Weekend open thread: Our rail system expansion – Seattle Transit Blog

2022-05-14 20:27:31 By : Ms. Nancy Yang

The B1M, a channel for construction videos, features our system expansion.

This is an open thread.

I will continue to stand on this hill. Eliminate all fares. Make transit free. Help those that rely on transit, a means to use it without ant cost. Raise taxes on the Eastside, punish the elites for their unabated greed. And allow those facing economic hardships, free and untethered movement around the region. Give the houseless shelter and transportation at Link Stations. Provide harm reduction and safe drug use spaces at stations.

Why are buses/trains and stations the best place to shelter the unhoused and accommodate drug-taking? They’re less than 1% of the county’s land, so there are many, many other places we could use instead. Why concentrate them on buses/trains and stations in particular?

So should we open libraries, elementary schools, firehouses and rec centers to homeless too? Why should only transit facilities be open to the homeless?

The point being that public investments have specific functions. Turning any public facility to serve homeless overnight is giving it an additional function that can harm its original purpose.

This. I feel like Tom’s heart is in the right place (imo), but giving the homeless free reign of the transit system — even with massive investments in maintenance and sanitiation — would make the system less appealing to the lower/middle class who would otherwise drive to work. Even a well built system with stations properly situated with decent walksheds does no good if people are too disgusted or afraid to ride it.

What you propose, dear Tom, would be expensive as hell, probably politically impossible, and I expect lots of comments shooting you down, but you’re absolutely right.

Philosophically, if we want people to park their cars and ride transit, riding transit ought to be free, and driving a car ought to be expensive.

Doug, driving a car is already expensive. For one to register a vehicle within RTID, in my case a full-sized truck, I pay nearly $400. After taking a new job in another county within RTID, transit is no longer convenient for me. Transit to work is 2 hours with a 1.5 mile walk. Driving is 20 minutes. …and parking is free. My time is valuable, so commuting 4 hrs per day versus 40 minutes is just not worth it. …even with gas prices hovering at $5.00/gallon.

If transit is convenient, like on trips to meet friends in Downtown Seattle, I generally take the bus from one of two transit centers about 8 miles from my residence. If the buses and transit stations became even more hazardous with drug addicts and homeless, I’ll just drive and pay for protected parking.

My most recent trip to Seattle had me concerned with drugs being smoked on the bus and a few seats being wet from someone urinating on the bus. I’m not going to risk my personal safety.

I can’t believe this awful bike rack idea made it to the test stage


The basic problem with the bike rack idea is that it doesn’t scale. I’ve talked to people who have had to skip a bus because it didn’t have a rack available. It makes way more sense to build bike lockers, so riders can park their bike there safely. It makes even more sense to build a bike share system, so that riders can bike to transit, and then easily find a bike at the other end. Then you don’t have to worry about your bike getting stolen, and it is just a lot more convenient. This isn’t the only reason that a bike share system works well with transit. It also works well for occasional short distance trips at work. The user takes transit to work, and their bike for a short trip at lunch. They could take transit for that trip, but a bike is bound to be faster. It is really too bad that Seattle couldn’t build a decent bike share system. All they had to do is pay attention to the science, or just mimic cities with really good systems, but instead they started experimenting, and now we have crap (and scooters, which are also crap).

Sure, it could be better, but I think you’re maybe underselling the benefits of the current system. It’s really nice to be able to put your bike on the bus if you get caught in a downpour or get a flat or just need to get some place faster. If the bus is sufficiently frequent enough, waiting for the next one, which I’ve done many times, isn’t the end of the world.

Bike share is great and I wish we had a better system, but I still like having a couple racks on the front of the bus.

Our buses and bike lanes also assume only a tiny fraction of the population will use them. If we ever get transit use like in the days before cars or in New York, we’d need a lot more capacity. If bike usage were like the Netherlands or 1990s Beijng, we’d need to convert multiple car lanes to bicycle use. When I lived in the U-District the Burke-Gilman Trail got crowded peak hours and you had to slow down, and that’s with 80% of the surrounding population driving.

But my point is that it can only succeed if hardly anyone uses it. If five bikers want to escape that downpour, you are out of luck. The range of success is ridiculously small. If no one uses it, you’ve wasted your time. If a bunch of people use it, then it won’t work. That’s just not a good system.

In contrast, both bike share and regular transit scale really well. The more people that use it, the more cost effective it becomes. Likewise, bikes on big trains are OK, as long as you have the space. They are relatively common for commuter rail, since the trains can be very long. On mass transit systems they are often allowed outside of rush hour (when there is less crowding, and thus excess space on the trains). Another common solution is just to get a foldable bike. These take up a lot less room than a regular bike.

I think asdf2 actually did take his bike across the Evergreen Bridge sometimes. It would suck to ride your bike down to the Montlake freeway station or the UW Station bus stop and find the bus bike racks full, and then having to wait half an hour only for it to happen again, or turn around and go another day.

Bikeshare is more scalable than bikes on buses when you have a lot of people riding in a relatively small area. But, it never cover an area as geographically broad as the transit system. I have used bike on bus to go to places like the tulip festival, far away from where any bikeshare is likely to operate in the foreseeable future.

No, bikes on buses do not replace bikeshare in the urban core. But, bikeshare in the urban core does not replace bikes on buses at the outer edges of the transit system either. We need both.

I have put my bike on a bus 100s of times. I can count on one hand the number of times all 3 racks have been full. A certain number of people fit on a bus. A certain percentage of those want to bring their bike along. It’s rarely a problem. Don’t create a problem that doesn’t exist.

I do think there needs to be more secure bike storage on- demand.

