Restored King Street Station Ceiling (Oran)

This is an open thread.

65 Replies to “News Roundup: Rail Funds”

  1. Replacing the old control and propulsion systems in the Gillig trolleys would seems like a pretty good option, since the shells aren’t really that old.

    1. That’s only a good option if,
      1. You just want to buy a little time until you plan to switch fleets to hybrids, then you could program a few vehicles a month or year.
      2. You plan to yank the new propulsion systems out and install them in new bodies in a few more years when the Gilligs are worn out.
      IF the trolleys along Jackson are pulled during and after construction of the streetcar, then you have plenty of spares to steal parts from – for a while.

      1. I know this was mentioned on the previous post regarding the streetcar on Jackson but I simply cannot see the trolleys being pulled from routes 1/36, 7, and 14. Metro simply does not have that many spare buses to fill the gaps. And I doubt that in the upcoming year, they will have enough. When the SLU streetcar was being constructed, the 70 ran as a trolley the entire time. Now, weekends are another story.

      2. Good point. When ST was digging up Pine St around CPS, the wire was de-energized for a long time. It was down hill, so all the trolleys coasted for a couple of blocks. Jackson is a lot longer, and both down and up, so no coasting.
        Plus Metro is cutting service by 10-15%, so there maybe enough diesels to go around, but maybe not in the peak.

  2. Mel Roberts, Chairman of the Kent Bicycle Advisory Board just sent me a link to this page on Bicycle Boulevards:

    “In essence, bicycle boulevards are low-volume and low-speed streets that have been optimized for bicycle travel through treatments such as traffic calming and traffic reduction, signage and pavement markings, and intersection crossing treatments. These treatments allow through movements for cyclists while discouraging similar through trips by nonlocal motorized traffic. Motor vehicle access to properties along the route is maintained.”

  3. Does anyone know Metro’s policy about stopping for riders between stops? Yesterday I ran for the #2 and just made it. Getting on, the bus driver told me I didn’t have to run, she would have stopped for me. Today, I saw the #2 coming and decided not to run for it. I just stood on the curb (there were no cars on the block – plenty of room to stop at the curb if they didn’t want to stop on the road) and tried to wave the bus driver down. He acknowledged seeing me, but drove past. I ran towards the bus stop, but he left long before I made it there.

    This is a common problem. Often I run for the bus and am all but laughed at by the bus driver. But the only time I’ve had a bus stop for me was when I was carrying my son and luggage.

      1. Why would you expect a local to stop any more than an express? They’re buses, not taxicabs. What’s the point of removing stops if drivers are going to stop for people outside of zones? As I think someone else mentioned in the Rt 49 consolidation post—or perhaps it was one of the threads on buses in the tunnel—we need more ruthless drivers. If you want to catch a bus, be at the stop when it pulls up. Drivers shouldn’t be waiting for stragglers, and they certainly shouldn’t be picking people up outside of zones.

    1. Policy is that you stop only at open/marked zones except at night for drop-offs. Some drivers will stop for passengers outside of zones, but it’s against policy and you’re pretty much taking on all of the risk.

      I heard a story of a passenger who requested to be let off outside of a zone (non-night drop off). The driver complied with the request but the passenger injured themselves somehow. Long story short, the customer sued and Metro’s defense was that the driver wasn’t following policy – thus leaving the driver swinging in the wind.

      I have no idea if this story is true or not. Frankly, it sounds a bit like anti-Management rumormongering. Then again, it’s the kind of thing I could see an attorney for Metro pushing during a lawsuit. That said, I’ve been known to bend these rules once in a while by opening the door for passengers in a safe location when I’m stuck in traffic. Not a problem lately but when I was driving the 550 during the tunnel closure, it was almost a nightly occurrence.

    2. It sounds like the driver was saying she personally would have broken the rules for you and stopped to pick you up in between zones. Don’t expect all drivers to break the rules for you.

    3. There’s a phrase for the situation you describe.

      “You missed the bus”.

  4. Anyone know if King Street Station can use the funds they won this week for the lighting upgrades that need to be done?

