Metro’s service cuts announced in May go into effect tomorrow, September 2nd. These are due to the driver shortage, mechanic shortage, and supply-chain bottlenecks for bus parts. Metro is shrinking the schedule to fit the available resources to minimize mid-term or last-minute cancellations. Normally new schedules are available a week ahead, but I just saw the Rider Alert yesterday. Sound Transit and Community Transit also have their semi-annual service changes at the same time. Everett Transit had a change in June. Kitsap Transit doesn’t appear to have changes.

Quick links to changes: Metro | Sound Transit | Community Transit


On September 2nd the following routes will be suspended (no service): 15, 16, 18, 29, 55, 64, 114, 121, 167, 190, 214, 216, 217, 232, 237, 268, 301, 304, 320, 342. The link above has an extensive list of alternatives for each route. These are all peak expresses I believe. With the loss of the 15 and 214/216/217, anecdotal reports predict overcrowding on the D and 218 peak hours.


  • 10: 30 minutes after 8pm weekdays, after 6pm Saturdays, after 8pm Sundays.
  • 20: Half-hourly off-peak, hourly at night.
  • 28: Hourly off-peak.
  • 73: Half-hourly peak hours, hourly otherwise.
  • 79: Hourly.
  • 225: Hourly.
  • 230, 231: Each hourly. Combined half-hourly between Juanita and Kirkland.
  • 255: Half-hourly after 7pm.
  • 345: Hourly. Delete three northbound and three southbound trips after 6:35pm.

“Route 10 will have a decrease in service due to a reduction of the Seattle Transit Measure investment in the route…. To reduce the impact of reductions to Route 36, the City of Seattle is providing additional funding on this route in the PM Peak period through the Seattle Transit Measure.”

Routes with timing adjustments: 3, 4, 7, 8, 31, 32, 36, 44, 249.

Routes with stop location changes: 22, 208, 225, 249.

Other changes:

  • F and 153: Continue long-term reroute due to I-405 overpass closure.
  • 22: Extend last trip at 9:09pm to two additional stops.
  • 107: Add two afternoon trips for Mercer International Middle School.
  • 208: Add one trip westbound at 5:09am.

More below the fold.

Sound Transit

Routes with timing adjustments: 510, 512, 513, 522, 532, 535, 550, 560, 574, 590, 592, 594. The 522 is retimed to match Link transfers better.

Routes with stop location changes: 545, 556, 566, 580. The 545’s Capitol Hill stop is replaced by a stop at Olive Way & Boren Avenue due to upcoming construction on Pike and Pine Streets.

Route 574 adds a round trip every day.

Community Transit

Good news in Snohomish County: Community Transit is getting an expansion.

More trips on routes 113, 130, 220, 240.

Half-hourly peak service on route 196.

Most routes have timing adjustments.

197 Replies to “September Service Cuts”

  1. Ok, why is Metro adding a trip on the 208 of all routes, in the middle of a service cut? This is going to be a particularly expensive trip to operate, as the bus will have to first drive empty from East Base all the way out to North Bend before it can even begin the run.

    1. A cursory glance at the schedule changes gives the answer:

      “On weekdays, one westbound trip will be added at 5:09 am to help commuters make earlier connections at the Issaquah Transit Center.”

      1. I get that, but why is that more important than everything else that could be done with the resources for that trip. For example, with one trip the span where the 10, 20 or 28 run half-hourly could be extended by a half hour or so. Or, an extra peak-hour trip could be added to the D to mitigate crowding from the suspension of the 15 and 18.

        You would think that, absent an overcrowded situation, preserving existing trips would and should take priority for scarce resources over creating new trips. And I highly doubt the 208 is ever overcrowded.

      2. I assume that enough people complained, and the 208 is presumably the only option for anyone living out there without a car. So, for example, if some employer changed their shift by 30 minutes, some later trip may no longer be feasible. Or perhaps traffic is bad enough along I-90 that the connection at Issaquah is not reliable, or maybe they changed some other route that the connection was made with (e.g. one of the canceled express-only routes).

        It’s a coverage route, but coverage routes are lifelines. The people being crowded along the D have options that don’t involve walking for 15 miles or whatever it is from NB to Issaquah, along the side of the freeway.

      3. “There is no traffic at that ungodly hour and plenty of park and ride space, and the trip in a car is 15 minutes from your garage.”

        You’re the one who keeps telling us that you’re the only commenter here that really understands how suburbanites live. So you’re the one that needs to explain that to us.

      4. This is one of those Ross examples where ridership IS equity because obviously that person at 5 am has to take that trip and has to take it (and another) on transit.

        What the hell does that mean? Look, Daniel, you have been warned over and over about this sort of behavior. You can’t just arbitrarily assign ideas to someone else. I’ve never written anything close to that — I haven’t even commented on this thread! At some point, if you keep this up, you will be banned from this site. As for now, I will just have to edit it appropriately.

        Of course someone will wonder what your greater point was, and to those, I apologize. Normally in these cases I try and remove the offending bits, but it is just much easier to delete all the comments in this comment thread.

    2. @Daniel… I worked for CT for several years and have seen people commute daily from Arlington and Stanwood to Seattle at 5a. If you need to start work at 7a in the city and live in rural areas, a bus from ANYWHERE is needed at 5a. This allows for transfers and travel time. I haven’t taken the 208 but after looking at the current schedule, it’s only useful for in-town riders (which is pointless, they can walk) or people who have shifts/appointments after 8a.

      Now, is mircotransit a better solution? CT seems to think so. Their Alderwood Zip has been a success and they’re expanding it to rural places like Arlington.

    3. What I thinking about to happen with some of these service cuts? Is that you are going to see some people not showing up for work. The reason why I am saying this now is that when these cuts do take effect come when the first week starts? Some people will not show up for work. Others will start doing rideshare like uber and lyft. Which means people are going to start wasting hundreds and thousands of dollars a month to get to work. This is uncalled for an unacceptable. And they’re trying to change the buses around to basically try to satisfy people? I got news form if not working and it won’t work. Because what I think is about to happen, is it like I said before these people are going to start using rideshare taking a bicycle to work and other things. But mostly rideshare. Because this is ridiculous these cuts are going to impact people including the blind and disabled. And they’re going to be the ones screwed over for this. I think something needs to be done about it before any more damage is done, but it’s about to be done now so I hate to be the very bad news I think we all better start getting ready to pull out our cell phones and credit cards I get ready for rideshare palooza because this is ridiculous.

      1. And what you suggest that should be done.

        Metro is making these cuts as they don’t have enough drivers to drive the bus and not enough mechanics to keep the buses operating. When you don’t have enough personnel it is hard to provide the service they would like.

        It is easy to say it is not acceptable and it is not but unless you come up with a resolution to Metro’s staffing problem the problem is going to stay.

      2. We’ve had to endure missed runs for two years due to operator shortages. It’s beyond time that this excuse is acceptable any more. If Metro had accountable management and oversight the problem would have been analyzed and an action plan put in place.

        Whether that plan is more training classes, more effort into recruiting, improving work conditions, signing bonuses and referral bonuses, or higher pay. Instead of whining that we don’t have enough operators.

      3. If you the same Leonard Brinkman who is a legally blind street musician who was attacked by a homeless man a few years ago, I’m sorry what happened to you.

        Depending on where you live, the odds are you will hardly notice any of the transit changes. Things should improve as Metro hires more drivers. They just got a nice raise, so that should attract some more applicants, even though Metro is doing a horrible job of advertising it.

      4. You don’t just wave a wand and make more bus drivers apprar.

        If you think the bus driver shortage is a problem, wait until the shortage of medical personnel really hits home.

      5. I am sick and tired of people who are riding transit without ever wearing a mask assigning blame to Metro for failing to attract more drivers.

        It really isn’t that difficult to wear a mask for the duration of a short bus or train ride. It’s not that hard to be a decent rider.

      6. I honestly think that of all the reasons that makes it difficult to find bus drivers, fear of COVID isn’t one of them. It might matter for a few people that are immune compromised, but that’s a tiny percentage of the population. In any case, masks only help if worn properly, and back when people were wearing masks, very few actually wore them properly, so they were just for show and not really doing anything.

        For what it’s worth, for the brief period earlier this summer when I did get COVID, I did temporarily mask up for a few days when around other people, which I agree is a courteous and reasonable thing to do. But, there’s a big difference between masking up for a few days when you know you have the disease vs. masking up all the time, just in case you have it and are asymptomatic. I am willing to do the former, but not the latter.

      7. The vast majority of riders I see wearing masks are wearing them properly, and wearing N95s or KN95s.

        I don’t wear a mask “all the time” either…. Just when I am around other people, especially on a bus or train. Is it really that difficult to wear a mask for 15 minutes occasionally?

        My experience of not having tested positive for COVID, while hundreds of millions of breakthrough cases have occurred, gives me confidence the masks work far better than just the vaccines at stopping the spread.

        Whether because of COVID or a combination of other factors, Metro’s work force is still shrinking. Since the other factors suggested are not new, the evidence points toward COVID and lack of health protections most certainly having a significant impact on the ability to hire and retain employees.

      8. “the other factors suggested are not new”

        Baby boomers reached the 50% retirement age mark in 2020 and are disappearing from the workforce. Some took early retirement in the midst of the lockdowns and layoffs and won’t be back.

        Immigration was halted in 2020. I don’t know how close it has gotten back to normal yet. The State Department is swamped with a huge backlog of passport renewals, so it’s probably slow on visas too.

      9. The very few people still masking up are are the most COVID conscious, so the fact that they are the ones masking properly actually does not surprise me. But, the moment you start asking other people to mask, you’ll get a bunch of loosely worn cloth masks that don’t do anything (or straight up noncompliance); it’s inevitable.

      10. Even the basic surgical masks do something: They cause most of the respiratory water droplets to drop straight down.

        The fiction that masks do nothing is just a slogan, not reality.

        Yes, I get it that the sloganeering and logic theater are inevitable. That doesn’t mean elected officials have to do your bidding.

    4. I would imagine metro is making this one work by pairing it with a series of 271 trips to minimize the extra resources needed. Don’t need any more drivers since you’re linking it to an existing trip that has space for an extra trip.

      Just looked on pantograph and that’s exactly what they did. They linked a series of 271 trips and prefixed them with the extra 208 trip.

  2. The additional 107 trips will also help the daily capacity mess at Cleveland High, and be two more buses stuck in general traffic in front of the school.

    We’re still cutting whole routes before cutting the useless and danger-causing Georgetown loop-de-loop in the middle of route 107.

    Stepping back to the bigger picture, Seattle Public Schools was a pioneer in dumping bussing needs for middle and high school students onto the public transit system. I think it is fine to have Metro drivers do the job rather than part-time contractor employees who get fired en masse every time the school board majority switches. What I don’t know is whether SPS is paying enough to Metro for service costs, regardless of youth fare freedom, and whether the service is adequate to meet students’ bussing needs.

  3. “With the loss of the 15 and 214/215/217, anecdotal reports predict overcrowding on the D and 218 peak hours.”

    I’m a Ballard rider and though I do love riding the express routes, the 15, 17 & 18 are often less than full because of their low frequency and high cancellation rate.

      1. Ballard riders switch between the 40 and D. And when I say Ballard, I mean riders getting on/off within a reasonable walk of Market St. Foer example, I live closer to 8th Ave and take the 28 in the morning. But my gym, gf and favorite bars are closer to 20th. Depending on my mood, I’ll take the D and walk from 15th or stick to the 40.

    1. As a former 15 rider, can confirm that I stopped relying on the 15 once they went to maybe two runs a day each way, with high cancellation rates.

      The D has been getting steadily busier, with standing-room-only conditions common during peak hours and on weekends.

  4. Community Transit is “neutral” news. The added trips are rather restored trips after service was reduced last year due to operator shortage.

    1. Yep, take the 130 for example. The increased service still leaves once an hour service from 10 AM – 2:30 PM weekdays. Many retail and service jobs involve commuting during these hours. Not good. Baseline would be half hourly throughout the day.

      This is causing many expensive Uber rides in my household…

  5. One pleasant surprise about the 255 if you read the fine print – service is being reduced only on weekday evenings, leaving weekend service unchanged. This means the bus will actually be running more often at 8 PM on a weekend than 8 PM on a weekday. Very strange, but I’ll take it.

    1. And the 10 will have later frequent service on Sunday than Saturday. Why? That’s the opposite of the traditional pattern.

      1. I’d rather see good service every day, but if a day is going to randomly be cut for no reason, Sunday has had more than its share so it should definitely be some other day.

    2. The RapidRide A line has a strange pattern. Between 6 pm and 11 pm it runs more frequently on the weekends (6 trips per hour until 10 and 4 trips the last hour) than on weekdays (5 trips per hour until 10 and 3 trips total after 10 until 11- not including the 10:00 trips)

  6. Yesterday saw three Rt 8’s running within 2 minutes of each other, with the last two buses completely empty. Don’t they have some sort of system to prevent bunching up like that?

    1. No, they don’t. In San Francisco, the ETB drivers are allowed to give boarding riders “the thumb” if there is a follower visible. That is, if nobody is requesting to alight at a station with a waiting passenger, the driver just gestures with his thumb pointed back over their shoulder. Essentially, “Take that next bus.”

      Since ETB’s can’t pass without rewiring, this gets everyone to their destinations faster. If the leader stopped for all the boarders, the follower would soon be right behind the leader, stopping unnecessarily over and over.

      Diesels CAN pass, so in SF at least, they are encouraged to do so. I don’t know what Metro’s rules are, but it would have made sense for the second Eight to start skip-boarding with the leader as soon as it caught up. Perhaps then the third would never have caught them.

      1. Sometimes buses do alternate, with each serving every other stop. But bus bunching occurs when traffic jams make the first bus so late that later buses catch up to it. There’s not much you can do about that.

      2. Mike, thanks. It’s always just an ad hoc thing that savvy drivers do on the spot when they see a follower in the rear view mirror, but only when it’s specifically allowed.

    2. There are some Metro drivers who will find ways to time the start of a run to be right behind another bus, when they don’t feel like picking up passengers.

      I’ve seen this a few times on the A Line, which is more heavily supervised.

      In the case of route 8 though, the route needs splitting to isolate the southern portion from the Denny gridlock.

    3. > Don’t they have some sort of system to prevent bunching up like that?

      Not really. Without bus/queue lanes most solutions are to run even more busses or sometimes they tell the busses behind to wait (New York) but that can make busses run even slower too. One can also add lots of buffer time but that means reduced frequency.

      One minor solution is to have the first bus skip bus stops and let the second bus behind pick up the passengers. But it’s not well received of course by people waiting at the bus stop.

      There are some fancy holding prediction algorithms that have been proposed as well.

      Or if the second bus catches up it can pass the first bus as Tom noted

  7. Just brutal for the 73, soon to be hourly on nights and weekends. A grid route in Seattle shouldn’t be hourly, that’s more the frequency of one of those random suburban eastside routes. It’s like Metro can’t make up their mind. I think it was only 1 or 2 services changes ago they greatly increased its span of service on 73 to run until midnight but now they’re slashing it to 79-like frequencies.

    I would say transit was overall better along southern LCW circa 2017 than it is now. We had the all-day 522 and peak 312 going downtown, for a one-seat ride to Westlake Link and Sounder. We had the 309 going to First Hill. We had all-day service on the 73 and 373 going to UW that came every 15 minutes during peak. We even had the peak-only 77 where people could ride from downtown to 15th Ave NE. And we also had ~10 minute or less service on the somewhat nearby 372 and 67.

    Northgate Link is nice, but these recent reductions of the frequent bus grid down to 15, 20, or 30 minute service cause long transfers to ruin the usability of transit, and there are way fewer options than there used to be for getting around. About the only advantage now in return for all this is being able to take Link to Capitol Hill from Roosevelt, but taking Link up to Capitol Hill from Westlake back when the 522 went to Westlake also wasn’t bad, and I no longer think I would have traded what we had for what we have now.

    Once East Link fully opens, the transfer to Link will be much better, but the transfer from Link is still going to be to a relatively sparse and infrequent bus grid.

    1. Yeah, the promise was a trade-off. Lake City will have to transfer, but those transfers will be fast and frequent. Bait and switch. Glad I moved, but feel sorry for all those in extreme poverty up there without a car, who used to have a quick 20 minute one-seat ride who will now stuggle with substantially degraded service.

    2. The 372 was 10 minutes only during UW-oriented “rush hour”, as I recall, right? The rest of the time it was 15, and then 30ish late evenings.

      I agree with the overall spirit of the message, though. People complained a lot about how the 71 was duplicative with the 372 and 62/Link (once Northgate Link opened) – but for getting to Bellevue from Ravenna/Bryant, it was much more convenient to connect to the 271 using the 71 than either of the other options. The 372 is slow getting through campus and doing a 3-seat ride feels a bit ridiculous, especially when Link itself still requires a wait. So while yes the grid is saner now, in practice, for me at least if I still lived in that area, it would have made my daily commute worse, all for the dubious benefit of being able to get to Capitol Hill more easily (which I did maybe once a year) or to Northgate more easily too (which I did maybe once every 3 months). This is an anecdote, nothing more, but for me specifically, with my transit usage patterns at the time, the more convoluted transit network worked better.

      In software, there’s the idea of not prematurely optimizing for edge cases; I feel like some of the discussion about all the things which people “can” do once you have a proper grid tend to go in that direction. But my own distribution of transit usage is pretty “spiky” in the sense that most of my trips follow a particular pattern (to/from work) and I optimize my location accordingly; with occasional other usage, but I try to batch most of my other needs around my work commute. Other people have a much flatter usage with a lot of different destinations, etc. The question is, which usage pattern is more common. My general principle is to make the common thing easy and the less common thing possible. But none of us here have the information to determine what is common and what is not. Presumably Metro planners do (to an extent). This strays into discussions of some of the other topics on other articles, like the RR-G restructure, but I would be curious to hear the planners’ take on the restructure, too, because they may well have reasons to optimize the grid for specific use cases which actually happen in practice, not just in theory. Same with the North Bend extra trip – yeah, it might look a little expensive on paper, but I bet that there’s a good reason they’re adding it, it’s not just a “well gee golly let’s stick an extra bus over here to fuck around with all them transit nerds who’ll wonder why we did it for the next two weeks and yap about it on a transit blog”.

      Anyway, rant over :)

    3. It’s not a voluntary decision; it’s that there aren’t enough drivers to go around. So higher-priority routes were protected and the 73 was reduced. The alternative would be to delete the 73. That might happen if there’s another recession or round of cuts.

      1. I know service on the 73 was reduced because they had to make cuts somewhere, but I feel like this is a pattern that Metro applies. They make a route so infrequent that hardly anyone rides it. Then they end service on it. The 47 seems similar.

        This wouldn’t be that bad if it came with a better network, but that isn’t the case. For example, look at this proposal: It is quite likely that people on 19th would complain. Metro could simply say “sorry, it is for the greater good”, or try and run on Aloha, but it is also quite possible they could “put back” a coverage route for 19th. Run a bus there every half hour or so. You still have a much more efficient network — you just apply some of the savings towards treating 19th as a coverage area. Eventually, as very few people ride the bus (and they walk to the more frequent 48 and 10) they can cancel it.

        But that isn’t what they are doing. The 73 is basically being replaced by the 67 and 348. The result is a poor hub-and-spoke network, instead of a grid. We shouldn’t build a hub-and-spoke system in the area, and if we did, the hub should be the UW, not Northgate Transit Center. As a result, we have infrequent service across the board and difficult trips as a result. The main thing the 73 did was allow people to travel along a major north-south corridor from 145th to the UW. Pretty soon, those riders will have a really bad same-direction transfer via the 67/348. Of course eventually the 348 will lose ridership as well, as people switch to using other Link stations (instead of Northgate). At that point, don’t be surprised if the 348 gets a reduction in service as well. I suppose something along the corridor will always be justified (just for coverage reasons) but the end result is that someone just trying to go north-south a mile or two is out of luck.

