81 Replies to “Christmas Open Thread”

  1. I guess it’s good to know that if funing for more bus service is needed, he’ll be watching our back????

  2. “Every 5 minutes” is the norm for bus service in most major cities…outside North America of course.

  3. He’s got a point about Medicare and Medicaid but WOW… Imagine a world where the 222 only came every 5 minutes. I think even people in my suburban auto-dependent world would start using the bus more regularly.

    Merry Christmas to all. If anybody has extra Christmas cookies, take a bunch out to your local bus line and thank the driver for working Christmas Day! (Many don’t have a choice, but many do. I’m always surprised at the number of drivers who could have holidays off but actually enjoy working those days)

    1. I walked a bunch of cookies over to 42nd E and E McGilvra this morning at 1125 and gave them to the #11 driver – he was surprised and grateful.
      Thanks for a great suggestion

  4. Ok, stupid question for you all: I’ve been trying to load a pass onto my wife’s ORCA card via orcacard.com. I can load her e-purse but can’t figure out how to load a monthly pass.

    Am I’m I missing something?

    1. Is the card registered or not?

      When you choose Add Value it should give you 4 options (blank card, e-purse, pugetpass, agency pass).

      If not, I don’t know for sure, I don’t have any unregistered cards lying around to test.

      1. Ah hah. You clicked the “Add Value” link under the E-purse Balance section.

        You have to click “Add Value” under “Managing My ORCA” in the main menu on the left side of the page.

  5. I always love when a “champion of free-enterprise” like Lamar Alexander turns out to have never worked for anywhere except at a tax-payer-funded entity like the State of Tennesee, the US Department of Education or the University of Tennesee.

    Look him up! I can’t find any record of Alexander working in the private sector.

    Oh, he did spend a year at the Camelot Kennedy School at Harvard (an institution which was created by the Massachusetts legislature), but that was based on all of his public employment. And the man thinks buses run every five minutes?


  6. Anyone see that B.S. article in the Times yesterday? The one about the SLUT cost overuns? That made me hurt inside.

    1. Don’t let it hurt man! It’s just the Seattle Times and Mike Lindblom being silly. If riding the Link were found to cure cancer, then the Times would criticize Sound Transit for not making it smell like cotton candy while doing so.

      Of course, the Times purposefully missed the point in their bias journalism. Seattle did it to futureproof the corridor while they were mobilized and working in the area. It’ll end up costing less in the long run as they don’t have to open the street up again to fix something.

      1. Great point, thanks. I was just wondering what other, more intelligent reader thought. However, I can’t stand the smell of cotton candy.

    2. That article was pretty stupid. The headline talks about streetcar cost overruns, but by the second paragraph the truth comes out that the overruns were actually just money spent on utility and storm drain upgrades. If if had been a road project instead that article would never have been written.

    3. And it was ridiculous when he put in some completely irrelevant thing about there being a list of projects for the bicycle master plan, making it sound like because we have this streetcar we can’t have bicycle infrastructure.

    4. I found it interesting that funds were siphoned off from Bicycle safety programs to pay for utility work. The article stated that it was normal to shuffle around unused funds – However, the city of Seattle has a multi-year backlog of bicycle safety projects. Stealing money from that pot is a bad idea especially when you consider that the streetcar tracks are particularly hazardous to bicycles.

      That decision deserves to be looked at carefully.

  7. Has anyone else here noticed the severe lack of trash cans at SeaTac Station? There is only one there at the east end of the mezzanine level. None on the platform level. It’s a little annoying to hold onto trash while waiting in the train that could leave at any second.

    1. That’s an interesting point. I hadn’t noticed. Maybe they’re just yet to be installed?

      1. Probably for security concerns. The London underground removed their stations’ trash cans for that reason.

    2. In 2003 or thereabouts, shortly after the opening of Tacoma LINK the FBI or TSA ordered all trash cans removed from fixed public transportation systems. The fear was they could be used to hide various devices and whatnot. Nevermind the fact that you could still have a trashcan on private property nearby, typical government thinking when it comes to such matters. Anyways, a year or so later they said you could have them, so long as they were explosion resistant or clear. After that it dident seem to be a problem. It could be that ST has not gotten the special trash cans in stock yet, or it could be a result of negotions with the airport/TSA. One would think though they would be installed.

