86 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Car-Free LA”

  1. The debate about replacing the electric trolley buses with hybrid diesels reminded me of an article in the Seattle PI a few years after the hybrids were put in service.


    The article reported that the 60-foot Flyers (non-hybrid) get 4 miles/gallon, the much maligned Bredas got 3.8 miles/gallon, and the hybrids get 3.75 miles/gallon.

    jushuadf provided this information:
    “It’s even worse than that on in-city routes according to the 2006 “King County Metro Transit Hybrid Articulated Buses: Final Evaluation Results” done at National Renewable Energy Laboratory. http://www.nrel.gov/vehiclesandfuels/fleettest/pdfs/40585.pdf

    These were all brand new flyers (D60LF/DE60LF) in 2004: “The new hybrid articulated buses cost $645,000 each. The diesel articulated buses, which were essentially identical to the hybrid buses without the electric propulsion system, cost $445,000 each.” The table on page 9:

    Ryerson Diesel 2.50 mpg, Hybrid Atlantic 3.17 mpg, Hybrid South Base 3.75 mpg

    Since a bunch of the in-city hybrids run on express routes like the 41/71/72/73, these numbers make me think that running on local routes like the 70 or 49 would get even worse mileage.”

    It certainly sounds like the diesel hybrids not only are no panacea for improving diesel bus fuel efficiency and operating costs, but in fact are a waste of capital. I wonder why there hasn’t been more discussion of this and whether Metro will do some testing of the hybrids on the ETB routes to get real operating cost data.

    1. When KC first evaluated the hybrids, they loaded one up with water barrels, and ran it on several trolley routes for days. Even on the counter-balance. There should be a ton of data availible, since the bus was data logging quite a bit of info.
      “But Hybrid sounds so GREEN. It must be true!” … and well worth the extra 50% cost.

      1. Carl…..
        When 4 MPG was promised, they were using the data from coach 2599 when they were testing it with a Cummins engine. But just prior to delivery of the rest of the fleet, came the newest EPA regulations and Cummins couldn’t meet that. So a CAT C9 was put into the 2600-2812 coaches as well as 2599 was switched over. CAT could meet the EPA regs, but at a price of less MPG.

        Also when looking at the numbers of the Ryerson 2800’s and Atlantic’s Hybrids is a good sign since they are all mainy city routes. 2800’s are usually on the 48 and 120, Atlanitic’s Hybrids are on 15/18/21/22/56/57, 71/72/73/74 and 106(until this month when it moved to south) so the routes are all busy with alot of stops. And I wouldn’t even call 71 series route a freeway route because its only on the freeway for a couple miles. So in this case the Hybrid wins. And then with South’s hybrids, they a higher MPG because of the freeway routes, at the time of the study with the 150,177,190,194,and 196

      2. The newest newest orders of hybrid LFs in the 6800s and the new ST 9624+ all have ISLs in them

    2. As the study points out on page 23 and you mention above, when you compare a DE60LF and a D60LF from the same model year the Hybrid is getting 3.75 mpg versus 2.5 mpg on the non-Hybrid. That is the “apples to apples” comparision that reflects two buses with essentially the same engine.

      The 60 foot New Flyers getting 4 mpg were the older high floor buses with older engines. Unless the CAT engines are just that much less efficient, the story this tells me is that the stricter emissions requirements on newer buses have came at the expense of fuel economy. So while the hybrids have a benefit, it’s interesting that in some ways hybrid technology is only getting us back to where we started.

      One of the reasons the demonstration hybrid tested well (as I recall) was that it had a Cummins engine that could not be used on the production order due to the emissions changes.

      1. I’d forgotten about that little detail. I think you’re right about it being an emission decision, not mpg. Anyway, before KC scraps the ETB’s, or starts down that road, the debate should be about long term costs and benefits of all the methods to move bodies from A to B, not just short term budget goals facing the KC Council.

      2. My understanding is that while Metro has purchased parallel hybrids, other transit agencies, notably New York MTA, have purchased series hybrids, and that while series hybrids are more expensive to acquire, they deliver greater fuel economy and other benefits. The parallel hybrid is hybrid done cheap.

