The T line phase 2 in Tacoma opened today, with tour guides and festivities until 5pm. The original T line runs north from Tacoma Dome station on Pacific Avenue and through downtown Tacoma on Commerce Street. The extension turns west on 6th Avenue Division Street and south on MLK Way. This is Tacoma’s “First Hill”, the hospital district and historically lower-income Hilltop neighborhood. It ends at South 19th Street. A third phase in the 2040s will go west on 19th to Tacoma Community College. Trains run every 12 minutes until 8pm weekdays and Saturdays, and every 20 minutes 8-10pm. On Sundays trains run every 20 minutes until 6pm. The last inbound train (to Tacoma Dome) leaves 32 minutes later. [Update: Corrected the frequency.] The fare is a flat $2. A day pass costs twice that. If you get a chance to try the current T line, let us know. I’ll go down sometime in the next few weeks.

I’m also thinking of a bus trip on CT 271, the route on Highway 2 that goes through Snohomish, Monroe, Sultan, and Gold Bar in Snohomish County. A commentator recently took this route to Gold Bar for a hike. I’m thinking about visiting the towns. Do you have any recommendations for things to see in there, or whether to go end to end first, or which town to spent time in and turn around? Everett to Snohomish is 15 minutes on Saturdays, Everett to Monroe 28 minutes, and Everett to Gold Bar 59 minutes. On weekdays it’s several minutes longer. The bus is hourly until around 8pm every day. A total end-to-end round trip from Seattle on Link, ST 512, and CT 271 would be 4 hours of riding and 2-3 hours of transferring (aka forced layovers). Turning around at Monroe would shave an hour off that. What would you do?

This would complement my Snoqualmie Valley bus trip in 2014. I repeated the trip last year. I didn’t have enough new things to say for an article, but I traveled with a friend this time, got another look at Issaquah’s route area, stopped in a cafe in Snoqualmie and Duvall, and checked ridership in the New Urbanist developments of Snoqualmie Ridge and Redmond Ridge. The Snoqualmie Valley Shuttle had around twenty passengers getting on and off at various stops. To get the shortest transfer waits and finish in the early afternoon, I really had only one schedule choice, that left Seattle around 7am and Snoqualmie at 8:44am. The 208 made about four stops inside inside Snoqualmie Ridge. I don’t remember it doing that before; I thought it just stopped at the parkway entrances. On/offs were in the 0-2 range. Redmond Ridge was a contrast. The 224 makes several stops inside the neighborhood, and ten or fifteen people got on/off, more than I expected. The sidewalks in Redmond Ridge had several pedestrians walking around too, making the most of their walkable environment.

If anyone else has other transit tours to describe, put then in the comments or email a paragraph to the contact address for a future open thread.

This is an open thread.

116 Replies to “Open Thread 17: T Line MLK Opens”

  1. Too bad the bus doesn’t go to Index, the most scenic and interesting place. Definitely don’t turn around in Monroe. I lived in Gold Bar from 1975-2000, on and off, moved there from Wallingford, now live in Winslow. Recently was up in the Sky valley and was stunned by the change, not for the better. Strip malls, etc. Go on a clear day as the mountains are epically beautiful, no point in going when you can’t see the scenery.

    1. Yeah, I agree. It is a scenic ride, so if you get a window seat it would be rewarding. I’m afraid I mostly know it from driving, so I have no idea what side of the bus I would sit on.

      Wallace Falls is the obvious hike. It is a bit of a walk from the bus stop ( Depending on the day and time of year, you might have luck hitchhiking to the trailhead. A sign always helps. Stick out your thumb with a “Wallace Falls Trailhead” sign and someone is bound to give you a ride. Pickup trucks are ideal, as you can just jump in back. Spring is the obvious time to hike by the falls, and even if you end up walking all the way from the bus stop, it is not that far to see the falls. To the lake is farther, and it is more fun to walk those trails than alongside the road. It can get crowded on spring weekends, especially before the snow melts (since you can make that hike all year round). It has been years since I’ve been up there, but I am confident the trail system is top notch.

      Another alternative — especially on a nice day — is Reiter Foothills. I’ve never been on it, but it looks really good: Unfortunately, it is an even farther walk to the trailhead ( There are fewer people heading to it as well. A sign would help immensely, and you might get a ride from a local, which would be ideal, as it gives you chance to chat. Unless, of course, you are in the back of a pickup.

      If I went on a nice day, I would try to go there. If I went on a cloudy day (like today) I would head towards the waterfalls and lake.

      Unlike Deborah, I don’t have a great feel for any of the towns. Like most visitors, I’ve spent most of my time off the main highway. Like Index and Skykomish (where I have spent some time) I would imagine the interesting stuff is on the side streets. If you do end up in Monroe, it is best to check out Main Street (instead of Highway 2). The town of Snohomish may be the best option. I believe the bus gets you close to the main downtown area, which is charming and scenic (although I haven’t been there in years). I think it is more interesting than Monroe.

      Another option if you want a scenic ride to the mountains is the 230 to Darrington. The view of Whitehorse Mountain (and other peaks) from Darrington is stunning. So you should definitely wait for a nice day. I’ve walked around there a bit and enjoyed the town. I remember a nice pizza/bakery and there is a brewpub there that would be fun (if you get there when they are open). I don’t have a lot of familiarity with the trails that are right outside of town. The Old Sauk Trail is great (it follows the river valley) but is quite a walk (, and hitchhiking (even with a sign) might be a challenge, as a lot of hikers don’t know where that trailhead is. It doesn’t look like a nice road to walk, either. My guess is the best bet for hiking outside of town would be the Whitehorse Trail, since it is very close to town and the bus stop ( The trail gets close to the highway and a few bus stops, which would enable a one-way hike (e. g. There are no sidewalks on Swede-Heaven road, but it is only half a mile (remember to walk on the left side, facing traffic so you can see it coming and get out of the way). Based on the Google street view (which wasn’t taken on a nice day — it looks nice. If you don’t want to walk a road, then this ( is probably the best option, as the trail is very close to the bus stop. Taking a bus and then walking a path to a nice, scenic town to get a beer and pizza sounds downright European.

      1. In my opinion, the south side of the bus is best between Snohomish and Gold Bar.

        North side is good between Snohomish and Everett as you can see Baker.

        If you take the 109 to get to Snohomish rather than go all the way to Everett, the east side gives you a view eastward to the mountains.

        Almost All views are very fleeting though.

    2. I’m leaning toward going to the eastern end at Gold Bar, then coming back to Snohomish. A guy who lives in Monroe says Main Street has some thing but not a lot, Snohomish still has the antique stores, and Sultan and Gold Bar have little. (He owns Woodring’s jam and kimchi stand in Pike Place Market, and is also at the Broadway farmer’s market every other week.) With Glenn’s tip I might take the 109 back from Snohomish to Ash Way. That must be the route that’s the closest to my friend in north Lynnwood’s house. She says there’s a route that goes north from Ash Way and goes halfway to Jefferson Way.

      1. The problem with the 109 is there’s only one stop in downtown Snohomish, and only the northbound buses use it. It’s not difficult to figure out, but annoying there’s no equivalent southbound stop. It makes it somewhat easier to take the 109 to downtown Snohomish, explore a bit, and then take the 271 going east than the other way around, as southbound on the 109 are on D, which has a lot more auto traffic to deal with to cross the street.

        Not the end of the world, but annoying.

        Most interesting part of town to me is 1st between D and Willow.

      2. Oh, by “other way around” I mean westbound 271 to southbound 109 – other way around by trip.

      3. I’m leaning toward going to the eastern end at Gold Bar, then coming back to Snohomish.

        That is what I would do.

  2. What’s done is done. I can’t envision ways to make this service attract many riders.

    As a slow, relatively short distance service I think 20 minutes will be a real detriment to getting much use. I would think that 15 minute service but for fewer hours would be better at getting riders. Ideally it would be at 12 minutes or 10 minutes.

    I don’t know how much limitation the original single track section makes higher frequencies more difficult — and it would seem to me to be that enabling more frequent T-Line trains is a better use of tax dollars than a hyped Pacific Ave BRT that achieves only modest transit speed gains. (Another idea would be to extend TDLE end station access nearer to UWT and Pacific Ave.) I can’t help but think that Pierce interests need to look into how that BRT money can be put to better use.

    1. I don’t think there’s a physical limitation on 12 or 15 minutes. That’s half the trains per hour as Line 1 at Seattle’s MLK intersections. And I think it may have run at 12-15 minutes earlier.

    2. it would seem to me to be that enabling more frequent T-Line trains is a better use of tax dollars than a hyped Pacific Ave BRT that achieves only modest transit speed gains

      I seriously doubt that. First of all, if done right, the Pacific Avenue BRT would enable significant gains in both speed and frequency at very little cost. Off board payment is not that expensive. Adding BAT lanes (so you can avoid the worst of the congestion) is even cheaper, as long as you are willing to take a lane. BRT makes way more sense for Tacoma than a streetcar that is extremely expensive per mile, while providing minimal benefit.

