By the Author
By the Author

The 42 and 42X are the two routes, along with the 194, that most closely duplicate Central Link. The 42X will be eliminated and the 42 will be dramatically scaled back in route length, service headways, and service span.

The 42 is basically being retained as a shuttle for the Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS) so that they have a door-to-door connection to downtown. They cared enough about transit access to send a bunch of people to the County Council meeting to demand their very special bus line, but not enough to design their brand-new building so that it actually faced the light rail station, or even the nearest bus stop.  It has plenty of parking, though.

[UPDATE: Tipper Carl points out that ACRS is so transit-oriented that on the very same webpage, it says to find out about bus service to the Bellevue location by calling Community Transit.  Heh.]

The 42 is also infamous as the route where, until recently, you could get your next hit of crack.  Even more infamously, it’s a route I take almost every day.  Elsewhere in the world:

  • Joe Biden says intercity rail funds are on the way.  Checks should go out by the end of the summer. (H/T: Gordon)
  • In other Biden news, he and Sec. LaHood met Wednesday with selected State Governors and transportation officials.  Washington was not on the list.
  • STB Hero Geoff Simpson (D-Covington) is upset at the Governor’s veto of the MVET authorization.
  • The Rail Passenger Association of California and Nevada is concerned that deteriorating rolling stock could force a halt to many Southern and Western Amtrak routes.  As Cascades has its own trainsets, it ought not to be affected. (H/T: Lloyd)
  • Transit planners ask Congress to fix New Starts Funding, since FTA rules routinely force agencies to lowball ridership estimates.  For all the doubters, those rules were used to generate Link ridership estimates.

39 Replies to “News Roundup: 42 Days”

  1. Amtrak should start getting new rolling stock. It may be years before true HSR comes, if ever. Plus, the rolling stock last a long time. Some of the rolling stock used on the Piedmont, only the Locomotives are new. The oldest coaches were built for Kansas City Southern and Union Pacific in 1964-1965, making them some of the last to be built pre-Amtrak. 44-45 years is a long time to be rolling.

    1. As we discuss and plan for Higher Speed Rail, we need also to remember the necessity of a national interconnecting system which requires new routes, at least 2000 new and replacement cars; station, baggage checking and customer service improvements, etc. To neglect improving the core national system is to relegate millions to no alternative but the automobile for their transport needs.

      1. That’s why they should start ordering now, see if they can get the Beech Grove Shop crews in on assembly. They know more about the Superliner than some of the potential bidders, since they have been maintaining them for decades. The biggest priorities are new baggage cars, single-level diners and sleepers, those were the most neglected over the past few years. I heard that at one point, there were at least 100 Superliners out of service due to wrecks. If that is true, repair them, and don’t let them languish for a few years before it is done. Then start replacing the Amfleet Is and Superliner Is, they were built between the mid 1970s and 1983. I am surprised some of the biggest Amtrak proponents in Congress did not see this coming. It is the “starve the beast mentality”, which also prevailed with one of America’s oldest airlines, United. They actually stopped buying new planes for awhile, and were more interested in merging.

      2. Apparently United AL asked for bids from Boeing and Airbus for 100 new aircraft this morning. (off topic, I know)

      3. Yeah, it is OT, sorry. I was just trying to make a parallel. Sometimes not good at it.

        As for a new fleet strategy when they do buy new rolling stock for the overnighters, Amtrak should do some research trips to see how other operators worldwide do it.

      4. Everfan, you are correct-the overnighters need a complete re-think. For those interested, here is one set of accommodations – from Spain, using Talgo equipment, no less:
        http://www.spanish-rail.co.uk/service/info/trenhotel#4
        More and different further north in Europe.
        As much as I appreciate the efficiency and utility of the Superliners, a new, 21st Century version of single level cars w/ domes for the Western overnighters would be glorious. And a whole new “crew” ethos – so much to learn from the current hotel and cruise ship industries!

