Comments

    • Jim Cusick says

      Good, I hope they don’t just raise the gas tax.

      I would rather see a well thought out ballot proposal, outlining all the specific projects, their costs and benefits.

      I want a chance to vote on it.

      I might want a better alternative.

    • Z says

      Its a really depressing subject carl. We have communist nations such as China, building high speed rail lines, europeans conestently innovating and improving the majority of their network and services, and we are stuck in gridlock of all kinds. For a nation that once stopped to ring the bells and whistles in celebration when the transcontential railroad was completed to not being able to cut the check for the 700 some million we have been promiced for Higher Speed Rail on our existing corridor is disgusting. Which brings on the discussion for other issues in this country but thats not for here or now.

  1. Joseph Singer says

    Interesting note from KC Metro. They won’t make any updates to route status during emergency conditions! I’m not sure what good it is to have this “service” if they’re going to abandon it when we really need it. OBTW, also they have their comments closed on all their postings.

    • Beavis McGee says

      Metro does not have the personnel or the resources to put out comprehensive route status information to the public during emergency conditions.

      NO CITY DOES.

      Keep demanding the impossible and you’re sure to be disappointed when you don’t get it.

      • Brent says

        Yes, but why can’t they do something as simple as allowing manual announcements in the tunnel, such as, “We apologize for the inconvenience, but the following bus routes have been moved to their surface snow routes …”

        That’s all I really would have needed during snowpocalypse to avoid spending $50 on a cab and still missing my flight.

    • says

      Let’s get creative. The agency doesn’t have enough people? Sure it does! All the people riding their buses with phones is a potential information source. Find a way to enable better two-way communication with customers, while improving customer service and experience!

      The addition of GPS tracking to the fleet within the next 16 months would allow anyone to see the exact location their bus, regardless of reroutes. The new radio system should allow improved communication from the field to the control center.

      • Lor Scara says

        Would GPS be enough to distinguish if your bus was in the tunel, or on a surface reroute directly overhead?

  2. Bruce says

    Speaking of streetcars (OK, it’s a stretch, I know, but) I have a question about the SLU-Fremont-Ballard streetcar idea. Looking at the 2009 Metro performance reports, it seems that routes 17 and 46, probably the two bus routes that most closely resemble the proposed alignment, aren’t actually particularly high-performing routes. In fact, 46 is one of the worst in the West subarea.

    Of course, part of the appeal of streetcars is that they drive ridership and appeal to choice riders. But still, this corridor doesn’t appear to have nearly the current traffic of the combined local 7x’s in the Eastlake corridor. But maybe this is a case of the stats being a little misleading; maybe the long tails on these routes through Loyal Heights and Golden Gardens make them look worse than they are in practice.

    Anyone have any ideas?

    • Ben Allen says

      When I lived in Ballard, I very rarely took the 17, since the 15 and 18 are faster for trips downtown. I would have taken the 46 over to Fremont occasionally, but IIRC it runs very infrequently and only during a few hours a day. I suspect if I were living in Ballard now, I’d take a frequent, all-day streetcar to Fremont often, but would still use the 15 and 18 for trips downtown.

    • Kevin says

      The proposed streetcar route would follow the route of the 28 over the Fremont Bridge and up Leary to 8th NW so that would account for some potential ridership. There are currently no routes that I’m aware of the travel Leary between 8th and 15th NW.

      I always thought the 46 was intended to give UW commuters another option to the 44 as well as to give folks in East Ballard, Fremont, and southern Wallingford a one-seat ride to the U. If it has a low performance I wonder if it will go away?

    • Chris Stefan says

      I think the streetcar ridership would depend in part on what happens to competing bus routes. If the 28 and 26 are truncated and fed into the streetcar it would boost ridership.

      Another factor is the 17 and 46 just don’t run very often. A streetcar would offer high-frequency along the line which isn’t the case with the 17 and 46.

      That said, Westlake between SLU just doesn’t have much in the way of potential ridership or TOD. Leary between Fremont and Ballard doesn’t have a lot of population or employment density. However it does have high potential for TOD.

      The three sources of ridership for a Fremont/Ballard streetcar I see are as a local circulator within Fremont and Ballard, as a way of traveling between Fremont and Ballard, and lastly as a way of getting between Fremont and SLU/Westlake. The last one will only be the case if the streetcar is the same speed or faster than the current 26/28 between Fremont and Downtown or the 26/28 are fed into the streetcar. Given limited stops along Westlake and dedicated ROW it isn’t a stretch to think the streetcar might be faster than the 26/28, though the route through SLU would have to be sped up some. Perhaps some real signal priority would be part of any extension of the SLUT?

      • Kevin says

        I’m a frequent 26 user and would be fine with switching to a streetcar in Fremont as long as the overall ride is faster but I do wonder if the folks along Dexter would be up for having slower local service (maybe via a relocated 17) while the 26 and 28 are replaced by a streetcar from Downtown to Fremont?

      • says

        The Streetcar Network plan estimates a 9 minute travel time from Ballard Commons to Fremont Bridge and 7 minutes from the bridge to Westlake Hub. There’s only one stop at Galer St between Valley and Nickerson.

      • Mike Orr says

        “Westlake between SLU just doesn’t have much in the way of potential ridership or TOD”

        It has a clear run without stoplights or cross streets. We need faster connections between neighborhood centers for the “Capitol Hill to Fremont” type of trips. The streetcar would be faster than the 26/28 and more frequent than the 17, which some riders would be grateful for.

      • Aleks says

        The 17 may not be very frequent, but the 46 makes a total of four round-trips through Fremont every weekday (nothing on weekends). At that frequency, any bus would have bad performance.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        I would guess there’s good TOD potential on Westlake. The whole street is run down in a way that looks like someone’s bought up the property and has plans for redevelopment. And on the lake side there’s great potential for retail – that view and water connection deserves good restaurants.

      • d.p. says

        I agree with essentially everything written above, especially Chris Stefan’s analysis that the route would be most useful as an improved Fremont-downtown connection and as an infinitely better Fremont-Ballard connection than the current infrequent (17), grossly unreliable (28+44), and pointless (46) options.

        My big fear is that the streetcar line, along with RapidRide, will be posited as a satisfactory and ultimate solution to the problem of Ballard mass-transit, which will not be the case.

        RapidRide, as we know, has been watered down to the point where it is a scant improvement over the status quo. At it’s very best, I might expect it to achieve a travel time of 21 minutes — the current travel time for a fairly empty, late-night, no-traffic-obstruction route 15 bus — but 25-30 minute trips will be much more common. (Note: current trips are scheduled in the 23-27 range, though 30-40 is unsurprising any time of day.)

        The Streetcar Network plan, as Oran notes, estimates a 16-minute trip from Ballard to downtown. This is laughable on its face! 7 minutes from the Fremont Bridge to Westlake? It’s currently 7 minutes to Westlake just from Mercer! Stops or no stops, you can’t travel two additional miles in an eye-blink. Add in the Fremont Bridge mergers, 36th St bottlenecks, and another two travel miles, and the total trip should be at least 10 minutes more than estimated. The result will be about on par with RapidRide, with an even greater number of reliability-torpedoing variables.

        Now, for comparison, let’s imagine the U-District to Ballard Link spur corridor specifically approved for study under the 2008 ST2 ballot initiative: Travel time on U-Link (Westlake to Husky Stadium) is expected to be 5-8 minutes, right? As a true subway, this estimate strikes me as trustworthy. The Ballard spur, then, would presumably involve a deep-bore tunnel from Brooklyn Ave to Phinney Ridge, transitioning to a cut-and-cover tunnel (ideally) or a surface route across Ballard. While I might argue for six stops along the way, a four-stop plan (Wallingford, Phinney/Upper Fremont/Aurora, East Ballard, West Ballard) is more likely. At a distance of <4 miles, we're looking at another 6-8 minutes, no more.

