Only bus I'd ever consider eating.

A mom explores the transit nerd in her for her son’s birthday.  There’s definitely one way to get your kids to start liking transit.

(H/T: Eric Fernstrom)

98 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: A Very Tasty Bus”

    1. The kid is definitely too young to ride the #2 bus unless he’s wearing blinders and earplugs. With the recovering junkies who have no internal filters and no volume control, taking the #2 with kids is always a very awkward ride.

      1. Really? I take it with mine on the weekends, and never have that experience. Weekday mornings from Summit to downtown, completely agreed.

    2. I didnt mean aware it was a bus, i meant aware how much work his mother put into it!
      I hope this lines up properly

  1. Jeez, that must have been a lot of work. There are at least six different colors of icing alone.

    1. I’m guessing this was done by a professional, either at a bakery or maybe a family member or friend that happens to work at a bakery. We made a (less professional looking) shark cake and the folks at the Whole Foods bakery were very helpful with tips and even gave us some of the non-artificial food coloring they use.

    1. Detroit has major problems for sure but it’s not at the top of the list for cities that are closing up shop. Comcast had a lead article on the top ten and I don’t remember Detroit being in there. The interesting thing about that list was that it went back 50 years. Although Pittsburg is on the list it’s an example of a city that has turned the tide and is becoming a desirable place again while still dependent on steel and aluminum it’s greatly diversified with an emphasis on the information economy (schools, research, “hi-tech”).
      Found this on the top seven American Cities that Are Running Out of People (might be from the same reference as the Comcast article).

      This is old data (pre real estate bust) but by absolute numbers Chicago, NY and LA lead the list.

      1. At the risk of stating the obvious, absolute numbers are a stupid way to measure population loss/gain in almost any context. Other than the special case of NOLA, most of the cities seriously on the ropes are midwestern manufacturing towns. The big cities continue to be a magnets for the best and brightest; I suspect most of the loss comes from blue collar workers who can no longer make it in the city.

      2. Also notice that Buffalo and Rochester lost population after their shipping advantage disappeared.

  2. Great blog post by Ryan Avent (of The Economist US) about density and education:

    “It seems to me that the low-hanging fruit here is in making productive cities more dense. It’s hard to get the population more educated, but maybe it’s not as hard to move a larger share of the population to richer cities… You can’t get people to agree to an apartment building where their neighbors’ gorgeous old colonial used to be. But you can get them to agree to upzoning of commercial areas that used to be home to ill-considered garden apartment complexes and strip malls, especially if you focus that redevelopment around transit. As it turns out, walkable development is in high demand.”

  3. Can someone point me to a place to buy an Amtrak Cascade poster? The poster I’m talking about is by this guy:

    There’s no Cascades poster there…? But I (think I) remember seeing them for sale on the train itself a couple years ago. Are they for sale at the station? I’m now on the east coast and wondering if I can find one when I come back for a visit in March.

    1. I don’t think Schwab designed a Cascade poster. Amtrak has been selling some of his AutoTrain posters relatively inexpensively, compared to his owm website store.

  4. 1. Present condition of Detroit and other eastern cities proves that American greed and racism carry more destructive capacity than the combined strategic bomber commands of the US and the Soviet Union combined. Sixty-five years ago, Berlin looked like Detroit does now. Difference is, Berlin’s been rebuilt.

    2. One-year olds exposed to electric transit are already beyond help. Has to do with fine particles of carbon and copper getting into the bloodstream, so victim can only be fully energized thirteen feet from centerline of traction power overhead. Poor little guy. Barring a miracle, he’ll never be able to pick anything but Atlantic Base.

    3. KC Metro needs to wrap all its trolleypoles like that- and let current advertisers pay for pole-wraps in their corporate colors, with credits somewhere on the metal body of the coach. In return for getting everything but clear glass off the windows.

    Mark Dublin

  5. Very cool cake

    Has there been any update on the future of the electric trolley buses? What are the next milestones in the decision process?

    1. I haven’t heard a peep on this topic since the coverage of the Vancouver trolleybus evaluation a month or so ago. I, too, would be interested if there’s any update on this, if there are any contacts at Metro STB could tap.

      According to Metro, the technical review should be completed in March. I assume they’re going to evaluate a modified diesel-electric bus at some point, which I guess will be just a D40LF with a re-geared axle?

