Open Thread: No Fare Police

Washington Supreme Court struck down fare-enforcement checks by police. ($) Fare ambassadors, who are not police and focus on education, still appear allowed. Sound Transit and Metro switched to fare ambassadors several months ago. The decision (thanks Tlsgwm).

Downtown Seattle work commutes continue to evolve. ($) (Mike Lindblom) 60% of 320,000 workers come to the office on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and above 50% on Thursdays. Mondays and Fridays are lower. This study by Commute Seattle and UW used the larger “Center City” definition of downtown, which includes Uptown, Capitol Hill, and the CID. Comparing 2019 to 2022 in the AM peak, workers using transit fell from 46% to 22%, teleworking soared to 46%, and walking fell from 7% to 3%. On a good note, driving alone didn’t increase; it fell from 26% to 21%. Volumes on the West Seattle Bridge, which had been close to 100,000 pre-pandemic, are now 60-65,000. (That leaves more room for transit lanes?)

City councilmember Tammy Morales supports the “North and South of CID” alternatives for DSTT2 (the second downtown Link tunnel). We disagree, and are leaning toward a DSTT1-only alternative.

KUOW on the new Burke-Gilman bike trail option in Ballard. The report starts a minute or two into the audio clip; it doesn’t show an exact timestamp.

This is an open thread.

A CID2 Link Station is Important

A Ballard CID Link station would connect all major transit modes in the area.

In “Every City NEEDS a Transit Hub”, Reece Martin at RMTransit explains how sticking with the originally-planned second CID Link station is a unique opportunity to create the biggest and most-used multimodal transit hub in the Pacific Northwest. It would connect all of Link lines 1, 2, and 3, Sounder, Amtrak Cascades, Greyhound, the First Hill Streetcar, the proposed City Center Connector streetcar extension to Pike Place Market and SLU, the two stadiums, the walkable Chinatown neighborhood, Union Station’s hall with potential reactivation uses, King Street Station’s hall, and potentially in-station retail.

Alternatives like a “North of CID” station at the King County Administration building would both miss this opportunity and make transfers incredibly bad.

The “Fourth Avenue Shallower” alternative is a reasonable compromise between the default Fifth Avenue station (which activists in the CID don’t want) and a station too far away. It’s more expensive, but this is an existential issue for the network. The #1 issue for a multi-line subway network is good transfers between all the lines. Over half of Link’s destinations will require a train-to-train transfer. This is key to maximizing ridership, getting the most out of our investment in it, and making the network far more useful.

News Roundup: Walking in LA

“North of CID” station concept for the Ballard Link extension:

Portland transit network review (RMTransit) Mostly MAX, a bit on fares, buses, WES commuter rail, and bikeshare.

Are urban growth boundaries effective? (City Beautiful) With examples of Seattle and Portland.

Yes, there’s walking in L.A. ($) A meditation on Rosencrans Avenue. It’s not a walker’s paradise or pretty, but it spans several different parts of L.A. “the only other way I know how to encounter so much of Los Angeles, to see so many of its diverse communities coexisting, is to go to the beach.” Then there’s the song.

Spring Service Changes

Metro has several bus route changes starting next Saturday, March 18.

  • RapidRide H launches, replacing route 120 on Delridge Way in West Seattle and Ambaum Blvd in Burien. Here’s the H timetable and map.
  • Routes 11 and 49 eastbound will take on the 10’s routing, remaining on Pike Street until Bellevue Avenue, and then switching to Pine Street..
  • Route 73 will start earlier in the morning and run until late night. It will run half-hourly from 6 am to 11:30 pm every day.
  • Routes C, D, E, 3, 4, 28, 33, 36, 40, 44, 48, 50, 65, 67, 70, 106, 107, and 331 add more trips.
  • Route 245 will no longer serve the Houghton P&R, which is closing.
  • The Seattle additions are funded by Seattle’s Transit Benefit District.