        The same thing is happening with the 47. You could make the 47 quite popular by running it more often, and sending the 49 along Broadway to Beacon Hill. Again, you save a bunch of money, increasing ridership AND expanding coverage. But instead, they keep the 49 going downtown as if CHS doesn’t exist, north Capitol Hill has as many people as South Capitol Hill, First Hill isn’t a major destination, and frequency doesn’t matter.

        We rightfully complain about the various shortages that have caused these painful cuts. Likewise, the city council (and mayor at the time) screwed up, by not proposing a bigger levy for transit service. But let’s not ignore one of the biggest problems: bad planning by Metro.

      2. Ross, you are one of the few riders commenting here who has been doing their part to make driving a more welcoming job, by being a decent rider (wearing a mask when you ride).

        No raise of a few dollars over a few years is going to overcome the entitled behavior of a majority of riders.

    4. “I feel like some of the discussion about all the things which people “can” do once you have a proper grid tend to go in that direction. But my own distribution of transit usage is pretty “spiky” in the sense that most of my trips follow a particular pattern (to/from work) and I optimize my location accordingly; with occasional other usage, but I try to batch most of my other needs around my work commute. Other people have a much flatter usage with a lot of different destinations, etc. The question is, which usage pattern is more common.”

      I’m not sure I understand this, but there are also spikes in trip pairs regardless of the person. Cities with a highly-successful grid network like San Francisco, Vancouver, and Chicago, also have a mixture of middle housing and retail all along them. In Seattle it’s more like irregular islands in a sea of low density. So a 15th Ave NE route is weak because it misses the centers of Roosevelt, Greenlake, Northgate, and Ridgecrest where large clumps of people are going, and it has nothing to compensate. 23rd misses Broadway. Neighboring villages aren’t in straight north-south lines. So the tendency for a rectilinear grid contradicts people’s travel needs of village-to-village, so you get routes like the 45 which actually connect the villages.

      1. What I meant is that some people have a very high percentage of trips between a specific pair of destinations (e.g. home-to-work, as I do), with only occasional outliers. Other people have a much flatter distribution of trips. The question I was raising is that if the former dominates, you may build the transit system differently from when the latter dominates.

      2. 3/4 of trips are non-work, according to Jarrett Walker, so that’s a large potential transit market. Trip chaining is generally useful, but sometimes it’s just to mitigate inadequacies in the transit system: not frequent enough, the best service is peak hours, etc. Adding more grid service and off-peak service allows people to do most of that vast pool of non-work trips on transit. That would make things less spiky I think. We’ve already seen that to the extent that all-day and all-direction transit has improved in some areas: people use it more often and for more things.

      3. In general, a transit system that is simply focused on covering corridors that people travel in, regardless of time of day or trip purpose, is also best for getting to work for those with nontraditional a job location or work hours. Whereas, a transit system that is all about work commutes to downtown for 9-5 office jobs doesn’t even really serve work commutes for anyone that doesn’t work a downtown 9-5 office job.

        This is why I think it’s important from a planning perspective to simply run buses in places where people want to travel and not fixate on specific destinations or trip purposes. In particular, any service planning mechanism that is predicated on the assumption that transit riders have vastly different trip patterns from the general population, I am inclined to view with suspicion.

        For example, the 345 makes a detour into a Northwest Hospital parking lot, in spite of the obvious fact that only a teeny tiny percentage of overall trips are too a hospital. A general purpose bus would simply stop on the street near the hospital and people going to the hospital would have to walk a short distance for the sake of everyone else on the bus getting to their destinations faster. That is how transit works. But, instead, the imagination of metro planners elevates the hospital into a destination that is super important – important enough that a person going there not needing to walk justifies delaying everybody else on the bus by several minutes – both directions – every time they make a trip. (The vast majority of people going to a hospital are not crippled, as people have all sorts of reasons for having a medical appointment there. Most people riding the bus to the hospital are probably not even patients anyway, but simply nurses traveling between home and work. People who need to go to the hospital and really are crippled are probably not riding the bus in the first place because the bus does not go door to door to their house on the other end; they are either driving, getting a family member to drive them, or taking an Uber or taxi).

      4. More and more I believe subarea equity for Metro is the right approach. I would use the same subareas as for ST. Don’t see a lot of RR on the Eastside.

        Then let each subarea decide transit equity. Subareas tend to know their areas and needs best. The Eastside can figure out where to best allocate its transit dollars. Today very little Eastside bus transit is to Seattle, and even then the Eastside pays 100% of the cost of the buses which are being slashed.

        When I look at Link the Eastside has been infinitely more cost conscious for East Link. I think an Eastside subarea for Metro would be much less extravagant if allowed to allocate its own Metro tax revenue and each dollar would go further.

        Seattle can fund its own Metro service.

      5. I’ve heard the 345 story about NW Hospital enough times on this blog (granted, from the same person almost every time) that I am really tempted to call up Metro and ask for 5 minutes with someone in their planning department to pick their brain about it. Unfortunately, it would be a cold call since I know no one there, and am no longer riding often enough to know any bus drivers who might be willing to help connect me through their own professional network.

        FWIW, my own experience with coverage routes is that they are used primarily in the context of employment-related trips, and sometimes medical ones. But I have never ridden the 345.

        As a patient, I have ridden coverage-ish routes to medical places a few times, though, including the perennial STB favorite 249 and the 226/234/235 trio going to places along the medical row area of Bellevue. I do think that I was one of the few patients doing so, yes – but, it’s Bellevue, so perhaps that’s also not surprising. I could imagine NW Hospital being different.

      6. What I meant is that some people have a very high percentage of trips between a specific pair of destinations (e.g. home-to-work, as I do), with only occasional outliers. Other people have a much flatter distribution of trips. The question I was raising is that if the former dominates, you may build the transit system differently from when the latter dominates.

        I think it can make a difference, but only a small one. It is like looking at traffic to a Mariners game. Some people are season-ticket holders. Some people only go on occasion (a few times a year, if that). Does it matter which type dominates?

        A little. The season-ticket holders are more likely to adjust their trip. For many in the city, driving is just the default. So they drive to the game the first few times. Then they realize how bad traffic is, and how expensive it is to park. So they look at other options, and eventually take transit (of some sort). In contrast, someone who only occasionally goes to the game just drives. The same thing occurs with commuting. A bus that runs every hour may be OK if you have a flexible work schedule, and can time it.

        But overall, we aren’t talking about that much difference. Yes, people “fine tune” their commute (or their trip to the game). But lots of people don’t. I knew a guy who lived in Lake City and commuted to First Hill. He could take an express that would get him very close to work, but he usually just took the bus downtown. He didn’t feel like waiting, and just walked up the hill. There are also plenty of people who fine tune their trip, even if they only occasionally take it. A friend of mine attends maybe one Sounders game a year. But he has it down. He knows exactly which station to use, which entrance, all of that. This guy isn’t a regular transit rider (quite the opposite — he loves to drive). Likewise, I know people who just drive by default, but they would never drive downtown. Some of it is parking, but a lot of it is the quality of transit service. Then there are the modern tools. It used to be, you would have to paper transit maps to figure out how to get somewhere, and paper schedules to tell you when to leave. If you owned a car, it just wasn’t worth the bother (unless, again, you were headed downtown). But now, Google can do that stuff for you quite easily. I can pick a destination anywhere in the city and it will tell me the best way to get there, when I should leave, and how long it will take. Thus it is quite possible I would make the same decisions as I would if I took the trip every day. The fact that I’ve never taken the trip makes little difference.

        In contrast, distance often makes a big difference. Even if they ran buses every 5 minutes to Bellingham, I’m not going to just wake up in the morning and think “Looks like a good day to visit Bellingham”. You reach diminishing returns much faster. A bus running hourly would likely attract about as many riders as one running every 15 minutes. That just wouldn’t happen for trips in the city.

        Interestingly enough, long distance commuters are where these groups overlap. People commute every day (and thus adjust their schedule); because it is a longer distance, they are OK with less frequency. This is why commuter rail was often set up that way. Sounder runs every 20 minutes peak. This would be terrible for travel within the city. Could you imagine if the 7 ran every 20 minutes — it would be a disaster — ridership would plummet. But for trips like that — which are far, and oriented towards commuters — it works just fine. Unfortunately, these are also the type of riders that are now working from home. The farther you have to commute, the more likely you are to work from home as much as possible. So yeah, it makes sense to consider riders like this, but they have always represented a fairly small portion of the overall transit riders, and their numbers are diminished.

      7. Since we brought up the 345, I’ll share my little anecdote. I’ve ridden the 345 (or maybe it was the 346). My wife and I had just finished visiting the cemetery to the west of the hospital. We walked past the hospital to the bus stop on Meridian, so that we could catch either bus (effectively doubling the frequency of the buses we could take). In this particular case, it shows how pointless the detour is. Even people who can take advantage of it will often ignore it as it makes more sense to walk a little bit to get better frequency.

        Surprisingly enough (to me anyway) is that the hospital isn’t a particularly big draw with either bus. The stops to the south (along Meridian, just north of Northgate Way) get more riders than the stops around the hospital. So it does seem hard to justify the detour, given how few riders are headed anywhere near the hospital. It should be noted that the hospital is growing, and ridership may grow.

        Never mind the detour for a second — just consider the hospital as a destination. It is easy to assume that the only reason you are running buses on Meridian is to serve the hospital, and serving other parts of Meridian is just a bonus. But when you look at the actual ridership, it is the opposite. The hospital is just one more stop on Meridian (for either bus).

        Of course ridership goes way down as go north. Overall though, the route does OK because it has enough places with decent ridership to compensate for the places that don’t. It is that way with most of our routes. We aren’t as “spiky” as we think we are. There are definitely some high and low ridership areas, but the valleys aren’t that much lower than the peaks. There are also routes like the E which are practically flat across the board — the difference between ridership on the various stops — both directions — is rather small.

        Overall, the main takeaway is that trying to focus on particular destinations will likely fail, miserably. You have to focus on the network. I don’t think it is a coincidence at all that Vancouver has extremely high transit ridership (for a city its size) given its really good transit grid. With few exceptions, you can get anywhere to anywhere fairly easily. Building that sort of system in Seattle is more challenging — our street grid has a lot more problems, and our subway line isn’t as thorough. But we should at least move that direction.

      8. asdf2, re Northwest Hospital. First, planners are not monolithic. Second, network decisions are made in a democratic system with managers, the executive, and council. In the 1990s, NWH ran their own shuttle; then Metro won a CMAQ grant and ran Route 318; when the grant ran out, it was not productive enough to warrant using scarce North King County subarea hour; so, Route 302 was revised to serve NWH and Four Freedoms. In fall 2003, the new network included Route 345 serving NWH and FF. Over time, a signal was added on Aurora at North 115th Street; NWH expanded added a garage and paid for sidewalks on the north side of North 115th Street. True, the deviation is not worthwhile in ridership terms alone, but some riders have limited mobility. It has been suggested that a stop pair be added at the entrance on North 115th Street and the deviation deleted. That has not happened.

        At one time, Route 60 deviated into the VAMC; that did not make ridership sense; the deviation was ended during the VAMC construction and not renewed when it was complete.
        The network once included many more deviations than it does today.

      9. Eddie, you seem to know a lot about Metro routes. Speaking of the route 345, I believe it used to be connected with the routes 331 and some other route. I don’t believe any one of those routes ever ran independently. One route, switched into a second route, which became a third route. Why did Metro do it that way, instead of numbering all three segments by just one route number?

      10. Sam, I’ve noticed Metro will do that with routes where only some of the trips continue as another route, so that portions of the full route can run with a different frequency, but don’t have the layover space or extra buses/drivers to have fully split routes.

      11. Sam, yes routes 331, 345, and 348 were connected between fall 2003 and fall 2021. Routes 345, 346, 347, and 348 were oriented to NTC and Route 41. There were through routes in the network in downtown Seattle, U District, BTC, Renton, and Kent. In a through route, the same bus trip has two route numbers. Riders can get additional direct connections and the bus is used more intensively; it can also lead to reliability problems. Decades ago, they tended to be longer. In 2003, Metro had subarea equity; the former Route 341 was in the project area and was a so-called 50-50 route with its hours shared by the NKC and East subareas. in the restructure, the east hours of Route 341 were used by new 50-50 Route 345. Route 348 had no East hours. Subarea equity ended in 2011. The number 331 was no longer needed but was retained. in fall 2014, the evening span of Route 331 was reduced in the reductions.


    Pierce Transit will implement its twice-yearly service change on Sunday, Sept. 3. Details of changes by route are available at Service change highlights include:

    Several regular Pierce Transit routes will have schedule changes, so make sure and check your route at before you go.
    Route 57 will have route and bus stop changes to avoid an overlap in service with Sound Transit’s Hilltop Tacoma Link extension; these changes will occur on Sept. 3 and the Link extension service launches on Sept. 16.

    Looking at the 1, it looks like they’ve added some peak service back. 15 and 20 minute gaps during commute hours.


  9. The dependant riders of Lake City were getting hosed with the 20 before the cuts. Now this is punishing. On top of it add in the xfer to Link and it’s poor operation performance thus year.

    1. The 20 was a very poorly designed route. There is a huge mismatch between those headed between Northgate and Lake City (along the fastest corridor) and those to the south. The college is a popular destination, but the 20 competes with other buses (345/346/20) as well as simply the bridge. South of there, it competes with the 45, but loses. The 45 runs more often, and so people just use that if they are trying to get from Green Lake to the UW. The 45 also serves Roosevelt Station, while the 20 requires a longer walk. Along Latona it provides some value, but it is largely a coverage route at that point. It is close to the freeway, and in a fairly low density area (for Seattle). It then overlaps with the 44, and once again, can’t compete, as the 44 just runs a lot more often. There is nothing wrong with a route that parallels Link, but this does so slowly, while avoiding many of the more densely populated areas. It is this southern section that drags down the rest of the route.

      In contrast, the future 20 is much better. It is much shorter, and follows a fairly straightforward path from Northgate to Greenwood. From Greenwood (or anywhere east of there until the routes split) this will be the fastest way to get to Link. Not to the point where someone would let a 45 go (many will simply take the first bus that arrives) but going the other way, there will be people who get off at Northgate (instead of Roosevelt). This should help this route immensely.

      1. RossB,
        yes, the fall 2021 Route 20 was poorly designed and the pieces mismatched. The Seattle TBD paid to get the midday period to 15-minute headway. The current Route 20 does not seem proximate to Roosevelt Link; its closest point is NE 65th Street and Latona Avenue NE. When that close, routes should serve stations. (Consider P3 Route 75 and the NE 130th Street station).

        Does your second paragraph refer to P3 Route 61? In Lynnwood Link P3, there is no Route 20.

  10. Total destruction of route 255, once a main frequent route, and the main service to Kirkland, continues. It breaks the promise made that the tradeoff for the forced connection at UW was frequent service into the late evening.
    Except the connection at UW was sufficiently inconvenient and the trip so much longer then direct service, that the 255 lost most ridership so you can’t justify maintaining high frequency.
    Now the 255 becomes essentially useless for evening service back to Kirkland and the Eastside. Instead of a 15-20 minute trip to Kirkland, including from Amazon land and near Capitol Hill, first it’s a slog to Westlake (or to Broadway/John), then a wait for the unreliable Link, and then a wait for a 30 minute bus that has proven very irregular as to its schedule (some operators come early, others come 5-10 minutes late knowing they will make up time en route evenings.)
    The transfer was also promoted to improve reliability, that was a false promise, too, as the service disruptions are constant. Today’s disruption is the UW football game. But there are disruptions pretty much every week and they are always different.
    30 minutes after 7pm is yet another knife would to the cadaver of the 255.
    Kirkland has by far the worst service to Seattle compared to Redmond, Bellevue and Issaquah.

  11. Why was the stop for the 545 that was on the Island of Olive above the freeway removed? That provided great access for lower Cap Hill. Now Cap Hill service is going to be provided at Olive/Boren? The island stop was more convenient and provided fast access to the freeway.

    1. The city is reconstructing Pike and Pine Streets between 1st Ave and Bellevue Ave to give them a complete street makeover. Pike between 1st and 2nd is already done, and there’s something going on around Westlake Mall. Various parts of the streets will be closed or narrowed over the next year.

      1. That’s not relevant to the closure of the stop that was on an island on eastbound Olive right over the freeway. In fact that closed stop would be super convenient given the Pike & Pine work.

      2. Oh, the stop on the west side of Olive? I think that was put in when Olive had a temporary road further north during Convention Center construction. The stop may have been moved to the right side now that construction is finished. There is a stop at Olive & Boren to replace the one at Bellevue & Olive; I saw it last week.

      3. “The city is reconstructing Pike and Pine Streets between 1st Ave and Bellevue Ave to give them a complete street makeover. ”

        It doesn’t stop at Bellevue. The City also already changed (since 2018) both Pike and Pine Streets all the way to 14th. With many all-way stop signs added, it takes longer to use either street. They were artériels. Now they are local streets.

        It’s one reason I’ve opposed efforts to put more buses on those streets. I think several others have yet to let the reality sink (or maybe they are unaware) in that these streets are no longer suitable for lots of buses. Imagine half of the the signals on Third Avenue were non-existent and became all-way stops. This is what SDOT has done to Pine and Pike Streets.

        The stop at 11th and Pine is a. Good example. The stop added there makes Pine back up. It can take a few minutes for a bus to just get through that stop sign where it used to flow more freely.

        It’s great for pedestrians. It’s better for cyclists. But for bus riders it’s getting increasingly slow on lower Capitol Hill. .

    2. Anirudh’s bus stop! He wrote a blog entry somewhere chronicling his trials and tribulations getting a government agency to make what seems like a minor change.

      He was at one I-405 meeting (for all the committees) discussing the Cost/Benefit process. He made the astute observation that while the C/B analysis uses the ‘Travel Time Savings’ as a benefit (people in their cars stuck in traffic can’t work, i.e. “Time is Money”)
      that with modern technology such as laptops, that people on transit can be productive.
      Not that his observations made it to any actual analysis by the I-405 staff.

      No doubt he retired a Microsoft Millionaire.

      1. The link is to a 2004 post about adding a stop on Capitol Hill on the 545. Amazing how much has changed since then.

        The 545 should no longer exist if East Link had opened on time. Redmond’s complaint was the Eastside subarea pays 100% of the cross lake express buses ($64 million/year), and the 545’s purpose was to take Redmond residents to downtown Seattle jobs, not a coverage route for Seattle although at least 100 Capitol Hill residents took the 545 to Redmond (probably Microsoft).

        Microsoft began to run dedicated shuttles that allowed employees a secured connection so they could work while riding. I have heard the number of Microsoft workers commuting from Capitol Hill had declined pre-pandemic, and I assume most WFH today.

        One option not discussed was having the N KC subarea chip in for the cost of the 545 even though operational costs of East Link are suppose to be shared (when it opens to Seattle).

        When I get a chance I will look up ridership on the 545 post pandemic, both east to west and west to east. It seems crazy to me now that pre-pandemic we thought it made sense for Redmond residents to travel to downtown Seattle to work 5 days/week when most of that work was on a computer.

        Of course at that time Seattle was much more vibrant than the Eastside, certainly Redmond that even today has little retail vibrancy although Bellevue does, much better than downtown Seattle.