      The reason the streetcar will run infrequently is because they don’t expect many riders, not because of some physical limitation. The streetcar is a monument, an exercise in symbolic transit, a way to say “Look we we can build something cool!”. In contrast, speeding up the most productive bus line in Tacoma (by a big margin) is a very reasonable project. They just screwed it up.

      The reason the streetcar will never get that many riders is partly due to competition. The BRT would replace existing bus service down Pacific Avenue. In contrast, the streetcar largely just does the same thing as many of the buses. For example, take this trip, to the Tacoma Dome: You’ve got four buses with the same amount of walking, and another one that extends coverage. The same is true for various trips along here. It isn’t quite the spine that Seattle has, but partly that is because of poor downtown routing (not enough consolidation) and partly it is due to Pierce Transit simply not having money. Yet despite all that, the lowly buses often compete well with the streetcar, despite the train running way more often. The new extension doesn’t really change the dynamic, in part because it loops around ( Notice that the streetcar trip involves a minimal amount of walking (four minutes) which means the rider is very close to both stops. Yet even being very close to the stops, simply walking to to the destination is quicker. This doesn’t include the wait time, which means that if the streetcar ran every few seconds it would still be faster to walk. (Of course there are buses that can get you there faster, but they don’t run that often.)

      The streetcar really doesn’t enhance the network. You aren’t replacing a bus line with a streetcar, and then putting those savings into better frequency (as you would with bus lanes and off-board payment). Nor is it doubling up service, giving riders the option of taking the streetcar instead of waiting for the bus. It does that an abstract level, but since the stops are different, riders have to consult their phone (hoping the data is accurate) and then walk to the appropriate stop. It is not useless, exactly, but just running the buses more often would be more useful.

      You really don’t need to know the details with the planning to guess what happened. Someone said “Hey, where can be build a streetcar?” and this is the best they came up with.

      This is completely backwards thinking. And yes, the same thing happens with BRT. The question should always be: What are the biggest problems, and what is the most cost effective way to solve them. In Tacoma’s case, there are several:

      1) The buses run infrequently.
      2) They are stuck in traffic in some places.
      3) Lots of riders want to get from one end of downtown to the other. What exists is OK, but not great.

      The answers are fairly simple:

      1) Run the buses more often.
      2) Add bus or BAT lanes. Add off-board payment.
      3) Consolidate service along corridors and restructure as necessary.

      The improvements should be applied after doing a cost/benefit analysis. For example, a bus that is particularly slow but busy should have a bigger investment in BAT/Bus lanes. They didn’t do that. The streetcar is just a solution looking for a problem.

      1. This post needs to be updated to show 12-minute, not 20-minute headways. That is the official agency information and position, and it’s clearly communicated in the agency materials and news coverage by other outlets. Please don’t confuse your readers with the 20-minute error. Some if the subsequent comments keyed on the shortcomings of a 20-minute headway, which is a false narrative.

        The headways should be 10 minutes. That is what ST2 promised. ST needs to figure that out and deliver better frequency. They have enough vehicles.

        The single track should support headways as low as 9 minutes, which the original line ran when it first opened.

        The ST3 project scope will add double track between Tacoma Dome Station and Union Station, delivering 6-minute headways with 8 additional vehicles. Too bad they can’t deliver that sooner; connecting with the college abd Fircrest actually has significant benefit.

      2. @another engineer,

        You are absolutely correct. Current headways are 12 mins, and the agency material reflects that. And I can attest to the 12 min figure because I have ridden it and headways are indeed 12 mins.

        By persisting to publish an erroneous 20 min figure this blog is doing a disservice to the traveling public by propagating a false narrative. This needs to change.

        Let’s at least try to be accurate in what we say and publish.

    3. Short sections of single track aren’t that limiting. If the line has signal preemption, that might be their limit, just like MLK in Seattle.

      1. I rode the T-Line end to end Saturday afternoon to check out the extension and it appears to me there is signal pre-empt or at least priority outside of Downtown. We never stopped for a traffic signal either inbound or outbound (except downtown). Including near Wright Park and Stadium. It will be interesting to see if that holds when there is heavy car traffic.

        Contrast that with Seattle or Portland streetcars which seem to hit every traffic light at least when I ride them.

        Ironically, An arriving Cascades train (Northbound) pre-empted our signal just before we arrived at Tacoma Dome Station which seemed strange being on a street parallel to Amtrak. We waited a good five minutes.

        Overall, I think it is good for Tacoma – Now let’s see the next phase get started to get to TCC.

      2. Yeah, I’ve gotten stuck at a light on MLK and division, waiting for T-Link to leave the station and make the turn. Which is great!

        There is no real traffic on this route, except maybe near 25th and Pacific. Which I’m almost certain also has signal priority.

      3. @Jeff Doppmann,

        I have ridden the new extension too, and I fully concur with your observations. This is a great advancement for Tacoma.

        I made the same observation as you about apparent signal priority, although it seemed more apparent outbound than inbound. So maybe there are some directional differences. Would need to ask one of the experts at ST to confirm.

        The line definitely seems fast, and the ride is really smooth. This is a good value for Tacoma.

        And, as you point out, it is too bad we have to wait so long for the TCC extension. That will be another big step forward.

        Now if only Seattle can finally get its act together and build the CCC. It’s an embarrassment that we haven’t done that yet.

        There definitely is a Streetcar Gap developing, and Seattle is falling farther and farther behind.

      4. Lazarus: regarding Seattle streetcar gap and CCC. The embarrassment is that Seattle and ST built the first two lines, SLU and First Hill. Why look for a gap in a single mode? Why be monomodal? Trust the grid of service provided by Link, bus, and streetcar. The two very local existing streetcar lines have always disappointed. The CCC Streetcar would connect them with a streetcar, but the Murray-Kubly term planning was so poor that the work will have to be done again. The CCC capital cost will be above $300 million; those funds have opportunity cost; they could be used for sidewalks, pavement management, bridge maintenance, or transit flow capital. The CCC will require service subsidy; but strategically, downtown Seattle has plenty of service; new subsidy would be better spent outside downtown when waits for transit are longer. New subsidy would buy more with bus; a streetcar hour cost about $300; a bus hour cost about $200. The 1st Avenue right of way could be better used on a frequent bus network than an infrequent and more costly streetcar. Seattle is expected to open the G Line in fall 2024; it will connect First Hill and 1st Avenue with six-minute headway. The Link and bus network already connects the two short streetcars. The 1st Avenue ROW is lying fallow. The CCC Streetcar planning is in the way.

      5. “The CCC capital cost will be above $300 million; those funds have opportunity cost…”

        Right. Now you are starting to Parking Garage money! Spend wisely, folks.

      6. @ Cam Solomon,

        LOL. I’ve never thought of it that way before, but you are correct. For less than the cost of one large parking garage we could have the CCC built and in use. And what would we have?

        Not only would we have a high quality surface transportation line through the heart of our urban center, but we would also leverage our investment in the FH and SLU SC lines by integrating them better into the regional transportation system.

        This is fundamentally why the completed SC line is projected to carry significantly more riders than RR E while costing significantly less to operate. A win-win!

        But hey, this all depends on the Seattle City Council, and therein lies the problem. Remember, it was the Seattle City Council that removed the public transportation system with the highest farebox recovery in the state (Benson Streetcar) because they needed a place to store some really bad outdoor art.

        If ST was in charge of the CCC it would have been finished 10 years ago.

      7. Lazarus:
        One commonality between large commuter parking garages and the CCC Streetcars is that they are poor investments. In both, the scarce capital funds could be used on better projects.

        Was your last line intended as satire; is ST known for fast delivery?

        The FTA STOPS model ridership forecast seemed very suspicious; does it handle networks well? There is much service in downtown Seattle. SLU is also served by the C Line and routes 40, 62, and 70. Of course, all of our pre-Covid ridership forecasts could be redone with greater working from home. Was the model applied against a known line to test it?

        You mentioned operating cost; according to the FTA NTD, 2021, each Seattle streetcar hour cost about $300; each diesel bus hour cost about $200. There is plenty of CBD service on Link, bus, and streetcar; it would be better to reconfigure it. The Murray-Kubly SDOT asserted that the CCC would be funded by fairy dust and would need no new service subsidy.

        Mayor Nickels also conceded to SAM over the Benson streetcar operating base. He asserted that Gregoire would take the AWV down by 2012. Coincidentally, Nickels and Vulcan brought the streetcar virus from Portland; was the prime booster of local streetcars. His version on 1st Avenue was termed the Central Line.

        It is now the zombie streetcar.

      8. I find myself having mixed feelings about the T line. Originally I opposed it because the streetcar is not faster than buses but costs more, and the U shape is inefficient and contradicts people’s trip patterns. (If you’re going east to downtown or Tacoma Dome, just go east to downtown or Tacoma Dome.) The money could buy more BRT miles in Tacoma and Pierce County, which desperately need it. Or the money could have finished Stream 1 properly.