Yes, but as RossB said, anytime you make a trip that involves putting a bike on a bus, the only reason it’s possible at all is because nobody else is doing it.

Bike rack capacity also effectively limits trips that involve bikes on buses to individuals traveling alone – with a group of three or even two, it’s very risky. With a group of 4, it’s not even possible at all, even if you’re the only people on the bus.

There have been times, for example, when I’ve wanted to organize a group ride that involved putting a bike on a bus, but never did it because of limited rack space.

That’s not to say bike racks on buses serve no purpose. There are many exurban neighborhoods where putting a bike on an ST express bus and riding it a few miles at the end is the *only* non-driving way to get there at all in anything resembling a reasonable travel time. Even the local routes in the middle of the city, the racks come in handy if your bike ever breaks down mid-ride and you have to get to a repair shop. For instance, I once put my bike on the rack of the 249 because I had a flat tire and riding the bus to a repair shop was easier than changing a tube on the side of the road.

I think it’s important that bike racks on buses exist, but their role in the transit system is really about coverage (either roadside assistance for bikes, or using the bike for last mile access out in the boonies), not ridership, and any trip made by more than a tiny number of people usually needs to be done some other way.

I would have thought as soon as someone suggested bike racks on the backs of buses, the idea would have been shot down immediately. No need to build a prototype. It’s a tragic accident waiting to happen.

Why can’t reduced fare, or free fare permits work for those who need them?

It can, but free fares simplifies the process. To get a discounted fare, you need to show that you need it. Sometimes this requires paperwork. Other times it means getting in contact with the social worker who is handling your case. In both instances people can drop the ball, and someone who is in need doesn’t get the vital service they need (which is dependent on transportation most of us take for granted).

I wouldn’t go as far as saying *all* transit should be free, but I am increasingly of the opinion that *more* transit should be free. There are a lot of agencies that spend a lot of money dealing with fares, while making relatively little in the process. Moving to a system that doesn’t have fares could work out well, as long they find alternative revenue somewhere.

A treasure trove of pictures from the construction of the DSTT

Amazing. This one in particular is a real gem: https://kcarchivesblog.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/a14-055-1468_r137-2.jpg

That is a really cool picture. I wonder if the guy drove a van with a mural on the side.

I was lucky enough to get a walking tour of Pioneer Square Station about a year or 2 before it was conplete. Our neighbor worked for Metro and either signed us up for it or brought us aling. I don’t remember. The part I do remember was the rebar like infostructure that eventually made the dome shape of the station. It was bare and with no accoustic square tiles like it eventually got. We could not go to the platform level. It was still dirt.

Well, this is a weird video. It seemed like a giant infomercial. Rather than product placement in the middle of a video, this had subject placement surrounding a product. Most of the information could be gathered by doing a cursory reading of Wikipedia. Much of the information was repeated, like a reality show. One of the segments I did like though (shown twice) was the little zoomed out view of the expanded network. My guess is most of the people unfamiliar with the city don’t get how big this really is. They drive home the main point by mentioning that it will be as big as DC or Chicago (some of the biggest systems in the world). What they didn’t explain is that unlike those other systems (and almost every system in the world) very little of it will be in the city. You have to understand that diagram, and what it meant. Huge sums of money are going to be spent building one of the biggest metros in the world, but most of it will have little ridership, while buses will continue to do the bulk of the work in the city.

They mention the floating bridge, which makes sense if your focus is on the engineering aspect of this. But that is ST2, not ST3. They also imply that the federal infrastructure bill had something do with this (it doesn’t). They mention that some of our projects came in early and under budget, but failed to mention the ones that were over budget.

It all reads (or rather views) like a history essay written by a kid that didn’t study very well. They remember some things, so they mention them, but they really didn’t get the timeline right, and their conclusions are questionable. I get why they mention some of the costs of U. S. transit infrastructure, and the backlog of worthy projects. But to try and tie that together with ST3, and then make the case that we should be a model for the rest of the country is ridiculous. We know that many of the things we are doing are going to have poor results. We know that they will fail to live up to the goals and aspirations mentioned in the video (“low cost” or “standards to get the most out of transit projects”). The idea that “Sound Transit gives Seattle a chance to rethink the way we build transport” and “set an example for other cities across America” is ridiculous. We aren’t being innovative, nor are we following best practices. We are simply making every mistake that every American city has ever done when it comes to building a metro (and then some).

Eliminating transit fares would be a nice tax cut for businesses that subsidize employee transit fares, especially after the 2017 tax reform eliminated the business deduction for employee transit fares.

However I think it is naive to think the “rich people” will make up the lost farebox revenue. Metro’s operating budget assumes 20% farebox recovery and ST assumes 40%. Therefore I think is is realistic to expect eliminating transit fares would reduce coverage and frequency on transit 20% and 40% respectively. I know some on this blog believe coverage and frequency “induce” transit ridership so I assume a 20% and 40% reduction in coverage and frequency would reduce ridership equally.

I also think free transit fares would affect subareas differently, and would reflect those subareas. If transit fares were free in downtown Seattle, and stations allowed to become de facto no barrier homeless camps, many work commuters would refuse to ride in that zone, not unlike Metro’s experiment with a free ride zone in downtown Seattle.

At that point downtown businesses could opt for private shuttles, subsidized parking (especially with hybrid workers), WFH, or moving to the Eastside, probably not what Harrell is hoping for.

Finally is the reaction of different subareas. Some subareas — certainly the Eastside — are concerned that lax fare enforcement on transit will transfer Seattle’s crime and homeless problem to the Eastside (not unlike King Co.’s distressed hotel program that is so controversial on the Eastside and other areas in King Co..

