News Roundup: Bus Bulbs

“Car2Go Storage” (Atomic Taco/Flickr)

This is an open thread. See you at the meetup tonight!

Comments

  1. Benjamin C says

    Drivers are at fault for illegally passing buses at bus bulbs. This whole, “drivers feel provoked by buses” argument is an excuse for unsafe behavior. The law is pretty clear that drivers must yield to buses, and a driver is responsible for being unsafe, not the conditions. Yet again, Seattle times unzips its anti transit bias and lets it flutter freely in the breeze.

    • LWC says

      I liked the slightly passive agressive tone of the one sentence in the article: “well, if drivers would follow the law and let buses merge, then the bulbs wouldn’t be needed now, would they?” It made me smile.

    • Brent says

      Part of the problem at the Morgan Junction is that too many drivers don’t make sure there is space available beyond an intersection before they start to cross it (hence the Mercer Mess) — which seems to happen in this town regardless of bus bulbs.

      Ticket those drivers who block the intersection, please! (Yes, that might even include bus operators, who are not above the law.) For repeat offenders, suspend their license.

    • Norman says

      There is no major problem with buses being able to pull into traffic from bus stops at normal curbs. That is just a rationalization for bus bulbs. Bus bulbs are one of the stupidest ideas yet. They are going to turn a lot of the public against transit, since bus bulbs obviously make transit an obstacle to driving. Just like road diets.

      Road diets and bike lanes are two of the main reasons why the $60 car tab increase failed in Seattle a while back. Bus bulbs are a huge impediment to drivers, are blantantly stupid and reinforce the fact that the current city administration hates cars.

      • David L says

        There is no major problem with buses being able to pull into traffic from bus stops at normal curbs.

        This is just insane. Just to pick one example, building bus bulbs along the part of the 44 through Wallingford and Latona where onstreet parking is present saved 5-10 minutes on some peak hour trips, all of which was spent waiting to merge into traffic along 45th, where no drivers will let buses in. If you don’t think the slowness of the 44 — a trunk line serving one of the highest-ridership corridors in the city, where there is no extra road capacity — is a major problem, then I don’t know what to say.

        As for road diets, when well-executed, they improve traffic flow by preventing through lanes from being obstructed by turning vehicles. This has been repeatedly demonstrated in the city. Just a few examples: N 50th St, W Nickerson St, Rainier Ave S (south of 57th Ave S), Greenwood Ave N (between N 85th St and N 105th St). Sometimes the city makes a design mistake (as with Dexter at Mercer) but usually it gets fixed eventually.

      • David L says

        A few places where bus bulbs don’t yet exist but could likely save significant time on crowded buses at rush hour:

        – Broadway (route 49)
        – 15th Ave E (route 10)
        – Queen Anne Ave N (route 13)
        – Taylor Ave N (route 3N/4N)
        – E Jefferson St (route 3S/4S)
        – Greenwood Ave N (N of 105th on route 5)

      • Norman says

        “building bus bulbs along the part of the 44 through Wallingford and Latona where onstreet parking is present saved 5-10 minutes on some peak hour trips, ”

        Document this, please.

        How much time do those bus bulbs COST drivers stuck behind those buses?

        If the average dwell time at a bus stop is 30 seconds, then each bus bulb costs every driver stuck behind a bus at least 30 seconds. And this is stop after stop after stop (at least on Dexter). Forcing cars to stop while buses load and unload is just stupid beyond belief. There is no reason why cars should have to stop because buses have to stop. Sheer and utter stupidity. Nothing less.

      • Mike Orr says

        Each car has 1.5 persons and each bus has 30 persons, or in the case of the 44, often 50 persons. We need to look at the effect on people’s time, not vehicles’ time. The reason the buses are so slow in the first place is that the city and state viewed road issues as a matter of vehicle thoroughput, not people thoroughput. But cars don’t care where they are, people do.

      • David L says

        Norman, we wouldn’t need bus bulbs if it hadn’t been proven by enormous operational experience, over and over and over again, that cars on high-traffic streets will almost never follow the law requiring them to yield to a merging bus.

        I don’t need to “document” my claim about the 44 for you. I drove the 44, a lot, before the bus bulbs were built. I personally arrived 5-10 minutes late in the U-District quite often after reaching 46th and Aurora on time. The delay came entirely from waiting for drivers to let me in at the many curbside stops that existed before the 44 got a stop diet and bus bulbs. The schedule was generous if you didn’t take those events into account.

        I’ve also personally experienced repeated delays related to pulling out from curbs at all of the locations listed above (and I should add the section of the 5 south of 85th, as well).

