118 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread”

  1. You know what would be the best part of getting rid of the RFA? In theory, no one would ever have to yell “back door!” anymore because it would be the only way off the bus and the driver would be looking back there and opening it (or unlocking it, depending on the bus model) at every stop where one was requested. It blows my mind how many times someone or myself will ring the bell and wait at the back door to get off and the driver doesn’t even look back.

    1. Don’t expect the people that are sitting in the priority seating area to walk all the way to the back door. Or even the middle door on a Breda.

      1. I was in Lyon, France riding a trolley bus and it’s very clearly marked that you enter the front, exit the back (it was painted on the bus exterior where to enter/exit). An old woman was sitting way up front and the trolley driver wouldn’t let her out the front door, and told her to exit the back.

      2. You could on the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority!

        Their older RTS buses have the wheelchair lift at the back door and it’s a pain in the neck

        1. Driver stops bus, turns on lift
        2. Driver comes to back door inside the bus (unlike coming outside for the MCIs) and operates lift
        3. (for cash customers) Passenger hands fare to driver, driver walks to front of bus to insert fare. Driver returns to rear of bus with Transfer*
        4. Off on their merry way

        * When it’s happened to me a few times, several drivers offered to bring me a transfer when I was getting off (I didn’t mind since it sped things along, but officially they’re supposed to come straight back with your transfer)

        Thank goodness for front door lifts and the ORCA!

      3. ROMWLOL, good one! (yes, I’ve been on RIPTA buses too and I hate the back door load – but the MCIs are worse, more steps to operate the lift)

        (Rolling On My Wheelchair, Laughing Out Loud)

  2. From Wikipedia:

    “BART, like other transit systems of the same era, endeavored to connect outlying suburbs with job centers in Oakland and San Francisco by building out lines that paralleled established commute routes of the region’s freeway system. The majority of BART’s service area, as measured by percentage of system length, consists of low-density suburbs. Unlike the New York City Subway or the London Underground, individual BART lines were not designed to provide frequent local service, as evidenced by the system’s current maximum achievable headway of 13.33 minutes per line through the quadruple interlined section. Muni provides local light-rail and subway service within San Francisco city limits and runs with smaller headways than does BART. BART could in many ways be characterized as a “commuter subway,” since it has many characteristics of a commuter rail system, including lengthy lines that extend to the far reaches of suburbia with significant distances between most adjacent stations.”

    1. However it’s also a regional transportation system: it connects Oakland to San Fransisco, among other places.

    2. BART is great, now never build another line again. BART is too costly, too proprietary, and there is nothing it does that cannot be achieved with an off the shelf design and conventional standard gauge trains.

      1. The problem is anything that hopes to integrate with the current BART system has to be built to BART standards. The Santa Clara extension could have been built with more conventional technology, but it would have forced a transfer in Milipitas. Though I suppose a relatively straight grade separated line could have been built to be compatible with VTA’s LRVs and integrated into that system.

  3. I pedaled over to Medina Days yesterday to talk with the folks at the WSDOT booth about the SR-520 project. The two gals staffing it were reasonably well informed but for the most part didn’t have any info that wasn’t on the website. These two things might be old news but a couple of things I found interesting:

    1) The transponder for tolling on 520 will be the same one used for the Tacoma Narrows. That would be great since we end up driving around from Hansville often as not because the ferry from Kingston is slower if there’s more than an hour wait. They suggested holding off on buying one since they thought there may be a giveaway of something like the first 50,000 like there was when they opened the second Narrows bridge.

    2) There is a plan to switch to center HOV lanes on the eastside before the bridge is completed. However, it’s not funded. So far the only funding authorized by the legislature is earmark for only the floating bridge itself. That means it probably won’t get funded until the budget for the next biennium in 2011. Figure another couple of years to get it built and were out to 2013 at least.

    Overall the project is an adhoc collection of ideas that’s focused more on beautification for Medina and Montlake than transportation. The Option A which is the one that adds no new capacity to cross the Montlake Cut is probably the only one that will be affordable after they build all the freeway lid parks. It has HOV transit ramps from the center lane but since it can often take 1/2 hour to get across the Cut in doesn’t do much good. All of the plans eliminate the flyer stop in favor of terminating routes at the Huskey Stadium Link station in 2016. That would be dandy if only the buses could actually get there. I can’t see WSDOT getting away with the high level bridge over Union Bay which would be visible from Rainer Vista which UW has been so adamant about preserving. The Option K tunnel could work but of course that’s a mega project by itself. Maybe the idea of building a second draw bridge next to the existing Montlake Bridge would get pushed through but it would mean taking a bunch of property and really destroy the neighborhood. I think there’s enough money at Seattle Yacht club to kill this idea.

    The SR-520 to I-5 interchange is something that seldom gets brought up. They’re building another park there (of course). I believe the ramp to southbound has been switched from the center to the outside (not sure). There really shouldn’t even be a direct access to I-5 south. The focus should be on getting people to the Center and South Lake Union. To north bound I-5 I think they add a connection to the express lanes which is somewhat useful.

