Hopeful news to counteract your transit blues.

RapidRide J has finished design and will now select a contractor to start construction in 2024. The email announcement didn’t have any specifics on the alignment beyond what’s on the project page. The J will replace route 70 from downtown to Fairview Avenue and Eastlake Avenue to U-District Station.

Sounder needs weekend service, says STB author Collin Reid in The Urbanist. This is part of Collin’s long-term mission to move the Overton window on what’s politically possible for transit. In conversation with the author, he said the focus should be getting the state to build the third track in the BNSF corridor, as the state’s draft Amtrak Cascades long-range plan says, and the Urbanist has also covered.

Lincoln Park ($) will get a pickleball court and maybe a dog-walking park, replacing a decayed tennis court and a grassy meadow. Not all residents approve. Lincoln Park is one of my favorite Seattle parks. It’s right on RapidRide C at Webster Street, and has forest trails on a bluff over the Sound. There’s a path down to a beach and swimming pool. The path goes down parallel to the water line, so the view changes elevation spectacularly as you go down. I don’t mind a pickleball court. I like watching dogs run happily in dog-walking parks, and I’ve always thought the meadow was a bit plain and lonely. But others play frisbee in the meadow, are concerned about wildlife habitat, and fear pickleball noise.

Seattle will pave a dangerous trail-rail intersection ($) on the Burke-Gilman east of 15th Ave NW. Short-line trains will still be able to reach their businesses. This is not the “missing gap” in the trail, which is further west.

San Franciscans say their city is not dying. And another article says downtowns have a chance for another urban renaissance. The second article says superstar cities got complacent and now have to adjust, but they could have a recovery similar to the 1990s. It quotes Seattle mayor Bruce Harrell saying, “”I’m trying to encourage employers to get folks back, develop the energy and synergy that we need. But the fact of the matter is there will never be the good ol’ days where everyone’s downtown working.”

Houston has an inner city of 500,000 people that’s more urban than you might have heard. (CityNerd video)

Freiburg, Germany, has more bikes than cars, and grassy tram corridors. (Not Just Bikes video) Freiburg is a college town of 232,000 in a metro of 660,000 — both like Spokane. It has five tram lines and feeder buses. “The tram network is so vast that 70% of the population live within 500m of a tram stop with a tram every 7–8 minutes. The tram network is very popular as the low fares allow for unlimited transport in the city and surrounding area. Furthermore, any ticket for a concert, sports or other event is also valid for use on public transport.” Yes, small cities can have comprehensive rail transit.

This is an open thread.

189 Replies to “Open Thread 22”

  1. Will RRJ be ETB? What I have read is that it will go to 43rd and across to the Link Station, rather than following Campus Parkway. If that is true and Metro isn’t going to hang wire over this fairly short gap, “upgrading” the route is actually a big step backward.

    Keep the ETB’s.

    1. Yes, see the RapidRide J FAQ, page 11: “Extended Overhead Contact System (OCS), the overhead trolley wire that will allow the RapidRide J Line to run on electricity.” (March 2023)

      This is part of the overall U-District station-area improvements, which also added another couple blocks of trolley wire so that the 44, 49, and 70 could reach the new station stops.

      1. YAY! Thanks, Mike. Very good news, though the loss of direct campus access as the 70 gives is I think short-sighted. Metro could have the bus continue on 43rd to 15th and down 15th to a turnaround about 40th. That would mean the entire campus would be within a reasonable walk for Eastlakers.

        I recognize that this would put it in that nasty traffic on 15th, possibly reducing its reliability.

      2. The ETB project on 12th Avenue NE and to the east on NE 43rd Street was separate and earlier and had its own merits.

      3. eddie, I saiid nothing against the one-way loop. It’s excellent.

        All I said is that extending RRJ to 40th and 15th NE would retain the close connection between Eastlake and Campus, and in fact get the bus close enough to the academic portion of the Med Center to be more useful for those students than the 70 is today.

    2. The SDOT J line will be ETB. But its alignment will degrade connectivity for northbound riders. The last revenue stop will be nearside 12th Avenue NE. Riders oriented to Link will have a one-block uphill walk or roll; riders oriented to the Ave two blocks; riders oriented to 15th Avenue NE three blocks. The longer transfer walks would not be necessary if the Route 70 pathway had been retained. So, SDOT is spending capital to make the transit connections worse.

      1. You are absolutely correct, except that you have the order of the stations backward. If RRJ uses the 70 path, its last quarter-mile, up 15th NE, is its most chaotic. That limits its usability as a “Link bridge” — i.e. a local service between two stations.

        It maintains the historic connection between Eastlake and the campus, but makes the opening to the world at University District Station more remote.

        As I said, it makes sense to use the planned pathway but extend the route back down 15th NE. Riders to Red Square will face a three-to-five minute longer ride, but no more of a walk, and those headed to the Med Center classrooms will actually get a shorter walk.

        It’s a different way of solving the problem you want to solve without making the network accessibility solution worse.

      2. @eddiew: Once again, we’re in the Era of In Motion Charging Trolleybuses, so routes are no longer bound exactly to where wire is.

      3. TT: NE 43rd Street is westbound only between 15th and 12th avenues NE. If SDOT and Metro spent resources on management, operator might fall back on 12th Avenue NE, allowing riders to loop through the U District: NE 43rd Street, 12th Avenue NE, NE 45th Street, and 15th Avenue NE. But SDOT wants the inbound trips via NE 43rd Street and Roosevelt Way NE. The SDOT pathway has been blessed and funded by the FTA.

      4. eddiew, well, does it have to be one-way? It could just be a two-way busway. Thank you for correcting my understanding of the current situation.

      5. “does it have to be one-way?”

        43rd? It’s a single lane now. Sidewalk extensions have replaced the other lane. Pike Street between 1st and 2nd has gotten the same treatment. To make 43rd a 2-way busway you’d have to get SDOT to reverse its pedestrianization achievement. It won’t do that.

      6. RapidRide has “stations” and “stops”. Stations have nice displays, showing when the bus is supposed to be here, as well as ORCA card readers. Stations are more expensive (but nicer) than stops.

        The long term plans are to extend the J Line up Roosevelt beyond 65th. They just ran out of money. This is why the bus doesn’t follow the old path of the 70. It doesn’t make much sense right now, but they didn’t want to deal with abandoning various “stations” in the future (when they send it north). The new stations on 11th and Roosevelt can be used now and in the future.

        The eastbound stop at 43rd (between 11th and 12th) will be more like a regular bus stop. They won’t have a kiosk, with expected arrival time, since the stop is basically outbound only. In other words, people get off the bus there, but not on. This minimizes the cost for that stop (making it a “stop”, not a “station”). I believe the same thing is true for the stop at 45th, between Brooklyn and University. The bus lays over there. You can get off the bus there, but you are supposed to board on 43rd.

        That means there is basically one new “station” that will eventually not be part of the J. It is the one on 43rd, for a bus heading downtown. This will have the full “Rapid Ride Station” treatment, which means a kiosk showing the expected arrival time, as well as a place to pay (off-board). As it turns out, though, there already is a board showing the expected arrival times of various buses (https://maps.app.goo.gl/1YL7XWR6WtoikuRV8). So the only thing that could eventually be outdated is the ORCA card reader (for the RapidRide) and maybe some signage.

        The route is designed to minimize costs in the long run.

      7. Riders oriented to Link will have a one-block uphill walk or roll; riders oriented to the Ave two blocks; riders oriented to 15th Avenue NE three blocks.

        I don’t follow you. Riders taking the bus to Link will just get off at 45th (between Brooklyn and University). If those riders are in a hurry, they can get off on 43rd (between 11th and 12th).

        Riders taking the bus after riding Link will just take the bus on 43rd (also between Brooklyn and University). Here is the roll plot: https://www.seattle.gov/documents/Departments/SDOT/TransitProgram/RapidRide/Roosevelt/1_NE%2043rd%20St%20to%20NE%20Campus%20Pkway.pdf.

      8. Mike, OK, thanks. So the fishhook idea isn’t possible unless the bus turns south on Brooklyn, and that would require adding yet more wire down to Campus Parkway.

        That’s too bad, because it eddie is correct that moving the end JUST to the Link station does break the historic link between Eastlake and campus. Turning south though would be a quicker path than 15th NE; there are no interruptions to southbound traffic on Brooklyn.

      9. > NE 43rd Street is westbound only between 15th and 12th avenues NE
        > 43rd? It’s a single lane now. Sidewalk extensions have replaced the other lane. Pike Street between 1st and 2nd has gotten the same treatment. To make 43rd a 2-way busway you’d have to get SDOT to reverse its pedestrianization achievement. It won’t do that.

        The expanded sidewalks blocking the busway conversion isn’t quite true. They’ve actually left the asphalt (lowered area) section on that wide enough for conversion back into a two way lane. Currently the east bound direction is a protected bike lane but one could convert it easily without altering the expanded sidewalk.

        https://maps.app.goo.gl/Bj3xyBk452wJqbbt5

        I think it’d be accepted removing that 2 block bike section was just changed into a two way bus way for that small 2 block section as one wouldn’t have car traffic since it’d still be a bus way.

      10. To clarify it does look pretty narrow to convert back to a two way road, but it looks like the same width west of 12th ave at least from google maps? From the online ruler it looks like 20~22 feet ish which is just enough, though probs need to measure in person

      11. UW employee here. Have long felt that there needs to be a free shuttle bus that continually loops around campus, and comes like every 2 minutes (maybe more than one route, given how little connection there is between the outer loop–link station, medical center, IMA–and inner loops–stevens way). It would help students get to classes on the other side of campus, and would also connect the link station, the ave, the medical center, the athletic fields, and the various points along stevens way. This would make it less important which bus route went exactly to where, since that last half mile could be covered by the shuttle bus system.

      12. I don’t think you get much by turning it into a two-way road though. The fish-hook idea has merit, but only in the short run. In the long run it makes sense to send the J up past the Roosevelt Station (to roughly 70th). Then move the 67 to the Ave. That basically does a few things:

        1) Makes “The Ave” (University Way) a spine between 65th and roughly campus parkway, with several buses running between there.

        2) Connects the J with the 62.

        3) Connects the J with Link (at Roosevelt).

        4) The connection to buses that come from the north (and run on the Ave) is better, as there would be a same-stop transfer.

        5) The connection to the 44 is better than it is now.

        6) Maintains good speed throughout, by avoiding time consuming turns. Even the turnaround (and layover) is likely to be fairly efficient.

        There are drawbacks:

        1) 48 to J isn’t as good. Rider would have to walk a couple blocks.

        2) Riders from Eastlake have to walk a bit further to campus.

        Overall I see it as a win. The biggest problem with our system is not our transfers, or the fact that we occasionally have to walk a couple blocks farther than we would rather. The biggest problem, by far, is that our buses are too infrequent and too slow. The more we keep the buses going straight (and simplifying the system) the better. You could definitely make the argument that we shouldn’t have buses on Roosevelt at all (since we have buses on The Ave) but if we do have buses on both, sending the J there is about as good as you can get.

      13. It’s ot “a bit farther. It’s four east-west blocks and one north-south block from the overpass to Red Square. And, southbound riders have to cross 11th and Roosevelt. It’s a serious degradation to a 125 year old service pattern.

        I believe that the 70 should continue as a “coverage” route, perhaps every 20 minutes during campus hours. It doesn’t have to go all the way downtown. Hang wire on Denny between Fairview and Third and make it a “crosstown” to LQA.

      14. Bravo! The most loyal “choice” riders in the system, the wealthy folks in North Central and northeast Seattle are going to be screwed by the Suburbanite Board when Lynnwood opens. Folks boarding at Roosevelt and U-District from truncated buses will always be standing southbound, except during late mornings and evenings.

      15. “the wealthy folks in North Central and northeast Seattle are going to be screwed by the Suburbanite Board when Lynnwood opens”

        Not everyone in north Seattle is wealthy. There are three or four equity-emphasis areas between Northgate mall and 145th. One in Lake City, one or two in Northgate and Aurora, and one in Broadview north of Greenwood.

      16. It’s a serious degradation to a 125 year old service pattern.

        The fact that it is an old service pattern is not a selling point. The biggest problem we have with our bus network is the fact that it is old and outdated. Too many lines have stayed the same, all for the same reasons you are using to defend the current route. The thing is, not everyone on the 70 is headed to campus. They just aren’t. Many are headed to the other side of Roosevelt, or they are making transfers of the type I mentioned. Having a bus make a series of turns trying to get riders a few blocks closer is a big waste of time. It is one of the many flaws within our system.

        To be fair, it isn’t clear what you are advocating. I believe that the J should go past Roosevelt, to create a better network. Not everyone agrees. If you think it should end at the U-District, make your case. If you think the bus should detour to The Ave (and then back) then state that argument. I don’t want to argue against both ideas. I’ll assume you are arguing for a truncation at the U-District Station.

        The problem is, there are simply too many people in the area between 45th and 65th. The area has quietly (and not so quietly) boomed. Not the location of that tower (and similar ones). Not close to campus. Not next to the station, but north and west of it (closer to a future J bus stop). Note the non-trivial distance to Link (8 minutes according to Google). Someone headed to Eastlake or South Lake Union from that tower (and towers like it) might just prefer a one-seat, all-surface, frequent option. But it isn’t just the skyscrapers, it is just the general growth along this corridor. The “U-District” has always been a significant destination for riders. But generally speaking, it petered out around 55th or so. That is no longer the case. There is a solid set of development — many blocks wide -between 45th and 65th. Thus it makes sense for buses to overlap there. Buses from the north should definitely extend at least this far south, while extending the 70 provides plenty of benefit beyond just the connections.

        Speaking of connections, it provides the best transfers in most directions for Eastlake riders: east, west, northwest, north, northeast are all significantly better (some enormously so). Even southwest (towards the 31/32) is better. (This, just isn’t good. Nor is this alternative that you would probably jog if you were in a hurry.) The only transfer that is worse is southwest, towards the 48.

        Way more people take the 44 than take the 48. Also consider the main destination for the 48 (the UW). If you are going from Eastlake to the UW, at some point it is better to go south (and take Link) instead of going north (either way you are going around). This will be more the case as the route south avoids congestion (and Link becomes more frequent). Likewise, as you get further south with the 48, at some point it makes sense to go the other way around (using the 8, G, 2, 3, 4, etc.). So you are mainly talking about Eastlake to Montlake. That is not that many people compared to those that will have a much faster trip somewhere else. Oh, and it isn’t like the ability to go towards that end of campus (on a bus) is being eliminated either. You can always take the 44 (which would intersect at 45th).

