grass tram 2

  • These guys at Capitol Hill Seattle are surprised there’s no express trains on link. These guys obviously haven’t been paying attention for the last 13 years or so…
  • The City is removing car parking and installing bike parking in a few places throughout the city:
    • Mid block of Broadway E between E Harrison Street and E Republican Street (by Broadway Market)
    • At the corner of 12th Avenue and E Spring Street (by Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Café Presse)
    • At the corner of Woodlawn Avenue NE and NE 70th Street (by the Greenlake Condominium)

    As Ben S said, the best way to prevent bike theft is to have a lot of bikes. The cyclists watch out for each other. I’d add that the best way to make cycling safe is to have a lot of cyclists.

  • Chi-Doh Li does not like BRT. It’s nice that the BRT vs LRT argument is over, and Mr Li is celebrating LRT’s victory.
  • Transit ridership is up, but agencies revenues are down. The stimulus package includes money to close state budget gaps, but not similar cash for transit agencies.
  • These grass-covered tram tracks are beautiful.

23 Replies to “News Round Up: Changes”

    1. At the risk of being bashed for not being a ‘true believer’ of LRT, I would like to point out the need for BOTH LRT and BRT, as well as a vibrant bus based transit system.
      Assuming the envisioned ‘spine’ corridors are completed for LRT, it still leaves the vast majority of potential riders more than a 1/2 mile walk from the rail station. Major park and rides are neccesary, but often times counterproductive to weaning ourselves off the car culture.
      Just as roman cart paths evolved into roads, then to major thruways, a vibrant transit system relies upon the evolution of bus routes into to rail routes, with BRT or similiar ‘enhanced’ express bus service as the mid-wife to rail, where appropriate.
      The short answer is, WE NEED BOTH! or all of the above – rail, brt, bus, trolley, bikes and peds. Throw in some TOD incentives, intercity rail, pay as you go driving, and now “you got something”

      1. Mike – basically, if you’re going to build BRT, you should just build rail, because if you actually make enough improvements to your buses to make them reliable, you’re spending as much money as rail in the long term.

        In the places where the improvements to buses aren’t necessary, where they’re already reliable, you wouldn’t have built BRT anyway.

        It has no niche. Look at RapidRide, as well – you can starve BRT to death very easily, and end up just wasting your money.

      2. One problem I see is BRT has become a blanket term meaning anything from a express route or fancy bus to a high-investment system with cost per-mile similar to light rail or streetcars.

        That said I don’t think money spent on things that speed bus service are necessarily wasted. HOV lanes are useful, BAT lanes are useful, HOV direct access ramps are useful, signal priority is useful, pre-payment is useful, even the fancy buses and station like bus stops can be useful if done right.

        Something like SWIFT is great because it brings better transit service to the corridor at a lower per-mile cost than light rail or a streetcar. For that particular corridor I think CT is making the right level of investment. Too bad Metro has decided to make RapidRide a cheap imitation of SWIFT. At least for the 99 corridor North of downtown I’d like to see similar service and service levels in both King and Snohomish counties.

        Like Mike said there is a rather large section of the Sound Transit district that isn’t likely to see Link, Sounder, or even a streetcar near them any time soon. I’d rather those people were using transit as much as possible. One way to do that is to improve the reliability and frequency of bus service. Either as a connection to rail or as a mode to reach their ultimate destination.

        I happened to live within a couple of miles of SR-522 when the service switched from Metro #307 to ST #522. That was a vast improvement in service. A trip downtown went from over an hour to only 20 minutes during the worst of the morning rush hour. Amazing what dropping every other stop on Lake city way and dropping the local segment between Lake City and Northgate did for the speed. I can only imagine what having transit lanes the whole length of SR-522, signal priority, and off-board payment might do for that route.

      3. The picture is a great amalgamation of what the community proposal for the Sounder tracks in downtown Tacoma will look like, (about a half block north of the rail line).

        FWIW, the Sound Transit Heavy Rail team is not something they are touting as a success.

        As to BRT and LRT, there is a continuum of benefit here. The downtown bus tunnel is both BRT and LRT. At some point it will likely be converted to joint operation. In some areas joint operation may be permanent, like Tacoma.

        The appropriate thing here is to match the intensity of investment to the intensity of use. A BRT to LRT corridor regime is seamless.

