Photo by Wings777

This is an open thread.

73 Replies to “News Roundup: Hoses and Power Lines”

      1. Best part:

        This host of setbacks, bad planning, and future dilemmas certainly raises alarm bells about Sound Transit. With a simpler technology like the monorail available, it’s time to get real about solving our transportation problems.

      2. Funny, I guess so, but even more, it shows how little Josh Feit has grown or matured over the years. Still his same bratty self, writing from his gut instead of his brain.

  1. That argument against locating stadiums in central cities is simplistic, erroneous, and quite frankly very bad urban planning.

    Ya, on “average” a single purpose stadium could be considered to be a low-intensity land use, but it is a low intensity land use that is used very intensely several times a year. Locate it on the periphery and you have a whole set of problems dealing with those high-intensity usage spikes – you have transportation issues, pre- and post-game entertainment issues, and hotel issues. All that new infrastructure ends up on average being used in a low-intensity way, which is highly wasteful.

    It’s much more economically and environmentally beneficial to locate these stadiums in the city cores where the demand is and the transportation and other services already exist. As an added benefit the stadiums tend to draw larger crowds if they are conveniently located.

    And it’s not like there isn’t plenty of land in our urban cores that is currently underutilized and available for stadiums. Just look at what Seattle did with Qwest and Safeco.

    1. “look at what Seattle did with Qwest and Safeco”

      Yeah, they should have switched the location of the two of them. Safeco which has at least a half dozen home noontime games is farther out and Quest which has none, is closer.In fact it was discussed at one point but the owners of the Mariners were worried that if they didn’t hurry up and start building they might get their funding cut off. Of course Quest has the exhibition hall and that gets used a fair amount.

      But either way, both stadiums should be located where there is Mass transit, and that’s in the city somewhere.

      1. But not necessarily downtown. I think a great location for stadia would be by airports: Cheap land, few noise issues, easy access to mass transit, ample parking, freeway access.

      2. And I forgot: hotels. Not many bars by airports, but you could ride transit to another stop for that.

      3. And I forgot: hotels. Not many bars by airports, but you could ride transit to another stop for that.

        Unless you count airport and hotel bars… ;)

      4. I don’t think I could ever support the idea of a sports stadium near an airport. This is more the sports fan in me, but it just seems like a bad idea, like the New York Mets playing next door to LaGuardia Airport. ( On the other side of that though, I’ve always liked listening to the trains during baseball games at Safeco Field. I think the Mariners just did a better job utilizing the novelty of it.

      5. Is there a reason why the 590/592/593/594 still do the Busway crawl instead of taking advantage of that new direct-access freeway ramp that the 577/578 uses by the stadia? That Busway crawl blows a major hole in the Pierce Transit budget, and sending each bus through downtown twice ain’t cheap either. Plus it unnecessarily adds to the congestion the tunnel boosters are citing to justify the tunnel.

        It would be cool if for the first 30 minutes after a major sporting event that new overpass could be transit-only or at least HOV. WSDOT has set a precedent for timing freeway access around sporting events with the express lanes.

    2. Yeah, I think his point that football-only stadiums in the center city aren’t good makes sense, as he’s right, it’s ridiculous to have something that is used eight times a year sucking the life out of part of town. But Seattle’s arrangement is nice; the Sounders play like 25 home games and the Seahawks play eight plus a few exhibitions, so in total it’s used at least 10% of the year, and Safeco has 81 home games, so that’s used a pretty substantial percentage of the year. Once that area’s all developed (can’t wait for the North Lot project, and for the DBT construction staging areas to go on the market), the area will have plenty of life even when there aren’t sporting events going on, then become incredibly vibrant on gameday.

      1. Yeah I can’t wait for the north lot development and by that point the first hill streetcar will be there too. I think pioneer square is certainly on the recovery. The key is to make it into an area that isn’t just about the stadium.

      2. The stadium zone could be vibrant if WSDOT and the Port hadn’t turned every road in the area into a freeway ramp. This will get even worse with the 99 rebuild. Ports, freeways and pedestrian-scaled neighborhood don’t mix easily.

    3. “Football only” is crucial to the argument. Qwest has 25+ major events a year and Safeco has at least 81. It’s Husky Stadium that fits the bill, and while not in the center city it is sitting on rare and precious land adjacent to a rail station.

      1. What’s even more crucial to the argument is the fact that for 30 years we’ve all been asked to pay for stadiums based on the absurd assumption that every city in the country can recreate Wrigleyville in random underdeveloped neighborhoods. If stadiums in blank spaces make such great economic sense, let team owners or private developers pay for and get rich from them. Or, we could just take note of the fact that team owners and private developers just aren’t interested.

