"Post Sounders game crowd", by Oran

This is an open thread.

41 Replies to “News Roundup: Maple Red”

  1. Regional transit can work. Last night I made a trip from Tacoma Dome Station to Lynnwood Transit Center in 75 minutes – on transit.

    1. Part of the problem is people who make unnecessary trips, either in cars, or on public transit. Make I ask why you went from Tacoma to Lynnwood?

      1. I’m not sure that’s a huge problem, unless transit was near capacity. The bus is driving there with or without [Kaleci].

      2. Is there some reason why somebody in Tacoma might not have a need to go to Lynnwood?

      3. What “problem”? The man said that mass transit WORKED. As to whether or not his trip was “necessary” – what’s it to ya’?

      4. I have been experimenting with my ORCA card to see how it works on the various services. THat, and so I can at least know a little on what I might be discussing. That and to see what interesting combos can happen. One was the 54-Vashon Ferry-118-Pt. Defiance Ferry-PT10 combo. Plus, I have also got some insights on the debate we have seen over the Ride Free Area. I was taking a ride on a Kitsap Transit bus, and first time trying the ORCA on it, was wondering where the reader was. It was not mounted next to the farebox like on METRO, but on the bulkhead to the passenger’s left side as they were boarding. Probably put there to avoid ORCA users being inconvenienced by those still using cash fares.

      5. I had the “didn’t see the ORCA reader” moment last week on a Kitsap Transit bus (Gillig LF) as well. I guess I was too used to seeing it near the fare box. Not all of the Kitsap Transit buses are that way (the cutaway (or whatever those minibuses are called) I was on had it adjacent to the fare box).

      6. THe only one of their buses I have been on recently was a Gillig LF. The few times I have been to Bremerton recently was to ride the Port Orchard ferry, and get a good look at the old one, the Carlisle II. Great boat, for a 93 year old. They scan ORCA cards differently, using the hand unit fare inspectors on LINK use. Might not be as fancy as Vancouver’s SeaBus, but it gets the job done.

      7. I had a late afternoon work meeting in Tacoma and returned home to Lynnwood. My office is located in downtown Seattle.

      8. The marginal cost of one car ride is high. The marginal cost of one bus ride is near zero.

      9. Maybe he was attending an event in Lynnwood. Somebody might want to see a hockey game in Everett, a show in Tacoma, visit their relatives in Issaquah, etc.

    Recent articles about Link Rail effectiveness have not been encouraging. This latest piece from Paul Kim, on “Light Rail’s Impact on Local Businesses”, and the local Vietnamese community along MLK are troubling.
    Combine that with poor on-time performance, and flat ridership much below projected expectations are cause for concern. ST’s 1st Qtr report is showing cost per Link boarding much higher than expected at this stage of development, and higher that bus service that it replaced (even excluding depreciation and massive debt funding). Overall ridership gains and losses of buses compared to rail/bus are something that will have to be reconciled in a “Before and After” report due in July of next year to the FTA as part of ST’s FFGA contract for funding. FTA is concerned about “net new riders”, not just chair shuffling aboard the boat.
    Simply raising the banner for LRT must be measured against real metrics of effectiveness. This seems like a natural for a grad student trying to sink their teeth into something that polarizes anyone that touches it.

    1. Mike,

      I doubt any grad student here would be interested, as the outcome may shed a potentially negative light on light-rail. Methinks that this is the wrong crowd for such an objective examination.

      1. Maybe not here, but someone will certainly take it on eventually — generally speaking, there’s always a grad student interested in embracing the cause of poor minorities being hurt by (or perceiving hurt from) the system. Especially when such large sums of money are involved.

      2. Maybe this will be a worth-while study after Link has been running for a decade or so. To generalize about or study the impact of Link so soon after it opened is folly. This project has a 75-100 year life-span. To attempt to study it’s impact at the 10 month point in its life is plain silly – come back in ten years.

      3. If ridership were double, cost per rider was half, trains ran on time 95% of the time, and TOD was growing leaps and bounds, would you remain silent for 10 years to be sure the trend was real?

      4. Hey, I’m a grad student. I would’ve taken on it but I chose another regional item of interest, the ORCA card.

        And if it shed a potentially negative light on light-rail? So what? It’s pretty clear that ST and Metro need to fix Link light rail and the supporting bus network.

