For your weekly dose of light rail porn, here’s the Seattle Channel’s story on the Link Media Ride. (Hey, Seattle Channel, how about an embed function?)

Also, Streetfilms profiled our sister Light Rail system in Phoenix:

We’ve covered the Phoenix opening extensively.

48 Replies to “Saturday Open Thread”

  1. Light rail porn? We found a condom on the guideway around 148th today.

    I got the chance to hi rail from the deferred Boeing Access Road Station to SeaTac Airport Station. Airport Station is coming along very nicely and the powers that be expect it to be ready by December (Ron Perrone joked that SeaTac Station will be done before Beacon Hill Station). The downside is that it REEKS of kerosene from the airplanes. I’ll post pics later this evening!

    1. Uploaded them yesterday, added them to STB Flickr about 3 minutes ago! Even got pics of the inside of SeaTac Station.

    2. I got the chance to hi rail from the deferred Boeing Access Road Station to SeaTac Airport Station.

      Deferred? I was just looking at aerial shots on Google and it looked like the station was already substantially underway while the tracks were still under construction. Is there a timeline for completion?

      Boeing Access Road

      1. That big yellow thing you see is the crane that takes each segment for the elevated guideway and puts them together. There is very little evidence of a station except for the track being tangent and level in a section where the station is to go, and a few hidden things in the hollow guideway.

        The station was suppose to be built just beyond that first catenary pole.

      2. Ah, thanks. I guess it was just by chance the photo happened to be taken just as the tracks were getting to this section. Anybody know the timeframe for adding the station? Will it most likely wait until there is expansion of the King County International Airport (aka Boeing Field)?

      3. Its suppose to be an infill station some day. It was not funded under ST2.1, so its really in the air (pun?).

    1. I’ll point that out in a roundup sometime soon, too – thanks for the email. We’re just waiting on the migration, so I don’t want to post anything this weekend.

    2. Can that stream tell me when the weather is going to be nice so I can go out Link shooting and not get clouded to death?

      1. Actually yes, because when I’m testing it I switch it over to one of NOAA’s weather channels.

  2. As I commented in a previous thread: I promised I’d ride The SLUT today and give a report. Here goes:

    I rode The SLUT using only a transfer ticket issued by a Metro operator on the 550 (I kept my ORCA and Microsoft ID handy, but out of sight) and got into an argument over policy

    From the FAQ:

    “…and all Metro transfers will be accepted.” (my argument was that I was coming from a Metro operated ST bus)

    I pulled out my ORCA and said it has a 75 cent PugetPass on it. I talked my way out of getting a fine, but it was a BIG hassle.

    Metro: get with it. The SLUT is internally Route 98 and should be treated as part of the system as a whole. Next time, I may just bring only my One Regional Card for All. Oh, and if you slap me with a fine, I doubt I’ll pay it since I presented valid fare.

    1. The Metro operated thing isn’t really going to fly with them – they do specify that they don’t take ST or CT transfers, I think. All ST King County routes are operated by Metro.

      ORCA, on the other hand, is going to be an issue for them. I’ll be carrying mine and nothing else next time I’m on the SLUT.

      Good for you for fighting with them!

      1. That’s the point: that the transfer was issued to me by an operator receiving a Paycheck from King County Metro

        When I head home, I’m going to try using just my RRFP ORCA which is loaded with a 75 cent PugetPass

      2. I agree that it’s confusing but what you tried using was a Sound Transit transfer, not a Metro transfer. It doesn’t matter who is paying the operator’s paycheck, it matters what agency owns the relationship with the end user. In that case, it was Sound Transit. From Metro’s website (

        “Please note that Sound Transit and Community Transit transfers are not accepted at this time.”

        I think the ORCA thing will be the bigger issue as the site also says PugetPass is accepted and ORCA is the new fare media for PugetPasses… So I’d stick with your ORCA argument :)

      3. Has anyone tried the SLUT with Pierce transfers? I live in Federal Way along the 500 and I’m tempted to try taking 500 –> 194 –> 98 using only my transfer issued by a Pierce operator.

        Says nothing about Pierce transfers on the FAQ

      4. It says ‘all Metro transfers will be accepted’. If it says nothing about Pierce transfers, it’s because they don’t accept them.

