Vancouver Skytrain (Wikimedia Commons)
Vancouver Skytrain (Wikimedia Commons)

41 Replies to “News Roundup”

  1. “$1.9m in Federal anti-terrorism funds go to local transit security.”
    “Please no “Blue Angels suck”/”Blue Angels rule” debates in the comments.”

    But I thought the Blue Angels were here to provide Link security – aren’t they part of Wackenhut, I mean, Securitas?

    Note that I didn’t take a suck/rule position. But re: ORCA cards, I know a youth who was going to get a youth and/or disabled fare ORCA card, but of course she couldn’t go to the Customer Stop during school hours. Then again, her plan I think was to dissolve the card in acetone and place the RFID chip and antenna into a magic wand so as to appear to be casting a fare-paying spell on the bus.

    1. Then again, her plan I think was to dissolve the card in acetone and place the RFID chip and antenna into a magic wand so as to appear to be casting a fare-paying spell on the bus.

      That would rock. I should go get another ORCA card to play with. Though it might present a problem when you need to present your card to a fare inspector or use it as a flash pass.

      1. This assumes fare inspectors are using a scanner. I haven’t seen that happen yet on Sounder, they just look at my card and ask if I remembered to scan in.

      2. Well, that’s annoying. My card is behind my ID in a window on the front of my billfold – specifically so it’s secure and I don’t have to keep taking it out. I guess I’ll have to start looking for some sort of badge holder on a lanyard, perhaps with anti-RFID-detecting properties to address the security issue mentioned in that Seattlest article on ORCAs for kids. I still think the wand idea is hilarious.

  2. Any speculation on how Sound Transit will deal with bridge closures once eastlink opens? Seems like it will be hard to stop and start train service four days in a row each August…

    1. One assumes Link will to use the bridge to deliver scheduled transit service as the drivers are professionals and, unlike the average motorist, will not be mesmerized/distracted by the sounds and sights of these aircraft flying extremely loudly and at dangerously low altitudes and along the lake. If I were ST, I’d immediately inform the FAA and our mighty military leaders know they intend to run the trains regardless.

      1. I’d always assumed the bridge closures were a precaution in case the Blue Angels pilots screw up and crash into the bridge – they do crash now and thten, after all. If it were full of traffic (train or auto) it could be a lot uglier.

        But I don’t really know for sure – that’s why I’m posting on the Internet.

      2. Since they used to practice over Elliott Bay (on the Wed and/or Tues before) and fly through downtown, I don’t believe possible accidents by the Blue Angles was the reason. Nothing more fun that looking down on a Blue Angle flying by from a highrise. They still do much of the actual flying over residential areas, not the lake.

        I-90 would become a parking lot if cars were allowed, as folks tried to get the best view point.

      3. According to the official announcement for the closures, they’re for both spectator safety and Blue Angels safety — fewer potential victims if there is an accident, fewer distractions for the pilots to cause an accident.

      4. My Aunt is one of the local FAA inspectors. If ST could and did do that, it would probably force the show to move. The last think the NAVY and FAA want is an accident and if there is an accident the NAVY wants to have all of the injurys be NAVY personel.

        We might get a shorter time window but I suspect they FAA and NAVY will want the bridge closed. I suspect stopping the rail over lunch would have less impact than the freeway as ST should be able to cope with extra load before and after the show better than the freeway.

      5. It’s an FAA rule for safety. Suspending cross-lake Link wouldn’t be any worse than suspending all other cross-lake traffic. Plus ST should be able to operate East Link from Mercer Island-Redmond.

  3. I have no problem obtaining reduced fare permit ORCA card which I replaced my old reduced fare card from early 2000’s.

  4. According to the ORCA web site:

    *Senior (ages 65+) and youth (ages 6-18) can order through the U.S. mail with a printable Card Order Form by submitting a copy of age verification with the order.

    Still not a fast, convenient alternative, but easier than making it to one of the two retail outlets during business hours, especially if you’re in the half of King County that lives and works outside Seattle. (Tracked that down earlier this year responding to a constituent inquiry, a bus commuter from just south of Auburn to Renton — no retail location for a senior card anywhere nearby, even during business hours.)

