Photo by Atomic Taco

This is an open thread.

43 Replies to “News Roundup: Double-Speak”

    1. that’s not really fair. LINK is not the NYC subway. How the trains are monitored and tracked is not the same. You are comparing apples to peaches.

      But I do agree with your overall point. There is no reason why ST couldn’t add some form of contact switches along the line that could be used to track the position of the trains as well as their speed in order to provide next train indicators.

      but it costs $$$

      1. I’m a little shocked to see someone on the administrative side of STB decided to delete my comment/response for no apparent reason. What happed to this being an open thread?

      2. Doesn’t happen only with HTML links and comments don’t always appear after a bit. Just the other day I tried to congratulate “Anc” for something personal in the Sunday open thread. Nothing happened. Tried to re-post and the site indicated that I had already posted identical content. Comment has yet to appear. Not a big deal as it doesn’t happen often and you can always re-post with slightly different wording, but odd nonetheless. Appear to be some mischievous little bugs crawling around the site’s innards.

        Little tip: If you’re posting anything that would be a pain to rewrite, copy it to your clipboard before clicking “submit.” If your comment is lost you can just paste, tweak, and try posting again.

    2. The MTA has been working on real-time arrival for a decade and has spent $200 million on it so far.

      I might add that real-time info is actually useful on a system like New York’s, where stations are served by multiple lines with trains that could be local or express. On Link it’s pretty easy to guess where the next train is going. If we don’t have a decent real-time info system by the time East Link opens, than I’ll be disappointed.

  1. “Sound Transit’s choice is to meet Bellevue’s good-faith efforts on the tunnel or choose a problematic surface route for downtown.”

    Wow, they sure made it sound like a progressive Bellevue has been trying desperately to persuade a recalcitrant Sound Transit board. Sheesh.

  2. Just my two cents in regard to the recently heated up SR 520 debate. I am a huge fan of transit (which is why I read this blog daily) and commute over this corridor on weekdays from Seattle to Bellevue by bus. Whilst I would be absolutely in love with light rail being a part of 520, the real issue is not getting it on and off the bridge, or even the Montlake neighborhood’s rejection of any sort of option. The big issue is with the soon-to-be existing light rail and the University of Washington.

    Those that have been following this blog and issues associated with light rail will see the same problem that plagues cars at the I-5 and 520 interchange, where does the capacity of 520’s light rail go once in Seattle? The existing North Link will be at capacity, where do you put the new line? You cannot effectively insert it there. Fine, build new capacity, and we would like it to go to Wallingford or Ballard. Wrong again, the University of Washington, and especially the sophisticated laboratories along NE Pacific St will not allow it….just like when we had the original Central Link debates. The UW brings in Billions of dollars of research and this route would damage the ability of the UW to continue that research. The vibrations of the light rail at-grade or in a tunnel are devastating to those labs….which if you were here long enough would realize why the UW lobbied so hard for the station to be at the stadium and cross as far north from those labs to minimize the vibration effects.

    In conclusion, its a great idea, it would benefit me, but we cannot ever make it a viable option into Seattle proper so why waste the time and effort on this Straw Man of reserve the capacity. Buses do almost as good as light rail, and they will have that reserved capacity on the bridge, maintain that, and be prepared to switch modes.

    1. I think part of the problem is the mode switch: the Montlake flyer station isn’t close to the UW station, especially if the bridge is up. I suppose we could discuss designing the SLUT extension such that it serves as a shuttle between Montlake and UW Station, but that turns a one-seat ride into a three-seat ride.

      1. Or a 1 block walk. It’s not insurmountable. Dig another station on the South side of the cut and connect to the Ballard train there. It makes the ride North a little longer as now there are two stations within a mile of each other. But it’s not that bad.

      2. The deep-bore line runs north-south. I don’t think you could fit a turn towards Ballard into that radius, given the topography and existing land use. Nor could you put an east-west station on top of a north-south station for a transfer point.

      3. Kyle,

        You certainly could at Husky Stadium. The roof of the mezzanine is two stories down. Move the mezz up one level and put the crossing tracks in between.

        London and New York have been adding new levels for intersecting lines to stations for 150 years. Google for the Picadilly Circus station cross-section, here:

        It doesn’t solve the problem Greg pointed out of how to go on west, though.