      1. Aye, typical TSA thinking. Ignoring that I could just throw my empty latte cup/bomb IN a latte cup on the track or leave it on the floor of a train.

  8. Happy Holidays fellow transit users! So happy with where this region is as 2009 draws to a close, considering how bleak things looked in 2001-2002. We’re really moving in the right direction as a region. Although there is much work yet to do, I think this region made it over a big, perhaps the biggest, hump with the 2008 expansion vote. I’m looking forward to a Seattle light rail expansion vote. The only downer is seeing the “2500 days” North Link countdown widget. Any chance it could be changed to months? :)

    1. Haha, that’s U-Link, not North Link. But that’s temporary– Ben only put it up until we find out the opening dates for RapidRide and the S. 200th extension. And of course, the FH streetcar opening.

  9. Last night I came across this nifty picture of Pioneer Square Station, on Flickr:


    But what caught my attention was the photographer saying “As soon as I got a couple of shots came the security guards warning us that the tunnel can’t be photographed.” Is that a pretty common occurrence? I know we were talking about it the other day, but that was in the context of SeaTac Station. And I also know Oran has taken a bunch of tunnel pics. I’ve taken a bunch in Beacon Hill Station, but never any in the downtown tunnel for some reason.

    1. “the tunnel can’t be photographed.”

      That’s flat out wrong.

      There was a report in the news a few years ago about a photographer’s encounter with transit police over taking photos in the tunnel.


      Other security and law enforcement officials have been harassing people taking photos of the Ballard Locks and power lines in Snohomish.

      That’s the problem I have with these security people, they’re completely clueless.

      1. The Olympic security contractors should be patrolling the tunnel now, as opposed to the Metro police that used to do it. I do have some beef with them. It’s harsh for me to call them rent-a-cops but all I ever see them do is loaf around and chat with one another. And when they do have something to do, it’s chewing out a photographer.

      2. I once witnessed them yelling at a cop who had crossed the bus/track area after leaving my coach. All the buses were stopped and they were looking for a suspect. Seemed pretty stupid to be yelling at a cop about jaywalking when he was obviously in a group of police looking for a suspect.

      3. There is one other thing they seem to do pretty well – give bad advice. I’ve heard them tell people that LINK is free in the tunnel at least a dozen times.

      4. Heard on the rent-a-cop’s radio channel once: “Does anybody know what bus to take to get to Mount Vernon?” He never got any replies, but 30 second later when the bus pulled into a station I saw one of them staring at the system map.

      5. I hope these guys are not the same people doing fare enforcement.

        I don’t think they’re trained to be customer service people which is a shame because they ought to be more useful.

        The way to get to Mount Vernon would be to take Amtrak, Greyhound, or ST 510/Sounder to Everett then SKAT 90X or a bus to Stanwood and then 411C.

      6. No but they do “sweep” the trains at the end of the line. By yelling at photographers it makes it look like they are doing something. Someone needs to call the “brass” at ST or Metro and make a complaint…

      7. I did but I don’t think it’ll be the end of these shenanigans.

        They need to get hit with a lawsuit, go to trial and lose to set a strong precedent but they haven’t gone that far yet to warrant one.

    2. Beautiful photograph!

      Fortunately it is not a “close up” as you cannot see the dirty light fixtures that keep the northbound platform dimly lit (southbound platform lights got cleaned recently) or the clocks at both end of the station which haven’t worked since the tunnel retrofit.

      I have always wanted to try for a similar shot from the opposite mezzanine when the sun is shining through the western plaza. A real treat from the cab when the timing is right arriving southbound when the sun lights up the stairs.

