53 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread”

  1. Why do some transit agencies sell day passes during the weekday, and others do not? Transit agencies that don’t sell them during the weekdays, like Metro, must have some reason or logic for only selling them on the weekends. Can someone explain to me what these reasons for not wanting to offer them on the weekdays might be?

    1. I would like to know this, too. When I have friends come in from out of town, it would be a lot easier for them to buy a day pass versus carry around a bunch of singles.

      1. Buy them a cheap Link day pass for the day that they’re coming! It works on Metro, too.

      2. Any idea whether Metro will continue to honor these day passes from ST after the end of this year?

      3. I think so. Because then you could just use ST between zones and Metro within each zone.

      4. I advocate for student fares – high school, college, whatever. U-pass is a start, but its exclusive to UW students. Nothing against UW, but that’s lame. Non-UW students are broke, too, you know.

      5. Love the Lego Bus! (if child assisted w/construction, should be given credit!).

        Metro used to sell $5 day passes to visitors a while back, but I haven’t seen any promotion for them lately, so I suppose they are discontinued. They could only be purchased in certain locations downtown, however, so not much use for those who live in other locations and wanted to purchase a pass on the bus to GET downtown.

        Most major cities in Europe sell day passes, as well as so called city passes that include admission to major attractions that include transit. Nice if Seattle could have those available.

    2. I’ve bought a weekend day pass for Metro straight from the bus driver. I agree, why only weekend day passes?

    3. I assume it’s for the same reason hotels offer discounts during the off season. On the weekdays people have to ride to work or for errands, and you don’t want to offer a discount on trips that would be made anyway. On the weekend buses are emptier, which is bad for Metro’s image. If a day pass encourages a few discretionary trips that wouldn’t otherwise be made, it fills those empty seats.

      A few cities offer day passes after the morning commute ends, around 9:30am. That’s a pretty crass way to avoid giving commuters a discount, but it does help visitors who are traveling around during the day and evening, and who probably sleep in until 9am anyway.

  2. KATO has announced N-Guage models of the Toyama City Light Rail Transit ‘Portram’ as well as a new line of “Unitram” track for city modeling.

    Toyama’s Portram is a modern two-unit articulated tram … about the closest anyone has gotten (mass-produced) to anything we have seen stateside


    1. Leading to the age-old questions, are the trams in scale for 3′-6″ gauge Japanese track, standard gauge, or simply scaled as narrow-gauge trams running on standard gauge track?

      Not saying hanging overhead would be impossible, but definitely more challenging at 1:160 scale.

      But really, the models are so beautiful, who cares? Maybe it’s time to go all LEGO and KATO and join the 21st century.

      1. US/European “N-Scale” (9mm rail spacing) is 1:160

        Japanese “N-Gauge” (9mm rail spacing) is 1:150 … this allows for the same track to be used for their narrower gauge railways as our standard gauge railways

    1. Wow. I wish that was me.
      Who else is getting their bus driver’s license once they’re 21? =D

  3. The primary certainly created an interesting and somewhat humorous situation. With the feds poised to increase light-rail and streetcar funding, and oil prices sure to rise, Seattle has turned its back on transit- neither candidate has displayed any knowledge or understanding of the subject or its importance.

    McGinn might get “lucky” here and see oil go to $200/bbl on his watch, decisively squelching the automobile, and, as a knock-on effect of the severe depression that would follow, driving housing prices through the floor. Of course, at that time you might wish you had an experienced Democrat, like Nickels, who could work with legislators to secure funding for transit, but at least everyone would be walking or bicycling. Who knows, even McGinn might get that lean look of the daily cyclist then.

    Mallahan, OTOH, can simply stand pat. The agencies and legislators are ready to go ahead with the tunnel, which in good times will be seen as a reasonable improvement, and in bad times will cushion the fall of employment. By then end of his first term Mallahan could be well on his way to being seen as the mayor who tore down the Viaduct, and built a park, while ‘solving’ the traffic problem by building the tunnel.

    One thing you can be fairly sure won’t happen is the electorate ‘learning a lesson’ and choosing more wisely in the future. Whatever factors made Seattle late to the party, when it comes to light rail and streetcars, will generally keep Seattle behind the curve.

    Under the circumstances, it might not hurt to read about how the people of Seattle saved the electric trolley buses by an initiative, how the Pike Place Market was saved, how the RH Thompson Expressway was rejected, and how, over a period of years, with illustrative changes in the composition of the City Council, the George Benson Streetcar was created. Additional readings might look at how the Royer-Schell axis used the cumbersome process of city government to rezone every piece of property they wished to develop- with hardly a squeak from the ‘progressive press’ of Seattle.

    There’s been some humor in the feverish imagining that maybe the City Council will become effective, considering how ineffective both candidates for Mayor seem likely to be. There’s even the chance for some irony if Seattleites, through their City Council picks, reject the Sierra Club governance of McGinn.