    2. Impact to local business during and immediately after such large infrastructure projects is nothing to sneeze at. I am not familiar with the specific locations of the businesses discussed in the article and their proximity to stations along the line. Businesses beyond the walk shed of a station may fair poorly whereas businesses within that shed may benefit. But this may take time to settle down, and I feel for businesses which suffer from the ripple effects of major paradigm shift.

      Was everyone a winner when the first phases of I-5 opened up? How about the Denny regrade? That was highly controversial infrastructure project that took decades to complete. Were folks trying to measure it’s success 10 months after the first phase was completed? Certainly not. Not being alive during those times I don’t have any stories to tell, but I’m sure a lot of businesses suffered, a lot of property owners were upset, and the landscape definitely changed. These types of impacts are not unique to any large-scale infrastructural investment.

      If I were opening a business right now, I would definitely be trying to open it near a light rail station (present or future). If I were buying property, station proximity would weigh heavily. Then again, I try to make decisions for the long run.

      As others have already pointed out in this thread (and has been pointed out repeatedly on this blog), time needs to pass before we judge the success of our transportation decisions.

      1. It’s tough being a business owner in this recession, especially newly started ones. We had a business just a block from the future Capitol Hill station and we shut it down after 2 years because we were losing money and couldn’t afford the rent (If anybody wondered, it was the Quiznos). Today, I went by Columbia City Station and noticed that Maki Yaki is closed and up for sale, also a 2 year-old business. This isn’t surprising, given that over half of small businesses fail within 5 years. The great recession has only made things worse.

    3. Link is not finished yet. In particular, many of its highest-ridership stations are not built yet. When they are, people will be going to those destinations from Rainier Valley, especially because the improvement in travel time will be more dramatic than it is now between Rainier and downtown. (Rainier-UW, Rainier-Northgate, Rainier-Bellevue, Rainier-Lynnwood, Rainier-Kent (assuming future Link-Kent BRT), etc.) Likewise, as Rainier Valley gains more regionally-desired destinations and publicizes them, people will come by train to it.

      The impacts to existing businesses can’t be ignored, but you also have to compare the impact of a few tens of businesses and their hundreds of customers, vs the tens of thousands of people who benefit or will benefit by transit alternatives that cover the neighborhood-to-neighborhood semi-express gap.

      1. Good point Mike – I completely left out the effects of building out the rest of the system, even though I was thinking of them while writing my response.

      2. Link is still in it’s youth stages…just look no further to both Vancouver and Portland of 1986 and you’ll see Seattle. Nice thing is, we have their records to go on and learn. Do what worked and don’t do what didn’t work.

    4. One small point: Kim’s article was flimsy and didn’t mention the deepest recession in decades as a possible cause for slowed business. Business owners are always likely to complain about changes that do not outright favor them. No one wants to see small business owners go out of business, but if one can sell a product in an efficient way, then one is going to make a profit. When a small business shutters its doors, the capital that a given storefront is a part of is now up for grabs for someone who can use the space in perhaps a more efficient way, or one that will attract more consumers. It is not the sole role of government to provide free parking or make areas unpopular enough that parking is always in surplus.

      Another small point: The adjective “flat” in front of the word ridership is misplaced and incorrect, according to all available evidence.

      The rest of your items are worth exploring.

      1. You can go to most any neighbourhood in Seattle and find failing businesses these days. Those nearer Link and other transit nodes will do well if they (and we) survive the continued hemorrhaging of trillions of dollars from the US to the Mid-East instead of our transport infrastructure.

      2. Regular weekday ridership has shown very steady increases in the few months of data since Airport Link opened, discounting the first few months because of the novelty riders. And that document that said it would get 32,600 daily boardings also assumed six minute peak headways, among other different factors, so it’s not comparable.

    5. “This latest piece from Paul Kim, on “Light Rail’s Impact on Local Businesses”, and the local Vietnamese community along MLK are troubling.”

      Troubling in that it’s kind of weak. Two people are interviewed who have concerns about the light rail. This is not all that convincing that it’s a universal problem. That doesn’t mean it isn’t, just that the article just skims the surface and it’s not at all clear from this article that the problem is widespread.

      I could probably find two people who hate puppies and kittens and sunshine, too. But writing an article in which I only included the opinions of those two people wouldn’t convince everyone else that puppies and kittens and sunshine are generally hated.

