U-Link TBMs Being Assembled in Fife (Sound Transit)

This is an open thread.

58 Replies to “News Roundup: Parting Ways”

  1. Re: the Orca thing
    It’s not actually a security issue, and is a fairly minor privacy issue. I can ride the same bus as you and learn information stored on the card, and the police can subpena that information. Orca was careful not to put any identifiable information on the card, so even if you could discover comings and goings, you’d need to link me to the orca id # to have it be more than “somebody took the bus from Seattle to Redmond at 11” or whatever.

    1. 1. What guarantee have I got that through criminality or incompetence, my ORCA information won’t end up with the Bulgarian mob- or every Spammer on earth?

      2. If I’m paying for my ORCA card, why should I have to leave my travel information around for anybody to subpoena? How do I know who’s going to be the next sheriff- or attorney general, State or national.-and how curious they’ll be about who went to all those rallies against them?

      Thing I hate worst about the current “social media” explosion is the development of a whole generation growing up lacking the concept of “my own damned business”- a lot more vital to freedom, and more threatening to illegitimate authority, than anything available at a gun show.

      Mark Dublin

      1. 1) What information exactly? Which bus you took and when? I don’t think the Bulgarian mob cares, and I’m pretty sure the spammers have your address already.

        2) They can already subpoena CCTV, your atm activity, credit card activity, etc. If you don’t want to be tracked, use cash.

        Yes certainly technology to date has grown more in applications than in privacy, though you might be encouraged to know some people are working on fixes to these problems. I work on this: http://www.microsoft.com/u-prove, and this or technologies like it could eventually wind their way into future generations of Orca-like technology.

      2. Mark, the security risk is from hackers breaking into the ORCA website, not from any information someone might grab from your card. Actually, it’s probably more likely that your home connection gets hacked or someone steals information from your mailbox.

  2. Yes, cars that don’t have transponders will have a photo of their license plates taken, and a bill sent to the owners, but has anyone noticed that with the proliferation of red light cameras, speed cameras, and toll cameras, the proliferation of cars that have darkly tinted license plate covers, and also bike racks, that when put in the up position, with all their cross bars and rubber straps, pretty much obscure the entire plate? Something tells me these bike racks are meant for more than just hauling bikes.

    1. It’s against the law to obscure your license plate. Not that it’s a law that seems to be enforced much.

      1. Is it a camera that that is snapping individual pictures of each license plate as it goes by, or is t a video with some sort of character recognition software that reads the plate?

  3. In an attempt to continue the illusion that “cars pay for themselves”, the state Senate has introduced a bill to charge electric car owners $100 a year. Because apparently paying the existing taxes on electricity isn’t enough. It has to be a special tax, that just goes to roads. Because cars are special. Just ignore all of those other states that actually give you an incentive for switching to an electric car – they’re all wrong.

    1. I’m kind of torn on this one.

      On the one hand air pollution is something that just has to be dealt with, and I’m all for incentivizing low- or zero-emissions vehicles (better be clean electricity if you’re going to get the credit though). This bill does the exact opposite and is pretty stupid on that account.

      On the other hand, electric cars still make road noise, still maim and kill people, still require lots of impervious surfaces which destroy water quality, and still encourage sedentary and antisocial living. Given that, they shouldn’t be fully off the hook either.

      Maybe the answer is to have substantial increases in both the gas tax and car tabs… gas tax to handle air pollution and car tabs to handle the other externalities. Tabs (like the $100 fee) aren’t responsive to use though, so universal tolling would be better… pretty tough to pull off anytime soon though.

      1. I sort of agree that car tabs should be more reflective of the use cost of vehicles on roads. But a more fair approach would be a VMT tax.

        But what’s really interesting is that the cost per VMT for an electric vehicle for the electricity consumed (excluding cost of replacement batteries etc) vs. gasoline is a small fraction of that for a internal combustion based vehicle. So, $100 per year would be a small amount for an electric vehicle owner to pay compared to the savings in gas taxes. And it is likely with continued deployment of wind farms, electric energy prices will continue to plummet.