      Happy Holidays everyone!

    3. We had some DOD cops at the old Phildelphia Naval Yard years ago. The Venezuelan Navy (they were good guys then) got through security by flashing their Mastercards. Similar color to their official passes. DOD cops – Dead on Delivery.

    4. Last two times I was harassed was during Link testing. The first time they didn’t specifically tell me that photography was prohibited, but they radioed in my description and wanted to know if I was working for someone. I had a scanner so I heard what they were saying. I had the 80 pound guard that made contact with me ask if they were doing any train testing that day. The supervisor was pretty sure it was canceled so I left. The supervisor wanted to track my movements, and supposedly there was another guy at CPS with a similar description to mine but they were unable to locate him.

      The second time they spotted me from the opposite platform. It took them a couple of minutes to get to me (they don’t know how to use the stairs or escalators) and thankfully I got the shots I wanted and was starting to pack up by the time they reached me. I can’t remember exactly what me and the 3 of them talked about, but it involved me explaining that yes, I was allowed to take pictures; no, scanners are not illegal; and the difference between assault and harassment. I asked them to stop harassing me, and they claimed that harassment was physical violence and that they hadn’t done anything wrong. After explaining it at least 3 times, my bus came and I pushed past them and got on the bus. One of them followed me and got off 4 stations later at Westlake. He apologized a stop later, and tried to talk to me a stop after that. I accepted the apology and ignored the second part.

      Oh and there’s the other time at CPS while I was killing time waiting for the 194 (going to FW, not the airport). I was taking pictures of a 550 laying over and the D-car under the ramp. I was listening to music and rocking out, snapping off shots and changing lenses. Didn’t take long for two goons to approach me. I told them that I was taking pictures for personal use and that I wasn’t going to stop. They recited some BS about having to make contact with all photographers which I claimed was BS. I kept rocking out and pretty much ignored them. Didn’t have a scanner so I don’t know if they said anything about me.

      And the other time I shot through the cab window. Right after I snapped that photo the operator picked up his handset as we entered the station. A security guard (doing fare checks) made a beeline for me and told me that “I couldn’t take pictures through that [sic] window”. Not sure if those two events had anything to do with each other.

  10. Speaking of Pioneer Square Station (and the rest of the DSTT), why is it taking so long for simple maintenance to get done, most notably, replacing burned out lights in the overhead directional/informational signs and the bus bay signs? I mean, I know the county is in the midst of a revenue crisis (does the county even still run the DSTT, or is it ST now?), but I can’t think a few fluorescent bulbs cost that much!

    1. I think they’re actually the super expensive sodium something lights. And while the bulbs might only be a few hundred to few thousand, there’s also maintenance. There’s only a few hours during the early morning when they can do the maintenance, so then you have the issues of actually scheduling it plus paying people premium pay to work in the middle of the night. Of course this is all my own personal speculation, but I can say from experience at past jobs that sometimes small maintenance tasks are put off until many similar tasks pile up in order to save on labor costs.

  11. I’m curios as to why Metro puts a lot of its stops at the farside (after the intersection). It seems that the time spent waiting at a red light could instead be used to board and alight passengers.

    The U-District, mostly 15th Ave NE and The Ave seem to be notable exceptions.

    1. It’s pretty much a tossup, because if you have the stops before an intersection, the light frequently turns red while the bus is at the stop and you have to wait a whole nother light cycle, but like you said, if the bus hits a red light when it gets to the intersection, you could be using that time to allow passengers to board and deboard.

    2. Farside actually works better for transit signal priority as supported by various research studies and simulation. Bus dwell time is highly variable (cash payers, lift/ramp use, etc.) so timing it to the signal cycle which also varies by location doesn’t work.

      Farside is safer for pedestrians because that tends to make them walk back to cross the street instead of crossing in front of the bus which is also a blind spot and very dangerous.

      If the light was green and the bus stopped before the intersection, it will block traffic and likely get stuck waiting for the next green.

