Watch the Seattle Subway/STB mayoral forum tonight

We’re proud to co-sponsor a mayoral forum with a focus on transit and land use issues with Seattle Subway, tonight at 7pm. The seven candidates are Andrew Grant Houston, Jessyn Farrell, Lorena González, Lance Randall, Colleen Echohawk, Casey Sixkiller, and Bruce Harrell.

It will stream online on Facebook (Seattle Subway page), Twitter (@SeattleSubway), and here at the blog. You can also register in order to view it on Zoom and potentially get a question in.

You can join as early as 6pm.

Many thanks to Erica Barnett of Publicola for moderating.

Tacoma Link to be closed for 9 days starting June 21

Tacoma Link construction in the Stadium district (image: Sound Transit)

Tacoma Link light rail is expanding to the Stadium district and Hilltop. While the new stations don’t open until next year, work is well underway expanding what is now a 1.5-mile line connecting the Tacoma Dome to downtown. To support this expanded future service, Tacoma Link will be closed from June 21 to 29 to connect the existing line to the new, larger operation and maintenance facility.

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Link frequencies will increase on June 12

Sound Transit:

Good news, Link riders: light rail frequency will increase starting June 12. 

Link will run every eight minutes during peak hours and every 10 minutes during midday and weekends to help passengers get where they want to go – and return to their normal routines. 

During late evenings, Link will run every 15 minutes.

Currently, Link runs every 12 minutes during peak hours and every 15 minutes during off-peak hours, with frequency every 30 minutes in late evenings.

One more step towards normal.

Improving Metro bus schedules with Link connections

One feature of some of King County Metro’s paper schedules is the inclusion of connections to downtown Seattle as part of the timetable. It is also available on the PDF versions of the schedules, which is the same as the paper ones. This is done on certain routes where a transfer to downtown Seattle is common. Here is an example:

The timetable for route 187 includes connections to routes 577 and 578 (image: King County Metro)

While this example makes it painfully obvious that some connections just don’t work very well (such as the 29 minute wait coming from Seattle on the last trip), the fact that this is included does make it easier to use for someone who wants to get to Seattle. They don’t need to open up two different schedules to find how their trip will go; they just need this one. What if King County Metro did something similar for connections to Link?

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Seattle 2021 candidates and their position webpages

The long climb to City Hall / photo from Wikicommons

The deadline for candidates to withdraw their filings for the races for mayor, city attorney, and city council positions 8 and 9 passed Monday.

For those who have been wishing to have a simple list of links to the candidates’ position pages, here ya go:

Mayor

Clinton Bliss

Henry Clay Dennison (no website found)

James Donaldson

Colleen Echohawk

Jessyn Farrell

M. Lorena González

Bruce Harrell

Andrew Grant Houston

Arthur K. Langlie

Stan Lippmann

Lance Randall

Don L. Rivers

Casey Sixkiller

Omari Tahir-Garrett

Bobby Tucker

City Attorney

Ann Davison

Pete Holmes

Nicole S Thomas-Kennedy

City Council Position 8

Brian Fahey (no website found)

Jordan Elizabeth Fisher

George Freeman (no website found)

Paul Glumaz

Jesse James (no website found)

Kate Martin

Bobby Lindsey Miller (no website found)

Teresa Mosqueda

Alex Tsimerman

Alexander White (no website found)

Kenneth Wilson (no website found)

City Council Position 9

Corey Eichner

Xtian Gunther

Lindsay McHaffie (no website found)

Sara Nelson

Nikkita Oliver

Brianna Thomas

Rebecca Williamson (no website found)

News roundup: coming back

1173 (118X) and 3713 (119X) onboard the MV Cathlamet

This is an open thread.

First youth ORCA now free

4 ORCA cards

Starting June 1st, the first youth ORCA a child gets is free with proof of age. Subsequent cards (to replace ones lost or stolen) still cost $5. This now matches the policy for the Regional Reduced Fare Permit.

Youth cards are available at customer service offices, or more conveniently via mail.

