Central Link O&M Facility (posted by Gordon Werner)

This is an open thread.

53 Replies to “News Roundup: The Standard Hand-Wringing”

    1. I do not know if they will be 100% the same … but they will at least be 100% compatible with the existing fleet .

      1. Yes, they are the same; indistinguishable except by higher car numbers. These are the option cars that were part of the original bid.

    1. And yet that rate is *still* below the national average, and well below the rates found in low-density areas such as the midwest. It has nothing to do with availability of transit.

    2. 2 million more New Yorkers would be overweight or obese were the rate at the national average. Don’t kid yourself. Drivers are fatter than non-drivers.

      1. Or perhaps people who are prone to obesity would be more likely to drive themselves, as walking is more difficult for them.

        Whereas a naturally thin person is more prone to walk, bike, run…

        Causation. Causality.

      2. No, John – you can track obesity’s transportation element in with exurbanization and lack of walking and bicycling facilities; the steep decline in number of kids walking to school also fits right in. The historical data on obesity suggests that it barely existed in the days before motorized transportation.

  1. My guess, as an almost lifelong resident:

    An X shaped starter system
    Heavy rail service Bothell to the Airport
    Heavy rail service from Crown Hill to Renton

    W/ additional heavy rail from Bellevue and perhaps Redmmond to Downtown Seattle ONLY IF Kemper Sr and Kemper Jr could have been overcome.

    As timid as we were in the 70s and 80s, I doubt much more wold have been built.

  2. A friend of mine got a picture of the new U-Link vehicle arriving in Everett today… I’ll ask if I can repost the image here.

      1. Well, that’s where I work, so I’ll try and get some pics over the next few months/years (From OUTSIDE the fence, if any security folks read this!).

  3. This road diet nonsense is getting tiresome.

    No one wants to ride a bike on NE 125th, that road is a main thoroughfare.

    Whats next? 15th Ave NW?

    1. 125th is a minor arterial. Northgate Way and 145th are more appropriate and more heavily used to connect I-5 to SR-522 for cars.

      Thornton Creek and I-5 provide two major barriers that make this one of the only east-west connections for bikes in this whole section of the city (how else would you get between Bitter Lake and Lake City hub urban villages?). No one bikes on it now because there’s no facility there.

      That said, this is equally, if not more, about increasing safety for cars and pedestrians than a bike v car turf battle. 125th is dangerous for cars because the road is too wide for the traffic levels (which induces speeding) and the lack of protected left turns makes for rear-end crash risk and results in speeders weaving back and forth between the two lanes. It’s dangerous for pedestrians because it’s four lanes wide and it’s all too easy to get tagged in the inside lane once (if) you finally convince someone on the outside lane to stop and let you across.

      This is a sensible project that fulfills tons of policies in the comprehensive plan, adds a new transportation facility, improves a neighborhood, and saves lives. I have personally helped pull two teenagers out of a burning car on this road after they saw a wide and empty road, started speeding, lost control, and hit a tree. See SDOT for the safety and demand-to-capacity stats on this road, they’re pretty compelling.

      1. 145th and Northgate Way will be bus thoroughfares to light rail stations. 125th is more ideal for bike lanes. Yes, it is steep, but not as steep as the other east-west routes in that part of town.

        The whole bit about commerce in Lake City needing car traffic from 125th to survive was just plain ignorance. I lived there until a couple years ago. All the pedestrians from the mid-rise developments around downtown Lake City are the lifeblood of those businesses. Most everyone else is just passing through.

        I’m embarassed for Nicole Brodeur that her unresearched, junior-high-level rant got published.

      2. Most everyone else is just passing through

        I too have lived in Lake City (1978 – 1984) and I can tell you that not only is 125th the main route to I-5 for the vast majority of residents it is also the logical extension of Sand Pt. Way which feeds in a lot of NB I-5 traffic from Childrens and the U District. Cut through traffic perhaps but NE 45th is jammed and then you’re on the slow slog from the ship canal bridge all the way back up to 125th. Distance wise I’m guessing Sand Pt. Way to NE 125th St. is probably shorter although I’d bet it’s pretty close one way or the other.

