This is an open thread.

(H/T: Evan Siroky)

71 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: London Bus Racing”

    1. Those MAN artics were workhorses and seemed more solid than the 40 foot coaches running at the same time

  1. The Sound Transit Board on Thursday (December 16 2010) amended the Adopted 2010 Budget for Service Delivery capital from $29,597,945 to $67,547,945 by 1) increasing the ST Express Fleet Expansion Project budget from $11,700,000 to $32,760.000 and 2) increasing the ST Express Fleet Replacement Project budget from $0 to $16,890,000. (source)

    I wonder what new is coming?

  2. As if there was ever any doubt that the standard 40′ bus is superior in challenging urban traffic conditions!

    1. Now I know where my old 101 driver went to bus driving school! We used to do the back half clear the lane swing on the freeway all the time. No need to signal if you get the back to clear the lane for you.

  3. According to Metro’s wikipedia page, they have a number of 32′ one-door Gillig busses. What do they use these for? I’ve never seen one downtown.

    1. They generally are used on routes that don’t have a lot of passengers. On occasion one will show up on one of the downtown commuter routes.

    2. There are 95 30‘ Gilligs; this shakeup they’ve been used on routes 38, 51, 65, 67, 75, 105, 107, 110, 114, 129, 139, 140, 148, 149, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157, 164, 166, 168, 173, 175, 179, 181, 182, 183, 186, 187, 192, 205, 209, 211, 221, 222, 230, 233, 234, 236, 238, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 253, 269, 331, 345, 346, 347, 348, 554, 600, 661, and 912.

      1. I can’t imagine a 30′ would be particularly useful on the 65, 67, or 75 when the UW is in session. I never saw a 30′ on one of those routes when I was a student – the 65/67 was mostly 2300s and the 75 was a mix of 2300s and 3200s. Maybe at night or on weekends, but it would be a terrible squeeze any other time.

        Don’t the 30′ buses also have a narrow aisle, since the body is narrow but the seating is still 2×2.

      2. Many of those only ran a trip or two; I don’t have a quick way to count trips specific to a certain day.

        Regarding the aisle; it seems about the same as on a 40′ Gillig, but there are only two sets of forward facing seats (meaning 8 positions total) so the aisle is pretty narrow, with a big open space in the front and back where the inward-facing seats are.

    1. You don’t have to go to London….Try Monroe – Evergreen Speedway on Memorial Day, 4th of July or Labor Day for School Bus Figure 8’s… WILL pee your pants.

      However, you will likely have to drive, as I am not sure of the ST/CT/METRO routing from Bellevue or Seattle to Monroe on a holiday evening with a return at 10PM. Any ideas?

  4. Here’s a nice little piece showing bike parking can yield more economic activity than car parking. Obviously, the bike parking needs to be where there are lots of cyclists and there is definitely a balance to be had. The study also advocates a “go slow” approach. Seattle seems to be doing a bit of this with on-street parking. I’d like to see more.

    U-Village could use substantially more bike parking. It’s right next to the Burke Gilman trail. Other spots?

    1. probably downtown in front of some of the major shopping destinations. Macy’s, Barnes And Noble, Westlake center, and Pike Place Market come to mind.

      1. Those street locations would be better used for transit. Think about places where you have 24×7 street parking that are near other cycling facilities. Fremont, Uptown, maybe Queen Anne Ave, parts of Ballard.

        If there is room on the sidewalk, you’d want to start there but only if you’re not crowding pedestrians.

      2. Bike parking doesn’t at all have to come at the expense of transit. We definitely need a lot more bike parking in the retail core of Seattle. At Westlake it’s always hard to find somewhere to park a bike, and at Pike Place I frequently see dozens of bikes chained to fences and rails.

    2. I don’t know of any near Safeco. There is a bunch over on the other side of Sea-chicken land, and I hear they have some inside that parking garage monstrosity. None anywhere anyone would actually use them to go the the baseball game, however. Drop a few racks in front of the exhibition center on those massive sidewalks.

