Photo by Stephen De Vight

This is an open thread.

53 Replies to “News Roundup: Mail in your Ballots”

    1. It’s confusing when they use ‘trolley’ and ‘electric’ together, considering Metro’s fleet. These are trolley replica buses that will happen to run on electricity, replacing diesel-powered trolley replicas.

  1. Vancouver’s ‘Canada’ line celebrates it’s first anniversary by smashing all ridership projections – over 106,000 daily weekday boardings. That wasn’t hoped for until at least 2013. Way to go.

  2. I actually like the tunnel replacement solution(for waterfront reasons) but it seems to me that the state would be excited or jump at the idea of replacing the viaduct with a surface solution because then they could use their portion of funds from that project and apply it to 520 and maybe even help Seattle fund the seawall replacement. All problems fixed.

  3. I like the idea of tolling, not on individual streets, but as a zone. Similar to what London has done with it’s congestion charging. There they charge £8 (about $12) for driving in the central core area. Once paid, the toll is good for the whole day (you can come and go as you please). The congestion zone pricing is in effect from 7am-7pm, M-F. So people who are using the city streets in the evenings and weekends get to do so for free, but those who choose to drive downtown during the busiest, most congested parts of the day can do so for a price.

    The benefits? Less congestion in the downtown core, better utilization of transit, and a revenue stream for the city for transportation issues. Win-win-win.

    1. Unless you have a legitimate reason for driving downtown. That’s at least six times higher than what you’d pay for on street parking, and that doesn’t even include parking.

      1. The trouble with Congestion Zone pricing in Downtown Seattle is Northgate and Southcenter which have ample parking, many of the same stores, and plenty of restaurants, bars, and movie theaters.

      2. People who want to go into the congestion zone will still go or take public transport (see London). I would find it incredibly fascinating if Seattle followed suit. But key corridors being charged too would be good. Bridges would be particularly easy since you have a captive audience. I wonder about the legality of tolling off ramps.

      3. i agree, downtown seattle is one of the absolute best downtowns in the US, dont kill it.

        just let the traffic be, people will deal. provide fast quality transit, bike lanes, pedestrian facilities to get in and around downtown as an option for motorists and to keep it the prime place for peds, cyclists and transit riders.

      4. What would you consider “legitimate” versus “non-legitimate” reasons for driving downtown?

  4. A Congestion Management District, consisting of the downtown core grid, with Good-to-Go technology installed on each street leading into the district, could do a lot of good in several ways.

    First, the city needs the revenue.

    Second, those who have to drive downtown will end up with a net profit in the value of their time.

    Third, this may be the single biggest act the city could undertake to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of idling vehicles.

    Fourth, congestion pricing will get more people to ride the bus and rail, bringing in more revenue for Metro and ST.

    Fifth, taxis, which will opt for the monthly pass version of the toll, will become more ubiquitous, giving pedestrians who can afford it a ride on every corner and creating more jobs. (I’ve actually had a tough time getting a taxi in downtown when I’ve needed one.)

    The toll should be congestion priced, based on time of day and availability of transit alternatives. Tolling should cease at night when transit options are limited and inconvenient.

    I believe this would require a ballot item, but I think it is feasible, if prepared properly.

  5. I got on a southbound train at Beacon Hill station at 5:45 last night and it was truly a crush load! Thinking that the crowd might be because a train had been delayed, at the Mt. Baker station I checked the clock that shows the time since the last train, and it was only 6 minutes. I find those kinds of crowds, when the trains are only 6 minutes apart, to be very encouraging!

    1. I got interviewed briefly on the streetcar yesterday because the radio was doing some story about the recent high ridership – and that train at least was standing room only!

      1. I had to take a half day Monday to meet with a friend in his art studio in SLU and I have never seen both Link and the Streetcar so full. I took Link from Mount Baker to Westlake and boarded the Streetcar to the stop in front of the Rain Gym (can’t remember which station) and both modes were completely full at noon.