        The other big question is who is going to use this as a bike corridor? I mean where in the heck are you going? Certainly not to I-5. Shoreline? Seems like the’re lots more places to concentrate on creating a bike-able “grid”.

      3. The Burke-Gilman comes to mind. 125th/Sandpoint is a major access route to the trail.

        And Sandpoint is in desperate need of sidewalks. I’m one of those brave souls who used to walk along there and face down the speeders. I don’t remember 125th ever being congested. I remember it always being speedy.

        BTW, bikers passing through downtown Lake City are more likely to stop and get a bite than drivers are. The shops there have limited parking, so they are dependent on neighborhood pedestrians and bikers.

      4. When I was in high school in the early 90’s, the stretch of 125th between Lake City and 15th was a speed trap. Especially between 2:15 and 3:30 when a lot of teenagers drove through there. It’s extremely easy to speed down that hill and a lot of people speed at the base of it in preparation for getting up the hill, so cops would wait at the bottom of the hill and would have little trouble catching someone speeding one direction or the other. With the city’s budget deficit, I’m surprised there aren’t more cops stationed there giving out tickets and making the city some cash.

        Northgate Way and 85th are both eternally clogged with cars, so 125th is part of our family’s route of choice from Bitter Lake to my parents’ place in Wedgwood. But frankly, it’s rarely all that crowded, and when there are back-ups, it’s because we’re all waiting for someone to turn left. So, as someone who is on that road in a car fairly regularly, I personally think it’s fine that they’re going to cut it to two lanes with a center turn lane. I think it’ll speed things up having the left turn lane, and I don’t think the loss of a travel lane will cause slow-downs.

        If only they could do something similar after 125th angles up to 130th all the way to Aurora. You often get stuck in the left lanes waiting for a left turner along those stretches of the road, especially heading westbound on the freeway overpass, where people are turning left to get on southbound I-5.

      5. You have obviously never lived in that part of town. NE 125th is a godsend since it allows you to avoid 145th and Northgate Way. I’ll chalk your opinions up to ignorance on the issue.

        Just because someone got into an accident on the road does not mean we need to shrink it. Traffic in that part of town is awful enough, hindering it so that 5 people can ride their bikes absurd.

      6. For those of you who think that bikes are an inconvenience to you drivers and that road diets don’t actually help ALL road users I invite you to read what actual cyclists say about this stretch of roadway. Just because you don’t happen to see a cylist for the 1 minute you are on the roadway doesn’t mean they aren’t there. I don’t see a red pickup truck every day on my way to work but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.


      7. Thank you, Yorik. The original impetus for this project was pedestrian safety. Talk to anyone who tries to cross 125th, particularly people who live on one side of it and want to walk to see friends (or catch a bus) on the other side. Road diets have demonstrable benefits for pedestrian safety.

  4. Anyone on twitter can create any hashtag they want. I have been using #unsuckKCmetro (Stolen in part from #unsuckDCmetro) for almost a year now.

  5. “Vancouver: Stations are small and relatively bare, with some riders complaining that it’s hard to see station signs from the train. There is some public art at some stations, but it’s temporary.”

    Of course, they’ve got an ultra-high-frequency subterranean rail service with reasonable stop spacing. And those stations are ridiculously easy and quick to access.

    But at least we can “boast” of our “granite platforms and Art Deco pendants… along with permanent public art installations” as we walk 35 minutes to the train station and spend another 6 minutes descending through its labyrinth!

    1. That art was mandated by the 1% for art law. The art deco pendants (whatever he’s referring to) were built in the 1990s as part of the original Westlake Station.

      If you don’t like walking 35 minutes, complain to Seattle/Metro/King County to add more feeder buses.

      Where does it take 6 minutes to reach a Link platform? Maybe at UW station with its four levels.

      1. I know that the linked Globe and Mail comparison above describes the grandeur of Westlake station — not built specifically for Link, of course, but a fantastic example of overbuilt American transit-design excess, redundant lobby levels, and all-around piss-poor portal/stairway/escalator/elevator placement for maximum inconvenience having nothing to do with public art.