  5. Removing elevated highways…great link STB! I imagine your making a case for simply tearing down the Viaduct…NOW!

    From that article:

    “We’re rolling back the freeway system,” said John Norquist, president and chief executive of the Congress for a New Urbanism, a group based in Chicago that promotes walkable cities. He pointed to Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; and Milwaukee, where he was mayor, as cities that have removed highways running through urban areas.

    1. Funny, Highway 99 in Vancouver, BC works just fine using the extant surface street going through the city center from Richmond to the Lion’s Gate Bridge.

      So explain to me again why 2.2 billion is being spent to allow some motorist to drive from the Coast Guard pier to the Macrina Bakery in under 3 minutes?

  6. I took a walk through King Street on Wednesday, and the old ceiling really starkly reveals the architectural violence and aesthetic disregard shown by the modernizers in 1963. I never knew that the supports for the drop ceiling were made by simply punching indiscriminate holes in the plaster. Appalling. I’m so excited for the station over the next 20 years; now if only we can get some retail/coffee/office space/boutique hotel plans going for the rest of the station!

    1. It’s kind of hilarious how much nicer the Union Station waiting room is compared to King Street’s, despite the former having been decommissioned from rail service years ago.

      1. I never cared for Union Station: It was always too echo-y, and way too dingy in its last days. GN and NP at least kept things pretty clean until the end.

    2. I’ve never even thought of putting in a hotel but my first thought is: Awesome! How much space is up there? How many rooms could you get in there? Through in a restaurant and you have the makings of a VERY active space.

      1. There are only the two upper levels of former office space at Kings Street Station, so it’d be a fairly small hotel – more like a glorified bed and breakfast – but what a location. Not a lot of room for gym, business center, etc.

      2. Just what we need in Seattle. ANOTHER hotel.

        Why not a strip club. Seattle has been losing those left and right. Can’t someone get an SBA loan for threatened industries?

  7. I’ve been trying to think of ANY tunnel bore project that came in on budget. The closest was the downtown transit tunnel. It came in close to budget, but only a part of the tunnel was deep bore. The rest was cut-and-cover. I would expect budget overruns of at least 20% for the tunneling portion of the SR-99 project.

    1. I think they said that two of the Brightwater tunnel segments came in right on budget, although Brightwater is of course a bad example given the problems with the current tunnel segment.

    2. The second tunnel under Mt. Baker for I-90 was on or under budget. Don’t know about the first one. I think it was dug before cost overruns had been invented ;-)

  8. ORCA autoload still buggy.

    Now if they’d just fix the stupid policy that won’t allow me to use autoload on a company provided card. I’m able to put pre-tax dollars on the card through payroll deductions and I can manually add cash from my personal credit card but use of that same card for autoload will dissallow loading from payroll (you can’t have both). Seems pretty stupid.

    My other gripe is the stupid “pending” on all money added until you use the card. As an infrequet user of transit it’s much better now that they’ve upped the window from 30 days to 60 days but why not just load the damn card or a least don’t limit the time until the money becomse “frozen”.

    1. Nothing can be loaded into the memory of the card until it communicates with a reader. The card is smart, not magic.

      1. OK, I can see why it would distiguish “Pending” on the account from the amount actually registered on the card but why freeze the funds after 60 days? If they don’t want to keep unused credit card transactions on the books just credit it back to the card. For payroll it’s a bit stickier but in that case there’s really no reason to freeze funds after 60 days.

    2. I wonder if the payroll deduction thing is regulatory and not technical. UW is discontinuing the “debit” functionality on the Husky Card (that allows it to be used at shops) in favor of ORCA purse because it’s apparently illegal to have two “debit products” on one card.

      1. I’m pretty sure it’s “technical”. I was told I can’t have two automatic loading methods which sounds like a software limitation. I have the same personal credit card set up and have manually added value.

  9. I was wondering, is anyone saving all the information about the various options for north and east link and such? I think it would be cool if someone kept a sort of transit document library, as most of those documents are quickly taken off the Internet when they become obsolete and end up being hard to find for anyone interested in the history of transit planning several years down the road. For instance, it is very hard to find any monorail planning documents online.

  10. Okay, so I will be coming home next month. I bought an ORCA Card (isn’t that kinda like ATM Machine?) back when they were free but haven’t been back and able to use it. Are there machines to load it at SeaTac?

