244 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Six”

  1. Last week Link started playing a recording stating the proof of payment was required. It seems to play after practically every stop – often enough to get annoying.

    Is fare evasion a serious problem on Link? Are they issuing a significant number of tickets for non-payment?

    1. They’ve had that recording for a while. I think most operators don’t ever play it, but when you get one who does, they usually play it a lot.

    2. I was on a train from downtown to Tukwila, and after every stop they played that recording. By the time I got to Tukwila I was getting paranoid that maybe I forgot to pay my fare. Not to mention that it was getting VERY annoying to hear it constantly. I wouldn’t mind it if they did it maybe twice during the run, but after every stop is serious overkill.

      1. Yes it is and there are signs on the platform.

        Burien Ben do you know if there was a fare inspector on that train? Maybe the fare inspectors ask drivers to do this so that everyone that they ask for proof of payment can’t say they didn’t know.

      2. I would imagine that this will be a short term annoyance. As people start to get a grasp of how fares work on Link hopefully they will cut down on them.

      3. Yes, thank God for that. The pure awesomeness of Darth Vader, ON A TRAIN!!!!!, would probably cause the universe to fold in on itself.

        Which might not be bad if the resulting wormhole transported you to say…. Tahiti, and not the harsh vacuum of space, but is it really worth the risk?

      4. Anc,

        Oh, no they won’t. Max has been running since 1988 and on EVERY train and at EVERY stop except in the Free Rail zone it says in both English and Spanish “Validated fare is required on Max”.

        I’m surprised that the operators have a choice.

      5. On the El in Chicago they have an announcement that says you can’t eat, smoke or gamble on the train. They don’t play it after every stop; I don’t think they’re worried about potential train-gamblers getting on at each one.

      6. Question for Burien Ben: Would you like to see the 121 and 122 altered to go to TIBS instead of going all the way downtown?

    3. I took link 6 times last week … and I heard that announcement only once when leaving the INTL District station heading south

      1. No way – Many people associate Seattle’s ETB’s with dirty, crowded buses that are high floor and difficult to get in and out of. Vancouver’s ETB fleet consists of modern low floor buses with a much more open floor plan. They are reliable and have limited off-wire capability that allows them to get around roadblocks. They are the future – assuming Seattle residents get behind continued ETB operations and convince Metro to invest *more* in ETB’s and not convert them to Hybrids.

        Don’t get me wrong, I love our current Hybrid buses and look forward to driving the Orions that are on order. However, for dense urban areas, especially areas with hills, ETBs are the way to go.

      2. I was on a #9 on Broadway in Vancouver last week that detoured around some cars and detached from the wire. The driver drove another block, stopped and reattached the wires in about 60 seconds. It was great.

      3. What kind of odds do Seattle residents have? How serious is Metro about getting rid of the ETB fleet? It still kills me that they didn’t go low-floor when they bought the last set of buses.

      4. How serious will depend on the level of community support along the trolley routes for keeping them. I would especially expect a pretty strong outcry from folks in Queen Anne (surprise, surprise), Madrona, Mt. Baker and Summit (less as it’s mostly apts.) as well as probably the folks on 15th north of John St. towards Volunteer Park (the 10) and along 19th (the 12).

        The bottom line *is* the bottom line – there is money to be saved – at least shorter term – by replacing trolleys with hybrids coming from stimulus fund purchases. I’m wondering if what we may end up with rather than seeing the entire ETB fleet scrapped might be the longer runs that spend more time on busy arterials going hybrid – such as the 7, the 36, 43, 44 and 48 going away and the shuttle hops (1, 2, 3, 10, 12) remaining as 40′ trolleys.

        I wonder too if the added cost of the ETB fleet has factored in the projected replacement year of 2012, and if the cost couldn’t be reduced by pushing that back and keeping at least part of the existing Gilligs in service for a few more yars (the Bredas should all be blown up on back to back episodes of “Myth Busters”).

      5. They could have also mentioned the regenerative capabilities of the ETB. The bus going down the counter-balance partially powers the bus going up the counter balance, and the use of “engine-braking” here is not a burden on a clutch as there is none; also the ETB, if operated properly, goes through less brake pads than a diseasel bus. And brake dust kills!

      6. Trolley Coaches dont even have a transmission. THe motor is directly connected to the rear pumpkin on the axle.

      7. Our beloved MAN 60ft ETBs had regenerative braking which we disabled after a rash of blown fuses (very expensive) trying to regenerate into a short circuit which happened occasionally with a dewirement. I never did conclusively determine whether the Bredas had that ability in electric mode or not.

        Dynamic braking in all of our ETBs have kept brake pad temps and replacement frequencies down when properly used by sending kinetic energy into resistors when slowing down.

        There was a study done before we acquired the MAN ETBs to determine whether regenerative braking was cost effective. I think it concluded that we could have saved up to 30% on electricity costs depending on frequency of service on certain segments.

    1. Ahhh… A voice of reason behind that fact sheet. The implied message I get from that fact sheet is that even if electric trolleys are more expensive, there are added benefits for that cost.

      The $2.75 Million number for maintaining the overhead is interesting. I’d argue they need to increase that number a little by filling in the network with a relatively small amount of wire to increase the routes that can utilize the existing downtown wire. This would spread the cost of maintaining the downtown wire over a larger number of service hours.

      One quibble with the fact sheet: The trolleys in Vancouver do not have AC – They’re in Canada, so why would you need AC? :)

      1. I’ve said this a lot but I’ll say it again: Trading our current ETB fleet for theoretically lower cost diesel-hybrid buses is effectively outsourcing our transportation to oil producing regions. Do we really want to trade local skilled labor (the folks who maintain the overhead wire) for foreign oil (money that goes to support Hugo Chavez or destruction caused by mining oil sands in Canada)?

      2. But, but, but, are you saying that our eternal friends the Saudis are not what they claim to be???

      3. Also, the cost of oil is going to continue going up (right now we are seeing lower prices because the Saudis are afraid if the US passes new environmental laws) and as they do, our electric buses will prove invaluable.

      4. Not all of it is local and “clean”. The city of Seattle still has to import a small portion of their power from nuclear, gas, and coal. Look at City Light’s fuel mix for more detail. Going forward, as Seattle’s need for electricity grows, pressure grows for more fossil fuels to get into the mix. Wind and solar can help but being intermittent sources, they will need to be backed up by fossil fuels for now.

        That said, even if the energy comes from Coal, our dirtiest source, it’s *still* less expensive and cleaner than diesel. Electric motors are very efficient and controlling emissions at a coal plant is easier than controlling the emissions on 200 buses. As I recall, event the CO2 numbers are better for coal and electric propulsion vs diesel although I can’t find a reference for that off the top of my head.

      5. Call that out on the survey, please! I know I did – there’s a whole chunk of us who don’t fit any of those categories.

      6. Other than Capitol Spill not being on there, if you don’t fit those categories, you probably don’t have trolleys in your neighborhood and thus the survey doesn’t need your opinion.

      7. I know where it is, but the survey only has categories for NW, NE, SW, and SE. To me NE is north of the ship canal, but it was the closest category.

      1. Whoever came up with that was really clever. Comet could be a brand for an improved rapid trolley bus network. Ride the Comet! Kind of like TTC’s Rockets.

    2. Since our current ETBs don’t have EPUs, does that mean that everything goes dead when the poles come off? Does that mean that if someone goes into a stroke the operator has to reattach the poles before they can call in for help (radio dead)?

      1. Uh, I don’t know if the radio goes dead but on average about 10 people per bus are carrying cell phones.

      2. … and they all seem to sit up by me and talk about bodily functions and their latest sexual escapades. It was entertaining at first but it gets old after a while.

      3. Security, er, “ambassadors”. The security won’t necessarily shut the R-rated conversations up, but they will make more people (especially women) who have been afraid to ride willing to start doing so. The presence of more women will shut up the R-rated conversations.

        This is, of course, a cheap plug for using twice-tap technology at all doors, and an honor ticket system using ambassadors, to make our ride faster and safer throughout the fleet.

    3. I support the continuation of ETB service. Why?

      1. They’re cleaner
      2. They’re quieter
      3. They’re just plain cool!

  2. Anyone know what the February Metro changes will be? I’m particularly interested in the routes along the light rail: 8, 48, 42 etc.. Are they also planning any changes to the poorly planned Mt. Baker Transit Center?

      1. Riiiiiiiiight…. Those make no sense to the average person. First, I have to know the originating bus barn. Next, I have to try to wade through over 300 pages. Then, if I’m lucky enough to find the route I’m looking for, I can only see information for two or three of the buses on that line and coming from different directions.

      2. Limes,

        I’m happy to answer any questions you may have – and no, you don’t have to wade through 300 pages – these are in PDF format, and searchable.

        I know the information is in “raw” form, but you asked a specific question – and I provided the locale of the answer to your question. It appears you want someone else to do your homework for you.

        Probably you’ll want to wait until the new schedules are out (should be this week I think) and compare the old timetable to the new so you won’t have to work so hard.