      1. Because I-5 capacity is at it’s limit. If you’re coming from the eastside and trying to go south of downtown you should take I-90. If you’re trying to get downtown getting on the freeway for one mile ends up causing so much congestion that it’s not worth it. It really is faster to get off at Roanoke and go south on 10th. WSDOT realizes there are too many downtown exits and plans to start eliminating some.

      2. I will try to be respectful in this comment … Bernie, I do not think it would be the opposite of wise to eliminate access from westbound 520 to southbound 5.

      3. If I’m in Bellevue and I need to get south of Downtown, there’s no way in hell I’m taking I-90 because that would involve taking 405.

        And you realize, that if you took away those ramps, you would totally screw millions of Metro and Sound Transit riders? 545, 255, 197, 167 just to name four.

      4. I’m talking after Link is complete to UW, 2016. The bridge and Link should both finish about the same time. Then the buses are going to stop at UW because the Flyer Stop at Montlake will be gone. Riders will have to transfer to Link to get downtown.

        405 is being widened. I-5 can’t be. That’s why I’m saying eastside traffic should be using 405 (or Bellevue Way, or 148th) to go south before crossing the bridge. I know 405 south is a parking lot in the evening. I think the HOV lane needs to go to 3 after they complete the widening. Note that I-90 will also have two additional lanes by then.

    1. Oooo … I like the idea of eliminating general access ramps from 520 WB to I-5 SB, though I would keep an HOV ramp both to the GP lanes and to the express lanes for transit use. I’d also get rid of the ramp from I-5 NB to 520 EB though again with a ramp for HOV access. Getting rid of the damn “Mercer Weave” is a huge win for I-5 congestion. Though now that I think about it I would worry about dumping all of that traffic on Roanoke, I just don’t think the surface streets are really up to taking the load for all of the idiots who would normally go from 520 to the Mercer exit. Maybe another alternative would be to dedicate a lane each direction on I-5 to people going between 520 and mercer with a forced exit?

      Absolutely any rebuild needs to include ramps to/from the I-5 express lanes though I would keep them as HOV only.

      1. Since they’re rebuilding the ramp anyway is going up to freeway level and then exiting the best way to connect traffic from 520 to Mercer? Maybe it is or would it make more sense as part of the Mercer Mess rebuild to say beef up connections along the Eastlake/Boylston alignment. Maybe replace or duplicate the University Bridge to take some of the pressure off Montlake. All of this is geared toward when Link to UW is finished so transit from 520 won’t be going into downtown but transferring at Husky Station.

        I’d also look at eliminating on street parking on 10th. Something would need to be done to mitigate the loss of parking like maybe grant development rights to projects that incorporate a public parking garage. Anyway, what I’m driving at is the lane capacity on I-5 is maxed out and demand is only increasing (especially if the viaduct isn’t replaced with a tunnel) so it seems to make sense to really incorporate surface street improvements as part of the 520 project. I-5 isn’t working and it’s only going to get worse.

      2. I agree that there needs to be a better connection from 520 to Mercer. A great majority of the backup on southbound I-5 is caused by the Mercer weave. Somedays it seems like every single car from 520 is headed to Mercer. I think moving the ramp from the left side of I-5 to the right side will help with this. Then the left lanes of I-5 can better serve their purpose as through lanes.

      3. If they move the 520 to I-5 SB ramp to the right side, maybe they could add an HOV or HOT lane to the left lane. It would be nice if they could eliminate the weave between NE 45th, I-5 SB and SR520 EB also.

      1. It is cool, but at the end of the day a lot of it is a waste of concrete despite the best of intentions.

      2. I rode it. I fly to SFO because of BART. Before I would have flown to Oakland because getting to SFO involved a long bus ride (because you couldn’t take luggage on the express, and I don’t think it ran all the time). I never did fly to Oakland because I was taking the train/bus to SF in those days, but still.

        The elevated airport tram (if that’s the right word) reminds me of Gatwick’s. I’ve ridden trams in other US airports, and SF’s seems to me the best.

        So in one stroke SFO greatly improved the airport with the BART, the tram, and airport renovations.

        It is funny to see all these airports getting trams when SEA was the only one for decades. It made SEA much easier to get around than other airports, which is no doubt why they’ve become popular. I’ve been to Dulles and Philadelpha and had to wait twenty minutes for a shuttle bus, which then somehow took half an hour to drive across the runways to another terminal.

      3. Actually plenty of other airports both in the US and elsewhere have had some sort of automated transportation system within the airport for quite a while. Houston’s had one since opening and added another in the 80’s, DFW has had one since it opened as has Denver. Not sure when Atlanta got it’s tram but its had one for a while. Same thing with the monorail at Newark.

