News Roundup: Disarray

Sound Transit

This is an open thread.

Comments

  1. Gordon Werner says

    So what’s the deal with the huge pit at 3rd/James?

    When they do build a building there … can we require that a better, more friendly, wider entrance to the tunnel station be part of any design?

  2. Andrew Smith says

    I can’t see why anyone who doesn’t work at Kenmore Air should care whether Kenmore Air flights would be bothered by SLU buildings. Restricting the heights of buildings in SLU for Kenmore Air is perverse, but sadly it does seem we are doing precisely that based on the image in the linked piece. If KA have to relocate to Elliott Bay or Lake Washington or go out of business, so be it; more people are employed by the Starbucks on Amazon’s campus than are by Kenmore Air.

      • Benjamin C says

        With all of the nimbyism around building heights, I’m surprised there is not more nimbyism around the noise of Kenmore Air’s planes. Those flying lawnmowers are ridiculously loud in Fremont, Wallingford and other neighborhoods. Maybe everyone just got used to them.

      • Lack Thereof says

        I’m pretty sure they’ve been there longer than the NIMBYs. Lake Union Air had been flying seaplanes off of Lake Union since the 40′s, long before Kenmore moved operations onto Lake Union.

    • Kenny says

      Errrr, so Starbucks employees make the kind of wages (and benefits) the pilots, technicians and ground staff at Kenmore make?

      I have two friends who are pilots at Kenmore (you know the type, mommy and daddy couldn’t pay for college so they became self-made pilots) and make a nice living doing what they love. But I guess to urbanists any job that creates CO2 is evil. Better the working class learn to be baristas to make lattes for urbanists going to jobs at Amazon on $3000 bicycles.

      • Andrew Smith says

        I have no idea what Starbucks or Kenmore Air employees make, but I reckon Amazon employees make a whole lot more than either, and are more numerous in that area.

        As for mummy and daddy playing for college, come off it. I paid for my own college and have never asked anyone to change the rules so my employment could stick around. My employer gets no grants from the FAA, the state aerospace fund, or any other government pot.

        “Self-made”? Give me a break.

      • Lack Thereof says

        We can have our cake and eat it too, here. If Kenmore Air is a successful business, they will find a way to stay in operation, no matter how tall SLU gets. People will still want to get between the San Juans and Seattle in an hour, even if it means landing in Elliot Bay or Lake Washington instead of Lake Union.

        They were planning on operating out of Elliot Bay in the late 90′s, and got all the approprate Federal permits to do so, but the City Council caved to NIMBY’s and blocked them.

        Honestly, if Lake Union becomes unusable for them as a runway, and they continue to be stonewalled on Elliot Bay, they could probably land in Lake Washington near Union Bay and just taxi on through to their current facility in Lake Union.

      • David L says

        Or maybe there’s no sinister cultural conspiracy and it’s just a straightforward calculation of costs and benefits.

        The benefits of building up SLU are considerable.

        The costs of moving Kenmore Air to Elliott Bay would be minimal in the long run, and I doubt many people would be opposed to offering them mitigation for the short-run costs of moving.

      • phil says

        It’s funny that Kenmore Air and Vulcan’s SLU luxury view condos will cater to exactly the same market…rich folks, with multiple homes. I guess they can take a limo to the new location if Kenmore is forced out.

        FYI – The view from my place is of the airplanes going by. The local news helicopters are much bigger nuance.

      • d.p. says

        It’s weird that we’re talking about physical conflicts at all, when Kenmore air says it’s not particularly worried about thbem. The lake is long, planes routinely take off and land in both directions; there’s lots a room. The buoy idea — creating a temporary protected runway space at the flip of a switch — is fantastic.

        I, for one, like that there’s an airport on Lake Union, and I can’t imagine why any urbanist wouldn’t. It’s in the middle of the city, with transit connections to everywhere, you can fly directly to various destinations (including another major city) without the need for an auto transfer on the other end. And all of this is possible without one square centimeter of permanent asphalt infrastructure!

        A city isn’t just about concentrating the most workspace or the most “productive” (by some arbitrary measure) jobs within arbitrarily defined boundaries. A city is about the possibilities inherent in many different activities and uses sharing close quarters. It’s about making connections. The Lake Union Floatport most certainly has a place in that.

      • Andrew Smith says

        I don’t want to get into a whole thing about it, but if the airport fits, fine. But if we have to sacrifice a bunch of other things we want to get it, forget it.

