This is an open thread.

68 Replies to “News Round-Up: Think of the Children!”

  1. I hope that the WPC goes after driver education classes, too. Afterall, aren’t 16 year olds also impressionable and unable to question the content of the drivers ed classes?

    1. “impressionable and unlikely to question the contents”

      So kind of like the short-bus riders at Sound Politics, then?

      1. My wife just called my attention to the Mike Lindblom article about Washington Policy Center’s objections to Sound Transit’s proposed school program. Mike really should be ashamed of himself for going out of his way to find a source that gives being able to read and write a bad name.

        What all else can’t be presented to young children because it could be on the ballot? Should safety crossing the street be limited to private roads and mall parking lots? Should the Seattle Police be kept out, and only private security allowed in classrooms?

        And why single out Sound Transit? Would WPC object to King County Metro?

        I’ve got a special reason to question exactly when electric rail as a technology became politically suspect to the WPC and its ilk: I co-authored an article on the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel in the Spring 1993 edition of The New Electric Railway Journal.

        TNERJ was published by Paul M. Weyrich, head of the Free Congress Foundation, which thought that Louis XVI was a leftist. He also felt, accurately, that the Federal highway program and the rest of this country’s subsidies to private auto travel over the years, count as the world’s biggest socialist enterprise.

        He believed that true free enterprise would give us a 50-50 mode split between automobiles and transit- especially streetcars and interurbans exactly like Central LINK. Remembering rides on the Electroliner on the “North Shore”, one of financier Samuel Insull’s great railroads, I’d like to see someone private try again.

        Paul Weyrich once published a great piece of propaganda where he posed as a medieval executioner staging heresy trials for ideologues who make a living opposing electric rail. His magazine also did public transit the favor of calling attention to the bureaucracy, regimentation, and overcomplication that give Government a bad name.

        So even though TNERJ did put me on record as a known right-wing author, it would be great if somebody of any political stripe brought it back. Streetcars by their very nature are extremely conservative. And very liberal too. In technical matters the terms aren’t opposites.

        Mark Dublin

      2. I used to make a special trip to Powell’s just to pick up TNERJ. Thanks for the memories Mark.

    2. “I can’t afford a car even though my high school gave me free driving lessons and I have a license, so let me stay at home and live off of my parents/public assistance. Wai,what? There’s this thing called public transport that might open up opportunities to me?”

      Isn’t that part of the whole “bootstraps” mythology WPC promotes?

      Oh, wait, I forgot. You cant take a bus or a train through a Brown Bear Car Wash!

      1. And with all those scofflaw bicyclists blocking bus access to brown bear, what is an oil fearing American to do??

      2. My reference to Brown Bear is based on this list:

        Will WPC also be objecting to Sound Transit bringing Opeation Lifesaver:

        into the the classroom, or must only BNSF and UP do this, even though they do not run Light Rail trains?

        This is a common activity of transit agencies elsewhere:

        And frankly, getting to school by means other than a Mommy’s SUV need to be encouraged:

    3. My opinion on the Sound Transit curriculum depends on exactly what they plan to do. If they’re going to preach “Transit good, cars bad” at kindergardeners, I don’t support that. However, the transit agency where I live now used to have a great travel training program aimed at 5th and 6th graders that explained how to use transit, what routes were in the neighbourhood and where they went, how much it cost, the rules (of course), how to signal your stop, etc. Kids who are able to travel on their own but don’t have driver’s licences yet are a legitimate transit market and should be considered as such.

      1. AFAICT, the entire summary of the RFP on ST’s website reads as follows:

        Sound Transit seeks a consultant/firm with relevant experience in the K-12 education environment to assist the Department of Communications and External Affairs in shaping an initiative to support and encourage educators to incorporate transit-related topics in student learning.

        This could mean almost anything, but certainly isn’t a basis for any claim of “indoctrination.” This would not, however, be the first time that Michael Ennis has simply pulled stuff out of his ass and made a press release out of it.

        Is anyone aware of more details on this RFP?

      2. From the article I just Tiny URL’d about teen licenses:

        “Driving accidents among sixteen-year-olds are the number one cause of teenage deaths in the United States, far outstripping more highly publicized causes such as school violence and drug abuse.”