      2. I don’t mind taxing cars – gasoline powered or otherwise. What I hate is the “thou must spend only on roads” bit about our gas tax, that they’re trying to mirror with the annual fee. If, as a state, we have enough money and need to build more roads, great. But when our primary education is dirt poor and we’re ending social services that keep people alive, but we still keep building roads because cars are special, then we need to examine our priorities.

  4. From the Transport Politic article:

    The densification of these areas is effectively extending the inner-city core of the Washington, D.C. region and substituting sprawling development in the exurbs with dense construction.

    I think we’re getting into some really fuzzification of terminology here (similar to the “warming is causing the cooling”).

    So, by spreading out the density, somehow it’s decreasing sprawl?

    Or the density is sprawling?

    What is happening here, is the development of what I call the Linear City due to transit (rail, bike, highway) corridors. So, instead of traditional concentric development, the idea is linear development with density around the corridor, BUT increasing sprawl and low cost residential real estate spread out perpendicular to the corridor.

    Linear Cities

    If this is a model for Washington (and I think it is a good one, and happening in the Van-Sea-Por Corridor and should be happening in the Tac-Yak-Tri Corridor with HSR, then we really need to start shifting attention from singularities like the Seattle downtown core and into the “Sprawling Density” of the Sounder route for example…

  5. Donate one of the ’99 ST Gilligs to MEHVA. It’d be right at home alongside a Metro Gillig (when one is eventually inducted).

    1. I have to wonder whether those buses are really worn out. Yes, the FTA has guidelines that transit buses should be retired after 12 years or 500,000 miles, but wouldn’t it be prudent to at least ask the question of whether replacements are a useful way to use capital at this time.

      1. Agreed, if they still work and aren’t a pain to maintain, let them go longer. Lets shoot for 15 years and 1 million miles.

        But when the time comes, something super efficient.

      2. Yea, I kinda wonder the same thing. The, 12 year 500,000 miles is merely a recommendation but it sure seems short. When you compare it to the use that we are getting out of the ETB’s are these ST buses really worn out.

      3. The engine, transmission and drive axle will wear out well before the rest. You can rebuild those things, but it ain’t cheap. The Gillig trolley conversion gave Metro a replacement for the engine and transmission for free, which was why it was a pretty genius move.

        The low-floor and increased capacity of artics are two more obvious advantages. Also, I’m not sure if every ST DE60LF has hush mode available, but if they do, that means they can be used in the tunnel, which improves fleet flexibility.

      4. Then there’s TriMet down in Portland, which could in a way be considered a rolling transit museum. They’re still running Flxible Metros from the early 90s.

    2. They should take them and donate them to fort lewis, the soldiers could than drive them to commute their fellow soldiers and other base personnel on post to help allievate some of the congestion that they are causing. Its not that we dont want them there, just that they need to pony up and mitigate their traffic like every one else has to. Although 29 buses probally wont get you much, its still a start.

  6. Federal Transit Administration guidelines recommend replacing buses after 12 years or 500,000 miles of service. The average mileage of the coaches proposed for surplus is 730,000 miles.

    I’m glad they didn’t follow the FTA recommendation to the letter. As with other vehicles, highway miles aren’t nearly as destructive as city miles. Out of curiosity, How many miles do other transit agencies put on their vehicles before surplussing them?

  7. Good point:

    Most people know terms like “Metro” and “Line”, but i think the “Link” thing is going to be a hindrance. Tacoma also has a Link train, but it stays in Downtown Tacoma and doesn’t leave the city limits.

    This system will definitely need to be re-branded to make sense.

    I’d like to see them just call it “The Seattle Subway” and call it “The U Line”, “The North Line”, etc.