        Where a full build out of an LRT system is not feasible buses can serve outlying areas, with much greater reach than foot or bike to a station.

        Even when LRT volumes justify transfers direct bus access to stations may still make sense.

        And who knows, perhaps in 20 years we’ll be talking about adding a second tunnel in Seattle! :-) If we spend our money wisely now.

    1. Rex, a little education for you …

      “Ironically, the term bus rapid transit does not refer to the speed of BRT buses. Typical transit speeds of BRT systems range from 12 to 30 miles per hour (19 to 48 km/h) which compares well with surface running LRT.[1]

      From Wikipedia. “BRT”

      It’s okay to be a rail fanatic, but you really should educate yourself on multi-modal transportation.

      1. I’m looking forward to Rapid Ride and Swift, but Link is going to go a little faster than 30 mph.

      2. Well, Sam,

        …. about education, don’t judge a book by its cover. But for a guy who has to quote Wikipedia…. well, what can I say…. but I appreciate your “expertise.”

      3. Oh thank you Sam,

        You just confirmed that there ain’t nothing rapid about bus rapid transit, which is therefore a contradiction in terms.

  1. I love the grass covered tracks. ST2 has a whole lot of at-grade rail where this would be appropriate.

    I wonder if there’s a special grass-cutting car they run on the line.

    1. I rarely disagree with you, but I don’t think it would be appropriate.

      It works in cities where people are used to rail already. Kids know not to walk on the tracks. People know there’s a train, and what the train does, because they’ve had trains their whole lives.

      European cities also don’t have idiots drive in front of light rail trains. We do. Putting grass on the tracks in a residential neighborhood… I don’t see it as a good idea.

      1. How about in Sodo though. It’d be like this oasis of grass in the midst of a desert of concrete, dust and gravel.

      2. I definitely see your point, and havethe same fear. But isn’t this just a beautiful scene for a suburban area? Maybe we can wait a few years until people are used to the things before we plant grass.

      3. C’mon Ben. There’s plenty of idiots in Europe. Just look at photo #2(Eteinne,FR). The car is directly in the path of an oncomming LRT – traveling downhill.

      4. I think putting grass on the tracks might work for Link. The trains will be fairly frequent even during off-peak periods. So it isn’t like people are going to have enough time to treat the tracks as a playfield before the next train comes along.

        An example of “green tracks” from the US would be the St. Charles streetcar line in New Orleans. I didn’t see anyone in the median who wasn’t crossing the street or going from/to a streetcar stop.

      1. There have been non-nerd citizens groups discussing and dealing with transit issues in and around Seattle for as long as I’ve been alive, from COMET in the early 1960s through the Forward Thrust battles, the creation of Metro and on and on. To say that only transit nerds paid attention may be a cute self-serving throw away line, but it is most assuredly not the truth. Please remember that in its Republican Days (Gordon Clinton and his yes-sir City Council) this city in so many ways actively attempted to emulate Los Angeles, and the Kemper Freeman mentality we still find in the eastern townships today was once rife in Seattle as well.

      2. That’s interesting about the Kemper mentality. My grandfather was a leader in the no on forward-thrust campaign in part because he prefered freeway to transit.

      3. I loved reading about COMET recently. They pointed out early on that the trolleybuses cost more to operate and maintain, and carried fewer passengers, than the streetcars did.

  2. Regarding the on-street bike parking, it’s odd to see the Presse/Stumptown location on that list. The sidewalks there are wide and could easily accommodate Cora racks instead of the ridiculously inefficient rail racks that are presently there. Two five-bike cora racks would replace the five(!) rail racks already installed there, and SDOT could fit another couple in there to get the extra capacity that they seek with these on-street spots.

    It also seems like a bad idea to surround the on-street parking with raised curbs. This will make access from the street side more awkward, which essentially means more dangerous when vehicular traffic is present. Entrance and exit to the spots should be as quick and easy as possible. (In the press release, it sounds like SDOT expects bikers to enter these spots from the sidewalk, but this seems unreasonable in a location like 12th–which has a bike lane–where the overwhelming number of bikers parking there will be coming off the road, not sidewalk.) Concrete curbs also increases the cost of installation, and also the cost of removal or reconfiguration, should it turn out the spots are underutilized or poorly designed. Why not just use special striping and signage in a similar manner as is used for motorcycle parking spots?

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