My hometown system…

[UPDATE: A few points I should have made yesterday:

  • It’s interesting to consider that DC decided to move forward on this system at about the same time Seattle rejected starting theirs.  The difference, I think, is an institutional setup where elected leaders make decisions, rather than one where they have to go to the ballot for (super-)majorities for nearly every budgetary decision.
  • DC has a similarly balkanized system: spanning two states and one-quasi state, WMATA runs the subway and some regional buses; then you have at least five county agencies running buses, and two different states running their own commuter trains.
  • Seattle Times editors: please count the newspapers in the video.]

142 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Moving through Metro”

  1. Why does the Washington Metro have such a bad accident record?

    They either have really bad maintenance or poor operating procedures or both.

    1. “A railway being run by bus operators” is a quote I have read recently about WMATA.

      1. Haha. Why does that sounds so familiar? The DSTT is a bus tunnel that trains are allowed to use.

      2. At least, most of the time they are… (I got myself dropped at Westlake to take the train to the airport last night, instead of getting a ride all the way down—the 73X parked at the platform there between 7:45 and 8:15 came awfully close to ruining my day).

  2. I forgot how dimly lit tunnel stations on the DC Metro are. It’s a entirely different experience than our transit tunnel.

    1. Our transit facilities, limited in service though they may be, should get a thumbs up for inviting atmospheres.

      1. Agreed, our tunnel stations are gorgeous relative to most other North American cities. When I worked downtown even the European tourists loved them. They especially loved the combined bus-rail operations we generally loathe.

      2. The buses are are only loathed because the operators can’t get a move on. It’s just too congested in the tunnel. I don’t personally dislike the buses there, but something has to be done because it is a mess at times.

    2. DC Metro’s station were actually specifically designed to be very light and open, at least compared to other systems at that time (NYC, Philadelphia, Boston, etc). Over time we learn from the previous systems and make them better; Seattle’s right now looks like the nicest-atmosphere subway system in the nation.

    3. I’m hardly impartial, but I actually love the design of the DC tunnel stations. They’re utilitarian but beautiful, iconic, and delightfully cool in the sweltering DC summer.

      I like Beacon Hill a lot but I could really do without almost all the features of the DSTT. The 80’s era art hasn’t aged well, the mezzanines require a huge amount of unnecessary walking, and worst of all, no center platforms!

      1. The DC tunnel stations are certainly beautiful (aside from the fact that they all look exactly the same); it’s just annoying that you can’t see anything in them.

      2. The DC stations are great. It took me a while to appreciate them but now I love them. Am looking forward to riding on a real subway system when I visit DC in April.

      3. Please do not ride in the first or last cars.


        WMATA is in seriously bad shape and another major accident is, I’m afraid, a statistical certainty.

      4. Wonder if the DC subway stations are so cool in those awful DC summers is that they were placed deep enough underground to serve as bomb shelters. Also, under DC, whatever isn’t swamp is solid rock. Beacon Hill seems cool-as-a-cave as well.

        Main reason the walking through the mezzanines is wasted is that they were never intended to be left empty. One thought was booths for fare collectors after light rail arrived. If Tunnel platforms became proof-of-payment zones, at least after 7PM, bus service would speed up a lot.

        But there’s no reason they have to be left empty. Ought to be at least an espresso cart in each one, and some other little businesses as well.

        The 80’s art? Ars longa, vita brevis, as the Romans used to say.(Life’s short, art lives forever”). Who knows what next decade’s nostalgia craze might be? Transportation history is full of stations whose destruction was praised by the contemporary modern-arts scene- only to be mourned by those artists’ grandkids.

        In addition to the engineering advisory group, I also served on the citizens’ advisory group to the DSTP artists. I can tell you that whatever else we didn’t get right in the eighties, the Tunnel buses, for instance,we had a good team of artists who made an honest effort at excellence.

        Remember also that while most artists only have to put up with critics after the piece is done, Tunnel artists had to put up withvalue engineering- constant daily change-orders while the creation was in progress. Which actually improved the art.