        The mobile lounges at Dulles are annoying and yet another reason to avoid it like the plague unless traveling to Tyson’s Corner or one of the other burbs right along the Dulles Access Road. The primary one being the cost, expense, and hassle of getting into DC proper from the airport. National is much easier with the Metro stop and Baltimore with the MARC and Amtrak trains.

      4. I rode it too, and I wasn’t even flying. But the fact of the matter is they built these two huge elevated tracks into the airport, but only one is used today due to low ridership.

        Good idea. Poor execution.

    1. …and still no connection to the Oakland airport, only a connector bus from the Coliseum stop, like the Link has from Tukwila.

  4. I apologize if these Orca card concerns have been brought up already, but I ran into two situations that I hadn’t before this week.

    1. The time on the Orca card reader was 7:06am when in fact it was around 2pm, meaning that I paid for a peak trip, though I didn’t realize it until I exited the bus and told the bus driver. She seemed very confused — I thought the time would’ve been something that would be synchronized with NIST or dispatch?

    2. The other day, a specific card reader (another midday 65) kept flashing “PASS BACK” with a red light whenever anyone would try to swipe. It got a chuckle out of the operator and me, but is that message supposed to mean anything? :)

    Long time reader, first time commentator. Thanks for the blog!

    1. Pass Back appears when a person’s card has already been registered or tapped-in. In other words if you tapped your card, and it registered, but didn’t realize it and then tried it again, it will say pass back. If it says it the first time, then there must be a malfunction.

      1. According to the ORCA site, “Passback Violation is an attempt to use fare card again within predetermined time.”

        There are 3 invalid transaction types: Pass Back; Card Blocked; and Invalid Card.

    2. The time is stored on an internal computer on the bus. I can’t remember if the time is sent periodically on the two data streams that all coaches receive or if they just get that at pull in. Regardless, the clock on the DDU would likely be off too, so the operator would’ve noticed and contacted a coordinator.

  5. I have a couple questions re: LINK.

    1. the rough track between Rainier Beach and Tukwila … I have only ridden in the trailing car … so I cannot speak to the ride quality of the first car in the trains … but I think that for a new system … the ride is a bit too rough (and I am from NYC where the subway has had its share of rough track over the decades that I used it)

    so is the problem one of track geometry? can it be fixed by shimming the tie clips to even out the rails? or is the problem one with the LRVs? or is it a combination of both track and vehicle?

    2. is the Boeing Access Road station still being planned? or did they completely give up on that stop? from watching the scenery go by (and from Google Maps) there doesn’t look like a whole lot of room for a station on Boeing Access Road, East Marginal Way South maybe … but not on Boeing Access Road.

    3. I am wondering why, when they rebuilt MLK they didn’t design it to add additional stations in the future … right now the three MLK stops are far between … and it seems like it would have made sense to design the ROW for potential additional stations … since they were rebuilding the entire street you’d think they’d want to plan for eventualities

    4. looking towards the future … would it make sense for LINK to do what DART (Dallas) has done … instead of buying X new LRVs … purchase new center sections effectively replacing the 2 train 3-section LRVs by expanding one 3-section LRV into a 5-section LRV … I would imagine that the overall length could be kept the same and would be cheaper than running 2-car MU’d trainsets all the time. (they could keep some the way they are for off-peak use, etc …)

    _________________ _________________


    (hope that came out ok)

    as an aside … I was on a Tukwila bound train the other day and the operator pulled too far into the SODO station … he had to shut the train off and walk to the rear operator cabin to reverse the train about 5 feet or so … almost locked himself out of the train while he was add it and presented us with a whole slew of expletives

    1. Portland’s newest MAX vehicles are only one-ended. I think it makes sense to stop buying 2-cab vehicles as soon as you’re not going to ever operate a one-car train, or you already have enough 2-cab vehicles for your needs.

    2. 1.) It’s getting better. I think PCL (the contractor) sabotaged it because they are mainly a highway builder. :-)

      2.) There is a straight stretch of track designed for the Boeing Access Station, who knows when it will be built though. I’d rather see a station near 133rd to serve Tukwila.

      3.) Don’t know if they did that or not. It would be nice to have a stop at Graham Street. I suppose they could build a center platform stop if they didn’t have enough width.

      4.) That’s pretty common in Europe too. There are lots of 5 and even 7 section LRVs running around in Europe. Zurich even added low-floor center sections to some streetcars that were 30 or 40 years old. I’m not sure if the Kinki cars are designed to be expanded. I wonder why ST didn’t specify longer cars since it seems they never run anything shorter than 2 cars.

      Nice ASCII art by the way

      1. I wonder about that too. Well, Dallas light rail uses the same brand aka kinkisharyo, so anything is possible to convert our light rail trains to a 5 section train instead of 2 seperate trainsets in the future. I think it would look better as well and plus you could walk from the end to end no problem.