      1. Didn’t they add some bike racks at the plaza under the new Royal Brougham bridge, between Safeco and the Exhibition Center garage?

      2. The racks at Safeco are on te opposite side of the stadium from where most bikes are coming from, and the ones at Qwest are frequebtly all filled up by like a half hour before the game. They definitely need more, and more convenient, rack space around the stadiums. And they certainly have room for plenty more racks.

    3. Excellent article, and bike parking for Capital hill as well. Ideally there would be a covered spot like for a bus stop. Western U has these cool cantilevered covers over their bicycle parking. Can’t tell you how nice it is to not have my seat soaking wet when I hop back on my bike.

    1. I know some people who refer to articulated buses as “reticulated buses.” Sure, with the proper paint scheme that would work, but that’s uncommon.

    2. I always liked “fizzy drinks” for pop.

      I’d grown up learning that lorry is the British word for truck. But my friend who’s a truck driver in England says that nowadays lorry connotes their traditional small trucks, while the large American-style trucks he drives are apt to be called trucks. Indeed, we attended a “trucking convention”, not a “lorry convention”, while I was there. The whole trucking culture was imported from America, and there were several Confederate flags among the window stickers for sale.

  5. Where are there on-street transit lanes in the Seattle area?

    Will/Which RapidRide lines will have transit lanes?

    1. Aurora & 15th Ave W are the only ones that I know of. The ones on 15th are only transit-only in the direction of heaviest traffic during rush hour; the rest of the time (and often during rush hour too) they’re parking lanes.

    2. There continue to be local efforts to put on-street parking in, or keep general traffic in, transit lanes. The Magnolia Community Club continues to lobby to convert 15th Ave W from transit to HOV lanes, and keep parking cars in them the rest of the day and in the counter-peak direction.

      At least two different neighborhoods are fighting to keep on-street parking in the lanes planned for the Line C (West Seattle).

      We have to keep lobbying for real transit lanes for RapidRide, and that means contacting your county council members and the county executive.

      Remind them that slowing down RapidRide means it will take more buses (and operators) to keep the same promised frequency schedules; slower buses mean fewer riders and less revenue; and that far more people will be inconvenienced on a daily bases by putting parked cars and SOVs in the way of RapidRide than by making a handful of people walk a little bit farther from their parking spots.

  6. Westside Light Rail, West Seattle to Ballard: Following on a discussion at this week’s meet-up, I think the best way to build credibility for the project prior to a funding vote is to vet it through the Sound Transit board. The Board would pass a resolution to implement the design, construction and operation of “Westside Link,” outside of Sub-Area Equity, if the City Seattle brings 100% of the dollars. The City could also promise to not seek federal New Starts funding for the westside, so as not to compete with ST2 for funding. Most rational people trust Sound Transit. They are actually operating a light rail line and are digging subway tunnels to the UW.

    Otherwise, proponents of a City funding vote will face an uphill battle in the media and in public opinion. “Mayor McSchwinn’s fantasy light rail toy trains,” “too much money for an incompatible system,” “what does the City know about building mass transit”? Even the current council seems disinclined to a Seattle go-it-alone approach.

    Building support for Westside Light Rail on the ST board will be difficult and is unlikely to be complete before next November. For example, the long-range 2040 transporation plan would need to be updated to include West Seattle. But if we can get there, the project will be more “real” and the City funding proposition more likely to pass.

    1. I find it hard to believe the city could afford to build light rail from West Seattle to Ballard without using any federal money. That is pretty much unheard of and would probably impact the city’s bond rating. I continue to think that McGinn will have to downgrade this to a “rapid streetcar” of some sort running from downtown to Ballard, via either Fremont or Interbay. If the streetcar was able to get it’s own separated right-of-way (possible on Westlake and Leary if going via Fremont, or Elliott/15th via Interbay), then it could make the distance pretty quickly. Businesses just have to get over their fear of losing on-street parking or the city has to be brave enough to stand up to them. Anyway, the problem with grad-separated light rail is the water crossings. New bridges or tunnels to both West Seattle and Ballard would be incredibly expensive, whereas a streetcar to Ballard would just require retrofit of the existing bridge. The full-on light rail to West Seattle should wait for ST3, when it could not only go to West Seattle but continue farther south.