        I’m not sure if I would say “crush load” on light rail, but I was standing along with many others and they were standing everywhere. As for the streetcar, it was the most packed that I have ever seen it, truly “crush load”.

        Going back home at 5pm on the streetcar was even more full and Link was close to being like a Tokyo subway by the time we got to the Chinatown station. Do we have the July numbers yet for light rail? Wonder if we made it to the magic 26,000 riders in year one?

    2. The buses must have all broken down that day, or a truck hit a streetlight and blocked the Rainier-MLK intersection. My friend says every time he sees a Link train in Rainier Valley it’s empty, so it must be true.

  6. London has been preparing for the 2012 Olympics by creating a Hydrogen Infrastructure. Here’s the latest on their fuel cell powered cabs:

    Lotus hydrogen cab
    Verdict as zero emissions taxi joins the rank

    A fleet of 20 fuel cell hybrid cabs will be up and running by 2012, and six, London-based hydrogen filling stations should be active by then, too. If a hydrogen fuel network gets enough backing, there’s no limit to the possibilities of this technology.

    http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/carreviews/firstdrives/255601/lotus_hydrogen_cab.html#ixzz0wJmiucTl

      1. Would it not be more efficient, easier, and cheaper to use this solar electricity to power ETBs directly instead?

    1. Hydrogen buses are a complete disaster, for many reasons. First, the high cost of these buses which is around $3M each. Second, the fuel sell is only good for around 3 years and then they must be replaced at a cost $500, 000 , almost the cost of a new diesel bus. Third, the best efficiency that you could obtain from a fuel sell bus is 42%, not much better than clean diesel.

      How do you ship such a volitile fuel when we can’t even ship oil safely? You also need to train personnel on this new system to maintain these buses.

      To the best of my knowledge these creations are performing very poorly around the world!

  7. On your first item, it’s been a day now. Where is your indepth analysis?!?! What do you think I pay you people for? Chop-chop!

    1. Taxes on driving good, spending on bikes, peds, transit, and downtown not falling into the bay also good.

      1. Is it really just a political question though? The creation of a TBD encompassing the entire city is a pretty noteworthy development. Especially as the Mayor had highlighted it as possible funding for his rail vote. Almost every bullet in the article had Council transportation plans v Mayor transportation plans and I for one would be interested in hearing y’alls take on the various ideas.

  8. Asking again my question on the endorsements page, does anybody know about Kim Verde? I’d like to vote against anti-transit Chopp, but Kim is an R and I’m afraid of her joining the “no taxes in my backyard” bandwagon. I googled her and didn’t find anything about her positions or activities, just “I will work hard for more efficient transportation solutions”.

    1. No matter how much you dislike Chopp, why would you think that voting for a Republican will result in better transportation and transit policies out of the Legislature?

      1. B/c voting for people simply based on what letter they have behind their name is what has gotten us into this mess?

      2. I don’t know whether the state-level Republicans in Washington state are a coordinated, hard-line, everyone-obey-the-leader caucus.

        Almost all of those in DC and *all* of those in NY state and in California are, so it’s pretty much *never* a good idea to vote for them; no matter how sensible they are personally, *they’ll act nuts when ordered to by the party leader in the legislature*.

        I hope that your legislature’s Republicans are less awful than that.

      3. If Kim is a moderate, she may not do much harm, and it may inform the candidates that Chopp’s policies are not liked, and maybe a pro-transit candidate will emerge in the following term.

        There’s also the issue of tipping the balance. In the US Senate this term, one vote is making the difference between filibuster and no filibuster, or between legislation and no legislation. Kim would not be able to tip the balance. But if she joins the no-tax coalition, the coalition would be stronger, which could scare the majority further.

        Chopp doesn’t just vote no on transit, he champions anti-transit bills and lobbies others against transit. Would Kim do the same? Or does she not care much about transit one way or the other?

      4. Establishment Republicans are notoriously quiet on transit. I don’t know much about Kim Verde, but her muni league rating was less than hot.