        More trips will be faster, while creating a network that take less time to operate (which should lead to more frequent service). We need to stop thinking in terms of specific destinations, and build more of an everywhere-to-everywhere system in the city.

      17. Ross, I made my case. I think it was in a different specific thread, so here it is: I believe that the 70 should remain as a “coverage route”.

        Maybe it runs only every 20 minutes and only during campus times. It does not need to go all the way downtown, because RRJ will provide a faster ride for Eastlakers who want to go there. SDOT could pay for wire to be hung above Denny from Fairview to Third Avenue and the 70 could loop back at Queen Anne and Mercer. It then becomes a useful “cross-town” route while preserving the historic connection between Eastlake and campus.

        I know that the 32 ends at the same place, but it gets there by going around the north side of Queen Anne hill. This would snag the western Amazon buildings and a bit of Belltown.

        And just because a transit line is “old”, does not mean it is “outmoded”. There are plenty of apartments along Eastlake occupied by folks who work or attend classes on campus. This will be especially important when RRJ whizzes past UDS and whisks people to Roosevelt Station.

      18. I believe that the 70 should remain as a “coverage route”.

        Wait, are you saying keep the 70, and add the J?

        That just won’t work. Who is going to sit there and watch a J go by (maybe two) while waiting for the old 70? They won’t. They will take the J and walk, or transfer (using the 49 or some other bus). Most would just walk.

        You end up with irregular service on the corridor. This is expensive, while not benefiting riders very much.

      19. I see what Tom is saying. The 70 and J Line wouldn’t duplicate each other for their entire routes, only for a section of the route along Eastlake. But each would begin and end in different places. Other routes do that. The B Line and 245 duplicate each other for almost 2 miles on 156th. (with the exception of the short 152nd detour for the B Line). But both routes go to completely different places before and after their shared section of 156th. Tom might be arguing for something similar. That the J Line and 70 are two separate routes, and begin and end in different locations, but happen to share the same road for a section of their respective routings.

      20. I’d like to see more red paint on Denny (most likely as Bus + Truck lanes) before even considering adding another “coverage” bus route along that packed corridor.

        Tom’s routing would duplicate the 8 and RRJ, and only serve to get UW-bound passengers a few blocks closer to their destination.

      21. Tom raises an interesting possibility of a UDistrict-Eastlake-Uptown route. It was buried in discussion of “keeping the 70” as a coverage overlay, when this new concept would create a different corridor. It’s too late to save the 70 because the J was predicated on replacing the 70 and taking its service hours, and Metro doesn’t have any to spare. I’m also skeptical of this corridor, but it’s worth looking at why.

        First, the primary purpose of the J/70 is to connect the U-District, Eastlake, SLU, and downtown, and secondarily all local-service areas in between. The 70A, shall we call it, would subtract downtown and add Uptown/Seattle Center. It would overlap with the J for 2.5(?) miles and with the 8 for 1(?) mile. It would serve three of the J’s four centers. So the relevant questions are:

        – Does UDistrict-Eastlake-SLU need that much additional service? No, that’s RapidRide J’s job.
        – Is the three blocks between 12th and the UW campus enough reason to overlap the J for 2.5 miles? No.
        – Link is also three blocks from Columbia City’s center and overlaps the 106, but Link offers unique limited-stop service and goes to many centers the 106 doesn’t.
        – Re the B/245 overlap, every overlap needs to be looked at in the context of its length, density/walkability, and citywide need. The Eastside needs both the B and 245 corridors to reach downtown Bellevue, downtown Redmond, and Bellevue College/Eastgate. Metro proposed reorganizing the B and 245 into two RapidRide grid lines, but declined for now, and may revisit 156th again in the future. In contrast, the J/70A overlap seems redundant.
        – Could the 32’s hours be redirected to the 31 (Magnolia)? That depends on how much specific demand there is between Fremont-15thW-Seattle Center. I don’t know that. I’m surprised the 32 exists in the first place. But I have ridden it to Seattle Center a couple times and have been glad it’s there. Still, it doesn’t seem essential.
        – Could the 70A simply replace the 32? That would also disconnect N 40th Street from Seattle Center in addition to Fremont. It would also raise a question about the 32’s eastern tail to Children’s. That service is important for UVillage/Children’s frequency to the U-District. The 70A could take on that extension. Oh, but wait, eastern 45th doesn’t have trolley wire. It would be needed for RapidRide 44 someday, but SDOT/Metro aren’t ready to wire it now. And does Children’s really need a redundant route on Eastlake when it can transfer to a high-quality J? No.
        – Could the 70A replace the 8? No, it’s much more important to connect Uptown/SLU to Capitol Hill. So then the 70A would be like the streetcar on lower Broadway, not really doing much, and not able to replace the 49 or 60 because of the many trips continuing north and/or south of it.

      22. Ross, you are way too blasé about people’s willingness to walk from campus to Roosevelt. Remember that MOST people on campus are not starting (or ending) their journey at Red Square. They fan out for up to a half mile more from the end of the overpass to get to “their building”, whether it be a classroom or office.

        So, I guess we’ll see how much howling there is when the 70 dies.

      23. What about eliminating the 32 and putting the service hours from that into the 70 Replacement? 15th already has the D, and I really don’t see any justification for Interbay to UW passengers to keep it. If such passengers exist, They could walk to the 31, D to the 44, or D to this new 70 replacement.

        It does mean interlining with the 75 and reducing service to Fremont.

      24. The easternmost J stations won’t be at Roosevelt Way; they’ll be at 12th (northbound) and University Way (southbound). See the FAQ link, page 9. University Way and Brooklyn are considered good locations by students. 12th is just one block further, or three blocks from campus.

        “They fan out for up to a half mile more from the end of the overpass to get to “their building”,”

        That means the walk from 12th to 15th is a tiny part of their total walk. And this only affects people going to Eastlake or SLU. People going downtown can take Link. People going other places take other U-District bus routes, which all stop within 2-3 blocks of the planned J stations.

      25. The 70 and J Line wouldn’t duplicate each other for their entire routes, only for a section of the route along Eastlake.

        Yes, but that is the bulk of the route. It is why this is being proposed. If you want to make the case for some other reason (e. g. we need service on Mercer) than be my guest. But this is largely just duplicating an old route because it moved four (fairly level) blocks on only a tiny portion of the route. Run it infrequently and no one takes it, even if they are headed to campus. Why would you? You might as well take the first J that arrives and transfer. It is the same thing that people on the 31/32 do if they are going from SPU or Fremont to the UW campus. Should we have another bus following the same basic route from Fremont, but deviating south? Of course not.

        Remember that MOST people on campus are not starting (or ending) their journey at Red Square. They fan out for up to a half mile more from the end of the overpass to get to “their building”, whether it be a classroom or office.

        Exactly! Which is why trying to guess precisely where the are going and then running a bus there is a fools errand. The UW is like the Seattle Center. By its very nature it attracts people who are willing to walk a bit further to their destination. (As of now, we don’t run a bus through the Seattle Center.) Keep in mind, neither the 49 nor the 70 runs through campus. Are you saying they should?

        There is a simple rule of thumb for a coverage route: It should provide extra coverage. Take the tail of the 24, for example. I would be willing to bet that in terms of ridership, it lags the rest of the route by a good margin. But eliminate it and lost of people have to walk a very long distance to get anywhere. That simply isn’t true with the 70. Send it to Roosevelt and people either transfer to other buses, or they walk four or five minutes extra.

        The problem is that coverage routes can’t compete with regular routes, unless they actually provide a lot of extra coverage. Consider the 73. On Maple Leaf it provides similar “coverage”, running about four blocks away from a much more frequent bus. Furthermore, it does things this bus doesn’t do. If you are trying to get from Pinehurst to the UW, taking the 73 eliminates a transfer (or a walk of potentially miles). Yet the 73 can’t compete. Ridership on Maple Leaf has been usurped by the very-frequent 67. Folks up there just walk a bit farther (even though many have walked quite a ways to even get to 15th). Keep in mind, for these riders, there is no alternative. There is no two-seat ride that will get them to the same place (unlike the U-District). It is either the infrequent 73, or the 67.

        What about eliminating the 32 and putting the service hours from that into the 70 Replacement?

        That is neither here nor there. If we eliminated the 32 I can find much better uses for those service hours than a coverage route that largely duplicates a RapidRide route.

        is there any specific reason why there isn’t any bus coverage on Mercer between Fairview and Queen Anne Ave?

        Great question. My guess would be simply history. We haven’t had it in the past, so we don’t have it now. Until recently, our system was largely a hub-and-spoke system (with downtown as the main hub). The 8 was really an outlier (and I have no idea the history).

        I think there would be value in having bus service on Mercer. You would have to add right-of-way, and as mentioned, Denny is a much bigger priority. If you did have service along Mercer (presumably from Uptown, if not further west) I would probably go up Lakeview/Belmont/Aloha, and provide more of a grid for that part of Capitol Hill (go at least as far as 23rd). I have no problem with doubling up in some areas (as Sam mentioned). It is inevitable. But I see no reason to double up in Eastlake (other than the 49, which should be a lot more frequent, and not go downtown).

        We need to be focused on the grid. I get what Tom is saying. It doesn’t quite work in the U-District. But I don’t think what he is suggesting is the answer. If we really want to make it easier to get to campus from Eastlake/Roosevelt, then send the 31/32 across to and through campus, while sending the 44 across on 45th. That way you would have frequent crossing buses that would get you to various parts of campus. Of course that means having the 31/32 skip campus, which really gets to the route of the problem (not enough Link stations in the U-District). With a station in campus (or at say, Campus Parkway) the 31/32 would already be running that way.

      26. The easternmost J stations won’t be at Roosevelt Way; they’ll be at 12th (northbound) and University Way (southbound).

        Yes, but what I’m saying is that in the long run, the bus will continue on Roosevelt past 65th (and turn around at say, 68th). That explains the current routing, as opposed to simply following the current 70. This lead to the argument by Tom that we should keep the 70 as an alternative (in the long run). (It is a long thread, and fairly worn now, but that is the gist of it.)

        The U-District is a complicated area, and full of compromises. It probably deserves its own post someday.

      27. Mike, Ross has pointed out that the J will be extended to Roosevelt Station some time soon. Thus, there is little value in the “fishhook” idea. I can accept that.

        But if that is true, then there will also soon be no northbound station farther east than 11th NE south of Ravenna Blvd. The “signpost stop” at 12th and 43rd is just a temporary dalliance with the U-District core, sort of a “transit one-night stand”.

        And anyway, 43rd and 12th NE is quite a bit farther from central campus than is 41st and 11th. Yes, it’s closer to the new Law School, but those students mostly aren’t riding buses.

        Ross consistently teaches, rightly I think, that short transit trips are more frequently taken than long ones, because the time penalty of the stops for other riders is lower. So why is he now singing the “Staying on Roosevelt gives better connections to everywhere (except campus)” aria? Eastlake-Campus trips are a prime example of a short, frequently made transit trip.

        Really, how many people from Eastlake will be headed to Shoreline or Kenmore compared to those headed to and from campus? Lake City I can see, so I hope that there’s frequent, well co-ordinated service between Roosevelt and 145th and LCW when STRide replaces the 372. And, yes, the J will certainly improve the transfer between Eastlake and the 44. But who is going to be taking these mythical long trips into the freezing north of Snohomish County from Eastlake?

        And last but not least, have you stood at the stops by the overpass? They are very heavily used. True, the 48 also serves them, so that’s part of the demand. But the “center of mass” on campus is somewhere just east of Suzzallo. Maps says it’s six-tenths of a mile from 41st and 11th NE to Grieg Garden which is right where I estimate the population centroid would be and takes eighteen minutes to walk. From the west end of the overpass to Grieg Garden is four-tenths and takes nine minutes. I expect that Google happens to be rounding up on the decimal of the closer walk or down on the longer.

      28. @All

        > But if that is true, then there will also soon be no northbound station farther east than 11th NE south of Ravenna Blvd. The “signpost stop” at 12th and 43rd is just a temporary dalliance with the U-District core, sort of a “transit one-night stand”.

        Just to clarify with everyone that wasn’t the final alignment of RapidRide J to Roosevelt. The last one I heard/read about actually had it on University Way. They are going to use the new route built.

        (2020 December)
        https://www.seattle.gov/documents/Departments/SDOT/TransitProgram/RapidRide/Roosevelt/2020_1209_RRJ_RouteUpdate_PPT_Slides.pdf

        Shows extended Rapidride J via university way to Roosevelt station sharing alignment with route 45. Route 65 would continue using Roosevelt way and 11th.

        Albeit in 2019 and early 2020 the rapidride J route was still going to be on Roosevelt way and 11th Ave. also no idea if they’ll actually stick with this idea in the future but just wanted to clarify a bit.

      29. “Ross has pointed out that the J will be extended to Roosevelt Station some time soon.”

        Not soon and perhaps not ever. It was dropped from the project, and is unfunded. It would have to be a future project, and there are many transit needs competing for future projects. Including the stalled RapidRide 40, 44, and 48, the 45/65 concept, finishing the R (Rainier, 7). And other concepts we want like Denny Way improvements for the 8, a Broadway north-south route, a 106 extension on Boren to SLU, fixing the Lake City-Northgate frequency, etc. The J project was primarily Eastlake, with options to 65th or Northgate, not the other way round.

        If the J is extended, it would make sense to extend it all the way to Northgate so that it can replace the 66. If it goes just to 65th it can’t replace anything.

        There has always been a dilemma between Roosevelt the main grid street and University Way/15th being closer to campus and pedestrians/shops. Each one is better for some trips but worse for others. Extending the J would raise this dilemma again.

        I like Ross’s idea somewhat of consolidating them all on University Way. Although for through Roosevelt riders, it would be a detour and time sink, and if they’re going to 50th & Roosevelt they’d be frustrated at having to walk from the detour. This is a side effect if not having the pedestrian concentrations in a straight line.