        I’ve always felt the same about the SLU and First Hill streetcars, and the CCC.

        But now I find myself rooting for the T line. I hope it’s popular and finds a market niche, because Tacoma needs more intra-city transit and this is what it’s getting.

        There are two ways to think about the U shape. One, that nobody wants to ride from S 19th Street to Tacoma Dome through the U, or from S 19th Street to S 19th Street, or from S 11th Street to S 11th Street. But, some trips may be just from S 19th Street to Division Street, which has no backtracking. Or from Tacoma General to northern downtown, which has just a little backtracking that can be ignored. Hopefully it can find a ridership niche there.

      9. For less than the cost of one large parking garage we could have the CCC built and in use. And what would we have?

        A toy, basically. Something that looks pretty, but is less useful than the transit that exists a couple blocks over. How often does it run — every half hour? OK, then who will take it when buses run every few second on Third.

        Or maybe it runs every couple minutes. OK, then where are they getting the drivers, since they can’t afford to run the far more important Link every 7.5 minutes (midday)? For that matter, it isn’t like the buses are running that often either. We have seen restructure after restructure end up providing very little in the way of frequency improvements, while buses like the 40 run every 15 minutes. The 40 is one of our most popular buses, exceeded only by the RapidRide D and E in ridership. So what is your plan, exactly? Run the 40 less often? Cancel some other bus, while buses like the 40 run far less often they should? All so that we can basically duplicate service along the same corridor as both our transit mall and our subway line? It just doesn’t make sense.

        It just doesn’t add up. It is a mode fetish. If it was a bus, it would be laughed out of committee. Why are you running a brand new route on First, since we have literally more than enough buses running on Third? Thus even running it sounds like a waste of money, let alone spending a lot of money just to enable service there. If you really want to serve First, the answer is obvious: shift a few buses there. This costs essentially nothing. Personally, I don’t think it is necessary (for the same reason we don’t have Metro buses on Fifth). But if you are going to do it, do it without spending a fortune (on either service or capital).

      10. @eddiew,

        Ah, no. While I agree that parking garages are usually a bad investment, I certainly wouldn’t put the CCC in that category.

        Every study of the CCC performed to date has come to the same conclusion – that the CCC makes good economic and transit sense and should be built. The fact that it hasn’t been built has more to do with the dysfunction of our Seattle City Council than it has to do with the facts.

        But I get it, this is the age of alternative facts, and somehow people just think that stating something makes it somehow true.

        But I expect more from our elected officials and policy experts. I expect them to follow the data and make the right decision. That will mean that someday the CCC actually will get built. Because it makes no sense not to build it, and the data all indicates it should be build.

        It will happen.

      11. > Every study of the CCC performed to date has come to the same conclusion – that the CCC makes good economic and transit sense and should be built. The fact that it hasn’t been built has more to do with the dysfunction of our Seattle City Council than it has to do with the facts.

        that is because those transit studies just do a simple calculation based on the density along the transit stops. Which it is true there is density — except there are already an existing transit routes! The 40 and the C both already bring people from SLU to Westlake and past it to CID. And even better than the streetcar the 40 continues on to Fremont while the C line continues on to West Seattle.

        Even in the best case where if the streetcar was built literally for free, it’s still more inconvenient than the existing bus routes. Okay sure it through runs over to Capitol Hill, but who in their right mind is taking the full hour (okay 40/50minutes?) long detour from SLU to capitol hill.

        Can you list a single transit trip start and end destination that actually benefits from the center streetcar? beyond saving the 2 blocks from 1st avenue to 3rd avenue, for every single transit trip one can use the existing busses or light rail.

      12. I can think of 2 times I would have considered taking the CCC in the last month. And I live in Pierce County.

        I was on 2nd and Yesler, and wanted to get to 1st and Bell. I walked.

        I was at Pike Place and needed to get to 1st and Jackson to meet someone before the Ms game. Again, I walked.

        The CCC would have been a great alternative. And yes, I could have walked to 3rd and roll the dice on trying to figure out what bus might have provided that trip. But honestly, it is such a chore, it didn’t even occur to me to attempt it.

      13. It’s also worth remembering that Seattle is not flat. Getting from 1st to 3rd is an epic hike

      14. Downtown Seattle, with its slopes and density, is unique in that geography. It makes the number of riders on CCC difficult to determine.

        Coupled with that is whether there are last mile connections that need to be made from long distance services like Link, Sounder, Amtrak or ferries. Note that Sounder use is way down.

        I was always frustrated by there not being a station anccess expansion alternative to DSTT as an alternative to building the CCC. Entrances from Second? More escalators and elevators including one escalator that goes down? Moving subway sidewalks from a mezzanine to the Public Market or Colman Dock?

        It’s still never been studied.

      15. Hoping on at Pioneer Square station and off at Westlake did occur to me, but it wouldn’t have save me much, so I didn’t bother. Given that CCC wouldn’t really be serving Belltown either, maybe I would have made the same decision.

      16. @WL: I would ride the CCC every weekday afternoon if it existed, since its route would connect perfectly from the office where I work to the school where I pick up my kid.

      17. @eddiew,

        You need to go to the actual source, not the filter of the Seattle Times. I stand by everything I wrote.

        And BTW, if the CCC is a virus, then I will gladly rip my mask off and get infected. Because the problem with this region is that we have always taken the short term, cheap way, out. Which typically means more buses stuck in ever worsening traffic. And underinvesting in rail.

        It’s time for something better, and I think the region is beginning to understand that.

      18. And yes, I could have walked to 3rd and roll the dice on trying to figure out what bus might have provided that trip. But honestly, it is such a chore, it didn’t even occur to me to attempt it.

        Google works great for that. Anyway, I think folks here are missing the point. Think of any special bus and we can imagine times when it would be handy. How about a bus on Gilman Drive, on the west side of Queen Anne, given all the apartments there (and the fact that someone on the top of Queen Anne might want to go to Ballard without all that backtracking). How about extending some of the Queen Anne buses (1, 2, 3, 4) to Fremont. For that matter, why not send a bus wrapping around Nickerson to Westlake. I know plenty of people who would take advantage of those routes, and we haven’t even left Queen Anne.

        There are dozens of similar potential routes spread out around the city. As I wrote, 5th Avenue doesn’t have service. Fifth Avenue! This is the land of skyscrapers, and the only service is the occasional Sound Transit bus that will likely go away soon. Meanwhile, Metro is very close to permanently removing service to Summit, despite it being one of the most densely populated parts of the state. I could go on, but it misses the point. All of these ideas have the same basic problem as this proposal: service. To put it another way:

        Which buses would you run less often so that you can run the streetcar?

        This is a critical issue, and no one has ever come up with a good answer. This makes it dramatically different than Link (Link came with obvious bus truncations). It makes it dramatically different than various restructure proposals that people (including me) have come up with. All of these ideas move service around, or in many cases, save service (so you can run the buses more often). The streetcar doesn’t. It is really easy to come up with ideas for new routes, but at some point, you have to fund it. Meanwhile, there is a very easy way to fund service on First Avenue, as eddie (and many others) have suggested — I even wrote about it five years ago. If we move the buses to First Avenue, it costs nothing. Thus the answer to that question would be an emphatic: None!. You can run buses on First, while not running any of the other buses less often. This is huge, and makes all the difference in the world.

        The streetcar was based on four flawed assumptions:

        1) That First Avenue was a high priority corridor. It really isn’t. I would put Boren way above it.

        2) That we need a brand new route to serve it. Again, this is flawed. We literally have more than enough buses on Third Avenue. I know people misuse the word “literally”, but I really mean literally. We have too many buses on Third. If a few move to First, we won’t miss them. Furthermore, because we have so many buses on Third, it means those that miss their old one-seat ride to someplace on Third Avenue will easily be able to continue on Third (as long as the bus intersects those other buses). We will still have an excellent “spine” on the transit mall on Third Avenue, even if a few buses are moved.

        3) That the extension of the streetcar is the best possible routing. This is flawed simply because of the curve on the First Hill Part of the streetcar. The streetcar would form a giant “U”, which means that many trip pairs (e. g. Broadway & Pine to First & Pine) would simply make no sense. You could catch a different bus that would get you there faster. In fact, in many cases, you could walk faster. In contrast, if a bus from Magnolia is sent there, every trip pair still makes sense.

        4) That the best mode is a streetcar. Like all modes, streetcars have their advantages and disadvantages. However, this corridor will never have the ridership to take advantage of the mode. There simply won’t be enough riders to justify rail.

        The CCC — like every streetcar in the city — was a solution looking for a problem. They came up with a plan that was not well thought out, and didn’t bother to look at alternatives that would be much cheaper to implement, and essentially free to operate.

      19. 5th Ave. has a bus only lane down the middle of it. Do no buses use it? If so why not eliminate the BAT.

