99 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: High Speed Catenary Installation”

  1. I look at something like this and I wonder — why is putting HSR in America so agonizing?

    Here you have a modern European country…if anything with more problems when it comes to finding Right of Way access…higher labor costs…more Government regulations…and these guys assemble a new line like a bunch of Legos!

    I’d really like to know what happens just after 2:26 and the road changes to rail, but seriously, it should be much easier to build a HSR line than to build an interstate highway because the steel rails account for the smoothness and support and it doesn’t have to be leveled across 3 or 4 lanes of surface!!

    It seems to me that the billions that are being spent in “planning” HSR or upgrading a freight track from 40 mph to 69 mph could have already been used for doing something like this and building a Seattle-Spokane HSR line…like yesterday!!!

    1. It’s because the right side of the country believes that all transportation should pay for itself, without any government subsidy. And by “all transportation”, they mean everything but roads. They conveniently ignore the heavy subsidy on those…

      1. Ok, continue to rant…but you didn’t address anything I said in the post.

        I was simply arguing (like I have done with LINK) that the costs of these things should be much, much lower.

        Low cost efficient projects that have a high return are something the right and left sides of the country can agree on.

      2. John, NIMBYism is the source of the giga-expensive planning processes, that end up getting scrapped after Republican governors listen to the automobiles-uber-alles chorus.

      3. John, NIMBYism is the source of the giga-expensive planning processes, that end up getting scrapped after Republican governors listen to the automobiles-uber-alles chorus.

        When you start speaking English to me, maybe I’ll listen.

      4. NIMBYism is the “Not in My Back Yard” reaction, and is why the planning process takes so long, because all these stupid people have to be appeased.

        No significant number of people have this reaction in Europe — well, not to a half-decent design, anyway, they do object to bad designs. Here in the US, people have this reaction to *excellent* designs.

        Then, after the planning process has been dragged out for years, and a very cheap, cost-effective design is ready, it finally starts getting built, and then some yahoo Republican gets elected and shuts it all down because he hates trains. (See Wisconsin.)

        Is that a good enough translation to English?

    2. It’s a mystery isn’t it? Conjectures: labor costs(?), material costs(?), immature industry, less vigorous competition -> they simply don’t know how to do it. But highway construction is just also abnormally expensive. Gold-plated over-engineering is another likely culprit – having consultants do all the work and not having a competent staff on the government side to push for maximal value for minimal input is another possible explanation.

      This site has a post on how there is simply a lack of competence to manage and negotiate a HSR build. Alon Levy’s blog highlights the everyday insanity of cost escalation both of transit and road projects.

      1. I’d love to see a more detailed cost breakdown of some of these bizarrely overpriced American projects (Second-Avenue Subway anyone?), compared to a similar breakdown for some foreign projects…

        There clearly is a problem with costs, but all I ever see in news stories and the like is the total.

    3. European and Asian countries have spent years planning and building their HSR networks, they aren’t putting them together Lego-style. Planning for the Paris – Strasbourg line began in 1992 and construction started in 2002 with the first HSR trains running in 2007.

    4. A “Seattle-Spokane HSR line”????? Serving who?

      Oh, I forgot. There will of course be a station in the Kent Highlands and special low fares between there and downtown Seattle, right? Like all “Conservatives” government aid to your neighborhood/industry/religion/educational institution/unameit is “investment”. Government aid to someone else’s neighborhood/industry/religion.educational instution/unameit is “big government waste”.

      Dude, WE HAVE YOU FIGURED OUT. Go play in the HOT lane.

      1. Who knows…with the advent of the Boeing 787, HSR might be put on the back burner.

        In Kent, I am far closer to the Aeropolis than Seattle.

        It makes far more sense to live close to an airport than to a train station in 21st century America.

        The 787 will usher in low cost, regional air travel direct — no hubs — travel between smaller, exurban airports at bargain basement prices.

        I’ve already tasted it by landing in the West Islip airport to visit my sister this 4oJ weekend. Clean, fast and cheap is the catchwords of 500 mph air travel.

        The low weight, high efficiency 787 could be set up to land in Seatac, Yakima, Tri-Cities and Spokane easier than building a train track.

        When we talk “transit” lets include regional air!

      2. I don’t think John has ever asked for discount fares on the Seattle-Kent-Cle Elum-Davenport-Spokane express rail. He has never complained about Sounder’s fare.