      4. Do you know what the order was (depth-wise) of the construction of those new levels? I’d imagine it’s much easier to add a new, intersecting level underneath an existing station than to add one through the middle of an existing station.

        It might be easier to intersect underneath the Brooklyn station.

      5. The Bakerloo line was built first, and then the Picadilly line underneath of it. The Picadilly line is a deep tube line, so I’d imagine the platforms for it are probably around 100 feet below the surface. If they ever build the Chelsea-Hackney line it will be even deeper, under the Picadilly line.

        The platforms at Husky Station will be about 100 feet below street level, due to the tunnel having to pass under the Montlake Cut. I’m not sure how deep Brooklyn will be, but it will probably be closer to 60 or 80 feet.

  3. Concerning the wheelchair lifts:

    Assuming it’s the Ricon lifts on the MCIs: they’ve always been a PITA (I’ve read commentary on this blog before about them, and personally used them on the 574, 592, and 594) and take far too many steps to operate, as compared to the Lift-U lifts on Gillig Phantoms (not sure what kind of lifts are on the high-floor New Flyers)

    1. 586 also runs MCIs, but due to the headways on the 586 I don’t think they’re running defective MCIs. I think 75% of trips are New Flyers anyways.

      1. IIRC (been a while since I was in the area), on weekends the 594 is almost always operated with 4 MCIs and ditto for the 574

        Not sure about the 586 (I’ve never used it), but the majority of the PT-operated ST trips I’ve been on for the 574 and 594 (the 592 is 99% MCI, I’ve only ever been on 1 #592 trip that was ever something else, in this case a New Flyer) are New Flyers

    2. Lift Us are in pretty much every other heavy duty transit bus in the area. There are no EEC lifts around in regular service that i know of anymore. Lift U even makes the ramps in the gillig Lowfloors.

  4. Where is the Cascades ridership report that the Tribune quoted? Is there one? I’ve been waiting to see the how the Olympics have impacted ridership.

    1. I’d like to see this too, and I’m not sure how Amtrak manages information. Does Amtrak respond to information requests? What if I asked them for Cascades ridership by station-pairs? Would they be able to give me that?

      1. According to the news release linked to above, the Amtraks Cascades Service, which is apparently at least 2 different routes, carried 67,039 passengers in all of March 2010. There were 31 days last March, and these trains run 7 days a week. So, that comes to an average of 2,162 passengers per day, total, on all of the routes combined.

        By contrast, I-5 in peak hours carries about that many VEHICLES per HOUR per LANE!

        Including all the buses vans and carpools on I-5 in peak hours, that probably means close to 3,000 PASSENGERS PER HOUR PER LANE, on I-5 during some hours. And Amtraks Cascades Service carried only about 2,162 passengers per DAY, on all its routes combined?

        That is tuly pathetic. What is the point of that?

        Look at this AMTRAK schedule between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. for a Saturday. Two trains and four buses. The trains both take 4 hours. One bus takes 4 hours, and the other buses take 3:05; 3:15; and 3:30.

        Price is about the same at around $37.50 for the bus, and $35 or $43 for the train.

        Greyhound buses take about 4 hours, just like the Amtrak trains, but cost $29 for advanced purchase and $32 for standard fare.

        What is the point of these trains?

      2. Why do you insist on comparing I-5 with Amtrak? I-5 is probably 90% urban travel, while Amtrak’s patronage is almost entirely intercity. Come back with comparisons to Horizon Air between EUG/PDX/SEA/YVR and then I’ll listen. Apples and apples, please.

      3. Oh Norman, [ad-hominem]. Why so threatened by the train? No one is going to take you away from your car. In fact, I think I speak for all rail travelers when I say I hope you stay as far from the train as you can.

        I don’t use your I-5. Or rather, I use it about as much as you use the rails (i.e. we both buy goods delivered by both modes) But I pay taxes too. So the train is my service, the road is yours.

        Isn’t it great how we can all get along, as long as we aren’t being self-obsessed jerks?

      4. Norman, this is a transit blog. Nobody here cares how many cars travel on your precious freeway. Why don’t you start a Seattle Freeway Blog and then you can pontificate about the superiority of freeways all you want to.

      5. Stormin,

        The point of these trains is to extract tax funds from Republicans like yourself and so we all get to play engineer. Get over it; elections have consequences.

