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35 Replies to “News Roundup: Safety Incidents”

    1. yea … the difference is that in China … the government says the line will go hear and they build it … moving everything out of the way … regardless of what or who is in the way.

      Here … we have years of whining by every selfish special interest group … 1000s of hours of environmental impact studies … more whining and complaining … especially from people who will never take the line anyway … lawsuits … more lawsuits … etc … etc …

    2. Of course I think we should be spending more on HCR, but…

      China is almost the same size as the USA, with a population more than 4 times as big, but they only have a third of the railroad track of the US.
      The US has 5,000 paved airports, China has 425.
      The US has 75,040 km of expressways, China had 54,000 km in 2007.

      The Chinese are way behind in infrastructure investment. It’s not a surprise they are spending on HCR, just so they can move their huge population around.


  1. Yes, Diesel and LRT can operate on the same tracks, and safely. Europe has lots of places where heavy rail and light rail share the same tracks, just separated by time. It is our North American obsession with crashes (and I say that because Canada has the same rules) that prevent us from being to have mixed running. This is way Portland’s WES needed to go an prop up Colorado Railcar rather than just buying one of the numerous DMUs that run in Europe. The only place that I know of that does European-style time separation is Ottawa with it’s O-train. There is even a Transport Canada case study about it.

    1. Corey,

      I’m not asking if it’s physically possible; I’m asking if it violates FRA regulations.

      1. Martin says: “do people really think diesels and light rail will operate on the same track?”.
        It seems that’s exactly what you were asking. As far as FRA regs, you just can’t mix non compliant DMU cars with freight without some sort of approved seperation, like night time or weekend switching for freights when DMU service is not running. Or else buy FRA compliant DMU’s and mix them all you want.
        The biggest problem is sharing station platforms. Typically DMU’s are a little wider and a little taller at floor level than LRT cars, so special provisions have to be made, like they did in San Diego, or just order self-propelled Light Rail Cars to fit your platforms, assuming you’ll electrify the line at some point in the future.
        Hope the answer is what you’re looking for.

      2. I believe that if the Eastside rail line has no freight and is running “light” DMUs, they could theoretically run on the same track as the electric LRT. There is probably significant expense for signaling, switches, etc. And there may be some question as to who is the regulator.

      3. No more so than for LRT only operations if strictly mixing DMU and LRT. The power source (overhead electric lines, or make it on board with a diesel MG-set)doesn’t really care which cars use which communication and control technology.
        The same control center would dispatch all the passenger cars(LRT/DMU) and would probably have the same operators ‘bidding’ on which type equipment their going to drive.
        The only problem would be an ‘interlock’ point to seperate freight from strictly passenger sections, and the needed communication links between dispatch centers.

      4. so if any old time interurbans still existed they would be illegal under FRA rules (though likely grandfathered) because they operated both passenger and freight?

    2. On the east coast, NJ Transit has the River LINE light rail (it’s diesel powered) that has a special exemption so freight runs the same track at night. Eigher agency can request usage of the track (for example, a special event LRT train in the late evening)

  2. Related to TOD and planning around the stations — you might want to check some of the recent posts on the Beacon Hill Blog including this one: http://beaconhill.seattle.wa.us/2010/02/12/neighborhood-plan-update-appeal-is-one-of-three/ (it contains links to the earlier stories about it)

    Basically, some of the neighborhood plans in SE Seattle were put through an update process in the last 1 1/2 years to rezone the areas surrounding the light rail stations. The process was just about finished when on January 29, three identical appeals were filed (one for Beacon Hill, one for Mount Baker, and one for Othello) in what like a co-ordinated attempt to get the city to set the updates aside. (And hence, the rezoning, etc.)

    This has been really controversial on the blog so far — some people think that it’s an anti-density/TOD plot while others think that this is something that has to be done to keep the neighborhoods from being screwed by a pre-determined upzoning without concurrency. One of the blog’s columnists has written two opinion pieces so far criticizing the appeals. Another occasional opinion writer on the blog was the person who filed the Beacon Hill appeal in the first place.

    The result of the long process of updating the plan so far had been that the area immediately surrounding Beacon Hill Station was probably going to be upzoned to NC65′, but who knows what’s going to happen now.