        Now why do Kemper (Surprisingly, he’s on their board of directors) and WPC hate sixteen-year-olds?

      3. Is anyone aware of more details on this RFP?

        In the video Geoff Patrick says it is most likely to create a set of curriculum materials that school teachers could download and use in their classrooms if they wanted to. Not indoctrination.

      1. No… That’s good lobbying by Michael Ennis and others who support that point of view.

        Here’s what you can do to fight that: Call Mike or send him an email expressing your disappointment in the article and asking why it didn’t feature a wider range of points of view. He needs to know there are others he can contact for quotes, and to be able to show that stuff to his editors.

  2. On the subject of indoctrinating children on transportation, what about the children’s grocery carts that mimic cars? What about toy cars, hotwheels etc? The drive through and happy meals teach that driving comes with a “tasty” treat. Indoctrination, bah! The big three have had it down to a science for decades.

  3. Speaking of kids, I did some maps of Population Under 18 Per Acre from Census 2010:

    The results? While Seattle does have a lower percentage of population under 18, when measured in population under 18 per acre Seattle census tracts are in the top quartile. In other words, Seattle’s a great place if you’re looking for an area where there are more neighbors with kids rather than only neighbors with kids. The map below is separated by quartile, and for fun I highlighted the top census tract in green, which is Seattle Housing’s High Point mixed-income project.

    1. That is super interesting. I see both a lot of kids and a lot of old people in my neighborhood, which is different from most suburban places I go where I sometimes see kids but almost never see seniors.

      1. Yeah, the details aren’t out yet but I’d like to do some graphs of range of ages.

    2. Your maps are a little hard to interpret without water features (except Puget Sound) being identified. I think I found Mercer Island, but I couldn’t find the big lakes.

      1. Yeah I should figure that out. And actually even Puget Sound is a weird census tract 398 that’s 100% water. :)

  4. I’m a bit confused. We have 3 large replacement projects underway or in various stages of planning (Viaduct, SR520, and CRC). All are funding challenged to one degree or an other, and all are expected to use tolls as part of their eventual funding mix. However, only on SR520 are they implementing “early tolling”. Why is this?

    Early tolls would have certain advantages to all these projects:

    1) It improves their overall funding situation by raising revenue now.

    2) It helps determine the eventual level of diversion and would therefore allow tuning of the tolling/revenue model.

    3) It allows the local transportation departments to determine what changes will be needed to support diversion and to make those changes in a positive contracting environment.

    In the case of the viaduct replacement project there is a fourth advantage:

    4) It should reduce the number of viaduct users at any given time and therefore reduce the safety risk in the event of an earthquake.

    So why no early tolls on these other projects? To me, if early tolls make sense on SR520 then they also make sense on the viaduct and the CRC.

    1. Did they ever have tolls on the other two? I can’t find it definitively. Certainly you could toll I-5 but it would be more difficult with the feds involved and the fact it’s literally interstate at that point.

      520 had tolls before, so it has logical places to put toll infrastructure in place.

      1. I don’t think the historical existence of tolls has anything to do with it, and the “federal interstate” argument certainly doesn’t explain why you can’t put early tolls on the viaduct.

        And I don’t buy the “federal interstate” argument anyhow. I see no reason why the Feds wouldn’t support tolls on new construction like the CRC project. Additionally, as part of the SR520 project the original plan had tolls on the I-90 floating bridge too (and there still might be tolls on I-90 if diversion is too big a problem).

        So if you can toll I-90, then why not toll the CRC?

      2. I agree it’s pretty stupid. However the viaduct is super narrow and it could be hard to fit tolling gear on there. I don’t know about the CRC, it’s been a very long time since I’ve been down there, but it can’t be as wide as that I-90 bridge.

        The viaduct especially would make sense to toll, because you could recover some of the spending before the tolls. The tolls might also push people off the viaduct itself, and give you an idea of the traffic you’d expect when the thing is replaced. All around a good idea.

      3. I think there are a few reasons early tolling won’t be applied to either AWV or CRC: (1) Neither projects are part of the federal Urban Partnership grant program, which is paying for implementation of tolling on 520; (2) AWV and CRC are much more politically sensitive than 520, and even more so when tolling is brought into the discussion; (3) AWV may not need early tolling to help fund the project.

