News Roundup: Angle Lake

Broadway & Madison (Gordon Werner/Flickr)

This is an open thread.

Comments

  1. Matt the Engineer says

    Man it’s hard to use the bus on holiday schedule. I know OneBusAway doesn’t work, so I try Google Maps. It tells me the 29 is coming soon, but I check Metro’s page to verify and no, the 29 doesn’t run at all. Metro says the 2 runs, but a “reduced weekday schedule”. So I check the #2 schedule and find nothing that says “reduced weekday”. I do find the letter H next to some times (and some B’s, and some C’s and some W’s…), and I find out that these buses don’t run today. So I look at the times it does come, but the timepoints are nowhere near my stop. I finally give up and just stand at the bus stop, treating it like a “Rapid”Ride stop. 45 minutes later, I’m 2 miles away, at work.

    Just as I get to work a friend calls “Do you know if the 29 is running today? OneBusAway shows it coming…”

    • mic says

      Riding transit is not for the faint of heart in Seattle.
      We love to watch tourists and new comers (less than 20 years residency) try to take the bus. All the letters on the schedules are akin to a secret society handshake, and the route deviations (I prefer to call them route mutations) are really effective in sorting out the real Seattleites from the interlopers.

    • says

      What you just described as being hard to use, I thought sounded pretty easy. You checked, but the 29 didn’t run that day, so you checked on the 2, your backup bus, and that was running. It sounds like where you got frustrated was you lack the ability to estimate how long it will take a bus to reach your bus stop when the timepoint isn’t close to your stop. You might be overthinking it. Here’s what I do. If the nearest timepoint is a mile away, I just walk out to the bus stop. The bus will be coming soon.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        The real issue is I want to know if I should walk further to the 13, or if it’s faster to keep walking and go all the way down the hill to the D. But after the ~10 minutes I spent just figuring out the 2, I just gave up.

      • Anton says

        “The bus will be coming soon.”

        Good for you. I am sure you also don’t care about traffic and we don’t need any transit signal priority, as “your stop will be coming soon” too.

        Some people value their time. One of two things is absolutely necessary for this to be a workable system:

        1) it should take <10 seconds to check when the bus is coming (OneBusAway *must* work at all times, in all conditions, and make announcements if something is off)

        2) all high-use routes should run every 10 minutes or less

        Since 2) is pretty much out of reach unless gas all of a sudden costs $30/gallon tomorrow, 1) is the likely solution.

      • says

        If my stop is nowhere near the timepoint, I estimate the ratio of the distances between my stop and the adjacent timepoints, and estimate the equivalent ratio between the listed times. This obviously works better in North Seattle where the streets are all numbered than on Queen Anne Hill where you have to know what block number each street is.

        This is one thing Trip Planner is good for: it estimates arrival times for non-timepoint stops.

    • Stephen F says

      If OBA shows a bus “scheduled” with only black and no red or green, that route is likely not running. On Christmas and New Years, it’s entirely off. OBA is generally working fine. The UI just isn’t that intuitive for users.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        Thanks Stephen. This helped today. 2 had just passed, another 7 minutes for the 13 (according to OBA), so I walked down the hill. The D showed up just as I arrived.

      • Stephen F says

        I forgot to mention that “scheduled” time may also simply indicate that OBA isn’t receiving and converting real-time information properly. Hence, the “likely not running” statement. It’s rare for that OBA be missing the data (unless the route is non-Metro or PT operated) to happen, but I occasionally see it on the 48 early in the route or the 44. If in serious doubt, check the online information.

      • says

        Compared to their competitors, New Flyer is the only one with trolleys in North America. To me, that seals their fate. But I’m not on the procurement team.

      • Stephen F says

        In fairness now, New Flyer is absolutely superior. Their product should be selected. VanCan operates their trolleybus fleet with New Flyer and I can say the design and operation is topnotch. The other bids can’t match. And, while there may be other non-North American companies out there than can build trolleybuses, I have yet to see many comparable to the New Flyer’s modern offerings.

  2. Stephen F says

    Glad to see ST naming stations after landmarks and neighbourhoods rather than streets. We’ve had this battle before, but this method is far superior.

      • AndrewN says

        This isn’t much different than Othello (which also isn’t well-known). S 200th would have been too vague.

