122 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: The High Life”

  1. Cyclist riding unsafely – no reflectors, lights, helmet or other safety gear. Also carrying glass on the front of his bike – potentially deadly if he does a header.

    I’m sure the beer will be cold when he gets home though.

    1. Actually I think it is great a beer company is portraying “Joe six pack” using a bicycle for basic errands. Sure it would have been better had he had lights and a helmet, but it is a start.

      1. i dont think the joe six pack crowd have such a problem with bicycles per se as much as a strong dislike of the stereotypical “cyclist” with spandex/lycra on a recumbant bike and a perceived attitude. ideally you want a dutch-like cycling culture where its seen as normal for everyone to ride, not the typical american “different for the sake of being different” cycling culture.

        IMO protected cycle tracks and velib/bixi-like bike sharing are the game changers in making cycling a normal everyday thing for everyone. assuming cycling plays a larger part in urban transportation, it might even change how people use mass transit, i.e. buses running more limited/express-like in operation and not making as many closely spaced stops in a neighborhood. bike sharing might become the “circulator” for the central city, neighborhood or suburban station.

    2. I actually wish we didn’t have a helmet law here. I see it as one of the larger impediments to biking.

      1. I agree. In my opinion, increasing the numbers of cyclists and the infrastructure for cyclists would do more for bike safety than a helmet law. Helmet laws decrease ridership. I’ve tried to look for any stats about the number of bikers before and after Seattle implemented the law but I haven’t found anything.

      2. Increasing education for cyclists and drivers as well. I think WA driver’s license test now has bike related questions. But cyclists don’t take those tests nor do they teach those in school. And parents sometimes give poor advice, like riding against traffic on the wrong side of the road (good for walking but not for biking).

      3. I think that is ridiculous. “One of the larger impediments to biking”!? So you think it would be much better if no one wore helmets, and the bike fatality rate skyrocketed? The facts are incredibly clear: helmets save lives. Here are some facts, from the Bike Helmet Safety Institute:
        The “typical” bicyclist killed on our roads is a sober male over 16 not wearing a helmet riding on a major road between intersections in an urban area on a summer evening when hit by a car.
        Non-helmeted riders are 14 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than helmeted riders.
        Head injuries account for more than 60 percent of bicycle-related deaths, more than two-thirds of bicycle-related hospital admissions and about one-third of hospital emergency room visits for bicycling injuries.
        Direct costs of cyclists’ injuries due to not using helmets are estimated at $81 million each year, rising with health care costs.
        Indirect costs of cyclists’ injuries due to not using helmets are estimated at $2.3 billion each year.
        Helmets are cheap. The typical discount store price has risen from under $10 to about $20, but there are still models available for about $10 at major national retailers including Target and Wal-Mart.
        It is ridiculous to think that a helmet law is a bad thing. I’m sure that the ridership dropped a bit due to the law, but if less people wore helmets, as the injury rate climbed, cycling would be perceived as a very dangerous activity, and the folks who are considering to begin riding would back off, and that would be much worse for cycling population than making sure they wore helmets.

      4. More facts:

        We’ll never get a useful bikeshare program while there’s a helmet law.
        People will always feel like they have to wear “bike gear” to ride a bicycle, therefore limiting it to recreation and serious commuters.
        Helmets are a great idea, but requiring them isn’t. Check out any bike-friendly street in Europe. You’ll see the long-distance commuters with helmets, and the around-town bike users without them.
        Without the second group we’ll never get a critical mass of bikers, and we’ll all be less safe.

      5. I’ll take actuaries over anecdotes or industry shills any day. And the actuaries say mandatory helmet laws cause a net increase in public health care expense.

        Traumatic brain injuries are awful but rare. Diseases of a sedentary lifestyle are awful and common. If preventing one rare injury causes a hundred people to ride less, and two of them die of preventable cardiovascular diseases as a result, you’ve just killed two people with the law of unintended consequences.

        There’s no doubt helmets prevent injuries. But there’s also no doubt mandatory helmet laws prevent riding.

        Maximizing public health benefits and minimizing public health expenditures requires voluntary helmet adoption without excessive scare tactics that make people falsely believe cycling is more dangerous than driving or jogging.

      6. I suggest you prove a “skyrocket in fatalities.” For example, do fatalities plummet when helmet laws are passed? I’ll answer for you — they do not. They stay the same, basically.

      7. I absolutely agree that the mandatory helmet law is a bad idea.

        Oddly enough, Galen’s “typical” death involves a car, something that bicycle helmets aren’t really designed to resist. Bike helmets are tested for the impact of a cyclist’s head on a curb or flat pavement, from about 2 meters – basically equivalent to a worst-case low speed fall.

        Also, since that “typical” death was the fault of a driver, maybe we should be looking at driver education and prosecution, rather than styrofoam hats.