      3. There’s a list here that breaks down routes by base and shift for the February shakeup. Once you know which file to look in, just search for the route followed by L. To find the 8, search for 8L.

    1. I’m working in Scheduling right now, and the 8 has additional service Monday thru Saturday, running every 15 minutes throughout the day and into the evening. No more turnbacks at Group Health anymore too.

  3. Six years of construction, and they are already a month behind. Or at least 9 YEARS behind if you look at the 1996 timetable! It will be fun to see how far behind they get when they actually start tunneling! My (lack of) confidence in the Sound Transit dweebs remains unabated.

    1. That’s a bit harsh Jay. My view of Sound Transit is that of an agency that has navigated very complex issues to actually deliver quality express service to many communities, plan, build and launch a quality starter light rail line and through out it all, have due regard for the public. Of course, not all is perfect, but I wouldn’t call them dweebs.

      I would imagine anything that involves tunneling 2 or 3 miles is going to encounter unforeseen issues. I’m sure they’ve built float into the plan so I’m not too worried. It may even be possible that things could go better than planned between now and 2016.

      1. I could be wrong but I believe that this part of the project is not on the critical path. Boring towards the Pine St stub will start from the Cap Hill station so the station pit has to be dug, then the TBM has to be constructed, and then it has to bore all the way to I-5. Assuming they can complete this work before then it should not delay any other subsequent work.

        The critical path of this project is the pair of tunnels from the cap hill station to husky stadium. That is where we should be keeping an eye on.

    2. Everyone knows that ST had trouble with the original tunnel plan, but they are a completely different agency since Joni took over. Both Central Link and Airport Link were on schedule and on budget – a real amazing feat when you consider what they did.

      ST is pretty much the best capital project agency we have in the region now – their performance is far superior to that of WSDOT or SDOT.

      One month is no big deal. They have plenty of float left, and I didn’t think the I-5 work was critical path anyhow. Anyone know for sure?

      1. I don’t think the I-5 work has to be done until the TBM gets to I-5. Since they haven’t even started digging the launch pit for the TBM on Capitol Hill I would doubt that the project will be delayed by this. They did say that shoring up I-5 is one of the most difficult jobs on the entire project, so it doesn’t surprise me that it’s behind.

  4. I wonder how many Metro routes (41, 70, 71, 72, 73, 66, 49, etc.), will be eliminated in the future in order to force people into the tunnels and onto Link to artificially boost U-Link and North Link ridership numbers? (They’ll claim they’re eliminating them to prevent duplication of service).

    1. Better put on your foil hat. They’re coming to get us!

      Seriously? What is artificial about people riding Link that used to ride the routes eliminated by rail? If people ride Link, then they are actually riding it…for real! Those buses then can be used for other routes that don’t have rail nearby and need more capacity…everybody wins!

      1. There’s nothing paranoid about it. Ardent pro-rail, anti-bus activists openly favor cancelling bus service to force people onto rail. Folks who favor eliminating rider choice to promote their preferred option.

        Rail provides a different service than buses. Buses have more stops, serve more neighborhoods and more locales.

      2. Buses are complementary to rail. It makes perfect sense to reroute buses to serve the rail stations (and yes, to eliminate redundant service).

      3. Who in their right mind would choose a 20 minute bus ride from the U district to downtown when a 7 minute light rail ride is an option?

      4. Sometimes they do. Weekdays after 6, Saturdays after 5, and all day Sunday.

        I doubt the 41, 66 or 49 will change. Husky Stadium isn’t very far away from I-5, but it can take a looong time to get there–45th, Pacific, Montlake via 520, doesn’t matter. It’d probably take just as much time to get from I-5 to Husky Stadium as it would to get downtown from the same point, though it’d differ depending on the time of day. I don’t think that’ll change. The 49 won’t change as it provides local service between the Link stations. 66 won’t because it provides connections to Eastlake for Downtown, the U-District, Maple Leaf, and Northgate. The 70 will definitely not change–it is the primary bus that gets people to Eastlake.

        I don’t know about the 71/72/73/74. When the express lanes are open (and the operator chooses to use them–I rode yesterday and we left 20 minutes before they closed and the operator took Eastlake. It pissed me off, and we were late).

      5. The 41 will probably become a Lake City-Northgate Link feeder route. Link should be about as fast as the 41 from Northgate to downtown on the express lanes, and faster in the reverse peak direction.

        The 71/72/73/74 will probably end in the U District, with riders transferring to Link to get to downtown quickly. I assume Route 70 will gain expanded service hours to make up for the 71/72/73 evening service to Eastlake, which would be paid for by the elimination of that service.

      6. Or just the U Line streetcar will completely replace local Eastlake service.

        Then we need to figure out what to do with the trolley wire that goes up Eastlake.

    2. the 71, 72 and 73 will probably be shutdown (or replaced by 1 bus that operates much less frequently and when LINK is closed for the night) once the Ulink tunnel is done …

      The 70 operates via East Lake and SLU so that will keep operating

      Don’t know about the 41, 66, or 49 though.

      1. How do people think Cap Hill buses will change when U-link opens? Lets get some speculation going?

      2. Cut the 43 and replace with improved service on the 8 (E/W) and 48 (N/S) by running them at least every 10 minutes. Potentially turn them into ETB routes.

        Create a 12th Ave ETB route between Yesler and Cap Hill Station, maybe continue to south to Beacon Hill and north along B’way E and 10th E to replace the 49. Delete Rt 49

        Create a N Capitol Hill neighborhood route connecting to Cap Hill Station serving 12th Ave north of E John and the area of Aloha St

        Eliminate Rt 9, replace with streetcar and Link service to Rainier Valley (and better RV circulators)?

        Frequent service on Rt 10, 11 & 60.

      3. “Cut the 43 and replace with improved service on the 8 (E/W) and 48 (N/S) by running them at least every 10 minutes.”

        Good thinking, Oran. At first I wondered if it would impact the east Capitol Hill-UW riders too much. But 15th is only 8 blocks from 23rd, or 5 blocks (uphill) from CH station or the 49.

        Changing the 49 to a 49/60 would address the frequency problems of the 60 and 9.

        A loop route would be good for north Capitol Hill. I’m reluctant to live north of Roy or east of 23rd because the bus frequency drops off immensely.

        It looks like Link, by being the Route That Turns to serve the biggest population centers, will allow the regular routes to straighten out end-to-end. A UW-10th-12th-Beacon route plus the 8 and 48, would serve the populations Link doesn’t. I was also thinking of making the 71 into a 65th Street bus from Wedgewood to Roosevelt station to Greenlake.

      4. Change the 43 to go to Seattle Center. This would provide 7-8 minute service across Denny to 23rd/John.

      5. Hmm very interesting idea! Currently the Queen Ann to anywhere to the East, especially the UW, is ridiculous. I think there really needs to be bus only lanes E/W somewhere here to act as a link between Rapidride service to Ballard, Aurora and Link.

        If John was connected between Terry and Boren, John could be designated as a bus priority street or bus only street. That would really improve reliability and travel time and move pedestrians off horrible Denny.

      6. Gordon, why would we get rid of the 71, 72, and 73 completely? How will people get from Downtown or the U-District to Wedgwood, Lake CIty, or Jackson Park?

      7. No, you can’t eliminate the 71/72/73/74. They provide local coverage from UW northward. One example is trying to get anywhere on Lake City Way south of 125th. The 522 doesn’t make any stops before there; and the 72 serves some residential areas too via Ravenna Boulevard.

      8. I’m saying, keep the 71/72/73 but truncate them at the U District. Therefore, off-peak, people will take those to the U District and get on Link to get downtown, and on-peak, people can do that, or get on one of the peak only buses that currently skips the U District.

      9. I’m fine with that. But Gordon proposed eliminating them all together:

        the 71, 72 and 73 will probably be shutdown (or replaced by 1 bus that operates much less frequently and when LINK is closed for the night) once the Ulink tunnel is done

        Lumping them together would be even worse. Or maybe I’m reading that wrong and he’s talking about lumping the common routing together. We actually have that right now, and it is known as the 83.

      10. Once Link is in North Seattle … the 71, 72, 73 will probably go away and be replaced by new routes that still serve the northern sections of the 70 series routes … but terminate at a LINK station. Sort of like how the Route 74 from the U-District to the Seattle Center became route 30 (although the 30 didn’t lose any distance) …

      11. Why terminate at the Link station? It would make more sense to go on past the station. That way you can serve people who don’t necessarily want to go downtown, but maybe some other destination. The return trip can likewise serve folks who can either transfer onto Link (either direction) or continue on to another destination with a one seat ride.

      12. I don’t think anyone is advocating that the buses actually turn around at the LINK stations. I expect most routes will be coupled with other routes, and go through the University and the U-District rather than actually turning around at a station. It will merely be the route numbers that terminate.

      13. I think that what you will see is that most of the major north end service will be reoriented from a North/South routing to more of a East/West routing either terminating at a Link station or continuing to the West of I-5.