      5. Seat 61.com has some good descriptions too. My favorite is the Great Southern Railway, in Australia. When you are running a service that is part passenger train, part cruise train from Sydney to Perth, in addition to another run from Adelaide to Darwin, might as well meke good accommodation, although there is some good scenery Ayres Rock, and on the Indian Pacific, the longest straight track in the world(Standard Gauge).

        http://www.seat61.com/Australia.htm#Sydney%20-%20Adelaide%20-%20Perth
        (Great Southern”s own website has more info, three classes on the train, Platinum and Gold are the higher end, Red Sleeper and Red Coach are the economy class).

        Amtrak has made great gains with the relaunches of the Empire Builder and the Coast Starlight, but with the scenery along both routes, 1 sightseer lounge is not enough. Colorado Railcar was good at building their ultradomes. They even built some single-level cars used by VIA Rail(Skeena between Jasper and Prince Rupert) and in Alaska. Might be worth adding more wraparound windows if possible, on superliners, while they are being repaired.

      6. Amtrak uses the single level cars for east coast routes with limited clearance.

        Why anyone would want single level cars for west coast routes is totally beyond me, especially considering that Domeliners were actually two-level with a club segment under the dome floor. I’ve seen Amtrak pulling 10-11 car trains and if those were single level the platform length would almost double- that would be quite a little walk! There are also siding lengths to consider.

        Yes, it would be awful nice if there were more observation cars, and more diners, but you start eating up your seating pretty fast with these things. Then you get into a crunch situation where to get more seats in a car you are cutting down the legroom- just look at where the airlines have gone with this, and you start to realize why some European lines bring your meal to your seat.

        Generally speaking, if you can get a hundred paid fares into an 80-foot car, you’re doing pretty good, but that car weighs about 50 tons. So it’s always a matter of compromises.

      7. When I rode the Empire Builder to Malta, Montana, the platform was so short, the engineer had to make two stops, one for sleeper, one for coach. No checked baggage though, it’s an un-staffed depot. To the west in Shelby and Havre, it was different, the platforms were longer. One was the crew change point, the other a service stop. The compromise I would like to see to get more of the wraparound windows, would kind of bring back the dome coach. On the GN Empire Builder, there were 3 or 4 domes, the big one that was the lounge car, and a couple Dome Coaches. On the North Coast Limited, they had dome sleepers, but their were not bunks in the dome, just seating for the sleeper passengers during the day.

      8. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a fan of the Superliners and their efficiency and utility. However, I’ve read just a little snippet twice in the last couple of months (do not recall where) that the FRA is questioning whether to continue authorizing them – some “safety” issue I am sure, but with them, it can never be too soon to start planning an alternative. As Everfan says, those 1950s dome cars were superb; we’ll never see anything like them again. A safety case for them could never be made to the FRA these days.

      9. Southern Pacific would not let Dome Cars run on Donner Pass, built their own single-level versions, and when the California Zephyr had to detour when the Feather River Canyon was washed out, Western Pacific was told they could not sell seats in the Dome, because of safety concerns in the snowsheds on Donner Pass. In the Amtrak-era, until the Superliner came, the then-San Francisco Zephyr had to use ex-B&O Dome cars because of their lower-profiles.

  2. Gary Thomas, president of Dallas Area Rapid Transit, … added, “the cost calculation should consider only the federal project cost — local sponsors should be able to add project features at their own expense without harming their cost-effectiveness rating.”

    That seems to make sense. For example, locally if Bellevue comes up with it’s half billion for a tunnel building it better shouldn’t be penalty. As far as ridership projections it would be nice to have spot on numbers but as long as it’s a level playing field I don’t see it as a big deal. It’s a lot better to be surprised by “exceeding initial ridership estimates by 58 percent” than to build something and come to find out the actual ridership is half of what tax payers expected when they funded it.