      8. Galen, the bike fatality rate hasn’t been shown to drop with helmet laws, so why would it skyrocket without them?

      9. Ben,

        the bike fatality rate hasn’t been shown to drop with helmet laws

        I did some basic research on this (read: “Google”) and found your statement to be contradicted by a number of studies.

        Not to get in the mix on this one – but personally I find the idea that helmet laws are a bad thing to be – well – silly.

    3. It’s hard to tell from the cars in the background, but that ad could have made in the late 70s during the first fuel crisis. You know – back when kids could go barefoot and play outdoors by themselves and there wasn’t such an emphasis on safety.

    1. I asked the person in charge of Airport Link at Sound Transit … and they have nothing new to add with regards to the opening date. They are still planning to be ready for the Xmas rush … but apparently it is all up to the folk building/finishing the station and the passageway through the parking garage.

      1. I was at the airport yesterday–the station is more than a month away from being finished. At least that’s my uneducated opinion from looking at the station through a zoom lens.

      2. Luckily, Christmas is still two months away, so hopefully your “more than a month away” estimate literally means just a little over a month.

  2. The talk on rail on SR-520 got me to thinking about Fantasy Transit again.

    My idea of a SR-520 route would have three branches to the eastside:
    Ballard-UW-Kirkland-Woodinville
    Ballard-UW-Redmond
    Ballard-UW-Bellevue-Issaquah
    Combined frequency of 3 minute peak/4 minute base/5 minute reduced
    Each leg would have a frequency of 9 minute peak/12 minute base/15 minute reduced
    The western terminal would be at a new Sounder Station. Transfer stations would be at 15th Ave NW, Brooklyn Station and UW Station. There would be a need to make the portion of track between Brooklyn Station and UW Station a four-track section with three platforms at UW Station.

    Westside line would be one line:
    Lynnwood-Shoreline-Greenwood-Ballard-Interbay-downtown Seattle-Alaska Junction-Fauntleroy
    This line would operate along the Interurban right-of-way between Lynnwood and N 85th Street (possibly with the same stop pattern?) with a frequency of 7-8 minutes peak/10 minute base/15 minute reduced.

    Eastside line:
    Lynnwood-Bothell-Kirkland-Bellevue-Renton-Tukwila-Burien
    This line would parallel I-405 (for the build in the freeway folks) and south of Totem Lake would join the Ballard-UW-Kirkland-Woodinville line. The line would primarily follow the existing rail corridor with a few exceptions such as downtown Bellevue. Frequency would be 7-8 minute peak/10 minute base/15 minute reduced.

    Central Line:
    This would have various terminii because of the length of the line.
    Everett-Lynnwood-Northgate-UW-downtown Seattle (terminating at the operations and maintence facility)
    Lynnwood-Northgate-UW-downtown Seattle-Bellevue-Redmond (ST2 Link)
    Lynnwood-Northgate-UW-downtown Seattle-Eastgate-Issaquah
    Lynnwood-Northgate-UW-downtown Seattle-Rainier Valley-SeaTac/Airport (existing Central Line)
    Northgate-UW-downtown Seattle-SeaTac/Airport/Federal Way/Tacoma (via a new track bypassing Rainier Valley)
    A new signalling system would be needed to get to 90-second frequency and would require the operator to schedule at 30-second intervals. Each line would operate Every 7-8 minute peak/10 minute base/15 minute reduced. The combined frequency between Northgate and International District would be 90 second peak/2 minute base/3 minute reduced. It may be possible that this would have to become a partially automated system. One drawback is if there is a segment where one, two or three routes are operating, there would be a gap in the frequency. For instance, with this plan between Lynnwood and Northgate, there would be a four minute gap between trains every 10 minutes during the day.

    Reduced schedule would be the times such as early morning or late night.

    1. If not everybody had cars, you’d need all these lines and then some. People tend to underestimate the number of trips that aren’t made, or are made by grumbling delayed passengers, or are made in a car, simply because the transit isn’t comprehensive.

      This scenario looks more like a case of primary lines and secondary lines. Primary: central Link, an Eastside line roughly along 405, and a Seattle-Eastside connection (could be on I-90 or 520). If there was a Ballard-Eastside line, it might as well go straight to Redmond. Then the Ballard-Kirkland and Ballard-Bellevue routes could run on the existing tracks (the 405 line). This is similar to BART, which has a basic east-west line and a north-south line, but on weekdays overlays routes from SF to everywhere.

      Having a three-way branch from Ballard would look funny if all the tracks were separate (not shared with another line), because the main Seattle destination for Eastsiders is downtown, not north Seattle.

      The westside line makes sense, but why not continue down to Burien to join the Eastside line? There are people in West Seattle who want to go to Southcenter and Renton, believe it or not.

