News Roundup: Pitchfork Brigade

AvgeekJoe/Flickr

This is an open thread.

About Martin H. Duke

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




Comments

  1. RIP abysmally low parking rates at Pacific Place.

    • From TFA: “Assuming the sale goes through, the garage will still be cheaper than its competitors; as part of the deal, Pine Street Group has agreed to keep prices at or below 80 percent of the market average.”

      Probably still means an end to “abysmally low” parking rates, but not as bad as it could be..

    • The garage that sank Mayor Norm Rice’s bid to be Secretary of HUD under Clinton

    • RapidRider says:

      When the RFA was still in effect, when going to a Sounders, Seahawks or Husky game, even with only two people, it was cheaper to drive to Pacific Place, park, take the tunnel to the game and back and drive home afterwards. During any games, you could get $6 parking with a game ticket stub.

    • Depends what the city sells it more. If the city is willing to take a loss on the sale (to avoid bigger loses continuing to operate the thing), the private owner might still be able to make a profit at lower rates than what’s charged today.

  2. I’ve always considered the claim “we don’t have room for the trolley” as firm evidence that we’re completely wrong in our approach to the waterfront rebuild.

    • People are actually saying that!? What could be more important?

      • That’s the official word from James Corner Field Operations, who has been hired by the city to do the design. When I first read that, I almost spit out my coffee: they claim that a nearly 200-foot-wide right-of-way has no room for a street car. That doesn’t just show a lack of imagination: it shows a lack of ability to effectively design a public space.

      • RapidRider says:

        Between the six lane “freeway” and the way too large strip of public park potentially filled with (I kid you not) “artificial hot springs” for the bums, where does one wedge a streetcar in?

      • James Corner Field Operations should be fired for incompetence immediately. Making this sort of claim is *so absurd* that it’s really a “We don’t have a clue what we’re talking about” statement.

    • The most stupid claim that could be made by them. There was room for the trolley when the highway was above ground and they say there won’t be enough room when the highway is buried?! And how could a vintage trolley (a huge part of Seattle’s history) fail be a popular part of the new waterfront? Especially when it was immensely more popular than the sculpture park? Now I will admit that I never used the trolley when it was running, but it was still a major part of the waterfront atmosphere… especially when commuting in from Kitsap on the ferry.

      • The “not enough room” argument is because some of the Viaduct’s traffic will be coming to Alaskan Way. Some of it by necessity because there are no tunnel exits to downtown or the port area, and some of it by opportunity to avoid the toll. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t revive the streetcar anyway. It just explains how you can argue there’s “not enough room”.

      • The Sculpture Park is the biggest villain in this whole debacle. They were the ones who lacked any creativity when it came to sharing the space. God, I hate that place. I can’t believe everyone caved to their whims.

      • I’ve heard King County assured SAM it would find an alternate location for the streetcar barn, but it didn’t.

      • Stretch the Waterfront line down to the Stadium district and put the barn in SODO.

      • Personally, I think SAM should be held accountable for the loss of the streetcar. In retrospect, looking at the design of the park it could have easily accommodated a very nice car house on its lower level while still maintain the “garden” above. You probably could have even had the car house on one level underneath it, and a level of auto parking above that and never hurt a thing… Every time I get to submit comments and ideas to SAM I remind them of the fact they killed the George Benson Waterfront Streetcar and should do something to correct the atrocity. One thing that I’ve always wondered is why did they never consider locating at 2nd and S. main, with pull-in Stalls. they could have located a 5 track car house there easily I think. Of course I also like the idea proposed the study from the mariners who proposed locating it next to the car house for the first hill line.

      • “The “not enough room” argument is because some of the Viaduct’s traffic will be coming to Alaskan Way.”

        So build fewer road lanes and the traffic will vanish. Induced demand works like that.

        It’s absolutely asinine to build a six-lane waterfront-killer road when you’re already building a unneeded eight-lane (IIRC) underground tunnel. In circumstances like these, San Francisco would simply tear the expressway down and build a four-lane road instead. Oh wait — actually they DID!

        https://maps.google.com/maps?ll=37.800006,-122.398669

      • FWIW, this part of the Embarcadero is no urban ideal, but you could do a lot worse. And Seattle apparently plans to do a lot worse.

