Sunday Open Thread: King Street Restoration

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. “The Twelve Days of BRT-mass”

    On the first day of burtmass, my city gave to me
    … a lack of signal priority
    On the second day of burtmass, my city brought to me
    … two bulb-less stops, and
    … a lack of signal priority
    On the third day of burtmass, my city gave to me
    … three sprawl-to-rides,
    … two bulb-less stops, and
    … a lack of signal priority

    • On the fourth day of burtmass, my city gave to me
      … four missed transfers
      … three sprawl-to-rides,
      … two bulb-less stops, and
      … a lack of signal priority

      On the fifth day of burtmass, my city gave to me
      … five hundred passengers!
      … four missed transfers
      … three sprawl-to-rides,
      … two bulb-less stops, and
      … a lack of signal priority

      On the sixth day of burtmass, my city gave to me
      … six more broken arrival signs
      … five hundred passengers!
      … four missed transfers
      … three sprawl-to-rides,
      … two bulb-less stops, and
      … a lack of signal priority

      • John Slyfield says:

        On the seventh day of burtmass, my city gave to me
        … seven stops without orca readers!
        … six more broken arrival signs
        … five hundred passengers!
        … four missed transfers
        … three sprawl-to-rides,
        … two bulb-less stops, and
        … a lack of signal priority

      • On the eighth day of burtmass, my city gave to me
        … eight miles per hour on 15th!
        … seven stops without orca readers!
        … six more broken arrival signs
        … five hundred passengers!
        … four missed transfers
        … three sprawl-to-rides,
        … two bulb-less stops, and
        … a lack of signal priority

      • On the ninth day of burtmass, my city gave to me
        … nine-minute detours
        … eight miles per hour on 15th!
        … seven stops without orca readers!
        … six more broken arrival signs
        … five hundred passengers!
        … four missed transfers
        … three sprawl-to-rides,
        … two bulb-less stops, and
        … a lack of signal priority!

        On the ninth day of burtmass, my city gave to me
        … ten percent sales tax
        … nine-minute detours
        … eight miles per hour on 15th!
        … seven stops without orca readers!
        … six more broken arrival signs
        … five hundred passengers!
        … four missed transfers
        … three sprawl-to-rides,
        … two bulb-less stops, and
        … a lack of signal priority!

      • [On the tenth day of burtmass, my city gave to me ... no edit feature!]

      • On the eleventh day of BRT-mass, my city gave to me
        - eleven and three-score years-old through-routings
        … ten percent sales tax
        … nine-minute detours
        … eight miles per hour on 15th!
        … seven stops without orca readers!
        … six more broken arrival signs
        … five hundred passengers!
        … four missed transfers
        … three sprawl-to-rides,
        … two bulb-less stops, and
        … a lack of signal priority!

      • On the twelfth day of BRT-mass, my city gave to me
        … twelve tired excuses
        [wait, only twelve? that seems low]
        … eleven and three-score years-old through-routings
        … ten percent sales tax
        … nine-minute detours
        … eight miles per hour on 15th
        … seven stops without orca readers
        … six more broken arrival signs
        … five hundred passengers!
        … four missed transfers
        … three sprawl-to-rides
        … two bulb-less stops
        … and a lack of signal priority!

  2. King street fan says:

    I personally cannot WAIT to see the completed King Street Station. With the ticket counter relocated, there’s going to be so much more room in there. And I hope something public (bar/restaurant, etc) goes in the mezzanine space. They’ll need activity up there to keep it from becoming a homeless hangout.

    • Lightning says:

      Plus a first class/business class lounge, though I don’t think that is in the current renovation plan. Sure would be nice.

      • King street fan says:

        I would think you’d want that downstairs. Moving that many people between floors with only one elevator would me a mess. Put that where the ticket office used to be,

      • I meant on the first floor. Also, thought it’s a small thing, I HOPE the renovated lobby will have a nice digital arrival and departure board. Nothing was more tacky than that tack board easel-type cheap and ugly set up near the Quik-Trak kiosks where they had to tack on letter by letter, number by number, train arrival times.

