"KBFI US NAVY Blue Angels", by wings777

I rode Link to Othello yesterday for a quick look at people riding to and from Seafair. My train was well used with lots of people and bikes. Then I went to Alki for some fish-and-chips. I had to go back downtown and catch a bus. It made me wish there were better east-west connections.

In a totally unrelated note, South Seattle hip-hop duo Blue Scholars, the same guys who brought us our official theme song “Joe Metro”, have a short video featuring Link light rail. The video has their DJ Sabzi riding Link on opening weekend (sorry, I’m having trouble embedding it). At the end of the video he announces a new partnership with Duck Down Records and Caffe Vita for their upcoming projects. I hope to see another video or song featuring Seattle’s newest form of transit in the future.

This is an open thread.

191 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread”

  1. I suppose you could have gotten off link at the SODO station, walked the 4 blocks over the 1st Avenue, then got a 56 to Alki. Thus would legs would be the “east west” connection you were looking for. :-)

    1. You could also take the Water Taxi as long as you timed it right, then take the shuttle at Alki.

    2. I had the water taxi first thing in my mind. Too bad it didn’t work out. I got off at Westlake and picked up a schedule for the water taxi. It runs once an hour and it was about departure time from the waterfront meaning that I missed it. So I walked over to Pike Place Market to catch the 56. I’ve forgotten how nice a place it was, full of tourists. I’m not too familiar with West Seattle routes.

      1. West Seattle is well worth visiting – the 54 goes down to Lincoln Park and the Vashon Ferry, the 21 to Camp Long – all great summer spots. There is also a very cool trail from Westwood Village along the brook all the way down to Spokane Street.

      2. Colman Pool in West Seattle is one of the best spots to swim in the city that’s not natural. Also good is the commercial area of White Center at Ambaum and Roxbury (which would be a great place for Ballard-West Seattle Link to serve on its way to Burien). White Center gets an undeservedly bad rap – it’s poor, to be certain, but there’s a ton worth visiting.

  2. If this is an open thread, then I would like to take the opportunity to say:


      1. Here’s one comment:
        Two decades ago, we chose not to do business w/ South Africa, we do not let military recruiters into our schools, we beat our breasts about how peace loving we are here, ad nauseum; yet for 50+ years we have aided and abetted this jingoistic display.

      2. Jingoistic, interesting… So people don’t like the Blue Angels because it showcases the Air Force’s flight skills and they find that too overtly patriotic?

      3. I can’t think of a more shortsighted and self-defeating exercise than not letting recruiters into our schools.

        Good way to make sure the military becomes a homogenous sample of the politics of the rural deep South.

      4. If you lived under their very sudden, very loud, flight path you’d perhaps understand.

        They are no longer appropriate for a city the size and density of Seattle.

        When this was a quiet Norwegian/Salish fishing village where some people built entire airplanes for Mr. Egtvedt and the Angels still used props, perhaps they where tolerable.

        But now they need to move their jet-A orgasm over to McChord or preferably Yakima Training Center

      5. Uh, the Blue Angels don’t just perform in Seattle. It is not a local event. Just this month they will be performing in Toronto (which is in CANADA, a foreign country by the way, which makes the jingoistic claims a bit ironic) as well as in San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, and Reno in the near future.

      6. Toronto and San Francisco have much larger bodies of water over which they perform

        Dallas, Houston and Reno are not examples of growth-management, nor are they dense.

        Reno is “the biggest little city in the world”

        The Houston show is done at Ellington Field. This is 15 miles southest of downtown Houston. Until 2004, Continental offered flights to Ellington from IAH, which gives you an idea of how sprawling the Houston area is.

        And the “Dallas” show you reference is at the Alliance Airport in Ft. Worth, some 40 miles from Downtown Dallas, i.e. about the distance from Seattle to McChord AFB (see my above post).

      7. Semantics. You’ve already made it clear that the problem is the military spectacle of it all and not the noise; you’d be against it no matter where it happened.

      8. I do live under the flight path and it’s loud. But I deal, because I knew about it when I moved here. Plus, it’s kind of cool.

      9. “Everyone” does not hate the Blue Angels. Kooks hate them. They are the type of people who think that anything they aren’t into, shouldn’t exist.

        Here’s a quote from her journal from one such Blue Angel-hating kook, Shannon Kringen:

        “ugly blue angel fighter planes flying over seattle. not fond of them. scary war machines.”

        Personally, I think people like her and Erik G. are scary.

      10. You’d better be scared of me too, then, because I think they’re an unnecessary and unsettling display of military power.

      11. If you believe that events that you personally don’t like or care for should be banned, then yeah, I think that is scary.

      12. Well personally I’d rather see F18s doing acrobatic displays for people watching hydro races than bombing somebody somewhere.

        While I think our current level of military spending is excessive and most weapon systems end up far too gold plated for my taste I still realize it isn’t likely we are ever going to do away with the military entirely. Heck even the most “peace-loving” nations typically have an army, navy, and air force.

        Besides I take a bit of perverse delight in how various aspects of Seafair seem to annoy the heck out of some people.

      13. I have to say I agree with Sam on this. If carbon emissions are not allowed for “frivolous” items, let’s abandon leisure air travel.

        As for the budget expenditure, it’s recruiting, and probably more effective than buying a commercial at the Super Bowl.

      14. I never said I am against the shows. I just feel that the time has come (came 20 years ago actually) to move the shows to McChord AFB.

        It will be a sad day when (and it is a question of when and not if, unless the shows are moved) a Blue Angel jet slams into a condo tower or office building and slaughters dozens if not hundreds.


      15. The area where there is a high danger of a mid-air collision or other accident is over the lake and I-90. The portion over populated areas is simply the jets turning around and at a higher altitude.

        Few acrobatic displays with high-performance aircraft take place in locations where there is 0 danger of an aircraft killing someone on the ground if it crashes. Even if the Blue Angels performed at McChord there would be a chance of a plane falling out of the sky and hitting something on the ground in Lakewood or Parkland. Heck the North end of the runway there is only a few hundred feet from SR-512 (quite impressive too when something is taking off, especially fighters)

      16. “The portion over populated areas is simply the jets turning around and at a higher altitude.” Well, the terrain is a higher altitude there, too.

        I don’t know what altitude they fly over the Hill, here, but it seriously looks freakishly low. I don’t know how they do it, honestly. It’s impressive and I don’t mind watching it (I don’t really mind the noise, either), but the entire time I am thinking “this is unreasonably close.” Maybe it’s just an optical illusion — who knows.

      17. “scary war machines”

        I guess they found an outlet to vent their frustrations with the Blue Angels when Mike Ross proposed his “fighter jets in a station” artwork for Capitol Hill Station.

      18. Please don’t use Shannon Kringen (otherwise known as 1990s local public access cable kook “The Goddess Kring”, the one who used to get naked and dance on her public access tv show) as a typical representative of any particular point of view. She is not typical.

        But for what it’s worth, all she said in what you quoted was that they are ugly and scary and she’s not fond of them. I find it interesting that that perfectly innocent opinion scares you. There are plenty of people up here on Beacon Hill who find them ugly and scary and they aren’t fond of them — because they lived through wars in their home countries before they came here. Do those people frighten you?

        Personally, I wouldn’t object to them — if they’d fly somewhere that would keep them from buzzing Beacon Hill at low altitude. Seriously, they fly outrageously low over the Hill, and if there’s ever an accident, well…

      19. ‘Everyone’ doesn’t. My house is right under the flight path turn around up on the top of Beacon Hill – I survive as do my pets.

        I sort of group them with monster truck rallies, NASCAR, hydroplane races and other ‘loud and fast’ attractions, but I’m not so selfish to not acknowledge there are lots of people who like just those kinds of things.

        I get the pirates and milk carton derby, I don’t begrudge others their personal favorite Seafair entertainments.

