Monday, 18 November, 2019

Follow Up: Factoria Frequent Service


 A map of frequent service to and from Factoria. The thick red line is the frequent corridor shared by routes 240 and 241 and the thick blue line is the peak-only frequent corridor shared by routes 114 and 240. The purple, green and orange lines represent the less-frequent portions of routes 114, 240 and 241, respectively.

When we wrote about how to implement frequent service in Factoria, we envisioned a likely yes vote on Proposition 1. However with the failure of the proposition, this vision will be impacted.

The cuts

All of the routes involved with the frequent service are getting cut in some way. Here’s how:

  • The 114 will be reduced to 3 trips in either direction, instead of 5 inbound and 4 outbound.
  • The 210 will be entirely deleted. This should not be a surprise as the only real source of ridership for the route is at Eastgate Park and Ride.
  • The 240 will end service at 9pm instead of 11pm.
  • The 241 will be cut to hourly midday and Saturdays.

The impact on the frequent service

  • The frequent service corridors for the 114/210 between Factoria and Downtown Seattle and the 210/240 in Eastgate will be deleted.
  • The frequent service corridor for the 114 and 240 in Newport Hills and Newcastle will loose service span.
  • The frequent service corridor for the 240 and 241 between Factoria and Downtown Bellevue will be kept (see below).

How to maintain frequent service

Since the 241 is slated to be cut to hourly middays and Saturdays, a series of improvements in service efficiency will have to be made in order to keep the 241 running half-hourly during those periods. This means that a lot of reroutes will have to be made:

The reroute of the 241 off 108th Ave NE will save up to three minutes per trip outbound and five inbound, while improving the quality of service with no speed bumps and the elimination of the three turns required to reach Bellevue TC.

The big reroute of the 240 to reach Bellevue via Bellevue Way and 112th Ave SE instead of detouring to Eastgate Park-and-ride will save anywhere between 8 and 15 minutes per trip, depending on the time of the day. Those savings will reduce the length of the route (in time) by as much as 20%, allowing for slightly shorter layover times. Currently, the 240 has an extra-long 25-minute layover at each end of the route. It seems reasonable to cut those layover to 15-17 minutes considering the fact that the route is shorter. Combined with the shorter layover, the reroute would allow for each bus to basically run one bus earlier than currently for each turnback.

What could've been a good idea if the bus turned right instead of going straight
Downtown Newcastle Bus Stop, photo by the author.

Another issue is routing in Newcastle. Currently buses come from Newcastle way (behind the photographer in the photo) then pull over into the bus stop, which is designed to have the bike lane away from it. The bus lane then becomes the right-turn lane onto Coal Creek Parkway. The buses eventually end-up running on Coal Creek parkway but not after making a detour which requires them to go straight at the above intersection, make an awkward right-turn at the top of the hill then enter Coal Creek Parkway via a left turn at a long light. This design creates conflict between the buses that must pull back into the middle lane to go straight, the cars that turn right and the bikes which have buses crossing into the lane twice.

The solution would see the buses take the right turn into Coal Creek directly, saving a couple minutes per trip. This makes more sense with the map shown below.

A map of what the reroute would look like. The red line would be the deleted routing, the green line would be the new routing and the blue lines indicate no change.

In the original post, it was mentioned that the 114 would need to be rerouted all the way to Eastgate Park and Ride via Factoria. Due to the funding shortfall it would only be rerouted to Factoria (to replace the 210 as the peak-only route to Downtown Seattle), but not to Eastgate Park and Ride.

So what does this all do?

  • The hours saved by rerouting the 241 off 108th Ave NE would accumulate as the day goes on, and provide additional trips to restore some mid-day service.
  • The 240’s huge time savings would mostly be spent on adding trips to the 241 to keep half-hourly mid-day and Saturday service, although some savings would be used to keep the 240 running until 11pm. This restores service on routes 240 and 241 to their current levels.
  • The small time savings of the Newcastle detour would allow the 114 to detour off to Factoria without requiring more time on the run.

If the 240’s re-route proves to be very successful and saves more revenue hours than expected, it could be spent on adding a fourth trip to route 114, thus keeping the 15-minute peak-only service south of Factoria for longer.