    3. I think a station at Graham would be good, but beyond that, I don’t think they should put in any more stations. It’s about 1.25 mi between Mt. Baker and Columbia City, 1.65 miles between Columbia City and Othello, and 1 mile between Othello and Rainier Beach. In general, I think Link stops should be just about a mile apart in the city except in the densest areas, so at Graham between Columbia City and Othello is the only place along MLK that I think should get a station.
      As far as Boeing Access Road goes, the main purpose of that station was to provide a transfer point to Sounder, and BNSF would let them build a Sounder station there so there’s no point in having a Link station there. I think a Tukwila Gateway station at 144th could be good though. That still leaves a long way between stations so maybe a E Marginal Way Station could go in, although I’m guessing it would get very low ridership.

    4. 3) It’s a medium-distance system, not a local system. The ideal station distance is 1-2 miles apart, which is what MLK has. Fewer stations makes it faster than a bus, which is good when traveling 5 or 10 miles. More stations makes it as slow as a bus, so why build it in the first place? I would have put two or three stations on MLK rather than four, but adding stations beyond the four would just make future trips from, e.g., Rainier to Northgate or Northgate to south King County that much slower. Then we’d have lost the opportunity for rapid transit in Puget Sound.

  6. A suggestion for Orca in the tunnel, to help people who want to get on either a bus or Link: When you tap in at the top of the stairs, the reader performs the way it does now: it deducts the maximum Link fare. But if you then tap in on a bus within a certain period, it deducts the entire Link fare, and you ride the bus for free.

    1. I think that it does work effectively that way. If you tap in at a downtown station, but don’t tap out at another Link station, it will deduct the entire Link maximum fare. If within 2 hrs. you tap on a bus, your ride is treated as a free transfer (except for an ST Express 3 zone fare (are there any of these?) would cost an additional $.50).

      1. ST Express 3-zone fare is charged on the North/East King to Pierce County routes (564, 59X)

      2. The only problem for me is that I pay a youth fare, so I’d overpay 1.25 for a Metro trip. Also, I was talking about a situation where you needed to get from one DSTT station to another, so the bus ride would otherwise be free. They could make a special setting for the Orca readers, say it displays “DOWNTOWN TUNNEL-FREE”,” that would cancel a Link tap-in.

      3. But if you tap in at Columbia City, it only deducts the maximum possible fare for your trip, not the fare from one end of the line to the other.

  7. for those of you who wish to model modern light rail vehicles …

    KATO will be soon releasing N-Guage (1:150) models of the Toyama Light Rail 2-Segment LRVs …

    photos: http://tinyurl.com/mn7snu

    Tomytec will also be releasing these (unpowered) with the ability to buy-powered chassis for the shells

    photo: http://casco.blog.so-net.ne.jp/_images/blog/_a37/casco/IMGP0626.jpg

    while these are Japanese prototypes … they are about as close as one can get to modern LRVs in N scale

    For european prototypes (N and HO)

    1. I hope a Skoda Astra/Inekon/Oregon Iron Works ‘modern streetcar’ model is made soon, afterall there will be quite a few cities using this equipment that it makes a lot of sense.

      I’m not aware of any non-custom American HO LRVs or streetcars other than those old Boeing Vertol LRVs available in Muni and MBTA. They are all either expensive brass, foreign typically European operations, or pre-PCC era cars. Kind of odd that this market is untapped.

      1. unfortunately … not at this time … although KATO or TomyTec would be the ones to do it

  8. Portland now has newer LRVs than Seattle!!!!

    The Type IV cars went into regular service on Thursday and passengers love them. I overheard several passengers next to me even calling their friends just to tell them they were riding one of the new MAX cars, while others were taking cell phone photos. And I’m pretty sure they werent transit buffs. Everyone was talking to each other about how nice the cars are. The back window (in place of the rear cab) is really awesome.

    Also there were preview trains open to the public last Tuesday and Wednesday on the new Green Line which opens in just over a month.

  9. does anyone know why ST decided to use a 1,500 volt system instead of the usual 750 volt system (as used by the SLUT, Tacoma LINK, Portland Streetcar and MAX (among others)

    1. Hill climbing (up to Tukwila and from UW to Broadway)and 4 car trains come to my mind…

    2. Longer distance between traction power supply stations and lower current draw. The trains will use a ton of energy climbing the grades in the system and using a lower voltage would require higher current. Higher current means thicker cables and more expensive distribution equipment.

      I was hoping they’d go with AC, it’s much more efficient, but the EM generated would probably be unacceptable.

      Here’s a list of all the systems in the world:


  10. I really hope ST plans to print timetables/schedules for Link. I left the meet-up just after 9:00 last Thursday as I had to catch a 9:45 bus at 4th and Pike Downtown. Since there is no timetable, I just missed a northbound train and had to wait 10 minutes for the next one. No problem, but it would have been n ice to “know” when the train was actually going to leave Columbia City and arrive at Westlake, as opposed to “every ten minutes” or, later, “every 15 minutes”. My point here is that there should be printed schedules just as there are even for buses which run frequently (7 and 41 and 550). And SLU Tram, too, please.