    1. And I will add that there is another post there today that touches on neighborhood zoning issues and walkable neighborhoods — http://beaconhill.seattle.wa.us/2010/02/12/zoning-may-keep-13th-ave-coffeehouse-closed/

      An old grocery store that operated from 1915-2005 is now in a single-family zone. Someone wants to operate it as a neighborhood coffee house and performance space, and strict zoning is likely to keep this from happening. Instead, apparently it is better for folks in mid-Beacon Hill to drive to Georgetown or Columbia City or North Beacon to get their coffee, instead of walking to a neighborhood shop right there.

    2. Jeez people have problems with a couple six story buildings right next to light rail stations? When are people going to learn that density is not a bad thing, especially when it’s just in little clusters?

      1. What is interesting is that the appeals are not getting a lot of support in the blog comments. They are getting some, of course, but not any overwhelming amount.

        My impression was that most folks on Beacon Hill are supportive of the rezoning as long as it’s done well.

    1. “Bagshaw opponent David Bloom, like his ally John Fox, basically opposes all large infrastructure and development projects. Bloom’s policies would result in skyrocketing housing prices, never-ending sprawl, and no alternative to buses sitting in traffic.”

    2. Indeed in the three-way primary we endorsed both David Bloom opponents. We acknowledged at the time it was the weakest field from a transit perspective.

      1. John Fox and others may see lack of support for his candidate as lack of support for affordable housing. I hope he doesn’t get that misperception. It was a simple matter that his candidate lacked a comprehensive vision for where this city is headed. Closing off the city, and letting the rest of the world figure out where to put our population growth, is not a viable vision. No force field has been devised that can accomplish that.

        And yet, I voted for David, because I felt his heart is in the right place, and Ms. Bagshaw is waaaay too pro-automobile, and willing to spend buckoo bucks on public infrastructure for the automobile. I stand by my assessment of her priorities. Her less-than-professional behavior toward the mayor so far is also a point of ongoing irritation.

        Similarly, I voted against Richard Conlin and Jessie Israel for largely the same reasons. I think Nick Licata is the best city council member this city has had the fortune to serve it. It is appropriate to ask lots of hard questions. Now, I hope Nick gets it that the public is more rabidly pro-transit than he realized, and focuses more on asking tough questions about automobile infrastructure projects. He has been a needed critic of parking garages and other wasteful tax-funded projects. Sadly, I think he has lost much of his courage to raise these questions as a result of Jessie’s strong showing. He may have misinterpreted lots of votes for Jessie as being pro-car. Rather, I think Jessie was really good at telling people (evironmentalists, mainstream bike groups, the Chamber of Commerce, etc) what they wanted to hear. I didn’t trust her, and I still don’t.

        At any rate, I think Nick and the transit advocacy community need to embrace each other more, and put hard feelings aside. He needs us. We need him.

      2. Nick Licata seems to be very anti-density and anti-streetcar. His views are not in step with transit community.
        Richard Conlin is a great transit and density advocate. What don’t you like about him from a transit perspective?

      3. Most immediately, Council President Conlin has been leading the charge for the car tunnel, and to undermine anything the mayor tries to do.

        While you may not consider it relevant to transit, my main beef with Conlin is that he sides almost automatically with whatever the Chamber of Commerce asks. That includes his vote long ago to lift the $400 contribution limit and allow it to rise much faster than the rate of inflation. I would consider Conlin a changed man if he voted to re-instate the $400 limit, but I’m not holding my breath.

        I don’t really see how rabid support for a car tunnel translates into being pro-transit and pro-density.

      4. Licata may “ask hard questions” but that seems to be directed at transit and density projects. He was more than happy to be part of the 9-0 tunnel vote, and there tons of questions to be asked about that.

        I’d be happy to at least provisionally embrace Licata if he took a functional (rather than rhetorical) pro-transit, pro-density, or anti-automobile stance, but he’s done none of those things. Why should I support him again?

      5. Jessie Israel was much more rabidly pro-tunnel than Nick. Nick reluctantly went along with the 9-0 vote, as he didn’t want to waste political capital fighting it. If Jessie had not run, I think Nick would have been much more bold in asking tough questions about the tunnel. The main effect of Jessie’s strong showing was to show the muscle of the Chamber of Commerce, and Nick took away from that that he should be more risk-averse in his penchance for confronting the Chamber of Commerce and all its sweetheart deal requests.

        I don’t consider criticism of the SLUT as being anti-transit. I consider it being criticism of Paul Allen always getting to cut to the front of the line to get whatever he wants.

        It has been my experience that Nick has a much more open door than any of the other council members. Don’t believe me? Make an appointment and meet with him.