      • William says

        Hmm. How about attaching video cameras to the back of buses and mailing tickets to all the drivers who break the law by not yielding? That might cut down on the need for more bus bulbs, and it’d probably be a lot cheaper.

      • Norman says

        So, there is no documentation that bus bulbs save buses any time at all? I believe Lindblom’s article said that bus bulbs occasionally a bus a couple of seconds. While costing all the vehicles behind every bus 10 seconds to a couple of minutes (wheelchairs) every time the bus stops.

        On Dexter there are often lines of cars dozens deep behind buses. Forcing all those cars to stop every time a bus stops wastes time and gasoline, and can not be construed as anything other than utter and willful stupidity.

        How much do bus bulbs reduce the capacity of the streets they are on, as measured by the number of vehicles per hour past a point on the street? The reduction in capacity must be significant. Again, how stupid to continue to reduce the capacity of Seattle’s streets.

        First they reduce the number of lanes with “road diets.” Then they install roadblocks every few blocks in the form of bus bulbs. The capacity of streets like Dexter as been reduced very significantly, for no good purpose.

      • Lack Thereof says

        SDOT made a few dashcam videos from a car tailing the 44 at rush hour, pre bulb. There’s a few on youtube. You’re welcome to go watch them with a stopwatch in your hand. Spoiler: The bus spends more time trying to merge than actually loading/unloading passengers.

      • Norman says

        The “problem” of buses not being able to merge back into traffic from normal curbside bus stops is being greatly exaggerated. When buses do start to move into the traffic lanes, vehicles do stop to let them in. If there are some timid bus drivers who refuse to start to merge until there is a large gap in traffic, that is the fault of the bus driver.

        One of the big problems with buses in our area is that the turn signals are on constantly while the bus is stopped at a bus stop. So, if you are unable to see the turn signal on the right side of the bus, which happens quite often, either because that signal is blocked by a vehicle, or because you are right beside the bus, then you cannot tell if the bus is turning or just stopped and loading and unloading.

        How stupid to have the bus turn signal activated the entire time the bus is stopped. If you are beside a bus at a bus stop, you literally have NO WAY of knowing if those yellow blnkers on the left side of the bus are signalling the bus is merging into your lane, or if they are signalling that the bus is loading and unloading at a stop. So, drivers literally can not tell if a bus is signalling a turn or just signalling that it is loading.

        This needs to be changed. What is the point of having the turn signals constantly blinking the entire time a bus is at a bus stop? Just turn the signals off when the bus is stopped. Then, whenever the turn signals are on, every driver would know that the bus is trying to merge, and not just loading passengers.

        Or, buses could use signs that literally swing out from the side of the bus, like the stop signs on schools buses. These could be “Yield” signs with flashing yellow lights, to make it absolutely certain that the bus is actually merging and that drivers must yield. They could even put little cameras on those signs to take video of any vehicles that passed the bus while that Yield sign was deployed.

        But, any way you look at it, bus bulbs are expensive, stupid, and an obvious insult to anyone in any vehicle othere than a bus. Bus bulbs have to go.

      • Norman says

        “SDOT made a few dashcam videos from a car tailing the 44 at rush hour, pre bulb. There’s a few on youtube”

        Again, you can’t provide any documentation of travel times before and after bus bulbs were installed?

        How about travel times for all other vehicles before and after bus bulbs were installed?

      • says

        “There is no major problem with buses being able to pull into traffic from bus stops at normal curbs”

        I’m curious how many buses you’ve tried to merge into traffic where drivers won’t let you in? From my perspective, there is a systemic problem with drivers ignoring the law that requires them to yield.

      • David L says

        The “problem” of buses not being able to merge back into traffic from normal curbside bus stops is being greatly exaggerated. When buses do start to move into the traffic lanes, vehicles do stop to let them in. If there are some timid bus drivers who refuse to start to merge until there is a large gap in traffic, that is the fault of the bus driver.

        I think I’m going to have to stop posting in this subthread because I don’t have enough liquor handy to deal with this…

        Norman continues to make this bald-faced assertion, even though every current or former bus driver to ever post here on the subject (not at all limited to this particular thread) contradicts him, even though every 5 or 44 rider knows he is wrong, and even though a couple hours’ observation during rush hour at any curb stop along a busy two- or three-lane street will demonstrate that he is wrong.