    3. Why would it make sense to keep the 7x lines when they will essentially become a slow duplication of the U-Link? The trip on U-Link compared to the express buses will be superior in experience, reliability, and time.

      On another note, I’m sure a local line will remain along Eastlake.

      1. Because they don’t just serve the U-District and Downtown. Recall that after hitting 65th, they go to Wedgwood, Lake CIty, or Jackson Park.

      2. I think you’re confusing U-Link with North Link. U-Link ends at Husky Stadium. North Link begins at Husky Stadium and includes Brooklyn and everything north of that. All of my comments have been assuming buses would terminate at Husky Stadium–not Brooklyn or anything north of that.

      3. Out of express hours, they also serve Eastlake, which is valuable for business patrons and residents of that corridor. I would guess, though, that 70 service will likely be increased and serve Eastlake, at least until SLUT is expanded north.

    4. Citing the 41 and 71,72,73 is kind of interesting…all of these routes essentially have long, express only segments between downtown Seattle and their first stop, which is the general area of a Link stop. How are these segments NOT duplication of service?

      My assumption has been that these routes would be cut or re-structured to start and end at said Link station, and as a rider of all these routes I’m really looking forward to that for the travel time improvements and more efficient boarding.

      While riding Link is an extra transfer for riders who would want to continue to the end destinations of these routes from the Link station, the major travel time savings, reliability, span of service should result in a faster, more reliable commute, especially in the off peak direction. You also have the network effect of people who would have previously had to ride a bus downtown to transfer to one of these routes instead being able to take Link for a one seat ride that didn’t previously exist.

      1. I think you’re right about how they will be restructured. Very roughly the travel time of these routes will be cut in half so the frequency could be roughly doubled.

      2. Well let’s look at the best case scenario times. Westlake to Husky Stadium will be 7 minutes, every time.

        Midday when the express lanes are in your favor (and the operator uses them–see above), it’s 7 minutes from Westlake to the first stop in the U-District (42nd & 8th).

        Those stops are a mile apart. So let’s compare apples to apples.

        To get to Campus Parkway & Brooklyn, you’d have to wait another 3 minutes on that bus. Total time from Westlake: 10 minutes.

        From Campus Parkway to Husky Stadium, you’re looking at a 3 minute drive when traffic is good, plus a 3-5 minute walk from the stop to the platform, depending on if the bus stops on Pacific or Montlake, how long you have to wait at the crosswalk, and whether you take an elevator, escalator, or stairs. Total time assuming there is no wait for a train: 13-15 minutes.

        Those don’t reflect high ridership times. So let’s look at straight up 5pm on a weekday.

        Route 540 departs Campus Parkway & 15th (Schmitz Hall) at 17:02, scheduled arrival at Pacific & Pacific at 17:07. Add the 3-5 minute walk (waiting to cross, walking down to platform) and assuming the train departs as soon as you board it, that’s 15-17 minutes from Schmitz to Westlake.

        Route 73 departs 41st & The Ave (which is also across the street from Schmitz) at 17:03 with a scheduled arrival to Westlake at 17:22. Scheduled time: 19 minutes.

        Best case scenario for this time means you saved 4 minutes, assuming you didn’t have to wait for a train. I don’t know what headways are planned to be for U-Link, but assuming they’re 7 minutes you could spend 24 minutes to get from Schmitz to Westlake.

        But that 73 is never going to make it downtown in 19 minutes at 5pm on a weekday. It never will. I honestly don’t know why Metro doesn’t just change the schedule since they’re always late. Don’t update every trip, just update the ones that are always late. They’re usually under 5 minutes late*, so the operator won’t catch any heat, but sometimes they’re over and it’s not the operator’s fault.

        *5 minutes for a trip that departed Campus Parkway on time. Often the 70s bunch up, and one will run 5 minutes late and another one behind it will be 2 minutes early (batting clean up) so you’ll get 2 back to back. The one in the front will be a total of 10 minutes late downtown, and the one in the back will be 3 minutes late.

      3. Route 71/72/73 probably won’t be restructured until Brooklyn Station opens, for the reasons you mention. By then there will be a Link station (either Brooklyn or Husky Stadium) closer to most locations on campus than the stop on Campus Parkway.

      4. Great, another 194. Instead of NIMBYs complaining about their airport bus being taken away, it’ll be students and hippies complaining about their downtown bus being taken away.

        But I really support this decision. Having the 70 series go down Pacific to connect with Husky Stadium sucks.

      5. I doubt there will be much complaining from students. Link directly from a station to downtown will always be faster than the bus, unlike the 194. Also, if you go to UW in the morning and back downtown in the afternoon like most students and staff do then your bus takes Eastlake instead of the express lanes, which makes the bus feel even slower than it actually is.

      6. Yes!!!! The reason I hate using them. I also remember someone posting a comment here once–they lived in Eastlake and hated people seeing Eastlake as an I-5 bypass to downtown and wanted people to remember that it’s a neighborhood with real people living in it, and it’s a pretty walkable neighborhood to boot.

        As far as complaining students, there will be no shortage. It takes one to know one ;)

      7. It’s not a big deal for most students to get to the station at Husky Stadium. It’s 10 minutes on foot from the HUB or Red Square. 15 minutes from Campus Pkwy. Many students spend the same amount of time walking between classes a few times a day.

      8. We must be hanging out with different people.

        I’m on the fourth floor of MGH almost every day. About half the time I use the elevator. I frequently encounter people that use the elevator to go from 1 to 2. There’s also a guy in my cohort that takes the elevator from 4 to 1.

      9. Tim that assumes that Campus parkways is where you are starting.

        As a student for 7 years who had most of my classes on South Campus I can tell you that Campus Parkways was a huge pain in the ass. If I wanted to go downtown it involved a 15 minute hike across campus.

        I also lived on 15th and 52nd on the north end of campus for several years and while it was easy to get to the 71,72 or 73 it would usually take around 5-10 minutes to get down the ave depending on how many people were riding.

      10. Because Campus Parkway is the main transfer point in the U-District.

        And yeah, it’s not the easiest place to get to from everywhere. But if you’re just trying to get downtown, your other option is to head down to Montlake/520 and catch something at the flyer stop. Those are also express buses, or at least express to downtown from there.

    5. Why would anyoneWhy would anyone want to run parallel and duplicate service to what Link provides? Any transit agency doing that would be operating inefficiently and wasting taxpayer money.

      If you are against government waste, then you should be for eliminating duplicate routes and redeploying the service hours elsewhere. It only makes sense.

      1. And you should be for the use of the proper equipment (Light Rail, with just one operator needed for up to four 200 passenger LINK cars) versus running an at-capacity-20-years-ago 55-seat bus every ten minutes in which one operator is needed for each bus.

        Seattle is too big now for just using buses between Downtown and the U-District.

        If you want to go all Emmett Watson on us, fine, but please be sure to use an outhouse, drive north or south on highway 99, and stay off any State Ferries with capacity greater than 40 cars if you truly want to experience the life in Seattle you desire.

    6. No need to wonder Sam. You can look at a route map and figure it out by yourself.
      If a route goes from point A to B and is duplicated by N.Link, which is faster and more reliable than a bus route, then it will be eliminated. The 41 is a good example.
      Routes that have multiple stops enroute, like the 71-73 series will likely only run the northern portions of their routes to feed a 45th station, which would speed the rest of the trip up to the CBD.
      Routes like the 70, feeding arterials like Eastlake will likely see no change.
      Anyway, a bit long winded, but it’s about efficient deployment of resources.
      Hope that helps you.

    7. Yes, I’d rather be stuck on a 71/72/73 running on Eastlake in Key Arena traffic or crawling down 10th Ave. East during rush hour (why is parking allowed there then?) on a 49 than be whisked in mere minutes between UW, CH and downtown!!

      1. Fine, what ever causes congestion on Eastlake! The bridge gets stuck open…Nirvana reunites after Cobain admits he staged his own death…The Sonics return…whatever!

    8. The 7x and 41 will not be eliminated. They’ll be shortened. The scavenged bus hours can then enable more frequent runs on each of these routes that will start at a Link station.

      It won’t just be the Link ride that will be faster. It will be the bus stop wait that will be shorter.

    9. The 71/72/73/74 expresses shouldn’t go away until the 45th/Brooklyn Station opens around 2020. Those buses serve the Ave and the U-District neighborhood; Husky Stadium is a different market.

  5. The trouble with Seattle is that it’s full of people who think they’re a lot smarter than they really are, or who hide their lack of intellect behind a wall of cynicism.

    They’re building a transit system in an area that should have built a transit system fifty years ago, but was thwarted by an earlier generation of self-proclaimed brainiacs. OF COURSE it will take longer and be more expensive than the projections. How naive can you be?

    But, in the end, it will be worth it – if they can somehow get rid of the NIMBY’s and the Seattle Big Thinkers and everyone else who wants to make a dime or get a favor out of it.

    Sometimes I’m embarrassed to admit I live here…..

