Thoughts on car dependency from rural America. (InDefenseOfToucans)

Link remains at 15-minute service with single-tracking at Othello and Rainier Beach stations through September 17.

Phase 2 of the T Line opens September 16. This extends Tacoma Link to what we might call Tacoma’s First Hill.

Page 2 has an article on a Jefferson Street funicular in Seattle’s First Hill.

King County explores redeveloping a 9-block government district downtown. This includes the North of CID Link station alternative.

A step by step guide to improving a city’s transit. (RMTransit video)

Trolleybuses vs battery buses. (City for All video)

Montreal transit and urbanism. (CityNerd video)

Non-transit interlude: Why Shakespeare plays can’t be presented the original way. (J Draper video)

This is an open thread.

217 Replies to “Open Thread 14: Rural Transit”

  1. Another good video came out today by “Oh The Urbanity” about not needing to move abroad from North America to find happiness and good urbanism. Talking extensively about their home of Montréal in relation to this context.

    CityNerd also did a talk about his visit to Montréal as well. Focusing on the street closings for pedestrian areas during the summer months.

  2. I think something is up. Maybe I’m in a weird vortex. Anyway, Roosevelt Station is HAUNTED! so now in the afterlife, monkeys pull garbage… sad… well, I did call out the station as being cursed.

  3. I noticed that the Link platforms being renovated had no workers at 7 pm when I rode by one day this week. It’s clear that ST is in no hurry to complete this work or there would be overtime workers on site to complete the work as quickly as possible.

    I view this as just another example of how ST cares more about their bureaucracy than their own riders.

    I’ve seen evening workers on East Link but that’s a private contractor. I’m grateful that this fix seems to be taken more seriously.

    It seems reasonable for us to stand up for riders and call out ST about this. One 8-hour shift should be an unacceptable approach when light rail service is disrupted. It should never happen again!

    1. I agree, Al S. It’s mind-boggling that we spend billions on a core infrastructure project but then can’t spend the (at most) tens of thousands of dollars of additional money needed to return it to full operation ASAP.

      1. I will attain crank status if I say this too often, but yeah, it’s amazing how little Sound Transit cares about running a light rail system. It can’t be true, but it *feels* like they give us more days of disrupted service than “regular” service.

      2. It’s because so many people tell it to “Build, build, build.” And some of the money is restricted to capital projects and can’t be used for operations.

    2. When I went by the two platforms on Thursday it looks like they were private contractors and that should not be a surprise. After all ST is a transit agency that doesn’t operate its own buses and trains so why would they have people employed that would do that kind of work.

    3. Maybe the glue is drying, or it’s unsafe to use the platform in its unfinished condition.

      1. Both last year and this year there is equipment sitting on the track and on both the north and south sides of the platforms there are signs saying where the power is turned off and back on so it is not just that the platforms cannot be used until they are completely done. They have to remove the equipment and restore the power.

    4. I just don’t understand why Sound Transit has STILL yet to publish schedules for current link reductions. It’s already unbelievable that we are willing to cut service by 50% during peak commute times for more than a month, but there seems to be no urgency regarding maintaining a proper rider experience during construction. My friends and I have submitted complaints, only to be given a response of “you should expect to wait up to 15 minutes before a train arrives at a station” and “I personally use the sound transit trip planner app to help in situations like these”. Bonkers

      1. Not surprised at all as I have written to ST in the past about problems and each time I received what I would call the corporate response meaning that they don’t bother to answer your question or respond to your complaint.

        And then you have their website and try to find information there. To me it is a website designed by technical people for technical people and not for their customers.

        To sum it up the words customer service and Sound Transit don’t belong in the same sentence.

      2. I don’t understand why Sound Transit would rather run service every 15 minutes on the entire line (especially with so many events happening during this time) than to run service every ~7.5 minutes between Northgate – Columbia City (or whatever the southernmost station is with a crossover before the construction begins), with every other train continuing through to Angle Lake. At least in this case, the majority of stations / trip pairs wouldn’t see reduced service for almost a month.

      3. @TN,

        Last year they did what you suggested that every other train ended at Stadium and the rest continued to Angle Lake.

        The problem was that passengers didn’t pay attention to the sign on the first car of the train where it said Stadium so they had to get off, wait and transfer to an Angle Lake train at Stadium and a lot of those passengers were going to the Airport with their luggage so for them it was a major inconvenience.

        Is the 15 minutes service an inconvenience? Yes but so was last year so there is no perfect solution to when projects like this have to be done.

        So your suggestion would be identical except it would be at Columbia instead of Stadium.

      4. “Last year they did what you suggested that every other train ended at Stadium and the rest continued to Angle Lake.

        “The problem was that passengers didn’t pay attention to the sign on the first car of the train where it said Stadium so they had to get off, wait and transfer to an Angle Lake train at Stadium and a lot of those passengers were going to the Airport with their luggage so for them it was a major inconvenience.”

        Good grief! Short turning trains happens in every major rail systems. Even Link quits running a train to Downtown at 11:45 pm but has trains that go as far as Stadium as late as 1:30 am.

        Is having to wait a few minutes for the next train any worse at Stadium than it is at Capitol Hill? Outside of being exposed to outdoor elements it’s exactly the same thing: waiting for a follow up train on a platform. I guess someone could complain that they gave to move luggage several feet onto the platform and back — but when this same trip will require a few blocks of walking and up/down escalators if DSTT2 gets built this seems pretty minor.

        So this is worse than making every single rider — even those just going from north Seattle to Downtown — wait longer? That just makes no sense to me.

      5. “I don’t understand why Sound Transit would rather run service every 15 minutes on the entire line…”

        I can’t think of a better hypocrisy from an agency than ST on the frequency issue. They accept 15 minute service now as adequate for capacity for four weeks but at the same month cry out that the sky is falling if Lynnwood Link riders that aren’t already on Link will make 9 minute trains will be horrifically overcrowded. Going from 4 to 7 trains an hour is 75 percent more service yet I don’t see 75 percent more riders on the north segments of Link for as short as eight weeks next year. I swear they decide what to do and make up numbers to justify their actions rather than the other way around.

      6. “Good grief! Short turning trains happens in every major rail systems. ”

        And MAX does stuff like turn blue line trains into yellow line trains or green to blue halfway through a trip. Keeping people informed isn’t that big a deal…at least for many organizations…

      7. TN, you can not reverse at “a crossover” unless it is at the end of service. There must be a center “tail” or “pocket” track for the operator to stop the train, shut it down, de-board, walk to the other end, re-board, boot the train up and depart in the opposite direction. You simply can’t do that by fouling a main track.

        Yes, you can run two operators from the last previous platform if it is far enough to the cross-over that the boarding operator can be in position to “take the train” so that the reverse-direction move can be initiated immediately upon crossing-over.

        But even that will foul one or the other main occasionally; trains simply don’t run on exact schedule. If the reversing train is several minutes late and the cross-over is a close “trailing point” [i.e. a train “backs” through it to change tracks], the following train may be delayed by the reversal. If the cross-over is “facing point” [the train goes through it in the forward direction], then it will be the opposite main that’s delayed.

        Reversing is done all over the world, but except of very infrequent lines it is always done at end of service or using a pocket track.

      8. Communication is a solvable problem. I don’t think I saw any signage at the stations indicating 15 minute headways during this period of construction; though I remember hearing occasional announcements. I’m sure they could also program trains to declare their destination upon doors opening.

        While things can’t be perfect as some will be oblivious, Sound Transit can do better to inform the public of short turning trains. I think inconveniencing a smaller portion of the public (those who accidentally board a short turning train who have to transfer) is a fair tradeoff for enhanced service (really, normal service) for those taking the Link in unaffected areas.

        Tom, while this may not be the case at Columbia City station (so perhaps we’d have to do this at the next available station northbound), if the station had a crossover northbound of the platform, could the train not arrive at the station, have the operator walk to the other side of the train, and use the crossover to access the northbound tracks?

        While I agree that trains don’t run on a perfect headway and some delays may occur, given that service is running every 7.5 minutes, assuming we double the service and short turn every other train, there seems ample opportunity to short turn trains with minimal impact. Having an extra operator at the north side of the platform to take over the train would further improve turnaround times (ie. each operator would turn off the train, and walk to the north side and wait until the next short turned train, when they would then drive that one northbound). Though, I doubt that will be the limiting factor – London Underground only had to do that on the Victoria line to achieve 100s headways IIRC.


    I think this article by Fesler is good. I think some transit advocates thought truncation would create more not less service hours, and more coverage and frequency on local transit.

    With split fares and so much service to Link or RR, and budget issues, it was bound to result in cuts someplace.

    Fesler’s point appears we made it easier to take transit long distances between suburban areas but made it harder to take transit short distances between urban areas. That shouldn’t be a surprise, unless somehow someone thought Link would fund more Metro service, not less.

    1. If I’m not mistaken Fesler is arguing for Metro subarea equity, but unlike ST not based on the revenue a subarea generates but on existing or pre-pandemic service levels.

      So if service (eg the 41) is eliminated those service hours must be reallocated in the same general area the 41 ran in.

      I am guessing Fesler lives in north Seattle or other non-equity zones.

      I did appreciate Fesler’s passing concern for the Eastside and Metro’s cuts to service here, but if the riders are not there, or they are suppose to be on Link/Stride and money is limited, then “duplicative” Metro routes get the ax.

      The basic reality is Link cuts Metro’s farebox recovery in half for feeder service so of course that is going to get cut. I have been trying to tell Lazarus this for a long time. What is Metro’s motivation to run more — or any feeder — buses for Link when drivers and mechanics are in short supply, fares fixed, ridership down, fare payment down, and all costs including drivers up when Link takes 54% of the meager fare?

      Fesler wants to get the KC Council involved, but those are the folks telling Metro to reallocate the service hours from runs like the 41 to equity (non north Seattle) zones.

      1. Daniel, farebox revenue on suburban lines is such a tiny portion of Metro’s revenue, it won’t matter one little bit if M has to split it with ST on Seattle or (eventually) Downtown Bellevue trips. It’s a rounding error.

        The big time fare revenues come from the RR’s and frequent routes in Seattle proper where people get on and off all the time. Loading a bus at a P’n’R, driving for 40 minutes, letting them off, driving back 40 minutes empty, rinse and repeat, is NOT at all lucrative. Buses could be free on the Eastside and Metro would think it had fleas.

    2. We can’t really discuss this without specific routes to see what he thinks is good service and bad service. He says in high-level terms that things are wrong but he never really says what. He says the service guidelines reform was too minimal but he never says what’s wrong with the existing guidelines or what’s missing in the reform. If he did say, probably half our commentators would agree and half would disagree, because these are all about values and judgments and tradeoffs.

      Historically Metro had a 40/40/20 rule that, during cuts and expansions, shifted hours from Seattle to the rest of the county to gradually equalize the service level between them. That led to insufficient frequency in denser areas that would use it, and excess service in lower-density areas that wouldn’t. The council also vetoed restructures if even one person complained about losing a stop or losing a one-seat slow milk run to downtown. In 2012 the council realized it could no longer afford to have bad service in core corridors, so it replaced 40/40/20 with a set of ridership-and-coverage metrics. That encouraged consolidating service into frequent corridors where transit could really shine, while also reserving part of the budget for coverage routes outside that. Metro got bolder with restructures, especially between 2012-2019. That led to overhauls in Seattle, South King County, and the Eastside. Since then it has pulled back a bit in boldness, but it’s still bolder than before 2012.

      Metro also kept hours within its subareas when restructuring. (This is distinct from 40/40/20 cuts or the converse 60/30/10 (?) expansions.) So if a route like the 41 was deleted, the hours would go to routes in north-central/northeast Seattle.

      The 41 situation was complicated. Metro faced a loss of sales-tax revenue and fare revenue in the covid recession, so that swallowed the 41’s hours. The local governments had gotten on an equity kick. So when North Seattle argued the 41’s hours should go to Link feeders in North Seattle because that was the agreement when they approved Link and it’s what Metro had always done, some politicians said subareas shouldn’t be able to “hoard” hours, and the hours should instead go to South Seattle and Southeast King County for equity. There was also confusion about equity areas, because parts of Lake City and Broadview and Bitter Lake near 145th are lower-income and higher-minority but that was ignored.

      In the end I think all the 41’s hours were swallowed by the recession. That looks like restructuring at a lower level, but it’s really a consequence of the cuts and restructure happening simultaneously. If the 41’s hours were shifted to southeast Seattle or south King County, which routes did they go to? I don’t see any corresponding increases there that would explain it. So I think this “shifting hours south” was more of a preliminary discussion than a reality.

      In the current Capitol Hill restructure, Metro has toned down some of its radical proposals in 2012-2020. I have a lot of knowledge about this neighborhood, so I think it’s responding to legitimate concerns that some of the concepts might cause problems or increase the mismatch in transit vs travel patterns. For instance, some transit fans pushed Metro to reroute the 10 from Pine to John in 2016 to keep that corridor strong. But the actual result was that many riders switched from the 10 to the 11 to remain near Pine Street to 15th, and a transit hole opened up with only the infrequent 11 on Pine east of Broadway. So it should have been left as-was, and the current proposal moves it back to Pine.

      Many, many people pushed for Madison RapidRide to give better transit access to First Hill, because it was really bogged down with congestion. There’s disagreement about how far east it should go or whether it should turn north on Broadway, but there’s widespread consensus that there should be a fast/frequent route on Madison of some sort, especially after losing a First Hill Link station. So it doesn’t make sense to call the G bad now and complain about it taking service hours from other routes. That was the plan all along. And the “taking service hours” is really a consequence of the recession, lowering of Seattle’s Transit Benefit District rate, the lack of a Metro Connects expansion ballot measure, and the driver shortage. It’s better to have one frequent/fast route in East Seattle than to have zero.

      So I’d call Metro’s current restructures pretty good, even if not wonderful. And a lot of the shortfalls are simply due to the driver shortage and lower revenues, and can be backfilled when those improve. When Metro proposes 20-minute service, I read that as “It should have 15-minute service but we can’t reach that quite yet.” So I’m confident it will when it can.

      1. Well, at least we have a comment section :)

        Seriously though, folks on here tend to be relatively forgiving when it comes to this sort of thing. There is a comment policy, but it is tough to draw the line between an honest mistake (e. g. someone misinterpreting your writing) and someone deliberately being an ass.

        As an all-volunteer organization (where no one gets paid a dime) it is tough to police the various arguments. Over the last six months, Mike and I have done almost all of the moderating (which usually consists of fixing typos) and we are mere underlings. We aren’t even “staff” if you look at the masthead ( despite generating much of the recent content (Mike especially has done a lot of work).

        So yeah, it would be great to have an official moderator — someone whose job it is to police the comments, but we simply don’t have that. If things get really ugly, one of us will typically clean things up. I’ve done it on occasion, when attacks are clearly personal, but that often just backfires. So we generally just let it go unless it has obviously crossed the line.

        Feel free to point out the specific problem you have with Daniel’s comment; if I agree with your assessment, I’ll remove that section. But banning is a big step that I certainly don’t feel comfortable doing, or even recommending. It certainly wouldn’t be my decision to make (nor Mike’s). If you would rather contact me personally, I believe you have my email address.

        On a side note, I thought your piece was subtle and though provoking. I have some thoughts, but I want to write those on a separate thread.

      2. On the topic of moderating, I admit that I find it a little disheartening that someone who is not a member of this community feels so eager to ban someone who is a much more proactive community member, and generally does engage in some level of good faith, even when their opinions are unpopular. Even if the ban were warranted (and I do not believe that it is), it would be great to see the person requesting it engage in more back-and-forth discourse with the community at large, not just to request bans of dissenting voices. I am sure that we all could learn something from the one requesting the bans. Why not teach us by talking to us directly, Stephen? We would love to hear your thoughts in comments. Stay a while, get to know us better :)

      3. A recent Urbanist headline on a Bellevue council candidate: “Anti-Housing Bellevue Council Candidate Calls Homelessness a Crime.” I wonder if the candidate thinks they are being misrepresented.

      4. Daniel often writes incomprehensibly or has faulty assumptions about the suburbs and Seattle. Several of us have encountered it when he interprets what we write in a completely different direction and with a Futurama drive-and-park-everywhere-and-live-in-a-low-density-neighborhood-as-normal mindset. I think we may get the same kinds of things from Daniel but interpret them differently?

        I told Daniel to use “I think” or such to clarify that these are his opinions and interpretations, and not imply they believe something they may not believe. For the most part he has done that, and in the comments above I mostly see that. One case is ambiguous, “Fesler’s passing concern for the Eastside”. If you think other things misrepresent you, can you say what they are, and that will be a rebuke in itself.

        While I find some of Daniel’s writing annoying or impossible-to-unravel misinterpretations, he does represent the mindset of a large number of residents and voters. I hear similar things from family and friends in the Eastside and in Seattle. Since we live in a democracy where a majority is necessary to get anything done, we have to engage with and compromise with and try to convince the many people who have these ideas, and the politicians who are in the middle. It’s arguably better to encounter these ideas first on STB than in talking with somebody else where you have no idea how to respond. And while we may get further on in not having Daniel’s writings, that doesn’t make the large number of residents/voters with similar viewpoints go away.

    3. I agree with Fesler’s argument that using Northgate Link as an excuse to shift bus service away from north Seattle entirely is bad. The implicit bargain in a service restructure has always been that your bus may get truncated, but you get something in return, namely better frequency on other routes that go to different places. Now, Metro is setting a precedent that service restructures are about simply taking service away from you entirely, motivating more people to oppose service restructures in the future.

      The “equity” argument, I also disagree with. It completely ignores the fact that North Seattle is much better suited for transit than south King in numerous ways. It’s not downtown by any means, but it’s still (compared to south King) relatively dense, with relatively good pedestrian infrastructure, and a street grid that allows more destinations to be served by a single bus traveling in a straight line, without zig-zagging.

      Instead of focusing on areas that transit is capable of serving effectively, they are making their decisions based on factors completely unrelated to transit, such as the percentage of the local population that has various skin colors or ethnicities.

      I’m not going to argue that Kent shouldn’t have any bus service – clearly, it should – but if you value having good bus service – that is, frequent bus service in multiple directions, you need to live in a real city – it is unreasonable to expect that in a place like Kent.

  5. Was reading the draft Seattle Transportation Plan, (well skimming, it’s kinda laughably overly large lol it’s like 700+ pages, more than the link EIS)

    Most notable transit related changes I saw where: Bus frequency targets changed that weekdays and weekends are the same, since ridership is more even throughout the week. Page T-31 has a picture showing what corridors they’d focus on and T-36 shows the main priorities.

    Seems like they want to potentially add a Rapidride on Broadway E, continuing south onto Beacon Ave and North on 10 Ave E to UW from the map (combining route 49 and route 36). S Jackson Street they want to implement more bus priority for route 7/rapidride R. For route 8 it seems they want to continue with the idea of rerouting it onto Harrison, slightly surprised though not too against it.

    The Center City Connector is renamed into the “Culture Connector” lol. Additionally talks about an extension up 1st Ave to Seattle Center (seems a bit duplicative given the existing monorail and D line) and possibly a south extension down 1st ave S to Stadium Station.

    There’s a page about random light rail extensions in Seattle but it has a disclaimer about it being visionary with no feasibility being calculated so take it with a large grain of salt. References Ballard extension continuing to Northgate and eventually to up Lake City. Also a potential Aurora Ave light rail.

    For bus lanes talks about potentially expanding (FAB) Freight and Bus Lanes on not just Westlake Ave but also 15th Ave NW (for D line). For Center bus lanes references Aurora Ave and surprisingly Lake City Way, though that road is pretty large so it could potentially have it.

    Briefly skimmed through the other biking, pedestrian and parking sections. It seems for biking they really want to focus on the bridges crossing i5. Nothing too notable I saw in the pedestrian or parking sections.

    1. If the Sonics come back, then you need all the duplicative transit you can get to Seattle Center, especially closer to Climate Pledge. I think there needs to be some sort of public transit on First Ave across Belltown. It’s too important to the contiguity of the city. The waterfront projects make this even more critical.

