog. I actually write for it.

        The point I’m making is that the state screwed up. Big time. They were trying to solve two problems at once, and failed miserably at both. The two problems were:

        1) Build a high-capacity mass transit system where it makes sense to do so.
        2) Build intercounty transit.

        Somehow, someone decided that these should be combined, despite the fact that King County is very large, and contains just about every shred of density appropriate for a high-capacity mass-transit system in the state.

        The result is basically crap. BART del Norte, as someone famously put it (I wish I knew who coined such a clever and appropriate phrase). Like BART, it has some essential pieces that any major subway system would have. Like BART, it has miles and miles of very-expensive, rarely-traveled sections, and has failed to cover the areas where a subway actually makes sense. Between the UW and Westlake there is one station — exactly the same number the county had when they built the (very affordable) bus tunnel, those many years ago! By no means am I saying that Convention Place Station was as good as Capitol Hill Station, but Good God, who builds a subway and then doesn’t bother to put stations in the most urban part of the state while making bold plans to extend farther outside downtown than the Paris Metro, the New York City Subway or the London Underground? Sound Transit, that’s who! It was Sound Transit (in their zeal to complete the ludicrous spine) that managed to skip over the heart of the city while focusing on trips to Fife, Ash Way, and Evergreen.

        This was all before there was talk of building an extra tunnel with inferior downtown stations, or rail to West Seattle that is inferior to what they have now (let alone what they could build with anywhere near the spending) or one single solitary Ballard station that seem to be farther and farther away from the heart of Ballard as we speak. They’ve had two tries to build a station at First Hill and failed. Nothing for Belltown, Fremont or the Central Area. Even the “South Lake Union” Station seems not long for this world. But Mariner? Oh yeah baby — essential.

        Meanwhile, they have done an adequate job of running intercounty bus and train service, but you have to be delusional to think they have solved all of the various problems between the agencies, even in the area they cover. You need only look at what Metro and CT have planned to realize that the border has a huge influence on the routes and the stops, and the folks who live close to it suffer accordingly. Notice that with Metro’s latest proposal, there is no connection on Aurora between 185th and 200th to Link, even though that is the fastest way for Swift Blue (the most frequent bus in CT’s fleet) to get to the station. It is as if Swift Blue, in all its beautiful plumage, is giving this part of Shoreline a giant middle finger.

        But I never said we should get rid of ST. I was simply pointing out what many people are coming to realize, which is that the structure of ST was (and is) a big mistake. Was it the only thing that was politically possible? Maybe. Is it ideal? No! That is my point. Oh, it is easy to argue that a smarter board, with better leadership, would have done the right thing, and somehow built something close to what any transit expert would suggest we build. But as many have said, the structure of the board, and their priorities, doomed it from the start.

        What they have done from the very beginning is focus almost entirely on long distance travel, to the great detriment of the vast majority of riders that aren’t going that far, or find that for such a distance, the buses work just fine. That is all I was pointing out. I mentioned that the second goal — providing intercounty service — should have been done by a state agency that did that for the entire state and not just one little bit of it. Notice that it is actually quite easy for someone to get from Tacoma to Seattle. You have commuter rail when there is traffic, and relatively frequent and fast bus service when there isn’t. And yet it is a real pain in the ass to get from downtown Seattle to Olympia — the capitol of the state! Why? Because of the arbitrarily defined borders of Sound Transit, an agency with oodles of cash, while what passes for intercounty bus service in the rest of the state is abysmal.

        Of course I don’t have a time machine, so we are forced to muddle along. The state can create yet another agency (or give the existing agency more money) to promote something that is definitely within ST’s wheelhouse. With enough effort, we can have decent bus service from Seattle to Spokane or Seattle to Olympia. The same agency might be tasked with working with the various existing transit agencies — that will always carry the bulk of the riders — to make sure the edges between counties are a little softer. But for now, we just hope for the best.