  3. John Slyfield says:

    looks like we have another mudslide which means no sounder north. if you want to build ridership, Sound Transit, i suggest using reliable services instead of having to cancel because of a poorly situated line.

    • Where would you suggest they build tracks?

      • John Slyfield says:

        last i checked they are working on designing link to lynmwood which will have a bigger impact than sounder does.

    • Jim Cusick says:

      Mudslide at 4AM Sunday has reset the clock.

      Sound Transit Alerts say Tuesday for Sounder North service to resume.

      Amtrak has a Seattle-Edmonds-Everett ‘bus-bridge’ in place for all trains.

      We’ll see what the next rainstorm brings.

    • Are there any records of how often these mudslides happen?

  4. King Street Station is owned by the City of Seattle. But Amtrak and Sound Transit are the two biggest beneficiaries of the aging relic. The Feds and Seattle are stuck with the restoration bill. My question is, how much does Amtrak and Sound Transit pay Seattle to use this facility?

    • Jim Cusick says:

      Yep,
      Just think how much farther that money could go towards road improvements, under the guise of BRT for Seattle area locals.

      Going with Peter Rogoff’s paint scheme, how many cans would that buy?

      • Your response to my comment is somewhere in between petulant and batshit crazy, as you responded to a question I didn’t ask.

      • Jim Cusick says:

        It’s intentionally snarky, Sam.

        I find the endless navel-gazing that transit wonks do on this blog tiring.

        All the while the Highway Lobby cruises into your wallet, and keeps steering planning decisions their way, because you spend so much time nit picking the minutiae of costs.

        I don’t know what Amtrak pays, probably not enough, given the original agreements that were set up between the freight railroads and Amtrak way back when. No doubt not market share.

        So what?

        I’m telling you guys, the Highway Lobby is eating your lunch!

      • JonCracolici says:

        Preach it Jim!

    • The citizens of Seattle are the biggest beneficiaries. That’s why the city thought it was important enough to buy and restore. A beautiful central train station is a gateway to a city, and having national and regional trains running in it with a local transit hub right next door shows the city has its priorities right. Too many American cities tore down their train stations or converted them to shops or offices: it’s a distinction to have an art deco station functioning and being restored.

      • Sophia Katt says:

        I agree wholeheartedly. Plus, it was embarrassing to have a train station that was uglier than that of Bellingham’s and Tacoma’s (which are quite cool).

      • Art deco? King Street Station is not art deco.

      • John Bailo says:

        As far a a gateway to the city, whatever plaster repair they do to the station is dwarfed by the horrific platform itself. That whole cavern on the east side…it’s completely creepy. Plus the Sounder station…which probably has thousands more arrivals each year than Amtrak, is bereft of any facilities whatsoever. And the station as well…is there even a Starbucks in there?

      • Chris Stefan says:

        Tacoma Union Station hasn’t been the Tacoma Amtrak station since 1984. There is an Amshack over near the Tacoma dome. Freighthouse Square, even with minimal changes will be a much nicer station for Tacoma than the current Amshack.

        The old Tacoma Union Station is now a US District Courthouse.

      • John Bailo says:

        In other cities I’ve lived in when they redo a train station they rework it into a complete mixed use facility…mall, restaurants, office park. Pittsburgh Union Station for example.

      • King Street station isn’t as big as most major-city stations, presumably because Seattle service was never completely consolidated at the height of the railroad era.

        King Street served the Great Northern Railway and Northern Pacific Railway, while Union Station served the Union Pacific Railroad and Milwaukee Road until the demise of their respective passenger services.

        While Union Station is no Grand Central Terminal, a somewhat larger footprint than King Street might have allowed it a better mixed-use afterlife had it been rehabbed in another era.

    • Amtrak is not just a for-profit company selling widgets or entertainment like Microsoft or the Seahawks. It’s a public service providing a basic transportation need. If it didn’t exist, the state would have to run trains itself. Oh wait, it already does, by funding the Cascades.