        Four-way flashers run automatically anytime the lift is deployed or (on some types) if the bus is kneeling. They are also used if the bus is blocking traffic; sometimes there is no choice but to partially block a lane, especially if you are pulling into a short zone with an articulated bus. In any case, approaching the bus from behind (where any driver required to yield will be), it is easy to tell the difference between four-ways and a left signal. People don’t yield because they don’t like to be stuck behind a bus and they don’t have any incentive to care about the people on the bus. It’s that simple.

      • Aleks says

        They are going to turn a lot of the public against transit

        Norman, if you’re a transit supporter now, I’d hate to see what happens if you turn into a transit opponent!

      • asdf says

        “Forcing all those cars to stop every time a bus stops wastes time and gasoline”

        The value of a person’s time should not be less just because that person is on a bus, rather than in a car. And buses use gasoline too. Whatever extra gas is consumed by cars stopped behind the bus is balanced out by less gas being used by the bus itself.

      • asdf says

        Speaking of bus bulbs, what do you think of the 44’s pullouts at I-5. The huge volume of traffic not letting the bus in forces the 44 to wait a full 2-minute signal cycle in order to merge out of a stop to load and unload a small number of passengers.

        I’m presuming the pullout was put there to minimize the traffic impacts of cars stuck behind the bus, but sometimes I wonder if these two stops are really even necessary at all. How about just eliminating these stops completely, maybe shifting the adjacent stops a block closer to the freeway to keep the walking distance down for those making 510/511 connections.

      • Andy says

        I love how the guy with simple observations is always the one who calls for sources when you refute them. Never any facts, but demands them in return. Good tactic… it’s easy to be a naysayer, which is why I assume people take that position.

    • jon says

      The reason there are some motorists pissed about bus bulbs is because the greatest sin the US is to have sacred single occupant motor vehicle traffic slow down between its origin and destination. Having uninterrupted, fast, free flowing auto traffic must be achieved by any means necessary and no cost spared.

      • David L says

        That’s exactly right. Transit exists not to move people but to “reduce traffic congestion.” Society’s goal is to make sure every car gets where it needs to as fast as possible. Moving people is an accidental side effect of moving cars.

  2. Jim Cusick says

    BTW, yesterday’s mudslides have put off Sounder North service to Friday afternoon, unless something new happened by now (9AM, Thursday).

      • aw says

        A passenger train would not take a couple of minutes to get past that location. Also, is it possible that ground vibrations from freight trains could trigger some landslides?

      • Chris I says

        Grounds vibrations from all trains could trigger slides. And yes, passenger trains will be exposed to the hazard for a shorter amount of time, but the higher speed also amplifies the consequences of a derailment.

        I used to question the 48-hour rule, but after watching that video, I’m totally on board (no pun intended).

  3. RapidRider says

    I love art, I really do, but after the whole Benson streetcar fiasco, I’m going to have to side with Greyhound in this situation. Art should accentuate buildings and projects, not dictate them. The 6th and Royal Brougham Greyhound station would be a no brainer, especially since they’ve gotten the OK from WSDOT to proceed.

    • Matthew Johnson says

      I would have preferred that something could have been worked out to have them at or near KSS but this seems like a pretty good spot.

      • archie says

        How is this a “pretty good” spot? Yeah it’s next to Stadium Station (which is largely deserted except for just before and after games), but this part of town is a pedestrian no-man’s land. Just because Greyhound largely serves lower income riders doesn’t give them the right to put stations out of sight where nobody wants to hang out. Seems almost like a social justice issue. What a shame.

      • Scott Stidell says

        @ Archie — the Atlanta “station” (also a pre-fab POS) is in a very similar sort of area. It’s reasonably close to a MARTA station (as this one will be to Link) but other than that it’s a horrible site as well. “Welcome to Seattle/Atlanta/wherever!”

        For at least 40 years there were plans to make KSS a more multi-modal transportation center Obviously the Grey Dog no longer has the operating funds to be in a place like that. It’s a shame, but people are just going to continue to move to Bolt Bus with its more convenient pickup location, as well as Amtrak, for the I-5 runs.

        (as an aside–the original use of the current Greyhound terminal was the terminus and operations building for the Seattle-Everett Interurban…well, the final terminus anyway; for many years they terminated almost exactly where the SLUT does at Westlake.)

    • Brent says

      My only qualms with the proposed Greyhound location are 1) that it isn’t next to King Street Station, and the pedestrian path from Royal Brougham to KSS is not that pedestrian-friendly (which is a solvable problem); and 2) the Greyhound clientele includes people who are at high risk of unsafe behavior crossing the at-grade train tracks (both light rail and freight). Stationing security personnel at the track crossing is already an expected expense around games, but I suppose that may become a permanent operating cost due to the lack of grade separation in an area full of large crowds and lots of people under the influence.