    1. If you ever head to London, I highly recommend the London Transport Museum. The history of London’s transportation network is fascinating. If you think Seattle has a monopoly on NIMBYism and nasty politics revolving around transportation, think again. It took decades to put all the pieces in place to finish building the current Jubilee line, which carries over 400,000 people a day.

      The only problem with the line was that it was packed shortly after opening – By packed I mean that you had to wait for the 2nd or 3rd train to find space. Good thing trains came every minute or two during rush hour.

      1. Hear hear! The TfL museum is amazing (I think I spent about 5 hours there) and the Jubilee line is PACKED! This was the only time I have become claustrophobic on public transport.

      2. LOVED the TfL museum–but be prepared for about a billion kids too, as it’s very family friendly (and no, I didn’t mind!)

    2. It wasn’t “self-proclaimed brainiacs” or any other type of “braniac” that thwarted the original rail plan in Seattle – it was a combination of Seattle tightwads and head-in-the-sand types that thwarted it.

      I’m generally pleased with the progress Seattle has made on rail lately. Yes, there are still those people out there who think LR is a communist plot or something, but generally speaking this region has moved way beyond the “should we build it?” debate. Now the debate is all about “where to build it?” and “how fast to build it?”

      That is a huge change, and one that we won’t go back on.

    3. A lot of people look at Seattle today and wonder why we didn’t build a subway in 1970. But things were a little different in 1970.

      For one thing, nobody had to go to work! The metro area had about 100,000 recently unemployed people. If you wanted to live close to your job you could rent a studio for about $40/month or a house for $100.

      If you did drive to work, there was no rush hour. No shortage of parking. You could buy a car for $50, a battery or a recap tire for $2. Gas was under 50 cents. Why would you ride a train when you could drive somewhere quicker and cheaper?

      Then there was a lot of anger and suspicion of all of the authority figures. Seattle was a town where jaywalking was illegal, and the police took payoffs for bars, gambling, and sex, while blackmailing the gay community and murdering the blacks. City Light was part of the gang (fire and police) that would only hire and promote white males. The city had been blockbusted, leaving the CD, which now included Madrona, Leschi, Seward Park, and other areas, redlisted and poor.

      The proposal was to build a subway that would run from the white suburbs to the white downtown with hardly a stop in the CD it ran under.

      Even hindsight is usually less than 20-20 here. Most of the people who make fun of the 1970 vote can’t explain how the proposed route would have helped Seattle. What if the whole thing had failed, forcing the city into bankruptcy? When that happened to Cleveland, the banks tried to take Cleveland’s public power system and give it to private ownership.

      How do you think WPPS would have worked out if City Light had been sold to private owners? That’s right, you’d be in the same boat as ratepayers in Mason County who are still paying for our involvement in WPPS, although we never got any power. A private company might well be selling hydro power to California instead of supplying the Link with power at cost.

      Mistakes were made. But voting down the subway in 1970 may not have been one of them.

      1. http://www.flickr.com/photos/viriyincy/3488685623/sizes/o/ Plan shows it stopping at 23rd and Union, solidly in the middle of the CD, and at MLK & Madison, on the edge of it… There’s no other places in the CD that it ran under. It would have been incredible for our city, linking up all the densest neighborhoods in the city. The eastside line looks remarkably similar to East Link, but with an extra spur to Bellevue College area. Its northeast line goes up through several stops in Capitol Hill and the CD to University, Roosevelt, and Lake City, which probably made a lot more sense than Northgate in 1970. It has lines out to Ballard (which we are still trying to do today) and Renton. Overall, it looks like a great plan that would have been incredible for our area. Your reasons why it failed are interesting, but more than half of the people voted for it anyways… if it hadn’t been for supermajorities…

      2. Yeah, I got to thinking last night about how impossible it is to describe for young people how it was. There were no dense areas of the city. Even at the time the apartments out by 160th NE and NE 8th east of Bellevue were denser than almost anything in Seattle. I know you can’t imagine how this was, ’nuff said there.

        The other thing is that this would have been built in the era of Dixie Lee Ray, WPPS, and numerous other disasters now lost to memory, and the system would now be almost 40 years old.

        Well, as Paul Simon almost said, who am I to blow against the wind? Sure, it woulda been great…

      3. The west part of Capitol Hill wasn’t dense? Many if not most of the big apartment buildings there predate the 1970s by a few decades (1920s in the case of the apartments I lived in up there, though I lived there in the 80s). Maybe it wasn’t dense by San Francisco standards, but it was (and is) pretty dense by the 70s, I would think. Though I have a vague memory of a car lot, of all things, actually being located on Broadway itself in, maybe, the late 1960s? I was about 4 years old, but I could swear it was Broadway, near the old church that used to be by Seattle Central.

  6. gotta love that temporary no parking sign typically used for 6 hour street fairs that I assume is intended to sit there for 6 years.

  7. I have to agree that ST has done a pretty good job so far. Yes they are taking longer to get Link built out than most would like, but that is mostly a result of geography, not bureaucracy. Also they deserve major props for taking the long view, and not succumbing to the instant numbers that Park and Rides would provide. No small feat.

    If it takes a bit longer to get ‘The T’ and not MARTA than I say it was worth the wait.

  8. Just wanted to add that I had a nice time this past week up in Seattle. I truly miss it, even though it was 40-50F and rainy up there versus 70ish and sunny in my place of exile.

    You are truly lucky to have the transit system you have. I went on the half-hourly REX (that *was* what ST wanted to call the regional buses!) 510 bus up to Everett, rode SWIFT to Aurora Village and then the every 15-minutes 358 to Seattle.

    Also got to try LINK from the airport (used Quick’s wifi-enabled Coach back to Sea-Tac from Vancouver) and used a combo of SLUT and the 70 ETB to UW, 49 Breda bus (with a stop at Dick’s!) on the way back to downtown. I truly envy the usefulness and frequencies of the system.

    ORCA is great too, especially if you tap in to the bus when you are supposed to (i.e. not in the ride-free area before a 40 minute ride north to Everett Station!-oops)

    I wish Amtrak had the institutional organization to make decisions about bustitutions less than two hours after scheduled departure times. My train 510 to VAC on 13 Jan 10 was not cancelled until about 9:30am. Considering that BNSF had forced Bustitution on 12 Jan 10 due to scheduled ROW maintainence, either Talgo or Amtrak-Seattle or both had over 33 hours to get the 510 trainset ready to go. Which it wasn’t at 0740 on the 13th, and if so, rather than stringing passengers along until 0940 (when the Starlate is using those same Northbound-capable tracks to load) to Bustitute, MAKE THE DECISION BY 0800!! (Didn’t these trainsets just get a full refurbishment??) We would have been in Vancouver around Noon and not lost 2 hours of our time there. I felt sorry for the lady booked with me in business class who it turns out was going just for the day and did not find out until Bellingham that she would be bustituted home too. There was no reason that factoid could not have been announced before leaving King Street. Also, is there no spare Superliner/Horizon/Amfleet equipment in Seattle? All we needed was a couple of cars and a loco for our load that day. Where is the back-up plan?

    Canada Line is nice, but slow, and under-capacity already, IMHO. I noted that the Bridgeport station had (Canada-nice&polite) queuing for inbound trains at 0745 in the morning. In other words, a train from Brighouse would pull in, and not everyone on the waiting on the platform at Briodgeport could get on, because the train was already full.

    And, after my ride on the Flensborg-built Coastal Celebration, I hate the Jones Act with a vengance even more. How come I can fly to Portland and Seattle on U.S.-staffed but Canadian-built aircraft, ride around L.A. County on a Hungarian-made bus, own a Korean car, but WSF cannot buy a boat on the free (world) market?? Grrrrr.

    1. I don’t think Canada Line is really that slow…I just think it feels like it because station dwell times are about 10 seconds too long and deceleration coming into stations starts too early. I would bet that en route speed is comparable to the rest of SkyTrain.

      The capacity issue is very real though. The platforms feel comically tiny, and coming back to Seattle you really feel how much bigger stations like Westlake are compared to any Canada Line station. 5 years from now (not to mention next month) they’ll really regret boxing themselves into 2-car service, even if they can swing 90-second headways.

      1. Seattle’s transit tunnel stations are larger than needed for subways – they were designed for busses. Compare Beacon Hill to Westlake. There are busy subway stations in downtown Boston and NY no larger than Beacon Hill.

        This is why a “rail-only” downtown tunnel for West Link could be a lot cheaper than the current transit tunnel.

    2. Welcome to Seattle and I hope you enjoyed your visit to our city – well it looks like you did. It is even more beautiful in the Spring, Summer and Fall. Still if you enjoyed it in January, feel free to come up here to live! We need either 25,000 more folks to come in or not leave by April in order to get an extra Congressman in Washington, DC! Help us out?

      1. Excellent – welcome back – just come before Census Day! We want to increase our clout in Washington DC! Unless of course, the new seat wherever it is becomes a Republican strong hold. One would not want to divide up Hastings’ seat for example or McMorris-Rodgers. Actually, I think if we can get one, it will be in southwest Washington around the Vancouver area. I surmise this because at one point, the seat was going to go to Oregon, but if all goes well up here, it will not do so.