        I wonder which assumptions were used in the audit in the claims about cost savings of hybrids vs. electric trolleys, as the electronics of a series hybrid ought to be relatively similar to those of an ETB.

      3. The Allison/GM parallel hybrid system was the first available in buses and Metro needed a hybrid for tunnel operations. Being able to operate in the tunnel and meeting the new emissions standards probably had more to do with the purchase than fuel savings. Once they had the tunnel fleet it made sense to stay with the same type of hybrid for the rest of the fleet.

      4. I believe some of the new Orion 7s will be delivered as hybrids. I presume they will have BAE series hybrid technology in them, as they have built coaches with that equipment for NYCT and SF Muni, and i havent heard of any being built as parallel hybrids.

      5. Also, Seattle did demonstrate an early series hybrid in the late 1980s. The Neoplan EBus was neoplans bid for the tunnel coaches, and i dont think they could have been any worse than Bredas. IIRC it had a 6v92 powering a generator, and a center axle powered traction motor which could either be powered by the 6v92 or off of the overhead. This coach later demo’d in vancouver BC and later convereted to standard diesel and sold.

      6. I know next to nothing about diesel engines, but the study also pointed out that it’s different fuel (ultra low sulfur, ULSD) and B5 (5% biodiesel). I don’t know what that does to fuel economy.

    3. 2.5 to 4 mpg.

      This tends to be a figure often ignored by transit advocates, particularly those of an environmental persuasion. It is a truism that transit is better for the environment than SOV travel. On average that may be true, but taken on a route-by-route basis, even at the high end (4 mpg) a bus must have, on average, at least 5 passengers on it at all times in order to use less fuel per passenger mile than an SOV at 20 mpg. Take the low end (2.5 mpg) and you need at least 8 passengers on average. Using the 2011 U.S. CAFE standard for passenger cars (30.2 mpg) and you need something between 8 and 12 passengers at any given time to be more fuel efficient than an SOV.

      Metro’s fleet average for this metric (passenger miles per platform mile) is 12.4 as of 2006 (the most recent year I have), and that is a system average. About 1/3 of metro’s routes are so inefficient that it would literally be better for the environment if the routes were eliminated and 100% of those passengers switched to SOV travel.

      At our current system-wide level of efficiency, we could achieve a 100% mode switch and have zero net impact on CO2 emissions from operations. Yes, I know that there are other environmental benefits to transit use besides emissions from operations, but the point I am trying to highlight is: inefficient routing completely undermines the environmental benefits of transit. Inefficient routing also makes transit an easy target for the anti-transit movement.

      Getting serious about route efficiency, and lobbying elected officials to make the tough choices and cut inefficient routes isn’t just about some nebulous economic argument: it is necessary both environmentally and politically. We will never win the argument to expand funding for transit service if we don’t start using what we have more efficiently.

      One last point: this can be done without wading into the weeds of revoking 40-40-20. That is both unrealistic and unnecessary. There is no shortage of inefficient routes in the West subarea, and there are plenty of efficient routes in the East and South subareas. 90% of the potential efficiency gains could flow simply from cutting the least efficient routes in each subarea, while maintaining the same distribution of service hours between the subareas. Until we get that accomplished, complaining about 40-40-20 is at best a waste of time, and at worst highly disingenuous.

      1. Good points, and if we’re running a lot of buses with 3 passengers there has to be a better way. However, it’s worth stating that there are a lot of other benefits of transit, such as lower parking requirements and less space taken up on roads.

      2. Yes, there is much more to transit efficiency than the mpg of the vehicles. It’s more about building better communities than building more roads. Inefficient transit routing is mainly a by-product of inefficient land use planning and often, political pressure.

      1. i had heard at one time it was in the 2-3 mpg range. The newer diesels burn more fuel to be enviromentally friendly (more fuel = hotter burn = less emissions). Of course when a 20 year old bus with a “dirty” 6v92TA DDEC gets better MPG than newer stock theres a problem in the bigger picture…

    4. Your information is from 2004 and the very first batch of hybrid buses. Also, finish reading the article next time, they’d already started tinkering with them and had started getting 4 mpg out of some.