      7. As technocrats, we often tend to take the technocratic approach to problems. However, I might argue that there are political (in the small p sense) reasons to go with the current approach (of a dedicated agency like ST solving the ST area problems). That is, it can be hard for an agency with a state-wide mandate to dedicate the resources needed to understand the smaller region’s needs, and state-level funding gets additional scrutiny from parts of the state which arguably should not have that much say (let alone veto power) over what the local conditions are. It’s the equivalent of how we often say here (my wording, no one else’s) “let Seattle, or King County, fund and build the Seattle- or King-specific projects – that way, if they want to tax themselves more to do it, then Pierce and Snohomish Counties will not have to be involved).” It’s the same idea but covering the ST district.

        Anyway, I am familiar with a few other locations where similar setups exist. Metrolinx (in the Greater Toronto Area) is, I believe, a provincial government level agency but it does not have jurisdiction over say what happens in Ottawa (which is part of Ontario), it is focused on Toronto and surrounding cities (the “metro” bit). It has its own issues (similar to ST) but I have not heard people suggest that that work should be done at the Ontario Provincial Government level – if anything, I see more discussion of pushing that work down to the TTC and other city-level agencies.

        Ross, what examples do you know of which do use the setup you are proposing, and do so successfully? That would help ground the discussion going forward, I think.

      8. The dualistic love/ destroy ST accusation rings juvenile and hollow to me. Every agency has very good things and things that need work. Providing critique in the things that need to be rethought is not destroying anything. In particular, decisions made by elected officials 15 years ago or longer desserve to be questioned periodically.

        I think ST is increasingly smug and foolish about getting their 2016 dream fully funded and built The package had crazy low cost estimates and inadequate contingencies way less than what FTA advises. When I mentioned this in 2016 here on STB, the party line was that ST was so good at estimates that there was no need for more contingency. Well that’s now clearly proven wrong.

        Today, I think that the biggest risk is that the big ticket Link projects don’t produce enough riders to get a good FTA rating.

        Now that the SF Central Subway is not getting the predicted riders because of its depth, FTA is going to be even stronger in saying no to low productivity projects. Without massive federal donations, the ST3 program will not happen for another 50 years — and that we are already telling about opening dates at least 17 years away for WSBLE to Ballard and at least 10-15 for Everett and Tacoma Adomr.

        As for a comparison to BART, again I have to remind folks that BART paid for the Muni Metro tunnel east of Eureka/ Market and Church / Duboce. BART also runs at 79 mph (versus Link at 55 mph) and the extensions have been substantially funded by external county initiatives (as opposed to San Francisco residents). BART had an amazing farebox recovery before the pandemic. ST looks worse than BART to mr; call Link BART del Norte is an insult to BART.

      9. @Ross,

        I was merely quoting someone else who I happen to agree with, but your proclivities in regards to ST are well known.

        ST was specifically created to build high capacity transit in the tri-county area, and to do it across county boundaries. None of the other agencies have this task or have been given the jurisdictional tools to do it. Nor do the other agencies have the technical capability to do it.

        I must admit that I find your post somewhat hard to follow, but you seem to be both suggesting the need for such an agency and that the task is necessary, and then denigrating ST for existing and actually doing it. ST exists. And they are the only transit agency tasked with providing high capacity transit regionally.

        Get over it. The clock is not being reset to 1975.

        “ you have to be delusional to think they have solved all of the various problems between the agencies”

        Huh? ST is not the UN. They have not been tasked with smoothing out all the inter-agency issues locally. Inter-agency peace is not in ST’s mission statement, and they have not been given the legal tools to force any of the other transit agencies to play nice with each other. It’s not ST’s problem.

        But would better coordination and cooperation between the agencies be a good thing? Sure, but the best way to accomplish that would be to fold all the other agencies into ST and let ST run the whole show.

        But as good a thing as that might be for the region, I just don’t see it happening. And I’m not going to waste any time thinking about it.

      10. I was merely quoting someone else who I happen to agree with, but your proclivities in regards to ST are well known.

        You didn’t merely quote the falsehood — you claimed that “No greater truth has ever been spoken on this blog.” Now you want to back away from it by hiding behind the fact that someone made the ludicrous statement first.