      1. I’m not against running public transit on 1st Ave. But the cost of a streetcar extension versus just running a bus doesn’t seem to make much sense. Given the capital costs of a probably minimum 100 million and probably more like 200 million to install first avenue extensions streetcar — one could easily fund a bus line for decades that runs from Seattle Center to say Sodo via 1st avenue.

        And I haven’t even included 10/20 million additional annual operating cost for the streetcar that would make it look even more unfavorable.

      1. No worries, but yeah Ryan’s analysis does highlight a large issue. The previous plans just investigated bus lanes, bike lanes, truck priority, and parking just completely independently of each other. Hopefully this future plan doesn’t do that lol.

      2. This plan is interesting because it does give each mode their own chapter, but all in the same document. What isn’t in the document, and what I think many would have like to have seen, is an overlay of all these different priorities on one big map. Maybe that’s too much work for a planning document?

        But where’s the analysis of how bus lanes, freight streets, and safe bike routes will interact and contradict each other?

        But I guess this is guidance. The push will come to shove when Move Seattle 2024 is on the ballet, I think.

      3. @Nathan

        I’m not sure maybe there is such a section that talks about integrating all of them together but it’s honestly such a large document to read all of it.

        I did notice they talked a lot more about sharing lanes together. Such as bus avenues down pedestrian corridors copying other cities. Or freight and bus lanes. They also talked about better shared bike and bus lanes on downhill/flat routes (maybe that’s how rainier will work??)

  6. Metro is suggesting some improvements to the 5. This is another one of the under-the-radar improvements to a very popular bus route. Unlike a similar one for the 40, the changes look fairly minor. Every little bit helps though, and I encourage folks to write in and comment (especially if you live in the area, and like the changes). I ride the 5 once in a while, and told them I like the changes.

    1. Thanks, Ross, I noticed that survey too but forgot to post anything about it. Unfortunately, while there are some good ideas in there, there’s other that are at best mixed. In particular, in a lot of places, the space for the bus lane comes from forcing cyclists to mix with buses, rather than taking driving lanes. There’s also the deletion of the stops at 90th, despite those stops being adjacent to some pretty large apartment complexes.

      One thing that isn’t on the table is removing the 5’s through-route with the 21. If I had to guess, that contributes more to the unreliability of the 5 than anything else, but I’m not aware of Metro looking into improving anything in West Seattle.

      1. I also wondered about fast buses coexisting with slow bikes. At worst it could lead to buses hitting bikes or buses slowing down to avoid hitting bikes. I think I might ride on the sidewalk rather than use a fast lane. But I responded positively to the survey, trusting Ross’s judgment, and thinking maybe there’s some factor that makes it work after all.

        I responded positively to the bus stop islands with a bike lane between the sidewalk and the bus stop, because the existing ones I’ve seen have all been fine. I sometimes take the 67 southbound at the 65th & Roosevelt island, and I’ve never encountered a bike coming when I wanted to cross.

      2. > I also wondered about fast buses coexisting with slow bikes.

        where the busses stop frequently or also with stoplight bikes aren’t really that much slower. Well especially with e-bikes. Granted if it is uphill then then the bikes will be much slower

      3. Buses and bikes mix all over — in BAT lanes and outside of them. Quite often you have a leapfrog thing that goes on. The bus is a bit faster and passes the bike. But then the bus makes a stop, and the bike passes the bus. It can be quite annoying for all involved.

        I don’t see that as a big problem in this area, simply because it is relatively flat and a small section. It is basically a way for buses to get through the worst of the congestion (for a couple blocks). If anything it looks a bit better for bikes. They are getting rid of some parking (which means less chance for getting “doored”) and they are building a bus stop island (or whatever those things are called, e. g. This eliminates leap-frogging, and I don’t see the bus (or bike) having trouble sharing that one small BAT lane section.

        The stop spacing seems a little bit better, even if it is less than ideal. You don’t have the five-block distance (like the E) and in some cases, it is a bit too far apart for my liking. But only by a bit, while it should move faster, with some stops being closer to the pedestrian crossing.

        Overall the plans seem to be pretty good, even if they aren’t that exciting.

      4. My concern with buses and bikes mixing is about the city’s goal to make the bike network “all ages and abilities”. I’m an experienced cyclist and don’t mind mixing with buses (bus drivers appear to be the only type of CDL holder that actually seem to put the safety of potential customers ahead of their own convenience), but less confident cyclists are going to be put off by a 20+ ton vehicle passing them only to pull over to a stop just a block or two ahead.

        The places that Metro has proposed removing bike lanes are places that at the very least have a left turn lane. There are no bus routes along Greenwood that would use the left turn lane and the bus lane keeps transit moving regardless of how many drivers are stuck behind the left-turners, so it makes more sense to remove the left turn lane. If drivers don’t like it, they can petition the city to disallow left turns except where there’s enough room for a lane or dedicated signal.

      5. I’m an experienced cyclist and don’t mind mixing with buses (bus drivers appear to be the only type of CDL holder that actually seem to put the safety of potential customers ahead of their own convenience), but less confident cyclists are going to be put off by a 20+ ton vehicle passing them only to pull over to a stop just a block or two ahead.

        Right, and it looks like things will be significantly better with this change. They aren’t really removing bike lanes. They are replacing bike lanes with bike/BAT lanes. This will occur for a couple blocks. Within this section, it will be safer for bikers. If a bus passed a biker, they will use the other lane (which is no different than now). If there is traffic and a bike in the BAT lane, the bus will simply wait for the biker.

        Meanwhile, the addition of bike islands eliminates the problem that exists now which is that a bus can legally pull up right in front of the bike, forcing the biker to use the main lane. Furthermore, it isn’t just the bus. A biker can be pedaling along — in the bike lane — and have a car pull in front of them to park as well. Or someone in the parked car can open the door into the biker. For at least this section, those hazards are eliminated, making it much safer.

        In general, this just looks a lot better for bikes, and a little better for buses. I agree about your point on the left turn lanes. That would be a good place to get some space for bikes and buses (or a curb bulb).

      6. A quick comment on the deletion of the stops on 90th St – I was about to suggest that instead of nixing 90th, they consolidate the stops at 92nd and 97th into a stop at 95th, but then it turns out that they recently built bus stop islands with backside bike lanes on the 92nd street stops. So, they clearly planned on keep those stops for a long time, which on its face seems like a short-sighted decision. Maybe these condominiums (,-122.3554132,3a,61.9y,80.56h,95.79t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1syhUReBf27XD5hffBVW_x9A!2e0!7i16384!8i8192?entry=ttu) make the door-step stop worth it.

      7. My guess is the plan is to turn that part of 92nd into a “Greenbelt”. It is kind of odd, because there is a missing link of sorts with 92nd. It is a Greenbelt to the east of Fremont Avenue, and to the west of 1st Avenue NW, but not between there. There is a six block gap ( My guess is they want to put a traffic light in at some point across Greenwood at 92nd, but don’t have the money yet. There is a traffic light (with a beg button) at 97th, but none at 95th. So while consolidating 97th with 92nd into a stop at 95th would mean better bus stop spacing, it would still cost as much in terms of a new traffic light.

        Oh, and 92nd really makes sense as a Greenbelt. It is by far the safest way to cross Aurora. To the east there is a pedestrian/bike path (but no car access). This gets you by Eagle Staff Middle School, as well as North Seattle College (or up and over to Maple Leaf). The west, 92nd goes all the way across to Holman Road, skirting Sandel Park. Like at Aurora, this is the best place to cross Holman Road. You can take the walkway up and over, or press the button and cross that way. Like Aurora, there are a minimum of cars coming off the main road.

      8. Ross, I might be misremembering the location but I’m pretty sure the city added a half-signal in late 2022 to cross Greenwood at 92nd on foot or bike, with traffic diverters so drivers can’t continue on 92nd. As you’ve found, the city hasn’t updated the maps, maybe because it’s not officially part of a greenway or Stay Healthy street.

  7. My opinion on Stephen Fesler’s Op Ed:

    I agree with the main points, but I think there are several things going on here that should be called out. First, I agree that there appears to be a general degradation in service in many areas that should have outstanding service by now. There are several possible explanations for this:

    1) Lack of funding.
    2) Service has shifted to poorly performing areas.
    3) Labor shortages.
    4) Inefficient network.

    I believe it is all of the above. Seattle is spending less on service. There is a driver and mechanic shortage. Thus much of this is to be expected. Given all that, this could very well just be a zero-sum game, as neighborhoods in the city (where transit performs well) are forced to fight for scraps with places in the suburbs (where it doesn’t).

    But I think it is more than that. It is really that fourth item that bothers me the most. It is the only solution that doesn’t require spending more money (or shifting money from one area to the other). It is, in my opinion, the biggest problem we have in the region. Simply put, the folks who are now in charge of bus restructures have not done a good job. There have been numerous opportunities to build a more efficient network, but they’ve balked at them. In some cases, they have been overly cautious, preferring to keep things more or less the same. In other cases, they have proposed fundamentally poor ideas, like running buses every 15 minutes only five blocks apart (to be fair, they ended up rejecting that last idea).

    Consider this network, as proposed over ten years ago: Never mind the details (I think some of the links are broken now anyway). Just read the title. Your bus, much more often, no more money. To quote from that excellent essay:

    So what’s the catch? There are two. First, more transfers will be required. Some very heavily used one-seat rides would turn into two-seat rides, always with one or both legs on Link or an 8- or 10-minute bus line. Second, riders might have to walk a few extra blocks. Corridors in today’s network that are close together and not separated by steep hills are mostly consolidated. Many deviations that slow down service are removed. Service to some very-low-ridership areas is cut entirely, particularly if it requires a high number of service hours. For most of us, those changes should be a price well worth paying to get frequent and fast service throughout Seattle and North King County with no more money.

    This was a wonderful proposal for a city that needs a major network overhaul, but it was by no means unique. Like most transit issues, other cities have the same problem. Jarrett Walker did the same thing in Houston. Again, I encourage everyone to read that outstanding essay, but if you don’t have time, just glance at the two maps. Without spending more money, a lot of buses ran a lot more often.

    Could we do the same here? Definitely. The restructure for Lynnwood Link has about a dozen little flaws that end up slowing down everything. At this point, I just hope they avoid the worst ones (e. g. a bus in the middle of its route making three turns to end up 150 feet from where it started in the middle of Lake City).

    But it is by no means the worst problem in the network. I believe that title goes to the greater Central Area. By that I mean the area east of I-5, south of the ship canal, and north of I-90. This is where the density is. It is by far the biggest contiguous area of density in the state. Almost all of the really high performing buses go there — many of the them stuck in traffic. And yet the service plans for the area are abysmal (as Stephen Fesler pointed out). I hope to write up an essay in a little while proposing some changes, but I really shouldn’t have to do that. An average citizen (without access to that much of the data) should not be able to come up with a better bus network than the Metro planners. Yet it is remarkably easy.

    Just as I have lost faith in Sound Transit’s ability to design a mass transit system, I have lost faith in Metro planners ability to design an effective network. I feel like it is time to contact Jarrett Walker (or some other firm) and get a complete makeover for Seattle, if not the entire region. This may not be the ideal time to do it, but it is clear that we are wasting precious resources with the current network.

    1. 5) Projects opening late. This is not the future we expected. By 2023 these were already supposed to be running:

      – North Link to Lynnwood.
      – East Link to Redmond Tech.
      – South Link to Federal Way.
      – Sounder South almost hourly.
      – RapidRide G.
      – At least some of RapidRide J (Eastlake), RapidRide R (Rainier), RapidRide 40, RapidRide 44, RapidRide 48, RapidRide 62.
      – More progress on Stride 1, 2, and 3.
      – 15-minute Sundays on the 550 in 2022, and Sunday service on the 535, to the extent that Link and Stride 2 weren’t ready by then.

      We’re basically making do without these as they open four or five years late, and some of the planned RapidRides have been downgraded. So people are still floundering trying to get to Lynnwood or around the Eastside or many parts of Seattle.

      In other words, we’re a grade B metropolitan area in terms of size and economic activity, but with a grade D transit network. For a normal non-American city that started where we were and made investments like ST2 in 2008, ST3 in 2016, Move Seattle and Transit Now in the early 2010s, and has transit master plans like Seattle’s in 2014 and Metro Connects in 2016, and other cities would have done more things, we should have at least gotten our transit network up to grade C by now, but we’re still at grade D. This is a gross approximation and hard to define at five linear levels, but it illustrates where we’re at compared to cities like Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Dusseldorf, Granada, Guadalajara, etc.

      1. I would probably add a #6, which would be that proposed restructured transfers rely on deep stations and crossing streets and that adds to a demonstratively worse experience — all for new transit lines that got designed politically rather than analytically. It is a consequence of spending billions but refusing to design for transfers as the primary objective . Decision makers put lines and dots in a map that look nice, but as plans get developed they create horrific transfer penalties. Capitol Hill and UW are bad enough — and now DSTT2 stations are being planned to be twice as deep.

        RapidRide G is attractive on a map but making it happen requires taking service hours elsewhere. Metro was forced to restructure around it when they did not originally want to — likely because Madison east of 12th is overserved. Metro proposed a Madison- Broadway service instead but the City insisted on their own alignment.

        The structural problem is that we expect Metro to work well, but then we let ST and Seattle create and build the expensive capital projects. I may sound radical to say this, but if Metro planning staff had to approve what ST builds inside King County the ST outcomes would likely look very different. I wish that ST would quit ramming new alternatives through at the Board level and instead let Metro planners create what they think would be best. The structural diminution of riders in capital decisions (in favor of real estate interests) not only adds travel time and effort to riders, but it also costs productivity to the transit network (manifested in restructuring plans) — so that it’s a doubly negative impact.

      2. Good point. I should have included a fifth item: traffic gets worse. This can cause an agency to spend more money running the same number of buses (or the same amount of money running fewer buses). In other words, slow buses lead to infrequent buses.

        I’m not sure that is happening, though. Traffic is back, and obviously bad, but with a few exceptions, no worse than what it was. In my opinion, it doesn’t explain why things have gotten worse, although it definitely explains (to some degree) why things haven’t gotten much better.

        But as we’ve seen with the plans surrounding the RapidRide G, even when they come up with a huge improvement in terms of speed and reliability, it hasn’t translated to a great network. The same is true with Lynnwood Link. There are some improvements, but it still isn’t great. There are a number of reasons for that, but I believe the biggest one — and the only one that could be improved while we struggle with the labor shortage — is the poor network. A poor network hurts in a lot of ways. It is both inefficient and inconvenient.

        For example, consider a hub-and-spoke system versus a grid. A hub-and-spoke system has its advantages. It means that one type of trip (to the hub) is a lot more common. But there are drawbacks. It means the buses run less often. It also means that other trips are especially inconvenient. In many cases you have to go way out of your way (to the hub and back). In contrast, with a grid you have more frequent service and more straightforward trips. That doesn’t mean that a hub and spoke never makes sense — there are times when it is the only type of system that a community can afford. Maybe you have a very car-centric city, and the only significant transit trip is to downtown. A grid would get you more frequent service, but the transfer might still be painful. In that case, a hub and spoke may be the best you can do.

        But Seattle has long since passed that point. We aren’t that city anymore. Buses like the 44 and 8 get excellent ridership, and more surprisingly, excellent ridership per service hour, despite extremely slow speeds. This is worth emphasizing. A bus like the RapidRide E does really well in terms of overall ridership and ridership per hour. It is also blazing fast. In contrast, the 8 and 44 are extremely slow. The slow buses causes two problem: it discourages riders from taking the bus, and it means it takes longer for the bus to complete its route. Thus the ridership goes down, while the service hours go up. As a result, the ridership-per-hour numbers are made worse from both sides. The fact that the 8 and 44 are doing so well despite facing a very tough headwind is striking.

        Making buses like those a lot faster would make a huge difference. But not if we fail to take advantage of those improvements. To me, that is the big failing of the current plans for the G. It should revolutionize transit in the greater Central Area, and yet it looks like Metro just considers it a nuisance. As a huge improvement (the biggest since CHS, if not bigger) it should be seen as an opportunity to improve the network. Agencies do this all the time. The best time to do a restructure is when you have extra money, or in this case, some sort of speed improvement. You can do the things you wanted to do before. You get fewer complaints, because so much around the system is getting much better.

        In this case, though, they are doing none of that. Things are getting worse. It is really striking how bad this is, given the area. This is the biggest area of density in the state. There are areas of higher density (UW, Belltown, etc.) but none that spread so far and wide. This density has only increased over the years. First Hill has skyscrapers. Big apartment buildings have squeezed into various areas that had good density before. And yet the plan is to run the 10, 11, 12 and 49 every 20 minutes at best!

        It is completely backwards. I get that RapidRide G ends up shifting service, but the bus is still running faster. It should save money, not lead to worse service. Furthermore, even if running the G so frequently results in losing headways somewhere, why is this area paying the price? It is the reverse of the changes to the 41. In that case, the savings didn’t go to the area that was being asked to make transfers. In this case, the extra cost (if there even is one) is used as an excuse to hammer a neighborhood that should have the best transit in the city.

        Of course things should get better over time. Buses should get faster; Link will be extended; the labor shortages will be less of a problem. But unless we build a good network, none of that means much. We’ll end up with proposals like this:, which are terrible.

      3. “#6, which would be that proposed restructured transfers rely on deep stations and crossing streets and that adds to a demonstratively worse experience”

        That’s an emerging problem but I’d put it in a different category. #1,3, and 5 have been on the ground for three years now and passengers now plan their trips and travel modes based on them. (I question #2, especially in terms of recent shifts to poorly-performing areas, which I don’t think is happening as much as alleged.)

        #6 is a theoretical future problem, which may emerge in fifteen years if the preferred alignment doesn’t change. The alignment isn’t certain yet, and things so far in the future don’t affect current trips. If the worst happens, we have a workaround already, buses like the 48, 60, and 8 that bypass the really-bad transfers, and routes like the 7 and 124 that go into downtown and thus might be part of a train+bus alternative. The frustrating thing is that this contradicts the promise of Link: that a maximum number of trips could migrate to faster and more efficient light rail. And in some cases like Rainier Valley to the U-District or Capitol Hill, they currently have that Link service, but won’t in the future. So people who have switched from the 48 to Link and are enjoying faster trips will have that taken away from them. Still, this is a future problem, and other things may be different too in fifteen years, and somebody who’s 55 now will be 70 then and may not be able to use it anyway, and somebody who’s 18 now will be 33 then.

      4. “traffic gets worse. ”

        Why is that?

        I can think of two possible answers. The first, densification, may add 10-20% more vehicles but most streets seem to handle that. With many developments new parking spaces are limited but parking spaces are still being added.

        The other cause seems to be a slashing of street capacity for bicycles. It hasn’t seemed to reduce driving very much. Unlike adding more cars, taking full through lanes reduces throughput by 20-50% every time — a much more significant impact. The silver lining is that I don’t see that many more lanes that will be taken.

        At some point, the utility of PBLs will undergo more analytical scrutiny. With seniors with mobility problems being a growing population proportion their popularity may have already peaked. Like underutilized traffic lanes get questioned, so will underutilized PBLs.

      5. “#6 is a theoretical future problem, which may emerge in fifteen years if the preferred alignment doesn’t change. ”

        I would argue that it’s a problem today with the U-Link and Northgate Link stations and their associated restructuring along with escalator failures. It’s just that it’s a minor problem compared to what ST wants to create for transfers in the future (although noting that we don’t have newly awful Link-Link transfers yet).

      6. Al S, most arterials in Seattle don’t have PBLs or bike lanes at all, so I’m not sure how that would affect traffic for buses. In any case, the data for road diets are clear (i.e. going from four lanes to two lanes and a center turn lane), with throughput staying stable but speeding and other aggressive driving markedly curtailed.

        I actually see PBLs as just coming into their own, with the arrival of more and cheaper e-bikes. I know more and more people getting e-bikes but are still frustrated by the lack of a safe, well-connected bike network.

      7. “traffic gets worse. ”

        “Why is that?”

        The population keeps increasing. Traffic is also getting worse on the freeways, where protected bike lanes are irrelevant.

      8. “ Al S, most arterials in Seattle don’t have PBLs or bike lanes at all, so I’m not sure how that would affect traffic for buses. ”

        That’s because there aren’t many arterial streets that had more than one lane in each direction to begin with — and the ones that did mostly have bus routes on them. Only a percentage of all arterial streets are arterial streets with frequent buses running on them.