      Metro initially chose all their longest routes for the new hybrids. They were all highway routes. On the freeway, with no reason to use the regenerative braking, a hybrid bus is the same as a conventional bus. It’s not going to get any better fuel mileage.

      Sloppy and thoughtless implementation of new techology? Did you expect anything else? Luckily we’re past this now, Metro figured it out.

      And Casey is right about the fuel efficiency of all diesels (hybrid or not) dropping in recent years. When the latest round of EPA requirements for heavy-duty diesels went into effect (requirements meant to reduce emissions that contribute to urban smog), fuel efficiency suffered on engines from all the major manufacturers.

      The Bredas they replaced were late-80’s era diesels. Basically unregulated in terms of emissions. Soot and NOx spewers. Comparing that to a 2004 engine just isn’t fair. And the linked PI has a quote from the Caterpillar spokesman that agrees. “The trucking industry is just going crazy over this right now.”

      Diesel engine makers are just now catching up to where they really should have been when the requirements went into effect, and are starting to make diesels that both meet EPA standards and don’t have gimped fuel economy. The past several years have been a pretty bad time to buy a new diesel. The next batch of buses will be much better.

      1. I sure hope so since however the ETB evaluation works out, Metro has 90% of its fleet that are and will remain diesels for the foreseeable future, plus all the SoundTransit Community Transit etc buses. I would actually love to hear that the 5 mpg that the audit used is an actual number from current performance.

      2. I had an operator tell me that he’d race hybrids from the HOV lane in his D60HF (Cummins M11/330). Southbound on I-5, they’d beat him out of downtown, but once their batteries died around Boeing Access Road, he’d pass them.

      3. Clarification:
        Operator = 197, D60HF, HOV
        Racemates = 101, 150, 194, DE60LF, lane 1

        Maybe even a 196, though I think those operators park it in the HOV. I would too.

      4. It’s not about the batteries……it’s the fact that the hybrid has a smaller motor than the D60’s and at freeway speed it’s all diesel and no electrical assist. Hybrids and D60’s and Gilligs even will go 65, top speed on flat ground, but once you hit the little hill at 599, then Southcenter Hill the hybrid will slow down much more than a D60……but again the batteries only affect the bus under acceleration at lower speeds. Once on the freeway it’s just the diesel motor. I did the 197 on fridays last shakeup using a hybrid and had no problems untli I got on Southcenter hill, not Boeing Access. So whoever told you the batteries died, didn’t fully understand how the hybrids work.

  2. Anybody know how much a Gondola transit system would cost for Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, and possibly Beacon hill? A gondola connecting upper and lower Queen Anne seems like a good fit, especially if you connect it to the Rapid Ride D line.

    Is this totally insane or simply just “out of the box”?

    1. As someone else pointed out in the comments, there’s a perfectly functional tram connecting Manhattan to Roosevelt Island. The Roosevelt Island stop on the F didn’t open until the 80s, and the only land connection from Roosevelt Island is to Queens.

      1. When I came across the Queensboro Bridge to Manhattan in May, it was clear that the Roosevelt Island tram was not in operation. The terminal in Manhattan was boarded up; I don’t think there was a tram cabin in there, and I am not sure if the tramway cables were up. I have no idea what happened, but it is evident that it was not runnnng.

    2. It sounds like a good idea, but the politics would seem nearly impossible. Look at all the outcries about “lost views” when the Portland Aerial Tram was proposed. Now, try the same in Queen Anne.

      1. I’d like to see us look into an aerial tram to connect the north end of the SLUT to the north end of the Capitol Hill / First Hill Streetcar at Mercer or Roy St. (assuming that we get the North Broadway extension built).

        Capitol Hill is a lot less NIMBY than Queen Anne (though we would still prefer that the City not obliterate our views with skyscrapers in SLU), so the politics would probably be a lot easier.

      2. You probably know this, but no one is proposing actual skyscrapers in SLU. There’s been a lot of uninformed hysteria, but the revised EIS has 300 ft max, less than half the height of the Space Needle and hundreds of feet shorter than existing Denny Triangle buildings. Big yes, skyscrapers no. It would certainly change things, but I like to think it would be an improvement on the view.