        The real shame is how much of the art is being wasted. The nice waterfall fountain at the outbound platform at CPS ran for six months, broke down because the pump couldn’t handle trash- and never ran again in nineteen years. The clock at Westlake Station is stuck at 12. Both clocks at Pioneer Square, using broken project-tools for hour markers, aren’t even cleaned or lighted.

        All the tubes are lined with blue-and-white reflectors, best seen through bus windshields with bright headlights on- which may be against rules now re: cameras.

        But the origami at IDS is still among the best public art I’ve seen, and the whole station gets good marks for quality. Main thing missing there is the permanent oriental market that was supposed to occupy the canopy just south of the northeast stairway.

        Weird thing was how secret Metro kept the Tunnel before light rail arrived- without directions, nobody could find it, and the art never got the publicity it deserved. For public art, it’s considered pioneering. Somebody should do a book about it.

        Mark Dublin

      5. It’s not quite a book, but Metro does have a fairly comprehensive website that documents all the art in and around the tunnel. It’s also available in pamphlet form next to the bus schedules in Westlake Station.

      6. Thanks for that link. Had fun cruising around those pages for awhile last night.

      7. The secrecy, or obscurity, is amazing. Last year I took a bunch of 12th graders from the North End (of Seattle, i.e., inside city limits) on a field trip downtown and sent them all home on their own with instructions on getting to the bus tunnel. A handful had never been in it in their lives, and two hadn’t even known it existed. Many of this year’s students also think the streetcar is Link.

      8. Plenty of DC Metro stations are just side platforms. I agree, center is better, though. They should definitely try to retrofit IDS to have a center platform once East Link arrives.

    4. Remember that it was built to “out do” the Moscow Metro, and at all of the stations except the junction ones, there are no walls touchable by passengers.

    1. Is your statement accurate when you say “Washington DC area”?

      Or is it just the District itself, so a better comparison would be with the density of the Seattle city limits.

    2. Yeah, seriously, King County stretches all the way to the middle of the Cascades.

      And no, the DC “area” is not that density. DC itself is that density.

      A more accurate comparison is DC at 9,776.4/sq mi to Seattle at 7,136/sq mi.

      We’re actually not that far apart as far as cities go – DC just has a much larger city region.

      1. ya, a totally bogus stat — on the DC side and on the KC side. Don’t forget, not only does KC go all the way to the pass, but it also goes all the way to the middle of the fricking sound, and it of course it includes all of Lake Washington.

        Meaningless stat, purely meaningless. But no surprise….

      2. DC’s suburbs tend to be pretty dense, though:

        Arlington, VA : 7,995/sq mi
        Bethesda, MD : 4,205.8/sq mi
        Alexandria, VA: 9,212/sq mi
        Takoma Park, MD : 8,152.4/sq mi


        Seattle’s suburbs drop off in density pretty quickly. Even Tyson’s corner is more dense than Bellevue is.

      3. Except we are far apart. Maybe not on the order of the stats Sam cited above, but we also aren’t that close and I think it’s irresponsible to gloss over the significance of the difference in densities.

        Consider if you will the difference in densities over the areas in question, i.e. 9,776.4/sq mi – 7,136/sq mi = 2,640.4/sq mi, which on the surface doesn’t seem that far to you, though in reality DC’s density is 37% higher than Seattle’s.

        Better yet, carry that density out over the area in question. Seattle’s land area is 83.87 sq mi. With a difference in population density of 2,640.4/sq mi and we need to add 221,450 new residents to Seattle to be at an equivalent density to DC.

      4. It would be pretty sweet to ride to the middle of the Cascades. Oslo and other places do something like this – you have a dense population in one place (like Oslo or Seattle) and a place where a heck of a lot of thoses people want to go (like Holmenkollen or Snoqualmie Pass). Sure, almost no one lives up there, but lots of people go there, and probably even more want to.

    3. Sam, no one is planning on building a metro system to Duvall.

      More relevant information:
      Population density of Seattle metro area: 7,136/sq mi.

      Does anyone know how dense Washington DC was in 1970 when they were building the metro?

      1. A lot less. Metro was highly instrumental in increasing density in parts of MD and VA on the different lines in addition to many of the stops inside DC. Arlington, VAs build out can be highly attributed to good long-term planning and the Orange line.