        So the Link-spur option would provide an 11-16 trip all the way from Ballard to downtown Seattle, despite travelling nearly 5 miles out of the way! Knowing this, how can the significantly slower Fremont-SLU streetcar ever be deemed sufficient? And how can anyone defend RapidRide — more than twice as slow despite going “direct” — at all?

      • Bruce says

        All of the people of any note who’ve discussed a Fremont streetcar have explicitly said that it’s not a substitute for grade-separated Light Rail to Ballard, whether via the U-District or Queen Ann and Interbay (I think the latter makes more sense.)

        Moreover I don’t think you’ll get much disagreement from anyone on this blog that RapidRide is in danger of being just a spiffy local service, rather than any serious attempt at BRT.

        I didn’t know that Ballard U-District was mentioned in ST2. Is Ballard Queen Anne Downtown West Seattle?

      • d.p. says

        Good question, and surprisingly hard to Google. Some drafts/versions amorphously discuss a U-District->Ballard->downtown corridor study (as if that were a single thing). But I clearly remember the final marketing to the voters — either the full text of the ballot measure or the literature distributed in favor of it — specifically highlighted the U-District->Ballard spur corridor. (For study, of course.)

        I agree with you that no reasonable person has claimed the Fremont streetcar as an adequate replacement for Ballard mass transit, but I’m not sure that some in positions of political authority don’t have that in mind. Just look at the “16 minutes Ballard->Westlake” claim. If there were any way that could happen in a million years, it actually would solve the problem! But it’s a pie-in-the-sky number. Why oversell the streetcar that hyperbolically unless you are suggesting it as an all-encompassing solution?

      • d.p. says

        Thank you, Zed…

        http://www.soundtransit.org/Documents/pdf/projects/planning/System-wide%20Planning%20Studies.pdf does contain a “light rail planning study from the University District to Ballard to Downtown Seattle.”

        Still, I am quite sure the marketing materials highlighted some and not all of those projects — and appeared to prioritize the U-District->Ballard spur. Perhaps it was an informal winnowing of the list for legibility, and had no bearing on the order in which things were to be studied.

      • Mike Orr says

        If a north Seattle subway is feasable, I’d tentatively give up downtown-Ballard light rail for it. A crosswise route generates more ridership than a parallel route because you can go eight directions instead of four, and if it has stations at RR D and RR E it can mitigate the slowness of those routes.

        One way is as DP said; another is a Brooklyn-Wallingford-Fremont tunnel, then joining the streetcar tracks to Ballard. (Portland is building an eastside streetcar and southeast MAX that will run together downtown, cross a bridge and then diverge.) I’m torn because Fremont is an important destination but a transfer to Aurora is also important.

      • Anc says

        I’m a fan of the U-District-Ballard spur, as part of a future Ballard->U-District->520->Bellevue->Issaquah line.

        DT is already going to have Central Link and East Link running through it. Do we really need a 3rd line already? Lets try and spread the love to the rest of the city/region first.

      • alexjonlin says

        The problem is, Link from the U district to Downtown is going to be at capacity, I don’t know if it will be able to handle the extra volume of riders going Downtown from Wallingford, Phinney, and Ballard. Although that route should be built at some point, it makes sense to build directly to Downtown from Ballard first. It’ll result in the fastest travel times and avoid overburdening the U District-Downtown corridor.

      • d.p. says

        Alex, until there are trains whipping through the tunnel every two minutes, it’s not at capacity. Cite any over-cautious and hyper-redundant engineering study you want, but it’s just not!

        Anc, while I happen to agree with you on the route choice, it’s worth noting that truly rapid, grade-separated mass transit is the only form of transit where centralized transfer doesn’t mean a massive time penalty. Gridding is much more important for a bus system than for a rail system with only a few lines anyway.

        Also, while your “Ballard->U-District->520->Bellevue->Issaquah” route suggestion is better than many, my gut reaction is still: “spread the love to the rest of the city” before you “spread the love to the rest of the region.”

        Regional rail is still depressingly low bang-for-buck in terms of ridership-per-mile, effect on regional development patterns, and reduction in the need for car ownership. Until you can get all around this city reasonably without a car*, there’s no excuse for proposing more lines to the ends of the earth.

        *FWIW, getting around Seattle carless is just as useful for a Link rider from Lynnwood as it is for a city resident. We also need to stop selling the city short by thinking no one from the suburbs is headed anywhere but downtown, Capitol Hill, the U, or a sporting event.

      • Bruce says

        I was going to let this go because whenever Light Rail to Issaquah comes up in a comment thread, I know the conversation has deviated either to La La Land or so far into the future as to be pointless. I could not, however, let the whining about “why does downtown get all the transit” go unanswered.

        We build infrastructure to get people downtown because THAT’S WHERE THEY GO. We build infrastructure through the dense, close-in neighborhoods (plus outlying population centers and destinations like Bellevue and SeaTac) because that’s where we can serve the most people the most efficiently.

        Look at the numbers:

        http://seattletransitblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/spr_2009_ridership.jpg

        Yes, the biggest single route is the 48 which goes E-W through North Seattle, but that’s a REALLY big route that goes all the way from Mount Baker to the U-District which is where I expect much of the ridership comes from. Even so, a Ballard to UW line would be way outside the walkshed for that line.

        So then let’s add up the numbers what what the current ridership (in thousands) is on the two corridors:

        UW, Fremont, Ballard:

        44: 6k
        46: Let’s charitably say 1k.
        60% of 17: 2k.
        12% of 48: 2k

        Total: 11k

        Ballard, Queen Anne, Downtown:

        15: 7
        18: 5
        17X: (unknown, the 17X isn’t broken out, but at least) 1k
        Say 10% of 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 13: 3k
        Add another 1k for other busses that come through QA (like the 19) near the Seattle center from Downtown.

        Total: 17k

        Need I say more? Let’s by all means build a Ballard-Freemont-SLU streetcar, but if we’re going to build three miles of subway, build it DT-QA-Ballard.

      • Anc says

        DP and Bruce, I should have made it more clear but I am not talking about building such an entire line (Ballard->Issaquah) any time soon. I was simply pointing out that ANY line we build needs to looked at in the context of future expansion/integration. We aren’t spending billions of dollars solely, or evenly mainly to meet immediate needs, but as an investment for the future.

        Bruce, do your numbers for Ballard, Fremont, UW include riders going from Ballard and Fremont to DT or just to the U-District?

      • Mike Orr says

        The Eastside would have to pay for their portion, and it would be subject to the same NIMBY and bus-is-better controversies as East Link. I’d rather build a short line from Ballard to Brooklyn and wait until the Eastside clamors for more rail lines. Top priorities first, and there are a lot of eager transit riders living in dense neighborhoods in the 45th-Market corridor, and willing to pay taxes for a first-rate transit system. There’s no place on the Eastside that’s comparable.

        Issaquah can build a line to East Link, either to BTC or South Bellevue, and it’ll make little difference to their travel time if they go to UW via downtown or 520. If a second downtown tunnel is built, Issaquah Link could go through it, alongside a Brooklyn-Ballard-Seattle Center-downtown-West Seattle-Burien line.

        A 520 line is just not that useful. It would shave 5-10 minutes of travel time. Compare that to a Bothell-Kirkland-Bellevue line, which would bring entire cities into Link (and still have decent travel time to downtown and UW compared to local buses and crowded streets). Or a Kirkland-Bellevue BRT which would raise Link ridership from “almost no Kirkland residents” to “some Kirkland residents”.

      • d.p. says

        Bruce,

        I do fear that you’ve misunderstood most of the points being made by others here, even those who would tend to agree with you — which actually think is everyone (how odd on a S.T.B. forum!).