      • says

        #1. The Lake Union airport is a tourist attraction. It’s right next to MOHAI, on the Seattle Streetcar line + a short walk, and brings people into the downtown core. I have used it before and will again next month or March – haven’t decided.

        #2. I really resent how some people just start whacking away at a major employer and several smaller employers just so you guys can have taller buildings wherever it suits your agenda. It’s not like Seattle isn’t getting taller buildings anyway – and should.

        #3. NIMBYism against aviation is sadly becoming a progressive trait – and I’ve dealt with it up around OLF Coupeville, heard about it around Anacortes airport and now am seeing it around Lake Union Airport. I find it deplorable to say the least.

      • Bernie says

        Uh? it is “Kenmore Air” right? I’ve been privileged to fly up to Canada for a company paid fishing trip and seaplanes are part of the Seattle ethos. But they’ve scaled back operations out of Kenmore because of noise concerns even after they retrofitted all the planes with 3 blade props to replace the original 2 blade props that had a tip velocity that broke the sound barrier. Realistically the active use of Lake Onion, which is a good thing, is pushing out the sea planes. It’s not in the next year or two but I think there should be a public involvement (i.e. money $$$) in helping the business relocate.

      • says

        Bernie says:
        January 25, 2013 at 12:09 am

        I’d rather see a real, hard-core effort to keep the seaplanes there. Some people need to quit grousing over aviation so much…

        Sadly around the world, not just Victoria, BC & Coupeville, WA are we seeing this anti-aviation rhetoric spewed. I have on my desk a freshly-read copy of December 2012 Australian Aviation w/ an op-ed about noise complaints in… Perth, Australia. Methinks the growing encroachment around airports and resulting complaints about aircraft noise is a major problem for planners & urbanists to consider.

      • Nathanael says

        Aviation is cool, but it’s got an economic headwind against it (yeah, yeah, pun).

        First of all, the fuel efficiency of aviation is awful compared to ground transportation (still good vs. sea for lightweight stuff though), and aviation is the single hardest area to retrofit with electric vehicles. (Though my friends’ super-high energy density quantum magnetic battery technology might make it possible.) Secondly, there’s the land and airspace needed for runways — seaplanes are a lot more efficient, when it comes to that. Thirdly, there’s the noise, which is pretty much unaviodable.

      • Bernie says

        Fuel efficiency isn’t as bad as you think. According to Wikipedia almost equal to commuter rail, 2,812 BTU per passenger-mile vs Air 2,826 BTU. Better than the average American transit bus 4,242 BTU per passenger-mile [ref. Transportation Energy Data Book: Edition 30. US Department of Energy. pp. Table 2.12.]. Of course air’s big advantage is speed over relatively long distances and the ability cross both land and sea.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        Next up: RapidFly. Connecting transit hubs throughout the region to downtown at 1/10th the travel time, allowing for 10x the frequency with just one (admittedly more expensive) vehicle.

      • d.p. says

        Avgeek,

        Count me among the proud, dyed-in-the-wool Progressives who actually agree with you on this.

        Aviation may not be the greatest thing even to happen to the Environment, but it’s here to stay. There’s nothing gained by pushing it out deep into the cornfields, Denver style, and adding an hour’s travel worth of carbon footprint to both ends of your journey.

        If the airport/floatport offers commercial service, then it is a public amenity and should be treated as such. Kenmore Air service is not the cheapest transit option in the world, but it’s hardly the most expensive either. Some may be able to afford to fly it regularly; for others it might be a once-in-a-lifetime indulgence (e.g. honeymoon in Victoria); but for most it is a potentially in-reach service, and doubly so on account of its location.

        It might be harder to defend space-hogging asphalt airports available only for general (i.e private) aviation — although I knew someone who made worthy use of Chicago’s former Meigs Field, and who was anything but the Fortune 500 jetsetter archetype Mayor Daley tried to evoke when he illegally destroyed the runway (only to replace it with a mediocre ClearChannel concert venue that could have been anywhere).

        I have a friend who flies (commercially) into the Toronto Island Airport every time he goes home. After taking the 500-foot ferry crossing that connects the terminal to the mainland, he can walk to his parents’ apartment. How cool is that!?

      • Bernie says

        Next up: RapidFly.

