Still No Final CID Plan

Various publications have summarized the March 23 decisions on the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extension (WSBLE): Publicola, Crosscut, NW Asian Weekly, and the Urbanist. Mike Lindblom even mentioned the single tunnel alternative in his Seattle Times ($) article. Most surprising were the late additions:

  • APPROVED: “North of CID” and “South of CID” (N/S) stations.
  • APPROVED: “4th Avenue Shallower” station alternative.
  • REJECTED: Keep Rainier Valley in DSTT1; move West Seattle to DSTT2.

The result of these is that the preferred alignment moves Midtown and CID stations south. Midtown is replaced by a “North of CID” station at the King County Administration building. CID is replaced by a “South of CID” station at 6 Ave S & Seattle Blvd S. A new alternative is added: “4th Avenue Shallower”, which is like another CID alternative at 4th & Jackson but less deep. This alternative would keep Midtown station at Madison Street. The rejected alternative would have reversed the spine split, keeping Rainier Valley in DSTT1 going to UW and Lynnwood. Ballard and West Seattle would be in DSTT2. In the current plan, Rainier Valley will be switched to Ballard when Ballard opens.

Continue reading “Still No Final CID Plan” | 257 comments

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.


A single downtown tunnel is completely possible and provides the best outcomes

In his recent article, Martin Pagel outlined why a single downtown tunnel is a win-win. I’ll emphasize mainly that transfers are crucial in a world where the suburb-to-downtown commute is no longer as common as it was. And transfers are a million times better when one only has to switch platforms in a tunnel than having to get out of a station, walk some distance, and get into another station.

But most importantly, using a single tunnel for the planned lines in ST3 is not a transit-nerd fantasy but completely feasible. Previous discussions on why a second downtown tunnel is needed have focused on capacity. According to Martin H. Duke’s 2015 interview with Marie Olson, Sound Transit’s Link Transportation Manager for Operations, the capacity of the existing tunnel should allow for 40 four-car trains per hour, or a headway of 90 seconds. Split between the three lines this results in 4.5 minute headways per line – significantly more capacity than needed for ST3 (planned 8-minute peak headways per line)! This particular interview points out that ventilation is not an issue either. Some work may still be required: ST3 project C-07: Transit Tunnel improvements enabling increases in system frequency estimates that approximately $20m will be needed to enable higher than 3-minute headways in the tunnel. That is negligible compared to the billions needed for a second tunnel.

It’s important to realize that this path — upgrades rather than completely new construction — is the path San Francisco took with the 2009 MUNI signaling upgrade. That’s an important regional precedent that cannot be dismissed as happening in vastly different conditions. MUNI achieved a 50% effective capacity increase for $104m, easily 20 times less than the cost of a new 3.5-mile tunnel. They went from 30 trains per hour to 45 trains per hour with a design capacity of 60 trains per hour. Yes, that is a system supporting 1-minute headways (!) for light rail trains. Not to mention that MUNI trains share the road with regular traffic for much of their route (like the First Hill and SLU streetcars) and arrive at the tunnel at irregular intervals, making their problem vastly more difficult than ours.

Sound Transit needs to make it their #1 alternative to leverage the existing downtown tunnel. Not just for better transfers and avoiding disruption in the CID, but because the time savings of constructing a very complicated downtown megaproject will allow for new lines and extensions to open sooner, and will help pay for any cost overruns. And if we are lucky, there may be funds available to enhance other projects.


A win-win for the CID dilemma: Stick with current tunnel

The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel bends towards the south under Pine St to Third Avenue after leaving Westlake Station. (Oran Viriyincy)

New proposals for a second tunnel would increase cost, but none provide a compelling rider experience. Let’s just improve our existing tunnel and use the savings to make up for lost time on other projects.

