White. Photo by Oran.
  • Spokane Transit mulling a 7% service cut in 2011. There’s no talk of new taxes yet, but they’re at 0.6% so there’s room for that.
  • Seattle parking tax going up 2.5 points to 12.5%, Transportation Benefit District formed with $20 vehicle license fee is likely. Mayor McGinn to ask for more transportation taxes but the council probably won’t go for them.
  • The Mayors of Seattle and Portland will be at a Worldchanging event on October 1 to “dialogue about the Cascade Region’s most pressing issues,” with a focus on climate neutral growth.
  • Sounder’s 10 year anniversary was yesterday.
  • Peak West Seattle Water Taxi service to be year-round.
  • Some in Fauntleroy haggling over RapidRide C details, after complaining that bus improvements would impede traffic.
  • The OneBusAway iPhone App has been updated.
  • Use the Internet more, and cars less.
  • Virginia man murdered after he got a speed bump installed on his street.
  • Not really transit-related, but this map of race and population in Seattle is really interesting. See also this map of tourists vs. locals. The author’s photostream does have some good transit content, and will wre ck your productivity.
  • Beer bottle caps for Slats.

This is an open thread.

41 Replies to “News Roundup: Caps for Slats”

  1. I’d somehow missed the news that Slats had died. Sad. But Slats makes a great icon for Capitol Hill — Sound Transit deserves credit for picking the bottle cap mural for the Capitol Hill station.

    1. Here’s a link to the map.

      According to Seattle Bike Blog, printed versions are in the works, with the map split into three: north, central, & south. No timeline given, though. Those maps are already available as PDFs that you could be taken to a copy/print shop to have printed up on a large printer if you can’t wait and/or want to save the City some bucks.

    2. Bhoutros: That was fast! They’ve already added a form on the website to request a hard copy of the map.

  2. Nude-O-Scopes coming to LINK and SOUNDER?


    Link is to a PDF document issued by the US General Accounting Office.

    > Explosives Detection Technologies to Protect Passenger Rail

    > SUMMARY:

    > Passenger rail systems are vital to the nation’s transportation
    > infrastructure, providing approximately 14 million passenger trips
    > each weekday. Recent terrorist attacks on these systems around the
    > world–such as in Moscow, Russia in 2010–highlight the vulnerability
    > of these systems. The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS)
    > Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the primary federal
    > entity responsible for securing passenger rail systems. In response
    > to the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2008,
    > GAO conducted a technology assessment that reviews 1) the
    > availability of explosives detection technologies and their ability
    > to help secure the passenger rail environment, and 2) key operational
    > and policy factors that impact the role of explosives detection
    > technologies in the passenger rail environment. GAO analyzed test
    > reports on various explosives detection technologies and convened a
    > panel of experts comprised of a broad mix of federal, technology, and
    > passenger rail industry officials. GAO also interviewed officials
    > from DHS and the Departments of Defense, Energy, Transportation, and
    > Justice to discuss the effectiveness of these technologies and their
    > applicability to passenger rail. GAO provided a draft of this report
    > these departments for comment. Four departments provided technical
    > comments, which we incorporated as appropriate.
    > A variety of explosives detection technologies are available or in
    > development that could help secure passenger rail systems. While
    > these technologies show promise in certain environments, their
    > potential limitations in the rail environment need to be considered
    > and their use tailored to individual rail systems. The established
    > technologies, such as handheld, desktop, and kitbased trace detection
    > systems, and x-ray imaging systems, as well as canines, have
    > demonstrated good detection capability with many conventional
    > explosive threats and some are in use in passenger rail today. Newer
    > technologies, such as explosive trace portals, advanced imaging
    > technology, and standoff detection systems, while available, are in
    > various stages of maturity and more operational experience would be
    > required to determine their likely performance if deployed in
    > passenger rail. When deploying any of these technologies to secure
    > passenger rail, it is important to take into account the inherent
    > limitations of the underlying technologies as well as other
    > considerations such as screening throughput, mobility, and
    > durability, and physical space limitations in stations. GAO is not
    > making recommendations, but is raising various policy considerations.
    > For example, in addition to how well technologies detect explosives,
    > GAO’s work, in consultation with rail and technology experts,
    > identified several key operational and policy considerations
    > impacting the role that these technologies can play in securing the
    > passenger rail environment. Specifically, while there is a shared
    > responsibility for securing the passenger rail environment, the
    > federal government, including TSA, and passenger rail operators have
    > differing roles, which could complicate decisions to fund and
    > implement explosives detection technologies. For example, TSA
    > provides guidance and some funding for passenger rail security, but
    > rail operators themselves provide day-to-day-security of their
    > systems. In addition, risk management principles could be used to
    > guide decision-making related to technology and other security
    > measures and target limited resources to those areas at greatest
    > risk. Moreover, securing passenger rail involves multiple security
    > measures, with explosives detection technologies just one of several
    > components that policymakers can consider as part of the overall
    > security environment. Furthermore, developing a concept of operations
    > for using these technologies and responding to threats that they may
    > identify would help balance security with the need to maintain the
    > efficient and free flowing movement of people. A concept of
    > operations could include a response plan for how rail employees
    > should react to an alarm when a particular technology detects an
    > explosive. Lastly, in determining whether and how to implement these
    > technologies, federal agencies and rail operators will likely be
    > confronted with challenges related to the costs and potential privacy
    > and legal implications of using explosives detection technologies.