      • Gordon Werner says

        Because Angle Lake station is more appealing than Federal Detention Center Station (which is located next door to where the station will be built)

      • Lightning says

        “Except other than the nearby residents, who has heard of Angle Lake?”

        Soon, thanks to the naming, all will have heard of it. Nice little lake, BTW.

      • Stephen F says

        Hahaha, dang it, I forgot about that. I totally should have made that as a submission for alternative names, Gordon!

    • Brett says

      We’ve had this battle before, but this method is far superior.

      This is your opinion; I happen to disagree. I suppose if you navigate purely by landmark this is superior, but some of us look at maps to try to figure out where we are and where we want to go. A landmark doesn’t necessarily help me if my destination is an address. Particularly when the stations start adding up and the names aren’t totally consistent.

      That said, I don’t really care what they name the stations – I personally will never have a problem knowing which station to alight at :-)

      • Nathanael says

        If you’ve ever been in a big city which uses street names for most of its train stations — such as NYC or Chicago — it’s horrendously confusing because there are routine *duplicates*. There are some duplicates in London (which uses neighborhood names) but at least they’re usually next to each other.

        Now, you won’t hit that issue unless you have a lot more lines; Philadelphia uses street names and it’s not an issue because there just aren’t enough lines to end up with many duplicates.

    • Mike Orr says

      It only takes once to learn where Angle Lake station is, if you’re going there. Most riders won’t, and won’t care. The only concern to them is what “Angle Lake station” means on the line’s destination signs, but a quick glance at the map will show there are only two termini, one near the airport and the other “University of Washington”. And those will be superceded in 2023.

      Angle Lake has universal appeal as an interesting name, whether you ever go to the neighborhood or not. I was just looking at a Seattle map an hour ago and noticed that 145th station could be called Bitter Lake station, which would make a nice complement to Angle Lake station. (Hmm, your train goes to two hills and two lakes. –Well, it would have gone to three hills if we could have managed it.)

    • Dustin M says

      I never thought about this before but, will you be able to see Angle lake from the elevated station? If so i agree more with the name.

    • says

      If you think neighborhood names are “obviously” superior, here’s an exercise: pick neighborhood names for every Chicago L or NYC subway station. The result is utter silliness. That’s not true in London, but Seattle is laid out more like NYC or Chicago than London. And this is the silliness we see first hand in the U District. So often (though this is also kind of silly) the major streets with commercial activity and connecting transit are considered neighborhood boundaries, not centers.

      Angle Lake is a fine name for a suburban station. But in denser areas with closer stop spacing sometimes street names will make more sense. Maybe neighborhood definitions in American cities are too big, and maybe some of these places that look like “between” places on a map but are really good station locations need names of their own. I think that’s beyond the scope of the transit system.

      • Mike Orr says

        U-District, Capitol Hill, Beacon Hill, and Roosevelt stations are in the center of their neighborhoods where they should be, and where a station named after the neighborhood makes the most sense. People may have an address but they’ll also likely have a neighborhood name, and if they get off at the station they’ll be within walking distance of wherever the address is. It makes Seattle friendlier to have neighborhood identities; it’s one of the reasons why people move here. Columbia City and Rainier Beach stations are a few blocks off from their centers, but only a few blocks. Othello station is probably leading to a new “Othello” neighborhood, since it’s already a bigger center than the remnants of Hillman City and Brighton.

        I get all befuddled finding neighborhoods in Chicago because they’re not coordinated with the el stations, and not shown on transit maps. Where are the neighborhoods, where are their centers, and and where are their boundaries? I have long tended to call any neighborhood in Chicago or London or St Petersburg by its metro station if I don’t know another name.

      • says

        U District has two stations in it. If we fully build out our system, depending on how the connection works, it might have more.

        The problems that occur when you fully build out a system really strain a policy of using neighborhood names. Think Highway 99 isn’t the boundary between some neighborhoods? I-5? These are places we will run trains. What should call multiple stations in SLU (we do intend for rapid transit to go through there, right?) In Westlake and Eastlake? In Fremont, “Frelard” (ugh), and Ballard on the line we’ll build there?

        If you know anything about Chicago, try renaming all the stations on the Red Line after neighborhoods and you’ll get a feel for how insane that is.