Event Reminder: Meetup at GGLO


We’re giving GGLO’s swanky space at the Harbor Steps a spin this week. So if you want to join us for our weekly meetup, come on by 1st Avenue and walk down the Harbor Steps a half block. In case you’re not familiar with the Harbor Steps, it’s the pedestrian hillclimb that extends from 1st Avenue and University Street, right across the street from the Seattle Art Museum. Our weekly meetup runs from 6pm to 9pm, so feel free to drop by at any time. And if you need a reminder, add the event to your e-calendar. We hope to see you tonight!

Hack to End Homelessness: Organizing Tech Workers for Social Good

Volunteers begin working at Hack to End Homelessness.

Several months ago I wrote about why tech workers should care about housing issues. I argued that the tech industry can’t help but alter the character of the city, and that gives those of us in the industry an obligation to engage constructively in urban issues, especially around housing. Since then I co-organized an event, called Hack to End Homelessness, that showcases one way that the tech industry can have a positive impact on the city.

The centerpiece of Hack to End Homelessness was a weekend-long “hackathon”, a popular concept from the tech industry where participants come together in teams to rapidly build technology around some theme. For Hack to End Homelessness we partnered with a dozen non-profits working in homeless services and advocacy to design meaningful projects that volunteers could accomplish over a weekend.

Volunteers begin working at Hack to End Homelessness.

Volunteers begin working at Hack to End Homelessness. Photo by Sol Villarreal.

This model of collaboration was new to most of the non-profits, but by the end of the process the enthusiasm from both the non-profits and the volunteers was overwhelming. Over the course of the weekend 40 volunteers completed nine different projects. One group created an iPhone app to be used by Union Gospel Mission volunteers to survey and respond to the needs of people living on the streets. Another started a Twitter-like peer-to-peer support network that works on low-end mobile phones. A third built maps of housing expenditures, to be used for advocacy in the state legislature. A full list of projects, all of which directly addressed the needs of a non-profit, is available on our website.

Graham Pruss and Jeff Lilley demo their app for surveying the needs of people living on the streets.

Graham Pruss and Jeff Lilley demo their app for surveying the needs of people living on the streets. Photo by Dawn Stenberg.

My takeaway from this past weekend is that there’s a huge need for technology in the non-profit space and an untapped supply of interested tech workers. All that’s needed is to provide a bridge between the two communities. If you’re a non-profit looking for tech help, or a technologist looking to get involved, there are a few of local organizations you can look to, including Seattle Works, 501 Commons, Seattle GiveCamp and Seattle Tech4Good. And, of course, check back soon at for news on what we’re doing next around homelessness and other issues.

Sunday Video: 25th and Union Parklet


An adorable video about the Central District community coming together to build their parklet. We hope to see this become a success.


What We’re Reading: Hop On the Rollercoaster!


Rider Alert


The development keeps coming: It looks like Pioneer Square, Downtown, and even Downtown Kent (my hometown) will get some big projects soon. That empty parking next Pioneer Square? Consider it gone. We expect a classic brick building to grace the space instead. Rainier Square (part of the University Tracts) might just get a 50-story boot-like skyscraper. Guys, it comes with eco terraces!

North Rainier rezone: The rezone process for North Rainier has taken quite a few years, but this week the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability listened to tons of comments on the rezone. It looks like the full Council could vote on the rezone later this month.

Take a ride on the rollercoaster: Earlier this week, Mayor Murray asked supporters of I-118 to drop their support, and some followed up within hours to do just that. Murray said that he was devising a plan to save the buses, but that it wasn’t Ben’s I-118. Some folks were rightly pretty pissed. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday got really, really weird–with Murray even dubbing Ben as the city’s “Transit Czar“. But then, last night we learned that Murray changed his tune by backing a Seattle-only measure, details we’ll find more about on Tuesday. Stay tuned.

Slip ‘n’ slide: Move King County Now may have joked about slip ‘n’ slides, but this English city got serious and put one together for fun. Maybe it isn’t such a bad idea.

Share the road: It was a busy week in cycling. On Wednesay, the Broadway Bikeway opened for cyclists. They Mayor announced that protected bike lanes would finally be coming to 2nd Avenue in Downtown, just before the launch of Pronto! in September. Which leads us to our next point: Pronto! On Tuesday, the sponsor (Alaska Airlines) and the brand for Seattle’s bike share system were revealed. Pronto! has a number of local community meetings coming up, so keep an eye out for those. Norway is running some clever ads to tell drivers to share the road. And, just in case you wondering: Idaho is apparently over 30 years ahead of us when it comes to cycling laws. It’s much safer for cyclist to treat stops signs as yields and read lights as stop signs.