At that point my guess is there would be a push to terminate East Link trains on the Eastside, and skip Seattle, especially since virtually no eastsiders will take East Link into a fare free zone in downtown Seattle with underground stations that are lawless homeless camps (especially since eastsiders don’t take transit to downtown Seattle today).

The Eastside subarea paid 100% of East Link. Its benefit will be marginal, and not worth having Eastside stations turn into homeless camps, when no eastsiders will take east Link to Seattle in that situation. So better to simply stop running East Link into Seattle, and if necessary run one seat buses from Eastside park and rides to Seattle like Lake City Way, which I think will happen anyway if the Eastside work commuter to Seattle returns.

Yes Seattle will lose the additional frequency East Link trains will provide — for free — but I doubt many eastsiders will shed a tear, and my guess is ridership with free fares will plummet so frequency can accommodate deep cuts in frequency.

I have to imagine SnoCo and S. King Co. would also have concerns with taking Link into downtown Seattle if the underground stations are filled with homeless tents, drugs, and crime.

“de facto no barrier homeless camps” “crime and homeless problem” “lawless homeless camps” “homeless camps” “homeless tents, drugs, and crime”

You can’t go two paragraphs without breaking down into the tired rhetoric.

“(especially since eastsiders don’t take transit to downtown Seattle today).”

So all the people on the 550 and 554 are headed to Mercer Island?

When they did the monorail study a few years ago, they studied an infill station at 5th and Bell. However, the study noted it would add 4-6 minutes to trip times so it shouldn’t be built until Seattle Center gets light rail or it will take away from transit capacity to empty out Seattle Center after events like hockey games. My question: couldn’t we build the monorail infill station earlier and just have express service from Seattle Center -> Westlake (Skipping Bell) for the period of time after events/games end?

Why would a monorail station add 4-5 minutes when a Link station adds 20 seconds? It sounds like a spurious reason, or they’re assuming half the train will get on and off at Bell. That’s spurious too because the crowds are at Seattle Center and Westlake, not Bell.

I don’t know, it says 4-6 minutes extra round trip, so perhaps they are considering the total extra time that will impact ability to get back and forth to pick up new riders. Still that’s only 2-3 minutes extra one way. I wonder if it’s related to acceleration from the stop?

Link gets from Intl Dist to Westlake in 2 minutes in the evening, in spite of stopping at two stations along the way.

I agree, Mike, even if you count the values as round trip that seems way off. The distances are short (and the monorail top speed isn’t that much) so the time spent slowing down and speeding up should be less than 30 seconds. The dwell time shouldn’t be that long. If it is, then that is the issue that needs to be addressed (at all the stations). There is no reason the train should stop for two minutes at a station. At most the dwell time should be thirty seconds (making the total time penalty around a minute one direction, or two minutes round trip).

The city needs to start treating the monorail like real transit, instead of an amusement ride. It took a lot of effort to just get them to accept an ORCA card. If you go on the website, it is hard to find a schedule, but they do tell you their hours. It took some time before I found a notice that they run every ten minutes, except when there is an event, when they run five. A transit service should not list their schedule that way. It should list how long it takes to get from one end to the other, and how often it runs (for each time period).

My guess would be that since the Westlake terminous is not a true double track station, it adds time and complications to any station added. Even after modernization, the Monorail does not have Link technology. It might not have anything to do with station dwell time. If the original Westlake Park terminous was still around the time estimate would be smaller. That was a true 2 track terminal.

But I have recorded Link dwell times at night. And even when nobody is getting on, the doors could be open for as little as 30 seconds to as much as 1.5 minutes. I thought it was to slow down for station schedules. But I have still arrived as late as 2 minutes. Not much, but for no apparent reason.

In the Rainier valley, it could be caused by signals. If the light up ahead is red anywhere, there’s no point in rushing to close the doors.

Link times between IDS and Westlake are scheduled at 5 minutes. If there are crowds, the real time is closer to 6 or 7. During sports events, who knows. I have never seen 2 minutes between 4 stations.

“I have never seen 2 minutes between 4 stations.”

I found it hard to believe when I first timed it with my stopwatch, but I kept getting that time repeatedly. I’m timing from leaving Intl Dist to arriving or leaving Westlake (I forget which). It only happens during low usage periods like after 8:30pm.

Actually, in order to serve Bell when an event lets out, they’d have to reserve some empty space at the ends, otherwise the Bell riders wouldn’t be able to get on. At the end of a large event there’s a few trainfulls of riders standing in line.

Which is why it is reasonable to just follow Cole’s suggestion, and skip the station during those times. This could be part of the schedule. Riders would see that during certain periods, trips one direction (e. g. from the Seattle Center to Westlake) operate in express mode (skipping Belltown).

In any event, the argument that we should wait until Ballard Link is ridiculous. If we can get decent ridership, we should add the stop. When the latest contract is over, Seattle should just hand operations back to Metro. They know how to run a transit system. Seattle can then coordinate to enhance the thing (e. g. improve throughput, boarding times, and maybe add the extra station).

Why is one of the two elevators at UW Husky station still not operating? It’s been cordoned off for more than six weeks, maybe longer, and there are no signs of any work whatsoever.

Being limited to a single working elevator destroys and time savings versus using the long slow escalators and ensures a long transfer penalty between buses and trains at UW. It’s also proof that ST can’t be expected to properly maintain operating vertical conveyances at deep stations. Simply no excuse to have one of two elevators shut down for six or eight weeks without explanation or progress.