      Here are Metro’s bus stop placement guidelines (TCRP Synthesis 18 Bus occupant safety):

      To decide the proper location of a bus stop, Seattle Metro makes the choice between far-side, near-side, and mid-block stops based on the traffic and transit operational conditions at a proposed location (16). The conditions under which near-side bus stops were recommended are:

      • Traffic is heavier on the leaving side than on the approach side of the intersection.
      • The cross street is a one-way street where the traffic flows from right to left.
      • At intersections controlled by signals, a stop sign, or a yield sign, and transit operations are more critical than traffic and parking.
      • Where there is a route right turn and curb space is critical but traffic is not critical, a near-side stop should be established before the turn.

      The advantages of a near-side stop cited are:

      • Less interference with traffic turning into the bus route street from a side street, and
      • Passengers generally alight closer to a crosswalk.

      The disadvantages cited for near-side stops are:

      • If there is a high traffic volume of right turns at an intersection, conflicts can arise when a vehicle attempts a right turn from the left of a stopped bus.
      • A bus standing at a near-side stop obscures the sight distance of pedestrians crossing the street, as well as a driver entering the street from the right.
      • A bus stopped at a near-side stop can obscure the view of a stop sign.

      The Seattle Metro guidelines recommended far-side stops under the following conditions:

      • Traffic is heavier on the approach side than on the leaving side of the intersection,
      • The crossing street is a one-way street where the traffic flows from left to right,
      • At intersections where frequent left and right turns occur,
      • At intersections where bus routes and heavy traffic movements diverge, and
      • At intersections controlled by signals, stop signs, or yield signs and when traffic or parking is critical and transit operations are not critical.

      The advantages cited for far-side stops are:

      • There is less conflict with vehicles making right turns.
      • Buses turning left to approach a far-side (around the corner) stop begin their left turn from the proper lane.
      • Buses stopped in a zone do not obstruct the sight distance for vehicles crossing the bus route from the right street.
      • Buses can find a gap to enter the traffic stream without interference at signalized intersections, except where there are frequent turning movements into the street with the bus route.
      • Waiting passengers assemble at less crowded sections of the sidewalk away from the intersection.
      • Buses stopped in the zone do not obscure traffic control devices or pedestrian movements at the intersection.

      The disadvantages cited for far-side stops are:

      • Vehicles parked illegally in the bus stop obstruct buses from entering the stop and cause traffic to back up across the intersection.
      • Stops on a narrow street may block traffic on both the bus route and the cross street.
      • A bus standing at a far-side stop obscures sight distance to the right for a vehicle entering the bus street from the right.
      • For stops with occasional heavy demand, the overflow may obstruct the cross street.

      The Seattle Metro guidelines favored mid-block stops when the following conditions are present:

      • Traffic or physical street characteristics prohibit a near-or far-side stop adjacent to the intersection.
      • A large passenger generator exists at mid-block, and heavy loading makes the location desirable.
      • A mid-block stop should be located at the far side of a mid-block pedestrian crosswalk, if one exists, so that standing buses will not block a motorist’s view of pedestrians in the crosswalk.

      The advantages given for mid-block stops are:

      • Buses stopped in a zone cause a minimum of interference with sight distance of both vehicles and pedestrians.
      • Stops can be located close to major generators of passengers.
      • Waiting passengers assemble away from busy intersections.
      • Nearby driveways may add to the pull-in and pull-out space.

      The disadvantages cited are:

      • A greater zone length is needed requiring the removal of more curb parking.
      • Pedestrian jaywalking is more prevalent.
      • Passengers from cross streets must walk farther and faster.

      1. Also, nearside stops can be dangerous as cars might try to go around the coach, then make a right turn in front of the coach.