      2. Well, since the state legislature, which is controlled by the Democrats, is in charge of redistricting, this will most likely result in a pickup for the Democrats, possibly two pickups if they can split a weak-Republican district like the 8th. However, nationally the reproportioning looks to benefit the Republicans more.

      3. NJL,
        Actually Washington is one of the few states (along with Arizona, Hawaii, Iowa, and New Jersey) that uses an independent commission to redistrict.

        If we had partisan redistricting it would be possible to create 9 or 10 districts with a Democratic majority.

    3. Most of the spare equipment is kept in your Faire Citie in The Southland these days – we have very little equipment here any more. Brian can probably provide details…

      1. On Wednesday the 13th’s 510 Bus-titutiion it was not the mudslide, yet. We passed train 513 which was ontime going southbound at the Edmonds station having originated at VAC.

        This was something about an engine and getting air into a brakeline. Sorry guys, but it should have been tested and ready to go Tuesday afternoon.

        As for Canada Line, yes it gets going fast at certain places, but Zach nailed it: it slows down too soon. And I guess I meant to say it is over-capacity, not under. I am glad to hear that they can increase the frequencies, but they will need more rolling stock, right?

  9. The Seattle Times ran another obituary/appreciation/?? today on former Mayor Nickels’ tensure in Seattle: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/pacificnw/2010724154_pacificpgonickels17.html

    It still looks as if those years are going to be a gold mine for journalists and others for a little while longer as we assess what went wrong in the primaries last August – well some of us are still wondering at least.

    Also in today’s paper, Rep. Brendan Williams, D-Olympia wants to sponsor a bill making it an annual requirement for Boeing to write a letter of intent not to annoy Washingtonians more than they already have and seemingly always want to. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2010807161_sundaybuzz17.html
    Although a diversion from our ordinary concerns here, I would go along with cosigning this if I were in Olympia. It seems to be an attempt to lock down some loyalty from Boeing and a way to ratchet down the hostility from management and the chance of ratchrying up a new era of loyalty from Washington State Boeing workers.
    Finally, also in the Seattle Times, their new D.C. Bureau Chief, tried to stoke some fire into the Republicans quest to upseat Senator Murray:
    Now, we know that journalists love to do this sort of thing – I still blame Joni Balter for whipping up some reason to oppose Greg Nickels, and I have to smile at the irony that I think she did and still does regret so doing – but I think that it would take a lot to unseat Senator Murray at this point in time. Still we should take nothing for granted. She has been good to this State and to our concerns on this Blog, and so I hope we continue to monitor the tea leaves for any sign of serious opposition to Senator Murray before it gets too late.

    I don’t have anything else to add this week. Oh, perhaps someone can explain why we need a two year discussion on how to strengthen the sea wall – either someone has the technical savvy to do it or they don’t? What can most of us, not familiar with geotechnical engineering add to the discussion? Surely this is for experienced professionals to work out and other professionals to evaluate? Of course, they could jsut be referring to the pieces of the puzzle that most of us will see and not the fire below?

    1. The Boeing thing seems like a complete circumvention of the First Amendment… Yeah we gave Boeing tax breaks, but we still can’t make them say things, and we can’t stop them from looking for other places.
      I agree, those columnists (Joni Balter, Danny Westneat, etc) did a lot to incite the unseating of Mayor Nickels. I think it was Danny Westneat who, after constantly going after the Mayor in his column for stupid things, wrote an article about how, maybe he isn’t so bad after all, when he lost.
      Senator Murray has pretty much no chance of being unseated. She is very popular, and there are no viable challengers. Personally, I would like to see her run for higher office some day…

      1. I plan to vote for Senator Murray and give her a modest contribution. For what I can surmise, she’s a thoroughly decent human being.

        But I think she suffers from the same shortcoming that President Obama does for that job: she’s not a ball buster. For someone to spend a billion dollars of OPM and then sit back and let the narcissists in Congress call the shots is the height of grandiosity.

        The sole reason to run for President is to set the course for the country. I don’t see much course-setting in Senator Murray; she’s a fair-minded, honest middle-class technocrat. In short, an excellent Senator for the State of Washington, which is filled with fair-minded, honest middle-class technocrats. But she doesn’t have the taste for the jugular.

        If President Obama had a pair he would have stepped down from the podium when that jerk from South Carolina yelled at him, walked over to him with the cameras running, towered over him and said, quietly but firmly, “What did you say?” The guy would have had a heart attack.

  10. In reading these comments, it seems to me there is a fundamental wrong take on the rail versus bus debate.

    Originally, rail was sold on the idea of servicing, and perhaps increasing, density.

    Yet, it is the buses that have allowed density in the first place (given that, you can typically walk 2 or 3 blocks and find a bus stop).

    However, if you are going to decrease buses in favor of rail (a valid way to go) then people are going to want to drive to stations….assuming that in today’s economy, salaries will not inflate to allow them to afford condoes right next to light rail stations. That said, I would propose the the real benefit to rail is to allow more low density living.

    That a better model is not to cram stations together, but to have as much fast LINK rail with as few stations, but spread it out as fast as possible so it can reach into suburban areas with adequate space for park and ride.

    Thus, LINK is basically best seen as a form of the Sounder, with its ability to deliver commuters from desirable reasonably priced places to live, to the high salary jobs of Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond.

    Overall, seen in this way, I am an advocate of rail, HSR as currently the Sounder benefits me in just this way.

    1. Just because they are building Link doesn’t mean there still won’t be a bus stop 2 or 3 blocks away.

      1. Could be…but is that an optimal use of dollars and resources.

        I could see a Train-Car-Taxi system that eschews buses entirely. LINK stations could be far apart but serviced by Park and Rides. Those who can’t drive can have subsidized taxis both to take them to LINK and also to help them shop around town. Thus everyone can have the low density benefits of the suburbs thanks to a superb rail system like LINK.

    2. Do you ever tire of trolling Blue Swan/The Riddler? You are not subtle.

      You’d probably have better luck/be less obvious if you upped the fact content of your posts and decreased the Bull Shit.

      1. Um… Reread it and come back and tell me how it is NOT a troll. Tell me how someone could actually believe any of that.

        Blue Swan/The Riddler has made it very obvious it is only here to troll. To have missed this you must not have read any of it’s other posts (not hard to believe as most get deleted for being completely off topic/BS), so just consider yourself lucky.

      2. I re-read it. Not seeing the issue there. Feel free to explain it. Why not point out what you disagree with – and why?

        Other posts aren’t relevant. What in THIS one do you not agree with?

      3. First off, when labeling someone a troll, or defending them against such a moniker you cannot just look at one post in isolation. Blue Swan/The Riddler has a history of starting off with an outrageous premise (McGinn is anti-density, Public Transport is slavery, PRT is the only mode of transit we should be focusing on, etc, etc) and then basing it’s entire post around that.

        Secondly, in the above example, it is that rail promotes sprawl. History shows that to be patently false, in fact it is quite the opposite.

      4. Secondly, in the above example, it is that rail promotes sprawl. History shows that to be patently false, in fact it is quite the opposite.


        So it wasn’t the birth of American rail in the 19th Century (Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan) that lead to the Westward Expansion of our nation?

        I am merely saying the same. Rail could beneficially allow us to create more livable communities further away from downtown and spur growth.

        I have promoted the idea of a “Cascades Chunnel” right through the mountains so HSR could operate year round to Yakima and Spokane and maybe Boise.

      5. Anc,

        I agree with the recent comments by Blue Swan, and find them thoughtful. If you disagree with points made then by all means say so and provide a counterpoint. Until then – at least at the moment – the troll is YOU.

      6. You agree that not only does rail promote sprawl, but that promoting sprawl should be the goal of the government/transit agencies.


        Well then Jeff, I really don’t think there is anything I can say that will sway you. That’s like asking me to refute Blue Swan/The Riddler’s earlier comment that public transit is slavery. If someone is so off their rocker (or more likely just trolling) there is no hope/point for debating them.

      7. Anc,

        You agree that not only does rail promote sprawl, but that promoting sprawl should be the goal of the government/transit agencies.

        I don’t have the aversion to ‘sprawl’ that some of you urban planner types seem to, and support a quality of life that doesn’t necessarily favor a conversion of Seattle to downtown Tokyo. Nevertheless – your comment is inaccurate. I agree that rail can promote sprawl by providing faster, more efficient transportation from suburbia (where people live) to the urban core (where people work), and can indeed discourage people from living closer to where they work by making it more effective – and desirable – not to.

        I do not believe on the other hand that it should be the *goal* of transit to “promote sprawl”. I believe that the goals of transportation should be to promote accessiblity of all people to their communities of choice (live, work, play); to provide alternatives to individual transportation solutions like cars; and to provide affordable, effective CHOICES for people to get from where they are to where they want to be.

        NOTHING in Blue Swan’s posts was unreasonable, fantastic, bizarre or unbelievable – and your attack was unwarranted. There are real impressions and issues to discuss there without your dismissive labelling nonsense.