    • Amtrak does pay money back to the city for leasing use of the facility. Although, like any major public facility (Airport, Transit Center, Stadium) i’m sure the lease payments will not pay off the capital cost of the renovations and improvments. Considering its a gateway into the city for those travelling by rail (much like Sea-Tac is the gateway for those coming into the region for those travelling by air), I think its importaint for the city to have an attractive, clean, and safe terminal. Speaking of KSS, whatever happend to the idea of having Greyhound serve the terminal? There was a project to replace their terminal with a high rise building (or two) but that dosent seem to have gone anywhere since the collapse of the economy.

      • My understanding is that Greyhound lost their lease so they’ve been looking for a place to move.

        My off the wall idea would be to turn the ‘old’ Uwajimaya complex into a bus terminal.

    • Tim Whittome says:

      The question is immaterial, Sam. Restoring King Street Station whoever is paying for it, is the sort of project we needc in our city whether in or out of a recession.

      • I don’t think any question about how much money Seattle makes or loses on a piece of property it owns is immaterial. I’m curious about how much money Seattle receives in rent or other payments from agencies like Amtrak or ST for use of its property. Or do you think such questions are none of the public’s business?

  5. Considering its the welcome mat to the city for those coming in on rail. I think it’s important to have a nice looking clean and safe terminal for rail passengers regardless of how much money it costs to build and how much rent is collected. Has anyone heard any more about greyhound moving its terminal to KSS. A couple years ago there were plans to redevelope the old interurban terminal now greyhound into a pair of 50 story towers.

    • Haven’t heard anything for a while. The city repeatedly offered Greyhound space in the emerging multimodal terminal but Greyhound rebuffed it until its own terminal was going to be closed. I assume there’s ongoing negotiations but I haven’t heard anything. Greyhound may be distracted by its other national woes. Its ridership is going down and lines keep getting cut. The Seattle-Chicago route was cut in the early 2000s, and now the Seattle-Denver route is gone to. If you make a reservation, it’ll put you through on regional non-Greyhound segments.

      • The Spiral of Death…..

        I kinda thought Sea-Tac airport would have made a good terminal for connecting passengers. Routes from the South could have served the airport terminal, than continued onto seattle and made stops on the street like Grey Line did with the Airporter, or BOLT does. Routes from the North and East could have made the same stops before continuing onto the airport to terminate. Now, granted most of those passengers probally were not coming for connecting flights, however there is security at the airport to keep the sleepers out, and it makes good regional connectivity PR, plus the airport could collect some rent for use of those bus bays they have at door 00.

      • Nathanael says:

        Greyhound offers booking in most of the Northeast strictly through partner companies. It’s well into its death spiral.

    • So what’s the reason for Greyhound’s demise. Is it just too infrequent buses, bad customer service, unruly passengers, late buses, and being bumped when the bus is full? Or are too many people going to planes and cars? Or is it mainly corporate / Wall Street issues?

      Should we be worried about the lack of alternatives if Greyhound does fall apart? It’s not like the US has a robust choice of interstate transportation. I guess if other carriers step in to fill all the pieces, and if the reservation system remains intact, it won’t matter… except that the other carriers, being regional, are even less frequent and have more transfers.

  6. SMP Belltown says:

    How are the acoustics there now? Old spaces like that often need a lot of warm bodies mingling about on the main floor to keep sounds from getting annoyingly harsh.

    I’d guess that various acoustic issues are is of the reasons that ugly lower ceilings got put into spaces like that in the first place. That, and heating costs.

    But the restoration is definitely looking nice.

    • Joseph Singer says:

      Well, you could get rid of all that fancy plasterwork and put in an acoustical dropped ceiling with daylight fluorescent lighting. That for sure would make the place more inviting ;-Q

    • Tim Whittome says:

      The echoes if there are any will hopefully be nice – like going into an old cathedral in Europe!