        Sounds great on paper but by the time Metro gets through dumbing it down it’ll be nothing more than a red and yellow plane that taxis down surface streets. But it’ll have really cool jet-way style stations :=

      • Nathanael says

        Small seaplanes are pretty darn efficient when it comes to land use. There’s really a lot to be said from an STB point of view for keeping this particular airport approximately where it is.

  3. Becky says

    The American Community Survey has a commute option for “trolley bus.” The map visualization may have lumped trolley bus riders in with rail/streetcar.

    • Zach Shaner says

      Agreed, that’s probably the main reason. But it still doesn’t explain the rail/streetcar commuters at the south end of Mercer Island. My guess is that the response either allows multiple entries or only shows one leg of a multi-modal journey, so a M.I. commuter who takes the 202 to the streetcar could be counted as a “streetcar commuter”?

      • Mark Y says

        There’s a bunch over in East Bremerton, too. Must be like you said, one leg only is needed to qualify as a streetcar commuter.

      • Becky says

        I think respondents can only pick one thing…so maybe someone transfers to Link somewhere?

        Or maybe Mercer Island has a streetcar and didn’t tell anyone.

      • Nathanael says

        “So a M.I. commuter who takes the 202 to the streetcar could be counted as a “streetcar commuter”?”

        Probably. Interesting how many there are, eh?

    • Mike Lindblom says

      ….and the National Transit Database (used by APTA) also classifies “electric bus” as a separate ridership category. You have to add this to the rider count for petrol-powered buses, to confirm the true bus ridership counts for King County Metro. This statistical quirk affects only a few cities.

  4. Andrew Smith says

    As for cyclists, as the post shows most people rather like cyclists, but the people who hate cyclists REALLY hate them. It would have been interesting to see a rating like:

    1) Very positive
    2) A little positive
    3) No opinion/neutral
    4) a little negative
    5) very negative

    I’m guessing you’d get a lot of 1′s, 2′s and 3′s, few 4′s and heaps of 5′s.

    • Tim Willis says

      I’m generally dumbfounded by extreme dislike for cyclists. Just last night someone yelled at me as they were driving by in the other direction.

      • Andrew Smith says

        Yes, that happened to me last week! I riding along minding my own business on Eastlake and some nut in an SUV turning the other direction yelled at me.

        What the hell? It happens some times when I am a pedestrian as well.

      • Andy says

        It is brutal. I use to ride in Phoenix which was way worse too. I’ll never get such hate for someone who chooses a different form of transportation. …It doesn’t impede traffic, it IS traffic.

      • djw says

        When I’m in Dayton sometimes people fake as if they’re going to run me off the road, for what I can only presume is their amusement. Was driven into a ditch by someone doing that recently, riding on a wide shoulder well outside of the flow of traffic.

      • says

        But! But anyone who isn’t in a car is just an obstruction and distraction for those who are! They’re infringing on our god-given right to go as fast as we can without regard for the consequences by ruining those few brief interludes between traffic jams! Stupid war on cars, with its “people have a right to live too” nonsense.

    • David L says

      Cyclists are a convenient and vulnerable target for a whole cultural rage complex which talk-radio and TV hosts make their living by stoking.

  5. Mike Orr says

    ST is going to prepare its list for ST3 in the next year or two. Most of the discussion has been about the vast increase in extension planning in 2013. But if we want to get an infill station at Graham, this is our opportunity window. It hasn’t opened quite yet but will probably do so this year. Because in order to build a station, you first have to plan it, and it would be best if it were planned before the ST3 list is finalized. That means getting ST to add it to the subway planning.

    This raises the issue that the station will compete directly with Ballard subway construction money. It would take only a little chunk, but it’s enough to force one less station or amenity or priority signal on the the Ballard line or second DSTT. So the question is, how much do people want this Graham station vs a bit more extension? Or, what are we willing to postpone to get Graham station into ST3?

    • alexjonlin says

      Shouldn’t adding that station be extremely cheap by transit capital project standards, e.g. <$10m? I don't see why that would really have to get in the way.

  6. Gordon Werner says

    Transit Books …

    Couple of Transit Books are available from the LRTA (Light Rail Transit Association) for those interested in US Transit systems … Light Rail, Streetcar, Heavy Rail, and Subways.

    These books give an overview of each system and their rolling stock … with lots of system maps, photos in color (and text in German and English) …

    Subways and Light Rail in the U.S.A. Vol 1 – East Coast

    http://www.lrta.info/shop/product.php/1072/44/subways_and_light_rail_in_the_u_s_a_vol_1_east_coast

    By Robert Schwandl (Robert Schwandl Verlag) 2010
    Subway, Light Rail, Streetcar – from Boston via New York City to Washington D.C.