        The question isn’t whether a particular stadium is the highest and best use for a given parcel, the question is why taxpayers should foot the bill. To bring this back to transit, rail and—to a lesser extent—BRT have been shown to repay public investment with economic development. From Baltimore to Detroit to Seattle, stadiums have failed that litmus test. You can’t build a neighborhood or a community on 8 days a year, 41 days a year, or even 81 days a year. Successful stadiums stem from successful neighborhoods, not the other way around.

      2. Actually, I think the rail station is going in there partly because Husky Stadium is already there.

        And I have no trouble giving a nod to history and leaving the stadium where it has already been. What do you want to do? Turn our last piece of unique waterfront over to the developers to be turned into condos and McDonalds?

      3. [laz] I think the rail station in question is King Street Station. Which has been there since 1906, a bit before the stadium.

      4. Martin,

        The location of the UW station was chosen because of its proximity to Husky Stadium.

        It has easy pedestrian access to the stadium, medical center, and campus.

        Don’t let facts get in the way of your bias though.

    4. Almost all new and successful stadiums are built on the periphery.

      Qwest/Safeco are anomalies brought on by the huckster “high density” crowd that has been ruining Seattle for two long decades.

      The “Sodo” revival never happened and is in fact more bleak and empty than ever (unless you call carpet warehouses a “revival”).

      1. What successful new stadia are you talking about? Every MLS club that has built its own stadium has trouble drawing even 10,000 fans. The Sounders’ success has a lot to do with the ability of its younger fan base to get there by bus, train, etc.

        If the Seahawks or Ms were playing in Kent, I betcha attendance would take a nosedive, or ticket prices would go way down.

        I’m not saying that sports stadia are a good use of central city property (and I would have voted no to public funding of both stadia had I lived here at the time), but locations that have lots of public transit from many directions is the key to getting people in and out of those stadia.

      2. Brent: “What successful new stadia are you talking about? Every MLS club that has built its own stadium has trouble drawing even 10,000 fans. The Sounders’ success has a lot to do with the ability of its younger fan base to get there by bus, train, etc.”

        Blatently not true. See
        Most MLS teams are now in their own soccer-specific stadium, but only a few teams draw around 10,000 at home. Of those, San Jose is in a college stadium and Kansas City I think is still in an NFL stadium. Otherwise, most of the purpose-built stadia are suburban, but Toronto and Columbus at least are in the central city.

        Recently built MLB stadia like Camden Yards, Jacobs Field and the new Yankees Stadium are in dense areas and are pretty successful. NFL stadiums on the other hand tend to be in outlying areas and isolated by huge parking lots.

      3. Sounders fans are pretty exceptional. In terms of home attendance, it would rank among the top ten of English Premier League teams and the top fifty in the world. Average 2010 attendance is at 36,000, far ahead of the next team’s 21,000 and league average of 16,000.

        The success of the Sounders has more to do with many other factors as detailed in a Seattle Times article. That’s not to say the stadium and its location don’t have any influence.

        Oh and all the NW’s MLS soccer team’s stadiums will be located near downtowns and near mass transit. Seattle Sounders’ Qwest Field near Amtrak, Sounder, and Link, Portland Timbers’ PGE Park near MAX, and Vancouver Whitecaps’ BC Place near Skytrain. Expect an intense rivalry!

      4. It would be sooo coool if the Sounder/Timbers/Whitecaps could arrange extra runs of the Cascades before and after these rivalry matches.

      5. “Qwest/Safeco are anomalies brought on by the huckster “high density” crowd that has been ruining Seattle for two long decades.”

        No, no, no. The Kingdome was more of a “high density” thing because it was, uh, dense inside throughout the year, and it was only one large campus to walk past rather than two. Qwest and Safeco fields were built because the team owners wanted sport-specific stadiums to enhance the marketing of the sport, and particularly wanted to build luxury boxes in the new stadiums which would command high revenues straight into the owners’ pockets. They convinced the politicians that these would bring revenue to the city, as a ploy to get the politicians to say yes. Even though most of the people who attend games live in the area and would spend their money here anyway.

        And after the Mariners and Seahawks got stadiums, the Sonics wanted their own for the same reason. Where does it end? Shall we also build a hockey stadium, an MMA arena, a concert hall, and whatever sport comes next down the block? Or forever leave Qwest and Safeco fields as monuments to the last century’s sports? Sport-specific stadiums may be the trend in other cities, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good thing.