        The U-District upzone in the late 2010s put the center of the upzone at Roosevelt. Parts of the Ave are protected to preserve the pre-WWII urbanism, so the Ave is really near the eastern edge of the area. As the area between 8th and Brooklyn gets fully built up, it will make more sense to have an all-Roosevelt route there. That could lead to the possibility of abandoning U-District Station in favor of Roosevelt Station. But that’s just speculation because there’s no current project or plan to do it.

      30. WL, does the map really show that? Grant, there is what looks like a maroon line north of 45th on University Way up to Ravenna with a jog over to 12th/Roosevelt. However, that maroon-looking line also continues south on The Ave to 40th it appears. I think that maroon-looking line is actually one’s eye combining the orange line for the 73 and the purple line for the 45. Swipe the map bigger and I think you’ll see the “rainbow effect”. There is no RRJ extension on The Ave actually implied.

        In fact, the article has a section “Why shorten the route?” which answers the question. RRJ may in fact never go farther than the U-District Link Station.

      1. No, there are important bus improvements. It is primarily a bike project (as well it should be) but buses will avoid congestion in a lot of areas. You have to dig into the details to see how this works, and many of the improvements are subtle. One of the ways that things will improve is to limit the flow of cars onto Eastlake itself (e. g. from Fairview). This is different than simply giving buses their own lane (which would be ideal, but impossible*). But it should still be very effective.

        * OK, not exactly impossible. It is possible that they could have built bike lanes that paralleled Eastlake (next to the water) but that would have been extremely expensive. You could have just lived without bike lanes, but that would have been a really bad idea. You could have made Eastlake one way (and grabbed a lane that way) but they didn’t want to do that.

  2. Glad to see RRJ moving forward to final design & bidding despite Eastlake Community Council’s last-ditch efforts to kneecap it. It is mostly a bike lane project, along the critical section (Eastlake) between U-Bridge and Fairview, but the in-lane stops and bike lane protection are long-overdue upgrades for that corridor.

    I used to work at in an office at south end of Eastlake, and these upgrades would have served me very well.

    1. Agreed. The project has taken way too long, but overall, it looks really good. The bike improvements are huge, while they are making some needed bus improvements. I feel like they will need to make more bus improvements in the future, but this is still a big step in the right direction.

  3. Sound transit finally posted July and August ridership totals for all modes, and the Link tab/page has September too.

    https://www.soundtransit.org/ride-with-us/system-performance-tracker/ridership

    Remember there were service reductions in August and September because ST can’t figure out how to replace platform tiles over a weekend. It was around 90K on a July weekday and 79K in August and and 80K September. I understand that July was unique but it looks to me that the tile replacement service reduction drove away about 5 percent of riders.

    Note that Saturday was almost as high as weekday. Special events like Mariner and Seahawks and Sounders games create some of this. This indicates that Link has appr beyond peak hour commuters.

    1. @Al.S,

      Ya, I saw that. Given all the service disruptions this summer, I was actually very surprised that Link ridership didn’t fall off more. Such a small impact indicates that the preference for Link is strong, and that riders don’t easily switch modes away from rail.

      The data also indicates that Link ridership is at, or probably above (minus service disruptions), pre-pandemic levels. Yes, this is with 3 new stations, but it is still good news.

      And it bodes well for the future. 2024 will hopefully see two Link “extensions” open. ELSL will be something of a nothing-burger since it doesn’t actually connect to the system, but LLE should be impressive and deliver large ridership gains.

      And yesterday I saw my first LRV on the LLE. It was depowered, and being towed really slowly, but it was definitely a good sight. Undoubtably they are doing envelope clearance testing with it, but I was a bit surprised to see it so soon. Sort of makes me wonder when we might see our first powered LRV on LLE. Hopefully soon.

      But very good news indeed. And I’m a bit disappointed that neither the Seattle Times nor ST has covered this milestone. Mike Lindblom, where are you?

    2. Even light rail ridership remains way down from the Before Times, before Northgate Link was opened.

      And yet ST is facing a PM peak capacity problem even with the fleet and storage space having been decided in the Before Times.

      Why?

      1. It’s been discussed before in previous threads, but basically since the route is so long Sound Transit can only trains every 10 minutes even at peak periods (for 2024 before the i-90 section works) . There’s not enough vehicles since the other trains are trapped on the eastside without the bridge. (number of trains on each side dependent on the OMF facility size)

        > And yet ST is facing a PM peak capacity problem even with the fleet and storage space having been decided in the Before Times.

        There’s a larger problem that sound transit is extending farther into the suburbs but the longer the route the more trains/drivers you need to maintain the same frequency in the core. Northgate to Angle Lake is like 51 minutes, while Lynnwood to Federal Way is 73 minutes. That’s a 40% increase in travel time meaning you need 40% more trains and drivers to maintain the same 10 minute frequency. To run more trains during peak time because harder and harder because the train now needs to run the entire length.

        > (From article) Worryingly too, Sound Transit staff have given up on six-minute frequencies for the foreseeable future — a level of service that existed only three years ago — and are even unsure about eight-minute frequencies.

        https://www.theurbanist.org/2023/10/10/sound-transit-still-seeking-mitigation-for-overcrowding-coming-with-link-expansions/

      2. I think part of it is perception. Many subway riders in other major cities are used to lots more crowding than Link riders are. Add to that the unwillingness and naïveté of a few riders to not block doors and instead stand in the aisle of the high floor ends of the train cars.

        The Northgate extension (opened after the “Before Times”) is also a huge change for Link. Both UW students as well as Downtown workers are all traveling in the same peak direction north of UW.

        At some point, ST will realize that they could include train car capacity by pairing two cars together and eliminating the middle driver cabs at add room. I suspect that idea is still at least a decade away.

        Boston recently chose to go with new “super cars” with six bends rather than the former two (like Link has). I’m sure that capacity was a factor.

        https://www.masslive.com/boston/2022/09/say-hello-to-the-mbtas-supercar-longer-green-line-train-slated-to-arrive-in-2027-after-officials-approved-810-million-contract.html?outputType=amp

      3. I think part of it is perception. …

        I agree. Like you, I see people doing things that you just don’t see in a big city, when it comes to riding the train. Same goes with the buses.

        I also agree with your other point. There are a bunch of things Sound Transit can do to avoid crowding, but in the past they have seem completely disinterested. I get it to a certain point — all other things being equal it makes sense to ignore it. But you can’t then turn around and say it is a big deal. The worst is when they do nothing to address capacity, and then turn around and say we need a whole new line to deal with capacity issues. That is usually the last thing you do (and it almost always comes with additional coverage) and yet the board just ignores standard practice (let alone best practices).

      4. @Brent White,

        “ Even light rail ridership remains way down …”

        Ah, no, check the data. Or at least believe the data.

        Link ridership in the last month for which data was available was 5% above the 2019 level. That is phenomenal, and basically means that Link Light Rail is the only local transit mode that has fully recovered to its 2019 peak.

        And, yes, that is with 3 more stations in the system. But kudos to ST for expanding service even under adverse circumstances, and expanding service successfully.

        Them are the facts. Link is kicking b*tt.

      5. @Lazarus: You are playing semantics. That would be like saying “RapidRide ridership in West Seattle is higher than ever”. Yes, I suppose it is, but only because they converted the 120 to RapidRide. Here is the harsh reality:

        On the old parts of Link, ridership is down.

        It is down across the board. So much so that many stations are still below what they were, despite the massive addition. For example, all the downtown stations are below what they were, even though they now connect to the U-District, Roosevelt and Northgate. That is startling, really. The 41 is gone — if you want to get from Northgate to downtown you have to take Link. Similarly, the 512 no longer goes downtown. And despite that, ridership at downtown stations overall is actually down. Ridership coming from old existing trips must be really, really down to compensate for the addition.

        Rainier Valley stations are down as well, even though riders can take fast one-seat rides to those areas as well. Consider the Rainier Valley numbers a bit. Ridership is down 20% at Othello, and 31% at Columbia City. These are the recent monthly highs compared to 2019. That is actually a smaller decrease than the 7 (a bus that serves a nearby area).

        There is nothing magical about Link. Ridership has gone down across the board, for much the same reason as it has with the buses. Some of it is changes in daily habits (less commuting), some of it is the service levels.

      6. @RossB,

        Look at the data. The data says Link ridership is essentially the same as before the pandemic. This is not semantics, this is data.

        Yes, we all acknowledge that a Link now has 3 more stations than before the pandemic, but so what? Link now matches its previous ridership level, and even does so at lower frequency.

        Get over it. Link is actually a “thing” now and is doing very well, and will only do better in the future. And 2024 will see significant expansion of the Link system, and significant increases in Link ridership. It’s real.

        And speaking of, have you noticed that ST has had Link LRVs out on LLE extension lately? Such things are not semantics, they are the future. And the future is coming faster than “some” of us are comfortable with.

        Me? My in-laws near the 185th St Station? We can’t wait for the future. And when we switch to 100% Link to get back and forth between our residences, it won’t be semantics, it will be real ridership data.

        Trust the data. It is real.

      7. Of course Link ridership increased. In 2021, three new Link stations opened. A Metro and ST restructure deleting or truncating most competing routes (e.g., routes 74, 76, 77, 306, 301, 304, 308, 312, 355, 522).

        Interestingly, Link ridership may have declined between 2018 and 2019. In March, the DSTT was closed to buses; the DSTT became less attractive for CBD circulation trips; waits at the DSTT platform increased significantly. Link trips were more reliable as buses were not providing friction in the DSTT, but the increased waiting was also important. Peak Link headway was six minutes. After Covid, Link headway has settled at eight minutes in the peak periods and 10 minutes at off-peak times.

      8. @RossB,

        Look at the data. The data says Link ridership is essentially the same as before the pandemic. This is not semantics, this is data.

        Yes, we all acknowledge that a Link now has 3 more stations than before the pandemic, but so what?

        Seriously? So what? This is the only reason that ridership is anywhere near where it was. That’s what.

        I don’t understand why you find this so complicated. It is very simple:

        1) Ridership on the old part of Link is way down.
        2) Ridership on the new part of Link helps compensate for it.

        This is the data.

        I don’t know why you can’t grasp this concept. Imagine a city annexes another city. If the city population remains the same, it must mean that lots of people left the old city. The same thing is true here.

      9. @Lazarus

        Since you want data, here is some station data for September 2023 versus September 2019:

        Westlake — Down 21%
        University Street — Down 28%
        Pioneer Square — Down 42%
        SoDo — Down 32%
        Stadium — Down 11%
        Beacon Hill — Down 28%
        Mount Baker — Down 24%
        Othello — Down 31%

        You get the idea. Ridership at these (and many more) stations is way down, even though there was a massive expansion. That is not good.

      10. @RossB,

        It was posted above by Al.S, but here is the real data once again:

        https://www.soundtransit.org/ride-with-us/system-performance-tracker/ridership

        The data shows complete and total recovery of Link ridership. This is great news.

        And, yes, as mentioned multiple times above, this complete recovery is accomplished with the aid of 3 new stations. Nobody is claiming otherwise.

        But nobody should ever make systemwide ridership claims by looking at just one station and extrapolating. Not with Metro, and certainly not with Link. Doing so is almost guaranteed to produce a false narrative.

        Link is very successful, and it will continue to be even more successful in the future as various extensions open and the system expands. This is a good thing and should be celebrated locally. But let’s please stick to the facts.

      11. I’m guessing much of the ridership being down accounts for Friday being a very common WFH day as well as one other day like Monday or Tuesday being a common WFH day. I am curious comparing ridership on a Thursday now with a Thursday 2019, I suspect it might be pretty close.

      12. @Poncho,

        Good comment. I am sure you are correct. And the same is probably also true of Monday.

        There have definitely been some changes in ridership patterns since the pandemic, which is why it is so encouraging to see Link doing so well.

        Sounder is an interesting example. Sounder has made some impressive ridership gains this year, and when I ride Sounder (occasionally) it seems well used and nearly full, but the data still says that Sounder ridership is way down. Worse even than Metro ridership.

        I’m sure as the DT Seattle job market continues to improve Sounder ridership will too, but it is still very interesting to see the differences in ridership trends between Metro and Sounder.

      13. I took the 4:30pm Northbound Sounder Thursday oit of Tacoma Dome to get together with friends in Belltown. I rode my bike. The one doesn’t serve the Dome, and I would have missed it in any case, since I work full time.

        Once on, I got a work call and scrambled to get ear buds out. But then looked around. I was alone.

        I don’t blame anyone but the most entrepid transit rider for not taking the Sounder. It is not a usable service. What it takes is bringing a bike, and having a very good knowlege of the 594. It’s really the only way it is usable. I was done in Seattle about 9:30 (go Bills, highly recommend Vindiktive Wings) , rode my bike to 2nd and Stewart, to just make my on time bus at 9:50 (OBA said 10:20. Transit App had a convincing looking graphic showing a bus moving my way on Stewart. Score 1 for TA).

        Get off at 10th and Commerce in Tacoma at 10:30. The fancy, expensive T-Link Service has shut down for the evening, and the next (and last) Route 1 arrives in almost an hour.

        Without a bike I’m left to hoof it home for 30 minutes or cross my fingers a Lyft gets there in less than that, or is even willing to serve that part of town that late.

        The reason they call it a Transit Network is that if any one piece of a network is disconnected, the network shuts down. In this case, multiple pieces shut down, and I absolutely need to have a bike to bridge those gaps. Given how dangerous and difficult it is to ride a bike in Tacoma, I am one of the very, very few who ride transit, or Sounder in Pierce County.

        And I don’t blame them.

      14. @Cam,

        Reverse direction Sounder is very lightly used, but part of the reason for running it is to reposition the rolling stock to support peak direction travel.

      15. It’s lightly used because you can’t get home on it. If it were round-trip, many people would use the Park and Ride to go to Seattle for the evening.

        Very few people are willing or able to sit at 2nd and Stewart, perhaps for an hour, and cross their fingers that the next two 594 aren’t ghosts (which happened to me a few weeks ago on a similar excursion).

        If you want people to ride the Sounder into Seattle, you need to provide them a return trip.

      16. And the fact that the T-Link, which theoretically is there in part to serve inter-city transfers, shuts down at 10, just when people need it coming back from Seattle, is crazy.

