Martin joined the blog in Fall 2007 and became Editor-in-Chief in 2009. He is originally from the suburbs of Washington, D.C., but has lived in the Greater Seattle area since 1997. He resides with his family on Capitol Hill and works as a software engineering manager downtown. Key Routes: Link, 49, 10, 60
The youth fare is abolished effective Sept. 1st. This year’s transportation package in Olympia sends transit agencies a bunch of money in return for getting rid of the fare, neatly solving the dilemma of encouraging ridership by either cutting fares or using the money to improve service. Agencies across the state quickly fell into line.
Personally, I say good riddance. Youth ORCA is a pain to get, and if you have a few kids (as I do) round trips get expensive fast. There are also benefits to creating a broadly shared generational experience with transit, and in avoiding interactions with fare enforcement. With a state subsidy, there is no downside, unless it causes transit facilities to become (more of?) a place to hang out and behave anti-socially.
“Placing the station to the east undermines our city’s work to create a densely connected community,” Strauss said. “This is infrastructure that will last 100 years, and we can’t afford to get it wrong.”
Moreover, Seattle’s preferred alternative presentation contains a lot of good advice for Sound Transit, particularly in the all-important tunnel north of Chinatown. Seattle Subway has written previously about the best choices for future riders. Though I don’t agree with 100% of either document, I invite you to compare results.
Elsewhere in old friend Lizz Giordano’s report for Publicola, there’s less exciting news. Lisa Herbold is extensively quoted about “impacts” without much apparent regard for future riders. Maybe Sound Transit should just build the Gray Line and no one would be impacted at all. Most notably in her district, Seattle requests a Delridge station by the steel plant to keep it away from neighborhoods, and thus from potential riders.
I don’t like this framework for thinking about the project, but at least there’s a recommended decision that can move us forward! That’s more that can be said about the City’s Chinatown advice:
Metro usually gathers a citizen sounding board when it’s planning a major service change. It’s a way to gather impressions after detailed technical discussion instead of drive-by comments.
They’re currently collecting applicants for the service change associated with Lynnwood Link. If you’re willing to approach it with an open mind, think about the community as a whole instead of your own needs, and commit the necessary time, it can be a rewarding experience and do some good for the region. Please consider it!
Both Doug Trumm and Mike Lindblom ($) have already explained the very deep stations proposed along underground segments downtown quite thoroughly. But briefly: typically, the deepest stations in a system are among the lower-ridership ones (like Washington Park in Portland). Westlake, Midtown, and Chinatown would be among the deepest in North America but also among the busiest in the system. Stations this deep mostly depend on elevators, which limit throughput, have an (ahem) spotty maintenance record, and increase the length of every trip that uses the station.
Worse, there is no engineering reason for Chinatown to be deep. It’s a potential concession to a neighborhood that is tired of decades of disruptive construction projects nearby. There is also no appetite to cheaply and shallowly cut-and-cover 5th Avenue downtown for similar reasons. Hopefully, early media attention will help politicians stand up for future riders, and engineers to get a little more creative.
Seattle’s new Mayor does not seem to be a fertile source of pro-housing legislation, having campaigned on skepticism about changing single family zones. But instead of struggling for dimes, we can pick up dollar bills at the state level. The bills are SB 5670 and HB 1782, and as explained by local treasure Dan Bertolet, would legalize:
Up to sixplexes on all residential lots within a half-mile of a major transit stop in cities with populations of 20,000 or more.
Up to fourplexes on all residential lots elsewhere in cities of 20,000 or more.
Duplexes on all residential lots in cities with populations of at least 10,000.
There are also substantial limits on parking minima, and some anti-displacement measures. Cities could skip these prescriptions and instead adopt city-wide density minima, but they would have to show this did not have disparate impacts — no putting all the growth in the “urban renewal” sectors and leaving the upscale places untouched.
Sound Transit recently released a revised Link schedule that will take effect January 8th “to better reflect actual trip times.” The main difference is that a Northgate-Angle Lake trip turns out to be 4 minutes slower, from 53 minutes to 57.
There are four spots where it loses one of those minutes: Roosevelt-Northgate, UW-U District, Westlake-Capitol Hill, and Mt. Baker-Beacon Hill. No doubt, to some extent these particular segments are not the only source of delay, but just where it rounds up to full minutes.
This is actually a good news story: Columbia City-Capitol Hill will still be 21 minutes, 1 minutes less than the time pre-pandemic. I’d speculate it to be a function of recovering ridership, and the resulting frictions adding 7% to overall times. But ST’s John Gallagher says that the Northgate segment is a bit slower than expected, and on the older segments two more minutes makes it easier to stay on schedule and respect timed transfers.
No one is going to remember the Durkan administration, positively or negatively, based on its transit or land use legacy. The twin crises of the pandemic and a reckoning with racist policing will dominate the historical record. But here at STB, we always size up the outgoing mayor (Murray, McGinn, Nickels) on this basis. And her legacy will largely be stasis, with isolated progress and some major setbacks.
The preceding Murray administration had largely locked in a transportation agenda with a vehicle license fee for bus service, Move Seattle, and Sound Transit 3. A first Durkan term would therefore always have been one of consolidation. Ms. Durkan campaigned as a policy continuity candidate from a productive but scandal-ridden predecessor. On this measure, her term was a disappointment.
On Thursday, the Sound Transit Board made the responsible decision and designated S. 336th St in Federal Way as the “preferred” site of South Link’s Operations and Maintenance Facility (OMF). It has not actually eliminated the other two sites from consideration, but the process will put somewhat more weight on 336th.