        As for my “proclivities in regards to ST being well known”, absolutely. I am highly critical of the agency. But it is nothing compared to what you have written about Metro. And yet I would never assume that you want to get rid of Metro. What an absurd idea. ST has clearly failed the region, but we shouldn’t just get rid of the agency.

        My point is fairly simple:

        1) Sound Transit has done a very poor job in building the high-capacity transit system the system needs.

        2) This has as much to do with the design of the board as anything else.

        I’m not the first, and definitely not the last to come up with these ideas. The first is well known in transit circles. Many people have been appalled at what we have built. Perhaps the most eloquent description of the failure is this comment. While an analogy, the same could be done with any good system. SkyTrain as the “spine”. The “El” as the “spine”. Any European or Asian subway as the “spine”. They all look much, much worse for the reasons d. p. explained. The urban short-shrift – wide stops, missed stops, delayed lines, streetcars magically appearing as real-transit proxies – is just a really bad idea.

        But this begs the question. Why aren’t we building something like the DC Metro, or for that matter, SkyTrain? Why don’t the lines provide comprehensive urban coverage and then stretch outward to provide connections to the primary inner-suburban nodes, and further to provide access from the outer suburbs, giving the core of the region the key to the city, by making it easier to get in and then effortless to get around?

        The design of the board, that’s why. Yes, I realize that is a bold claim, but again, a reasonable and common one. The design of organizations often effects the results. Why does the U. S. have only two parties? Because we elect by plurality. No proportional representation, no second choice voting — it is based on plurality within each state for the Senate and President (although Congress itself decides how House members are elected). The result is that it is not very democratic. While the Bill of Rights remains a very strong constitutional guarantee of civil rights, the way we elect people is second rate. Don’t blame the politicians, don’t blame the people, blame the original system. The “Founding Fathers” did the best they could, but simply put, other countries have done much better since then.

        Same with Sound Transit. The design of the agency made it very likely that we would end up with a poor system. That doesn’t mean that we should get rid of Sound Transit, any more than we should start over with the United States. We simply have to work with what we have.

        Getting back to the original point, the state *should* have a stronger agency in charge of intercounty service for the entire state. Of course this means it overlaps with Sound Transit along with the various county agencies. So be it. As I’ve explained, one of the key elements of such a state agency is the ability to work with other agencies. Sound Transit just becomes another agency. It is very messy from a bureaucratic standpoint, but possible.

      11. Ross, what examples do you know of which do use the setup you are proposing, and do so successfully? That would help ground the discussion going forward, I think.

        I’m not aware of anything that is exactly what I have in mind. There are three pieces:

        1) Improve intercity rail service.
        2) Provide good intercity bus service.
        3) Work with local agencies to improve travel across borders.

        Just about every European country does the first one. So much so, that they do very little of the second. There is plenty of very good local and regional bus service, but for a trip like Seattle to Spokane, people would take the train (or a privately run bus). Of the places I’m aware of, Norway comes the closest, as they have regional bus service, and the regions are very large. While our counties are big, they aren’t that big. More importantly, I’m not sure if there is that much travel between region. I would imagine that people in Norway do very well by simply taking a regional bus followed by a train if they are going from a remote location to a big city. But big city to big city (by Norway’s standards) would be done by train. It is tough to compare, simply because Europe has had a strong public rail system for a long time. In the U. S. the roads are better than the rails in most of the country; I’m not sure if that is the case anywhere in Europe.

        But I see the first two goals as being similar. By all means the state should continue to improve the rail system (like this: but they should also subsidize intercity bus service.

        As AJ pointed out, Washington State is actually doing that (I wasn’t aware of it when I wrote my first comment). There are several other states doing the same thing: Of those, it appears that Colorado has the most extensive network.

        In terms of getting cooperation between local agencies, I simply don’t know how various agencies work. It is not a unique problem, and I’m sure most just try and cooperate with each other, although the state (or federal government) may have an agency that acts like a liaison, and also provides some level of financial support. Although not a unique problem, it probably happens a lot more in North America than in Europe. We sprawl between cities, they don’t. That means there are a lot more people living close to district borders (like the area between King and Snohomish County).