    3. Another great gondola opportunity would be First Hill to downtown, possibly via James St. It’s incredibly steep and very congested. An aerial bypass is exactly what the neighborhood wants.

    4. Another good example are the huge gondolas used at Grouse Mountain, in North Vancouver, which move a lot of people quickly, and are in use year round.

      It might be worth contacting Riblet Tramway Company in Spokane, and seeing what it has to say. The company has been in business for over 100 years, and while it looks like its main business is currently ski lifts, I’m pretty sure they built the gondola ride over the Spokane Falls. The new cabins, by the way, are ADA compliant (the blue Expo 74-era cabins were recently retired). If Riblet would give you a ballpark figure, that’d be a good start to planning such a project.

      1. Riblet hasn’t actually been in the business of making new chairlifts for some time now, and they also do not possess the proper technology for building a detachable gondola. There are two companies capable of this: the Doppelmayr-Garaventa Group, and Leitner Technologies. They both have North American subsidiaries (Doppelmayr CTEC and Leitner-POMA respectively).

        Grouse Mountain uses what’s known as a cable car (jigback tram), which while impressive-looking have relatively small per-hour passenger capacities relative to detachable gondolas because they can only have two cabins going back and forth from end to end.

        The Spokane Falls gondola was rebuilt by Doppelmayr CTEC several years ago.

        Breckenridge’s BreckConnect gondola cost about $18 million to build as I recall, and it is 1.5 miles long and traverses a wetland. Figure that is a decent ballpark for cost.

      2. Wow, I didn’t know Riblet was still in business. Growing up we always referred to chairlift towers as Riblet towers. As a kid it didn’t click that that was the company that built them. Sort of like using the term Kleenex for tissue. The only chair that wasn’t Riblet built was the old T-bird chair at the Summit and then Crystal moved C-5 down from some place in Canada (first chair with those damn pull down “safety” bars).

        I bet we could get a great deal on a slightly used Yan :=

      3. That’s a shame (and it explains the sparse and outdated website). I should have checked the Wiki article, which listed a press release not linked from any page on the Riblet website. One of the fun things about growing up in Spokane was going by the plant and seeing what was new (I lived an easy bike ride away).

        But, now we know who to talk to. Thanks, Jason!

    5. Sorry, I just can’t get enough of this gondola idea. It must come from living on the top of a hill.

      Anyway, according to the Portland Aerial Tram website, the PAT covers about is about 3,300 linear feet (0.62 miles) and rises about 500 vertical feet, for an average grade of 15%. It has no mid-trip stops and cost about $57 million, or about $90 million per mile, which is cheaper than light rail, but more expensive than streetcars. However, an aerial tram serves a radically different corridor than a streetcar or light rail would. A tram connects only two points that are fairly close together across a very steep grade.

      Harborview (9th and James) to downtown (Pioneer Square Station at 3rd and James) is 0.4 miles. Virginia Mason (Terry and Seneca) to University Street Station (3rd and Seneca) is about the same distance.

      For what we are spending on the First Hill Streetcar (~$130 million), we could have built two aerial trams, one for each hospital, connecting them directly to the Light Rail stations downtown. Swedish and Seattle U would have been unhappy about it, but no more unhappy than Virginia Mason is with the Broadway alignment for the FH streetcar.

      Gondolas may have a place in the future of Seattle transit, but only for very unique corridors such as Capitol Hill to SLU, or First Hill to Downtown, and possibly someday for Beacon Hill to the Rainier Valley (but only if both were to densify significantly).

      As for Upper Queen Anne to Lower Queen Anne, I would suggest we consider a traditional cable car system. The key with Queen Anne, in addition to avoiding the view impacts, is to connect the entire length of Upper Queen Anne to the urban center at the bottom of the hill. That means you need several stops at the top of the hill (and potentially more than one stop at the bottom), and that means you’re in cable car territory rather than aerial gondola.

      Cable cars are not cheap, but they are not infeasible. There’s really no reason to believe that constructing a subsurface cable would be substantially more expensive than an aerial cable. Since you don’t need to put the whole vehicle underground, you don’t need nearly as much excavation as a subway and the cable would be very close to the surface.