    This books tells the story of all urban rail systems along the U.S. East Coast, from the old subway-surface trolleys in operation in Boston and Philadelphia, to the well-known New York City Subway, to the modern metro systems in Baltimore and Washington D.C. The book is illustrated with many color photos and detailed network maps.

    160 pages
    numerous network maps
    approx. 300 colour photos
    Text German & English
    —-

    SUBWAYS & LIGHT RAIL in the USA Vol 2 – West Coast

    http://www.lrta.info/shop/product.php/1503/44/subways_light_rail_in_the_usa_vol_2_west_coast

    By Claudio Brignole & Robert Schwandl (Robert Schwandl Verlag)

    April 2012

    Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, Salt Lake City & Denver

    This books tells the story of all urban rail systems in the West of the United States, from the old MuniMetro trolley routes and the efficient rapid transit system BART in San Francisco, to the numerous modern light rail systems in the entire region, to the modern metro system in L.A. The book is illustrated with many color photos and detailed network maps.

    ISBN 978 3 936573 35 0
    160 pages
    numerous network maps
    approx. 300 colour photos
    Text German & English

    —-

    Volume 3, which will cover the Midwest and Southern US will be available next year

    Also … if you are a fan of Streetcars, Light Rail, etc … I must recommend the official publication of the LRTA (Light Rail Transit Association) of the UK … Tramways & Urban Transit

    It is a UK publication so it is kind of pricy but it does an excellent job of covering Transit developments around the world.

    If you would like to see the last issue (PDF), click here:

    http://issuu.com/tramdev/docs/taut2/1

  7. z7 says

    Is there a rationale for the difference between lighting on ST and lighting on Metro buses? I notice that ST buses are a lot brighter and a lot bluer. Sometimes there’s even a section towards the front that looks like it’s covered with translucent blue plastic.

    For me, the blue light makes sunsets hard to see from the westbound 520 / 90 and the rides generally less pleasant, so I’ll usually take the 271 instead of 555 or 550 to cross the pond from Bellevue.

    • David L says

      The color of the cabin lights has more to do with the age and maker of the particular buses than if they are Metro or ST.

      If you’re riding the 271, chances are you’re in Metro’s old Gilligs. They have standard fluorescent tubes that are relatively dim (and have effectively become dimmer and browner over time as the plastic covers get dirty).

      The older ST buses have the same technology, although the tubes appear a little brighter and whiter because the covers haven’t had as long to get dirty and the tubes are closer to the passengers, being mounted on the luggage racks.

      The newer ST buses (along with RapidRide buses, other D60LFRs, and Orions in the Metro fleet) have strips of LEDs in place of the tubes. The LEDs are much brighter than the fluorescents, and their color is a bit bluer.

      All buses in both the Metro and ST fleets since the delivery of the first Gillig in 1996 have blue-tinted covers over the frontmost cabin light on both sides. The blue covers help reduce glare for the driver when those lights are on.

      Another difference you may experience between different drivers is that some drivers will use only “partial” lighting, which turns on only the left-side cabin lights, while others will use “full” lighting, which turns on the lights on both sides. My own preference was for partial lighting on sleepy P&R routes and full lighting on any route where there is a lot of on/off activity or even the slightest hint of a security issue.

      • Nathanael says

        FWIW, the LEDs also last longer than the flourescents, don’t hum, and use less energy.

        They will get dimmer over time, however.

      • David L says

        Assuming 12 hours of daily use (a relatively generous usage rate for transit buses) and no replacement, the lights will probably be at 70% or so of original brightness at the end of the bus’s lifespan. I would guess that would make them brighter than the tubes are when new.

    • T.K. says

      ST coaches operated by Pierce Transit have red interior lighting to match their local fleet, except the MCIs, which have no filters over their lights. It’s not as common since they switched to the red lighting, but there are still a few PT drivers who operate on the freeway with only the reading lamps on.

    • says

      ST buses have always tried to feel like Greyhounds. It’s less the case on the Metro-run buses and really acute on the Pierce ones, but the Metro buses do have these pointless luggage racks. (Has anyone ever used those? For anything?)

      • asdf says

        I often ride the bus with a kick scooter. Normally, it fits under my seat, but if I have to stand, it goes in the luggage racks.