        I clearly don’t support the CCC, but also don’t support migrating buses from 3rd to the other avenues. The decision was made to sacrifice 3rd for a “bus mall” and 3rd is never coming back. Let’s not infect the other Avenues, especially when downtown retail is on life support.

        When East Link finally opens across the bridge let’s use that opportunity to reduce the number of buses on avenues other than 3rd which was the promise ST made.

      20. Daniel, yes, SDOT implemented a p.m. peak transit lane on 5th/6th avenues in March 2019 for the transit capacity crisis caused by the county selling CPS to the WS convention center; that ended bus operation in the DSTT prematurely; 40 buses per hour per direction were shifted to the surface streets. The new 5th/6th avenues corridor was used by Route 255, some SR-520 peak routes, and some I-5 north routes. Since fall 2023, the King County I-5 north routes have gone away. CT still has peak routes serving downtown Seattle on two patterns; in the p.m., they use 4th Avenue and Olive/Howell or 2nd Avenue to 5th and Cherry.

        SDOT took one lane from 5th Avenue in March 2019; they took a lane from 4th Avenue for the two-way PBL in fall 2020.

      21. “ I could have walked to 3rd and roll the dice on trying to figure out what bus might have provided that trip. But honestly, it is such a chore, it didn’t even occur to me to attempt it.

        Google works great for that. ”

        Google sometimes works, but frequently doesn’t.

        Eg: I’ve been told to somehow teleport across the Willamette River to get to a bus stop.

        Eg, in the San Juan Islands it told me to drive from Friday Harbor to Orcas (which you can only do in an amphibious craft as there is no bridge) to get a ferry there, rather than use the ferry leaving from Friday Harbor.

        I frequently still find myself spending hours going through individual schedules because Google results just don’t work so often.

        We desperately need something better.

      22. > @WL: I would ride the CCC every weekday afternoon if it existed, since its route would connect perfectly from the office where I work to the school where I pick up my kid.

        As Ross said, we could just run a bus down 1st avenue if it is truly demanded. And again this would only connect slu to downtown — all the other bus routes that already travel from slu to downtown can already get you farther to fremont/uw/west seattle whether the 40, 70 or C. I’m not sure why there is such a strive to build a worse transit route with the streetcar.

        And again the streetcar connector for just 1.3 miles costs ~300 million dollars. One could literally fund 3 rapidrides of around 3~5 miles each.

        If I proposed spending 300 million on a 1 mile bus segment that was worse than the existing rapidrides I’m sure everyone here would agree it is an insanely flawed plan — but because it is a streetcar it is suddenly desired?

      23. > The CCC — like every streetcar in the city — was a solution looking for a problem. They came up with a plan that was not well thought out, and didn’t bother to look at alternatives that would be much cheaper to implement, and essentially free to operate.

        The streetcar plans back then made a lot more sense when it was an actual network. Aka it was supposed to replace the 40 reaching Fremont/Ballard or the 70 reaching UW.

        However, basically all the modern American streetcar’s high construction costs meant they can never get built beyond barely 3~4 miles. DC, Atlanta, Tempe, Cincinnati (etc…) streetcar’s have all been failures with low ridership. And they all have higher operational costs than comparable busses meaning even worse frequency for the same money. DC’s streetcar even has the same situation as the south lake union streetcar where a bus runs parallel to it traveling farther.

    4. You need to consider the altitude change when considering ped and bike alternatives to the U route. It’s around 300 feet of climbing, IIRC. Something I have done, and will do. But I am more than happy to use the tram as an escalator, when not needing a workout.

      1. Yeah, but the problem is that you have to “round the horn” to go up or down the hill. In contrast, the buses just go straight up or down. The only problem with the buses is that they don’t run often enough. Why? Maybe because they put all of their effort into building and operating a streetcar.

        I’m not suggesting there is a direct relationship, the way there is with Metro routing in the Central Area (where they are going to run buses every 20 for no good reason). I’m saying imagine if the streetcar was just another bus route, and this was part of a restructure. It would be crazy. Never mind the small amount of right-of-way (that is so small that the train is apparently too slow to run frequently), the route just doesn’t do the network any favors. It actually makes it worse. Unlike Madison BRT, this isn’t a case where Pierce Transit is failing to take advantage of what is being built, this is a case where PT has nothing to work with. There is no savings, even if a completely different agency runs the train.

        Consider instead what would happen if the streetcar went on Sixth, replacing that part of the 1. To begin, with, we replace that part of the 1. This means that PT saves a considerable amount of money on a vital route. It isn’t as direct, but it is still fairly close, and taking that turn a bit wide (if you will) is quite reasonable given the service demand there. You have a good match of demand (lots of people ride the bus on Sixth — lots of people ride the bus to Tacoma General and the north part of downtown). So it really hasn’t cost you anything, and in some ways has simply set you up for a better network. The 11, 13 and 16 can all cut over to MLK, at least initially. One or more can continue along MLK, while the other bus(es) zig-zag using 6th, Tacoma Avenue, 9th and Pacific (essentially following that part of the 1). I’m not saying I have a good idea of what a restructure for buses in Tacoma should be, but I’m saying that having a route that goes out Sixth in that manner (even as a streetcar) is quite reasonable, and is something they could work with. In contrast, I don’t see the new streetcar as being nearly as useful. It mostly works (if it does work) because the main bus routes (that would do a much better job of making most of those connections) are starved for service. The answer isn’t to build a new mode, it is to feed those buses (and maybe do a bit of restructuring).

      2. I largely agree with you. If they improved the frequency of route 2 up 19th, that would clearly be the way to go from UWT to Hilltop. Half hourly, it us too infrequent for me to consider it, though if I were a UWT student, I likely would.

        I will likely mostly treat it as two separate lines, as Glenn says. Either I’ll use it to access Hilltop, or I’ll use it to access downtown or transfer to regional service at the . Rarely both. But that is because I live in the middle of the line.

        Tacoma doesn’t really have tourists to speak of (i do occasionally see some confused tourists that look like youth from from east Asian countries in the summer), so it won’t really be used for that. It will live or die by local users.

        And I also agree that it’s the frequency and reliabilty and higher quality of the ride experience, not the odd routing, that will get me to use it at all. Going west on 6th would have been much more useful. My son often goes to TCC area, and he usually rides his bike. I can’t get him to ride the slow, infrequent 1, but coul probably have gotten him on a frequent TLink.

      3. Tacoma doesn’t really have tourists to speak of

        Which is too bad, since it is a charming city. I think it is tough competing with Seattle, and yet far enough away to not be an easy visit. I could see Tacoma billing itself as “The Gateway to Rainier” though. It’s not that close, of course, but everything closer is just small towns. It could work as a nice base town, since it is easier to take the train back and forth to Seattle (if tourists felt like they had to see Seattle).

      4. I also enjoy spending time in Tacoma. I’m there a couple of times a year, usually for comic book and pinball shows at the convention center, and I always enjoy driving around the area just sightseeing afterward, enjoying a lunch and beer, etc.

      5. Reconnecting Tacoma to its waterfront by tearing down I-705 would go a long way towards making it a more attractive place to visit. There are some great neighborhoods, but downtown really suffers from that highway. The traffic volumes north of the I-705/I-509 interchange really drop off. If IIRC, it is maybe half the traffic that Leary Way carries. And it’s an elevated 60mph highway. Just rip it out, and build a bunch of pedestrian bridges over the railroad tracks.

        The noise on the waterfront emanating from I705 alone, ignoring the substantial access issues, makes what could be a fantastic waterfront, with parks, marinas, housing and restaurants, into a far less pleasant place to spend time.

      6. “Reconnecting Tacoma to its waterfront by tearing down I-705 would go a long way towards making it a more attractive place to visit.”

        The Embarcadero Freeway of Tacoma.

      1. It’s much clearer if you click on the pdf schedule at the bottom. It says that trains are every 12 minutes from Tacoma Dome Station between 6:36 am and 8:00 pm on weekdays. Before 6:36 am and after 8:00 pm, trains operate every 20 minutes. Saturday service is 12 minutes all day long.

        I prefer the pdf schedules that tables that are on the websites. I am looking at you Community Transit.

      2. It’s alright I understand, mistakes happen. Yeah I wish STs website was a bit more intuitive to being more clear and consistent as to what is going when a service change happens. Though I wish the website was just better designed in general.

        Like for all the grief I give Denver’s RTD locally where I live, the website UI and UX doesn’t leave me confused for the most part when trying to look for something on there or trying to understand service changes.

      3. I prefer the pdf schedules that tables that are on the websites. I am looking at you Community Transit.

        I agree on both points. When I look at an ST route, I almost always just skip over the web page display and look at the PDF. I remember CT having the option of downloading a schedule, but it doesn’t look like that is available anymore.

        I do like the maps on the web page though. It is nice to have both options.

    1. Considering that Central Link, when it finally reaches Tacoma, goes only to Tacoma dome, and that this streetcar is the line that everybody will be expected to transfer to to go that last mile, running every 12 minutes is not good enough. A forced transfer to go one mile, it has better be running every 6 minutes or better.