The reroute on routes 11 and 49 is part of Seattle’s Pike-Pine rechannelization, which is optimizing the corridor for pedestrians, bicycles, and transit, while still allowing cars. The city is currently widening the sidewalks at 1st & Pine. It recently added traffic lights or stop signs to several blocks between Melrose Avenue and Broadway, so pedestrians can cross the street easier. And it’s making Melrose Avenue into a neighborhood greenway.

Community Transit on Sunday, March 19 will suspend some weekday trips on routes 101, 105, 115, 116, 119, 196, 201, 202, and 412. These reductions will increase reliability and reduce the number of last-minute cancellations. Many routes have schedule adjustments, so check the timetable for your route. (The reductions are presumably due to the nationwide bus driver shortage, affecting all local agencies.)

Sound Transit has a few ST Express changes Saturday, March 18. Route 511 is replaced by additional trips on the 512. Route 513 loses four trips. Route 532 adds two trips. Twelve routes have schedule adjustments to reflect current travel times. Route 586 northound trips at the Federal Way Transit Center move to Bay 2. Sounder South has schedule adjustments on two trips. Sounder North riders have two newly-restored Amtrak Cascade runs they can use with a Rail Plus ticket.

Pierce Transit on Sunday, March 19 will add Saturday trips to routes 1, 4, and 212. It will add Sunday trips trips to routes 10, 11, 16, 28, 41, 42, 45, 48, 52, 53, 54, 55, 57, 100, 202, 206, 214, 402, 409, and 501. And it will add weekday trips to route 497. Schedule adjustment are made to routes 11 and 212.

Everett Transit appears to have no changes until June 18, when it will have an expansion.

News Roundup: Metro Taxis

Metro will expand its on-demand taxi service ($). (Official announcement.) These are app-hailed vans like Uber, charging regular Metro fares within a few last-mile service areas. Starting Monday, It will unify existing services (Via, Pingo, Community Ride) under a new brand “Metro Flex” wth a new app. Service areas are “northern Kent, Tukwila, Renton Highlands, Rainier Beach/Skyway, Othello, Sammamish/Issaquah Highlands and Juanita.” You can pay by ORCA, credit card, or the Transit Go Ticket app. Reduced fares like ORCA LIFT are accepted.

King County repealed its bicycle-helmet law a year ago, but helmet usage remains high. ($) I didn’t know it was repealed.

Amtrak Cascades restores full Vancouver BC service. ($)

Why new developments are ugly. (Adam Something video)

This is an open thread.

News Roundup: Get Link Done

Get Link done ($), says ST’s Technical Advisory Group in a report to the board. The group suggests taking a harder line against local government requests, and treating contractors better.

Reconnect South Park gets grant to study removing Highway 99 through the neighborhood.

Zoning, Explained (City Beautiful)

New York state considers joining the zoning-override bandwagon ($) to get more housing, especially in New York City’s suburbs.

Malls are adding housing ($)

Spain’s high-speed rail network (RMTransit)

Empire Builder ($), a documentary about James J Hill, founder of the rail line from Seattle to Chicago.

This is an open thread.

News Roundup: Bangkok

Bangkok has four rail systems. (RMTransit video) Thailand’s development went through a car-oriented phase, but is now turning toward transit, and is building high-speed rail lines and improving Bangkok transit. This is similar to the trajectory The Netherlands went through forty years earlier. At 12:39 you can see a train door and interior that looks a lot like Link, and a route-number display similar to what ST is planning in ST3.

SDOT has a Seattle Transportation Plan Online Engagement Hub website with a proposal for Seattle’s next transportation plan. The interactive site is taking comments through February 21st.

How to lower subway costs. (RMTransit video, referencing Alon Levy’s transit cost research.) At 10:12 he calls out Link, saying its stations are larger than necessary.

This is an open thread.

News Roundup: Streetcar

Seattle’s streetcar dithering criticized in federal audit ($). Federal grant administrators are getting anxious about delays in spending the City Center Connector grant money, and grants for the Broadway streetcar extension (from Denny to Roy), and a SODO overpass grant.