Crosslake rail: Parson Brinckerhoff gives us an interesting rundown of the technical work that it will take to get light rail across Lake Washington. And Sound Transit is close to making a $43M deal with the University Washington for its light rail tunnels under the campus. It turns out those trains can be pretty disruptive when it comes to electromagnetism, and that’s not good for electron microscopes.

Bad tea leaves: Conservatives are still steaming over Agenda 21 in many states, despite the fact that the United Nations document is a set of non-binding principles for establishing sustainable development policies.

The maps are back: Curious about biking, walking, and transit use in the Puget Sound? Take a peek at this impressive set of Census information over the past 20 years. D.C. is making us look bad, they’ve got 250 miles of BRT and rail planned. And finally, watch London grow from Roman times to now.

After the Storm


Picture 2


You know how the 44 generally is around midday. Scattered students, errand runners, the occasional Ballard drunk and myself drifting back and forth on Market Street. Today’s Monday, and things have been mellow even for the start of the week, which is traditionally the quiet time for both traffic and customers. I’m passing the time pleasantly enough, but I feel a gauzy haze in between myself and my surroundings. Am I really here? The students tend not to go in for the whole community-building interaction thing. Maybe they just need an example. I continue my hellos and thank-yous as we wind down 45th, pushing further into afternoon.

All is quiet. That is, until a man appears at the Health Sciences Building stop on campus. He’s no student, though he does have a backpack, which he hurls bodily onto the bus prior to his making an entrance; the heavy black pack lands at my feet with a thud and he laboriously begins his trek up the four stairs. The Breda is only existing model in our fleet with four stairs, which sometimes throws blind passengers for a loop- all other coaches in the fleet have either three steps, or none.

My response to the backpack chucking is to ask him how he’s doing.

“Hel-lo! How’re you?”
“It’s Friday!” he barks, his voice inflected with the gravel and sandy grit of past decades. He is tall and lanky, perhaps sixty, the white-blond hair on his arms standing out against skin tanned and burnt like red leather. Jean jacket, worn, blue jeans and boots (but no horse or motorcycle!).
“It is indeed!” I reply. “We made it!”

He works his way down the aisle and stakes out a window seat, settling in for what will likely be a long, slow ride. He knows what he’s in for. We’re just getting into the part of the afternoon where traffic begins to multiply. West of Wallingford, the 44 is a breeze, with enough dedicated lanes and queue jumps to make it feel like a Sound Transit route. Getting to that stretch, however, is the challenge. The short section from 15th and 43rd to the other side of I-5 (three-fourths of a mile) can take up to thirty minutes. Forty-fifth Street spills over with cars interested in I-5, Roosevelt, and more, and the light cycles just don’t allow for the high volumes. There’s nothing to do but throw your hands up and enjoy it all. Regulars know how it is.

I’m surprised then, wondering how today, at the height of rush hour, we manage to get through in no time at all; in just twelve minutes or so we’re in Wallingford, pulling into Meridian and Burke.

In the crowded silence I hear him bellow out, “holy crap, we made it to Wallingford in three minutes!”
“I know, I can’t believe it!” I holler back. By three, of course, he means twelve; but it’s not about specifics. He sums up the 44’s traffic patterns and their effects in less technical terms. Clamoring with joyous abandon in a spirit the students nearby no doubt share, he roars: “we should all be CONSTIPATED back here!”

“It’s amazing!” I respond. “I must be doin’ something wrong!”
“On a Friday, too. How do you do it?”
“It’s like magic, only happens once in a lifetime!”
“S’posed to be constipated,” I hear him muttering. Hesitant smiles light up in my mirror, faces stretching the underused muscle of convivial strangerhood. Shifts in behavior, ways of seeing, arriving at the light comfort of being yourself- these begin as kernels of thoughts, haltingly planted in the loose soil of a passing moment. Change happens slowly in the mainstream, but it does happen.

Ready, Set, BUILD!! (collectively!)


Editor’s Note: This is part 1 of a series on Baugruppen, private owners collaboratively building affordable multifamily projects. You can see part 2 here.Vaubanallee transit boulevard

Pictured about is Vauban, Freiburg, a district of baugruppen; photo courtesy of Payton Chung.