      17. The data shows complete and total recovery of Link ridership. This is great news.

        Again, you are playing semantics. There is no “recovery”, there was a massive expansion of service. Don’t you understand the difference between “Recovery” and “Expansion”? Do you think RapidRide in West Seattle has fully recovered simply because they renamed the 120?

        You keep pretending like I’m not looking at the data, even though that is where I get the numbers I cited. I keep pointing out to you the same thing, and you keep ignoring it:

        Ridership on existing parts of Link are down. Way down.

        Care to dispute that point, or would you rather ignore it?

      18. It’s an interesting coincidence that Northgate Link raised north end (north of Westlake) ridership by slightly more than the total ridership loss since covid started. There are multiple ways to interpret this.

        What is clear is that all-day business on the platforms and trains between Capitol Hill and Northgate finally resembles, not Mahattan, but at least Queens and Brooklyn and DC. I’m part of that because my most common trip is Capitol Hill-Roosevelt. Link shrinks the travel time from 40 minutes to a whopping 12 minutes. People respond to such improvements, and latent demand appears.

        The south end and downtown have not recovered as much as we’d hoped. But compared to bus routes I think one train run still has as as many on/offs and ride-throughs as several ordinary bus routes combined. Maybe not the 7 and 36, two of the top twenty routes, but the 106 and other ordinary routes. So even with losses Link is still a workhorse.

      19. @Mike — Yes. It is clear that the Northgate expansion was as important as urbanists thought it was going to be. The big improvement was not in trips to downtown, but trips along the way. Northgate to Capitol Hill, for example, is much, much faster.

        What is striking to me is that downtown ridership is still down. Again, this is with the expansion. Northgate to downtown alone should be enough to make up for the loss from the south end, but it doesn’t. Likewise, SeaTac ridership is still down. This suggests that ridership is driven more by folks who commute than folks who take the occasional trip. If you commute from the U-District or Northgate to SeaTac, you have been taking Link for a really long time. But if you are taking a trip, the expansion of Link is a big deal. Not enough, apparently, to make up for a general decrease in Link ridership (along the existing pathways).

        Rainier Valley is probably the most depressing, and most surprising. The 7 has largely recovered, while ridership in Rainier Valley is way down. I would have guessed it would be the other way around. From Rainier Valley, taking Link to get to the U-District, Roosevelt or Northgate is much better than taking the 7 and then transferring.

        I guess the general theme is that people are taking shorter transit trips. I get why downtown ridership is down, but downtown is also a major hub. If I’m trying to get from Northgate to the Seattle Center, the first thing I do is take Link to downtown (followed by the monorail). The same goes for the Central Area, the East Side or West Seattle.

        There are obviously several things happening at the same time. It may be that people have basically switched to taking trips that are only really convenient. For many people, the 7 is exactly that. They aren’t transferring (or if they are, the transfer is easy). Likewise, Link trips like Northgate to the UW is very convenient. But trips involving too many transfers, or just a lot of sitting on Link are not that popular.

      20. “The 7 has largely recovered, while ridership in Rainier Valley is way down.”

        That tells us the kinds of trips people are taking. The 7 has always been popular for trips between one part of the valley to another. The valley is five miles long and has hundreds of destinations all along it. Grocery shopping, medications, nail salons, Goodwill, restaurants, a movie theater, friends’ houses, a community center, youth facilities, etc. In contrast, Link trips are longer distances, only from its station nodes, or only when there’s a good bus transfer to a station node. MLK has a smaller variety of destinations than Rainer. In some cases you can take Link and walk to Rainier like at Mt Baker and Columbia City, but that breaks down at Othello and Rainier Beach, and Link doesn’t serve north of Mt Baker. The 50 is too infrequent to be a good feeder, and the 106 at 15 minutes is also not particularly strong for short-distance last-mile access.

        How has the 106 recovered relative to the 7? That might tell us something of how much of the loss is due to Link-typical trips compared to Rainier vs MLK more generally.

      21. I interpret the drop in SE Seattle ridership to a few things:

        1. Fewer SE Seattle residents want to go Downtown. More do work from home and the retail draw has diminished considerably. Gone are the days when Westlake Station was “anchored” by Macy’s (now closed) and Nordstrom (basement entrance closed).

        2. There isn’t much of a “there” near the neighborhood Link stations. Each station has some nearby commercial but few have a regional draw.

        3. Most new buildings underway are near Judkins Park, too far from 1 Line stations . While there are recent apartment projects at the MLK stations, it pales in what was being built 5 years ago in these MLK station areas.

        4. The SE Seattle diversity travel wants are not synching with the new destinations on Northgate Link. Many people of color comprise the Link ridership in SE Seattle — and these communities are being priced outward to places like Renton, Kent and Auburn for housing, family, shopping and/ or jobs. Playing hockey in Northgate or walking around Green Lake seeming aren’t that interesting to the neighborhoods.

        So it’s likely a combination of having little new that attracts riders, as well as reduced desire to go Downtown for jobs and/ or shopping.

      22. That tells us the kinds of trips people are taking.

        Yeah, exactly. That is what I was getting at. For relatively short trips, the 7 is better. But if you are going a longer distance (e. g. to the UW) then it makes sense to take Link. It would not surprise me in the least if people just aren’t taking transit for time-consuming trips. A lot of this is the change in commuting, obviously, but it may be that people are driving for those sorts of trips (while still taking transit when the transit trip is fairly short).

        This would explain the overall loss of transit ridership, and be consistent with various studies over the years. Link is not especially frequent, but for some trips (e. g. Northgate to Capitol Hill) it is blazing fast, and much faster than buses in the past. Even with the wait, and the awkward nature of the stations, it is competitive with driving (and just not that long of a trip). Similarly, the 7 works for a lot of trips, simply because it is so frequent (or was).

        As for the 106, it is down more than the 7, but it hasn’t been hammered like some routes. The 101 is down much more.

      23. To take your points Al:

        1) Sure, but somehow that hasn’t crippled the 7. The 7 goes to downtown, and historically that made up a big chunk of the ridership.

        2) Yeah, but that was always true. The Rainier Valley Link stations were always fairly weak.

        3) I agree, but I would go farther. Basically, the development in the area is closer to the 7 (not by the Link Stations). If you are in Columbia City, and want to go downtown, you can walk over to Link and wait for the train, or you can just wait for the 7, which comes more often. It really only makes sense to go over to Link if you are taking a longer trip (e. g. to the UW).

        I think it is a combination of item 3 (growth along the pathway of the 7, but not around the Rainier Valley Link stations), lack of interest in longer trips, and the more frequent nature of the 7.

      24. Ross, Laz is one of those guys that believes that Dow 34,000 means that someone who has held DIAmonds since 2000 is three and a half times richer now than he was then. Inflation is only a “thing” to them when they bludgeon Dems with it.

        The “money supply” on Link was vastly expanded when North Link opened.

      25. @Tom Terrific,

        There are ways to protect and grow your nest egg even in periods of high inflation. If you are unsure of how, then please consult a financial advisor.

        But back to transit.

        Link is now at or above its pre-pandemic ridership level. That is not semantics, that is a cold hard fact. That is full recovery.

        And, yes, some of the credit for that goes to the 3 new stations. No doubt about it, and I have acknowledged that each and every time I have posted on the issue. Go check.

        Why aren’t those parts of my statements acknowledged? I don’t know, but I’m a big boy, and I can certainly “get over it”.

  4. Two things about Houston worth noting not mentioned in the video – their light rail (at least on weekdays) runs more often than our light rail (every 6 minutes vs. 10). And their public bikeshare system expanded while ours was being shuttered.

    1. Houston is worth a visit for those who haven’t been… it was much better than I expected, I stayed downtown and visited the areas along the main light rail line and used the redesigned bus system to access Uptown and Westheimer Road, all worked great and a good amount for an urbanist to see there for a couple days.

      1. Walk around Downtown. Also see Discovery Green Park, The Post (old post office converted to food hall with rooftop park), Rice University campus (beautiful campus), Hermann Park (big grand park with museums, gardens, etc), Breakfast Klub (famous soul food restaurant), Truck Yard and East Downtown (warehouse district with bars, restaurants and cool fun hang outs like Truck Yard), Sawyer Yards Arts District, Buffalo Bayou Greenway, Montrose hip historic neighborhood on Westheimer Rd, and Midtown historic neighborhood (on the LRT).

        Of transit interest: Silver Line BRT… dedicated lanes in a center-median configuration running north-south on Post Oak Blvd in the heart of Uptown.

        I happened to be in Downtown Houston when they had the Rodeo Parade, it was amazing to see lots of large families presumably from the Texas countryside dressed in cowboy hats and boots riding the light rail that day.

        Houston is also one of the most diverse cities in the country and has great food.

        Definitely worth getting a cheap flight there and exploring for a weekend, I think you will come away feeling its nothing like what you expected and viewing the city much more positively. I did it without renting a car, took the airport bus downtown (quite good), stayed in a historic hotel at the crossroads of the two light rail lines downtown, and took transit everywhere I wanted to go outside Downtown which was really just Uptown/Galleria, Westheimer Road/Montrose (along the way to Uptown) and LRT to Rice U, Hermann Park and Midtown.

        Worth noting, you would need to rent a car if you wanted to go to the Space Center.

      2. My favorite transit feature is the artificial “moat” on the light rail tracks Downtown. It really is a cool street scape feature and deters walkers from crossing tracks really well!

        https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xMek2fI4xSU

        Generally, the landscaping around the light rail in Houston is often quite pretty. ST in contrast seems to like to go for a barren, stark look with rocks and concrete and bad fencing.

  5. I’m going to cross post someone else’s question from Seattle Bike Blog, on the assumption that maybe one of the rail heads here on STB may also have niche knowledge of freight rail franchise intricacies. Part of the deal to pave that Burke trail intersection involves transferring the 30 year franchise agreement to operate the rail from the existing entity to a related one, but that franchise agreement still expires in 2027. Someone asked:

    And on September 29, 2027 the franchise agreement ends. Doesn’t this mean that the railway goes back to the city? And we build a bike trail on top of the rail line?

    Reply
    Well, I am not sure about that. I don’t have a full understanding of rail laws, but
    I think if a railroad company seeks a franchise, the city may be essentially forced to grant it. I’m sure there are stipulations and loopholes and all that, though, so take this with a grain of salt.

    Anyone here know the answer or have any context? And even if forced to grant it, can the city negotiate/impose any conditions?

    1. Since the little railroad does connect to BNSF at the Locks, it is subject to and protected by the Federal Railroad Administration. I expect, though I can’t speak for the FRA obviously, that they would indeed force the City to extend operations to another willing lessee.

      1. Any speculation on how the City was able to get Ballard Terminal (passing its franchise agreement to its subsidiary, Meeker Southern) to functionally abandon their pen on NW 45th?

        The obvious assumption is that they’ll just move Lil Beaver to the “yard” at the junction with the BNSF track, but it seems impractical to just leave the engine sitting in the open out there.

        Guess I’ll have to cruise by this weekend and see if they left any cars on the now-disconnected section east of 15th.

      2. Any speculation on how the City was able to get Ballard Terminal … to functionally abandon their pen on NW 45th?

        No one is quite sure. I’ve read some theories. It might have something to do with the lawsuit. The city is being sued for creating an unsafe path for bikes, and maybe the company was afraid of being sued by them (or the city). Maybe the company just wasn’t getting any value from the tracks, and felt like it held not future value for them. That, and maybe a lot of pestering by the city could have been enough for them to get rid of it. That being said, the creation of that other company suggests some fiscal shenanigans (e. g. tax savings?).

      3. Good question, Nathan. I was struck by that, too. Locomotives don’t maintain themselves; they have minders who like to have at least a tool shed adjacent and appreciate a roof over their heads when they work.

  6. Someone should go to this tomorrow and take pictures and write a short post on it. Use a telephoto lens in order to keep your distance and not interfere with the drill. You should be able to get some dramatic pics, like victims emerging from the smoke with the help of emergency personnel.

    “People passing by may see theatrical smoke, emergency vehicles and volunteers acting and dressed as victims. Sound Transit asks that people not linger in the area, as they may disrupt the drill.”

    https://bellevuewa.gov/city-news/sound-transit-drill

  7. ST is trying to figure out ways to avoid light rail from being overwhelmed during the PM peak.

    Perhaps nothing says “Please consider traveling at a different time,” more than a well-advertised peak surcharge, which ought to only be in the PM, and only for about an hour, maybe even less than that. And maybe only in the peak direction (northbound).

    1. > ST is trying to figure out ways to avoid light rail from being overwhelmed during the PM peak.

      The pm peak is pretty solvable with a slight increase in frequency. It’s just that Sound Transit keeps insisting on not using turnbacks. So their trains must run the entire length of the route and so they don’t have enough trains. Just turn some trains around at northgate and at sodo etc… and it solves all the pm peak issues.

      > Perhaps nothing says “Please consider traveling at a different time,” more than a well-advertised peak surcharge, which ought to only be in the PM, and only for about an hour, maybe even less than that.

      I would consider that if Sound Transit was already running trains at like 3 minute frequencies. Considering the problem is at 10 minute frequencies it’s not necessary yet.

      1. Yes on how ST will have to look at short-turning trains in the future — as long as they have train drivers as well as a shortage of rail cars (although some of this “shortage” is because they increased the spares they want on reserve as well as a huge internal staff mistake calculating round trip train times in the recent past).

        Short turning trains is politically unpopular because the outer stations get less frequent service. The result is mostly empty trains for a long part of a route while the central segments become too crowded.

        It’s going to take Seattle riders complaining that they can’t get onto trains to get ST to change.

        Some other systems have real-time responses to overcrowding. Some have unscheduled short-turning reserve trains that squeeze in right after a overcrowded train. Some turn overcrowded trains into “instant express” trains and will skip several downstream stations once they give riders the chance to get off and wait for the next train if they want to reach a skipped station, reducing the long waits as people crawl out of a crowded train car.

        This is why the more operations staff that ST brings in from other systems is so important. It looks to me that agency familiarity and fear of listening to outside operations people still is more important internally than getting how to operate an overcrowded system is. I am expecting a change to wanting more outside operations expertise sometime in the next decade.