        I wasn’t expressing an definitive preference for Ballard-U spur over West Side light rail as much as I was anticipating a greater probability of it happening sooner (as long as the powers that be aren’t allowed to paint RapidRide or the Fremont streetcar as sufficient).

        My trip-time comparisons were to demonstrate that true rapid transit would slaughter RapidRide’s performance even if it meant going 5 miles out of the way, to say nothing of the comparison on a direct route!

        So even if we were to base our comparison on current route-specific ridership numbers — which is a deeply problematic approach (see below) — the spur route could be expected to attract large portions of the 18, 15, 28, 5, 358, 16, and 26’s ridership on top of the routes you mentioned.

        And that doesn’t even factor in new transit users. New ridership on any true mass-transit corridor in this part of the city should be huge, since low-5-digit numbers would hardly justify billion-dollar expenditures. Fortunately, the ultra-rapidity of the route, combined with the relatively large, easy, and safe walksheds of the stations, would attract new riders in droves.

        In fact, one could make the argument that the spur route would pick up far more new riders: The walksheds of East Ballard, of Phinney-to-North Fremont, and of Wallingford-to-Green Lake are far more extensive than anything Interbay has to offer. And while there are many “use-transit-for-my-commute-and-nothing-else” types along the 15/28/5/etc., the 44 corridor’s ridership (as you point out) is depressed by utter, intractable, irreconcilable crappiness of the 44, which is 4 times slower than the slowest driver on the slowest street in North Seattle. Replace that frequently 35-40 minute option with a 5-minute one, and people will clamor not to drive those overtaxed streets anymore!

        Lastly, a statement like “we build infrastructure to get people downtown because THAT’S WHERE THEY GO” belies an unspoken, and perhaps unconscious, commuter-oriented transit bias. Seattle still maintains a pretty healthy nexus of employment and commerce downtown, but ask yourself if downtown is your first thought when you seek good food, interesting entertainment, or quality time with friends. As I said above, we need to get past the presumption that no one in this city, nor anyone coming in from the ‘burbs, should want to be anyone but downtown, Broadway, Seattle Center, the U, or a Seahawks game. It sells the idea of a city — a fully activated, multi-dimensional, many-tentacled incubator of culture and life — short!

      • Mike Orr says

        “utter, intractable, irreconcilable crappiness of the 44, which is 4 times slower than the slowest driver on the slowest street in North Seattle”

        Worse, you can walk from University Way to Stone Way in 20 minutes and never see a 44, even though it’s supposed to come every 15 minutes.

      • Bruce says

        OK, well I guess we aren’t terribly far apart. I still think a second Downtown tunnel serves more people up front and has more and better future options, and I’m still against interlining with Central+East link in the long run, but I’m passably happy with any dedicated ROW for transit at this point.

  3. Norman says

    http://www.grist.org/article/2010-12-28-why-we-need-to-encourage-telecommuting

    “Why we need to encourage telecommuting ”

    “One of Goluboff’s most intriguing proposals would require states to promote telework in order to qualify for transportation infrastructure funding. She writes at New Geography:

    “By reducing the demand for roads and mass transit, telecommuting minimizes the cost of repair, maintenance and expansion of such infrastructure. Before the federal government subsidizes state and local transportation investments, the funding recipients should be compelled to mitigate costs by promoting telework.
    In these lean economic times, telework makes a lot of financial sense. The Telework Research Network estimates that if 40 percent of the American work force worked from home half the time, it could save the country’s businesses $700 billion annually — and result in a 50 million ton reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. It could mean 1,500 fewer traffic deaths each year.

    “Telework also increases the resiliency of a city — which will be crucial in a future of diminishing resources and climate change.”

    Telecommuting addresses many problems without costing taxpayers, employers or employees much, if any, money.

    • Bruce says

      As someone who has and continues to telework part- and full-time in an office where others did and do the same, I can tell you it does indeed cost employers money, just not explicitly. Full-time telework requires very disciplined, motivated and organized employees, and a real commitment from management to forcing employees to maintain good communications and accountability. Even then I don’t think employees are as productive from home. Part-time telework is much less problematic.

      None of this changes the fact that mid-to-high density cities with good transit systems provide a vastly safer, more environmentally sound and — when evaluated over the long run will all the externalities added in — cheaper way to commute and live than car-bound suburbs.

      • Norman says

        Telecommuting is vastly safer, and more environmentally sound than transit systems of any kind.

        Telecommuting can save companies a lot of money by reducing the amount of office space needed. Also, less cost for commuting, obviously, if the company helps pay commuting costs. Someone saves money on commuting — either the employer or employee.

        Telecommuting is the future. Huge transit systems are going to be proven to be extremely stupid wastes of enormous amounts of money.

      • Bruce says

        I predict your posts, Norman, will prove to be an extremely stupid waste of enormous amounts of time.

      • Zed says

        I’m pretty sure Bruce is right. Talking to a rock is a more productive use of time.

        Do you even have a job, Norman?

      • Chris Stefan says

        For me and my work I find it depends. Depending on what I’m doing I’m either more productive in the office or at home. Mostly I find going into the office works better for me, though I occasionally find I do most of the work on a project on evenings and weekends rather than in the office.

      • Dan Carey says

        A lot of jobs cannot be done via telecomuting- like manufacturing, construction and so on. In this area for example, Boeing employs thousands doing just those jobs, along other companies that supply the parts. Service jobs also cannot be made into telecommuting jobs. So most people will still have to commute to work.

    • Adam Parats says

      I would really love to telework but at work I’m heavily reliant on our network for the data and projects I work on and our VPN just doesnt cut it. Does anyone know if my office is just behind or are VPN connections just inherently slow?

      • Bruce says

        VPNs are fractionally slower than a direct connection over the same physical link but it’s more likely that the internet connection at your home or work just isn’t fast enough.

        And I would argue that living within walking distance of work is the best of all — all the advantages of being in the office with none of the transport costs. Now if only someone would open an decent grocery store downtown.

      • says

        And I would argue that living within walking distance of work is the best of all — all the advantages of being in the office with none of the transport costs.

        Eventually you’ll have to buy new shoes ;)

      • Adam B. Parast says

        @Bruce Thanks. That sounds right. We have bandwidth problems at my office.

        I agree about walking to work, problem is my office is in a horrible location, in an office park in Totem Lake. It’s a huge gripe of mine and other people that live in Seattle.

      • Charles says

        Adam, your User Experience with a VPN will depend on how you are accessing applications and data. It may be a better experience if you use a product like Citrix to access a virtual desktop on the server. Or use a product to remote control your office computer. Transferring files back and forth between your home computer/laptop and the office server every time you want to work on them can be pretty inefficient.

        There are also products that will automate the syncing of files and just move the parts that change.

        As for Bruce’s contention that living in close proximity to work is best, I actually took a decision to move from across the street from where I was working. People could conceivably look out the window of a conference room and see into my apartment. I moved 30 miles away clear across Chicago and commuted nearly 2 hours each way( both car and trains were of comparable times). While that is an extreme reaction to being so tied to work by virtue of one’s proximity, it was worth the break between work life and life in general.

      • Bruce says

        Remote Desktop / Citrix etc. are worth trying but I find them frustrating to use for any length of time. I’ve never had a home connection with low enough latency that I could use them without going insane.

    • says

      The next best thing to telecommuting is moving to within walking or bicycling distance of work. I hold myself up as an example as the epitome of sustainable living.

    • Norman says

      http://blogs.govexec.com/fedblog/2010/10/telework_endorsement_from_the.php

      Obama endorses telecommuting:

      “National Work and Family Month serves as a reminder to all of us, especially working caregivers, their families, and their employers, that while we have made great strides as a nation to adopt more flexible policies in the workplace, there’s more we can do. Millions of Americans continue to struggle day-in and day-out to balance work and family life – to juggle their job responsibilities with caring for a child, an elderly relative, or a loved one with a disability. This is something Michelle and I understand – it wasn’t too long ago that we were both working full-time outside the home while raising two young daughters.