        The shortest street-to-platform is 6th & Pine to the southbound platform, still clocking over 2 minutes at a moderate pace. But I dare you to enter from the Macy’s side of 3rd & Pine and catch a 41 that leaves less than 4.5 minutes later without running.

        Of course, the one new subway station on Central Link — Beacon Hill — gets it right, only because the depth forced designers to think small. Canada Line gets it right on their shallow stations too; end-user convenience seems to outweigh delusions of grandeur.

        For Link designers’ preferred sensibilities, look no further than the behemoths at Mt. Baker and Tukwila (paying particular attention to their lousy street access). Canada Line’s are just big enough, and are plenty elegant, but most importantly they’re right there!

        I have occasionally seen less-frequent Seattle Transit Blog commenters — the pro-transit and/or transit-curious, not self-styled experts — speak highly of the ease of MAX in downtown Portland. “I like having the train right there,” they say, “rather than adding so much time just getting to the platform.” But as we all know, MAX is atrociously slow in the central city. Don’t you ever wonder how we got to a point where default subway design is so inconvenient that the lethargy of MAX is preferable!?

        UW station’s going to have four levels? For crying out loud!!

      2. Beacon Hill station gets it right? Because of the deep station, the only access to the trains is by elevator. I’d rather have the option of stairs and escalators. Hmm, next time I’m in there, I think I’ll locate the fire stairs…

        As for UW station, there should be a pedestrian undercrossing of Montlake Blvd. on the mezzanine level.

      3. You bet Beacon Hill gets it right! The means of egress — in this case, elevators — is about 10 seconds from the train. And thanks to the multiple lifts, Beacon Ave proper is never more than 70 seconds away.

        Elevator access to deep-tunnel stations is hardly new. New York (Fort Tryon/190th, Inwood) and Paris (Lamarck/Caulaincourt, Montmartre) have had it for the better part of a century. And Portland (Washington Park), of course. No wheel-reinventing was necessary here, but it’s nice to see Sound Transity get something correct on the first try.

      4. “UW station’s going to have four levels? For crying out loud!!”

        I think it was three or four levels in the picture. I commented that it would take a long time to negotiate the multiple escalators, but somebody said they were all next to each other in a zigzag. I did wonder why they couldn’t delete a level or two and replace the escalators with elevators. But I guess elevators cost more; there seems to be a heavy reluctance to use them except where they’re necessary.

        Which, by the way, I’ve heard 150 or 180 feet or something is the longest escalators can go, and that’s why Beacon Hill stn has elevators. But the Woodley Park escalator in DC takes five minutes to go down, and I’ve seen other station escalators that seem to match or exceed the distance of the Beacon Hill stn or Portland’s Washington Park stn, so is it really true?

        “[Westlake station] overbuilt American transit-design excess, redundant lobby levels, and all-around piss-poor portal/stairway/escalator/elevator placement for maximum inconvenience having nothing to do with public art.”

        Westlake station isn’t overbuilt. The mezzanine has to extend from 3rd to 6th and exit to several stores, that was one of the original goals. Its main problem is side platforms rather than a center platform. (Note: Belleuve Transit Center has a center platform, and the buses travel on the left side of it.) And the fact that there are up escalators but only a stairway down is underbuilding, not overbuilding. What’s wrong with nice murals and clocks? There is a tradition of grand subway stations. It’s unfortunate the escalator/elevator/stairs aren’t located next to each other in the DSTT stations, but I’m not sure how much that was practical.

        The sideways entrance escalator at Pioneer Square station is looking ridiculous now that the building that constrained it is gone.

      5. >There seems to be a heavy reluctance to use them.

        I understand the arguments of cost.

        There is one major advantage to including elevators as a primary vertical transport option: redundancy. Transit systems with one-per-platform “disabled-only” elevators tend to experience frequent service outages, effectively screwing over their disabled customers. When elevators are the sole (Beacon Hill) or one of the primary (Clark/Lake, Chicago) customer options, there will be multiples available if one goes down (and they’ll likely be better-maintained in the first place).

        >I’ve heard 150 or 180 feet or something is the longest escalators can go.

