Guideway to Seatac, by Mike Bjork
"Guideway to Seatac", by Mike Bjork

31 Replies to “News Roundup: Around the Sound”

  1. Trolley Boats, maybe anchor some posts and wires along 520 bridge and have the boats running across the lake. :D

    Maybe actually faster than buses during rush hour.

    1. Back when I would commute on 520, sitting in traffic, I would imagine how quickly a ferry could get me across the lake – if only it were convenient to get to the landings. Once University Link is up and running, I could easily imagine an electric trolley ferry zipping back and forth across the lake. Of course we’d still have the same problem on the East side. Maybe build a streetcar from the landing to downtown Bellevue?

      1. How about ferry from UW Station to Meydenbauer Bay, then a quick aerial tram ride to the center of DT Bellevue? Lol it’s a little ridiculous but maybe it would spur some Bellevue tourism?

    2. theres a ferry outside portland, the canby ferry, that is powered by an overhead electric cable. not so much like a trolley as it is like a boat with an electric cord running out of it and plugged into the wall. i think its also got a cable to keep it on course.

  2. It’s hard to take Metro seriously on ETB replacement on the weekends when EVERY SINGLE TRIP is a diesel. Do they not have enough wire-trained drivers?

    1. You are on to something. Every trip IS a diesel. So it has to be some other reason other than the one’s stated. My guess it’s staffing or manpower related. Perhaps on the weekends the staffing of specially trained wire trolley bus/wire crews is at a reduced level, or even non-existent, so in the event of an accident that requires their specific skill (for example, a swinging, off-wire trolley pole brings down a section of wire), Metro decided to avoid that possibility by switching to diesels.

      1. Construction and special events blocking roadways IS the reason why you see diesels on trolley routes on the weekends. Even if the road is blocked for just a few hours, the whole route or routes passing by would use diesels. It’s not cost-efficient to swap out coaches in the middle of a run. Both coaches would need to be serviced at the end of the day instead of just one. And is not a manpower issue. There are plenty of trolley qualified operators to run weekend service.

        I hope that Metro invests in trolleys that have off-wire capabilities, like the Skodas in San Francisco, so that diesel substitution would be used only for major construction blockages.

      2. Was looking for some info on the off wire capability of the San Francisco buses and came across this link for nano bus. I wonder, since the amount of overhead wire could be dramatically less if this type of technology would actually pay for itself over the life of the vehicle. It looks like battery life is already a good match for how long a bus lasts before it’s retired or in need of an extensive overhaul.

      3. FYI: Vancouver’s trolley fleet has very limited off-wire capability – According to one operator I spoke with it’s about 8 blocks – give or take. In addition, the air compressor does not draw power from the batteries so you’re also limited by the amount of air you have. If you go too far your emergency brakes “hand grenade” and you’re stuck – you’ll need more air pressure to operate the brakes before you can move.

      4. Still would avoid a lot of push-truck calls. Got stuck behind someone last week who didn’t read their reroute board (a 43) and stayed on his wire rather than turning left at 7th to avoid the Hasty Pudding Street Carolling competition. I blocked for a good 10 minutes while a supervisor pushed him back under the right wire.

        Driving out from under the wire isn’t something I’ve done (yet), but it does happen. 8 blocks would provide enough room for a lot of reroutes and corrections not possible now.

        Good cautionary notes on the compressor issue. I wonder if the doors are electric rather than pneumatic? That would cut down on air use overall.

      5. You are incorrect. On the weekends, diesel buses are now put on many trolley lines regardless of whether there is construction or special events. It’s now become a routine, permanent policy. You need to recheck your facts. The policy may say that’s why, but the reality is something different. It’s now a permanent, 52 week a year fact. Diesels run on many trolley routes on Sat and Sun.

      6. Sam,

        On the weekends, diesel buses are now put on many trolley lines regardless of whether there is construction or special events. It’s now become a routine, permanent policy. </b.

        That is quite simply – a lie.

      7. Thank you Jeff. I think I do know what I’m talking about since I do work closely with our Construction Coordinators at Metro.

      8. Jeff, one can only be insulted by someone they respect. Call me whatever you want. A liar, a troll, whatever. I have no idea who you are and your opinion means nothing to me, especially now that I know you don’t know what you’re talking about. I, on the other hand, do. And not from reading some inaccurate policy statement. I see it with my own eyes every Saturday and Sunday for the last few years on Queen Anne. And that’s EVERY Saturday and Sunday, no exceptions. ONLY DIESEL BUSES ARE BEING RUN.