ST3 promised higher capacity transit through downtown by building a second tunnel with seamless transfers at Westlake and Chinatown/International District (CID), along with an additional Midtown station at 5th & Madison. But after looking into the details, the seamless transfers may not be achievable. The tunnel would be far more complex, time consuming and expensive to build than anticipated. It would also burden the CID, which has already seen a lot of construction-related disruption and loss of properties. Sound Transit abandoned the idea of a station on 5th Avenue South and proposed a shallower 4th Avenue South station. But this station would increase construction time and cost. Because of the additional burden to the neighborhood, there have been two recent guest editorials against it, in The Seattle Times and The Stranger. Sound Transit responded by proposing to combine the Midtown station with a North CID station close to Pioneer Square and/or a South CID station as an alternative. Unfortunately, neither station would provide easy access to the heart of the CID, nor to King Street station with Sounder, Amtrak, the streetcar, and many bus lines along Jackson Street, 2nd Avenue, and Yesler Way. Currently the 1 Line stops at 5 stations downtown (Stadium, CID, Pioneer Square, University Street, Westlake). This new line would now stop at only 2 or 3 stations, forcing a transfer at SODO which neither provides frequent service nor is well designed as a transit station, as Stephen Fesler pointed out. Residents are concerned it would break South Seattle apart when they are already suffering from frequent accidents and disruptions due to the at grade alignment.

While various alignments and station locations have been discussed, It is time to focus on an alternative which Sound Transit considered before they put the 2nd tunnel proposal before voters: to upgrade the existing tunnel to allow interlining of all lines through the existing tunnel. Capacity would increase, likely with better signaling systems and better ventilation. MUNI did this in 2010 and Frankfurt just started. This would avoid any disruption of the CID, be available much sooner, and be much better for riders. There are more stations in the existing tunnel, they are closer to the surface. Same direction transfers would be trivial. Reverse directions would be easy, and even easier if center platforms were added. The carbon footprint would be far lower (WSBLE is currently estimated to generate 3 million tons of carbon), and of course, this would be much cheaper.

Continue reading “A win-win for the CID dilemma: Stick with current tunnel” | 289 comments

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.


How I’d pivot ST3 post-Covid and mitigate the CID conundrum

In my last post a few weeks ago, I argued that Sound Transit is uniquely exposed to changes in regional commute trips caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, that it has yet to pivot the ST3 package of investments in a meaningful way (aside from the wrong-headed proposal to consolidate the Madison and CID stations), and that this pivot should occur sooner rather than later. I also presented some principles for what should guide this:

  • Respond to the new transit ridership market
  • Focus on frequent service, not commuter service
  • Less intense peak periods are an opportunity
  • Re-invest in existing assets that no longer match their need

In this post, I’d like to share some specific ideas of how ST3 projects could pivot guided by these principles. I understand there are political and maybe even some technical challenges to this proposal, but as I’ve looked back over my many years of writing on this site, I realize I haven’t spent enough time articulating the thing I think ought to happen. So here it is, for what it’s worth.

My goal is to deliver a regional high capacity transit system that results in a better system and more riders given changes caused by Covid-19. As I alluded to earlier, I also think some of these changes present better solutions to the construction impact and cost issues that the ST Board is currently debating for the West Seattle and Ballard Link project.

Continue reading “How I’d pivot ST3 post-Covid and mitigate the CID conundrum” | 53 comments

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.


Transit recovery will not be successful unless the operator deficit is fixed

Photo by Stephen Rees / Flickr

It’s fairly well-established at this point that bus driver shortages nationwide are hampering transit recovery efforts. The problem is particularly acute at Metro, which is currently short over 100 full-time operators. These impacts have bled downstream to affect a substantial number of riders, who often endure cancelled trips and gutted service with insufficient notice.

While I don’t have the inside scoop on how trips get canceled, the staffing deficit means that a slate of scheduled runs are left unpicked by drivers and that any additional call-outs have no extraboard (i.e., spare) operators to fill them. On the rider end, it basically appears that trips are getting indiscriminately canceled with no nod to headways. That’s why there are large gaping holes at some points in the day but not others. Unfortunately, planners and schedulers don’t have a real-time way to make service adjustments on the fly.