        So my general approach to transit (just look to Europe) just doesn’t work in this case. Nor can I point to a state (or province) that is doing things really well (although that might be just due to ignorance). But in both the U. S. and Canada folks are waking up to the importance of intercity bus service. From this article:

        Cassidy hopes to create a co-ordinated national bus network, with regional bus services across the country and with co-operation from the federal government. Companies already in talks include Pacific Western, Kasper, which operates in Manitoba and northwestern Ontario, and Cassidy’s Coach Atlantic.

      12. Every agency has very good things and things that need work.

        Sure, but in the case of Sound Transit, they have failed in their most important mission: providing a cost effective, high-capacity mass transit system for the region. They were the wrong agency for the job, simply because they were too regionally focused. The regional bus and commuter rail service is just fine. I find faults with it in the same way I find faults with Metro. But by and large, they do a decent job.

        But the rail system is second rate, despite spending more per capita than anyone in the U. S., if not anyone anywhere. I can find small problems in just about every mass transit system, but Link is chock full of them. They didn’t completely screw it up (they still have a lot of the essential pieces) but they still left out way too many. Why on earth would you even be considering extending beyond Lynnwood and Federal Way — which are already really far away — without addressing the most urban, contiguous parts of the city that lack stations? It is mind-boggling to most outside observers until you explain the nature and goals of the board.

        The agency had a dual mission that was at odds. It might have worked if they simply separated the two, and made it clear that the high-capacity mass transit system will not reach every suburb or distant city, but it will be well integrated with a regional bus system so that riders can easily get from Tacoma to First Hill, Belltown, the Central Area, Fremont and any other place that large numbers of people go to. Then again, it probably would have been just as good if the legislature simply gave the county the right to build a mass transit system with a majority vote, instead of the super-majority required with Forward Thrust. They would have had the usual bus-station interface for the various express buses from the suburbs. Hell, they might have done better (with a decent interface for buses from Renton). But you have to be a huge pessimist to believe they would have spent this much money on something this bad.

        Either way, Sound Transit should not have been tasked with the job. That leaves regional bus and rail service, which again has been done reasonably well. As I explained in my original comment, that aspect of Sound Transit should have simply been part of a statewide agency that provided the same thing in various other parts of the state (like Seattle to Tacoma, or Seattle to Spokane).

        As a result, we are left with a mess. The state does have that agency, but they don’t have the funding they need. They also have to now consider not only the county or city based transit agencies, but Sound Transit, that does much the same thing. It would make sense to have a state funded bus that goes from Seattle to Tacoma to Olympia. This is made more complicated because of the nature of Sound Transit. Their region is too big when it comes to high-capacity transit, and too small when it comes to intercity bus and rail transport.

      13. I think while there are areas for improvement existed beforehand, the looming big problem with ST by far is ST3. ST3 took advantage of the U-Link opening giddiness in 2016 to commit building light rail in unproductive corridors for light rail that didn’t make ST2. The length of ST3 also really stretches the bounds of a capital program — a 30 year program is way too long to lock in choices.

        But the problem is bigger than ST3. It’s also about what the overall focus of the agency is. It appears to be an agency that spends its Board time approving contracts and add-ons for engineering and construction firms and setting up property owners / developers to get better windfalls by modifying designs at the expense of riders — and avoiding discussing the consequences of their actions on existing and future ridership.

        The structural change that I think needed is simply separating the major capital investment aspect away from the Board. There is not enough attention given to the investment being strategic for the public. It’s instead become about “Stakeholders” — a word used to elevate property owners in importance at the expense of rider needs, ridership demand / farebox recovery and other responsible financial decisions.

        In other words, it looks to me that ST is missing some sort of “checks and balances” guiding its decisions. FTA shouldn’t have to be that force.

        Just look at the horrible messes that have emerged from ST since 2016.
        1. The Ft Defiance crash.
        2. Continuing escalator and elevator failures.
        3. The delayed awareness of and attention to East Link construction problems. (Opening day should be imminent if it was built correctly.)
        4. The progressively worse WSBLE station layouts — evolving years after the initial concepts were developed.
        5. The “realignment” that ended up just extending tax horizon years.
        6. The lack of minimum productivity standards for the ST3 projects.
        7. The apathy involved in reducing service disruptions — from Columbia City tile replacement to a hole in the Westlake roof.
        8. The inability to solve the Lynnwood / East Link vehicle supply challenge.