        The PSRC always advocated in its Vision Statements that workers live closer to their jobs to reduce commuting, (the 545 being a good example of poor planning according to the PSRC) except the PSRC was dominated by urban planners who naturally thought suburbanites would move closer to their urban jobs (density) when the opposite has happened.

      1. I’m not talking about the weird deviation that cost time.

        There was a stop on Olive, no deviation, that was served when the deviation wasn’t in operation. It was in the left lane at an island on top of the freeway, just before the Olive on-ramp. Basically the closest safe location to lower Cap Hill without requiring a deviation. It was also served by routes like 252/257, 311, 268. It was there for like 10-12 years. I don’t understand why it was removed. Much more convenient to Cap Hill then a stop west of Boren, and avoids the bus needing to merge from the right lane over to the left lane to access the on-ramp.

      2. Route 545 uses Stewart Street and Olive Street, neither are affected by the Pike-Pine Renaissance. Well I guess besides when it is traveling on 4th and 5th during construction.

      3. @eddiew Nvm I didn’t read the changes correctly

        @Carl I’m not really sure why they removed it.

        All I could find was

        > The full reopening of the original Olive Way will occur in two phases. The first phase of realignment is expected to last two months, with two lanes open to traffic.

        > In phase two, three lanes of Olive Way will reopen to traffic, with one lane dedicated for buses. This phase is set to last approximately 16 months. Upon completion, the full Olive Way will reopen permanently with three lanes of general-purpose traffic, one transit lane and sidewalks offering an improved pedestrian experience.

        Perhaps they removed it for larger sidewalks and the general purpose lane? I’m not quite sure.

  12. Metro announced that the changes made today was to allow them to fulfill their schedule and not have to cancel trips except today they have already cancelled over 20 trips on various lines. So at least for today the changes did not do what they wanted.

    1. The suspended routes together make a little under 200 trips each day. Yesterday Metro had 1292 missed trips. Of course there’s still going to be a lot of missed trips even after the routes are suspended.

      1. If that’s from Pantograph’s feed, I have a suspicion it’s over-reporting cancellations because it’s missing a lot of buses, possibly because the service change also involves shuffling buses between bases and maybe the transponder isn’t properly. For instance, it’s reporting that almost 50% of the C Line’s trips have been missed today, which even with all of the cancellations we’ve gotten used to isn’t really believable.

    2. Scrolling through Metro’s service advisories, Metro has so far cancelled 81 trips today. Plus another 14 ST trips on routes operated by Metro. And that’s on a Saturday.

      Last week, there were 17 cancelled 372 trips each weekday. I’m expecting to see at least 10 this coming week.

      1. @Larry,

        I think the first day results are certainly disappointing, but I don’t think we can draw any conclusions yet about how bad the situation is.

        We need at least a week or so of data to get a direct apples-to-apples comparison. And even then there might be some variation based on sporting events and such.

        That said, the preliminary data is definitely disappointing.

        The other big issue is that the Metro restructure plan seems to be the same one they suggested months ago, and that was before the region decided to launch the East Link Starter Line. With ST sucking more operators and more mechanics out of the Metro labor pool, you would expect Metro to have to cut deeper.

        So far it appears they haven’t, and that will affect Metro service levels in the near future.

        I’m not encourage.

      2. Although I don’t harbor the animosity toward Metro Lazarus does I do think Metro has a choice to make:

        1. Slowly dip its toe into the water of reduced frequency/coverage until it finds the balance that allows for what is critical for any customer: schedule reliability. The bus is there when the schedule says it will be there, because schedule reliability in a car is 100%. Not a pinball machine on an app that changes hourly. There is a reason Metro publishes schedules on paper.

        2. Metro takes the band aid off and cuts coverage and frequency to GUARANTEE schedule reliability, and then adds more coverage or frequency if Metro is certain it won’t degrade reliability.

        At some point pre-pandemic transit advocates decided they would design a “grid” in a county that is huge and undense, and reliability would be solved by “frequency”. So transfers were irrelevant, which meant the whole transit system became too complex for ordinary riders when trips in cars are simple: A to B. It helped when the OFM said another 1 million citizens would move here. Endless lies.

        Then the people who pay for transit like E KC stopped riding it. Not surprisingly Metro began to cut those routes ENTIRELY, except at some point those areas are going to start asking why are we paying for transit if we are not riding and we don’t have anyway.

        If the answer is poor Black areas need transit ok. If the answer is wealthy white urbanists in N Seattle want RR and perfect frequency not ok.

        Fesler believes Metro needs to cut 8% of service to achieve schedule reliability. I think it will be closer to 20% as budgets tighten. But if you live in N Seattle I think you are looking at 30% because so much service and transit money is going to move south.

        Anyone looking at the cuts can see E KC is getting screwed. Tell them those limited hours must go to poor minority neighborhoods (where we always thought it was going, not RR G, J etc.) and eastsiders will understand. Tell us it is going to gold plated transit for white wealthy transit urbanists in N Seattle who publish what shit we are and that isn’t ok.

        It isn’t surprising to me that Balducci is leading the equity move to S Seattle and KC because she knows her voters were going to see their transit slashed despite paying a fortune in transit taxes. It doesn’t help Balducci that none of her constituents are going to downtown Seattle, the one place transit makes any sense on the Eastside. So she needs to tell them their transit and transit dollars are going to disadvantaged communities in S Seattle and S King Co. and they grudgingly understand.

        The grid is dead, at least on the Eastside. If frequency is 30 to 90 minutes (if at all) schedule reliability is critical. We want our excess transit taxes (taxes less service) to go to those who really need it, and Balducci knows that is the only way to explain the cuts unless we want to go to subarea equity for Metro.

      3. @DT,

        I don’t hold any animosity towards Metro, but I certainly don’t think Metro is beyond criticism either. Clearly Metro can improve, and needs to improve.

        Larry’s comments on continuing spot cancelations are just anecdotal at this time. We need at least a few weeks of operational experience with the service cuts to determine if they have succeeded, but I am not encouraged. As you state, Metro might be moving a bit too slow on this.

        However, you are correct. With some of the reduced frequencies it is even more important that Metro solve the trip cancelation problem. Dropping a trip on a 15 minute route might be annoying to the customer, but dropping a trip on a route that only comes every 30 minutes to an hour is a huge disruption.

        And it is sort of annoying to see CT expanding service while Metro is reducing their service levels. Metro should be in at least as good a position as CT. But…. Alas….

      4. “At some point pre-pandemic transit advocates decided they would design a “grid” in a county that is huge and undense, and reliability would be solved by “frequency”.”

        You make it sound like we’re pushing frequent grid service to North Bend, Black Diamond, and West Lake Sammamish Parkway. All of the proposed 10-15 minute corridors are in popular Seattle corridors with a lot of potential, or in a few strategic ones in other subareas, so that entire cities have one or two frequent routes (east-west and/or north-south).

        You also have to distinguish between long-term ideals and what we’re pursuing now or medium term. Ideally Mercer Island should have 15-minute north-south service, but nobody is proposing it now given higher transit priorities elsewhere and limited resources.

        “Then the people who pay for transit like E KC stopped riding it.”

        They didn’t stop. If 50% stopped riding it, then 50% are still riding it. And it’s higher than 50% and is increasing year over year.

        “Not surprisingly Metro began to cut those routes ENTIRELY, except at some point those areas are going to start asking why are we paying for transit if we are not riding and we don’t have anyway.”

        Where did Metro delete all service in an entire city or neighborhood district? The suspended routes are peak express overlays. All of them have alternative service nearby listed in the “Metro” link above. If some people care only about the peak expresses and won’t use other routes in their area, even for non-work trips, that’s their problem.

        “Anyone looking at the cuts can see E KC is getting screwed.”

        Seattle is the one losing the most all-day service. East King County is losing peak expresses. The ones YOU say nobody is using because they aren’t going to downtown Seattle 9-5 anymore. The ones Metro says have gotten the biggest ridership loss. Fancy Metro suspending routes with the biggest ridership loss. Isn’t that what we all think it should do?

      5. Perhaps CT is outbidding Metro for driver pay and working conditions.

        If a professional driver has a choice of two employers with similar pay, and one has a lot more (mostly maskless) riders per run, which job is more appealing?

      6. Some of the sucking up operators and mechanics by ST is unnecessary.

        ST did not put a truncation of STX 566 to Downtown Bellevue Station on the table.

        ST did not propose truncating STX 560 at Burien TC on the table when the H Line opened. Don’t get me started on how and why the segment of the 560 to Westwood is nearly useless and nearly empty. It will be euthanized when STRide 1 opens. It may as well be now.

        I suggest, if express service is going to be kept between Federal Way and Seattle, choose either Metro 177 or STX 577 to retain, but not both. Hold a rider survey, and I bet riders will favor the service that charges $2.75.

      7. Interesting concept Brent: subarea equity for transit operators and mechanics.

        Should operators be given a choice about where (subarea) they drive, or be allowed to demand they work in a certain subarea?

        Should subareas with more revenue be allowed to offer financial incentives to drive in that subarea (it is their money). Or should ST or Metro be allowed to cancel a route in one subarea — due to driver shortages — and reallocate those drivers or mechanics to another subarea?

        Peak Eastside routes are being cut or reduced due to declining ridership despite the fact the subarea has the money to run ST and Metro buses empty. I don’t think those drivers and mechanics are staying on the Eastside, but are leaving WITH our excess Metro tax revenue. Our routes are cut, and our drivers reallocated to another subarea, but we still pay for the driver or mechanic. Hmmm…

        If the issue is drivers or mechanics I doubt working on the Eastside would be a negative, especially if the subarea could offer a bonus to drive or work on the Eastside, especially since the Eastside will continue paying for them whether they stay on the Eastside after their Eastside route is cut or are reallocated to another subarea on our dime.

      1. Mike, I wasn’t suggesting the missed trips number wouldn’t go down. The number of missed trips should go down after the suspension of the routes. It will free-up drivers to fill other trips. My comment was a reply to Jeff Pittman’s comment, in which he seemed to be under the mistaken impression that the suspension of the routes would eliminate, or get close to eliminating, missed trips. My comment was letting him know that the suspensions of the routes won’t even get close to eliminating the problem of missed trips. The suspension of the routes will help reduce the number of missed trips, but it won’t eliminate it.

      2. “My comment was a reply to Jeff Pittman’s comment, in which he seemed to be under the mistaken impression that the suspension of the routes would eliminate, or get close to eliminating, missed trips.”

        It’s not a mistaken impression, it’s the stated purpose of the cuts. See the first link in the article. So it’s worth seeing how close Metro is reaching its goal. I’m perfectly willing to believe it may take a few days to get the new schedule running smoothly. Or maybe Metro overestimated the number of resources it would have now, since it made the decision months ago. It did think it could carry on some routes until September, but ended up suspending them at the beginning of the summer. So hopefully cancellations will be low now after a few days of adjustment. But we’ll see. I put you on the task because you’re the star investigative reporter of the comments section.

      3. According to Fesler’s article in The Urbanist on this issue I linked to earlier these cuts amount to around 4% of service, but the disruptions account for 8% of service, so to achieve schedule reliability at least 8% of service will have to be cut, probably with a cushion.

        Before anyone starts calling me anti-transit these are Fesler’s statements. I suggest folks read his article, and I was surprised it wasn’t one of the links in this article although the schedule changes above look like they come straight from Fesler’s article.

      4. The changes come from Metro’s page linked above. I saw the Rider Alert on Thursday on a bus. I haven’t seen Fesler’s article, since I haven’t gotten into the habit of reading The Urbanist regularly.

      5. The cuts were overwhelmingly to weekday peak and evening service. Don’t assume very many of those freed-up drivers happily switched to working weekends,

        Also, there still might be some drivers training other drivers new to their route, or being trained on a route new to them. First weekends and weeks of a new pick have long had teething issues.

        Watch the numbers closely, and I bet you can tell when a class of new drivers has graduated. Guess who gets to work weekends and evenings.

  13. I will give Sound Transit credit for retiming the 522. The old timing was very hard to keep track of – the bus might come every 10, 16, or 20 minutes depending on if it was peak, AM off-peak, or PM off-peak. Now it will just come every 15 minutes all day.

    1. ST should provide Route 522 every 10-minutes in all time periods; they have the buses from the pre-2021.3 period. Stride3 promises a 10-minute headway, but it awaits new buses and other bells and whistles.

  14. I’m in downtown Vancouver right now and it’s like 10 times more vibrant than Seattle and Bellevue combined on the street level, well into the night. Are there homeless? Sure, but they were outnumbered 100 to 1 in the busy shopping and commercial/restaurant streets. Vancouver siloes off their drug addicts to DTES, we should do the same in order to restore our downtown.

    We have to do something about 3rd Ave. You can’t have that much dysfunction splitting an already narrow isthmus of a downtown in half and contaminating the entirety of downtown. Vancouver doesn’t run every single bus down one road either and doesn’t shut out cars completely for the buses. 3rd Ave is a disaster and making it a bus corridor is only making it worse.

    1. > I’m in downtown Vancouver right now and it’s like 10 times more vibrant than Seattle and Bellevue combined on the street level, well into the night. Are there homeless? Sure, but they were outnumbered 100 to 1 in the busy shopping and commercial/restaurant streets. Vancouver siloes off their drug addicts to DTES, we should do the same in order to restore our downtown.

      With only a slight exaggeration, that is effectively Dow Constantine’s plan. Before the North of CID plan, his original plan was to expand the SODO shelter. The new civic campus plan’s key point is to move the King County jail over on top of the King County Metro Bus Base.

      > Imagine towers sprouting where King County’s downtown Seattle jail and offices now stand. A new government complex spanning Interstate 5 to Harborview Medical Center. A new, different sort of detention center built above a Metro bus lot in Sodo.

      DTES is a railyard around ~1.4 miles from downtown Vancouver, The sodo site under i90 is also around ~1.4 miles from downtown Seattle and also a railyard location.

      > Less clear at this point is whether erecting a new detention center and courts raised above a bus lot would be logistically or politically realistic.

      Of course, as others have noted I’m not sure how real of a plan this is. I’m also not really sure if this will be effective/is this the best idea.

    2. Some businesses fight very hard to keep buses off of 4th and 5th Ave.

      On top of that, who wants to have their outbound bus two blocks away from their inbound bus? At least most remaining express commuters will be going downhill once CT exits downtown forever. Those riders will be activating downtown even less when they switch en masse to catching the train in the tunnel. And then the opening of the 2 Line across Lake Washington will further balloon tunnel ridership while leaving only south King County and Pierce County commuters upstairs on 4th and 2nd.

    3. Of course, Vancouver and TransLink do everything better than ST and Metro. Please note the crucial ST 2001 decision to build Link south-first; that put tremendous pressure on SDOT and Metro to carry a heavy load with buses. Vancouver has several SkyTrain lines. In Seattle the bus and 3rd Avenue had more work to do. They figured out the skip-stop operation. It worked well, even during the DSTT closure, 2005-07, until 2019, when the AWV was closed and the deep bore not yet open, the county sold CPS and ended bus operation in the DSTT prematurely, and Metro and ST were bashful about restructures; Metro overloaded 3rd Avenue. The transit aspect of 3rd Avenue is pretty easy: some variants will stop running due to more working from home; some routes could be shifted to 1st Avenue. The larger issues of 3rd Avenue are societal (e.g., poverty, drug use, homelessness, crime).

      1. The Legislature allowed Seattle only one pilot lane camera. The West Seattle bridge had to close for repairs. The pilot camera had to be used on the lower bridge to keep buses, bikes, emergency vehicles, and freight moving. Now, SDOT gets to deploy some lane cameras on 3rd Ave. That means no more traffic stops gumming things up, and no more waiving citations for DWW. So, the bus capacity on 3rd Ave should improve.

        Anecdotally, I’ve seen more apparent loitering on the blocks that do not have bus stops. Maybe the routes could be split into three groups, and every block have a bus stop.

  15. Something like 75 comments in and not one poster has even mentioned the answer to our transit problems.

    Solve the driver shortage. Spend the money.

    Yeah, I know other transit companies have driver shortages too. But that’s not an excuse whatsoever. It’s just means Metro sucks as hard as transit in other cities. As transit advocates, don’t we all want our bus service in greater Seattle to be the best? That costs more money.

    The answer is really quite simple. A public vote to disband Sound Transit and transfer all the tax revenue to local transit agencies. Pay for the needed buses, no more silly rail projects. Seattle has all the subways it will need for next 100 years now, so just stop. Mission accomplished.

    One thing I’ve learned is… transit is totally fake. Let’s say I have a building project, or a software project and I’m trying to finish it so I can get paid. It doesn’t matter how much I have to pay my employees because if the project doesn’t get finished, I get zero of my investment back. I have to just push on. Transit in America is luxury that ebbs and flows…. Seattle has been transit rich and transit poor over the history of the city…. but it hasn’t changed a damn thing.

    Over the years I’ve watched Pierce Transit chop the hell out of its service…. and yet, life in Tacoma went on. It had to. Because of budget cuts and piss poor management, I see Metro and Sound Transit continuing to chop service in the next couple of years….. but it won’t really impact Seattle that much. People will work around it…. drive… carpool…Uber… ride a bike. Only the poorest people absolutely need transit, and honestly… when did those people every count in Seattle?

    Look at the power players behind light rail in Puget Sound…. and I have no idea who these people are in Seattle, but I can name names in Tacoma quite easily. These folks don’t ride transit and never had a regional transit network as the goal. It’s always been about making a rail “spine” and redeveloping property (the dreaded TOD) so richer, educated, mostly White folks could move in. Just look at how completely broken Pierce Transit is…. and how much money Sound Transit has pissed away on Hilltop. Is That Seattle’s future? I think so.

    So what’s it going be? Gut Metro and keep building light rail OR just focus on keeping the transit that we have? There’s no money to do both, so pick one. And please…. keep the “We can have both” B.S. to yourself. Let’s live in the real world here for a minute.

    1. It’s more than money but about land. The brt on Pacific Ave is a good example. Rather than reallocating car lanes for bus queue lanes they suggested an expensive road expansion.

      For link, even if it suddenly got a windfall of a couple billion more, one can always ask for even more expensive designs and more tunnels to waste all the money away. The slu station redesign to avoid stopping cars on westlake.

    2. It would take legislative action to disband Sound Transit, and a constitutional amendment to redirect money voters approved for one purpose to another purpose, or to dishonor ST’s bond debt which much of ST’s taxes are going to. Are you seriously expecting local politicians to lobby the legislature to restructure Sound Transit and cancel the non-bond-obligated part of the taxes and replace them with local-agency taxes? How many years do you think it would take to convince them? Why should non-Pugetpolis legislators care enough to vote for it?

      “Gut Metro and keep building light rail OR just focus on keeping the transit that we have? There’s no money to do both,”

      There’s no direct relationship between Metro and light rail. Metro’s bottleneck is not money, it’s staff recruitment. You can say, “Give Metro a lot more money to raise salaries by a lot,” but there’s no large untapped tax source allowed by the legislature for that. The legislature for decades has been willing to give Sound Transit large tax authority but not the local agencies, because legislators sympathize with city-to-city commuters. Property taxes have a constitutional ceiling on the aggregate rate, which cities and levies are close to and some must be reserved for emergencies.

      “Transit in America is luxury that ebbs and flows”

      Are your streets and highways and airports also a luxury that ebbs and flows? Or why are you singling out the most efficient and equitable and environmentally-friendly form of transportation?

      1. Mike Orr,

        I don’t have much faith in public transit for Puget Sound and it’s thinking like yours that’s the reason. Your vision of transit has absolutely no flexibility to it. Over decades, public policy without flexibility ends up in the scrap heap. Nobody gives a crap about the ST3 vote in 2016 but you Mike. That’s in the past. Adapt and grow, or die. Looks like Pierce Transit is already mostly dead and Metro is heading that way. What’s your solution?