Even if not much can be done to fill service gaps, the lack of information is also a major point of irritation. Metro previously highlighted cancelled trips on their published web schedules but no longer does so. It’s possible that there was too much overhead to do this on a daily basis, although Sound Transit manages to continue this practice.

Not having readily available service information ultimately means that riders have to take an extra step of finding out about cancellations, whether through some GTFS-fed app, trip alerts, or the Trip Planner. In my own experience, however, even these sources sometimes conflict with each other.

On the hiring front, boosting pay and offering bonuses is a solution, albeit a partial one. However, significant compensation package changes often have to go to the King County Council, which is lined with its own bureaucracy. Even so, pay alone may not be sufficient incentive to draw in new operators. There are additional exogenous factors that further exacerbate driver morale, like substance abuse and homelessness, which impact perceptions of safety for both riders and operators.

Policies to tackle these issues head-on, like fare enforcement or driver intervention, are controversial and fraught with risk. Nonetheless, I’ve spoken to a number of former riders who no longer feel safe on transit so these points certainly warrant substantive discussion at the leadership level for both Metro and King County.

I’m cognizant of the fact that there are many complex issues at play here, but transit agencies are at serious risk of losing many long-time riders for good. Tackling these head on now will better help lay the foundation for recovery.


Comment Soon on the Lynnwood Link Bus Restructure

We have until this Friday, March 10th to comment on the Metro Bus Restructure for Lynnwood Link. I’ve written about the initial plan, made suggestions and explored ideas on the subject. Here are my recommendations, in order of priority:

  1. Run a bus on Lake City Way to make up for the loss of the 522. This is important from both a ridership and coverage standpoint. The simplest and cheapest way to do this is with a live loop through the Roosevelt neighborhood.
  2. Send the 348 to the UW, not Northgate. This eliminates the need for the 67, saving money. Riders lose their one-seat ride to Northgate, but gain a one-seat ride to the UW. The station at Roosevelt replaces Northgate for riders heading south.
  3. As a way to save money, eliminate the proposed 324 and cover the area between Kenmore and Bothell with an extension of the proposed 334.
  4. Extend the 72 to Shoreline Community College, and truncate the 333 there. This improves connectivity. This is also a more natural fit in terms of frequency, as the rest of the 333 is a coverage route (while the 72 is not).
  5. Straighten out routes to avoid long delays caused by turning.
  6. Avoid running infrequent routes that overlap or compete with frequent transit.
  7. Put the savings from the various cost saving changes mentioned above into better frequency, especially on east-west routes that run on the main transit corridors.
  8. Explore extending the 61 to 15th NW, with a live loop like so. The bus would then intersect every north-south bus north of the ship canal. This would be especially handy for trips to Ballard from Northgate and Lake City.

To visualize these changes. I came up with two maps, the first of which is oriented towards ridership:

While geared towards ridership, it actually provides better coverage in many places. From a baseline standpoint, most of the buses would run every fifteen minutes or better. The 75, 333, 334 and 336 would run every half hour. But since this has a lot less overlap, and a lot fewer turns, the buses could run a lot more often. East-west service (on buses like the 61, 72, 348, etc.) could be bumped up to 12 or 10 minutes. Some of the half-hour buses buses could run more often. For example, the 334 could run every 15 to 20 minutes to give Northwest Hospital more frequent service, while the 75 could be restored to its current service level (15 minutes).

The second map is geared towards coverage:

This is similar to the other map, but with a few changes. The 336 provides a lot of additional coverage. Service is restored in the Hillwood neighborhood (west of Aurora Village). The bus loops through the Briarcrest neighborhood, passing by a high school, middle school and several elementary schools. The 333 is extended to serve Four Freedoms House. Despite the extra coverage — more than the Metro proposal — it would still have better frequency, as there is less overlap and more efficient routing.