      20. I don’t think everyone hates the Blue Angels, particularly in a region with a huge concentration of military and aerospace. What to me is less clear is why people love the hydros so much – at least with the Blue Angels you might be in the military, you might work in aerospace, or maybe you can relate somewhat because you’ve been on an airplane, but hydroplanes are just plain weird.

      21. Hydroplanes are awesome. I can’t explain why, though. But it’s one of those old Seattle things. When I was a kid, we really looked forward to the hydro races.

      22. See, that’s it. Even people who think hydros are awesome definitely think they’re weird. I guess it’s because there’s not really any analogous form of transportation any of us have ever experienced.

    1. TV Station helicopters suck!

      Don’t they know that people live around Seattle Center? Stop hovering already.

    1. Nope. Before the end of the year. By at least five minutes. :)
      There will be a better date eventually.

      1. I heard rumors that it’s actually going to open earlier. I suppose no information on that either?

      2. Calendar I saw late last year put it at Dec 26th (I think). But that was before the snow ate up Central Link’s float.

  3. Since I was not allowed to ask it two threads ago:

    Does anyone know what the carbon footprint of the Angels visit is? 2 practices plus 2 shows plus “Bert’s” JATO is how much jet-A?

    And what is that in BTU’s?

    And how many years would all of that power the existing LINK system?

    1. Well compared to how much jet-A the military burns just training I don’t think the amount consumed by the Angels in a year amounts to even a rounding error. At least with the Angels the taxpayers get some entertainment out of it.

      1. I am not necessarily questioning its usefulness, just looking for numbers and stats.

        Though I will note that we will run out of petroleum someday.

      2. I ran som rough numbers out of curiousity. The F/A 18 has an approximate fuel tank capacity of 6500 kg, and kerosene has an energy density of 1,200 Watt-Hours/kg. Assuming that one jet will burn 6000 kg of fuel in roughly 30 minutes, this translates to a power output of 14.4 megawatts for a single jet, or 86.4 megawatts for all six.

        To put this in transit terms, consider that the peak power output of the EMD F59PH powering the Sounder is 2.3 megawatts. All six blue angel jets performing for one 30 minute session expend enough energy to power at least 38 Sounder commuter trains at peak power output for 30 minutes.

  4. The “Cold War” of Truman/Ike/JFK/LBJ/RMN and the rest of them is over – has been for 20 years. We no longer need to be “pre-cruiting” 5 year old boys to fly airplanes w/ nukes to bomb other nations and cultures into the Stone Age. We need only to spend enough money forthe Dept of Defense adequately to defend the US and take the other several hundred billion to improve, say, our nation’s transport system.
    Make sense now?

    1. No, not really. I’ve seen military displays allll over the world. France does a great military parachutist performance every Bastille Day. Is anyone capable of just enjoying a show every now and then? Just because it comes from the military doesn’t mean there’s some sort of recruitment conspiracy – it’s just about showing off the great, challenging things we accomplish as people.

      1. Barman, let us try this approach, then:
        Take a look at the front of today’s NYTimes – carefully read the article about military suicides and think about how much more useful to our society it would be if the DOD spent less on the Noisy Naval Aeronauts and a bit more helping those men and women who are having tremendous difficulties re-adjusting to civilian life after the traumas of the various wars the US has foisted on the Middle East.

      2. Yes, and it’s extremely horrible. I am against the middle east wars and I’m a left-leaning gay liberal born in France, but let’s be honest, the Blue Angels are not the problem. You’re reallllly stretching things if you can find a link between the two.

        First of all, the US Army has a long history of ignoring mental illness. That goes back before the Blue Angels and it would continue if they were cancelled. Those soldiers aren’t being treated as they should but it has little to do with money and a lot to do with policy.

      3. Agreed. When we “fight” for oil to feed our automania we must pay for the consequences, and if sacrificing the Blue Angels is a way to pay, then so be it. No stretch, just a line item in the DoD budget.
        I am a radical left gay pacifist, and all non-defense spending by the DoD is a real problem for me.

      4. I suspect the budget for the various US military demonstration teams amounts to a rounding error in the DoD budget as a whole. Mind you I’d like to see the DoD budget cut to 1/3 of what it is now, but you aren’t going to get there by cutting the demonstration teams like the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds. The big money is in all of the overpriced procurement programs and unnecessary Cold War defense posture we insist on maintaining. Let’s cancel the shiny new weapon systems that don’t solve any real military need and cut down the size of the military.

      5. Well, I’m a gay french communist intellectual, and I don’t mind the Blue Angels. Not really my thing, but hey… other people love it.

        Also, I find the “with the same amount of money, we could do X” argument too easy to abuse. I mean, with the computers we’re using to argue about the Blue Angels, we could have fed a village in some poor country for a decade for the same money. What terrible people we all are.

      6. Haha. Again with the term “error.”

        “I suspect the budget for the various US military demonstration teams amounts to a rounding error in the DoD budget as a whole.”

        Let’s just round up to the nearest demonstration team. Whoops, we rounded down, there go the Blue Angels.

        We know what you mean, but it’s one of those things like the word “massive.”

  5. There were a lot of Seafair people on my train. Heck, my 11:30 train was almost standing-room-only.

    This drives home the point that tourists are an important transit constituency that generally get overlooked (i.e., they don’t vote). Very few people from out of town will take a plain-old city bus, but they clearly will take light rail. Just think how many Husky fans will stay downtown and commute to the games? Or, how many people could stay in downtown Bellevue and easily go to Pike’s Place or a Mariners game?

    Not to mention Airport Link….

    1. That’s one of the reasons why FTA ridership estimates are generally far lower than reality – they only factor in the commuters. They completely ignore tourism numbers, which would be hard to predict anyway.

    2. It’s Pike Place Market, no possessive. It’s not named after some guy named Pike, it’s named for the street that the market is on: Pike Place.

      With that out of the way, your comment reminds me of the WSF ridership survey that was done to get hard data to use in fare adjustments. The results suggested that WSF should get rid of the passes that give ferry commuters a fare break: turns out less than 1/3 of ferry rides are commutes and the average income of riders is $81,000; most users wouldn’t notice a fare increase and most of them could afford it. But of course, since commuters are the only group that would vote based on ferry issues, pretty much every politician involved agreed that there was no way WSF was going to change fares based on this data. Rather, they’d keep on catering to a minority of riders to the likely detriment of the service to all.

      1. “It’s Pike Place Market, no possessive. It’s not named after some guy named Pike, it’s named for the street that the market is on: Pike Place.”

        This is one of the ways we can tell who the non-natives are. ;)

      2. But can I take “the 5” from “Pike’s Market” to the “bridge to Victoria Island”?

      3. Wait, there are actual people in Bellevue who call it “the 405.” Like, it takes generations after the move north to break the habit.

      4. Yikes, I didn’t know the grammar police were on patrol today. Quick question: can I use a split infinitive on STB?

      5. You may only use a split infinitive if you’re willing to be ticketed accordingly at the next meetup. :)

      6. They could still cater to the regular commuters by keeping the multi-ride passes at a low price while increasing a one-time-only ticket price.

  6. I finally took my first trip on Link yesterday (I live up in Bitter Lake, so I’m not in the service area of this, Seatle’s first light rail line).

    I was really impressed and I only noticed one thing, really, that perhaps could be corrected.
    It’s the issue of the announcement recording, which says: “Entering Station, doors to my “. For most stations, the correct door exits are spoken, but on one or two others – I think Beacon Hill and possibly Rainier Valley – the wrong side’s doors are named. It seems to be that the drivers have to choose each one prior to the train entering the station, or are these all pre-recorded and pre-selected? I don’t know. At any rate, they should definitely correct that.

    The ride on link was very smooth and I was very pleased with it.