      1. I wasn’t at the meetup, but I’m puzzled why everyone keeps talking about the West Seattle/Ballard line, other than the fact that Mike McGinn seems to have pulled it out of his hat at some point during his campaign. It seems to me to be such a remarkably bad idea, at least as a near- to mid-term project, for the reasons Zef has perfectly outlined. Advocating cost-ineffective boondoggles erodes the credibility of transit advocates, inhibiting our ability to get more compelling projects done; Sound Transit is trusted precisely because they are performance oriented, transparent in their decision-making and ruthless about cutting underperforming bus lines etc.

        If you want to advocate for something both cost-effective and useful (and that would, in part, benefit Ballard and West Seattle), how about more funding for RapidRide and the Seattle Streetcar network?

      2. Bruce,

        One of the big problems with RapidRide is that it is prone to the thousand cuts that kill its rapidity.

        Witness how the West Seattle businesses still lobby to keep parked cars in its way.

        Check out how much slower the Line A is per mile vs. Link, and how the Line A is almost as slow as the 174 was.

        Check out how the county followed through with its promise for off-board payment stations: ORCA card readers, at about half the stations! — and not at the Tukwila light rail station, so the bus takes a few minutes for everyone to queue up and pay at the front door.

        See how front-door change fumbling (with free transfers that are longer in practice than an ORCA transfer) and front-of-the-bus bike loading are still featured slow-downs.

        Check out how the RapidRide lines are scheduled to be less frequent than many already-existing trunk lines.

        I’m not against RapidRide, but I do wish those who would prefer to have a cheaper but efficient transit system would give us a little help by lobbying to make RapidRide much more Rapid.

      3. I, too, find it hard to believe that the City can afford to go it alone for a rapid transit line. The failed financing for the monorail project seems to prove that. Water crossings are a big factor in the equation.

        But, Bruce, 1/5 of the city’s population is in West Seattle. And, as the recent winter storm showed, there’s a DIRE need for more connections between the neighborhood and Downtown.

        Whether or not in-city transit should be a priority for Sound Transit is a reasonable argument, but it is certainly not “a remarkably bad idea” and one that is long overdue.

      4. I’m all in favor of light rail to West Seattle and/or Ballard in the fullness of time when (a) we [the region] can afford it, (b) the LINK system is built out at least to Northgate and is proven popular, reliable and cost-effective and (c) we’ve funded all the higher-priority transit needs in the area, which includes at least East Link, and probably South Link to Federal Way and maybe even Tacoma. The latter would probably require some loosening of sub-area equity rules (i.e. Seattle and the Eastside giving money to south King) due to the severe hit that revenues have taken in that part of the county.

        And I appreciate that RapidRide — even if fully realized — is not a substitute for light rail. But it’s an improvement, it’s affordable, and many of the problems you mention could be mitigated with more funding — doable amounts of funding, too.

        My “remarkably bad idea” comment was directed mostly to the idea of West Seattle/Ballard light rail on the ballot within the next couple of years, and I stand by it in that context.

      5. I remember McGinn promising “a rail proposal” without specifying where. So it could be downtown-Ballard (LR), downtown-Fremont-Ballard (streetcar), West Seattle-SODO (LR), Ballard-UW (?), or downtown-Eastlake-UW (streetcar).

        Converting the SLUT to a rapid streetcar would require signal priority on its existing rote, removing a stop or two (7th, and Mercer), and maybe even an exclusive lane. The city has not shown any inkling of doing this.

        I agree that ST should build any LR line, even if the city pays for it.