This continues the gradual ratchet of reducing and eliminating fares without threatening the core of revenue provided by employer passes. Through low income fares, ultra-low-income fares, free passes for Seattle Public Schools students, and periodic ORCA giveaways, there are many ways to chip away at what for most is already a modest fare bill.

Link’s Series 2 Train Doors Light Up

Open door on new Series 2 Link train. Light strips beside the door windows are lit up green. The closed door on the opposite side is lit up blue

One of the distinctive features on the new Link “Series 2” trains are the light strips on the doors. Not only do they add a colorful flair to your ride, they serve the purpose of indicating the state of the doors. With one tweak they could be more informative for a speedy exit.

In their normal state, the Series 2’s door lights glow blue. They flash green when they open and stay a solid green while they are fully open. As the doors close, they flash red. The lights return to blue after the doors close.

My first impression of the door lights was they reminded me of a similar feature on Montreal’s Azur trains which got me excited. But something was missing. The Series 2’s lights do not tell you which doors will open at the next stop.

Lights beside the doors on the left are lit in green to indicate they will open at the next station. The doors on the right side of the train are lit in white.
Montreal Metro’s Azur trains highlight the doors that will open at the next stop.

So let’s use these lights to their full potential. When a train approaches a station, the doors opening at the next stop should change from blue to green. Then a voice announces “Now Entering [Some] Station. Exit to my [left/right]” and the new information screens display an Exit symbol with an arrow pointing toward the exit (more on the screens in a future post). All these done in sync reinforces the message.

This simple visual cue helps riders get ready to exit the train without using a single word, just in a glance.

Community Transit considering microtransit in Lynnwood

Community Transit has put out a set of options for its upcoming Lynnwood Pilot, with the aim of improving mobility around popular destinations in Lynnwood. The options include two microtransit routes, and a community van program. Community Transit is seeking feedback on the options with a survey, open until June 18th.

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Charter Amendment contains good surprises

Homelessness is a complicated problem for which STB, with its narrow transit-and-land-use focus, would not claim to propose a full solution. [1] The proposal in Seattle Charter Amendment 29 (“Compassion Seattle“), which may be on the ballot later this year, attracts the usual complaints from those who insist on zero tolerance or zero coercion. Money for housing is good, though unfunded spending mandates aren’t so good.

But, like any worthwhile op-ed, this anti-amendment argument ($) by three former Councilmembers gives us enough information to learn there is at least one piece that I feel qualified to say is very good:

· CA 29 waives the land use code to site housing projects. Zoning, height limits, setbacks, greenbelt designations, notice and “due process” will not apply. This means new housing units or multifamily projects could be added in all zones, including single family.

and indeed, right there in the fifth bullet of Section 1:

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The future is condos

Seattle - big new Eastlake view condo building

Heidi Groover takes a break from the scary ” home” price beat to point out that it isn’t all that hard to buy a condo in Seattle ($).

There is a lot of media directed at people shopping for single family homes, but the number of possible houses within a certain distance of Seattle is finite. It’s natural for a growing metropolitan area to have a center city where single family homes become rarer, and the only way out is to allow denser forms of housing. Despite shortcomings,, Groover’s reporting suggests policy is basically working to provide ownership opportunities.

More reporting like this, please. Single-family homes will be a less important part of the market, and statistics that reflect that will be critical to understanding how our policy mix is working.

News roundup: do better

Metro South Base

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Prioritize Stride BRT in realignment

See the source image
Stride station rendering (image: Sound Transit)

With the Sound Transit 3 program realignment continuing to evolve and adjust to new revenue projections, Sound Transit is evolving its realignment scenarios. Now is the time to get serious about prioritizing projects. I believe that Sound Transit’s Stride BRT lines are strong candidates for prioritization, and should be completed as soon as possible.

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News roundup: part 2 of 2

A @SoundTransit Link Train  Stretching Under Intl District Station Skylight

This is an open thread.

News roundup: part 1 of 2

816

This is an open thread.