From photo of the week:

Sound Transit this week tested the use of goats as an efficient and environmentally sustainable approach to clearing vegetation near its rail lines. Rent-a-Ruminant, a woman-owned business from Vashon Island, provided 120 goats, a herder, and herding dog to clear blackberry bushes and other shrubs from a strip of Sound Transit property along Lakeview Avenue in Lakewood.

61 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: ST Weed Control”

  1. From their website: “Rates start at $725/day plus tax and a one-time $325 mobilization fee (minimum depending on location and herd size). For example, it generally takes 60 goats 3-5 days to clear ¼ acre of brush that is moderately dense.”

    http://www.rentaruminant.com/

    Seems like a lot of money to spend if ST was just trying to get some eco-cred.

    1. This is really not that expensive. The traditional method of clearing areas trackside involves a lot of hand pulling and whacking by well-paid humans, plus toxic weedkiller, and actually doesn’t stay cleared any longer than the goat-cleared areas.

      Recall that you can’t just mow tracks or the sharply sloped land around them, it’s not that simple.

      As an aside, they probably can’t use the goats on any area which has been sprayed in the fairly recent past, so it’s probably worth going with the goats from day one.

  2. It’s not just Eco-cred. Goats are great for clearing things like slopes, where it’s hard or impossible to put humans or equpment. Plus, they are self-composting: they don’t leave much to haul away.

    1. Plus, they, ahem, “recruit” new “employees” all the time.

      I’d rather give work to the goats than send more ca$h to Our Eternal Friends™, The Saudis, despite any mutual interests in recreational activities they might have.

  3. What triggers the “next train” announcements? At Westlake late last night, an Out of Service train was announced (to the annoyance of dozens of passengers) and the next in service train pulled up unannounced.

  4. UK government plans to convert M4 bus/HOV lane to general purpose lane

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11452171

    It lets buses, coaches, licensed black taxis and motorcycles speed towards London, while the rest of the motorway’s vehicles often ended up crawling, especially at peak times. However, 11 years later it has been revealed that Transport Secretary Philip Hammond will announce on Monday that the bus lane is to be scrapped….

    The AA’s Andrew Howard says: “We are very pleased to see this development, as we have campaigned against the bus lane from the very beginning. “It is always aggravating to sit in a traffic jam beside a bus lane that has nothing in it, and that is the situation on the M4.” The RAC Foundation was equally pleased, saying that scrapping the bus lane was a good ideal because it was “so underused”. RAC Foundation director Stephen Glaister adds: “Most drivers on the M4 will wonder why this decision has taken so long.

    Bus/HOV lanes embody an inherent dilemma. If they are functioning properly – meaning traffic is flowing freely, – they appear empty or underused compared to congested general purpose lanes, even though they are carrying far more people/hour than the general purpose lanes, and even though removing the bus/HOV lane may reduce the capacity of the highway, if there are other bottlenecks further down the road, and now the bus/HOV advantage has been removed and riders shift to cars.

    It is far too easy for populist politicians to appeal to motorists by opening the lane to general traffic, as is apparently happening in London. We experienced the same thing in Seattle with the push to open all our carpool/HOV lanes to general traffic outside of peak periods.

    1. And this is why a bus-only transportation system will never work, but yet, for some reason, it’s the only transportation method people push for.

      Thanksfully ST has started the Link and, while imperfect in many areas, will hopefully be a catalyst for other systems to spur off of (read: not streetcar)

      1. So you think the lands and tracks that rail use will be useful to any other mode? How do we do that?

      2. I don’t understand your question, Michael. Cyclist Mike was saying that the permanence of rail is one of its strong points. The fact that it *can’t* easily be co-opted by other modes, especially general purpose automobile traffic, is a benefit.

        You’re right that for the most part Link’s ROW isn’t useful for other modes, with one exception: the reversible HOV lanes on the I-90 bridge, which we all know are useful for carrying auto traffic. Since WDSOT is maintaining ownership of the structure, it is feasible that in 40 years when the lease is up someone at WSDOT is going to decide for whatever reason that those lanes should be turned back over to HOV or even general purpose traffic. But the permanence of the rail investment will demand a second crossing for Link.

    2. Well, Britain did just install a “Conservative” government. You can expect these kind of subtle changes even though this PM seems affable on the surface.

      1. That means don’t invest transit dollars in building roads: a future government can take them away from transit.

    3. “We experienced the same thing in Seattle with the push to open all our carpool/HOV lanes to general traffic outside of peak periods.”

      That was so contradictory. Why open a lane when you least need it, when the other lanes are practically empty? Except that there are random traffic jams at off hours, which is when you need an HOV lane, but you’ve converted it to GP so tough bananas.

      Opening HOV lanes at off hours was always just a symbolic political statement by people who want to abolish HOV lanes entirely.