    Having used rail (subway, urban rail) transit systems around the world, including Munich, Berlin, Seoul and in the US, San Francisco, Washington DC, Los Angeles and Cleveland, OH – this last back in the 80’s – I was looking especially to compare the ride, whether or not the train had an excessive amount of “shimmying” in that area people spoke of between Rainier Valley and Tukwila Stations. As far as shimmying I did notice a little of this on the way down, but I didn’t consider it anything out of the ordinary, at least compared to trains I’ve been on in the cities I noted above.

    The one city where I rode transit trains that were very noisy and not smooth, was in Cleveland, OH back in the 80’s and this was on their Red Line on the West Side (I usually got on at West 117th/Madison and rode into town from there). Cleveland had two more lines at the time, Blue and Orange, and they went east, out past Shaker Heights. Those two lines were smooth. I don’t know whether that is the current state of Cleveland rapid transit and realize it could have changed since then, since it has been more than 20 years.

    On the way back to Seattle on Link I didn’t notice any of the shimmying at all.

    Someone also mentioned that there should be a floor-to-ceiling pole placed even with each set of doors on each train. I want to “second” that view. That area of floor space seems under-utilized during the ride, because passengers have nothing directly there to hang on to. (Trains I’ve been on in Germany have them).

    Ridership looked very good and there were quite a few people getting on and off and most stations, and Stadium Station is getting a lot of use by those who wish to go to the games.

    I do have to admit my ignorance about where the exact location of the Tukwila Station is: Although I read and noted that it is at “International Boulevard”, I never correctly made the mental note that this is Pacific Highway South (I somehow envisioned it as near a freeway interchange at Interurban Avenue S, instead!). (I used to work out at a gym across the street on International Boulevard, but the gym, at least, appears to be long gone). So, the Tukwila Station is really, as others have noted here, just a stone’s throw from the Airport, and of course, we know that Link will reach SeaTac itself by December of this year.

    With regard to TOD, I liked how at the Columbia City Station area there is a huge, new housing development – I hope they continue to add stuff there like stores and other development that encourages healthy density – and at Othello I really liked what I could see of the urban village around the station (I haven’t explored that area yet). There are many stores and other businesses there (Vietnamese, I think) and it looks like this transit line will be very healthy for that area. For Tukwila Station, there is at least a gas station, a McDonald’s and on the west side of International Boulevard, some businesses as well as a restaurant or two. Of course this station should encourage additional healthy TOD there.

    By the way, for a bit of fun check out Berlin’s virtual ride on their S-Bahn to see how some of the trains have the center poles near the door areas. (The S-Bahn is their Urban Rail – the Urban Rail, buses and streetcars all connect with their U-Bahn (subway)) at this link:

    (Unfortunately, they don’t have an English language version for the virtual ride page).

    (Click on the green “Jetzt Einsteigen!..” link to board the virtual train). (The cool thing is, our ST Link trains are quieter!)

    On the whole, I was really pleased with our first line of the new light rail system and I sincerely wish we were able to speed up the completion of North Link and ST2!

    Jim Ferguson

    1. Hey Jim! I’m not sure when the door announcements will be completely fixed, but they’re better now than they were on opening day, and as I understand it, they are getting taken care of.

      And Columbia City is growing – there will be more semi-dense housing on the other side of the street, where the Boys and Girls Club is. I think there’s a corner lot that’ll get four or five stories soon as well.

    2. “For most stations, the correct door exits are spoken, but on one or two others – I think Beacon Hill and possibly Rainier Valley – the wrong side’s doors are named.”

      That has happened to me a couple of times.

      Last night, too, I was on a train that didn’t play ANY of the announcements. And just after the SODO station, I watched an older man get up and plant himself firmly in front of the door for the Beacon Hill station, on the correct side, even without an announcement. So it looks like we’ve got some regular riders getting used to this stuff already. :)

      Speaking of last night, leaving Westlake just after 9 pm, I was on a train that was about 3/4 full. On a Saturday after 9! I wonder if people were going to the fireworks at Genesee.

      1. I rode Link home after a play at the 5th Ave last night. I caught the 12:23am out of University Street, and was surprised that by the time we left ID there were about 3 empty seats in my half of the car, and 5 people were standing. This was the next to last southbound train that would make the full trip to Tukwila. I was surprised at how crowded it was.

    3. Do we seriously need announcements for which side the doors are opening? I think that’s one of those things that becomes obvious rather quickly. It’s not like anyone’s going to say, ‘Oh shit, I stood on the wrong side, now what the hell am I gonna do?!’ No, they’ll just turn around…

      I hope we don’t end up like London with the voice that just about never shuts up.


      1. I love the fact they used “mind the gap” on the rules and safety board posted in the stations!

      2. Or Chicago: “No eating, smoking, or gambling.”

        Now, I know gambling is disallowed in transit facilities here, but are you seriously telling me I can’t wager using the cards in the Beacon Hill Tunnel?

      3. I agree. Depending on whether you are facing forward, backward or sideways, “left” and “right” mean different things. There is no good way to express this–left, right, east, west, interior, exterior–it’s all rather confusing. The train stops, the doors open and you exit on THAT side. All there is to it.

  7. Wow, I should have proofread one more time! I had typed: “Entering Station …, doors to my “left/right”“. but it didn’t copy correctly! Also, typo on Seattle. Sorry!

    1. Yeah, I’ve been interested in moving to a comment system where regular commenters (people who make a username/password) can edit their comments for a few minutes after posting. Eventually.

      1. Yep.. I think I’ve proofread everything, then hit “Submit” and then see something else I missed! Doh!

      2. Personally I would prefer a system that provides the option of not being threaded. I hate threaded systems like this because it makes it difficult to see where the new comments are. (The comments RSS helps, but there aren’t enough messages in it — unless you are reading it constantly, you miss some.) So I end up scrolling the whole page to try to see if new comments have been added. Very unwieldy.

      3. For now, if you have an iPhone, point it here and it’s non-threaded.

        If you don’t have an iPhone, grab Safari (oh the horror!) and do the following:

        1. Turn on Developer mode (it’s buried deep in the Options)
        2. From the Develop menu (press Alt to see it), change your User Agent to “Mobile Safari 3.0 – iPhone”

        It’ll look weird, but it works

      4. There’s Scoop – it’s incredibly complex and difficult to implement, but it’s very powerful. I’ve played with it some in the past, but haven’t gotten it to do what I want too easily, so I haven’t really considered bringing it up with the other bloggers.

  8. I finally had the chance to ride the Airport Shuttle.

    The first bus that pulled up had a broken lift and the driver refused to leave me at Tukwila until a bus came along that could transport me. Eventually, the next scheduled bus was able to board me.

    What a way to introduce me to Airport Connector and you can bet there were hot-headed passengers (most were understanding; there was one who was rude)

    1. I hope you will file a complaint with ST and its ADA-compliance staff.

      And threaten to sue them for the hell of it.

      1. File a complaint: Yes, I did with Pierce Transit & Sound Transit (anyone want to explain why these museum artifacts are still on the road?)
        Threaten to Sue: No! What good would that do? This connector is going away shortly anyways

      2. Only a court case will see that to it that this kind of silly contract with antique buses is ever let in the future.

        Dollar Signs speak and somebody needs to get fired over this debacle (if we can’t toss them in jail).

      3. Well then, if that’s the case: might as well shut down the entire transit system! (no, not really)

        It happens from time to time. Why cry over spilled milk?

        Now if they refused to transport me, that would be a different story. In this case, the operator kept playing with his lift trying to get it to work. What mattered to me was that he put in an honest effort to try.

    2. I’ve often wondered if checking the lift for operability is part of the drivers “walk around” at the beginning of the day – can any operators let us know?

      1. It’s supposed to be part of a driver’s pre-trip inspection (any operator want to clarify?)

    3. Is there some reason why you couldn’t have waited at Tukwila for the next scheduled bus by yourself, so as not to delay the other riders?