But the feds also gave Seattle a grant to improve SODO’s pedestrian and bicycle safety. ($)

Free transit is extended to Seattle low-income housing residents ($)


Emeryville, California is an urban success story (Thomas Y)

Egypt’s new capital is an Ozymandian nightmare (Adam Something)

News Roundup: Lots of Things

Sound Transit releases

WSBLE study results and new options (for the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extension). Public input until February 17.

ST2 Link openings scheduling. Staff are exploring the possibility of opening the East Link starter line without delaying Lynnwood Link’s opening, a partial ST Express restructure with the starter line (no specific routes yet), and a “Federal Way starter line” (opening Kent-Des Moines before Federal Way).

ST is seeking volunteers for its North King Community Oversight Panel. Seattle is seeking volunteers for its Move Seattle Levy Oversight panel.


Why it’s hard to build good and inexpensive transit in the US. Two people asked me to post this RMTransit video about what drives quality down and costs up in projects that are built. Link is the first example at 1:47. “Seattle’s experience with Link Light Rail that has the costs of a subway system but the capacity and service quality of a light rail system should be instructive here.” He says an automated system with smaller trains and higher frequency could have cost less, had higher reliability and better service, and attracted more riders. He goes on to list other US transit systems and issues. I hear a lot of diagnosing problems but not many concrete solutions, so that leaves me at a loss with what to do. Maybe I’m not understanding the video.

American cities with a combination of higher walkability and lower rents. (CityNerd)

Urban gondolas around the world. (RMTransit) The recent wave started with Mendellín’s metrocable in 2004. Reece discusses which situations gondolas work well in.

Other News

Metro’s Lynnwood Link restructure open house registration. Scroll down to “Community Engagement”. Dates are February 4 and 27.

Seattle Comprehensive Plan virtual open house January 30.

Free transit passes are now available for Seattle low-income housing residents ($) and Climate Pledge Arena events ($).

Bus Doggy Doggs in Alaska ($).

The Federal Transportation Administration has a new grant fund for equity transit projects ($).

Amtrak Cascades has a survey for its long-range plan update. (Urbanist)

SDOT pats itself on the back for its best accomplishments in 2022.

RapidRide G (Madison) construction is 40% complete.

This is an open thread.

Open Thread: North American Buses

KUOW’s Week in Review podcast today discusses several relevant topics: Kshama Sawant will leave the Seattle city council this term to form a national movement. The state legislature is considering a wealth tax, a basic income for low-income people, and raising the minimum zoning in single-family areas. Possible zoning alternatives are 2-plex, 4-plex, 6-plex, either within some distance of major transit stops, or everywhere. Tech layoffs. Two of the panelists are Eric C Barnett (former STB author) and David Kroman (a Seattle Times transportation reporter).

Reece Martin has a video on Why buses in the US and Canada are worse than buses in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Australia. Not the routes and frequency this time, but the vehicles themselves. The answer is that due to North American regulations, the rest of the world has more bus companies and more bus types to choose from. Bonus: He calls articulated buses “bendy boys”.

This is an open thread.

Downtown Retail Inventory

Here’s a list of the retail open in selected parts of the midtown retail district in downtown Seattle. I inventoried Westlake Mall, Pacific Place, Pine Street between 9th and 3rd Avenues, and the emptiest part of 3rd Avenue between Olive Way and Union Street. I also did a less-extensive look at Pike Street, and did Pine Street between 3rd and 1st from memory. I see these retail establishments every day, but others who don’t go downtown as much may be less familiar with what’s currently open. I’m also hoping that this will help people support downtown businesses during this difficult period.

Westlake Center

Asean Streat (1st Floor): A new section with several southeast Asian restaurants. Bani Tea, Cool Coco (coconut ice cream), Mimi (crepes), Crawfish Chef, Burgis Street (Chinese), Phanny Pho, Rolling Wok, Hi Fry, Zaab El. The tables were busy midafternoon. None of the restaurants take cash.

