Photo by caseyrs77

This is an open thread.

38 Replies to “News Roundup: A Slow Week”

  1. Reading the comments about moving Metro’s ETB #3 layover at Madrona brings up a very valid point.
    Trolleys and diesels have pronounced differences when it comes to neighborhoods acceptance of buses parking close to business and residential. Wide scale replacement of trolleys would have to consider cries to relocate the layover zones for many of the lines. ETBs at Aloha and 10th? OK. Diesels/Hybrids with engines idling at 6am? (even for short periods) No way.

      1. So is J-walking and littering.
        Just starting the engine irritates some people.

      2. Of course. Diesel engines are loud and obnoxious – especially when starting and under load at low speeds.

        ETB’s are not. Seattle needs to keep what they have (if not actually expand the system).

    1. 1. There are many routes that already layover in front of people’s houses that operate with diesel coaches and are not that big of a deal (2X,11,15,17,18,19,24,26,27,28,41,44,48,55,64,73,75,113,114,128,240242,243,260,304,308,348,550,560 all layover infront or across the street front someone’s house and I may have missed a few routes too. Also, anything that layover over downtown infront of an apartment building or at a P&R/TC with nearby residents such as Renton TC, Redmond TC, Woodinville P&R, a few examples.) As a driver I know, you don’t turn the coach on until its time to leave or I will get a complaint, but I never have. People learn to live with it and if the drivers shut it off right away it’s not that big of a deal. Plus what about the 1,2,3,4,10,12,13,14,44 layovers on the weekends….they are still parked infront of people’s houses or apartment buildings.

      2. A driver is required to shut the bus off right away at all terminals….except when ordered otherwise or the 952 at McClolllum P&R layover.

  2. Remember this weekend that another open house is scheduled for the Seattle Streetcar at the Chinatown/International District Summer Festival. Here’s the official city email:

    The next stop for the Seattle Streetcar is the First Hill Streetcar Line! In November 2008, voters in the Puget Sound area approved this new transit connection as part of “Sound Transit 2”, the mass transit expansion plan for our region. The Seattle City Council has approved the First Hill Streetcar with a segment along Jackson through Chinatown/International District. Visit our open house, being held during the Summer Festival, to see the latest design concepts for Jackson, speak with City representatives about the next steps for the project, provide feedback, and sign-up to receive updates.

    Please contact Jaci Anderson at 206.343.1543 or with questions or to arrange for an interpreter to be present at the open house.

    We hope to see you there!

    11:30 AM – 2:00 PM
    Saturday, July 10,
    “Hong Kong Building”
    511B Maynard Avenue S.
    Seattle, WA 98104

      1. They are short on vans right now. All the 251’s are Gilligs too, except Saturdays

  3. Is there any reason the 560 won’t allow passengers to board at the layover stop by the new Safeway in DT Bellevue? Having to haul luggage up the hill for no reason seems cruel. It always leaves at the same time, not seeing the reason for this.

      1. It is a new thing. Last time I boarded there the driver barked at me but let me on. The next time there was a rider alert there (on the BUS STOP sign with “560” on it) saying no boardings are permitted.

        Unfortunately it is still listed as a passenger stop in the ST guide. Not the best example of coordination.

      2. It’s a footnote on the Bellevue TC timepoint and it’s listed in the bus stop list. The rider alert was posted well ahead of the last service change.

        Very annoying – now instead of walking to the stop for my airport trips, I have to try my luck at a 5am transfer to get to BTC or SBPR.

  4. Question about the night owl routes:

    Metro says that the last inbound trip will meet the first Link train at Stadium station. Sound Transit’s site (and the GTFS that Metro puts out) says the train starts at SODO. So do buses proceed down to Lander or am I going to have to walk down that nice asphalt pathway from Royal Brougham to SODO?

    1. Actually, ST says the first train starts at Stadium at 4:40 Monday-Saturday (6:30 on Sundays). But Metro’s GTFS does indeed seem unaware of this and/or the nightowls’ stopping at Stadium Station: if I attempt a trip from my house in Ballard to SEA at 3:45am, the Trip Planner tells me to get off downtown then wait an hour to catch the first train out of Westlake at 5:05, instead of transferring at Stadium.