    1. I live in Everett and am 17 years old. I tried to obtain an ORCA card from Everett Station a couple months back but was turned down because I don’t have proper ID i.e. driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, etc. Being a transit user, why would I have a driver’s license? And carrying around a passport or birth certificate is a hassle. Am I getting the feeling Puget Sound transit agencies are giving the finger to underage transit users?

      1. It’s pretty normal that you’d have to prove your age in order to get a youth pass. You know you can get a Washington State ID from the DOL? You should probably have one anyway.

  5. Ridership in the free ride zone is now more than 10 million annually. Dunn, of Maple Valley, said King County is essentially subsidizing that at a cost of about $6 to 7 million and would like to renegotiate.

    Council member Dunn needs to go back and look at the Route Performance Reports. It’s Seattle that is subsidizing the eastside. If I were in the Mayor’s office I’d love to “renegotiate” with Metro. A starting point would be the reinstatement of Seattle City Transit and let the County figure out where they’re going to come up with the money to run rural bus service.

    1. Have we decided if we support the Ride Free Zone?

      I know we’ve all talked about how it’s supposed to speed boarding at rush hour and all, but have we ever actually compared loading times for Metro buses to ST, Pierce, or Everett, since none of the other agencies observes the RFZ?

      1. ST does honor the RFA for buses. Their reasoning is that ST “provides a minimum amount of total service for local trips in downtown Seattle.” I occasionally hop the 545 from my office to the ID for lunch.

        I suppose Pierce, CT, and Everett don’t have the very high boarding volumes in their downtowns that Metro has.

      2. Would it make sense to eliminate the tunnel from the RFZ or would that just be one more catch 22 in our quirky system. I sort of doubt it would make any difference unless things were changed to always pay before boarding.

      3. Eliminating the RFZ in the DSTT without changing the fare collection process on busses would greatly delay all traffic (bus and Link). Anyone on Link approaching Westlake Station from the south or waiting for a Link train at Westlake to travel south after 7PM has seen a glimpse of what those delays would be. It can easily add 3-5 minutes per trip through the DSTT if the train is following the ‘wrong’ bus.

        Taking fare collection off busses in the DSTT would be required to make this work. It may also be desirable anyway – making the DSTT a fare required zone so passengers would take care of the fare before boarding.

  6. Speaking of fares… Can someone remind me the procedure if you still have a monthly PugetPass provided by your employer?

    In my case, the pass is for $2.00. Can I use it on Link? Do I just show it if asked? But how would the inspector know I haven’t been on for the full length of the route ($2.50)? Or am I supposed to purchase a $.50 transfer? Even if I’m only riding one or two stations?

    1. Not exactly. The house has voted to put $2B more into the CARS program but it won’t be voted on until next week by the Senate. Hopefully someone on the hill will see the need to change the qualifications slightly as it’s obvious that as written it was considerably more generous than need be to get people into the showrooms. It appears that approximately a quarter million new car sales have been inked under the Clunkers program. The Subaru dealer in Bellevue told me they had 30-40 deals done by Monday the 27th when the Government was first allowing submissions. With 23,000 dealers participating I can believe the estimates that indicate the original funding is already used up.

      I’ve got mixed feelings on how much good this program will do. As far as decreasing dependence on foreign oil it’s really the proverbial drop in the bucket. Assuming the additional $2B is appropriated it will by my estimate only decrease fuel usage by about one tenth of one percent. On the other hand it is getting three quarters of a million of the worst offending polluters off the road which is huge because I’ve been told that a small percentage of the cars actually account for a majority of the pollution (CO, NOx, evaporative emissions, etc.). And a reduction of something like 655,000 tons of CO2 put into the atmosphere is nothing to sneeze at :-)

      And of course there’s the stimulus effect. The car dealers make money so they’ve got more to spend (or will they save it believing there’s more hard times to come?). Another consideration is that many of the people who bought new cars would otherwise have bought late model used cars which actually provide more profit margin to the dealers. People that bought the cars are likely to reign back spending. They now have a car payment (or less in the bank) plus maintenance costs have been drastically reduced so the repair shops will be down a little. The cars being sold are largely coming from excess inventory so it’s not going to create many if any new jobs; many of which would have been in other countries anyway. Plus this spike in demand will undoubtedly result in depressed sales over the next few months as people who would have been in the market have jumped on the $4,500 incentive. The there’s also the possibility that future buyers might hold off on a purchase if they believe the program or one like it will be revived.