      2. Unfortunately that isn’t true. DC has been bleeding population since 1950. In 1970 there were over 750,000 in the district. There were under 600,000 in the last census.

      3. I’m not talking total population. I’m talking density around the stations. Red line has seen huge growth (upwards), as has the green line inside DC (in one direction at least)

      4. DC itself is perhaps the worst governed city in the country. The schools are atrocious, even when you adjust for socioeconomic factors.

      5. That’s because Congress insists on governing DC, right? Is it time for statehood for DC?

      6. Congressional oversight is part of it, but I think a bigger problem is the fact of a one-party state with partisan races. Offices are essentially decided in primaries, so there’s really no accountability when elites run institutions corruptly or incompetently.

        Also, the local Republicans haven’t cracked the code on how to be competitive, as they have in New York City.

      7. It is time to return the remaining territory of the District to Maryland just as its territory south of the Potomac (Arlington, Alexandria) was returned to Virginia in 1846.

  3. This is probably a better comparison of the two areas. King County is huge, and lots of it is really sparsely populated due to the mountains. From wikipedia:

    Wash DC (city, with 68.3 sq mi.) density:9776 sq mi
    Montgomery county, MD: 1917 sqmi
    Prince George’s County, MD: 1709 sq mi
    Fairfax County, VA: 2571 sq mi

    Seattle (city, with 84 sq mi, land) : 7136 sq mi
    Bellevue: 3947 sq mi
    Renton: 4625 sq mi
    Kent: 2836 sq mi
    Redmond: 2848 sq mi
    Burien: 4287 sq mi

    1. Population densities by zip codes along DC Metrorail routes:

      Zip Code 20005: 24,786 sq mi.

      Zip Code 20001: 13,511 sq mi.

      Zip Code 20009: 35,652 sq mi.

      Zip Code 20010: 19,134 sq mi.

      Zip Code 20011: 12,236 sq mi.

      The densities of the neighborhoods that Link passes through on are in the low to mid four figures.

      Get angry, call me names, shake your fist at the sky …

      Those are the fact.

      1. A more accurate comparison would be for Portland zip codes. I’m sure they have higher density numbers but they’ve also had time to build up more density around their light rail lines.

        Unless, of course, you think Portland is still not dense enough to support rail…

      2. A more accurate comparison would be what the population densities along Metrorail routes were the year Metrorail was built.

      3. Sam, no one has called you names, gotten angry, or shook their fist in the sky on this thread.

      4. Um… actually that’s not true. I like to call him Silly Sam, mostly in the sense of “Oh that Silly Sam and his silly ideas!” I’m pretty angry (can you tell) and am actually shaking my fist in the sky as I type (do you have any idea how long this is taken to type with just one hand?)

        But seriously, having not paid too much attention to comments on STB I have no idea what it is that Sam thinks we should be doing if he is against Link.

      5. ya, and we aren’t building a Metro system like DC did (even though Link has some of those features at much lower cost).

        You have no point.

    2. Can’t leave out Arlington and Alexandria (not part of Fairfax Co. and much denser)

      Arlington 7995 sq mi
      Alexandria 9200 Sq Mi

      If Seattle is close to Arlington in Density and seeing the successes there I think we’ll see some very good things if we build out a good system.

      1. True. (for anyone confused: Virginia, unlike everywhere else in this country: Cities are independent of Counties. Confusing? Yes. Makes it so that governments have to work against each other (a “me first” attitude).)

    3. You can’t compare a collection of urban and suburban cities with large counties that include exurban and rural communities.


    Fresh off a “temporary” 10-cent fare hike, Metro has scheduled six public hearings on the next budget deficit.

    The transit agency is preparing for a $189 million budget gap for fiscal year 2011.

    The public is invited to public hearings in March and April to offer their input.

