News Roundup: Saving Lives

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This is an open thread.

About Martin H. Duke

Martin joined the blog in Fall 2007 and became Editor-in-Chief in 2009. He is originally from suburban DC, but has lived in the Greater Seattle area since 1997. He resides with his family in Columbia City and works as a software engineer in Lower Queen Anne.




Comments

  1. On the topic of loving the bus:
    What about clear windows vs tinted vs random colored windows? Personally, I like the Bredas because the windows are clear. Nearly every other Seattle bus I can think of has dark tinted windows, which seems to make the bus kind of dark and dingy feeling. San Diego, for whatever reason, has blue tinted windows which screw up the color of everything outside. IMO, clear is nice because it lets in the more natural light and retains color clarity. Thoughts?

    BTW, check out the new London Bus interior. Quite the nice place to be!
    http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/new-cars/new-bus-for-london-driven/260508/pictures/new-bus-for-london-driven.aspx?im=478944

    • I don’t know the buses well enough to know which buses are which, but I do prefer clear windows greatly.

    • Jason Mitchell says:

      Oh good grief, yes. Had never seen tinted windows before moving here. Ruins the experience at night, and half the time I can’t see my stop.

    • Tinted windows are what you get when a bus is designed by car drivers. Of course you want tinted windows if you’re driving — you need to be able to see the road under high glare. But as a bus passenger, where you can easily avert your eyes if necessary, you want as much glass as possible.

  2. joshuadf says:

    Video of San Francisco from remote control helicopter by robert mcintosh

    http://vimeo.com/28706477

    Nice city shots about 3:30 in, including a brief cameo by a cable car.

  3. I just saw one of these at the QFC parking lot — the Ford Transit Connect.

    It’s a kind of SUV, mini-Van thing — but it looks like a paratransit vehicle.

    http://www.ford.com/trucks/transitconnect/

    Wonder if they could use these for real transit in suburban areas.

    • Cheesewheels says:

      They’re really designed for in-city runabout jobs. Maintenance, light cargo, etc. They’re pretty customizable for businesses, and they have far and away the best fuel economy for vans of that capacity. Not sure how efficient they’d be for transit though, despite the name.

    • Lack Thereof says:

      The Transit Connect in your QFC parking lot is about as big as that platform can go. It’s an expanded body on the Ford Focus platform, so minivan size is as big as it can get without fundamental changes to the underlying architecture. And because the Focus/Transit is a unibody vehicle, cutaway chassis with custom passenger bodies are impossible.

      There are wheelchair-access versions of the Transit available, mainly sold to Taxicab companies who need a few in their fleet for ADA compliance. Ford prototyped some out when they were still in the running for the NYC taxi contract, but now private upfitters are building them for use by other organizations. The typical setup is rear ramp-loading with a lowered floor behind the 2nd row bench, which allows space for one chair but requires manual loading.

      We are just recently starting to see wheelchair lifts built specifically for the Transit… traditional full-size van lifts cannot be installed on a Transit because it has no traditional frame rails. With a lift, you can have a flat floor all the way up to the back of the drivers seat – something impossible with a ramp + dropped floor configuration for structural reasons. This might get you enough room to squeeze 2 wheelchair passengers in the back, but I’m not sure.

      Here’s a youtube tour of the two main styles as interpreted by a major west-coast upfitter

      This probably doesn’t give enough passenger capacity for a typical paratransit operation – even though minivan-based accessible vans have been around for nearly 2 decades now (and taxicab operators have adopted them en masse), all the paratransit operators still prefer cutaway vans with large passenger bodies. They seem to desire vehicles with a capacity for several chairs.

  4. This seems like it would have a major impact on downtown traffic…and transit!

    Seattle’s port losing big customer to Tacoma

    A consortium of three shipping lines that accounts for about 20 percent of the Port of Seattle’s container traffic is moving to Tacoma.

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2017698655_grandalliance09.html

    • Ryan on Summit says:

      I don’t know about you, but I think Tacoma needs all the help it can get. So, good news.

    • Lack Thereof says:

      Every time a major shipper moves from Seattle to Tacoma, Seattle’s remaining customers grow to use the newly freed capacity at the Port. This happens every few years and I’m not terribly concerned.

  5. I’ve seen the C line construction updates. Any word on when they’re starting the D line?

  6. Saw an ETB get in some trouble today. At around 10:30 this morning, I was riding the 12 up Marion when a transit supervisor van passed us in a hurry. We turned the corner onto 6th ave., and saw an E40 with one of its poles down. The other pole was jammed between one of the electric wires and a support cable, and both the driver and the supervisor were trying to get it down.

    It’ll be great having new ETBs with battery backup, that’s for sure.

  7. Cheesewheels says:

    IRT the congestion relief, while it might not be important to you Martin, it’s vital for companies that rely on truck shipping, and therefor, for the entire regional economy. Every hour of delay = tens of thousands of lost dollars or more. Look what happens when we have to close Snoqualmie Pass, for example. We need to focus on making rapid transit the reliable and attractive solution for individuals, rather than making the roads hell for everyone.

    • Matt the Engineer says:

      That’s where tolling really helps. A few dollars is nothing for a business compared to time saved.

    • That’s the thing — it’s not clear that improving rapid transit actually does cause lasting traffic relief (much as constructing more roads often doesn’t). If you care mostly about traffic congestion you should be very interested in the question of whether or not transit is actually effective at reducing road congestion, but it’s a really hard question to answer. On the other hand, like Matt says, targeted tolling definitely reduces congestion.

    • 520 tolling hasn’t provided conjestion relief; it’s caused conjestion diversion. I-90 and SR-522 are much worse. There’s something like a 10% overall reduction total trips of which much was taken up with increased transit use but the additional delay to all the people using the alternate routes far exceeds the time saved by the relatively few willing to pay the toll. I-90 really should be tolled and I think with Mariners traffic the users of that bridge will see the light. Not sure what to do about 522. More transit but how to pay for it? I doubt there will be much support for using toll money to pay for a transit subsidy.