  12. I have an odd experience that I’d like to share, to see if anyone has an explanation or a similar experience. I was taking MT 5 downtown one weekday last week and got on at 59th & Phinney Ave N (#5910) between 2 and 2:30 p.m. According to One Bus Away, the bus was about 3 minutes late. Just before getting onto Aurora Ave N, we stopped (#6050) to pick up passengers, then sat and idled for 1-2 minutes. The driver looked like he was adjusting his seat and checking things over. I checked One Bus Away again, and we were about 4 minutes behind schedule. Once we got onto Aurora, the driver went really slowly (noticeably slower than most drivers on the route). When we got to Wall & 5th Ave (#7430) two passengers got off, and the driver sat and idled for over 5 minutes. He made all the usual changes a driver would make when approaching the Ride Free Area, then pulled out a newspaper and began reading it. By this time, we were well behind schedule (if OBA was correct), and the driver did not say anything about why we were stopped. I was about to get off and walk the rest of the way to downtown when the driver finally closed the doors and began moving again. If we had been ahead of schedule, I could understand the time-consuming measures, but I’m reasonably sure we were on time or running behind the entire time. Any explanations?

    P.S. I’d like to take this opportunity (Christmas) to thank transit operators and personnel for their hard work. I appreciate it, even when I have an experience like this one.

    1. I drive the 5 sometimes, and it is easy to catch your leader and pass them sometimes while they picked up most of the people. This would put you ahead of schedule. Also sometimes the coaches aren’t being tracker properly, so One Bus Away might not be totally accurate.

      At that time of day I’ve had to wait at Holman Rd, then 85th, then 46th, then the Aurora Bridge on ramp because I’m always early. Not sure how some drivers can’t keep in on schedule. (Weekends are hard though). And 5/Wall I was always early…..even waiting an extra minutes or so sometimes, because I found there to be too much time to get to Pike at certain times of the day….mid-day being one of them. But….waiting 5 minutes is weird, even if he was early……because leaving 38th/Fremont Wy on time, it impossible to get to Wall 5 min early. Also, it’s against the rules to arrive at a timepoint more that 2 minutes early (except TC’s & P&R’s or an estimated timepoint.)
      So, I can’t really aanswer that one for you.

  13. So, my trip on Link started @ Sea-Tac about 6:30. There was a train waiting in the station with doors closed. Te button for the door was green so I pushed it to open. We warier for about another 10 minutes or so before departing. Trip was very smooth including the area near where it crosses duwamish which had been rough on my visit last summer.

    There were only about 4 people in my cabin. At othello a phalanx of train security came aboard and “demanded” our tickets. They asked this of every one on board. 2 people were removed from the train at the next stop for some reason.

    As for the walk to the station, not bad at all especially compared to the length to get to station @ Midway and O’hare. Although midway has some overhead heaters and ORD has people movers.

    1. They got removed because they failed to present valid proof of payment. I saw this happen before and the officer took them off the train and wrote up a $124 ticket on the platform.

    2. I hear they are very “viglant” when it comes to fare enforcement on the line. Better hope ORCA is working fine, and have a copy of your reciepts with you just in case…

      1. What do I do if I don’t have a receipt because it’s an employer-provided pass?

        I’ve never had to produce receipts to prove I paid my fare with ORCA. It’s not my fault that the system is buggy or not working the way it should. Those are grounds for dismissing any fines.

      2. Yes, well I had understood it was supposed to be “spot” checks. This felt like the Gestapo coming aboard and saying “papers please”. Also there were large #’s of security at ID station and for a moment I thought I’d have to go through that again. While I certainly understand the need to spot check, they need to be senstive to the atmosphere they create or people will find other means of getting around. It also ran through my mind that their must be an incentive to them to write those $124 tickets. That would explain this behavior.

        p.s., sorry for the typos in my previous post (and this one), I was using the phone to make the post and sometimes it helps with spelling when you don’t want it to and some times it doesn’t when you do want it to.

      3. “Wie have veys of making you pay your fare….”

        I couldn’t help thinking of the black coated Gestapo character from Hogan’s Heros roaming the train with a portable ORCA reader.