      I don’t understand the point of a Ballard Sounder station. Sounder only runs a few times a day, so it’s not a comprehensive solution to Ballard transportation. Hardly anybody lives near the station; the main residential/business area is at least half a mile away. Almost everybody would have to take a bus to the train. Who except heavy rail fans would do that? Perhaps the two people a week going from Ballard to Snohomish County? Ah, but most things in Snohomish County are along 99, not along the Sounder line.

      1. Extend the ETB wires to the station and that gives you some feeder traffic. It could also function as a flag stop for Cascades giving better connections to North Seattle.

      2. Yeah, the flag stops at Prince Creek and Moore Point are pretty great for hikers, though pushing 4-5 hours to get up to Stehekin tries one’s patience!

      3. “The westside line makes sense, but why not continue down to Burien to join the Eastside line? There are people in West Seattle who want to go to Southcenter and Renton, believe it or not.”

        Ahem! And there are people in Burien that like going to West Seattle and Ballard too!

      1. Cool map, dude. Here’s how my personal preferences would change it:
        -The orange cross-town North Seattle line would not bend south through Madison Park; it would terminate at Magnuson Park on the West instead. Trains could drive home to a base on the Green Line.
        -Speaking of the Green Line, I love that the old Green Line is, in fact, green. Good call.
        -Speaking of colors, I think Link needs some color branding, and the Ballard-Downtown-West Seattle idea needs to be sold as the new and financially sound Green Line.
        -The dark green line through Totem Lake would just follow the old BNSF tracks through the winery region to Woodinville, then maybe to Monroe or Snohomish since a long-distance line to those places would, in your scenario combined with my reroute, serve 3 lines at a hub in Woodinville.
        -I would have the purple eastside line follow the old BNSF tracks instead of going through Sunset Hills or whatever that is.

        But the main comment I would make instead of your map’s general awesomeness is: way to think outside Seattle. Des Moines-Covington: who woulda thought!

      2. Thanks! On the Orange Line, I did it that way because I wanted to put a line generally along the 48 route, as it has a ton of ridership. You’re right, though, it would be good to serve Magnuson. My map is always changing, so I’ll look in there and see if I can find a way to make that work; maybe have half of the Orange Line trains continue straight through then half from each side go up on a spur to Magnuson/Sand Point and back down the other way, providing service from there to the U District and Downtown?
        That’s a great idea on the dark green line (maybe the Evergreen Line?) I’ll put that in right now.
        I put it going through Newcastle there because I figured it would serve more people than being along the BNSF corridor, and there could be DMU service along there as well.

      3. They could call the new, sound green line of link the Emerald Line, as we are in the emerald city.

      4. Hm well maybe we could have a historic cable car go from Morgan Junction to Fauntleroy to Westwood Village? That would be super cool.

      5. Why up and over (or through) Education Hill in Redmond and then up the east side of the valley when there’s a perfectly good RR ROW on the west side all the way to Woodinville and beyond? Besides, it puts your Winery Station on the wrong side of the valley. There’s not much density either side but Kingsgate has a hell of a lot more than the one acre lots on the Woodinville side. There’s some light industrial on the west side but most of the valley is designated open space and a flood plain.

      6. Honestly, I don’t know the area very well at all, so I just put it where it looked like there were more people. I did just change it to go along the 202 route and jog over from the east to the west side of the valley at 145th. Is that better?

      7. From Redmond to Woodinville it’s pretty hard to beat the BNSF ROW up the west side of the valley. It goes along the light industrial and some semi-large employers on the west side of Willows road. There’s really not much need for a station before Woodinville but the Wineries would be the place if there was one and the tracks go right past them (Dinner Train). A deviation to UW Bothell might be something to consider but you already have the Eastside Link following the 405 alignment picking that up. Education Hill is single family residential. There’s no development potential up there and no place to site a station. 202 north or 124th is one acre plus lots to the east and flood plain/agricultural in the valley. There’s one condo complex grandfathered in along the slough and a small shopping center, that’s it.

      8. Has the map been deleted? I’m getting a “File not found” error and the generic highway map.

      9. Yeah lately it’s been doing that sometimes… I have to link it in a kind of weird way because there’s more lines and placemarks than can fit on one page of a regular Google Map. It might start working again in a couple hours…

  3. Complaining about media imagery of cyclists without helmets is the new complaining about smoking in films. Why don’t people complain about films showing drivers not wearing seat belts? Oh that’s right, because people don’t have a skewed perspective of driving as being a dangerous activity even though it is just as much a risk as cycling.

      1. Yes. I live in the Netherlands now and you would never see anyone wearing a helmet, especially in town. Same story elsewhere in Europe.

        Of course, there is also bike infrastructure here, and I’m not just talking about a line painted on the road. Nearly every road has at least bike path next to it (often separated by a row of parked cars), and in many places there are roads for bikes only, and undercrossings beneath major streets.