    Possible fare increases being considered for FY2011 include:

    •Increasing the Metrorail peak period boarding charge from $1.65 to up to $2;
    •Increasing the Metrorail maximum peak period fare from $4.50 to up to $5:45;
    •Implementing a surcharge of up to 50 cents for “peak-of-the-peak” trips from 7:30 to 9 a.m. and 4:30 to 6 p.m. weekdays;
    •Increasing the Metrorail off-peak boarding charge from $1.35 to up to $1.65;
    •Increasing Metrorail and Metrobus passes so the price is consistent with boarding charges;
    •Increasing the Metrobus boarding charge from $1.25 to up to $1.60 with SmarTrip® and from $1.35 to up to $1.70 with cash;
    •Increasing the MetroAccess fare to up to twice the comparable fixed route fare;
    •Increasing all daily parking rates by up to $1.15; and
    •Increasing the bicycle locker yearly rental fee from $70 to up to $200.

    Service reductions being considered for FY2011 include:

    •Making seasonal adjustments to service to meet demand;
    •Increasing intervals between trains and buses;
    •Closing some station mezzanines and rail stations during periods of low ridership (such as weekends or late at night);
    •Beginning rail service later in the mornings;
    •Modifying late-night rail and bus service; and
    •Eliminating some low-ridership bus routes or portions of routes.

    Changes to MetroAccess service being considered for FY2011 include:

    •Reduce the MetroAccess service area (within Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines) to reflect actual fixed-route bus and rail service areas reflecting the actual time, day and location;
    •Charging a premium for service provided to locations beyond the ¾-mile corridor around fixed-route services. The premium for zones would be $4 extra for zone 1, $8 extra for zone 2, $12 extra for zone 3 and $16 extra for zone 4;
    •Aligning the MetroAccess fare structure to the maximum allowed under the ADA definition, which is twice the equivalent of fixed-route fare; and
    •Restricting the use of the Free Ride Program to only those MetroAccess certified persons with conditional eligibility.

    1. That’s very true, there happens to be a recession.

      Note, these are possible fare increases, I know it makes things look at lot worse, and helps you frame your pre set narrative by showing all of them, but only a few will be implemented. Just as a few fare increases have been implemented to Metro’s “cheap” bus system.

  5. Apparently a long time ago there was a “traffic fatality scoreboard” at the corner of Westlake & Pine. On 18 December 1958 it read, “Seattle Traffic Deaths to Date. This Year: 68. Last year: 43.”

    From the scant numbers that I was able to find, it seems the average nowadays is ~33 deaths per year in the city, but apparently ~350 people are hospitalized. (I wasn’t able to tell if the data included pedestrians who were killed/injured by vehicles, or if they were only for vehicle/vehicle incidents.)

    I wonder when and why that sign was removed, and if bringing it back would do any good. We have “Don’t drink and drive” memorial signs; what about “X people have died at this intersection” or “X people have died on this road” signs. Or if that’s too disturbing, just “There have been X accidents here”. Seems like drivers could go for a reminder sometimes of just how dangerous their means of transport is.

    1. I think that would have been in the middle of Westlake Park now. I’m guessing they took it down at latest when they built the original monorail station

      It’s a strange sign. I guess it was to remind people to drive safely? Back in the days when traffic deaths were seen as a problem, rather than just a fact of nature.

      1. There’s no indication of when the sign went up, but if it was new that year, it probably went up because of the over 50% increase in fatalities from ’57 (43 to 68 with a few weeks left in ’58).

        If there were a comparable increase in traffic deaths nowadays, there’d probably be some sort of PR effort to make the public more aware of the dangers of driving, but somehow I doubt it would take such a blunt form as this.

  6. Wash, DC pop in the past. The DC Metro was built in 1976…so DC was more popolous back then…it peaked a bit over 800k people in 1950.

    1980: 638,333

    1990: 607,000

    2000: 572,059

    1. That’s an interesting point. The metro came in during white flight. I think Seattle had the same thing around that time, didn’t we?

      1. White flight started mid to late 1960s in Seattle – lasted perhaps 20 years until the Californians started moving up here in the 1980s.