      1. MAX publishes a large timetable of all trains, even though they ocme super-frequently.

    1. I’m sure if you requested it from metro you could get one. They got to have one somewhere or you can recreate the schedule. I did this to some extent in excel. Its not complete (I haven’t completed the weekend schedule) and some of it might not be accurate but it is very close.

    2. Because Link doesn’t seem to run on schedule. Every time I ride from end to end during mid-day I seem to pass 5 trains. And I waited more than 25 minutes at Tukwila at 19:00 on Saturday for a train.

      But I wholeheartedly agree that we need a schedule. My Dad was trying to figure out how to put Link in his commute. He knows he needs to be at work by 6, but “every 15 minutes” doesn’t help him figure out when he can catch a train at Tukwila.

      1. You can actually use the Metro trip planner and it will you when the train comes but of course it is nice sometimes to see the full schedule

      2. Each and every bus route has a public timetable, regardless of frequency or route. My only request is for our 2 rail operations (Link and SLU Tram) to have published timetables as well – for the convenience of the consumer. Electronic is nice for those who rely on electrons (I do not), but a paper timetable is an absolute necessity for the traveling public and fare-payers. Consistency, transit providers, consistency, please.

    3. You did know when the next one was coming. You just failed to do the very simple math. You were waiting for Link at 9 PM on a weekday night. From 6:30 PM to 10 PM, Link runs at 10 minute intervals. You said just missed a train. All you had to do was look at your watch, and add 10 minutes to that time, and that’s when the next train would be coming.

      When trains run from every 7.5 to 15 minutes, there DOES NOT need to be a printed schedule with all the times. That would be completely unnecessary.

      1. I think he meant that if he had known before he arrived at the station, he would have left earlier. Yes, once you see that you’ve missed the train, you know exactly how long the wait is for the next one, but avoiding that ‘I just missed a train’ situation would be nice.

      2. It would be nice it they could put some of the “Next train in x minutes” signs in strategic places outside the stations. If people could see that on their way to the station then they’d know to run for it, or take their time.

      3. It’s not completely unnecessary. It would be super convenient if you live anywhere near a station, or heck, like me, I live a mile away and ride my bike – I don’t want to wait 6 minutes. Vienna’s subways have 2-3 minute headways and a timetable.

      4. The London Underground and BART also have a schedule at the station listing every train. I didn’t realize it was possible, but they do. And both have electronic signs saying “next train 2 minutes; following train 12 minutes”.

    4. While as a volunteer on day 1, I asked a ST hard hat and his reply was that interfacing with street traffic and traffic lights created too much variability
      for trains to reliably stick to a system schedule.

      1. That doesn’t really make since. I was under the impression that Link had the right of way. The other reason that doesn’t make since is that every ST express buses and all other buses for that matter have to go though traffic lights and there are still a printed schedule for them.

      2. link does not allows get the light timing down, and the express buses are almost never on “schedule”. I would hate for an operator to try to slow down the ride just to meet a schedule

  11. Seattle could have kept its cable car system too. It was only scrapped in 1940. I bet Kemper Freeman Sr. had a hand in that.

    1. Yeah… Maybe we can build a new Madison St Cable Car! It’s still very cool to see that old cable car wheel in Pioneer Sq Station.

  12. I rode the Link to and from the airport earlier today — a trial run, to to speak, for a real trip two weeks hence. I knew that I would need to transfer to a shuttle bus at Tukwila, but there were some tourists with suitcases on the train who were confused when the loudspeaker announcement came on: ‘Tukwila station– last stop’. It would be helpful if such announcements would also mention that those who want to continue to the airport should take the escalator downstairs and proceed to the connecting shuttle bus. I explained the procedure to them and they followed me downstairs to the waiting shuttle, which dropped us off right outside the International Terminal, at the same location where the 194 and other airport buses stop.

    When I was ready to return to Seattle after visiting the terminal briefly I noticed a huge crowd of people scrambling, heavy suitcases in hand, trying to board a Seattle-bound 194. The bus filled up quickly, and they could not all get on. There was a sign at this stop that said Link Shuttle, and I explained to them that this was an alternative to riding the 194, and that they did not have to wait another half-hour for that. At that time a 180 and a 560 pulled up, and I noticed a Link shuttle pulled up behind these two buses. Since I had no luggage I walked back there and boarded, as did maybe five or six other people. Rather than wait for the two buses ahead to pull away so it could make a stop at the Link Shuttle sign where many people were waitinag, the shuttle just pulled away and proceeded to the Tukwila station. I was flabbergasted, and regret not asking the driver why he could not stop and pick up all the people waiting.

    I was pleased to see today that the Link was also full of local families who were trying it out for the first time, there were long lines in front of the ticket vending machines, and the trains I observed were very full. Along the route I observed some businesses in the MLK corridor flying large banners: Keep the 42.