    • Dan Carey says:

      Portland’s station has a high ceiling, and last time I was there, no echoes.

  7. Here’s my idea for this week:

    Oversight Correction for Tunnel Schedules for Routes 71, 72 and 73

    If you take a look at the schedules for routes 71, 72 and 73 in the DSTT, to the left of the route number, the routing description reads “Via I-5, University Way NE, etc.” In other words, the schedules in the tunnel act as if ALL trips travelled via I-5, with local service travelling via Eastlake/Fairview denoted with the symbol “F.”

    While this may have been relevant in pre-LINK times, when local-service 71-73 trips in the tunnel were such a rare treat, they are irrelevant now since about 55% of all DSTT trips are locals. Moreover, some outbound Express trips (weekdays between 7:45 and 8:45 a. m. and all Saturday Expresses before 2 p. m.) use Eastlake instead of I-5.

    It is my opinion that this oversight be corrected ASAP, with te routing description reading “Via Fairview Ave N, Eastlake Ave E, University Way NE, etc.” What do you guys think?

    • First, quite a few trips do travel via I-5, especially northbound, so an “Eastlake” description would have the same problem. All express trips use the I-5 Express Lanes when available in the correct direction. A.M. peak outbound express trips use the I-5 regular lanes rather than Eastlake. Eastlake is only used by northbound expresses during the late morning and on Saturday, and is used by southbound expresses only between 11 a.m. and the end of service.

      Second, I’m really not sure it matters at all what that description says, because, no matter which routing it uses, the bus doesn’t stop until it reaches the U-District.

    • Oh, I just realized you’re including the locals as well. Yes, in that case something needs changing. But because the volume of passengers taking the expresses is so much higher, I’d keep the express description next to the route number, and add a “L” symbol for the local trips. Something like:

      “L – Local service via Fairview Ave N and Eastlake Ave E. Makes all stops.”

    • I see it as more of an implementation detail. It takes the express lanes when they’re going its way. It takes Eastlake in the reverse-peak when the regular freeway is assumed to be too congested. It takes the regular freeway in the mid-day, at least northbound. Sometimes it switches to Eastlake in the mid-day when the regular freeway is too congested.

      The schedule symbol doesn’t really give passengers a choice, because if they want a freeway bus (which is significantly faster than Eastlake), they can’t just choose the freeway run because the next one isn’t for four hours or it’s going the wrong direction. So they might as well just label them all “X”.

      • I’ve never seen the 70-series buses take the regular freeway lanes, even during the midday. It’s always been either express lanes or Eastlake.

      • I have ridden on a few 70-series buses that use the regular I-5 lanes. They get on I-5 at the Olive Way ramp like the 545, exit 45th, right on Roosevelt, left on 40th to Campus Pkwy.

      • asdf, the expresses are scheduled to use the I-5 regular lanes northbound during and immediately after the morning peak on weekdays.

        Southbound, the regular lanes are never used.

  8. Tim Whittome says:

    How dangerous was King Street Station for Amtrak passengers given that so many years have had to be spent on restoring it? This project is amazing by the way and if it hadn’t been for I695 from Eyman thirteen years ago, we might have finished it years ago too.

    Let’s hope and pray that the finish of this project is as great as it looks like it might be. Yes, we will need activity on the second and third floors too. I notice that Union Station in Portland looks like a mess above the main floor with broken windows and everything!

    • Jim Cusick says:

      How dangerous? It has survived a number of Nisqually sized earthquakes a lot better than was expected.

      I think the seismic retrofit is added insurance against a localized or greater than 6.5 earthquake.

      I’m hoping for some sort of small business setting up in the lobby, as you can see in the historical photos, and a metropolitan lounge for the first class/business travellers. And a restaurant…

      Definitely something that generates activity in the 2nd and 3rd floors will be important, to keep the homeless from camping out on the Jackson St. Plaza.