      1. And before I forget, the driver did say (paraphrased) “If the next bus has problems, we’ll make arrangements to get you to the airport” (I got the impression they would send a SHUTTLE van or something)

        Though, to be clear:

        A) The driver kept trying to work the lift to get it going and refused to leave until I was loaded onto a bus (I believe that’s part of the ADA laws, can someone look in?)
        B) 95% of the passengers were understanding (there was one or two hot-heads)
        C) The next bus that showed up had a working lift
        D) I made a formal complaint with both Pierce Transit and Sound Transit both complimenting that the operator kept trying and complaining that these ancient relics were still on the road
        E) I declined the offer of Free Ride tickets (I have an RRFP ORCA with a $2.25 PugetPass and I also have my Microsoft ID (I’m ready for Business Passport, hurry up!!) so what good would Free Ride tickets do?)

  9. “With regard to TOD, I liked how at the Columbia City Station area there is a huge, new housing development ”

    I assume you are referring to Rainier Vista, a Seattle Housing Authority project.


    “Together with other funding sources totaling more than $240 million, the money is being used to replace all of the original 484 worn-out public housing units built in the 1940s with mixed-income housing for renters and home owners.”

    This development has been there since the 1940’s. It has just recently been rebuilt. The location of this public housing development has nothing to do with the light rail station there. It is not TOD at all.

    Or, maybe you are referring to something else.

    1. Wait, you mean, Rainier Vista’s redevelopment wasn’t done in concert with the light rail plan? Because if you’re claiming that, I’m laughing at you. All of the redevelopment was planned with the understanding that light rail would serve it.

      1. You must be joking. Seattle Housing Authority has three major public housing redevelopments: HIgh Point, NewHolly, and Rainier Vista. None of thes had anything to do with light rail. Are you also claiming that High Point, which is in West Seattle was planned with the understanding that light rail would serve it? When is that going to happen?


        Rainier Vista is located where it is because that is where the original housing was built back in the forties! In the forties they did not choose that site because they predicted there would be a light rail station open there in 2009.

        It is much more likely that a light rail station was located there because that is where Rainier Vista already was. But Rainier Vista being in that location has nothing more to do with light rail than High Point in W. Seattle does.

        Do you also claim that SeaTac airport is located where it is because there is a light rail station about to open there?

  10. “Joe Metro” is not just a great transit song, it’s one of the best pieces of writing of all time that describes a setting super vividly. Plus the video is almost exactly how one pictures it from listening (although I suppose it helps to have ridden the very buses described in the song).

    In “Southside Revival” the lyric is “Monorail construction push[es] the tenants off the land.” At a live show in June 2006, Geologic changed it to “Light rail construction push[es] the tenants off the land.” Blue Scholars must be all about buses.

    With Link opening, I wonder if “Joe Metro” will change from “sitting sideways with my townmates” to “sitting backwards with my townmates.”

  11. New York Times covers the Link light rail opening at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/01/us/01seattle.html .

    Speaking just for myself, I’ve always thought that the Metro bus service I’ve experienced for the past 25 years between North Seattle and downtown equaled anything a rail system does for similar distances in most other cities.

    Note that King County Metro’s bus service has always been oriented to providing seats for riders (succeeding until the transit funding emphasis shifted to ST over the past 10 years). On the other hand, if Link is to be successful in meeting the ridership projections that are the basis of its Federal funding, there must be standees on the trains. Read the operations plan.

    Note that every year the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census reports that Seattle area has one of the highest proportions of commuters on transit of any city in America, including better than all U.S. metro areas relying on light rail as a spine service, and better than most cities relying on a subway, including Atlanta, which got our Federal urban railroad construction money in the 1970s following the sensible rejection of the Jim Ellis King County subway plan, twice.

    So ST’s Bruce Gray in the NY Times piece stating, “Seattle was ‘decades behind other cities'” [and by implication, now we are finally catching up] doesn’t resonate with me. We’ve now joined the pack of NYC, Chicago, Frisco, and DC wannabees, with folks here thinking that silly train to the Airport that goes through more traffic lights than the Route 194 express bus (soon cancelled) and takes longer is gonna make us a “real city.”

    Metro doesn’t put luggage racks on the 194, so let’s spend 2.4 billion dollars and build a train with lots of room for luggage! Brilliant.

    Well, I’m trying to catch the new spirit. I commented in writing to PSRC last Friday that it was important for the agency to produce a transportation plan that actually is expected (computer-modeled) to double all-trips transit market share from 4% in 2006 to 8% in 2040. The draft plan with 161 miles of light rail (Sound Move + ST2 + ST3 + ST4) doesn’t do that. Transit market share for the next three decades is stuck in the white noise of error margin.

    Was I the only transit advocate in the region to read the Transportation 2040 Draft and to write to PSRC on that point? We’ll see.

    1. “…stuck in the white noise of error margin.”

      I don’t think so – let’s be careful with the “error” term. If transit ridership consisting of 4% of the people moving about were truly completely within an error margin, say +/-4%, it would be completely conceivable that the entirety of transit ridership here is only a measuring error; i.e., that means it could be that no one is – or in the case of projections, will be – riding transit at all. I’m pretty sure I’ve actually seen other people on the bus, Link, Sounder, etc. Maybe there are errors associated with measuring or predicting ridership, but I doubt the error is so great that the number itself is within an error margin.

      1. Let me be more clear: The differences in the 2040 transit ridership market share resulting from the various investment levels modeled by PSRC is within the margin of forecast error … various ways of spending billions of dollars — more light rail or not; road use fees or not; a lot more roads constructed or not — yield about the same all-trips transit market share: around 4% to 5%.

    2. “Speaking just for myself, I’ve always thought that the Metro bus service I’ve experienced for the past 25 years between North Seattle and downtown equaled anything a rail system does for similar distances in most other cities.”

      Apparently you’ve never had to use the 71/72/73 on a regular basis. The trip can take up to 30 minutes to travel the 3 miles between the U-District and downtown Seattle. Do you commute by bus or use the bus on a regular basis? It seems like most of your observations don’t jibe with what those of us who ride the bus daily experience.

      1. I rode the 71/72/73 daily when classes were in session.

        They are great when the express lanes are open but the reverse trip via Eastlake is awful and subject to bridge openings and other local traffic. In the afternoon, they cannot take I-5 because the mainline is jammed up and its traffic spills onto Stewart St and slows it down also. There is no reliability at all for the reverse trip.

        The buses are overcrowded in the morning, at lunch, and in the evening, even with 10 minute or less headways. They also bunch up. Too often on the Ave or in the DSTT, I see a 71 followed by a 72.

        U-Link will solve these problems.

      2. or the 522 and 372, persistently overcrowded and either 10 minutes late or 5 minutes early.

        there’s one 522 driver who, bless her heart, is so consistently 12-15 minutes late that i’ve missed class more than once because of her. she makes long, pointless, rambling announcements that make me wonder if she knows where she is.

        the best/worst part is that other than having no service past 1140pm, the 522 is a world of improvement over the bus it replaced. so i suppose it’s at least progress.

      3. I’ve no experience with the 71/72/73 bus. I’ve no doubt that the coming subway to North Seattle costing hundreds of millions per mile will give some (few? many?) daily transit customers to downtown a faster ride than their present bus.

        Others not living/working near the subway stops will have less benefit.

        TOD theory says more and more people will choose to live and work in places near trains stations and mobility will improve. People will have the choice to do that. That’s the theory.

        PSRC is running computer models of 2040 that don’t show this happening to a degree that is worth the money to be invested. Some of you young guys should go down there and help them out to find a better answer.

        The point of some transit-advocating critics of light rail is that one to ten millions per mile applied to surface bus routes all over Seattle likely would have generated more benefit for more people and increased transit ridership more than focusing on a single gold-plated subway line with the station stops we are getting.