    But I’m guessing there won’t be too many laughs in all of this for Sierra Club members. Lenin had a name for them.

    1. [quote]One thing you can be fairly sure won’t happen is the electorate ‘learning a lesson’ and choosing more wisely in the future. Whatever factors made Seattle late to the party, when it comes to light rail and streetcars, will generally keep Seattle behind the curve.[/quote]

      Considering the high turnout and the fact that the median voting age was around 60, do you think the lack of sound judgment on the part of Seattle voters is primarily generational?

      1. Probably several factors- first, the 60-year olds who have lived there since 1970 had to overthrow a corrupt oligarchy to make the town liveable. Those memories live a long time, and the people who still live in Seattle feel like the city they saved is now being changed- possibly ruined- by the late real estate balloon.

        Then you have your 30-50 year olds, arguably more prosperous and Type-A (they can afford to live in the city and choose to pay for what they see as quality) who are essentially picky and demanding (as demonstrated by the retailers who prosper).

        Then you have your under-30s who look to the Stranger for cues on hipness, and have very poor math skills. By definition they’re new to the voting thing, and by the time they figure out that Lucy is never going to let them kick the football, they’re over 30, and replaced by a new bunch of under-30s.

        In this election, though, I’m leaning towards a simple interpretation- Nickels was the union candidate, the granola-eaters went for McGinn, and Mallahan very shrewdly realized that the Times always was and always would be cool on unions.

        The interesting thing here is, that if Mallahan wins, and reaps the harvest of good government that Greg Nickels sowed, he will be in a strong position to run for the US Senate.

        Alternately, if McGinn wins, he seems likely to become a poster-child for everything that’s wrong with the Sierra Club. I have a hard time seeing him “bending the curve” in any city departments. But, who knows? When squalls blow the wind comes from all directions, and the good ol’ USA has some stormy weather ahead.

    2. As if the viaduct were the only issue in Seattle. The mayor has many responsibilities, and viaduct planning (and transportation as a whole) is just one of them. People voted against Nickels for many reasons. Some voted assuming he would get the other primary slot, and that they might consider voting for him in November.

      And Seattle has not “turned its back on transit”. We have voted repeatedly for ST2 and Metro tax increases to expand transit. Even the SLUT is an example of new transit. And let’s not forget all those bike lanes and sharrows.

  4. I had an interesting thought, we actually beat Portland in serving the Amtrak station and almost beat Vancouver in servicing the airport with light rail. However, by the end of this year, all 3 cities will be serving both their train stations and airports.

    Here’s the chronology:
    1) Vancouver Skytrain begins in 1986 with service to the train station,however Amtrak doesn’t start running again from Seattle to Vancouver until 1995.
    2) Portland MAX begins in 1986 but doesn’t serve either the train station or airpot.
    3) Portland MAX finally begins service to airport in 2001.
    4) Seattle LINK begins service in July 2009 with service to train station.
    5) Vancouver Skytrain begins service to airport August 2009.
    6) Portland MAX will begin service to train station in September 2009.
    7) Seattle LINK will begin service to airport in December 2009.

    I wonder where else in the country do you have 3 cities so close together that has this ease of access to the train station and airport? I don’t believe the 3 Bay area cities have this? Possibly Boston/NYC/Philly/Baltimore/DC corridor? I don’t think all the airports are served in that region.

    1. Seattle (Link) and Philadelphia (R1) are the only of the cities listed that have a direct rail line from the main train station to the main airport.

      Vancouver – Skytrain to Canada Line
      Portland – Yellow/Green Line to Red Line
      Boston – Silver Line (BRT) from South Station to Airport, Orange/Green from North Station to Blue Line to Airport Shuttle
      NYC – Closest of the lot, Blue Line to Airtrain
      Baltimore – Penn Station/Camden Yards Line to BWI Line
      DC – Red Line to Blue/Orange Line for Dulles, Red Line to Blue/Yellow Line for Reagan

      1. CORRECTION: Theodore Francis Green State Airport is actually in Warwick, RI

        (sorry, as a RI native, we get very agitated when someone claims the airport is in Providence)

      2. Wait, are you guys suggesting that the airport wasn’t built to serve Warwick’s vibrant juvenile detention center and sub-par shopping mall economy?

      3. Unless something has changed (or is about to change), the MAX Red Line runs direct to PDX from Downtown Portland

      4. But the Red line doesn’t stop near the Amtrak station. You need to transfer to the Yellow/Green line to get close to the train station.

      5. Joshua and Chris-
        Portland is such an easy walking city, and the MAX stop on the west side of the bridge was so close to Union Station, I guess I always considered that MAX was actually “at” the station. But now w/ Yellow there and Green almost there, right at the south end of the station, no more walking. I’ll be doing the quick Amtrak day trip in October.

      6. Seattle (Link) and Philadelphia (R1) are the only of the cities listed that have a direct rail line from the main train station to the main airport.