        I think that there should be a specific statewide transit investment oversight Board. That Board should be led and staffed by appointees skilled in public finance and value engineering. It’s not unlike the Washington State Transportation Commission but with more hands-on focus for transit with an eye to both reporting accountability and remedying performance problems. It should be a resource for all transit operators, and have on-call technical specialists (like rail engineers, bus maintenance experts and public bond issuers) that can be objective about review without worrying about their employer wanting the next big design or construction contract.

        I can anticipate the “not another bureaucracy” response already. But there is no agency actively monitoring the expensive sandbox play occurring at ST by its board. They are loose in the store buying junk on a whim — then getting to the checkout and discovering that what they chose both doesn’t fit the need that’s there, that it’s poorly built and that lots more accessories are required to use that product than what was thought.

        A final aspect is that this entity needs some teeth. I’m not sure how what kinds of teeth are needed but it should have the ability to veto bad transit investments and publicly criticize what a transit agency does with public money for transit.

      14. Ross, I’m not sure how introducing more rural politicians into Greater Seattle high capacity transit planning would be an improvement over the status quo. Your critique of ST has two angles – execution and values.

        Execution – you think ST is bad at building HCT. Fine, but I don’t see how a new state agency would have been any better. It would have been based in Seattle and the rank & file employees would have been literally the same people. (mid & late career professionals from existing county and private firms). WSDOT is generally good at building highways because it has many decades of experience and (more importantly) many many iterations of simillar projects to build up experience, but WSDOT struggles at both executing mega-projects (see Bretha, 99 tunnel) and responsibly maintaining vehicles fleet (see WSF ferry maintenance backlog).

        Values – here you’ve lost me. There is zero reason to believe that the governor and state legislatures would be better political stewards of technical decisions around station placement, alignment, and so forth. If anything, introducing exburb politicians would have skewed investments even more towards park & riders to benefit voters in Snoqualmie, Arlington, and so forth.

        But I think more importantly, your central objection is the sub-area constraint. You believe strongly that the correct policy is for the suburbs & exburbs to subsidize transit spending in the urban core. I agree this is the best practice, but it completely ignore the political reality. The subarea equity constrain is not something the ST board created – it was created by WaLeg and is written into each of the ST levy bills. Given WaLeg had the opportunity to dispose of subarea equity in the ST2 and ST3 bills and chose not to, I don’t see how active management of ST by WaLeg would result in a different outcome.

        Your point about WST is good – that division of WSDOT should be an order of magnitude bigger and provide regular service across the state, connect rural and small town Washingtonians to metropolitans areas, focusing on travel corridors that cross count lines. But this is unrelated to HCT and therefore is unrelated to Sound Transit. It is also unrelated to ST Express – the Seattle region’s express bus mode (provided primarily but not solely by ST) are for intRA-regional trips and aspire to run at 15~30 minute frequencies with full sized buses; these routes have long express segments but also 1/4 stop spacing within cities. What WST does is very different … these intER-regional trips should generally run hourly and use much smaller vehicles. In summary, I think you are making a mistake in conflating ST Express with WST; they are different modes.

        The only mode where I think transitioning to the state could be a clear improvement is Sounder. Folding together Cascade and Sounder service as two brands under one operator makes good sense operationally (the rolling stock is very simillar, they share station, & share the same layover facility in Seattle), could improve the rider experience, and could unlock intermediate service such as regular Olympia-Seattle trains that serve most (or all) Sounder stations.

      15. No one or city is going to turn over the routing and station placement to an agency without voter and political oversight. The people who generate the subarea revenue — including stakeholders — are going to call the shots. Harrell isn’t going to want to listen to what a bunch of transit riders want with their subsidized fare. Like me, Harrell doesn’t think transit creates anything. It serves.

        IMO ST never decided whether it is inter or intra subarea transit, and so spent most its money on inter- city transit, except the distances and cost were vast. So it skimped on intra-city/subarea transit with long stop spacing and skipping whole areas like First Hill with much higher density than along any other part of Link outside Seattle.