      Also, the parking lot issue is a landlord issue. There’s no reason the landlord’s parking restrictions had to impact the businesses’ legitimate customers. Parking validation, anyone?

  3. The Western Front (WWU student news paper) published an article, WTA cuts prompt forum. It’s pretty critical of student appathy and suggests raising the price of the Viking Xpress bus pass. Personally I think WTA has to take a lot of the blame for the failure to pass because they tried to slip this through in a special election. Besides losing the vote they have to pay out a quarter of a million to cover the cost of running the election; a total waste of money that could have gone toward a campaign during the regular election in the fall. Clearly there wasn’t nearly enough time to mount a campus campaign and even if they did the deadlines for change of voter registration would preclude anyone who was already registered outside of B’ham from voting.

  4. Have I just missed it, or has there been little comment here on the problems King 5 is exposing within the WSF system?

    1. DId not see much comments on it, but I also have some problems with the story. There is the waste with the guy forging time sheets to say he was working while coaching Little League Baseball, and the special project people getting reimbursed long after the project was over, but the travel expense reimbursement for some deckhands and engineers might have been one-sided. With the Evergreen Fleet stretched so thin, boats are being moved around a lot. Engineers are supposedly assigned to their boat, and say if it is an Issaquah, unless they are on the Cathlamet or Kittitas, chances are they will be on different runs. The Sealth has gotten around a lot lately. Including the latest vessel switcheroo. Hiyu from Eagle Harbor to the San Juans for Interisland duty, Kaleetan to the San Juans from the Bremerton run to assume domestic services between Annacortes and Friday Harbor as the Elwha is needed on the International Run as the Chelan has propeller problems, in addition to a badly scheduled Coast Guard Drill, while the Sealth was re-deployed to Seattle-Bremerton to fill in for the Kaleetan.(With the Jumbo class Walla Walla also assigned to the Bremerton run).

  5. Oh, and an interesting interview with Ray Lahood on NPR a couple hours ago:


    “U.S. Sec. of Transportation Ray LaHood turned transportation policy on its head with a declaration that pedestrians and cyclists should be treated as equals with drivers. That means federal dollars for more projects geared toward walking and cycling.”

    1. Seeing is believing. Ray talks the talk, but how is he doing in lobbying on Cap Hill to get a new Transport Trust Fund going?

  6. Since this is an open thread…

    I have a few nerdy questions regarding Link’s ridership sampling procedure:

    (1. What would be the additional cost to capture actual (rather than statistically modeled) ridership? What is the cost-per-unit of the heat cameras?
    (2. What is the margin of error for this type of modeling?
    (3. Does ST publish its statistical procedures, or do they use standard transit industry modeling?
    (4. How are certain variables controlled, such as time of day, weekday/weekend, peak/offpeak, normal service/maintenance delays, etc…?
    (5. Are the trainsets with live cameras always in service in their proper proportion to the total number of trainsets? Would it matter if they weren’t?

  7. Short video about London’s conversion of buses and taxis to hydrogen in preparation for the 2012 Olympics. The hydrogen is being generated by green sources like wind power:

    ITM Power: London Olympic Hydrogen Corridor

  8. KIRO TV unearths potentially disturbing news about the West Seattle ferry. Warning – the report tends towards sensationalistic sound bites:

    The monthly cost of operating the West Seattle Water Taxi has tripled this year after King County politicians voted to seize control of operations.

    Unsurprisingly, the King County Ferry District has a somewhat different take:

    While the direct costs of providing West Seattle service are up slightly ($20,672), the costs of serving Vashon Island dropped significantly (-$62,310). Overall we saved $41,638 compared to the same month last year. Direct service costs include vessel costs, crew, fuel and insurance.

  9. Any of the metro drivers on this thread know how the trolley buses switch power lines when they come to a fork of two trolley routes? Just always been curious.

    Also on the topic of trolley buses, is there anything we can do to fix the stalling that seems to occur when a trolley driver guns it up a hill (I think that is when and why it is happening, though my assumption is only from observation as a passenger)? How about increasing the speeds at which a trolley bus can pass through an intersection with other trolley lines?

    1. Not a driver but I believe there is a default direction that the switch is set to and to change it, the driver uses the turn signal which sends a signal to the switch to change direction.

      1. So the bus’s turn signal changes the direction of the switch. Interesting. Thanks for the response.

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