      6. “I’m puzzled why everyone keeps talking about the West Seattle/Ballard line”

        I think people are talking about the importance of the line, not whether it can be built before ST3. The idea is for the city to fund a portion of the line early, which will save ST time and money for finishing the ultimate line: south to Burien (connecting to a Burien-Renton line), and north to somewhere (possibly Northgate-Lake City-Bothell, or Brooklyn). Most ideal rapid-transit maps for Seattle envision an “X” centered on downtown. Link covers the east parts of the X, and now we need light rail for the west parts.

        Note: given the recent interest in a Roosevelt-Lake City-Bothell line instead of Northgate-Lake City-Bothell, the westside line could either terminate at Northgate or Brooklyn, or go through Roosevelt to Lake City. (If it’s feasable to add a crosswise line to an underground station.)

      7. Both Ballard to Downtown and West Seattle to Downtown are very high ridership corridors already, and as Downtown Ballard and West Seattle Junction continue to densify, ridership will only increase. In addition to those corridors, the short corridor between Lower Queen Anne, Belltown, and Downtown is extremely dense and has the potential for very high ridership. Because of all this, real high capacity transit is the only reasonable option in the long term, and in the Seattle area, that means light rail, grade separated as much as possible. The city probably can’t build it without federal help, and anyways it will probably have to be part of ST 3 because of subarea equity. We’ve already funded all of Central, North, and East Link within the North King subarea, so we’ll have to have some other major project in ST3 and this should be it.

  7. In a recent Transport Politic article about streetcar systems being built around the country, he had a map with all the streetcar projects that included information on how much they cost and how many miles they are ( Why is the First Hill Streetcar costing so much? It’s nearly $60m a mile, while in Portland they’re building for $45m a mile and in Dallas and DC they’re building for less than $25m a mile, and it looks like the SLU streetcar was built for around $30m a mile.

    1. I can think of a couple reasons:

      1) Might need to relocate utilities. You just can’t put tracks over your only access to underground utilities.
      2) We have a trolley bus overhead that Portland didn’t need to worry about.

      I am sure there are more…

      1. They also need to build a new streetcar maintenance barn because they decided to build the line without connecting it to the SLUT. Bad move, I say.

      2. If the streetcar system gets expanded more, having trolley barns both north and south of downtown will be handy. In any case, if they didn’t have to build a new one, they would have to expand the existing one.

    2. The $130 million is the total maximum cost for the project that Sound Transit will pay. We won’t really know the true cost until the construction and vehicle bids are received, the cost could be much less.

      The actual construction cost is estimated to be around $70 million, the rest of the cost is for vehicles, maintenance base, art, community outreach, operations, etc. At lot of that cost would be the same for a 5 mile long line, so looking at the cost per mile isn’t always very informative. Also Dallas’ and Portland’s projects are both extensions of existing lines. I would imagine that a 2 mile extension of the SLUT wouldn’t cost anywhere near $130 million.

    1. So, are we to take from this that you are not only against light rail, but also against inter-city passenger rail?

      Oh, and do you think air travel is also a boondoggle?

      1. What you can take from this is when people come on this blog and suggest rail isn’t affected by snow like other kinds of transportation are, I’m going to show them to be liars.

      2. I don’t think anyone on this blog has stated that rail always works in the snow.

        Some rail is affected by snow. Some can be maintained so as not to be affected. Link kept going quite smoothely through the blizzard. Sounder had a delay, albeit nothing like the freeways or buses.

        Eurostar had a several-day blockage due to freezing last year. We’ll see if it does better this season.

        Many freeways get blocked in blizzards, too, as you may have noticed last month.

      3. To see what a transit system looks like when poor service in bad weather isn’t an option, take a look at Montreal. They built an entirely enclosed system. Thus, the Montreal Metro is completely unaffected by snow.

        That said: Brent (and others), please don’t feed the trolls! One of the reasons I so enjoy participating in STB discussions is that, on the whole, it’s a very cooperative atmosphere. We don’t always disagree (as Bernie is well aware), but we’re all working towards the same goal of a better regional transit system.

        Someone whose primary agenda is to expose everyone else as a liar — even when the position he’s attacking is a strawman — is not someone whom I want to engage with, and I strongly recommend that you do the same.