      1. D40LF isn’t a hybrid, though. In the NFI lineup, the ‘D’ means diesel. Hybrids, like Metro’s DE60LFs, start with ‘DE’ which means diesel-electric: hybrid.

        Sound Transit actually has a DE40LF (9200), which is the only NFI 40-foot hybrid in the region to my knowledge. It operates on the 560 usually. Even so, they’ll probably be using the Orion VII NG hybrid they got a while back for testing.

      2. Right, that was a typo, I meant to say DE40LF.

        I’m curious tho’, what they’re going to compare against the E40LF we borrowed from Vancouver. The study specified a DE bus “modified” for hill climbing, so I’m wondering whether it’s a serial hybrid or a parallel hybrid like the existing DE40s with a regeared axle.

    2. Expect the results from the evaluation to be released in March. The there will be a public review process. The county council will make the final decision by November.

      1. One would hope they choose SEPTA’s version of E40LFR, with the small diesel generator for substansial off-wire capasity

      2. I’d be fine with either that or batteries, although I wasn’t aware of the diesel generator option. Is there info about that online? What are the off-wire capabilities?

      3. I’d be fine with either that or batteries, although I wasn’t aware of the diesel generator option. Is there info about that online? What are the off-wire capabilities?

        Yes, here. Batteries have a capacity of pushing it 25 to 50 miles; the diesel generator can push it up to 344 miles.

    3. I’m thinking the first step in expansion is to get all buses on Route 36 as trolleys – now that the entire route is under wire (with perhaps a minor revision of the routes that turn around in downtown. While it doesn’t expand the wire network, it should increase the total number of trolley buses that Metro operates.

      1. All of the 36’s I see downtown are trolleys, except when all the routes are dieselized on Saturday mornings.

        There’s not really much point talking about expansion until Metro commits to continue the network.

        My personal wish list for expansion starts with the 11.

      2. A lot of the time 36’s are dieselized, but I heard that has something to do with the fact that they can’t have all the 36’s taking the turn-back route along 38th Ave S next to Othello Station because that street has gotten so completely torn up.

      3. The turnback near Othello station has been repaved and we are using it again. To my knowledge all 36 coaches terminate there. I’ve driven both diesel and trolley 36 work this shakeup and in my experience trolley and 60 foot diesel (both Hybrid and 2300) coaches are alternated.

      4. What happens to the 60′ 36’s downtown? I’ve never seen them even when they’re dieselized so they must turn around or become something else. They can’t continue as 1’s because that’s a 40′-only route.

      5. 60′ coaches layover near 7th and Lenora. There is a 36 zone at 6th and Lenora were we can pick up passengers. If you take a look at the 36 schedule you can see the distribution of 60’s vs. 40’s. Some 40’s continue on as a 1 while some layover at 2nd & Lenora to return as a 36.

    1. Later, delusional right-wingers threw the bus in the trash, declaring that hydrogen cars would make busses obsolete any day now, and also that East Kent Hill was the densest neighborhood in the Pacific Northwest.

      1. The auditor recommended eliminating the candles to save 10c. He assured us the enjoyment of the cake would be identical.

      2. Funny you should mention hydrogen…

        Study: By 2030, world can run on renewables

        Scientists from Stanford University and the University of California at Davis have crunched the numbers and come up with a plan for how the world might economically and feasibly make the move to renewable energy in the next 20 to 40 years.


        Much of the plan revolves around the use of electricity and hydrogen fuel cells. That hydrogen would be produced by electricity which could be generated from wind and solar power.

        Read more:

      3. Setting aside the numerous flaws of that article and viewing it in its most favorable light, this little quote tells you everything you need to know:

        “[T]he overall construction cost for a WWS system might be on the order of $100 trillion worldwide, over 20 years, not including transmission.”

        Call me when you’ve lined up world governments behind that proposition, J.B. In the mean-time, we’ll be reducing fossil fuels the best way we know how: densification and mass transit.

    2. Yum! I love marzipan! So delicious and sturdy and smooth and digests rapidly and made of nutritious and sustainable almonds! Yup, I’ve got a whole lot of capacity for marzipan!

      1. Why are long links an issue? It’s disappointing to hear shortened links encouraged when there’s no obvious need for them, e.g. when the poster has used HTML anchor tags and not simply pasted a ridiculously long URL as plain text. Users should be able to see where they’re clicking whenever possible.