      “There are steps we can all take to help – implementing practices like TELEWOK, paid leave, and alternative work schedules – and my Administration is committed to doing its part to help advance these practices across the country. And within the federal government, we have followed the lead of many private sector companies when it comes to increasing workplace flexibility. Because at the end of the day, attracting and retaining employees who are more productive and engaged through flexible workplace policies is not just good for business or for our economy – it’s good for our families and our future.”

    • Norman says

      http://www.newgeography.com/content/001798-decade-telecommute

      Great article on telecommuting, and how it is growing much faster in the U.S. than transit use. Some quotes from this article:

      “The rise in telecommuting is the unmistakable message of the just released 2009 American Community Survey data.

      “In 2009, 1.7 million more employees worked at home than in 2000. This represents a 31% increases in market share, from 3.3 percent to 4.3 percent of all employment. Transit also rose, from 4.6% to 5.0%, an increase of 9%

      “The increase in working at home was pervasive in scope. The share of employees working at home rose in every major metropolitan area (over 1,000,000 population), with an average increase of 38%.

      “Working at home is fast closing the gap with transit. In part driven by the surge in energy prices since earlier in the decade, transit experienced its first increase since data was first collected by the Bureau of the Census in 1960. Yet working at home is growing more rapidly, and closing the gap, from 1.7 million fewer workers than transit in 2000 to only 1.0 million fewer in 2009. At the current rate, more people could be working at home than riding transit by 2017. This is already the case in much of the country outside the New York metropolitan area, which represents a remarkable 39 percent of the nation’s transit commuters. Taking New York out of the picture, 31% more people (1.35 million) worked at home than traveled by transit, more than 4 times the 7% difference in 2000

      “Perhaps most surprising is the fact that Portland now has more people working at home than riding transit to work. This is a significant development. Portland is a model “smart growth” having spent at least $5 billion additional on light rail and bus expansions over the last 25 years. Portland was joined by other metropolitan areas Houston, Miami-West Palm Beach, New Orleans and San Jose, all of which have spent heavily on urban rail systems.

      “Working at home has been the fastest growing component of commuting for nearly three decades. In 1980, working at home accounted for just 2.3% of commuting, a figure that has nearly doubled to 4.3% in 2009. This has been accomplished with virtually no public investment. Moreover, this seems to have happened without any loss of productivity. Companies like IBM, Jet Blue and many others have switched large numbers of their employees to working at home. These firms, which necessarily seek to provide the best return on their investment for stockholders and owners would not have made these changes if it had interfered with their productivity.

      “Over the same period, and despite the recent increases, transit’s market share has fallen from 6.4% of commuting in 1980 to 5.0% in 2009. At the same time, gross spending over the period rose more than $325 billion (inflation and ridership adjusted) from 1980 levels. Inflation adjusted expenditures per passenger mile have more than doubled since that time.

      “Given the remarkable rise of telecommuting, its low cost and effectiveness as a means to reduce energy use, perhaps it’s time to apply at least some of our public policy attention to working in cyberspace. It presents a great opportunity, perhaps far greater and far more cost-effective than the current emphasis on new rail transit systems.”

      • Mike Orr says

        Yes, telework is increasing. Many people in my company switched to telework during the snow, and some people telework once or twice a week. Like everything, it will increase for a few years and then flatten out.

        But just because fewer people are riding transit doesn’t mean nobody is riding transit. And people use transit for other things besides going to work.

    • Chetan says

      I have to say, Norman, the, “Maybe if we all just stay home all the time, congestion will get better,” argument is one of your most comical.

      I’m assuming this means you think the building of the second Tacoma Narrows bridge, the extension of Highway 167 to Tacoma, the widening of 520, and the building of the tunnel to all be wastes of money as well.

      • Chris Stefan says

        Even if most of us telecommuted we’d still have plenty of non-work trips to take. People still need to buy food, socialize, go to the park, etc.

      • Norman says

        It is commuting that causes “peak hour” congestion. Eliminate, or reduce that congestion during peak hours, and the rest of the time “buying food, socializing, going to the park, etc.” there is really not much of a traffic problem in our area. So, get people out of their cars for commuting, by working at home, and you pretty much solve the traffic congestion problem. I never have any problem driving anywhere during “off-peak” hours, which is most of the 24 hours in a day.

        And, telecommuting does not cost taxpayers anything.

      • Aleks says

        [I was originally going to post this on the 520 toll thread, but quickly realized that I was veering off-topic. :)]

        Norman, I gather from your statements that you think the most important metric for a transportation system is profitability. Specifically, you don’t think that anyone should have to pay any costs for transportation infrastructure that they don’t use. I’ll leave aside the issue of whether or not roads are self-funded in this way — for now, let’s assume that they are.

        In contrast, I believe that transportation infrastructure and services should be judged primarily based on the impact they have on mobility. The goal (and it might not be attainable, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try) should be a city and region in which congestion doesn’t exist, and in which people can go to and from anywhere in the shortest possible time (and with the least possible hassle).

        The reason that we should have tolls on 520 is not so that it can “pay its own way”; it’s so that we can reduce congestion to an acceptable level. In some sense, the fact that it raises revenue is a convenient coincidence. The same is true for parking fees. And, well, the same is true for transit service. If transit were free, then at peak times, buses in Seattle would look like trains in Tokyo. The RFA works only because downtown has way more transit service than it otherwise needs.

        Conversely, the reason that we should spend money on transit is not because it will eventually be profitable; it’s because transit is the most cost-effective way (really!) to support massive growth without massive congestion.

        Widening any of the highways in Seattle, or building new ones, would be massively expensive. The deep bore tunnel will cost over $1 billion per mile. The 520 bridge will cost over $3 billion per mile. In contrast, U-Link’s $600 million per mile seems pretty economical, and Central Link’s $160 million per mile is bargain-basement cheap.

        And unlike the DBT or 520, which will be at capacity when they’re built, Link has room for decades of growth. You call that overbuilding; I call it foresight. Link, at 3-minute frequencies (which are reachable without any additional capital investment), has a capacity of 16,000 people per hour. An interstate freeway lane has a capacity of 2,000 vehicles per hour. In bizarro land where everyone rides in a 5-person carpool, Link still has almost twice the capacity of the freeway lane. In the real world, 30 years from now, the average car will still have no more than 2 people, and so Link’s capacity is effectively 4 times that of the highway.

        (Say what you will about comparing apples to oranges, but the only “expected” number I’m using here is the average number of passengers per vehicle. The thing is, there is almost nothing you can do that will get more than a token number of people to carpool. So, for all intents and purposes, 2 people per vehicle *is* the maximum.)

        And all of this neglects the fact that the experience of riding a train is uniformly better than that of riding a bus, and so trains inevitably attract far more choice riders. When I lived in Boston, I could count on two hands the number of people I knew who had ever rode a bus, but I could count on *one* hand the number of people I knew who *hadn’t* ridden the train. Grade-separated transit is simply leagues better than street-running buses. I’ve never met one person who honestly likes street-running buses better than trains — not even you, Norman, since I’m not convinced that you actually like buses at all except when they’re being compared to trains.

        You’ve admitted yourself that peak-hour congestion is a real problem. So my first question for you is, do you really think that the combination of telecommuting and continued urban road investments (like the DBT and 520 rebuild) is the most effective (and cost-effective) way to reduce congestion? And if so, can you prove it? I want to see census numbers showing the number of regional workers in industries where telecommuting is even possible. I want to see budget numbers showing the cost of widening a freeway in the middle of a dense city. You get the idea. Put up or shut up.