    Conclusion: As long as the 194 is operating, it’s a toss between that and the Link. If the 194 pulls up first, I’d hop on that since it’s a one-seat ride. Otherwise, the Link connection is great and the view is more interesting. Better information needed for first-time users and visitors alike, maybe a roving ST person who can answer questions.

    1. Please do relay this experience to ST.

      And threaten a lawsuit for the hell of it.

      (Oh, wait, that’s for a previous thread)

  13. So how exactly are bus connections supposed to work once SeaTac Station is opened?

    Just for the heck of it on my trips to Pierce County:

    230 –> 550 –> LINK –> 574 –> 212

    Last I remember seeing, the station is on the opposite end of the airport from the buses

    1. My understanding is that the buses will be moved to the “kiss-and-ride” stop across International Blvd from the airport station. BUT, I’ve also seen conflicting information for a couple routes, too.

      It’d be nice if someone would make it clear. Neither Metro no ST seems to mention much of anything in their plans for what will happen to which stop locations.

  14. I MISS LINK! And all Seattle transit for that reason…

    I’m back in Phoenix for the semester, and on Sundays their light rail system is running every 20 MINUTES (all day) with one-car trains…. albeit this single car was half-full at 8pm, but this was inconvenient (and compared to Link, terrible). Also, an all at-grade system is boring.

    Also, I just remember how beautiful and different their system seemed a few months back; Link makes all other light rail systems look like garbage.

  15. I believe that the buses will be only be stopping at the Airport Link station and will no longer make the loop around the lower level of the terminal.

  16. Has anybody been noticing slower than advertised ride times on Link? I went with my friend to the airport last week, and Westlake to Tukwila station took about 40 to 42 minutes. Waiting 10+ minutes on the connector bus before we even left the station was not helpful either. The entire trip ended up taking just over an hour and my friend missed the cutoff for check-in time :( which was admittedly our fault for waiting too late to leave, but had we taken the 194 she probably would have made it. The train is obviously more fun/comfortable/inviting to ride, but until it goes all the way to the airport, I’ll have a hard time telling someone in a hurry and unafraid of buses to not take the 194 if it’s running…

    1. Most of the slowdowns happen between Othello and Rainier Beach. There are still some issues with TSP system, and some of it could be due to operator error when the train fails to cross through intersections in conjunction with the signaling priority. I’ve been hearing that some trains are taking up to an hour to get from TIB to the DSTT, and this could very well be why.

      And eventually, 194’s not going to be an option anyway.

      1. Interesting — in my experience the slowdowns have been between Columbia City and Othello. Multiple stops in between those stations, at the lights. But it’s a relatively small sample size — I haven’t ridden it every day or anything like that. And of course many times it is speedy fast with no extra stops at all.

      2. I’ve heard both experiences recently…

        One friend came back to Seattle Sunday morning and had a quick ride and smooth transition from terminal to shuttle bus dropping off right in front of the steps into the station and onto a just arriving Link train.

        Another took 1 hour and 45 minutes to get from Ballard by bus to Link transfer to shuttle when leaving for a trip. She was not at all happy.

    2. Unfortunately the 194 seems to be more reliable at this point, unless there’s freeway traffic. I’d take the 194 if it’s right there and you have to be at the airport in 40 minutes. Otherwise I’d take Link. Hopefully Link will be more reliable by the time the Airport station opens, and in any case there won’t be the delay of transferring to the shuttle bus.

  17. I’ve been talking to a transit wonk from Vancouver over at SSC who asked me why we don’t have ‘Proof of fare required beyond this point’ signs. Of course, they wouldn’t work out for the at-grade stations, but they will be needed above the platform stairs from the mezzanine/concourse levels in the DSTT, and at the elevated stations.

    1. The at-grade platforms can only be accessed from one direction via a narrow walkway. At a certain point, there’s a yellow ORCA reader on the right and another on the left. These pretty clearly form a virtual line, the fare-paid boundary. Putting a sign next to the line would be simple.

      1. There actually are tiny blue signs taped up at the RV stations, but they’re easy to miss. I think it would be more obvious if they painted a line and “PAYMENT REQUIRED BEYOND THIS POINT” directly on the platform floor.

  18. Vancouver Opens the Canada Line in One Week from Today (on Aug 17) 1pm-9pm


    Canada Line is opening on August 17, 2009 at 1:00 pm – on budget and three and a half months early. Opening Day is a special Day and Canada Line will be running, fare free, from 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

  19. Drum beat please for the second train to Vancouver – we are still waiting and we do not want to wait for Godot on this one…….

  20. Can anyone help me out here? I want to come in from out of town, ride the LINK from Pioneer Square to Tukwila, then back to Westlake, take the South Lake Union Streetcar out to the end of the line, and back to the LINK, and ride the LINK back to Pioneer Square.