        And at least a couple of times, I have used to luggage racks to store small suitcases on my way to the airport or an Amtrak station. When the bus is crowded, it saves a lot space.

      • David Seater says

        I use those racks all the time on the 545 when I’m stuck standing in a crowded aisle. Great place to put a messenger bag or backpack to get it out of the way.

  8. djw says

    It’s really difficult to express what an atrociously bad idea the deep bore tunnel is. When its all said and done, I’m fairly certain we’ll conclude we would have been better off lighting several billion dollars on fire than attempting this debacle.

    • Tim Whittome says

      Sorry, but you are not making sense with this remark. We have done this subject deeper into the ground than the tunnel will even go.

      At this point, the sensiblest option is to get behind the project and ensure it comes to fruition without mishap. The time for arguing about it is pretty much over.

      • says

        This wouldn’t be the first awful freeway plan in Seattle that got pretty far along before being killed.

        But let’s assume the tunnel goes in. If the tolling/diversion situation goes the way these depressing studies suggest, it will be well worth remembering who cheerled the thing. Who gave it a sense of inevitability before anyone ever took a look at whether or not it would actually pencil out. Who came up with the idea to stick Seattle with the bill for overruns on a state freeway project while limiting Seattle’s tools for fundraising. We should remember who these people are because they’re irresponsible leaders that don’t deserve their positions in office.

      • Bernie says

        it will be well worth remembering who cheerled the thing.

        Nickles, Gregoire and.. I’m forgetting someone

      • djw says

        it comes to fruition without mishap.

        I’m sure if we just clap a little louder, there will be no mishaps, un-funded cost overruns, or any other problems whatsoever.

        Political consensus can’t turn terrible ideas into acceptable ones. I’ve given up on trying to stop it politically, at least for now, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to pretend it was ever worth doing.

      • Nathanael says

        The thing isn’t even useful.

        Sure, make every effort to make sure the DBT doesn’t cause buildings to collapse in on it, and that it doesn’t kill workers. But honestly, does it matter whether it “comes to fruition without mishap” or not? It’s not *useful*.

        Through traffic isn’t going to use it because it doesn’t go through — through traffic will take I-5. And it’s been designed to be impossible for local traffic to use because it has no exits.

        Best use I can think of for it would be to convert it to a freight rail tunnel, making more room for Cascades in the existing tunnel. That would still be an unnecessary waste.

      • David L says

        I feel like I’m in a different city when I read comments like Nathanael’s.

        Is it a waste of money? Probably. Could we have used that money better? There are Second Avenue and Wallingford subway tunnels crying out for it that would have benefited a lot more people.

        But… now that we are going to have it… will it be useful? Oh, absolutely, yes. As a North Seattle resident with a parent living in West Seattle, I will use it often and happily pay any toll they are currently considering. Many of my friends, also all North Seattle residents, feel the same way. It will be a fantastic bypass for the I-5 mess for through traffic… kind of like 99 is now, but more effective for through users.

      • djw says

        Obviously, Nathaniel doesn’t mean it’ll be without any use at all. You–and probably thousands of other people–will find it useful, and use it. Also, hundreds of people find Sounder North useful. But as with Sounder North, the cost per user will be beyond absurd, and the opportunity costs will be tragic. Furthermore, the cost overruns the city and its taxpayers will face will make even those who find it convenient rue the day we set out on this path.

    • Bruce Nourish says

      We’ve not written about it, but yes, I’m very interested to see how this pilot with TriMet works out. It could, perhaps, be a very low-cost way for agencies who run POP services to add e-Ticketing. MBTA is doing something similar.

  9. Matt the Engineer says

    “In the next two months, the committee will look at three more tolling scenarios, with tolls ranging from 45 cents on the low end…”

    And the study after that will look at tolls ranging from pocket lint and toenail clippings at the low end up through unused phone minutes…

  10. David L says

    Now this is how you start a conversation and buzz.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/metro-proposes-26-billion-overhaul/2013/01/23/fa31fdd4-658a-11e2-b84d-21c7b65985ee_story.html

    $26 billion, at least two new central-city rail tunnels (both of which would solve mistakes made in initial system design in the ’70s), and a serious plan to meet capacity needs 40 years out.

    All unfunded, but the document is a real challenge to local jurisdictions and politicians.

    I’d love to see ST drop something like this once more of Link is operational and they have more credibility.