        Currently, local bus service and light rail are controlled (and funded) by different agencies, (Sound Transit, Metro, Pierce Transit). As long as all of these agencies are completely siloed off from joint planning and joint funding, There’s no working regional transit system. In fact, there’s a high probability there won’t even be a working local transit system as Pierce Transit and Metro get choked by inflation and try to provide the same level of service with less real dollars. Those Metro service cuts aren’t temporary and there are going to more next year. Maybe the posters on this blog can put on their collective “big boy pants” and come up with a solution to the labor shortage at Metro? Because if you don’t have a plan for that, well you’re not living in the real world.

        Look, your Sound Transit dreams are dead. Doesn’t mean we can’t have good transit service, but it does mean that the funding and power structure needs to change. It’s time to give up the ghost of the 2016 Sound Transit levy and start fresh.

      2. I’m optimistic about transit in Seattle. For the rest of the region, not so much. Seattle has shown it is willing to pay for more bus service. Other regions haven’t. Seattle gets a lot more for its transit dollar than other areas.

        It isn’t clear at all that this is a systemic problem for Metro, or just temporary. It isn’t like our homeless problem. The homeless problem came about because housing prices suddenly skyrocketed. But we could look at other cities that saw similar increases and notice the same thing. We basically joined those other cities, and haven’t dealt with it.

        In contrast, I can’t remember any city having a problem hiring enough drivers before the pandemic. It seems much more like a national problem, similar to the various drug epidemics (crack, meth, opioids, etc.). So it seems quite possible that it will eventually wain, as more people fill those jobs (and pay increases).

        But again, Seattle seems willing to pay more for transit, so they should be OK. I think Pierce Transit is likely to struggle the most, with Community Transit somewhere in between. The rest of Metro (outside Seattle) will likely struggle as well (although probably not as much as Pierce Transit).

        I agree that it would make sense to shift the money for various ST projects to bus service, but for the most part, they operate independently. In other words, you could say the same thing about freeway spending. You could fund a lot of really good bus service in Tacoma for the amount of money they are spending on the Gateway Project (509/167). But if that projects was cancelled, it wouldn’t necessarily mean that the money gets shifted.

        The same is true with ST. My guess is, if they voted again, ST3 would fail this time. There have been too many cost overruns, and things just look considerably worse. Then again, maybe folks aren’t paying attention, and you still get the same old “transit good/transit bad” simplistic argument. It would be even trickier to put forth a proposal that replaces the ST3 projects with more bus funding (the Maggie Fimia proposal, if you will). My guess is, any shift in priorities would have to come from the board, and since people largely ignore what the board does on transit issues (since they all have more important jobs) that seems highly unlikely.

        It does seem possible that ST3 implodes. Again, if put to a vote, I think people would rather just go back to the drawing board. I think folks in Snohomish County probably now realize it isn’t necessary to vote yes on ST3 to get Lynnwood Link, and Lynnwood Link adds the most value (even if you are going from Everett to Seattle). The plans for Everett Link also look especially bad. The East Side might vote for ST3 again, but it is hard to see people enthusiastic about Issaquah Link, given the big reduction in people commuting to Downtown Bellevue. That leaves Seattle, and the number of people who have “had it” with Sound Transit leadership has grown considerably over the last few months.

        But it is also quite likely that ST just keeps muddling along, since the board isn’t elected, and they never need to pass another measure. The projects might be delayed, but they would continue to work on them for decades and decades. I don’t see an easy way to stop it, even if the voters want to.

      3. If by doing well you mean ridership I agree Seattle should be the best in the region. All urban areas will do better all things being equal than the surrounding suburban and quasi rural zones.

        Seattle has the most true density (can walk to transit which means lowest cost per boarding, not some DADU in Blue Ridge), restrictive parking policies, expensive parking downtown, an educated class that can take transit to work, another class that can’t afford a car or parking, is willing in the past to pass additional levies for transit, congestion —often manufactured, and a single demographic that can live without a car.

        Even then in the best of times transit accounted for only 10% of trips.

        Of course considering the tens of billions Seattle/N KC is spending on Link and RR the fact ridership has actually declined overall is not good.

        There is also a stark difference in transit between North and South Seattle.

        S KC is just too undense and has a demographic — families, work with tools — that really can’t use transit. S KC has some of the highest costs per boarding. That is why despite hitting many cities with today an 11% farebox recovery rate Sounder S ridership declined so quickly with WFH. An area has to go from trucks to cars before it goes to transit.

        I know Balducci and others on the council want to allocate more transit revenue from north Seattle to S KC but I don’t think the real issue there is money when it comes to ridership. Induced demand is a wildly over applied concept.

        The Eastside if it could keep its Metro tax revenue would have as much transit money as Seattle with much less cost/service, but the Eastside’s number one priority is it’s SFH zones. Plus the area is just too frickin big and steep for transit no matter how many new residents move to this area. Most transit trips start in a park and ride, fewer and fewer need to take transit to Seattle, and parking is mostly free and mostly surface, which are two things women like. Way more kids than Seattle too.

        I would like to see more subarea equity — or at least transparency —when it comes to Metro taxes but I don’t think more money or service (“induced demand”) will move the needle on eastside ridership which will keep going down.

        Headwinds for Seattle transit include the loss of the peak commuter, loss of “eyes on the street/bus”, reallocation of transit revenue to equity zones, the city’s upcoming budget deficits, whether citizens will or can continue to add levies to the property tax burden, declining farebox recovery, lack of safety in the urban core and other neighborhoods, rising transit costs for a city with a lot of transit, the integration of feeder routes to Link Fesler talks about, and split fares.

        I would be optimistic about transit in Seattle (maintaining ridership let alone returning to pre-pandemic levels) if I saw any hope for downtown Seattle. The work commuter is not coming back. The region built a spine to take us living outside the core to downtown Seattle but no one is making that trip from outside Seattle, certainly discretionary trips, and the whole point of Link and transit is to carry lots and lots of vibrant people to the vibrant downtown core because cars actually don’t scale, at least for those who can’t afford the parking.

        I just don’t think you can have a thriving successful transit system without a thriving vibrant urban core, and without the work commuter today that is extra difficult even for a clean safe urban core, and impossible without.

        Most on this blog would disagree or not see the connection, but what would make me most optimistic about transit in Seattle would be if Harrell hired back the 300+ police officers who have left plus the other 200 even this terrible Council belatedly funded (before the council was looking at a $250 million operating budget deficit for 2024).

      4. “Looks like Pierce Transit is already mostly dead and Metro is heading that way.”

        PT and Metro aren’t dying, just like downtown Seattle isn’t dying. PT is running thirty routes like it’s been doing for many years. I can still get everywhere on Metro that I could before, it’s just that there are a few run cancellations. If an agency were dying you’d think 40% of the routes were gone and another 40% would be gone in a couple years. That’s not remotely happening. The suspensions are peak express routes, and the reductions are in a small fraction of routes.

      5. tacomee, inflation works on the revenue side, too. Every time a non-food item rises in price, the fixed sales tax added to its cost of acquisition rises proportionately. Your scenario is too gloomy.

      6. Tom Terrific,

        Rising sales tax revenue due to inflation isn’t going to keep up with inflation because a big part of inflation in Puget Sound is higher housing costs. On a political level, there’s a real struggle between funding more low income housing vs. keeping transit service at the same level. That’s a fight Metro is going to lose.

        Pierce Transit cut service back in 2009 and it’s never really come back. There isn’t much political will to even get it back to the 2009 levels. With all of the budget problems, homeless/addiction problems Seattle is currently facing, where do you list transit? In Tacoma, Kristina Walker is on the Sound Transit board and talks a pretty big talk about transit in general…. but when it comes to spending money and/or political capital, Ms. Walker is no-show. Transit is a loser issue no Seattle politician is likely to stand up for. And Metro is going to need more funds to provide the current service level in the future.

        The problem is, and will always be, Sound Transit. Because the Sound Transit tax money can’t be spent the day to day operation of local buses (the heart of any public transit system in the whole world), Seattle transit is doomed. Other transit systems (UTA in Utah and I’m guessing all of them in Europe) don’t have these stupid political silos blocking the flow cash to the weakest links in the system. It’s not rocket science here.

        Many Seattle transit boosters have a serious rail fetish that prevents them from looking at the overall system. What Seattle is doing is spending huge money on a rail spine that serves only parts of Greater Seattle while cutting bus service everywhere else. And honestly the Capitol Hill gang of urbanists are going to support this. I however, have a very different view of transit.

      7. Rising sales tax revenue due to inflation isn’t going to keep up with inflation because a big part of inflation in Puget Sound is higher housing costs. On a political level, there’s a real struggle between funding more low income housing vs. keeping transit service at the same level. That’s a fight Metro is going to lose.

        Except agencies across the country have dealt with that problem for decades. Again, there is nothing new here. New York City, San Fransisco, San Diego — these have been expensive for a long time. Yet they managed to hire enough public service workers (cops, bus drivers — you name it). The one thing that has changed is that there is a widespread understanding of one of the biggest causes of the problem: Zoning. The Rent is Too Damn High came out in 2012. Very few people talked about it. Now, there is a growing consensus around the country that this is a major problem, and that we need to allow more housing. If you do that, then the cost of public housing drops considerably, along with the need for it. Transit also becomes a lot more cost effective. Most of public policy is a zero sum game — changing the regulations that stifle housing density is not.

        In Seattle, there was concern that we wouldn’t pass a transit measure increasing taxes last time, as it was on the ballot with another measure (for hospital funding, if memory serves). But it passed by a huge margin. There really isn’t competition here — at least not at the ballot box. There are limits (set by the state) to how much Seattle is allowed to spend. If not, Seattle would increase taxes very high, and pay for a lot more transit (and housing, and other social services). The only thing we aren’t eager to spend money on is police, jails and new roads.

      8. Ross Bleakney,

        Oh, so zoning is new “Grand Urbanist Solution”? Ten years ago it was light rail. “As soon as the subways in Seattle are built… many of the problems in the City will just fade away”. That wasn’t true and changing the zoning in Seattle isn’t going to make transit or housing cheaper.

        I worked most my of adult life building housing in Greater Seattle. Had a couple of small downturns over the years, but I pretty much got as much overtime as I could stand. Every construction site has had “help wanted” signs up for years on end. Anybody who wants a job pouring concrete in Seattle already is doing it. Changing the zoning doesn’t bring more labor or capital to the table. Zoning doesn’t build housing.

        In the real world….. I’m afraid it’s “transit vs. housing. Here’s how that works.

        1. Low income housing and transit compete for the same pool of tax dollars. When the City budget gets tight, something has to give. Seattle underfunded public housing for at least 30 years and spared transit, but I wouldn’t bet that happens over the next 30. Political reality points to things tilting towards the other direction.

        2. Would you rather drive a cement truck or a city bus? Construction currently pays more, hence a bus driver shortage. Funny how many people who have such strong feelings about transit on this blog can’t seem to “take the wheel” and get a job driving a bus. Be part of the solution or part of the problem.

        3. Sound Transit capital projects make the transit vs. housing struggle much worse. Building light rail drives up blue collar labor costs AND housing costs.

        4. Seattle just can’t have it all, no matter what our elected officials say.

      9. @tacomee

        > Zoning doesn’t build housing.

        I’m not sure why so many people are so afraid of changing the zoning. If it truly doesn’t affect anything than changing the zoning also wouldn’t be that detrimental.

        > Changing the zoning doesn’t bring more labor or capital to the table.

        It definitely does. Not having the explicit permit/permission to build makes it incredibly hard to get loans/capital needed to buy property and start a project. No bank wants to lend someone money when you tell them it depends on the whim of a council-member/twitter tweet whether you’ll need to wait another year for approval. And it is financially hard to hire more people when one is unsure if one can secure the next site to build.

      10. Economists use a basket of items to determine inflation. The Fed uses a slightly different model that many think lags when it comes to changes in housing prices. In fact today housing costs are declining. There are 12, 473 apartments for rent in Seattle today Except 2320 are $1800/mo. or less.

        Zoning is not going to change inflation. When it comes to drivers and mechanics it is wage inflation that is the key (even health care increases are down). Increasing the CAPACITY of MARKET RATE HOUSING never creates affordable housing in a city with a high AMI.

        Wage inflation is very sticky, because it migrates into CBA’s and salaries which virtually never go down. Over the last 3 years based on inflation the basket of goods has risen over 20% and that rise is permanent even if the rate of future inflation declines (still well over the target of 2%yr.). So a high inflation rate is baked into future CBA wages whether inflation remains high or not.

        Some complicating matters are many people quit the job market during the pandemic, the stimulus allowed many people to stop working, a baby glut, aging boomers, more kids being pushed into college, and lack of LEGAL immigration (illegal immigrants can’t get a work visa so are not working for a municipal transit agency).

        Then you have the undesirability of dealing with the public these days, and according to some unfavorable work conditions at Metro compared to other CDL companies that are willing to pay the same or more. I also think pot legalization but continued pot testing for CDL’s is a factor. A lot of Seattleites smoke pot.

        Then you have Metro’s revenues. These are farebox recovery which is down and is supposed to make up 20% of operations (the recent cuts are only 4% of operations so 20% is nothing to sneeze at), sales tax, and general fund tax subsidies.

        So far the predicted recession has not hit, probably because of the amount of stimulus money people still have and a willing to spend after a pandemic. But credit balances are rising fast and student loan payments are beginning again. So I would expect if not a mild recession but a reduction in spending and sales tax.

        Finally we get to the real nut: sales tax allocation. The pandemic, SFH and deurbanization in some cities is reallocating that sales tax out of the urban core. Two big legal decisions starting this were: 1. sales tax is allocated to the location the order is placed; and 2. online sellers must collect sales tax and remit it to the proper jurisdiction (state) where it is allocated. But it was the pandemic and WFH that have been the biggest reallocater.

        So Seattle will see a $250 million operations budget deficit next year, whereas small suburban cities are seeing a small windfall in sales tax revenue. Harrell and the council are discussing higher taxes or cuts. I think this is why Harrell is stalling in hiring 300 replacement police officers although that is goal number one of his seven goal plan for public safety.
        Metro is county wide, but I do think at some point some kind of subarea equity — if just for transparency — will be necessary. It is a virtual circle: Harrell doesn’t have the money to replace the police officers he has lost, new recruits don’t want to work in Seattle so the SPD must pay a large premium, the voters made it clear public safety is their number one priority (as it always is if it is an issue), and lack of public safety is killing the CBD that generated 2/3 of Seattle’s tax revenue pre-pandemic.

        Can Harrell solve this Rubics cube? Probably not, especially in a very progressive city like Seattle with so many better options today.

        I guess the real question is how long Seattle property owners and voters will continue to levy additional funds for transit (and everything else from parks to housing to transit to sidewalks to bike lanes to the operations budget to you name it). Because no matter what, the same levels of transit service cost much more today, and will cost a lot more tomorrow.

        On paper one would think Metro will have higher operations costs going forward, lower farebox recovery, probably lower sales tax revenue, reallocated sales tax revenue, and so the choice — just like the operations budget deficit — is to raise taxes or cuts level of services.

        Cutting services in say E KC is pretty easy because folks are no longer riding transit, at least peak riders, but there goes the vaunted “grid”. But then that Metro “subarea” is awash in Metro tax revenue that is going someplace else so the eastsiders who are still riding transit are getting screwed for someone else, my guess N. Seattle. Any kind of county wide transit levy is probably out of the question because S KC always votes no, and now so will E KC.

        Metro is doing what any agency should, just too slowly: cutting service to meet demand and revenue. According to Fesler cuts today amount to 4% of service, he thinks 8% is necessary at minimum to get to schedule reliability (extra important for subareas like E KC that now have such poor frequency) to meet driver and mechanic shortages, and I think over the next two years closer to 15% to 20% due to budgets. That means either cuts across the board or some kind of equity test. Ironically Metro is using Ross’s equity test — ridership — for cuts on the eastside, but the council talks about equity being race and AMI.

        Since N. Seattle uses the most Metro transit and has the gold-plated transit it will see cuts just like E KC has, except the problem there is N. Seattleites still ride transit, at least off peak. Unless N. Seattleites want to make up the difference themselves, which could get tricky in a levy is folks in S. Seattle don’t think their levels of transit service will decline due to equity.

      11. “@tacomee > Zoning doesn’t build housing. I’m not sure why so many people are so afraid of changing the zoning. If it truly doesn’t affect anything than changing the zoning also wouldn’t be that detrimental. > Changing the zoning doesn’t bring more labor or capital to the table. It definitely does. Not having the explicit permit/permission to build makes it incredibly hard to get loans/capital needed to buy property and start a project.”

        Two points:

        1. Zoning has little to do with what how much gets built of anything. Zoning determines WHERE things get built, and the use. Interest rates, local AMI, labor costs and availability, competing markets in the U.S., an areas commercial vibrancy.

        Right now it is nearly impossible to get a loan for a commercial office building because of interest rates, REIT redemptions, lack of Chinese investment, bank stress tests, and the fact investors don’t see a profit and can get 10% in fixed income with little risk for that kind of money. The commercial office building will be overbuilt for generations. The reason all building boomed from 2012 to 2021 is because Boomers were pouring so much money into 401k’s and REIT’s, banks needed yield when interest rates were 0-1%, the Fed was stimulating the economy like crazy, and fixed income was around 1%/yr. which was an easy mark for developers to beat. Try beating 10%/year.

        2. Zoning is a tool to create a zone or community the residents want. Places with no zoning are generally very unpleasant to live in, which is why zoning started in NYC.

        For example, the Capitol Hill Assoc. constantly opposes plans to upzone Capitol Hill because they don’t want it to turn into Belltown, and who can blame them. Folks like Mike want 5-7 story “middle housing”, which means the zone better cap heights at 5-7 buildings because developers like building to the maximum height limit. An old zoning rule is the maximum becomes the minimum. If you live in a neighborhood whether Capitol Hill or Laurelhurst and like the fabric of your neighborhood, you are always concerned about some planner fresh out of college changing that because he or she read a book.

        On the eastside the residents moved there to get away from Seattle and for the SFH zones. These are generally safer, more homeowners, more space for kids, more vegetation, etc. If they wanted to live in Capitol Hill, or Belltown, they would. But they think those places are shit.

        Another funny thing happened by accident (and planners generally understand about 50% of the consequences of changing zoning, and The Spring Dist. and Wilburton are perfect examples because stupid planners didn’t understand commercial is more profitable than housing which is more profitable than retail, until commercial isn’t and the projects get put on “pause”. If you want to build very tall high end housing buildings, you need to buy distressed projects on the cheap like Freeman did with Lincoln Sq. N and S.).

        The eastside is huge, larger than many east coast states. So big in fact Metro has now determined it can’t serve it. It is undense, but even if 1 million new residents moved in the actual density would hardly change (especially since many of those would move to new SFH subdivisions because that is why you move to the eastside, at least if Seattle is not safe and vibrant). The eastside population — any population — can support only so much retail, and for retail vibrancy you need retail density.

        It was the SFH zones that accidently condensed the retail zones on the eastside when there are so many separate cities and zoning was pretty lax for quite a while. Except the golden rule: only SFH in the SFH zone. Seattle early on pursued a different strategy of mixed-use neighborhoods that allowed retail.