    “Yes, Seattle, You Have a Subway”

    1. That’s pretty good, really. “Link” is good branding for a construction project and passable branding for a system, but is crap branding for specific line.

      Similarly, San Francisco clearly brands its underground Metro sections as “Muni Metro Subway”: http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkingsf/3286521975/

      If that’s a subway, link certainly is as well.

      1. Note that on that sign, “subway” refers to the tunnel itself and not the trains that run in it, hence board in the subway. That sense of the word was once more widespread—take the Battery Street Subway for example. Few who live in SF would refer to the Muni Metro in general as “the subway”, and it seems similarly silly to me to call Link a subway.

        Personally if we’re going to give it a new name, I’d prefer metro over subway. In 1958 Seattle stupidly decided to waste that term on our municipal government and by extension our bus-based transit agency. But SF offers some hope in that regard. Why not call it Link Metro?

        In SF, despite officially being “Muni Metro”, no one calls the trains “the metro”—they’re simply “the Muni”. The buses are also branded Muni, but people just call them “the bus”. No reason we can’t do the same here. Start calling it Link Metro and add signs that prominently feature the full name. That way folks from out of town will know it’s a metro, but all us locals can just keep calling it Link. The continued use of “Metro” for our buses might be mildly confusing for some, but I doubt it—just as buses in SF being branded Muni isn’t really confusing. Most people just say “the bus” anyway, and since our Metro bus routes are numbered while Link Metro routes have letters or words, there’s not much room for confusion.

      2. What’s funny is the full name was Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle. So it could have been called “Muni Metro Seattle”. Seattle Transit was formerly known as the Seattle Municipal Street Railway. Had we kept both, some would think we’re some San Francisco clone. We even had our own cable car lines!

        If Sound Transit didn’t exist, Link would most likely be called Metro Rail like the many “Metrorails” in this country.

      3. For the uninitiated, “Link Metro” sounds too much like a car brand. “Light Rail” gets the essence across quite nicely. Keeping the word “rail” or “train” in the branding helps the unitiated understand immediately that we are talking about a train.

    1. There was a blip in October, but I’m seeing lower reliability, but also, lowered complaints (compared to 2009).

  8. 1. Electric cars pay a hundred a year.

    2. Transit gets defined as a highway use.


    Mark Dublin

  9. No surprise to see that the GNP is in the process of Chapter 11, I was waiting for this to be news.

    Great idea about renaming Link, I agree that is starting to get confusing. As for Kemper, oh well……

  10. I don’t care what any of you say, the important thing here is that we figure out a way to get ahold of one of those tunnel boring machines! Those things are fantastic!

    1. Ooh, I could build my own line to work. The trick will be what to do with the tailings… Maybe make my own island in Lake Washington?

      1. In an ideal world I’d like to slice a big hunk off the defense budget and put a whole army of TBM’s to work. Just look at the Gotthard Base Tunnel, if something like that’s possible we ought to be tunneling everywhere in sight.

  11. I have a request. Does anyone know if there is a group considering suing the state over the DBT?

    Any resident of Seattle should have standing to sue based on this:

    Any costs in excess of two billion eight hundred million dollars shall be borne by property owners in the Seattle area who benefit from replacement of the existing viaduct with the deep bore tunnel.

    1. I’ve always been intrigued by the use of the term “Seattle area” in the language that the Legislature passed. Such language is highly nebulous and very poorly defined. What exactly does “Seattle area” mean?

      If I said “waterfront area” I think everyone would agree that I meant the “area around the waterfront.” If I said “Hwy 99 area” I think everyone would agree that I meant the “area around Hwy 99.” So if I said “Seattle area” wouldn’t I really mean “the area around Seattle?” Aka, King County? Or at least all of the urban areas of King County?

      Stated another way – if the Legislature had intended for only Seattle property owners to pay for overruns they would have said “Seattle residents” or “Seattle property owners”. But they didn’t do this so we must conclude that they meant something else.