        Does that help?

      8. I think Jeff hit a nugget of truth here.

        In an ideal Seattle world, everyone would be 24 years old, single, or with no kids, in good health and able to walk up and down Seattle’s steep hills with alacrity. Their work would be in the downtown core or in urban cores easily accessible by rail or that 10-15 block walk. Work requiring simple office space. Their apartments would be 500 square foot units very green and efficient.

        The reality is that the population comes in all shapes sizes, ages and needs. While it is all well and good to “encourage” growth in particular areas, it is not practical to mandate it. Heavy and light industry is what built this area, e.g. Boeing, Paccar, ship building, steel mills, lumber mills, ocean, rail, and air freight shipping. Like it or not, the most important industries in your area are located outside the city limits of Seattle. Like it or not, the best places to raise a family are outside the city limits of Seattle. The population of the metropolitan area greatly exceeds that of the city of Seattle. This is true for where I presently live in the Chicagoland area and it is true for most major metropolitan areas in this country.

        There is also another aspect to the reality of density; density costs money. Here in Chicagoland, to buy a condo close to downtown suitable for a family is cost prohibitive to all but the very wealthy. Very large numbers of people who live in the city live upwards of an hour or more commute within city limits in order to live in neighborhoods that are affordable whether renting or buying. Many people who work in the downtown of Chicago, live in the western burbs and commute by a very efficient commuter rail system (Metra) that moves probably 350,000 people per day on heavy rail systems that stretch outwards as much as 50-70 miles from the city. But. these systems also move people out from the city to the major employment centers e.g. Motorola, Kraft, Abbott Labs etc.

        The challenge for the people of Puget Sound is to recognize that work, play and community don’t always coincide. hence the need for transportation. Affordability is a major factor in quality of life, and that there should be choices and it isn’t all about Seattle.

      9. Oops, sorry, I guess I’m not all that familiar with the codes on this thing.

        I was attempting to quote Jeff when he said this:

        I do not believe on the other hand that it should be the *goal* of transit to “promote sprawl”. I believe that the goals of transportation should be to promote accessiblity of all people to their communities of choice (live, work, play); to provide alternatives to individual transportation solutions like cars; and to provide affordable, effective CHOICES for people to get from where they are to where they want to be.

      10. Charles,

        The challenge for the people of Puget Sound is to recognize that work, play and community don’t always coincide

        I agree with the further caveat/view that they never really will, at least not for the majority.

        I think that the budding urban planner types and ersatz visionaries, many of whom populate this blog with good ideas and thought experiments about what *could be* may at times lose vision about what *is*.

        Back to Blue Swan’s point – which was accused of being “trolling” – it is a reality that at the minimum, longer range rail as a public transportation office at a minimum services and supports “sprawl”, if not actually making it more possible/practical.

      11. Jeff, While I agree with the sentiment that I quoted of yours, I also recognize that I am a guest here and that the blog’s board has particular viewpoints and biases. I find that this community is open enough to differing opinions and thoughtful expressions but I do not think its productive to label people or to engage in ad hominem attacks.

        For example, while I agree with you that there is a difference between what is and what could be, your use of tone and language in the terms “urban planner types” etc. is to me condescending and dismissive. Would it not be enough to say that “you” are more interested in the world or our community as it is?

        As for me, I say, thank god for those “urban planner types” as they are the ones that build the bridges, railways and communities that we want to create for our future. Otherwise, we are merely stuck in the present as it decays into our future. And I believe that we can create our future reality. it take volition, planning and the confidence that it will happen.

        If we want a more dense urban living environment, we will have to do more than just build a transportation system, we will have to do all those things that create high quality of life solutions that include safety, affordability and diversity. (e.g. family friendly, not just 20 something sprightly urban dwellers)

        I think it is good that we gently remind our friends that there are certain realities in the Puget Sound region and that our desires for an efficient transportation system.

        For example, 80 thousand or more people work at the various Boeing plants in the Puget Sound, and live in many communities. How does anything we do with our planning affect the ability of those tens of thousands of people to move about the region without cars or to reduce their usage of them?

        Thurston County, which is not presently part of the Sound Transit, is in reality a bedroom community for Tacoma and to some extent the Seattle area (and conversely, many Pierce County residents work in the Olympia area). Yet, it is strangely excluded from regional transit planning. What would it look like if Sounder extended all the way to Thurston county?

      12. By the way, there comes a point where the person labelling everyone a troll becomes the real nuisance. I have counter-memed the “troll” label with a new label, the “barnacle” which I define in my bbs here:

        defn: A Barnacle is a person who haunts Usenet Newsgroups, Bulletin Boards and Fora. They offer a narrow interpretation of the purpose of the board, sometimes bordering on the absurd, or do to their own misinterpretation of the original charter. They make their living by calling almost anyone who disagrees with, or offers dissenting opinions a “troll” (which is grammatically incorrect because troll is a verb, not a noun…as in, to troll for shrimp).


      13. “Like it or not, the best places to raise a family are outside the city limits of Seattle.”

        I don’t accept that premise. (I grew up within the city limits.)

        Yes, some people believe it, but I don’t think it’s a given, at all. There are benefits and downsides to urban and suburban areas (not to mention rural areas).

      14. You’re both right. Different people have different goals, some of which are accommodated better by density and some of which aren’t.

        For example, there’s a growing community of people who are coming to believe that the food they buy is harmful, whether because of genetic modification, or because of the way the animals they eat are raised, or because of the universality of corn, etc.

        So they grow their own produce and keep their own chickens and goats, some of which is forbidden in the city (for good reason). They’re not full-time farmers, so they still need transportation to their jobs in the city.

        There are many other groups of people who consider city-living or suburban-living “best” for various other reasons.

      15. 3 hens, no rooster :) that’s Seattle policy. And we can thank Richard Conlin, IIRC, for the mini-goat policy. The P-Patch system is fabulous, and you can eat everything you can grow in 100 square feet :)

        Having said all that, and being a family in Seattle, there’s no question there are trade-offs. But I’ll take them any day.

      16. But that shouldn’t invalidate those people that choose to live on the Eastside or in Snohomish County but have to find work dozens of miles away. There nearly 5 times as many people that live outside of the Seattle, in the metro area as live in the city limits of Seattle.

        There are many communities of choice in the Puget Sound region, we should acknowledge their presence and contributions to the area. And build transportation solutions that speak to the needs of all (or most) residents in the region. That may indeed involve multiple modes of transportation that includes (gasp!) cars, buses, and rail and even ultra cutting edge things like on call car systems.

        I happen to think that on call car systems are not all that crazy and with the proper planning and public/private partnerships, could be part of the mix that solves problems like how to get people that are too far to walk to light rail to a station.

      17. Blue Swam seeks to stir-up dissention every time he posts. He injected bus vs. rail BS into good flowig threads. I wish he would discontunue writing on this blog.

    3. I like the effect the HSR has in bringing spread out communities closer together.

      The big difference between Link and Sounder is that Link runs 18 hours a day, every 10 minutes most of the time on its own tracks. Sounder can run only during rush hours and on weekdays because it shares tracks with freight, owned by BNSF.

      The station spacing on North Link is pretty wide. One stop at Capitol Hill and then a 3-mile run to a stop by the huge Medical Center/Husky Stadium and then a stop at 45th, 65th, and then to Northgate, 145th St, 185th, MLT, and Lynnwood TC.

      A 7 minute, one-seat trip directly serving the U-District, Capitol Hill and Downtown, locations which already have density, is going to be a great selling point and will attract many people to ride the train.

      1. Sounder can run only during rush hours and on weekdays because it shares tracks with freight, owned by BNSF.

        Can you confirm that? Are you saying that couldn’t add a 7pm or 8 or 9pm train even if they wanted to?!

      2. Sounder does run some special service on weekends and nights to sports games or concerts. If ST wanted to add more regular commuter service, it’ll have to negotiate with BNSF. BNSF operates the Sounder trains for ST and they coordinate the schedule.

        Here’s the original agreement that allows the current 9 round trips:


        This year they hope to reach an agreement for 4 additional Seattle-Tacoma round trips.

      3. Oran,

        The way to get more Sounder slots would be to for ST to double track the UP between Black River Junction and East Tacoma. Where possible (e.g. south of SR 518) it should be tripled. As much freight as could be handled from BNSF would go that way, freeing track time through Kent and Auburn.

    4. I’m not convinced that buses “allowed density in the first place.” Seattle was settled and platted long before buses came about; the earliest transit system consisted of streetcars. Even after the advent of the automobile, the geography of the area (and especially the location of downtown on an isthmus) pretty much guaranteed that density would increase as the city grew. This growth + density made some kind of transit system necessary.

    5. Blue Swan, the “buses you can walk 2-3 blocks to” are largely replaced streetcars that caused density in the first place.

      1. Jeff,

        Here’s a good example: look at all the very old two and three story buildings along Woodland Park Avenue between 35th and 50th. Isn’t it weird that a punky little residential street has all those apartmenty structures?