        When one higher volume street loses a lane, the nearby parallel street (s) can get more traffic congestion. It’s easier for a driver than a bicyclist to use a parallel street.

    2. I actually thought my two comments about Fesler’s editorial were mostly positive.

      For example, I let it slide that Ross has been raising the same issue for well over a year, and using the 41 as his example. Ross’s point is ridership IS equity. Folks riding transit mostly ride it because they have to, for many different reasons.

      I also don’t think it should be a surprise that the focus on truncation has come at the expense of short local transit trips. Even I have raised that issue many times. I don’t think Link’s focus is intra subarea trips, certainly not in the suburban areas.

      My two critiques of Fesler’s editorial were he didn’t explore the WHY very carefully, and his solutions were flawed.

      The why is set forth in my earlier posts and Ross’s post on efficiency. Truncation simply hasn’t freed up the local bus hours that were anticipated because Metro was left with all the east-west-East feeder routes at half fares in a pretty undense city. inflation went from zero to 9%, ridership is way down, and in 2023 Metro is legitimately concerned that declining farebox recovery and a likely downturn in general fund tax revenues and funding for Metro mean current and future long term cuts in service SOMEWHERE that are masked today by the driver shortage.

      Based on this I thought it unlikely that Fesler’s first (and somewhat redundant for The Urbanist) solution for more money was unlikely.

      His second solution — a sort of subarea equity for Metro in which service hours stay where service is reduced for “duplication” forever — fails to recognize that is contrary to the council’s equity focus on race, and AMI of the area, and the service hours saved by truncation aren’t and won’t be what was “optimistically” anticipated.

      So while Ross’s “ridership is equity” makes sense if bus ridership remains strong on a route despite race because ridership subsumes an area’s AMI, Fesler’s expansion of that concept to areas like E KC that have high AMI and declining transit ridership will never fly with the council. How does E KC tell the council that despite the fact transit ridership is down 50% we want to keep those Metro service hours?

      The reality is ST and folks like Lazarus want to eliminate any “duplicative” competition for Link to meet ridership estimates that today are about 1/3 low on the highest ridership part of Link. ST is worried routes like the 41 will be more popular than Link because many riders don’t want a bunch of transfers, and are taking shorter transit trips that Link doesn’t serve well, especially with a feeder bus or two. I have repeatedly noted that in some areas like E KC the 550 or future 554 are better routes and transit than Link, which is why Lazarus wants to knee cap the 550 even for the starter line because no rider will transfer from 550 to the starter line, and why ST decided to terminate buses across the bridge altogether.

      If Fesler wants to publish an editorial on an issue that has been discussed as much as this issue has he needs to grow a thicker skin and be able to defend his assertions and conclusions. I could have simply dismissed his “editorial” on the basis the issue has been discussed endlessly, and better.

      I think eliminating reader comments at The Urbanist has really compromised The Urbanist’s work. Luckily The Urbanist isn’t a scientific journal in which brutal peer review is not only allowed but encouraged and required. .

      I also don’t think it is news that since the summer of 2020 local politicians and progressives have seen “equity” solely through a lens of race, and few encouraged that more than The Urbanist. So in the end Fesler never offered any practical solutions to a well known and discussed problem.

      1. “the labor shortages will be less of a problem” —

        Try following a bus driver around on their shift + overtime for a couple of days and see how much you want this job. There are so many horrible things about this job and most of all the people and politicians that run Metro could care less about the health, safety and sanity of the people who do the actual work of operating the bus. I wish I’d never taken this job. I’m so glad I’m turning 65 and retiring next year!

      2. DT:

        The reason why duplicative service for Link should be eliminated is because it makes 0 sense to spend billions on transit infrastructure and then not use it.

        Here in Portland, in 2019 MAX cost about $0.88 per passenger per mile, while the buses cost about 7 times that. Because MAX is somewhat faster than the equivalent bus, people ride MAX for longer distances. This cost savings is allowing TriMet to do things that it hasn’t done since the oil embargo years, such as operate a bus on SE Harold Street on Sundays. Sure, some of what they are trying doesn’t work, but they at least have the opportunity.

        Link should be providing the same opportunities there as it does here.

      3. @Glenn,

        Here Metro and ST have separate and distinct budgets. So more economical operations on Link do not directly result in cost savings for Metro.

        However, Link does give the other transit agencies at least the opportunity to eliminate expensive, long distance peak type services, and refocus on more local, higher productivity service.

        This is what CT is so eager to do with their LLE restructure.

      4. Of course.

        And the ridiculous one-way freeway expresses are horribly expensive per rider.

      5. “The reason why duplicative service for Link should be eliminated is because it makes 0 sense to spend billions on transit infrastructure and then not use it.”

        Glenn, I never stated Metro or CT should maintain duplicative bus service. The issue was what really IS duplicative service from the rider’s point of view.

        Fesler noted that when Metro routes are rerouted to serve as feeder routes, and other routes eliminated, they leave mostly urban holes where once holes did not exist. Both he and Ross use the 41 as an example of a north/south bus route that really is not duplicative in their opinion.

        It is critical to understand that often first/last mile access is more important than the transit trip itself in determining whether someone drives or not, and conventional wisdom is folks will walk 1/4 mile on either end. Link has very large stop spacing. As Fesler correctly noted, feeder routes often disadvantage shorter urban trips. Not every bus route N/S is duplicative.

        You could say the same about the 554 when East Link opens. It stops at S. Bellevue but then continues onto Bellevue Way. Apparently, Issaquah and Bellevue felt the 554 was not duplicative on this part of the trip, because whether a bus trip is duplicative has more to do than with just same direction, and one must consider the transfer and length of transit trip. There are very few areas in the urban core (Capitol Hill to CID) that catching a feeder bus to catch Link makes sense, but as Fesler noted more and more urban bus trips are taking a route to Link when urban folks probably don’t want that indirect route or to transfer to Link for a short urban trip. So now there are transit holes in the urban areas.

        Again with the 630. The riders and city of MI felt East Link was not duplicative because Link does not serve the same bus stops on MI and does not go to First Hill. As Ross notes, there is a certain inertia to getting riders off a one seat bus to transfer to Link, especially for shorter trips.

        Re: your post about park and rides in SnoCo you miss the point. Those park and rides are empty — as are those on the eastside — because transit ridership, especially peak commuting, is down so much. Pre-pandemic those park and rides were full. If transit ridership ever returns it will begin in the park and rides in suburban areas, because that is how it has always been. Who drives to a park and ride to catch a feeder bus to Link if there is space at a park and ride serving East Link? Very few of can walk to a Link station, or want to be able to.

        Sure, if transit ridership is going to stay at 50% of pre-pandemic levels and projections forever we can begin discussing repurposing the park and rides (and gutting transit service), although Northgate Park and ride is very full, which is probably where many SnoCo riders drive to. It is a funny phenomenon we saw on MI: once in their car to a park and ride folks tend to drive to the park and ride closest to their destination if there is space.

        I think Ross is right that more Northgate Park and Ride users will use the park and rides in the LLE, but Northgate will always be full because that and north of there is effectively suburbia and suburbanites prefer park and rides for their first/last mile access for the same reasons they prefer driving for their intra suburban discretionary trips. They also like very large park and rides because the odds of getting a spot are better, and the more people the safer, especially at night. Women live in terror of the parking garage at night, and both my wife and daughter have attended classes about how to hold your cars keys like a weapon, or mace, when walking in an empty parking garage.

        It makes even less sense to spend tens of billions on transit infrastructure and forget first/last mile access. The folks in SnoCo or East KC who used to fill those park and rides didn’t suddenly begin walking to a bus to catch a feeder bus. They stopped taking transit.

        I agree with Lazarus that ST wants to make first/last mile access as easy as possible for suburbia. That means lots and lots of park and ride capacity, because if a potential rider goes to a park and ride twice and there is no space they won’t go a third time. At that point they will either skip the trip, drive to their destination, or drive to a park and ride that serves a feeder bus, with the third option being the least likely.

        In this post pandemic world, whether CT, Metro, Link, ST Express, Sounder, or PT they cant afford to make using transit any harder than it already is. For some reason suburbanites don’t really complain about a park and ride as a seat, and pay all the costs (and ST doesn’t have to split the fare), probably because the wait is so short, it is safe, and you can run errands before and/or afterwards, so why try and reinvent the wheel. On this ST got it right for suburban Link, because it saw what worked for Metro and CT pre-pandemic: park and rides.

        What you really should be focused on as a transit advocate is how to fill those empty park and rides back up.

      6. Retiring Metro Operator, if you were made head of Metro what would you do to make driving a bus safer, more pleasant, and more attractive to CDL drivers who can choose where to work. Did life as a driver get worse during and after the pandemic, and if so how?

        The average age of Metro drivers is pretty high, and retirements are going to make filling the driver shortage much harder if Metro and the other transit agencies can’t figure out how to make the job more attractive to younger workers. Personally, on paper, driving a Metro bus looks like one of the worst possible jobs, and I would rather do just about any other CDL job unless the bus driving job paid significantly more.

  8. “E KC that have high AMI and declining transit ridership”

    East King County has increasing transit ridership. So do all King County areas and probably Pierce and Snohomish County too. There was a reset with covid, and ridership hasn’t reached its 2019 level, but it’s still trending upward.

    The biggest loss was in peak-hour riders. So the agencies are shifting resources from that to the all-day network and weekends. That’s a win-win, because extra peak service is the most expensive to provide and the most difficult to recruit enough staff, both due to long deadheading and split shifts, and the intrinsic problem of generating so many resources simultaneously. (Electricity also gets exponentially more expensive for the utilities on the hottest and coldest days of the year.)

    So if you see a loss in peak-hour riders, don’t take it out on the all-day network. Reducing 15-minute service to 30 minutes, or 30 minutes to 60 minutes, or deleting routes, is counterproductive.

    1. Mike, according to The Seattle Times, in late Feb. 2023 ridership on Metro throughout King County was down 50% from pre-pandemic levels although Metro was running 90% of its routes. Sometimes I think you simply make up data you want to believe.

      Can Metro continue its coverage and frequency when ridership is down 50% and those lost riders had a nearly 100% full fare paying percentage, when truncation is not realizing the service hour savings hopes for? That is the $64 question Metro will seriously begin to discuss in Sept., and went through in 2014 and 2020.

      My opinion is the answer is no unless there is some kind of 3rd party funding, and for over a year I have posted that transit agencies and advocates need to pull their heads out of the sand (although Metro tends to be somewhat realistic) and begin to decide where to make those cuts, which is what Fesler was bemoaning based on Metro’s focus on race equity.

      1. What matters is the number of runs, not the number of routes. Different routes have a very different number of runs.

        Metro has done it so far, and I think your dire predictions are sometimes overblown. Metro knows the full budget and its options better than you do. Its current constraint is not money but drivers, maintenance workers, and supply-chain bottlenecks. You underestimate how much Metro saves by not running some peak expresses.

        The solution is to grow the pie, not rob Peter to pay Paul.

        When Metro needs to cut, it will tell us, along with a route-based proposal. It will probably be less than the 40% you assume. It will probably come later than you expect. Metro planners can make the initial route-based judgments better than we can. Metro also knows facts about ridership, potential ridership, and transit need that we don’t know or that we tend to ignore.

        You’ve often asked us to come up with a list of routes or areas that aren’t needed and could be deleted. The answer is that the worst-performing routes are already gone: they were deleted between 2008 and 2019. Most of Seattle, the Eastside, and South King County went through restructures in the 2010s that consolidated service into more frequent corridors and offers more crosstown and feeder service and access to nearby activity centers. Our baseline frequency is still far below what it should be in all areas: both dense and undense areas. So if you cut the bottom tier now (in both ridership-based routes and coverage routes), you’d cut needed service and make the situation worse and harder to recover from. So it’s not really worth discussing “Routes that could just go away.” When Metro tells how much it must cut and when, we’ll deal with it then.

      2. “those lost riders had a nearly 100% full fare paying percentage”

        Most of those had employer passes, so they paid far less than full fare. Employer-pass rates are based on the percentage of employees who use transit. So if only 50% of employees use the pass, the pass cost is 50% of the full price for all employees. The first year it’s estimated from similar companies; after that it’s based on their ORCA taps. And there’s a buffer in the nominal fare: people like me who pay the entire nominal pass cost but ride more than 36 times a month end up paying less than full fare per trip, and the agencies aren’t screaming it’s bankrupting them, they’re encouraging it. People on employer passes who work 5 days a week make 44 trips (that’s more than 36), so they aren’t paying full fare and thus aren’t “100% full fare-paying percentage”.

        What would be a signficant loss is if employers cancel their participation in employer passes. We’ll have to see how much that happens. Some large organizations like UW can’t because they’re legally required to have a commute-trip reduction plan (a bureaucratic way of saying “reduce SOV trips”).

      3. Mike, do you have a link for these discounted business Orca passes. I have looked before but can’t find discounted fares or passes for businesses and would like this information for some of our staff.

      4. I’m not a business owner and I’ve never worked for a company that offered it, so I don’t know a lot about this. It’s called the ORCA Passport program or something. You’d have to get it for all employees, not just for some. But if most employees don’t use the pass, the cost would be low.

        There are similar programs for apartment buildings or neighborhoods in other cities. Cities could also do this if they buy passes for all residents.

  9. Vashon Island rents reach San Francisco levels. ($)

    “The median cost of all Vashon rentals currently listed on Zillow — just nine options total this past week — is $3,500.” And like San Francisco, Vashon has had little housing development, so the prices aren’t caused by new expensive buildings.

    “Housing has always been somewhat scarce on the island, but now a tighter market, a growing vacation and tourism economy, and hourly wages that don’t keep up with housing costs are making finding and keeping a place to live all the more difficult.”

    ““If the people who work here can’t live here, then it’s a dead-end economy,” said Michael Bowden, an 18-year Vashon resident … general manager of Island Queen, a burger and ice cream spot on the island’s main drag. “If there’s nobody to bag your groceries or make your cheeseburger, it doesn’t work.”

    “At the north end of the island, just next to the ferry terminal, the owners of the Wild Mermaid market have taken things into their own hands. They converted office space upstairs into apartments.”

    ““We knew [they] would rent as permanent rentals in like 5 seconds,” said co-owner Megan Hastings. When she posted an available studio apartment in a Facebook group, she heard from “30 people in the span of a couple of hours.””

    “Unable to afford a rental, [Leandra] Godfrey, her partner, and their 6- and 8-year-old daughters for now live in a 36-foot RV on a friend-of-a-friend’s property while they try to get their footing in the community where Godfrey spent part of her childhood.”

    “Godfrey lived on Vashon until her family moved away when she was a teenager. Recently, Godfrey, her partner and kids lived in southern Utah, where the “pay is half of what it is here, but rental prices down there have skyrocketed” and they ended up in the RV after their landlord sold their rental. ”

    “despite landing full-time jobs, they’re struggling to find a home they could rent on their current wages of around $20 to $23 an hour each.”

    “Godfrey said she misses her two sons, 13 and 17, who are staying with family and friends because there isn’t space in the trailer. “How do you tell your kids, ‘I’m sorry, I just don’t have room for you now?”

    “With common requirements for renters to earn three times’ the monthly rent, the couple estimates they can afford a rental costing about $2,400 for their family of six. The monthly rent for most three- and four-bedroom homes they’ve found ranges from $2,600 to $3,700, they said.”

  10. Re: Rural transit:

    Took CT 271 to Gold Bar and walked to Walker Falls State Park. Somewhat surprised CT offers hourly service so late into the night all the way up there, but it’s nice to have the flexibility to go deep into the park and head back down the hill into the evening. Mexican grocery store on Hwy 2 halfway between 1st and 2nd has good fruit juice options without even having to cross a street from the bus stop. Sidewalks exist about 3/4 of the way to the park entrance, and most of the rest has pretty wide shoulders so it’s easy to get out of the way of auto traffic.

    The trail to the falls themselves is pretty steep in places and not for everyone. The trail to the lake is one I only took partway, as I took it on my way back down the hill from the falls. That one is partly on an old logging railroad grade, and is much easier. Trails are about 90% forested and therefore a good escape from the sunlight.

    1. You mean Wallace Falls, correct? I’ve been out there a couple of times and I think it’s a nice way to spend an afternoon in the warmer months. There are definitely some steep sections as you’ve noted.

      As an aside, I’m quite impressed with your commitment to making your excursions such as this one on transit. Well done and thanks for the insights!

      1. Yes, Wallace Falls.

        It’s nice Washington has places like this close to transit. Many places don’t have that.

        I’m very much not fond of the drive from Portland to the Puget Sound region and I’ve decided to press the limits of what can be done without driving. This one was easy compared to, say, Orcas Island (roads are far too narrow for anything other than the absentee bus service and driving).

      2. Riding the 271 and spending some time in Snohomish and Monroe is on my list to do someday. Is there anything else on the 271 that’s particularly worthwhile, or any other parks that are closer to a bus stop?

    2. I agree, thanks, Glenn. Wallace Falls has been on our list for a while but we haven’t had time. It’s good to hear that it’s doable by transit, sometimes things that look close on a map are surprisingly hard to get to by foot…

      It is unfortunate CT doesn’t have a Trailhead Direct-like service, since there’s lots of good hikes east of Everett but just out of transit range right now.

      1. It’s nice that so much of rural western Washington has some type of transit.

        Silver Falls is Oregon’s most visited state park, but has 0 transit access, and the nearby city of Silverton (much larger than Gold Bar) has service 5 times per day per direction.

        So it has been an interesting adventure to see just what is possible on transit in Washington.

        Of course, state parks in either state don’t have incentive to improve access since their primary revenue source is parking fees.

    3. If you’re looking for another epic bus adventure, I highly recommend trying out Seattle to Vancouver the cheap way. 512 to Everett, 90X to Mt. Vernon, 80X to Bellingham, and one more bus to Blaine (don’t remember the route number). After exiting the bus, you start walking. It’s a little over half a mile to the Peace Arch border crossing followed by another two miles to White Rock, which is a nice beach town to walk through. Three more miles through White Rock, you reach a bus stop for the 351, which is an express to Bridgeport Skytrain station, followed by a short hop on the Skytrain to finish the journey.

      The trip takes all day, but at least half the time is spent walking around White Rock rather than busing, and the fares are dirt cheap, especially if you already have an Orca pass that will get you to Everett. I believe it’s $2 for the 90X, $2 for the 80X, a free transfer to Blaine, and $6 (CAD) from White Rock to Bridgeport, with a free transfer to the Skytrain if you begin the trip with a leftover TransLink card that still has money on it from a previous trip (if not, it’s an extra $2.75). Add it all up, you’re looking at about $10 each way, any time of the year, without needing to book a ticket in advance.

      (Warning; I did this once and discovered that the Canadians were suspicious at the border crossing because walking across is unusual; they eventually let me through, but not without checking my printed confirmation for a hotel during my stay, plus a return ticket for a conventional intercity bus service).

      1. I’ve gone to White Rock from Vancouver a few times, and traced out the route to the pedestrian bridge that gets over the creek to Peace Arch but never went further than a plan.

        There’s a bunch of stuff on the Vancouver side that’s good. Eg, Lynn Canyon park and it’s connecting trails go deep into the wilderness if you want to.

    1. Honestly, that is a lot more remote/hybrid workers than I thought there were.

      The 17% fully remote, 6% 3~4 days and 11% 1~2 days remote. From news about increased traffic and the mandates it gave the impression that a lot of tech or other office jobs were all forcing away from fully remote but that really isn’t the case.

      > That means 2/3 are not, or a supermajority.

      I mean you can’t have one’s entire society working remote. I honestly thought the fully remote percentage after the pandemic was closer to like 3~4 percent. No wonder office real estate is cratering and peak bus ridership is collapsing.

      Also didn’t realize the census was taking bi-weekly measures of the wfh percentage

      1. In Indianapolis, the technology giant Salesforce is paring back a quarter of its office space in the tallest building in Indiana, where it has been a key tenant for the past six years. In Atlanta, the private investment giant Starwood Capital defaulted on a $212 million mortgage on a 29-story office tower. And in Baltimore, a landmark building sold for $24 million last month, roughly $42 million less than it fetched in 2015.