      5. Establishment Republicans are notoriously quiet on transit
        A long time friend that never made a lot of money but always seemed to have money told me this. “Saving is easy, if you don’t spend it it’s savings.” Silence is golden.

        I don’t know much about Kim Verde

        It’s all about name recognition. She’s the Green candidate strongly identified with the Hispanic vote.

  9. I wonder how much Metro could save if some of the part-time work rules were changed, specifically those preventing part-time operators from working weekends or after 8PM. Anyone know why these provisions are so important to the union? It isn’t making sense to me…

    Also, how does Metro get only F/T drivers working weekends? Each weekend driver works 2 weekend days and 3 weekdays? Does this have anything to do with why I have a different driver each weekday (same drivers from week to week, though)?

  10. I was on the plane on the way back from a trip to NYC yesterday (which I could talk about for a million years) and we got talking to a guy next to us from Pittsburgh. When we told him we were taking the new light rail line back from the Airport, he said something interesting. He said, “That’s what we need in Pittsburgh, a line to the Airport. Instead, they spent millions of dollars on a tunnel just between different parts of the city.” Anyone who is involved in transit would know that there are a lot more commuters taking transit than people going to the airport. But it shows how politically valuable a line to the airport is. To the general public, the first segment of Link to Sea-Tac looks much better because they might use it a couple times a year, even if it doesn’t get as much ridership as other segments. This conversation made me understand more why they didn’t decide to do the 70,000+ rider-per-day University Link first.

    1. Many visitors judge cities based on whether they have rail to the airport. A resident may use the airport only once or twice a year, but the total number of people going to the airport every day (including employees) makes it the largest destination in the region (except downtown). What other destination has shuttles going all the way to Bellingham and Ellensburg?

      Also, visitors trust rail because the map is easy to understand and they know it runs frequently and late. With a bus, they may end up someplace unknown, with the next bus not coming for an hour or maybe tomorrow morning or Monday morning. Local transit fans may know the ST bus to Bellevue is reliable and how to transfer from it, but most visitors unless they’re transit fanatics won’t take it.

      In London Gatwick, Duesseldorf, and Switzerland, the airport train is not just a subway but a mainline train (or a commuter train integrated into the mainline network), so you can take it not just to the city but to anywhere in the country. That would be the bomb. But Link to downtown and to the Amtrak station is a good second.

      1. Frankfurt am Main Airport is the same way. HSR goes directly under the airport. Or at least it seemed that way. I remember it seeming pretty deep down, but then again it was late and I was coming back from a weekend in the Netherlands.

      2. Zurich Airport has a mainline station that’s served by both long-distance and local trains. They also have tram service to the front door.

    2. He was sufficiently ignorant that he didn’t realize that the ill-fated tunnel in Pittsburgh which has been suffering such bad cost overruns is *actually the first part of the planned route to the Airport*? Sigh….

  11. Yesterday evening twenty people got on the 10 at 4th & Pike. (It was between 7:10 and 8:10pm; I don’t remember exactly.) I decided to count the time it took for everybody to board, because it was an example of what would happen if the ride free area were eliminated. It took 64 seconds for 20 people. Around half the people boarded quickly so I assume they had ORCA or transfers. Compare to maybe 10 seconds for 1-2 passengers, or 30 seconds for a Link stop.

    The single (non-articulated) bus went from pretty empty to almost full (3 seats left). So the bus could have found this load at maybe two stops downtown but not five stops — that many people wouldn’t fit on it. An articulated bus holds twice as many (?), so it could make four or five 20-person stops.

    So if my experience was typical, that means each bus would be spending up to 4-5 minutes loading 80 people at a few stops downtown. Vs maybe half that time if they board free. Times the number of buses downtown at rush hour, which is a lot.

    So it looks like eliminating the RFA would add some slowness, and maybe add four minutes per bus for load time and a few more minutes for increased traffic. So it would have some impact, but not be the end of the world.

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