        Some people also came up with some crazy future population growth estimates and density growth. Now the pandemic has actually reversed both of those trends.

        ST 3 was always going to be interesting because Link now moves into the suburbs where density is very light — because suburbanites by definition like low density — parking free, and a demographic that is not single urbanists carrying home a single baguette to their micro apartment where they live alone.

        Link makes sense in the core of Seattle — especially for peak commuters — but not suburban Seattle like WS. I don’t think it will work well in Tacoma (Dome), Everett, Lynnwood, Redmond or even Bellevue. It will fail badly in the areas in between, now that WFH is here to stay, just like Sounder S that arguable has a better route.

        I think it is a bit rich for transit advocates to criticize Link now. Everyone — especially transit people — should have known the assumptions — revenue, ridership and project costs — were manipulated but transit advocates didn’t care. Any transit funding is good funding. Some fools even talk about regional HSR that doesn’t pencil out in CA.

        From the very beginning there should have been an outside consultant BEFORE not after each ST fiasco to accurately assess ridership estimates and dollar per rider mile, because Link only makes sense at a certain dollar per rider mile threshold.

        Instead ST released crazy population and ridership estimates, and Inslee appointed political hacks to the DOC to come up with dishonest future population growth estimates. Now the new mantra is we will force folks into TOD so they have to ride transit, despite the car in their garage or Uber. The reason Uber is so successful is because it is 100% non-ideological. It doesn’t try to change how people live. It just takes them where they want to go without them having to change anything in their life, especially their preferred housing.

        So we get more lies, like housing growth hasn’t kept up with population growth so rents have risen and so we must upzone everywhere although that destroys any urbanism because nothing — especially retail — is then condensed, and of course rents rose because AMI rose. The definition of urbanism is “condensed”, except urbanists here are too caught up with class warfare in a city in which the top 20% earn 22 times the bottom 20% according to Westneat’s article today.

        The reason dollar per rider mile is so critical is you have to maintain and replace this shit if you build it, and every single transit agency skimps on future O&M costs (and unsurprisingly ST lied about that too and has already reset its estimates upwards by $1.2 billion while farebox recovery is about half the goal of 40%, another crazy “goal”). It doesn’t help that ST for some unknown reason built unsecured stations.

      16. “Sound Transit, they have failed in their most important mission: providing a cost effective, high-capacity mass transit system for the region.”

        Ross, do you actually believe this? I think your hatred of ST3 is distracting you. By the end of this decade, ST will have built Link from Lynwood to FW to Redmond, with a robust bus network serving all other regional destination of note. Because of the rate of infrastructure inflation, it will have done so under an average cost structure that will be impossible to repeat in the future.

        You can consider ST3 a giant exercise of lighting money of fire … but the ST2 network will continue to operate fully, be maintained fully, and be funded fully (ST policy ensures that SOGR is fully funded before any ST3 project moves through a stage gate). I consider ST1 + ST2 a success.

      17. “ Some people also came up with some crazy future population growth estimates and density growth. Now the pandemic has actually reversed both of those trends.”

        Sorry DT but that’s a false statement. The Census Bureau, which tracks public records like IRS filings, SSI payments and other monitoring data says that the Seattle population grew by 1.7% since 2020.

        In contrast, Mercer Island population has fallen 2.2% since the 2030 Census.

        A gleeful suburb-hater could even say “Mercer Island is dying! People are leaving in droves!”

      18. Al, you missed the entire point of my post.

        The three county region was estimated to grow by 1 million residents over 20 years beginning in 2018, or 50,000/year. King Co. has lost 43,000 residents over the last two years. So the region is 250,000 residents short today of this goal.

        My point is ST 3 — and parts of ST 2 — are predicated on huge regional growth (and a vibrant Seattle CBD which is why two tunnels are designed to run through the CBD although the number of stations is declining). That is why ST is running Link to Everett, Tacoma and Redmond and points in between, at the expense of urban Link.