      So clearly the State Legislature meant to include surrounding areas of King County in the overrun provision. If I was the Seattle City Council, I would wait until the DBT was under construction and then pass a resolution to that effect.

  12. Thanks Andrew, and Bernie.

    Fact is, despite many monthly ORCA cards, I’ve not only been able to hold the Bulgarian Mafia at bay, but also to avoid letting the son of the prime minister of Nigeria put a hundred billion dollars in my bank account in return for my PIN number.

    But I’m not kidding about having my transit info- date, time, route, boarding point, destination- on file with my name on it. The problem is not what’s on disk, but what somebody could possibly decide to do with it, anonymously and irrefutably.

    Do you think there’s only one individual in Seattle with a badge, an automatic, and a taser who’d like to check out who all is his thieving liberal socialist enemy without having to be at a rally in person?

    Am I going to find out- without ever being told the reason- that my choice of transit stops, governed by my taste in ethnic cooking, coupled with my late work hours, has put me on a permanent list for special airport harassment? Or for investigation of drug-dealing?

    Worst fear has nothing to do with police or government or police, but with credit and employment. Am I mistaken that there are private companies that make fortunes compiling databases on people, to be sold for background checks? How do I really know what any piece of information, especially my average day’s travel, is going to cost me?

    I’m familiar with the argument that so much of everybody’s life is already available, why bother about the rest? A few years back, somebody in the Bush Justice Department seriously used Paris Hilton’s party wardrobe habits as evidence that nobody should care if trained officials look too.

    They say Ms. Hilton gets a hundred grand per party just to show up- maybe less with underwear. I pay for my own ORCA card- with cash whose increasing scarcity makes me savagely protective of what I’ve got left. Same goes double for for my diminishing rights. Like the right of a law-abiding citizen to ride rail without leaving tracks.

    Mark Dublin

  13. Random question: I read somewhere that ST doesn’t like DE40LFs because of the lower seating capacity compared to Phantoms, so they weren’t going to buy any more. Is this the case? How does Metro feel about the DE40s? I prefer riding in them compared to the diesel Gilligs as they’re quieter.

    Another one: I was told by Mike Lindblom that Metro is switching to all-hybrid busses. When was this decision taken? The wiki page indicates there were Gillig purchases up to two years ago. Are they planning to buy DE40s to complete this transition or are they looking at other manufacturers.

    Random and obscure questions, I realize, but I can’t think of a better place to ask them.

    1. Metro has D40LFs, not DE40LFs. I assume they like them but no info on that.

      I don’t see any mention on Wikipedia of Gillig purchases after 2002 (the trolleys). As it implies, though, the diesel Gilligs are to be replaced by hybrid Orions.

  14. Can anyone here shed some more light on the CT issues with the Alexander Dennis Double Deckers?

    How come Las Vegas RTC has their buses, from the same manufacturer, up and running? In fact I believe they are now utilizing buses from a second order. They’ve had the “Deuce” in operation since 2005!

    What new “Buy America” procedures are there for Community Transit, or are they playing “Blame them darn Furriners” to cover for something else?

    1. I wonder why just CT’s E500s have problems but those similar busese in Las Vegas, Vancouver, Tonorto don’t. I think saying that they have problems is just an excuse. Maybe they need to sit at the base until next change on March 20. Just guess.

      1. CT explained on their blog. It’s not an excuse but a legitimate reason. CT’s double deckers are the first Buy America compliant DD bus in the US. Toronto is in Canada. Las Vegas got a waiver, which CT does not want (they want more DTs in the future and maintain a consistent fleet) or could not get anyway (stimulus grant restrictions).

  15. Just a random question here but does any one have any information on Metro Route 997? I saw a stop for it at SR520 and 92nd Ave NE. There is no information on the website so I figure it must be a custom route for Boeing or another large employer.

    1. Expect buses to be running late the first week of the new pick. I had to wait an extra 20 minutes for my 60 last night.