      1. I have mixed feelings about the CARS program. I imagine how much transit both the first round of funding and this round would have bought. On the other hand I imagine getting most of the older polluting vehicles off the road. I agree the amount of the rebate was far too high I’m thinking even $1000 might be enough.

      2. It appears the administration won’t be able to drive this bill through the Senate on cruise control. An unlikely alliance of Senators McCain and Feinstein among others are looking to block or amend the program. They could certainly put more gradients into the bill than just $3,500 or $4,500. Maybe start with $1000 for the 10mpg boost and bump it up $500 for each additional mile per gallon. They also need to lose the special mileage exemption for SUVs. They only need to get 5 miles per gallon improvement for the full rebate and have lower threshold for eligibility. To really make the program successful the funding should come from an increase in the federal tax on gasoline instead of pulling it from loan guarantees for alternate energy projects. If funded by a gas tax it could be sustainable long enough to get virtually all of the worse offending vehicles off the road and nothing results in decreased use of gasoline as much as an increase in price.

      3. The King 5 stories about the CARS programme showed a couple buying a Toyota RAV4 and retirees buying a Chevy HHR. I had to laugh when the Chevy HHR was talked about as if being a “newer, more fuel efficent car”. CARS needs to be completely overhauled if people are able to get away with stuff like that.

      4. Welfare for the middle class? A sop from the politicians for when gas prices start back up in a few weeks? Or just another example of gratuitous venality and waste?

      5. I have mixed feelings about the CARS program. I imagine how much transit both the first round of funding and this round would have bought.

        You can find the email address of your Senator here:
        http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

        I wrote this up as a template which you can use as a start. Perhaps someone can site good transit comparisons? I used an oil furnace to heat pump exchange since that’s something I have experienced. Elected officials do listen to voters that take the time to write in. Besides your Senator others that have taken a keen interest in making this program more accountable are Senators Feinstein of CA and McCain of AZ.

        Ease Off the Gas On Cash For Clunkers

        Hopefully the senate will slow the process and rewrite the CARS bill to maximize the benefit from the expenditure. Clearly the $1B could have gotten just as many old cars off the road and replaced them with even higher mileage new cars just by making the requirements a little stricter. This boom bust cycle doesn’t help the auto manufacturers adjust their production or allow the aveage person time to plan for a major purchase that will have long term effects.

        Make this more environmentally oriented and stimulate the economy with an overall rebate system that extends to other sectors. Congress needs to answer the question, how does $4,500 given away on a new car compare in jobs created and long term energy savings with say the $1,500 rebate on a home heat pump system (that’s three families with an improved home vs one with a new car). Savings every month from a heat pump replacing an old oil furnace will far exceed savings on gas from a new car. That would be true even if the home heating system were financed as most new car purchases are. The government should add low interest loans to the rebate program. Giving loans rather than just rebates is sustainable over a long period and frees up the credit markets.

        Don’t let the high pressure cars salesman push you into a hurried decision. Get the facts and spend our money wisely!

    1. The TVMs and fareboxes accept $1 coins. On the TVM, that is indicated next to the slot. TVMs do not accept pennies but fareboxes do. I used $1 coins to pay fare on Metro once.

      1. Which is why I miss the old non-electronic fare boxes on Metro. You could dump what ever in there and they didn’t care. And I always paid the full fare, even when the off-peak one zone was 55 cents.

      2. I kind of like the idea of replacing old fareboxes (when they die, no sooner) with fareboxes which doen’t take bills. I’d think they’d cost less, and take up less space.

      3. It was quite a surprise when I tried to pay fare in Vancouver with bills. Their Cubic fareboxes accept only coins and validates magnetic tickets/transfers. It should be more reliable. I ended up getting an all-day pass from a SkyTrain TVM.

  7. Hey Oran, the reason the Vancouver farebox doesn’t take bills is that in Canada $1 and $2 are coins, not bills. The smallest bill is $5 so most people pay using coin or passes & farecards. In San Fracisco, the Muni only takes coins so you have to have a pocket full of small change or go to the change machine for a Sacagawega (sp??) dollar — the only place I’ve ever seen one in the US.

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