        There are areas in Seattle in which the dollar per rider mile pans out for Link. but not many. Basically Northgate (really UW) to CID. The rest of Seattle simply doesn’t have the density for Link. Seattle is mostly suburban area wise.

        Seattle’s issue isn’t base population that has basically stayed relatively flat over the last few years and will in the future, and as you have pointed out that rises and falls with the UW. Seattle’s issue is the loss of the work commuter and out of city visitor/shopper and the loss of that tax revenue Seattle has come to rely upon.

        MI’s population has dropped slightly because it is built out in the SFH zone and there have been very few multi-family or mixed use developments over the last decade. Plus our demographic is aging but wants to stay in their SFH. But MI is not a city that is based on population growth or out of city workers and shoppers. WFH and online sales tax have made up for any lost tax revenue due to a minor drop in population. In its 2035 Vision Statement the PSRC said 26,000 is MI’s built out population we should reach post 2050.

        If we were talking intra-Seattle Link I could understand that. But East Link and ST 3 gave little to do with urban Link (including WS and Ballard).

      19. By the end of this decade, ST will have built Link from Lynnwood to FW to Redmond, with a robust bus network serving all other regional destination of note.

        Yet they won’t have anything to the Central Area, Fremont, Wallingford, Belltown, South Lake Union or even First Hill. They will have only one stop in in Ballard (well away from the cultural, residential and employment center) with no way to get from Ballard to the UW quickly, despite various urban destinations along the way (Fremont and Wallingford) or the fact that going from Ballard to downtown via the UW is quite reasonable. The fact that you tout the overall distance of the system basically proves my point. It is quantity over quality. When all is said and done, Link will be one of the biggest high-capacity mass transit systems in the United States! Yet it continues to leave out the dense, contiguous areas where such investments actually pay off.

        Consider the UW. Of course they ran the train to the UW. Even the most incompetent agency wouldn’t skip that one. They have two stations — one good, one bad. Why two? Just because. Seriously, someone want to explain to me why they don’t have a station at Campus Parkway given this kind of density:, in an area that also happens to be a major cultural center for the entire region? Same reason there is no station on First Hill, or at 23rd & Madison. They were too busy making sure they got to Lynnwood and Federal Way (on their way to Everett and Downtown Tacoma the Tacoma Dome). Good God, what a tragedy it would have been if the suburban riders would have been forced to ride their bus for an extra two minutes to the freeway station. Oh, the horror!

        By all means it is very important that your system have a good bus intercept for suburban riders. But it is way more important that your high-capacity mass transit system serve the dense urban areas where there not only are a lot of people, but a lot of attractions.

        I’ve used this example before. I once worked in Fremont with a guy who commuted from Lynnwood. The company (ProQuest) eventually moved, and it was taken over by Google. Think about his commute for a second. He tried transit, but it just didn’t work for him. He could get to the UW very easily, but then what? It just took too long on the buses. As time goes on, that trip to the UW keeps changing. At most, it gets just a tiny bit better. When Link gets to Lynnwood, it will be as good as it will ever be. But it still won’t be much better than before. In contrast, that trip from UW to Fremont will still suck. Oh, Metro and SDOT do the best they can, but it is just too cumbersome. So, after spending a fortune extending Link right to his hometown, he would still be driving!

        And guess what? I’m in the same boat! No, I don’t live in the suburbs, but in the north end of Seattle (Pinehurst). Given the transfer time, I would still take the bus to the UW, meaning nothing much would change. With the 130th Station though, maybe I take a bus to Link, then Link to the UW, and then the same slow bus from there to Fremont. They keep ignoring the slowest piece.

        Not only did Sound Transit focus on the areas that tend to have fewer people, but they focused on the trips that are currently pretty fast. The same is true for West Seattle. A trip from the most densely populated part of West Seattle (High Point) or a trip along Delridge typically involves a lot of stopping and going. Just as the bus gets to the point where it is about to run very quickly to downtown, riders will be expected to get off the bus and wait for a train. Quite likely, by the time they get to the platform their old bus would already be downtown!