      • It’s absolutely asinine to build a six-lane waterfront-killer road when you’re already building a unneeded eight-lane (IIRC) underground tunnel.

        Agree with the sentiment but I think the lane numbers are flipped. The Deep Debt Tunnel is only four lanes (illustration bottom right pg. 1). And wow is it hard to find that info on the WSDOT website. Most searches would point you toward the cheaper 6 lane configuration that would have been part of the cut and cover tunnel built as part of the seawall replacement. When you add in the proposed parking the new surface arterial is eight lanes wide.

  3. S. Morris Rose says:

    KUOW interviewed Earl. Yeah, they are an NPR affiliate, but it was not a national story.

  4. Yesterday morning on the Metro’s Service Change website, they have a note saying that the Century Square entrances to Westlake Station were going to close at 8pm.
    Here’s the quote:
    “The Century Square entrances to Westlake Station, located on the south side of Pine St between 3rd and 4th avenues, are closed nightly at 8 pm through June 7. This closure is part of a pilot project to reduce operational costs and improve safety and security in the transit tunnel.”

    About 4 hours later, the message was gone, though it’s still in the HTML source code. Any one know what’s up with that? Was it an error or just a premature announcement?

    • You’ve gotta be shitting me. So what, customers are expected to walk to 5th to catch Link?

      • Ah, they don’t make any mention of the north side of Pine (next to Macy’s), which is a much better-lit and well-kept entrance.

        And I got out my pitchfork for nothin’.

    • I must have gone through just before 8pm then, because there was no sign of it.

    • I hope so. The Macy’s entrance isn’t far away and poses much less of a security risk.

      At this point, against my usual political instincts, I’m in favor of a Giuliani-style security crackdown at all stops within one block of 3rd and Pike. The area has just become unworkable for bus passengers.

      • I honestly think that the problem with 3rd Avenue isn’t limited to a few people. It’s part of the very nature of a “transit mall.” It produces an uninviting streetscape where everyone just stands around waiting for their bus. The only street life that can flourish in such a chasm is a drug deal.

      • Yes, I think this has less to do with closing other entrances in the future and more to do with the “salesmen” who hang out on 3rd & Pine. And in Convention Place Station today I saw a sign saying the 71/72/73 were moving to 4th Avenue when the tunnel is closed, and the 41 and other routes are moving to other streets. So it looks like Metro is systematically moving routes away from 3rd & Pine, at least those which aren’t all-day routes on those streets.

        That looks backwards when you think about it. The problem is the miscreants on 3rd & Pine, so let’s address that directly rather than everyone else working around it. Why not station a cop at that corner 18 or 24 hours a day until the miscreants move? Ideally they should be busted out of business, but even if they move to some place that’s not Seattle’s second-largest transit hub and largest retail core, it would be an improvement.

        (Of course, I can’t help remembering the dispersion of the prostitutes from 1st Avenue in the 1980s. That paved the way for downtown’s renaissance, but it made it harder for social service volunteers to reach the troubled youth who were now scattered all along Aurora and Pacific Highway.)

      • The thing is, it’s not the whole “transit mall,” it’s just two blocks or so. 3rd and Seneca or 3rd and Marion don’t have these issues.

        And there aren’t such severe issues with the “transit malls” in Portland or Vancouver.

        I agree with Mike: we need 24-hour police presence. I’d go further and make it a show of force. The area needs reclaiming for use by bus passengers. Right now, between the end of PM peak and the time around 10:30 when buses get less frequent, it’s scary — and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t scare easily in the city.

      • “there aren’t such severe issues with the “transit malls” in Portland”

        No but you should see the crackheads on Burnside (route 20). I’ve never seen anything as severe in Seattle.

      • I’m familiar with that route (and the particular area on the route, south of Chinatown, where most of the problematic traffic comes from). In my opinion, between 7-11 p.m., 3rd and Pike is currently quite a bit worse. It hasn’t always been that way.

      • I don’t find any bit of 3rd Ave between Virginia and Cherry welcoming in the least. I quite simply feel like an afterthought on that road. It’s just not designed for people.