        The comparison between citywide bus improvement and construction of a single subway line was never made. The official program-level comparison (alternatives analysis in the early 1990s) was only between a busway following the path of the light rail line and the light rail line itself.

        Rail advocates and advocates of rail-like BRT (which “Where’s Your BRT Plan” Gabe thinks I should be!) work in single corridors. A few of us are working on network-wide transit investment approaches. Shaving two or three minutes off travel time for hundreds of thousands of customers may yield more benefit for the common good than shaving twenty minutes off the travel time of 12,000, or 26,000 riders per day. We don’t really know from official studies which obscure this kind of comparison, but my work is continually suggesting that.

        The project-level comparison in the case of Puget Sound region was between continuing the present bus system and building light rail. A lawsuit in Federal court challenged this type of comparison and was defeated.

        An already published City of Seattle transit plan provides guidance on how to spend money to improve bus service, all over the city. But transit investment is now mostly committed to Sound Transit, not to Metro.

      4. King County Metro already has ‘Transit Now’ with RapidRide and city/business-county partnerships and programs to improve bus service countywide. I don’t know if you were involved in the plan development process but you should have if that’s what you are advocating for.

      5. Which shows that they’ve done a pretty lousy job in convincing people and the agencies that their alternative is better.

      6. Or that people just want trains. You can do all the analyses and convincing you want, but if we vote for it, build it! Case in point, East Link – like any of the majority that voted for ST2 actually cares that gas tax money supposedly went to I-90. We don’t; we voted to turn the Express Lanes into Link even if the bogus lawsuit had merit.

      7. John you realize the ridership for North Link when built out to Lynnwood is well in excess of 100,000 riders per day? That is a meaningful transit improvement to hundreds of thousands of riders. You also realize Northgate is a major transfer center and P&R lot as well as being the best opportunity for TOD on the entire North link project. You also realize if you take every Metro, CT, and Sound Transit route getting on I-5 bound for Downtown between Lynnwood and the U-District that accounts for a fair chunk of the transit ridership in the region. Then take Capitol Hill, often times one can walk faster between Westlake and Broadway than any of the buses going up the hill take. If anything the Northgate to downtown segment of Link should be one of the few cases you grudgingly admit justifies rail.

      8. Hundreds of millions per mile! Oh my god! Someone wake me when John complains about the Viaduct tunnel!

      9. I used to work for a company that lost a million dollars a day, and John complains that ST is collecting a whopping million dollars a day in taxes from the entire 3 county region. Maybe in 1970 that was a lot of money, but these days it’s a drop in the bucket. Especially considering that Amazon just spent close to a billion to buy a shoe store.

        John will never complain about the viaduct tunnel because his cronies at the Dinosaur Institute will whack him over the head with the wedge document.

    3. the 194 is faster than the light rail when there’s no traffic.

      in other words, that statistic is true as long as you don’t want to go to the airport 8-10 hours of the day. it’s perfectly fast at 5am, no doubt, but you know as well as i do that the light rail will beat its pants off at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon. heck, i’ve seen the 174 beat the 194 in those circumstances more than once…

      1. Once Airport Link opens I won’t miss the 194. It can take 20 minutes for it to just get from Westlake to I-5 and that’s with an nearly transit exclusive route. If traffic on I-5 is jammed or a car stalls in the HOV lane, your travel time benefits go out the window. Compared to that “silly” train that actually allows people to get to the Airport without having to go downtown.

        But that’s just saying from my limited experience riding the route.

      2. A systematic study of Metro route 194 travel time reliability would have been worthwhile, but now the train has left the station.

        Light rail advocates like sweeping generalities about bus travel time becoming less reliable, which no doubt is true, if only because the average municipal traffic engineer hates Transit Signal Priority adjustments, thinking falsely that they mess up other traffic.

        I’ve observed that the 194’s I-5 path south of Seattle CBD on Friday afternoon is often free flowing.

      3. Yes, John, but you neglect that SR-518 is a massive point of failure and no amount of fixing signals is going to undo that. “Often” free-flowing doesn’t mean always. I’ve gotten from downtown to the airport in 30 minutes on a Friday afternoon, and it’s taken an hour, too. More often it averages out around 45 minutes, but I-5 is *always* a crapshoot.

        I ride the bus every bloody day. My area is *never* going to be included in any presently approved SoundTransit plan for light rail. I can tell you at length that all the TSP in the world doesn’t get you past freeway bottlenecks; the 522 is living, breathing, delayed proof of that. I’ve learned to live with it, but it sucks. I also know that there’s no way to add bidirectional HOV capacity to I-5 through the original Seattle Freeway segment (Northgate Way to I-90, the southern third of what opened in ’65) because we chose the Express Lanes to bolt on capacity already. We’re out of room, so the 522 is gonna sit there with my fat butt on it trying to get to school, work, etc.

        I’m not an advocate of any single form of transportation. I am an advocate of a transit system whose many parts work together. The light rail is a logical first step, much as the once-derided Sounder to Tacoma was a first step, too. See also Tacoma Link. Both of these projects were roundly mocked and people howled of their waste. Tacoma Link has had passenger loads well in excess of a supposedly overly optimistic 2010 ridership level; Sounder has a mess of jam-packed trains every day. Sounder’s also on time 99.85% of the time and it’s about to be operating as many trips to Tacoma as the BNSF will allow. Both of these, when initiated, were derided as failures; for now we know they work as part of larger systems and do so rather well. Central Link forms a similar role.

      4. You want to talk about running late?

        On Friday afternoons, the Sounder often beats the 590 series to the Dome (of course, everyone on here should know that)

      5. The thing that John (or anyone else)fails to mention in this discussion is how would we gain exclusive ROW for busses. That would make BRT more competitive with light rail. Politically, it would be harder to take away car lanes to give to busses!!

      6. Managed, tolled HOV lanes are sufficient for bus movement on expressways, with reversion to HOV-3 if necessary. Not perfect, but would work well enough.

      7. John,

        You’re right that changing the HOV formulas, and taking away GP lanes as necessary, would be incredibly cost-effective. In fact, we could do this AND pay for light rail.

        But instead, you’re spending all your time slagging the plan that’s actually moving forward. If, instead, you devoted your efforts to the change in Olympia that would allow a better HOV plan to progress, at very little cost to the taxpayer, we’d be first in line behind you.

      1. I’m not sure doubling transit market share is possible or even desirable at the cost that would be required. But I’m thinking that the agency (Puget Sound Regional Council) that has spent millions developing the best computer models money can buy should be the ones to tweak the assumptions and show us how it can be done.

        I expect that some combination of road use fees that are much higher in peak and massive increases in transit service would do the job.

        My reason for advocating that this be shown is that I sense it is an expectation of some that this can happen with enough light rail.

        How much light rail, or bus service, would make this happen?

      2. “I’m not sure doubling transit market share is possible or even desirable at the cost that would be required.”

        So the truth comes out.

      3. But I’d like PSRC to try and see what would be required.

        We sure aren’t getting to doubled transit market share by building light rail. Even ST admits that in its modeling.

        At the moment, ST is about serving downtown Seattle and U of W with light rail, with Bellevue added to the list if I-90 works out.

      4. “I expect that some combination of road use fees that are much higher in peak and massive increases in transit service would do the job.”

        The PSRC 2040 transportation forecast that you’ve so elaborately quoted cites the baseline alternative along with 5 action plan alternatives. If none of them double the transit market share, then how is your suggestion of road use fees and tolling feasible? Alternative 5 includes such tolling along major corridors and arterials along with expanded transit service, yet does not achieve the quota you’ve mentioned. Essentially, you are suggesting this alternative sans rail service. So do you have any other suggestions up your sleeve that would double the share?