      9. Yesterday (a Sunday), trolleys were running on the 10,14,43,49 routes between downtown and capitol hill all day.

      10. Sam – my intent was not to insult, but to describe (accurately) your claim that not running ETB’s on weekends is now official Metro policy.

        As to not having your respect – I’ll see if my self-esteem can take the hit.

        Yep, just checked. I’m fine.

        Who I am is just little old me – a Metro driver out of Atlantic base who knows full well that there is no policy to not run ETB’s on weekends. No reason there would be other than the reasons stated. Drivers pick their routes and runs three times per year, and picks include all regularly scheduled routes and runs out of Atlantic Base. Any and all drivers that operate a trolley route are trolley qualified.

        And by the way – I too have had occasion to visit Queen Anne on a weekend or two – and you’re just plain wrong.

        Sorry about that. No insult intended. You’re just flat-out wrong. It ain’t so. Doesn’t happen the way you say.

        Not sure how else to put it.

      11. On Sunday I saw Gillig ETBs (exclusively) operating on route 44. On weekdays, it’s a Breda route. Weekends seem to be a mixed bag. Sometimes I see diesels; sometimes, trolley buses.

      12. It seems to me that they run on weekends maybe 10% of the time.

        I have heard SEPTA is using their auxillary diesel motors so much on their ETBs that they are putting major premature wear on the vehicles.

        The proposed LA ETB system in the early 90s was supposed to use offwire power in places that would otherwise have major special work.

      13. I think the true test will be on Christmas Day. There shouldn’t be any construction or special events that would prohibit trolley use on that day.

      14. You’re sure all construction projects will be finished by then?

        Or will they just take a day off and leave the wires unpowered so they don’t have to disconnect them again on the next work day?

      15. Sam,

        Perhaps on the weekends the staffing of specially trained wire trolley bus/wire crews is at a reduced level, or even non-existent

        Nope. We work Sundays and everything.

    2. John,

      Every single trip on weekends is NOT a diesel, so your premise is flawed.

      There are lots of trolley drivers who work weekends, and have regular routes assigned to them. No driver qualified on the #2 for example ISN’T qualified on trolleys.

  3. One more for the roundup: groundbreaking on a new line in Toronto.

    The comments could come straight from any STimes article on Link…

    “Regardless of the price per km of subway we can agree that subways in TO are being built intentionally overpriced when compared to say NYC’s 2nd Avenue subway. We’re not using cheaper cut and cover, and we’re building further down which means further expensive walkways and large artsy subway stations.”

  4. I know that strictly speaking this is not an open thread but I took Link to SeaTac Airport late morning to see how it was going on the first day of full 18 hour service and it was great to immediately see so many folks with luggage! Way more than one used to see struggling valiantly up the stairs of the 194! The walk seems to get shorter the more one does it. A nice feature I think they should explore, would be to have some display panels on the history of the airport along the pathway through the garage. I also think they could perhaps brighten up the area as one steps out of the walkway and before using the skybridge into the terminal itself. Some improved colors and lighting might help here. Also a lighted sign above the passage way leading to Link.

    Still no great use of signage in the terminal itself – very muted and low key. Lastly, we can add Air Canada passengers to the list of folks who will benefit greatly from the proximity of Link to their check in area and baggage handling return. So we have United, Air Canada and Alaska/Horizon Air as the airlines whose customers stand to benefit most from Link. Customers traveling on airlines frequenting the South Satellite and Concourse A stand to benefit the least, although not as little as some in the press have claimed. I still think that a moving walkway should probably be added in the future as and when funds permit.

  5. Why is there a countdown to University Link when the First Hill Streetcar and new BRT lines will be up and running before U-Link?

    1. We don’t really have a protocol for our countdown timer. I doubt we’ll keep U-Link up for the next 6 years.

      1. Well hopefully there are some other openings like the RapidRide lines, First Hill streetcar, Sounder Lakewood service, and S. 200th station to celebrate between now and then.

  6. Why not run a light rail up past husky stadium to U-Village, Bryant/Wedgwood, Lake City, Bothell, Woodinville/Kirkland(both?), and around and down to link up with East Link in Redmond?

    1. I think that an Issaquah line should go from Issaquah then link up with East Link after South Bellevue, continue with East Link/Central Link to Roosevelt, then turn up towards Lake City, Bothell, and Woodinville. A separate line should go Lynnwood-Bothell-Kirkland-Bellevue-Renton-Burien. It’ll all be pretty awesome in about 50 years.

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