      • There are cops there all the time. I’ve been riding through there at 8-9 after a class at Seattle Central, and there’s always a car or motorcycle parked in front of the transit island on Pine. I remember seeing a lot of bike cops there in the past too. I used to be scared of it because I heard a gunshot there several years ago, but recently it actually seems better (saying that makes me feel like I might be an idiot for still going there though).

  5. Has anyone ever considered bringing the burden of responsibility for mudslides to the owners of the property? That is, have counties enforce an ordinance that if your property is the source of a landslide that covers the train tracks, then you as the property owner are responsible for the cost of clean up. It’s wishful thinking, but consider: property owners will either pony up to shore up the hillsides or a new mudslide protection insurance industry will pop up. Hooray for jobs!

    • RapidRider says:

      I’m going to guess because the property owners are wealthy, and any ordinances against the wealthy tend to get shot down quickly, especially when they manage to get the lower classes mobilized about something that only ends up benefiting the wealthy in the end.

      • Is there any real reason that the 8 detours from MLK to 23rd between Jackson and Yesler? Is it just me, or is completely useless?

      • Wrong thread, derp.

        This comment was supposed to say:

        If only they saw the error of their ways…

  6. I’m surprised today’s article in the Seattle Times about whether or not Streetcars should have their own dedicated corridors didn’t make the roundup.

  7. A KCM fleet question: I noticed that one of the Breda buses still has the white LED destination signs. I remember a while ago that one of the new DE60LFR buses did as well but think it must have been changed out. Any word on what happened with this test?

  8. Question: Would it make any sense to have both a waterfront streetcar line and a 1st Ave connector streetcar? Personally, I think the 1st Ave connector line is a slam dunk, stitching together many of the City’s biggest attractions and densest neighborhoods through a very accessible corridor. I also like the idea of a waterfront streetcar, but not if it means the 1st Ave streetcar won’t happen. Now, if 1st Ave is ruled out and they go with the 4th/5th streetcar connector (a bad idea, IMO), then the Waterfront Line makes great sense.

    I guess what I’m saying is I think a 1st Ave Streetcar should be prioritized. I believe 1st Ave has the potential to become Seattle’s version of SF’s Market Street, and adding new transit modes is how to make that happen. Ideally, I imagine something like what is being done on Broadway, with great bike facilities as well. Cars already have plenty of other large roads Downtown where they could move faster.

    • Can someone explain why 5th Ave had to be a couplet? I know there is a patchwork of one-way streets and I get why 2nd-3rd-4th are the way they are but I don’t know why 5th-6th can’t be changed if that’s what’s forcing the couplet instead of just going straight down 5th.

      • None of us know. You’ll have to ask the City staff who proposed a couplet instead.

      • I am “shocked and amazed” that STB staff and readers don’t have an answer to the simple question, “Why does it have to be a couplet?”. Almost every comment has involved some sort of deference to “couplets are just evil”. So the most cost effective route, the connect two points with a straight line, is just tossed out because the 5th Ave route was bastardized?

      • There’s a discussion of “why a couplet” in this post: http://seattletransitblog.com/2011/07/25/tmp-hct-analysis-ii-the-efficiency-winner/ See also the PDF description of the corridor in that post.

        Needless to say, some people disagree. The basic argument is that 4th Ave is too busy for a two-way streetcar, and 5th Ave. is too narrow.

    • From what I saw last night, the preference of the majority at the open house was the First Ave line, whether that be from LQA to Pioneer SQ or from the existing SLU line.

    • Gordon Werner says:

      the two are not mutually exclusive.

      running the connector along first avenue, besides making sense as there are a lot of attractions, businesses, hotels on 1st will also allow for future extensions to Lower Queen Anne through Belltown as well as linking the SLUT and FHS into a proper network where thru-routing is possible (although not necessarily required).

      If you add a waterfront line … well that is slightly different. It would serve the ferry terminal, all the piers, the aquarium, hotels, cruise ship terminal, and the sculpture park/Myrtle Edwards park.