Bite on Pine (2nd Floor): Sushi Burrito, Xi’An Noodles, Zuba, Soupwich, Cali Burger. I’m not sure if Matcha is still open.

3rd Floor: Renovated monorail station. Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th (replacing former food court).

2nd Floor: Zara. One escalator was closed.

1st Floor: Zara, Custom World (custom T-shirts), 1 toy store, 1 jewelry, 1 variety, Pressed Juicery.

Pacific Place

4th Floor: AMC movie theater, Johnny Rockets, Thai Ginger, Pike Place Chowder, Din Tai Fung (Chinese). 4 empty storefronts.

3rd Floor: 2 art galleries (one specializing in women’s culture), The Handmade Showroom, 2 clothing stores, Hai Dilao Hot Pot. 4 empty.

2nd Floor: Tiffany & Co, 1 women’s accessories store, 1 perfume & stuff. 9 empty.

1st Floor: 5 clothing stores, 1 perfume, 1 variety. 7 empty storefronts.

Basement: AT&T, Midnight Cookie Co, 1 clothing store. 2 empty storefronts (one being the large Barnes & Noble space). The empty storefronts on all floors tend to be concentrated on the east and south sides.

Pine Street

9th Avenue: Convention Center expansion (under construction), Paramount Theater, The Carlisle Room, Dough Zone (Chinese).

8th Avenue: Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Paramount Hotel with cafe, Caffe Ladro, Chan Seattle (Korean).

7th Avenue: Club Monaco (clothes), Hotel Theodore (Roosevelt) with Rider restaurant, Cafe Yumm. 1 empty storefront (Timbuk2).

6th Avenue: Nordstrom with E-Bar, Pandora (jewelry), Seattle Eye (optometrist), Seattle Sun Co (sunglasses), Eileen Fisher, Pho Saigon (on 6th). 1 empty storefront (Forever 21).

5th Avenue: All Saints (clothing).

Westlake Park: Food trucks, Sephora, Arc’teryx, Bof A. 5 empty storefronts.

Century Square: Yard House, Van’s, Dr Martens. 2 empty storefronts (Abercrombie & Fitch).

Ex-Macy’s: Uniqlo (clothing), Victrola (coffee & tea).

2nd and 1st Avenues: Pike Place Market is full of open shops and thick with shoppers and tourists. BECU, H-Mart (Korean supermarket). The other shops around 1st and 2nd are mostly tourist-oriented.

Third Avenue

Pine Street: Victrola (in Macy’s building), McDonald’s, Money Tree, 2 tobacconists, Metro (cell phones). 5 empty storefronts.

Pike Street: Piroshky Piroshky (just reopened), Pho 25 (has good pho broth), Myano (spa), Chipotle), Walgreen’s, Ross. 6 empty storefronts.

Union Street: Subway, Gelatiamo, Post Office, Benaroya Hall. 8 empty storefronts (Wild Ginger).

Pike Street

The emptiness continues east on Pike Street from around 3rd to 6th. I didn’t inventory the open businesses on Pike.

Happy shopping!

This is a semi-open thread on downtown Seattle. Other topics belong in the open thread article after this one. [Ed: Changed comment scope.]

Open Thread: 130th in 2026

130th Station in Seattle is estimated to open in mid 2026. (Thanks to eddiew for the link.)

This would fit in with other openings thus:

  • 2023: RapidRide H (Delridge) in March. T Line MLK extension.
  • 2024: Lynnwood Link (Lynnwood – Angle Lake) -OR- East Link starter line (Redmond Tech – South Bellevue) in Spring. RapidRide G (Madison). Swift Orange (Edmonds College – Lynnwood – Mill Creek – McCollum P&R). If ELSL starts in Spring, Lynnwood will be delayed until Fall/Winter.
  • 2025 : Link Line 2 (Lynnwood – Redmond Downtown) in Spring. RapidRide I (Renton-Auburn).
  • 2026: 130th station (Seattle) in midyear. Stride 1 (Burien-Bellevue). Stride 3 (Shoreline-Bothell).
  • 2027: Stride 2 (Lynnwood-Bellevue).
  • ???: Federal Way Link (Lynnwood – Federal Way). Postponed for viaduct redesign.
  • 2032: Tacoma Dome Link (Lynnwood – Tacoma Dome). West Seattle starter line (Alaska Junction – SODO).