      • King street fan says:

        When the City of Seattle renovates any piece of property it owns, it has to meet LEED certification and be bought up to the current seismic standards. As an essential facility, the seismic guidelines for the station are even more stringent. The LEED certification reflects our collective values as a community, just like the 1% for art ordinance does. (And, while we’re on the topic of Public Art, let me throw out there that a re-creation of the GN rhododendron garden in the gravel lot above the King County “odor facility” would be the best public art ever)

      • J. Reddoch says:

        I’m hoping for a Metropolitan Lounge myself.

      • Chris Stefan says:

        There is a major fault running directly under the station. While there hasn’t been a major quake on that fault in a while it could generate up to a 7.0+ earthquake (and a minor tsunami on Puget Sound)

        I do hope when the renovations are complete the city finds some pedestrian oriented businesses to rent the plaza level and some services useful for travelers on the station level (at least a news stand and coffee card).

  9. Jason Mitchell says:

    Assume this gondola story will pop up in the next news roundup, but just in case it doesn’t, thought a few people in particular would be interested.

  10. Wow… Looks like they’re doing a full gut remodel of the place, and essentially giving it an new structural frame. That’s probably for the best, given that it’s built on fill in a seismic zone.

    I’m very pleased to see significant progress taking place; King Street Station has been a civic embarrassment for Seattle for altogether too long. It was easily the crappiest-looking big city train station on the entire West Coast. I’ve seen pictures of it taken back “in the day” and it was definitely a beautiful public space once. I look forward to it being so once again.

    When is it scheduled to reopen?

    • Dan Carey says:

      Well, it is open now, the work has been going on slowly for a number of years. The entire project is supposed to be done by some time in 2013.

    • Nathanael says:

      “It was easily the crappiest-looking big city train station on the entire West Coast. ”

      You’d never seen the old Bakersfield (CA) train station (1974-2000) I take it — pure Amshack for a very large city. Though I guess technically Bakersfield isn’t “on the West Coast”.

      • No, I’ve not seen the old Bakersfield station, though I don’t think Bakersfield quite qualifies as a “major city”, either.

  11. Your “BRTmass” song inspired me, and sadly it’s much easier to do with Pierce Transit. I got all 12 days!

    On the first day of transitgeddon, Pierce Transit gave to me,
    ONE route within 15 miles.

    On the second day of transitgeddon, Pierce Transit gave to me,
    TWO prop 1 failures, and
    ONE route within 15 miles.

    On the third day of transitgeddon, Pierce Transit gave to me,
    THREE morning 62 trips,
    TWO prop 1 failures, and
    ONE route within 15 miles.

    On the fourth day of transitgeddon, Pierce Transit gave to me,
    FOUR directions of cuts,
    THREE morning 62 trips,
    TWO prop 1 failures, and
    ONE route within 15 miles.

    On the fifth day of transitgeddon, Pierce Transit gave to me,
    53% elimination,
    FOUR directions of cuts,
    THREE morning 62 trips,
    TWO prop 1 failures, and
    ONE route within 15 miles.

    On the sixth day of transitgeddon, Pierce Transit gave to me,
    SIX dollar gasoline,
    53% elimination!
    FOUR directions of cuts,
    THREE morning 62 trips,
    TWO prop 1 failures, and
    ONE route within 15 miles.

    On the seventh day of transitgeddon, Pierce Transit gave to me,
    SEVEN pm cutoff,
    SIX dollar gasoline,
    53% elimination!
    FOUR directions of cuts,
    THREE morning 62 trips,
    TWO prop 1 failures, and
    ONE route within 15 miles.
    On the first day of transitgeddon, Pierce Transit gave to me,
    ONE route within 15 miles.

    On the second day of transitgeddon, Pierce Transit gave to me,
    TWO prop 1 failures, and
    ONE route within 15 miles.

    On the third day of transitgeddon, Pierce Transit gave to me,
    THREE morning 62 trips,
    TWO prop 1 failures, and
    ONE route within 15 miles.