      There is no reason why both could not co-exist (money is always an issue but lets ignore that for now)

      The only change would be that we should use the same lowfloor streetcars on a potential waterfront line. This line could be simply a continuation of the First Hill Streetcar line … either using every single trip or every other trip (i.e. RT95 could go Lower Queen Anne – Pioneer Sq.
      RT96 could go Capitol Hill – Sculpture Park
      RT97 could go Capitol Hill – Pioneer Sq.
      RT98 could go SLU – Pioneer Sq. (or even to 14th/Washington if they do build the switches there)
      RT99 could go Sculpture Park – Pioneer Sq.

      something like that.

      The real issue with using 1st ave for the connector is that they need to make 1st ave NB ONLY from Denny Way to Cherry or Columbia St. and take over the SB lanes for exclusive use by streetcars … something like this photo from the Czech Republic:

      http://www.wa98104.us/ccct/

      Benefits of doing this:

      SB traffic is 100% on 2nd ave … allows for better NB traffic flow on 1st ave
      Streetcars wouldn’t get bogged down traveling through downtown

      note: the streetcars could run on either the East or West half of 1st ave … would really depend on what the city feels would be better for traffic/pedestrians (i.e. do more people need to turn right or left off of 1st ave when heading north)

    • “Question: Would it make any sense to have both a waterfront streetcar line and a 1st Ave connector streetcar? ”

      The short answer is “Yes”. They’re as far apart as 1st and 3rd Avenues.
      I am also told there’s a large, steep hill between the two.

      If both are built, it would likely make sense to put the waterfront streetcar on the waterfront side of Alaskan Way rather than the inland side or the median.

  9. Thanks for posting my photo :-)!

    BTW, ICYMI guys my sortie to defend Island Transit is online: http://youtu.be/Le8db-oVyy8 Make sure to visit http://islandtransit.org/ as able too!

  10. Gordon Werner says:

    ATTN: Route 27 and Route 60 Riders …

    major reroutes in effect from 2/9/13 thru at least 4/4/13

    http://www.seattlestreetcar.org/docs/Bus%20Reroute%20for%20Closure.pdf

  11. Andrew Smith says:

    Seattle city council really are a bunch of cowards.

    “As proposed, we would get $10 million over here on Mercer for allowing them to go to 24 stories; then we would take that $10 million and go across the street and buy a piece of property that also happens to be worth $10 million,” council member Mike O’Brien said after the meeting. But, he added, “We’re not bound by [what Vulcan wants the city to do] at all. We could use it to do a whole host of things.”

    This is literally free land for the tax payers! How can that deal not be in the city’s interest?

    • It’s called negotiation. To get the best deal you can for the city, instead of swooning like a little school girl at Vulcan’s first offer.

    • The issue is to avoid delaying or scuttling the rest of the upzone over one property.

  12. Peyton Stever says:

    I meant to post this is Sunday’s open thread. But the change to stops on the 216 was done as an emergency change. So short notice and no public comment. I’m steamed because the transfers are bad with the 269 and next to impossible with the 216. Unlike the 218 stop deletion which has the 211 and 554 running to the same destination.

    I went with several student body officials from Bellevue College to the open house and was told that there is basically nothing we could do.

    I’m curious about what conditions have to prevail in order for something to be an emergency change?

  13. The article on hybrid buses for WTA is interesting. But it’s hard to figure what they’re talking about with the statistics. If I take a 40% increase in fuel efficiency a back of the napkin calculation suggests about a $5/hr savings. If the bus is in service ~6k hours annually I get a savings of $28,000/yr. The claimed savings are $100k/yr. Hard to believe there’s a $70k savings in maintenance unless they are comparing, like Metro did, the cost of maintaining an eighteen year old bus at the end of it’s service life to the brand new hybrids. If the $100k number is for the entire fleet of eight that’s less than half what I calculated in fuel savings alone and wouldn’t repay the $200k difference in purchase price. While the hybrids are worth the extra money, I see it being a 10-12 year payback, I suspect the 83% federal subsidy has more to do with the choice than the operational and environmental advantages.