      2. Lloyd, well done, 1960-1980 is spot on…

        1930 365,583 15.9%
        1940 368,302 0.7%
        1950 467,591 27.0%
        1960 557,087 19.1%
        1970 530,831 −4.7%
        1980 493,846 −7.0%
        1990 516,259 4.5%
        2000 563,374 9.1%
        2009 602,000 6.9%

      3. That wasn’t white flight as much as the boeing bust. There were no jobs so people we just leaving, race notwithstanding.

      4. Andrew: “That wasn’t white flight as much as the boeing bust. There were no jobs so people we just leaving, race notwithstanding.”
        I’d disagree, and (while I do not have the figures right at hand) if you look at the change in the racial make-up of the schools, I think my dates are pretty close. I went to a nearly all-white Seattle Jr High School 1960-1963; by 1980 that (now) Middle School was more than 50 % non-white and/or hispanic. Yes the Boeing bust contributed to some folk moving to what were considered “cheaper” ‘burbs (gas was only 39 cents a gallon, after all, and a new house was $15-25 K), but blatant racism reared its virulently ugly head during the :”Open Housing” election in the early 1960s, and again in the Mayor’s race in 1969.

      5. Interesting point. Seattle public school enrollment declined which is often used to support the “white flight” idea. In fact, when you look at public plus private school enrollment there is no net decline. Families stayed in Seattle but they choose to invest in private schools. This is in line with property values increasing in the city limits. The wealthy stayed in Seattle but the “flight” was from the public schools.

    1. I fully support Metro’s efforts to reduce the number of stops on many of these routes. I’m a frequent 26 rider and noticed some of the closure notices along Dexter.

      1. My teenaged kids would argue with your support. They are “frequent fliers” on the 28 from our home in Broadview and are now complaining that they’re going to have to walk “a WHOLE EXTRA BLOOCK!!!!”

        Oh, the humanity!

    2. Awesome, more routes need this sort of treatment. Anybody know of other routes being evaluated for stop consolidation? The 44 needs it real bad, and the 124 south of the railroad tracks…

  7. Are the trains really that quiet inside?
    Not one person spoke to another through that whole video.

    1. With the exception of the occasional isolated conversation, sneeze, cough, and sniffle -yes, it really is that quiet, particularly during morning rush hour when most of us are still partially asleep.

    2. It seems that the East Coast has a lot less talking on their transit systems than we have… When I was in NYC this last summer, the doors of the subway train I was on were closing, and a woman was running for the train. A guy on the train put his foot in between the doors to stop them from closing, and the woman came and the two of them opened the door enough for the woman to slip in. But the crazy thing was, I don’t think between that entire minute-long saga the two of them made any eye-contact, and afterwards there wasn’t any “thank you” or “you’re welcome” exchanged between them… The culture over there is so different from Seattle’s.

      1. By contrast, I just got back from the Bay Area, and the Downtown Berkeley BART platform was super loud from all the conversations happening all at the same time during rush hour!

    3. DC Metro is like London Underground that way. Since the tunnels are often deep in DC there are no cell phone yakkers – YAY!

  8. The federal and state government required Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the four counties of central Puget Sound region, the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) has invited me, other readers of this blog, and indeed all citizens of the region to a transportation planning public hearing Monday March 15, 5pm to 7pm, downtown Seattle. Two or more U.S. DOT representatives will listen, and take notes on citizens’ opinions about Seattle area transportation planning. The context is the periodic Federal recertification of the regional planning process.

    The location is PSRC offices, 1011 Western Ave, Suite 500, downtown Seattle, 5-7pm. Easily reachable by public transit.

    Based on last time, the venue is quite informal. Members of the PSRC staff are likely to be at the hearing as well, interested in what people are going to say.

    Let me remind you that the regional transportation planning process has contributed to (embraced!) all of the following well known transportation facilities and events over the past few years and earlier: Sound Transit fully funded through the 2020s including $1.3 billion in FTA New Starts grants, local bus services in four counties raising fares and/or cutting service with a doubling of service specified in the Plan by 2040, and the rise and fall of the Seattle Green line monorail (current and previous plan).

    Also, the maintenance and replacement of the South Park Bridge (in all plans since PSRC and predecessor agencies began work), SR 167 HOT lanes, HOV lane expansion throughout the region, the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement effort, the SR 520 Bridge replacement effort, maintenance and refurbishment of Washington State Ferries, planning for the abandoned BNSF rail corridor in East King County, planning for the cross-Base highway in Pierce County, and much, much more.