        And my second (and final) question is: Why do you believe that it’s important to spend car-related revenue only on car-related infrastructure? Should it be a general principle that public revenue only on infrastructure and services related to how it was generated? Should the tax on guns only be spent on the military? Should the tax on cigarettes be given to Philip Morris? My point is not that road spending is bad — it’s not — but that dedicating gas taxes to car infrastructure sets a very, very unfortunate precedent. So if you truly believe that cars and roads are exceptional in this regard, I’d really like to hear a convincing argument why.

  4. Gordon Werner says

    Found someone in the Czech Republic who makes an N-Scale version of the Skoda 10T which is the basis for the Seattle Streetcar, Tacoma Link, and of course the Portland Streetcar … sells them with motors and without … am waiting to hear if he can make models of our Orange/Red/Purple Seattle streetcars.

    http://www.modelytramvaji.websnadno.cz/

    • Mike H says

      Oh. My. God. Thank you Gordon for making my new year more bright! Can you read Czech or did I miss a translate button somewhere? I recently bought the KATO streetcar which kind of looks like the Skoda 10T but has only 2 doors each side and s based on left side of the road travel. Runs like a dream though.

      • Gordon Werner says

        ok …

        so I am waiting to hear back from the Seattle Streetcar to get a JPG or EPS of the streetcar artwork that is ghost-printed on the sides … but the creator says no problem just need good photos.

        as for reading czech … Google does the trick: http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=cs&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.modelytramvaji.websnadno.cz%2F&act=url

        Models for sale are the third link down in the left nav … and I believe he will also produce it in HO scale if people want (don’t know for sure) …

        the Seattle Streetcar … is based off of the Portland Streetcar which is based of the Skoda 10T

        here are the details … it’s a bit pricey for a motorized version but they are custom made.

        There is no problem. The color of the tram can be painted any color.Just send a photo of the tram from right and left.
        The model will be powered with engines Kato.
        Price model with imitation pantograph is 92 euros.
        Price with functional pantograph model is 102 euros.
        Postage and packing is 15 euros.
        Model building takes 2-3 months.
        Paid in advance on my account or pay pal.

      • Gordon Werner says

        The Kato strretcar is a Japanese built tram based off of a Bombardier design … very nice model … but the doors are wrong for US ops … (Japan runs on the left like the UK) … If you don’t plan on running N-Scale trams … Tomytec also makes static versions of the trams (they can be converted to power at a later date)

        Those can be found here (bottom 5 or so models) (top item is the power-conversion unit): http://www.1999.co.jp/search_e.asp?Typ1_c=104&scope=1&scope2=0&urikire=1&itkey=tomytec+tram

      • Gordon Werner says

        for those interested, Modemo, will be releasing this spring a motorized version of Hiroshima’s Green Mover 5-segment articulated tram … based off of Siemen’s Combino Tram. The doors are on the wrong side for the US/Europe … but it would still make a nice model if you collect tram models.

        Here is the link w/photos of the model prototype: http://www.1999.co.jp/eng/10131951

    • Erik G. says

      Speaking of which, can Shkoda throw in a KT4 or a T3 on the next order of SLUTs?

      Fit it with some speakers, playing “Song of the Volga Boatmen” incessantly with quotes from Mayor McCheese, Dick Schell, Charlie Chong and Norm Rice painted on the outside, maybe Kemper would sponsor it as a “War on Public Transport” performance art piece. Have it loop around Amazon.

      Would be a hoot.

  5. Norman says

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20101227/ts_yblog_thelookout/passengers-stranded-for-over-6-hours-without-heat-on-nyc-subway-train

    Mon Dec 27, 2010

    “Passengers stranded for over 6 hours without heat on NYC subway train”

    “Snow drifts and ice stalled a New York City subway train this morning, trapping passengers without heat, food, or water for more than six hours–even as the train was mere feet away from a subway platform. They were just some of the countless people left stranded by a powerful East Coast blizzard that shut down roads, rail lines, and major airports.

    “Amtrak canceled trains between New York and Boston, and service was suspended on the Metro North and Long Island Rail Road regional networks.

    “Even within New York City, travel has been difficult. The entire ‘B’ line on the subway was shut down thanks to a lack of available transit workers, according to the New York Times.”

    Trains also get shut down in bad snow events, even in NYC.

    • BA says

      Having been in New York City last week for the blizzard, I can say first hand that the subways running underground continued to perform very well.

      Monday everyone started their day with 18-30″ of snow on the ground after a night that witnessed lighting, bands of snowfall and 60 mph winds, by Tuesday I had no trouble taking a train to CT, and Manhattan avenues had bare travel lanes (and mountains of snow at the curbs).

      Cars? Not so good for a few days, particularly on side streets. Airlines? Still working through their back log Thursday last week.

    • d.p. says

      That does sound excruciatingly unpleasant.

      But please remind me, how well did our buses do with 1.5 inches of snow and a smattering of ice?

    • Kyle S. says

      Rarely do trains get shut down for snow in New York.

      I have distinct memories from high school when the bus-reliant New Jersey kids were allowed an excused absence but us Long Island folk were required to come in because the LIRR was running “on or close to schedule” despite the four inches of snow.

      • Bruce says

        You clearly don’t understand. We have entered Norm’s Telecommuting Twilight Zone where everyone from bus drivers to barristas work from home and all transit has been abolished as unnecessary.

      • Erik G. says

        Indded, I am looking forward to my Telework Dentist/Doctor, the Telework Nurse, Telework Blood Donation/Kidney Dialysis/etc., Telework Chamber Maids, Telework Janitorial services, Telework waitstaff, plus telework Fire and Police!

      • Norman says

        You are so clever, Erik. hehehe

        No, firemen and policemen will still have to respond to problems by riding on trains, as usual. You know — the firetrains and police trains.

        I always schedule my dentist/doctor appointments during off-peak hours when I can drive anywhere I want to with no traffic problems. Don’t you?

      • Norman says

        Outside of NYC there are more people who work at home than who commute by transit. And working at home is growing much faster than transit use. Why waste billions and billions on stupidly expensive little trains when the clear trend is for more and more people to work from home?

        Working from home is the future.

      • Grant McWilliams says

        “Outside of NYC there are more people who work at home than who commute by transit.”

        Norman are you on crack?

      • Norman says

        Grant, this is right from the article:

        “At the current rate, more people could be working at home than riding transit by 2017. This is already the case in much of the country outside the New York metropolitan area, which represents a remarkable 39 percent of the nation’s transit commuters. Taking New York out of the picture, 31% more people (1.35 million) worked at home than traveled by transit, more than 4 times the 7% difference in 2000

        “Perhaps most surprising is the fact that Portland now has more people working at home than riding transit to work. This is a significant development. Portland is a model “smart growth” having spent at least $5 billion additional on light rail and bus expansions over the last 25 years. Portland was joined by other metropolitan areas Houston, Miami-West Palm Beach, New Orleans and San Jose, all of which have spent heavily on urban rail systems.”

        I am not on crack. Do you have a reading comprehensions problem?

      • Anc says

        Do you? From your own article:

        Nonetheless, the rate of increase in the work at home market share exceeded that of transit in 49 of the 52 major metropolitan areas. Transit’s increase was greater only in Washington, Seattle and Nashville (where the transit market share is miniscule).

      • Anc says

        Also, he’s cooking his numbers. He’s comparing telecommuting to transit FOR THE ENTIRE NATION.

        I can guarantee you telecommuting beats transit in my home town, which has broadband but where the only public transit is the school bus.

        How about you compare telecommuting to transit in cities that have a decent transit system?

  6. Michael Arnold says

    Martin, I don’t see the tracks that the Lego Streetcar runs on…doesn’t it come with the entire package? Also, is the Lego Streetcar easily expandable? Could they get this one to Aloha St. without much extra cost? :-)

    • Bruce says

      Judging by the frequency at which he trots out arguments that have been repeatedly debunked, he might be a patron at one of those stops.