      6. I think the point of those trains is to waste taxpayer money so people who love trains can have a subsidized train trip.

        And it is ST and light rail proponents who are always comparing light rail to freeways with their bogus “theoretical capacity” numbers.

        So, I feel it is valid, and important, to compare actual ridership numbers between trains and highways so people can see the comparison of reality, instead of comparing a fantasy of train capacity to the reality of freeways.

        Last I heard, buses are “transit”, also. I compared the price and travel times of buses to those of AMTRAK trains. Also, inter-city buses are the most energy-efficient mode of transit at this time — more energy-efficient than AMTRAK trains.

        Why are you so threatened by highways and buses?

      7. Norman,

        Is the point of freeways to waste taxpayer money so people who love to drive cars can roar along fast? :) Highways are subsized too.

        You need to learn the difference between light rail, commuter rail, and intercity rail (oh, and long distance rail). Then compare apples to apples.

      8. Norman,
        The point of the Cascades service is to provide an alternative to driving or flying for intercity trips in the I-5 corridor. Sure the theoretical capacity of I-5 may be greater than Cascades, but the same could be said about the availible airline capacity. By your logic we should ban airlines from offering flights to Portland, Eugene, Bellingham, or Vancouver. For that matter I suspect the number of long distance passenger trips on I-5 is a fairly small percentage of the overall traffic on any given day. I’d guess the average trip length on I-5 for passenger vehicles between Eugene and the Canadian border is likely around 10 miles or less.

        As for Greyhound, few people with an alternative willingly take them. I certainly don’t plan on giving them any money again. It’s pretty sad when the 594 offers a superior product. Plenty of people do take Cascades willingly as an alternative to flying or driving. Also I’m willing to bet the Cascades service would have shown far higher ridership if Amtrak had the trainsets and track space to run enough trains to meet demand.

      9. Norman: Why are you using what light-rail advocates do or don’t say about light-rail capacity to try and prove a point about Amtrak? That makes absolutely no sense.

      10. Norman, thank you for giving a reason to increase Cascades’ frequency. The reason Amtrak has such low ridership is it runs only a few trains per day. Try closing the freeway during the times that a train isn’t running, and freeway use would go down too.

      11. Amtrak’s absolute numbers are low, but its ridership density is high. Trains routinely sell out, while the CanTrail buses Norman loves rarely carry more than 20 people per bus (I say this as someone who makes the cross-border trip twice a month on both bus and rail). The buses are Seattle-Vancouver expresses while the trains serve 5 other communities along the way. They’re just not comparable services. The buses are decently comfortable and cost a flat $37.50, while the trains are luxurious and have dynamic pricing from $28-$57. The higher rail prices do little to deter ridership. Modal bias towards trains is evident not just among trainiacs but among the general public as well, and people’s preferences are important. People like leather seats, walking about, purchasing food, having 8 bathrooms, and traveling along the shore. A double tracked line with a couple of bypasses (especially Blaine-Colebrook) would be spectacularly well-patronized and modestly profitable.

      12. “CanTrail.”

        I’ve ridden Greyhound but I’ve never heard of this.

        For the best Amtrak deals (better than Greyhound), book a month in advance or ride midweek.

        Washington state is steadily improving the tracks so that will bring the time down. But BC is not improving their tracks so there’s nothing we can do about that.

  5. After seeing those fictitious transit maps, I’m making one for the Lake Chelan Valley…

    1. Metro police know this – but they don’t set their own budget. The Transit police force is too small to cover all – or even a substantial – number of buses.

      I agree that a more visible police presence (and more visible ‘busts’ involving on-board plain-clothes officers) would enhance on-board security, but it’s only part of the solution and a comprehensive plan to offer on-board security this way isn’t out there with the funding to back it.

      Local municipal police need to be more involved – and more willing to become involved – in transit security. King County needs to have a meeting of the minds on the transit security issue to include local law enforcement, community members/consumers (you guys) and transit Operators (me guys).

      And for heaven’s sake dump this idiotic waste of money that is the “shield” ( ). Drivers I’ve spoken too don’t feel safer with the thing in place, it sends the wrong message to bad guys and good folks alike – and does absolutely nothing to enhance security for passengers.

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