  2. Re: Hybrid streetcar.

    I wonder if they’ll submit a bid for the First Hill Streetcar. This would fulfill SDOT’s requirement for off-wire capability. Plus we already have a relationship with Kinkisharyo and it could be assembled locally.

      1. From the general contractor RFQ for the First Hill streetcar released in October;

        In other streetcar news, SDOT recently advertised an RFQ for engineering services for the replacement of the Fairview Avenue bridge in front of Zymogenetics with a new bridge capable of supporting a streetcar. This is good news because that bridge was noted in the streetcar network report as being a barrier to extending the SLU streetcar to the U-District.

      2. Woops, HTML mistake. Here it is without the formatting.

        From the general contractor RFQ for the First Hill streetcar released in October;

        “Streetcar Characteristics
        The streetcars will be an owner-procured item. They will be bi-directional with an operators cab at each end, doors on both sides, double articulated, approximately 60% low floor, and 66-69 feet in length and 8 feet in width. Additionally, the City intends to specify a wireless operating capability for the First Hill Streetcar featuring vehicles that can travel fully loaded on a 0.5 mile segment without the OCS assuming a 5% gradient, at least two stations and three traffic stops, and a maximum speed of 20mph. Additionally, they will be able to re-charge during normal OCS operation or at passenger stations with minimal time requirements, permit raising and lowering of the pantograph system by the operator at stations.”

        In other streetcar news, SDOT recently advertised an RFQ for engineering services for the replacement of the Fairview Avenue bridge in front of Zymogenetics with a new bridge capable of supporting a streetcar. This is good news because that bridge was noted in the streetcar network report as being a barrier to extending the SLU streetcar to the U-District.

      3. That’s awesome about them requiring off-wire capability! And cool about the Fairview Bridge. If they’re already replacing it, though, couldn’t they just put in some streetcar tracks now, so it won’t have to be ripped up at a later date?

      4. Maybe they’re trying to do it surreptitiously so that certain people don’t cry about SDOT spending money on streetcars?

    1. I didn’t know SDOT had a requirement for off-wire capability for our streetcars. Ya, Metro “might” have an off-wire requirement for replacement ETB’s, but with streetcars off-wire capability is primarily an aesthetic issue.

      I’d rather skip the added expense of adding off-wire capabilities to our streetcars and instead fund the study phase of the Aloha Extension!

      1. “but with streetcars off-wire capability is primarily an aesthetic issue.”

        Actually in this case it’s primarily an issue of the streetcars being able to avoid some of the complicated ETB overhead along the streetcar route by traveling through the intersections under battery power.

      2. It has some advantages, but I doubt it is worth the added costs, and I don’t view the ETB crossing thing as that big a deal. Besides, Metro *might* be eliminating the ETB’s anyhow.

        And from a purely pragmatic view, if you are going to add off-wire capability to either the ETB’s or the SC’s, it makes much more sense to add the capability to the ETB’s since they can then use that capability to re-route around problems — the SC’s could never do that. So add the capability where it makes the most difference, which is not on the SC’s.

        I say save the extra money and spend it on the Aloha Ext instead — that is much more important.

      3. Whether the trolley buses come or go is out of SDOT’s hands, along with what type of trolley bus Metro buys. But SDOT is responsible for making the streetcar system work with minimal disruption to the trolley bus OCS and minimal cost of re-configuring it. They’re are some very complicated OCS intersections along the route and adding off-wire capability to three vehicles may be cheaper than reconstructing the OCS at those points. In the original streetcar report the trolley bus OCS was noted as one of the main obstacles to building the line. In fact they were originally considering using uni-directional streetcars with trolley poles instead of a standard streetcar.

      4. Wasn’t the whole point of the streetcar taking that detour loop to 14th (and not turning left directly onto 12th from Jackson) due to the obstacle of trying to incorporate all the necessary overhead wiring at 12th and Jackson?

    2. I don’t think billing it as a “hybrid” vehicle fits the popular definition. It’s just a streetcar with offwire capabilities, as mentioned by others here.

      It’s funny how the article says that it “does not emit fumes that contribute to smog and greenhouse gases.” Vehicles powered by overhead lines don’t do that either; the generating stations depending on the utility provider may do that (we’re lucky in Seattle to have hydropower). Manufacturing and disposing the batteries for initial installation and replacement also produces pollution in most cases.

  3. Regarding increased security on public transit:
    – During Thanksgiving week, I noticed two TSA agents patrolling the platform area at King Street Station. I can’t recall ever seeing a TSA presence there before; beefed-up security for the holiday?
    – Last Wednesday evening I passed through Penn Station in NYC; Amtrak Police – Special Operations Unit officers with automatic rifles were patrolling the concourse level, along with an Amtrak Police K9 unit. (The dog was remarkably camera-shy.) Kind of jarring to see this level of security.