        What a lot of folks on this blog don’t understand is how anemic retail would be on the eastside today (except maybe the big box stores in Issaquah) if downtown Seattle were safe, vibrant and retail dense. Freeman calls it the greatest gift Seattle ever gave to the eastside, but really in a normal world the world class urban city Seattle would have all the restaurants and shops and culture in its downtown, a short drive away from the eastside, and the eastside would be a collection of sleepy retail zones that only have any retail density due to SFH zoning.

        The irony is for decades eastsiders didn’t mind this bargain. You lived in a sleepy SFH zone on the eastside and went across the bridge to safe, vibrant, dense world class retail and restaurants and culture. We never wanted to reinvent the wheel, but had to when Seattle went off the progressive deep end.

        So when you look at eastside retail density town by town understand it was by accident because so much area was zoned SFH — and there is just so much damn area anyway, much of undeveloped — and the amount of eastside retail density and vibrancy should not exist except for the demise of downtown Seattle.

        I like to point out transit does not lead, it follows. But when it comes to retail density and vibrancy planners have no idea why it sprouts where it does. Who would look at this region and think downtown Seattle should be one of the deadest retail experiences, worse than Factoria? Retail is the unwanted stepchild of developers, but without it any kind of urbanism is awful, like downtown Seattle today.

      12. “Transit is a loser issue no Seattle politician is likely to stand up for.”

        Yet in 2020 the city council debated renewing the Transit Benefit District levy. Some councilmembers said to let it expire, others to renew it at the same level, others to renew it at a lower level. The ones arguing for deletion/reduction didn’t say the transit wasn’t needed or was a loser issue: they said people were hit so hard by the pandemic and job losses that they wouldn’t support a transit increase at this time. In the end the council compromised and chose the reduced level. The voters passed it.

        Now the council has started preliminary discussions on a Move Seattle renewal. What should be in it; how much should it be? The assumption seems to be that a regular renewal will pass, though maybe without as many large commitments as the last one. There’s universal agreement that the last one was unrealistic: it promised too many RapidRide lines for the budget, and voters didn’t understand that even those were only partially funded. So it will have to be more realistic this time. One issue that’s currently being debated is whether the City Center Streetcar connector will be in our out of it. No councilmember or potential candidate has said transit is a loser issue and completely unnecessary. They just differ in what priority they’d give it, what’s the minimum they’d consider, and which modes/lines/corridors they’d put at the top.

        “Zoning is not going to change inflation.”

        Zoning can have only a long-term effect. Even if more units are allowed, it’s individual landowners making decisions over many years. It’s harder to get out of a hole than it is to avoid the hole in the first place. We should have upzoned more aggressively in 2003 when prices started climbing; then we could have headed off the worst of the effects. It’s much harder to make a difference now. But if we don’t upzone, then we get into the problem that San Francisco and San Jose have been in since 2000, or that Vashon Island is in now. Namely, that they’ve had little growth, yet prices have risen anyway, further than if they had allowed growth. That contradicts the assertion that adding denser buildings increases regionwide costs, and that if you don’t add the buildings the other buildings will remain affordable.

        “Oh, so zoning is new “Grand Urbanist Solution”? Ten years ago it was light rail. “As soon as the subways in Seattle are built… many of the problems in the City will just fade away”. ”

        These are overgenalizations, distorted so far as to be misleading. One tactic can’t solve everything. It only creates the possibility of things getting better; it doesn’t guarantee they will. The point is, if you don’t do it, you don’t have that possibility. (I.e., you don’t have the transit mobility or walkability or housing units that these tactics would have provided.) And it’s not “transit OR housing will solve all our problems”, but “transit AND housing can create the conditions to help solve our problems”. We haven’t done enough of either: that’s why our outcomes are so much worse than in many industrialized countries around the world or in a few US cities.

        “the real question is how long Seattle property owners and voters will continue to levy additional funds for transit”

        You can doomsay all you like. Throughout the 2000s and 2010s the doomsayers said high inflation was just around the corner, yet it didn’t start until 2021 or 2022 when there were extraordinary supply-chain bottlenecks. And it wasn’t particularly high by 1970s standards, and the level we’ve settled into for now is not bad compared to Reagan era in the 80s. Yet some people are sure the US will soon collapse in debt, the dollar will be replaced by another global currency (which of the euro, yen, rembeni, or ruble is doing better or is more suited?), and people will defect to gold and cryptocurrencies en masse.

        “Because the Sound Transit tax money can’t be spent the day to day operation of local buses (the heart of any public transit system in the whole world), Seattle transit is doomed.”

        “Doomed” suggests no transit at all. That’s unrealistic. And the ST money that could theoretically go to Metro in an alternate universe is just one factor.

        “Changing the zoning doesn’t bring more labor or capital to the table.”

        I agree the construction workers/contractors were working at capacity in the 2010s and 2020s, and there are unique challenges now. But looser zoning might have changed what is built and where. Under current zoning and regulations, construction has bifurcated into two extremes: single-family houses (with some ADUs and townhouses) in 70-80% of the land, and large expensive breadbox buildings in the 20-30% of the land that allow it. The mid-levels of middle housing don’t occur in low-density areas because they’re prohibited, and they don’t occur in high-density areas because the breadbox/Wall Street developers have deeper pockets and outbid them in the relatively few lots they’re allowed to build. The developers maximize the breadbox size, partly because they’re competing for so few lots and the prices are driven so high.

        But if more mid-level middle housing were allowed in a larger area, more landowners would be interested in building them there. The total competition for housing would be less, so the breadbox market may get saturated and nobody wants more breadboxes, yet there are still lots available and owners who want to build middle housing on them. So construction may shift to a more even combination of breadboxes and middle housing. I.e., the workers/contractors would be building other kinds of things. Middle housing has lower construction/land/materials costs because it doesn’t require a deep pit or lots of concrete or lots of contiguous land or a huge workforce for months on end. And it could lead to more units. Not necessarily, but the same workers could end up building more total units and a larger mixture of family-sized units. The public would certainly be more satisfied with a wider choice of unit/building types. They had a fuller range in the 1950s when courtyard apartments and corner stores were allowed in more areas. Now they can only get that if they can snag a pre-1980s unit, since they’re not allowed to be built anymore.

      13. “the Capitol Hill Assoc. constantly opposes plans to upzone Capitol Hill because they don’t want it to turn into Belltown, and who can blame them. Folks like Mike want 5-7 story “middle housing”, which means the zone better cap heights at 5-7 buildings because developers like building to the maximum height limit.”

        Many urbanists have also come around to the view that 7 stories is an ideal maximum, and we don’t need highrises. The Netherlands is building all its new neighborhoods and infill development at a middle level. Three 7-story buildings can contain as many apartments or offices as one 21-story building or half a 42-story building. Even more because you don’t have to reserve as much space for elevators and stairs. That means a city’s footprint would be 3-4 times larger than it would be with all highrises. That kind of horizontal expansion is OK because it’s still reasonable. A small apartment building can hold 10 households. Mine on the upper end of this limit can hold 60. But if you consider single-family houses in the same footprint, they can hold only 1 or 2 households in the smaller one, and 6 in the larger one. And that’s assuming small Roosevelt-sized yards, not large post-1940s yards. Although I haven’t been to Paris or Boston, others say they can hold a lot of people in one, two, or four stories, if you don’t have the excessive space usage we have in much of our medium- and low-density areas.

        So the Capitol Hill Association and I actually agree in this. I was about to say the Capitol Hill Association isn’t representative of many of its residents (shades of Eastlake), but in this case, it’s right. 7 stories are about what the new buildings at Capitol Hill Station are, and the recent buildings along Broadway. and the 2000s buildings on Bellevue Avenue. So it would be no drastic change to build more of them.

      14. Mike, you’ve always said it’s wrong for any neighborhood to fight against upzoning. Now you are rationalizing your neighborhood fighting against upzoning?

      15. “Many urbanists have also come around to the view that 7 stories is an ideal maximum, and we don’t need highrises.”

        That is the problem Mike. Everyone thinks their preferred zoning (or at least the construction and housing they think a certain height limit will create) is the best so want to force it on everyone else rather than just moving to a zone with that scale and density. The reason 7 stories is a cutoff line is simply because that is the height limit for a wood framed building.

        Many suburbanites think a two- three story SFH is ideal, and in fact many areas on Capitol Hill are SFH, and the vast majority of buildings less than 5-7 stories. At the same time, developers and builders, and some planners, think Bellevue’s 660′ height limit is the best mix. Or Belltown. You use zoning to create a zone you want, with the uses you want. It is nearly impossible to create such a zone without zoning, which is ALWAYS exclusionary by definition. Especially in such a huge county and region.

        You think 10 stories will destroy the neighborhood fabric you want (and I think 14 stories, or worse 22 stories, will destroy the CID), some others think 5 or 7 stories is too much, and others think anything other than a SFH will destroy their neighborhood. That is why we have a mix of zoning.

        Personally, for an “urban” residential zone I think 7 stories is too high, especially if there are no yard setbacks or lot vegetation so the “massing” at the street level is overwhelming. Facade modulation is also critical.
        Most urban cities from Paris to London to Tokyo to San Francisco have lower height limits than 5-7 stories in their urban residential zones, especially if you want that urban residential zone to include retail and have any kind of intimacy. I think 3 to 5 stories is better, and you see that in cities like Montreal in its urban residential zone, which is quite undense when you factor in 2-3 story heights and rear yards.

        Even with retail space mandates you never know whether your zone will nurture retail vibrancy. Living in a multi-family building (especially without a balcony) in an urban area without retail density and vibrancy is about the worst thing in the world. The irony then is just like someone living in a remote SFH you still are driving or taking transit to shop or dine. That is a tragic failure of planning. At least someone living in a SFH zone knows the tradeoffs and willingly made that deal, and has a yard.

        As I have noted and posted many times the GMPC just determined this area has the zoning capacity for 1 million new housing units, so zoning capacity is not the issue, especially since so far it doesn’t look like 1 million new residents are going to arrive. Unfortunately, new construction is not the cure for affordable housing.

        The number one rule most neighborhood associations follow, whether Ballard or Capitol Hill or MI or Queen Anne or SFH zones or whatever, is if you like it be very, very hesitant to change it, because developers will always tell you change and height and density are good because they make more money, their permit fees pay for the salaries and benefits and staff levels of the planners, and you end up destroying the delicate fabric of a community. Not unlike Belltown, a perfect example of height and mass creating a dead retail zone with endless amounts of shade and little green spaces when the developers and planners promised us so much more.

      16. Mike Orr,

        Armchair urban planning is just crap. The idea that non-professionals could rezone a City in positive way isn’t true. Professional urban planners build projects that look like crap and never work the way they where intended to, and they’re professionals. Zoning is tough to get right…. and constantly messing with it is a recipe for disaster.

        Let me fill you you in on how Metro “dies”– the same way Pierce Transit did. Oh, the light rail is going to keep running…. and Seattle inner city bus routes with high numbers of riders. Pierce Transit is still running the #1 bus and it’s often full. But if you don’t live on the Pac Ave/6th Ave line– your bus service sucks. East Tacoma and the Southend have terrible coverage. But it’s OK…. mostly poor folks and non-Whites living down there. Those people don’t mind waiting 30 minutes to an hour for another bus!

        So when inflation and a lack of investment (in personnel and equipment) hamstring Metro, your Capitol Hill transit will be the same. Fuck White Center however. And the Urbanist crowd won’t care really. They never go to White Center anyway.

        Let’s say Sound Transit never happened…. but Seattle passed a huge housing levy instead. How would the City be different? Is it possible that a City could go “all in” on a transit plan and underfund public housing? (or fixing bridges about to fall in?). And then the voters wake up one day and say. Wow! we need housing! and start underfunding transit to get more housing?

        Political and economic systems seesaw like this all the time. Whatever you think that Sound Transit 2016 vote means…. that’s a long time ago. Everything has changed… when I-135 passed in Seattle, everything shifted.

      17. @tacomee

        > The idea that non-professionals could rezone a City in positive way isn’t true. Professional urban planners build projects that look like crap and never work the way they where intended to, and they’re professionals. Zoning is tough to get right…. and constantly messing with it is a recipe for disaster.

        The entire reason why American zoning is so tough to get right is because it is so restrictive. Other countries just zone wide swaths of their land to all build townhouses and even light commercial and retail by right. They also don’t have strict separation of residential and commercial to such an absurd degree in America to the point where opening a corner cafe requires practically bribing multiple politicians.

        > Zoning is tough to get right…. and constantly messing with it is a recipe for disaster.

        This is just maintaining the status quo of a car-centric, strict separation zoning. Also not sure why you think it’s constantly messed with, it takes a decade for every new zoning plan and takes years of legal quagmires for any large zoning deviation.

      18. WL,

        I’ve actually “been” to Europe for more than a vacation…. sure, your tourist sites and inner cities have wonderful transit and 15 minute cities galore. But there are also huge crappy low income developments far, far away from the city center chock full of poor Brown people… served by bad transit. Every place has its ugly side. I’d much rather be Turkish in America than Germany.

        America loves cars, and our zoning reflects that. What more can I say.

        We actually have the most unrestrictive zoning in developed world here in the USA. Really. Germany tells you what color to paint your house most places.

        Seattle isn’t the only place in America with transit and walkable neighborhoods. Try Muncie Indiana– great college town, much more affordable than Seattle. Most the re-zoning schemes I read on this blog have more to do with making Seattle affordable for the poster than social justice. A person needs to fit to the town…. there’s no fitting to town to person.

      19. No place has more restrictive zoning than Europe. Just the historical designations are restrictive. Trying changing a facade in Paris or Mayfair London, let alone putting up a shlocky five story building. I have no idea why folks on this block keep bringing up Europe as support for their desires to abolish all zoning. Yes, many cities in Europe are very pretty, and Seattle is pretty ugly, but is restrictive zoning that preserves that beauty Seattle lost long ago because it sold out to the developers.

      20. @Ross B
        “Seattle has shown it is willing to pay for more bus service. Other regions haven’t.”

        One caveat is needed here. SnoCo PTBA district voters approved of CT Prop 1 in November 2015, thereby increasing sales tax rates within the district by .3% (from .9 to 1.2%). The transportation bill passed by the legislature earlier that year gave the PTBA the additional taxing authority.

        Admittedly, the margin of victory was narrow, similar to the result seen the following year, 2016, for ST3:

        CT Proposition 1 Results
        APPROVED 51.11%
        REJECTED 48.89%

        With that said, I’m in agreement with your larger point.

      21. > I’ve actually “been” to Europe for more than a vacation…. sure, your tourist sites and inner cities have wonderful transit and 15 minute cities galore. But there are also huge crappy low income developments far, far away from the city center chock full of poor Brown people… served by bad transit. Every place has its ugly side. I’d much rather be Turkish in America than Germany.

        Sure it’s definitely true that no city is perfect, but beyond just Europe my main point is that zoning doesn’t have to be this strict.

        > America loves cars, and our zoning reflects that. What more can I say.

        It’s only been that way since the 50’s, it’s not a forever thing. I’m not sure why this state of zoning is somehow the pinnacle and should never be changed? Plus if Seattle’s attitudes change, why shouldn’t our zoning change to reflect that as well, what more can I say.

        > We actually have the most unrestrictive zoning in developed world here in the USA. Really. Germany tells you what color to paint your house most places.

        For many American cities one’s house is bound under an hoa and cannot paint your house a random color either — granted that doesn’t apply to most of Seattle.



        “If you want to know how many cars are there on Earth here you go: There are about 1.474 billion vehicles on Earth in 2023. About 19% of those vehicles are in the United States. Let’s dig into more detail on how many cars are there in the world and other global automotive stats, including cars per capita.”

        “Most of the cars in the world are in Asia. It has over a third of all vehicles on this planet. Many people think of North America as obsessed with cars, but North America is in third place. Europe, in second place, has 28% of the world’s vehicles while North America only has 24%.”

        “Here is a breakdown of vehicles per capita by world region.

        1). North America: 0.71 vehicles per capita/710 vehicles per thousand people
        2). Europe: 0.52 vehicles per capita/520 vehicles per thousand people
        3). South America: 0.21 vehicles per capita/210 vehicles per thousand people
        4). Middle East: 0.19 vehicles per capita/190 vehicles per thousand people
        5). Asia/Pacific: 0.14 vehicles per capita/140 vehicles per thousand people
        6). Africa: 0.06 vehicles per capita/58 vehicles per thousand people
        7). Antarctica: 0.05 vehicles per capita/50 vehicles per thousand people”

        “Here are the top countries for vehicles per capita and GDP per capita, revised for 2023:

        1). New Zealand: 0.90 vehicles per capita/895 vehicles per thousand people/$43,000 GDP per capita2
        2). United States: 0.89 vehicles per capita/890 vehicles per thousand people/$62,000 GDP per capita
        3). Estonia: 0.82 vehicles per capita/821 vehicles per thousand people/$42,800 GDP per capita1
        4). Cyprus: 0.79 vehicles per capita/785 vehicles per thousand people/$26,624 GDP per capita1
        5). Luxembourg: 0.78 vehicles per capita/784 vehicles per thousand people/$115,873 GDP per capita1
        6). Australia: 0.77 vehicles per capita/772 vehicles per thousand people/$48,300 GDP per capita2
        7). Canada: 0.77 vehicles per capita/770 vehicles per thousand people/$47,600 GDP per capita
        8). Italy: 0.76 vehicles per capita/757 vehicles per thousand people/$40,600 GDP per capita1
        9). Iceland: 0.72 vehicles per capita/720 vehicles per thousand people/$55,300 GDP per capita1
        10). Poland: 0.60 vehicles per capita/604 vehicles per thousand people/$34,700 GDP per capita1
        11). France: 0.60 vehicles per capita/599 vehicles per thousand people/$44,500 GDP per capita1

        I don’t know why some folks think Europe is some kind of anti-car or transit nut society, especially if you have been outside the urban centers. If you live there you see the same car congestion, although some of the cities are very large and so the congestion is very large (London). Discount airlines thrive. I lived around Europe and some cities like Dublin had transit that was so bad I had to buy a 1949 bike. If there is one ubiquitous thing you see travelling the world from corner to corner it is cars.

        One would think there would be a closer correlation between GDP and car ownership, and to some extent there is where a young country is becoming more prosperous, but I think a lot of it has to do with the size of a country and its density. And probably status.

        There are few places on earth one can live completely without a car. Many areas simply have weather that is too hot or cold to use transit. Others are not very dense or urban. A lot of areas are not safe. A lot of the world has kids, or needs to carry things. The same reasons cars account for 90+% trips in the U.S.

        Transit advocates have always dreamed of moving car drivers to transit to increase transit ridership. It just is very hard. Transit is slower, less safe, and less convenient. The EIS for WS Link estimates 600 car drivers will shift after spending billions on WS Link. This estimate was pre-pandemic and fails to estimate current bus riders who will switch to cars when WS Link opens because it doesn’t go where their bus use to go or includes a transfer or two.

        My advice to transit advocates is to forget about cars and car drivers. You will never change them. Good news is with WFH fewer cars are on the road during peak times. Yes, urbanists think cars spoil the urban scene (which is why smart planners and urbanists put parking at the perimeter of the pedestrian only urban core, and make it safe and CONDENSE it to create retail density), but transit advocates should worry about their lane, and how to make transit better for their needs.

      23. WL,

        I’m actually in favor of growth and changing zoning… but I don’t see it having much effect on Seattle overall and very little in next 20 years. It’s not a solution to global warming, homelessness or low transit ridership. Zoning is changing in Seattle because there’s money in doing so. The people who build stuff aren’t really all that “progressive” if you get what I mean. It’s always about money.