        It’s amazing what a little infrastructure investment can do for your quality of life.

      2. Yeah, Holland is pretty flat. If you’re hitting +40mph you’re a world class sprinter. With our hills it’s pretty easy to spin out a 53/11.

      3. My guess for why we have a faster average speed is because only the 4% most avid riders ride here, which tend to be faster riders. The would-be slower riders that would bring the average speed down don’t feel safe biking in our current infrastucture so instead they are driving and/or busing.

      4. Bicycle helmets aren’t designed to protect against the momentum of the rider’s forward speed anyway, they’re designed to protect against the impact of falling from cycling height to the pavement. That’s plain in the testing standards.

        I agree that the higher average speed in the U.S. is caused by the absence of ordinary people on bikes. When I ride in street clothes, or wear my suit while riding to lunch from the office, I ride slower to avoid getting my good clothes as sweaty as my cycling clothes. Cycling short distances in ordinary clothing inherently lowers average speed.

      5. I’m going to be in Amsterdam for about 8-10 hours in the middle of the day, in a few weeks (flying through Amsterdam en route to England). I really want to see the historic heart of town with the canals, the eastern docklands and zuidas. since i’m kind of pressed for time, would it be best to rent a bike for the day or see it on foot/tram? I was planning on briefly going to Zuidas on the train to/from the airport.

      6. You can rent a bike for the day at the central trains station. I would recommend getting a bike. It really is the only way to see Amsterdam. I was there for 5 days and I only got on PT once because I had a bicycle the whole time. Bicycles allow you to explore on a whim and get you into some of the historic areas that public transit doesn’t go.

      7. In addition to rentals, Centraal Station (two aa’s) has a bikes-only parking garage adjacent to the station, making bike hire a great all-day option.

        Though as a tourist there I’ve foregone the bikes and gone foot/tram with absolutely no regrets. Especially in the city centre, you have to be extremely vigilant about bike security/locking. If you’re going out into the countryside, take a bike. Otherwise, I’d probably walk/tram it everywhere.

      8. If your aim is to see the canal zone and architecture rather than museums, etc., then renting a bike is probably the way to go. As others have said, it’s easy to rent bikes near Centraal Station. The city is small enough that you can cover much of it in just a couple of hours. I’ve never rented a bike before (have my own) but I hear that the bike rental places have lots of maps available too. I would heed others advice about making sure you have good locks!

        A good plan might be to start at Centraal Station, and spend some time riding around the Canal Zone and Jordaan, stopping off for some snacks along the way. Then, I’d head over to the docklands area and ride around there. There’s a pub in a windmall called the Browerij Ij near the docklands that might be a good place for a beer. Then you could head south near Leidseplein, which might be a good area to have lunch. Ride around the museum area a bit, then through the Vondelpark, and finally you could head south to station Zuid (the Zuidas area). If there’s a way to leave your bike at Station Zuid, it’s only a 6-8 minute train ride back to the Airport from here (not to mention a cheaper fare as well). Otherwise probably a 20-30 minute ride back to Centraal.

        Let me know if you have any other questions and I can try to help.

      9. thanks so much, this is all really helpful. i’d love to see museums but given my time constraints, and that my real interest is seeing the urbanism and architecture of the city, i think i better focus my brief time there. the places to eat/drink suggestions are really helpful, browerij ij sounds perfect. While i have a vague idea of what i want to see when i travel, i usually have no idea what/where to eat.

        how do the train fares work for the airport-centraal or airport-zuidas runs? is it proof of payment and bought from a machine with time limit for travel? conductor on train? turnstiles? i’m just wondering if i were to get off at zuidas on the airport to centraal run, spend 30-60 minutes in zuidas and then hop back on the train and continue into the city. i take it the trains and trams are really frequent, expect about 10 min headways?

      10. The one-way fare from the airport to Zuid Station is EUR 2.60; I am not sure about the fare to Centraal. As a tourist, you will have to buy your ticket at a window in the airport and pay an additional 50c (the machines only accept Dutch debit cards – they say they take Visa, but will make you enter a PIN number which most American cards don’t have). Trains run to Zuid about every 15 minutes during the morning rush when you’ll be arriving; Centraal is probably twice as frequent.

        Trains operate on a proof of payment system, however the Zuid station is on a different line than the Centraal Station so it’s not a manner of hop-off and then hop back on. If you were at Zuid and wanted to get to Centraal, you would have to take the Tram #5 or Metro line 51 from Station Zuid (either should be around 2 Euros). You can buy the tickets for either in the machines at Station Zuid, but you’ll want to buy them from the GVB (public transit authority) machine rather than the yellow Nederlandse Spoorwegen (their version of Amtrak) machine. I have not seen a conductor in several trips around the Netherlands, but others have, so I would play it safe and pay up.

