The "Seattle Squeeze" Can Only Be Avoided by Radical Responses, Such as Making Transit Free



When it comes to managing traffic, proposing that transit fares be abolished is an excellent idea. Well, that is, if the traffic you're talking about is the traffic your blog post is receiving, and you want to gin up a lively comments thread. (Hey look, I took the bait.)

As for managing traffic-traffic, free transit is a monumentally stupid idea. Dig up the latest CityLab stories on the concept.

Meanwhile, we're getting distracted from the real transit causes we should be championing:
* Making Third Avenue bus-only all the time. (Frankly, I've lost track of where we are with this idea. Please pleasantly surprise me that this is happening.)
* Making sure the light rail to Ballard does not involve a drawbridge or a 14th Ave. "Ballard" station.
* Shaming Mayor Durkan into making a difficult decision about the Center City Connector streetcar.
* Shaming Mayor Durkan into hiring an SDOT director or making progress on hiring an SDOT directory or convincing us that she wants to hire an SDOT director.


"But it is probable that if trains ran more frequently at night, this would break the mold and induce demand."

No, this would increase supply, which does not translate into increase demand. Link could run trains every 30 seconds in the middle of the night, but few people would ride them, because most people are asleep. See also every single failed product or service that has ever been offered.


Since free ORCA cards are already available for seniors, high school students, and low income individuals, if Charles was correct, those groups would flock to public transit. They don't, so something might be wrong with Charles' analysis.


1 - Timely. See Crosscut.

Zimbabwe, Gurol, Worden.


This is a problem with the "bee hive" notion that socialists have regarding people and how and where they live. Squeezing so many people into tight living quarters only causes individual mental breakdown and over-all despair. At some point Seattle and other places will be maxed out it will be impossible to transport the masse regardless of weather it is free or for charge. Overpopulation is causing all of these problems; address that issue and things could possibly get better. Ignore it and we are doomed.


@3 you should show your data.



Let me know if you have any questions.


Sorry, bad link above. Try this:


Bring back the Magic Carpet Zone (and expand it). It only died because of the recession, politics, and fear of homeless people riding. Of course charging fares immediately solved homelessness or something, and we never had to sit next to people needing a shower again (/sarcasm).

Free transit is fast transit if you can board and exit all doors. Of course Metro will find a way of messing that up again...


Right ideas, wrong reasoning. Sooner than most people think cars will be autonomous and fully utilized via ride sharing. Imagine ~50% of the cars that pass you are shares and ~10% are headed within walking distance of where you're going. Transportation will be cheaper, faster (less gridlock) and safer and I agree with Charles' contrarian idea that we already have an overcapacity of roads.

BTW, Light rail will prove to be an expensive stop gap and at some point bus (and truck) drivers will need to find new jobs.


Back when I didn't own a car, shopping for something that weighed more than 3 lbs and wouldn't fit in a backpack was like my favorite thing.

Fond are my memories of buying a photo scanner and taking it on my daily 1-1/2 hour public transit journey, tucking it under my legs on a train, a bus, light rail, carrying it under my arm from time to time.

The good old days of five block walks with quarts of liquids that can't be obtained from the questionable kitchen tap, those were great too. Choosing between carefully toting doubled (paid for) paper bags with poorly glued handles vs nylon washable bags with handles biting into my fingers and turning my fingertips purple, this is something I don't know how I am currently doing without.

Listening to the neighborhood drunk who on a different day I had to ask to stop urinating on my gate have a conversation with another neighborhood drunk, both of whom were edging alcohol poisoning on light rail, yet another reason to abandon the wasteful highways and comfortable things-hauling people pods.

The answer, obviously, is Amazon Prime for everything. Amirite? This is the ultimate transportation-free economy?


The problem with free Transit is that it's not free.


"But it is probable that if trains ran more frequently at night, this would break the mold and induce demand."

Are you sure about that, Charles? After all, we've been hearing for years from the bike lobby that building their expensive exclusive bike lanes everywhere will induce demand. And yet the percent of bike commuters has dropped to just 2.8%.

Otoh, "if you build it, they will come" seems to be working as planned with our vagrant population, so your theory could be right.


I really enjoy all the hate from misguided nobody's on Mudede posts.

Keep it up!