      2. Turning back the trains is just one solution they came up with. It is by no means the best. In fact, the folks who looked into it suggest it is the worst alternative. Not because of the impact on riders, but logistically. https://www.soundtransit.org/st_sharepoint/download/sites/PRDA/FinalRecords/2023/Presentation%20-%20Improving%20ST2%20Light%20Rail%20Passenger%20Experience%2010-05-23.pdf

        At some point it is highly likely that trains will routinely turn back at various points (especially if Link extends north of Lynnwood or south of Federal Way). But that is more likely to be about saving money. Running empty trains is very expensive.

      3. @ Al

        > Short turning trains is politically unpopular because the outer stations get less frequent service. The result is mostly empty trains for a long part of a route while the central segments become too crowded.
        > It’s going to take Seattle riders complaining that they can’t get onto trains to get ST to change.

        Yeah I know they’ll probably wait until they have insufficient money/can’t increase frequency peak time till they implement it.

        > Turning back the trains is just one solution they came up with. It is by no means the best. In fact, the folks who looked into it suggest it is the worst alternative. Not because of the impact on riders, but logistically.

        Sound Transit consistently does not want to implement turnbacks — except in the case of West Seattle/Ballard link as the most expensive turnbacks ever.

        > At some point it is highly likely that trains will routinely turn back at various points (especially if Link extends north of Lynnwood or south of Federal Way). But that is more likely to be about saving money. Running empty trains is very expensive.

        It is more about saving money here, but ensuring
        that the center core can increase frequency without always having the additional cost of running all the way to the further suburbs. This idea that the only way to increase frequency is with 4-car trains running the entire length of the route hampers frequency greatly for the core.

      4. ST should consider shorter trains and shorter headway. They seem fixated on four-car trains. LRV per hour (60/8) x 4 = 30 = (60/6) x 3. This would save two LRV from their gap trains. Between April and October, the briefings to the board shifted Link headway to 10 minutes from eight.

        ST may be having difficulty getting the new Siemens sub-fleet ready.

        STB hive: how does Siemens deliver LRV to the bases? How are they moved between the two operating bases, if they are at all? The South Forest Street base has a storage shortage for Lynnwood Link and the 1 Line. Could more of the initial Siemens work be shifted to the east base leaving more storage capacity at South Forest Street for 1 Line LRV?

      5. > ST should consider shorter trains and shorter headway. They seem fixated on four-car trains. LRV per hour (60/8) x 4 = 30 = (60/6) x 3. This would save two LRV from their gap trains. Between April and October, the briefings to the board shifted Link headway to 10 minutes from eight.

        Shorter trains for shorter headways is more regarding an off peak solution to save on maintenance costs on number of vehicles running and using those savings to try running more trains frequently

        During peak time shorter trains with shorter headways doesn’t change the capacity calculation. Running say 4-car 6TPH* (trains per hour) = 24 train cars per hour versus 3-car 8TPH =24 trains cars per hour it’s the total capacity.

        The route length is just too long now and since they don’t want to solve the underlying issues (travel time, vehicle reliability) the other lever is to shorten the route. The northern section past northgate is the only area that duplicates frequency so it’s the only viable section to turn around to give more capacity to chinatown to northgate.

        * 6TPH means 10 minute headways. 8 TPH means 7.5 minute headways.

    2. WMATA has tried different versions of this. I’m guessing that they have had mixed success.

      Here is the current version:

      https://www.wmata.com/fares/basic.cfm

      Note that weekends are reduced, and weekdays are now only reduced after 9:30 pm. I remember years ago that even midday fares and well as mid-evening fares were cheaper.

      Keep in mind that DC Metrorail has fare gates so the charges can be more easily regulated by automation. With Link’s honor system, time-of-day pricing becomes more complicated.

      It’s also a non-peak flat fare, with a distance based fare kicking in during the primary travel period.

      WMATA also has different parking rates and durations that vary by time and day of week:

      https://www.wmata.com/service/parking/parking-details.cfm

      Parking appears mostly free on weekends. It appears that the parking charges are collected exclusively by machines rather than people at most or all stations. That’s another form of peak pricing. A few decades ago, the parking charge was collected upon exit, so an attendent was there to collect money from something like 2 to 8 pm with it being free the rest of the day.

      So there are ways to do this and case studies on how well it works in the DC metro area.

    3. @Brent White,

      Interesting idea, but there are better ways to implement it than once again punishing the poor and less privileged who, for whatever reason, don’t have an ORCA LIFT card.

      For example, just make riding Link free for 2 hours before the PM peak and 2 hours after. This would incentivize people to shift their travel times away from peak, without overtly punishing the poor once again.

      And free Link transit would incentivize people who are still stuck in the old ways to try the new service. This is a good thing for Link as it would build the ridership base. And the current ridership data seems to indicate that Link riders stick with Link even in adverse circumstances. So these new riders would probably stick with Link even after the free fare period ends

      So good idea, but bad implementation. Because we really need to consider the needs of the less fortunate in society and not continually add to their misfortune.

      1. That could be fixed quite easily by simply not applying the surcharge to the low-income ORCA.

        Not that I’m endorsing that approach. Doing so tends to upset people. A discount for riding other times is essentially the same thing, but would be more popular.

        I get your point, Brent, about just publicizing the possibility of crowding. That sort of thing has worked wonders in the past (for “carmeggedon” situations). But again, I don’t think Link wants to do that. Discouraging people from taking transit at rush hour is a P. R. nightmare. Folks on this blog can talk all day about how “transit isn’t about rush hour”, but the general public doesn’t view it that way. Even Sound Transit, in pursuing ST3 put rush-hour traffic front and center in their campaign. To turn around and say you want people to avoid the trains whenever possible during rush hour is a weird message.

        In any event, it isn’t being considered. There are four ideas, listed here: https://www.soundtransit.org/st_sharepoint/download/sites/PRDA/FinalRecords/2023/Presentation%20-%20Improving%20ST2%20Light%20Rail%20Passenger%20Experience%2010-05-23.pdf. Turn backs are pretty much rejected, which leaves only three. My guess is it will be a combination of those.

      2. Other cities have had a peak surcharge. Vancouver BC used to charge a higher fare until 9am. It was for single-trip tickets and either round-trip or all-day; I forget which. The idea was that 9-5 commuters would purchase round-trip tickets at the higher fare, but anyone after 9am was not a 9-5 commuter.

    4. @WL,

      The crowding problem and the LRV storage problem are both real, even at 4@10.

      ST could solve the crowding problem by going to 4@8, but they couldn’t handle a 25% increase in storage needs. They are having enough trouble storing the LRVs required to support 4@10.

      Doing an overlay clearly offers a potential path forward, but it has risks. Best from a storage POV would be to do an overlay between NGS and IDS, but a full overlay between LTC and IDS would also “help”. It just wouldn’t be as powerful per the storage problem.

      Best bet appears to be going to 3@8 on the full line, with a 1@8 overlay north of IDS. That saves 10% in required LRVs on the full line, while adding back 25% north of IDS. Depending on where the north turnback is, the required increase in LRVs is between 5 and 15%.

      However, ST Ops appears very risk adverse. So I’m sure they will just go with 4@10 and let the crowding be someone else’s problem.

      1. We don’t need to speculate. ST already has a plan. I’ve linked to it twice already: here it is, for the third time: https://www.soundtransit.org/st_sharepoint/download/sites/PRDA/FinalRecords/2023/Presentation%20-%20Improving%20ST2%20Light%20Rail%20Passenger%20Experience%2010-05-23.pdf. Staff doesn’t want to do turn backs (for good reason — it isn’t worth it). They are going to pursue the other three options. It could easily be a combination, as they investigate the costs of each.

      2. To be clear, there are phases when turnbacks are good and times when they have no benefit.

        A turnback may make sense before the full 2 Line opens across Lake Washington. There will be 2 Line testing on tracks beginning just a few months after Lynnwood Link opening, and East OMF vehicles will supposedly be accessible within a month of Lynnwood Link extension opening. So a 2 Line train could run between CID and Lynnwood in revenue service with no riders to the east (turning back west of Judkins Park) before the full 2 Line opens.

        The presentation Ross links is for the time after 2025. (Note: The presentation refuses to tell the public the cause of the miscalculation.) It’s still not fully explained whether ST can order more train cars to arrive in 2026 or 2027 or whether there is any maneuvering to store more train sets before the South OMF opens (which is before the next extensions to Tacoma Dome or West Seattle).

        Again, I have to ask why an outside train operations expert is not playing a central role here. It’s like watching a homeowner trying to solve a problem without a professional plumber. The staff and elected officials will not admit that they need more seasoned expertise — and instead insist that their reality is the only true one. SF Muni and Boston’s T in particular have staff with decades of experience dealing with crowded trains.

      3. @Ross

        > Staff doesn’t want to do turn backs (for good reason — it isn’t worth it). They are going to pursue the other three options. It could easily be a combination, as they investigate the costs of each.

        Let me clarify a bit why I am disapproving of Sound Transit’s idea to fix the capacity issues of just buying more vehicles.

        1) The first cause is from the lowered speed causing higher than expected travel times (51 minutes to 57 minutes) both in the northgate section and in rainier valley. That should be fixed first idk tunnel signaling and crossing gates added. But instead this is ignored.
        2) The second cause is from the low reliability of the existing LRV’s. Rather than trying to improve the reliability they are just increasing the ratio of trains needed versus available trains.
        3) Okay if we don’t have enough trains why turn some back at Northgate. But instead it’s seen as too operationally complex so we’ll just always ignore this option.

        If this was just done once and solves the problem maybe I’d be okay with it, but this seems more like a horrible trend. We can’t just always keep buying more vehicles for peak time. This is a) very expensive proposition and b) is not really solving the problem. Plus now you’d need to expand the OMF and store the vehicles that are only used like once/twice a day during the peak period.

  8. I want someone to go to the Bellevue Transit Center and ask riders if they are excited about the opening of the East Link Starter Line next spring. I’m curious what the responses will be.

    1. I’m going to poll one person and see what they say. Sam, are you excited about the East Link Starter Line opening next spring?

      1. No, I’m not excited, because I think they should wait to open it all at once when it can cross the lake. I’ll still check it out, though.

        If riders were surveyed at the BTC, I think the most common response would be, “What’s the East Link Starter Line?” The second most common response would be, “You mean the train to Seattle? It’s opening in spring? Cool.”

      2. I’m excited because I plan to ride it end to end to visit my relative in Lake Hills. 550 to South Bellevue, Link to Overlake Village or Redmond Tech, 221, 226 or 245 to Lake Hills. That beats a 40-minute infrequent bus ride from Bellevue TC, or a RapidRide and 40 minute walk from Bellevue TC.

      3. Rider: What’s the East Link Starter Line?”

        Sam: (Points to the station next to City Hall.)

      4. I was doing that trip when I wrote the comment. Today I was a little later than last month, so the 226 passed Interlake High School at 3pm instead of 2pm. The bus was packed with students south of the school: there were only a few more spaces for people to stand.

        The other notable thing was the 550 westbound at 6pm. It got stuck in severe traffic at South Bellevue P&R and along I-90, stopping at some points.At one point an ambulance with sirens went through on the left lane, but it could only get two bus lengths ahead of us before it too got caught in traffic.

        Oh, a third thing. One Bus Away in Lake Hills at 5:30pm said: “245: 8 minutes late. 245: 15 minutes late. 226: 10? minutes late. 245: 10? minutes late. 245: scheduled. 226: on time.” So there was congestion in Bellevue too. I took the first 245. The second one passed a minute later.

  9. Sound Transit budget released for this year/next year.

    Not too much notable. As usual ballard link (6 to 11 billion) and west seattle link (2 billion to 4 billion) still very overbudget from before.

    OMF south increased cost yet again this year. From 800 million to 1.450 billion (spring 2023) and has increased another 300 million to 1.770 billion. They have deducted 300 million from tacome dome link extension, not sure if that is related or not.

    https://www.soundtransit.org/st_sharepoint/download/sites/PRDA/ActiveDocuments/Report%20-%202024%20Financial%20Plan%20and%20Proposed%20Budget%2010-26-23.pdf#page=65

    Same ST2 board meetings.

    @Brent White
    Regarding the insufficient vehicles part of it is still the same problem as before with the longer runtimes, insufficient gap trains and the lower reliability.

    Currently sound transit uses 92 trains even though they only expected to use 74.
    * 8 additional trains for the longer runtime than expected
    * 4 additional trains for the one gap 4-car train
    * 6 additional trains for better reliability.

    Even before the extensions sound transit is using 25% more trains than expected for the current level of frequency.

    https://www.soundtransit.org/st_sharepoint/download/sites/PRDA/ActiveDocuments/Presentation%20-%20ST2%20Light%20Rail%20Service%20and%20Passenger%20Experience%2010-26-23.pdf

  10. The founder of the Seattle Bike Blog has a book out, “Biking Uphill in the Rain“. I saw it in the Peak Picks display in the downtown library. “Tom Fucoloro, a longtime reporter on bike issues in Seattle, blends his reporting with historical research to uncover the story behind Seattle’s hard-won bike lanes and trails, exploring how this center of bike culture emerged despite the obstacles of climate, topography, and – most importantly – an entrenched, car-centric urban landscape and culture”

  11. Somebody suggested cities should prioritize cars below all other modes in infrastructure planning and road space. That’s what Paris does. It researches where transit/bike/ped mobility is most needed, and then it takes GP lanes for a BRT lane and bike trail. It also has a policy of removing 150 parking spaces per year on principle even if it wouldn’t otherwise. Other cities do this too although I don’t remember their names.

    1. > Paris also shed the menace of electric scooters.

      I’m not really quite sure how that is relevant to Seattle or what Mike said.

      1. It’s still worthwhile, and this is an open thread. I read that Oaris ended it’s bikeshare due to — safety? Misparking? Bikes dumped into the Seine? Probably primarily safety. I’m not adverse to bikeshare in Seattle though. There have been less conflicts with moving bikes in sidewalks than I feared. Only one on several years where the biker was too fast.

        I don’t understand why so many bikes get dumped into rivers and canals in the cities that have rivers. It seems a ridiculous waste.

      2. > It’s still worthwhile, and this is an open thread.

        Sorry I didn’t mean to say they couldn’t post it, but I fail to see how that ties back into what you said.

        “Somebody suggested cities should prioritize cars below all other modes in infrastructure planning and road space. That’s what Paris does. It researches where transit/bike/ped mobility is most needed, and then it takes GP lanes for a BRT lane and bike trail”

        Or did they mean they don’t like escooters in Seattle, but it’s not like it’s a menace on our streets compared to cars?