    2. I just submitted a comment to the Trip Planner folks about the gaps in the data. Hopefully they’ll be able to fix it so that this transfer shows up. Just last Friday, in fact, my mother paid Shuttle Express $37 dollars so that she could get to the airport in time for an early flight—according to the Trip Planner, the trip would have involved hanging around downtown for nearly an hour at 4 a.m., which was not something my mother was going to do. Turns out she actually could have gotten there faster, to say nothing of saving $35.

      1. It’s only a 2 day trip, and my flight doesn’t leave until 8:30. I could drive–it’d take about 20 minutes and I can utilize the 72-hour rule and park nearby and walk to the terminal, but I vowed to use Link to get the airport when the segment opened last December. Or, I could make it by taking the first 70-something of the morning, but that’d be cutting it way too close (for me).

  5. Road diet for Admiral Way. Bad idea. While not a W. Seattle Resident, I have driven the 56/57 in the mornings and know that when West Seattle Bridge backs up traffic up the hill on Admiral Way (probably even worse when AWV construction starts), the second South/East bound lane is really going to be missed for the traffic wanting to access Avalon Way. That right lane is very wide, wide enough to paint a bike lane in the existing lane. As for the unhill bikers, I say remove the parking lane. I don’t think very many people use it, except for parking a car with a For Sale sign on it.

  6. The #3 turns around in my front yard, and I fully support Madrona’s wish to see the layover moved a block south. At only a TINY inconvenience for transit riders – hardly anyone transfers between the #2 and #3 in Madrona – the local business district on 34th would gain much greater visibility. I love living at the intersection of the #2 and #3 (well, except on Diesel Saturdays), but I also fiercely support local ‘downtowns’. Moving the layover down to the Madrona Playground seems like a sensible way to increase business visibility while still keeping Madrona a lovely trolley-only neighborhood.

    1. More than $25M below the engineer’s estimate? There’s no way ST will actually save that much capital; bids coming in that far below what had been expected all but guarantees there will be significant change orders submitted which will eat into ST’s “savings.”

  7. I just got back from a road trip to San Francisco…went there for 4oJ weekend.

    After weighing all options, I decided my son and and I would drive the 800 miles.

    With two drivers I found it very doable, although the heavy rains on the way down at night made it somewhat harrowing.

    I kept thinking…where is the train! I checked Amtrak and it’s a 24 hour train ride to SF! (Versus 13 hour drive). And with the train, you can count on even more delays!

    A train that traveled consistently at 80 mph would make the trip in 10 hours. I would gladly take it if such a train existed. Why in the 2nd decade of the 21st century it doesn’t exist, perplexes me!

    By the way, I recommend that all you Seattlites with your pent up lust for transit and density, get together now and then, scream “Road trip!” and make the journey to SF. Four drivers and two hotel rooms would be a good budget trip for anyone!

    1. The simple answer John – Union Pacific does NOT like passenger trains, low speed, high speed or otherwise.

      This is one of several reasons why Amtrak isn’t running to more destinations and faster speeds, besides the cost of the infrastructure to support trains of that speed. I could see 14 hours easily but definitely not anything less than that without a complete dedicated ROW.

      In all honestly, the Coast Starlight is hands down one of the most beautiful routes and absolutely worth the trip if you can swing the time frame. My 2 1/2 days on the Empire Builder was probably the best rail experience I have had to date. We were on-time up until Chicago and had to follow a Metra train into the station.

    2. Yep, that’s the Coast Star-late. All the investment in the second half of the last century went to I-5 and airports rather than a separate passenger rail line. The railroad companies are mainly interested in freight traffic, which is slower than passenger rail so they don’t have much incentive to upgrade the tracks except where the states kick in money as for the Cascades.

      There used to be an overnight Greyhound from SF taking 18 hours (tx Sacramento), but it looks like it’s gone now. The best I can find is 21 hours.