I couldn’t find a date for the Swift Green UW Bothell extension.

Sources: ELSL/Lynnwood proposal. ST3 realignment adopted Aug 2021. T line. RapidRide G. RapidRide H. RapidRide I. Community Transit 2024 restructure open house. Swift Orange. Swift Blue expansion.

This is an open thread.

What to call Sounder-type rail?

We usually call Sounder “regional rail” or “commuter rail”, but both terms are ambiguous. Other possible terms like “metropolitan rail”, “local rail”, “express rail”, or “rapid transit” are also ambiguous. That leaves me at a loss with what to call Sounder or RER that’s not ambiguous. The same problem exists with Cascades.

“Regional rail” implies an area with multiple political entities. Both Sounder and Cascades are called “regional rail” but are at different scales. Sounder goes out 50 miles like Caltrain, connecting suburbs and cities within a multipolar metropolitan area. Cascades is 500 miles long, connecting multiple nearby metropolitan areas. High-speed rail plays a similar role. So we need distinct words for Sounder-type networks and Cascades-type networks.

“Metropolitan rail” implies the city and suburbs within an metropolitan area. This sounds like Sounder, except the term “metropolitan” has been monopolized by subways. Subways are shorter, have closer stop spacing, and higher frequency. Paris has both RER and metro, making this distinction between them.

“Commuter rail” originally meant riding on a “communtation ticket”, or multi-trip discount ticket like a 10-pack. This has led to a bifurcation, with some commuter rails running full time and others peak-only Caltrain and PATH run full time bidirectionally, so they’re as good for a weekend trip to the museum as a weekday trip to the office. They’re intended to capture the bulk of trips in their area to minimize driving, both work trips and other trips. Other commuter rail network are peak only, serving only 9-5 downtown office workers, and there’s resistance to expanding them to other uses.

“Rapid transit” to me means faster than a regular bus, so grade-separated, wider stop spacing, and higher frequency. Others use the term specifically for third-rail or heavy-rail metros.

Some people use “S-Bahn” or “RER” generically to refer to this mid-level service, but most Americans have never heard of those and don’t know what they are.

So is there a unique and unambiguous way to refer to Sounder, RER, S-Bahn type rail? Something that gets at the four-way distinction between Link, Sounder, Cascades, and intercity lines? Because “regional” is too ambiguous.

New Year’s News Roundup: Sounder Faltering

Sounder’s ridership is still just a third of pre-pandemic levels ($), even as Link has surpassed its 2019 level and Metro buses have recovered more than half. The Seattle Times headline says “Sounder’s trains future in limbo”. The article goes on to say, “Julie Timm, Sound Transit’s new CEO, said it’s too early to make decisions concerning Sounder’s future. It may be less critical right now, but with population and density growth, she believes ridership will return, if more slowly than hoped.”

Sounder’s new Puyallup parking garage will open a year late, in January 2023. ($) If Sounder’s ridership is down to a third, who will use the new garage?

Sound Transit gets two grants early for Federal Way and Lynnwood. ($)

Now the lower West Seattle Bridge is closed. When it rains it pours. It was damaged in the ice storm a week ago, and needs two weeks of repairs.

SDOT has answers to your sidewalk closure questions.

Seattle’s zoning got tighter over the 20th century, as residential zones allowing middle housing were downgraded to single-family only. Many of those small apartments and duplexes still exist, but are illegal to build today in those neighborhoods. I especially like the courtyard apartments, with a garden in front, or two rows of sideways apartments surrounding a courtyard.