    2. “Paris also shed the menace of electric scooters.”

      Only the rental scooters. It is still perfectly legal (and much cheaper anyway) to buy and ride your own. Personally owned scooters don’t have the problem of being randomly left on the sidewalk in awkward areas like the rental scooters.

      1. The dockless e-bikes and e-scooters in Seattle come from about five vendors and have undisciplined parking. The are clutter. They too often block sidewalks, curb ramps, and bus stops. Could SDOT force the vendors to use geo-fencing? Are the worthwhile at all?

      2. To be clear, they got rid of the dockless scooter-share program. Under the program, you could rent a scooter, and basically leave it anywhere. These sorts of programs make sense for sprawling cities or suburbs, but are a bad idea in a city like Paris, where sidewalk space is valuable. For a big city, it makes way more sense to have a docked system. Vélib’, the docked bike share system in Paris, is still running: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V%C3%A9lib%27.

        Seattle should have a docked bike share system. We did, for a little while, but it was too small (not enough docks). All available science showed this was important, but the political leaders just ignored it. They basically got rid of it, and hoped that the free market would fix the problem. It hasn’t, and so we have a mishmash of very expensive bike/scooter share programs, along with the type of street clutter that caused Paris to end their scooter program. Oops.

      3. They are geofenced. I couldn’t complete my ride unless I left it in a legit spot. I think some scooter companies are more compliant with this than others, however.

      4. > The dockless e-bikes and e-scooters in Seattle come from about five vendors and have undisciplined parking. The are clutter. They too often block sidewalks, curb ramps, and bus stops. Could SDOT force the vendors to use geo-fencing? Are the worthwhile at all?

        Geofencing isn’t accurate to the street level. Most of them now require you to take a picture after you finish using it where you parked it. That helped it relatively a lot after they implemented it . Though I have seen sometimes the escooters fallen over into a bike lane/back onto sidewalk, even if parked correctly due to the small/weak kickstand.

        Another thing (more with the bikes) is sometimes people just use them without renting the dockless bikes.

        I think the most annoying area I’ve seen is with Stewart/1st? (Forgot the exact block)

      5. I also really dislike their billing model of these rental scooters, with the unlock fee, followed by the per-minute fee. It’s not just the cost of the rides, but the feeling that you are constantly being nickel and dimed. Every red light or ship canal opening drives up your bill. Stop to wait for a companion who’s riding slower than you, you have to pay for that. Walking the scooter across the Ballard Locks costs you $5 or more, depending on the crowds, not including the ride time on each end. Meanwhile, if you hop on a scooter and immediately notice a problem with it, you can’t get off and switch to another one without paying a second unlock fee, effectively rewarding the scooter company with additional money for not maintaining their vehicles. Similarly, the unlock fee prevents you from repositioning a scooter a few feet that somebody else failed to properly park without either paying an unlock fee or physically lifting the scooter off the ground, which is quite heavy. Cleaning someone else’s mess needs to free and drop-dead easy. It is not a privilege people should have to pay for, with either money or physical labor.

        A more friendly billing model would charge mostly by the distance, with time fees kicking in only in 30-minute increments for trips exceeding 30 minutes. It would also include a grace period of 30 seconds or a minute, with rides shorter than this free. But, of course, they won’t do that because their profitability depends on overcharging people.

      6. I’ll also add to this that at least, with a taxi, seeing the meter go up while sitting at a red light feels reasonable, as the taxi has a human driver, and the passenger fares must reasonable cover the cost of the driver’s time, which includes time stopped as well as time moving.

        Scooters is a different story, as there is no paid employee/contractor riding with you every moment you have the scooter in your possession.

      7. I’ve rented these scooters dozens of times, and 90% of my trips are 15 minutes or less (the exception was riding for fun, rather than utility, with my son). They should build that model. 5 to 10 bucks for 15 minutes and a quarter or 50 cents a minute after that. That way, while not cheap, you know what you know what you are getting up-front.

        Regardless, it matters little to me. Tacoma’s scooters just got pulled. They had finally provided blue ones that were properly powered for Tacoma’s hills, and the spread was just starting to be such that you could count on finding one of them in a pinch (which is when I generally used them). Alas.

      8. Considering that 15 minutes is only enough time to go about a mile and a half at scooter speeds, 5-10 bucks/15 minutes is too much. Uber is offering me, right now, offering me 1.6 mile rides for $7 (+tip) in their car service, as I type this comment. Except, at least Uber allows multiple passengers traveling together to ride for one fare, which the scooters do not.

        Or course, when the same company that runs the scooter service also runs the car service, pricing the scooter service high enough to not undercut the car service is considered a feature, not a bug. And, by billing the scooter service in minutes, rather than miles, it obfuscates just how much it costs to actually get somewhere. Per mile pricing would make the fact that scooter share costs as much as a taxi far more obvious, and therefore reduce riders.

      9. “Considering that 15 minutes is only enough time to go about a mile and a half at scooter speeds, 5-10 bucks/15 minutes is too much.”

        Maybe. I don’t think so, and it apparently wasn’t enough to make scooters in Tacoma profitable.

        You could probably get 2-3 miles at 15/mph.

        It’s also wicked fun, if the density of scooters is enough, as it is in downtown Seattle, there is no waiting, like there is for Uber or Lyft.

        Honestly, $5 is cheap.

      10. Just about every successful bike-share system is subsidized. They often have advertisement as well. As a result, costs are much lower. For example, it costs $3 for a half hour ride in Boston. If you buy an annual pass, it costs $10.75 a month. Portland is similar. New York is more expensive (but then, it is New York).

        Seattle decided to ignore what other cities are doing (or the science) and that is why our system is so expensive.

      11. I love the rental scooters and use them frequently. Quicker and cheaper than Lyft, they are great for errands around the neighborhood and for getting to and from Link stations. I am more inclined to walk places now, in general, knowing that I can always fall back on a scooter should I run short of time.

        You say “randomly left on the sidewalk in awkward areas”, I say “conveniently available pretty much everywhere I go”!

      12. “You could probably get 2-3 miles at 15/mph.”

        Maybe on the Burke Gilman trail you can, but not downtown or Belltown where you’ve got a stoplight every block. Even on the Burke Gilman, you have to be a pretty experienced scooter rider to feel comfortable going the full 15 mph.

        This is again pay-per-minute weirdness. Lake Union Park to Safeco Field costs nearly twice as much as the same distance along two points on the Burke Gilman trail. And, for the same trip, a beginner rider will be paying more because they aren’t comfortable riding as fast. And a safe/law abiding rider will be paying more than someone who makes dangerous passes on congested trails and/or runs red lights.

        If two trips of the same length are going to cost different amounts, the cheaper fare should go to the rider who brings a scooter from a lower demand are to a higher demand area to maximize throughput, or the rider that rides at a lower demand time of day, not the rider who rides faster and disobeys stoplights to arrive a few minutes sooner.

      13. I will also mention that a business model which requires taxi-like rates to ride an e-scooter in order to turn a profit feels like a broken business model. At best, it’s a very niche service for people that like the experience, but the truth is, the vast majority of people willing to pay taxi-like rates for a ride are probably just going to ride a taxi (treating Lyft and Uber as equivalent to taxi for purposes of this argument).

        Some of the problem is likely that the operations of rental e-scooters is too motor vehicle intensive, requiring lots of hours in gig workers cars to charge batteries and move scooters around. The second problem is vandalism and abuse leading the scooters to have very short shelf loves. Both of these problems become much less of a problem when you have docks, rather than free-for-all parking (although, admittedly, the cost of the docks themselves creates its own problems).

  12. How are people feeling about Pugetopolis transit, as it is now and is becoming? Optimistic or pessimistic?

    1. I would say mixed. In the short run, I feel optimistic about Link. In the long run, pessimistic. When it comes to the buses, I feel the opposite. That’s my quick summary, here is a longer look at things:

      Link: The ST2 projects are solid, if not spectacular. It will be nice to finally finish East Link, as well as get to Lynnwood and Federal Way (better late than never). All will add value, although I don’t expect a huge increase in ridership. ST3 Link projects are largely a big mess. We will spend a huge amount for projects that will add very little value (and less and less every day it seems). As a result, I’m a lot less optimistic that we’ll build the things that really pay off (subways in dense urban areas that are slow to reach with a car). First Hill seems like such an obvious place for a train, but maybe we never get there. Same with Ballard to the UW.

      Buses: The buses will always do the bulk of the work in the region. They need three things: better network, more right-of-way and better frequency. These all go together. The buses could come a lot more often if we discarded our old network. I’m pessimistic that this will happen internally, and feel like we need a third-party organization (e. g. Jarrett Walker’s team) to redesign the whole thing. I feel like we are definitely moving in the right direction when it comes to right-of-way. The mayor is fairly conservative, and yet McGinn would love what the SDOT chief is doing. Likewise, the voters in Seattle are definitely willing to spend more money so that the buses run more often. It just comes down to how fast it will happen. I feel like we will eventually get there, but it will be fairly slow.

      In twenty years or so, I think we’ll live in a city where transit is fast, frequent, and doesn’t involve going way out of your way for a normal trip. The buses will be the key, even though the trains will be reasonably popular. I think transit ridership will approach what it is in Vancouver, but with a much higher ratio for buses, even though we will have spent way more on the trains.

      1. ” In twenty years or so, I think we’ll live in a city where transit is fast, frequent, and []”

        There’s no more bus service in the pipeline because there’s no more base capacity. It takes 10-15 years to add a base around here, and Metro has abandoned the plan for a new South County base. Electrification will reduce capacity because battery infrastructure requires more space than diesel.

        Whatever added service Metro can add is limited to what can be relieved by Link expansion or more efficient operations.

      2. ST is opening a Bus Base north (ST3 project) in a few years, and has funding for a Bus Base south (ST2 project) if the KCM union will drop its opposition.

        Also, the bus base mostly limits peak bus frequency. Much of Ross’ vision is about boosting bus frequency outside of peak, which is much more about labor and financial constraints, not gross bus base capacity.

    2. Most of my thoughts on the link mirror Ross’ so I’ll just say mainly agree there.

      For the bus, it is exciting that the final couple routes of the original 7 are getting bus lanes, even if a bit watered down. And the direction still tends towards more bus lanes.

      Looking a bit farther both into the future and farther from the city cores, I’m not quite sure there’s actually further easy improvements to be found at least around dense areas. Beyond the bus lanes on the existing transit routes (15th Ave for D or market for 44). For say route restructures it’s hard for me to think of any very excellent new routes. There’s some minor ideas of say the 49/36 combination but honestly even not combined it’s probably fine. They’ll be some opportunities for say northern bus restructures with link.

      I’m not sure if say in Burien, Tukwila, Kent etc… the bus routes can really be structured any better.

      Part of it is just dependent on whether we build more townhouses/apartments in the future along these corridors as well.

      1. I’m not sure if say in Burien, Tukwila, Kent etc… the bus routes can really be structured any better.

        Good point. I should have made clear that a lot of my comments were about Seattle proper. I think it is quite possible that Seattle will fund enough service to make the buses frequent, and enough right-of-way to make them fast. I also think it is where we can improve the network the most. Some neighborhoods are fine — others aren’t. The greater Central Area (including Capitol and First Hill) is in dire need of a major restructure. Ballard, on the other hand, just needs more service (and faster buses). I’m optimistic that we will eventually realize that, and things will improve.

        In contrast, areas like Burien, Tukwila, Kent and much of the East Side are more like Ballard. The routes aren’t that bad. You could have a major restructure and it wouldn’t get you much. What they need is money. The bad news is, they need way more than Seattle needs, and are less likely to get it. So in the long run, I’m optimistic about Seattle, and less optimistic about the suburbs.

        East Link is a good example. East Link is huge for the East Side, connecting most of the major areas with each other and Seattle. The bus restructure will take advantage of the service savings (that come from not having to send the buses over the lake). But it still doesn’t look great. While I am sympathetic to many of the suggestions for improvement, I don’t see any major flaws in the design (unlike other plans). For the RapidRide G restructure and the Lynnwood Link restructure I can come up with suggestions that would make a huge difference — I don’t see that with the East Link bus restructure. The problem is more intractable. It is quite likely that much of the East Side — even significant destinations — will have to deal with infrequent buses.

        Yet the East Side is in better shape than much of the South Sound. Federal Way Link will help, but not as much as other expansions. There is savings to be had, but it will mostly be ST that will do the truncating. Very few Metro buses get on the freeway that far south — I think it is just a handful of peak-only runs. Federal Way is not a major destination. It is a relatively weak hub.

        I see the northern suburbs as similar to the East Side. Pockets will have good service, and many areas won’t. Link will plan an important part in the region — not only to provide fast and frequent service for trips that involve the train, but as an improvement to the network.

      2. South King County went through several restructures in the 200s and 2010s to made it more grid-like and connect all the adjacent cities. The last restructure was to prepare for RapidRide I, which is at 90% design. The 160 prefigures the I, and the east-west cross routes were straightened out to a large extent and got more evening/Sunday frequency.

      3. I remain baffled why Metro hasn’t proposed connecting RapidRide I to Link. It seems obvious to me that it should either end at Rainier Beach (rather than Renton TC) or at Federal Way (rather than Auburn TC) or maybe even both. Another option could be to extend to Link at South Bellevue with a stop at the Stride median station at NE 44th.

        Relatedly, I think it’s time for ST and Metro to rethink Rainier Beach station area pedestrian circulation and bus layovers. It’s in too good of a strategic location for transit connectivity and freeway access to be ignored.

    3. I’m somewhat pessimistic that we’ll actually be able to run buses often enough because the cost per service hour keeps rising and rising faster than inflation, while ever worsening traffic makes each mile of bus travel more and more expensive in terms of service hours. Of course, raising taxes, restructuring service, and adding bus lanes helps a lot, but it only helps so much. At the same time, the increasing attitude among progressives that Seattle is too rich and too white to deserve good transit risks eroding political will to make things better.

      On the bright side, by bus, the 255, will get much faster once the 520 construction is done, assuming that service cuts and “equity” shifts don’t gouge out more of the frequency and make the bus unusable.

      1. Yes, the work on 520 is very important. We will go from being worse than ever, to being better than ever in a relatively short time.