      I don’t blame you for not subscribing to TNT, but it’s actually a pretty solid paper for a gown of 200K. The usual nose-holding on editorials and comments apply.

      “Chris Karnes, chair of the Tacoma Planning Commission, first noticed the discrepancy on Sept. 8. He says the 10-minute interval has long been promised to the community and was in the plan Sound Transit submitted for a $75 million federally-funded capital grant for the extension. “Twelve-minute service is 16 percent less than what was promised to Hilltop, which is a lower benefit or a reduced service in an area with underserved populations,” Karnes told The News Tribune. Sound Transit said the change was necessary to maintain a dependable schedule. “The decision was made by T Line operations because as discovered during testing, 10 minutes proved too difficult (to) maintain due to the challenges of operating in the right of way,” Sound Transit spokesman David Jackson told The News Tribune.”

      1. I sense irritation by CEO Timm toward her undercommunicating underlings. It does not look like she even knew of Operation’s decision to go with 12-minute headway, until that morning. She would have had a more practiced answer. She had to know the question was coming.

        Operator break time is not a good excuse that stands up to scrutiny. The obvious solution is let them have an extra 10 minutes, in exchange for seat slides (operating a different streetcar on each loop). So really, the cause right now would be temporary staff shortage if that had been the real reason.

        That leaves the engineering problems of maintaining 10-minute headway on the loop as the likely legit reason. That lines up with her mention of the far-distant-future extension, when they can remove a problem station or make adjustments to the existing line during construction down time, as happened to the original line leading up to this opening.

        This makes me wonder if the First Hill Streetcar is capable of more peak frequency, even with a larger fleet. And if it can’t, how could streetcars on 1st Ave possibly maintain 5-minute headway?

      2. Yeah, the Tacoma News Tribune is a great paper.

        Anyway, this makes sense. They don’t go into the details as to why operating in the right-of-way is a problem, but it could be train bunching. A train gets stuck in traffic. It then sees a bit more dwell time, as riders who would have taken the next train take that one instead. This loop continues and then the trains are back to back. That seems like a stretch, given the length, off-board payment and the fact that bunching is really not the end of the world. The trains are all above ground, not going that fast. Even if a train did catch up to another one, it doesn’t seem like an issue.

        My guess is it is just money. They have allocated a certain amount for running the trains, and because the trains are slower than they expected, the money doesn’t go as far.

      3. These are good points. It is probably something that can be solved, if you were motivated to keep it at 10 minutes.

        I rode it this evening. It was smooth and reasonably fast, given that it was sharing a lane with cars. The 2 major curves are a bit squeely and slower, but nothing too torturous. The roads the ride on don’t actually have a ton of traffic. Driving, I’ve never waited multiple signal cycles anywhere on the route. They are working hard to improve the signal timing; mainly speeding up the cycles while shortening any given green.

        At 6 or so, there were maybe a dozen folks riding, from Tacoma General to the dome. Almost all stations had at least one embark or debark.

        The exception was Convention Center station, which has nothing be empty parking structures and blank walls for several blocks on either side. That part of town was decimated by urban renewal and an attempt to compete with suburban malls by knocking down buildings and replacing it with parking. They are doing their best, but it is still a crippled wasteland from misguided planning 50 years ago.

      4. > That part of town was decimated by urban renewal and an attempt to compete with suburban malls by knocking down buildings and replacing it with parking. They are doing their best, but it is still a crippled wasteland from misguided planning 50 years ago.

        Sounds like Daniel’s Seattle dream scenario to replicate having so much parking.

        Jokes aside that area just looks very hard to have investment being surrounded by freeways on three sides and a rail yard

      5. Tacoma Mall opened I believe in 1965 and has over 122,000 sf of retail
        space, so I don’t know why downtown Tacoma would want to try and “renew” this part of downtown Tacoma to compete with that, and in 1965 all of Tacoma needed renewal.

        Tacoma Mall is owned and operated by Simon Propertires, same as Northgate Mall that will eat downtown Seattle’s retail lunch, and IIRC Link will continue from Tacoma Dome to the mall if Pierce can even afford to complete TDLE. That isn’t a great endorsement for downtown Tacoma.

        The rest of downtown Tacoma isn’t like a pre-pandemic San Francisco compared to the convention center. Usually convention centers are in the heart of a city. Believe me, parking lots (and some areas put them underground) are the least of Tacoma’s problems today, near the convention center or anywhere else.

        I would like to see someone live a car free life in Tacoma. If you can’t you need to park, but most of Tacoma can’t afford underground parking.

        If you have a downtown with a lot of surface parking lots it means you don’t have the money and vibrancy to bury them or develop them. Don’t blame the surface parking lot. They just mean that is all your city can afford in that area of downtown.

      6. Tacoma mall has lost 3 of its 4 anchors, is a pedestrian and bike nightmare, and I’ll lay even odds that it will be a distribution center in a decade. Link will never get there. Ever.

        While there are a few surface lots, it is dozens of aging, mostly empty parking structures built in the 60s and 70s to compete with the mall, after downtown lost it’s department stores to it. It didn’t work, and it destroyed downtown. Nearly all the surface lots have fortunately been developed are are permitted for development soon.

        I have a friend who lives car-free in Tacoma. Near the mall, ironically. I also don’t generally drive in Tacoma; only getting in my truck to get out of town.

      7. “I smell the stink of desperation. The patient cannot be save with drive-thrus, Simon.”

        I don’t understand why anyone would root against their own mall. I don’t know too many on this blog who hope U Village or Northgate or Bellevue Square fail.

        Actually, Simon is quite adept at transitioning its malls to lifestyle experiences, and is doing well compared to other mall owners. The article’s headline states:

        “More changes ahead for the Tacoma Mall. Plans in the works for a ‘Lifestyle Village”

        I didn’t want to enter my email address and tell them I own my home and owe at least $100,000 on it to read the article a second time so can’t quote from it. But it sounds like an empty former Sears — once a staple of malls in the 1970’s — 2020’s — is going to be replaced by a Total Wine and Nordstrom boutique store, and surface parking converted to buildings for Total Wine and Nordstrom and some structured parking.

        Sounds pretty good to me although I don’t shop there when there is so little retail density or vibrancy in Pierce Co. At least be glad a retail expert like Simon is even interested in Pierce Co. and doesn’t just sell the property for more shlocky Pierce Co. multi-family housing. If anything, Simon’s intent for this property suggests Tacoma at least is gentrifying, which is has badly needed for around 100 years.

      8. The area in and around Tacoma Mall is incredibly hostile to pedestrians, bicycles, transit users, and even people in cars. There have been instances of gun-play in the parking lots. There are cars driving around trying to sell drugs to kids, including my son. That’s probably the reason it closes so early, at 8pm.

        Currently, Tacoma Mall is a blight.

        There are things that can be done. The city completed a subarea plan 5 years ago:

        It detailed a 5-year plan to make the area slightly less hostile, including improvements to sidewalks and improving bike access and safety. As far as I can tell, none of it has been done. Nordstrom Rack and Total Wine are already there, btw.

        Simon is suggesting making a corner of the mall a little less hostile, with smaller retail spaces and adding some sidewalks. I will reserve judgment on whether that will be a positive change.

        But they are also adding a drive-thru which is something that is the most hostile and inconsistent with the subarea plan’s stated goal of making the area more amenable to active transportation. There is little worse than a drive-thru in destroying any hope of achieving that goal. Maybe an open pit with spikes in the bottom and lions roaming the parameter. Maybe.

      9. Many mall owners are converting dead 20th-century business models to lifestyle centers like U-Village. Bellevue Square has also become more of a lifestyle center, with a wider variety of offerings, especially sit-down restaurants rather than just a fast-food food court. Northgate Mall is doing the same thing. So it’s only natural if Tacoma Mall does the same. That’s not so that it can eat downtown Tacoma’s lunch, it’s so that Tacoma Mall doesn’t die. Tacoma’s revival depends on a strong downtown, not in hollowing out the inner city. That was part of the 20th century phenomenon that led to first popular malls and then dead malls. Both Tacoma Mall and downtown Tacoma can grow — it’s not either-or. And there’s multifamily housing in Tacoma Mall’s future, like there is in other growth centers. That will address some of the need for walkable housing. Then they just need to arrange frequent transit to it.

        Total Wine seems like a silly single-purpose big-box store. Not something that can save a neighborhood.

        Sears has been downsizing for decades. The one at Overlake Village is gone. The one at N 155th is gone. The one in SODO has been divided up into Starbucks headquarters and stuff. So it’s only natural if the one in Tacoma Mall has to turn into something else too.

      10. I agree, Mike. I am more frustrated by the city’s lack of investment, than Simon’s hail-mary here. The city needs to lead on the neighborhood, plan, and even the things that are cheap and quick that they identify haven’t gotten done.