        With all that said, I’m not one to judge, but there’s not really much for a tourist in the Zuid area. It’s basically just a bunch of skyscrapers with bank headquarters, etc. (it’s a lot like downtown Bellevue but without any shopping or good restaurants). On a short trip I would skip it entirely, but since you brought it up I’m assuming you have a good reason to go there :).

        By the way, the official name of the Brewery is Brouwerij t’ Ij (http://www.brouwerijhetij.nl/). From their website it seems they may only be open from 3pm to 8pm, so might not work. If that’s the case, there are lots of choices around Leidseplein, Damrak (touristy), and Spuistraat.

      11. US Debit cards with a Visa or Mastercard logo sometimes work with a four-digit PIN.

        How about a boat tour? I know it is touristy, but it is a unique perspective, will only take about an hour and will give you a base reference to cycle around on.

      12. Thanks, I wasn’t planning to spend much time at Zuid, really just enough to see the ING House and some of the skyscrapers in the Zuid business district. Yeah that sounds like a good plan… take the train to Zuid then the 51 or 5 into Centraal and then take a direct train back to the airport in the afternoon. I figured I should see some of the Dutch Contemporary Architecture on my brief visit even though I’m not super crazy about it. I understand theres also quite a bit on the waterfront near the historic part of the city like NEMO, ARCAM building, the marine passenger terminal and the Eastern Docklands.

    1. Charles,

      people don’t have a skewed perspective of driving as being a dangerous activity even though it is just as much a risk as cycling.

      Gee. I guess that’s why there’s no seat belt law.

      FYI on my oringinal comment – grow a sense of humor, folx. It’s a flippin’ beer commercial. The guy has my blessing to use his 2-wheeler in the snow to stock up on suds.

  4. I hate promoting The Seattle Times, but it does have a couple of interesting articles today. One sure to get some ganders up is about our region gearing up for electric cars, with plans to start building a network of 2000 charging stations. A single company, eTec, is building the charging stations under a DOE grant.

    The New York Times‘ Green Inc. blog recently posted that private companies planning to install charging stations in California have apparently angered two of the state’s biggest “investor-owned utilities,” which are demanding that the state regulate the charging stations as utilities. The post makes it sound like charging an EV in CA could fall victim to a nasty combination of greed, politics, ideology, and parochialism. At the very least, it appears the process of siting charging stations will not be coordinated at the state level.

    In another article, The Seattle Times suggests travellers “Go car-free to the Olympics in Vancouver.” For getting to Vancouver, the article’s author mentions Amtrak, private buses, and planes, and then expands a bit on getting around once you’re up there. (And lots of luck getting hotel rooms and event tickets!)

  5. Can someone summarize what we know about Link traffic signal scheduling on MLK?

    I ride Link constantly – even for basic errands – and I can confirm that this still doesn’t work quite right. This morning, my southbound train was stopped for four lights between Mount Baker and Columbia City. Yikes.

    Some of my questions:

    * Are changes still being made or have things stabilized?

    * How does Sound Transit tinker with signal timing? Does this involve writing new software or is there some higher level interface?

    * What causes signal scheduling pathologies like I observed this morning? Are they a byproduct of the signal scheduling algorithm — for example, maybe non-peak trains get no priority whatsoever. Or, are they the result of mechanical failures? The phantom trains through Rainier Valley are an example of the latter.

    Thanks!

    1. Questions with signals are best answered by SDOT. They operate traffic signals on city streets not Sound Transit. Although I work at SDOT I cannot answer your question on their behalf (I don’t work in Signals).

      SDOT now has an official blog at http://sdotblog.seattle.gov and they have a questions section. You can try asking them a question.

      I would tend to believe that changes are constantly being made. Traffic patterns change all the time and vary seasonally.

      1. Kudos to SDOT for that blog. More public agencies should follow their lead. Nice work.

      2. Just a random thought about that blog… they have a post about not sweeping leaves into the street. Not that I’ve ever swept a leaf in my life – instead letting them rot into whatever surface the fall upon – but apparently in some cities, like Eugene, you are supposed to sweep leaves into the street, whereupon the city picks them up with a street sweeper. Apparently there’s usually a flooding rain in the time in between rake sweeping and street sweeper sweeping according to a friend in Eugene.

    2. I would also point out that priority in the morning is mostly for NB trains not SB trains. I took a look at signal timing plans a while ago.

      1. Also to be remembered – the MLK “system” will never be perfect for every train in every direction every time. The tyranny of the automobile culture (not to mention human foibles) precludes “perfection”

  6. I just tried to board a downtown-bound 49 bus, and the ORCA reader says my Reduced Fare Permit ORCA is an invalid card!! I haven’t rode the bus for a week or two… What the hell is going on? It’s kinda ruined my day.

    1. Boring but good? Or did you really mean exciting in a bad way? My prediction: bike racks for the inside of the buses designed for your beer not to fall out of your bike’s basket.