      I don’t know if it has been done elsewhere, but it seems reasonable that some sort of hybrid streetcar / cable car system could be feasible. It could be self-propelled on the relatively flat portions of the route and then “connect” to an underground cable system to ascend and descend the steep hills. Using such a system, the proposed 1st Ave streetcar would not have to stop at Uptown, but could continue straight up Queen Anne (using a cable assist from Mercer to Galer) and then serve the entire top of the hill.

      This is not insignificant. There are more than 20,000 people on top of Queen Anne Hill, which exceeds the population of Uptown and Belltown combined (about 15,000). Given the demographics on the top of the hill, the superior rider experience of a streetcar would likely lead to a significant gain in market share relative to the current trolley bus system.

      To go from Queen Anne Ave at McGraw St in Upper Queen Anne to 1st and Jackson (and thus connect to the FH streetcar) would be about 3.5 miles. At $30 million per mile + $60 million extra for a cable assist portion from Mercer to Galer, the total project cost would come to $165 million. We could easily expect such a route to serve at least 8,000 trips per day (probably more) for a cost per daily rider of $20,000, less than 1/5 of the cost per rider of Central Link.

      Something for the engineers to look into I would say.

      1. Or at least an underground funicular between 3rd and 9th underneath the Jefferson St right-of-way.

      2. I agree that we should build traditional cable cars around the city. The Portland Aerial Tram may have cost $90m/mile, but it was going from a place that was just starting to be developed to the top of practically a cliff, so there were basically no obstructions. Building an aerial tram between Downtown and First Hill or Lower Queen Anne and Upper Queen Anne would require going up the middle of city streets and acquiring lots of expensive property for stations and everything that it would probably be more in the hundreds of millions per mile. Let’s just stick with regular cable cars, which can serve multiple stops and have other benefits too anyways.

      3. There are already the #2 and #13 buses going up the Counter Balance to the top of Queen Anne Hill. A cable car or gondolla to the top of Queen Anne Hill would be utterly pointless.

        A couple of years ago, somebody did a scam advertisement of a gondola that was supposedly being planned for Queen Anne Hill. They set up signs at Kerry Park with designs and maps. It was pretty clever and pretty funny. Does anyone on this blog know who did that, by any chance?

      4. Um, you know a cable car is not the same as a bus, right? If you don’t understand the ridership and land use advantages of a streetcar/cablecar as opposed to a bus, you really lack any credibility in talking about transit.

      5. That is utter nonsense that streetcar/cablecar has any advantage over buses. If you believe that, you must also believe in the tooth fairy.

        What possible difference could a streetcar up the Counterbalance make to the Queen Anne area? You see a lot of undeveloped lots along your proposed route?

      6. So what’s your argument that a streetcar has no advantages over a bus? An ad-hominems is not an argument.

        Furthermore, there are no undeveloped lots on the counterbalance, ANC even if they were, you’d see them from the bus anyway.

        You have shown time and again that you have no argument to back up your positions.

      7. As someone who rides and bike and is not nearly as transpo-wonk as many here:

        I would use a streetcar to get to the top of QA. I do not even consider using a bus to get to the top, because of the (perceived) hassle and uncertainties. Currently I just ride/walk to the top.

      8. Yeah, a streetcar/cable car/funicular combo that connected the Upper Queen Anne to downtown and the rest of the streetcar network is almost a no-brainer—especially if you have plenty of stops on the southern slope to provide access to all that multi-unit housing.

      9. The #2 and #13 buses already connect Upper Queen Anne to downtown. Guess you are not familiar with those bus routes, eh? A streetcar or funicular on that route would be nothing but a foolish waste of money.

        That multi-unit housing has been built on bus routes, proving once again that there is no need for trains to spur multi-unit housing in our area.

      10. I ride the #2 and #13 almost daily, actually. It goes without saying when talking to just about anyone in the world besides you, but “buses already go there” isn’t a remotely legitimate reason not to build rail. Happy Father’s Day.