You’d have to ask ST; we don’t know. Most likely it’s waiting for parts. The DSTT escalators were out for years because of lack of money to replace them, but ST doesn’t have that excuse with the UW elevators. I think it has the vendors always on standby for the UW elevators and escalators, and it doesn’t seem like the general personnel shortage would affect that little 2-person operation.

One elevator outage sounds like a small problem compared to what I endured for years at UW Station when it opened. At least three days a week there was at least one escalator outage blocking my path, and to a lesser extent an elevator outage. Often it was a different escalator in the afternoon than it was in the morning, sometimes at the opposite entrance. So you never knew until you arrived which entrance would be open, which escalators were running, which escalator was blocked, or which escalator was stopped but still open. Sometimes three escalators were blocked simultaneously. There was always a path down or up somewhere, but sometimes you had to walk to the opposite entrance.

In the late 2010s ST replaced the escalators with heavy-duty ones, and they’ve been working a lot better ever since. If one elevator is now out for weeks, that sounds like the situation that happens or used to happen at SeaTac or Mt Baker a lot.

“Ride the wave — but not the vertical conveyances” should be their new tag line.

In all seriousness, it’s a systematic problem that ST first skimps on planning and building vertical conveyances — and then they don’t seem to care when the few ones they do have are out of service.

Meanwhile, many subways around the world have three escalators for redundancy and we are lucky to get two, after building several multi-billion dollar projects.

But ST seems to believe that they never can admit to the public that they ever do anything wrong. Rather than prepare grants to add conveyances, they paid for a year-long study that recommended removing some instead!

Nothing will change until enough daring elected officials blow up this mindset. It’s particularly noteworthy how our most “socialist” elected officials won’t publicly touch this structural dystopia.

ST is designing more redundancy in than it used to. At UW it built a passage between the north and south lower mezzanies, and at both UW and Capitol Hill it converted emergency stairs into regular stairs. In new stations it’s generally adding more redundancy than earlier stations had.

“Rather than prepare grants to add conveyances, they paid for a year-long study that recommended removing some instead!”

That seems to be a different issue, if you’re talking about replacing some of the Lynnwood Link down escalators with stairs. That was to save money and compensate for the rising cost of land acquisition. I agree it shouldn’t be done, but there’s disagreement in the industry on whether one-story down escalators are important or necessary or a waste of money. So it was an easy target, and ST could point to budget shortfalls. That’s not really the same issue as whether there’s a second elevator or escalator in case one breaks down, or a long line at elevator-only stations if there aren’t enough of them.

I was referring to this study:


“At UW, Sound Transit will replace two down escalators to the lowest level with permanent stairs by 2022.“

The core logic problem goes back to design choices. Not only is the Lynnwood example a last-minute undebated choice, ST never even offered the cities the chance to keep them using municipal funding.

More prominently ST did not even defer the escalators, choosing to revise the design to make it virtually impossible to add them back in the future.

Finally, saving a few million after spending several billion is terribly short sighted. It goes with the mindset that stations are more monuments for pretty pictures rather than usability.

I was in Berlin last week and generally having both up and down escalators is uncommon outside of some transfer points for s-bahn and u-bahn and newer or renovated u-bahn stations. Generally most stations for metro systems that I’ve used in my experience that lack this feature (like Paris) aren’t too bad in my opinion as the stations are generally shallow like two floors of stairs and I find the only time this becomes an issue is when schlepping luggage like a large suitcase. Tho I will say, that it can be annoying at the same time when they’re built wide enough for escalators to be installed.

The Times has an article about what Seattle was like in 1962 during the World’s Fair. It mentions the passenger railroads then:

“Seattle was served by the Great Northern’s Empire Builder and Western Star, and the Northern Pacific’s Mainstreeter and North Coast Limited — all going to Chicago where they connected with a still-expansive national rail network. Union Pacific operated passenger trains north from Portland (along with Great Northern and Northern Pacific). Great Northern’s Internationals connected Seattle to Vancouver, B.C.”

Where is Burlington Northern or BNSF? Didn’t it operate in the northwest before then? How did the Seattle-Portland route switch from Union Pacific to BNSF, when Union Pacific still has freight in that corridor, and something must have been on the BNSF track.

And is the town of Burlington in Skagit County named after Burlington Northern or vice-versa, or is it a coincidence?

The Times has another good article on “the race” to save affordable rental housing in South Seattle as apartment buildings are being listed for sale and likely redevelopment.

The problem isn’t redevelopment, it is simply that the (new) landlord is raising rents. How can the new landlord raise rents, without making any improvements? There is a lack of housing in the area. Why is there a lack of housing in the area? The city prohibits the development of apartments on the vast majority of land, creating a housing shortage. Small houses are converted to big houses, but houses aren’t converted to apartments. Even where there are empty lots they build houses instead of apartments — because that is all that is legally allowed.

So the tenant is dependent on the generosity of the landlord. The new landlord (not being generous) has no competition, so they jack up the rent.

From the article (https://www.seattletimes.com/business/real-estate/as-south-seattle-gentrifies-the-race-is-on-to-save-an-affordable-apartment-building/?amp=1):

IT’S A STORY that has played out time and again as Seattle has grown and gentrified.

An apartment building with moderate rents goes up for sale, a new owner raises the rent and current tenants are forced to look for somewhere cheaper, often farther from their work or family. New tenants able to pay the higher rents move in.

Gentrification and new development are definitely part of the problem. The article notes the “affordable” rent —. $1820/month for a three bedroom — was due to a combination of a benevolent owner and the fact this area had not yet seen the gentrification and redevelopment adjacent neighborhoods have.. The article also states the loss of around 10,000 affordable units in Seattle is due to gentrification and redevelopment. The housing did not go away: it just got more expensive. In fact in many cases the new development had more units than the housing it replaced.