  7. Bruce says

    So I know I keep asking hypothetical questions in these open threads, and people keep humoring me with useful answers, but has anyone contemplated what bus service on Cap Hill will look like after the First Hill Streetcar and U-Link go in?

    I figure that Cap Hill is a bit like Upper Queen Anne in that the optimal mode for local service from downtown is ETBs because of the steep grades involved. The streetcar will overlap with significant parts of 9, 60 and 49. But it looks like the stop spacing is wider than the current service. I’ve also read complaints about too much service too close together on Cap Hill although every Cap Hill bus I get on is pretty busy.

    • Aleks says

      I have no basis for this other than inference from the changes that Metro has made with Link and RapidRide before, but here are my predictions, in order of certainty:

      – The 43 will either be eliminated entirely, or truncated on the southwest end at CHS (Capitol Hill Station).
      – The 49 will be truncated on the south end at CHS. Even if the streetcar is extended to Aloha, the 49 will probably continue to CHS, because doing otherwise is just really annoying.
      – The 9, 14, and 60 will be truncated on the north end at the streetcar in the ID, or maybe at ID Station itself (to expand the transfer possibilities).
      – A new bus route segment will be created along 12th Ave between CHS and Jackson St. This will be added either to the 9, 14, 49, or 60.
      – The 12 will be eliminated.
      – The 10/11 will be combined into a single route that starts at 15th/Galer, heads down 15th, heads west at John, stops at CHS, heads south on Broadway, then heads east on Pine and follows the rest of the 11.

      Completely hypothetical of course. :) But this seems to be following Metro’s standard logic. Eliminate redundant service, and reorganize locals so that they serve the Link station. And unlike in the RV, they’ll be able to make these changes very aggressively, because a 3-minute transfer for a 7-minute shorter ride is totally worth it.

      • Bruce says

        That makes a lot of sense, although this would force the new 10/11 to be dieselized as there’s no wire out that way. Probably looking at $2-3 million for the wire.

      • Aleks says

        People have been asking for the 11 to be electrified for ages. If Metro doesn’t eliminate ETBs entirely, then spending the money to put up a wire along Madison seems like a worthwhile investment (and pocket change compared to building the streetcar/Link!).

      • Mike Skehan says

        You still have 2129 days to figure it out, so not much of a rush. One station between Westlake and Huskey Stadium doesn’t replace a ton of bus stops in between. I suspect most of those bus stops will remain operational after U-Link opens, with some new bus numbers, routings, span and frequency – most passing near CHS for those that wish to transfer.

      • Aleks says

        Mike,

        For north Capitol Hill, I agree with you. But there’s really no point in running service between CHS and Westlake — an extremely congested route — once you have U-Link. If you need to get from one part of Capitol Hill to another, you can take the combined 10/11 I described above. If you need to get from somewhere downtown to somewhere in Capitol Hill, you can take any bus (or walk) to CHS, and your destination will probably be within walking distance of one of the DSTT stations.

        If nothing else, a few things seem obvious:

        – During peak, Metro runs about 25 buses an hour along Pike/Pine between 3rd and Bellevue Ave. There’s no way they’ll keep doing that once U-Link opens.
        – Metro has committed to running service along 12th once the streetcar opens.
        – Metro will try its hardest to reroute every Capitol Hill bus so that it goes by CHS. This will necessarily mean big changes for the 10/11/12/14.

      • Kevin says

        I would expect to see many of the routes remain the same (8/10/11/12) with perhaps many of the 43s and all of the 49s ending at the Capitol Hill Station. I would imagine the 9 and the 60 (at least the north end of it) would likely be discontinued.

        If you’ve ridden the buses on Capitol Hill a lot of folks get on south and west of the new station – I don’t think many of them would be willing (or able in many cases) to walk up the hill to the station. I also think the Madison and Pike/Pine corridors have enough density to merit continued local bus service to Downtown.

      • Chris Stefan says

        I’m pretty sure we’ll continue to see buses on Pike/Pine between downtown and Broadway as well as service along Madison. The stops on the west side of the hill are very well used and the population density is some of the highest North of San Francisco.

        Not to mention that most of the Capitol Hill/First Hill routes are some of the best performing in the entire system.

        Which isn’t to say the Streetcar and Link shouldn’t result in some restructuring of bus service. Ideally into some sort of frequent grid network (or at least as much of one as is possible given topography, ETB wire, etc.)

        The Rapid Trolley Network plan offers some good starting points.

      • Mike Orr says

        I live on Pine/Bellevue and previously lived on Melrose/Thomas, so I ride the 10, 11, 14, 43, and 49 a lot. So when we talk about rerouting the 14 or eliminating the Pine buses, I think about what I or my neighbors would do and what they’d complain about. I can see some Summit people going to CHS or even SCCC (there’s no direct bus now), but most are transferring elsewhere.

        What about going from Pine/Bellevue to Trader Joe’s at 17th/Madison, as I do every week? I usually walk up and take the bus back. Currently the 10 and 11 go most of the way. WIth your change they’d turn on Broadway and I’d have to walk across the street and take the other bus going the other direction. If the segment from Westlake to Broadway had no buses at all, that would take out half my trip, and it would also mean no bus to Westlake if I’m tired or in a hurry.

        BTW, the reason I live there is it has the widest transit options until Link reaches Brooklyn. (My job is accessible only by a 30-minute bus from Brooklyn.) Once North Link is built, I’ll be comfortable living anywhere on the line.

    • Bruce says

      The 12 has been mentioned in STB comments as a route that should/could get axed due to it being too close to the 10 on the west and a bunch of 4x’s to the east, regardless of Link or the streetcar (I have no opinion.)

      They should keep good service on Pike/Pine though. Link doesn’t do much for that part of Cap Hill. And how else will I get to Linda’s after work?

    • Mike Orr says

      My recommendation:

      E/W routes:
      – 8 Denny/John
      – 10 Pine/15th
      – 11 Madison (reroute to Madison downtown)
      – (Delete 12, 43, and 49)

      N/S routes:
      – FHS (First Hill Streetcar)
      – 48 (23rd)
      – 49 (Capitol Hill stn to U-district ONLY)
      – (Delete or modify 9 and 60 and add 12th Ave service, see *)

      All these would be frequent (10-15 min, 6am-midnight, every day)

      The losses:
      – No direct John-downtown. (Walk to Pine Street or CHS)
      – Pine-Broadway requires transfer.
      – No service on 19th.
      – Gap between 14th/Pine and 17th/Madison (former 11), which is a hill.
      – No service on 9th and Madison segments of #60 (Harborview, central First Hill, Yesler Terrace)
      – North Rainier to UW requires transfer (7 tx Link @ ID — congested Jackson, 7 tx Mt Baker — backtrack, 7 tx FHS tx Link @ Capitol Hill — 2 transfers)

      (*) Re 12th Ave service and restructuring the 60 and 9, I’m not sure. One option is to run the 9 local from Mt Baker to the U-district; this would give a one-seat ride from north Rainier and First Hill to the U-district on existing trolley wire. Another option is to move the 60 to 12th between Jackson and Pine, and extend it to the U-district. But the Madison/9th routing serves elderly ppl on First Hill and Harborview patients who maybe can’t walk to the streetcar.

      Regarding 19th, there may be a significant number of elderly/disabled who need service. If so, add a 30-min route on 19th/Madison/Pine to either CHS or downtown; or extend the 10 from 15th/Galer to 19th/Madison. The former would also fill the Pine-Madison gap.

      I’m crossing my fingers that Metro will be willing to change the 11 and eliminate the 43 and 49, but history shows it will be difficult to convince the county council to allow it.

      • Aleks says

        This still has the problem of not routing the 10/11 near Link. If I want to get from the U-District to 12th and Pine, or 15th and Mercer, how should I do it?

        And what about the 14?

      • Mike Orr says

        Doesn’t the Capitol Hill station have entrances at Pine and Denny? That would serve the 10.