      I rode the Empire Builder in November and was very pleased. The train arrived an hour ahead of schedule at several stops because they build contingency time into the schedule now (to avoid late-arrival fines). The cars were refurbished, and the cost was only $150 each way for a last-minute trip, although it was a low-travel period and I went midweek. And you get a map showing the places of interest at every stop. I don’t know if the Starlight has been similarly upgraded.

      If you treat the train trip as part of the attraction, and if the cars and meals have been refurbished like the Empire Builder is, and if you’re willing to risk a possible 8-hour delay or bus diversion (there are often mudslides in winter), it’s a pleasant way to travel. You get more legroom than on planes or buses, and your seat might have an electric outlet.

      1. I rode the Coast Starlight the weekend before John did and it was also quite nice. We were on-time southbound and an hour early northbound, despite starting one hour late southbound (HEP issues) and northbound (waiting on a late train’s passengers from Chicago).

        While we didn’t get such nice maps, the food was delicious and at various points either a conductor or a volunteer would announce nearby points of interest.

    3. Sadly I don’t think better rail service between Eugene and Sacramento is likely to happen any time soon. The route taken by Amtrak is also a heavily used freight corridor with lots of curves and grades. The host railroad (UP) shows little to no interest in having any passenger trains on its tracks much less making any improvements to speed passenger operations.

      At best we’ll see increased frequencies and speeds between Seattle and Eugene as part of the long-range plans for the Cascades service. California High-Speed rail service between Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and points in-between. Perhaps there might also be a second daily Coast Starlight, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

      As nice as the train ride between the Bay Area and Seattle is, flying is a better option for most people. Fares are in the $200-$250 round trip range.

    4. John opined: “And with the train, you can count on even more delays!”

      Did you bother to check the Starlight’s route performance? With freight network traffic down in this corridor, the Starlight’s on-time record has gone from abysmal in recent years to 93.1% on-time over the last 12 months and an incredible 96.7% in June. That’s better than the flagship Acela service (80.0%/76.9%), better than our very own Cascades service (68.3%/73.4%), better than the Empire Builder (79.4%/70.0%), better than the high-ridership Empire Service in NY (86.9%/82.5%), better than the City of New Orleans (84.6%/81.7%), better than the land-cruise California Zephyr (56.4%/31.7%), and better than the Bay Area’s Capitol Corridor (91.5%/91.4%). Suddenly, the Starlight is one of the best-performing corridors on our entire national passenger railroad! Amtrak maintains this data on their website for anyone to view.

      John again: “A train that traveled consistently at 80 mph would make the trip in 10 hours. I would gladly take it if such a train existed. Why in the 2nd decade of the 21st century it doesn’t exist, perplexes me!”

      So move to Europe or Southeast Asia, where governments have made the capital investments to bring about such long-distance rail service as you desire. Unfortunately, the USA has been so auto-centric over the last sixty years that we’ve neglected the benefits of high-speed rail service over long distances and are now literally paying the price for not making those investments when the costs of labor and materials weren’t as high as they are today.

  8. I really think they should change their policy for youth ORCA cards, which requires youth from all over to come to one of the two customer service centers downtown (Westlake and King Street Center) and to show their ID to prove that they are under 18. While I understand that they want to ensure people are under 18, the inconvenience this causes is not worth it, so most youth just end up not getting ORCA cards. It would be much better to allow youth to buy youth cards at all places where ORCAs are sold. Anyways, it doesn’t make any sense to require youth to show their ID to get an ORCA card when there is no need to show ID when paying youth fare on a bus, or when buying a youth PugetPass before ORCA.

    1. …or the customer service center in Lynnwood, or in Everett, or the two in Tacoma, or the one in Lakewood.

    2. Youth ORCA cards can also be gotten by mail (a copy of ID must be sent in; it’s returned with the card). Agreed, though, that selling them in so few places is ridiculous.

  9. Bailo: Seattle sees increase in occupied office space

    The demand for office space went up, mainly because Amazon’s new digs are larger than its current space. The vacancy rate also rose, “largely because of an increase in supply”; i.e., new office buildings looking for their first tenants.

    So there hasn’t been any mass exodus from downtown Seattle to the suburbs and exurbs.
    Seattle’s not depopulating.

Comments are closed.