      • asdf says

        I don’t think Greyhound needs to be next to King St. Station unless you expect lots of people to be transferring between Greyhound and Amtrak (I don’t). Stadium Station already offers the same Link connection that King Street Station does.

        I think the real problem here is that Greyhound is living in the antiquated world of needing stations in the first place. They should take the Bolt Bus approach and just load or unload from the curb.

      • J. Reddoch says

        Putting Greyhound at King Street would probably cause more connections to and from the buses that do serve King Street Station.

      • Mike Orr says

        Why should large numbers of people have to stand in the sidewalk in the rain every day? Why should the city allow bus companies to force them to? It’s a sidewalk for people to walk through, not a waiting area. I hardly think stations are the major expense you make them out to be. Not with three gallons of gas burnt every mile.

      • asdf says

        The BoltBus pick up and drop off spot actually has a covered overhang, although it was put there for reasons that have nothing to do with BoltBus. I have used the same space myself on occasion to wait for the 554 bus.

        Ideally, I would say Greyhound should just use it to. However, selfishly, I would rather not have the undesirables who ride greyhound hanging around anywhere near where I would have to wait to catch some other bus.

    • MrZ says

      Apparantly I’m not cultured enough, because i’d hardly consider that a major piece of public art. More than anything it covers what otherwise would be a bare concrete wall. Now as for the more importaint business, while i applaud greyhound for having superb intergration with LINK, I fear that their terminal will be nothing more than a temporary structure which while cleaner than the old interurban terminal, still wouldent be much of an improvement. I’m also still a bit puzzled how they intend to fit this on the property without building underneath the freeway. I guess we’ll know in a couple of months.

    • jon says

      this just further reinforces my negative opinion of public art, the art world and artists (and this coming from an art/design school graduate). i’m appalled at what passes for ‘art’. we always hear ‘art can be anything and everything’ when in reality it is an incestual handpicked committee that anoints themselves the authority on art and deems what is and isnt ‘art’. and i too was hugely ticked by the waterfront streetcar fiasco.

      but i have say, is this really the best location for a greyhound station under a highway overpass a good distance from downtown? sure its probably easier on/off the freeway (except game days) but the location just seems terrible.

  4. Mark Dublin says

    Is Stadium Station really the best place for Seattle’s intercity bus station? Space seems very tight, and while freeway access is close, game traffic, combined with E-3 transit traffic, is going to be a problem for Greyhound schedules.

    In addition, whatever the limitations of Greyhound’s present terminal, at least it’s located Downtown. Unless development plans are a lot more intensive than I think, effect will be more like a standard contemporary Greyhound rest stop in a bleak shopping mall than like part of the city.

    I’d like to see a new terminal inspired by the Greyhound station in Portland: striking architecture, directly across a small street from the train station, with streetcar stops on both sides. The parking lot directly to the west of King Street Station is where it really belongs.

    Based on my own most recent trip on Greyhound last year, I’m afraid the main drawback will be the fact that this country’s chief intercity bus company is presently Greyhound itself. What should have been a fast, enjoyable overnight ride was ruined by nine hours on a filthy junk-pile of a bus, driven by men whose passenger-relations skills probably got them fired from the California Department of Corrections fleet.

    Under management by a first-world operator like, say, from Turkey, I’d welcome a new intercity bus presence in Seattle. But right now, I don’t think the reputation of either LINK or the rubber-tired E-3 service will benefit by close association any more than will the art-work in question.

    Mark Dublin

    • Andy says

      The whole area around King Street station is already being developed. That parking lot is almost all gone.

    • Mike Orr says

      Many people are nervous about how long Greyhound will remain in business with its decade-long pattern of route cuts. So I’d be surprised if Greyhound builds a fancy terminal. If you layover at many stations that are newer than Seattle’s, their capital construction is clearly superior and more spacious, but staffing and cleaning and maintenance are somewhat neglected. That suggests Greyhound had money when they were built but doesn’t now. This may be dated because my last Greyhound trip was six years ago or so, but the reservation system is currently booking trips on non-Greyhound carriers on segments that had Greyhound then.

      • MrZ says

        Greyhound has been on a slow spiral of death for some time. If you compare the timetables from twenty years ago to today, they had a much more substancial system. My understanding is that they want to get out of the “All Stops Local” classic intercity bus, and focus on point-to-point services, like their new BOLT bus (and its competition, MegaBus) which only stops at a curb, and dosent need a classic bus terminal of any kind.