      1. But a fare policy needs to acknowledge that a customer’s travel pattern may not coincide with a routing arbitrarily decided upon by some goddamn route planner.

      2. What does route planning have to do with whether or not the streetcar accepts ST transfers? A fair fare policy would be to get rid of transfers all together.

      3. The path that a route takes affect whether I as a customer will need to utilize a transfer in order to make a journey fro my origin to my destination, or whether I will just ride in “one seat” the entire way.

      4. It’s an insult to suggest the routing is “arbitrary”. I’ve seen the efforts of Metro planners to carefully analyze all the permutations of a route, and carefully collect community input about those changes.

      5. If one route does not go from within 1/4 mile of my origin, to within 1/4 mile of my destination, it is to me, arbitrary.

        Now of course it is absurd to think that Metro or any other agency is going to plan and run a bus or rail route to serve my individual travel pattern. That’s why a free, flexible and hassle-free transfer policy is not a “privilege” but in fact a consumer right.

        Please stop discouraging rider-ship through fare policy and hassle. The publicly-subsidized car is very easy to return to.

      6. I will also add that in the case of a fare dispute, the “free” transfer slip acts as a receipt that I can later take to the operator’s superior to resolve the fare dispute. Thus I do not feel compelled to fight the fight on the bus, but do it later with Customer Service.


    2. The money collected on ST buses goes into ST’s piggybanks. Metro gets nothing out of it. ST pays someone that works for Metro to operate the coach, they pay Metro to change the oil, and they pay Metro for a parking spot.

      I’ll bet that higher than 50% of ST’s Express riders don’t know that the routes are operated by three transit agencies. I have noticed though that Metro operators on ST routes are much friendlier than the “average” operator on a Metro route. Maybe it’s because the work is easier…? Doesn’t matter to me–I use a ST route whenever I can.

      1. I agree with the friendliness. Maybe the better Metro drivers are promoted to ST routes? And I bet its more like 95% of ST Express riders don’t know about KCM, CT, and PT operating their ST buses.

      2. While coming back from Olympia, during the heated lobbying for I-90 light rail:

        Me: “Sound Transit doesn’t have any bus operators”
        IT operator: “I never knew that” (their first time driving the 603)
        Me: “Next time you take a peak, note that the operator is wearing a Pierce uniform”

      3. I imagine that routes/shifts are biddable and the ST routes are senior as it would be easier to operate a longer route with fewer stops than a typical local route… So they’re probably getting paid more while being less stressed out!

      4. I’ve driven all the ST routes, trollies, and most everything else Metro/ST runs. You’re right about the stress level being less on the ST routes. No difference in pay though. All the routes are lumped together, and bid by seniority 3 times a year.
        Driving the 3 to Harborview makes a person a wee bit more ‘cranky’ than cruising across the Lake on the 550.(Retired Now)

      5. I can imagine! I sometimes take the 60 and things can get pretty hectic during the jog over to Harborview.

        Also, I was suggesting that the operators on the SoundTransit routes might be paid more because they were likely more senior, not that Metro would pay a premium for operating SoundTransit routes.

      6. The senior drivers seem to prefer routes that let them do their shift all in one shot as opposed to a split shift with AM and PM peak (which is why those routes are often driven by the part timers and less senior drivers). Other than that I think it comes down to individual driver preference. Some seem to like the busy in-city routes and some seem to like the long-haul routes.

      7. My understanding was that drivers got to choose the ST routes based on seniority when the switch over happened. So, presumably every driver was there because s/he wanted to be and, yes, were possibly better Metro drivers.

        I’m not sure if that will continue to be the case as time goes on, unless they really are less-stressful more desirable routes that the senior drivers will continue to request.

      8. Prolly has a lot to do with the riders too. Sound Transit passengers tend to be nice, well behaved commuters rather than your typical bus riders. I’m sure that rubs off well onto the drivers of ST routes.

      9. @Mike anyone that’s ever lost something on the bus and called ST has been directed to one of three different phone numbers, which is why I lowballed it. But yeah, I should’ve guessed higher.