        While I agree that early tolling would be great for AWV and CRC, I don’t think it will happen.

      4. Regardless of the old location of tollbooths on 520 (which are now the freeway stations for the buses), the new gear doesn’t require any additional width — it’s already been installed in the overhead supports on the eastern highrise. It’s similar to the system in place for the HOT lanes on 167, except for including the ‘bill you later’ option after it photographs your license plate.

        Installing equipment on the CRC or AWV would be nearly the same, although for the AWV they might need to add an overhead support somewhere for northbound traffic. The real challenge for AWV would be determining the ideal location for the equipment since there are multiple on/off locations and there would likely be complaints if you didn’t include a toll at all of the off ramps to bill every vehicle that used at least some length of the viaduct. With the DBT that issue goes away since once you’re in the tunnel there’s only one destination.

      5. Matt,

        Ah, yes. The Urban Partnership Grant. Yes, some of that Federal funding is going towards the tolling equipment, but there are a lot of additional things being funded by that grant besides just tolling.

        And there certainly isn’t any reason why we couldn’t impose tolls on either the viaduct or the CRC without Federal funding. Certainly tolling raises more funding then it costs to build and operate the tolling system, and if tolling is part of your eventual funding package then you don’t really save anything by waiting to implement the system.

        But you are correct, it probably just comes down to having the political will to do it. However that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.

  5. Per the Beacon Hill neighborhood plan: I want to like it, and I think there has been some really good work done, but we need more density than this plan calls for. Everything within a 5 minute walking radius of any light rail station should be significantly upzoned, and at least L1 or L3 within a 8-10 minute radius. Tons of single family zoning remains.

    1. I agree. I’m pretty disappointed by the zoning plan. I own property in this area, but it’s not being up-zoned even though it’s only about 500m or so from the station.

    1. Um, no. Not unless they can muster a better expert than the “Hon. Kemper Freeman Jr.” of Kemper Development. I mean seriously, “Honorable”? Give me a break.

      1. Kemper served in the Legislature in the 1970s. Once you’re an elected official you’re referred to as the Honorable even if you’re no longer in office.

  6. Does anyone know when the TBM will be delievered to the UW station site? A note in March from ST noted that crews removed part of the median just south of the Montlake/Pacific Ave. intersection to allow the TBM-carrying trucks to deliever the TBM… I’m sure the delievery will make for some spectacular pictures! :)

    1. The first of the northern TBM’s is being assembled on site at Husky Station as we speak. Check out the webcam.

    2. I don’t know when they’re being delivered, but if you look at the UW Station cam there are already some TBM-shaped things there (big rings about the right size). One of them’s hooked to a crane right now.

  7. Re: public art:

    Pioneer Square Station has two beautiful clocks, one on each mezzanine balcony, overlooking the platforms. One is faced with leftover building materials, the other with rubble from the station excavation. Both have broken or surplus tools for hour markers. Neither of them has worked for years.

    Westlake Station has a magnificent tile station clock at the east end. It’s been stuck at midnight since Tunnel re-opening.

    Convention Place Station has a three-story-high waterfall fountain, falling from under the sidewalk across from the Paramount Theater to a pool beside the northbound passenger platform. It worked for six months after opening in 1990, and has been shut down ever since.

    Would rather not hear excuses about “budget.” This region has seen economic times since June 1991 good enough to afford a decent pump for a fountain- and to cover attorney’s fees to compel whoever installed the bad pump to cover replacement cost.

    I’m surprised that this region’s art community, which really has delivered some excellent artwork for the Tunnel and Central LINK, hasn’t gone public with a serious protest over all these years. Stopped clocks and dry fountains- in addition to being classic metaphors for a dying civilization- are insults to the reputations of the artists who designed them.

    It might help if the word went out that future projects won’t get any submissions until previous works are honored.

    In this country’s current political civil war posing as a budget argument, the side that believes in public works might remember the powerful arts component of the projects that helped get us out of the last depression.

    And the few on the opposing side who really are conservative might remember the amount of public beauty owing to people like Andrew Carnegie: hard-nosed capitalists who understood what their money was for.