The PSRC’s 2050 regional transportation plan is not aligned with the PSRC’s own 2030 climate goals, says Ryan Packer of The Urbanist. (Side rant: The Urbanist’s ads are very intrusive and annoying. Please tone them down. And whenever there’s an embedded slideshow visible, the PageDown/PageUp buttons stop scrolling the page.)

What’s wrong with an empty bus? (Human Transit)

Are my articles getting too long for the blog’s layout? I tend to write long sometimes.

This is an open thread.

Third Avenue Renovation

The Downtown Seattle Association released an update to its Third Avenue street reconfiguration vision. The DSA is a private organization of business leaders dedicated to promoting shopping and jobs downtown. Here’s our previous coverage in June, and a comment thread in September.

The vision describes Third Avenue as “a critical north-south transportation route in downtown Seattle.” It goes on to say, “For a variety of reasons, significant sections of the corridor feel unwelcoming and unsafe. Over the past decade, several planning efforts have yielded incremental improvements, but the underlying challenges remain the same.”

It cites a corridor study by Seattle and King County that identifies five problems downtown (including Belltown and Pioneer Square): insufficient open space, deferred maintenance, few middle-class people lingering (in spite of the large volume of people walking or waiting for buses), blank walls, too much concrete and too little color, and underused lobbies in office towers.

Continue reading “Third Avenue Renovation”

Fresh Open Thread

Snow is expected today, although it continues to be unpredictable as it was three weeks ago. Here’s a fresh open thread to discuss it and other topics. Wednesday and Thursday will be unusually cold in the low 20s. Beware of black ice.

Metro’s Snow Guide dashboard has a map of which subareas are on snow routes or the Emergency Snow Network. The page has a map of ESN routes, and links to the route-specific Service Advisories page and to subscribe to Alerts.

In East Seattle I’ve found Pine Street is the easiest way to get around in the snow, as it’s relatively flat from 1st Avenue to 14th Avenue. The worst part is crossing I-5 at Boren, where the bridge sidewalk can be icy.

ST2 Link Progress

Sound Transit is getting more serious about an East Link starter line until the defective plinths delaying the lake crossing can be replaced. We earlier covered Claudia Balducci’s original proposal and Sherwin Lee’s plea for good transfers. The delay of the lake crossing has cascading impacts on the Lynnwood extension, which will finish construction first but won’t have access to the Eastside train base (OMF East). Meanwhile, the Federal Way extension needs more time to design a “long-span bridge structure”. The System Expansion Committee proposed a new opening schedule:

  • Spring 2024: East Link Starter Line (Line 2: South Bellevue to Redmond Technology).
  • Fall/Winter 2024: Lynnwood (Line 1: Lynnwood to Angle Lake).
  • Spring 2025: East Link (Line 2: Lynnwood to Redmond Downtown).
  • TBD: Federal Way (Line 1: Lynnwood to Federal Way).

The ST board will meet in January to consider whether to pursue the starter line. If it doesn’t, Lynnwood would open a quarter earlier (Summer/Fall 2024) and East Link would open as above (Spring 2025).

The starter line’s frequency would be 10 minutes peak, midday, and weekends; and 15 minutes late evening/early morning.

ST Express routes would remain unchanged. The 550 would overlap the starter line between South Bellevue and Bellevue Downtown. The 542 and 545 would meet the line at one station, Redmond Technology. The 554 would continue going from Issaquah to Seattle with no direct access to the line.

A trip from Issaquah to downtown Bellevue would be the same as now: peak-only 556, slow 271, or 554+550 transfer at Mercer Island. Train enthusiasts could do a three-seat 554+550+Link trip transferring at Mercer Island and South Bellevue, or drive from Issaquah to the South Bellevue P&R and take the train from there.

ST’s presentation in the first link says opening Lynnwood before OMF East runs the risk of overcrowding on the 1 Line, and finding overnight storage for 16 trains along the Line 1 track. East Link trains are also arriving more slowly than expected. The testing window for new track, when trains will run without passengers before the opening, is four months.