  11. Open thread question:

    Are operators allowed to take a break in the middle of their route? Taking the 240 from Renton to Bellevue and the driver stopped at the South Bellevue Park and Ride and went into a locked room (presumably a comfort station). I still got to where I was going on time, but it was weird to just have the driver leave the bus.

    1. I doubt it’s allowed by policy, but this has happened to me on various routes too. One time a driver went into a restaurant and picked up his takeout!

      1. This happens to me about once a month at 43rd and Madison on the outbound # 11 – with two stops to go to the end of the line, the driver gets off, uses a restaurant’s loo or picks up some food, and then comes back to the bus. Please, finish the route before taking a break.

      2. Seems to me this post at PSTO should be required reading for all public transit customers.

        I can understand some degree of bitching about a driver picking up food, though even then, imagine working at a job where you had to brown-bag it every day and couldn’t leave your desk to eat. But I really don’t see the problem with a driver taking a bathroom break along the route rather than at the end. Lots of routes don’t have comfort stations at both terminals, and “official” restrooms are often restaurants or coffeeshops that aren’t open 24/7.

    2. If you gotta go, you gotta go. I don’t see a problem with it. Now, stopping for food is different.

      1. Except on the 3/4, dashing into Safeway for take0ut, or the Deli at Madrona on the 2 before heading down to the lake. Special cases!
        The first thing you learn at Metro are all the rules, the 2nd thing is where all the best fast food places are.

      2. Both the Safeway on Queen Anne and the deli in Madrona are designated comfort stations. Nothing in the book says you have to use the toilet in a designated comfort station.

        People do tend to overlook (or not care) that they have regular access to coffee shops, restaurants, etc. in the course of their day. Many routes don’t have layovers near a place to buy something to eat or a cold drink. That makes for a hell of a long day.

      3. Forbidden. Drivers have been disciplined for using soda bottles etc. for lack of an accessible restroom.

    3. well the terminal at clyde hill probably doesnt have a restroom, so they either have to use the one at bellevue TC or S bellevue P&R

    4. From The Book:

      When outbound with no customers on board, operators may make brief stops to pick up food or beverage before proceeding to the terminal. For stops of this nature, operators should not spend more than five minutes in any establishment. Any unnecessary stops which interfere with the schedule will not be authorized.

      In my next lesson, I’ll teach you how to turn the coach on, take the brakes off, and continue driving the coach on its route–all without operator intervention. This lesson also includes a step-by-step walkthrough of picking the right defense lawyer.

    5. Lol once my friends and I were the only people left on a bus up to discovery park and we were getting close to the end of the route and came to a little strip mall with a subway. The driver asked if we minded if she got out and got a sandwich and we said it was fine so she ran out and got a quick lunch. I like that she asked.

    6. Do you believe that Operators should not be permitted to use the restroom except at certain times?

      Dude – when you gotta go, you gotta go.

  12. The story about the FRA trying to disburse the high speed rail funds was interesting. All I have heard so far about the money is that we won’t get it until next year or maybe later. If it was disbursed this year that would make more sense, as it was part of the stimulus funding. Getting to work on the Point Defiance bypass needs to start sooner rather than later.

  13. Does anyone know why Sound Transit doesn’t run a bus line that duplicates the sounder during times of day when the sounder doesn’t run? That just seems to me like it would make sense… There are no remotely convenient connections from Kent to Tacoma that come close to the sounder, and it doesn’t run often enough to use it to get around (I don’t drive so I rely on others to drive me or the trains and busses which are entirely too infrequent.)

    1. Based on count data, Kent to Tacoma is probably not a well used segment. 578 is the only “shadow” service available.

  14. Why do so many of our leaders reject increases in the gas tax?

    They gnash their teeth that fuel efficiency has increased and so that gas tax is raising less money. the federal tax hasn’t been increased in 17 years.

    They say we need mileage-based taxes or fees instead. That gas tax is effectively a combination of a mileage-based and fuel-efficiency-based tax (or fee). You drive a bigger/heavier/less-efficient vehicle, you pay more. But you pay for the miles you drive based on the fuel you consume. And fuel consumption is proportional to pollution and GHG generated, and risk of environmental damage from oil exploration. Use the gas tax to raise revenue and provide market signals to make fuel use more expensive, don’t invent a whole new technology which will track our every movement and charge a Lamborghini owner the same cost per mile as a Prius driver.