I think it's wonderful that folks like RicketyRick @10 care so deeply about the far-far distance (if ever) future where our road systems will be dominated by autonomous vehicles. And yet you can be sure that much the same people can scarcely manage a shrug about something whose effects are far more imminent and far more certain, climate change.

One thing to keep in mind. There will always be some whiz-bang technology right around the corner to serve as a stalking horse for why we shouldn't be investing in mass transit infrastructure. Elon Musk has his pneumatic-tube thingies for why California shouldn't be building high-speed rail. Fifty or so years ago, jet-powered buses were trotted out by GM to help convince voters in this region not to take federal money to build a subway line. Hey, it worked, so good for GM.


Metro would have a whole lot more riders if people weren't constantly missing class, jobs, appointments because:

Buses are chronically late, miss stops or don't show up/cancel trips altogether with no warning to riders.
Metro installed real-time GPS transponders so people could actually see where there bus is, not an inaccurate guesstimate from OneBusAway. Limebike can show me where 5,000 bikes are on a map but Metro can't show me where a few hundred buses are?
Bus stops are too close together. Don't believe me? All over. Go to 65th St through Ravenna. There is one bus stop on each block... maybe 30ft from each other. Why? For the handicapped? It is slow, inefficient and unnecessary. One person gets on or off at each stop slowing down routes when they can manage to walk 30 ft.
Bus stop placement... behold the Montlake bus stop in front of Husky Stadium. 5 ft from a large turnout that could have been used, instead Metro placed the bus stop in the middle of Montlake. Blocking traffic constantly because... Metro should have the right of way? Ok, maybe. But this bus stop is right next to a busy intersection and when buses stop there it is confusing, it is dangerous and it is unnecessary.
Metro doesn't manage routes well. I constantly see double-long buses driving around all night long empty, meanwhile I see those same buses drive right by 50 people waiting for the E-Line at Aurora & Fremont in the morning and the bus passes them by full to the brim. With no warning to the people waiting 30 minutes for their late bus before realizing it is so full they can't even get on.


I live ten miles north of downtown Seattle only blocks from I-5. I give myself an HOUR to get to work on the bus, which is unpredictable and crowded. This region has a very "let them eat cake" attitude about its transit-dependent demographic and bus drivers seem to have a lot of discretion about how much energy they put into their job: the driver can choose to sit in the exit lane all the way downtown and never go over 10 mph or use the transit lane and cut the time in half. Once the viaduct comes down I may have to give myself 1.5 hours to get from Maple Leaf to 3rd & Union on the bus. But its STILL BETTER THAN DRIVING!


17, there are lots of bus stops on 65th through Ravenna because there are a LOT of old people and small businesses on that stretch -- also, not all buses stop at all stops. Sorry if the elderly are making your life inconvenient but hey need to get around too.


19, there is no reason to justify the number of stops there and on other routes. Literally 1 stop ever 25 feet. It makes no sense and Metro's inability to review and manage routes results in slow, inefficient transit for everyone. The elderly can walk 25 ft. It is not about inconveniencing me. It is about Metro's inability to provide reliable service forcing people to find alternative transportation.


another helpful hint - mandate that ALL city employees working downtown must take mass transit. not one of them should be allowed to drive or take uber, etc...

in fact, uber/lyft have made traffic worse in most medium to large cities.


@5- Everyone in New York is crazy, and none of them ever gets transported to where they want to go, right?


“Katie Wilson, whose organization, Transit Union, is a part of the MASS coalition…states that we’re "never going to escape from this congestion quagmire until we make it far more convenient for people to walk, bike, and ride transit.”

I agree with the transit part, though sadly not with the first two. Despite best intentions biking hasn’t eased our traffic congestion, and in some cases even made it worse. Topography and climate are major factors why the masses don’t get on their bikes every morning. I truly applaud the few who do, but this is not a viable solution.
The ongoing narrowing of two car lane lane streets into one and a bike lane is hurting everyone. If you already reduce it to one lane each way then leave the other exclusively for public transportation.

As for walking, I’m not sure what we’re talking here.


When it gets hard enough to drive, people will start taking the bus. That's how things get resolved here - a problem puts pressure on and people figure out a workaround. We are not real good at figuring things out pro-actively.


The obvious first step to increase traffic throughput downtown is to eliminate on-street parking. Need to stop downtown? Use transit or park in a garage. This isn't a long-term solution to too many wheels on the streets, but it is the only change that can be made rapidly enough to cope with Carmageddon next month.