  3. I don’t like how ACRS played their hand, but that’s no reason to be jerks about it. Their building has a good sidewalk connection and is very close to a bus stop, but it is not close to Mount Baker Station–especially if you have a disability that effects mobility. There were also other voices that made the case that one-hour daytime frequency on a local route was more important than more peak-hour service, and I think they have a point.

    We will see this issue again when University Link opens. I’m sure the 43 will see a drastic drop in ridership, but that doesn’t mean people along the route don’t need any transit anymore. There are a lot of riders with disabilities heading to Group Health Hospital on the 43.

    1. Of course ACRS (and people along the 43 route) deserve bus service. That’s why Metro is providing the 8, providing 15-30 minute frequency. It’s just that there’d have to be a transfer to get downtown unless you walked two blocks to pick up the 7, or about 5 to get to the Link station. The idea that ACRS is being cut off from transit is a straw man.

      There will still be a 43 when U-Link opens, but it’ll run less frequently and may go different places.

      If they were really all that concerned about elderly people walking a long way to bus stops they would have coordinated with Metro to make sure that people wouldn’t have to walk halfway around the building to get to the bus stop. It’s clear that transit was an afterthought when they designed the building, and now they’re crying because they don’t get a one-seat ride.

      1. Could be, though any decent architect would have designed the ACRS building to face south toward the sun and trees. Maybe Metro could move the bus stop for them since they’re in such a conciliatory mood.

        Also, somewhat unrelated but did you all see the ST mailing that mentions the Korean Women’s Association is building a low-income senior housing TOD project adjacent to the Federal Way Transit Center (and hopefully link station someday)?

    2. The 71/72/73 express will be eliminated first because the route was designed to replace them. The 43 and 49 may eventually lose trips but I suspect they’ll wait at least a year to see how ridership stabilizes. The 7 is in the same situation and it hasn’t lost any trips. A certain number of buses is needed for destinations at Group Health, 23rd, 10th Avenue E, and the Montlake freeway station.

      I do wonder what they’re going to do about the northern half of the 71/72/73. If they just truncate the routes, where are they going to find space in the U-district for all those buses to layover? Although maybe the shortened routes wouldn’t need articulated buses.

      Hmm, and their express versions (76 and 79?) could terminate at the 65th station when that’s built.

      1. That’ll have to be when the Brooklyn and Roosevelt Stations open, then, since Husky Stadium is no where near the Ave (though I suspect a lot of commuters will figure out they can take a different bus to UW and transfer for a traffic-free trip on Link). Hopefully when the time comes Metro won’t be in the middle of a budget crunch!

        I suspect the northeast Seattle parts of the 71/72/73 will layover along 47th and Brooklyn like the 43, 49, 70, and 271 do now, but you’re right that’s a lot of space.

      2. If they just truncate the routes, where are they going to find space in the U-district for all those buses to layover?

        How full is the Montlake student lot on weekdays? One would hope that Link would reduce the number of car commuters.

      3. Or they can make the routes “through-routed” with the Link station as the changing point. Like making the 71 turn into a re-routed 30, 72 into a 75, etc. but it comes with its own issues. Issues like the horrible traffic on Montlake Blvd and Pacific St, Montlake Bridge openings, etc.

      4. Yeah, supposedly there will be HOV lanes on both Montlake and Pacific by the time the station opens, but even if it happens that might not be enough.

        Once you get away from the Ave/campus convergence, there’s also significant non-overlap in all those routes.

      5. @Oran: Through-routing the north half of the 71/72/73.

        Yes, that would make sense. Most of those streets are small enough that they don’t generate much traffic backup. A 72/73 joinup sounds the most likely since they’re close to each other.

        Joining the 30 or 75 doesn’t sound likely because those routes are already very long, and the 30 is already centered at the U-district.

      6. There’s plenty of room for a layover zone near Pacific Street west of campus, where the 205, 372, and 373 currently wait during the day. From there it’s a straight shot up the Ave to get to Brooklyn station and points north.