    3. i rode the SLUS on sunday which had a fare inspector aboard. i showed him my $4 day pass. honest to god the fare inspector said he had never seen a day pass before.

      btw, that was the first time i have every had to show my proof of payment on a modern streetcar. i ride the portland streetcar many times a day and have never been carded.

      1. Is that because most of the Portland Streetcar is inside Fareless Square? So you wouldn’t see inspectors unless you were in Northwest Portland or down south.

      2. yeah a good part of the line is within fareless square but about 1/3 is outside. that said they never check even those areas.

  3. was it just this weekend (noticed there were lots of detours) or do trolleys not run on weekends normally? i was quite disappointed to have to ride only diseasel buses.

    on a related note since i am a trolley fan… whats the chance of route electrification in the future such as the 11, 15, 18? (forget the minor extensions to Link stations)

    seems like the next few years would really be the only chance while there are still new ETBs on the market. or do they have more than enough? i get the sense there is little interest, what would be the reasoning?

    1. Trolley Motorization Status.

      Some construction work requires the rerouting of buses for lane or street closures that may also impact electric trolley bus service. Electric buses can be switched for diesel buses but only on Saturdays and Sundays.The CIC will organize on-site meetings with Metro Power Distribution personnel and Contractors to evaluate construction needs in relationship to electric buses and overhead wires.

    2. The capital costs of constructing/maintaining new overhead and substations and purchasing new trolley coaches are the biggest obstacle. Metro considered electrifying those routes you mentioned from Ballard to West Seattle down to White Center and Alki (including the 27, 21, 36, 73) in the 1980s. I’m not sure what happened to that proposal, probably budget problems. New Flyer manufactured new 40-ft and 60-ft trolleys for Vancouver, B.C. and probably will for Metro but Metro might take the money from the capital program to patch the budget hole as reported earlier.

      1. The Gillig 40-ft coaches are fairly new, I would be surprised if Metro has plans to replace those any time soon.

        I could see Metro replacing the Breda’s sooner rather than later. Even rebuilt they are nearly 20 years old. ETBs based on the 60LF chassis would provide some commonality in parts with the DE60LF and D60 coaches.

      2. So metro has plans in their budget to replace the Gillig trolleys? Or is this for expansion trolleys? I was thinking they’d need to add new additional coaches for any newly electrified routes. Or would the current ETB fleet size be more than adequate for a few more routes to be electrified without having to buy additional vehicles?

        BTW how long are the Gilligs supposed to last considering they are rebuilds? These rebuilds are what, 8-9 years old now?

        What provoked that single electrification of ‘route 70’ 12-15 years ago?

      3. I don’t know if Metro has any plans to replace the Gillig ETBs. I kind of doubt it as the old ones were around for 20-25 years. I also don’t think there is any major fleet expansion planned as I don’t believe there are any plans to electrify additional routes.

        The Gilligs aren’t rebuilds they are new coaches, though the DC chopper propulsion is rebuilt from the old AM General fleet. Electrical gear has a pretty long life so I suspect the rebuilt propulsion gear will last as long as the coach bodies.

        The Bredas are rebuilt from the old dual-mode Breda tunnel buses. Even with the rebuild the coach bodies themselves and the suspension parts have a limited life which may mean replacing them sooner rather than later. There is also the issue of spare parts. Breda doesn’t make buses anymore and many parts aren’t available. Metro has a certain number of Breda coaches they kept for parts cannibalization but that only gets you so far.

        Still considering how long Metro kept the MAN ETB coaches in service I kind of doubt there were plans to replace the Breda coaches any time soon either.

        The only thing I could see that might get Metro to order more ETBs would be if there is a nice pile of Federal grant money available for doing so.

        Speaking of which, I believe the availability of a Federal grant was why the 70 was electrified in the 90’s.

        We might see some more Federal money for electrifying additional routes if Congress and the Obama administration are serious about pushing “green” transit.

      4. thanks

        i wasnt clear what parts were reused and what was new with the gilligs, thanks for clearing that up.

      5. I believe some of the West Seattle and Ballard routes used to be ETB routes when the streetcars were replaced with ETBs in the 30’s and 40’s. At some point before Metro re-invested in the system in the late 70’s many ETB routes were dieselized.

  4. How do you justify not getting a drivers license? And, here’s the catch, how do you justify not getting a driver’s license, in Denver?

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