    2. Metro now has 5 RapidRide coaches: 6000-6004. They’re parked at South Base and have been spotted testing on the road in the south end.

      The bad news? Unlike the prototype, there is no rear window to look out and see through the back. Coach 6000 might be the only low floor articulated bus in Metro’s fleet that has a rear window. I have to wonder why. I bet it was a cost issue.

      1. Coaches with rear windows tend not to have air conditioning. Perhaps Metro changed its mind about this option or New Flyer told them it would cost more to remove it rather than leave it in.

        For some reason metro is VERY anti-HVAC despite the fact it enhances passenger comfort especially on crowded buses during most of the year here.

      2. Actually KCM is very pro-rear-window. And they need to instruct their operators on the proper use of the roof hatches for ventilation. It ain’t rocket science: Front hatch titled open to scoop air in, rear hatch titled open to pull air out.

        And then open all the windows and add motion. Works for 98% of the “warm” days in Seattle.

      3. That doesn’t help in a crowded bus stuck in traffic in the afternoon sun. The D40LF and DE60LF coaches are much nicer to travel on than the non-AC coaches for most of the year. Besides HVAC is more or less standard equipment on transit coaches now days. Metro was one of the few operators ordering new coaches without AC in the last 15 years.

        Since RapidRide is supposed to be “better” than regular transit service it would make sense to put AC on those coaches. In any case I suspect the new Orion Hybrid coaches probably will also have AC installed.

      4. If I recall correctly, the only reason the DE60LFs/D40LFs didn’t have rear windows was because the HVAC system was positioned by the area where a rear window would be. New Flyer’s first D60LF prototypes in 1995 had a rear window and HVAC systems mounted on both the front and the trailer section of the roof of bus (you can see some ST buses like this around). Since the DE60s have battery packs mounted on the rear trailer, they put the rear HVAC unit on the “window” area.

        With the D40LFs, Community Transit has a few D40LFs with rear windows with the HVAC unit mounted on the roof. The King County D40LFs have a clean roof with the HVAC mounted on the rear “window” area.

  7. I just got in from taking Amtrak from Centralia to Seattle.

    Funny thing actually… You can hear the train blowing for the crossings in Chehalis and continue onward… all the way to Centralia. Yes, the horn got stuck.

    Even though we sat at Centralia for an additional 20 minutes while they tinkered with it, we still arrived 10-15 minutes down. Not bad!

    Now the frustrating part was Metro. First of all, two 150’s never showed…secondly because the schedules are impossible to read on a mobile (Blackberry) device, it “looked” like I would have been fine getting off at the park and ride in Kent to transfer to the 166… not so much. I didn’t know the schedule had changed to every hour on the 166.. needless to say, I ended my trip with a 3 1/2 mile walk from Kent Station to my place…in the rain. (sighs)

    OneBusAway.. time for a Blackberry app! =P

    I’ll rant really quick though regarding some Link operators.

    I don’t know if it is protocol to ring the bell since I rarely use IDS…all the time but one particular operator rang the bell from the start of the tunnel, all the way until she stopped at IDS… freaking seriously?! 2 dings would have been plenty.

    All of other operators did a ding or two but she either doesn’t know how loud that bell is in the tunnel or whatever but it was drastically uncalled for, especially for the 10 or so people on the entire NB platform.

    1. To add to your rant: some of the Linkers are totally horn-happy. Like, do they really think there are pedestrians in the Beacon Hill Tunnel, or do they just like the echo-ey sound it makes? One operator always blows the horn going into the tunnel east/south bound.

      1. It really is time to stop with the bells – once, maybe twice as the train enters the station is more than enough. On my weekly train ride yesterday from Mt Baker Sta to TIB and back I had a bell-happy operator soputhbound who rang and rang and rang at intersections along MLK at the stations entering and leaving – far too much.

      2. What I noticed is that metro systems don’t ring bells but tram/streetcar/light rail systems do. Why? Trams usually run at grade and cross paths with pedestrians, bikes, and cars. At stations the platforms are low enough to easily step off. Metros have high platforms and are grade separated so there’s no expectation that someone would enter the trackway from the platform.

      3. I agree – enough with the bells. I can think of only two instances where they make sense: 1) someone is on the tracks and a warning is needed, or 2) the train is leaving an at-grade station and there are peds crossing ahead.

        Metro does not honk their horn when entering the tunnel stations. No system in the world has bells when a train enters an underground station. Time to cut it out and reduce the noise pollution.

      4. Speaking of Link bells, I was driving across the tracks at MLK and Columbian Way today and there was a story on NPR about Phoenix. Right while I was on the tracks I heard the Link bell ringing! Oh no! I was about to get hit – I must not have been paying attention at all… then I realized they were talking about the Phoenix light rail on the radio, which has the same vehicles and thus the same bells.