    • Bruce Nourish says

      Of course, DC’s system averages more than three-quarters of a million riders in a day, and is bumping up against its design capacity in the peaks. Thanks to our system design, this is a nice-to-have problem which we unlikely to have.

  11. Geoff says

    I love a good urination challenge between Seattle and the rest of the state. Well done, Mr. Westneat.

  12. Bernie says

    Looking at the PT budget (2010 was the latest I found) it seems that while they do better on a cost per platform hour than Metro (~$120 vs $130/hr) SHUTTLE, their equivalent of Access is killing them. Access IIRC is ~$35/hr; SHUTTLE is $40/hr. Not a big deal if the service is a small part of overall operations. It’s not! It accounts for 16% of the total expenditure but accounts for only 2.5% of the ridership. This service may be important and necessary but it shouldn’t be funded by sales tax for what most people consider earmarked to fund transit for the general public. FWIW, every boarding is on average a $7 tax payer subside. So even though they are slightly more efficient in terms of cost per platform hour the cost per boarding is about double.

    • asdf says

      Yes, and this is precisely why all the weekend service is being cut. By law, if they don’t run fixed-route buses on weekends, they don’t have to run SHUTTLE service. Hence the need to save money by reducing the span of SHUTTLE service means all the other riders who aren’t disabled enough to need it have to suffer.

      This is why I feel so strongly that paratransit needs to come from a separate budget with a separate source of funding from regular transit.

      • T.K. says

        I can understand the need for routed coaches that are ADA-accessible with lifts or ramps and wheelchair tie-downs in terms of making the service as equal as possible, but the door-to-door paratransit requirement has had an effect way beyond anyone originally anticipated. What other government service is now required to come directly to your home when they hadn’t before? (As far as I know, there are none — they just have to make their existing facilities accessible for those who can reach them.)

        The scary part is that there is now a segment of the public who would have no problem cutting all routed service and providing only paratransit. (I’ve seen it in some of the reader comments about PT in The News Tribune.)

      • Lack Thereof says

        I know, it seems wasteful, every Sunday I see an ACCESS van just sitting and idling in front of each of my neighborhood’s churches for the duration of the service.

        But serving the extremely mobility impaired is a legal responsibility of every public transit agency in the US. You can only separate from fixed-route service so much.

      • Bernie says

        I had my doubts about reducing the span of SHUTTLE being much of an influence until I looked at what a huge portion of the budget it consumes. Does anyone know the numbers for Metro as a percentage of the budget pie that goes to Access? One thought that might be a way to get more for less is to leverage the Vanpool concept. Realizing that not all or perhaps even most of SHUTTLE users are able to drive there must be some who could if they had access to a vehicle and/or there are Vanpool participants that would be willing to incorporate a wheelchair lift equipped van into their “pool” for far less than what current service is costing.

      • asdf says

        Would it be legal to institute a rule that instead of paying for paratransit to take people to the grocery store and back, the agency would instead pay the shipping and handling to have the groceries delivered to anyone who would qualify for paratransit service. A policy like this could save a ton of money. I’m sure it would be a lot cheaper.

      • Bernie says

        instead of paying for paratransit to take people to the grocery store and back, the agency would instead pay the shipping and handling to have the groceries delivered to anyone who would qualify for paratransit service.

        STOP IT! Your making too much sense. Obviously a shill for Amazon Fresh := Of course para transit does much more than provide groceries but having personally watched Access provide Sunday shopping service to Sears I know there is a huge amount of waste, bordering on fraud, that could be addressed better and for less money by answering questions like this.

      • says

        When people go shopping they don’t just go to obtain physical goods. I’m not sure the funding burden of paratransit should fall on transit agencies, and I’m pretty sure the requirements as written are totally wack, but I’d stop well short of calling a paratransit trip to Sears “fraud”. People need to get out of the house! Are teenagers committing fraud when they go to the mall to hang out?

      • T.K. says

        It’ll never happen, but responsbility for such services should lie with cities and counties as part of their human services programs, and not transit agencies. A major portion of operating costs would have to be federally subsidized. Cities and counties would ensure that the services are available over their entire geographic region and not just the arbitrary borders of a quarter-mile radius from routed transit.

      • Nathanael says

        “I can understand the need for routed coaches that are ADA-accessible with lifts or ramps and wheelchair tie-downs in terms of making the service as equal as possible, but the door-to-door paratransit requirement has had an effect way beyond anyone originally anticipated. ”

        T.K.: you are correct. The original paratransit requirement was intended also to deal with lack of sidewalks, since an awful lot of disabled people can’t walk to a bus stop if there aren’t good sidewalks.