    Between these forces, starting three clocks and a fountain should be do-able.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I agree, the defunct fountain in Pioneer Square is an eyesore, although it would probably be lower on my priority list than, say, ST getting real-time arrival info…

      1. Wonder if we’re talking about the same fountain. There is a water-negative and trash-positive fountain on Third Avenue in front of the south entrance of Pioneer Square Station, across from the courthouse park.

        What I want to see restored and turned on, with a new pump, is the waterfall fountain between the sidewalk across from the Paramount and the northbound platform at Convention Place.

        Considering the beauty of that particular piece of art- and how long we’ve been without it- I think it’s worth fixing. And I don’t see the work as competitive with real-time signage.

        Suggestion on funding for transit art maintenance: While they weren’t the only culprits, the Seattle Art Museum bears a lot of responsibility for the loss of the Waterfront Streetcar. If SAM had given the carline the appreciation it deserved, they could have incorporated the carbarn into the footbridge over the BN tracks.

        So I think it’s fair to ask the museum, and its extremely rich and influential backers, for something in return. I also think that an ongoing working relationship between ST and SAM would be great benefit to both.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Ah yes, we are talking about different fountains. I still think the Pioneer Square fountain is an eyesore and it would be nice to fix. When I first visited Seattle, I walked north from King St and then down to the waterfront, and that little triangle near Prefontaine struck me as pretty run-down. Too bad it has almost the best transit access in the city ;-)

    2. Couldn’t agree with you more, Mark. I appreciate how beautiful the pubic art is, but the stalled clocks and empty fountains are depressing. I was glad to see that Bill Bell’s Lightsticks in University Street Station were reactivated after being off for awhile, but I would be even happier to see the Convention Place waterfall turned back on. For some reason there seem to be a bunch of broken/non-operational water features here, including the waterfall in Freeway Park.

  8. I thought the article about the possibility of HSR grounding flights in Europe was interesting. I read an article a few weeks ago that HSR in China had made some airplane flights between the cities linked by HSR no longer economically viable. Of course, China is a place where most people rely on a train, bus or airplane to get around because few own cars. The EU in Europe is being driven by their own goal to reduce emissions.

    1. The reason that works in Europe is because of density. London and Paris aren’t much farther apart than Seattle and Portland but there’s no comparison in the population of the Metro areas. Hint, there’s more than twice as many people in the Paris or London metro area as the entire population of Washington and Oregon combined. And they’re not the only major destinations within a short hop. Even California is a bit of a stretch with SF to LA 350 miles and they’re really the only two mega metro areas. San Diego is about the same as Seattle; same for Sacramento.

  9. From the The Failure of Regionalism article:

    Except in the older cities (which have legacy commuter rail systems for the most part), the downtown job base has been falling off as a percentage of the metropolitan area’s total employment for decades. The rise of non-traditional working patterns that rely on Third Places and home offices mean fewer people need to get into central business districts for the same amount of work to be done.

    In most places, the center city simply isn’t a big enough attraction to require shuttling people to it from distant locales via big, heavy diesel trains running a few times a day.

    Indeed, in many cities, that work could probably be better done with a few express buses. Moreover, the suburbs lack the density (or, because of restrictive zoning, even the possibility of future density) to make those areas true destinations in themselves.

    It seems like no one wants to deal with the reality of 21st century America…where multipoint rather than center based transport is needed.

    The only, very costly, responses seem to be:

    1. Ignore what people want to do, and are doing, and continue to build like its 1940.

    2. Come up with tax schemes and social engineering projects to try and “put the cows back in the barn” — ie, strip people of their homes and transfer them into condos so they can “ride transit”.

    Yes, the point of good civil engineering can be to create an emergent system that is different from what exists, I agree, but I am not seeing that in the current designs…

  10. Open thread? Why then its a great place to point out that the Minsk Metro,

    located in the dictatorship calling itself “Belarus” (White Russia),

    where all the domestic enemies of the state are in jail,

    has had faregates installed from Day One,

    and yet:

    Keep this in mind should your local transit agency wants to hand over tens-of-millions-of-$$$ to CUBIC for “Homeland Security” turnstiles!

    1. Unfortunately, transit turnstiles are not the worst of President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s deeds in Belarus. But he pales in comparison with the late Josef Stalin, who still stands as the world’s leading advocate of trolleybuses.