      5. Sherwin, I don’t know the answer, and I’m not paid 40 hours per week to find the answer. I delegate the task to PSRC. Maybe it can’t be done.

        What I would suggest be modeled by PSRC is more aggressive allocation of road space to buses and HOVs, and more effort to fix bottlenecks that block both transit and other traffic.

      6. Actually, the ST2 plan could make this happen, if we were careful about channeling new growth into station areas.

    4. John,

      You argue that Seattle is a San Francisco “wannabe”, and I think that’s true: San Francisco has almost double the transit ridership as Seattle. San Francisco is probably our closest model in terms of its geography, density, etc.

      I am curious: do you think BART was a mistake? BART opened in 1972. It cost a lot of money (at the time). Many people thought it was a bad idea. It is (or was) only a single “gold plated” line that serves a limited number of stops. Today, BART serves 346,000 passengers per week…

    5. What John fails to mention is the same report (Transportation 2040) predicts that implementation of ST2 and Transit Now improvements will increase transit mode share for work trips from 10% to 16%. The same report predicts an increase in transit boardings of over 400,000. I don’t think that these numbers are “stuck in the white noise of error margin” and show that the voter-approved investments will make a difference. John would rather cite figures for all-trips transit share because he knows that those numbers are diluted by discretionary auto trips and through trips made by visitors.

      1. It’s Sound Transit and Seattle Transit Blog talking about taking Link to ball games, festivals, and restaurants … discretionary non-commute travel.

  12. Say John, it was real fun to ride on the Breda DuoBuses as they struggled to reach freeway speeds when using the Express Lanes on I-5 out of Convention Place.

    Of course, if one was traveling against the direction of the Express Lanes then the 71-72-73 buses would go either Eastlake Ave or, if the driver was clever, on I-5, but only if going northbound.

    How long would it take? No one really could predict because WSDOT seemingly never talked to KCMetro and v.v. (See, that’s one of the problems of using someoneelse’s infrastructure.)

    Would you make it to class on time? Would the driver using NB I-5 allow you to get off at 45th on the way down to Brooklyn, or would you have to wait until the bus trundled back up to 45th and the Ave. Would the University bridge open? Would it be able to close afterwards? Step aboard and take your chances!!

    And that’s just the unpredicatable travel time.

    Then the ride quality!:
    I loved watching the artic’s trailers wag on the Express Lanes marvelling when the accordian-joint would break and we would be spilled out all over the Express Lanes.
    Then there was that bump on Eastlake south of the split with Fairview and near the Steam Plant. I always loved the thrill of hovering two feet above my seat after we would hit that at speed; but then the spine-jarring return to the rear bus bench never was fun given the pain. It’s a good thing we UW students all had “socialized medicine”

    John, may I suggest a one-way ticket to Kansas City?

    1. In re “WSDOT seemingly never talked to KCMetro,” the governance problem was well-covered by the Rice-Stanton Commission, but Sound Transit lobbied against implementation and said “give us all the money;” then you won’t have to worry about governance, because you’ll have a light rail subway to Northgate (eventually) and a floating light rail to Bellevue (maybe) and your problems will be over.

      1. Well governance reform might get further around here if it wasn’t seen as either an attempt to cripple agencies (most notably the rail portions of the Sound Move and ST2 measures) or to get a hold of transit tax money for roads.

        Any governance reform needs to be done in such a way that the sum is greater than its parts rather than a backdoor way of killing things a certain group doesn’t like or making a grab for someone’s funding source. I’m also somewhat skeptical about merging roads agencies (which is what the city, county, and state DOTs mostly are) with transit agencies as I suspect you mostly end up with an agency who sees it’s purpose as laying down pavement.

    2. Lordy those Bredas were seriously underpowered (or at least improperly geared). I’m glad to see them mostly gone from the system. I’ll be even gladder when Metro gets some new articulated ETBs to replace the converted ones.

      1. The one nice thing about the Bredas was when I lived along the 71 route. Even with a 4-block walk to the stop, you could leave the house when you heard the bus coming. It was that loud.

  13. I am an ardent supporter of light rail who long ago predicted Link light rail would generate feeble ridership. Link’s 12,000 daily ‘rides’ is pitiful.

    Light rail systems offer a golden opportunity to help direct growth throughout entire metropolitan regions and thereby reduce overwhelming traffic congestion. Thus, I’ve long recommended the Link extension south to Federal Way, a spur through Southcenter to Renton, and the line east through Bellevue, in that order before the tunnel to UW and Northgate through inner-city districts that are already well-served with transit and offer little potential to guide growth and development.

    In the Summer of 2001, I drafted a proposal for a low-cost tunnel replacement for the SR-99 AWV that is roughly equivalent to WsDOT’s Scenario ‘G’, the “4-lane” Cut-n-Cover tunnel.

    WsDOT drafted the 4-lane version to reduce construction disruption to the Seattle Waterfront after their “6-lane” version was wisely rejected by voters for that reason in March 2007.

    It is up to Seattle media to report the significant differences between the two Cut-n-Cover tunnel options, but I’ve come to regretfully accept that mainstream Seattle media are complicit components of Seattle’s corrupt political machine.

    In my opinion, the mayoral candidate offering the most change from the status quo is Mike McGinn. Seattle is set in a beautiful landscape too long neglected by powerful interests who prefer power boats and screaming jets, parking garages, lots and lots of cars, profiteering with pollution.

    Seattle is all PR and greenwash credentials. Seattle’s DEQ makes a subconscious call for help in its ‘claim’ that the Duwamish is too polluted to restore. Mayor Nickels is democrat in name only.

    1. You know it is funny you complain about “feeble” ridership on Link after only one week of operation yet at the same time would build out the South segment, East segment, and a low-ridership segment not even currently funded before building the North segment which will account for well over half the ridership in the fully built out ST2 system.

    2. I can top any of that. When I was ten, in 1989, I drew a map of Seattle with a big X on it. Then I invented a time machine and went back in time to write the Forward Thrust ballot measure. I have always loved trains, even freight trains with abysmal ridership numbers.

      What’s the difference between a ride and a “ride”?

      1. Yea I always forget about those freights. If the rail haters want to complain about those wasteful freight trains.

      2. I wish we had done Forward Thrust; it was a better starting plan than what we currently (and thankfully) have today. By now we would have extended the five ends and probably added an Eastside spine. I was very disappointed as a middle-school kid in the early 80’s to find out that we could have had an honest-to-Gawd subway by 1985…but oh well, I’m excited about Link and where we’re going now! I’d like to see (ST4?) a Roosevelt-Lake City-Bothell-Woodinville line considered much as Forward Thrust had envisioned. By then all four corners of the city would have rail, suburbs would too, and we can shift bus routes to higher frequency crosstowns intersecting with rail stations. (Well, that’s my dream anyway!)

      3. A light rail system that merely takes people who are already riding buses and gets them riding trains, but has done almost nothing to relieve congestion (which was how Link was sold to us) is a failed system.

      4. Can you point out where in the 1996 Sound Move plan it is promised that Link will relieve congestion? No, you can’t.

        Here is what was the Sound Move plan sold you:

        “The high-capacity transit system’s purpose is to improve mobility within the urban areas by providing travel alternatives so they may grow comfortably while preserving rural areas for future generations.”

        “Sound Move isn’t the only thing planned to fix our regional transportation system, nor has it been prepared in a vacuum without coordination with other regional efforts and agencies. The plan was developed to fit within the region’s comprehensive Metropolitan Transportation Plan.”

        “Sound Move will expand on existing local transit services with a convenient, reliable, easy-to-use regional system that is less susceptible to congestion than current services.”

        “Sound Move can make public transportation a viable and attractive alternative to driving alone by offering fast, frequent service and a wide array of transportation options with regionwide connections.”