    • It’s certainly not $70k, but there is a substantial maintenance savings. Having the electric motor around saves lots of wear on both the diesel engine (while accelerating at low speeds) and the brakes (thanks to the regen). The planetary gear set used in most hybrids is also vastly simpler and more reliable than a conventional automatic transmission, especially in stop-and-go service.

      Metro’s experience with the 2004 hybrids is interesting. They’ve seen much greater average usage than any fleet of Metro buses before them. They are currently doing, and were from the start, a huge amount of day base service (because using them lowers costs). Yet even after 8 years of this intense use they have continued to be more reliable and cheaper and easier to maintain than less complex conventional buses. It’s an extremely effective application for parallel hybrid technology.

      • No doubt that there are savings and assuming the new WTA buses are serial hybrids it should be more than the old parallel hybrids in the Metro fleet. There’s some trade offs too like having to replace batteries and I’d suspect that extra weight takes it’s toll on things like tires, suspension and even the chassis over time. I think it’s important to have an apples to apples comparison so that our limited federal dollars are put to their best use. It makes no sense to in effect force an agency to buy expensive hybrids if the type of service they’ll be used on doesn’t justify the higher cost. Bang for the buck and overall environmental payback would be better if the same amount of money was made available to the agency and they could decide what portion to spend on hybrids vs replacing a larger number of their older buses.

      • Lack Thereof says:

        There’s some trade offs too like having to replace batteries

        Batteries shouldn’t have to be replaced, they are good for the life of the bus. The hybrid system manages battery charge so that the packs are never charged/discharged to the point where they take significant wear.

        These aren’t like cell phone/laptop batteries where we overcharge them and then completely drain them. That’s only OK on a device that’s expected to be obsolete within a few years.

        I’m going to need to see your napkin math on the $/hr savings, too. WTA purports to have a higher average speed than metro (less congestion up there, I suppose), so they cover more ground and burn about 50% more fuel/hr than Metro. I think it’s closer to $7-8/hr savings. I don’t doubt that it’s not paying for itself, but it’s better than your estimate.

        I’m supportive of it solely for the carbon footprint & air quality benefits. And those are the federal motives in subsidizing these buses.

      • Batteries shouldn’t have to be replaced, they are good for the life of the bus.

        The charging systems aren’t going to last the life of the bus and I doubt the batteries will last 18 years. It’s still new technology so it’s hard to predict lifetime costs. There is a strong case that it will be lower for the hybrid. How much lower is TBD.

        I’m going to need to see your napkin math on the $/hr savings

        Fuel cost for Metro are ~10%. Heavy urban routes use more fuel per hour. That’s why the hybrids would most likely be prioritized to those routes. I used $120/hr operating cost so $12/hr for fuel. Savings of 40% (which is likely an idealized number rather than average) comes out to $4.80/hr shaved off the $120/hr cost of running the bus.

        I don’t doubt that it’s not paying for itself, but it’s better than your estimate.

        Actually it does. I guessed at an average of 16hr/day x 365 for 5,840 service hours per year. Allowing 5% interest on the extra $200k payback is 10-12 years. They’re replacing buses that are 18 years old. If they are less maintenance over the life of the vehicle (likely but not a slam dunk) and/or the fuel savings are higher then it’s a faster payback.

        solely for the carbon footprint & air quality benefits.

        There’s the rub. For the price differential WTA could have replaced a dozen of their 18 year old buses with new high efficiency low emission standard coaches. So you have to weight the environmental plus of 8 hybrids + 4 soot belching dinasaurs against 12 shiny new buses that meet the current strict federal diesel particulate standards. My guess is there’s some balance of hybrid/conventional that would be optimal. Say maybe 4 hybrid + 6 conventional with the actual split likely to be determined by what type of service the buses are being used for.

        Plus, the price differential is likely going to be reduced as hybrids gain a larger percentage of the market so “dollar cost averaging” phasing them in makes sense.

      • Charging systems should last the life of the bus unless something goes wrong.

        Batteries will have slightly diminished capacity, but should be good. Lack Thereof is correct that they operate within a relatively narrow charge range, which markedly extends their life.