    The region’s current transportation plan — Destination 2030 — and the forthcoming transportation plan in draft — Transportation 2040 — are fully documented at

    Both the Nickels and McGinn administrations of Seattle declared opposition to Transportation 2040 in draft. Seattle City Councilman Tom Rasmussen initiated some changes in plan language last Thursday that led to his voting support for the draft plan, to be voted on again (and likely approved) by the PSRC Executive Council on March 25.

    I expect to be there with a few comments.

  9. I’ve got an idea: McGinn should take the big open pit on the corner of 2nd and Pine and put a casino, then use the proceeds from the city-run casino to build Ballard-West Seattle Light rail.

    A can’t miss, right? :P

      1. Even if they fill it in, you can just dig it back up and put a casino there. Think about it, all the tourists from Pike Place Market going to play slots…

    1. Haha great idea. But I was thinking that property would be great as an interim terminus of a Second Ave. tunnel, if they only did the Westlake-West Seattle or Westlake-Ballard segment at first.

    2. That pit was supposed to be filled in by last Christmas but it is filled up now but not yet open to the rugs and drugs folks that used to be there!

      That pit shows the abject failure of capitalism to control its own waste and is a poster child answer to those who say that only governments waste money! Seattle is full of these chain-linked in parcels of land bought by developers who then screw them up or leave them fallow to all but weeds for years.

      Thankfully, before the recession hit, Seattle did acquire a lot of gleaming new towers for the future. Even if no one is in them now, they will be I expect in the future. In the meantime, whole city blocks have been cleaned up that needed to be. It just annoys me when developers have to leave their land in the chainlink fence stage!

  10. So it’s official: next week I’m expecting Twin Boys. I need ideas for names

    1. Shame for peaking. But as long as you know it’s boys my favorites list would be; Bernard, Nolan, and Patrick ;-) Seriously, Adam is the first obvious choice. Clark seems like another good one… You know, sometimes they’re wrong. I hope you get two girls and totally have to pay the price for peaking.

      1. Peeking? Me? Never! :-P

        as for names: Adam? Adam Clark is my live-in brother (don’t get me wrong, I love him to death). Clark? That’s my last name. I like Patrick though.

        Oh, we know they’re boys (saw their “junk” on the ultrasound)

    2. How about “Red and Blue”. Then you can keep expanding your system as time marches on.

  11. I’m heading down to San Diego tomorrow, and I’m hoping to try out their trolley system.

    They don’t seem to have light rail…only trolleys.

    1. It is a light rail system, it’s just called the San Diego Trolley. It runs mostly in the street through downtown, in an old railroad right-of-way outside of town, and on an elevated structure through Mission Valley. There’s one underground station at San Diego State University. You should try to ride on the Blue Line because they still operate the original German Siemens-Duewag U2 cars built in 1981.

      1. Sounds like LINK:

        Rapid Streetcar:
        Rescaling Design and Cost for More Affordable Light Rail Transit

        “Electric streetcar or tram-type rail vehicles, rather than being consigned solely in street configurations to relatively slow circulator, shuttle, or feeder-type services, would be deployed in some types of alignments and operating practices currently envisioned for higher-level, interurban-type light rail vehicles (i.e., the current standard). Streetcars operating up to 40-45 mph (65-75 kph) in reserved lanes, median reservations, or exclusive rights-of-way, as well as in mixed traffic, could provide modestly faster service attractive to shorter-distance commuters, while rendering operational cost savings (compared with bus service) through multiple-unit (MU) entrainment of cars or extended articulations.”

      2. Actually this is closer to MAX or European trams. Tacoma LINK (actually a streetcar) has some of these features as well. It’s a bit more separated than either SLUT or the Portland Streetcar.

      1. Good tip!


        “Trains run every half hour between 04:00 (4:00 a.m.) and 21:30 (9:30 p.m.). Monday through Friday, and hourly on weekends.”

        Word to Sounder!