‘Where no satisfactory, affordable property is available, independent citizens are taking matters into their own hands and founding building cooperatives, which now play a forward-looking role in modern housing’ – detail [konzept: gemeinsam wohnen]

I’ve done a lot of sleuthing/stalking/translating of baugruppen (lit: building groups) since I blogged about them over 2 years ago. My interest/obsession/adoration for this type of urban innovation has only grown (and exponentially, at that). Some of those tasty morsels are occasionally posted on my twitter feed (@bruteforceblog). After a lengthy series of tweets on the merits of baugruppen, Alex Steffen thought it would be worthwhile to present 10 of the best baugruppen/baugemeinschaften I’d come across to date. I’ve instead collated a number of strong concepts I like about baugruppen/baugemeinschaften (many previously discussed, and not exclusive to BGs), which will be interlaced with demonstrative examples and links galore.

Now a number of folks have asked if baugruppen are co-housing, which gets a ‘yes, no, sort-of’ response from me. My knowledge of co-housing stems from the Danish model–low-rise housing (e.g. rowhouses) densely organized around common areas and/or a Common House, where group dinners and events occur. For the most part, baugruppen are multi-story, multi-family buildings (think condos) rather than detached or semi-detached housing. There is no requirement for community space or common facilities in baugruppen, though many incorporate them (commonly: gardens, community rooms, roof terraces). However, like co-housing, baugruppen incorporate a participatory planning process. The largest difference is probably that baugruppen are generally funded without developers (self-financed), whereas co-housing communities can be self-financed or developer-financed projects. In the end, mostly semantics, though I tend to think of baugruppen as urban constructs and co-housing as suburban/rural constructs. I’m aware that’s not entirely accurate, but this ain’t your post and my mind’s made up. For more on Danish co-housing history, check out this presentation by Grace Kim (pdf) or

Baugemeinschaften are for the most part baugruppen–German can be fairly technical, but the terms are roughly equivalent. Utilizing both terms online results in more projects worth researching. For ease of reading, I’ll be using the abbreviation ‘BG‘ for both. In various offline discussions I’ve had over the last few years, I’m more and more convinced that forming a baugruppe would be an excellent way to get affordable, green digs tailored to your lifestyle, especially in cities with high land prices, without massive gentrification. In fact, short of city/state-owned development groups similar to Neue Heimat Tirol, I would venture it’s really the only way. Seattle could certainly benefit from their inclusion (hint, hint: local banks, DPD & City Council!).

Mike Eliason is a certified passivhaus designer, energy geek, and design nerd with an almost fetishistic interest in prefab wood buildings, low-energy architecture, social housing, and all things German. He has lived in Fremont for nearly a decade, and wants Seattle to become a greater version of Freiburg so his wife doesn’t force him to return to live in Vauban. He’s also begun the process of forming a baugruppe.

Riding and Running Heatmap


Strava Global Heatmap

Strava Labs is an online community of athletes that is collecting data about activities one person at a time. You can sign up for free, create a profile and then track your running or riding. Admittedly, that has very little to do with urbanism though. What they’ve done that is interesting, is actually make some of the data available for developers. One of the coolest things they made is a heatmap of where people are running and biking. Here’s the biking map for Seattle:

Strava Global Heatmap-biking

Keep in mind that this is likely mapping recreational rides, which could differ significantly from commuting. Additionally, there is a lot of data at Strava, but the map is for the entire world. It’s hard to say how much data was used for Seattle alone. With that said, there are some interesting observations. For example, why is there so much biking downtown but nearly none in Capitol Hill. If you look at the running map, the results are very different.Strava Global Heatmap-running

It is already a well-known fact that cities track bike and car use with counters. I’m not aware of any effort in Seattle to collect trip data via a smartphone app, but Oregon’s Department of Transportation (ODOT) recently purchased data from Strava and San Francisco collects data from an app called CycleTracks. A lack of data makes it much more difficult to plan for infrastructure. The amount ODOT paid, $20,000, seems pretty small. (And might even be lower if a motivated developer in Seattle built it…anyone?). If there was a custom made app made specifically for Seattle, it could differentiate between recreational and commuter uses as well as collect demographic information to put the data into context.

Any data like this will definitely have limits related to sample size and bias. It’s a well-known fact that commuting by bicycle is really important to lower income individuals, and it is likely a lot of these trips would be missed due to the additional cost of owning a smartphone.