    • Mike Orr says

      Is Seattle missing out on an opportunity to build a multi-agency bus terminal near King Street? That may become more significant in the future.

      The reason this Stadium lot or something closer to King Street Station is better than Greyhound’s current location is that all Seattle’s transit modes converge in the area, both local and long-distance. Even the airport converges via Link. Many people transfer in Seattle to or from Greyhound, and several times I’ve had to show visitors how to find the Greyhound station from Amrak or vice-versa. The Greyhound station is in such an odd place it’s hard to explain to visitors, you can’t see Westlake Station from it, you wouldn’t know what Convention Place station was if you saw the corner of it, you get to Westlake and can’t figure out which way is Greyhound, etc. Our multiplicity of transit rates just makes it worse, as does the fact that Convention Place is in the tunnel but one stop away from Link.

      • says

        BoltBus already stops at 5th outside International District Station; perhaps Greyhound could find some way to install ticketing and such inside Union Station?

      • asdf says

        Any chance that one day, BoltBus could offer nonstop service between Seattle and Spokane. This is a corridor where the extremely limited Amtrak schedule would make bus service attractive. I rode it once in an Amtrak bus (the train I had bought the ticket for was canceled) and it took about 4 1/2 hours from King St. Station to the Amtrak station in Spokane. We made one very brief stand-up-and-stretch stop at a rest area and that was it.

      • says

        “Any chance that one day, BoltBus could offer nonstop service between Seattle and Spokane”

        If you’re going to drive all the way to Spokane, you might as well schedule stops in Ellensburg and/or Moses Lake. The driver will need a few rest stops anyway. The trick is making them quick as possible.

      • Mike Orr says

        The issue is whether Bolt bus wants to. These services exist only between the largest tourist-destination cities where they can make a substantial profit. The west coast didn’t have even one Chinatown bus in their first decade in the northeast, except a short-lived one in California that failed. Even in the northeast, the buses go to New York City, not between every city. If we can’t even get an express overlay on the 358, there’s little chance of both local and express buses (with amenities!) going to Spokane. Unless a regional company, with a cost structure lower than Greyhound’s, decides it wants to. The state has been subsidizing or jump-starting routes in places Greyhound won’t go, so that could be a route (pun unintended) to more Seattle-Spokane service.

    • Charles says

      I think Seattle and/or King County or Port of Seattle should build an intermodal solution near King Street. I like the idea of something similar to NYC’s Port Authority terminal garage (smaller scale of course) where multiple bus companies, tour bus operators etc. can be lodged. I’d much rather spend some bond money on that than an arena.

      • jon says

        theres no reason a greyhound station couldnt be incorporated into a new mixed use building on an urban site, i dont think this is fairly common around the world, the bigger issue though would be its sketchy riders driving away tenants/residents from the building.

      • jon says

        sorry, i meant to say that I think integrating a bus station into a mixed use development IS fairly common around the world

      • Dave says

        “theres no reason a greyhound station couldnt be incorporated into a new mixed use building on an urban site.”

        How about a mix use Greyhound station and jail house then?

      • Bernie says

        How about a mix use Greyhound station and jail house then?

        Talk about economies of scale! Sorry, I really do have an idea about the new DT Dawg station… but it’s so much fun to just sit and listen

    • jon says

      Greyhound shatters the myth that the private sector is always better run than the public sector.

      Interestingly enough BoltBus owned by Greyhound is a world of difference better than Greyhound.

      • Eric H says

        There’s not really a need for direct government involvement in operations if the service can be paid for with farebox revenue. Usually there’s some sort of franchise arrangement in these places, which can either be with a single large operating company (see Hong Kong) or individual owners and/or operators (see Mexico.)

        That said, it looks like Kowloon Motor Bus managed to scrape by this year.

      • Brent says

        With a private operator, differentially-mobile passengers will not get catered to without government regulations.

  5. John Bailo says

    I would think bikesharing would be a natural for e-Bikes as the return rack would be a natural place for recharging (especially if they could do cordless charging).

  6. aw says

    It’s good to see that ST has eliminated the Bellevue Fred Meyer site and the Cadman site from consideration for the Link maintenance yard. Those two made little sense. My money is on the 120th NE site being the chosen one.

    The refinement to move to the west a bit at that site makes a lot of sense.

  7. Andy says

    Drivers bum me out at the bar. They end the party early complaining about having to drive while the only thing keeping me from drinking up to 1:59am is whether or not I want to go to Dick’s afterwards.