Is there anything that can be done to mitigate the effects of gentrification and redevelopment in a city with high incomes? I don’t know, except some kind of public subsidy or like in the article a beneficial non-profit.

I suppose you could zone more units — which is the point of UGA’s because of transit access and the (quasi) ability to live without a car (part of affordability) — but the realties are: 1. Every property owner usually wants the highest rent/ROI as possible; 2. New construction is the least affordable per sf; 3. The affordability begins with the cost of the land (which is why I predicted long ago the RV would go through the same gentrification the CD did because the game is buy low and sell high; and 4. Unless you greatly change the regulatory limits in a zone you really don’t create much new, additional housing when measuring bedrooms. Maybe more legal dwellings, each with their own kitchen and bath and entrance, but not more livable GFA.

History and other cities would suggest there is no solution, except perhaps rent control. . I don’t think the fact 20% of all current house sales are to investors, and over 50% of Seattle properties are owned by investors, helps.

Housing prices are rising throughout the Puget Sound area and beyond. It’s not one neighborhood or because of more development, it’s a housing shortage everywhere. If developers stopped building, prices would continue to rise at the existing buildings, faster than they would otherwise. So we’ll lose the affordable apartments either way. One way leads to more total housing, more choices for renters/buyers, and less competition for each unit. The other way leads to the population increase overwhelming the housing supply.

Can I get a cite that “20% of all current house sales are to investors”? Every single house that has sold in my neighborhood has been to a family. It’d be surprising if we were an outlier for some reason.


That’s homes, not houses. Not synonyms.

I’m not sure if you are kidding about this or not, but the Burlington Northern Railroad didn’t exist in 1962. It was formed in about 1970 with the merger of the Great Northern, Northern Pacific, Spokane Portland and Seattle, and Burlington and Quincy Railroads.

The “Burlington” in BN and in BNSF comes from the Burlington and Quincy Railroad, which was a midwestern railroad.

And no mention of the Milwakee Road passenger service? Strange.

Sprint, the former telecommunications company, got its name from the Southern Pacific railroad. Southern Pacific Railroad Internal Networking Telephony.

What. Mike, NSF is the product of the mergers first of the Northern Pacific, Great Northern and Chicago, Burlington and Quincy (towns in Illinois) into Burlington Northern, with the later merger with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe into BNSF.

And, “No”, Burlington Washington has nothing to do with the CB&Q railroad.

The Seattle-Portland trackage was built by the Northern Pacific. UP and GN operated over it using trackage rights, GN all the way from Seattle and UP from Tacoma as they do today.

Steve, the terms homes and houses are used interchangeably in this context.

However what you are seeing in your neighborhood reflects a current trend in Seattle in which landlords are selling their rental SFH to people who plan to live there, reducing the supply of rental SFH, something most SFH zone owners like.

The pandemic, WFH, aging Millennials, Covid eviction restrictions, taxes, restrictions on tenant vetting, and high housing prices many think have peaked in Seattle compared to other areas, all encourage Seattle SFH rental owners to take their profit now.

No, they are not used interchangeably. It’s helpful to be explicit about what you are and are not including, and your cite doesn’t even try to do so. ‘Homes’ generally includes anywhere that people live (other than institutional or congregate settings), including apartments. ‘Houses’ never includes apartments or condos, but may or may not include condos, depending on the speaker. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that a large percentage of ‘homes’ are owned by corporations, but ‘houses’ would be a huge surprise.

And no, what I’m seeing my neighborhood is owner-occupied homes being sold, and remaining owner-occupied homes.


I’m getting something like 20-30 calls and texts a month wanting to buy my place in SE Portland, and I don’t even live in that desirable an area. The one time I did talk to one of these places, it was obviously a call center overseas somewhere.

They also offered me about half the market value.

It seems to me, based on this limited experience, large investors certainly are buying up large number of houses, or at least trying to, and if their high pressure buying tactics work on enough people to sell well below market rate, it also has the effect of lowering overall values because they are paying so much less than owner-occupiers. Basically it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

However, these people aren’t doing this to lose money. All the stuff they say on the phone about how terrorists are taking over cities and people should sell before doomsday comes and prices are even lower is evidence of high pressure tactics. They wouldn’t be buying all these houses if they expected doomsday to come and keep property values low in cities.

Thank you for providing a cite. I’m not familiar with toptal, and they seem like a talent/staffing firm, but assuming it’s true, that’s a crazy number.

For this conversation about fares, I will say that going free is in my opinion is not the solution to fix the problem of both ridership and fare equity. It’s not really free as someone has to foot the bill through taxes and it creates other problems like encouraging slow down of buses and creates disparity in service. Are there places thar have made free transit successful, sure like Island Transit, Denver’s Free Mall Ride, or Tallinn, Estonia. But they’ve had to do things to make it work. Island Transit runs on less frequent service, Free Mall Ride is covered by Transit fares elsewhere in the system, or Tallinn makes it free for residents but everyone else has to pay. What I think could help in my opinion is well stop fussing with this fare enforcement police/ambassadors/etc at this point and just install fare gates, at least then people might stop fighting over what to do about fare evasion. It’d cost some money, but I’m on some level just done with this debate between people in the Seattle Metro. The other thing I do see helping is revamping Seattle Metro fares across all agencies and introducing Transit pass subscriptions and annual passes to the region. I’ve seen this in my time traveling around Europe this last 9 months. And it’s generally a good way to encourage transit usage for people who use it frequently enough. Though I’d also like to see tax breaks for companies who pay for public transit passes for commuting.