        Well, not really. It used to be the route of the southbound leg of the Green Lake streetcar.

      2. So there are no 2 and 3 story apartment buildings in North Seattle that were never located along streetcar lines?

        Your attempt to point out buildings as a ’cause and effect’ relationship between density and the existence of a rail-based transport is pretty weak here.

      3. Jeff you are just being ridiculous. You know very well the what Anandakos is saying. Arguing for the sake of arguing doesn’t win over believers or allies.

      4. Adam,

        You know very well the what Anandakos is saying.

        I believe I know what he’s *claiming* – that he believes that the existence of three-story apartment buildings along Greenwood Avenue were caused by a streetcar line.

        THAT is what to me sounds ridiculous, and it has nothing to do with “winning over” anyone. I’m not sure who these “believers” you are referring to. Believers in what?

        As far as “arguing for the sake of arguing” – isn’t that what YOU are doing here by responding for someone else – with a nonsense personal attack?

        On-topic, I asked a specific question in response to Ben’s claim that “streetcars. . .caused density”.

        I asked the question: “What makes you think that streetcars “caused density”?

        So far, the answer I’ve gotten sounds like – well – pretty weak support for that claim. If you have something TOPICAL to add, then by all means, chime in and we’ll talk. If you’re just going to sling mud and do the very thing you’re accusing me of (i.e. “arguing for the sake of arguing”), then I warn you in advance I’m profoundly uninterested in engaging furher along that line.

        So what is the evidence that supports Ben’s claim that “streetcars cause density”?

      5. Oh about the streetcars and development. You should set up a meeting with the 12th Ave alliance.

      1. Rail in itself doesn’t create density but is a factor that may encourage it. That’s up to the local jurisdiction and real estate market to decide. Exception: the transit company owns property around stations and develops them as they choose, like in HK and Japan and early 20th Century America. Example: San Jose’s light rail line which runs through vast stretches of office parks surrounded by a sea of parking.

      2. Well, I was just in Long Island for New Years to attend my parents 50th wedding anniversary.

        I rode the Long Island Rail Road several times.

        My parents live in Queens near Kennedy. My sister who I stayed with lives in central Long Island. My other sister lives in Garden City. My brother lives in Connecticut. I’m divorced but by happenstance, my son (16) was in New Jersey with my ex-wife and I invited him to the party on Long Island.

        So my son took NJ Transit to Mahattan, I met him and we took the LIRR out to Deer Park station where my sister lives. Then we stayed with her. We were driven to Port Jeff where we took a ferry up to Connecticut to meet my brother. He lives in Turnbull which is right near one of the largest rail stations and when he works in New York he takes the train…although where he lives is so low density cars really only make sense.

        When I was heading out, my sister took me back to Deer Park and I then connected at Jamaica Station to the Air Train which circles all the stations at JFK.

        So, the perfect example of low density, strange as it sounds, is the New York Metro area! The great circle that includes New Jersey, Connecticut and Long Island. Over the course of the last 30 years, its been a centrifugal flight of people from the center — even though public transportation and rail options have increased!! So you see, rail can be quite centrifugal!

      3. The areas around LIRR stations are way denser than the areas of Long Island not around the stations.

  11. I’m going to break this out into a separate post.

    Mr. Welch earlier argued: Ardent pro-rail, anti-bus activists openly favor cancelling bus service to force people onto rail. Folks who favor eliminating rider choice to promote their preferred option.

    Given that you’re quoting no one, I’m right to label this as a strawman argument. You are, in effect, citing this “worst case” person instead of making a point of your own. It is a poor way of discovering the truth.

    Everyone should advocate for removing duplicative service. If a bus today derives much of its ridership from the exact points that will soon be served by rail (say, the 70-series), then it only makes sense to remove the bus service that duplicates an expensive light rail investment. The riders that ride the various 70-series buses into the more lower-ridership areas will get new, but less frequent, bus service to their home. The service is less frequent because there is less demand to go from UW to the various neighborhoods.

    Running duplicative service has an opportunity cost. Every 70-series bus you run is a service hour not given to the 44 or a RapidRide alignment, as an example.

    To almost everyone advocating for a responsible use of service hours, it is not about eliminating “choice.” But that’s a canard. Public transit is not here to provide “choice” of various subsidized modes. We do not build a bus, a streetcar, a monorail line, and a light rail line connecting the same handful of destinations such that a rider can choose his favorite mode. Rather, we have a finite amount of resources. And if the primary ridership of one form of public transit is there because it is cannibalizing ridership from another form of public transit, then it is an inefficient use of public dollars. If light rail has the potential to turn a heavily used bus route into a lightly-used bus route, the amount of service hours we invest in that bus should reflect that. Though, of course, only if light rail can provide similar or better service.

    If my implication isn’t clear, you are one of the handful of commenters here who feel like buses and rail are in a match to the death. It’s no longer funny seeing you imply that there are hordes of people with this mindset just before giving a prototypical airing to the exact type of logic you seem to hold with contempt. The type of fire-brand words — “eliminating rider choice,” “force people” — shows a clear intent to cast the worst light on hardly evil motives. Rather, I think you should attempt to justify why we should spend public dollars to have buses and rail compete.

    1. John,

      Given that you’re quoting no one, I’m right to label this as a strawman argument.

      Label away – that won’t make it so. I’d love to dredge up some quotes for you, but regrettably this particular blog’s search features – well – suck ass.

      I have seen comments supportive of my claim that there are ardent rail advocates who have made comments right here on this blog – from the simplistic “buses are stupid” to more verbose arguments for replacing bus with rail solutions. If you haven’t and prefer to believe that they never existed – then that’s your privilege, I suppose.

      I made that point in response to something Martin wrote earlier – the “fight to the death” scenario – to point out that indeed for some pro (and anti-) rail advocates, the rail/bus debate IS a “fight to the death”, and offered a general impression that the overall sentiment here in this particular blog favors the rail side of that fight.

      you are one of the handful of commenters here who feel like buses and rail are in a match to the death

      Politically this idea can be argued, as there are limited pools of funding and for up-front costs at least – rail is quite expensive. However no, I do not believe that rail/bus either *are* in a “fight to the death” – nor should they be.

      So I guess I’m going to call your claim that I am “one of the handful of commenters” who believes otherwise – a strawman.

      1. You’re presenting a strawman because you’re attributing this idea to no one — except “ardent” people. And I’d love to know why these “ardent” people so freely articulate such a simple-minded motive. You erect a strawman and then you tear it down which certainly makes arguing easier but not very honest. Given your last sentence, I’m not sure you know what I mean by “strawman argument” but clearly a claim I make about you can be sourced to me which is entirely different than sourcing a statement to “ardent” rail people who go unnamed.

        To substance, you didn’t just claim that people here prefer rail to buses. You claimed that people here want to “force” others onto light rail and remove “choice.” You are not defending this particular statement in your reply to me and perhaps that illustrates something. You are also not defending the idea of wasting public dollars on providing bus and rail service along the same corridor to the same destinations.

        And going broader, you have perhaps bought into the mindset that buses and rail are in a constant struggle but I haven’t. Just because you’ve found yourself fawning over a particular battle doesn’t mean others obsess over it as well.

        I would say the most common view on this blog is that rail is generally “better” than buses, but that buses are always going to form a major part of the system due to the higher cost of rail infrastructure and the inefficiency of using it on low-ridership corridors. There is nothing anti-bus about this notion and I think you’d find the same rail bias in broader society.

    2. You are on the verge of opening up another question.

      In many ways demand for transportation is a variable rather than a fixed quantity.

      So, as unemployment goes up or as businesses relocate to the suburbs the needs for transportation change.

      At the same time, the transportation systems are their own directive. If you build a fixed rail line, people will start to make decisions based on proximity and schedules.

      The question then becomes what is the balance of personal freedom, to go anywhere at any time, versus the social compact of agreeing what trips are most important and thus should be standardized. Realize too that money stands to be made by some parties with every decision…

      1. So, as unemployment goes up or as businesses relocate to the suburbs the needs for transportation change.

        As much as some seem to take it as an article of faith, Seattle hasn’t had a big flood of businesses moving out of the city for a while.

        True job growth has generally been faster in the suburbs than the city but that isn’t the same thing as businesses moving out of the city.

  12. It’s not necessarily “buses versus trains”.

    I’m willing to admit that a RapidRide bus and a LINK light rail are one-to-one and I might concede that LINK is the superior option for opinions expressed here (and also to avoid being banned entirely).

    Then you get into the issue of size. For example, you could have a system or LINK/Commuter Rail (which seems what we’re headed toward) and eliminate many of the “Milk Run” buses like the 150…replacing them with smaller van sized buses the radiate out from each LINK node. Or even go to subsidized taxis and park and rides if the density and ridership warrant.

    1. Sure, smaller buses do work well as feeders, and they’re a bit cheaper to operate. They’re not *much* cheaper – it’s still a driver – but they can be.

      In the city, we may end up with high enough density to just build streetcars every few blocks again.

