64 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Tokyo From Space”

    1. So, how does some other poster here get to use my nickname? I did not post that at 08:29:02

  1. Okay, how about we just all agree to only respond to Norman’s Baits once every two weeks.

  2. City of Ottawa breaks its BRT system:


    Canada is generally supportive of transit, providing good service. Ottawa selected BRT as its service mode, and has built several bus transitways and dedicated lanes through downtown.

    Without warning, and without notifying the operating agency, the dedicated lanes were suddenly closed for construction and created bus gridlock with service delays up to an hour.

    This situation highlights several of drawbacks of BRT for high capacity corridors:
    – lack of permanance: it’s easy to close it or change it
    – lack of control: the transit agency doesn’t control its right of way
    – lack of priority: it’s easy to block it with a taxi or delivery truck or police car or for construction

    Even when we build bus infrastructure, there’s no commitment or priority to keep it up and keep it functioning. Here in Seattle, many of the HOV lanes we’ve built don’t function effectively for our bus service, either because they are as clogged as the regular lanes (largely true on I-405 north of Bellevue and much of I-5) or they don’t allow for service to the stops and exits needed (e.g. Houghton P&R, 520 ramps from I-405, Spokane St to/from busway etc.) And our region is planning for the $4 billion 520 bridge rebuild as a BRT corridor without a transfer station at Montlake which currently exists and provides important network connectivity.

    Just saying.

  3. A Colorado gubernatorial candidate claims bike paths and bike-sharing programs are a vast United Nations conspiracy to take over America’s urban spaces.

    “When we heard the story, we all got a good chuckle,” said Martin J. Chavez, executive director of the [International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives] and the former mayor of Albuquerque. “The next thought in the back of your mind is, ‘Gosh, I hope no one will actually believe that.’ ”

  4. The Food Network has jumped on the street food train.

    “The Great Food Truck Race” begins in Los Angeles and works its way through several southern states, ending in NYC. Despite what’s sure to be conflict-focused editing, there’s likely to be a wealth of info for anybody interested in the business side of street food (including the all-important marketing of your concept). The series premieres August 15.

    1. Oops – left our per day
      7 children age 14 and under killed per day and an additional 866 injured in motor vehicle accidents (source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.)

    2. That NYC statistic, I’m wondering if that’s also due to fewer children living in NYC compared to other cities? Then again, if you add in the presumably-higher vehicle traffic (cars and busses, as compared to other cities) maybe it all washes out?

      1. The statistics are based on a rate 100,000 children, so it is normalized for the number of children. Here’s a quote:

        Nationally, the motor vehicle-related death rate among children was more than twice that found in NYC (4.4 deaths per 100,000 compared to 1.8 deaths per 100,000 children).

        The report, published in 2007, is here:

        Here’s another quote from the report:

        Fatal motor vehicle accidents involving children occur most frequently outside of Manhattan.
        • The rate of motor vehicle accidents among children was highest in Brooklyn and Queens (1.3 deaths per
        100,000 children, compared to less than 0.8 deaths in the Bronx and Staten Island and 0.2 deaths in Manhattan).

        It’s fair to say that Brooklyn and Queens have more highways and auto use than Manhattan and the Bronx, and less dense transit service. The correlation is really quite stunning.

        There are quite a few interestings statistics in this report.

      1. If 15 thousand people per square mile is sprawl in your book, then every human settlement is sprawl and the word has no meaning.

      2. Can the STB moderation policy be amended to disallow these sorts of “burden of proof” (or whatever the proper rhetorical term is) arguments?

        I’m all for open discourse, but these sorts of “I’m not going to do the work for you” comments after making claims with little/no supporting data detract from the overall discussion this blog is trying to facilitate.

      3. Agreed. Half the reason why I keep responding to Norman is to not let his baseless comments sit in the comment thread for somebody to stumble across in Bing or Google.

      4. “Making claims with little or no supporting data….”

        Keith, this is a only blog’s comment section, not a doctoral thesis. It’s one step up from an AOL chatroom. Oh wait, let me guess, you think people who visit chatrooms should supply data and footnotes to backup their statements?

      5. @ Sam the role model

        The STB comment thread isn’t a normal comment thread, and I think that is why we have such a robust and active comment culture. We expect a high standard of discussions and troll like comments will be dealt with if it distracts from the topic of the post.

      6. VeloBusDriver,

        I don’t think a comment in a thread is going to be the end of the world.

        Please don’t feed the trolls.

      7. The overall Tokyo-Yokohama conurbation has a population of 35 million, with the Tokyo itself having a population of 13 million. The density is quite astounding, but the greatest density is always around the train stations, hence the lights in the photo. The entire Tokyo region could not function at this density and standard of living without the train system. This isn’t an example of sprawl as the developments are mostly quite dense and compact, and outside of Tokyo there is open space and farms between developments.

      8. You’re the one who doesn’t understand sprawl. Primary characteristics are low density, auto-oriented development, high car dependence, segregated land uses, and primarily single-family homes. Ever been to Tokyo?

      9. Again with demanding other people prove your own fallacious assertions. Perhaps you can leave the comments section alone for people who want to have a reasoned discussion?