        Metro’s oldest batch of hybrids is 8+ years old, over halfway through the likely life of 14-15 years. This is a very large batch (233 buses including ST-painted ones), so we can be comfortable drawing conclusions. From new to now, they have had consistently lower maintenance costs and consistently higher availability, despite consistently more intensive usage, than the diesel fleet. Whether they “pay for themselves” I don’t know, but they have meaningful operational advantages, which are worth something independently of the other money saved.

      • Bernie, it’s worth remembering that the useful life of a bus is really short. The batteries will probably last the life of the bus.

        If we were talking trains or streetcars, which last 30 years easily, there would be an issue.

      • 18 years, the buses that WTA is replacing, isn’t that short. I’m in favor of hybrids. It’s pretty clear that even with the most conservative of forecasts they do recoup the additional cost in up front purchase. But that doesn’t mean they are the best choice to replace all conventional buses. Besides the trade off that results in getting more of the old stink pots of the road faster another factor is hybrid technology is improving rather quickly and as adoption becomes more common the price differential is coming down. If you could replace your Edsel with a 50mpg Prius that would seem like a slam dunk. But if you could drive the Edsel for one more year and, for the same price buy a 100mpg Prius then it makes sense to wait. I just doubt that every new bus purchase is best made using hybrid technology. The subsidies should not distort that.

  14. Is there a bias to putting the new (and nice) Metro busses on suburban routes? Granted, I have a small snapshot (user of the 8, 11, 48, and 43*), but it seems like whenever I visit my parents in the ‘burbs, all of those routes have both new versions (short and articulated) while I get stuck with the loud, rough riding and diesel fuming geriatrics in the city. I got to ride a new articulated bus on the 8 a few nights ago (which is really comfortable…great lighting, quiet, smooth ride) which got me thinking about this since I see them more rarely on the city routes.

    *trolley…so forgiven (mostly)

    • For a long time, Metro has allocated new buses in some variation of the following order:

      South
      East
      Ryerson
      North/Central/Atlantic

      It’s not the most cost-effective way the equipment could be allocated, because city routes derive much more benefit from hybrids than suburban freeway routes, and also because Central, Ryerson, and Atlantic are the bases that use equipment the most intensively. While I don’t know what’s behind it, I suspect political forces of some sort are at work. The suburban majority on the Council has long exercised power over Metro, and this could be one more way in which it does.

  15. Andrew Smith says:
    • It’s close enough as not to be scandalous. It’s only a block to Union…and I would definitely say that anything north of Union is definitely on the Hill.

      • Andrew Smith says:

        Is it that simple? I don’t think, say, 23rd and Union is Capitol Hill. Union and Minor is definitely First Hill, but it’s near the border.

        Anyway, this is nearly two whole blocks south of that.

      • I think 23rd and Union would be the furthest non-laughable corner of Capitol Hill. But, Madison and 23rd is probably the more accurate corner. I live at about 25th and Madison…and I would say I live in Madison Valley, but if I say Capitol hill it probably isn’t geographic heresy (it’s topographically part of the Hill, though).

      • I should have said north of Union, specifically at 12th.

      • Andrew Smith says:

        Yeah 25th and madison is kind of the netherworld, not quite in either place.

        I just worry we can’t be specific. It’s like when people use “disinterested” to mean “uninterested”, because we don’t have another world for “disinterested”, and now we’ve lost it. If you call everything “Capitol Hill”, eventually it doesn’t mean anything and we have to make up new neighbourhood names.

      • It’s called the Central Area, or Central District (or CD for short). It is called Capitol Hill by folks who don’t want to scare people (meaning realtors, etc.).

    • Shortly after enough development happened there to make the place worth talking about, I’d imagine. What else would you call it?

  16. Probably covered previously on STB but the Times is running an article, NYC digging new transit station deep beneath Grand Central:

    Sixteen stories below Grand Central Terminal, an army of workers is blasting through bedrock to create a new commuter rail concourse with more floor space than New Orleans’ Superdome

    Hopefully the lights will work :P

    when they’re all completed, tentatively in 2019, they will bring subway and commuter rail service to vast, underserved stretches of the city,

    Vast, underserved stretches of Manhatten. And for only $15 billion… How do ya like dem apples!