      1. Ben,

        In the city, we may end up with high enough density to just build streetcars every few blocks again.

        Here you appear to be arguing that density causes streetcars – not the other way around.

      2. How much density did the Inter Urban Trolley — which in its original incarnation ran from Fremont to Tacoma through farmland such as Kent, Auburn — cause?

        None, I would say…it was more of a jitney for people to get from the country to the city.

      3. Same with Amtrak. Although I could argue that it concentrates development in the form of small towns at strategic locations instead of dispersing them along a highway. That’s a relatively higher density than the surrounding farmland.

      4. I think what he’s saying is that eventually our density will get to the point where too much pressure is put on our buses, so we’ll end up replacing them with streetcars. But that in no way negates the fact that streetcars do increase density.
        I can’t wait until the day when our streetcar lines are so numerous that we move from naming them to numbering them like buses!

      5. Oddly enough, many exising bus lines used to be numbered streetcar lines – like the #5, for example.

        Personally I’m still not seeing how leaping backwards a full century is a leap forward.

      6. Melbourne, Australia is an example of a city that didn’t convert its streetcars to buses like the rest of the world did and they are now running longer trains. They progressed from Waterfront Streetcar style trolleys to modern 100% low-floor trams with the same length as our Link LRVs.

      7. Jeff-
        Things shouldn’t be evaluated based on how old they are, but based on how good they are. Streetcars originating in the 19th Century has nothing to do with merit.

      8. Jeff-

        The only reason the streetcar died was because of government intervention subsidizing GM through massive road project, parking requirements, and such. Streetcars are still a vary good transportation technology, that despite the studies that cherry-pick out many of the costs of buses say, still prove to be extremely useful.

      9. Chetan,

        The only reason the streetcar died was because of government intervention subsidizing GM through massive road project, parking requirements, and such.

        Cite, please.

      10. I did find this:



        “In 1940 and 1941, the cablecar and streetcar systems were completely dismantled. Tracks were ripped up, and the cars which were made primarily of wood, were burned, leaving behind their metal skeletons which were salvaged for scrap. Why did this occur? Those who have seen the movie, Taken for a Ride, are familiar with the story of the streetcar systems in Los Angeles and various other cities, which were bought up by a dummy company (actually a front for General Motors, Standard Oil, and Firestone Tire), and then destroyed deliberately, in order to make room for cars and buses. Was this what happened in Seattle? “No”, said Warren, “The story in Seattle was different.” Puget Power was losing money on the streetcar system, and sold it to the city of Seattle in 1919, when Ole Hanson was mayor. The city paid a high price for the system, and assumed a debt of millions of dollars. When the Great Depression hit, the city could not afford to pay its creditors, in spite of a bailout loan, which was eventually provided by the Roosevelt Reconstruction Finance Corporation.”

        “The streetcars continued to lose money, and their demise was hastened by competition from unregulated jitney cabs and buses. At some point a decision was made to replace the streetcars with trackless trolleys, which were essentially buses hooked to overhead wires.”

    2. Your idea might have merit, but it just doesn’t go far enough. It would be costly to subsidize individual taxis with individual drivers to take people to the Link stations.

      However, you could have a series of vans or small buses to drive through neighborhoods and pick up people as they needed to go somewhere. Not quite as fast, I suppose, but certainly a less expensive but still practical option.

      I would imagine that if you planned this out just right, you could design the system to run, perhaps even a bus, on a fixed route through each neighborhood. You could even publish a schedule of when the vehicle would pass by, and those without cars could simply walk a few blocks to the nearest point on the route and hop on for a ride to the station. With a bit of promotion, it could even be considered convenient enough for whose who do otherwise have cars to use.

      If you tied it all into the same fare structure, perhaps by issuing some sort of smart card that would know that this bus ride and the train constituted one continuous ride with one fare, then that could actually serve as the subsidy that you describe.

      If you expand the system to do something like this, it just might work. Who knows!

      1. DART is theoretically demand responsive. KCM’s implimentation isn’t though. The higher the demand, theoretically KCM would run more buses.

        A good example of Demand Responsive Transport in the region is Shuttle Express. You call, they pick you up. Twenty people call and 5-15 vans pick them up (depending on the areas).

  13. Commenters such as Blue Swan and others have two positive points.

    Even though they don’t have their own definable project to hold up for scrutiny (and cherry-picking data from various government sources doesn’t constitute a defined project), they do give me the chance to exercise my brain cells. In other words, I might have already made the argument beforehand, at another time, but it helps me refine it, and even fill in gaps I might not have done detailed research on.

    The other positive outcome is that for people coming to this blog for the first time can see the arguments played out, they might not be transportation geeks like the rest of us. It has an educational benefit.


    1. Unfortunately, you didn’t read all my posts.

      As I have stated, I attended the initial community review meetings back in 1993 when Metro had proposed the original 3 options for mass transit.

      At that time, I spoke up (in Bellevue) about how we should be considering 21st century options like computer dispatched taxi services that might be better for low density, point to point travel in areas that were not amenable to hub and spoke system.

      I still think that idea has merit although I have expressed my strong desire for rail for longer hauls such as Sounder does.

      So, yes, I went on the record 17 years ago with a “definable project”.

      1. Los Angeles Greyhound Terminal; You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

        I wish Greyhound would quit. It might lure someone decent like MegaBus or Peter Pan or Lux Bus America to the route. Someone will always run a bus on that government-maintained (that’s communist!) route since the right-of-way is FREEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

    1. I’m going to LA in July. Flying has the best balance of speed and cost. I also looked at bussing, driving, and taking the train.

      So I’m with Alex: if they want to. But they should do an analysis of whether or not they’d lose money.

    2. If it can’t make any money off it then yes.

      Interestingly, Amtrak from Seattle to LA is $3 cheaper at $78 than taking Greyhound for a random date, Feb 23. Amtrak takes 6 hours more than Greyhound but is more comfortable and enjoyable. That’s for a direct ride without transfers.

      A flight on the same day costs $100 and takes only 2.5 hours in the air.

      If I wanted a relaxed, scenic trip, I take the train. If I’m on a business trip or in a hurry, I fly. Who’d choose Greyhound anyway?

      1. And thanks to jetBlue and Virgin America, the SEA-LAX/LGB route has been averaging about $79 one-way fares (based on RT).

      2. RT? I need a pair of one-way tickets, LGB is fine but LAX would be better and I don’t see anything that low.

      3. Yes, of course Greyhound is subsidised – no access charges to the “free”ways, free (ab)use of city streets in and around the localities they serve, tax write-offs from their losing routes, and on and on.

      4. Who would take Greyhound? Not many going the full distance, but plenty of people are going to one of the intermediate stops on the run, stops that aren’t necessarily made by airplanes or Amtrak.

        How long would it take, and what would it cost, to get from Seattle to Kettleman City by air or rail?

        It’s really Link vs. local bus writ large — Greyhound is a long-distance milk run for all the little towns that don’t rate rail or air connections.

    3. Greyhound and the Coast Starlight serve different cities on their routes to California, so they’re not exactly duplicate service.

      1. Well, if you change to the San Joaquin at Sacramento or Martinez, you can reach the winderful cities of Stockton, Fresno and Bakersfield…

    4. Greyhound and Amtrak are competitors. Naturally they each try to gain market share between the same city-pairs.

      Metro and Sound Transit are not competitors. The same taxpayers pay for both and expect their routes to complement each other.

      People make long-distance trips, medium-distance trips, and short trips. A different kind of service is optimal for each. So we should have nonstop express trains between the major cities for long distances, limited-stop trains (Link) for medium distances, and buses/streetcars for short distances. When people make a longer trip, they may have to ride a short bus segment on each end, but they should not have to meander on a slow bus the whole way.

      It’s not a question of all-bus vs all-rail. All-bus has failed, and all-rail won’t be feasable until we’re ready to replace all buses with streetcars — maybe in 30 years but not now. The issue is the best tool for the job. Trains are better for longer distances; buses for shorter. Express bus segments that duplicate the train should be cancelled. Either that or the people who want to ride the buses anyway can pay the full cost of them. If they want to pay the gas for something that’s less fuel efficient and depends on foreign oil, let them. But don’t expect me to subsidize it.

      The 71/72/73 will probably not be changed until Brooklyn or Roosevelt station opens. The north part of the routes will probably not be reduced because they’re already at minimal levels: 30 minutes for the 71, 30 minutes daytime and 60 minutes evenings/Sundays for the 72/73.

  14. Why will U-Link spend so much time to build? Portland and Vancouver design and build transit systems in far less time.

      1. Canada Line is also in a tunnel for half its length. It took four years to construct as opposed to U Link’s six, but most of the tunnel was cut-and-cover, which is faster to build. I think the U Link tunnel is too deep for a cut-and-cover tunnel, not to mention the disruption it would have on Capitol Hill.

  15. slightly off topic but i see on chs blog someone is suggestubg the permanent closure of denny once whatever route of the streetcar is decided on. bikes, streetcar walking only from bway to 11th–a possibility?

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