    On the fourth day of transitgeddon, Pierce Transit gave to me,
    FOUR directions of cuts,
    THREE morning 62 trips,
    TWO prop 1 failures, and
    ONE route within 15 miles.

    On the fifth day of transitgeddon, Pierce Transit gave to me,
    53% elimination,
    FOUR directions of cuts,
    THREE morning 62 trips,
    TWO prop 1 failures, and
    ONE route within 15 miles.

    On the sixth day of transitgeddon, Pierce Transit gave to me,
    SIX dollar gasoline,
    53% elimination!
    FOUR directions of cuts,
    THREE morning 62 trips,
    TWO prop 1 failures, and
    ONE route within 15 miles.

    On the eighth day of transitgeddon, Pierce Transit gave to me,
    EIGHT cents saved on groceries,
    SEVEN pm cutoff,
    SIX dollar gasoline,
    53% elimination!
    FOUR directions of cuts,
    THREE morning 62 trips,
    TWO prop 1 failures, and
    ONE route within 15 miles.

    On the ninth day of transitgeddon, Pierce Transit gave to me,
    NINE more inaccessible cities,
    EIGHT cents saved on groceries,
    SEVEN pm cutoff,
    SIX dollar gasoline,
    53% elimination!
    FOUR directions of cuts,
    THREE morning 62 trips,
    TWO prop 1 failures, and
    ONE route within 15 miles.

    On the tenth day of transitgeddon, Pierce Transit gave to me,
    TEN minutes less frequent!
    NINE more inaccessible cities,
    EIGHT cents saved on groceries,
    SEVEN pm cutoff,
    SIX dollar gasoline,
    53% elimination!
    FOUR directions of cuts,
    THREE morning 62 trips,
    TWO prop 1 failures, and
    ONE route within 15 miles.

    On the eleventh day of transitgeddon, Pierce Transit gave to me,
    ELEVEN+ eliminated routes,
    TEN minutes less frequent!
    NINE more inaccessible cities,
    EIGHT cents saved on groceries,
    SEVEN pm cutoff,
    SIX dollar gasoline,
    53% elimination!
    FOUR directions of cuts,
    THREE morning 62 trips,
    TWO prop 1 failures, and
    ONE route within 12 miles.

    On the twelfth day of transitgeddon, Pierce Transit gave to me,
    1 route within TWELVE miles,
    ELEVEN+ eliminated routes,
    TEN minutes less frequent!
    NINE more inaccessible cities,
    EIGHT cents saved on groceries,
    SEVEN pm cutoff,
    SIX dollar gasoline,
    53% elimination!
    FOUR directions of cuts,
    THREE morning 62 trips,
    TWO prop 1 failures, and
    ONE route within 12 miles.

  12. No discussion yet about the multiple new stories regarding commercial air service from Paine field possibly being announced tomorrow. Allegianant air is the airline being discussed although Alaska and Southwest had been mentioned in the past

    • Is there any transit that goes to Paine Field whatsoever? If there’s commercial service, would there be?

      On the other hand, a group of 3 living in Lynnwood could probably cab it to Paine Field for less than combined bus/train fare to SeaTac (assuming nobody has Orca cards, since ST doesn’t do transfers).

      • The Boeing service from CT, ET, and Metro 952 goes there, but it only runs at Boeing shift change times. Everett Transit also runs Route 3 to Everett Station (with a transfer to Swift) within a few blocks; maybe they could be convinced to divert it regularly.

      • Dan Carey says:

        That is a good question. There are routes around the northern end of the field, serving the Boeing factory at shift change times. If I remember correctly, the passenger terminal would be at the southern end. There are not many routes close by, the nearest along Hwy 99 and Airport Road. Transit routes would have to be changed to serve the terminal.

      • Dan Carey says:

        Looking up the location of the future terminal on the Paine Field site, it would be on the east side, northwest of the inner/outer terminal ramp, putting it south of the Boeing flightline and north of Goodrich. Oh, and they even have an area allocated for parking.