    1. Let’s hope they don’t waste money on security theater of that sort. Notably, nobody is going to institute screening at every single train station (totally impractical), so any sort of airport-style screeing *would* be pure theater.

      The report is actually making an effort to discourage stupid security theater like that. Expect random sweeps with bomb-sniffing dogs, instead.

  3. Happy 10 years to Sounder. As a daily reverse Seattle-to-Tacoma commuter I’ve found it to be a wonderful service. Though many may jump in and say, “But the 590s are faster!”, I’ll trade a 51-minute (minimum) bus ride on I-5 for a 55-minute train ride any day, especially when that train has cupholders, wifi, table seating, interior bike storage, bathrooms, water, off-board payment, and a smooth continuously-welded ride.

      1. Happy belated birthday Sounder!
        It is a truly wonderful train ride.
        HAving internet on your commute, and somewhere with SPACE to relax on your commute and a place for your bike is fab. especially when you have a manual labor job, it gives you time to be in touch with your techy side(or take a nap!!)

      2. When I heard about the accident and gas spill on I-5, I decided to take the reverse Sounder train today.

        So I walked 10 minutes to the Mount Baker Station, rode Link to ID/Chinatown Station for 10 minutes, walked 10 minutes to King Street Station, waited 10 minutes, took Sounder south to Tacoma Dome Station for an hour, waited 5 minutes for Pierce County bus to Fife, which took 5 minutes. Total time: 1 hour 50 minutes (normal commute is 45 minutes to 1 hour).

        Our call center director lives about a mile south of me and she drove. It took her over 2 1/2 hours to get from the Columbia City/Lakewood area to Fife. I know this wasn’t a normal take and even though it would take me twice as long to take the train from Seattle to Fife everyday, I was very relaxed and at ease and started my day without the usual stress from driving. I also have all my emails read and answered and a few projects completed while on my one hour Sounder ride.

        I like! Nice.

    1. When I arrived in Seattle thirty-four years ago, I never dreamed we would ever have:
      a commuter rail system (now expanding)
      a light rail system (now expanding)
      a streetcar system (now expanding)
      I am so happy that this has all come true–with more to come!

  4. The October-February Sound Transit schedule is online. The main changes appear to be new trips on the 550 and 556, and the addition of route 542.

  5. I asked this to @seatransitblog, but it’s probably more useful to ask here: how come the NYC subway gets away with 1/3mi stop spacing, yet is still able to deliver people from Queens to Manhattan on a regular basis, but we argue about whether 1 mile spacing is too close, and BART throws stations many miles apart? The station spacings we seem to be shooting for with Link remind me more of the Long Island Railroad than the subway.

    Is this a matter of density, where enough people in New York are served by traveling roughly 1/3 of the distance they’d need to travel here, or 1/5 of the distance they’d need to travel in the Bay Area? If so, is ST prepared (or even physically able, given our topography) to add infill Link stops as the metro area gets denser? Or are we going to spend our money extending the system out to suburbs that rely on a bus or park & ride for the last mile, leaving swaths of the increasingly-dense cities without high capacity transit?