        Burbank Airport has a direct train to Los Angeles Union Station. And some would say that Burbank is as much the main airport for Los Angeles as LAX is, at least for domestic flights.

        Baltimore Thurogood Marshall Airport has the NEC station with shuttle service to the airport.

        Milwaukee has a stop at its airport now (very nice faux-Frank Lloyd Wright) that also requires a shuttle to the air terminal.

        Montreal-Dorval (named for some politician now) has a VIA train station also very close, with shuttle, and there is talk of building a spur into the station. I am still waiting for the high-speed train to Mirabel.

    2. BART goes to the SF airport, and they are in the process of building a connection between BART and the Oakland Airport. However, the train station, at Emeryville, is not connected to BART or any local rail. San Jose’s airport has a VTA light rail station and a Caltrain station near it, but no direct connection, although I hear they are working on a PRT system to connect both stations to the airport and other destinations around the airport. VTA light rail goes directly to San Jose Diridon Station.

      1. BART goes directly to the Richmond and Oakland Coliseum Amtrak stations but both require a transfer to the yellow line. Oh, and they’re the scariest stations in the system.

      2. Amtrak does NOT stop at the Oakland Coliseum station. That platform is for BART blue, green and yellow lines and is adjacent to two sports stadiums and offers a connector bus to Oakland Airport.

        …and my vote for scariest station would be West Oakland.

      3. I just bought an Amtrak ticket from Oakland Coliseum to San Jose, so I sure hope there is a station there! It was built in 2005, and is between the current BART station and the Coliseum- you can see it under the connecting walkway (with a massive ramp zigzagging down)

    3. Cleveland’s Red Line rapid transit serves both the airport and the train station. Unfortunately, Amtak doesn’t serve the old-time train station. It stops at an inconvenient location near the waterfront at very inconvenient times.

      When (if?) the 3C corridor gets built, the intercity trains are supposed to directly serve the airport.

    4. Here are three cities close together with airport rail access: Chicago [CTA to O’Hare and Midway], Milwaukee [Amtrak], and South Bend [South Shore (NICTD)]?

      1. whats crazy about the NICTD (south shore interurban) sound bend station is that there is no downtown south bend station. its only the airport and some odd random station amongst industrial parks. i’m all for airport stations but whats with only having airport stations? i’ve been on some intercity buses and sometimes the only station for a city is at the airport on the outskirts.

      2. I used to live in downtown South Bend and would have much appreciated a downtown station. There used to be one but it was torn down in the 70s: http://www.monon.monon.org/sobend/unionstation.html (scroll to the bottom, “South Bend South Shore Railroad Station and Yard”)

        South Bend went through a pretty rough period followed by some “urban renewal” that left downtown relatively clean but empty. The city and DTSB (the downtown development partnership) are doing their best to fix things but if you’ve been there recently you’re probably familiar with the patchwork of parking lots that largely defines downtown South Bend today.

    5. Just spent a day in San Francisco on the way back from Mexico City. Round-trip BART from SFO to downtown: $16.20. Mexico City’s Metro is way faster, has more public art, and is about $0.17 per ride, which is still incredibly cheap by Mexican standards (the buses there cost way more than the subway).

  5. New York Penn Station (NJT or Amtrak) then directly to Newark Airport – board the monorail at the airport train station and it stops at each of the three terminals.

    With an Amtrak stop at the airport…that’s even better than a direct transit link to the airport from the train station, you’re already there.

  6. “by the end of this year, all 3 cities will be serving both their train stations and airports.”

    Wow, I hadn’t realized how quickly things are turning around in the northwest. Now if we could just have hourly trains between Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. Well, that’s too much to hope for in the next decade.

    I just reread “The Option of Urbanism”, which has a new preface addressing the real estate crunch. He predicts that the fundamental transformation of America from driveable sub-urbanism to walkable urbanism has finally arrived, though it will take three decades for enough dense housing to be built to meet the pent-up demand, and less for exurbanites to abandon their awkwardly-located houses. This goes right along with extending rail to airports and train stations, and the multimodal train stations that have been refurbished in small-town Washington (which just need more trains to go to them).

    He also makes a very good argument that Washington DC has leapt ahead of the rest of the US, with seventeen urban villages around Metro stations and more emerging. And that this all started from nothing ten years ago, and was led by the creation of Metro lines in Virginia, and enlightened local governments building massive TODs around several stations. He makes a case that this is the inevitable future of American cities.

    1. Part of my comment got cut. I meant that the change will happen rapidly once the area reaches a tipping point, both nationally and regionally. With all three northwest cities having rail to the airport and train station, that provides infrastructure to build on, and people wanting to use these convenient systems. Meanwhile, several train stations in small-town Washington have been refurbished with multimodal depots (I think all on the Amtrak Cascades have); all they need is more trains, and the exurbans can find new life in these close-to-nature, conservative towns.

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