On-topic comments for this article are the proposed Link changes, and riding transit in the 2023-2029 timeframe. Other restructures will be happening around the same time: the East Link bus restructure (now in 2025), Stride 1 (Burien-Bellevue), Stride 2 (Lynnwood-Bellevue), Stride 3 (Shoreline-Bothell), RapidRide G (Madison), H (Delridge), I (Renton-Kent-Auburn), J (Eastlake), T Line (Tacoma Link MLK extension).

News Roundup

Link public art: history and review ($).

Jarrett Walker is writing a second edition of his book “Human Transit”, and is asking for input on what to include.

Population-weighted density, or, is Los Angeles denser than New York City? (Pedestrian Observations)

Video of San Francisco’s new Central Subway. (Stroll With Me)

The most important rail line in the world, Tokyo’s Yamamote ring line. (RMTransit)

Whistler is a walkable small town. (RMTransit)

Seattle is still seeking input on its comprehensive plan update. I still need to get my comments in. Public hearings are December 12 and January 10.

This is an open thread.

Metro Cancellations

Metro sent an email alert today: “After two Metro operators identified a manufacturing issue in the steering system in some vehicles, Metro proactively removed 126 buses from service out of its 1,500-vehicle fleet. The identified problem did not lead to any accidents or injuries. Metro inspected all its buses to ensure all vehicles in service continue to perform safely and within specifications. The defect does not extend to all New Flyer buses and many remain in service.”

Metro recommends checking whether your trip is affected:

  • Text your bus stop number to 62550.
  • Sign up for text or email Transit Alerts.
  • Follow Twitter @kcmetroalerts.
  • Use Metro’s Trip Planner, One Bus Away, Google Maps, Bing Maps, etc.
  • Call Metro Customer Service at 206-553-3000 weekdays between 6am and 6pm.

We’ve been on a roller coaster of transit expansions and contractions almost every year for a decade:

In 2012 the Ride Free Area in downtown Seattle ended due to cost pressure from the 2008 recession.

In 2014 Metro had major cuts and laid off most of its non-operations staff as a 2-year recession tax surcharge expired.

Sometime around then Rapid Ride C, D and E opened, and Link went from 8-minute to 6-minute peak frequency.

In 2015 the economic recovery allowed the next three rounds of cuts to be canceled.

In 2016 University Link opened, ST3 passed, and the Seattle Transit Benefit District started funding additional Metro service in Seattle, starting with splitting the C and D and extending the C to South Lake Union.

In 2019 buses were kicked out of the downtown tunnel.

In 2020, COVID and lockdowns led to another major round of cuts, capping bus capacity at 25%, limiting transit to “Essential Trips Only”, half-hourly frequency on Link, and a reduced renewal of Seattle’s Transit Benefit District.

In 2021 most of the all-day service recovered but is still lower than 2019 levels, and Northgate Link opened. Metro and ST Express planned increases and has the money for them but new problem arose: a driver shortage prevents them from expanding or running all their intended service. Link and RapidRide expansions were delayed by the concrete strike, and Link by track plinths in the Eastside and other factors.

It feels like we’ve been a transit recession since 2020 with no end in sight. And now defective buses have caused even more cancellations. I just wish we could get closer to 2019 levels and at least remain stable there.

To top it off, Metro bus reliability is lower than in 2021. (Urbanist) The first 24,750 additional service hours Metro gets will have to go to “the 40 routes where 20% or more of trips are running late” before it can add additional frequency or coverage. This also feels like déjà vu since it happened before in the past fifteen years: Metro had to add buses just to maintain reliability amidst worsening traffic congestion before it could add frequency.

On-topic comments for this article are trip cancellations, transit reliability, and the roller coaster of expansions and contractions. Please keep current cancellations in separate threads from longer-term issues so that people can find urgent information quickly.