    It looks like we’re going to wind up with a lower-capacity version of the San Francisco model, with our light rail replacing their heavy rail, and our streetcars replacing their light rail. We’re consolidating bus stops and planning streetcars with 1/2 mile stop spacing. Do we just not care about moving people quickly within Seattle?

    1. I think it’s a matter of driving being much, much more attractive in Seattle than in NYC, for a variety of reasons.

    2. Keep in mind also that most NYC lines have express trains interlined with locals. 4-tracking Link would be prohibitively expensive, so using wider stop spacing is a good compromise.

      1. What about triple-tracking, a la the 7?

        The J/Z, which are admittedly not the most heavily-trafficked route, run skip-stop with 1/3 mile spacing, as did the 1/9 before the 9 was killed.

    3. I think NYC’s stop spacing is too narrow (why stop every 10 blocks?), but every station has a ton of high-rise apartments around it. And the express trains make a big difference: all three outer bouroughs have express trains to Manhattan. (I arrived at JFK one weekend when the express was down for maintenance, and it took an hour to get to Manhattan on the local.)

      How does the size of NYC compare to King County anyway? How far is it from JFK to WTC, and what would that compare to here? It seems like going from Seattle to Redmond or Kent, and Chicago from the loop to Howard seems like downtown to Federal Way (or at least it takes as long as the 174 did). One sees the extensive transit in NYC and Chicago and notes that it stops at the city borders, but their “city” would seem to be equivalent to King County.

      I don’t think you’ll see Link extended to Du Pont. ST2 covers the area where it’s most needed. Extending it to Everett and Tacoma is secondary. Also, remember it’s because of the funding. The suburbs are paying for the extensions themselves. Link will be more BART-like, but that’s not bad. It covers the high-traffic corridors of downtown-UW and UW-Northgate. Efforts at westside Link, Aurora Link, 45th Link, and Lake City Link are stalled by lack of money: we could just barely afford to build one of them at present, and it may be a substandard “MLK-like” thing.

      ST can add stations as requested, at least on the surface and elevated segments. Graham is most likely, followed by Boeing Access Road. Beyond that, it’s too soon to say whether 125th, 145th, 155th, 175th, and 185th will ever be willing to create density/TOD. Although if North Link went on Aurora rather than I-5, it could have continuous TOD for twenty miles (if we were willing to knock down the businesses, but already some car dealerships in south Snohomish are abandoned). 71st is too close to 65th, and 85th is probably a lost case because of the I-5/Banner Way intersection. But as I said elsewhere, too many infill stations reduce the effective length of the route (how many destinations you can get to in 30 or 60 minutes), so there will have to be a balance between the two.

      1. What they should be doing is continuing the bored tunnel up from Roosevelt so they can put a stop at 85th and 5th. Didn’t I read they were switching to boring to the stretch up to 85th and I-5 anyway, or was that a switch to cut-and-cover? If I’m right, shouldn’t that have been cause for a re-assessment?

  6. Since this is an open thread, I have some information about cruise ships in Seattle, which relates to how Link ridership may be affected starting early October. Here is the schedule of cruise ships in and out of Seattle in 2010:


    For most of the cruise season, there were 3 ships arriving and leaving Seattle every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with one ship each Monday and Tuesday. The ships arrive early in the morning, unload all passengers, and then reload passengers and leave the same afternoon.

    To give you some idea of the numbers of passengers, here are the three ships which entered and left Seattle on a recent Saturday, and how many passengers each holds:

    Golden Princess: 2,400
    Rotterdam: 1,404
    Norwegian Star: 2,348

    Total: 6,152

    So, on most weekend days (including Fridays) this summer there was the potential for around 6,000 passengers to both board and deboard from cruise ships in Seattle. That is potentially 6,000 people going to the airport, and 6,000 people coming to Seattle from the airport each of those days. How full these ships actually were, and how many passengers came to and left Seattle through SeaTac airport, I don’t know. I also don’t know how many of those people flying into and out of SeaTac used Link between SeaTac and Seattle, although I talked to people on Link who were doing just that.