    Drink, don’t drive. :)

    • David L says

      If the 522 would run later than 11:30 (or more often than hourly after 9:30) you wouldn’t hear me complaining about having to drive so much. Better transit leads to fewer driving party-poopers.

      • Norman says

        Yeah, buses driving around empty all night long is a really good use of tax revenues, isn’t it?

        Take a taxi and pay your own way.

      • David L says

        Whenever I take the 10:33 or 11:33 522, the bus is mostly to completely full.

        Back in the day when the 307 ran half-hourly until 11:00 and ran until 1 a.m., those buses were mostly full, and usually more than half full after leaving Northgate.

        ST made a decision to shift a couple of night trips to relieve peak-hour overcrowding last year. The inbound trips likely didn’t have many riders, but the outbound trips were well-used.

    • David L says

      As much as Burgess can be an unmitigated turkey, I’d pick him over Steinbrueck any day of the week.

      • Matthew Johnson says

        I’m not decided, but I don’t like the fact that he bought Protect Marriage Washington’s list and seems to assume that just b/c I gave money to protect marriage equality I should naturally donate money to his mayoral campaign.

      • Brent says

        Ed was a supporter of building the viaduct without a public vote. His transportation politics is too highway, and nowhere close to our way. He also led the sabotage of the monorail financing by excluding new cars from the tab. No thanks, I say, to the idea of him as mayor.

        And if you think Mayor McGinn has trouble playing nice with others, just watch how Ed has single-handedly cost the Democratic Party control of the State Senate.

        I happen to like Peter (though I still wish Mayor McGinn gets re-elected). He is actually rather middle-of-the-road when it comes to density. But the idea of handing over more power to unelected neighborhood associations makes my skin crawl. We elect the mayor and city council for a reason.

      • David L says

        Brent, I mostly agree with you on Ed’s transportation politics, but blaming him rather than Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon for the Senate coup is a bit strange.

  8. Matt the Engineer says

    I don’t know how long ago they introduced this, but I noticed today that KC Metro’s website now has a “Switch to Google Transit” link.

    • Matthew Johnson says

      Stupid that the service area ends a block north of Mt. Baker TC and Link Station. If the person drawing the boundaries knew the area at all they would have included a couple blocks around the station.

      I wonder how long the car I left at 23rd and Lander will sit there?

      • Matthew Johnson says

        I wonder if picking up cars and dropping them off at the border will do anything to get them to move it South.

        Unless it isn’t technologically possible I think they would be better served by putting bubbles around high density/demand areas instead of just one contiguous area moving outward from DT.

  9. says

    Maybe the side of a building or parking garage adjacent to an empty lot isn’t the best place for a work of art. It’s inevitable that another structure will be built in that empty lot, obstructing the art. It’s ridiculous to consider the lot hallowed ground because art is nearby.

  10. Jack says

    This blog is no longer informative or helpful. It has degenerated into arguments over ridiculous operational minutia, personal attacks, and naming calling punctuated by modded comments or entire threads.

    And it appears after many months of discussion about these issues, the moderators of this blog are perfectly happy to leave the dysfunction in place. So the downward spiral continues. Case in point, the really good news about an accelerated ST3 with grade-separated rail to neighborhoods with high ridership potential disintegrated into arguments over personal transit bias, headways, fear mongering, and name calling.

    Objectively, this blog no longer functions for transit advocacy, it is merely a platform for transit wonks to toss insults at each other. This is boring. Most of us who sit outside the industry who simply want mobility to and from work or recreation have to wade through all of the nonsense to find legitimate information, and even when we think we have learned something it is discredited by anonymous individuals or blog moderators by their own personal bias.

    So ends my participation here. Best of luck.

    • d.p. says

      And that’s the irony of my central place in the blowout.

      I’ve only ever advocated one basic point on STB: Transit is about getting there, sensibly and without frustration. It either works or it doesn’t! The choice to be a city where transit is primary or one where it is fringe is binary.

      Right now we have an awfully complicated pile of “doesn’t work”. We have a surprising number of proposals that add up to “won’t help”.

      And, apparently, we have a King of Cheerleeding who is incapable of internalizing basic transit geometry or prioritizing needs in any way, and who I seriously fear will single-handedly sink ST3, but who can not see his grand vision questioned lest all hell break loose.

      So, yeah, what’s this blog actually accomplishing?