    How can I pay my fare? Do I need crispy bills for a machine that eats dollar bills and provides an ORCA card? Can I buy the card or pay the fare at a booth? I don’t need to do it the “best” way, and it wouldn’t bother me to leave an unused dollar or two on an ORCA card, but I would refer to just pay cash…if that’s possible.

    Any ideas?

    1. Buy a “round trip” card at the TVM

      Think of it as an “all day pass” for buses, The Link, and the SLUT

      1. Yes, riding along the whole line back and forth will cost you no more than $5. Using the ORCA card E-purse or one-way ticket will give you transfer credit for only one more trip leg. If you want to ride more, RT is the way to go.

      2. If I scan my Orca card for 3 Link rides in the same day, will it max out my charges at $5 and revert to a RT/all-day pass?

      3. Just so I’m clear, will a ticket-checker on the streetcar accept the RT ticket from the LINK as proof I paid my fare?

        I’m the guy who always draws the short straw in these things.

      4. They really need to stream line the fare system. It can be too confusing you don’t have an orca card or Puget pass. Even some of the drivers don’t don’t know what works where. So just image how difficult it might be for someone from out of town or even from town. They may be over paying or not paying the right fare and not realize it.

  21. Since I’m not a City of Seattle resident I have only a passing interest in the mayor’s race. However, in looking over websites for different candidates to see if they had an specific positions which they would implement I see that Mallahan would, if he could as mayor (don’t think he can) shelve the Mercer Corridor Project. Maybe I’m reading too much between the lines but I get the sense his real beef is with giving up lanes on Valley Street.

    While it would be nice to have a pedestrian friendly country style two lane road boarding the park at the south end of Lake Union I’m concerned over the bottle neck this imposes on the Eastlake to University surface route. And while the more direct two way Mercer will certainly be better than the current west bound joggle to Valley and back I don’t think the layout shown will provide equal capacity to what’s in place today. First off they’re showing on street parallel parking. That means the right lane is blocked every time someone tries to maneuver their Escalade into one of these spots and the people waiting start playing the barge and weave game into the middle lane. Second is the addition of left turn lanes across traffic. This causes not only the additional delay for the signals but when the left turn lane backs up into the inside lane (you know it will) you have the same effect as our Cadillac driver above.

    Something needs to be done with Mercer and delaying or stopping this project because it’s not perfect doesn’t seem sensible. I’m just curious what some of the folks that experience this mess on a regular basis think of the plan as it currently is envisioned.

    1. Well, there you have it. The Mercer Street project is an effort to put more emphasis on people and less on moving cars through that neighborhood. And every time you try to do that, somebody is concerned that it might actually be harder to move cars through.

      This will be micro-discussed on a block-by-block basis, wherever it is proposed to do anything other than move the maximum amount of automobiles at the highest speed, like some desperate effort to take a ruined city from die-hard defenders. We already see it whenever someone suggests running light rail up 15th NW to Ballard- “O noes! Whatever will the cars do?!?”

      It’s in our blood, like the bite of a vampire. And Nickels has the right idea- just drive a stake through the heart of the former Mercer Street Freeway and kill it once and for all. It was a bad idea that never go any better.

      1. The Mercer Street project is an effort to put more emphasis on people and less on moving cars through that neighborhood.

        That’s certainly not how SDOT is “selling” it. Do you see SDOT and the current City Administration as inept or nefariously trying to hide their true intentions?

        Keep vehicles moving
        • Keep vehicles moving by upgrading over 20 intersections
        • Reconnect streets to improve circulation
        • Provide direct route to and from Seattle Center

        Improve freight and transit connections
        • Provide a direct route to and from Ballard and Interbay
        to Aurora and I-5
        • Maintain two major freight streets through the corridor
        • Improve key intersections to accommodate large trucks
        • Establish Mercer as a new transit corridor that can
        accommodate local and regional buses and the streetcar

        The renderings show nothing of a streetcar. I don’t even remember this route being discussed in long term planing for a streetcar network. Local buses? There goes throughput. Likewise for large trucks trying to make turns. It seems dedicated transit only lanes would be a better fit with the stated goals than on street parking. Rather than relieve congestion during viaduct removal it seems this project as they’re showing it is more likely to make everyone wish for a new tunnel ASAP.

      2. Well, that neighborhood, and I use the term loosely, has become a web of dead-end streets, usually with a large truck double-parked and unloading to totally bottleneck you. If I wanted to illustrate “can’t get there from here” I would put a person down in the center of that.

        Nobody said it would be pretty when the Mercer Street mistake was cleaned up. The only magical solution that might emerge is a war in the mideast that finally puts the kibosh on our addiction to cars. For magic, that would be some pretty bad majumba.