      • says

        As to where Chicago neighborhoods are, it sort of depends who you ask. For example, I recently saw a map of Chicago neighborhoods that didn’t include Ravenswood at all, and Ravenswood is a well-known, long-standing, and prestigious neighborhood whose name shows up in the Ravenswood branch of the L (today part of the Brown Line), a Metra station, and a popular 5k race.

        But it’s primarily a residential designation. Were you a landlord you might advertise a residential unit as a “Ravenswood home” and the retail space below it as a “Lincoln Square storefront” (or an “Uptown storefront” if you were closer to the commercial center of Uptown).

        Another example: Wrigleyville and Boystown as sub-neighborhoods of Lakeview. Lakeview is big and fuzzy-edged and has many different centers of activity (including, of course, Wrigleyville and Boystown, but several others as well). Wrigleyville is centered around Wrigley Field. Metro and SmartBar are Lakeview music clubs in the midst of Wrigleyville sports bars. Boystown mostly describes the nightlife around Belmont and Halsted (I think mostly on a strip of Halsted); a location within a short walk of there is likely to be described as Boystown at night, among gay people, and at gay-centric businesses and bars, and sometimes as Lakeview otherwise. If I lived a few blocks south and east of Wrigley Field I might describe the location using any of the three terms depending on situation.

        Two more examples, which illustrate some of the perils of official neighborhood designations. First, the Gold Coast is exactly what it sounds like: where the rich people live (specifically, it’s a rich neighborhood near the lake on the near north side). The Gold Coast is close to some very poor parts of town around the site of the Cabrini-Green housing projects. The border isn’t necessarily drawn on a map but it’s obvious on the ground. If a block redevelops and gentrifies, the Gold Coast becomes one block bigger. Several L stations are located (and well-located) on one side or the other of the edge of the Gold Coast, as well as other near-north neighborhoods with connotations of wealth or poverty, and whose boundaries move around. Dangerous to name a station after a neighborhood in these parts. Or in South Lawndale… or is it Little Village? As I understand it (which may not be perfectly) the difference between South Lawndale and Little Village has always been more demographic than geographic.

        Even in Seattle, where neighborhoods are more formally defined, people’s patterns of movement and how they think of their neighborhoods change over time. Phinney Ridge’s and Greenwood’s commercial strips have coalesced somewhat into “Phinneywood”. Some businesses and people between the centers of Fremont and Ballard describe their locations as “Frelard”. No similar name has sprung up for what’s developing along Stone Way (which is, officially, the boundary between Wallingford and Fremont), but it will be an interesting mix when/if all the projects under construction and in planning are finished. A couple significant apartment buildings, the Brooks headquarters, a few bike shops, restaurants and coffee, hardware, professionals and healthcare clinics, home furnishings.

      • Nathanael says

        Neighborhood names would be a definite improvement over the current situation with NYC Subway and Chicago L stations.

        The stations named after *named* streets are mostly fine, but the stations named after *numbered* streets — oy. “21st Street” could be in Lower Manhattan on any of the six or more north-south lines, or it could be in Brooklyn on any of four lines, or it could be in Queens! (It’s in Queens.)

      • Nathanael says

        That’s NYC. In Chicago, the original naming system wasn’t that bad — it was “Western station on the Congress Line”, for example.

        But since they changed to colored line names, there are now *two* “Western” stations on the Blue Line. Don’t *DO* that. That amounts to “worst practice” in station naming.

      • Nathanael says

        Intersection names, with *two* streets, are OK (“4th Avenue & 35th St”) but I can’t find a single system which uses them consistently. (Someone will correct me I am sure.)

      • Charles says

        @Nathaniel, small quibble, there is 1 Western station on each branch of the Blue line (the branching is what is confusing) and 1 Western station on the Brown line. Also, some of the L stops are indicated now as intersections such as Clark & Division, Clark & Lake ( of Matrix fame), North & Clybourn (with it’s shiny new Apple store over top of it)

        @Al, Many Chicagoans refer to the entire Lakeview-East neighborhood as Boystown sometimes spelled Boistown. There are also situations where there are distinct neighborhoods but for Aldermanic purposes they are combined. For example, the delightful Andersonville neighborhood is actually part of the Edgewater neighborhood.

      • Mike Orr says

        “U District has two stations in it. If we fully build out our system, depending on how the connection works, it might have more.”