        Paris is likely the most segregated and classist City in the Western world. The City itself is made of historic neighborhoods that are zoned for absolutely no changes. The Left Bank plans on staying the Left Bank, thank you very much. It’s a wonderful place if you have money. The suburbs of Paris are a mishmash of working class Whites who drive everywhere because there’s not much transit and they need to move their tools to job sites, the yellow vest people…. (Mouvement des gilets jaunes,). Then there are these huge gettos full of Africans and other non-White immigrants who occasionally riot and burn shit down because, well, the French are racist and classist bastards.

        Don’t get caught up in Fake Europe. It doesn’t exist except on vacation and the dreams of American Urbanists.

      24. “Zoning is not going to change inflation. ”

        Minneapolis is actually dropping the fastest in terms of inflation rates (below 2%) compared to other big cities because their zoning and housing policy has actually kept rent and house price increases stable compared to other large metro regions.

        Again, policy and follow-through on said policy proposals matters. The Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities has been a huge driver in this regard for the Twin Cities, because they have comtrol of broad housing and zoning policy at a regional level rather than it being primarily controlled at the local level. And they have vetoed zoning or housing proposals if the council feels the proposal for zoning or housing by municipalities isn’t doing enough and will revise it. Some cities or citizens grumble about it, but the region has largely supported the council and hasn’t had much to change the status quo.

      25. Zack B,

        I’m going to guess Seattle and Minneapolis have roughly the same zoning. These are two moderately progressive cities that have had similar leadership over the last couple of decades. There’s no magic in zoning.

        What’s different in Seattle is Amazon and the like adding thousands of high paying jobs to the region. Greater Seattle has built a ton of housing over the last 20+ years, but it didn’t matter. Tech jobs rolled in even faster.

        So what we are learning here? If you’re not employed in tech or have a boat load of money….. move out of Seattle and start a new life in Minnie? Now we’re talking! Because you are not going to change Seattle.

      26. “Everyone thinks their preferred zoning (or at least the construction and housing they think a certain height limit will create) is the best”

        Mine is based on what several experts say and what people who have more experience with cities around the world have concluded. I did mention that The Netherlands is building all its new neighborhoods and infill development this way. They wouldn’t do that unless some expert thought it was good. So it’s not just my arbitrary choice.

        “so want to force it on everyone else rather than just moving to a zone with that scale and density.”

        There’s not enough units in those zones for everybody who wants one.

        “The reason 7 stories is a cutoff line is simply because that is the height limit for a wood framed building.”

        Yes, that’s a signficant factor, since housing costs are an issue.

        “Personally, for an “urban” residential zone I think 7 stories is too high”

        I said maximum, not the only level. That is just an estimate based on widespread examples of successful 4-7 story environments, and with an eye toward the cost factor of going higher.

        “some others think 5 or 7 stories is too much, and others think anything other than a SFH will destroy their neighborhood.”

        I’m thinking in terms of a balance between walkability and efficiency and people’s desires for smallness. You’re not; you and these people are just thinking about smallness.

        “Armchair urban planning is just crap. The idea that non-professionals could rezone a City in positive way isn’t true.”

        And the professional planners and regulators who designed late 20th century cities and still now insist on wide streets and pedestrian-hostile designs created even worse crap.

      27. Tacomee, if you read the article about Minneapolis (and we had this discussion in another thread over the same article) you will see the main reason inflation was modestly (and temporarily lower) than the U.S. as a whole was a steep decline in fuel and gas prices. You will also see the only other city to have a temporary inflation rate under 2% was Honolulu, hardly a mecca of affordable housing or upzoning. These are temporary blips being seized on by the upzoning crowd who like to point out zoning changes that occurred very recently and have had no effect on construction today. As you note, the zoning in Seattle and Minneapolis is quite similar, although Minneapolis has an AMI 2/3 of Seattle.

        If you look at the census records another thing that jumps out is Minneapolis has lost over 1% of its population from 2020 through July 2022. Generally a population loss in a city with an adequate number of housing units will depress prices, but not for the right reasons.

        Finally housing prices are down across the U.S. However the Fed. uses a different formula for measuring housing that has quite a long lag which some economists complain about. If you mix and match the two inflation formulas housing is either high or low depending on the lag.

        From 2010 until the 2020 census housing construction kept pace with population growth in Seattle. The ratio of housing units per person was the same in 2010 as in 2020. Seattle is about to see thousands of new units come on the market, probably many more than future population growth will need. Many developers and builders are concerned Seattle’s multi-family market rate housing supply is reaching a glut. At any one day there are 20,000 vacant apartments for rent, with over 12,000 on alone. The problem is around 15% are below $1800/mo., and Seattle has a very high percentage of folks who choose to live alone.

        Have Seattle housing prices gone down or stayed stable despite an historically low inflation rate from 2010 through 2021 and construction matching population growth? No. Have any prices in Seattle not increased the same as housing during the same time period? No. What has matched the increase in housing prices almost exactly? AMI.

        Stating facts on this blog about housing is pointless. People who rent want lower rents, especially in expensive white urban neighborhoods. Those who own want higher selling and rental prices. Right now selling prices are declining and rents are softening.

        Is there a shortage of zoning capacity in King Co.? Not if you believe the very progressive GMPC, and I previously posted its conclusions and findings. King Co. has the zoning capacity TODAY to accommodate another 800,000 to 1 million residents, without a single upzone.

        Where those units are built is up to builders and the PSRC and local governments. Builders so far tend to like the high-end Seattle districts like D3 and D7. 2300 new units have been built near U Village (because vibrant retail is critical to urbanism and multi-family housing) and those rents range from $2000 to $6000, and those are low compared to Kirkland. North Bellevue was slated to get 69,000 new high-end apartments, until the market for developing cooled and interest rates skyrocketed. Neighborhoods like Capitol Hill and Ballard are just as concerned with this amount of construction and gentrification as eastside cities because it changes the character of their neighborhood as only the wealthy can live in these new high-end units, and fight any upzoning although these are some of the most urban residential zones and should have higher zoning if more housing were really needed, although I agree there is a real risk that upzoning Capitol Hill could ruin its character.

        The PSRC since at least 2008 has told cities to upzone their urban and town centers so multi-family units are near walkable transit and walkable retail so tenants can live without a car (in large part to support ST’s inflated ridership estimates). Multi-family and commercial mixed-use lots are also larger, and cities can offer height incentives for affordable housing set asides, something not available in the SFH zones, and they don’t have the same yard setbacks and impervious surface limits so more of the lot can be developed to help offset the affordability mandates, with fewer parking limits because they are near walkable transit.

        HB 1110 allows a city to require two onsite parking stalls per unit because these neighborhoods have no transit, and as the Metro eastside cuts prove Metro can’t serve these neighborhoods, even peak hours from park and rides. What kind of nut upzones remote residential zones at the same time Metro is cutting service to these areas FROM PARK AND RIDES?

        So that is what cities have done. MI has another 1200 housing units in its 2050 goal (and is one of the few cities ahead of its 2035 Vision housing units, although ironically it has lost around 1000 residents over the last few years) and most of those are zoned for the town center and surrounding multi-family zones. I can’t imagine why anyone let alone an urbanist would want to live in an apartment or ADU/DADU at the south end of MI unless they want quiet, real quiet, and like to drive everywhere, when the prices are just as expensive as D3 and D7. Despite that, and excellent schools and proximity to Bellevue and Seattle, we can’t get any developer interested in our town center.

        Will builders be interested in building 2-4 units in residential neighborhoods under HB 1110, and possibly having to carry the loan. First any city 75,000 or less only has to allow two units per lot, and all eastside cities already allow a main house and ADU/DADU (Bellevue does not allow DADU’s but allows an extra 5% GFAR over MI). HB 1110 allows cities to make it tough with parking minimums, and the cost of the land is very high per sf, and only 40% to 45% of building lot area is developable on these lots with a 30′ or 35′ height limit. If I were an urbanist I certainly would not want to live in a small multi-family unit in a Sammamish or MI residential neighborhood where I had to own a car and drive everywhere, and the unit was as expensive per sf as a unit in downtown Bellevue or D3 or D7. Seattle’s 2017 upzone that allowed three units per residential lot and 50% GFAR I think hasn’t done much. The irony is some on this blog talk about allowing folks to live in these neighborhoods when none of them have any desire to move to them if upzoned.

        The market tends to sort things out. The zoning capacity is there if builders want to build, with zoning available in every city from SFH to 660′ in Bellevue. The question right now is can they make a profit doing it.

        In any case, after the new units are completed in Seattle I think there will be a pause on new construction to sort out future population growth, hiring in the tech field, WFH, the situation in downtown Seattle, interest rates, and whether there is more profit in cities like Everett and Kent and Tacoma these days because the land is cheaper. Housing sales prices will likely stay depressed overall, and rents fairly stable with rent increases reflecting the additional costs due to inflation and property levies and shifting of taxes from commercial buildings, with more and more older, affordable rental housing being converted to new less affordable construction which increases average median prices for rental housing on both ends.

      28. “Mike, you’ve always said it’s wrong for any neighborhood to fight against upzoning. Now you are rationalizing your neighborhood fighting against upzoning?”

        There have been no serious proposals for highrises on Capitol Hill that I’ve heard of, so nothing to fight against. The last fight was on upzoning Broadway from 4 to 7 stories in the 2000s. I supported that of course. Somebody opposed it but I don’t know whether the Capitol Hill Association did. It’s not like in Roosevelt where active opposition led to a stunted upzone, or Surrey Downs where active opposition led to no upzone. In this, the Capitol Hill Association and I are just supporting the status quo, and a higher limit beyond that is just imaginary, not an active proposal. Although I would expand the village horizontally, like I would with most urban villages, and the CHA may be less keen on that.

        We’ve sometimes talked about a cluster of skyscrapers around stations like in Vancouver. Northgate has a 200′ limit only on the mall lot, and the mall developer refuses to build more than four stories, so that’s a lost opportunity. That could theoretically happen at other stations like Roosevelt, Capitol Hill, Mt Baker, and/or Beacon Hill, but there’s so much opposition it hasn’t been attempted. That’s not the Capitol Hill Association spearheading it; the CHS is just a small part of widespread opposition throughout the city government and public.

        Even if highrise clusters were built, they’d be just a few buildings, like the 3-4 at Capitol Hill Station. That’s not at all like Belltown, which has highrises for several square blocks. That would be like turning all of Southwest Capitol Hill into highrises, which nobody has ever proposed. And probably isn’t necessary; see my initial argument. There are new and future highrises in nearby South Lake Union, if anyone should need one.

    3. Tacomee, since the possibility ST will be disbanded and the taxes continued but allocated to local bus agencies based on subarea equity is virtually nil the logical conclusion of raising driver and mechanic pay to attract more qualified applicants is higher costs which equals less service, unless you have another tax source.

      This issue is throughout municipalities, from fire to police to just regular workers. Rising inflation triggers increased wages in CBA’s and negotiations on top of rising healthcare costs. Employees just cost a lot more than they used to with little increase in productivity. It works if tax revenue is increasing, but that isn’t happening, especially in larger cities due to WFH.

      According to Fesler’s article a decline in mechanics is steeper than for drivers. Mechanics don’t work with the public so just dealing with the public isn’t the sole cause for a driver shortage. I think just the competition and alternatives in the private market with better places to work are the issue.

      At the same time I think transit got out over its skis when it came to coverage and a grid. Part of that is probably the fact areas that pay a lot in transit taxes like E KC are so large and undense and hard to serve, but want and need some of the transit pie. I don’t see transit advocates on this blog supporting my idea of county subarea equity for Metro.

      The problem today is those suburbanites who were hard enough to to serve but fortunately mostly rode transit four peak hours/day and drive themselves to the park and rides stopped riding transit. Now what does Metro do, especially with a driver shortage. It slashes runs and service on the Eastside, but still some eastsiders must use transit (especially if going to downtown Seattle) except they live in Northbend, , Snoqualmie, Sammamish, Redmond, and other expensive areas to serve.

      Meanwhile N Seattle is pursuing a gold plated RR Metro plan.

      At some point areas like E KC are going to say there is too large of a gap between the taxes they pay towards Metro and the service they now receive after the cuts, and will want to know where their excess taxes are going because their Metro taxes didn’t go down while their service was being slashed. It is easier to question the amount of service you get for your taxes when you no longer ride transit. I always get a laugh when some on this blog think empty park and rides are a good thing when those were the folks paying way more in transit taxes than they receive in services (and why ST 2 passed).

      At some point I think a quasi subarea equity plan for Metro will be necessary in which it is clearly stated how much a subarea pays in Metro taxes, how much service they receive, and where any excess tax revenue is going. It will be much easier explaining to eastsiders that their excess Metro taxes are going to equity areas (all of it) in S Seattle and S King Co rather than gold plated Metro service in many areas in N Seattle when so much of that gold plated service is going into the wealthier neighborhoods that they can afford themselves.

      North Seattle should not receive any Metro subsidies from the other subareas in the county, just like E KC shouldn’t.

      Otherwise I think the demand could’ve be pure subarea equity which isn’t very equitable, or lower Metro taxes to better approximate the LOS a subarea receives. I think Balducci sees this writing on the wall since she will have to explain to her voters why they get so little for their Metro taxes when at least ST taxes stay in the subarea.

      1. “some eastsiders must use transit (especially if going to downtown Seattle) except they live in Northbend, , Snoqualmie, Sammamish, Redmond, and other expensive areas to serve.”

        Bellevue, Kirkland, and Renton have more transit and more people who need transit than North Bend, Snoqualmie, or Sammamish. You’re focusing on some areas highlighted in the service changes, and ignoring the vast majority of bus service that’s unchanged.

        Redmond is not particularly expensive to serve. Some stat spins claim it’s the densest city per land area in the state. To me that’s just a spin. (Like Sammamish being a high-population city, when it’s only because of huge land area). But Redmond’s corridors to Crossroads, Kirkland, and Bellevue are certainly dense enough to support frequent bus service. And we can ignore “eastern Redmond” (e.g., Redmond Ridge and the area toward Duvall), which doesn’t have much bus service anyway. Eastern Redmond may be hard to serve but western Redmond isn’t.

      2. Too bad that there is no longer convenient transit service between Kirkland and downtown Seattle. Kirkland is the only eastside city that doesn’t get direct service to downtown Seattle. Wonder how the government feels about the deal they made.

      3. Subarea equity is an interesting concept, but it’s separate from these other issues, and would be long-term to implement. All Metro needs to do now is to keep restructure hours within subareas, as it has always done before 2022 (and may or may not have done since then). (That’s for revenue-neutral restructures. Expansion/contraction hours were formerly under the 40/40/20 rule, which was a kind of affirmative action for suburbs. Now they’re under however Metro decides to distribute them.)

        I’m against subarea equity because transit resources should predominantly go where the density and ridership is, and the money should come from where the most money is. These are often two different areas. (Although with overlap.) An indicator of ridership potential is apartments and commercial areas. An indicator of money is medium-density single-family neighborhoods (e.g, mid Bellevue, Clyde Hill). NOT sparsely-populated areas like Duvall or Black Diamond, where even if everybody is rich they add up to few people.

      4. Exactly Carl, who believes E KC doesn’t generate enough Metro taxes to afford direct and frequent bus service from Kirkland to downtown Seattle.

        The Eastside just needs to take control of its Metro tax revenue.

        Who cares if we are running empty buses. It’s our money, and I get the feeling not much of it is actually getting to the equity zones anyway. . Plus running empty buses frequently will result in full buses due to induced demand.

      5. “Too bad that there is no longer convenient transit service between Kirkland and downtown Seattle.”

        But, as has been talked about many times, there’s a lot less reason to go to downtown Seattle than there has been in the past. My trips to Seattle in general are scattered throughout the city, and are almost never to downtown. On a normal day, when 520 is open and Link is functional, the best place for the 255 to go to minimize travel time to a random point anywhere in the city is still the U-district – anywhere else potentially requires detours and backtracking, depending on where you want to go.

        If I really need to get to downtown quickly on a day when Link is messed up or 520 is closed or there’s a Husky game messing up traffic, the option exists to drive to the 550. But, in practice, I almost never need to do that. In the future, when 520 construction finishes and Link frequency between UW and downtown doubles, the decision to send the 255 to the U district will only look better.

        The loss of frequent evening service hurts, but it’s still no worse than the old 255, which also ran only every 30 minutes in the evening.

      6. Boy, you have a depressing view of downtown Seattle. So you don’t think it will ever be an important destination for shopping, dining or entertainment again and we should just give up on Kirkland having good access to the premier downtown in the entire region?

        Yes, it’s substantially worse than the old 255 in the evenings. Back when it ran, I would use the bus to go downtown evenings for events at the Paramount and Moore theaters or to meet friends for dinner. After the show or dinner I knew what time the bus left, could time my walk to a stop and get home in 20 minutes.

        Now it takes longer to get to a Link platform than it ever took to get to the nearest 255 stop, you don’t know when the next Link train will arrive, and it takes you as long to get to the ground level at the UW station as it took to get all the way to Kirkland. And that’s not even considering evening construction interruptions. And there’s no good way to time it so that you will get there with a reasonable wait for the 255. It’s simply rendered evening service between downtown Seattle and Kirkland unusable.

      7. As far as the importance of downtown, it’s also where you have to go for jury duty or court, for the passport office, maybe to see a medical specialist near Harborview or Swedish (both easier to reach from Fifth Ave than Link stations), or a consulate. And with back to office there are jobs moving back downtown. It’s ludicrous to discount downtown as a destination. I would like to see data that compares 2023 vs 2019 ridership on routes 255, 545, 550 and 554. I bet the route 255 ridership loss is more than twice as high as the other routes. Is there any place to look up the data online?

      8. Carl, Metro publishes data for their routes on their Rider Dashboard. ST unfortunately makes you hunt through their service delivery reports and are only updated quarterly at best.

      9. I didn’t mean to imply that downtown doesn’t matter anymore. It’s a question of whether downtown is so important that saving a few minutes for people going downtown justifies adding 30 minutes or more, each way, for people headed to literally anywhere in the northern half of the city. Like it or not, the geography of the city is such that transferring in the U-district to go downtown takes much less than than transferring downtown to go to the U-district (or anywhere north of it).

        Yes, the option exists to transfer to the 542 at Evergreen Point for such trips, but that means an extra connection to a bus that only runs every 30 minutes. Plus, in the eastbound trip, you’re waiting for a bus that could be delayed who-knows-how-long if there’s a big event going on downtown. There was a period in 2019 when I did this, and often found the least bad way to get home was to jog a full mile from Yarrow Point to the nearest stop on the 250. That shouldn’t be necessary.

        And, as mentioned, most of the problems with taking the existing 255 downtown look to be temporary. When the 520 construction is all done, we won’t have bridge closures anymore, and the bus will have an hov ramp to Montlake, skipping the long line. Link will also run more often and, hopefully, have fewer service disruptions. My only concern is how frequently the bus will still be running by the time that happens.

      10. Downtown is still a major destination. It comes down to various trade-offs. Imagine two choices:

        1) Bus runs every 15 minutes to the UW.

        2) Bus runs every 30 minutes to downtown. Bus exits at Montlake, serves at least one bus stop, then gets back on the freeway.

        When it comes to the 255, I think it is all too common to assume that the old 255 was possible. It really wasn’t. You can’t just skip UW riders, or ask them to go all the way downtown and then go back. You have to serve them. If you are serving them and running buses to downtown, that costs extra money (which means you run less often). Meanwhile, the driver shortage would have effected the old 255 just like the new one.

        There are really three phases when it comes to 520 transit:

        1) Before the work on the bridge. Buses could go downtown while dropping off people in Montlake. It wasn’t an ideal transfer for those headed to the UW, but it didn’t cost riders (or the route) much time at all.