        Our entire transit system needs more of this kind of firm fare enforcement. Don’t have your fare? Off you go and here’s your $124 ticket. Enforcement needs to be professional, consistent, and firm. If the officers are unprofessional then ST needs to hear about it and it needs to be corrected.

        I’d love to see Sound Transit expand this kind of fare enforcement to ST express buses. Place TVMs and modified ORCA readers at all heavily used park & rides and transit centers so people can purchase their fare off the bus. (ORCA readers would allow passengers to choose 1, 2, or 3 zone fares from their current location) Cash fares could still be accepted on board but would be higher than purchased off-bus, thus encouraging ORCA usage and off-bus payment.

      4. Why not do what Phoenix (Valley Metro) does.

        A Day Pass purchased at a TVM is is double the cost of a single bus ride
        If You were to purchase that same Day Pass on board the bus, you are charged triple a single bus ride

      5. I agree with a day-pass idea, but it should be double the highest fare possible, or $9.50. That way, you don’t have to upgrade if you take a higher cost service.

      6. They can’t do fare checks at International District station. From 6am to 7pm it’s a ride free area for the buses.

      7. “Yes, well I had understood it was supposed to be ‘spot’ checks. This felt like the Gestapo coming aboard and saying ‘papers please’.”

        Hmm, they’ve been pretty friendly every time I’ve seen them checking. Yeah, they say “tickets, please,” but that’s how ticket inspections work. I’m not sure what you mean by “it was supposed to be ‘spot’ checks,” unless you mean you just thought they would check one or two people on the train…

        “Also there were large #’s of security at ID station and for a moment I thought I’d have to go through that again.”

        This happened to my spouse, once. Ticket-checked twice on the same trip. Everyone on the train groaned loudly, apparently.

  14. christmas day/eve link ride from sea-tac to CC station with 2 travellers….

    Fare paid with cash: $2.25, fare paid with orca: $2.00. (based on what the machines say, we didn’t look up the orca card online yet) wtf, is the price supposed to be different?

    1. No, there should be no difference.

      (some systems, like WMATA (the other Washington) and London, do have a price difference, as an incentive for you to move to the smart card)

  15. A question I’ve been meaning to ask —

    I got tickets to an Olympic event on Feb. 16. I don’t want to drive if possible. I was hoping to take the train from Seattle. However, the event I’m attending ends at 8:45pm at Pacific Coliseum, and the last Amtrak (bus, unfortunately) is at 9:15, which means I won’t be able to get there in time, most likely. (Some later services during the Olympics would be really useful!) The last Greyhound leaves stupidly early, at 6:30 pm. Those of you who know the transit options in the area — is there any other public transportation option available to me that would leave that evening? Hotel rooms are unaffordable during the Games and I am not traveling with a large enough group to split the cost of one. (One, possibly two other people.) So ideally, this needs to be a day trip. And if necessary, I could take a regular public transit bus instead of Amtrak or Greyhound, but is it possible to make that trip at that time of night, or am I out of luck?

    There is no spectator parking at any of the venues, and people are asked not to drive in Vancouver if at all possible, but there are park and rides in the outlying areas on the Sky Train line, which is my last resort, as I’m afraid I will drive up there and find them full.

    I’m looking at various websites for help but just getting confused, really.

    1. Oh, and speaking of Olympic transit — did someone mention this already?

      “Olympic Line Streetcar
      Bombardier and the City of Vancouver are providing an opportunity to take a close look at a modern streetcar during the 2010 Winter Games. This showcase streetcar, called the Olympic Line, will be a free service running between Granville Island and the Canada Line Olympic Village station from January 21 – March 21, 2010.”

      — from the bottom of http://www.translink.ca/en/utilities/2010-games/february-2010-extended-services.aspx where there is also a YouTube link showing the streetcar.

    2. Even flying is not that great. There are some flights from Vancouver to Seattle on Air Canada.

      One had a flight leaving at 11:45 PM arriving in Seattle at 6:50 AM. You connect in Victoria. That must be a five hour layover. You might as well stay in Vancouver at the train station and catch the first train/bus out. I’m not seeing that 9:15 PM Amtrak trip though.