        I’m not sure what the maximum is, but Moscow and Prague have some insanely long ones. And the ones in Prague run at double-speed (so getting from platform to surface is still much faster than Westlake!)

        > The mezzanine has to extend from 3rd to 6th and exit to several stores, that was one of the original goals…

        There just isn’t any logical or natural flow to the way they “achieved” this.

        Why the platform elevators and escalators are so far from any of those stores/exits, requiring so much backtracking? With so much space available, the escalators at the 6th Ave end of the platforms just didn’t need to jut out perpendicular to the tracks, connecting to nothing.

        Despite extensive alterations to the buildings on both the ground and basement levels, the connections to Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Westlake Center are all awkward.

        And the 3 separate spaces you must pass through to get to the SE corner of 3rd Ave? They don’t connect to any store.

        It continues to seem to me that the designers actively designed a flow that would keep riders in the station as long as possible to appreciate their handiwork, and not for any stated practical purpose.

        > There is a tradition of grand subway stations.

        No, there’s not. There is a tradition of grand railway termini, providing a dramatic entrance to the urban environment.

        There is a tradition of convenient subway stations for getting around the urban environment once you are in it. And there’s a tradition of elaborate subway design (i.e. in Moscow) that doesn’t actually translate to hugeness or inconvenience.

        But this…
        …is relatively recent — and deeply stupid — phenomenon.

      6. Yes! The escalators at transit stations here are extremely slow compared to their counterparts in Asia. Not to mention frequently out of service. Seriously, they had 2 years of tunnel closure and a brand new system yet the escalators are frequently out of service!

      7. It’s probably related to accessibility laws. I’d prefer fast escalators and elevators but they’ve been a dying breed in the US. I liked the elevators in 11-story Terry Hall at the US; they have decent speed and satisfying acceleration (or at least they did in the 80s). But most elevators nowadays are at best slow or at worst excrutiatingly slow, unless they’re going up forty stories.

      8. And if you think that station size/cost doesn’t beget a bias for building stations too-few-and-far-between, you’re kidding yourself.

    2. “6 minutes descending through its labyrinth!”

      Exaggerate much? It takes me almost exactly 6 minutes to get from my office on First Hill to the platform at University Street. What are you doing, shopping for shoes at Nordie’s on your way to the platform? :-)

      Have you actually ridden the Canada Line? Most of the underground stations take 2 escalators to reach the platform, just like here. The distance from street level to platform at the City Centre Station is at least as far as at Westlake Station, Waterfront Station is quite a hike too. Not to mention that most of the Canada Line stations only have one entrance, making access much less convenient and leading to overcrowding at rush hour.

      Most of the Canada Line elevated stations don’t look any different than Link’s. Landsdowne Station looks like a carbon-copy of Mt. Baker, and the YVR station’s layout is very similar to SeaTac, except with one track instead of two.

      I’m just not seeing how you can say that station access on the Canada Line is easier than on Link, especially given the fact that we have the option of building at-grade stations.

      There’s also the problem with the Canada Line’s undersized platforms, they’re 1/3 the length of Link’s platforms, which means that longer trains can never be used. This is already causing a problem at Brighouse, where during the morning rush passengers are having to wait 2 or 3 trains before being able to board and have to wait outside and in the stairways.

      And then there’s the issue of there being no direct transfer between the Expo and Canada Lines. If you want to transfer at Granville you have to wander through the Bay and Pacific Centre mall. If you transfer at Waterfront it’s a 2 escalator up, walk through the station, 1 escalator down affair.

      Sure the Canada Line has great ridership, and Link would too if every bus south of Tukwila were truncated at TIB like Translink did with bus service in Richmond and Delta, but it’s not without its fair share of shortcomings.

      1. > Exaggerate much?

        Actually, no! ;-) I’m a total Northeaster hurry-hurry-2-stairs-at-a-time-sprint-to-the-train type. But a couple of months ago I had an injury. I was able to walk as usual, including using stairs, but was forbidden from running at all (at any pace, even 2 consecutive strides) for about six weeks. I learned exactly how far things are from one another when hurrying isn’t an option. And Westlake Station is freaking huge!

