RapidRide G Restructure

The RapidRide G (Madison) restructure is finally here. Construction is 50% complete, and the line is expected to launch in Fall 2024. Metro has a survey until May 8 about changes to other routes around it. Metro proposes to reroute the 10, 11, and 12, and to delete the currently-suspended 47.

The G will run along Madison Street between 1st Avenue downtown and Martin Luther King Way in Madison Valley. The stations will be at 1st, 3rd, 5th, 8th, Terry, Boyleston, 12th, 17th, 22nd, 24th, and MLK. West of 8th Avenue will be a one-way couplet on Madison and Spring Streets. The middle section between 9th and 13th will have center transit-only lanes with left-side doors (like the First Hill streetcar on Jackson Street). East of 13th it will run in mixed-traffic lanes.

Metro wants to exchange the 10 and 11 between Bellevue Avenue and 15th. The 10 would return to Pine Street like it was before 2016. The 11 would move to Olive-John to replace it. The 12 would move from Madison Street to Pine Street to reduce duplication with the G. The 47 would be deleted. (It has been suspended since 2020.) Routes not listed will remain as is. The 49 would continue to be a Pine-Broadway route, and the 8 a Denny-John-Madison-MLK route.

The 10 and 12 would overlap on Pine Street between 3rd and 15th and alternate evenly, giving full-time 15-minute or better service to the top of Capitol Hill. On Olive-John, the 8 and 11 would overlap between Summit Avenue and MLK. Transfers between the 12 and G would be at 17th & Madison. Transfers between the 8, 11, and G would be at MLK & Madison.

Continue reading “RapidRide G Restructure”

Open Thread 2

I’ve started numbering open threads if there’s no compelling title.

A Link contractor blames the T-line delay ($) on government red tape. (This is the MLK extension to Tacoma Link, not related to the 1 Line extension to Tacoma Dome.) The article has a few quotes applicable to general ST/contractor/Link issues, too many to list here.

Did you know Toronto has a mostly-useless subway line? RMTransit says a short extension to Line 4 (Sheppard) would make it much more useful and increase ridership. Are there any comparable cases in Pugetopolis or the US?

This is an open thread. (P.S. I’m working on a single-topic article which will be ready in a couple days.)

Open Thread

More people are falling behind in car debt. (NPR) People whose car is repossessed need transit to do errands.

Bye bye Southport ($). The office complex near Renton Landing will be auctioned due to no leases. The hotel, convention center, and apartments in the business center don’t appear to be affected. It’s another blow for a Seattle-Renton ferry.

City Observatory finds 16 flaws in the Interstate Bridge Replacement, the I-5 bridge between Washington and Oregon.

Are urban growth boundaries effective? (City Beautiful)

This is an open thread.

Open Thread: Rural Transit

Transit in rural America. An NPR radio story about rural transit in various parts of the US.

Nobody Lives Here ($), an exhibit at the Wing Luke Museum on the impact of I-5 on Chinatown.

Where people who move from King County go to ($).

Denver transit. (Alan Fisher video)

Toronto rail junction is completed. (RMTransit video)

Can North America have walkable cities? (RMTransit video)

It can have pedestrianized streets. (CityNerd video)

This is an open thread.

Open Thread: Redmond

Redmond 2050 is having hearings on the Southeast Redmond and Redmond Downtown Link station areas. I can’t find the specific proposals online, but maybe somebody can describe them and the recent open house. (Thanks AJ and Nathan D for the link.)

Pike/Pine rechannelization. Next year SDOT plans to extend the one-way streets on Pike and Pine Streets east to Bellevue Avenue in southwest Capitol Hill. A rendering of the bridge over I-5 seems to show one car lane on each street, an additional lane’s worth of sidewalk, and a more distinct bike lane. This follows several projects over the past four years that have installed transit lanes, bike lanes, stop lights, four-way stop signs, and a parklet to parts of Pike and Pine streets east to Broadway. This is part of the Waterfront Seattle vision, and partly funded by Convention Center expansion mitigation.

Sound Transit is deliberating Lynnwood Link’s initial logistics. The Operations committee met April 6 (livestream, slide deck). The current Northgate-Angle Lake travel time was expected to be 50 minutes with 74 rail cars, but it’s now 57 minutes with 92 cars, and the cars have more maintenance issues than expected. East Link’s delay mean the upcoming Lynnwood Link trains won’t be able to cross the lake to the second base for the first couple years. So ST is considering temporarily reducing service between Lynnwood Link’s opening and the full East Link opening. Possible alternatives include shorter trains, lower peak frequency, and/or short runs (e.g., Lynnwood-Stadium). (Thanks WL and Lazarus.)

Transit Center held a panel discussion with Sound Transit CEO Julie Timm and two other transit executives from BART and southwest Ohio, on ridership changes and other emerging issues in the covid/post-covid era. (Tnanks Tlsgwm.)