    1. The sprawl would be ten times bigger if there weren’t those rail lines. Compare Los Angeles, which has less population but greater (?) size.

    2. And Tokyo would use a lot more oil, which would raise the price of gas for us. That is, assuming the Japanese could even afford a car-based infrastructure at all, and that the small highly-populated island could accommodate it.

    3. If that’s sprawl in your book then I’d hate to see what you consider a dense urban environment. Perhaps something out of Blade Runner or The Fifth Element?

    4. To continue my point, the “sprawl” is really a population increase. In medieval times nobody commuted, and I think the largest European city was London, at less than 1 million (?) in 1750, 3 million in 1871, and 8 million in 1971 [1]. The first railroads were built partly as convenient transport for the rich, but mostly to bring workers to the factories in the Industrial Revolution. So the population increase created the demand for railroads, not the other way around.

      With a large population, commuter rail allows people to cross the metropolis in a reasonable time. It allows people to live on the edges, thus a kind of sprawl, but what’s the alternative given the population size? Even if you squeeze everybody into the largest high-rises, you still need rail to negotiate the city’s size. Without it, you’d have a slum like the Mexico City colonias, because people couldn’t get to jobs and they’d have insufficient room to grow food.

      It’s questionable whether it would have been possible for London to grow to 1 million or 8 million without rail (or in later cities, buses). So, you may say high population is bad anyway. But the fact is, we have high population now and the people have to live somewhere. Unless you intend to shoot three quarters of them.

      [1] http://www.victorianweb.org/history/hist4.html

      1. The first London Underground line had only 26,000 boardings per day in its first year of operation.

      2. And your point is…? Every transit line takes a few years for its ridership to stabilize. It takes time for people to realize it’s there, remember it’s there, realize how it could be relevant to their trips, and move closer to its stations.

  5. Hey everyone, I had a question about the ORCA card. I know it’s pretty basic but I’m new to riding the bus so I was hoping you all could help.

    To get to work, I’m going to ride CT 116 and ST 535. I know I tap the card when I get on to the 116 but do I have to tap off again before I get onto the 535 or do I just tap on as I get on the 116 then tap on as I get on the 535 and it just deducts the transfer? And does it work the same way if I’m transferring on just Metro and not between agencies like my CT/ST scenario?

    Thanks for the help!

    1. Tap on the 116, and tap on again on the 535. Tapping off is only relevant either on light rail or when either you or your bus travel through downtown Seattle before 7pm.

      1. Specifically, if your bus travels trough the ride free area and you’re not getting off in it.

        And not just Link Light Rail but also Sounder Commuter Rail.

  6. Video of the Curitiba, Brazil bus system. The city where BRT was developed.

    There are a number of points that are brought out in this video that make their system work better than most in the world, especially here in the U.S.

    1. I edited your link. WordPress doesn’t do well with long links.

      I think the biggest think to keep in mind is that Curitiba is meeting different needs. Lost of developing countries are looking to this type of BRT because they have huge ridership demand. In the US BRT is aimed at attracting choice riders through a higher quality of service.

      1. A couple of the points I think worth attention are the pay before boarding and the color coded buses that they use. Additionally the enclosed stations are something that we need to look at.

    1. At the speed that that is going (in the video it looked something like half a mile / hour), you could build the entire east link in a few weeks, once it’s been graded. When’s the whole thing actually scheduled to be done? 2030 (counting the part to redmond)?

      And yes, I know that’s a vast over simplification, but still, I really wish they would just get some effing bulldozers, grade the row, and build the thing, rather than waiting 10 years.

      1. Amen to that. As I understand it, one reason for the length of time is to match revenue collections, though you would think they could bond it and build it more quickly. In comparison the whole 520 bridge project is only supposed to take 4 years. It should be possible to build East Link at the same pace.

      2. PS – of course the machine in the video is doing ballasted track on the surface on flat ground – much of East Link is elevated or tunneled or in concrete, where the machine isn’t relevant.

      3. Grading takes a long time, though. Probably most of the work. I’ve been periodically watching the work on the NE 36th overpass in Redmond, and it’s amazing how for long stretches of time, nothing seems to happen (just moving dirt around), and then when things do happen they happen practically overnight.

        I feel like some system like this ought to work well in a tunnel, though, where the ROW is created by machine as well. If you could have one of these running behind a TBM, having it basically take turns with another train using the tracks it built to remove dirt and otherwise support the work of the TBM, you ought to be able to have a low cost mostly automated tunnelling system.

  7. I was looking through the first or second issue of Bus World magazine and they had an article about the MAN articulated buses. Seattle was one of the first cities to have these and I found it odd that they (if I remember correctly) were the only system to order them with 2 doors instead of 3. Glad that RapidRide will have 3-door loading and unloading.