        Paratransit was never intended or anticipated to be heavily used in an area with full, plowed, flat sidewalks, low-floor buses with wheelchair ramps, properly signed bus stops in large print, etc. This result was an *accident*.

      • Nathanael says

        This is a part of the ADA which might actually be changeable, given that it’s an unintended consequence. It’s only going to be changed if a city has demonstrated that its fixed-route service is as accessible as humanly possible, and it’s *still* dealing with paratransit bills.

        This means if you want to get the law changed, you have to first make sure all your buses and bus stops are accessible.

      • T.K. says

        I highly doubt you could ever get any part of the requirement changed — the best hope would be to shift it to some other sector of government. Many people have grown to expect a heavily subsidized cabulance service over the past 25 years and would scream bloody murder if it was threatened.

        It would be far more tenable politically to cut all routed operations in favor of only operating a paratransit service if things got desperate enough.

    • Michael Ragsdale says

      Here is a thought for Pierce County. DART First State (Delaware) operates the GoLink in Dover from 6 PM to 9 PM using their paratransit vans. Regular bus service runs until 6 PM, and then they offer a by-request service using their vans.

      Link: Kent County Brochure (PDF) – GoLink information starts on the second page

      • T.K. says

        That might work in a small city like Dover, but there’s no way you can replace many of Pierce Transit’s urban routes at any hour with a paratransit van. This is basically what PT was trying to do with the Orting Loop and the “Bus Plus” routes.

  13. Yorik says

    Just saw a notice in a Belgian newspaper that they are currently experiencing air stagnation problems like we had here last week. Response: 1) the DOT is rolling back speed limits on arterials and freeways by 30% in affected areas, 2) one of the three major transit agencies is offering free rides all day Thurs/Fri, 3) officials are appealing to folks to avoid driving and turn down the thermostat until the air clears.

  14. says

    I remarked last week about the Boren/Broadway light. I may have remarked before about the left turn from Rainier to Jackson, and about the effect the Dearborn light has southbound in the PM. But in general, the 9 seems to be stymied by lights a LOT. It needs a lot of work before people will be willing to take an all-day Boren route.

    • David L says

      I happened to be standing at the intersection of Broadway and Madison tonight when the southbound 9 scheduled for 6:35 came along. It was already late (it was 6:41) and then the bus had to wait four light cycles to clear the intersection. FHSC construction is not doing 9 riders any favors.

      • Lack Thereof says

        Be glad you don’t use the 14. I’ve had to completely eliminate it from my list of options. Luckily the 27 is just as convenient.

      • David L says

        That part of town is just a problem. Lately I’ve been having to get from my downtown office to Seattle University in the early evening. I’m using Seneca most of the way. I consistently see a 2 approaching when I leave the office on Third Avenue. It usually catches up to me all the way up at Seneca and Summit or Minor. Might as well get my exercise.

  15. AlexKven says

    Why the freak is the city of Tacoma so against transit? Did they even look at Tacoma’s prop 1 results? Residents are kicking and screaming to save their transit, and they are just getting screwed over by their surrounding cities. Why isn’t the City of Tacoma even considering this? This is stupid! Is there some special interest group (or Tim Eyman) behind this or something? Is there a way to sign a petition that will get a Tacoma tax increase on the ballot against the will of the anti-transit city, county and state governments?

    • T.K. says

      City councilman Mello should know as well as anyone — if there were better transit service in Tacoma, perhaps he could have avoided that DUI arrest the other night.

    • Bernie says

      I don’t think they are anti transit. Consider that Tacoma has been forced to take firetrucks out of service and replace them with pick-up trucks at many stations across the city to put “this coming humanitarian crisis” into perspective.

      • AlexKven says

        That’s because people over there don’t want to pay for ANYTHING. There was a fire proposition in a city in Pierce County that passed by just 1 vote (of course, without a recount). It pains me to think that fire protection is something that is under fire by the people (no pun intended).

        It’s a good way to save money, right? When is the last time you have used the F.D?

    • Lack Thereof says

      The problem is that Tacoma isn’t kicking and screaming. Within Tacoma itself, Prop 1 only managed to get something along the lines of 54%. That’s just not a huge margin. The city limits cover a huge suburban area, and if it gives you some context, residents are still up in arms about the 2009 switch to metered parking in the downtown core (at the oh-so-expensive price of $0.75/hr).