      • Matt the Engineer says:

        Yes. I-90 should absolutely be tolled. It does make 520 nice an empty though.

        How do you pay for more transit? Asking for more taxing authority would be a start. If only tolls could pay for buses…

    • Lack Thereof says:

      Truck shipping is a tiny fraction of roadway traffic – less that 10% iirc. And congestion will happen. No matter how big you build the roads, SOVs will fill them up and delay freight traffic.

      I’ve been a supporter of allowing freight traffic to use the HOV lanes (provided there is an associated licensing fee diverted to the lane construction/maintenance). We could then expand the HOV/Freight lane system through key bottlenecks, with the political and financial support of two separate interest groups. There would be no bigger cheerleader for improving the HOV lane system than the trucking industry.

  8. Another Idea for a Metro Vehicle Improvement:

    Mandatory Passive Wheelchair Restraints by 2016

    To address the overabundance of wheelchair users in Seattle/King County and the overall necessity to keep buses running on time at all costs, it should be mandatory for all new bus orders to come with a minimum of TWO (2) passive restraints on each coach. In addition, it should be mandatory that all existing vehicles expected to remain in active service beyond 12/31/15 be retrofitted with two passive restraints if not already equipped (just like all coaches have to be fitted with OBS by 12/31/12). The end result is a significant reduction in wheelchair delays.

  9. PITF reports on North Sounder. Why are they still running it?
    http://www.globaltelematics.com/pitf/SounderNorth.htm

    • Lack Thereof says:

      Because stopping it is most likely a political impossibility.

      Sounder exists because it was easy to implement and because it serves as a convenient excuse to not do something better.

      That said, Everett-Seattle is a very heavily used corridor on all modes, so it’s hard to eliminate ANY option from this commute, even one as sparsely used and expensive as Sounder.

      • Well, for the $720M they will have spent over a 40 year term, they could have ten times as many buses leaving from Everett to Seattle and not charge a penny for the trip. How many cars would that take off of I-5?

      • Gordon Werner says:

        the real question is … would it be cheaper to extend Link to Everett?

        if Link would be cheaper to extend and operate then there would be no need for the North Sounder line …

      • That wouldn’t help the people who commute from Mukilteo or Edmonds (or Clinton/Kingston).

      • Gordon Werner says:

        aw … but bus connections to link would be cheaper and faster than trains/buses downtown in rush hour

    • Jim Cusick says:

      From the PITF website:

      Founders: Dick Nelson, John Niles, and Jerry Schneider
      Editor in Chief: John Niles
      Contributing Authors: James MacIsaac, Emory Bundy, Rich Harkness, Don Padelford

    • What’s an “entrained bus”? In a google search the top listing is “RCW 81.104.120: Commuter rail service — Voter approval.”

    • Cheesewheels says:

      I ride the north Sounder from Everett. I also notice that the 510 bus is often crammed. I think part of the problem is the scheduling is TERRIBLE. 4 trains, leaving at 5:45, 6:15, 6:45, and 7:15. Half the time I miss the 7:15, and have to take the bus. I understand that it’s marketed towards business commuters, but not everyone needs to be at work at O’Christ hundred AM. How about a 7:45 or 8:15 train please?

      • Gordon Werner says:

        I think a lot of it has to do with BNSF and when they will allow passenger trains to use their tracks

      • Well, for the 1/4 billion they were given, they should be willing to strap on a mattress and be ready to service Sounder anytime they want.

      • Nathanael says:

        The requirement by BNSF was for certain specific projects, mostly double-tracking, to be finished before Sounder could get more trains (and more flexible scheduling).

        They aren’t finished yet, for various reasons.

        Now, the entire plan was predicated on the line NOT being covered in mud all the time. So really, it would be worth reconsidering it and trying to build a new heavy rail route (for Cascades) from Seattle northwards. And then it would make sense to run Sounder on that route.

        But nobody was thinking at the time about the effects of global warming, changes in land use, etc. etc…. sigh.

  10. Gordon Werner says:

    Los Angeles Metro recommends Kinkisharyo for their new LRVs … (they make our Link LRVs for those who do not know)

    http://thesource.metro.net/2012/03/08/metro-staff-recommends-contract-for-purchase-of-new-light-rail-cars/

    • As you pointed out in your comment there, these are like our LRVs, except high floor and with a single articulation joint.

      I would also add that there are no stairs inside.

      • Gordon Werner says:

        that’s cause they are highfloor. the steps in our LRVs are so the power trucks have room under the floor.

        100% lowfloor trams/LRVs cannot reach the 55mph speeds that we want (at least not yet) … so you will see steps in LRVs like ours, Portland, etc … including the European equivalent known as Tram-Trains

  11. Gordon Werner says:

    According to KC Metro … by the end of the year ALL of Metro’s buses will have OBS and the automated stop announcement system.

    this includes the ENTIRE ETB fleet (yes … even the Bredas!)

  12. lorscara says:

    Just saw this, from a Block Watch posting, and not here ;)

    Sound Transit hosting light rail planning sessions next week
    Sound Transit is hosting 10 community meetings beginning next week and encourages community members to stop by any of the drop-in sessions to get a look at potential light rail station and alignment locations between Northgate and Lynnwood. Find a list of meeting dates and locations on the Sound Transit website.

    http://projects.soundtransit.org/Projects-Home/Project-Updates/North-Corridor-Transit-Project-April-2011.xml

  13. Dan Carey says:

    I’m glad to see that Cascades is finally getting some more trains, in the form of the ones that ODOT bought.

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