    Much has been written about the merits of Train v. Bus, with each having it’s own good and bad points.
    As ST and Metro scramble to adjust budgets to keep operating costs under control, HOW WOULD YOU MAKE THE CALL when the time comes to either add another train into the schedule or add another car onto existing trains? Obviously more cars are cheaper to operate (going from 2 to 4 car trains doubles your capacity), than by reducing headways on East Link from 10 minutes to 5 minutes(which also doubles capacity and adds better service with shorter waits for the next train).
    In other words, when East Link trains begin to fill up (2 car trains in the peak every 10 minutes), do you add a car?, only considering reducing headways below 10 minutes until all peak trains are running with 4 cars and experiencing crush loads on some runs (roughly 150-200 per car[[Please no debate here on capacity]]).
    I look at the Tokyo map and know the answer. Maximum train length as often as the system will allow, and buses would never fill the need. But this is Seattle, and no way close to Tokyo, so the reality of cash available and needs settle in pretty quickly.
    To be as blunt as posible,
    Is Bellevue stuck with service to Seattle on 10 minute headways until most trains are running at peak capacity using 4 car trainsets?

    1. An interesting question. I think that the most prudent thing would be to do as you suggest and increase train lengths until there are crush loads on at least some peak hour trips. Driving down the cost per boarding should be a priority, especially at a time when tax revenues are down.

      Of course, increasing train lengths or decreasing headways will depend upon having sufficent rolling stock to meet the peak need. The East Link budget will include an LRV order. Presumably those will be compatible with the vehicles procured for the inital segments, but will they be dedicated to East Link or put into a pool of vehicles that can be shared with the other segments?

      Once East Link starts operation and Central Link gets extended, there will be several ways to adjust service levels to accomodate growth. It will be important to look at where the most crowded parts of the system are. In the south, some trains might be turned back at Rainier Beach or Airport and in the north, there will be a choice of turning trains at UW station (I forget, will there be a pocket track there, or just a crossover?) or Northgate. And then, there will be the distribution of trains between Central/South Link and East Link. There are really lots of ways it could work, and I think, come 2020 it will take a few years to figure out the best (or least bad) way of running the system.

      1. That’s the plan on Rainier. There is a stub track south of the Henderson station to layover the Northgate trains, then start the NB trips back. That would keep service to Seatac at 10 minutes, with fill in trains at 10 min. to Northgate, for 5 min service on MLK (maximum allowed by SDOT), merging with E-Link trains on a 10 min headway.
        I pose the question for exactly the reason you brought up. HOW MANY CARS PURCHASED determines if ST2 can build the fleet to 4 car trains, and save the operating costs of having to reduce headways to meet peak loads.
        Conversely, tight budgets could dictate longer headways, with longer trains, as soon as Pine St. stub is extended enough to get 4 car trains turned back. This could happen fairly soon if made a priority, IMHO.
        It will be interesting how the ST board grapples with this question this winter.

  9. On a lighter note, I noticed yesterday coming back from Safeco Field that the south-and west-facing clocks on the King Street Station tower are [already] out of sync and are NOT showing the correct time. That’s if I read the time correctly, which I think I did. Sigh. So much work went into getting them to operate again.

  10. If an Issaquah line is added to International Dist stn and the DSTT is at capacity, would it be possible to share the platform by putting a switch track and a layover place where the buses wait? Then, could there be a dedicated backup driver that boards the train at the station and reverses it to the layover spot, and vice-versa when it goes back into service? That would avoid the delay of the main driver walking to the back of the train and activating the rear steering while the train is blocking the platform.

    Second, would it be possible for West Seattle Link to come into International Dist stn from Stadium, and then diverge to a 2nd Ave or 5th Ave tunnel? Or would the Intl Dist platform itself have insufficient capacity for a West Seattle Link (6 trains/hour) and Issaquah Link (4 trains/hour)?

    1. The platforms are where capacity will be limited, so if there’s room at Internation District Station then there is room in the entire downtown tunnel and each station (and conversely if there is not room in the tunnel then there is not room at International District station).

      Assuming there is not room, what is needed is an additional station adjacent to ID station with its own platforms and tracks that continue to the new tunnel. It may be possible to have the West Seattle trains share the Link tracks through SODO. The issue that might constrain it here is that there are street crossings which mean you have to limit frequencies to allow cross traffic. However, there may be spare capacity — you can probably run at higher frequencies here than on MLK way because you don’t need to allow for turning traffic.

  11. I was thinking today about why no one puts supposed BRT supporters on the spot? Where is the money for PACs? Where is the pressuring of politicians outside of trying to derail Link? Why is it that if BRT and LR are two competing agendas, that LR supporters seem to be the only ones pushing for kind of infrastructure changes (dedicated lanes) that are needed to make BRT successful?

  12. Because there’s no actual constituency for BRT except for a few wonks. There are a lot of people interested in really high-quality transit (rail), and people mostly interested in spending as little as possible on transit.

    BRT, in practice, is an attempt by anti-tax people to buy off rail supporters with a half-measure. It doesn’t have to be that way but that’s how it plays out.

    1. I hate to get bus v. rail but there is quite a large constituency for improved bus service (especially on frequent routes). The problem is, of course, that BRT and PRT and the rest are used as distractions by the suburban land speculators and as wedges to divide natural constituencies from one another. That is, of course, if you view transport in general as a social justice and human infrastructure issue.

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