      7. Very true… West Campus is the most underutilized land in the city! Awesome location right by the water grabbed by UW as “urban renewal” in the 70s and almost nothing there. Bleh.

      8. UW will be redeveloping that area in the next few years, adding in new dorms and student apartments. I also hear they’ll be tearing down Mercer Hall and replacing it with something worth living in.

        Also, I remember reading somewhere that King County had marked the waterfront by West Campus as an alternate stop location for the Kirkland-UW water taxi (as opposed to the Husky Stadium waterfront). This would be worse for a Link transfer, but until 2016 would be a decent stop.

      9. Funny about Mercer Hall. In the early ’90s when I was at UW, they had mothballed it because of such low enrollment ( ah, the joys of being an Gen Xer)

    3. I think the 43 could gain ridership, not lose it. Keep in mind that even with the truncation of the 42 and 48, Metro is keeping local bus service at 15-minute headways on MLK with route 8.

      Capitol Hill, with only one station, will have narrower walk access to Link. The 43 will turn into a well-patronized feeder route to both the Capitol Hill and U District stations. Ridership to/from downtown may trend down, but new local riders will replace them.

      1. It’s not a static number of people. Existing services often see higher ridership when rail starts because the rail brings more people to transit who wouldn’t otherwise have ridden. An MLK Way resident might work at Group Health on 15th and transfer to do that at Capitol Hill, for instance, but didn’t like the bus options before.

      2. @Jason: “Metro is keeping local bus service at 15-minute headways on MLK with route 8.”

        I was going to add something similar myself. Metro’s long-term goal is to achieve 15-minute service throughout the system on the core routes. That would eliminate the discussion of reducing service on the 43 and 49 after Link opens. But there’s no money for it yet.

        You’re right, the changing patterns of Link may increase use of the 43 as well as decrease it.

    1. THAT was interesting and entertaining. Makes some the antics in Olympia and the other Washington look tame.

  4. The ACRS’ building is on MLK and Walden, if I’m not mistaken. And isn’t that 2 blocks from Rainier, where the 7 runs? Why do they specifically need the route 42 to get to downtown, when they could take the 7?

    1. Sam,

      They just invoke the image of the elderly client who can’t walk more than a block without difficulty. It’s a powerful image.

      Of course, given that we have a paratransit system one wonders why we need to devote thousands of bus service hours to this problem, but I think I’m preaching to the choir here.

      1. Similarly paratransit could address the issue of not having front-door service to the VA Hospital. I don’t see why Metro has to throw away a perfectly good service plan because the VA put the hospital entrance at the furthest possible point from the surrounding arterials.

  5. What about the 71/72/73 LOCAL? I mean, people on Fairview and Eastlake need to get to Downtown and the U District, and route 70 only operates Weekdays from 6am-8pm and Saturday from 9am-7pm. What would the local 70-series be replaced by?

    1. Probably all-day service on the 70, or perhaps by that time the SLU Streetcar will be extended to the U District and replace the 70.

      1. Or maybe something with the 66 though I hope not. That route loses enough time at the limited stops along Eastlake (though the FHCRC is a very popular stop during the day M-F in both directions).

    2. I said 71/72/73 express would be eliminated. The evening/Sunday local service would have to remain unless Metro starts running the 70 full time. Which maybe it would in a grand realignment. It confuses people to have different routes stopping on the same street at different times. The only reason it happens this way now is because of tradition. When there wasn’t a route 70, 71/72/73/74 used to have both local and express service during the day.

      Also, there has been talk of a streetcar which would presumably replace the 70.

      As an aside, Eastlake has more local service than almost anywhere in the city, and much higher than its density would suggest. You can get a bus every fifteen minutes from 6am to 2:15am, which you can’t do on higher-traffic Broadway, 45th, or Rainier Beach.

      Although as I said above, that should be the goal throughout the system, and appears to be Metro’s long-term plan. It would also bring Seattle’s bus coverage up to Chicago’s, which would increase ridership.

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