    2. I love the Mercer plan. I work in the neighborhood and deal with it everyday. Right now Mercer only has one purpose, get cars through the neighborhood. If you want to travel to the neighborhood or around the neighborhood it is completely dysfunctional. I use a variety of modes to get to and from work, sometimes I bus, sometimes I bike, sometimes I drive and once at work I usually have to walk to a meeting or for lunch. I think that the Mercer plan will immensely improve the situation for all users of the street and make navigating the neighborhood much easier. If car throughput suffers a bit that’s fine by me, everyone else has been suffering to benefit cars for a long time. I also think the layout is more fair for all of the auto users too. Right now Mercer favors traffic going to/from Queen Anne. The new layout functions more like a city grid and will balance access from all directions to the I-5 ramps.

      1. I can see where it would make for a much nicer neighborhood street. But much of what makes it so inhibits the functions as layed out by SDOT as reasons for building the project. If the conjestion is as bad or worse then transit is impacted too. People have shown a willingness to endure a tremendous amount of congestion through here and if transit is as bad or worse it won’t move too many people out of their cars.

        As far as favoring traffic going to/from Queen Anne and the Seattle Center I see that as a feature in that it is a disincentive to use private cars to access all points of downtown. The Center seems like a good intercept point and a natural transit hub. Perhaps the Convention Center Garage would work well too.

        The part about making Valley a two lane road more in keeping with a park like setting at the South end of the lake sounds appealing but if spill over gridlock because of an inadaquate Mercer fix is the result then it’s not going to be very pleasant.

        As for freight mobility it seems to fail to meet the needs of a post viaduct future. Conjestion and mixing large trucks with stalled transit and road rage motorists is a recipe for accidents. A surface plus transit solution really needs good surface arterials and time competitive transit to function.

      2. As far as transit goes, I can’t see a reason to ever use Mercer for buses. Most express buses that use I-5 use the Stewart exit to downtown and use Olive Way to get back to the freeway. Right now most transit through SLU goes north/south on Fairview and Westlake. For instance, route 70, the main local bus route for SLU and Eastlake, travels on Fairview. It is very common for northbound route 70 to be delayed on Fairview because of traffic baking up at Mercer. There is only one through lane on northbound Fairview and it gets backed up because traffic has to weave through all of the traffic making the dogleg turn from I-5 to Valley. Making this intersection a more conventional intersection will help with through traffic on Fairview and make route 70 more reliable. It will also make the streetcar more reliable because the streetcar won’t have to deal with all the traffic that routinely blocks the intersection of Fairview and Mercer.

        As far as freight mobility goes, I rarely see large trucks on Mercer other than those going to and from the constructions sites. Freight traffic is a very small percentage of the traffic that uses Mercer, and most of it probably uses the street at non-peak hours, when congestion is less of an issue. If anything, straightening out Mercer will help large trucks, because they won’t have as many tight turns to navigate.

        “Conjestion and mixing large trucks with stalled transit and road rage motorists is a recipe for accidents.”

        Don’t most accidents happen when cars are moving, not stuck in traffic?

        From what I observe on a daily basis, it is the layout of the Mercer corridor that causes congestion, not the capacity of the streets. I think the new layout will reduce congestion overall by improving the function of intersections and eliminating the dogleg turns and block-circling maneuvers. It might take longer to get to/from Queen Anne to I-5, but that does not mean that the streets will be congested or grid-locked, just moving slower. The important thing is that they’re trying to balance the needs of all users.

      3. Thanks. That clears up a few things. I think SDOT is guilty of making wild claims about what the Mercer project is really aimed at doing (i.e. it’s not about “improved freight and transit connections”). I absolutely agree that removing the dogleg is a major benefit. How much that will offset some of the other changes like additional left turns, right turns with no turn lane, on street parking, etc. is hard to say.

        Council member Licata seems to be the only council member opposed to the project but all of the neighborhood associations/councils except of course SLU seem to support him. Council member Burgess argued that the project is about reconnecting neighborhoods by reconnecting the street grid which seems to be closer to the truth. There was a seven lane plan on the table because of concern over the six lane alternate having longer backups than the current design eastbound. I do think Mallahan has a legitimate beef with the projects PR not representing the real purpose.

      4. I don’t know if they’re wild claims, politics is 99% marketing after all. The freight lobby seems to have a lot of pull with SDOT, so they probably just throw that in there to make them feel better. I think overall the project will make SLU feel more like an integrated part of downtown, and less like a former industrial area. I was a big supporter of the Seattle Commons project, and I feel like this project, along with the renovation of the Lake Union park and new MOHAI, will bring some of the feel of the Seattle Commons to the SLU neighborhood. As people in the city rely less and less on the car I think people will appreciate this project more and more.

        I read Mallahan’s transportation plan, it’s riddled with misleading statements. He’s not really winning me over.

    3. What I dont like about the project is demolishing portions of and moving other portions of the terra cotta beaux arts Pacific Building at Westlake & Mercer (and the building next door). Its not just the exterior facade of this building that is really nice but also the interior showroom. Yeah you can save facades but look at what the Cristalia Condos did to the Crystal Natatorium building.

      Pacific Building photo

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