        What matters is that one of the stations is in the center of the neighborhood, and that it’s clearly identified as the neighborhood’s main station. U-District station succeeds on all these counts.

        It’s not important for all stations within the U District boundaries to have “U District” in their name. Peripheral stations can have the name of their street or sub-neighborhood; e.g., “University Heights station” or “50th Street Station”. What most people want to know is, “Where is the center of the U-District?” Because their destination is either right there or within a short walk of there. It’s not that relevant whether 50th Street or Ravenna Boulevard or 7th NE is also part of the U District. Anybody going there should have more specific information guiding them to those stations, and if they accidentally get off at U-District station, they can just get a doughnut and directions and have short walk. (That’s the difference between central and peripheral stations. If you get off at University Way & Ravenna Blvd, it’s harder to find a doughnut and directions, and the walk is in most cases longer.)

        The biggest thing we have to guard against is naming a peripheral station after a neighborhood, and later a new line has a more central station. For instance, 130th station is difficult to name because it’s on the periphery of Lake City, Northgate, and Aurora (whatever that part of Aurora is called). Do you call it “Lake City station”? But then what happens when a 522 line shows up with a station at 125th & LCW? Do you rename the 130th station?

      • aw says

        Mike Orr: “What matters is that one of the stations is in the center of the neighborhood, and that it’s clearly identified as the neighborhood’s main station. U-District station succeeds on all these counts.”

        Huh? I’d put the center of the U District substantially to the east and maybe a bit to the south. You know, like centered on the University campus itself. My ad hoc definition of the the U District is north of the ship canal, east of I-5 to at least U Village, maybe as far as 35th or Sand Point Way and south of um, Ravenna. By that definition, U-DistrictBrooklyn-NE 45th Station is at the northwest corner.

      • says

        Some people may claim Fremont extends as far as Stone Way. That’s really only true south of 36th, maybe 38th/Bridge Way. Beyond that, Aurora is too much of a brick wall. I’d be shocked if anyone living in that strip seriously tried to claim they lived in Fremont still (and then find out they lived near 38th, 41st, 46th, or 50th).

        “I’d put the center of the U District substantially to the east and maybe a bit to the south. You know, like centered on the University campus itself.”

        I don’t count the campus as part of the U-District. The campus is as big as the rest of the U-District combined, and it’s very sparsely laid out so there’s a lot more “stuff” in the real U-District. In that sense, I’d probably move it a bit south and center it right on the Ave, but beyond that it works pretty well.

      • Mike Orr says

        The University District is the commercial area centered on University Way, with its core between Campus Parkway and 45th and Brooklyn and 15th. The campus may or may not be part of the district depending on who you talk to. North of 50th has been pretty much pulled in, but definitely not U Village. There’s a big cultural difference between the U District and U Village. The U District is like Berkeley and U Village is like Bellevue. I’d put the boundaries at Ravenna Blvd, 22nd (the last street above the steep slope), Montlake Blvd, the Ship Canal, and I-5 or 5th or 1st NE (it’s fuzzy on that side).

      • says

        There is absolutely nothing wrong with station names on the Chicago L. The main unit of Chicago geography is the street. It’s easy to figure out which branch of the L you’re on and easy from there to determine the cross street you need. A few people get lost in Chicago and blame it on how many Ashland stations there are. Just as many or more get lost in London and can’t find something obvious to blame it on.

      • Mike Orr says

        “it might have more stations”

        Only one other Link line has been proposed for the U-District, and its station will hopefully be an expansion of U-District station. If it needs to be a separate station, we’ll deal with that when the time comes. A streetcar might have several station, but there street names make more sense. If it ends up sounding too silly to say “Campus Parkway station”, “U-District Station”, “50th Street station”, we can give it its own name “43rd Street station”. The SLUT’s Westlake station is called “Pacific Place station”. A streetcar is not about getting on in Tukwila and then wondering where the hell you are underground. A streetcar spans two relatively close districts, only one or two neighborhoods are in between, and you can see the buildings get taller and estimate which station is the center.

      • Nathanael says

        Charles: “Clark & Lake” style naming is good, and probably what Chicago should do consistently for nearly all its stations.

  3. Robert says

    Driving east/west on Madison where it cross the tracks on Broadway is quite bumpy – will that be mitigated at some point?