        > Most of the Canada Line elevated stations don’t look any different than Link’s. Landsdowne Station looks like a carbon-copy of Mt. Baker…

        Yeah, at about a 1:2 scale! The superstructure is about half the size, the stairs are about twice as close to the platform edge where the train actually stops, and most importantly, they send you in the direction of the major intersection, whereas Mt. Baker’s stairs drop you beneath the middle of the station span (essentially backtracking you), with no quick or inherently logical route to MLK & Winthrop or Rainier & Forest.

        > Most of the underground stations take 2 escalators to reach the platform, just like here.

        Again, on a much more pedestrian-friendly scale. It’s only partly about the number of levels you descend. It’s just as much about the number of spaces you must traverse (Westlake demands as many as six!) and the total number of steps required. Count ’em… it’s important!

        > The distance from street level to platform at the City Centre Station is at least as far as at Westlake Station, Waterfront Station is quite a hike too.

        The former is the one arguable exception, unsurprisingly showing up in an ultra-dense location that would have spacial challenges unknown in never-that-dense Seattle. Exception proves the rule. As for Waterfront, it was a pre-existing transfer point to 3 other modes of transit, which does tend to lead to complicated pedestrian routings. So what’s the clean-slate-when-it-was-built DSTT’s excuse?

        > There’s also the problem with the Canada Line’s undersized platforms…

        I’m sure Sound Transit wishes it had such a problem as excess of demand! It seems to be commonplace for modern designers to confuse a need for train/platform capacity with a need for every space they build (platform egress, mezzanine, surface plaza) to be huge. And yet older systems like New York have managed millions per day for a century with platforms long-but-not-wide and with quick-and-painless surface access!

        > I’m just not seeing how you can say that station access on the Canada Line is easier than on Link, especially given the fact that we have the option of building at-grade stations.

        Ah, yes… Link’s silly-design pièce de résistance: the surface stations that, “for signalling reasons,” must be 250 feet from the intersection they serve anyway, negating most of your proffered advantage! 250 feet is a whole extra block in many cities! Why? Oh why? And why? Could they have tried a bit harder to devise a signalling system that worked from a stop?

    3. So, how would you redesign Westlake station? Or Mt Baker or TIB? Where would you put the escalators/stairs/elevators? What kind of mezzanine would it have?

      I just wish they’d all have center platforms. And that the ORCA readers were always right at the entrances rather than some distance away.

      1. In all of the above examples, the biggest problem is stairway location/orientation. Face a stairway in the wrong direction, and your riders have to walk twice that distance out of their way (up/down the stairs, then backtrack the same amount.

        Mt. Baker is the easiest fix to describe:

        You have to walk past where the train drops you to reach the stairs. Then the stairs drop you to the ground under the very middle of the platform, with access to MLK & Winthrop more than 250 feet away and Rainier & Forest more than 500 feet away.

        If the stairs faced the other direction, you would have walked in a straight line and landed practically right on Winthrop.

        And ideally there would have been stairs at both ends. And maybe bus connections in a useful place. And a crosswalk that doesn’t make you wait 3 minutes. Pipe dreams in a city that doesn’t know how to be a city!

  6. This driving-obesity connection could be an irreversible cause of global-warming! The less physical activity people get because they’re always in a car, the fatter they get, the more petroleum products it takes to move them, and the more carbon released into the atmosphere.

    Luckily, nature may have a balancing countermeasure: as more polar bears migrate south, they’ll have more slow-moving prey to eat. Also, being clever, the bears will also learn to remove the contents of SUV’s trapped in traffic like enormous clams and mussels.

    Mark Dublin

  7. Steve Scher got obsessed with the “big, expensive stations” thing today with his regular Vancouver Sun correspondent. But Von Palmer (sp) stated that the Canada Line costed more per mile than Central Link.

    Does anybody know if the Canada Line is a completely stand-alone system? There are big costs associated with start-up systems (o&m facilities, all new equipment, working out inevitable bugs, etc) I know they tossed those linear induction motors. But I’m not sure if that means a completely different set of equipment. If it turns out SkyTrain was able to use existing resources for the Canada Line, the Central Link cost comparison would be even more favorable.