The counter argument: https://seattletransitblog.com/2022/04/26/eliminating-cash-fares/#comment-893471.

I should add that your examples are interesting, but you forgot Luxembourg, where are there are no fares for anyone (including tourists).

What I think could help in my opinion is well stop fussing with this fare enforcement police/ambassadors/etc at this point and just install fare gates, at least then people might stop fighting over what to do about fare evasion.

A common suggestion, but that has nothing to do with Metro. I get why people conflate things, but Sound Transit really is a different beast. Metro gets a lot less of its money from fares, and is a lot more spread out (i .e. way more stops). The subject of free fares came up as folks were talking about Metro going to cash-free fares. Basically, the idea is to skip over that step, and just go with free fares. This has many of the same advantages, and then some.

As for fare gates on Link, that would be extremely expensive. Many of the stations would have to be completely overhauled. You could shift security from the trains to the stations, but then the system overall is less secure. You probably want to just increase security at the stations (to look for gate jumpers) while retaining security on the trains. That means you have hired a bunch more people, while you are busy trying to maintain all of these gates (ST can’t seem to keep their escalators running — what makes you think the gates will be more reliable?). Where will all this money to pay for all of this come from?

Meanwhile, you still have to deal with people who refuse to pay. I’m afraid you won’t escape the argument that bothers you so much.

I agree with Zachary B.

AS For Luxembourg, here’s a bit more info from the BBC –

“What’s not to like? Luxembourg has a terrible traffic problem. Major roads are snarled up in the rush-hour, buses are old-fashioned and the rail system is notorious for its delays.

Diesel and petrol costs are cheap in Luxembourg, compared with its neighbours, so not only do many commuters from neighbouring countries drive to work. but “fuel tourists” cross the border to fill their tanks.

The free public transport will not really deal with the car problem, according to Prof Hesse, because Luxembourg has “high salaries and low petrol prices so people buy cars”.

Many of those commuting from neighbouring countries live in areas without decent public transport so he believes they will continue to drive. Luxembourgers who currently cycle may now get off their bikes to enjoy the free travel too.”

FYI: I wrote a new Page 2 post and would definitely like folks opinions on my ideas.

I am assuming you are responding to my Page 2 post. It is best if you comment there. Anyway, to answer your question, it isn’t. It is merged with the 49 (if you click on the 49 it mentions this — it is also mentioned in the text).

The video is interesting. Nothing really new. But they squeezed in a commercial for their own product while talking about transit.

The person who uploads the B1M videos did have an interesting Zoom session where he interviewed someone at ST and a local transit planning advisor (I think an academic), as well as fielding live chat questions. I’d like to upload the link to the archived session, but I’m not sure if that’s allowed by Zoom; let me know if it’s OK for me to commit cyber civil disobedience here.

One thing that surprised a number of the attendees was how local law requires a 60 percent vote to approve tax/transit actions. And as one of the interviewees said, “You can’t get 60 percent of the people to vote that the sky is blue”, so that causes more headaches for ST. Someone overseas I chatted with online suggested that American transit authorities should use eminent domain more aggressively to push through transit plans like more bus or train lines, but I think the threat of lawsuits here discourages that.

BTW, that infomercial in the middle of the video is surprising. The channel almost never mentions sponsors in the videos, and saves the “like, subscribe, comment” pleas at the end. He must have gotten a deal he couldn’t refuse from the software company.

I had an experience the other day that reminded me of the value of consolidation. Until a corridor is very frequent, running a bus on a nearby corridor is a bad idea.

I walked by this bus stop here: https://goo.gl/maps/PBmxamar88mcfZH58, in the middle of the day. There were three people standing there. It is quite likely that at least one of them was heading to the U-District, or someplace Link goes to. As I walked by the stop, I spotted a 20. The 20 does go to the U-District and makes a connection to Link. As I saw it, I wondered if anyone was going to try and catch it. Then I realized that would be futile. You could sprint, but you probably wouldn’t make it. The 20 was useless to them, simply because Metro put the routes on different streets — in some cases literally a short block away from each other. This gains very little coverage, while reducing frequency dramatically.

Whenever possible, we should avoid this. Coverage routes should dramatically increase coverage (i. e. be significantly far away from other routes) or be close to very frequent routes. I don’t mind buses running on 2nd or 4th, because of the steady stream of buses on 3rd. There are exceptions, of course (hills matter) but the less frequent the buses are, the more they should run on the same street.

directions on the UW Hockey website about how to get to games. Interesting that they don’t mention LINK at all, despite Northgate being only two stations up the line from the U-District.

It seems shortsighted to say the least. At best it’s an endorsement of car-culture.

Don’t UW students still get transit passes? =============

All home games are played at: Kraken Community Iceplex 10601 5th Ave NE, Seattle, WA

Direction from the University of Washington, downtown Seattle, or the airport:

Take the I-5 North heading towards Vancouver, BC Take exit 173 toward Northgate Way / 1st Ave NE Use the left 2 lanes to turn left onto 1st Ave NE Turn right onto NE Northgate Way Turn right onto 5th Ave NE Kraken Community Iceplex is on your right

Yeah that’s a really stupid thing to omit.

Consider that it’s faster to walk from Suzzallo Library to U-District Station and take Link (under 15 minutes + short train wait especially after 2 Line opens) than it is to schlep to a parking garage and drive it (probably 25-30 minutes).

I forgot to add the link:


The walk from Northgate Station to the Iceplex is incredibly unfriendly to pedestrians. I have a hard time imaging carrying a bulky hockey gear bag (which usually don’t have wheels) more than a few hundred yards, much less the ~1/2 mile from the station to the Iceplex through some still-significant construction zones.