    • Gordon Werner says

      Short answer, yes. As soon as the track construction is completed (they might have to wait until next spring/summer) …

    • Gordon Werner says

      If you walk along the track construction (I think you can see it in a bunch of my Flickr photos) you will see that the newly constructed track may be anywhere from 4-6″ lower than the original street surface. Right now, they simply patched the gaps between the existing roadway and the new concrete trackways.

      When the weather improves and they are done with construction, they will return and excavate the roadway between the two tracks, rebuild it and repave it. You can already see this from Pine Street to Union Street.

      Once they rebuild the center roadway they will do the same to the curb lanes (especially the future cycle track area in the current east-moast lane of the street) and when they are done, Broadway will be nice and smooth to drive/bike on.

  4. Gordon Werner says

    There was a KC Metro New Flyer DE60LFR operating on the #8 yesterday (one of the ones with the rooftop fins) … never seen that before

    • Mike H says

      It’s funny but when I was out walking my dog on Christmas Eve I saw a DE60LFR on both the 9X, 11, and 8 on the same day. I think there must have been some bus shifting to Ryerson Base.

      • SR Das says

        Yeah. I’ve been seeing Ryerson 6800’s on the 120 all month–14 of them to be exact: 6824, 6825, 6826, 6827, 6919, 6920, 6922, 6925, 6926, 6927, 6928, 6930, 6931 and 6932.

      • d.p. says

        Can Metro please hurry the high-floor 40-footers off of the 40. They’re packed all day, and the route volume really can’t handle any boarding delays.

      • JohnS says

        +1 to what DP says on the 40. I’ve been on it mid-day or early afternoon twice in the last 2 weeks, and it was pretty close to SRO for most of the Northgate-Fremont trip.

    • Mike Orr says

      There was a Metro bus on the 522 Monday afternoon.

      I was also pleasantly surprised to see the 522 runs every 15 minutes northbound in the weekday afternoons, instead of the 30 minutes I expected. But when I came back southound I found the schedule is very asymmetric. Northbound frequent service starts at 1pm, but southbound frequent service ends at 10am.

      Also, the 522 still stops at 6th & Pike, even though the 10/11/43/47/49 don’t.

    • Charles says

      I saw a RapidRide liveried bus operating as a 48 to Mt. Baker near Greenlake today. Isn’t that against the rules? ;-)

    • Pete Lorimer says

      They’ve had this for a while with just the streetcar. Nice to see they’ve added the other transit types to it as well. They’ve had a readerboard at the Bridgeport brewery/pub for a few years, and it’s handy to know if you have time to order another pint before the streetcar arrives (the answer is usually “yes”, it’s just a matter of how quickly do you have to down it)

  5. Nabil says

    What’s going to happen to all the trolleybus wire when the streetcar is finished? In Europe, streetcars/trams and trolleybuses coexist, but for some strange reason Seattle didn’t know that was possible when they ripped out the trolleybus wires in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel to put in light-rail.

    • Bruce Nourish says

      The overhead for Link and a streetcar are very different, electrically and physically. The streetcar and trolleybuses will coexist on Broadway and Jackson, except in places where the trolleybus overhead is prohibitively complex to negotiate, where the streetcar will run on battery.

    • Sherwin Lee says

      The Central Link overhead is 1500 VDC, whereas the trolleybuses are electrified at 600 or 700 VDC.

      • Nabil says

        I read that the South Lake Union Streetcar is 750 V DC, will the First Hill line have the same voltage?

      • Gordon Werner says

        Neil … FHS and SLUT will both use the same voltage (same actually as the ETB system) which is 750v DC.

        Link uses 1500v DC in order to require fewer substations … and the old Waterfront Streetcar used 600v DC.

        Back when the First Hill Streetcar line was first proposed … they actually put some serious time and consideration into utilizing twin contact poles like the ETB fleet so it would be able to use the same overhead wires although that lost out to running partly on Battery power.

        The issue is not that they cannot run OCS for the streetcar in both directions on Capital/First Hill … the problem is that the junctions at Pine, Madison, and Jefferson Streets are already complicated enough without having to spend the $$$ to completely re-engineer all the wire junctions.

        It remains to be seen whether or not the streetcars will be able to make the run back to Pioneer Sq. under battery power (especially in the summer) … but I believe the folks at Metro have said that they have contingency plans if this is the case.