        The 14 would remain as-is. It serves a dense TOD area with steep hills. In the mornings it fills up in the first three stops. You can truncate it at Westlake to improve reliability.

      • d.p. says

        Entrances are at John and just south of Denny. The south entrance is a solid 5-minute walk from Pine. A 5-minute walk to transfer to a last-mile bus would be an astoundingly bad arrangement.

      • Aleks says

        What d.p. said. (Google Maps says it’s a 4-minute walk, to be precise.)

        I’m guessing that most of the people willing to make that transfer would be people who would be willing to walk to their destination from CHS without a local bus transfer. In fact, it’s only a 9-minute walk from the other entrance to 15th and John — so, at the 10’s current frequency, for most trips on the 10, it would be faster to walk from CHS.

        The story is somewhat better for the 11, though it becomes much worse if the 11 is rerouted down Madison. (I’m not sure why that idea is so appealing to people — diagonals are the antithesis of efficient grids. New York recently turned Broadway from a major artery into a pedestrian boulevard, and traffic patterns have greatly improved as a result.)

        In contrast, a combined 10/11 as I described above would serve 15th, Pike/Pine, and Madison Park with frequent service to CHS, and thus provide a shorter ride to downtown (or anywhere else on Link) than today.

        Same goes for the 14. Suppose that I want to get from some arbitrary Link station to Bellevue & Roy. Without any reroutes, the standard transfer point for this trip will be Westlake, meaning that during peak, you’ll get stuck in the terrible congestion on Pike/Pine between downtown and Capitol Hill. Even off-peak, that’s generally not a fast trip. But with a reroute to CHS, you avoid that choke point entirely.

      • d.p. says

        The best solution for getting between CHS and anywhere else on the hill or further afield would probably be to emphasize a pair of long, straight, ultra-frequent gridded routes to the north/south (combined 49 & 9) and to the east/west (8 as far as Madison, then 11 to Lake Washington). Most destinations are an easy walk from one of those axes or from the 48.

        But that won’t happen, because we have to have a streetcar! A poorly designed, snail-slow, zig-zagging streetcar made totally worthless by its infrequency! Yay!

      • Mike Orr says

        There are two non-streets between Denny and Pine (Howell and Olive), so the distance is 2 1/2 blocks. That’s not worse than transferring subway platforms in some cities, and visually SCCC unifies it into one “station”.

        The advantage of all-Madison is it simplifies the routing. No more, “Different parts of Madison have different routes, and the Madison Park route goes on Pine, not Madison.” Counterarguments are that Pine is more the center of the city and has better transfers. I think the 11 would have to go to Westlake, not CHS. It’s one thing to transfer in the U-district and again downtown. Those are different parts of the city, 3+ miles apart, with a waterway in between. It’s another thing to transfer at CHS and again downtown, where the distance is only 1 mile. That would be as aggrevating as transferring to the FHS at 12th/Jackson and again at ID stn.

        The distance from downtown to Capitol Hill is so short that I don’t think you’ll see the buses abandoned when CHS opens. Link’s purpose is for regional trips, not piddly little trips.

        Another idea would be to keep the 11 and make the 10 a shuttle, or extend the 10 south on 12th for that 12th Avenue route. The 11 is plausably an “east-west grid route” given Seattle’s terrain, and the 10 is really an extra like the 14, which wouldn’t be there except for the hills. How about 14/10? But really, most people on Summit, 15th, and Madison want to go downtown, not to CHS.

        I forgot to mention earlier, Pine Street should be made two-way for buses, and move all the Pike/Pine buses to Pine. That would give a two-way connection to Westlake Station, and avoid the two turns on Bellevue.

      • d.p. says

        Mike, I wish the SCCC were the great unifier you describe, but it’s just not true. The moment the sun goes down, there is no space anywhere on Capitol Hill more dead than that stretch of Broadway.

        And not even the most labyrinthine multi-passageway transfer on the New York or Paris subways actually takes more the 2-3 minutes to walk. Making such a well-defined, all-enclosed transfer between two rapid transit lines is simply incomparable to forcing riders to emerge from CHS (which will take 60+ seconds itself, BTW) and then walk 4-5 minutes down an abandoned campus frontage.

        Meanwhile, every time I mention that Capitol Hill really needed 2 or more stations, I’m told that a last-mile transfer is perfectly reasonable. The way you envision it is not reasonable. It’s really, really not reasonable.

        Nor is it reasonable to suggest that anyone should be forced to continue the Westlake-to-Broadway slog on a bus once a billion-dollar subway alternative exists. That buses never traverse that “short distance” in less than 10 minutes, and the frequently do it in more than 20. No one should have to keep doing that every day because someone thought they might prefer to transfer downtown.

      • Mike Orr says

        A last-mile transfer is different from two transfers in the middle because the bus was too lazy to go one more mile to a major transfer point. Where in other cities is there a situation similar to this, where a bus like the 10, 11, or 14 terminates at a minor station that’s just one mile from a major station like Westlake or Intl Dist.

      • Aleks says

        The distance from downtown to Capitol Hill is so short that I don’t think you’ll see the buses abandoned when CHS opens. Link’s purpose is for regional trips, not piddly little trips.

        I strongly disagree. I think that the one-stop ride from CHS to Westlake will be one of the most common single trips on Link, once U-Link opens. And like d.p. says, it may be a short distance, but it sure isn’t a short bus trip.

        But really, most people on Summit, 15th, and Madison want to go downtown, not to CHS.

        First of all, I don’t think there’s any evidence this is true. Certainly, most of my own trips on the 10/11 have been between different parts of Capitol Hill.

        But either way, for large portions of the day, the trip from 10th and Galer would actually be *faster* with a transfer at CHS — even including the transfer time! — than with a direct route. And for people who wanted to go anywhere other than Westlake, the advantages are only compounded.

        The only people who wouldn’t “win” from this change would be people who transfer from the 10 to a southbound bus at downtown, and would have to take 3 vehicles instead of 2. But given that their total travel time — again, including waiting — would be reduced, I imagine that most of them would get used to it. :)

        I forgot to mention earlier, Pine Street should be made two-way for buses, and move all the Pike/Pine buses to Pine. That would give a two-way connection to Westlake Station, and avoid the two turns on Bellevue.

        +1! This should have been done yesterday! Not that I think we need buses on Pine after 2016, but that’s still 5 years away :)

        A last-mile transfer is different from two transfers in the middle because the bus was too lazy to go one more mile to a major transfer point. Where in other cities is there a situation similar to this, where a bus like the 10, 11, or 14 terminates at a minor station that’s just one mile from a major station like Westlake or Intl Dist.

        In Boston, there are at least a dozen buses which terminate at Haymarket Station, 0.7 miles and 2 short subway stations north of “downtown” (i.e. Downtown Crossing). Proportionally, I’d bet that Haymarket is the final destination for a much smaller percentage of these riders than Capitol Hill is for riders of the 10. And yet they choose to route the buses this way to avoid running them down super-congested city streets.

      • Aleks says

        Oh, also meant to add:

        No one should have to keep doing that every day because someone thought they might prefer to transfer downtown.

        That’s the key point. It would be one thing to reroute buses like the 10/11/12/14 so that they went to both CHS and Westlake; I’d still think it was a pointless duplication of service, but I could live with that.

        But having those buses stick to their current routes means that everyone who wants to go from 15th to CHS, or to anywhere north, has to go all the way to downtown, then back out.

        The current routing only serves people whose destination is downtown. I want the routing to serve everyone.

      • Mike Orr says

        I didn’t realize Aleks’ 10/11 is really a 10/43/11 on 15th-John-Bwy-Pine-Madison rather than 15th-Pine-Bwy-(turnaround)-Bwy-Pine-Madison. Believe it or not, taht was the route I imagined on my way home, then now realized it’s the same as Aleks’ proposal. Yes, that makes more sense. It would keep the 10 riders in a southwesterly direction without backtracking, and the 11 riders would backtrack only around SCCC, and the gap on 15th is small. And I suppose if you’re on Link, you’d rather ride two stops to Univ St and be closer to the bus stops, than Westlake where you aren’t. Unless you’re going north.