        “It focuses on the most congested areas of our region, creating a comprehensive, regional high-capacity travel network. Whether people are traveling to work, school, recreational opportunities or shopping, the goal is to provide more options – dependable alternatives for getting around in our communities and the region”

        “New regional transit services will free up significant bus service hours now provided by local transit agencies.”

        “Sound Move expands on existing travel corridors and creates new HCT corridors linking our economic centers and communities.”

        “The electric light rail component adds a new form of high-capacity transit for our region.”

        “The electric light-rail line is a cost-effective way to serve the core of the regional system where transit ridership is the highest. This new transportation link provides a stepping stone for expansion into the next century”

        “The commuter rail component adds two-way rush-hour train service using existing railroad tracks between Everett, Seattle, Tacoma and Lakewood. Commuter rail will offer a fast, dependable and easy-to-use commute option, linking major destinations in Snohomish, Pierce and King counties.”

        It looks to me like Sound Transit promised alternatives to traffic congestion, and that’s exactly what they are providing.

        And you still haven’t explained why you think the main purpose of a transit system is to relieve congestion on the freeway. Why do you consider Link a good investment only if it improves the commute for people on the freeway?

      5. “Why do you consider Link a good investment only if it improves the commute for people on the freeway?”

        It sounds like you don’t want to get people out of their cars and onto mass transit because it will improve the commute for those won’t switch, and if that’s true, then I really can’t you seriously.

      6. “It sounds like you don’t want to get people out of their cars and onto mass transit because it will improve the commute for those won’t switch, and if that’s true, then I really can’t you seriously.”

        Where did I say that? Please don’t put words in my mouth.

        I have never said that I didn’t want freeway commuters to switch to mass transit, I will love it when they do, I simply was pointing out the fallacy of your argument that Sound Transit promised Link would reduce congestion on the freeway.

        It is projected that 1.2 million people will move here in the next 3 decades. With that population growth it is impossible to decrease congestion on I-5. However, it is possible to reduce the rate of growth of congestion by providing alternatives to driving.

      7. “People in cars stuck in traffic on 1-5. Link is coming give car commuters a better way! But Link is not designed to get 1-5 commuters out of their cars.”

        How do you know that woman is stuck in her car on I-5. She could be sitting in traffic anywhere from Seattle to Tukwila.

      8. I know for a fact that ad represents Rainier Avenue. It seems completely clear to me! Besides, with Link you can park off a freeway in Tukwila – whether the system was designed for that or not!

      9. Because if you listen to the fake traffic report that’s supposed to be playing on her car radio, it talks about traffic being gridlocked on I-5.

      10. Sam, traffic exists everywhere. New York City, the nation’s lowest car ownership and highest transit ridership region, has horrible traffic. But at least people are still able to get around!! London has great transit but horrible traffic everywhere in the city. Paris has hundreds of miles of suburban train lines that circle the city but some people still drive and they still create gridlock on the highways.

        The point of transit is and always has been to provide reliable alternatives so people can plan a better commute.

      11. There’s no way to eliminate freeway congestion except to make the price of gas unaffordable. If some drivers move to Link, other cars will replace them. The point of transit is to enable people to bypass the congestion, and to make it so they don’t have to own cars.

      12. To say the point of transit is limited to only one task shows a lack of understanding of the ability and role of transit. To say that Link shouldn’t even attempt to get commuters out of their cars because it’s impossible to eliminate all freeway congestion is an ignorant and self-defeating way to build a light rail system.

        A light rail system that merely gets people off of buses and onto trains, and does nothing else, is a failure.

      13. You’re the one that keeps saying Link is a failure if it doesn’t relieve congestion, implying that the only task of Link is to get cars off the freeway. So I guess you’d be the one who has a “lack of understanding of the ability and role of transit.”

        No one has ever argued that Link won’t help or wasn’t designed to “get people out of their cars.” What most people, including me, believe is the most important benefit of a new high-capacity transit line, like Link, is that it will make it easier for people to choose a life in which they don’t even have a car. Link is the first step in building a region in which it is easier for the average person to live without a car than it is now. A secondary effect of that will be to reduce congestion on the freeway. Got it?

    3. Art – dude, seriously? Your Southcenter won’t ever touch 12,000 daily rides, but UW and Northgate will get you 100,000+.

  14. “I am an ardent supporter of light rail who long ago predicted Link light rail would generate feeble ridership. Link’s 12,000 daily ‘rides’ is pitiful.”

    12,000 is not the final number. 12,000 was the average for the first week of service. Using this as a basis to say that Link has “feeble ridership” is misleading. We do not yet know what the average ridership will be, but estimates suggest it will be a lot more than 12,000.

    1. The fact sheet for Central Link gives an estimate of 21,000 average weekday boardings for Central Link by the end of this year and 26,600 average weekday boardings in 2010 for Central Link + Airport Link.

      Next month will see the first reorganization of Metro bus routes to better connect with Link followed by another round of changes next February, including a significant increase in Sound Transit bus service on ST 574 and 577 to replace the 194. With a 25¢ Metro fare increase next year and the proposed $1 over 4 years fare increase, the advantage of Metro’s lower fare is disappearing.

  15. One big advantage of Link vs. the 194 is the shorter headways for Link. 194 service is every 15 minutes weekdays, every 30 min. weekends & nights. Link headways are never worse than every 15 minutes early AM/late PM, 10 minutes most of the time, and during peak hours, 7-8 minutes.

    A 194 trip is timetabled at 27-28 minutes to the airport from University St., vs. 34 minutes for Link (come December). Unless a 194 arrives shortly after you get to the station, the total travel time will be about the same once time spent waiting on the platform is included.

    Another downside to the 194 is that service ends rather early on Sundays (last trip to downtown is 7:30PM, last trip from Univerity St. is 6:53PM). Not a problem with Link.

    1. Yeah, average travel time is going to be lower for Link – especially when headways increase in the next few years. Plus, scheduled 194 and real 194 trip time has never been the same.

      1. Why will headways increase? This is the first I’ve heard of that. If anything shouldn’t they shorten as the service becomes more popular?

      2. Ben probably meant when frequency increases which requires headway (time between trains) to decrease.

        10 min headway = frequency of 6 trains/hour
        5 min headway = freq. 12 tph

  16. “With a 25¢ Metro fare increase next year and the proposed $1 over 4 years fare increase, the advantage of Metro’s lower fare is disappearing.”

    Does this mean that the fares on light rail will stay the same for the next four years?

    1. The staff report to the ST Board regarding Link light rail fares assumes one 25¢ fare increase between 2009 and 2017 after U-Link opens.

      Sound Transit last raised fares for Sounder in 2007 (change from zone-based to distance-based) and for ST Express in 2005. Both of those were the only fare changes since ST first set them in 1999.

      Sound Transit doesn’t appear to be in crisis of cutting service like Metro is. Most of Metro’s 0.9% sales tax is going towards operations versus Sound Transit’s which goes mostly to capital projects.

  17. As this is an open thread…two Amtrak-related questions…

    (1. Any date yet for the 2nd Vancouver train? I think this blog at one point said Aug. 17, but I still haven’t heard anything definitive and the 17th is only two weeks away!

    (2. Anyone know when the Pioneer feasibility study is due to be released?

    1. Last time I checked on the Amtrak web-site (about Wednesday of last week) no news on the extensions of the Bellingham trains to Vancouver, BC.

      A restoration of the Pioneer? They can write all the feasability studies they wish; until several hundred new cars (perhaps as many as 1000 for long distance trains alone) are ordered, AND until Union Pacific agrees to host the train, there will be no restoration of service on that route.

      1. I see UP as being less of a problem than the lack of cars.

        Amtrak really needs a replacement program for their current fleet. Everything in the current fleet needs to have a scheduled refurbish/rebuild or replacement date (with orders in the pipeline to accomplish that). In addition they should get enough cars to cover demand on current routes, offer 2x train per day services on popular routes, and add some of the long discussed service restorations or additions: Sunset Limited to Florida, Chicago-Florida service, DC-Kansas City service, extending Heartland Flyer to KC from OKC, restoring North Coast Hiawatha, Pioneer, and Desert Wind service, etc.