        Of course, having any portion of the line require battery power will mean that they cannot interline the SLU streetcars with the FHS line (unless they add batteries to the SLU vehicles) but I do not know if that is even possible.

      • Nathanael says

        Nabil, the initial plan is indeed only to have wires northbound. We’ll see how long that lasts.

      • Mike Orr says

        Interlining will become an issue if the downtown connector segment happens, but that’s years off.

    • Daniel says

      They’re different technologies. All DC power systems have (at least) two wires: A “hot” wire, which is energized at the rated voltage (1500 or 700 VDC, in this case) and a “return” or “ground” which is normally at the same voltage as the surrounding environment. Current flows from the substation, through the hot wire to the vehicle, and back to the substation through the return wire.

      An ETB system has both wires running above the street, and requires two trolley poles. Electric trains, however, have only one catenary wire (which serves as the hot wire) and use one or both of the rails as the return wire.

      The two systems look different, and are generally not compatible. Supposedly the FHS will only have a catenary wire along the line running up the hill, towards the Community College, and will return to Pioneer Square on battery power.

      • Mike Orr says

        So if I touch the rails I could get electrocuted, even if it doesn’t use third rail technology? Of course, that’s moot if you’re about to be run over by a train, but it’s still worth knowing.

      • Dustin M says

        I have always wondered why we could not use the trolley bus catenary for the streetcar. Why not use two poles but have one non functional? Now this would require trolley bus and streetcar to use same voltage systems. I seem to get the impression that they are not. Basically we have 3 electrified systems in Seattle (Trolleybus, Streetcar, Link) and each have their own electrical requirements. Seems like it would have been much smarter to engineer all the systems the same. In Portland, the streetcar and MAX run on the same catenary and track gauge. This allows them to run streetcars on MAX tracks.

        In Seattle, having streetcars use the same catenary as the trolleybus would have been even more beneficial. Not only would you have less problems with complex catenary arrangements, but you would give trolley buses more flexibility by adding more trolleybus wire, and since Jackson, and Broadway already have wire, you would have saved money and time installing the new system.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        Nah. Here’s the key: “‘ground’ which is normally at the same voltage as the surrounding environment.” The rails touch the ground, so any little bit of voltage difference between them and the ground quickly goes away. Unless you find yourself between the wheels and the track, you shouldn’t have a problem (and if you do, you have larger problems).

      • Matt the Engineer says

        (my previous comment was directed at Mike)

        [Dustin] I imagine that’s possible, but it also seems like trollybus poles are always popping off their wires. I imagine the wide contact point streetcars have with their wire makes it close to impossible to lose contact with.

      • Nabil says

        Daniel,

        I know that trolleybus systems require two wires, one that is energized and the other for grounding, while trains use the rails as grounding.

        However, there are plenty of systems around the world where trolleybus and electric train lines coexist on the same path. The train wire is located directly above the track between the rails, while the pair of trolleybus wires are offset to the side next to the train wire. This is very common.

        Here’s a good video of trams and trolleybuses coexisting:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w09gzbYYC5c

        I believe Sherwin Lee answered the reason why light-rail and trolleybuses couldn’t coexist in the downtown transit tunnel, because of the different voltages. The systems I’ve seen in Europe where trolleybuses and trams/streetcars coexist have the same voltage and thus the same power source for energizing them.

      • Matt L (aka Angry Transit Nerd) says

        since Jackson, and Broadway already have wire, you would have saved money and time installing the new system

        We could have saved a lot of money and time by rerouting the 49 instead of building this consolation-prize boondoggle.

        Of course, the right thing to do would have been to build the First Hill station. ST seems willing to spend tons of effort on “value engineering” the Bellevue tunnel, but the station to serve three major hospitals is simply cut at the drop of a hat.

      • Jason Rogers says

        The only way to “value engineer” the First Hill station would’ve been to do precisely what they did, which is delete it entirely. It would’ve been a mined station ala Beacon Hill, and it would’ve cost ST an extra $1 billion ($500m for the station and tunneling, and $500m in a federal grant they wouldn’t have gotten due to increased construction risk, although arguably they would’ve just gotten a smaller grant).

        For Bellevue, we’re talking about ~$50m one way or the other, and whether they “value engineer” it or not doesn’t really affect their ability to build the rest of East Link.