    But, the last cruise ship into Seattle is Oct. 1, so there won’t be any cruise ship passengers using Link between Seattle and SeaTac after early October. It will be intersting to see the ridership numbers for Link this coming October, when Mariners season ends, along with the cruise ship season.

      1. The cruise ship terminals aren’t really near Link stations, and the cruise lines often sell airport transfers to their passengers, so it’s unlikely cruise passengers per-se will make a big difference.

        I do think Seatac has substantially more flights and passengers in the summer months, maybe as much as 50% more than during the off-season, so it would not be surprising for the airport station to show significant seasonality. Also the Mariners play 81 games from April through Oct 3. I’m not sure when the Sounders season ends, but there are probably only 6 Seahawks games left after October.

        The winter ridership is more likely core ridership.

    1. I think there are a lot of cruise ship passengers who spend some time in Seattle either before or after their cruise. Those people are likely to stay in hotels downtown, which are close to Link stations. I talked to a surprising (to me) number of people riding Link this summer who told me they were in Seattle to take a cruise ship to and from Alaska, and spent an extra night or two in Seattle while there were here to see the sights.

    2. I’m curious as well, actually. I wonder if there will be any correlation with cruise ship passengers and the Link. Because it is not necessarily convenient to get from the Westlake Station to the waterfront port (let alone the one in Magnolia), I doubt many people took the Link unless they planned a longer stay in Seattle.

      1. But they would and did use the 99 Benson Waterfront Streetcar Line (from Pier 66) which had as its Southern terminus a stop across the street from the ID/Chinatown LINK/Bus Tunnel stop (i.e. easy transfer to Scoop Jackson International AIrport).

  7. Is anyone going to the Rail~volution next month? It’s October 18-21 in Portland, and is a conference on rail transit. I’m probably going. The conference hotel is kind of pricey, so does anybody know of any good cheap hotels down there?

    1. There are a number of good but less expensive chains easily reached by MAX. As an example there is both a fairly decent Comfort Inn and a Days Inn at the NE 82nd Ave. station.

    2. The last time I was in Portland, and most time I’ve been down, I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Hillsburrito. It’s 1/4 mile from the MAX station (if you cut through the parking lot) and is a really quiet hotel. Rates were much cheaper compared to the downtown hotels.

      There’s a hotel–can’t remember the name–near the convention center that was also cheap. They only do reservations over the phone. Place looked a bit sketchy so I skipped that place.

    3. Very pleased with last fall’s stay at downtown Mark Spencer. Reasonable & lovely, convenient to Amtrak, MAX, Powell’s, theaters, etal.

    4. use hotwire!!!!

      youll spend 50% on what you’d otherwise spend. i bet you can find something downtown or lloyd for $60-90.

  8. Cars that will drive you


    If you think self-driving cars are limited to Knight Rider and Herbie, think again.

    Scientists and engineers are closing in on the first production-ready autonomous car.

    To demonstrate how far the technology has come, an Audi TTS will race up the famous Pikes Peak Hill Climb later this month without a human driver behind the wheel.

    It has been two years in the making but the team behind it believes it has brought autonomous cars dramatically closer to reality.

    1. Remains fantasy.

      The Pikes Peak hill climb will of course be completely cleared of people before this test drive. In other words, great… if there are no crosswalks. And the road markings are perfect.

      People *will not tolerate any error* when it comes to being hit and run over by automated cars. So even if you have it much better than human drivers, nobody will allow it on the road. This is the same reason why automated trains aren’t allowed to have grade crossings.

      So this may have some application on expressways, but it’s going to be completely unusable on all other roads. And on expressways? Well, safety standards will dictate car spacing wider than what all the aggressive urban drivers currently do, so nobody will tolerate it on urban expressways.

      So possibly a niche application in rural expressways. Which is too small a market to make the cars market viable.

      1. In an area where all the cars are autonomous and interacting, I could see allowing closer following distances than recommended for humans because reaction times could be shorter. That said, it would probably be farther apart than many human operated cars are in common practice.

        A highway full of autonomous interacting cars would probably have a higher throughput than the chaos that’s out there today, because they would travel at a consistent speed and handle lane changes and merges much better.

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