        There is going to another apartment building going in very close to the Lifestyle Center, so maybe there is hope.

        Certainly too little to justify light rail to the mall as the preferred option, rather than downtown for the mythical ST4, but maybe they are just getting started. I hope to be pleasantly surprised, but am extremely skeptical.

      11. Even if Tacoma Mall grows like Totem Lake, it would not be a good target for Link when downtown Tacoma is unserved on the main line. That would be like Tacoma throwing itself away.

    3. I skipped the political nonsense yesterday.

      Includes a video of the trip and QnA with Timm.

      I was planning to ride it today to usein to get to Sounder to Ms game, though 10am departure for a 1:10 game is making me rethink it. Why would I want to get there almost 2 hours early? WTF.

      It is 3 blocks from my house, so I will use it often, but I may be the only one, we shall see. 10pm shutdown is pretty crappy, given I would have used it often coming back on the 594. And I’m usually getting back later than that.

      I do recall using it from the airport pre-pandemic, while looking for a job and house in Tacoma, and it was surprisingly packed, even without the extension.

      1. ….and…

        T-Link doesn’t start until 10:17am, so no way to use it to transfer to Sounder.


  3. Downtown Snohomish used to be an antiquing mecca. It might still be.

    US-2 in Monroe is national chain shopping centers, however Main Street in downtown Monroe might still have a cute shop or two (east end of Monroe).

    Sultan has the Sultan Bakery, which might be a good lunch place.

    Startup – not much there.

    Gold Bar – Hiking.

    1. Last time I was in Snohomish, before the pandemic, it was still chock-full of antiquing and artsy-style shops. It’s a nice Sunday brunch-type getaway out of the city.

  4. The radio news was claiming 12 min frequency and pointing out that ST “promised” 10 min frequency. 12 minutes reliably is OK. Talk on the radio news was about how anemic ridership has been. I guess that yes, for a train a half dozen people each trip (what I’ve seen on weekends) isn’t a good value. It;s now more than just a tourist train and a day ticket for $4 is a great value when you can park free in the ST garage. I was down in Tacoma a couple of weeks ago. Had relatives visiting from England and suggested they take the free street car from the free parking to visit the DT Tacoma museums. As it worked out they just parked at LeMay (Americas Auto Museum) and declided on DT Tacoma. A mistake in my book but when you’re trying to see all of Washington in 10 days some things get lost.

    I’m wondering how the extension will balance out with the fare increase. When I was down 2 weeks ago the ST (I think security officer) told me it was still free but would change to a $3 fare. Like everything with ST… it’s TOO complicated. $3 to go DT and $3 to go back plus admittance fees might make it a no go (although still a bargin with free parking). An all day fare (yes please) of $4 would be great. But… it probably won’t work on PC transit or get people out to Ruston. So close yet so far.

    Thanks Mike O. for keeping this alive.

    1. I recall the staff proposal for $1.50 regular and $0.75 reduced fare.

      I don’t know if that would have made a difference in ridership or covered the costs of fare collection.

      But the $2/$1 fare matches Pierce Transit, and so aligns with the goal of regional fare integration. This comes just a few months after PT entered into the ORCA LIFT program. PT still doesn’t participate in the Subsidized Annual Pass program, which is honored for free fare on all Sound Transit services.

      The use of a non-distance-based fare on a rail line with ORCA vending machines at each station (or were those value-engineered out?) could be a hint on ST’s decision where to go with Link train fares later this year.

      And then there is the mess of the dueling smartphone payment systems, with no interagency or inter service transfers. They are basically stealth tourist traps.

      1. “The use of a non-distance-based fare on a rail line with ORCA vending machines at each station (or were those value-engineered out?) could be a hint on ST’s decision where to go with Link train fares later this year.”

        It’s probably because the line is so short. The Seattle Streetcars have flat fares too.

        If Link switches to flat fares that would be awful because it would penalize short urban trips where people are most ready to take transit. If ST then goes ahead and splits the spine so that Rainier Valley to U-District requires a 10-minute ultra-deep transfer, it’s like ST is blindly destroying Seattle service. That’s the biggest chunk of your ridership, ST.

      2. Link’s farebox recovery as I understand it is divided between or among subareas based on how long the rider’s trip is in that subarea. So how does a flat fare disadvantage any subarea?

        If a short urban trip is solely within say N KC then N KC keeps 100% of the fare (less any split with Metro). Even on a multi-subarea Link trip a subarea supports only so much of the trip in its subarea. It doesn’t matter to a subarea how long the total trip is, just how long in that subarea.

        For example, a trip from Redmond to CID is a long trip, but very short in N KC so EKC gets the majority of the fare.

        I would like to see less complication on Link fares and payment. I would get rid of tap off and go to a higher flat fare, say $4, that is good for at least 4 hours, maybe more. That way tap off is irrelevant.

        Of course it would help if the 30% who don’t pay started paying, although some argue they don’t increase the cost of Link and may just stop riding rather than start paying a fare, which is fine by me.

      3. Metro is $2.75. Link is $2.25 for Westlake-Beacon Hill, $2.50 Westlake-Roosevelt and Westlake-Rainier Beach, and $2.75 Westlake-Northgate and I’m assuming Westlake-Bellevue. So a $99 Metro pass covers all those trips. If Link goes to a flat fare and it’s $3 or $4 to compensate for long-distance trips, that puts it above Metro’s fare for all these reasonable trips. People will have to get a higher-level pass if they want to ride Link regularly. That contradicts the goal of Link being the primary trunk transit mode we want to be people’s first choice if it fits their trip, since that’s what high-capacity transit is for.

      4. To be clear, I don’t support a flat Link fare that is higher than Metro’s.

        I support fare simplicity and portability. $3 fares on Metro and Link would be maximally smooth.

        Those likely to pay more are the employers currently providing free $99 monthly passes, who would switch to $108 passes, and Business Passport customers who would see some increase. We know that employer passes provide the bulk of fare revenue. That is where the revenue debate ought to be focused.

        As someone who takes mostly short to medium distance rides, I’d prefer a full-coverage employer pass to having to pay a small upcharge on Link rides, with a larger upcharge every time I fail to tap an even number of times. That includes when I try to cancel the ride, which the reader does not allow.

        Infrequent riders would be attracted more by ease of payment than by a puzzle chart of their ride cost and a game of 20 questions to get a ticket or day pass that leaves some frustrated that the pass doesn’t cover travel coming back further than the starting point.

      5. “We know that employer passes provide the bulk of fare revenue.”

        Do we?

        The large employers offer them, but I’ve never worked for a company that did. And the rate is based on the percent of employees who use them.

  5. I haven’t tried this, but if you have a bike, you could ride Community Transit buses all the way to Arlington and ride the bike south down the Centennial trail to Snohomish. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even continue on the bike to Woodinville, and take the Burke Gilman trail the rest of the way back to Seattle. (Warning: all routes between Snohomish and Monroe are extremely hilly).

    1. Keep in mind the trail doesn’t continue south of Snohomish yet, so you’d want to choose your route carefully.

  6. Notes from San Juan Islands by transit:

    While it’s a private bus operation, the season end for San Juan Island transit is Sept 23rd, so your last chance this year to get around that island by that particular bus operation. They now have a pay by Venmo option.

    The Friday Harbor Jolly Trolley is the other San Juan Island bus company, but at $25 for a day ticket it’s $10 more per day than the San Juan Island Transit. It’s still vastly cheaper than driving onto the ferry.

    Skagit Transit has changed the schedule for the bus on their end of the ferry: once per hour on the hour, which screws up several previously workable connections.

    There’s a trail along Ship Harbor from Kansas Ave to the car staging area at the ferry terminal, and as long as there isn’t a ferry loading or unloading you can cross the auto lanes to get to the passenger boarding area.

    Washington Park in Anacortes is at the far end of their route 410, and has some great views from the top of the hill.

    Tommy Thompson trail from downtown Anacortes eastward runs along the edge of the water and crosses a bay on a trestle. Sometimes I’ve walked to downtown Anacortes from the March’s Point Park and Ride, but the trail may still be closed due to a trestle fire last year. I attempted to figure out if it was still closed a few weeks ago and ran into web site dead ends. It means walking about 1 mile on a road shoulder, but I’ve not encountered much traffic on either of the roads. This trail also has one building dedicated to the annual Anacortes Mural Project, located at the trail junction with 30th.

    Festest option to get to Anacortes by transit is Belair Airporter, though if carbon footprint and cost isn’t an issue to you there’s also seaplanes from Lake Union. I’ve usually just taken Amtrak to Mt Vernon, or Link -> 512 -> Skagit Transit 90X, or taken Island Transit all the way up Whidbey.

    Skagit Transit is now using UMO as its smartphone payment system, but I just always pay with cash as I don’t have space on my phone to install more crap.

    1. I wish Whatcom Transit, Community Transit, and Everett Transit would put their heads together to create an all-day express line between Everett Station and Western Washington University / downtown Bellingham.