    4. It’s always a mixed bag.

      ST: I expected ST to really be coming into its own 10 years ago. Ridership was growing and it seemed amazing! However it seems to be spiraling downward these days. Beginning with the escalator debacle of U Link, it seemingly has begun accumulating bad decisions, bad construction events, bad project development that aren’t productive, and bad handling of periodically-needed repairs. Cutting service in half for several weeks while tiles are replaced on two platforms along with a surprise two year East Link delay are the penultimate examples of incompetence among a transit agency. I keep hoping ST will morph into a real transit operator but Heaven only knows if or when that will finally happen. I think several Board members need to go , or at least need to quit looking at ST as some sort of happy cash cow to reward political favors from.

      The other transit operators all struggle with hiring issues, ridership declines of varying degrees, and security on the vehicles as crimes are increasingly coordinated in groups. They do their best but it’s got to be demoralizing for staff. They will all have to retool their operations to a world with less pronounced peak travel and their success will depend on how they do that.

    5. We need to invest in transit to the point where it is reasonably competitive with driving. And not just in Capital Hill or the U district or Westlake.

      That means taking car infrastructure and reimaging it to serve all uses.

      That means sorting out better and larger funding streams for transit.

      I am pessimistic about the political will to do either of those things. We need to make sure that politicians make the hard choices and walk the walk, not just talk the talk. We need to reward them for taking risks.

      Otherwise we won’t ever reach that tipping point where substantial parts of the population turn in their keys and live car-free.

      Also, Transit generally won’t get you that last mile, so making walking and biking infrastructure safe and ubiquitous is going to be necessary in tandem with transit. It’s shouldn’t be thought of competing. It is complementing transit, and an essential part of our transit infrastructure. I am pessimistic about the political will to fund that, and take car infrastructure way for that.

      1. We need to invest in transit to the point where it is reasonably competitive with driving. And not just in Capitol Hill or the U district or Westlake.

        That means taking car infrastructure and re-imagining it to serve all uses.

        That means sorting out better and larger funding streams for transit.

        I am optimistic that is happening in Seattle (there is the political will to do that). Maybe not as fast as many want, but it is happening.

        For the region as a whole, I am not.

        making walking and biking infrastructure safe and ubiquitous is going to be necessary in tandem with transit.

        Yes, they go together. Again, I am optimistic about Seattle. I’m not sure about other parts of the region. There are a lot of great suburban bike paths and cities like Shoreline have added a lot of bike infrastructure, but I don’t know if there is any city where you can get around easily (and safely) to most places with a bike. It seems to be more hit and miss, with various frustrating gaps. People still bike it, but they often get hurt.

  13. Sound Transit needs more railcars — soon ($). Mike Lindblom, Seattle Times.

    “The Sound Transit board needs to order 10 light-rail vehicles by November, or risk running out of passenger space in a few years. Transit staff say that Siemens USA, which built the Seattle-Bellevue area’s newest railcar fleet, has only a short window in which managers can get parts from today’s tight supply chain, and assemble more Sound Transit railcars at its Sacramento, Calif., factory by 2027. Costs should range between $60 million and $100 million, says agency CEO Julie Timm.”

    This is not even for the Lynnwood Link gap between Lynnwood opening and I-90 opening, but for currently-growing service without that.

    “Political leaders also haven’t proposed more-drastic options, such as automating the line, building express tracks and switches, or converting some or all 4 surface miles in Rainier Valley to tunnels or viaducts.”

    1. “Political leaders also haven’t proposed more-drastic options, such as automating the line, building express tracks and switches, or converting some or all 4 surface miles in Rainier Valley to tunnels or viaducts.”

      All of these options are expensive and take several years to implement. I would think that a seasoned reporter wouldn’t put such statements out there for this reason.

      In contrast, there are cheaper and less time consuming ways to increase capacity without purchasing more cars. The most obvious to me is to have a “Seattle Shuttle” or third line that operates between SODO and Northgate as the overlay peak additional service. That service could even be handled by periodic train releases based on observed surges rather than at a fixed schedule. It may throw the fixed schedules of the 1 and 2 Line off by 2-3 minutes — but when trains get slowed down by people squeezing in and out of trains at every station platform, schedules will be way off anyway. (Now I wonder if this capacity concern determined by staff has included the need to sit with doors open longer do riders can squeeze on and off the overcrowded trains. I doubt it.)

      With the recent significant drop in Rainier Valley Link boardings as well as drops in Eastside express bus boardings, I can’t help but wonder if 10 minutes even during peak times will be sufficient for those branches until OMF South opens , freeing time gap for a third “shuttle” line that would eventually become West Seattle Link.

      It just seemingly points to the obvious need to revisit how to operate higher frequency service in the DSTT and northward to Northgate. It also points to the need to employ someone from a light rail agency that has routinely wrestled with real-time rail overcrowding responses like someone from San Francisco or Boston. ST needs to admit that they need the in-house seasoned staff that can operate a capacity-constrained system rather than merely blame it on the lack of vehicles.

      And no one will really be able to hone the train operations for capacity until the 2 Line is fully open between Lynnwood and Downtown Redmond, and the 1 Line goes to Federal Way.

      1. @Al.S,

        You are correct, adding infrastructure to support such things as “express trains” is a lot of cost, a lot of time, and a lot of operational churn. And it’s not clear how it would address the main problem anyhow, which is LRV availability.

        And you are also correct to suggest an urban overlay line as one method to address the LRV availability issue, and this is exactly why I’ve been suggesting an overlay line for the LRV storage issue with standalone LLE. Because simply mindlessly cranking up frequency or train length might solve the capacity problem in the urban core, but it wastes LRV hours on the periphery of the system and drives up LRV needs and storage requirements.

        Dow Constantine started asking questions about this sometime ago, and for good reason. He recognized early on that fleet utilization was key to efficient operation, and that matching capacity in the urban core would lead to inefficient fleet utilization elsewhere in the system. He was, and is right about that.

        Unfortunately I don’t think ST has the bandwidth right now to address this, but hopefully they will in the future.

        As per automation, at some point I’m sure Link will be automated, but it will be automated for economic reasons and not LRV storage reasons.

    2. “All of these options are expensive and take several years to implement. I would think that a seasoned reporter wouldn’t put such statements out there for this reason.”

      It doesn’t cost money for the board to discuss and consider the issue and for staff to do preliminary research on it. They’re there anyway. ST needs to start working toward real solutions, not just band-aids and waiting for more problems to happen. Even if they just discuss it and say we should do it but we can’t until we find $X money, that’s a step forward. Ballard and West Seattle don’t even have final EISes yet, so they could switch to automation, and that would save money. Even if we can’t fix Lynnwood and Federal Way now, we can start making Ballard and West Seattle better, and then the long-term problems are halved.

    3. “The most obvious to me is to have a “Seattle Shuttle” or third line that operates between SODO and Northgate as the overlay peak additional service.”

      Balducci mentioned that in the article. “The looming deal has startled transit board member Claudia Balducci, who questioned whether the agency looked hard enough at other solutions, such as a turnback switch at Northgate Station that can concentrate more train trips between Northgate and downtown, the busiest area.”

      1. Balducci is simply stating the obvious to many people.

        I think ST staff will throw as much cold water on the idea as they can. If it works, there is proof that three lines in the DSTT can work and the DSTT2 segment would not be needed (and there would be no need for a West Seattle stub either as it could continue northward). That means easier transfers, no CID construction at all, no excuse to demolish County buildings and no multiple escalator deep midtown or CID-N station. That would save billions and would enable a Westlake-SLU-Ballard high frequency automated line.

        I’m still disappointed that the revised WSLE EIS is not including this as a modified operational scenario. I’m convinced that the current ones being carried forward will show little system ridership benefit and may even end up penalizing total riders worse than the No-Build would.

      2. “Balducci is simply stating the obvious to many people.”

        That’s 1 boardmember down, 18 to go.

        “I think ST staff will throw as much cold water on the idea as they can. If it works, there is proof that three lines in the DSTT can work”

        What staff are objecting to is more than 20 trains per hour (3-minute frequency). LLE will still be at 6-8 trains per hour (8-10 minute frequency), so there’s plenty of buffer between the two. Link did run at 10 trains per hour (6-minute peak frequency) for several years. The gap is rolling stock, not tunnel capacity.

        Three lines at 10 minutes each is 18 trains. Three lines at 8 minutes each is 22 trains per hour. Three lines at 6 minutes each is 30 trains per hour. ST will want to run the full ST2 and 3 at 8 minutes per line peak, with the option of going up to 6 minutes. That’s what busts the 20 trains per hour limit: there’s enough capacity for half a third line (8-minute frequency on two lines, 16-minute frequency on the third).

        Of course ST could implement that candidate project to upgrade DSTT1 to 40 trains per hour reliably (1.5 minute capacity). But that’s what it’s refusing to do, because it likes the second tunnel.

      3. Councilmembrr Balducci is a great public officer. She’s more pragmatic, pays attention more effectively, and listens to “other” commenters more carefully than any of the other Board members except possibly Roger Millar who is a professional problem solver. She’s careful with tax dollars, but not afraid to spend them when necessary.

        When Dow Constantine takes his next position, I would hope that Balducci wins Executive in a walk.

    4. Trains take six to eight minutes longer than expected between Northgate, downtown Seattle and Angle Lake, said Deputy CEO Russ Arnold. This is mainly because of surface segments in the Rainier Valley and Sodo, he said. Trains can be interrupted by road-traffic signals between Columbia City and Othello stations. Some operators go extra slow to eliminate the risk of hitting a pedestrian, where tracks cross South Holgate Street in Sodo

      If true, this seems like a major problem that needs to be dealt with directly. If false, it suggests deeper problems that ST is ignoring, while trying to shift blame.

      A little math here: The Rainier Valley surface segment is roughly 3.8 miles. Speed is limited to 35 MPH. If the train didn’t make any stops, it would get through there at 6 minutes, 30 seconds. Thus the fact that there is a “six to eight minute” delay suggests the train is half the expected speed (or less than 20 MPH) through there (not counting stops). In reality, it is even worse. The speed limit could be 60 MPH, but the train can only reach that speed for a tiny section, as it is constantly speeding up and slowing down. Thus the distance where the top speed matters is significantly less than 3.8 miles (probably around 3 miles). Clearly there are major delays where there shouldn’t be any. It is one thing for the train to go 25 MPH, or even come to a complete stop at a traffic light on occasion. But to spend minutes at a light, or crawl at 5 MPH is a major problem that should be dealt with directly.

      This goes to what WL mentioned the other day. There are systemic problems with Link, and just buying more train cars won’t fix them. It is worth pointing out that Balducci is saying the same thing. The lack of communication between the folks in charge of operations and the board is striking. She is raising the same concerns: What exactly is causing the trains to be so slow. It is easy to say “they are running on the surface” but they have always run on the surface. That was built into the estimates. Even if they drop the top speed further (to 25 MPH) it wouldn’t cause the kind of delay they are talking about. There is about a 100 second difference between 25 MPH and 35 MPH if you are going 3.8 miles — not six to eight minutes. (And again, it isn’t really 3.8 miles; it is something shorter.)

      1. This gonna be harsh, but why are operators “go[ing] extra slow” through the Holgate crossing “to eliminate the risk of hitting a pedestrian”? The city is overrun with and people ate constantly complaining about the sorts of “pedestrians” who frequent Fifth South and Holgate.

        Grant that hitting one plays hell with the schedule and the operator feels terrible.

        Maybe some fencing and four-quadrant gates are in order for a “cheap fix”? Then up the speed limit to 40 or even 45 between Stadium and SoDo.

      2. Also, the section between CIDS and Northgate is entirely unencumbered by road crossings. Adding a shuttle that turned at an unopened Judkins Park would be extremely reliable, complicating schedule keeping in the critical central section of Link only very slightly.

      3. Maybe some fencing and four-quadrant gates are in order for a “cheap fix”? Then up the speed limit to 40 or even 45 between Stadium and SoDo.

        Agreed. You don’t even need to go 40 or 45, either. Again, the distance is very short. The entire SoDo surface section is less than a mile. It contains two stops (SoDo and Stadium). Even if there weren’t a station, there just isn’t that much difference, unless the train is going very, very slow. We are talking roughly a minute difference between going 20 MPH and going 40 MPH through there. The train must be stopped (for way too long) or going really, really slow (i. e. 10 MPH).

      4. Yeah I really don’t understand why they don’t quad gate the mlk way section yet. The cost of it has got to be a lot cheaper than running trains more slowly and then having to buy more trains.

        In addition if I remember correctly there’s a 2 minute slowdown just from northgate to Westlake as apparently the turns or bends are slightly worse than anticipated? Like it’s supposed to be northgate to Westlake in 14? Minutes but it like takes 16 or something

      5. Anecdotal trip:

        Just went through this area (because the fastest way to get from the San Juan Islands to Portland is to take an airport bus to SeaTac and then backtrack on Link to King Street).

        The longest and most annoying stop was at the Link shop facility, probably to change drivers.

      6. Glenn, you could also have “front-tracked” to Tacoma on the 574, though it’s less frequent at half-hourly. But it only takes 45 minutes to TDS, which is exactly the same that ATK takes getting to Tacoma, so you have the 36 minutes that Link takes to downtown for “pad” which comes out really close to equal.

        And, you’d have saved yourself some buckos. Amtrak typically charges about eight to ten dollars less for Tacoma-PDX or VAN versus the fare from Seattle.

        Something to check into next time you go to the San Juan’s. Lucky you…..

      7. Hopefully soon all you need to get the San Juans is get off at Tacoma Done and hop on a seaplane. Competitive with the fast ferry to Friday Harbor (~$100 one-way last time I took it from Friday Harbor to the bottom of Lake Washington), and incredibly fast and easy.

        Though right now they are just doing excursions, the tribe claims San Juans is in the works.

      8. Thanks for the thought on the 574. I was thinking of that, but I was also looking to break up the trip. The Seattle waterfront isn’t a bad place for a walk, even with wheeled luggage. I’ve walked downtown and waterfront Tacoma and I don’t think wheeled works well there.

        The part that would be nice to solve is San Juan Islands to Seattle. The current Skagit Transit schedule means cutting it really close with 40X arriving at 9 am and Amtrak leaving at 9:03. The 410 used to stop at the ferry at 7:30 or so, but now it’s 8, meaning with a 7:10 ferry arrival it takes almost 2 hours to get from the ferry to Mt Vernon.