      11. Norman, those multi-unit apartments were built because of zoning. It has nothing to do with buses. I’m willing to bet those apartments also include massive underground parking structures with ratios approaching around 1 to 2 cars per unit. Developers know that most people will not take the bus, but would rather drive, so they include lots of parking to help sell the condos or rent the apartments. The benefit of rail is that it sends a signal to developers that they can invest in transit-oriented development with very limited parking, since most residents will take the streetcar, even if they are affluent. How many people do you know in the upper 50% income level that would ever ride a bus? Anyway, you are employing a basic fallacy here.

      12. Norman, your accusations of ignorance are out of line. They certainly don’t add any credibility to your tired, fallacious argument.

      13. The tired, fallacious arguments are those of people who think that streetcars/cable cars have any advantage over buses. To say that “people will not take the bus” is so ignorant, it amazes that anyone would actually write that in public. Thousands of people do, in fact, ride the #2 and #13 buses up and down Queen Anne Ave every day. Many bus routes in Seattle are packed to capacity on a aregular basis, as writers on this blog complain about on a regular basis.

        How, then, can you claim that “people won’t take the bus”, and then whine about buses being overcrowded at the same time?

        Your childish belief that more people would take a streetcar than take the current buses (given equal capacity on each) is amusing, but has zero basis in reality.

        Multi-unit housing is always because of zoning. It is surely never because of streetcars or light rail.

      14. Talk about a strawman. When has anyone claimed that no will ride the bus? The streetcar arguement is that that streetcars will attract riders who wouldn’t normally take the bus.

        And developement is NEVER b/c of streetcars or light rail? Never heard of the Pearl District for a recent example, or at Seattle’s old network overlayed on a density map?

        Throwing up strawmen and making absurd absolute claims does your arguement no justice.

      15. “How many people do you know in the upper 50% income level that would ever ride a bus?”

        Uh, ever ridden on the 550, 212, 218, 216, or 77? I’d bet a month’s salary that the majority of my passengers on those routes are above the median household income level. Heck, a bunch of them are probably in the top 75%. During the rush hours most of the 2 and 13 passengers are also probably in the top 50% as well.

        The problem with the 2 and the 13 is that they are slow, an old high-floor bus design, and stuck in traffic. You can do a lot to improve the 2 and 13 but a Tram/Gondola could effectively link the top and bottom of the hill. The novelty and view during the ride would help ridership but the reliability of the service would be the real draw.

      16. Look at the old streetcar routes that used to serve Queen Anne Hill versus where the density is today. Considering that many of the buildings were built prior to the removal of the streetcars, the streetcars just might have had something to do with the buildings being there. Also remember that Seattle didn’t really have any zoning laws to speak of prior to the late 1950’s so I don’t think you can say the density is a result of zoning.

      17. Of the possible gondola/aerial tram connections SLU to Capitol Hill probably makes the most sense. The hill is fairly steep but dense on both ends and the highway forms an additional mobility barrier especially North of Denny.

        Harrison would be another thought, though I’d rather see a pedestrian bridge over I-5 as was proposed for one of the U-Link alternatives.

        One huge problem with any sort of aerial tram or gondola serving Harborview would be keeping out of the way of the helicopter flight paths.

        I’m not sure if a hybrid cable/streetcar would make sense. Perhaps some form of cog railway would be a better idea? There is also the idea of using one of the other routes up Queen Anne, streetcars used to travel up the routes of the 1, 3, & 4 without the cable assist there was on the Counterbalance. I think both of those routes have grades of less than 9% which means that modern streetcars could deal with them.

      18. There are also seaplane flight paths in SLU, so it would have to stay off the lakefront. Maybe around Aloha St, from Fred Hutch all the way up to Broadway!

      19. University of Washington gondola!

        The system would form a Y – from Husky Stadium Station to the HUB Lawn, with one split to the 45th/Brooklyn Station and one split to the dorms and University Village. U Village would have a frequent, convenient and interesting connection to the Link rail system and the Ave, and students/faculty could get closer to their buildings from Link.

        These routes have high demand and limited ground transportation due to topography and campus roadways. The UW administation would have to champion the project for it to happen, with financial participation from University Village.

  3. Metro’s first 40′ Orion Hybrid coach has arrived. It has started testing and will be out driving around and getting alot of miles put on it. Metro’s Bus Procurement commitee will be out driving of for the next few weeks. So be on the look out for it…..and take some pictures if you see it. I haven’t seen it yet, but it should be coming around to each base soon. They first batch of the rest of the fleet just arrive in November.