      • The commercial service identified is Allegiant Air:

        http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2019799835_apwapainefieldflights.html

        The FAA may just rule against it…

      • On a similar tangent, it would be nice if WTA extended direct bus service to the Bellingham airport to service the rapidly growing terminal.

      • Charles:

        Your question is addressed, in detail, in this Human Transit post: http://www.humantransit.org/2012/08/how-much-should-agencies-explain-their-planning-thoughts.html

        Transit to distant “reliever” airports with mid-level flight volumes is difficult everywhere: the volume of flights simply can’t generate the demand that would be necessary to justify a frequent service; any service you did provide would be too infrequent to be worth using.

        This has proven true even at much larger reliever airports. Both Manchester, NH and Providence, RI serve as reliever airports for the Boston area. Both are bigger and busier and more competitive than Bellingham by a long shot.

        Interstate (private) bus service between Manchester and Boston has failed despite repeated attempts. It was never able to run better than bi-hourly, and never late enough in the evenings or early enough in the mornings. It failed to gain any market foothold.

        Providence airport got its commuter rail station pretty recently, but the line’s schedule is really geared toward commuting; mid-day service exists, but there are wide gaps: http://www.mbta.com/schedules_and_maps/rail/lines/?route=PROVSTOU Unless you arrive by 9:00 AM or between 6-7:30 PM, it’s not a very good option.

        Fortunately, the airport is busy enough, close enough to Providence proper, and on the barely-detoured way to enough places that the state transit agency (RIPTA) makes airport stops on a couple of highway lines and radial street lines. Schedules remain imperfect.

        Bellingham, Bellingham airport, and WTA would probably all have to be an order of magnitude larger to make even RIPTA’s limited access work.

  13. CascadianBlue says:

    Just wondering, has Seattle ever seriously looked into rack railway? It seems as though, due to our hilly topography, it would be a good fit. In particular, I was thinking that the Madison corridor could be served with this technology. I’ve read about it being used in urban areas in a handful of cases, such as Stuttgart. There are definitely downsides, such as having to spend more money on a third rail, or being locked into what looks like a somewhat proprietary format. But that didn’t stop us from at least looking at technologies like the monorail (not that I’m suggesting it was a good idea – it definitely was not). I’m not trying to argue that we should definitely do this, I’m just wondering if there’s some obvious reason why we shouldn’t look into it.

    • One major problem is that rack railways are limited to very low speeds (~10 mph) on sections where the rack is used. The major advantage of trolley buses over diesels is superior hill performance, and they outperform a rack railway even more dramatically. I think if we are seeking to speed up the Madison corridor then trolley BRT with dedicated lanes throughout the corridor is the way to do it.

      • CascadianBlue says:

        Thank you for the response! Very enlightening. With that information, it seems like Rack Railway wouldn’t be viable for Madison.

      • Madison used to have an SF style cable car. And Queen Anne used to have the Counterbalance for regular streetcars. The story was when they first brought in the trolleybuses, they had a uphill race with a streetcar and the trolleybuses easily won.

  14. The staff at King Street think for some reason that putting the smoking area directly in front of the bus loading area is good thing, why I don’t know. They do this over and over, putting smokers directly in front of the main doors or some other way to make sure that regular passengers have to wade through their filthy habit.

    This station has to be staffed with some of the more incompetent employees of Amtrak, that I do know. Now that I see it’s owned by the City, sure is nice to see who will take the heat and pay out legal bills for not enforcing the smoking policy.

  15. The only thing the King Street Station has going for it is old world craftsmanship. It’s not an efficient use of space. Approaching it, it’s a very unwelcoming and confusing structure. It’s poorly designed from a pubic access perspective. One side is inaccessible. Another side is … is it the entrance? Hard to tell. Or is the real entrance down below? The building is poorly labeled. “King Street Station,” that doesn’t tell me anything. There’s Union Station across the street, which isn’t even a station at all, it’s some offices. They need to rebrand it. If it’s the main Seattle Amtrak station, then call it that.