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.


Seattle Transportation Plan: How to achieve a 15min city with the help of ultra-high frequency transit

Seattle is currently soliciting input until the end of February for phase 2 of their Transportation Plan engagement efforts: – Seattle should strive to become a city of 15min neighborhoods and if necessary use ultra-high frequency transit such as urban gondola lines, people movers, funiculars or 3min BRT lines on dedicated lanes to bridge the gaps.

Continue reading “Seattle Transportation Plan: How to achieve a 15min city with the help of ultra-high frequency transit” | 220 comments

Cities can’t rely on employer RTOs to recover

Photo by author

Last week, Amazon announced a three-day return-to-office (RTO), sparking muted fanfare among the downtown business community but backlash from its workers. Starbucks announced a similar policy several weeks back and it remains to be seen what the long-term trend will be for major employers in our region.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the post-pandemic recovery of cities and transit. Pessimists are calling this the death knell of cities as we know it while optimists envision an opportunity to reinvent our whole concept of the city. The one thing obvious to both camps is that a complete return to the pre-pandemic state is a virtual impossibility.

A successful RTO by Amazon and other employers will undoubtedly provide a short-term boost to downtown life and transit ridership. But it would be foolish for cities to hang their hat on RTO mandates. Some companies will go back mostly in-person, some will stick to mostly remote, and the rest will be somewhere in-between. A hybrid world is our most likely future state.

The silver lining is that mass remote work was likely going to happen at some point so it’s not like this is some inconceivable future that no one thought of.  That said, planners would have been graced with a much longer time scale in a pandemic-free world. That benefit has evaporated with the system shock brought on by COVID.

If the pandemic made anything egregiously obvious, it’s that American cities were just built wrong. We often cast this indictment on the suburbs but it holds equally true for downtowns. The idea that we zoned the hearts of our cities to only accommodate a flood of workers within a 10-hour period each weekday seems comical now, but it’s a reality we have to contend with.

Moving forward, there are certainly practical questions, like the viability of converting office space to residential or rightsizing transit investments. But beyond the practicalities, it’s worth looking to our friends in Europe or Asia, where dispersed density has been the model of urbanism for hundreds of years. Even if downtowns will never be the same again, their loss is every other urban neighborhood’s potential gain.


Seattle Bus Restructure for Lynnwood Link

This is another in a series of posts about the bus restructure following the Lynnwood Link extension. This one is geared towards Seattle, although the maps include north King County as well. As before, they cover a number of themes. There is one additional theme worth mentioning:

  • Whenever possible, overlapping buses should increase frequency on worthy areas.

There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach. If timed, the routes can form a nice branching system, where the “trunk” has justifiably more frequency than the “branches”. However, timed branches tend to be “brittle”, in the sense that any change requires a similar change on each branch. For example, the 347 and 348 each run every half hour, but combine for 15 minute headways along a popular corridor. We can’t improve frequency on the 348 to 20 minutes without doing the same for the 347. Otherwise service would be worse for that shared section. In contrast, with enough buses along a common corridor, they can form a “spine“, where timing is not important. But you need lots of buses to get to that point.

Challenging Neighborhoods

There are several neighborhoods in northwest Seattle that are challenging to cover. The first is the Haller Lake neighborhood. Other than Northwest Hospital, this is a very low density area (for Seattle). The hospital is especially difficult to serve (it isn’t “on the way“). Northwest Hospital has surprisingly poor ridership, but that may change over time, given its expansion. I came up with at least a half-dozen ways of connecting it to the network, but none of them are particularly satisfying.