        2) Construct era. The Montlake freeway bus stop is gone. A bus would have to exit and then make a U-Turn ( Metro would have to add a bus stop there as well. A bus doing that would not be immune to the closures. Likewise, the lack of HOV lanes would have hurt the riders to downtown just as much. The Montlake Bridge opening would have delayed riders, as well as the congestion. This era sucks.

        3) Bridge work is done. Once this happens, getting to the UW will be much easier. A bus should be able to get from the HOV lanes all the way to the edge of the bridge without encountering congestion.

        Given all the problems during this period, it is tempting to assume that the best approach was to wait until the work was done before changing the 255. I don’t that would have worked well at all, because there is no easy way to serve UW riders. This is just a rough period for riders on 520, and it would have been rough either way, unless Metro decided to subsidize those riders to a great degree (by running frequent buses to both the UW and directly to downtown). But that clearly would have fallen apart as we hit this period of cutbacks.

        I suppose there is one other option: Move the 271 to Bellevue Way, so that it serves the Evergreen Point freeway station. Now option 2 can skip the UW entirely. Riders headed to the UW would transfer at Evergreen Point. Hard to say whether that is actually better though. You still have less frequent service on the rest of the route, and riders to the UW are worse off. Ultimately, the biggest problem we have — by far — is lack of service. Making a less efficient network would only make it worse. Truncating buses at the UW makes a lot of sense — it is just particularly painful during this period.

      11. Carl, Metro publishes data for their routes on their Rider Dashboard. ST unfortunately makes you hunt through their service delivery reports and are only updated quarterly at best.

        ST now has monthly reports: It is pretty similar.

        In both cases, the tricky part is finding stop data. ST has that, but it just lists the total number of riders per stop (not the direction). In their annual report they used to list direction, but that seemed to go away during the pandemic, and hasn’t come back (so far as I know). Likewise, bus stop data for ST is in that annual report, but not on that “dashboard”.

        Metro never publishes their stop data, which is wrong, in my opinion. A public agency should reveal whatever data they have, and not force people like me to have some sort of secret source. Having this data is very useful when debating restructures. For example, how many people actually use the detour to Northwest Hospital (not a lot) or the detour to Four Freedoms (quite a bit). What if there are only a handful of riders on 19th, north of Thomas? We could make things a lot simpler by just running the 10 every ten minutes if that is the case.

        Anyway, I wish both agencies did a better job of revealing their data, as it would give voters a chance to address these changes, and come up with alternatives.

      12. Thank you for the citations to the sources of data. Here is a summary of what I found:

        Route 545 averaged 8-9,000 boardings/day in 2019 and is at about 4400 in June 2023.
        Route 550 averaged 7-8,000 boardings/day in 2019 is at 3700 in June 2023
        Route 554 averaged 3200-3700 boardings/day in 2019 and is at about 2400 in June 2023
        So that is about a 50% decline in boardings for the 545 and 550. Both routes serve a high number of office commuters at both ends of the route. Route 554 shows more like a 40% decline and doesn’t serve as many office locations.

        Route 255 averaged over 6000 boardings/day in 2019. Route 540 averaged 500-700 boardings/day in 2019. You need to add those boardings since route 540 was discontinued when route 255 was truncated and route 255 totally duplicates route 540. So it’s around 6600 boardings/day in 2019. In the first seven months of 2023 route 255 is averaging about 2100 boardings per day, so the decline in ridership on route 255 is about 70%. Route 255 may be more comparable to route 554 since there are not many offices on the Kirkland end of the route.

        As to what riders prefer and where riders are headed, it’s interesting that route 540 had only 10% of the ridership of the pre-truncation route 255. Another relevant comparison is ST 542 vs 545, since those routes are pretty much the same on the Eastside. In 2023 route 545 is carrying around 4400 riders/day and route 542 is carrying 1000-1100 per day.

        Especially leaving Seattle the time penalty going from downtown Seattle is not “a few minutes” but rather as much as 30 minutes when you factor in the more limited Link stops, the time to get to and from platforms, wait times, etc. So you make it much less convenient for the 80% of the riders coming from downtown in order to improve service for the 10% going to/from the University.

        Unfortunately the lid construction is done and we can’t bring back the Montlake freeway stations. It’s a crime that they were removed. The footprint of the freeway was widened considerably – I believe it was by over 60 feet – and a heavily used transit facility was removed – a facility that was particularly valuable when there were events at UW. We also spent a ton of money on freeway stations on 520 on the Eastside and on building a parking garage at S. Kirkland P&R. And we are building a transit ramp at I-5! Much of that investment loses its value when there isn’t service to the destination that people are trying to reach.

        I think a Kirkland-Seattle all-day route makes sense, maybe even more so if it can serve SLU – except that ramp is limited to the direction of the express lanes.

      13. The 550’s ridership numbers were already down by 1/3 by 2019, and the 554 by 17%. So compared to peak circa 2017 ridership both must be down by more than 50% today even as other peak only runs are being cut.

        You can really see it in the park and rides because just about every bus ride to downtown starts in an Eastside park and ride, and MI’s is the closest park and ride to downtown with easy access from I-90 with the best frequency with the number is buses that stop on MI, and it is mostly empty. At 453 stalls any return to office work in downtown Seattle and cross lake travel will begin at the UW park and ride.

        I agree the subarea (Metro and ST) has the money for a direct Kirkland to downtown Seattle run, although I would be interested to know how many on the 255 are going to UW and how many to downtown. Ridership on the 550 and 554 (and cuts to peak only routes to downtown) suggest Kirkland to downtown Seattle ridership is weak.

      14. I think a Kirkland-Seattle all-day route makes sense, maybe even more so if it can serve SLU – except that ramp is limited to the direction of the express lanes.

        OK, call that express bus the 256. What exactly are we talking about then? Basically something like this:

        255 every 40 minutes. 256 every 40 minutes. They run opposite each other, for 20 minute headways in Kirkland. Does that sound better? Not to me, but I can see why it might appeal to some. There is no free lunch. It is the same basic idea everywhere — if you keep running buses everywhere to downtown, you end up running far fewer buses.

        It is how we end up with this: People don’t have to transfer to go downtown, but the service is terrible. It is avoidable if we simply build a better network, that requires people to transfer.

      15. Everyone here is talking in the abstract or anecdotes, though, and so to some extent talking past each other. What we need is data that is not available, which is the point-to-point trip counts (which are not published) and a model estimating with some level of certainty how many more such trips would be taken if option A were done vs. if option B were done, as well as the average trip duration, the max trip duration, etc. Then you can set up a formula that weighs all these with some “fudge factors” to give different weighting to different aspects of the formula. On top of this you then need to take into account bus availability at different bases, availability of layover space, layover time for drivers to use the restroom and take breaks, etc.

        I would imagine that this is what planners __actually__ do, not just draw pretty lines on maps. We just don’t have the data on this blog, so we’re just wasting energy trying to convince each other without sufficient data to do so.

        For what it’s worth, I prefer point-to-point trips over transfers, because I don’t trust society to give Metro enough money to make transfers easy. So I prefer the peak usage trips (whether at peak time or otherwise) to be served as seamlessly as possible, and let the long tail of other trips to be made possible but not easy. The other option, of always forcing transfers, just makes every trip tedious.

      16. “ I would imagine that this is what planners __actually__ do, not just draw pretty lines on maps.”

        That’s what hood service planners do — except here in Seattle. Consider how the ST board chose alternative for DSTT2 and CID with not even ridership forecasts for the unstudied alternative.

      17. One more irritant, as I take notice of the next SR-520 closure.

        When SR-520 is closed, can we just operate the SR-520 buses to either the CID station or the Stadium station (assuming Link is running)?

        Here is what the latest SR-520 notice tells me. First, for the Yarrow Point or Evergreen Pt stops, use NE 40th or S. Kirkland P&R instead. Neither in walking distance. And instead of the stops on Montlake Blvd or Pacific, use stops at NE 43rd or Campus Pkwy. If you unknowingly get off at UW station, no bus for you. So you might as well tell people to go to CID or Stadium instead.

        Why do operate both 542 and 545 when SR-520 is closed? That’s simply pouring money down the drain and emitting wasted greenhouse gases to boot. Consolidate and have the folks who want to go to UW get on Link at CID or Westlake.

        This happens often enough that we literally run completely useless and empty buses on long roundabout routes not even to the normal UW Link station. It neither preserves the normal transfer point nor does it make any geometric or ridership sense.

      18. You can’t really compare due to the 255 and 540’s prepandemic ridership because the 255 ran vastly more trips, running all day when the 540 didn’t run at all, and running every 8-10 minutes when the 540 ran every 30 minutes. The 540 also did a live loop at the end of each peak-direction run, with no layover, so for reverse commuters, the 540 was effectively a bus that ran every 30 minutes with no schedule.

        For two years, in 2017 and 2018, I reverse-commuted from the U-district to Kirkland and found myself taking the 255 far more often than the 540, for these reasons. (By the end of 2018, getting tired of both options, I decided to just move to Kirkland instead, so I’ve been walking to work ever since).

      19. “Why do operate both 542 and 545 when SR-520 is closed? That’s simply pouring money down the drain and emitting wasted greenhouse gases to boot.”

        During temporary construction reroutes, there is a choice between running the routes, as they exist, skipping as few stops as possible, vs. drawing up new routes and new schedules for those specific days. This is a point that has legitimate pros and cons both ways, but for better or worse, Metro has a strong preference for the former option over the latter, possibly because they don’t want to deal with angry riders who get stuck waiting at the wrong stop for a bus that will never come. Because the number of actual days we’re talking about isn’t that much, and the number of drivers working on these days is the same as a normal day, I doubt it has much impact on the budget or the driver shortage.

        “Especially leaving Seattle the time penalty going from downtown Seattle is not “a few minutes” but rather as much as 30 minutes when you factor in the more limited Link stops, the time to get to and from platforms, wait times, etc.”

        Maybe on special days, like when the 520 bridge is closed, or the Montlake bridge is closed, or when the 255 gets stuck in Husky traffic, but on a normal day, that is simply not true. I have taking the 255->Link combo from downtown Kirkland to downtown Seattle, door to door, in about 35-40 minutes. On the other hand, taking the 255 downtown and switching Link to backtrack to the University, that is a 30 minute delay, minimum. Also, as mentioned, the U-district is not just about the university itself, but the entire north half of the city, including places like Fremont or Ballard where, under the old 255, you’d be going downtown and switching buses on 3rd Ave.

        I’ll also close this out by pointing out that if the 255 were to be modified to go downtown via SLU, the bus stops and stoplights within SLU itself would delay downtown-bound riders by at least as much as the transfer overhead to Link at UW station. It would also lead to a huge increase in travel time for people going to the airport – if you’ve got to switch to Link anyway, it is much better to do it back at the UW, rather than having to slog it out down the Mercer St. exit and streets of SLU and downtown before being able to board the train.

      20. But they are actually doing the worst of both worlds. They are running the routes in geometrically inefficient patterns that riders don’t want. And they are skipping the key transfer points. It would be one thing to say that they don’t want riders to take Link to UW station to transfer to the 255/542 and find the bus isn’t there. But they aren’t serving the UW station, they are terminating near U-District station, which isn’t where you would transfer if you didn’t know. If you need to know, you may as well go to CID.

        There is no reason to run the 542 at all when SR-520 is closed. That doesn’t require new routes. It just requires notifying passengers that when SR-520 is closed, use the 545. As to the 255, I’d prefer they run to either CID or Westlake rather than U-District when SR-520 is closed. Or officially terminate 255 at Bellevue Transit Center and continue as an extra run of ST 550 – that would be way more useful to riders.

      21. It sounds like what you’re asking is for Metro to essentially create a new route (I’ll call it 256), which would replace route 255 only on days when 520 is closed across Lake Washington. Route 256 would mirror the 255 from South Kirkland P&R to Totem Lake, but replaces the rest with a single stop at either Bellevue Transit Center or downtown Seattle.

        Sounds easy at first, but there are some questions to sort out. For example:
        – Exactly which route 255 trips get replaced with route 256, given that some bridge closures begin at 11 PM Friday, others at 9 PM Friday, and WSDOT doesn’t announce which until a few days before.
        – What happens if 520 is only closed one direction, but open the other (something WSDOT has done before)? Does the 256 run or not run?
        – What if the 520 bridge itself is open, but the ramp to/from 520 at Montlake is closed (something that has happened several times so far)? Or if the 520 ramps are open, but the Montlake bridge is closed?
        – What happens if the 520 bridge is scheduled to be closed all weekend, but the bridge re-opens Sunday afternoon/evening because WSDOT finishes their work ahead of schedule (this has also happened before)? Does the 256 continue to replace the 255 for the remainder of the day because that’s what Metro announced, or does regular route resume?
        – What happens if WSDOT announces an impending bridge closure, Metro announces route 256 will run on such and such date, replacing route 255, then, at the last moment, WSDOT announces that the bridge closure is being postponed because the scheduled work requires dry weather and it’s raining? Does Metro quickly reverse itself at 5 AM Saturday morning and go back to running the 255 again?

        The above questions sound simple. But, all of them have the potential to result in stranded riders waiting at the wrong stop as a result of communication issues. Part of the problem is that Metro does not have a magic button to send alerts out to every rider, and it shouldn’t be a requirement that every rider wishing to ride the 255 on a weekend subscribe to real-time Metro alerts in order to know when and where to wait for their bus – this is something that, as much as possible, should be known by somebody armed with no internet connection, and nothing except a paper copy of the bus schedule. As mentioned, avoiding these communication issues means running a route a few days a year that seems nonsensical. That’s the tradeoff that Metro has.

        “But they aren’t serving the UW station, they are terminating near U-District station, which isn’t where you would transfer if you didn’t know.”

        Actually, the bus only serves U-district station in the westbound direction, where people are only getting off the bus, not on. In the eastbound direction, where people are getting on in the U-district, the bus stops at the regular bus stops, even though after the Montlake stop, the bus will need to retrace its steps the other way (without stops) to reach the freeway on-ramp that’s open. So, nobody is actually at risk of waiting at the wrong stop, unless it’s some Medina resident walking to Evergreen Point, but that case is basically nonexistent.

      22. Yes, a very frequent route between Redmond and Seattle makes great sense; it would be Route 542 extended to Bear Creek; it might have five minute headway if the hours for routes 542 and 545 were combined. Link is key; it takes seven minutes between UW and Westlake. The I-5 general purpose lanes are jammed much of the day. Both 4th and 5th avenues are slower; SDOT took lanes from them in 2020 and 2019, respectively. Getting riders to/from Link, if Link runs with short headway, is sufficient connectivity with downtown Seattle. Some other suburbs do not or will not have direct two-way all-day connections with downtown Seattle (e.g., Auburn, Issaquah, Sammamish, Woodinville, Bothell).

    4. Mike Orr,

      A good piece over at Post Alley about how Seattle’s street car system died.

      Metro is under the same type of stress that took the street car system down (high inflation, lower ridership and political disfavor). Not that Metro would completely go away, but it might take the same path as Pierce Transit, which is really not functioning for many people in Tacoma. At the same time, Sound Transit dropped a billion on a two mile train to nowhere.

      If you can’t imagine Mayor Harrell using Sound Transit funds for some kind of “urban renewal fiasco” downtown while Metro runs short of money and cuts service even more, maybe you don’t understand Seattle politics completely.

      1. Yes, ST3 was a strategic mistake. It was more important to provide a Metro local option revenue first. The downfall stems back to 1999 and I-695 and the 2000 Legislative response. ST3 also use property tax and made solving McLeary more difficult.

        I doubt the Metro emergency is as severe as the Seattle Streetcar system; they had the Great Depression and very little tax subsidy. Seattle has a reasonable network; South King County does not.

      2. The loss of the streetcars was mostly a political decision. Seattle was typical of dozens of cities across the US.

        1. The private owners weren’t allowed to charge a fare that covers maintenance costs.
        2. The automobile lobby and car enthusiasts pushed to eliminate streetcars to extinguish their right of way over SOVs and eliminate center streetcar lanes, to make downtown streets one-way, so that cars wouldn’t have the inconvenience going over of tracks, etc.
        3. An ill-handled reprivatization in 1932 exacerbated the problems.

        What did the $12 million dollar renovation plan contain and how good was it? Would it have positioned the streetcar network for further modernization in the 60s and 80s? Did the city look at delaying the conversion for a few years to find more financing? Did the city consider a smaller plan that renovated only some of the higher-volume corridors and abandoned the others? Just because one line went to 3rd Ave W (former route 3 terminus) and another looped around in a rectangle to Queen Anne High School (former bus 4 terminus) doesn’t mean we had to keep all of that, especially since Seattle Pacific was built at one point and is a more natural terminus (and is now the terminus for the 3, 4, and 13).

        When the streetcars were replaced with trolleybus routes and they remained the norm for decades, I didn’t hear any sign of improvements in street or route conditions, just deteriorating frequency. The city didn’t prioritize transit and didn’t make it particularly easy to use. That was a problem from the 1930s all the way to the DSTT in 1990 and the start of more improvements in 2012.

        The first thing cities need to do is figure out what the optimal transit network is, and steps toward it. That doesn’t cost much money. Then it can phase in implementations as it has resources. Seattle apparently didn’t do that in the 1930s: it just replaced the streetcar lines with trolleybus routes and didn’t look further. And it just coasted as the population later increased and the city annexed land, so that transit was mediocre throughout the decades. The failure of Forward Thrust also set us back thirty years before we could try again with Link. And the 2/3 threshold that Forward Thrust couldn’t reach even though it got over 50% was part of the problem.

  16. Mike, all I am suggesting is subarea equity for Metro. Let the subareas decide where to allocate its Metro taxes. Every subarea has its equity zones. If some kind of subarea revenue sharing is necessary ok, but be transparent about it, and let the subarea decide where its excess tax revenue will go.

    Just look at how much more efficient Link is on the Eastside (notwithstanding Issaquah Link). Let us manage our Metro taxes. Every time you get (north) Seattle involved it becomes gold plated like WSBLE or RR G.

    With Metro subarea equity we wouldn’t have disagreements about serving Renton, Northbend, MI etc. because it wouldn’t concern you, just like the costs for RR in north Seattle wouldn’t concern me (and kill DSTT2 so I don’t have any skin in the game when it comes to WSBLE either).

    Surely you suppose subarea equity in King Co. for Metro.

    1. If King county Metro had subarea equity, how would you handle bus routes which cross subarea boundaries?

      1. Cross subarea bus routes could be treated like East Link when it comes to allocating costs.

        The Eastside subarea pays 100% of the ST express buses. Once East Link opens the Eastside subarea revenue should increase significantly when N KC and SnoCo chip in. I don’t know of any Metro or ST buses that originate in Seattle and go to the Eastside. Maybe no Seattleites take the bus to the Eastside. In that case Seattle would pay very little for buses that cross the lake.

        Wiki notes the cost per boarding for some Eastside/suburban peak boardings was very high. Eddie notes Metro had subarea equity during this time from 1991 until around IIRC 2011. About the time of peak commuting to Seattle and before Eastside revenue took off.

        Now we have plummeting peak commuting and consequently cost per boardings — hence reductions in peak Metro service — and Eastside tax revenue has exploded, but no subarea equity.

        If the Eastside was able to cover Metro costs during subarea equity when costs boarding were high and tax revenue much lower than now there must be a tremendous amount of excess Metro tax revenue in the Eastside subarea post pandemic, especially with the recent cuts.

        So why not return to Metro subarea equity.

    2. Just look at how much more efficient Link is on the Eastside (notwithstanding Issaquah Link).

      Wait, what? Issaquah Link is the only big ST3 project for the East Side. You are basically saying that ST3 on the East Side is great, except for the main project on the East Side, which is the worst project in the proposal. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?