      Charles Mudede is mostly right.

      • Nathanael says

        Tacoma’s vote pattern is warped by the inclusion of the docklands in the city. I was a little surprised that there were any votes from there (surely it should all be industrial/commercial, not residential?) but there were, and those were the aggressively anti-transit parts of Tacoma.

  16. Tim Whittome says

    I’ll make use of an open thread to remark that per an email I had from Sound Transit yesterday, Tukwila Sounder station construction has been put back to June/July. I am sure that many of you will agree with me that this constitutes quite a significant set back from first last year’s projected start date and then this February.

    No reason was given in the email I got for the delay but it is beyond disappointing. In a reply, I remarked that these constant delays in ST projects are one of the main reasons, some of us get so upset with the agency. Let’s hope that completing this project doesn’t take as long as it took Leavenworth to get approval for its platform for Amtrak trains to stop there.

    It seems also that South Link to the new Angle Lake Station has also been put back to April but this is not as significant a delay as Tukwila Sounder Station.

    Any thoughts?

    • Nathanael says

      It would be good to know why. I remember that there was discussion of UP track relocation at the same time as the station construction, so if it’s being delayed to incorporate that, that would be “value added”. Most other changes would just be delays.

  17. alexjonlin says

    The new tower that article is talking about is at 5th & Columbia, not Seneca, hence its name.

  18. says

    Bernie says:
    January 25, 2013 at 12:09 am

    I’d rather see a real, hard-core effort to keep the seaplanes there. Some people need to quit grousing over aviation so much…

    Sadly around the world, not just Victoria, BC & Coupeville, WA are we seeing this anti-aviation rhetoric spewed. I have on my desk a freshly-read copy of December 2012 Australian Aviation w/ an op-ed about noise complaints in… Perth, Australia. Methinks the growing encroachment around airports and resulting complaints about aircraft noise is a major problem for planners & urbanists to consider.

    • Frank Chiachiere says

      It’s all part of the war on planes. I blame McGinn.

      First they came for the planes, and I did not complain, because I do not have a weekend house in the San Juans…

    • Jim Cusick says

      Almost like people who move next to the railroad tracks and complain about the trains.

      Or ferry docks and complain about the ferry horns.

      or freeways, and complain about the truck noise.

    • Anthony says

      The anti-plane crowd in Coupeville has gone just a tad to far, for sure. But at the same time they make very valid points about the flights at OLF going to far as well. The noise from the new F-18s used for reconn. are way more than the older EA-6 Growlers. Those things rock! If you lived directly underneath one of these flight paths maybe you would understand the griping.

      Looks like there may be a solution though, the navy announced when they will fly so people will at least have a heads up. Previously we just knew at the last second as soon as another fighter showed up.

      • says

        That’s right Anthony. I live under a flight path in Sedro to Eastern Washington low fly ops. Even at 5K feet, the EA-6B Prowlers & EA-18G Growlers penetrate the basement office walls so I scramble w/ my FZ40 out to the backyard.

        So happy at the notifications for Coupeville. Plan to slink out there this upcoming week.

  19. Bernie says

    Seattle is a snowflake, Seattle is a snowflake :-)

    Speaking of which, the Economist Intelligence Unit released a new research report titled Hot Spots, that ranks the most competitive cities in the world broken down into several categories. Seattle’s best showing is #8 in Human Capital. And surprisingly, a top ten in Institutional Effectiveness. Say WA?

    • David L says

      We certainly can’t get anything done around here, but, in our defense, this is the second least corrupt place I’ve ever lived by a substantial margin. (The first being outside of the U.S.)

  20. Mercer Island Flight Buff says

    Perhaps Kenmore Air can re-locate to Mercer Island. There is a whole lot of open water off the shores there. And no tall buildings. Or, Lake Sammamish…ditto…

  21. Anandakos says

    Woo-hoo! My medieval neighbors had a field day with Helicopter Don’s bill, No?

    The Yellow Line is “Loot Rail” here, even on campaign signs. “They” ride it, don’cha know?

    P.S.

    I call him “Helicopter Don” because when he was on fire about getting the HOV lane on I-5 canceled, he said “we could carry everyone to Portland on helicopters for less than that lane will cost”.

    Truly a deranged human being.

    • Anandakos says

      Yes, I would move if I could afford it. It is definitely the cheapest “city” on the West Coast and it does have access to the cultural riches of Portland.

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