      Skip right past the politics of Skagit County. If Skagit wants a stop, let them pay into the system.

      Skagit County ought not be the Great Barrier Reef of northern Washington transit connectivity.

      1. San Juan County might be willing to pay into that too to get better connections to something.

      2. I think that should be run by the state (as part of their intercity bus program). I do like the idea of connecting to end points, rather than going into Seattle. On the one hand, this is less convenient. On the other hand, you save quite a bit of money. This should go both directions (to Olympia and Bellingham).

        Realistically, the state won’t provide anything until Link gets to Lynnwood and Federal Way. Terminating there would save a lot of money, and make things much simpler. It may not be the absolute fastest way to get there, but still pretty fast, while saving the state quite a bit. I could see the buses operating as they would if they were trains — some express versions, and some not. So, for example, you could have a Lynnwood to Bellingham express (no stops in between) followed by a bus that stopped in Everett and Mount Vernon. You could have hourly (alternating) service. You have to time it from Link, but with Link being fairly frequent and consistent, that is less of an issue.

        If the state had more money, then these buses should go into Seattle (running express from the suburban Link Station to downtown). This would be the fastest option most of the day. But right now the state isn’t providing anything, so running Link from the suburban end points (which are very easy to access with a bus) to the more distant cities would provide plenty of value for relatively little money.

        It is crazy to me that the state is considering bullet trains when they can’t even provide this level of bus service, let alone train service that is faster than driving.

  7. I have ridden both Seattle streetcar lines for fun, but never used them for any useful transportation. I hope that anyone that uses the T-line has a better experience. It looks really nice. And I will make an effort to ride it. But I have reservations of the usefulness of American streetcar systems.

      1. There are several that form odd shaped, but these tend to be historic and/or tourist oriented streetcars. Something like the Silver Line in San Diego (which makes a complete loop) appears oriented completely towards tourists. It is fine, especially if it attracts tourists, but if you are trying to get somewhere, it is less than ideal.

        I think in our case, the “U” shaped routes are partly due to hills. It would take a lot more effort to take a more direct route. Or maybe they are just “covering” an area, which is simply a mistake from a network standpoint. There are much better ways to do that.

      2. For a number of years, TriMet 71 was a G shaped route:
        • SE 94th and Foster
        • East to 122nd
        • North on 122nd
        • West on Prescott
        • South on 60th
        • Switch to 52nd at SE Lincoln
        • Starting at SE Flavel, stairstep southeast to 82nd and King
        • South to Clackamas Town Center

        Today it’s split into the 71 and 73 so they can run the 71 more frequently.

        Nobody rode this route from one end to the other. Even the few non-destination riders the route attracted quickly grew tired of all the turns and being tossed about.

        It was simply a way to connect 4 segments of the grid system together that otherwise would be really difficult to deal with.

        Arguably, T Link is just providing north-south service on two corridors.

  8. One trip you can take out of Everett or Mukilteo is Everett Transit 18 to 84th & 44th and walk north on 44th to the Japanese Creek trail. It’s all downhill to Mukilteo from that stop. No spectacular views but it’s a nice forest.

    1. Since we’re not far from it, we’ve walked and biked the trails at Japanese Gulch a bunch of times. It can be a bit confusing as there are a bunch of side trails, mostly used by bikers I believe, and there are few markers. I’d recommend taking a compass or compass app so one can keep his bearings as it’s fairly easy to get turned around in some areas. It can be pretty muddy well into late spring as well. Keep an eye out for bikers coming down and don’t forget to play with the pups at the dog park at the north end. Lol.

      Btw, Everett Transit’s route 18 up until fairly recently used to run along W Mukilteo Blvd instead of its current path along 526/84th. The former path would have been closed off this year as one of the bridges along W Mukilteo Blvd (Edgewater Creek) has reached the end of its useful life and was scheduled for replacement. That project got messed up and now has been delayed until summer 2024. I’m not sure if ET is intending to revert route 18 to the prior path once the bridge replacement project has been completed. Anyway, the way things now stand someone like Mike can certainly use the current route to access the south trailhead just as you’ve indicated. It’s worth checking out imho.

  9. I’ve done a huge circular day trip out of Seattle:
    Seattle -> Bainbridge Island -> Port Townsend -> Whidbey Island -> Clinton -> Seattle.

    I’m not sure how easy this still is to do, but:

    • Mistakes made include taking Island Transit 6 to transfer to 1. This is a noisy, dongerous intersection and would have been better and more interesting to take 6 all the way to Coupville from the “Coupville Ferry” Terminal

    • There is nothing at the Poulsbo transit center, and it’s surrounded by dangerous suburban roads with no sidewalk. You could walk to town, but it’s fairly far.

    • The views from Fort Casey State Park are not to be missed, and a great diversion if you wind up with time to kill at the east end of the Port Townsend ferry

    1. Speaking of trips west of Seattle, one option is to take the ferry to Bainbridge and take the straight shot to Port Angeles ( I like Port Angeles itself, but it also offers a shuttle to Hurricane Ridge ( From Hurricane Ridge you can hike up to Hurricane Hill, a great little hike (from the bus stop it means walking a bit further than the official trailhead, but the walking is very nice). Even just the views from the visitor center are outstanding.

      Thus you can take public transit from Downtown Seattle to a major destination in a national park. I don’t think there are any public-transit options for hiking that come to close to that in terms of quality. The Straight Shot isn’t frequent, so you have to time it right. The whole thing takes a while, so you might be better spending the night in Port Angeles, which seems fine to me (there are plenty of good restaurants).

      Note: Because of the fire at the visitor center, there has been limited access. So it is best to check the website or call the rangers before visiting. This is probably a “next year” type of thing. The park is sometimes open in the winter, although it looks like the shuttle ends in October. I don’t know about the straight shot (it might be year-round). There is a ski lift up there, and good backcountry skiing (or snowshoeing). Spring might be a good option for playing in the snow if they run the shuttle then.

    2. I’m from Port Townsend. These days, I think your best option would be to take the Kitsap Fast Ferries route from Seattle to Kingston, then the Jefferson Transit #14 from the ferry terminal straight to the PT park and ride. The ferry is fast and reliable, and the transfer onto the bus is timed. Even if you have time to kill, downtown Kingston is small but charming.

  10. Route 271: take it to the end in Gold Bar first. Then on the return, get off in Snohomish and 2nd & Ave C. Downtown Snohomish is filled with bars and eateries and is cute AF. From dives to pizza n cocktails to seafood, Snohomish had the most character along the 271 route.

  11. “A total end-to-end round trip from Seattle on Link, ST 512, and CT 271 would be 4 hours of riding and 2-3 hours of transferring”

    County-based transit funding is stupid. If we didn’t have that, you’d have a bus taking the direct route from Woodinville to Monroe, instead of needing this ridiculous detour to Everett. Snohomish doesn’t have a connection to Woodinville either. If these cities did have this connection, it would make transit to Bellevue and Seattle actually feasible.

    Also, Monroe has no connection to its neighbor Duvall.

    1. County-based transit funding is stupid. If we didn’t have that, you’d have a bus taking the direct route from Woodinville to Monroe, instead of needing this ridiculous detour to Everett.

      I wouldn’t be so sure. Keep in mind, you actually do have that. The 424 runs from Seattle to Monroe (via Woodinville). It is just that it doesn’t have enough riders to justify more service. There is nothing stopping Snohomish County from running all day service connecting from Monroe to Woodinville or Canyon Park. The problem is just that it is too expensive for the number of riders it would pick up. Keep in mind, there are various parts of both counties with no service at all. Even on Highway 9, there is nothing south of Cathart Way, and this is definitely inside the county.

      A big part of the problem is just the sprawling nature of the counties. It costs a lot to provide service to all of these places. If the various suburbs (and the small towns) were more compact, then serving the small towns would be a lot cheaper.

      I do think there is a role for state funding to farther away places, as it is very expensive burden on the county, otherwise. But I don’t think it is really about the borders. You will always have borders — it is up to agencies to cooperate when it comes them. In terms of service to Monroe (from Woodinville) my guess is neither county feels it is very important.

      In contrast, I think the county border of SR 99 is way more important. Yet the two agencies appear to be failing miserably, as the plan is to send Swift Blue to 185th Station via Meridian (instead of via Aurora). That is definitely something that would not happen if they were the same agency.

      1. “It costs a lot to provide service to all of these places.”

        Weren’t you making the argument that it’s cheaper than private transportation, though? I stand by the question I asked in the other thread – do you think that it is both cheaper and politically feasible to fund, or cheaper but not politically feasible to fund, or not cheaper at all, in this particular scenario (decent cross-county transit between the smaller towns in the foothills).

      2. Monroe-Duvall is no more expensive than Duvall-Carnation, which does have service because they’re in the same county. Snohomish-Woodinville is no more expensive than Snohomish-Lake Stevens which already exists

        It’s the county line, not the demand

      3. The sprawling nature of the counties, as you mentioned, has had the effect of pushing and/or attracting city workers to the outskirts, such as Bothell and Monroe and Woodinville. This phenomena is nothing new.