    • Mike Orr says

      It’s part of the work of bringing transit forward in a society that values free speech and democracy. The Seattle Times comments are even worse, and legislatures and councils don’t make their decisions in the most efficient way either. Pro-planning readers were dismayed at how that unusually important article became less effective due to the protusion of side issues. One hopes there will be similar good news to announce later and that those comments will be more focused on pushing it further or showing why it specifically is flawed.

    • says

      Jack, you have to separate the blog from the comment section. Most blogs, even really good blogs, have comment sections that are a mix of intelligent conversation and petty arguments. It’s up to you to filter out the nonsense. And remember, this is a blog, it’s not a PhD dissertation. I mean, think about it. You’re in the comment section of a blog complaining about people arguing. That’s as silly as going to a rap concert and complaining about profanity.

    • David L says

      I share your pain on the name-calling and insults (although there are a couple of anti-transit trolls here who sometimes provoke me into that more than I would like), but I have to stick up for the discussions of minutiae that laypeople might find boring. I think they’re valuable and important.

      Transit is just like any other highly technical and complex field: a big-picture vision can only go as far as the details can take it. The reason we get into enormous arguments here over things like 6- versus 8-minute headways, nearside versus farside stops, turn radii, minor routing changes, and the like is because those details are often critical to whether big-picture proposals are workable or not, or to whether there is any hope for low-cost but high-impact improvements to existing service. When there is no independent analysis of such details, transit agency personnel (being human) have a tendency to use them to justify already preferred decisions.

      I think technical detail is to be expected and welcomed on a specialist blog, and I would urge readers who “simply want mobility” to wade in from time to time — it might prove unexpectedly interesting.

    • Mike Orr says

      I have to support DP here, even though I disagree with his comment and parts of his philosophy. He seems to me to be a genuine transit advocate, not a troll who’s making up arguments against people or against transit supporters in general. When I first saw DP here, for several months he was about the only commentator saying subways are necessary, and streetcars and RapidRide are not a substitute even if they can play a secondary role, because travel time and frequency matter.

      He was the first one to offer a specific 45th subway proposal, and he showed how both Wallingford and downtown Fremont and Aurora stations could be included because underground doesn’t have the constraints of streets and houses, and that this minimal zigzagging was not excessive. That had always been a dilemma for me: was it more important to serve Wallingford and leave Fremont out, or vice-versa? DP also showed me the amazing travel time of going underground: 5 minutes from Ballard to U-District (my estimate).

      DP has some controversial ideas, and they do have some damaging effects, of excluding options that might be approved even if he doesn’t believe it, and excluding them prematurely rather than waiting for them to be excluded at the right time. But let’s look at where he’s coming from. He spent some great non-automobile years with the comprehensive transit in Boston, I gather. I wish I’d had years like that. That experience gave him some good ideas and some perhaps flawed ideas. But I see him advocating a consistent pro-transit position throughout, even if some of the ideas may be flawed or not applicable to Seattle/Pugetopolis. As I said elsewhere, we have to compromise given our population size, density, and the expectations of our city’s and region’s residents. We can’t build Chicago here, but that doesn’t mean that BART-Lite wouldn’t be a feasable and suitable alternative.

      Paraphrasing Donald Rumsfeld, you have to go with the transit advocates you have, not the ones you wish you had.

      • Matthew Johnson says

        All I see is someone who won’t do anything more than lift a finger and bring it down on a keyboard who attacks any and everything that isn’t EXACTLY as he would have it. And many times its just b/c he is so paranoid that he just THINKS it won’t end up the way he wants and so starts foaming at the mouth attacking it.

        I have no time (nor respect) for those ‘cold and timid souls’ who don’t do anything except sit back and criticize those who are doing something.

      • Charles says

        D.P. has a very particular vision of what is “correct” in terms of transit planning without accepting that there are many other factors and stakeholders that come into the mix. But I believe in the adage of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

        Like I said in another thread about the value that a “troll” such as Norman brings to STB, so too does DP’s very strident comments and observations about planning processes and design. They cause us to be rigorous in our thinking. What I would propose to DP in terms of being effective is to try honey instead of hot peppers in attracting people to your point of view.

      • Mark Y says

        For every valid point d.p. has (and there are many), it’s his method of arguing that drives me insane. I find myself agreeing with his first post, and then as the comment thread devolves into mean-spiritedness and name-calling, I find myself agreeing with the other side.

        Argument for arguments sake does not move the ball forward. Sarcasm and snarkiness convinces no one. I share a lot of the same views, but I’m beginning to think that nothing will ever make him happy.

        Sound Transit has approved spending more money to plan more rail. That’s great news. We will quibble with where and when they build it, but the post in question was good news. Sometimes you just have to accept a positive result.