        It is just a complete misunderstanding of what subways are good for. As I wrote before, the New York City Subway, Paris Metro and London Underground (and Overground) don’t extend this far from the city center. This is mind boggling. Those are massive cities and massive subway systems, with literally hundreds of stations (each) and yet they don’t go as far from the city center as our system will. It is tempting to think that we are like L. A., with multiple centers spread apart, and need an unusual system, unlike almost all the great metros of the world. Sorry, but you would be wrong. Practically all the major density and the major attractions are in the city, with a smattering on the East Side (which even then isn’t going to be served that well). We shouldn’t prioritize serving Federal Way or Lynnwood over serving the contiguous, high-density areas in Seattle (and even Bellevue).

        It is a second rate system at a first rate cost. It makes the Maggie Fimia’s of the world sound brilliant. Would we better off spending all of these billions on a bus-based system? I would say no, but the system is so full of holes, I have to hesitate before saying that. It just isn’t very good, costs a fortune, and the major mistakes won’t be fixed anytime soon. Instead, they will make even worse mistakes.

      20. Daniel, I agree that immense population growth is essential for every single ST3 project aside from Stride. We probably differ in that I expect that growth to emerge around most (though not all) ST3 stations by the 2050s.

        Ross, your comment on Campus Parkway is easily dismissed. That would be 1/4 mile stop spacing – the best international best practice is much closer to 1/2 mile stop spacing. NYC’s 2nd Ave stop spacing has ~10 minute walk between each station, while it’s a 5 minute walk from the Link station to Campus Parkway. U District is great but it’s not the Upper East Side.

        Most great cities have a match between transit and density because one followed the other, and historically transit came first and density followed. Building subways out to farmland was common practice in the early 20th century; the fact that there is good density around those stations in 2010 doesn’t mean there was good density in 1910 when the rail lines opened.

        Ross, I’m much more curious for your response to my 2:10 post. Your are frustrated our politicians allowed for Link to run anywhere outside of Seattle city limits, and yet you wish Sound Transit was run by a statewide agency?

    2. It’s easy to get excited about connecting cities closer than 400 miles by rail rather than by plane. However, Spokane is not that big of a draw in the larger scheme of things.

      Consider California HSR. It not only connects the Northern California Region with 5 to 10 million people with the Southern California Region of 15 to 25 million (varying by geographical definitions), but three intermediate counties where Fresno, Bakersfield and Modesto are have county populations greater than Spokane County and a fourth (Tulare County) is just a little less populous.

      The time consuming rail connection that appears to need to improve is to get through the Cascades. From there all sorts of bus or train connections can be possible. It would probably benefit freight too. However, there are still only about 1.5 million Washington residents east of the Cascades and that’s just not that dense for such a large land area bigger than many entire states.

      1. Would hope we could at least have 4 or 5 bus trips each way spread out throughout the day between Seattle and Spokane. Would also be nice to have rail service back on the Stampede Pass route.

        I am in agreement with WSDOT (also FTA) taking a stronger role in transit. FTA role more like FAAs role in aviation… working with the airlines, championing the industry and doing the airlines dirty work with regard to rules, security/safety and passenger conduct. Cause a problem onboard a bus or train and have the Feds involved with serious penalties.

        Also with more WSDOT role, it would give greater state level authority where they could have forced the Port to have the airport station closer to the airport and could have also told UW to go pound sand and forced a station in the middle of the campus instead of way out of the way in a parking lot of a stadium used 6 times a year. These transit agencies shouldn’t be these mysterious agencies with minimal authority (our govt really doesn’t recognize regional or special districts like it does the three tiers: Federal, State and Local).

  22. I might have missed another post, but both Metro and Sound Transit have surveys open for changes for Lynnwood Link:

    This would be a good opportunity to bring up (again) the problems especially with Metro’s plan in North Seattle, where they’re robbing frequent service along Sand Point to backfill the future loss of ST-X service on Lake City Way when the 522 goes to 145th station. If nothing else, it would be good for Metro to defer starting the 77 until after the 522 gets re-routed so they can try to find additional resources to keep the 75 as an all-week frequent route.

    It would also be nice to see the 61 extend further than Greenwood, or even fill in the big E/W gap between the 44 and 45 in Ballard.

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