        It is happening all over the country, to the delirious delight of MAGA’s like our least favorite suburban troll. “Kill the cities!” is their cry, as if growing wheat, corn, kudzu, and pot and brewing whiskey is a functioning modern economy.

      2. Tip of the iceberg, Tom. In 2024-25 trillions in commercial loans reset, and trillions in tax revenue is already being reallocated from urban to suburban (not rural) areas. Of course, I have already told you this a hundred times.

        The last gasps are due to the slow redemption rates allowed by REIT’s, and denial. You confuse rural (where indeed our food is grown which is not an ignoble profession as you seem to think) with suburbia (you know, like where Microsoft and Google are located). And why is Salesforce located in that great urban city, Indianapolis? Low tax rates and favorable laws for employers.

        I love how you blame the suburban work commuter who didn’t want to spend two hours of each day of their lives commuting to an office in an urban city to work, as if those are Maga, when you don’t even live in an urban area. And just yesterday you posted that the decline in transit ridership will be much less in the future than today based on your crystal ball. Now today you post it is the new normal, but it is our fault somehow.

        There is no “delirious delight”. You just don’t get it. There is no nothing. Folks left and never thought twice. No animus, no guilt, no obligation, no regret, no love, no thought, no nothing. Life just changed and they moved on. You just don’t understand how dispassionate it is for them.

        If there is something in an urban city that attracts them they will visit, although it must compete with all the other areas with free parking, less crime, cleaner streets, and more retail vibrancy. Any urban city can reinvent itself if it wants, including Seattle, although right now I think many cities are in denial and really don’t know how to go about reinventing themselves, and are burdened with decades of terrible progressive policies, but just not with work and transit slaves.

        There is nobody to blame because no one did anything wrong. They just stayed home because they wanted to and finally could.

    2. People who work from home may go out in the middle of the day or use the two hours they save from commuting for other trips. So their car is on the road or they’re on the bus even if they’re not going to the office.

      And if two-thirds of Washingtonians are going to a workplace, that means we can stop focusing on the minority who aren’t.

      The people who are working remotely are disproprtionately 9-5 office workers, so that has implications for office space and peak-hour transit. But it doesn’t have implications for most workers or most transit.

      1. The key take away from the article is this is the new normal.

        I am not surprised WFH is around 1/3 of all regional workers because so many jobs can’t be done from home. So 1/3 WFH of all workers is a large percentage of those whose jobs can be done from home.

        I agree with Mike that urban office workers are the most likely to WFH, and pre-pandemic a large percentage of these had to take transit to their urban offices. Today occupancy rates in downtown Seattle are around 44% to 48% although vacancy rates are rising rapidly, so over 50% of urban office workers now WFH.

        This will be devastating for the commercial office building industry, including new construction, and will result in a tremendous loss of tax revenue for Seattle and Bellevue (although much of Bellevue’s office development was future development, but that development would have resulted in tremendous tax revenue for Bellevue, and I think Bellevue has forward spent some of that anticipated revenue).

        For transit the “implication” is a 50% reduction in boardings on Metro and around a 1/3 reduction on Link when Northgate Link is factored in.

        If levels of transit service — coverage and frequency — can continue the same despite such a large percentage of riders no longer using transit then I would agree with Mike the only impact to transit riders will be they will have more space on a bus or train, assuming the drivers and mechanics can be found.

        I know some on this blog believe there must be a transit “grid” region wide, and the level of ridership is irrelevant to maintain that grid, and frequency on the grid. I don’t know if Metro or the KC council think that, or have the money for it. I do know that if reductions have to be made racial equity will be a major factor, and area AMI.

        Since I already live in a city with effectively no intra city bus service not much change here either way, although Metro is cutting current and future peak express buses to MI and Seattle, and we will lose the 554 and 550 when East Link opens, but gain East Link and a park and ride that is rarely full.

        If you asked Islanders they would be happy with that result because the intensity of the bus intercept when East Link opens was much more important than transit access or frequency.

      2. Permanent WFH will not cause a 50% reduction in boardings for Metro. Not even close.

        Many people ride Metro buses for many differrent purposes. Will it hurt? Of course, but it’s lijely that when things settle down, it will likely turn out that Metro carries 2/3 the number of riders it had pre-pandemic.

        But remember that fares are only 20% of Metro’s revenues — something you keep crowing about. One third of 20% is six and two thirds percent. Call it seven. That’s the loss that Mertro’s “income” will suffer, not one third.

        That is not an “existential” threat, especially when one remembers that MANY of those peak CBD riders were carried in one-way “trippers”, some of the most expensive transit to provide.

        Heck, Metro may come out ahead!

  11. For folks interested in transit construction costs, this project from NYU lists the $/km for projects around the world. U-Link and Ballard / WS are listed. Interesting to see how are agency costs stack against projects around the world.

    Shanghai Line 14 $408.80/km
    Seattle U-Link $406.40/km
    Tokyo Sotetsu Shin-Yokohama JR Line $400.20/km

    Singapore Thomson MRT Line $657.00/km
    Seattle West Seattle and Ballard $649.50/km
    Toronto Scarborough $639.20/km

    1. Lol it’s more sad when one realizes that
      Singapore Thomson MRT Line is fully 100% tunnel
      so is Toronto Scarborough is also fully 100% tunnel
      while Seattle West Seattle and Ballard 32% tunnel and somehow is in the same ballpark with cost estimates.

      The cost estimates transitcost has listed is also before the cost increases from the pandemic so its even worse. :(

      1. How difficult is it to dig into the ground in Toronto or Singapore vs. Seattle? Is the terrain more complex here, etc.?

        I don’t know about Singapore, and have not spent much time in Scarborough around the area of the new line, but I would bet that the Scarborough line is easier in that sense than Ballard/West Seattle.

  12. Really good recent drone footage of Downtown Redmond station and vicinity (@3:50). Video of the massive Marymoor Village station parking garage (6:45). And, some video of Meta’s new Building X on Willows road. It’s interesting that they wanted to be way out there, away from everything, including good public transit.

    1. “It’s interesting that they wanted to be way out there, away from everything, including good public transit.”

      That’s the story of Silicon Valley.

      1. As I recall, those were the old Digipen buildings, weren’t they? They were probably looking for space to grow and that was what was available. It’s worth remembering that in Seattle their space was in SLU, which is not exactly “away from everything, including good public transit” – I guess it’s arguable whether being on the 62 and whatever else line is “good” but it was definitely available. And wasn’t their claim about being in the Spring District in part due to easier accessibility?

        But, if you’d rather assume malice rather than serendipity, it’s a free country.

      2. I was talking about Silicon Valley tech companies in general. The whole phenomenon started with companies that wouldn’t locate in San Francisco, wouldn’t locate in downtown San Jose or other penninsula centers, didn’t ask for walkable zoning (which they had enough money and jobs to at least get consideration), etc. If you take the VTA light rail through north San Jose and Santa Clara or walk down Great America Parkway or go to the streets around it, you find huge blocks that take ten minutes just to walk one block, and each block has exactly one office building in the middle with lots of open space around it, and there’s nothing else around except similar office buildings.

        Santa Clara County has a longstanding anti-urban sentiment: my parents lived there in the 50s and 60s and I moved from there when I was six. My mom called it the “Town and Country look” and said “People don’t want it to be multistory like San Francisco.” So it would have been an uphill battle to turn that around. But the companies could have located in San Francisco, or asked for some halfway concessions so they wouldn’t be as far apart or isolated from everything else. But many of the companies liked that isolation and one-story design and car-dependent area.

        Of course, now downtown San Jose has added some trappings of urbanism with a few taller buildings and mixed-use, and some tech companies have set up walkable offices, and some other cities have buillt up walkable centers like Mountain View, but it’s still a small part. Less than here proportionally, I’d say.

      3. I am sure those businesses that built in Silicon Valley and San Jose are happy today they didn’t spend a fortune on office space or buildings in San Francisco. I wonder if Amazon doesn’t wish it had built a combined campus on the eastside instead of office towers in SLU and Bellevue.

      4. Tech company campuses, such as Google or Facebook’s offices are in many ways based off the university campus model composed of buildings situated in greens and plazas. Many of these companies have their roots in institutions of higher learning, such as Stanford, and build their physical spaces to mimic the ideals of higher learning where exchange of ideas and innovation are paramount.

        Amazon has in many ways taken another approach which was to center their business in central cities. Many of their ongoing construction projects across the country are located in or near city centers such as Pentagon City in VA, Austin, Toronto, etc.

        Take a read on Bezos’ thoughts on the subject:

        “We could have built a suburban campus,” Bezos said, noting that a location outside of the city might have saved the company money. “I think it would have been the wrong decision.”

        He said the types of people Amazon employs and wants to attract in the future “appreciate the energy and dynamism of an urban environment,” which means the company is more likely to get the talent it wants with an urban campus.

    2. Nice off-street bike trails. Those are the kinds of things that would make transit fans want to take Link to Redmond for or live in Redmond.

      What bothers me most about Redmond is those one-story office buildings and strip malls right in downtown Redmond or next to it.

    3. > It’s interesting that they wanted to be way out there, away from everything, including good public transit.

      It’s more Redmond’s “fault” if one wanted to blame some entity. That section of land is the designated business park area. I doubt they could have built such a large building closer to transit if they wanted to in Redmond

      Zoning map below the ‘BP’ one, next to the golf course

    4. I guess it also depends on what they have planned for the building.

      The Twitter/X “office” in Hillsboro, OR is basically just a data center with several employees to keep things going and keep their multimillion dollar tax breaks in place.

      If the Meta facility is similar then it really doesn’t matter where they put it, as the several workers on site can be attracted from most any neighborhood.

  13. TriMet is starting to eliminate public access to its elevators. There isn’t a fare for the elevators, but they will require a valid fare to open the elevator doors.

    First effort will be Hollywood Transit Center:

      1. Same problem as SoundTransit and any of the parking garages have: people look for a private place to pee.

      2. Will paying a fare make it ok for me to pee in the elevator?

        There have been times where I would have paid more than fare for relief.

      3. Nathan: I too am skeptical this solves the problem.

        Lazarus: as best as I can tell based on anecdotal evidence, it seems to be (at least some) Portland women that seek private places too pee.

      4. “Why do you think they are doing that?”

        I suspect you know the answer Sam. The same reason most transit agencies secure the stations themselves. Seems pretty pointless to secure only the elevators for fare paying riders.

        A public elevator is a pretty scary place for a lot of people, unless it is in a nice building with other normal people. A public elevator in a public transit station is much scarier. A public elevator in an unsecured public transit station isn’t just terrifying but too foul to use.

      5. I did know the answer. I just wanted to see how Glenn would answer. Then I googled Hollywood Transit Center to see where it was in Portland, and noticed this review …

        “There are a lot of homeless people who live under the stairway bridge that connects to the max platform. They use the elevator as a restroom. As a result it is the worst elevator TriMet has. It reeks and is frequently broken down. I was trapped inside for 20 minutes, until rescued by Portland Fire and Rescue. This is not a failing of TriMet, of Portland’s ever increasing homeless population. The maintainance crews clean the Transit Center, sky bridge, and platform frequently. The Elevator has frequent maintenance. They just aren’t able to beat back the problem.” And that review is from six years ago.


    It doesn’t sound like the Eastlake community is thrilled with RR J.

    ““Beyond the massive waste of taxpayer money and consequences to Eastlake Avenue as a mixed-use retail core, it is squandering the opportunity to positively address the flaws and failings of Seattle’s arterial-based Bike Master Plan,” she wrote, citing declining bike ridership numbers from 2018. “Seattle’s Bike Master Plan was conceived before e-bikes, e-scooters and e-unicycles. The Move Seattle vision seems to only see able-bodied peak hour commuters pedaling along arterials pretending to be the equals of buses and cars.”

    “Despite making the decision to route people on bikes away from major arterials in several areas of the city, Seattle leaders have defended the idea of adding protected bike lanes to Eastlake Avenue, after a comprehensive review looking at other alternatives came up short. “From the north end to downtown Seattle there are only a few routes you can go on, and so Eastlake is moving forward,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said in early 2020, less than a year after her administration cancelled planned bike lanes on 35th Avenue NE after community pushback.

    “The latest letter that set this all into motion seeks to influence the Harrell administration before the RapidRide J goes out to bid, and requests that the project’s funding be reallocated to “another more appropriate project in Seattle that would address fairness and equity,” calling the J Line “redundant” and “outdated.”

    “Our neighborhood is being asked to accept a questionable design and now unnecessary Rapid Ride project while many neighborhoods are in need of more adequate transit service and federal funding to close their budget gaps,” the Eastlake Community Council letter reads.”

    Based on transit equity Eastlake may have a point about reallocating the funding for RR J to a more deserving neighborhood, maybe not in north Seattle, although it isn’t clear whether neighborhoods in South Seattle will react any differently than the Eastlake board. These days Metro can’t even give away RR lines.

    1. The RapidRide J project should absolutely get built and is not a waste of taxpayer money. It is necessary to make safe a critical link in the city’s bike network, with no alternatives that don’t add considerable travel time. The opposition is just a small group of vocal people that has control of the Eastlake Community Council.

      1. Not only that, but Eastlake is dense but also cut off from the rest of the city with Lake Union to the west, and I-5 and a big hill to the east. If there were E/W transit options to connect to Capitol Hill and there actually were more than one Link station in Capitol Hill, maybe RR-J wouldn’t be needed, but that’s not the world we live in.

    2. I wrote an article about this in July. At the time, the Eastlake Community Council had an online survey about the line. The survey questions were neutral but the group was described to me as “anti-transit and pro-street-parking”; they were trying to get testimonies against the J. I filled out the survey supporting the J. The article took a few days to write, and less than a day after it was published, a comment said the survey had been taken offline, and speculation that they didn’t like the emerging results. A few days later, an ECC board member wrote to STB thanking us and saying they were considering resigning from the council over its anti-J stance.

      If the board has now removed four tenths of its members, that suggests it was pretty evenly divided on the issue.

      Neighborhood councils often have the opposite view of the majority of the neighborhood’s residents. A small number of nimbys have the time to be activists and attend council meetings, so the council skews in their direction. The rest of the residents, if they don’t outright support the transit project, are probably split 50-50 or 60-40, not 98-2 against it.

      We see this again and again in attempts to block transit-priority lanes on Aurora, 45th, and 35th Ave NE, and to get Link routed away from people. At the same time, when Seattle switched to district-based council seats that were drawn to maximize single-family influence and dilute multifamily voices, it was expected to lead to anti-growth city councilmembers winning, but instead a surprising number of pro-growth candidates won, including in highly single-family and supposedly anti-growth far north Seattle.

      The ECC’s majority letter to the city, according to the Urbanist, said it’s imperative to expedite the bicycle cycletrack, and that the RapidRide street upgrades would be a distraction or harm the neighborhood by reducing street parking. This shows acknowledgement of the needs of bicyclists and car drivers, but ignores the needs of bus riders. Bus riders are more than 1% of Eastlake’s population.

      We voted for RapidRide J in Move Seattle. Since then the city has prioritized the cycletrack over the J, so that the J won’t get some of the transit-priority features that were intended. The justification was that there are few north-south roads in the area, Fairview wasn’t suitable for the cycletrack (part of it is a private alley, and at the north end there’s a steep hill up to Eastlake), and that without it bicycling in Eastlake is very unsafe. There’s some merit to that argument given the dangers bicyclists face and their lack of alternatives and the narrow roadway that can’t accommodate all modes in an ideal way. But now the ECC has taken the bike side completely and thrown bus riders under the bus. Or maybe that’s just a pretext and what it really wants is those parking spaces and GP lanes and it doesn’t care about either bikes or buses.

      The entire Roosevelt-Eastlake-Fairview corridor is an amazingly successful mixed-use area rich in overlapping transit trips. It often gets overlooked amidst the larger and more visible U-District and Capitol Hill, but it’s a very successful urban area. In the 90s I lived on 56th. My dad lived and worked off Eastlake in an apartment building with an insurance office on the ground floor. His employer/landlord lived in the building and also owned an antique store in Pike Place Market. So I took the bus to visit him, and to take care of him during his last weeks in hospice. I also took the bus to two different physical therapist offices on Eastlake and Fairview, and to bars for music events. I biked on Eastlake to my job at Harborview, to the ferry terminal (when my dad was living in Poulsbo), to downtown for various reasons, and through downtown to Alki and Costco. I’ve also gone to places on Roosevelt south of 56th: the Monkey Pub, Scarfecrow Video, the comedy club, Friendly Foam Shop, Half Price Books, etc. I could walk to those, but if I lived on Eastlake I would have to bus to them. Since I went to Eastlake, I assume Eastlake residents also went to the western U-District.

      1. > We voted for RapidRide J in Move Seattle. Since then the city has prioritized the cycletrack over the J, so that the J won’t get some of the transit-priority features that were intended.

        I was always a bit confused why this project wanted to implemented bike lanes over bat lanes on eastlake ave.

        Though was rapidride J ever originally going to get more bus lanes on eastlake ave? I checked the 2015 presentation and it looks like it was just queue jumps. I guess there is the section from Denny to Republican that no longer has bus lanes, but that isn’t the section that is adding bike lanes.

      2. I commuted for many years by bike on Eastlake. I tried a number of alternatives, both above and below. None were great.

        The best alternative would have been Fairview, had they demanded an easement, and built a bike ped bridge when they permitted Mallard Cove 20 years ago. Unfortunately, that ship has sailed. Nobody has the political interest to cross what are now dozens and dozens million$+ view condos.

        I also have friends who own, with a garage there. Parking is definitely tight. They complain of few alternatives, because biking is so dangerous, and the buses are infrequent and dont go where they want. I also have a friend who was seriously injured on his bike by a right hook.

        The status quo isn’t working, for sure.

      3. We voted for RapidRide J in Move Seattle.

        We also voted for major improvements to the bicycle network, with Eastlake definitely being a part of that. This has always been the issue with the RapidRide J (previously known as Roosevelt BRT, and then Roosevelt RapidRide). This is an important transit corridor, but it is an essential biking corridor. As Cam mentioned, there are alternatives that could work for both modes, but they would likely cost a bundle (by building bike viaducts, essentially) and even then would be somewhat awkward (although a lot of fun on a nice day).

        I can’t emphasize enough how important this is as a bike corridor. It runs through a very urban area, connecting major destinations as well as other major bike paths. It does so while following a relatively gentle grade.

        Unlike some other areas, there really aren’t alternatives. For example, someone on Twitter complained that the new plans leave 15th NW without bike lanes. Fair enough. Maybe we should put them there. But I could also see using 17th NW as a major bike corridor, since it is a straight shot from Shilshole to 87th. It isn’t too difficult to come up with a good bike network for various parts of the city, especially if you are willing to put bike paths on residential streets (and get rid of parking). In contrast, there really is no alternative to bike lanes on Eastlake, and it is one of the most important pathways in the city.

        As it is, I think they did a fairly good job with this project. My only complaint is that it took them too long. But the end result looks pretty good, especially for the money. At one point, they had planned on moving the streetcar, but that would have cost a fortune. So they are working with it, and things looks decent. It certainly looks like an improvement. The bus will avoid much of the congestion found on those streets. One of the ways it will do this is by limiting the number of cars that can go on Eastlake. Thus even though the bus will share the road with cars in places, there will be fewer of them.

        My biggest concern is around the bridge (especially to the north of it) and this has nothing to do with the bikes. It has more to do with them simply running out of money in that area. They basically ended the planning there, instead of continuing up Roosevelt (the irony being that project was originally named after Roosevelt). It will go on Roosevelt, but only for a tiny bit, and the bus improvements there will be minor.

        Even though this took forever, I still consider it “step one”. The same goes for every bus improvement, really. Of course much of the work costs money, and it is always better to “measure twice and cut once”. But it isn’t like rail. Even moving wire isn’t that expensive. We should keep making improvements (big and small) every year, instead of thinking that we are “done”. But for now this is a big improvement, and I’m looking forward to it.

      4. “Neighborhood councils often have the opposite view of the majority of the neighborhood’s residents. A small number of nimbys have the time to be activists and attend council meetings, so the council skews in their direction. The rest of the residents, if they don’t outright support the transit project, are probably split 50-50 or 60-40, not 98-2 against it.”