    1. Unrequited love is so heartbreaking. Nevertheless, it is probably only ethical to warn Kemper that he has a stalker.

  5. This could be huge:

    National Study Finds Strong Link Between Diabetes and Air Pollution

    Findings unchanged after adjustment for obesity and other diabetes risk factors
    BOSTON, Sept. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A national epidemiologic study finds a strong, consistent correlation between adult diabetes and particulate air pollution that persists after adjustment for other risk factors like obesity and ethnicity, report researchers from Children’s Hospital Boston. The relationship was seen even at exposure levels below the current EPA safety limit.

    The report, published in the October issue of Diabetes Care, is among the first large-scale population-based studies to link diabetes prevalence with air pollution. It is consistent with prior laboratory studies finding an increase in insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes, in obese mice exposed to particulates, and an increase in markers of inflammation (which may contribute to insulin resistance) in both the mice and obese diabetic patients after particulate exposure.

    The rest at:

    http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/national-study-finds-strong-link-between-diabetes-and-air-pollution-104002478.html

    1. We missed you at the party, Norman!

      A lot of people had to stand on the 1-car trains, and some really didn’t have space for more to get on, even after the people who resist moving to the back moved to the back. (Well, more could have gotten on, but it would have been down to violating our American norms of personal space.)

      I saw dozens wait for a next train. However, ST had pressed some additional 2-car trains into service, for a combined headway of five minutes, and I don’t think anyone had to wait through two trains.

      The 5-minute headway appeared to disrupt the flow of buses. The train I eventually took south from ID Station showed up one minute after the 2-car train that finally cleared out the platform, and then waited 4 minutes “for traffic ahead”.

      For mid-day sporting events, I’d actually have no problem with bringing the 2-car trains back out of service once the pre-game crush is over, and then not bring them back into service after the game. The delay would be wonderful business for all the Chinatown eateries and Pioneer Square bars.

    2. These train fetishists are funny. First they say they want people to give up their cars to take the train, but then they complain about the results.

      1. Yeah, like a bus could do much better. Buses can’t carry as many people and standing on them is even more uncomfortable than standing on a train.

      2. OMFG! The sex-wth-cars guy lives in Yelm!

        (That’s not far from Algona, BTW)

        So STB’ers, be on the lookout for a White (old) VW Bug with Washington License Plate/Tag “AUROARA”

      3. What a nice little straw man. No one’s complaining about new riders that drove. It’s limited train capacity, Sam.

      4. One suggestion for increasing traincar capacity: overhead luggage racks (over the permanent seats, but not over the fold-downs or bike hooks).

    3. It was bad. For one train, no one was able to board at Beacon Hill.
      The next train left half the people still standing, but we crushed in. Both were more crowded than the publicola photo.

      I’m shocked they didn’t plan for the game.

      I just hope it was a case of a large organization letting some GMs mandate fail.

      They really need a public post-mortem. 36000 attendees, and northbound single car Link has a published capacity of (137 or 200) * 6(10 minute headways) == 822 to 1200 users per hour to Stadium/ID station.

      Not good planning, glad it wasn’t a Seahawks game.

      We took Metro home.
      If ST had notified that they noticed a problem and had addressed it, we might have changed plans, but there was no communication that I could find.

    4. I rode one coming from RapidRide at Tukwila to the Sounders game. It was never a complete crush load, and though they probably could have squeezed in, not everyone at Tukwila International Boulevard boarded the train. There were maybe 20 or so people on the platform when we pulled away. More people got skipped at Rainier Beach, and a few stayed on the Beacon Hill platform. I don’t think the one car trains will be that big of a deal, but only if ST makes sure to run two car trains before and after games and events.

    5. Link was back to two-car trains today. It was the season finale for the M’s.

      My guess is that some middle manager didn’t get the email to keep 2-car trains in service this weekend, so didn’t inform the base manager to keep 2-car trains in service, and then ST hits the panic button around 10:30 Saturday morning. Oh, and Executive Constantine gets on the phone with CEO Joni Earl asking why ST chose this weekend to begin 1-car service.

      Several train operators are called in for OT (wiping out multiple weekends of savings), and then kept around long enough to clear the Sounders crowds. Then some come back for a second round of OT for the M’s evening game.

      I think someone or someones are going to be called into Ms. Earl’s office Monday morning. Just a guess.

      And what about the ad’s urging people to ride Link to the Sounders’ match? Ooooh, I pity the people who get called in to that Monday morning post-mortem.

      I do hope this doesn’t shut down the 1-car train experiment altogether. It really is a good idea. The intent, we were told, was to keep 2-car trains out for special events. A Sounders match qualifies as a special event. So does closing weekend for the M’s. As does the unveiling and free rides on RapidRide. I suspect it was not Ms. Earl’s intention to have 1-car trains this weekend.

      FWIW, ST should treat Thanksgiving week and the last half of December as special events, too, given airport ridership.