    • Tim Willis says:

      Link broken :/

    • Rats, try this link.

    • There’s plenty of say far out queens that doesn’t have service.

    • The far East Side is vast (by Manhattan standards) and underserved. Walk 10 minutes to Lex, cram yourself on a 6 train overburdened with people from the entire East Side, and then walk again to your destination. There’s a reason the Second Avenue subway has been the #1 project on the Manhattan agenda for so long.

      • I visited NYC in the mid-90s and one of the things that struck me was how crowded the subway under Lex was. The 2nd Avenue line will provide much-needed relief, and it will instantly be one of the best-patronized mass transit lines built since WWII, probably the best-patronized in fact.

      • Scott Stidell says:

        I used to do that…and despite the frequency it was often as fast to walk from East End than wait for the M79 crosstown. Ah, the 6 Pelham Local….

        (on the other hand, a grid like that with N-S rapid rail on two or three lines tied together with frequent crosstown buses is something that I’d love to see here–particularly in the North End where the crosstown grid is more or less intact.)

  17. John Bailo says:

    My friend just shared this Sim City design of a hexagonal grid city.

    https://www.facebook.com/justin.myers.portland/posts/156079177878212

    I think it makes a lot of sense. Kind of a road network entirely made up of traffic circles!

    I noted that it could be built entirely with one way streets, and that the interface of bike-peds and cars could be reduced to very safe crossing.

  18. With the trackage for the SLUT and soon the First/Capitol hill streetcar and likely downtown streetcar coming in the not-too-distant future, there will be plenty of rails for the old Melbourne streetcars that used to run along the waterfront to operate on. No need to build something; just do the necessary retrofitting to make them compatible with the modern streetcar system.

    Portland does something similar with their “historic trolley” which runs on the MAX tracks.

    • Tim Willis says:

      Wasn’t there something about brakes that kept the Melbourne cars from operating on relatively hilly streets?

  19. John Bailo says:

    Short NPR interview that aired today (audio track and transcript):

    Automakers Drive Towards Hydrogen Cars

    http://www.npr.org/2013/02/08/171486704/automakers-drive-towards-hydrogen-cars

    • The big automakers are still trying to stick to gasoline, I see. Hydrogen is a joke. Electric is real, so the big automakers promote hydrogen. Same as it always was.

      • Electric is real, but will never be practical for non-homeowners. Where would apartment dwellers plug one in?

        I agree hydrogen is a joke. It’s an energy transfer medium, not a fuel. And an inefficient and difficult to store one, at that.

      • Chris Stefan says:

        Some apartment buildings have charging stations, these will become more common.

        Don’t forget that many renters actually rent sf homes. Plugging into a dryer outlet isn’t so much of a challenge in that circumstance.

      • Yes and no. Unless the dryer outlet is in your garage, you’re going to have to hire an electrician to wire up another circuit. Landlords generally aren’t thrilled by the idea of tenants modifying their property. People in condos are likely to have similar issues unless they happen to own a garage that’s connected to their unit, since they don’t own (individually) the outside of the building.

      • Electric is real, but will never be practical for non-homeowners.

        The Fred Meyer at Totem Lake just installed about a half dozen electric vehicle charging stations, at tax payer expense I’d wager. Bellevue City Hall has two in their public parking garage. I see one incentive for going electric; until it becomes popular it’s better than having a handicapped permit for parking.

      • Hmmm, so actually it’s a public private partnership. The Times reports Seattle-area Fred Meyer to offer electric-car charging

        Fred Meyer is partnering with a San Francisco company called Ecotality to build the stations with a $115 million U.S. Department of Energy grant and another $115 million from investors.

        I thought Better Place was on to something with the replaceable battery pack but it doesn’t seem to be catching fire :=

      • The public charging stations are a great idea, and really help make electric cars more practical, but they’re not a substitute for a home charging station. I feel like people who have predicted the end of the internal combustion engine have overlooked this very real infrastructure problem.

  20. John Bailo says:

    Did you know that Washington State has 1.8 million more people than Norway? And 1/3rd the population density?

    Oslo tram map:

    http://mapsof.net/map/oslo-tram-map

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