        Mike, this isn’t true, and I don’t think you have any data to back it up. It is your bias.

        I don’t know if you have ever served on a neighborhood group. There is no pay. The members live and/or work in the neighborhood, often have lived there for a long time and own property or businesses, and talk daily to other members of the neighborhood, and hold public meetings. They also CARE about their neighborhood.

        This tension is very common: those who live and work in a community vs. those who don’t but want their trip through the community to some other destination more convenient no matter what the cost is to the community.

        We saw this with the CID (both the station for DSTT2 and I-5), a midtown station, SLU station, Lake Forest Park, Mercer Island (including the original configuration of I-90), Bellevue with East Link, bike lanes on 35th, the design of 520, Aurora, and on and on. It is why so much of Link runs along ROW’s next to freeways.

        The main issue with the Eastlake community is the bike lanes, and elimination of parking for local retail. This raises two legitimate issues:

        1. The bike lanes provide a tiny fraction of mobility, and the city needs to do a better job of measuring that mobility. A bike is the classic SOV. It isn’t good in inclement weather, you can’t carry anything or anyone, Seattle is very hilly, bikes slow traffic for every other mode, all of which is why bikes make up such a tiny fraction of trips even with dedicated lanes. I saw this when I worked in The Smith Tower. My office looked up 2nd and I regularly went out. I saw maybe 2-3 bicyclists using the dedicated bike lanes of 4th per day, and less on Yesler. That is a poor use of traffic lanes.

        2. Seattle has adopted a model in which retail is dispersed into the neighborhoods. Downtown Seattle is not an attractive retail option because lack of retail, lack of safety, and expensive parking. So if a neighborhood like Eastlake loses the meager local retail along
        Eastlake everyone one of those residents will have to make a trip for any retail or just to get a beer and the community loses its gathering places, and that means some other community that has effectively blocked plans to destroy their retail.

        Sometimes these losses can be mitigated, sometimes they cannot. I have never understood transit advocates love of bikes for transportation, and think it is more of an urbanist ideal although I doubt more than 10% on this blog use a bike for other than recreation.

        But it is important for you to acknowledge are willing to destroy something a community thinks is very important to them so your trip is faster or more convenient, any community, and you don’t care about the neighborhood or understand it. I think that is much more common among urbanists because they live such transient lives and rarely have roots or property ownership in a community so they tend to have views like yours.

      5. Mike, this isn’t true, and I don’t think you have any data to back it up.

        Nonsense. He clearly stated the data. Come on, just read. I could repeat the data, but really, you need to learn how to do that yourself. Believe it or not, almost everyone on here has some data — some bit of information of some sort — to back up their claim. When they don’t, they usually preface their argument with some disclaimer (e. g. “I don’t have data to back this up, but …”). In this case, Mike based his argument on evidence that supported his case. You should try doing the same.

      6. Hey Ross, where is the data, actually? I skimmed through Mike’s old post and didn’t see it, either. The closest I see is this line: “I used to live on 56th and saw firsthand the many overlapping trips in the Roosevelt-Eastlake-Fairview corridor.” Experiential evidence is fine but it doesn’t say exactly what the claim under debate does.

        For the record, I expect that Mike is probably right, based on my own intuition and experience with that particular neighborhood, but intuition isn’t data. So I’m just wondering what I am missing that should apparently be obvious in Mike’s old article. Is it in one of the links he included? I didn’t do more than a cursory skim through those, so perhaps you can point at the right one to take a closer look. I’m genuinely curious how they got that data.

      7. Really Ross, what “data” does Mike have to support his claims:

        1. “Neighborhood councils often have the opposite view of the majority of the neighborhood’s residents”.

        2. “A small number of nimbys have the time to be activists and attend council meetings, so the council skews in their direction.”

        3. “The rest of the residents, if they don’t outright support the transit project, are probably split 50-50 or 60-40, not 98-2 against it [although the differences are huge between 50/50 and 60/40 if you understand politics — eg Harrell vs. Gonzales was a blow out].

        You like to write, “I could repeat the data, but really, you need to learn how to do that yourself”, when you don’t have the data. Classic dissembling. For Mike to make such sweeping claims about every neighborhood council (and I have served on several), and for you to blindly support those accusations without data, is irresponsible, and influenced by your bias since you are in the second camp I mention, “those who live and work in a community vs. those who don’t but want their trip through the community to some other destination more convenient no matter what the cost is to the community”. It is fine to be in that camp, but you need to understand you are in that camp and are influenced by it.

        I list a tiny fraction of projects that pitted a neighborhood against those passing through the neighborhood (and Mike lists others). 9/10 the neighborhood wins, even the lowly CID, and it isn’t because the neighborhood is torn 50/50.

        That is one of the problems on the blog. You and others are constantly surprised that transit projects you think will make life easier for those passing through a community are rejected by the community the project passes through, and the community wins because this and SEPA are all politics, whether it is south Seattle, the CID, the DSA, Amazon, Bellevue, or the UW. Take off the blinders and you won’t be surprised so much.

      8. “A bike is the classic SOV.”

        A bike is the size of a person lying down. A car is much larger. One or two parking spaces can fit an entire living room. Two bike lanes can carry more people than two car lanes at less than half the space. Cars require artificial energy and pollute. Bikes are human powered and provide exercise and health. Cars are heavy and wear down the street much faster than bikes. Cars go fast and kill pedestrians and bicyclists.

      9. “A bike is the classic SOV.” A bike is a single occupancy vehicle. It carries one person. In fact, it really can’t be anything else whereas a car can carry four or more.

        “Two bike lanes can carry more people than two car lanes at less than half the space”. Not really. The bike lane on 2nd Ave. with barriers uses an entire car lane and carries a very small number of bicyclists daily. A car can carry four or more, so at least open BAT and dual-purpose lanes to HOV cars. Speed also determines capacity. Look how many people each lane on I-5 carries every day. Or Aurora. Does a bike slow down a bus or car in the same lane so it creates negative capacity? The question isn’t how many “can’ a bike lane carry but how many it actually does carry.

        The key issue I raised is how many people are the bike lanes actually carrying. Not theoretical but actual. Unlike measuring for cars which requires estimating the number of people in each car, with bikes it always one rider per bike.

        “Cars require artificial energy and pollute.” Again, depends. More and more bikes are E-bikes, and more and more cars are EV’s. And many buses are diesel or carbon powered. Seattle is very hilly. What we want to measure is how many people each mode actually transports on any one road, not some ideology because bicyclists would like bus lanes converted to bike lanes because they think buses pollute.

        “Cars are heavy and wear down the street much faster than bikes.” Based on this assumption buses should be banned, certainly BAT’s. Plus the cars pay for the roads and their maintenance.

        My point is bike lanes should be measured for how many actual people are using them. Same with buses. That is just transportation planning 101.
        Then determine which use carries the most people for an area and allocate the lanes based on that. It could be a bike lane is a better investment than a BAT lane. Or it is unwise to place bikes that carry very few people in a bus lane. Or a car lane carries way more people than a bike lane because more people use cars, cars are faster, or there is more than one person in each car.

        In the end it depends on how folks want to travel that determines the number of trips taken by each mode. You don’t select the mode first and force people to use that mode because usually they won’t. So measure actual usage not “can’s”, and allocate lane space for that. Isn’t that the argument for a BAT lane: so many folks are riding the bus on the road compared to people carried by cars on the same road the bus needs a dedicated lane. Do you really want to add bike lanes to BAT lanes?

        The issue the Eastlake community has isn’t with buses but with dedicated bike lanes which they think carry way too many people at the expense of retail parking for their local businesses. So measure how many bicyclists use the road today, and measure constantly after a bike lane is created. If not enough bicyclists are using the lane find a better use.

      10. The comparison that really matters here is the number of daily bikers on Eastlake (after the protected bike lane is added) vs. the number of daily parkers in the 100’ish parking spaces that would be displaced by it.

        Most of these parking spaces have no time limit, and those that do are not exactly turning over every few minutes all day. If the number of daily parkers is 200, surpassing that figure would require about one bike every three minutes over a 10 hour period. Based on the Fremont bridge bike counters, this should be a very easy bar to meet, once the route has good infrastructure. It may already be getting close to that today, even without the infrastructure.

        And, again, it’s not like the bike lanes mean people driving to the businesses of Eastlake would have nowhere to park. It just means they would have to park slightly further away and have a slightly longer walk.

      11. @Daniel — The board just kicked off four of its members because they disagreed over a particular subject, and you think that isn’t data? It most certainly is. It clearly backs up Mike’s point, which is these board’s are not democratic. They aren’t elected by a majority of the community. They also had a public poll, but then buried the findings, presumably because they didn’t like the results. Again, that is evidence. If you think this is some sort of bizarre outlier, you aren’t paying attention.

        Consider the Burke Gilman “Missing Link”. It has been held up by a similar group. A handful of businesses — again, not a majority, but a self-selected group — have managed to hold up the project in court, despite overwhelming support (89% of the comments were favorable —

        Of course there are exceptions. There are bound to be community organizations with widespread support, especially if they do things that everyone likes (cleaning up parks, etc.). But Mike’s original statement used the word “often”, not “always”. He already covered that case.

        Daniel’s comment was nothing more than BS. Mike’s claim was quite reasonable given that this board was clearly not democratic, nor was the board that has held up the Burke Gilman. But the thing that made it especially BS is the fact that once again, Daniel has nothing to support his case. Where is the counter evidence? Where is the evidence that these boards actually represent the will of the people in the community? Simply put, there is none. Nothing.

        So Daniel is claiming that Mike’s argument has no weight because it lacks sufficient evidence, even though Daniel’s claim has none at all.

        Now Daniel is making further claims that are just absurd. A bike can carry only one person. Complete nonsense. There are tandem bikes, and bikes with kid seats in the back. I know people who operate a cargo bike with two kids in the back.

        You claimed that a bike take up the same space as cars. Again, absurd. A typical bike lane is five feet wide, or basically half the width of a typical car lane. Just from a width standpoint, you’ve half the space. Bikes are also shorter. Are you going to tell me you’ve never seen this picture: Seriously?

        Yes, a car can carry more people. But most cars don’t*. That is why we call those special cars that carry lots of people, a “bus”. It isn’t the size of the vehicle that is essential — it is the fact that it carries more people.

        All of this misses the bigger point. There is a very strong correspondence between bike use and transit use. In many cities worldwide high mode shares for transit seem to correlate with those of walking and bicycling**. Thus if you improve the bike network, you will likely have more people taking transit (over time).

        * Yes, I have that data. Here is the data per state (notice that “solo drive to work” is much higher than “carpool”). “In 2019, average car occupancy was 1.5 persons per vehicle” — Seattle area data:



        Nice try Ross, but as Anonymouse pointed out you got no data to support Mike’s claims Re community groups and councils.

        You and Mike have no idea whether the EL community supports the EL council — and don’t know the community I lived in for several years in the late 1980’s. Neither do I today

        The EL council has been in existence since 1971 and is intimately involved in community issues and events — and their public letter to the Seattle City Council if contrary to a majority of the residents will lead to changes, as will the ouster of 4 of the members. Instead you guys smear any local group or council that opposes your urbanist views, from LFP to CID to MI to pretty much anywhere.

        The difference is those community groups have STANDING under SEPA to sue, because they can show potential harm, and of course the local city council members/candidates they host (see linked website) are aware of the impact of their votes in district specific elections, so that is whom they listen to, as do the agency. They don’t give a shit what you, Mike or I think. We can’t vote for them.

        Of course maybe mitigation like a parking garage to replace the lost parking is possible. That sounds like a win/win, although the bicyclists should share the costs. Or eliminate the bus lanes.

        If the city council candidates find out the community disagrees with the letter the EL council sent out I am sure they will dismiss it. Or not.

        I don’t know if the design of the J is reasonable. But that certainly does not denigrate all community groups who love their community. From the posts on this blog the bike lanes were not part of the vote but I don’t know. It is why we have SEPA and elections, and a pissed off community like Eastlake can determine who gets elected from their district.

        Asdf2 states the bike lanes eliminate 200 parking stalls in the neighborhood. Assuming they have two hour parking limits for retail and the businesses are open from 9 am to 11 pm that is 14 hours X 200 stalls X 1.5 persons/car = 4200 customers max. Are there 4200 bicyclists, and more importantly does the EL community care?

        Who knows. But the fight is on. Let’s see who wins this time. Transit needs a win. You can be sure Harrell and council candidates from this district will pay close attention because that is the only data they care about and these kinds of things are personal are create a lot of emotion among voters. . A hornets nest of angry EL community members at the upcoming council candidate forums the EL council will host could be make or break for a candidate.

      13. I did not say that Ross had no evidence, I simply asked what he was referring to as I did not immediately see anything matching what I would call “evidence”.

        I am not a trial lawyer, but to me what Ross discussed is “circumstantial evidence”, though. I was expecting some poll or survey which showed transportation modes in the neighborhood. So far I have not seen that, which is a little disappointing.

      14. Daniel, back in 2016, there was a Seattle mayoral executive order to formally disband neighborhood district councils because of the following:

        “In announcing his executive order, Murray pointed to a 2016 report on District Council demographics, noting that attendees of these councils were largely middle-aged white homeowners. Less than half reported having any people of color in their ranks.”

        Some of these councils still exist but are not sanctioned or receive funding from the city of Seattle.

        Refer to:

        As an aside, see the following publication from the White House on why exclusionary zoning (i.e. single family zones) is seen as harmful.

      15. “Mike to make such sweeping claims about every neighborhood council”

        I didn’t say every single council. I said “often”, as in many of the councils.

      16. “The bike lanes provide a tiny fraction of mobility”

        It’s a mode we’re trying to increase, and you do that by building a citywide bike network. We’ve only started the network and it has many holes. The more it’s built out, the more bicycling will increase, and then you’ll see more bikes per minute downtown and in the neighborhoods. There’s no reason we can’t be like Portland or New York or European cities; we just need protected bike routes.

        Where I disagree is when bike lanes become impediments to enhanced transit corridors. Like when the Broadway cycletrack took away right of way for streetcar/bus lanes. The cycletrack should have been on a parallel street. In Eastlake’s case, I’m not happy with buses being slowed down for the cycletrack, but I’m sympathetic to the point that there’s only a small amount of road space, and bikes need some of it to avoid collisions.

      17. To add to the Whitehouse link:

        “The American Jobs Plan takes important steps to eliminate exclusionary zoning. Specifically, the Unlocking Possibilities Program within the American Jobs Plan is a $5 billion competitive grant program that incentivizes reform of exclusionary zoning. The program awards flexible and attractive funding to jurisdictions that take concrete steps to eliminate needless barriers to produce affordable housing and expand housing choices for people with low or moderate incomes.“

        This is federal policy in the works.

      18. “their public letter to the Seattle City Council”

        There were two public letters sent to the city council, one signed by 4/10 of the members, or 40%. That’s close to 50%. It would not be surprising if neigborhood support (among all the residents) were at least 40% and probably more. I can’t imagine it’s only 3% that could be dismissed as practically nobody. That’s just impossible for a neighborhood with tens of thousands of residents and apartments and in the inner city.

      19. “The difference is those community groups have STANDING under SEPA to sue”

        SEPA isn’t the only thing that’s important.

      20. Below are the results of RapidRide J community survey and outreach efforts. They obviously differ from the advocacy from the Eastlake Community Council. Luckily the council no longer holds the political sway it once did.

      21. “The bike lanes provide a tiny fraction of mobility”

        That is a county-wide statistic, but the bike use the county does get is not distributed evenly. Here’s some data over the Fremont bridge I dug up, for example:

        In 2020, the Fremont bridge had an average of 21,000 daily motor vehicles and an average of 2,111 daily bikes. That puts people on bikes at approximately 10% of all road users going over that bridge – including the private cars – and this is averaged over all four seasons, not cherry-picking the summer. This does not sound like a “tiny fraction of mobility” to me.

        Eastlake isn’t that different from Westlake. Both sides of the lake go to the same South Lake Union and downtown and one side. Both sides connect to the Burke Gilman trail on the north of the ship canal, it’s just a question of Fremont vs. U-district. Really, the only reason for Eastlake to have significantly lower bike ridership than Westlake is the lack of bike infrastructure on Eastlake. Fix the infrastructure, and SDOT’s own data on the Fremont bridge shows the kind of bike ridership that Eastlake could have.

      22. Thanks for the link Alonso. Although based on my experience, these links show a process similar to hese kinds of public outreach efforts by ST that were mostly a push poll. I think the responses in the open house in your second link show the community and EL council raised the same issues the EL Council raised in their letter, and SDOT identified the EL council as a “stakeholder”, a legal term of art under SEPA.

        For example:

        “Oct. 28 | Eastlake, South Lake Union and Downtown Open House and
        Question & Answer”


        “The team has also offered and is responding to briefing requests from community stakeholders.

        “The following briefings are complete:

        • Patrick’s Fly Shop
        • Eastlake Coffee & Café
        • Seattle Children’s Hospital
        • Eastlake Fitness and associated businesses
        The team has also offered briefings to:
        • UW Transportation/Medical Center/Public Affairs
        • SAFE (Safe Access for Eastlake)
        • South Lake Union Chamber of Commerce
        • Eastlake Community Council”

        “Open Houses”

        “We heard questions and recommendations about the following:

        “• Project impacts on parking and how we are working with affected businesses and community members”.

        The comment above was the very first bullet point. Then at the open house for Eastlake:

        “Eastlake, South Lake Union and Downtown Open House and
        Question & Answer Session”

        “Meeting Purpose: The Seattle Department of Transportation hosted an open house for the south half of the RapidRide J Line Project to share the project’s history, current plans, and see how community feedback has been incorporated into those plans.

        “Attendance: Approximately 90 members from the public attended the open house event.

        “Meeting details:
        “Monday, October 28, 2019

        “4. Many of our small businesses are for sale because they can’t survive the
        loss of parking. How are you modifying the design to accommodate businesses along Eastlake Ave?

        A. Back in July 2019, SDOT held a business workshop to discuss strategies around the loss of parking and to better understand businesses’ needs. We
        are also meeting with businesses individually to explore minor changes in
        the design to meet their needs.”

        “5. Only 4% of the population in Eastlake rides bikes. [Pre-pandemic 2% of all trips in Seattle were by bike]. What about the other
        96% of people traveling on Eastlake Ave? We don’t see where you’re
        looking into options to make this easier. How are you talking with businesses? There’s feedback we’ve provided before that I don’t see addressed here.

        “A. We’ve summarized the comments we heard and documented what we
        were able move forward with, consider, or cannot incorporate in the
        design. That summary is available on the boards and will also be posted online. We realized we didn’t get a high-level of participation from
        businesses at our original workshop in January, so we went door-to-door along Eastlake Ave and hosted a separate workshop just for businesses in

        “6. Where are you relocating the 324 parking spots that will be removed?

        “A. It is not in the City’s authority to build new parking. Our goal is to mitigate impacts from the parking loss. This includes improving transit, improving bicycle facilities, and the four strategies we previously mentioned. The materials from July’s business parking workshop discuss the four strategies in detail and are available online. We’re also happy to discuss these strategies individually.

        “13. Would you go back to the community and ask if we would rather have a center turn lane or remove parking? I ask because the Eastlake Community Council has advocated leaving the center turn lane, but we were never told that meant losing our parking. The alignment you did on Dexter preserved parking and provided bike lanes.

        “A. The community feedback from 2016 identified if we removed the center turn lane there would still be parking removed. As far as the center turn
        lanes, each area is going to have specific impacts. Eastlake’s access needs
        are different. For example, it’s important to maintain access to the
        surrounding neighborhoods and if a truck tries turning without the center turn lane, it will hold up traffic. Another reason this area is different than
        Dexter is it’s utilizing 53 ft across, not 50 ft like Eastlake. This area has
        completely different traffic volumes and impacts than Dexter.

        15. The parking studies have always refused to include Franklin, Fairview, Minor, Yale, and side streets. Have additional parking studies included these roads? If not, why not?

        A. The current study included one block each side from Eastlake Ave and
        more detailed analysis at an hourly level on Eastlake itself. This revealed that parking in the area is already well utilized. We got feedback to expand the study area and to make sure we captured residential needs, so we did an overnight study, which included those side streets. Once we finalize the
        overnight study it will be posted on the project website. When we update
        RPZ8, we’ll also do large-scale community engagement and parking studies.