      2. 1. No I didn’t know it was an issue but I do now.

        2. How do I shorten links?

        3. When will we have an edit or a preview post button so I can make sure my post won’t come out a pile of jibberish due to a misplaced parenthesis?

      3. Encouraging URL shortening seems counterintuitive and counterproductive to me. Does nobody remember the fiasco when threatened to shut down?

        If someone makes an HTML link to a URL shortener I instantly become much more suspicious.

  6. Random technical question: How come American school busses are different to public-sector transit busses? Not only are they made by a different company with a different interior layout, they’re very different mechanically: front engine, rear wheel drive with the rear axle located 2/3s of the way back, versus rear engine with the axle way back. Anyone know why? It seems like the market would converge on one optimal design as the requirements are basically the same.

    1. I’d like to start off by saying; I have little to no education in this area, and these are merely my best guesses.

      I would venture to think that public transit buses are built for some “luxury”, whereas school buses are built for just transporting students, nothing more. Public transit buses almost exclusively have individual seats, armrests, reading lights, etc., whereas school buses just have faux leather bench-style seats.

      Too, school buses don’t have to worry about the idea of students getting on *and* off at each stop. The students board all along the route, and then they all depart at the school. Transit buses however, deal with people embarking/disembarking at each stop.

      As well, [most] school buses don’t have to worry about “crush loads”, or fare collection. Hence the reason most transit buses have straps to hold on to; as on school buses, they just sit you three-to-a-seat. Also, without a need for a fare box, the entryway can be much smaller on school buses.

      Again, I don’t have any sort of training in the technicalities of this, I just thought I’d share some of my conjectures.

      1. I wished the Everett School District did worry about crush loads as my bus to high school was always standing room only.

      2. Part of it also has to do with safety. The modern school bus also has very high seat backs, so high that just the very tip of a 5-8 year old’s head will be poking over the top. And while those seats are not the most comfortable, they are quite padded in case of jostling.

        As far as the axle placement, school buses do a lot of intra-neighborhood driving whereas the transit bus skirts the edges of neighborhoods. Having the rear axle farther in reduces the wheelbase of the bus enabling tighter turns without sacrificing capacity. It also necessitates moving of the engine, to balance the vehicle.

        Thirdly, most school districts (from what I have seen) have been moving toward having their own operations to contracting with companies like Atlantic Express, First Student (formerly Laidlaw, First bought them), Durham School Services (owned by National Express), and Student Transportation. These sort of operations would want a certain degree of fleet commonality, especially in vehicles that see years and years of service.

      3. OK, now the axle placement makes sense. Also, I see why those busses are high-floor, as you can’t have all high-back bench seats on a low-floor bus.

      4. “Public transit buses almost exclusively have individual seats, armrests, reading lights, etc….”

        Take the 545 and not much else, huh?

      5. modern schoolbuses are designed around compartmentialization, which nessitates the small windows, high backed seats, etc. The reason why many districts buy conventionals (schoolbus body on truck chassis) is that the cost is signficantly less than a rear engined model, plus the amount of miles put on a schoolbus is probally 1/3 or less of what a transit bus gets in a year of service. The shorter wheelbase of a conventional does allow you better manuverability in some cases, however the tailswing is so much greater you have to watch that very closely.

    2. For what it’s worth, Gillig was a long time manufacturer of school buses until they went to just transit buses.

      School buses also have emergency exits at the rear.

    3. Some school buses have been designed with a rear-engine. But I do have one question–if exhaust inhallation is a big concern especially among children, why do school buses pipe their exhaust from a point below or through the rear bumper? IMO it would be better to do like transit buses do and pipe the exhaust to the roof!

      Also–what about low-floor school buses? Eliminating the stairs at the doors would be useful for children!

      1. Most school buses have a rear engine. The majority of my school district’s buses have the engine in back under a box that we put our stuff on. The front engine ones are the mini-buses with a nose or flat-nosed buses with curved stairs and the engine next to the driver.