        You’d need the full 49 to complement that, or at least something on both 49 segments.

        If the 14 goes to CHS without going south of Denny, that might be OK, especially if you double the frequency. But if it goes down to Pine, it’s equidistant between the stations, and there are more destinations at Westlake.

        An all-Madison route does have another drawback: the bow tie where Madison and Union converge with 11th and 12th. I’ve always hated how the 2 and 12 have to turn twice there.

      • Aleks says

        I didn’t realize Aleks’ 10/11 is really a 10/43/11 on 15th-John-Bwy-Pine-Madison rather than 15th-Pine-Bwy-(turnaround)-Bwy-Pine-Madison.

        Exactly! Sorry if I was unclear. I can see why you didn’t like the other route — that sounds pretty terrible. :)

        You’d need the full 49 to complement that, or at least something on both 49 segments.

        We’ll still have the 49 north of Denny and the FHS south. Leaving aside the question of whether the FHS is a good investment (we’re getting it whether we want it or not), that seems to cover it.

        If the 14 goes to CHS without going south of Denny, that might be OK, especially if you double the frequency.

        Exactly. Though now that you mention it, I’m not entirely sure how that would work — you might have to add some wire, or do a couple of very awkward turns from Bellevue to Olive and from Olive to Summit. So you’re probably right that it’s more convenient for the 14 to stay west of Summit, and just continue going to Westlake.

        An all-Madison route does have another drawback: the bow tie where Madison and Union converge with 11th and 12th. I’ve always hated how the 2 and 12 have to turn twice there.

        Yep. Diagonals: they’re a killer. :)

      • Aleks says

        You’d need the full 49 to complement that, or at least something on both 49 segments.

        Oh, I just realized that you probably mean the part of the 49 between Westlake and Broadway/Pine, not the imaginary part of the 49 between Broadway/Pine and the ID. ;) In that case, I respectfully disagree. To get from Broadway/Pine to Westlake, or most places in between, it would be faster by far to take Link, even if it means walking a couple of extra blocks. And anyway, anyone on Pike/Pine is only a couple of blocks away from a local bus, whether it’s the 14 (west of Summit) or the 11 (east of Broadway).

      • Mike Orr says

        (Reposted due to being in the wrong place.)

        I live on Pine/Bellevue and previously lived on Melrose/Thomas, so I ride the 10, 11, 14, 43, and 49 a lot. So when we talk about rerouting the 14 or eliminating the Pine buses, I think about what I or my neighbors would do and what they’d complain about. I can see some Summit people going to CHS or even SCCC (there’s no direct bus now), but most are transferring elsewhere.

        What about going from Pine/Bellevue to Trader Joe’s at 17th/Madison, as I do every week? I usually walk up and take the bus back. Currently the 10 and 11 go most of the way. WIth your change they’d turn on Broadway and I’d have to walk across the street and take the other bus going the other direction. If the segment from Westlake to Broadway had no buses at all, that would take out half my trip, and it would also mean no bus to Westlake if I’m tired or in a hurry.

        BTW, the reason I live there is it has the widest transit options until Link reaches Brooklyn. (My job is accessible only by a 30-minute bus from Brooklyn.) Once North Link is built, I’ll be comfortable living anywhere on the line.

      • Aleks says

        That’s a fair point.

        One possibility would be to have the 10/11 go all the way to Bellevue Ave, rather than turning on Broadway. But that’s a significant backtrack for riders on the 11.

        But really, I think you’re right that it makes sense to keep a local bus on Pine. It’s just too bad that there’s no easy way for that bus to pass by CHS.

  8. Bruce says

    One more question… can our ETBs (or any, for that matter) deal with reversed polarity on the wires? To put it differently, can you run an ETB in either direction on the same wire?

    • Lloyd says

      I remember being told that the “old” electrics (1940-1978) could not; not sure about the 4100/4200s

      • Kaleci says

        The AMG trolleys could…I had to use the opposite wire to get around a blocking truck on Union Street back when I was driving bus in the 80s.

      • M says

        As they are the NFC West division winner, they will host a wild card game on Saturday. After that, there is no possible way for them to have a home game.

      • Martin H. Duke says

        If the Packers and Seahawks both make it to the NFC championship, I believe it would be at Qwest.

      • M says

        I’m sorry, Martin is correct. I forgot that the NFL doesn’t reseed after the first or second round.

  9. Lor Scara says

    Quick question
    In Snohomish County CT imposes it’s 0.9% sales tax on a Precinct by Precinct basis, Does King County Metro impose it’s 0.9% tax on a pricinct levle or is it county wide?

    • aw says

      The KC transit tax is county-wide, but ST’s sales tax is not. Probably at the state level, sales taxes are tracked at a precinct level so they can distribute the revenues correctly, not just for the transit districts, but also for local governments that have local option sales tax.

    • says

      Because only parts of Snohomish County which joined CT will have the sales tax imposed, likewise for ST. CT is a separate entity from county government, unlike KC Metro.

  10. says

    I just came across a really cool web site devoted to exploring all of the places people aren’t supposed to go like sewers and abandoned subway stations. I’ve got to wonder why cities haven’t tapped into a potential revenue stream for some of these things. The Seattle underground tours is a prime example.

    Anyway, here’s a short blog post I wrote referencing the article on NPR & Undercity.org where you can view videos and pictures, mostly from New York.

  11. Mike Orr says

    Early Friday morning I couldn’t sleep so I took a walk from Capitol Hill to Queen Anne, and I happened to reach Kerry Park fifteen minutes before the first #2 went downtown at 5:09am. So I took the bus back expecting it to be empty but there were 12 people on it, and an additional 14 people got on by the time it reached Pike Street. So I guess a lot of people on Queen Anne go to work early.

  12. Lloyd says

    Fares are going up in London – note the penalties for NOT using Oyster:

    Buses and Trams

    * A single cash fare rises from £2 to £2.20
    * Oyster pay as you go fares will increase by 10p to £1.30

    Maximum fare for not touching in/out

    If you don’t touch in and out on the Tube, London Overground, DLR & National Rail, you may be charged a maximum Oyster fare of up to £7.40.

    Will Seattle EVER get it together?

    • barman says

      Can we please stop the Seattle -> London/Paris/New York/Tokyo comparisons?

      Seattle is no where NEAR the size, ridership, capacity, capability or anything even comparable to these cities. Not by a long shot. We simply cannot expect a world-class transit system from Seattle because Seattle is not a world-class city.

      It’s one thing to push for improvements. It’s one thing to look at your ‘bigger, older brothers’ for inspiration. It’s another to critique Seattle, ST, Metro or anyone else around here for ‘not getting their act together’ because they can’t seem to emulate London. If that’s what you want, you’ll never be satisfied. Unless of course you move to London.

      • Bruce says

        I agree that those comparisons (in general) are irritating and unreasonable, especially when made in the cranky tone above. He doesn’t seem to realize that if you don’t tap off Link you DO pay the max fare.

        He does have an entirely valid point in complaining about the lack of cost incentive to switch to ORCA. Even a 25c difference on the bus would get lots of people off the fence. Or abolishing paper transfers (although that would cause a riot and probably should come later.)

        Valley Metro (Phoenix) penalizes buying day passes on board vs. off-board (they have no ORCA system) and God knows Phoenix isn’t London or Tokyo.

      • alexjonlin says

        Extensiveness of a transit system has everything to do with how large the city is, but quality has absolutely nothing to do with it. Just because we’re much smaller than New York an Tokyo and Paris doesn’t mean we can’t have things like incentives to use ORCA.



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