      1. I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be sporting “7000” all around it. And if the recent introduction of the 6850s is any indication, 7000 should be very easy to spot.

      2. The coach is 7000, and as of Sunday, it was sitting at South Base. I did a quick tour of it. Very nice! Reminds me of the ones in SF. Those who ride the 70 will be seeing them during the Mercer Mess construction.

      3. Somewhat unrelated, but does anyone know if there is a numbering scheme for Metro’s or ST’s buses? For example, Sun Tran in Tucson, AZ had the first two digits as the year the bus was ordered and then the following numbers were the order it was received. For example, 9340 was ordered in 1993 and the fortieth bus received.

        It seems like CT’s buses are somewhat similar with the year but Metro’s has me completely boggled. Just curious. Thanks!

      4. Metro is somewhat arbitrary. Some of the 6800s were first 28xx, but there was an incompatibility in their maintanence program so they moved them up to 6800.

        There are a couple of things that are “standardized” in the current fleet

        Anything that starts with a 4 is a trolley
        Anything that starts with a 6 is a 60 foot New Flyer diesel electric hybrid
        Anything that starts with a 2 is a 60 foot New Flyer
        Anything that starts with a 3 is a 40 foot bus
        Anything that starts with a 1 is a cutaway-type vehicle (I say type because the Workhorse/StarTrans aren’t technically cutaways).

        Sound Transit is moving towards a similar scheme as Tuscon; however there will be a middle digit that denotes the type of bus, i.e. 10623 would be the 23rd DE60LF received in 2010.

    1. I hear they have a steering wheel the size of a normal car steering wheel and that it’s difficult to get used to. Should be interesting.

    2. I saw it heading down Jefferson turning onto 21st the other day, with “Special” on the headsign and a lot of people riding it. It looks pretty awesome. When it was coming down the street I thought it was a Newflyer 60′ hybrid because the front looks very similar. I was surprised and excited when I saw it was the new Orion.

  4. LA video looks more like what will happen when the water runs out.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Seriously — that’s a city without people, not a city without cars. A city without cars would look more vibrant, well, like that bike rush hour video making the rounds.

  5. Does anyone know what the current policy of Metro is for bikes across 520? I remember when they first started allowing transiting buses to take bikes over the bridge, the first stop (Evergreen Point?) was free but for later stops (Yarrow Point, East Base) you needed to pay a 2-zone fare.

    Not seeing this fare structure enforced, and wondering if policy has changed or if policy is the same and drivers are just not implementing it?

    1. In service buses are a 2 zone fare. Buses that are out of service heading “To Terminal” or to one of the bases are free for the first stop across the bridge. Metro has changed so many things with bikes lately that I suspect some drivers just don’t want to deal with it.

      1. Velo,

        Thanks, that’s what I thought. And to be clear, by transiting I was referring to the “To Terminal” buses. All the other in service buses I’ve always expected to, and have, paid to get across the bridge.

  6. Open thread question. I took the 124 today to get home from the Museum of Flight. It went standing room only from that point into downtown with the isles so packed people had trouble getting to the doors to get off.

    This afternoon was a post Mariners game reroute which means we divereted east off 4th and went right by Sodo Station. Should I have gotten off there and jumped on Link to get to the tunnel and the 255? As it worked out I arrived at Bay B one minute before the bus (who says we don’t have timed transfers ;-) Would it have been the same $2 charge as part of a transfer? Riding into DT what’s the best place to get off assuming no tunnel closed reroute?

    Would it be too hard to paint the roadway with big letters that say BAY B?

    1. Your call on whether to get off or not, and on where the best spot to catch the bus downtown. Depends whether you want to stop for coffee, see something, etc. Personally I like University St Station since it’s less crowded than Westlake.

      Using ORCA your $2.00 would cover the Link transfer but it wouldn’t work with paper.

      Happy Father’s Day! Hope you enjoyed the museum.

      1. Whether or not to get off at SODO and take something up E-3 to get downtown rather than stay on the 124 going up 4th….