  12. Train question: I was passing through stanwood today and saw the most peculiar train combo parked on the new stanwood siding at the station. The train consisted of an Amtrak engine, 1 superliner coach, and a Bnsf engine in a push/pull configuration. Any ideas on what could have been going on?

    1. I saw that “train” last Friday at the coach yard south of the stadia – curious. Mike may be correct – Brian, where are you?

    2. The funniest thing I ever saw on the Coast Starlight was actually a Sounder engine just north of San Louis Obispo! It was crawling up the hill that leads out of the town! It was the brightest object on the trainset and a lovely advert for our region!

      1. yeah we (amtrak) had to send some sounder engines down to LA for work that couldn’t be accomplished in the seattle coach yard. also there were some sent up from LA that were returned from metrolink. it’s a cool site. a few weeks ago a few sounder engines weren’t running so they had to use an F59 on an everett set. i wonder if anyone got any pictures of it.

    3. the police were doing a drill, not sure if it was specifically anti-terrorism but they had guns out and everything(not loaded i hope). the BNSF engine is sitting on king street 7 now with a dead battery, the unit is tagged up pretty good. were you on the 510 on sunday by any chance?

      1. My blog is “Ideas for Hampton Roads Transit” because I’m not affiliated with the official agency.

        Anyhow, last year I found out about Bus Driver Appreciation Day from right here at the STB

  13. Cool post Martin; I noticed the DC trains are crowded enough that fare inspection wouldn’t work, they’ve got to use gates. Vancouver BC has reached this stage, while Seattle maybe gets there in 2020, if gas prices, population and construction success break right for Sound Transit. And more will be reading newspapers on smartphones.

    — Mike Lindblom, Seattle Times reporter

    1. Mike, you can still use a proof of payment system instead of fare gates even on crowded systems. It requires that the platform area is a fare paid area (must have ticket to be on platform) and you do inspections of riders exiting trains or exiting the platform on the crowded sections. You can still do inspections on the trains in the outlying areas of a line where ridership is lower.

      In Paris, I have seen fare inspection of disembarking passengers on bus lines. I guess their bus lines are POP.

      1. My ticket was checked “on the platform” in San Diego last week. Teenager sitting on the bench without a ticket was chased off.

    2. Mike,

      Regardless of the medium, the point is that reading, on a train, is pleasant; on a bus, doable; in a carpool or vanpool, intolerable; and while driving, insane. Although I know they get a lot of advertising from car dealers, I find your editorial board’s (not your) lukewarm attitude to transit, and opposition to rail in particular, as self-defeating.

      1. Martin,

        I thought that Mike hated our train network? I might be wrong here but I have never gotten the idea that he was that keen on anything built by Sound Transit?

      2. I won’t pretend to know what’s in Mr. Lindblom’s heart, and in keeping with newspaper conventions he hasn’t let on. The Times editorial board, however, lets its opinions be known.

        I don’t think the tone of his articles can be interpreted as “hate” in any case.

      3. What Martin said.

        In addition as a traditional newspaper reporter his job is to play the skeptic on behalf of the public.

        My feel is that he personally likes transit, but has a bit more of a jaundiced eye toward it than is common here.

      4. That’s not my ‘feel’ at all with his articles but so be it I guess. Yes, his job is to be a sceptic but I don’t think he has a strong preference for our public transit network. Shall we say that then?

      5. A couple years ago (after ST2 passed) I asked Mike Lindblom whether he though this sentence was impartial:

        The 34 miles of additional light rail, to Lynnwood, north Federal Way, and the Overlake Transit Center, near Microsoft, aren’t expected to be finished until the early 2020s. The theme of serving future generations sounded at odds with the official campaign motto: “Mass Transit Now”

        and his response to me was:

        The observation is fair.

        As you well know, although these rail projects will provide huge available capacity, they will take many years to get done. The big win for Sound Transit means that politicians need not imply that people will see immediate benefits. I noticed the relief on board members’ faces at the press conference, and the realism in their comments — didn’t you?

        By the way, I admired the clever blog comment where (maybe it was you) a supporter couched the words “Mass Transit Now” into a longer sentence about approving mass transit now so a long-term system gets started.