        “19. Can you tell us how many people and business owners you collaborated with before deciding to remove the 324 parking spaces?

        “A. Unfortunately, I do not have a specific number, because a lot of that
        outreach occurred in 2014 before I joined the project. However, all the
        historical documents are available online.

        “24. Parking is very limited, where are these underutilized parking lots.
        What would businesses along Eastlake response be to this collaboration you’ve referenced?

        “A. The focus has been what are your businesses particular needs as it relates to parking and we are still meeting with businesses individually to better understand this. When we meet one-on-one, there are businesses that support the project and want to see it implemented sooner. We’ve certainly heard a lot of concern. However, there are businesses that are actively thinking through how to thrive within this new context. We have
        heard a lot of concerns and are working to come up with alternative strategies to ensure residents, customers, and employees have access to
        Eastlake through various modes of transportation.

        “25. I think it is important we have safe bike lanes for bikers, I think it’s important we take care of our planet and reduce emissions, but it’s not fair to treat Eastlake as a corridor to get downtown. I keep hearing questions about parking, but answers keep getting pushed off. The City has no plan to replace parking. You said you would facilitate shared parking lots that don’t exist. Eastlake has mega buildings going up, and the developers don’t know about this project, how long is this going to take? Who is going to facilitate mega projects and this?

        “A. As part of the permitting process, we regularly coordinate with new developers. We work to send our notifications and involve everyone along the corridor. If you can share which additional developers we should be
        connecting with though, we’d be happy to reach out to them. The city’s
        policy is not to create additional parking. We’re working within a limited right of way to manage all the city’s needs. To go back to an earlier
        comment, the percentage of bicyclists on Eastlake is higher than 4%, I
        think it is about 10%. The purpose and need of this project is to address
        the safety of people biking and driving address safer routes for those

        I haven’t seen the comprehensive parking study promised in the open house, but if lived in the community and got these kinds of non-answers — based on 2014 outreach efforts — I would object as well, and take whatever actions are available politically and legally.

        Basically the “mitigation” for the loss of parking offered by the city was buses and bikes, and the loss of retail was just considered a casualty of getting people who don’t live in EL through EL faster. If I didn’t live in EL and rode a bus or bike (maybe 15% of all trips) I would agree screw EL if it makes my trip faster. If I lived in EL I would feel differently.

        I also think it is important to remember that the EL council was not advocating for cutting transit spending, but reallocating it to more deserving “equity” neighborhoods. I read ad nauseum on this blog about poor frequency on Metro due to funding, including Ross’s recent article about 20-minute frequencies through the east Central District or Fesler’s editorial, and God knows the gulf in transit service between north and south Seattle is clearly due to racism (at least according to those in S. Seattle, but what would they know), so folks on this blog are criticizing the EL council for being a little less racist and following Metro’s current guidelines about reallocating a tiny bit of transit service to equity zones south of Yesler, which of course sends north Seattleites into orbit.

      23. Alonso, I am not sure what SFH zoning has to do with the RapidRide J dispute, or raising the specter of Murray who was a political hack [OT inflammatory]. If I am not mistaken Murray hired Kubly in 2014, not a favorite among those on this blog.

        The politics over the RR J are interesting. According to The Urbanist blog:

        “For months, the issue of the transit upgrade has been simmering on the backburner of Eastlake neighborhood politics, but as the window to influence the project has been closing, things have been heating up again. In late July, the community council hosted a meeting with citywide city Councilmember Sara Nelson, originally intended to be a broad discussion of city issues. But the entire meeting was dominated by a debate on the RapidRide J, with a sizable contingent of people on both sides present after flyers had been posted asking people to show up for the project.

        “Ultimately, Nelson stayed away from stating a position, telling the group the RapidRide J was a “brand new policy area” for her, and that she didn’t even recall how she said she felt about the project while running for office in 2021. Nelson has previously staked out positions on transportation improvement projects elsewhere, coming out against bus lanes for the Route 40 and raising questions about protected bike lanes on West Marginal Way SW. In this case, Nelson asked attendees in Eastlake to send her office more information about the project.”

        There is conviction for you. And the article continues:

        “Currently represented by District 4 Councilmember Alex Pedersen, Eastlake this year will elect a new representative as a part of central Seattle’s District 3, after council district lines were redrawn in 2022. Pedersen has been a vocal opponent of the RapidRide J project, and appears to have coordinated closely with the community council to advocate for changes. Emails obtained by The Urbanist from May of 2022 show Pedersen being forwarded an advance copy of an article on the RapidRide J set to be published in the Eastlake News, the community council’s quarterly newsletter.

        “Questions Mount about the J Line: City Councilmember Alex Pedersen Sees Uproar Ahead,” read the headline of the 2022 article, which quoted Pedersen as pushing for a “creative sharing of the road.” ( noting changes in RRJ due to budget cuts). After Pedersen was looped in, the draft was updated to include specific email addresses of city officials and employees to contact about the project, including Mayor Bruce Harrell. Since then, articles in the newsletter have continued to question the utility of the project, including a “memo” to D3 candidates this spring briefing them on Eastlake issues that called the project “unneeded.”

        From my reading it appears the current council rep. for Eastlake agrees with the EL council, and Nelsen isn’t too enthusiastic either. Let’s see how the candidates to replace Pedersen deal with this issue.


        Here are the primary results for D3. Out of 105,000+ residents 25,656 voted in the primary. Hollingsworth was leading Hudson by 250 votes and ended up edging him in the end. Here is a map with a breakdown of the vote in D3.

        Both were endorsed by The Stranger and The Seattle Times in the primary, although Joy Hollingsworth has the Times’ endorsement for the Nov. election and is termed the “centrist”. Hollingsworth is African American and did well as a centrist in progressive areas of D3 and is a third-generation resident of the Central Dist. Her platform reminds me of Harrell’s platform. The vote in EL will be critical, which probably has something to do with the recent letter from the EL council.

      25. Nathan, this draft parking study is from 2018. I thought the RRJ was amended to exclude Roosevelt due to budget issues. Is that still the case. This draft parking study still includes Roosevelt.

      26. As someone who worked in the south end of Eastlake from 2019 to 2022, I think Daniel is ignorant in his implication that no residents or businesses in Eastlake would benefit from bus improvements and protected bike lanes (“the loss of retail was just considered a casualty of getting people who don’t live in EL through EL faster”).

        I could write more, but I’ll say that our 30-person office only had about 20 parking stalls, so there was some pressure to commute via “alternative” transportation when everyone was in the office. Today, Eastlake is one of the more dangerous biking routes in the city, with no protection (or paint), terrible pavement, cars routinely breaking 40 mph, and few reasonable alternative routes. The only bus on Eastlake, Route 70, shuttles between the U-District and Downtown and is very slow south of Mercer. With Eastlake as car-oriented as it is, it’s easy to see why most people choose to drive. However, Eastlake is also at car capacity, so it’s time to make space for other modes.

        Fundamentally, making transit or biking more attractive is a win for Eastlake, because it creates more overall transportation capacity, which eases general travel within and through the community. The parking study shows that motorists will simply have to become a bit more creative with finding parking in the neighborhood.

        Remember that 40% of Eastlake’s Community Council supported RR J until they were unjustly ousted by the other 60%. So much for free speech.

      27. Daniel, you’re free to task a paralegal with combing through the RR J’s project materials for an update to the parking study:

        I found that report a while back when I was working in Eastlake and curious about the parking situation and potential impacts from RR Roosevelt, as it was called then. That office was located on one of the few blocks where midday parking exceeded theoretical capacity, which corroborated my personal experience.

        I assume SDOT has not redone the parking study. I assume that if they were to redo it today, they’d find more daytime availability due to reduced commuting, and therefore, reducing parking on Eastlake in 2026 will have even fewer impacts than implicated by the 2018 study.

      28. “Fundamentally, making transit or biking more attractive is a win for Eastlake, because it creates more overall transportation capacity, which eases general travel within and through the community. The parking study shows that motorists will simply have to become a bit more creative with finding parking in the neighborhood.”

        Nathan, my point was the residents and businesses of EL can make this determination for themselves, and obviously they don’t agree with you. They live and work there. You obviously are interested in making your commute easier and faster for yourself, and you are an anti-car progressive who believes eliminating parking will eliminate cars (but not businesses) although you drive as part of your job (I walk to work).

        The candidates for council in D3 will have to decide for themselves how EL residents will vote on this issue considering the race is so close, and I doubt they will care what you or I think because we can’t vote in D3. From the articles it sounds like every candidate forum in EL until Nov. (which the EL council will host) will involve one issue. With 250 votes separating the candidates a 60/40 split is significant, although I don’t know if the vote on the Board is reflective of the split in the voting community. Seattle neighborhoods tend to love progressive policies, for other Seattle neighborhoods.

        I lived in EL for several years while attending law school and biked, bused and drove to and from the UW depending on weather, night/day, how much energy or time I had, bus frequency, what I had to carry, whether I had to run errands, whether I wanted to push my bike up Lynn to Eastlake (Uber didn’t exist then unfortunately), whether my bike was going to be stolen (night). It wasn’t a very pleasant bike ride but not dangerous back then (we didn’t even use helmets), but very few bicyclists used it then, or apparently now. I also very much enjoyed the businesses along Eastlake that allowed me to shop, dine or drink without having to make two more trips, one there and back, to some other neighborhood to shop, dine or drink. One thing I like about urbanism is being able to walk to a bar or restaurant or grocery store from my doorstep.

        You think you know what is best for every community, based on your ideology. That is why the courts use standing to determine whether someone’s opinion matters and you have skin in the game. Everyone has opinions. I have opinions about Ballard. Voters and SEPA decide whose opinions really matter.

        The good news is however this turns out it won’t impact us. We are spectators, which is why our opinion does not matter. My guess is Spotts wants the RRJ although it only goes to UW now and costs a fortune, and really the only issue is the bike lanes (and keeping the center turn lane), but Harrell usually sides with the community if the s&%t hits the fan because he just can’t afford a fight with communities like EL that voted for him, especially if he wants a “centrist” council member from D3 in November.

        At the same time the EL council makes a compelling equity argument you ignore naturally. Is it really too much to allocate some transit resources to south Seattle and S. King Co., or does every gold-plated transit project have to go to North Seattle because the wealthy and white Seattleites live there? I think we know the answer to that question, but Metro’s new equity paradigm calls that into question. Don’t forget, my city pays a ton of taxes toward Metro and gets almost no service. If I am asked, yes I would like a little more transit funding to go to the less white and less wealthy folks in the county, and in Seattle, and fewer of these gold-plated transit projects in N. Seattle. That is my standing. Equity with my money.

      29. “Hollingsworth was leading Hudson”

        Does one of them want to terminate RapidRide J or reverse the parking reductions?

        “I thought the RRJ was amended to exclude Roosevelt due to budget issues.”

        The original scope was north to 43rd (U-District Station), approximating Route 70. SDOT looked at options to extend it to 65th or Northgate, and concluded it could afford to extend it to 65th. Then in the pandemic and Move Seattle affordability problems it was scaled back to 43rd as it was originally. The project was originally called “Roosevelt” for some unfathomable reason because its primary service area is Eastlake-Fairview. It has only a few blocks on Roosevelt and the original scope didn’t reach most of Roosevelt Way or any of the Roosevelt neighborhood. So it should properly have been called “Eastlake”.

        “Is it really too much to allocate some transit resources to south Seattle and S. King Co., or does every gold-plated transit project have to go to North Seattle”

        RapidRide H (Delridge) opened this summer. RapidRide R (Rainier) is in planning and awaiting full funding. SDOT installed next-arrival displays on Rainier several years ago; it’s the only street to have them beyond existing RapidRide and Link transfer stops. This year SDOT has been adding transit-priority features on Rainier although I haven’t seen them. RapidRide C (West Seattle) was one of the first Seattle lines. Several routes in south Seattle have had frequency boosts since 2020 for equity and essential workers. Routes 7 and 36 are now ultra-frequent (7-10 minutes) for capacity.

      30. @Mike

        > The original scope was north to 43rd (U-District Station), approximating Route 70.

        The very original scope was to reach Northgate from 2016 .

        They truncated it to Roosevelt Station because of the cost of electrification. That’s why it was called Rapidride Roosevelt and most of the project’s budget was on electrifying the route on Roosevelt Way/11th Ave from Roosevelt Station to U District. From 2018/2019, then it was cut in late 2020/early 2021 to U District?

        “The project corridor is 5.2 miles in length versus the previous 6.1 miles with a new northern terminus at the University District Link station, instead of the Roosevelt Link station. As a result of this change, the project name has been revised from the Roosevelt BRT to the RapidRide J Line.”

        From the FTA,

        Anyways, I kinda wish they had just opted to use diesel busses as they could have built the route from Northgate to Downtown if it wasn’t for the electrification cost.

      31. There are plenty of RapidRide lines in or planned in the south half of the city. The A, C and F lines have been around for years. The H just opened. Route 7 down Rainier is supposed to be upgraded to a RapidRide R at some point. It just hasn’t finished going through the Seattle Process yet.

        In any case, when you argue that bus service should be from Eastlake to some neighborhood in the south, it is obvious, reading between the lines, that you are not making that argument over any concern for the well people of people in South Seattle. You simply consider public transit a big negative and would just as soon have no bus exist at all anywhere you ever visit. However, it looks bad to come out and explicitly say “buses are for losers, so Eastlake should have no buses”, so you play the equity card and say “send the buses down there instead” because it has the same practical effect, but sounds more politically correct.

        I’ll also note that all of the Seattle Process issues that happen in north Seattle also happen with plans to improve transit or bikeability in South Seattle. Except, it’s a lot worse down there because everybody likes to play the race card and argue that the city either does exactly what they want, or the city is racist. Turns out, people are complaining about bus lanes displacing parking over there too, which making it increasingly difficult to make RapidRide H much faster than the existing #7. When the dust clears, the path of least resistance will probably to just rebrand the line and change nothing, except for fancier bus stops and off-board fare payment (at least for those with Orca cards).

        Going back to Eastlake and businesses worried about parking…if street parking on adjacent side streets is full, it’s full because the parking there is poorly managed, and you have people parking there all day, with no time limits. Put up some two-hour time limit signs so customers of the shops can actually find these spaces available, but the bike lanes as planned, and call it a day. This seems like a reasonable compromise that all sides can accept. The only losers are a few residents possibly needing to walk a few extra blocks to find a place to park near their home, or needing to stop being cheap and rent space in a garage, rather than freeload off the street.

      32. @asdf2

        > I’ll also note that all of the Seattle Process issues that happen in north Seattle also happen with plans to improve transit or bikeability in South Seattle. Except, it’s a lot worse down there because everybody likes to play the race card and argue that the city either does exactly what they want, or the city is racist. Turns out, people are complaining about bus lanes displacing parking over there too, which making it increasingly difficult to make RapidRide (R) much faster than the existing #7.

        Actually on a positive note, on Rainier Avenue they’ve been implementing quite a lot of bus lanes. They’ve already completed Phase 1 from Walden S to Edmunds St And previously added partial bus lanes from Henderson to S Kenny St If the Phase 2 bus lanes north of Walden S (granted only north bound) to i90 are implemented that’s some bus lanes almost the entire way from Judkins Park station to S Henderston St (Rainier Beach station) I don’t know the exact bus lane mileage but spot checking from google maps it’s still pretty decent.

      33. Asdf2, I don’t consider RR to West Seattle the same as RR to South Seattle or South KC. It is hardly surprising transit is allocated to where the King Co. exec. lives (including WS Link). I don’t think KC or Metro are including West Seattle in their new equity paradigm.

        I think there are two basic approaches to equity in allocating transit service.

        The first is one Ross has advocated for. Equity IS transit ridership. This is based on the concept most people riding transit are riding it because they have to: 1. make the trip; 2. make the trip on transit, whether because they can’t afford a car. afford parking, congestion, or whatever.

        Personally, I like this approach (in part because it avoids the induced demand argument, which is fickle), except transit is evolving, or at least transit advocates hope it is. Today it is much more geared toward the middle-class white office worker, which is exactly the point of Link and RR. Granted this transit rider has declined with WFH, but Metro and KC more and more are looking at those who continued to ride transit during the pandemic because those folks TRULY have to take transit. They must make the trip, and they must make it on transit.

        Second is basically the AMI of the area. More and more I think this may be the better approach, especially when I see the gross disparity between transit in north Seattle and south Seattle and King Co. It is pretty clear the transit dollars are not being “equitably” distributed.

        This is the new approach Metro and KC are taking (led by Balducci), and not surprisingly transit riders in N. Seattle are aggrieved (although some communities like EL like it because it supports some tangential argument they have like maintain our street parking). Not surprisingly transit users in N. Seattle are arguing folks in S. Seattle and KC don’t know how to use or allocate transit, or will make the same mistakes they did, but it doesn’t matter. The pie is going to be cut more generously for the south, and they are going to be given the money to hash out how to use it.

        I do have some skin in the game (or at least my city and subarea do). East KC does not do well in either approach, especially the second. The “indefinitely suspended” routes in E KC prove this (where is Mike’s “induced demand” when you need it). My city is suburban but very close to two very large urban centers and has 25,000+ residents who work in fields that are transit friendly, and our only first/last mile access is a park and ride, which the residents are fine with if there is space which there is today, but it doesn’t really matter if there is space because there is no intra-Island transit service although urban transit advocates can’t understand that.

        The one mode that seems to escape this analysis is bikes, and bike lanes. Pre-pandemic bikes accounted for 2% of non-recreational trips. Seattle is hilly, dark in the winter, and wet. Streets can be narrow, and the city’s refusal to require onsite parking minimums mean those cars park on the street. Bike riders on these streets are overwhelmingly men. EL is not complaining about RR J; it is complaining about leaving a center turn lane (usually a good idea if lanes are reduced to one in each direction) and eliminating ITS street parking for dedicated bike lanes that will carry 2-4% of trips if SDOT measured which EL claims will eliminate their retail when neighborhood retail is the entire concept behind Seattle’s mixed use zoning, which SDOT doesn’t because they don’t want to disclose the data. I mean, is there any Seattle neighborhood (people who live and own businesses there) that thinks dedicated bike lanes make sense when really asked?

        The Seattle Times has an editorial noting the steep decline in revenue Seattle will face in the future (and whether cuts or more taxes are the solution). This is going to bleed into Metro, to the tune of about 8% according to Fesler and about 16% according to me (after the “indefinitely suspended routes”) which is masked by the driver/mechanic shortage, PLUS another 10% to 20% is going to reallocated from N. Seattle to S. Seattle and King Co.

        So when we look at the RR J and the cost, and the fact it terminates at 43rd, and compare it to the loss of frequencies and routes N. Seattle will have to deal with somehow in the future, does it make sense to have 20-minute feeder frequency for RR G or J, plus the transfer, or maybe less grand routes like RR. If there is one thing I admire about Ross’s bus analysis is he starts with the amount of money Metro plans to spend — because that is what professional planners do — and then analyzes whether more or better service can be obtained with the SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY, which I think some on this blog don’t understand in their replies about this route or that route.

        At least N. Seattle gets to have this debate — and it is time to pull their heads out of the sand. We don’t get that debate on MI, although we pay a fortune toward Metro service (and have to subsidize the 630). All we get is “indefinitely suspended” which is hard to test the “induced demand” theory on.

        So for my tax money, I don’t like ST 3 (even with subarea equity), I think the better approach today to achieve transit equity is to give more $$$ to S. Seattle and S. KC and let them figure out how to spend it (and so does Balducci), and to tone down the massively expensive RR program to fund more frequency across the system because IMO the RR approach repeats some of Link’s trunk and spoke issues, but in a very urban area where that approach on short trips has issues as Fesler pointed out.

      34. “I don’t think KC or Metro are including West Seattle in their new equity paradigm.”

        The equity maps show a concentration at 35th Ave SW (High Point low-income housing and environs), and Delridge Way and White Center and Burien (all on the new H line and why it got to the front of the queue). There are also concentrations on 156th in Redmond/Bellevue, in Issaquah, in Snoqualmie, in northern Lake City near 145th, in Broadview near 145th, etc.