The Four Freedoms area, in contrast, has a lot more riders. My guess is there are plenty from the facility itself as well as surrounding apartment buildings. This particular part of town (close to Linden, between 125th and 145th) is one of the more densely populated north-end neighborhoods, and it continues to grow. The 65 will serve some of the riders, and a stop at Four Freedoms House would complement it nicely. However, detouring to the stop is just not worth it. It makes more sense to end a route there, if possible.

Finally, there is Broadview. It isn’t that far from Broadview to the 130th station, but I couldn’t find a combination that was worth it. Like Metro, I find it hard to justify service there, unless the city (or county) had better overall coverage.

Austere Proposal

As with the previous maps, you can make it full page (in its own window) by selecting the little rectangle in the corner. There are a lot more routes, so I put them in different “layers”, visible on the legend (to the left). Thus you can hide or display the unchanged routes or those that are the same as the Metro proposal. Selecting individual routes highlights them. Feel free to ask questions in the comments if you find it hard to understand (there are a lot of lines).

The baseline frequency for these routes is 15 minutes. The exceptions are the 333, 334 and 336, which would run every half hour. It is worth noting that the word “austere” is a bit misleading. This covers less of the city than the “robust” map (although more than the Metro proposal) but that doesn’t mean it is worse. It has fewer routes and the routes are faster. Thus for the same amount of money, many of these routes could run a lot more often. I would especially like to see better headways on the east-west routes (like the 44, 61, 62, 65, 72 or 348). I could see many of these routes running every 10 or 12 minutes.

Most of the routes are the same as the previous austere map (for north of Seattle). The exceptions are:

  • 76 — The simplest way to cover this part of Lake City Way.
  • 348 — Sent to the U-District instead of Northgate. This saves money, as there is no need for the 67, and the bus spends less time making turns. Riders lose their one seat ride to Northgate, but gain a one-seat ride to the UW. I expect riders on the main cross streets (185th, 145th, 130th) to take an east-west bus to a Link station (that is much faster to access than Northgate) while those in between those cross streets access Link via 185th or Roosevelt Station.

Robust Proposal

With the “robust” map, there are a couple additional modifications:

  • 46 — Northwest Hospital is still connected to Northgate, but via 5th Avenue NE, which means a faster connection from the hospital to Link.
  • 76 — Extended to Four Freedoms.

Several routes are combined for good headways along major corridors, while increasing coverage. The 65 and 76 combine for 7.5 minute headways along 125th/Roosevelt/130th corridor, similar to how the 344/346 and 348 combine along 185th.

Likewise, the 46 and 346 would run every half hour (opposite each other) for combined 15 minute headways along 5th Avenue NE. They would then combine with the 61 (running every 15 minutes) for 7.5 minute headways between 5th Avenue NE & Northgate Way to the station.

As with the previous proposal, there are a lot of options, and I would like to hear what people think in the comments.


News Roundup: Cars Running into Buildings

Following a Seattle Times article, the Seattle Bike Blog joins the discussion. (I think the buildings should wear more visible clothing, and stop talking on their phone.)

The Urbanist looks at Sound Transit adding retail to the stations.

There will be some late night work on the Link rails starting tonight. For a complete list of Sound Transit service alerts, check here.

Metro Transit looks to the future (Seattle Times article).

Streetsblog writes about the importance of transit to community colleges.

This is an open thread.


The case for Automated Light Metro Technology for Ballard and South Lake Union

Sept. 2020 rendering of 160 Street Station on the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain Extension. (TransLink)

ST3 passed enthusiastically in the Seattle region because voters were excited to get mobility improvements. However, Sound Transit has had trouble coming up with compelling designs to deliver on this promise. To address this problem, we should revisit some of the design assumptions.

Vancouver’s SkyTrain and Montreal’s REM took far less time to design and construct. We can learn from them and adopt automated train technology. If Sound Transit would interline trains in the existing tunnel and keep the Ballard to Westlake line separate, the new line could use different technology.

Continue reading “The case for Automated Light Metro Technology for Ballard and South Lake Union” | 249 comments