    2. Amtrak related — there are new schedules that go into effect tomorrow. There are no big changes to the Cascades schedule except that they put Stanwood on the timetable. It doesn’t have a mileage or schedule time, but there’s a not that says the schedule will be announced when they start service. They’ve added five minutes to the schedules between Everett and Mount Vernon.

    3. I didn’t realize the 166 cut back to hourly on Sundays. I guess that’s because I only ride it on weekdays. Or did it used to be hourly on Sundays too?

      1. I lived on the 166 route for 2 1/2 years. As far as I know it’s always been hourly on Sundays.

    4. What I can say for sure is that there will not be a OneBusAway BlackBerry app written by Brian Ferris. It’s possible there will be one–it might get written by me, it might get written by someone else, and it might not be written at all.

      I don’t know if it works well or even at all right now, but sometime in the future the browser will be able to interact with the phone’s GPS (and/or aGPS), so you won’t even need an app other than your browser.

  8. Here’s a question I’ve had for a while: Why did they build the SLUT, MAX (including the new lines), the Portland Streetcar, and other new systems without level boarding? The floor of the train comes to about an inch above the platform, so wheelchairs have to press the button and wait for the little ramp to come up to ride on those. It seems like it would be so easy to just make the platform an inch higher.

  9. Here’s what’s on my mind. What is the strategy that’s going to work to get the best public transportation system in place if, say Huchtison and Mallahan and I-1033 win? Debating the merits of candidates or ballot measures hardly seems worth it any more with election day so close at hand – thinking post-election strategies seems important now.

    1. Matt,

      If the car folks win a trifecta like that, move to one of the owl lines in Seattle and hunker down. There are going to be no improvements for the next four years, and lots of service cuts.

    2. I’m not willing to be so defeatist.

      With I-1033 the big trick is going to be trying to protect the funding for Amtrak Cascades. The State is going to be cutting everything in sight to save K-12 and other constitutionally mandated funding. For Metro and ST I don’t think it has much of an effect other than there will be no general fund money to fill holes in Metro’s budget (not that there was much chance of that anyway).

      For KC Metro and ST remember that Hutchison has to get any Metro changes past the King County Council she also has to get any new ST board members past them. The ST charter limits who she can appoint to the board as well. Similarly she has to get a majority of the ST board to make major changes. If she wants to get re-elected she can’t slash and burn transit.

      Mallahan is the least of the problems since I don’t think he’s anti-transit so much as it isn’t a key priority for him and he’s a bit more pro-car than either Nickles or McGinn. I think transit advocates can pressure him directly and via the council (which will remain pro-transit).

      The big thing will be to keep a close eye on things and make sure pressure is put on the King County or Seattle City councils if either Hutchison or Mallahan tries to do anything really stupid.

      I think we can still possibly push forward having the City of Seattle fund early study of further light rail expansion in the city. Transit advocates will likely have to do the heavy lifting of identifying funding and pushing the legislature for new taxing authority. On the other hand Mallahan may embrace McGinn’s more popular ideas such as a city funded light rail expansion as he’s done throughout the campaign.

      One thing that may help is touching bases with other organizations that have a vested interest in at least maintaining the status quo or preferably funding further capital expansion of our transit system. The list of donors to ST2 (Prop 1) and Transit Now would be a good start (Parsons, CH2M Hill, etc.) as would unions such as the ATU.

      1. If Mallahan wins, he’ll have to show he represents the whole city and not just his supporters. So if McGinn supporters are united behind one or two top-priority concessions that don’t contradict Mallahan’s campaign promises, he might do them.

        The same goes for Hutchison. She’s campaigning as a pragmatic. This would give her an opportunity to prove she is (or conversely, prove she isn’t). So… what can we propose to her that Kemper Freeman would oppose but she’d have a hard time opposing.

  10. Did anyone watch last night’s debate on KOMO? McGinn blew Mallahan out of the water in terms of transit expansion. His point with 520 accommodating light rail was smartly articulated: the currently planned six lanes are only going to worsen traffic bottlenecks near the west landing at Montlake and the I-5 junction. Best comment of the night: when Joe said Mike’s agenda was calling for planned congestion, Mike rebutted: “I don’t plan for congestion, Joe. Six lanes of traffic is planning for congestion.”

  11. Oops, meant to post this to the open tread (not the open house thread:

    Top Gear on BBC America this Monday, Jeromy in a Nissan GT-R race 400 miles against Richard and James who must navigate the counties public transportation system.

    If you haven’t ever seen or heard of this show it’s a pretty irreverent and typically British look at the automobile world. They’ve done a couple of these Multimodal races in the past (car vs. mountain climber, car vs. skier, car vs speed skater) and they’re always fun. I’m betting there will be some impressive shots of the bullet trains. Given the chance would I rather ride the train or drive the GT-R? Tough call but since I can drive a GT-R in Bellevue I’d probably opt for the train :=

    1. There’s also the race that takes place in London with a car vs the Tube vs bike vs speed boat on the Thames. Fun stuff.