      The other option is to connect in Edmonton. The last direct flight is at 7:55 PM.

      I wonder if there is a charter group you could join. During Expo ’86, I know there were many day-time charter buses from Washington to Vancouver. I was driving at the time and did one round trip from Mount Vernon and Bellingham at the time.

      1. Yeah, I am going to have to keep my eyes open for something like that.

        I am starting to get kind of nervous about it. I have to pick up my tickets at the will call office, too, and Cosport doesn’t even know yet where that office will be (or, they haven’t posted it yet, anyway), so I’m not sure where else in Vancouver I’m going to have to get to besides Pacific Coliseum. Also, if you have your ticket you get free trips on public transportation — but I won’t have my ticket until I get to Will Call. Argh.

        I was really, really hoping to be able to take Amtrak, darn it, but no such luck, I guess.

      2. Perhaps if we call the WSDOT Rail Division office, they can add something (probably bus) for during the Olympics. They still have equipment to add trains, as they did between Portland and Seattle during the holidays. However given the recent spat with Canadian customs, additional trains might not be very successful in implementation. I would think something returning at midnight or 2:00 AM might do well.

      3. “I would think something returning at midnight or 2:00 AM might do well.”

        Yes! Seattle is close enough that it is crazy to spend the money on a hotel room if you can manage not to. Rooms are either not available or they are hundreds of dollars — there could definitely be some demand from day-trippers.

  16. I had a very successful day shooting Link today. Every train I saw was at least half full, if not more, from 10:00am to 4:30pm when I left the line. Tons of people at Tukwila going into Downtown Seattle. An alarming amount of people going to/from SeaTac with luggage. I even had a few random chats with people on board the trains. Seattle is slowly beginning to warm up!

    Best part: no harassment from ANYONE. Since Link opened, I’ve never been bothered for taking pictures anywhere, including DSTT, Tukwila, and Beacon Hill. I love it!

  17. Here are some random ideas for future rail alignment:

    1. It was suggested somewhere that people on the West Seattle light rail line would transfer at SODO. Why? – when the line can share the track with the spine line? Once the line gets built out in the future to Burien and then the airport, it will help handle traffic from the airport and points south. It’ll cost a little more to build the intersection, but I suspect West Seattleites will find light rail pointless if they have to take two lines to get downtown, in addition to whatever bus they take to get to the first line.

    2. Given that the suburbs will offer no resistance to WSDOT building as many lanes as it wants on I-5 outside of Seattle, in order to create the justification to widen I-5 through Seattle, I’ve been thinking about how high-speed rail could make its way through the Seattle Metro area. So, let’s use that extra lane space to run HSR up I-5 until it gets to southern Seattle, figure out a way to use existing track right-of-way to get it into the downtown bus tunnel, and then use the space in the middle of each tunnel station for it to bypass those stations, and just have its stops close to I-District Station, and maybe inside Husky Stadium Station. Then, have it end up in the middle of I-5 again until it gets to Everett. By the time California gets its portion built, WSDOT will hopefully get it that HSR replaces the capacity of multiple freeway lanes, instead of insisting on one-for-one lane replacement (ala the downtown SOV tunnel to the Mercer Mess).

    3. Decide whether Ballard and/or Aurora light rail is feasible before spending hundreds of millions on an extension of SLUT that might become obsolete and might better serve Eastlake and on up to the U-District. Or figure out if the SLUT extension would be useful to augment northwest light rail service in the long run. However it is done, make it a long-term solution rather than a short-term band-aid.

    4. For any new streetcar lines, DON’T BUILD THEM IN THE OUTSIDE LANE! Every time an emergency vehicle stops along the route, it shares the right-of-way, parks there, and blocks the streetcar until the emergency vehicle is ready to move. People who have used streetcars elsewhere tell me no other city does this.

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