        However, the politicians don’t always remember all these, so they generalize to just South King County and south Seattle. But when they look closer or their constituents complain, then they remember the other equity areas.

  15. For those who mourn the loss of the express bus 194 to SeaTac airport, or who think a “Duwamish Bypass” will somehow make downtown Seattle to SeaTac airport trips faster: today I decided to take FlixBus from Portland to Seattle.

    It stops at the SeaTac airport too.

    It took about 5 minutes longer than Link does to go from there to CID, thanks to congestion around the airport. It arrived in CID about 15 minutes late.

    1. Glenn, well of course the Bypass would make airport trips faster. It wouldn’t have all that 25 mph running on Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard. It would also have several fewer stations.

      But you are spot on comparing Link to any bus, even the hotshot 194, between downtown and the Airport. On a trip to the airport, the one for which reliability crucially matters, it is quite literally Daniel’s favorite phrase — “the last mile” — which determines how long the trip takes. It regularly takes twenty minutes for a bus to get from the ramp off of 518 to the Airport Freeway to pull up at the boarding platform.

    2. There’s really no comparing Link and the 194 of yore. My memory is that the 194 had about ~12 hour span of service (7AM – 7PM?), and only ran every half hour. Sure, maybe you got lucky and had no wait downtown and then got lucky again and had no traffic problems on I-5 or at the airport, but that was rare and, as you note, that unique conjunction of transit stars only saves about five minutes.

      Outside of those circumstances, you got to take the 174, which also ran only every half hour and took an hour or more to get to/from downtown as it wound its way through Tukwila and Georgetown. For the people who still want that experience, they’re welcome to take the 124 and the A, but I’ll stick with Link. Even the current maintenance headaches are mild compared to 15 years ago.

      1. My own experience is similar, in that the 194 was a bit slower than advertised, whereas taking Link is generally pretty convenient, especially coming from North of downtown. However, I tend to travel light so the long distance from the airport station to the terminal never really bothered me.

        I did take the 560 from Bellevue a few times, though, and I recall thinking that with luggage it would be much more convenient to get dropped off right at the terminal. For people who fly infrequently and have luggage or mobility problems, I can see the preference for the old 194 or the current 560.

      2. I would argue that Link is actually more accommodating than the 194 for people with luggage or mobility problems, due to level boarding and more room on the vehicle to store luggage. The 194, if you recall, was a tunnel route, so all of the headaches of waiting for multiple elevators at Westlake station that you have to deal with using Link would have applied to the 194 also.

      1. It lives in the sense that, while Sound Transit is struggling to implement ST3, SDOT is drawing fantasy maps of ST6.

        At best it’s harmless wishcasting for twitter clicks, but this stuff can be distracting from actual execution of the task at hand. Why are they investing scarce resources in this?

      2. My guess is they’re looking at a possible Seattle only transportation ballot initiative and defining possible lines for such a proposal. Who knows. I’m ambivalent towards such stuff like this. It’s relatively harmless transportation planning.

      3. Different teams. The skill set to do long range planning is distinct from running an EIS process.

      4. I’m not sure why they included so many fantasy light rail lines. Or at least highlight the more realistic further extensions of West Seattle, Ballard and maybe Aurora Avenue ones that Sound Transit might actually build.

        The West Seattle to Columbia City, Airport Bypass Line and ‘Denny and Central Area’ Line really aren’t realistic.

      5. “My guess is they’re looking at a possible Seattle only transportation ballot initiative and defining possible lines for such a proposal.”

        They’re going to need another ballot initiative to pay for all the stuff in the last ballot initiative they can’t afford over the next 20 years. Nobody has the taxing authority to do anything like this map in our lifetimes. It’s just preening.

      6. Looks good to me if Seattle is funding it. My back of napkin capital cost is around $250 billion. Just add that to the renewal of Move Seattle, along with the $10 billion needed to complete WSBLE, 130th St. station, and Graham St. station, and $1 billion to complete Move Seattle 1.0. I especially like the infill Sounder N stations that basically duplicate Ballard Link when ridership has cratered, and double down on Everett Link.

        According to Trumm, “That uncertainty [over this new vision] has clouded decisions about how to build the ST3 network to be compatible with future expansions” when we don’t even know where the stations for WSBLE will go, and which will survive or can be afforded. I just don’t think the absence of this “vision” is what is clouding WSBLE, or ST 3 in the other subareas at this time.

        I can understand Seattle Subway or The Urbanist having some fun drawing lines on a map with zero connection to reality or dollar per rider mile (and this vision is realistic compared to Seattle Subway’s prior plan), but for SDOT to issue something like this at this time when transit is struggling in Seattle across the board, WSBLE is looking incredibly wasteful, transit ridership is down 50%, and Harrell is focused on his seven-goal plan for the CBD tells me Spotts might not be the right guy. Maybe ten years ago, but not today.

        Right now, eastside social media is ridiculing ST over the starter line, the delay to 2025 to open East Link, and the Board’s recent decision to delay WSBLE two more years and spend another $122 million to study CID N/S for the EIS. Issuing silly “visions” like this just reinforces the ridicule many view our transit agencies (especially light rail) with, and the disdain they have for Seattleites that in their opinion rather than addressing Seattle’s serious problems are wasting time and money to issue this unrealistic plan.

        Perception is important at this time. Seattle progressives with the demise of downtown Seattle, and transit with the loss of the peak commuter and exploding costs for ST 3 and “optimistic” project cost estimates and East Link delayed five years, can’t afford to look silly or like unserious people because that is sometime the perception of them. They need to look like serious people willing to fix serious problems that in many cases they created. This vision that can never and never will be built doesn’t help, and if I were Harrell I would be angry at Spotts.

      7. Putting the sarcasm aside, it would likely be $10-20 Billion realistically. But again it’s because we have a lot of bad local, state, and federal policies that create the higher costs. I have friends who follow politics and they say why transit funding is inflated compared to other countries is because…
        1. NEPA EIS drive up time and money for something that could be done between 3-6 months to a year compared to the average 3-5 years they see for many medium to big projects. Alongside public transit should be on some level in their view either be exempt from Environmental Review or have an expedited version that doesn’t waste a lot of time for research for a proposal.
        2. The lack of knowledge pool on transit planning compared to Europe or Asia. France, Japan, Germany, etc have a lot of experts to go to for information or guidance compared to here. Including consulting industries and brain trusts that focus on transit.
        3. Bidding process leads to cost overruns. We’ve seen a lot of bidding processes that decide going with the cheapest option instead of the well rounded best option. And end up regretting it later. Not pinching pennies smartly basically.
        4. Buy America and America’s own infrastructure regulations makes buying off the shelf products from manufacturers expensive or impossible to do even if they might do the job a lot better than the local industry product.
        5. Land acquisition is expensive, but the process in how we do it
        6. Community engagement is a time and money waster, some people might not like hearing this but this is something other countries limit or don’t do at all other than “we’re doing this and we want your opinion on x” and only really it a few times instead of the concensus through exhaustion method Seattle likes to take to its logical extreme.
        7. Less money spent upfront to keep costs lower. It can seem paradoxical to spend more, but Alan Fisher of the Armchair Urbanist has pointed out in some of his videos how large cost overruns are created from less funds available to spend from.
        8. A state that claims to be for fighting climate change and yet is so keen to bury their head in the sand to practice what they preach in terms of transit project funding. Something they should be taking notes from BC on how to do and fund transit projects instead of shunting the problem to the county and cities to deal with.
        9. Reforming how DoT gives transit capital project funding. In my opinion, this is something Canada does better at. Instead of forcing agencies to grovel for grants, they negotiate directly with the transport ministry and government for funding allocation which is then included in the fiscal year federal budget.

        There’s other reasons why (tho in my opinion labor isn’t one of them once you look at other similar countries to us and compare their own labor costs i.e. France, Germany, UK, Canada, etc.)but those are some reasons why things are expensive.

  16. > King County explores redeveloping a 9-block government district downtown. This includes the North of CID Link station alternative.

    I’d also note that it involves moving the County Jail to the King County Bus Base right next to the South of CID alternative. Though does anyone know how politically realistic is this redevelopment proposal is?

  17. We really need to rethink putting all the buses through 3rd Ave. I just waited for my bus on 3rd Ave/Pike at rush hour on Monday and I counted probably 30 drug addicts loitering on the sidewalk between Pike and Pine. Many making terrible grunts or shrieks. One was literally crawling on the sidewalk. This was the most unpleasant bus wait I have had anywhere in the world. Literally felt like an entire level of hell in Dante. And there was even a mobile SPD precinct right on Pine.

    I don’t care how good the 3rd Ave bus corridor looks on paper, but when the passenger experience is what I encountered today waiting for the bus, then it is absolute shit. It needs to change. It is completely counterproductive and dissuading tens of thousands of transit riders from transferring or taking a bus through 3rd. It is also torpedoing the city’s downtown recovery. I have zero interest in ever waiting for a bus on 3rd after today.

    1. Except, it’s only a few bus stops on 3rd that are really bad, so taking most routes off 3rd because of a few bad stops seems like overkill. What if Metro hired security to patrol the problem stops so riders felt safer? There used to be security workers at every tunnel station. I don’t know if there still are. Anyway, sort of like that, but have them work the worst bus stops on 3rd Ave.

    2. I personally avoid transferring on 3rd myself. However, the solution is to fix 3rd, not abandon the entire street to the drug addicts and move the buses elsewhere.

      Moving all the buses off 3rd would cost a fortune. Just relocating the trolley wire and RapidRide Orca readers, alone, would be extremely expensive. Then, you’d have to fight a battle to kick cars off of some other street to prevent the buses from all getting stuck in traffic. And, when all is said and done, you end up with a worse connection to light rail, with most people connecting to/from light rail still needing to walk across/along 3rd anyway.

      Round the drug addicts up and move them some place where there’s no other people around to bother, but giving up and valuable downtown real estate and moving the buses is not a solution.

      1. The point is diluting the buses to many other downtown streets and not having them all concentrated on one street with zero commercial activity due to all the buses and loitering. It’s unpleasant even without the junkies as it basically feels like a super busy truck stop. This is better for many of us who don’t just want to go to 3rd, but really wanted to go to the Aquarium or the ferry terminal or to the convention center.

        Also it’s not just a tiny stretch of 3rd that is bad. Most of 3rd in Belltown is also a total shithole. It also gets terrible towards Pioneer Sq and CID. In fact most of 3rd in downtown is a disaster, not the other way around.

        Something has to change. As it stands now, it’s an incredibly expensive advertisement to why public transit sucks and it serves more to dissuade the non-mandatory transit riders than persuade them of the merits of this wonderful “transit efficiency.”

        I live in the city, generally enjoy taking buses with my kids and I would do almost everything I can to avoid a bus wait or transfer on 3rd now. How do any of you here think this is great and 3rd should remain a bus-only corridor? It’s like people get giddy at frequency numbers and the number of bus routes on a bus stop sign on 3rd and ignore the amount of utter repulsion all along 3rd that serves this spine. It’s sheer insanity.

      2. The solution is to give homeless people some place to go and to crack down on crime. The buses didn’t cause the sketchiness, and the claim that the wall of buses kills businesses sounds specious. Buses run the entire length of 3rd Avenue from Pioneer Square to Seattle Center. The sketchiness and mostly-closed storefronts is concentrated in two blocks between Pine and Union, and another concentration in Pioneer Square. The sketchy people moved from 1st Avenue to 3rd Avenue in the 80s when their flophouses were replaced by gentrified boutiques and the police dispersed the 1st Avenue prostitutes to Aurora and Pacific Highway. The buses didn’t cause the sketchy people to choose 3rd Avenue. Instead the buses, the sketchy people, the department stores, and the McDonald’s all chose 3rd Avenue for the same reason: it’s a natural crossroads and in the middle and where the most customers are.

        Reasons to keep the bus routes on 3rd: so that you can transfer from any route to any other or Link, it has enough buses to justify a bus-only street (which has cut afternoon travel time in half), it’s at the east-west midpoint between 1st and 6th where most pedestrians are going to, it’s in the middle of the steep east-west hill south of Union Street, 2nd and 4th are automobile sewers and office-only, we’ve already invested in transit features on 3rd (trolley wire, RapidRide infrastructure, Link stations, bus lanes), the city’s long-range plan calls for more RapidRide lines on 3rd and simplifying the spaghetti of other bus routes on it, and the ability to get a bus every 2-3 minutes between Belltown, Midtown, lower downtown, Pioneer Square, Chinatown, and Little Saigon.

      3. Moving all of buses off 3rd, I think, would also generate a lot of opposition from businesses on 1st, 2nd, and 4th. I think there’s a perception among many that if the buses moved to another street, the problems would move with it, enough that if Metro actually proposed such a move, the downtown businesses would take out the pitchforks.

        Puget Sound is full of business districts where buses take strange routes, skirting the periphery of it, even when going straight through and stopping right in the middle of it would be more direct (West Seattle Junction and White Center are two glaring examples). The only reason I can think of that these buses have the route they do is fear among business owners of the bus bringing in undesirables. The counter argument, of course, is that Ballard, Fremont, Green Lake, Wallingford, and the U-district have long had buses stopping right in the middle of their respective business districts, and not only do they not have problems, but these stops generate high ridership for the bus and customers for the businesses. I think there have even been cases of businesses on the Ave. actually objecting to Metro’s proposal to move buses away from them to 15th, saying that the bus stop right in front brings in customers. So, different business owners in different areas have different opinions.

      4. I see the Third Avenue problem as complex. There is a need to do something.

        Bus riders are mostly not homeless and are not drug dealers. Some may be on transit — but transit riders are technically anyone who chooses to travel on transit and by far not classifiable as a problem. If anything, Third Avenue problems keep riders from using transit.

        How much is the problem homeless versus loiters and drug dealers who do have a place to reside? There are completely different solutions for these things. Of course, there are many types of homeless people (it’s a situation) as well.

        Blanket solutions are nice sound bites but too simplistic to resolve the situation.

        I don’t see undergoing the effort to move bus routes as a solution. Not only are there stops and wires, but there are signal coordination investments involved too. Similarly, I don’t see that some street redesign will magically resolve the issues except to push the problem away while construction happens and maybe force some inadvertently supporting businesses to close.

        I see any solution will involve active management. The management strategies probably would need to vary by block as well as time of day. I’m not enough of an expert to define any more than that. It’s going to require that personnel of several types (law enforcement, social work, maintenance) be there and be visible.

        Finally, it’s pretty typical for any major city to have a “problem” street. It’s kind of an organic urban characteristic that has always been more or less around. Even shiny suburban sunbelt cities face similar problems except it’s often along a stroad that is avoided by those who don’t live nearby, as opposed to a tourist and retail district. Of course, no one wants this to happen on their nearby street. In urban places like Chicago or DC or Dallas they aren’t in the most high traffic tourist and retail areas.

      5. “I see the Third Avenue problem as complex.”

        Agreed. Moving buses to alternate streets solves very little imho.

        Perhaps it’s time to remember how the heroin spike was dealt with here on the west coast 20-30 years ago. Vancouver, BC was particularly bad in certain neighborhoods in the city’s core, leading to an associated spike in HIV infections. I remember walking around Granville St downtown and Hastings on the east end and getting offers to buy, stepping around strung out users and seeing used needles and empty little baggies all over the place. Our downtown had pockets of this, perhaps not quite at Vancouver’s level, and the blocks around the Ave in the U-District certainly had their fair share of this type of activity as well. Maybe there’s a lesson or two to be gained from the steps that were taken to deal with that drug and crime period.

        Now I’m not sure how you create a “safe user space” for oxycodone and fentanyl abusers but breaking the cycle of addiction means taking a series of steps to get such users off the sidewalks and into treatment programs. We have to start somewhere and shuffling bus routes around among our downtown streets doesn’t seem to accomplish much of anything if the real goal is to turn the tide on the drug abuse crisis and the increased number of crimes that come with it.


        It is ironic. We tax liquor and cigarettes heavily, and keep them from anyone under 21, to discourage use, yet hand out free hard drugs that we know are highly addictive, much more so than alcohol or cigarettes. One of my favorite lines after Oregon legalized drugs (which OR is regretting) is in Oregon the coke is legal but not the plastic straw to snort it with.

        In Vancouver one free drug site was right across from the market. When I was younger, I think a line or two before heading into the market for cocktails would have been quite popular (and was, the lines just were not free).

    3. I’m not sure if moving the busses to say 2nd or 4th avenue would actually fix the problem.

      I’d like to say perhaps approving more apartments or moving the courthouse/jail might alleviate it; but even mayor harrell’s recent downtown initiative barely zoned more apartments in the office zone, and I really doubt the government district redevelopment is going to move anywhere.

      1. I’m not even sure that it’s a matter of “approving” anything. It’s not like there are a lot of empty lots along 3rd, aside from the obvious one you mentioned. Is there anyone screaming to take one of their existing properties and redevelop it into housing only for the city to say “no”?

        The areas around 3rd and Pine and 3rd and Yesler seemed sketchy for as long as I’ve known them. Perhaps they were better at some point before that, but my experience has always been that it’s easier to avoid them unless absolutely necessary, so that’s what I’ve done. But I also am not sure that it’s worth agonizing over it. What’s so special about 3rd that warrants “fixing it” before Rainier Beach or White Center get the same level of investment?

      2. I suppose the DSA’s and City’s plans to “revitalize” 3rd Ave. highlight the issues, although the DSA’s report was so politically correct it almost said nothing, and was short on the hard choices. And Harrell’s seven goal plan to make downtown safe and return workers, shoppers and residents to the CBD. Good luck, especially with a police force that is down 30%.

        If the hope is converting office towers into condos or other high-end housing will fix the CBD even better luck. A tiny fraction of office towers can be converted at all structurally, and the economics are not there. Even vacant and obsolete city/county buildings by CID N do not pencil out even if the land is free and the city/county pay to remove the existing buildings, at least for several decades.

        Because of several reasons, such as Seattle’s known tolerance for public drug sales, drug use, crime, lack of prosecution, and street living downtown these folks tend to gravitate to downtown Seattle, which makes every other area in the region very happy (Harrell’s main task was to remove the tents from the residential parks). That means around 90% of those in the region are not that upset about the issues in downtown Seattle (obviously since 56% now WFH) and along 3rd (as someone who worked on 3rd for 32 years it is bad from Yesler to Denny, the only difference being too dangerous to be on to dead and vacant, especially in the dark or if you are a women).

        There are so many other better places throughout the region today — including in Seattle, and with Northgate Mall on the way — to visit and shop and dine and live and work why worry about the CBD or 3rd, or spend any more money or time on it? Just go someplace else like everyone else and have a wonderful, clean, safe, and vibrant time. We should be thankful there are so many better alternatives to downtown Seattle today. That wasn’t always the case, but the market is a wonderful thing.

      3. For what it’s worth the situation on 3rd does make me appreciate some of the bus truncations more. A lot of transfers that used to require going all the way downtown and backtracking now take place at some Link station away from downtown. For example, up until 2019, riding the bus from Kirkland to Fremont used to require transferring at 3rd downtown. Now, the transfer takes place at the U-district instead.

        The more transfers that can avoid downtown altogether, so long as it’s “on the way”, the better.

    4. The problem is, your proposed solution won’t work. If you assume that the buses are actually attracting the trouble makers, then they will follow the buses.

      Personally, I think that is unlikely. So that leaves a few questions: Why in particular are they attracted to Third? Or are they? Do you just notice the problem because you stand on Third, or is it just as bad on various parts of Second and Fourth?

      As Mike and Sam pointed out, we need to address the problem itself, not move the buses around in a vain attempt to find some street that isn’t effected by the issues facing the city (and more broadly, the country). We need better treatment, as well as lower cost of housing. Right now the folks strung out on the streets are competing for housing with those who are working minimum wage but can’t afford rent. Before Amazon moved to Seattle, we had the same problem, but it was much easier to deal with. Rent was cheaper, so those who could hold down a job were able to rent an apartment. Now those folks can’t, and public service agencies are spread too thin trying to serve the sober down and out*, and those that have worse problems.