    1. It’s stand alone. Canada Line train technology is incompatible with Skytrain’s and they have a separate maintenance base.

    2. It shouldn’t exactly be deemed shocking that Canada Line had a higher per-mile cost. Five miles of it are subterranean, including a tunnel under false creek, and brand new bridges had to be built over two other major waterways!

      And yet it cost significantly less overall — despite its two branches, despite serving 16 separate destinations, despite being designed to minimize obstacles and maximize headways.

      In fact, the direct cost comparison only serves to highlight how few places we’ve managed to serve, and how poorly, after spending so much!

      Some infill stations on the Canada Line were deferred to decrease costs; overbuilding the remaining 16 stations would no doubt have raised the price tag enough to see other deferments invoked.

  8. Automatic Auto: A Car That Drives Itself
    Audi is sending a robotic version of its TTS sports car to navigate to the top of Pikes Peak only guided by computers and GPS

    In September a driverless Audi TTS will speed to the top of Colorado’s Pikes Peak at just under 100 kilometers per hour—that’s right, no driver. It is an early step toward a robo-car that can drive itself, perhaps better than you can.

    The World Health Organization projects traffic fatalities to be the third leading cause of mortality worldwide by 2020. And drivers themselves are responsible for 73 percent of these deaths. So automakers are looking at ways they could make cars safer by taking driving out of human hands. Self-driving cars could offer other benefits: TNO, an international research firm based in the Netherlands, says that they could reduce the time lost to traffic jams by up to 50 percent, and reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption by 5 percent.


  9. Just to throw fire on the stop-spacing controversy, my Canadian friend sent me this description of the Canada line:

    The stops on the Canada line are closer in what is considered the Downtown core, more spaced out along Cambie and then relatively close together within Richmond.

    For Example:
    There are 13 stops on the Canada Line between Waterfront Vancouver and Central Richmond heading south with a total journey time of 25 minutes.

    From Waterfront to:

    1 minute to Vancouver City Centre (Pacific Centre Mall/Granville at Georgia heart of business area downtown)

    then 2 minutes to Yaletown/Roundhouse

    then 2 mins to Olympic Village (athletes village south side of False Creek)

    then 1 min to Broadway at 10th street (City hall and major E-W bus route)

    then 2 min to Kind Edward at 33rd street (Major cross town E-W bus route)

    then 3 mins to Oakridge at 41st street (Oakridge Mall, major E-W bus route)

    then 2 mins to Langara at 49th street (University College, major E-W bus rte)

    then 3 mins to Marine Drive. (major E-W bus route)

    then 2 mins to Bridgeport (over bridge to Richmond, transit station to airport and major bus hub)

    then 3 mins to Aberdeen (major Chinese shopping Mall in North Richmond)

    then 2 mins to landsowne (major shopping mall)

    then 2 mins to Richmond Square (Central Richmond mall and bus hub)

    The spur to the YVR airport leaves Bridgeport

    2 mins to Templeton (Car park for airport workers)

    1 min to Sea Island Centre (Long term car park for travelers)

    2 mins to YVR. (middle of main terminal)

    The Link schedule says 2-3 minutes between stations, except 4 minutes Columbia City – Othello, and 9 minutes Rainier Beach – TIB. Of course, Link’s surface segments are also lower speed and have cross traffic. So Link’s average is a bit wider time-wise and maybe distance-wise. Link has no 1-minute distance; the Canada line has no 4-minute distance or 9-minute nonstop segment. But ignoring those, the times are similar. And the two longest Link segments are exactly the ones that have the most widespread support for infill stations, even among those who don’t like narrow spacing.

    1. I just noticed, all the stops in south Vancouver say “(major E-W bus route)”. That’s one thing Seattle doesn’t have much of, nor (in Beacon/Rainier/Tukwila) the geography to support it.

      My friend also mentioned local shuttles in Vancouver, which Seattle lacks:

      We also have what we call the ‘hopper’ buses which are small 20 seat min buses that go inside and around the sub divisions and burbs and get people to the large buses or skytrain. These usually run every half hour or so. All the major bus hubs in the lower mainland are now at Skytrain stations.

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