        Low-floor school buses? I’ve always wanted those. American School should buy there buses from Alexander Dennis; not only do they sell doulbe tall buses but low-floor school buses!!!

        sorry about the link :)

      2. High floor school buses allow for safer crashes where the bus actually goes OVER most cars. of course now with more SUVs and mini-vans I am not sure why that matters, but it was a design point…

  7. Okay, to set the record straight, I am not completely opposed to a streetcar line on First Avenue. I think it’s a good idea, but it’s just that the idea of eliminating the waterfront streetcar to make it successful is unfair.

    1. The Waterfront Streetcar Line is done — stick a fork in it. SDOT told me that the tracks and stations on the Waterfront will be ripped out as part of the Viaduct demolition. At that point, there’s nothing left but two isolated sections of track north of the market and in the I.D. For the cost of getting the Benson line running again we could get the SLUT to Boston St, a transit project that would serve more people before 9 AM than the Benson line would serve all day.

      1. Stick a fork in it? No WAY! Ethan Melone told me himself that it would be possible to bring the line back, even though the tracks are being ripped up.

        Besides, what’s going to happen to the old streetcars then?

      2. Of course, it could be brought back… it would just cost a fat heap of money, money that could be much better spent… well… almost anywhere else.

        Those old Melbourne trams are quite highly sought-after. We could sell them to another city in a heartbeat.

      3. Actually, since they are already ripping up the entire Waterfront and rebuilding it, sticking in some tracks wouldn’t cost that much more money, and could go as part of the Waterfront Park budget. It’s a great project that could bring tourists and residents to the Waterfront without sacrificing much transportation money. On the other hand, extending the SLUT would get a lot of riders and needs to be a transportation priority. It shouldn’t be extended to Boston Street though, because that would be a waste of money; we would end up having to run the streetcar and the 70 at relatively high frequencies because a streetcar just to Boston St wouldn’t serve the high-ridership Eastlake-U District segment. If we’re going to extend the streetcar up Eastlake, it has to be all the way to the U District. We should break this strange cycle of only building streetcars along routes that don’t correspond with existing bus routes.

      4. Clearly, the goal of a SLUT extension is to replace the 70 over its entire length. But, if you can’t get all the money together to do that at once, Boston St is the only place that’s worth stopping at in the interim. Most of the residential and business density on route 70 is south of Boston St and north of the I-5 bridge (just south of the University Bride), where 49 joins the 70.

        I bet for not much more than the price of rebuilding the Benson line and refurbishing the cars (which will cost quite a bit), you could extend the SLUT to Boston St and 1st Ave, sell the Melbourne trams, buy another SLUT car and install ORCA readers on the line. You could shift service hours from the 70 (currently at 12 min headways, make it 15) to the SLUT. (This assumes the Fairview bridge rebuild is paid for independently.)

      5. Hmm, I’d forgotten about the Eastlake water main. Maybe that segment would be more expensive than I thought.

        Nonetheless, I stand by the statement that I wouldn’t spend any significant amount of money on the Benson line until we’ve built the Aloha extension to the First Hill streetcar, extended the SLUT to 1st Ave and UW, and maybe Fremont and Ballard.

        And, having looked at those photos of the Benson cars, I think the sooner we give them to someone who will actually use them for something as opposed to letting them rot, the better.

      6. Looks like they’re just going to rust into oblivion

        My understanding is that the streetcars that were in use are in storage. There was a discussion somewhere on STB but I can’t find it. Anybody know for sure?

      7. Actually the Benson line served quite a few commuters coming off the ferry boats in the morning, and going to them in the evening. The real deal killer was it takes a 2 man crew to operate the line, since you have to have both a motorman and conductor (although i suspect with some work you could automate the doors and use PoP) Last i heard the cars are still in storage, across the street from Atlantic Base. Theres a building with some panel track outside, thats a good guess where they are out (unless they have been spirited out in the middle of the night)

      8. Bruce- I agree with you regarding the annoying ability of SDOT to design and build streetcars which come just short of replacing a bus route requiring dual services.

        Looking a pure distance issue, a SLU streetcar extension from Fairview and Yale to Boston and Eastlake is 0.7 miles. Extending the line another 0.9 miles so that passengers continuing onto the university and beyond could transfer to the 49 would only make sense since it would eliminate the 70 and allow those hours to be transferred appropriately. The costs for this project, unlike both the First Hill and original SLU streetcar would likely be lower per mile, since some of the infrastructure is already built (i.e. the maintenance facilities). Combining this with a potential repaving project (i.e. BTG II) would maximize overall investment in the corridor.