        But what is new is Eastside tech workers who have started families have flocked to places along HWY527, I-405 and HWY 9. The demographics in these areas have drastically changed in the last 10 years and there now exists demand for at least commuter service from Bothell/Snohomish/Monroe to Redmond and Bellevue. At least there was pre-COVID.

        Community Transit long resisted providing service because they attempted to raise taxes in this area to incorporate it into their benefit area (10-15(?) years ago). It was rejected. And CT-fashion, they’re still living 10-15 years behind the times, so they still think the area has the same anti-transit sentiment. It does not.

        I would love to see at least a new commuter route connecting these areas.

      4. @Jordan
        I’m assuming you mean the 2008 annexation measure that was rejected 56% to 44%. This blog “sort of” covered it at the time:

        Everett Herald coverage:

        The campaign wasn’t the best and it probably didn’t help that ST2 was on the ballot at the same time.

        With all that said, given their limited resources I think CT does a pretty good job. The Lynnwood Link opening and truncation of commuter routes should free up dollars for further improvements. I say this as someone whose local CT route only runs once per hour (but since it’s close by I can time it, get to Ash Way pretty quickly and take an STX to Northgate Station).

        Perhaps it is time to reconsider another bite at the apple in regard to expansion in said area if the demographics have indeed changed as you’ve indicated.

  12. Just boarded Link and the real-time arrival information is up and running, at least at the one station I saw so far. And it is only off by about 15 secs! And the format is better. Pretty darn good.

    Oddly enough though, the station announcements are screwed up on the train I boarded. The operator appears to be working to correct that though.

  13. Love the 271. I use it to tie together one of my favorite cycling routes.

    Take the Trailhead Direct out of Seattle to North Bend. Cycle ~40 miles through the old Snoqualmie Tree Farm. Pop out in Sultan. Take the 271 to Everett, then transfer to the 512 back to Seattle.

    In Sultan, the Sultan Bakery is a highlight. Loggers is a good spot if you’re looking for a beer. Enjoy your trip.

  14. Advantages of downtown.

    My dentist and three dental specialists are all within a few blocks of each other, so I had a surgery at one and was able to coordinate appointments in person with all the others, and order my prescription refills and go back and pick them up, all in one morning on foot. My doctor is also near there, and I could have gotten groceries at Pike Place Market or PCC, and returned library books and stopped at the post office.

    My dentist is the same office my parents went to. For my doctor I chose a downtown clinic because no matter where I might live or work in the future, there will always be transit to a downtown clinic.


    “The King County Regional Homelessness Authority announced Tuesday morning that its signature initiative — a plan to eliminate visible homelessness downtown — is winding down after a loss of funding.

    “Thirty-eight people are facing layoffs, including 31 systems advocates who do outreach, case management and other social service help for people living outdoors in downtown and Chinatown International District. They were informed Tuesday morning that they will be terminated Oct. 6.

    “Every member of the staff has lived experience of homelessness or housing instability, said authority spokesperson Anne Martens.

    “From the start, this pilot has faced serious funding challenges.

    “To get the work started, Partnership for Zero received more than $10 million in private donations early last year. Additionally, the program used public dollars to help people get connected to housing. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also created a “command center” to help, where social services could be centralized and priority decisions made.

    “Now, the initial grant funding for the project has expired, Martens said.

    “The initiative had a slow start, as logistical and other issues bogged down progress. One year in, less than 10% of people living on the streets in downtown and Chinatown International District had moved into long-term housing, but the project was picking up steam.”

    1. I’ve seen people pay by phone on buses. My neighbors who just moved to Seattle installed it and have been using it. I didn’t know it worked on Link but they said it does.

  16. “Bellevue light-rail line isn’t open yet, but something’s already broken”.

    “In its run-up to launching an Eastside starter line next spring, Sound Transit discovered loose tiles on the passenger boarding platform of South Bellevue Station, and needs to replace them fast.

    “Project executives say the 10,000-square-foot retrofit may cost up to $3 million, in time for a grand opening target of March 2024, to open eight stations in Bellevue and Redmond. Sound Transit blames a contractor for tile problems.

    “We are replacing all of the tiles, so that we have a durable, safe walking surface for the long term,” Jon Lebo, executive project director for East Link light rail, said in an interview Friday.

    “He predicted tile removal will begin the week of Sept. 25, and new tiles should be installed in late January or early February, depending on weather and availability of skilled workers.

    “Surface tiles are a high-profile frustration lately. Yellow edge tiles at Othello and Rainier Beach stations in South Seattle, where service began in 2009, needed to be replaced this summer, a job that reduced light-rail service to 15-minute frequency the last four weeks. That job wrapped up Friday, so trains again come every 10 minutes.

    1. If ST and the contractor purchased tiles and adhesives of a high quality that have a proven track record in various elements, and they monitored the installation process from beginning to end, ensuring it was done exactly to specification, how does something like this happen?

    2. “The tiles that were installed at the station were not meant to be used outdoors.”

      “Problems with cracking and tenting tiles were caused by improper installation of expansion joints.”

      “The station’s contractor refuses to do the repairs.”

      Again, if multiple people in various organizations researched and agreed on which tiles to use, how could the wrong type of tiles be selected? The tile choice would be double checked by Sound Transit, correct?

  17. 12 vs 10 minute headways on T Line are a symptom of a larger problem. Sound Transit’s traffic modeling did not match reality; it was overly optimistic for at-grade mixed traffic operations, which should not have been much of a surprise. Pre-revenue testing uncovered the headway issue early on, while the Agency did not have contingency plans in place to be able to respond or make changes to operating procedure or signal priority before trains needed to go into service. Poor risk management again. Further, the schedule data in GTFS still showed 10 minute headways up until the day before the Hilltop Extension went into service, which means that project staff were not communicating with service planning who were not giving the right data to IT Operations. All of this considering that staff had over a year in delay to prepare for moving the line into revenue service. The issue is not with the single track or having enough vehicles or operators, we simply are paying for 10 minute service, but getting less due to traffic and signal delay.

    Other weird quirks about the project are all over the place: TVM’s were funded for all of the stations and realtime arrival displays (still nonfunctioning) for the new stations, but initial segment stations were not retrofitted to include realtime arrival. Why? Who knows.

    All of the things that you might expect would affect rider experience happen because of a lack of priority and right of way management:
    * waiting at a platform with the streetcar unable to open doors at the station because two cars are ahead waiting at a light
    * waiting at a station for a streetcar to clear single track that was blocked on route due to traffic and signal delay
    * waiting at multiple street lights down the line because a prior signal was missed
    * excessive dwell times at the end of the line
    * having general purpose traffic blocking crosswalks after a streetcar has discharged passengers

    It was important to get Sound Transit on the record as committing to address these issues rather than saying, “Good enough, it’s just Tacoma.”

    1. Great comment!

      I can’t wait to see the initial quarterly ridership numbers. A reminder about the forecasted 2035 ridership for the T-Link extension from the Environmental Evaluation -Transportation Technical Report from June 2015:

      “Measure of Effectiveness

      “Transit trips* are expected to increase from 215,000 trips under existing conditions to 312,000 trips under the No Build Alternative due to increases in population, employment, and the attractiveness of transit as roadways become increasingly more congested. Under the TLE Build Alternative, the number of daily transit boardings is expected to increase by about 3,000 people per day compared with the No Build Alternative.

      “Average 2035 weekday station boardings are shown in Table 5-5 for the No Build Alternative and TLE Build Alternative. For the No Build Alternative, with the existing alignment and six stations, the total daily boardings on the Tacoma Link would be 6,600 boardings per day. With the TLE Build Alternative, total daily boardings on the Tacoma Link would be 10,800 boardings per day, with the expansion and 12 stations. At most existing stations, total daily boarding would slightly decrease. Some transit users who were previously using stops along Commerce Street, such as Union Station, Convention Center, and the Theater District, would relocate to stations along MLK Jr. Way. These stations would better serve those riders by reducing overall travel times (walk and transit) and would be located closer to the riders starting or ending destination.”

      Source: STOPS Model, 2012
      *Includes both light rail and bus riders.

      “2035 Tacoma Link Weekday Station Boardings
      (Station Location, No Build, Tacoma Link with Expansion)
      Tacoma Dome, 1,800, 2,300
      S 25th, 400, 200
      Union Station, 1,200, 900
      Convention Center, 1,600, 1,300 Commerce, 300, 300
      Theater, 1,300, 800
      Stadium Way/ S 4th, N/A, 100
      Stadium District, N/A, 800
      MLK Jr. Way/ 3rd, N/A, 1,300
      MLK Jr. Way/ 6th, N/A, 500
      MLK Jr. Way/S 11th, N/A, 800
      MLK Jr. Way/ S 19th, N/A, 1,500
      Total Boardings for all Stations 6,600 10,800”

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