      * I am basically referring to folks like George Orwell, who wrote “Down and Out in Paris in London”. At the time, he was, well, down and out (destitute). He wasn’t a drunk (unlike Hemingway) just a guy who couldn’t afford the rent.

  18. “the ability to get a bus every 2-3 minutes between Belltown, Midtown, lower downtown, Pioneer Square, Chinatown, and Little Saigon.“

    This is meaningless when that experience is what 3rd Ave is right now. It’s nothing to be proud of. Just like freeways can be destructive, a poorly planned wall of buses can be equally destructive. The vast majority of taxpaying bus riders would rather wait an extra 2 min in a more serene and less apocalyptic setting.

    1. What’s “poorly planned” about it? How is a wall of buses “destructive”? Many bus routes mean you can go many places. I’d rather have a wall of buses than a wall of cars, and each bus is serving tens of people rather than one or two. I’m glad there’s at least one trip pair in Seattle where you can get transit as often as New York’s 2-minute subways.

      1. @Mike Orr,

        Part of the problem on Third is definitely the city council’s inability to deal with homelessness and the resulting social disorder, but a large part of the blame for Third actually does fall on Metro and their wall of buses.

        Anyone who cares about urban planning aught to recognize Third for what it is, the urban transit equivalent of a stroad. Ya, it is narrower, and it doesn’t have the high speed exits, but it has narrow and isolated pedestrian areas, and “higher” speed skip stops. It has all the chaos and all the negatives of the classic suburban stroad, just in the heart of a dense city and with buses instead of cars.

        It’s a Bus Stroad, so call it a BS. Because that is what it actually is.

        And the measure of success on Third shouldn’t be how quickly and easily you can catch a bus to get the heck somewhere else. The measure of success on Third should be how long you want to stay on Third. How much you enjoy being on Third.

        Hopefully when LLE and ELE extensions open we will see fewer total buses downtown, but I’m not holding my breath.

      2. If you think 3rd is a stroad. you haven’t seen stroads.

        3rd Avenue is an average downtown street. Moving the buses away wouldn’t make it better or more pleasant because the buses would be replaced by cars. There are some concepts for lane reductions and a complete street, but just removing the buses now wouldn’t get you there. Also, you need to remove the sketchy people, because otherwise they’d just take over the pedestrianized lanes. Especially the ones selling stolen goods, because they want to be where the most potential customers are.

      3. 3rd Ave has an epidemic of blank walls and large storefronts. It cripples activation. That’s a design problem, not drug problem or a bus problem.

      4. @Mike Orr,

        Third Ave is not an “average downtown street”. It is a heavily impacted, highly pedestrian unfriendly environment. It is the kind of place people actively try to avoid. It is not the kind of place people want to frequent. And it is obvious.

        It has many of the characteristics of a stroad. Ya, buses instead of cars. But that’s about it.

        So call it a bus stroad, or a BS for short. The name fits the bill. Let’s not claim it doesn’t.

      5. Third Ave is not an “average downtown street”. It is a heavily impacted, highly pedestrian unfriendly environment. … It has many of the characteristics of a stroad.

        That makes it quite similar to Second and Fourth Avenue. Look, so much of downtown was designed for office workers, and nobody else. Back in the way, it worked out OK. During the day there were lots of people out and about, and at night it would be empty. Now there are far fewer people there during the day, and far more people who live there, and want to do things. The landscape is simply not very conducive to that — so many of the buildings weren’t designed with that in mind.

        For example, check out this street: One one side of the street you have literally nothing. Not a restaurant, store, or any type of shop. On the other side of the street you have a small taco and donut shop (both are chains, although at least they are local chains). As you continue down the street, the situation continues. Again, nothing to your right. That is two straight blocks of nothing. Keep in mind — our blocks are big (we aren’t Portland) and there is absolutely nothing there for pedestrians on that side of the street. On the other side of the street there are a handful of shops, tucked into the nooks and crannies of the newer office building. Fourth is similar, much of the way.

        In that respect, Third is nothing special. It is neither better or worse than most of the avenues. There are some places where the retail is more lively, but there are plenty of other places where it is dead as a doorknob.

      6. Cool link Ross. The development highlights something planners didn’t understand when it comes to mixed use zoning: commercial trumps housing trumps retail when it comes to $ per sf. Until the pandemic. Without zoning mandates most building developers didn’t want retail, and couldn’t have housing for zoning and construction reasons.

        So very few of these huge office towers that had tons of workers have much retail, and those that did like the food court at Columbia Center or the stores in the old Rainier Tower removed them from the street, which led them to die. Orphan space.

        You would think retail would sprout anyway due to the workers and customers in these huge buildings, but it never had the space, or street presence. Instead, when I worked in Seattle you migrated toward the older and more rundown buildings closer to the water where the land could not support a tall steel and glass building for the retail and restaurants and bars.

        I am not sure folks living downtown have made up for the loss of work commuters. A lot of work commuters stayed after work to shop, dine or drink. I don’t even think there is much housing space in the CBD.

        The reality is for the CBD and downtown Seattle it is going to have to condense to create any kind of retail density and vibrancy. Where that is (uptown or downtown/Pioneer Square) I don’t know. I would guess the market and waterfront will determine that.

        One of the interesting things I hear from friends and relatives who live downtown is 3rd is such a no man’s land, especially at night, it bifurcates the city. They live on 1st and 2nd south of the Market, which is a high end area of downtown with some housing density and vibrancy. But they can’t get north of 3rd. With the new waterfront park my guess is Seattle’s vibrancy will migrate and condense from 2nd to the waterfront, and 3rd and east will slowly die off. If I were going to live downtown (and could afford $4000/mo. rents) that is where I would want to live. It is too bad that 3rd couldn’t have been placed on 6th rather than right down the middle of downtown.

      7. 3rd is no more a stroad than Western, 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, Union, University, Madison, Cherry, or James.

      8. @Mike Orr,

        “3rd is no more a stroad than Western, 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, Union, University, Madison, Cherry, or James”

        Please. Let’s be serious here.

        I’d rather spend a day sitting at an outdoor cafe on 1st then spend a minute standing outside the McDonald’s at 3rd and Pine.

        And a lot of that has to do with the stroad like street scape of 3rd, and its effect on businesses and social order and disorder.

        If you disagree, then I invite you to spend a day standing outside the McDonald’s at 3rd and Pine.

      9. “I invite you to spend a day standing outside the McDonald’s at 3rd and Pine.”

        I’ve been there for forty-five years. Not standing all day, but many, many times. Enough to have an impression whether it’s a stroad or not.

        For stroad see Aurora, 15th Ave NW, the six-lane arterial monstrosities every mile in Dallas, the deadly Buford Highway in Atlanta, and 55 mph “local streets” in San Marcos CA.

        If you call 3rd a horrible stroad that must be changed now, why aren’t you equally calling for changes on 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th? Instead you single out 3rd, and make buses the scapegoat.

      10. @Mike Orr,

        I’m not scapegoating the problems of 3rd onto buses, I am specifically stating that buses ARE a huge part of the problem on 3rd.

        Simply stated, the situation on 3rd won’t improve until the number of buses on 3rd is significantly reduced and more space is given over to an improved pedestrian and urban environment.

        And, yes, all those other streets you site are significantly better and more pleasant than 3rd. By far.

        It’s also worth noting that 3rd doesn’t really work for Metro either. Metro is significantly underperforming all of our peer cities on efficiency metrics on 3rd. Metro simply carries too few passengers on too many buses.

      11. Lazarus, the reason I know the problems on parts of 3rd Ave have nothing to do with buses or how the street is designed is because the same types of problems in other cities occur on different kinds of streets, all with different levels of transit.

  19. Anonymouse: “What’s so special about 3rd that warrants “fixing it” before Rainier Beach or White Center get the same level of investment?”

    Is this a serious question? It’s in the center of downtown surrounded by tourist attractions that draw millions? It is also effectively the transit spine of the entire Westside and tens of thousands of commuters go through this cesspool to go to work and back?

    Would you say the same if downtown Bellevue’s transit center area deteriorated to the same extent? I think not.

    1. It’s a fair question. I would probably say the same thing if I lived around Factoria or Eastgate or near Crossroads and had similar problems, yes.

      My point, if that was not clear, is not that we should not try to improve 3rd Ave. Of course we should. But a city is “not” just about its CBD, and a city that fixes its CBD but ignores its periphery areas is a city that failed. The problems that 3rd Ave specifically has are not isolated to it. A city should not about making itself pretty for tourists; yes, tourism has a place, but (IMHO) only to the extent it furthers the life of those who actually live in the city, by bringing in revenue, etc. So if the city reinvests all its tourism money into downtown/CBD/3rd Ave. etc. and ignores the problems it has somewhere else, that is (to me, again) a major problem.


    I suppose everyone saw this.

    “Sound Transit will extend its light-rail planning two extra years until 2026, and spend $32.8 million more, while consultants study new downtown and South Lake Union station sites promoted by Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and King County Executive Dow Constantine.

    “That money will be paid to HNTB Corp., which will write a final environmental impact statement that’s required by federal law, and will conduct preliminary engineering, for the proposed $11.1 billion light-rail route from Ballard to Sodo.

    “The Sound Transit board of directors unanimously approved a $122.5 million contract change Thursday, but much of that would be needed anyway for the final citywide environmental impact statement, leaving a net increase of $32.8 million to examine new options, transit staff said.”

    According to the article the only two options that will be studied are CID N/S (which may be why the city and county just announced studying development of a 9-block area around CID N, which according to the Board will create an additional $168 million to cover the additional costs for CID N/S). Although the article noted, “Earlier in the meeting, members of the public blasted continuing process delays, and the board’s preference to not build a second International District/Chinatown Station between Union Station and King Street Station, the most convenient spot for a regional transit hub” those complaints were ignored, are not part of the current DEIS, and tend to misunderstand the political realities behind CID N/S.

    Recently the outside consultant told the Board each month of delay increases projects costs by $50 million, which would be $1.2 billion over two years, although the article does not address that additional project cost. As I have pointed out many times, extending ST taxes five years at the back end while concurrently extended project completion LOSES money because project costs increase faster in today’s dollars than the extended taxes will bring in from 2041 — 2046. If like me you believe WSBLE is not affordable even with the original timeline based on subarea revenue this only makes it more unaffordable, and then the question is where to cut.

    1. There’s nothing new except the exact length and price of the EIS contract. ST kept the 4th Avenue Shallower CID alternative in the EIS, and I assume that’s what the Times article called the “Union Station Hub alternative”. I wouldn’t call it that because that sounds like the original 5th Avenue alternative. But unless the board deleted the 4th Avenue Shallower option in this meeting, it’s still there. And what else can the “Union Station Hub” alternative refer to if not 4th Avenue Shallower?

      1. Yes, the “Union Station Hub” refers to the various 4th Avenue alternatives. I had read a few days ago that the board decision also included direction to continue exploring cost savings for the 4th Avenue options, but since they’re not pursing preliminary engineering, it’d take the discovery of major feasibility issues to stop the N/S CID train now.

      2. The board won’t select projects for construction until after the EIS is done. By then there may be different boardmembers making the decision, different officials in city governments, and different attitudes toward the alternatives. Engineering can still be started. It’s not over until the fat lady sings.

      3. “The board won’t select projects for construction until after the EIS is done. By then there may be different boardmembers making the decision, different officials in city governments, and different attitudes toward the alternatives. Engineering can still be started. It’s not over until the fat lady sings.”

        There will need to be more money in the N KC subarea.

      4. “There will need to be more money in the N KC subarea.”

        Cost estimates change, the economy goes up and down, and third parties may step up.

  21. “Daniel, it’s not your subarea, so I’m not sure what you’re so worried about”.

    Good point Nathan. I am not too worried about WSBLE (although apparently, I will have to transfer at CID N to PSS to take Link to the airport when DSTT2 opens).

    I sure read a lot of posts about East Link from folks who don’t live on the eastside, although I am not too worried about East Link or the starter line either, unless it has to do with bridge integrity. And the 550 and 554, and 522 and Stride 1, 2 and 3, and even Issaquah Link. And 405.

    Maybe we should only comment on projects in our subareas.

    1. You’re one of the few who commonly suggest the commentariat should only comment on their own direct community interests, so I’m simply pointing out your clear hypocrisy.

      1. “You’re one of the few who commonly suggest the commentariat should only comment on their own direct community interests, so I’m simply pointing out your clear hypocrisy.”

        I don’t think I ever posted that Nathan. What I have said is our system (SEPA, politics) requires that the opinions of the people who live in a subarea or community must be considered when any major project is proposed, and IMO given significant weight because they are the most affected. I think it is hard for some on this blog like you to accept that because you think you are smarter than they are, or understand why these communities often win those battles against people who think they are smarter.

        I agreed with you that if you don’t live in the area, and a transportation project likely won’t affect you (like 405), you shouldn’t be as worried, and although you are free to comment your opinions are much less important, and usually more ideological and less practical. Do you think a politician you can’t vote for reads your emails or comments or cares about what you think? Please tell me you are not emailing Balducci. I mean, what do I care if the Ballard Link station is on 14th, 15th or 20th, although I am pretty sure I know why it will end up on 14th.

        When it comes to WSBLE I have never said what I think is better for the community, or riders really, although I am not as blinded by ideology as some on this blog. I have simply tried to explain to folks like you WHY the CID did not want a station at the CID for DSTT2 (and what they would consider adequate mitigation which wasn’t transit itself), WHY the DSA did not want a midtown station, WHY Amazon does not want a SLU station, WHY Bellevue didn’t want a surface East Link on Bellevue Way, WHY Lake Forest Park doesn’t want to remove thousands of trees for a BAT lane, WHY Ballard will likely have a station on 14th, WHY ST is building parking garages in Sumner, Auburn, WHY ST is building so many park and rides in suburbia, WHY WS Link will get built before Ballard Link, WHY MI did not want an intense bus intercept, WHY Bellevue and Issaquah rerouted the 554 to Bellevue Way when East Link opens,, WHY transit ridership is down so heavily, and equally as important what things REALLY cost and how much revenue a subarea will have based on the subarea reports, and to try and be skeptical of estimates and projections by the folks selling you levies, whether ST 3 or Move Seattle.

        All I ask from you is to be realistic, and try to understand what others in the affected communities think, and to not be so petulant when they win because if they win it usually means they should have won. I mean, we are only talking about transit, which affects less than 10% of the folks in the region.

      2. I don’t think I ever posted that Nathan.

        You ended the comment I replied to with: “Maybe we should only comment on projects in our subareas.” Gaslighting isn’t a good way to engage in the community with good faith.

        By the way, I’m also still waiting for you to explain what policies “transit” is using to force people out of their cars.

    2. Transportation intrinsically involves going through areas you don’t own and don’t live in. It’s a transit network to tie the region together. Subarea equity means ST has to write a statement saying why a project attached to a subarea benefits the subarea. The public can and should comment about all subareas, especially if they work in them, shop in them, visit people who live in them, or used to live in them or have family living in them.

  22. When the full Line 2 is open, and then, hypothetically, there is some track-related problem somewhere on the I-90 bridge that necessitates the stopping of rail traffic across the bridge for a number of days or weeks until the problem is fixed, what will the bus bridge and Line 2 situation look like? Will Line 2 on the eastside operate as normal from Downtown Redmond Station to Mercer Island Station, and then on the westside operate as normal from Lynnwood City Center Station to Judkins Park Station? And then there will be a bus bridge between Mercer Island and Judkins Park? Any guesses as to how they would address that specific problem, which I’m sure will occur at some point?

    1. Sam, if East Link can run full speed across the bridge but at some point needs repairs then my guess is the “bus bridge” will just be the 550 from Westlake to Bellevue Way since most users will be parked at S Bellevue or will want to transfer to EL there. Very little disruption. The key for ST is to minimize transfers at both ends. No one is going to take Link to CID to transfer to a bus to transfer at S Bellevue. That would just lead to folks to WFH for those days or drive downtown because there is plenty of parking today.

      If EL can’t run full capacity across the bridge permanently this is probably still the solution, although capacity won’t require it. EL could run every 30 minutes across I-90 with its passenger capacity and meet ridership. Maybe every 60 minutes which still equals 10 550’s.

      What happens to frequency on Line 2 from CID to Lynnwood under either scenario I don’t know.

    2. A bus bridge from only Judkins Park to only Mercer Island is actually a bit complicated. The bus can pretty easily get off i90 west and drop off passengers going Rainier Ave southbound, but then it’d need to find some weird turn around area because it can’t just make a left turn onto i90 east entrance. And it can’t quite pick up passengers going northbound on rainier as the freeway i90 east entrance is before the bus stop. I guess one could have people walk to toshio’s teriyaki and get picked up there.

      It might be simpler just to go to CID from Mercer Island as it’s much easier to turn busses around and drop off/pick up passengers aka follow 554 routing. But yeah I’d imagine they’d run some truncated form of 550/554.

      1. This is yet another reason why ST needs track closure contingency plans. A bus could turn around at Judkins Park with some seemingly minor modifications to the curbs and pavement to allow an occasional bus-only maneuver to an on-ramp — but no one will build for such a situation proactively unless there is a contingency plan recommending it.

        I’ve often suggested considering the installation of a turn-around or layover nested in the loop ramp from the I-90 westbound to Rainier Ave southbound. It could be a relocated Mt Baker transit center, a shuttle stop for First Hill/ Cherry Hill hospitals, a terminus for the FHSC (if it was severed into two routes at 14th and Jackson), a place for drop offs and pick ups or any number of other complementary things. (Where will some driver wait for a Link rider at Judkins Park?)

        It just sits there as an empty opportunity and there have already been discussions on modifying the interchange. ( Before interchange modification plans get finalized and funded, it makes sense to me for this emergency bus bridge turn-around to be at least considered if not enabled as part of making modifications.


    Here is Fesler’s article in The Urbanist on the upcoming Metro cuts. I think Fesler raises three very good points:

    1. Based on info from Metro he prepares a graph (or Metro did) that shows the decline in mechanics is much higher than drivers. Fesler states/hopes the new three-year contract will alleviate these shortages.

    2. He compares the cuts in Metro service to CT, PT and ET. Metro’s cuts appear much higher in basically the same regional economy.

    3. He lists a comprehensive list of cuts for all transit agencies. The number of “indefinitely suspended” routes for Metro — especially in E KC — shows that simple reductions in frequency are not the only methods Metro is using to manage the driver shortage or budgets. These are routes that are going away forever, mostly due to rider shortages. Apparently, Metro is not so keen on induced demand.

    Although Metro is claiming 4% of cuts are necessary in Sept. Fesler states that based on current cuts in service 8% is more likely. I agree. I also think additional cuts beyond the 8% will be likely over the next year.

    1. > He lists a comprehensive list of cuts for all transit agencies. The number of “indefinitely suspended” routes for Metro — especially in E KC — shows that simple reductions in frequency are not the only methods Metro is using to manage the driver shortage or budgets.

      While definitely not good, it doesn’t seem as bad as I first thought glancing at the list of cancelled bus routes. Most of these seem to be peak-only bus routes that were already suspended.

      Route 15 is the express of D, 16 the express of 5, etc… Route 29 is just the express service of 2/13.

      For reduced frequency routes it seems the 7 is going to be running every 10 minutes instead, route 10 to every 15 minutes route 36 to every 10 minutes.

      For more impactful cuts, route 20 is going from 15 to 20 min. frequency, 225, 230, 231, 255, and 345 are reduced to hourly or half-hourly at night

  24. I saw the Bel-Hop! It it turned at 120th &12th as I passed on the 226. It is a small van, but not the smallest. It has some Bel-Hop sign and ads. It must be nice to ride a small quiet electric van.

    1. If it’s anything like the Ruston Runner, it’s an incredibly bad use of transit dollars. $50 to $80 a boarding.

      1. It’s a partnership between the city of Bellevue and an app-taxi company. It’s funded by advertising and maybe a city contribution, not transit dollars.

  25. Here’s something that would be interesting to investigate.

    How does Sound Transit’s car tab evaluation compare to the blue-book value in the current environment?

    My cars are too old, so I don’t even have an anecdotal personal point of view.

      1. I was musing about the fact that due to ‘supply chain’ issues, cars, especially used ones, are way overpriced now.

        I know the whining car owners were doing about their ST tab fees back then. I was more curious if the difference in valuation is in their favor now.

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