      In the Crimean region of Ukraine, there is still a 50-mile trolleybus line across the Yaila Mountains between Yalta and Simferopol. However, now that Lenin’s statue is one more lamp base in very bad taste in Fremont, Eastern Europe offers the world a new symbolic vehicle for public transit:

      The armor-plated bulletproof Mercedes limousine with silver fox-fur seats! Not a turnstile in Minsk can stop it.

      Mark Dublin

  11. Why is it that seemingly every 67 heading south on Roosevelt around 9:15 AM weekdays has a “stop requested” bell that doesn’t work, regardless of what bus is on the route? I think I’ve seen a couple of different types of buses with this problem…

    1. “Some of the most physically attractive scenery on the Northwest Corridor will be gone, referring to the views passengers get along the more roundabout shoreline route.”

      Speaking as a passenger who has made the train trip to and from Portland on several occasions, I believe trading those 15 minutes of fabulous views for a saving of 6 minutes in the overall journey is simply not worth it. I’m surprised that a group which supposedly represents the interests of rail passaengers (i.e., All Aboard Washington) could be persuaded to go along with such a scheme. Hats off to the various communities and activist groups that are trying to scuttle these plans!”

      Yikes! Don’t worry, it isn’t transit, just a sightseeing tour

      1. This is the problem with service change in general. The people who currently use your service do so because they’ve decided it’s the best option for them, and so there’s a good chance that they will protest any changes. Conversely, the people who don’t use your service won’t know that you’re making changes which will make it better for them, and so they won’t say anything.

    2. How about the comment from one Lakewood resident that this is only happening because of the ARRA money. No, it is happening sooner because of the ARRA money. In fact, if it was mostly state money, a lot of the environmental and community concerns might not be addressed as much.

  12. Don’t worry Michael Ennis, I doubt if Sound Transit will be “indoctrinating” your children at their school in Enumclaw.

    1. Sorry, Zed, but I can personally testify that Michael has good reason to fear, thanks to the Tukwila International Park & Ride- aided and abetted by the Mariners, the Seahawks, and the Sounders!

      All this last fall, I repeatedly encountered families with multiple small children from the whole Auburn area crowding onto LINK for the trip downtown. Most ominous of all, parents repeatedly told me that while LINK’s chief appeal to them had been relief from Downtown parking, the children all liked their train ride much better than whatever they were going to do in the city.

      And remember, these are children with a strong pro-SUV upbringing. It really is already too late. When these kids turn 18 in ten years or so, there’ll be at least seventy years of pro-transit votes that nothing can prevent.

      Another horrible outcome: seduced by the good pay and the romantic uniforms, a fair number of them are at serious risk of becoming full-time trolleybus and light rail drivers.

      So don’t make fun of Michael. He’s looking doom in the face and he knows it.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Well, it’s probably because the kids have never seen light rail before except perhaps on TV. Last month I mentioned the boy in Maple Valley who wanted to ride a bus to downtown Seattle so his dad took him one Saturday. It’s the opposite phenomenon of the 1920s when kids were crazy about cars because only a few people had them and so riding in one was a special treat.

        But as somebody mentioned, the millenial generation is less interested in cars than their parents. Part of it is the Internet (entertainment at home), and part of it is seeing how it has become a trap for their parents (or rather, that their isolated house is a trap which makes driving everywhere necessary).

    1. That’s really impressive! It’s amazing how they have it figured out whereas the average American can’t seem to understand that they need to get their car off the tracks.


  13. EU could ground flights in favour [favor, if you prefer a more American colour :=] of HSR?

    Love the very last phrase of the article:

    and connecting majors ports to rail networks in order to reduce dependency on road freight.

    Ya think?

    1. I would have thought that their major ports already were connected to rail networks.

      1. Yes, favour, colour, etc. are the English spelling. If you want something to be understood in the United States it needs to be American or Spanish :=

  14. DPD finally recommends the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association rezone:

    Similar to Beacon Hill Station area in many ways, 40-65′ in most areas around the station. The biggest different is that the station isn’t built yet… and that Roosevelt proposed this rezone back in *2006*!

    There is of course still controversy over the Roosevelt Development Group plans at 15th Ave NE and NE 65th, but to me that’s just icing.

Comments are closed.