    1. I think a mileage-based system with a weight multiplier would be good. You drive 5000 miles and your car weighs 2000 lbs., then they multiply 5000 x .o2, and you pay $100. I’m not saying the multiplier is reasonable, but something like that. This way you pay for the mileage you drive (congestion created), and the abuse you do to the road (road wear). Thoughts?

      1. Enforcement mechanism to verify mileage driven is going to be costly. Annual inspections of the odometer? GPS trackers? What if the mileage was mostly done out of state? ( if we’re talking the state component of the gas tax ). More creative odometer rollback techniques will be devised by the scofflaws. Will private transit vehicles get exemptions?

    2. I like the current system. I only pay .4 cents (4 mills) per mile when driving my choice of motor vehicle and as a cyclist, I can prove to any and all that the gas tax does not “pay for the roads” (The general fund/County property tax/Federal income tax do now).

      Keep it up Asphalt-heads!

      Tee hee!

  15. The 578 was marketed as Sounder shadow service, but it’s clearly not for Kent or Tukwila. Kent has always been neglected for transit, and I’m surprised they haven’t made more noise about it, and demanded at least an ST Express bus from Seattle to Kent (which could also go to Auburn and complete the Sounder shadow service). Unfortunately the best thing now is to avoid living in Kent or going to Kent.

    On the other hand, the lack of ST Express to Seattle makes it easier to argue for BRT to the nearest Link station, because you won’t have people crying about losing their fast one-seat ride to downtown.

    1. There isn’t really any good transit corridor to run a BRT line on from the main body of residential Kent to a link station (Nearest to be Highline station) and other than that, Kent Station is the fourth most used of Sound Transit stations if I read a list I saw a while ago correctly, behind King Street, Bellevue Transit Center, and Tacoma Dome Station. I might not be remembering that correctly though, as it put Kent station at 2800 boardings per day (and I have a hard time believing that that would put it in fourth, but what do I know?)

      The 150 goes to Seattle about every 15 mins, and the 168 runs an “express” route from Kent station to Downtown (well, as express as it gets from Kent)

      I don’t understand why Kent is avoided by inter-suburban transit, it is the 6th largest city in the state with 116,000 people in 33 square miles.

      To Bellevues 126,000 in the same area.

      The only difference is that there is no Dense employment center. (there is however, PLENTY of employment in the valley, and it is super easy to access, ride the sounder to KEnt station and bike the interurban to your job in the FLAT valley. )

      I use the sounder, but wish I had a good way home when I want to stay past 5:00 in Tacoma. I in fact wrote the first post from the sounder.

      The other thing is that I really wish the sounder itself ran all day because that would just make getting around simple.

      They could make it so much more desirable to ride, but form responses i’ve gotten from them they don’t seem so interested in creating anything more than a peak commute service, which is truly lame, but somewhat understandable.

      1. I think they would definitely love to have Sounder go all day because they can’t because BNSF won’t give them more space on the tracks. A future ST ballot measure should build an extra track for BNSF along that corridor in exchange for the right to run Sounder service at decent frequencies all day long.

      2. I can’t Imagine that BNSF won’t let them join operate,
        Metra has 11 lines that run all day from the exurbs to the loop in Chicago, Chicago being one of the worlds largest freight rail hubs.

        They don’t seem to have a problem there, commuter trains run at least every half hour most of the day, and every 3 minutes at rush hour.

        I truly think the “BNSF won’t let us” argument is a load of crap.

        I sent them something, and their response seemed to tell me they don’t care to run it at non-peak:

        I have a question:

        Why is there no bus line that duplicates the sounder running about every half hour while the sounder isn’t running? That would make the train, and especially reverse commuting So much more viable for people. IF they had a way to take the train, and not worry about getting back because a bus ran it all day(and preferably on weekends).