  11. Jason Mitchell says

    While Lindblom is certainly one of the better transportation reporters we have, the bus bulb piece is a good example of how his articles—especially the first few paragraphs—can read more like columns, or at least like pieces that should be labeled “news analysis.”

    Take this sentence, for just one example: “This saves time for transit users, but irritates drivers who are waiting behind the bus.”

    That drivers as a class are irritated by bus bulbs is pure speculation, not reporting. Only a single annoyed driver is quoted, followed later by a vague and unsubstantiated reference to people who “vent” at unspecified meetings and on unnamed blogs.

    The start of his piece on the next round of streetcar studies about a month ago read even more like a column, essentially taking the city to task for not having a “broader philosophy” in place before spending money on studies. A perfectly legitimate sentiment, even if I disagree with it, but a whole lot of his opinion for an ostensibly straight news piece.

    • Charles says

      umm no, I can attest that drivers are routinely irritated by them but that’s life. I chose to get on the bus instead. ;-)

      • Jason Mitchell says

        It’s not whether drivers are or are not irritated. It’s reporting that makes broad generalizations about any topic without substantiating evidence.

        It’s as subtle but important as the difference between saying “drivers are irritated” and saying “some [or most, whatever the case may be] drivers interviewed by the Seattle Times for this article found bus bulbs irritating.” Or heck, writing neither and just letting the quotes speak for themselves.

    • asdf says

      So, drivers who are irritated by bus bulbs should ask themselves a simple question: Would they be delayed more had the bus not existed and the line of cars in front of them was 30-50 cars longer as a result of every person on that crowded bus driving a separate car?

      • Eric H says

        I recommend that car drivers invoke the Mark Morford principle: If traffic is not what you expected, please alter your expectations.

  12. Bernie says

    Amazon buys Denny Triangle blocks for $207M


    Amazon paid Clise Properties $207 million for three blocks

    Amazon has indicated it plans to start construction next year on the first block, between Sixth and Seventh avenues and Virginia and Lenora streets.

    The largest building on the block, the mid-century Sixth Avenue Inn hotel, has been closed for several weeks.

    There goes the neighborhood. Another glorious example of 1950’s architecture meets the wrecking ball! Help me with the math here. A “block” on the county grid anyway is an 1/8th of a mile. That should make it equal to 10 acres, right? The hotel site takes up roughly half of the block it’s on and the lot size is shy of 2 acres. Are these really “mini blocks”? All three add up to right around 10 acres. Nice to note that the land has been assessed at around half of the market value and the hotel structure has been appraised at being worth only $1,000 for the last 12 years. Developers continue to get a free ride on the backs of single family property owners in King County. Maybe that’s the reason there’s such a resistance to upzone SF neighborhoods!

      • Bernie says

        That’s Oran. I knew that and don’t know why I was thinking 1/8th mile. Too indoctrinated by the Bellevue Super Block I guess := So a block would be 2.5 acres which sounds about right and Amazon’s purchase of three blocks is a bit over the standard which I’m guessing is because the odd grid in that area looks to be a bit like a rectangle. It will be a pretty overwhelming presence; especially if they keep much of their currently leased space.

      • David Seater says

        Bernie, there was another report a few weeks back that Amazon is purchasing all of their currently leased space from Vulcan in addition to building these new towers.

  13. Jim Cusick says

    Ben,

    To bring this over from the ‘comment policy’ thread, where you said

    “Jim, the Sound Transit board commissioned a study of eastside commuter rail that showed it was clearly not cost effective compared to buses. ”
    are you saying that the Sound Transit board has a side by side comparison of the Joint PSRC/ST Commuter Rail study with their (ST’s)2005 East King County HCT Analysis?

    Can you point me to it? From reading them both, I can’t see how BRT is a better option for the corridor. I have to give ST credit for designing a robust BRT system.

    Even compared with the WSDOT 2003 BRT White Paper (BRT Light in my opinion), commuter rail looks like a bargain even at the ‘gold plated’ version outlined in their report.

  14. The hound says

    So the “artist” got 35k for her “art”. She played the public art welfare scam well. She doesn’t really think that anyone other than her fellow “artists” care, does she?

    I’m actually not opposed to public art. But let’s not act like it’s anything important.

    • Eric says

      Yeah. King County Metro paid for the art and installed it on the side of their parking garage. It makes an otherwise drab concrete structure look just a little bit more interesting. However, the fact that the art is there should have precisely zero effect on the right of neighboring land owners to build as they see fit.

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