      • Pete Lorimer says

        Since the ETB and FHS both run at 750VDC, I wonder if they could have run the twin trolley wires in a staggered configuration, where the +voltage is 6″ lower than the ground line. Therefore the streetcar could make contact with just the one wire, grounding through the rails, and the trolley poles could easily attach to the twin wires. The only complication would be at switches and crossovers, but I bet that could be worked out in a similar fashion to the existing trolley/OCS crossovers in SLU.

      • Nathanael says

        Mike: remember, with *DC* current you have to *close a circuit* in order to get electrocuted. That means you have to connect the “hot” to the “neutral”. The neutral is in the rails, the hot is on the overhead wires.

        It’s possible to “connect the circuit to ground” by connecting the “hot” to the earth, which is why it’s unsafe to touch the hot. (If you are extremely well insulated from the ground, there are some situations under which you actually can touch the hot without much harm.) But connecting the “neutral” to ground doesn’t do anything.

        AC is quite a lot different, but it’s still true that you can generally touch the “neutral” on an AC circuit safely, provided you’re not connecting a “hot” to neutral or ground. This is why the tracks can be used for the “return” even with 25kV overhead AC wiring, as used on high-speed railways.

        To state it very roughly, the “hot” has electrons under pressure even when the circuit is disconnected; the neutral, unless something has gone wrong, doesn’t.

      • Nathanael says

        Pete: it’s perfectly possible to have twin wires (hot and neutral) for trolleybus, and attach a streetcar to the hot wire, and bond the streetcar tracks to the neutral wires.

        But there’s a reason it probably won’t be done. Modern streetcars generally use pantographs rather than trolley poles. If the pantograph accidentally hits both trolleybus wires, it’ll short out the whole system. Your trolleybus wires are not very far apart from each other.

        If the streetcars used trolley poles this would not be an issue, but trolley poles derail easily (as you know from the trolleybuses…) so they’ve very much gone out of fashion.

      • Pete Lorimer says

        Nathanael, It was with use of a pantograph on the streetcar, and twin poles on the ETB in mind that I made the suggestion of having an offset height for hot and neutral, whereas the pantograph could contact the lower hot without coming into contact with the neutral. Of course this would likely require closer spacing of the support wires, so that there isn’t so much slack in the hot wire that it could be pushed up be the pantograph to where there would be a danger of contacting the neutral as well.
        Still, as I said before the real engineering challenge would be in the design of the switches (crossovers should be fairly straight foreword).

      • Mike Orr says

        The issue is that the train is connecting the hot overhead to the neutral rail, and how far the high voltage travels along the rail before dissipating to a safe level.

      • Bernie says

        far the high voltage travels along the rail before dissipating to a safe level.

        It doesn’t “travel” at all. The current (electrons) flow from ground to the positive side. The potential of the rails (both of them) is zero. That’s why you won’t get shocked if you touch the floor at the bumper cars.

      • aw says

        Bernie, the electrons may flow from -V to +V but the current flows from plus to minus. With respect to getting electrocuted, just don’t carry around a long metal pole that contacts the catenary while walking along the rails.

      • Nathanael says

        Mike, if you don’t understand the technical details of electomagnetism (which are worth studying), the best analogy I know is pressure.

        The “hot” wire is under pressure (as Bernie pointed out, the pressure is actually pulling towards the “hot” end in a DC system) and the “neutral” wire (the tracks) isn’t under pressure.

        You only have trouble if you connect the “pressurized” end to something. The “unpressurized” end is completely harmless at all times unless you have a short circuit. If you connect the “pressurized” end through the motors to the “unpressurized” end, the motors normally use up / dissipate all the “pressure”, somewhat like connecting an air hose to something powered by air pressure.

        (There can be small amounts of “stray current” but they’re tiny, incapable of harming you; they mainly constitute a corrosion issue.)

    • Zed says

      The trolleybus wire will remain, it will just be shifted over so it runs parallel to the streetcar wire, just like it does along Fairview in SLU.

      It the transit tunnel there isn’t enough room in the tubes to run both catenary for Link and wire for the trolleybuses.