      4. Most people made pretty clear that Link is far less affected by snow, not all rail. Obviously, lines with only a few trips a day will freeze up pretty fast.

    2. Just for additional info: buses in the Benelux were barely available either. Allot of agencies stalled their buses at base. Yet most trains were still going, although with delays/reduced schedules.

      1. It would make sense that if you had 5 feet of snow on the tracks it would hinder rail. However it would also make sense that if you had 5 INCHES of snow on the road it would hinder EVERYTHING but rail. This is the point Sam. Mother nature can stop anything if she wants but rail keeps running long after the planes are grounded and the buses are all sitting at the bottom of the hills sideways.

    3. Oh and if you read the article you’d find that the Eurostar was still running but slower because of the snow. People were waiting for the train for 5 hours, people were waiting for planes for 2 days. The airports were all but shut down. What made it worse for rail was the people who were missing flights flocked to the train because it was still running but according to the BBC at a slower pace.

      “There were severe delays on the Eurostar rail service between the UK and France and Belgium, and Thalys trains between France and Belgium were also affected as speed restrictions hit rail travel in England and northern France.”

  8. Since this is an open thread, I thought it would be useful to mention the debate over bus ads opposing US funding of Israel.

    These are bus ads that have no offensive graphics, are revenue for Metro, and don’t state anything that can be refuted. However, if people with the opposite viewpoint feel so inclined, they are welcome to run their own bus ads. I hope they do. The publicity would show that people read the bus ads, so hopefully more can be sold.

    Instead, the anti-Palestine groups are circulating the link around the country and beyond among anti-Palestine groups, and trying to flood the online poll to get Metro to yank the ads.

    Support revenue for Metro and freedom of speech on bus ads (within the very reasonable limits laid down by the county) by going to the link and voting that the ads should be allowed.

    1. You had me in agreement that this is a political fight that really has little to do with the ads themselves and whether or not Metro should run them… until you mentioned “anti-Palestine groups,” which kinda kills your “unbiased” request.

      1. Did I say I don’t have a bias? I’m biased against the vast majority of ads that appear on Metro buses, but I support their right to be there, especially when the alternative is paying more sales tax or higher fares.

    2. “However, if people with the opposite viewpoint feel so inclined, they are welcome to run their own bus ads.”

      No, they can’t run their own ads, and that’s a big problem I have with these ads. There’s a double standard at work here. And that’s the reason you never see the opposite point of view on bus ads. There’s a pro-Palestinian bias, and when the opposing view is presented, it’s either labeled hate speech, or Islamophobic.

      1. When I read “Documentation, please,”I translate that into “Please do my homework for me.” And to that, I answer no, do your own homework.

      2. When you make the statement “No, they can’t run their own ads…”, and someone says provide evidence of your supposed statement of fact, that is not an unreasonable request. You are accusing Metro of bias. That’s a pretty significant charge. You should be able to back it up.

  9. Letter to ed over at Seattle Times:

    Commenting on LINK she says

    “However, it is sometimes frustrating that the train must stop so many times at south Seattle stations where, often, almost no one gets on or off,” she says. “I’m wondering why there aren’t nonstop express trains that go directly from Westlake to the airport– even one or two an hour would be so convenient. Are there any plans to provide this service in the future?”

    Hilarious! She single-handedly skewers the whole raison d’etre of LINK as local transit, and pretty much says, all people want is a cheap shuttle to the parking at Tukwila for ball games and to the airport to avoid the $50 cab and shuttle fees.

    1. It’s weird that people always say it stops “so many times” when it stops less than once a mile south of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. If anything, it should stop a little bit more. Have these people never ridden transit to/from the airport in any other city in the country?

    2. A Seattle – SeaTac – Tacoma express does make sense… after the higher priorities have been finished. In the meantime, those who want to get to the airport in twenty minutes can have a taxi investigate 509, 599, and East and West Marginal Ways.

      1. And how much would laying down another set of double tracks cost? We don’t need an airport express, that’s not the point of Link.

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