Become a goalie, teams will pay for the limo ride.

Spectators aren’t carrying bulky hockey gear.

Hey Daniel Thompson, the Eastside sucks and all those people buying $2M+ tract homes in unwalkable subdivisions next to stripmalls in the Eastside might feel like you a sense of superiority to us Seattleites, but deep down they know they basically live in the equivalent of a Columbus OH suburb and all the charm attached to that.

Comparing a Sammamish or Issaquah to a Dublin, OH is a pretty good comp, if you completely ignore the disparity in topography & climate. I suspect you meant the comparison as an insult, but I think you underestimate the wealth and amenities in Columbus, a dynamic city & metro and a magnet for young, high skilled workers.

I lived the first 12 years of my life in Seattle. Then from age 18 to 33 with a few years in Europe in between.

I lived in in lower Capitol Hill, a frat on 17th, a basement apartment on 52nd and 11th, an apartment on Broadway with an old girlfriend, sharedva SFH with four others on Meridian and 50th, houseboat on SLU, townhouse on lower Queen Anne, duplex on Ravenna, and apartment in Post Alley with my wife to be. And I have worked five days/week in Pioneer Square since 1990.

How long have you lived in Seattle, and where?

In your post are you talking about Washington Park, Madison Park, Laurelhurst, Windermere, The Highlands, Blue Ridge, Perkins Lane, Admiral Drive?

In the past the Eastside was a choice made for you. Wife, kids, schools, public safety…the usual as you become a man. Unfortunately Seattle has lost the work commuter and Millennial (with enough money to move to the Eastside) and so as you note Eastside housing values —especially SFH — have skyrocketed, but I truly hope Seattle gets its mojo back it had long before you arrived.

So again Westsider, when did you move here and where do you live if you are going to cast stones.

I had the opportunity to rent a warehouse style apartment near the Spaghetti Factory in 1993. I chose not to. I kind of blew it. I am pretty sure the building isn’t even there anymore. It would have been cool to say I lived downtown, even if only for a short while.

I hope Seattle gets its mojo back, too. That has nothing to do with Westsider moving in, though, and rather lingering effects from the pandemic and an utter inability to plan and build for the growth we’ve experienced, especially over the past 15 years. I’ve only been here since 1998, though, so what do I know?

Columbus does have some quaint suburban areas like Bexley, Upper Arlington, Delaware and Worthington..

Other than events at outdoor spaces like Marymoor Park, and (until recent departures) to visit friends, I cannot think of a single reason to visit the Eastside. Until recently, more affordable housing could be found there, but even now all you get is your own white-picketed (or, horizontal-board-fenced as the fashion is today) pastoral facsimile for one or two million bucks. Maybe the real value is in the ability to escape from the visible evidence of a society hamstrung by its elites into systemically defunding itself every year during which inflation outpaces the 1% property tax increase allowed by law. If only burying your head in the sand made the problems go away.

Nathan, if you visited the Eastside you would make a startling discovery: the residents are much like you, with a wide range of ethnicities, languages, zones, and income ranges.

People trying to make a living, raise a family, and based on campaign donations and elected officials like the 41st district (my district) mostly very liberal. I have previously posted Mercer Islanders donated 8 to 1 for Biden over Trump, although they tend to be swing voters and I doubt such a margin in 2022 and 2024. I don’t think inflation is a good issue for progressives to raise however. The culture wars don’t help either because there are too many ethnicities today. Defund the police is not a good campaign platform, even in Seattle.

It is when we don’t take the time to meet and understand others we tend to caricature and demonize them. Do you really think you are morally superior to all the folks living in Crossroads in your SFH in Ballard. To them you appear very white and privileged with your perfect English.

When it comes to transit the issues on the Eastside are the usual: geography, topography, lack of density, first/last mile access, and kids. No one would look at the route of East Link and claim that is “equity”. Mercer Island, Wilburton, The Spring District, Microsoft, Redmond, and later Issaquah. How will East Link improve their lives at $4 one way?

I don’t get to Ballard much now that my brother-in-law and his wife sold their house along the cut but when I did I enjoyed it, although we mostly ate and drank in Old Ballard. Ballard is just very hard to get to, and other than nice neighborhoods doesn’t offer anything many other easier to access areas have.

Seattle’s crown jewel is its residential neighborhoods, but its cash engine is its downtown. If progressives want other people to pay for things like free transit you need to raise the tax revenue from “other people” and the best way to do that is get more people downtown.

One of my favorite sayings is without the tax revenue we are all conservatives.

Maybe the demographics of the Eastside are startling to you, but they’re certainly not startling to me. I have no idea what your treatise on those demographics has to do with my retort to your insinuation that my lack of visitation of the Eastside somehow invalidates my understanding of the geography and amenities. As mentioned, I used to visit the Eastside frequently when I had friends living in Kirkland and south Bellevue, but since they have moved (out of state to Bend, OR, and in with their significant other in West Seattle, respectively) I have little reason to cross Lake Washington. I know quite well how privileged I am relative to many other people, but at least I know when to shut up when they’re talking, and when to tell folks who are more privileged than me (like you) to shut up, too. Do you think folks less privileged than us are buying those $1M+ houses on the Eastside?

In regards to morals: I think it’s moral to expect certain amount of noblesse oblige from the wealthy, and I think it’s immoral for the wealthy to expect any sense of moral superiority if they meet that expectation.

As always, I pity your adherence to midcentury thought regarding urban development and transportation. My only sorrow is that your vote counts just as much as mine, even though I’ll be feeling the consequences of your votes for decades longer than you’ll feel the consequences of mine.