  6. AlexKven says

    Rest assured, math haters. You won’t have to look at so many numbers, now that the station is now named “Angle Lake.” Personally, I thought S. 200 st was the perfect station, because it is to the point about where it is. It gives an exact figure for its location, yet is simple; It’s not the S. 189 st station, or the 19800 block station, it’s the South 200th Street station, about halfway down the county.

    S 200th st will live on as the real name!

      • Nathanael says

        Ah, but the test of age is whether you call it the “Congress” rather than the “Eisenhower”. I’m not old enough for that but my parents are. I’m old enough to say “Northwest Tollway”, not “Jane Addams”.

  7. z7 says

    What is the nature of inter-bus horn-based communication?

    It’s happened twice now that, when a passenger needed to transfer onto the bus directly ahead, the driver tapped the horn to try to tell the driver of the bus in front to wait.

    I’m not sure if it ever works. Is there an agreed-on signal for “wait up”? Should there be a protocol (even if it’s to tell the rider that no, there’s nothing the driver can do to get the bus in front to wait)?

    • AlexKven says

      What I notice is that when a bus is about to pass another, the passing driver honks as he is passing.

      • Paul says

        Yes, the protocol is two taps of the horn when passing another coach and five horn taps to signal the leading coach that you have transferring passengers.

    • John Bailo says

      Yes, at Kent Station the transfer bus invariably departs even with a honk…and there are 9 bus bays spread out so it can be a long jaunt between bay 1 and bay 9.

    • Mike Orr says

      Yes, I’ve seen it for years and occasionally had the driver do it when the next bus is half-hourly or less.

  8. Charles says

    So does Sound Transit’s “new” TOD policy mean they will revisit their “Lynnwood Link” alignment decision???

    • Mike Orr says

      Unlikely since that was a major decision. This is more about TOD wherever the stations are, not moving a decided line elsewhere.

      • Charles says

        But the fact remains that the alignment for Lynnwood link was made without regard to TOD even when transit advocates were screaming at them to make it a primary factor. All of the I-5 stations have ZERO TOD potential. We’re spending billions simply to enable sprawl rather than infill development.

      • Mike Orr says

        So bring it up to the ST board and point out that this new principle they’ve adopted raises questions about a recent decision. It’s possible the board is reconsidering the decision. However, my impression is that Shoreline is pretty heavily for the I-5 alignment, and it has already made TOD commitments at its RapidRide stations that put Seattle to shame. I doubt think ST will change its mind against Shoreline’s wishes. But you can bring it up with Shoreline too. Remember that a Link line would only serve a couple of the RapidRide stations, and that it doesn’t really matter where it travels between stations, so Shoreline may see it as a big distraction for the one or two stations it would get.

      • Lack Thereof says

        There’s no political potential for density between Northgate and Lynnwood. I’m not crying too hard over the alignment there – it’s just leapfrogging an area that’s not going to add riders anyway.

      • Charles says

        But there is plenty of TOD potential along the Aurora Ave N corridor. This area could accommodate an increase of 100,000+ people easily. And before you go pishawing those numbers, the region’s population is forecasted to increase by 1.5 Million in the next 15-20 years. If we want dense walkable neighborhoods closer to the urban core, we have to do the work of getting our land use in line with our transportation planning. (or more correctly transit follows land use). Otherwise, sprawl will spread rapidly and the benefits we seek in environment and energy will be lost.

  9. Joseph Singer says

    Why do the streetcar tracks meander all over the street on Broadway? Sometimes it seems to be flush with the right curb and others it almost goes to the center of the lane. I’m assuming that when service starts delivery trucks won’t be able to “park” in the middle of the street any longer.

      • Nathanael says

        That’s an interesting question. Have you considered the possibility that the tracks are straight and the street isn’t? This is actually pretty common.

      • John Bailo says

        That is a lot of stops…I though you guys said it was inefficient for HSR to do a lot of stops?

        1200 miles, 35 stops means a stop every 34 miles! Which means my intra Washington State HSR plan is viable…

      • d.p. says

        Your intra-Washington plan is not viable because Washington has 1/200th the population of China, with ZERO cities as populous as the AVERAGE city in which their train stops.

        There’s no demand in Tinysville, John.

      • Nathanael says

        On the other hand, my plan for high speed rail from New York to Chicago via every major city along the way sounds entirely viable. :-) If we had a government as competent as China’s. Which we don’t.



You may want to read our comment policy.