    • Seattle-King Street is the name I’d chose.

      Tells you where it is and in what city.

      Leaves open the door for future stations like Seattle-Broad Street.

      As for Union Station, perhaps Sound Transit needs to insist that it’s landlord stop calling it that, if it leads to confusion.

      For example, the Oslo (Norway) Vestbane station, made redundant when a tunnel through the city was built, is now the home of the Nobel Peace Prize and is called the Nobel Peace Center, not “Oslo V” as was its former title.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobel_Peace_Center

      Office buildings do this all the time (Sears Tower/Willis Tower). Former transportation facilities need to also so as to not confuse travelers, who by the nature of the activity, can already be quite stressed out as is.

    • Sam,

      The Jackson Street entrance is the obvious historical “front door” to the station, as it will become again when renovations are complete.

      An Amtrak logo on a pole, where the sidewalk meets the plaza, is probably in order.

  16. I’ve been out of the country and trying not to drop the ball on making it possible to stage train-connecting buses at RBS. I’m not talking about layover space. I’m talking about loading space. There is none right now, except for the routes continuing by the station.

    The space where buses could sit at a bay and wait a couple minutes for passengers to walk over from the station would ideally be on Henderson, mostly to avoid having passengers jayrunning in front of buses. However, redeveloping the underutilized spots abutting Henderson would permanently remove this possibility, and may mean no fast connection between Renton or points south with RBS in perpetuity. Let’s not let RBS go the way of Mt. Baker, where it could have been done right cheaply to begin with, but would involve expensive demolition of freshly-built structures in order to fix the bus/train interface.

    Again, I’m talking about pick-up bays on Henderson by RBS, not layover space.

    • I’m glad you’re now focused on this issue, which has to be solved if RBS is to become a transfer point for more than the current couple of half-hourly local routes. But I think the best place for the loading zones would be MLK. You want them to be as close as possible to the platform. If the southbound zone is on Henderson, people will have to cross two crosswalks and the tracks when going southbound. If it’s on MLK, people would just have to cross one crosswalk. (Northbound, it doesn’t matter nearly as much whether the bus stops on MLK or makes a right onto Henderson for an immediate stop.)

      The way to do it, in my opinion, would be to build a bit of a bus lane on MLK, outside of the current two general-purpose lanes, taking a bit of the parking lots on each side. Build enough space for three artics southbound and two northbound.

      • I suppose bus bays could be safe along MLK, if they are built south of a new station exit. I still would not want to see bus bays on MLK alongside the platforms, as that would encourage a lot of unsafe behavior, such as fence jumping and jayrunning in front of buses.

  17. The criticisms of the current state of King Street Station, particularly by Sam and Anthony, seem wholly oblivious to the fact that the facility is undergoing a radical reconstruction in an attempt to make the station, once again, accessible, convenient and inviting. Of course the station is confusing, difficult to access, noisy, apparently in disarray, and so forth—it is being totally refurbished. Nonetheless, trains are leaving on time and the station is still fully operational, despite the chaos inducing, temporary disruption of reconstruction.

    Also, the facility is hardly catering to smokers by simply providing trash containers for inevitable cigarette rubbish. Those containers have even been placed near the unattractive recycling and trash dumpsters at the end of what will eventually be just the baggage room of the station, e.g. a passenger no man’s land. Buses, unfortunately, currently pick up passengers at the location too, in what is a very contested, narrow space. With the lack of space the station has to work with, though, where do you suggest providing receptacles for people who will continue to smoke? Furthermore, though you claim it to be a King Street staff issue, I am not so sure the ticket agents, baggage personnel and gatekeepers have any influence on where such facilities are provided.

    I have only praise and empathy for most King Street Station employees. It is a very well run station for all that it has been dealt, and I am excited to see it operate with a modernized head house and better, more frequent train service. It’ll be great to wait in the renewed grand hall before departing on one of my frequent trips to PDX (I hope the city carves more of the wooden benches that were featured prominently in the early days of its existence for additional seating).

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