    6. If anyone complains that LINK is too crowded, they should look at it as being a success. Only a crowded train will spur additional trains and runs. If the general public sees empty trains going up and down the track, they will only think, “Why did we spend so much money on something that isn’t being used?” Plus, go to many other countries, like Japan, Singapore and China that have rail transport and you’ll see those trains constantly standing-room-only.

    1. I never rent a car when I go to L.A.

      As long as 98% of the places you need to be fall in the corridor between Santa Monica and Downtown (15 miles long x 4 miles wide), public transit is just as easy.

      It’s infinitely better than it is here.

      1. Too bad 98% of the population in LA is outside of that corridor, and not much of it is in any kind of corridor.

      2. Um, yeah. Nobody lives in that corridor. That’s why there’s simultaneously so much traffic and enough demand to overcrowd those 7-to-15-per-hour buses on all the major boulevards.

        Sherwin, the combined population of that corridor is well over a million — at least a 10th of the entire metropolitan area — and a few of the neighborhoods have among the highest population densities in the United States.

      3. Figure of speech — most of the time, business travelers will find that 98% of the places they “need to be” aren’t in the Santa Monica-Downtown corridor. High-intensity corridor development is great there, but the sun doesn’t shine as bright elsewhere in Southern California.

      4. I’ve tended to be there visiting family or friends, and not on business. But it’s still the densest mixed-use corridor by far, with myriad types of business housed and serviced.

        Are you thinking of tech business travelers, and if so, where are they being sent? Simi Valley? The Inland Empire?

        I can think of few other “in-city” places that would be of appeal to most travelers. And “in city” is where public transit comparisons tend to be most apples-to-apples.

    2. “The Southland” also has a fairly decent commuter rail system.

      It even runs at midday and on weekends!

      And is supplemented by the frequent Surfliner trains.

  6. Does anyone know why the trolley wires (on the 43 at broadway and John and maybe elsewhere) had some sort of weird cables on them on Saturday? Looks like they were diverting the electricity for some reason. Were they working on the wires somewhere?

    1. Were they connecting one wire to the other wire? That’s typical, as it “short circuits” the line so one portion is energized and one portion isn’t.

      On Saturday, routes 3, 4, 7, 12, 36, 43 & 49 were dieselized, and Sunday routes 10, 12, 43 & 49 were dieselized. Keep up with that information here.

      1. I speak from experience that the 44 was also “motorized” both days, even though it wasn’t mentioned in the Trolley Motorization Alert. (Sure, weekend 44s are often through-routed with the 43, but Metro should have listed it separately.)

  7. Is there any chance they could drop an elevator from the SeaTac/Airport Station pedestrian bridge to the west side of International Blvd next to the SB RapidRide stop sometime in the future? That would make transferring a lot easier to get down to South King County.
    Also, was any restructuring done to any other routes for RapidRide? I didn’t hear about any, which seems kinda bad… Seems like a great opportunity to do some grid-styling.

      1. I’m guessing you’ve never cracked open a tome full of state laws or tried to work a budget. There are things that they want to do but can’t. Like a tunnel from International District Station to the King Street Station platforms. Common sense says we should be able to get from one to the other without having to go up and back down, but the piggy bank says try again next year.

        Or the one that says it’s a bad idea to install a glass elevator in between two traffic lanes with vehicles going 45+ mph

      2. The airport roadway is significantly higher up than International Blvd., with the solid concrete wall separating the two. That’s not exactly the same a building in the median of an open freeway.

        The station was built at all. The bridge was built at all. Building an elevator to the southbound station at the time would have made the most sense, caused the least additional construction difficulty, and added much less to the cost than doing it later.

  8. Anyone know if transit signal priority is planned on 3rd Ave in Belltown prior to RapidRide, to go along with the new bus bulbs?

  9. I did some checking on my ORCA account. Isn’t the pass value supposed to apply to the ferry fare? I have an RRFP. My fare to take the Seattle to Bremerton ferry should be $3.45. If I deduct the .75 value of my pass value then I should have had 2.70 deducted from my e-purse. That didn’t happen. I was charged the full value of the disabled fare. In addition, I didn’t get the transfer to KT. KT fare is $1. I did have to pay the .25 difference. Shouldn’t the ferrry transfer value make it so I should NOT have to pay for the first KT bus? Transfers between the KT busses worked fine. It is the transferring between the ferry system and busses didn’t work.

    In addition, I didn’t get credit for the value of the ST 510 transfer to the ferry. That should have been a value of $1.50

    I hope this explanation makes sense!

    My suggestion for ORCA changes is that WSF needs to make sure their fare system is truly hooked into the ORCA system!!!

    1. No, WSF doesn’t honor transfers or passes from other transit agencies on ORCA nor does ferry fare qualify as transfer value to connecting service. Only if you loaded a monthly WSF pass for that specific route plus a regional pass on to your ORCA card.

    2. I don’t think passes or transfers are applicable on WSF. You always just have to pay full cash fare.

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