        It’s a question that can never be answered, unless you happen to see something going up the busway and stay on the 124th and then see it in the tunnel later. You’ll never know whether or not it is/was faster. Theoretically though, it should be faster, as there are only three lights (none for Link). But you may end up waiting longer for a vehicle to get you than if you had stayed on the bus. To know for sure, pull up OneBusAway. That link will show you both bus and Link.

        I like SODO station. You can hang out at the northbound bus stop at Lander, and if you hear the rails go hot before you see a bus you can head across at the crossing at the south end of the platform. Just make sure there’s no train going southbound.

        Why does the roadway need painting? Are the large signs on the platform too hidden?

      2. Why does the roadway need painting? Are the large signs on the platform too hidden?

        yes I’m not a frequent user. I look at the schedule. Damn, the 255 I want is supposed to be here NOW. Run down to the platform. Signage to this point is good. Where is “platform b”? I go down, looking for a “B” anywhere. Find a small overhead that says 255 and stand there. Typically as a 255 user I’m coming from the east side and know Westlake Station. I’m up against a 1 minute window on the mezzanine and run down there and have a hard time figuring out what is platform B. Paint is cheap.

    2. I got caught for about a half hour on the 132 before the game Friday, with most of that time spent on 1st Ave S.

      1st Ave S has two lanes each way still. As we get ready for the rollout of RapidRides C-E, I hope there are plans to turn one lane each way on 1st Ave S into HOV/freight lanes. It seemed such a waste of capacity seeing so many SOV drivers clogging both lanes going toward Safeco Field. If we enable the buses to get through the traffic anywhere close to as fast as the trains, then the buses, too, would become an attractive alternative to the parking treasure hunt.

      I’d like to see SDOT and Metro assess possibilities for speeding up bus access through the stadia district during the pre- and post-game rushes (for lack of a better term). The cost of doing the assessment should easily pay for itself through reducing stuck-in-traffic service hour overages and increased farebox recovery. As part of the assessment, they might even see profitability from adding runs on the stadia-district routes during the pre- and post-game periods.

      Or just skip the assessment and re-paint the lanes.

  7. Are they going to knock down the whole block with the Neptune and the Varsity for the Brooklyn station? There has been little discussion of how Brooklyn will be built, but they knocked down two blocks for Capitol Hill station. But those businesses were peripheral and easily moved, whereas the Neptune and Varsity and the storefronts around them are part of the heart of the U district. And if they take out the block south of 43rd, there’s a highrise apartment there.

    1. No. Just the former WaMu bank building and I think the former IHOP building. They’re not doing any tunneling work from Brooklyn, so the construction area doesn’t have to be as large as Capitol Hill. The north entrance to the station will be in the plaza in front of UW Tower and the south entrance will be where the bank is today.

      1. Oh, I didn’t know that. It’s been a while since I’ve been further north than the medical center.

      2. IHOP disappeared when UW bought the tower. Their lease was ending and they chose not to renew, and UW decided that since the building was in such poor condition they would just get rid of it. It’s been a parking lot since. Some of the parking lot, however has been used as a construction staging area as UW modified the loading dock that’s on the other side of the “alley” from the former IHOP. In addition to fencing in the dock, they also built a 2-story datacenter. The parking lot also contains 3 spots reserved for Zip cars.

        Last year I lived at 43rd & 11th–a block away.

      3. I think the one-story office building between the Neptune and the WaMu parking lot might come down as well.

        In any case the main station box is going to be under Brooklyn so that is another reason an entire block or two won’t need to be torn out.

        The buildings coming down are to make room for station entrances or for construction staging.

    2. http://projects.soundtransit.org/Documents/pdf/projects/link/north/BrooklynAerial.pdf The yellow area of this ST document shows which properties they will be clearing and using for staging or construction. They’re carefully avoiding the Neptune, and they’re not knocking down anything east of the alley between Brooklyn and the Ave, so there will be no impact on the Ave. They’re keeping the footprint very small for this one, because, as someone said, they aren’t launching any TBMs from here and the dirt is being picked up I think from either Roosevelt or UW Station. ST’s doing a very good job mitigating the impacts of building a station in a very dense area of the second largest urban center in the state.

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