        It would simply make using the train soooo much less worrisome if there was a bus say every hour to Seattle from Tacoma Via the Train stations only, and a bus to Bellevue every hour via all the train stations Tacoma-Tukwila, then diverging. And then run those bus lines staggered so that between Tukwila and Tacoma there is a bus back and forth every 30 minutes.

        Logically that would greatly increase perceived reliability and accessibility of the train(train stations have a more solid feel than most bus stops, and running only to them would give such a bus itself more of a perception of reliability seemingly…), and increase ridership on the train, as well as generating new ridership on a pair of bus lines. While you’re at it you ought to have the bellevue bound bus continue while the sounder runs, and have it simply truncate to Tukwila Station so that people can commute via sounder conveniently to Bellevue ( I have talked to folks who aren’t in for a 2+ hour ride (with long transfers) from Tacoma to Bellevue/Redmond so they drive instead. Creating above said bus line (And Timing it correctly) would create a seamless connection to Bellevue from Tacoma all day long. It would also create what would likely be a much zippier version of the 150 for Kent residents all day long, (the 150 being a pretty well ridden bus line).

        Are there just not enough people making that commute to create such a wonderfully convenient trip-set, or has it just not been looked at in the past? I believe there would be a lot more inter-suburban travel if it as made considerably easier for people. Going somewhere out of the way (for example: Seattle) to transfer to get to our destinations just doesn’t work well with folks, and plenty of people would go between Bellevue and Tacoma if they were given that option.

        Warm Regards,
        Alex Francis Burchard
        VP Philanthropy, ITR
        Secretary, Triangle Fraternity

        Their response:


        Thank you for contacting Sound Transit to inquire why our Sounder commuter rail does not have a more frequent daily and weekend schedule.

        Track time is limited as Sounder trains operate on the railways owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) and we must share the tracks with Freight and Amtrak. We also have to take into consideration recovering a percentage of our operating costs through fares. The target is easier to achieve with the weekday commuter schedule because more people have common start and end times for work. However, a weekend schedule is difficult to predict and still reach that revenue goal.

        Although we are unable to provide regular Sounder train service on weekends, we are able to serve select weekend events such as Mariners and Seahawks home games with a start time around 1:00 PM and occasionally concerts. We must still get track clearance from BNSF to provide weekend service. In addition, Sound Transit seeks cooperation from the event promoters such as a promotion for the service alerting attendees of this transit option.

        We do offer other weekend transit services such as Central Link light rail with service between SeaTac Airport and downtown Seattle and express buses serving Pierce, King and Snohomish counties. Other areas such as Puyallup are accessible by bus with a transfer to Pierce Transit Route 402 at Federal Way Transit Center.

        Sound Transit appreciates your feedback and it will be reviewed by the necessary persons within our Operations Department. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.


        Renolda Grant
        Sound Transit
        Customer Service

        And what is with the telling me about services that are almost entirely unrelated to the sounder and go nowhere near all but one of its stations? (like CLink…)

      3. I’m fairly sure BNSF would allow additional Sounder slots on the South route (the North route is a different matter, as it needs double tracking in many places first).

        However it is probably not considered economical by Sounder staff to run off-peak service yet. There is alternate service provided for Tukwila and Tacoma and other places, but you’re right, not really for Kent.

      4. “The 150 goes to Seattle about every 15 mins, and the 168 runs an “express” route from Kent station to Downtown”

        The 150 takes an hour. If it took half an hour, people wouldn’t be complaining. The 168 is peak hours only, and unidirectional at that. The 150 is good for Kent-Southcenter trips and Southcenter-Seattle trips, but it’s too slow for reasonable Kent-Seattle trips. An ST Express bus could take care of that, and it could also serve as the Sounder shadow.

        “Metra has 11 lines that run all day from the exurbs to the loop in Chicago, Chicago being one of the worlds largest freight rail hubs. ”

        Those lines were probably built for commuter rail. We’d have the same thing if we hadn’t abandoned the Interurban.

  16. Question for whoever was hard selling North Beacon Hill to me when I was asking about neighborhoods a month or a couple ago (lilnemo?). Looks like I’ll be back for about 10 days next month. I plan to spend a couple days checking neighborhoods out. What condos, bars, restaurants, cool shops, etc should I be sure to try and see while I wander around?

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