WSDOT is updating the SR 167 master plan (the freeway that goes south from Renton to Puyallup and west to Tacoma). Proposed concepts include BRT from Puyallup to Renton and possibly Link, four BRT/RapidRide routes, increased Sounder, and other car- and bike-oriented features. View the online open house and send feedback by April 15. These projects would still have to be funded by ST/Metro, but getting them into the master plan means the state would allow them, and would cooperate on modifying the highway to accommodate them as it did with 405.

Mayor Harrell is asking for ideas on how to to redesign downtown Seattle for more residential use. (MyNorthwest) Compared to 2019, downtown currently has 47% of pre-pandemic worker pedestrians, and 4,000 more apartment units.

More mixed-use buildings are coming to the West Seattle Junction. Hand-wringing about parking, and questions about whether housing is the best use of the lots. The community supports a hopsital there, but one provider who was considering it declined. (Westside Seattle)

Madison Street is torn up between around 28th to 23rd for RapidRide G construction. I rode the 8 westbound through it yesterday, and it looks like only one or two narrow lanes are open. Route 12 is also rerouted between 14th and 12th. (Ed: updated locations.)

This is an open thread.

Open Thread: Cable Car

RapidRide G construction is closing East Madison Street between 16th and 14th westbound to extract “old cable car infrastructure located under the roadway. This closure is expected to be in place for at least a week.” (SDOT)

Sound Transit press release on choosing a preferred alignment for the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extension (WSBLE) last Thursday.

Interview with Sound Transit CEO Julie Timm. Among other things, “Timm explained that Sound Transit is in a transition from a building agency to an operational agency, and that takes a 180-degree shift in perspective to focus on the rider experience and communication. She knows the trains need to be clean. She understands that many people don’t feel safe on the trains. She also knows that communication is a huge challenge for the agency.” (MyNorthwest, found by Alonso.)

Metro is participating in a 16-city international survey on customer satisfaction with their local bus service.

Berlin U-Bahn expansion. (Pedestrian Observations.)

Saving public transit will require fast, frequent, and reliable service.

The Bahamas has jitneys, a car-dependent layout, and insane traffic.

Carlos Moreno, the French researcher who created the “15-Minute City” concept, is targeted by conspiracy theories and death threats ($).

This is an open thread.

Open Thread: Train Daddy

A little light reading after a busy transit week.

Train Daddy is Andy Byford, a British transit administrator who has gotten a lot of accolades for his work at train and subway agencies in Sydney, Toronto, New York City, and London. He’s now moving to Amtrak to become executive vice president. Sound Transit needs one of these. (RMTransit video) Streetsblog article.

USDOT gave Sound Transit a grant to improve safety at fhe level crossings along Link’s MLK Way segment. SDOT will implement it.

Cancellations and maintenance: Metro’s weekly newsletter has a bit about this. “King County Metro will operate all bus routes Monday, March 27, through Sunday, April 2, although some individual weekday bus trips will be canceled. All weekend routes and trips are expected to operate as scheduled. Fleet repairs continue and our maintenance crews are focused on returning buses to service, as well as working with vendors to stabilize the supply chain challenges affecting our industry.

Does your city have enough parks? (City Beautiful video)

Upcoming articles: I’m working on an article on the RapidRide G restructure. Martin is working on an article on the WSBLE aftermath.

This is an open thread.

ST Board Meeting on WSBLE

This is a live discussion of Sound Transit’s monthly board meeting, which is choosing a preferred alignment for the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extension (WSBLE) environmental impact statement (EIS).

Meeting page with video link and documents
Proposed amendments

Update: The following amendment descriptions weren’t quite accurate, and they’re too complicated to explain here.

Amendment #2 is the Balducci/Millar proposal, to include the Restored Spine alternative and the 4th Avenue Shallow alternative.
Amendment #3 is the Constantine/Harrell proposal, for North of CID and South of CID stations.

Amendment #4 asks to activate Union Station with activities regardless of the ultimate CID station alternative.
Amendment #5 seems to be choosing a WSBLE preferred alignment.

Some comments on the public testimony are in the previous open thread.

Open Thread: RapidRide H Destinations

Destinations on RapidRide H. (Urbanist)

Hannah Krieg of The Stranger compares the arguments for and against the North of CID Link station. (The list is useful even if the wording is juvenile.)

Mike Lindblom on ongoing repairs in DSTT stations. ($)

The worst transit project in the US is canceled, on an extension in Philadelphia. (Alan Fisher video)

New York chooses bus over AirTrain for La Guardia airport. ($)

The Seattle Times editorial board comes out for real but fair fare enforcement ($).

South Park gets a federal grant to study removing a redundant part of Highway 99 through the neighborhood ($).

This is an open thread.

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.