      6. Jessie Israel may be pro-tunnel, but she’s also on the right side of all the transit projects we support. I’ll take pro-everything over anti-everything any day of the week — transit will win that battle if given a fair shake.

        It’s not just the SLUT — Licata has been skeptical of all the streetcar projects, and was not a friend of light rail when it counted.

      7. There is the monorail. Nick Licata supported it wholeheartedly when it mattered, while the rest of the council, including our remaining incumbents from that era, were opposing it. Nickels wasn’t particulary helpful, either.

        The monorail folks tried hard to work with Metro and Sound Transit, but unfortunately, the good faith wasn’t mutual.

        So, we have a veteran councilmember who was pro-monorail and anti-light-rail, and a few veteran councilmembers who were anti-monorail, and pro-light-rail. If they had all focused more on being anti-freeway, imagine how much better things would be today.

      8. I wasn’t really tuned into transportation during the monorail years but it is my interpretation that council members aren’t really pro/anti monorail/light rail. Its that they either had a regional focused or Seattle focus approach or they had a distaste or lack of confidence in the monorail board/ sound transit. So not really a technology difference, more of a agency/accountability difference.

        Is this an accurate reading of it?

  3. Seattle should have offered this deal to West Seattle neighborhoods: If you aren’t willing to give up a dedicated lane of traffic to buses on your street, you aren’t getting a rapid ride stop.

    What is happening with the Line C can best be described as “rapid washing”.

      1. The D line to Ballard will have a long stretch of mostly-dedicated lane. I’d like to see SDOT, by ordinance, clear out lanes used by BRT.

        I think our vote for Transit Now is a mandate for SDOT to do that.

    1. What available lane?
      There are two available routes, Fauntleroy – which is one lane each direction, turning onto SW Alaska – one lane each direction, turning onto 35th Ave SW – two lanes for two blocks, turning onto Avalon – one lane each direction.
      Or the Cali Route. California Ave SW to the Junction – one lane each direction, the Junction two lanes for one block, turning onto SW Alaska – two lanes for 4 blocks (planning for one dedicated bus lane wasn’t an issue as far as I know), then repeat the above at Alaska/Fauntleroy Junction.
      The West Seattle bridge eastbound has our one and only ~1 mile of dedicated bus lane.
      I don’t think drivers are screaming about losing a lane on the bridge or on the proposed new 99.

      1. The lanes aren’t just where traffic is currently flowing, but also where cars are currently parked. Any such stretch of parking on a BRT-planned street had better plan to move and make way for a BRT lane. Indeed, we may have to consider closing some of the BRT streets to private vehicles altogether. That may force a change in the route, but the neighborhoods already seem to be unified in wanting to re-think the route, as you know.

      2. Ah yes, the dreaded parking discussion – LOL. I personally do think that a lane of parking should have been removed from Fauntleroy altogether. People seemed to have survived the one side of the road parking only during the 6 month construction period just fine. But if you do that on Fauntleroy now to add a lane, then you get rid of the new lane configuration (from 4 to 2) and bike lane that was added. This has made the street more livable – much better! So putting a lane back into the mix would IMHO be worse. Better yet, get rid of parking on the west side of the street and make THAT a southbound bike lane.

        Parking on California – huge contentious issue. Cali is pretty much a long retail strip with a narrow roadway. Adding a lane here by taking away parking would also increase traffic and speeds (not that cars speed at all of course) and make it more difficult for pedestrians to cross. I’m all for parking restrictions – but in this location I’m just not. However, take a look at Avalon; sure! It’s mostly residential. Aren’t most of the northerly RR Routes going in on streets that are already 4 lane arterials that have parking restrictions in place? Chaning a current 2 lane arterial to a 3 or 4 lane for RR buses would create a huge shift in road use that would not be beneficial to a neighborhood.

  4. Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw says nice things about BRT over light rail

    Umm. Maybe a couple things. But does she know that buses get stuck in traffic? Light-rail is always on time. These pro-bus freaks don’t understand that: If we can’t drive anywhere because Seattle’s traffic sucks, then how is a bus going to get around any easier? Ha! Have you thought about that one!

    “we need to have our cars… we have to be able to get around.”

    Hello!?! Which one of the ignorant, inexperienced Americans said this? I spent two years living in Japan without a car, and it was the most liberating experience. In fact, it is more inconvenient to HAVE a car, than it is to get rid of it. But this sounds impossible for many car-obsessed Americans. I’m looking forward to the day when Americans realize that the world out there is ahead, and more advanced, than this overrated nation.

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