        For the low-level fleet I think Talgo gear should be seriously looked at though I’m not sure how practical it would be for some services given the difficulty of changing cars out. However with the right motive power it would allow an upgrade in train speed on many routes and a better experience than the Amfleet, Horizon Fleet or Heritage Fleet.

        For the Superliners I’d like to see a hybrid between the lounge cars and coaches, perhaps as something to offer as a premium service over the standard coach service. The scenery on most of the Western Amtrak routes is rather spectacular and it can be hard to find space in the lounge coaches.

        As part of the fleet rebuilding and general upgrading of Amtrak services I’d like to see the Dining and Sleeping car services upgraded to something at least like VIA Rail’s level of service if not European overnight train levels of service.

  18. Hello

    Over at Publicola, Mayor Nickels said this: We built light rail on time and under budget.

    I was under the impression that light rail was way behing schedule and way over budget. What we voted on all those many years ago (I voted for it by the way, both times) and what we actually got were two very diiferent things, whith what we got being way less than what was promised when we voted. I’m hoping all of the transit wonks who populate this blog can explain this to me.

    1. Yeah, in 2000, it became clear that there was no way the original vote was possible, so the leadership resigned and a new plan and budget were drafted in early 2001.

      We’re under budget and ahead of schedule on that plan. You can knock it, but the problems they had, they fixed eight years ago – I’m pretty impressed with any agency that can plan eight years ahead successfully! It bodes very well for ST2.

      1. In 2000 Metro’s website^* I know, they’re not ST) was still claiming Link would open in 2006. I agree that ST made some major improvements at that time but from disfunctional the standard to improve is pretty low. What we ended up with was the most expensive system per mile ever built in the US and nine years to recover a six year schedule still leaves a lot of room for improvement.

        *You can still pull up the news pages from 2000. This wasn’t the link I was googling for but some interesting info I didn’t know:

        King County will receive full value for the tunnel, valued at $195.6 million. Sound Transit will make annual cash payments of $12.5 million annually to fully cover King County’s tunnel debt service for the remaining life of the existing bonds.

      2. Mr. Schiendelman, thank you for your response and explanation. Here is then my take on this. Please let me know if you feel I am off base.

        It seems to me, at best Mayor Nickels needs to modify his statement. He needs to say some thing like this: “After some inital missteps and poor management, we were able to deliver a scaled down project from what was voted on in 1996, in a timely and somewhat cost efficient manner.”

        This sound closer to the truth to me.

        To say that light rail was delivered on time and under budget strikes me as an outright lie

  19. “What we ended up with was the most expensive system per mile ever built in the US”

    and the highest capacity too.

    4 years after opening the Hiawatha line, Minneapolis is already having to rebuild stations to accommodate 3-car trains because they only built them to accommodate 2-car trains. Link will never have that problem, and if you want to compare apples to apples, the construction costs should probably be compared to heavy rail metro lines. Even Vancouver’s shiny new Canada Line was built with platforms that are too short, single tracked sections, and three deferred stations, all to save money, and it still cost close to $2 billion.

    I’m not saying that I like how much money it costs to build these projects, but I think that the cost is reasonable when compared to similar projects and I don’t think that the high cost is due to any incompetence on ST’s part. It’s a hell of a lot better deal than a 2 mile long 4-lane highway tunnel.

    1. Our system will have the capacity to carry 18,000 passengers/hour/direction (pphpd) or 24,000 crush loaded. Compare that to Vancouver SkyTrain’s current 12,000 peak hour ridership and ultimate capacity of 25,000 pphpd.

      1. According to the Link Operations Plan (posted on Mr Niles site) the signal system permits 2 min (120 s) headways but we probably won’t be running at that level for decades. Rainier Valley won’t see those headways as the line north of downtown will be shared with East Link.

        SkyTrain currently can sustain 108 second headways during the peak hour with future capability for running at 90 and 75 seconds.

      2. 800 people per 4 car train x 30 trains per hour = 24000 pphpd. Or were you using the 200 per car as crush loaded? I was under the impression that the 200 per car was under something like 4 people per sq. meter which isn’t exactly crush loaded.

      3. Yes, I was using 200 per car as crush loaded. I made assumptions.

        That document I was referring to has a CAD drawing of a Link car. I extracted it and measured the usable floor area available to be about 32 m². At 4/m² that would give space for 128 standees. It would feel like other people are barely touching each other. Add 74 seats and you get 202 spaces. TCRP report 13 states that typical maximum standing densities average between 4-5/m². Typical North American crush load standing density is 6/m². Anything more than 8/m² is unacceptable but densities of 14-16/m² (which sounds physically impossible) have been reported in Mumbai, India.

        So you can have more than 200 passengers on a car but you’ll only see that in only a few cases.

      4. That’s some good research in looking at the CAD drawing and in finding those standing densities. I’ll have to start adding 2 to the car capacities.

        This week, for the fun of it I was running some numbers to compare LINK to the I-5 Ship Canal Bridge. I used WSDOT counts (source: WSDOT 2008 Peak Hour Report http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/mapsdata/tdo/PDF_and_ZIP_Files/Peak_Hour_Report_2008.pdf). Page 301 has the upper deck, page 519 has the express lanes. Using the 30th highest hourly volume of the year from each gets 14,165 + 5,462 = 19,627 vehicles per hour in both directions (one direction has a bit more because of the express lanes). A lot can be said about the spatial dispersion of the trips on each mode tho.

      5. One thing I do have to note is the CAD drawing differs slightly from the actual configuration i.e. seating opposite bike rack in the CAD is a 3-seat longitudinal bench instead of 2-seat transverse. I actually got 35 m² but subtracted 3 m² to make up for that difference.

        I didn’t count the bike rack areas (also designated for luggage) in the 35m² and assumed that the priority seating area benches were folded up.

        If you want to cram it Tokyo-style, you could claim that 300-350 people fits in a car. Maybe they could try that after a Seahawks or Husky game. Depending on the situation you may have more or less, so I’d stick to the 200.

    2. Whenever corners are cut (short platforms, single tracking, etc) they cost of “fixing” these cut corners is far higher in the long run than if the project had been built right in the first place. False economies are exactly that: false.

      1. Thank goodness the Beacon Hill tunnel was not built single-track as was originally proposed!

      1. Yep. Sections of the Richmond branch are single track and the airport terminus is single track.

      2. Portland Tri-Met MAX to Gresham was single track from, IIRC, Ruby Jct. to the end when it opened.

  20. Since this is an open thread….. I am wondering what other readers of this blog think of the graphic on LINK trains- that blue/green wave thing that adorns the exterior of ST buses and trains. I absolutely LOVE practically everything about LINK and think it’s a great advance for Seattle, but I find that graphic on the side of the trains to be unattractive and outdated. I was hoping for a sleek and modern look. Anyone else feel the same?

    1. I like it, but what I like most is the bright white paint on the upper part of the trains. It makes them very visible and they really stand out from the environment. If I remember correctly, ST sponsored a local design competition and the “wave” design won.

  21. I thought the same thing at first, markymark. A dated vibe, for sure. And not in a self-aware or playful way.

    Then I remembered the other lines I’ve ridden or have seen online, and I was grateful for what we have. Find me a better looking light-rail car in Portland, San Francisco, Denver, Houston, or Phoenix.

    1. Zed: You are correct that ST sponsored a local design competition. I just wish the “judges” had been more design savvy. I think this “wave” soon will be as dated as the old Metro “flower” that looked like it came from the Merv Griffin Show. (who here remembers that old Metro “flower” logo?)

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