      Too bad I don’t get BBC America. I cut my cable to Basic Limited to save money (not that I watch TV that much anyway).

      1. If you want to watch the segment now, it’s on Youtube (Top Gear has a Youtube account, apparently). Sadly they don’t show much of the bullet train, but there’s plenty of great Japanese scenery!

      2. The car vs. boat vs. cyclist vs. Stig on the Tube was all time! But one of the funniest was Audi R8 vs. pedestrian as the car rounded a huge tidal bay from point A to point B and the pedestrian had to hike across the mudflats between points A and B.

  12. Does anyone else think Amtrak’s new website is horrible? I think it’s so ugly. Looks like a cheap version of expedia.com.

    1. The font choice for the headers is awful. It’s not very readable to begin with. Looks like Impact (the font).

      And now the “25% discount” link from the Amtrak Cascades page is broken.

  13. I’ve heard one of the common complaints during the warmer months on Breda buses is that they lack an HVAC system – despite having air vents for them. Anyone know why Metro skimped on this feature originally, or even during the trolley conversion of 2006-07? I did notice during these colder months that they’re actually equipped with a heating system which is nice.

    Also, does anyone else think these buses “smell” their age? There’s a bit of a musty smell in EVERY Breda bus for some odd reason – and I’m not talking about the transients on board either.

    1. I remember riding those things 10 years ago on the U-district routes… they smelled musty then. Can’t imagine how much worse it’s gotten since then, especially given the routes these serve (7, 43, 44, etc.).

      1. Meh. I think Ryan and Anonymous are about right; those former tunnel buses suck. They’re better now that they aren’t spewing black smoke too, but they do have a unique funk inside. Running on very busy routes that are fairly crowded all day long can’t help.

        Kudos to Metro for saving big bucks by re-purposing the old things, but they’re still really terrible buses.

      2. I have to agree, the old Bredas have a certain funk to them that so far none of the Gilligs (ETBs or diesel) or DE60LFs have picked up yet. The old AM General and Flyer coaches got pretty funky before they were retired.

        BTW has anyone noticed the D60HF New Flyer coaches don’t seem to be aging very well? They seem pretty beat up and shabby even compared to the 40′ Gilligs which are slightly older.

      3. The D60HFs I’ve seen on the streets don’t seem too bad in terms of body shape – in fact, I’ve been seeing tons of DE60LFs with bondo and primer smeared all over the area by the third axle. The 2399 “Smartbus” prototype seems to be the cleanest, but for some reason, also has the loudest engine I’ve heard of those buses. Some D60HFs of them still have that terrible rocking motion on the trailer section at high speeds, though.

      4. How is saying that the buses run on extremely dense and crowded routes at a high frequency rude and insensitive? And if you’re trying to say that I was knocking certain neighborhoods, then ok, go ahead and read into it that way. Notice that Ballard, Wallingford, U District, Capital Hill, Downtown, and the Rainier Valley would all be included. Get a life.

  14. Metro and ST Express need to unify their fare structure. It’s confusing and unethical for people to pay $2.50 on a Metro bus for a two zone peak fare, or on weekends, $4.00 for a day pass, only to be told on a Sound Transit bus their transfer ticket or day pass isn’t sufficient, that they will need to cough-up an additional dollar to go two zones.

    1. All of the transit agencies need to unify their fare structure. It’s way more expensive to take the Sounder than an Express Bus. Light Rail is more expensive than Metro (for now). It’s all confusing. The region should have clearly defined fare zones that cost the same no matter what agency you’re traveling with.

      1. Pricing should bear some reasonable relationship to cost — pricing drives all sorts of decisions on where to live and how to commute.

        Increased subsidies for long-haul express bus service is a subsidy for sprawl. The current fare system is, if anything, too simple — a bus ride from Rainier Ave to Mercer Island has the same two-zone fare as a ride from Bothell to Auburn.

        Sounder has a more rational fare system, incremented by distance, and it’s still a bargain compared to driving and parking.

  15. Actually in most cities the commuter rail costs more than the bus, often this is true of the tram/metro system as well. Similarly commuter buses are often more expensive than midday local bus service.

  16. anyone have any information or possibly pictures about the busway? i have heard that it was former union pacific right of way leading into union station and yards south of the station and that the industrial sidings near there are now owned by the bnsf. any information would be awesome.

  17. Today I saw a Gillig trolleybus wrapped or painted in white for a surprisingly clean-looking ad of some kind. It was operating Metro route 10 from Downtown to Capitol Hill. I can’t remember the last time I saw a Metro bus wrapped/painted for an ad.

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