        Regarding the Waterfront streetcar: While it would be nice to have a new line with the rebuild I doubt there is the political will to get it done. That being said, a streetcar could be added to the corridor provided that the project utilize some basics which, while unseen to the general public, could be used in the future. For example, all the street light poles along the corridor should be designed to handle streetcar loads. In a perfect world, if they were spaced right, no poles would need to be added. Second, install the conduits and junction boxes for the future. Third, if the design will utilize a broad median island, make it so that a streetcar could use this reserve with little work, i.e. just rails and ties. It could (and should) be done.

      9. My understanding is that the streetcars that were in use are in storage. There was a discussion somewhere on STB but I can’t find it. Anybody know for sure?

        An unreferenced entry on Wikipedia indicates they’re in one of Metro’s warehouses in SODO.

    2. I agree. Seattle is shooting itself in the foot by not extending the tracks to Pier 69 to capitalize on the cruise traffic. If I was a business owner on the waterfront and i depended on that traffic, I would *not* be happy.

      1. 104 or so years ago, New York City was building its first subway, they used cut and cover construction for a good portion of the work. Now problem was you couldent just shut down the city to build the subway, so they built temporary track around the contstruction zone, and the streetcars passed overhead. Now, if i were a businessman along the waterfront, facing similar very invasive construction work one would think i’d want to keep the streetcar going, vs regular automobile traffic to keep some semblance of tourist flow to my business right? Everyone seems to have forgotten with a bit of planning and some extra expense the streetcar could be kept running to keep traffic flowing on the waterfront while these two projects are carried out. And with an extra wide pedistiran area being built a perfect buffer inbetween the street and the tourist areas is the streetcar, but i guess common sense is no more in this country. Oh as for the carhouse situation, i figure it probally wouldent be too hard to rework the W2s to handle 750vdc vs 600 and simply operate them out of the same barn the Capitol hill line is ran out of, since they pretty much meet up at 5th and jackson. but that makes too much sense. I’m dissapointed in your mayor, especally for being a pro bike/ped type and pretty much ignoring transit save for a new streetcar line or two (and not even putting back what once was). He would be ashamed, you should be ashamed, and he should be ran out of town!

    3. I doubt the cars are worth anything, what with all the puncture holes from political pitch forks and arrows. Next will come the stray bullet holes from foot shooters.

    4. Speaking of the waterfront streetcar, service revisions are removing the wraps from the 99 buses and running them on First from Broad to Jackson. What’s the point? This is no longer the streetcar, and we might as well just get rid of it.

      1. +1. I hate those wraps anyway.

        The Seattle Times or some other local news org should have a public poll to rename the Waterfront Streetcar Line. I’d be happy with anything that accurately describes it, i.e. does not include the words “waterfront” or “streetcar.”

      2. How about the “Seattle Art Museum Killed This Streetcar” route?

        I smell a sponsorship deal! They could have had some Picasso wraps.

  8. I was just at Tukwila International Blvd Station, and the up escalator from the surface to the mezzanine is out. However, they still have the down escalator going down. Can they not switch the other escalator to be going up, since it is so much more work going up than down?
    Secondly, there are a few Link stations that one can only enter from one end of the platform. Could they change it so that Link trains, especially when they’re only operating one car, would just pull up as close as possible to that end of the platform, and not all the way down?

    1. And I know, all these things are just little quibbles that aren’t of huge consequence, but we’re always talking about how you have to get the little things right to attract choice riders.

    2. In a similar vein, it would be nice to know where the train will stop when it’s just a one-car train on Sundays. Just a thought.

    3. At most stations they have to stop the lead vehicle of the train over a sensor so that they can call for a “proceed” signal to leave the station. There’s only 2 sensors at each station, one placed to accommodate a 2- or 3-car train and one for the 4-car trains. So no, they can’t change where they stop without installing new sensors. It would be nice though.

    1. Tram is British English for streetcar. Like the American word, it can refer either to the service or the individual vehicle. AFAICT, all modern trams are individual units that can’t be run as multiples, although I have seen footage of historic multi-unit trams.

      So while essentially all trams could be described as single-car trains, not all single car trains are trams. I would not refer to a one-car Link consist as a tram.

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