        It would be useful if the state operated “ferry extender” buses that arrived and departed synchronized with the ferries. Similar to the Amtrak connecting buses, so that if a ferry runs late than so does its connecting bus.

      9. In addition if I remember correctly there’s a 2 minute slowdown just from Northgate to Westlake as apparently the turns or bends are slightly worse than anticipated?

        That gets to the route of the problem. Most likely, there are lots of little delays, here and there, for various reasons. But rather than provide a detailed list, there is merely hand waving. The board is supposed to just approve the purchase of trains because “you know, sometimes the trains are slow, ’cause we run on the surface”. It is sloppy and unprofessional. How about a full list of all the delays from what was expected. How much they are delayed and why. Then start talking about fixing the various sections (along with initial cost estimates).

        I’m afraid this is just part of the same dysfunction between staff and the board.

      10. @Tom Terrific,

        Some years ago a truck went around the barriers at Holgate and ran into a Light Rail train and the truck driver died. The original news story was that it was an accident but there was never a follow up news story which may be an indication that the driver did this on purpose to commit suicide,

        When someone does commit an act to take their own life the media usually keeps quiet not to give anyone else the same idea. But right after this happened the trains began to slow down at the Holgate crossing.

        Never confirment that it was a deliberate act but it seems that way.

  14. Betraying my ignorance here, but to continue the discussion of rearranging the 70 into a coverage route: is there any specific reason why there isn’t any bus coverage on Mercer between Fairview and Queen Anne Ave? Despite the extreme traffic, it’s a service gap that’s frustrated me multiple times when attempting to connect visitors between the northern part of SLU and LQA/Uptown.

    1. Theres a couple different reasons but the main one is due to i5 to the east blocking a simple Mercer street bus from continuing. In the last slu also was just automobile dealerships until Amazon came in so there wasn’t much demand for it.

      With i5 in the way any bus coming from Queen Anne would either need to a) stop in slu which is too short b) continue north via Eastlake to university district or c) continue on say Denny way further east.

      The b idea just duplicates the 70 route. While C idea there is the proposal to move route 8 to Harrison street in slu which is almost what we’re talking about.

      I guess there could be a d) idea to move say route 1 or some other bus from Ballard/magnolia to go to SLU after Queen Anne and then head south

      1. Metro Connects reroutes the 2 and another route from Magnolia across the Denny I-5 bridge to Roy/Aloha Streets and Garfield High School. Those and the 8 would have been on Harrison Street east of Seattle Center, or in one version on Thomas Street through the center.

        Mercer Street doesn’t have a bus because for decades it was a godawful one-way eastbound freeway entrance, and westbound zigged up to Valley Street and then zagged on a diagonal Broad Street underpass that no longer exists. There has been no Uptown restructure since the new Mercer Street opened. And I haven’t heard anyone else ask for a Mercer Street bus, much less one continuing across the freeway to Fairview.

      2. I assume if you extend the 32 from Seattle Center to SLU the route becomes too long?

    2. I think, ideally, there would be a bus from U district to lower Queen Anne via Eastlake. It would be a much faster than the 32’s meandering route through Fremont and Interbay. So much so, in fact, that when I used to live in the U district, my preferred route to Seattle Center was to take the 70 as close to Seattle Center as I could get and hoof it the last mile. So, yes, Eastlake is the route you would like to take to go from U district to Seattle Center, even though Metro’s routes don’t seem to acknowledge this.

      The problem is, there is no easy way to design the routes that effectively does this. The Eastlake neighborhood needs a bus that goes to the U district in one direction and downtown in the other. That is non negotiable. So, any direct U district to Uptown bus would need to either duplicate this or express down I-5. Route duplication is bad and the express option wouldn’t get enough riders to justify a route that only connects U district to Uptown and does nothing else, adding no additional coverage. Hence, we’re stuck with the routes we have.

      One potential option that could be a partial fix might be to move the 70 over from Fairview to Westlake, taking advantage of existing buses along the route. But, then you get into the high cost of moving trolley wire and RapidRide bus stops, so it’s probably a nonstarter.

      Discontinuing the 32 is also not an option, since you need it to go from Fremont to Seattle Center and Fremont to the U district. I have suggested several times thru routing the 32 with the 13 at SPU, going up and over Queen Anne Hill, rather than around it. The idea of such a move would be to connect Upper Queen Anne with Fremont, Link, and the rest of North Seattle better. But, it wouldn’t do anything for U district->Seattle Center trips, and is, again, probably a nonstarter for the lane reason that the 13 is a trolleybus and the bar to justify the enormous capital cost of building new trolley wire is extremely high.

      1. @asdf2,

        Last year (or was it 2021?) my wife faced this exact same problem – how to get from lunch in the U Dist to Seattle Center. She doesn’t drive and has been very reliant on Metro buses over the years, so her first reaction is always to take Metro so she was going to take the 32. I talked her out of it.

        My solution? Take Link then the monorail. After much debate she eventually agreed to try this and was so impressed that she has never gone back to the bus for this route combination.

        There simply is no bus route, or two seat bus ride, that can compete with Link/monorail for speed, frequency, and reliability. Not now, nor in the future.

        And the Link/monorail combination has the added advantage that on rainy days you can get from the U Dist to inside Center House without ever setting a foot outdoors and getting wet. And it was raining on this particular day.

        Link/monorail works great. I encourage people to try it.

      2. That’s a good point. My preference for 70+ walking was influenced by the fact that, at the time, U-district station had not yet opened and the Monorail had not yet started accepting Orca cards.

        Agree, Link+Monorail is going to be much faster than the 32.

    3. I like the idea of a bus on Mercer, too, but it’s a very important truck street so I expect that SDOT would raise a big stink about wire there. That’s why I suggested Denny.

  15. Speaking of SLU what did yall think about the older idea to make SLU a new transit hub kind of like how Queen Anne is a transit hub. Where they wanted to make RapidRide C, 40, RapidRide J and extending Route 7 (rainier) to Slu all meet at some common stop.

    Like in this picture https://www.theurbanist.org/2018/09/26/seattle-shelves-promised-rapidride-upgrades-for-routes-40-44-48/

    I thought it was on “okay” idea making it easier to get to slu but did seem kinda duplicating a bit too many bus hours.

    There were also the other outer transit hub ideas like miller park and mt baker but they didn’t really seem to work as well as the lower Queen Anne one.

    1. Um, Lazarus, I expect the tweakers and vomiters will just crumple up those “citations”. Jes’ sayin’.

      They will help revenue. But “social order”? Probably not.

      1. @Tom Terrific,

        The increase in anti social behavior onboard both Link and Metro since the suspension of fare enforcement has been well documented, as has the increase in the number of biohazard events. Resuming fare enforcement will significantly improve the situation.

        However, now that fares are being enforced on Link. I’m sure some of your “tweakers and vomiters” will simply move over to Metro.

  16. Another one of my pet peeves about the transit system is how Metro makes it so hard to go east or west from Phinney Ridge. Riding the 5 for one mile to transfer to an east/west bus is not an acceptable solution. Between the two buses, the combined wait time adds up to nearly 30 minutes most of the day, and neither of these buses are particularly fast once you get on them. Currently, the option I’ve settled on is to just take the 45 to the north end of Green Lake and walk the rest of the way, or sometimes, just walk all the way from Roosevelt Station. If I jog instead of walk, it’s faster than alternatives, but in a good transit system, the need to do this should not be necessary.

    One potential solution I’ve thought of to partially fill this gap is to extend the future route 61 in a zigzag pattern to Ballard, that is, 85th->Greenwood->65th->15th->Market St., perhaps sharing the layover spot with the #44, next to the Ballard locks. It would require some additional service hours that don’t currently exist, but I like the way it continues the northeast/southwest pattern of Lake City->Greenwood, while also serving a lot of new overlapping trip combinations (e.g. Ballard->Greenwood, Ballard->Phinney Ridge, Phinney Ridge->Northgate, Ballard->Lake City, Phinney Ridge->Lake City) with one-seat rides that are all quite awkward to do on transit today. The biggest challenge is probably that logistical issues of adding bus service to 65th, but I think it would be a really good addition to the transit network in northwest Seattle.

    1. I agree completely. I used to live at 77th and Fremont and getting to Ballard in those days was quite inefficient (south all the way to 46th and then back north to Market, which is 55th). Or walk up to 85th and take the 48 west and transfer on 15th or 24th. This “diagonal” bus (really, a “zig-zag”) would knit the entirety of “north of Green Lake” together nicely.

    2. I had a friend living at 70th & 20th NW in Ballard halfway between the 44 and 45, and it was the same difficulty to reach him from the U-District. I could either transfer or walk, so I usually walked. I would not want to live there. He didn’t have a car so he always too Metro and lived with it.

      Metro has long thought about a route on NW 65th and has tried a couple short shuttle loops, but they always failed because they were short shuttle loops.

      1. The route 61 extension would actually cover Phinney Ridge to U district pretty well because you can ride the 61 to Northgate, then ride Link to the U district.

        It is a two seat ride which looks a bit out of the way on the map, but Link is fast, frequent, and reliable enough to make up for that – if the 61 itself runs with 15 minute frequency.

        Of course, it would be even better for Phinney Ridge if there were two east/west routes, one going to Northgate, the other to the U district, but the latter would entail a lot of extra service hours for a route that would be mostly redundant with the 44. For better or worse, the Northgate route is easier to provide in a way that complements, rather than duplicates, the rest of the transit network.

        I agree, short distance shuttles make for terrible transit. The number of useful trips they serve is too small and, many of them they do serve, duplicate walking. A shuttle that only connected Fremont to Ballard would also perform quite poorly, even though the same route attached to the #40 bus performs quite well. Any connection between Phinney Ridge and Ballard needs to be part of some larger route that actually goes somewhere east of Phinney Ridge, not a shuttle that simply connects two dots on a map and does nothing else.

  17. I want to walk the Longfellow Creek Trail but I’m finding it hard to see where exactly it is. Google Maps doesn’t label it (although I think it has in the past). It’s interrupted by Westwood Village and 26th, so that gives an indication which parks comprise it, but there are more parks in the area that could be part of it or not. The southern end is at 28th & Roxbury on the C and H at Roxhill Park, so that’s a start. Hopefully the trail signs will be sufficient, but I’d like to know where the north end is.

    I’ve been to the trail once. I was on the C and a fellow passenger was talking about the park and it was at her stop, so she showed me the way to it. It was somewhere in the northern part of the C, on a street that went west and downhill several blocks, but I don’t remember which street or stop it was.

    I think the H is probably closer to it and a shorter and flatter walk, but again where?

    1. It parallels Delridge a block or two to the West. It’s not a complete path, but it’s interesting. Just an FYI that the last time I went through there there were a fair number of encampments.

    1. There was a survey we linked to in an open thread, that had various road and transit candidate projects. One of the transit projects was BRT on 167 (Auburn-Renton). Since highway means car road, and most Washingtonians drive, it’s not surprising that the majority of responses would be for road maintenance/expansion. At least maintenance is first, and expansion doesn’t seem to come in until the third level of priorities. That’s better than it could have been. But WSDOT and the legislature are still car-predominant. There’s a WSDOT representative on the ST board, and they get the benefit of transit/bike/ped prioritization, but it gets lost in the entire agency and legislature.

      1. Yeah, I filled that survey out. That’s why I was looking for a summary of the results. I don’t recall “no highway expansion” as an option, though they imply it was. I fully support funding maintenance.

      2. Lots of people will fill out a survey and say, sure, wider highways is good, so long as somebody else is paying for it and the new lanes just magically appear, without years of construction-, induced traffic jams, and without mention of any downsides.

        In a vote where people had to actually weigh whether a wider highway is worth paying an extra few hundred dollars per year in taxes would have very different results. I can imagine a lot of people who don’t drive SR-167 during rush voting no on the grounds of “Why should I vote to raise my taxes to fund somebody else’s highway, only for their wider highway dump more cars onto the highway that I drive, which is not being widened, making my own commute worse?”.

    2. An interesting bit towards the end of the draft plan (Page 39; Appendix D) :

      Despite its widespread use at WSDOT and elsewhere in the North American transportation profession, vehicle-based LOS [Level Of Service] presents some challenges as a measure of throughput and traffic flow. For example, the measure is based on vehicle delay, which skews towards an auto-centric interpretation that LOS A is objectively the best condition and LOS F the worst. In fact, a main street operating at vehicle LOS E or F is an indicator of a healthy downtown economy, which is desirable for communities. The lower speeds of an arterial operating at vehicle LOS E or F are safer for pedestrians, also a desirable outcome. When coupled with quality transit, active transportation facilities, and transit-supportive land use, vehicle LOS E/F can incentivize people to shift away from single-occupancy vehicles, which helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and wear and tear on roadways. Moreover, facilities operating at vehicle LOS A-C can pose safety, mobility, and access challenges for pedestrians and other users because of high speeds, long distances between safe crossings, and wide roads.

      The section goes on to describe alternatives to LOS which are rather heartening to see.

      1. I went to a presentation given by a planner at WSDOT, and he did say they were moving away from the traditional LOS measures, which I thought was terrific.

    3. Interesting the funding breakdown for using Move Ahead funds the next 20 years is (note this is in addition, not the current amount)
      17.3 billion for maintenance/repairs
      5.4 billion for safety and efficiency
      1.4 billion expansions

      Existing amounts are
      13.7 billion for maintenance/repairs
      14.4 billion for safety and efficiency
      9.6 billion expansions

      They really want to spend a lot more on repairs and not just continually expanding. So I guess that’s good.

      Also I’m kind of laughing at how simple this draft highway plan is just 50 pages. It doesn’t even say much detail besides a ratio of money towards maintenance versus expansions/more lanes. While to like install a one or two mile bike/bus lane Seattle has probably at least a thousand pages worth of studies and community outreach. I guess to be fair more of it is in the active transportation plan, but still it seems odd to just say spending 5.4 billion in efficiency improvements or 1.4 billion in expansions without actually listing what you’d be spending it on.

      1. It’s probably like ST’s long-range plan. The thousand-page report comes later when they actually start a project.

      2. It’s more like a guiding document for future legislative packages like Move Ahead Washington.

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