  16. I did some math on the tunnel routes. Among the 22 current tunnel routes, there are 78 inbound trips per hour, from 7-9 am, as measured by their arrival time at their terminal station.

    If we kicked the 76, 77, 301, and 316 upstairs, since they don’t interline with other trunk routes, that would remove 14.5 inbound buses per hour. If we kicked the 101, 102, 106, and 150 upstairs, since they go southbound, and therefore don’t have any Link transfers to speak of, that would remove another 14.5 buses per hour. That would collectively be almost 1/3 of the buses during the morning pile-up.

    If the 510, 511, and 513 were moved into the tunnel, that would add just 8 inbound buses per peak hour, at least until Mountlake Terrace Station opens. Throw in the 545, at 6 buses per hour, and the 554, at 2 buses per hour, and that still leaves only 16 additional buses per hour while getting all the north I-5, 520, and I-90 ST buses into the tunnel, except for the 522. (The are five 522 buses per hour during peak, but eight 306/312 buses, so that would restore the pile-up, without adding much off-peak bus service in the tunnel.)

    Other tidbits: The 71-74 are not peak-sensitive. The 545 has more runs in the counter-peak direction. The 217 and 256 runs are all in the counter-peak direction.

    The 41, at 11.5 inbound trips per peak hour, and the 550, at 9 trips, have better frequency than Link. I don’t suppose anyone sells articulated double-deckers. ;)

    1. I was just thinking about the same thing during my wait in the tunnel today. I definitely think the 554 should be in the tunnel and the 218 should be kicked up to the surface to run with the other Issaquah express routes. It makes more sense to have all-day routes in the tunnel and peak express routes on the surface, although I’m not sure how Metro would feel about having fewer routes in “their” tunnel.

      1. Just a refinement on my previous comment. I broke down trips into northbound and southbound (in the tunnel).

        There are actually 55 northbound and 54.5 southbound bus trips per hour 7-9 am (based on terminal station times) in the DSTT.

        For purposes of dependable commute time in the peak direction, relieving northbound trips would have a greater effect. Take out the 101, 102, 106, and 150 (for which riders transferring to or from Link would do so at SODO Station, anyway), plus the 1.5 301 outbound trips per hour, and that would relieve 16 of the 55 trips. Adding the 510, 511, and 513 would bring in only 4 additional buses. The 554 would add just a couple. The 545 would add 6.5. That comes to 12.5, which still amounts to a little bit of decongestion.

        On the southbound, the 101, 102, 106, and 150 amount to 8.5 trips per hour during counter-peak, southbound. In order to add the 510, 511, 513, 545, and 554, 16.5 bus would have to be added (and probably more after Mountlake Terrace Station comes on line). Removing the 76, 77, 301, and 316 would get an additional 14.5 buses per hour out of the way, making the trade-off possible with 6.5 buses to spare.

        Now, my rough math for the daytime says that even after the tradeoffs, the bus volume per off-peak hour would increase by a couple each way, and not much more than that.

        Still, the 101, 102, 106, and 150 already have a couple convenient transfer points to Link. Pull them out, and let other buses have a quick transfer, so more people will switch from driving to riding a faster bus+Link or Link+bus ride.

        Of course, that criterion could be applied just as well to the I-90 buses, with their convenient transfer to Link at ID Station… with more N I-5 and 520 buses added to the tunnel.

      2. The 554 is essentially an Issaquah express route too, except for it’s short detour on Mercer Island. Personally, I would prefer to be able to catch the 554 at the same place as the 550 if I happen to be going to Mercer Island and in the same place as the 218 if I happen to be going to Eastgate P&R or Issaquah Highlands.

      3. Swapping the 554 with the 101/102 or the 106 in the tunnel would be a rather elegant improvement. It would reduce peak throughput by six buses per hour, while increasing mid-day throughput by four buses per hour.

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