    1. Re: Penn Station

      That was routine a couple years ago. Only worry if the assault rifles are pointed level or upwards.

    2. I wonder if the TSA presence at King Street Station might be related to the issues at the Portland tree lighting ceremony. There was apparently a large TSA presence also at Portland Union Station where the bomber hoped to make his escape.

  4. I understand the logic behind Metro getting rid of Family Fare on Sundays next year, but what is the reasoning behind getting rid of weekend Day Passes?

    1. With the last fare increase, didn’t the price of the day pass become the equivalent of paying the regular off-peak fare twice (if not more?) It stopped being a good deal, and I’m sure the amount of sales it didn’t generate anymore didn’t offset the cost of printing them. Not to mention that they made them look like Puget Passes yet they could only be used on Metro, at least, that is what I remember.

      1. I also think part of the reason for the elimination of weekend day passes is Metro is gradually preparing people for the day when paper transfer tickets are eliminated.

      2. Before the most recent increase, the off-peak fare was $1.75 and a day pass cost $4. A day pass was 50 cents more than a double fare.

        After that increase, the off-peak fare is $2.00 and a day pass costs $4.50. Thus, a day pass is… 50 cents more than a double fare.

        I’m not seeing the difference…

        There were a couple weeks in 2009 when I was in Seattle without a transit pass, and every weekend day that I rode the bus at all, I bought a day pass. For me, it was nice to know that I had capped my day’s transit expenditures at $4. I didn’t have to worry about making the transfer time (or pretending not to know that it had expired), and I could take as many trips as I wanted.

        That said, I’m sure that most people just pay a single fare, ask for a transfer, and keep using it all day. So you’re probably right that it’s not worth the printing cost.

      3. We still one- and three-day transit passes, on ORCA cards, for visitors and others who need the short-term flexibility. Usable on all systems. Maybe $7 for the one-day pass and $15 for the 3-day.

      4. I think the daypass should be double the maximum fare in the region, or $9.50.

        Why so high? The day passes that Metro handed out were clearly labeled as only working for a $2.00 maximum fare.

      5. $9.50 is double the maximum fare in the region. Once you paid that, you wouldn’t need to pay additional no matter where you travel.

  5. Bus 4227 has been running route 43 with new bright white LED signage. And I do mean *bright* white. It’s so bright it’s hard to read even during the (cloudy) day. I’m worried that a “more photons are better” mentality has been applied in lieu of empirical testing of effectiveness.

    1. I’ve seen that bus a few times. I wasn’t sure if they’d forgotten to but some kind of screen back on or if it was a test bus. I agree it’s a bit too bright.

    2. I agree with you. I saw that bus and thought the headsigns were much more difficult to read than the yellow Luminator headsigns.

      1. Of course not, it’s much more fun to whinge here.

        Seriously, now that I’ve seen others agree and know it’s not some fluke known to this better-informed-than-I crowd, I’ll go find a proper feedback channel.

  6. Tata taps MIT to light up low-income houses

    Sun Catalytix’s prototype can split hydrogen from any source of water, be it river water, sea water or even human waste. Once the water molecules are split into hydrogen and oxygen, the hydrogen powers fuel cells. Built at a cost of around $20 (around ‘920), it is expected to hit the market in 18 months. “We have the capability to power a household with just two bottles of water from any source,” claims Nocera, who is also director of MIT’s Solar Revolutions Project and the ENI Solar Frontiers Centre.

    The reasoning is simple. Solar power, up until now, has been a daytime-only energy source. But storing extra solar energy for use when the sun sets is expensive. Sun Catalytix also believes batteries have a limitation when it comes to storing electrical energy. The company’s prototype, hence, has taken a cue from nature — the process of photosynthesis — whereby plants and bacteria use energy from sunlight to produce sugar, which cellular respiration converts into adenosine tri-phosphate, or ATP, the ‘fuel’ used by all living things.

  7. Personal Rapid Transit

    During the 1970s, Boeing Vertol designed personal rapid transit (PRT) system rubber-tired, electrically powered vehicles that were silent and emission free. They traveled on computerized concrete guideways. During busy times, they had a scheduled route. Otherwise, they arrived according to passenger request. Essentially, the system allowed vehicles to wait for people rather than forcing people to wait for vehicles.

    A Boeing PRT is still in service at West Virginia University, Morgantown, W.Va.; by November 2007, the cars were transporting about 16,000 riders per day.

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