Nathan, why do you blame the Eastside for the legislature’s decision to not repeal the 1% cap on raising the levy cap for cities. Democrats have large margins in the state house and Senate.

Actually, the 1% cap is exclusive of new construction. Since 2012 until recently most cities realized closer to a 3% annual increase in the cap when new construction is factored in while inflation during that period averaged closer to 1%.

Meanwhile other taxes like property and sales tax increased significantly post 2012 (and the levy system prevented city taxes from plunging due to plunging property values and B&O revenue that happens with an income tax).

Tax revenue for west side cities, counties and the state have exceeded inflation by quite a bit since 2012.

Plus any city can place a capital or M&O levy on a ballot which needs only 50% to pass.

The facts simply don’t support your lament.

Why do you assume I’m blaming the Eastside? Why are you projecting yourself into victimhood? I never blamed the Eastside for anything – I’ve only claimed it’s boring, and now largely excludes any newcomers except for the wealthy, and providing enormous windfalls to banks and home-sellers taking that wealth either out of county or out of state.

New construction has inflated tax revenues, yes, to just barely keep up with inflation. This increase in tax revenue, however, clearly has not kept pace in the corresponding demand in municipal services required to balance all the significant and inequitable impacts of the influx of new population in the region. It would be absurd to claim otherwise.

You have never proposed a reasonable alternative for funding government services than our current incredibly regressive tax scheme, and you’ve never proposed a feasible alternative for handling the massive influx of population brought on by the explosive success of home-grown, high-density, high-wage businesses.

You throw your hands up in the air like every other centrist and conservative I’ve argued with, because you’re just smart enough to refuse to say the quiet part of your preferences out loud.

“Plus any city can place a capital or M&O levy on a ballot which needs only 50% to pass” seems like a reasonable alternative put forth by Daniel?

Daniel, to his credit, generally doesn’t say the quiet parts out loud; he tends to be very explicit in his preferences (and therefore lengthy in his posts), so if you suspect he’s hiding something, you are probably projecting your bias.

I don’t think, flat-rate and/or temporary taxes are a reasonable way to fund government services.

Daniel has repeatedly thrown up his hands when challenged to provide a reasonable alternative to the various “orthodoxies” (as he calls he), despite how often he challenges them with anecdote and thinly veiled classism in garrulous comments.

He’s still never explained how he would better spend $20B on transportation over 20 years in N. King, despite claiming to have a prolific list of alternatives. It seems like an east few dozen words to add to his kilo-word comments.

Nathan, I have stated I would support a constitutional amendment to allow an income tax if like Colorado there was a companion amendment to cap ALL state tax revenue at a certain percentage of state GDP. But Democrats oppose a cap.

I doubt an income tax would pass, certainly without a cap with this legislature. Still state tax revenue and spending have exploded in just three years.

I would also like to see more tax revenue pass to cities. The state and counties hog all the tax capacity, and IMO are not very efficient (for example losing $690 million in federal unemployment funds).

Re: “$20 billion” in ST funds, you misunderstand my argument: there isn’t $20 billion in N. King Co. Do you have any idea how much $20 billion is? East Link to Redmond even with post tensioning will cost $5.5 billion.

What to do with the ST revenue N. King Co. does or will have? Well, ST won’t tell me that figure, and second I can’t imagine why Nathan would think I am the expert on where to spend it.

I agreed with Ross’s idea to build Graham St. and 130th St. stations, and generally agree with TT to postpone WSBLE and use the tax revenue to augment line 1 and local transit projects as the revenue occurs.

But it won’t be $20 billion.

Here’s your comment about $20B: https://seattletransitblog.com/2022/04/13/seattle-subways-summary-recommendations-for-the-st3-deis/#comment-893115

ST’s long range financial plan is here: https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/2022-financial-plan-proposed-budget-book.pdf

Page 17: ST is expecting almost $49.3B from N. King from 2017 through 2046. $19.8B is planned as Capital Expenditure.

For comparison: in East King, ST is expecting $27B, and expecting a total of $12.6B in capital expenditure (this includes the construction of East Link).

Overall, with $138B collected over the course of 30 years, ST is planning to spend $70.3B on capital projects, $35.5 on Operations and Maintenance, and the balance on other uses like SOGR, Debt Service, and reserve funds.

I’m not an accountant, so I have no grounds to question ST’s financial analysis. Last I checked, neither are you.

Nathan, I understand you implicitly trust ST’s project cost estimates, and pre and post pandemic general fund revenue plus farebox recovery estimates for N. King Co.

Based on history I do not. Otherwise why the need for the Triunity report, firing of Rogoff, realignment, and third party funding in the DEIS for WSBLE if N. King Co. will have $20 billion in revenue for capital projects?

After all, just two weeks ago ST was promising East Link would open by July 1, 2023, if not earlier.

Even if N. King Co. had the revenue I don’t think WSBLE is a good use of transit funds if as Martin discovered it will move a total of 400 WS people out of their cars, and another poster put the cost per estimated rider at a very conservative $180,000/rider. Others have posted about the poor design.

In any case, my ultimate concern is the exposure my subarea has in case another subarea begins a project I don’t think it can afford to build or operate. Already WSBLE has extended our projects at least 5 years.

I can understand why someone in West Seattle, or especially remote Ballard, would support spending $20 billion on WSBLE, but will be very interested to see if all the other Seattle neighborhoods feel the same in a very large SB5528 levy (or wonder like I do why a very large SB5528 levy is necessary if ST’s numbers are correct and N. King Co. will have over $20 billion in capital revenue for WSBLE).

I could be wrong, but my subarea is not rolling dice worth $20 billion.

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