      There really isn’t any regional difference when it comes to the various projects of ST3. If anything, it is Seattle that at least came up with a pretty good project (Ballard Link) before screwing it up (with an extra tunnel, bad transfers, bad station in Ballard, etc.). In contrast, Issaquah Link is fundamentally flawed, even before ST inevitably makes it just a bit worse. So too is West Seattle Link, Tacoma Dome Link and Everett Link. They are all bad projects. There was only one decent (major) project in ST3, and it was in Seattle.

      The same is true with ST2. East Link is a typical ST project. It is OK, but it has construction problems (obviously) as well as bad stations (East Main). It is really no different than the rest of the system, it is just that the stakes are lower. Having only one station between Westlake and UW (and only two in the U-District) hurts a lot. Having only one decent station in Downtown Bellevue isn’t quite as bad. Do everything just right with East Link and you get a few more riders. Do everything just right in Seattle and you get a lot more.

      When it comes to transit, the fundamental problem with the East Side is the land-use pattern. There are pockets of density on the East Side, but they are too spread out. The ridership numbers confirm this. Look at ridership per hour on the various routes: (page 29). The green routes are those that perform better than average. Almost all of them are in Seattle. The only exceptions are Rapid Ride (A certainly, B and F maybe), the 252 (during peak) and the 372. These are all numbers from before the pandemic, which means the 252 is probably off that list now. Other than the B Line (maybe) there are no East Side buses on that list.

      That’s it. Every other high performing route is in Seattle. The point being, if the East Side is separate, the only way it would perform better is if East Side voters decided to subsidize transit to a much higher degree. I could see this — maybe folks on the East Side really care about transit, and want to see their taxes raised to run the buses more often. But again, the problem is that they get less for it. It costs a lot more money to get the East Side to a decent level of transit than it does in Seattle. Fewer riders benefit as well.

      If we split into different entities, then the only area that would benefit would be Seattle. Seattle would get way more for their money, and be willing to spend it. Other agencies would need to be more heavily subsidized, and likely end up with only a handful of core routes (that are nowhere near as frequent as the core routes in Seattle) and infrequent coverage service that leaves even bigger gaps than the ones that exist now.

      1. I am not sure who said Link is more efficient on the Eastside. Not me. First, how can we know until it fully opens. Second, I have repeatedly noted I think Eastside buses are much more flexible and provide pretty much the same service as East Link with fewer transfers. Third, East Link/Redmond Link cost around $5.5 billion that would go a long way to increasing bus frequency and coverage. Fourth the route of East Link is flawed. Fifth, eastsiders have little interest in changing their land use. They like driving and sometimes you just have to accept that when you are planning transit.

        I certainly never said Issaquah Link is “efficient” or a good use of funds. Just the opposite. It is the poster child for a subarea with too much revenue and the profligacy of a transit crowd that thinks any transit spending is good spending damn the wisdom or efficiency (dollar per rider mile).

        I have also noted before, as Ross notes, that it is expensive to provide bus service to an area as large and undense as east KC. So you don’t. The one thing that made it more affordable is it was mostly peak oriented with packed buses with a very high fare payment percentage, and the riders paid for the cost of their first/last mile access to the park and rides. Of course the area that benefitted from all those work commuters was downtown Seattle with its expensive parking.

        That isn’t to say the Eastside couldn’t afford its expensive bus service with ST and Metro taxes. E KC has paid 100% of the express buses to and from Seattle for over a decade while building East and Redmond Link and owes one year’s worth is subarea revenue. When East Link opens N KC and SnoCo will have to start contributing to those current bus costs through Link. In fact the subsea has so much revenue (in part by avoiding $15 billion projects like WSBLE) it can afford 3 Stride lines and Issaquah Link.

        Up until 2011 the Eastside funded all its Metro bus service through its subarea Metro taxes according to Eddie. From 1991 to 2011 bus service was at its peak cost on the Eastside and sales tax revenue much lower than today, but the Eastside has to fund it alone.

        With WFH and the Eastside economic engine including online sales tax revenue and Metro’s continuing cuts to peak service the Eastside is running a very large surplus in Metro taxes vs service, although there are no specific subarea reports to set forth those figures I can find. Shouldn’t we at least know the numbers like with ST?

        I am not saying equity doesn’t support some revenue sharing for Metro although apparently there wasn’t from 1991 to 2011 when the Eastside could have probably used some help. But Metro subarea equity would clarify how much Metro tax revenue is leaving a subarea, maybe determine the service a subarea gets (whole Eastside cities like mine effective have no intra city transit), and ideally give the subarea a say in where its excess Metro tax revenue is going (including to more intra subarea service like a direct bus from Kirkland to downtown). . After all, Seattle would object if some of its voter approved levy money for Metro was going outside its “subarea”, and in fact N Seattle complains about its service being reallocated to S Seattle and S KC based on wealth disparities rather than ridership.

  17. With East Link now operating within a moat, it was sure a mistake to put the Bellevue stations just off I-405 and not on Bellevue Way.

    1. That overserves MLK in East Seattle, and underserves Rainier and Jackson north of Mt Baker Station. There’s a huge transit market between south Rainier, north Rainier, and Jackson.

    2. Sorry, I don’t see it. Several issues:

      1) A hairpin turn, limiting trip pairs. Often it will be faster to walk, or take another bus.

      2) Ridership mismatch. Madison has very high density. MLK does not. MLK also has competition, from Link and the 48. The southern end is especially weak. It is basically a coverage route at that point. So now you are combining BRT with a coverage route.

      3) Too long.

      1. Think about the 54 in Minneapolis. Rainier avenue does lack density in the south end, but this is a direct path to light rail that can partially supplement the corridor, a partial replacement for the 106. I’m still working on the actual map. The 4/104 concept is something that I think has great potential.

      2. From what I can tell, the 54 is an ordinary bus that runs a fairly straight route about every 15 minutes. The G is BRT. It has special buses that allow it to serve stops in the middle of the street. It will run every 6 minutes. It is also very straight (more straight than the fairly straight 54). However, the extension you propose would require making a hairpin turn, while dramatically increasing the length of the route. This would increase the cost of operations as well as capital spending (for the BRT bus stops, additional right-of-way and the special buses). The risk of bus bunching would increase as well. Meanwhile, the hairpin turn reduces the number of trip pairs. For example, imagine you are at Garfield High headed towards First Hill. You could take this bus (since it runs every 6 minutes) but the 3/4 runs every 7.5. You might as well take the 3/4, since it follows a more direct path. It becomes the worst of both worlds — you have a much longer line, with few additional riders.

        Or consider that connection to light rail. If you are on the train coming from the south (or east) you just stay on the train until it gets downtown. Your trip to just about anywhere on Madison is faster, which means this basically just works for the same corridor as the 48 (along 23rd) or the 8 (along MLK). You’ve turned a bus that is as straight as an arrow to one that practically doubles back on itself. Sorry, but that isn’t a good idea.

        There is really nothing inherently wrong with the G. It isn’t that long, but it is long enough to get plenty of riders. There are advantages to the relatively short length. The buses run frequently, and avoid bus bunching. It didn’t cost that much to buy all the special buses, or build the special stops. You manage to cover the areas that are very dense. Transfers are good, simply because it runs so often.

        There are other places where such an investment could make sense, but they are relatively rare. Downtown is a natural convergence zone (making it appropriate as a spine). There are other corridors where buses converge as well (e. g. Pine/Pine). You really have only a handful of unique corridors where it makes sense to serve it with one very frequent bus, and few of them are as densely populated as this one. Pretty much all of them are in this area. I could see the eastern part of the 3/4, as well as the 8 having similar headways. That’s about it. Neither of them make sense for pairing with the G.

    3. I would have suggested connecting Route 7 in Downtown Seattle if I was extending RapidRide G. The regional destinations on this line are on the Downtown end of the route.

      From MLK and Madison, I think a more useful operation would be to go north on LWB and connect to 520 buses and then UW at Montlake. It’s not easy to modify LWB so that would need to be studied and pavement changes would likely be needed.

      1. The 7 could work, definitely. The 7 runs every 7.5 minutes midday, so it isn’t a stretch to run it every 6 minutes. There is definitely enough demand there. It isn’t ideal from a straightness standpoint. There are trips that are more direct, that would be faster on the 48 or the 60. There were plans to have center running buses (and the streetcar) along Jackson, which would be great. This bus could easily take advantage of it. You would need to do some work on Rainier, but there are plans for that already. It works well as a late night route as well. Metro got push-back when they wanted to completely separate the 7 from the 49. Late night workers on Capitol Hill want their one-seat ride through downtown to Rainier Valley. This would solve that problem.

        The C could work as well. From a geographic standpoint, it is great. Every trip pair works well. It isn’t as frequent though, and it might be a stretch to run it every six minutes.

        In both cases, I don’t know much about potential slow downs. The current G works because it avoids potential bottlenecks, and is fairly short. Both suggestions would greatly increase the length of the route, and increase the chances of bus-bunching. I think both ideas are solid though, and could work if SDOT put enough effort into fixing the street.

        Ideally this would be paired with a smaller bus route, but I don’t see anything that works well.

    4. Through-routing the G Line with any other route is awkward due to the special buses having doors on both sides. Ignoring that, through-routing the C and G Lines would have been interesting, and put stops for the G close to Pioneer Square Station.

  18. “Up until 2011 the Eastside funded all its Metro bus service through its subarea Metro taxes according to Eddie.”

    eddiew, is that what you meant? That each subarea’s tax revenue went to its own dedicated pool of service hours? That seems to contradict 40/40/20, and Seattle’s legacy subsidy (at least the part that hadn’t been eaten up by 40/40/20.

    My understanding is that when Metro was set up in the 1970s, Seattle was allowed to keep its existing subsidy for its existing level of service, and the whole county or the rest of the county got the rest. That’s what I thought was the reason Seattle had mostly half-hourly service in the 80s, and the rest of the county had hourly. 40/40/20 was supposed to gradually equalize the service level throughout the county. So whenever Metro got an increase in revenue (more service hours), it was distributed 40% to South King County, 40% to East King County, and 20% to Seattle. And whenever Metro had to cut hours, 60% came from Seattle, 30% from one of the other two, and 10% from the other. Or maybe vice-versa. But it was based on their existing service hours, not on how much money each subarea raised.

    Metro did keep service hours within a district (e.g., southeast Seattle, northeast Seattle) when it restructured (as distinct from expansion/contraction). That’s a kind of subarea equity but different than Sound Transit’s or what I think Daniel is talking about.

    1. “Metro did keep service hours within a district (e.g., southeast Seattle, northeast Seattle) when it restructured”

      Except, it didn’t. Route 41’s service hours were moved out of the district and sent to South King in the name of “equity”.

      1. Seems like every service decision is getting made on the basis of “equity”.

        The risk is that this transforms transit from a transportation function into a social welfare function. Shouldn’t transit be focused on providing effective transportation… where the ridership is and where the density is… and contributing to good land use, and less pollution and greenhouse gases? That requires providing transportation to 100% of the population that will use transit and using that lens to design and allocate service. Since disadvantaged people are more likely to use transit, a focus on ridership and density ought to fulfill the equity principle as well.

        But if you don’t serve all the riders, then arguments like Daniel’s become self-fulfilling prophecies. People can’t use transit because our land use is built for car use and free parking; and our land use will continue to optimize for that because there aren’t good alternatives.

        If you’ve been watching and reading about the Blue zones where people live long healthy lives, one of the key characteristics is that people naturally walk and move a lot. That requires an environment that encourages walking. That means transit for everyone and less free parking for everyone and land use that encourages that. You can’t only do that for a fraction of the population.

      2. “Seems like every service decision is getting made on the basis of “equity”.”

        That statement has some curious problems.

        1. “Equity” is defined by the spin. Subarea equity often favors wealthier areas. Ethnicity is not the same as income and that’s not the same as transit dependency (no vehicles available at home). Car share or ride hailing could be subsidized in theory.

        2. Equity has at least three major components — geography (how far to the bus stop or station?), service — time of day and frequency (can a bus facilitate my trip?) and destinations (can I easily get where I need to go?). If we had just eight hours of service a day (or only operate five days a week) we could offer lots more frequency and geography, for example.

        3. All of this ignore looking a productivity measures. Traditionally it’s number of riders and fares paid that ultimately decides what happens to a route. Claiming “equity” can be an excuse to ignore productivity — at least in the short term.

        I’ve grown to view the term as too vague to be anything very useful.

      3. “Route 41’s service hours were moved out of the district and sent to South King in the name of “equity”.”

        eddiew said “Metro used subarea equity between about 1991 and 2011.” I said, “All Metro needs to do now is to keep restructure hours within subareas, as it has always done before 2022 (and may or may not have done since then).” I was alluding to the 41 controversy as the possible end of it.

        However, it’s not clear that the 41’s hours were moved out of the district. What increases elsewhere correspond to the 41’s hours? It’s just as likely that the 41’s hours were swallowed by the revenue loss in the covid recession. And now the problem is the driver shortage. Metro has the money to add some runs; it just doesn’t have enough drivers to operate them.

      4. “eddiew said “Metro used subarea equity between about 1991 and 2011.” I said, “All Metro needs to do now is to keep restructure hours within subareas, as it has always done before 2022 (and may or may not have done since then).” I was alluding to the 41 controversy as the possible end of it.”

        So Mike, were the service hours from the recent cuts to eastside Metro service kept in E KC? I don’t think so. Equity today means race and community AMI, which is probably what equity should be. N Seattle is going to lose service just due to driver shortages and funding shortages because there isn’t enough to go around, N. Seattle has hogged a lot of service, and so the resources have to be prioritized. The KC council is going to use ridership during the pandemic to determine not those who like to ride transit but whose who must even if their lives depend on it.

      5. “were the service hours from the recent cuts to eastside Metro service kept in E KC?”

        That’s an unanswerable question because the hours didn’t go to anywhere; they disappeared., the City of Seattle representing the TBD.

      6. “The risk is that this transforms transit from a transportation function into a social welfare function.”

        Which is something I have been warning about for some time. The more voters view transit as a social welfare function rather than a transportation function, the less likely they will be to vote for improving it, or even maintaining current taxes to fund it, at the ballot box.

    2. I guess is there a document that shows king county metro income/ expenditures by sub area or some other unit?

    3. Mike: no. The quotes marks appear to be around an inaccurate sentence. Metro applied subarea equity. There were four rules. New hours were to be allocated 40-40-20 percent to the south, east, and west, so that the suburbs could catch up. Hence the F line was added when new revenue found during the recession to maintain the RR expansion. Sixty percent of Metro service was in Seattle. Two-way all-day routes that crossed subarea lines were 50-50 routes; the hours were split (e.g., routes 101, 150, 174, 255, 271, 341, etc. With restructures, redeployed hours were to remain in the same subarea. With reductions, the hours were to be taken from its subarea proportional to each share of the total. The new guidelines were adopted in the summer 2011.

      1. OK, then we need to distinguish between multiple kinds of subarea equity. Daniel is taking your quotes and claiming Metro has ST-style subarea equity; i.e., that the Eastside’s tax revenues went to Eastside service, and the same for Seattle and South King County, and it should do so again now. When you say again “In 2003, Metro had subarea equity”, it exacerbates the problem. I think we should limit the term to ST’s kind, because that’s what the current public understands and what’s in effect now. What you’re calling Metro’s subarea equity is the same as what I’m calling Metro’s 40/40/20 policy.

      2. Yes Mike, I am proposing Metro use ST’s model of subarea equity: Metro tax revenue raised in one subarea stays in that subarea.

        First I would just like to see Metro calculate the numbers and be transparent about how much tax revenue a subarea raises and how much is spent in that subarea. I don’t want terrible Metro projects like Issaquah Link because an area has too much revenue, but I think that is much less a risk with buses (except for Seattle’s RR program). But when I look at ST subarea revenue in which E KC now has the same annual ST tax revenue as ALL of N KC (Seattle) my guess is the eastside generates the same Metro tax revenue as all of Seattle, but I am not seeing that in the levels of service.

        Metro needs to be much more transparent about how much of the transit pie is being generated by each subarea and where it is going. Then we can have a discussion about actual equity, which is taking transit revenue from one subarea and using it another subarea.

      3. The use of the term equity here is Orwellian. Providing the best service to the richest areas is the opposite of equitable.

      4. “The use of the term equity here is Orwellian. Providing the best service to the richest areas is the opposite of equitable.”

        SUBAREA EQUITY, Sam. Of course it is the opposite of equity, or at least sharing the wealth type of equity. Why do you think Rob McKenna insisted on it.

        Real Metro equity will be taking transit service from the rich N. Seattle and eastside and reallocating it to S. Seattle and S KC. It’s already started on the eastside. Next up N. Seattle. The ST Board has been doing it for years with ST revenue sub rosa with express buses etc.

        I am not saying strict subarea equity is all good. Look at WSBLE and Issaquah Link while those poor bastards in S. Seattle stand out in the rain waiting for surface Link. But Metro subarea equity would at least show how much each subarea raises in revenue, and where it is going. That way the recipient Metro subareas know where to send the thank you card.

  19. Today is the first real day since the service cuts. Anecdotally there looked to be a lot of cancelations today but I didn’t count. Lots of preparation but no execution. Same old metro…

    1. Again, and what some people just aren’t getting, is that the suspended routes in total amounted to about 200 trips per day. But, on an average weekday, Metro was averaging about 700-800 missed or cancelled trips per day. Meaning, even after suspending the 20 or so routes, it will only bring the 700 to 800 missed trips per day down to about 500 to 600 missed trips per day. It won’t make it go to near zero. Why would it?

      What will also help to bring the missed trips number even lower is the hiring of new drivers, and the end of summer. (When the weather is warm, workers call in sick more).

      1. Sam, that is the point Fesler made in his article in The Urbanist. Current reductions equal around 4% of service (and many of those reductions were not dramatic since eastsiders stopped commuting to Seattle), but Fesler estimates 8% of service reductions will be necessary to achieve schedule reliability with the same revenue and number of drivers AND mechanics. I think 8% is low and have said as much for a long time, although folks on this blog said I was anti transit for saying that, although now all the transit advocates are accepting it. The real question is where the rest of the cuts will come from, which is one reason I would like to see Metro subarea equity so at least subareas know how much Metro tax revenue they raise, and where it is going.

  20. Do, why is it that whenever a Seattle route is canceled or suspended there is an extensive lost of alternatives, but when a South King County bus is canceled or suspended there is no alternatives? Because Metro only cares about Seattle and South King County is unimportant.

      1. One example could be the 522. ST has decided that even after LLE opens the 522 rather than truncating at 148th will continue down LCW to the Roosevelt Link station, on the eastside’s nickel. According to ST the 522 will be necessary to meet the evening commute home — at least to Northgate — when LLE opens but EL can’t run across the bridge.

        I don’t know a lot about S KC buses. I know ridership on Sounder S. has plummeted. But put it this way: S KC is poor (equity zone poor) and E KC is wealthy, and our peak routes got axed because no one was riding them.

        That eliminated service was not reallocated to other eastside transit as far as I know. I would love to see Metro subarea equity, or at least a breakdown of the Metro taxes a subarea pays and the amount of transit service it gets, and where the excess goes. My guess is S KC does pretty well in that scenario, although like E KC S KC is a very, very difficult and expensive place per boarding to serve with transit, especially non-peak Metro service. Plus Seattle levies itself for additional Metro service, something I doubt would pass in S KC.

        But my rep Balducci is on your side, at least as far as where to reallocate the excess eastside Metro taxes. She thinks S KC should get the excess revenue based on AMI and not ridership.

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