        He then went on to talk about his grand-kids possibly using Link to get to UW.

        So I think the fair thing to say is that he clearly understands the benefits of light rail, also understands the politics, and has concerns about the time-frame. Honestly, anything which such a long time frame deserves a good skeptic or two.

    3. It’s not so much that fare inspection doesn’t work as that you need enough density to recoup the cost of the gates. In other words, how much are you losing to fare evasion vs the cost of installing the gates? Remembering that some people won’t ride at all if they have to pay, so you won’t get any revenue increase from them.

  14. I’d just like to know this week if the second phase of restoration of King Street Station has actually started, or are we just preparing to start? I can’t tell if the evidence of recent painting of the old ceiling is just a patch to show what it could look like in the future and which was done last year or if it is new to phase II starting up? Anyone know?

    1. I heard the legislature passed a bill requiring King Street Station be torn down and converted to parking for wide-bore tunnel construction workers.

      Maybe I heard wrong, but with the way Olympia is treating Seattle these days it wouldn’t surprise me.

      1. Yea, I don’t think so, though WSDOT is talking about tearing down the pier shed on pier 48 to use the area for construction staging.

        Some other historic structures West of Qwest Field may also be threatened with demolition to make room for the tunnel itself, the ramps, or as staging areas.

      2. That’s just mischief making because you know I like both the tunnel and King Street Station. That idea of tearing down KSS is just too absurd to even be mentioned here!

    2. according to the people working on the project they were shooting for april 1st to tear down that horrible drop ceiling. i have some pictures i took from above the ceiling, i’ll get around to putting them online somewhere eventually.

      1. Great – does that mean then they will be painting it in full view of everyone?

      2. i heard they will be sectioning off parts of the station one at a time to work on. sounds like its gonna be a mess in the morning when the 510 and 501 are ready to board.

  15. Martin – that’s an excellent point about governmental structure making a huge difference in launching light rail systems. I was told by folks in Vancouver, in 1986, that a group of politicians decided they needed a light rail system up and running by the time Expo 86 opened, and then did whatever it took to get the SkyTrain built. In the beginning, a lot of people were angry that the system had been forced on them, but I think by the end of the exposition just about everybody agreed the SkyTrain was long overdue. And the politicians in the suburban towns that had sworn it would be extended over their dead bodies were demanding their own stations and going out of their way to speed the process. It was wonderful to see TOD springing up around the stations – immediately – as the line was extended and the spurs were added. (And it was always a big letdown to return to Seattle and reality.)

  16. The seemingly perennially problem-plagued Angels Flight funicular railway reopened this morning in Los Angeles.

    The California Public Utilities Commission last week approved the safety certificate for Angels Flight.

    In a letter to Angels Flight Railway Co., the PUC said that it had “no major safety concerns” regarding the rail line.…

    1. I had never even heard of this before. heading to LA next week coincidentally, stoked to go check this out. thanks for the info!

  17. Good Bellevue City Council Study Session this evening (Monday). I sense the City Council is coming together to do what’s right for Bellevue. I’d pretty much given up on the possibility of a tunnel. The council was unanimous in support of C9T but more to the point the funding actually made sense. It’s not all in place but it certainly looks doable. There were also some ideas on how C9T variants might look and I believe an open mind at looking at how they might or might not make sense.

  18. The DC area really grew around the Metro system. I grew up in DC and the area’s that had Metro station flourished around the system. One of the greatest problems in Seattle is that the city has missed opportunities to build the system. Another key part behind the DC metro system was that it was paid with Federal dollars, after all, its the Nations Capital.

    In general the DC Metro is great. I truly miss having it. One funny difference between Seattle and DC is that DC didn’t waste any money or space on Professional Stadiums. ;D

    1. BS. DC backed $600 million in bonds to finance the stadium. There’s not a top league sports team in the US that hasn’t sucked at the teat of public finance. Why would they when you can just threaten to move and get a better offer.

      1. The SF Giants privately funded their stadium. I believe the Pepsi Center in Denver is also privately funded. I suspect there are other examples.

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