    5. I think our egos would never allow it but it would make sense to just have the companies that build the TGV for the French government come over here and build us a train system. I’ve ridden the TGV quite a lot and although not inexpensive to ride it’s always fast, efficient and on time. The one time it broke down (in Antibe) there was another train waiting for us at the station and we hit the ground running. I don’t think anyone even knew it was broken. There was an announcement, we deboarded, reboarded and off we went. Point your google news at Amtrak and almost every day there’s disruptions of some sort and half the time they’re multi day disruptions. I like Amtrak too but we run a circus train more than anything.

    6. Other countries have better transit BECAUSE the government can execute a plan without putting it up to a vote or catering to NIMBYs and special interests. If that sounds like less democracy, it is. The reason Vancouver has a Skytrain with three lines, mandatory transfers from south Surrey to the airport line (rather than one-seat rides to downtown), a high-density walkable West End, and mini-downtowns in outlying areas (Metrotown, New Westminster, Whalley) — is because the government can execute what it thinks best for the entire region. Something that benefits the most people, rather than immensely benefitting some people and ignoring the rest.

      If America’s politics had existed in Vancouver, what would have happened? NIMBYs in the West End would veto tall buildings. The well-used Canada Line subway would have been BRT, and it would have been stuck in traffic the way the B-line is now. Arguments to convert it to rail would be denounced as socialist and un-Canadian. Money would instead be spent converting suburban highways 99 and 99A to Interstate standards. (Light rail can be at grade, but highways must not be!) And the anti-tax movement would have nixed all these projects anyway because the public sector is a drag on the economy and is incompatible with democratic freedoms.

      Sometimes government does make bad decisions and needs to be stopped, such as the urban renewal programs in the 1960s that built unwalkable monstrosities and tore cities apart with freeways. But that’s not the era we’re living in now, where most planners and many local politicians recognize the need for walkability, human scale, mixed use, etc. We just need to stop tying their hands and let them get the job done.

  2. Apartment developers bypass suburbs, target Seattle

    More new apartments will come on the market in King and Snohomish counties in 2013 than in any year since 1991, one researcher projects. This apartment boom, however, is different from those that preceded it. This time it’s focused almost entirely on Seattle. Developers, for the most part, are bypassing the suburbs.

    Presumably, following the logic of the anti-density folks, these new units will cause rents to go up.


    1. Funny because yesterday they also announced a lot of major developing going on in Black Diamond.

      I think also a lot of existing condos…which no longer make sense financially…are going to revert back to apartments.

      Glut time for all sorts of real estate, everywhere.

      1. Will the Black Diamond development actually build a grocery store or will they pull the same bait and switch that happened at the Issaquah Highlands? Just curious.

      2. Economy slows Washington’s population growth

        Washington had nearly 6.77 million people as of April 1, up just 0.64 percent from the 2010 Census count, OFM reported. The state reported 1.94 million people living in King County and 612,100 in Seattle, up just 0.59 percent and 0.57 percent, respectively, from 2010.

        And I question even these anemic numbers as being too high…


    2. Seattle and density: ‘Brian Fritz, who heads the company’s local development office, says city policies, including recent zoning changes, have paved the way for such large projects and helped lure developers. “They’re not just embracing density,” he says of city officials. “They’re promoting it.” Proposed apartment projects also tend to pencil out better in Seattle, Fritz says, because rents are higher in the city.’

      Vacancy rates: ‘Close-in Seattle neighborhoods also had the region’s lowest vacancy rates — 3.5 percent on First Hill, for instance, compared with 4.7 percent regionwide. Office vacancy rates, while declining, remain relatively high. With many recently built condos still unsold, it will be years before another project is built, Gardner predicts.’

      We heard of ONE greenfield development in Black Diamond. I assume it’s the same Sammamish Plateau-like development that has been proposed several times over the past seven years. Is there anything like it in the rest of the county? Are the Maple Valley “HOMES FOR SALE!” signs still abundant in Maple Valley and Kent?

      In contrast, the apartment boom in Seattle has been obvious for a year. The infamous Cha Cha/Bus Stop/Bimbo’s/Kincora building has restarted. A building across from my apartment was torn down a few months ago.

      Existing condos, especially those built in the 2000s, usually have restrictions on the percent of units that can be rented. So if 5% of the units are rentals, you can’t rent out yours.

      1. Proposed apartment projects also tend to pencil out better in Seattle, Fritz says, because rents are higher in the city.

        In other words, higher rents means more demand for apartments. Hmm. So much for the mass exodus. ;)

  3. Yesterday I was manning the Republican booth at the Kent Cornucopia days. I took my bicycle there and unfortunately got a flat half way down. I parked my bike and picked up a couple of tubes at Cycletherapy on Central.

    Because I couldn’t get the tire inflated as much as I would want with my hand pump, I decided to take the 168 bus back up the hill and got to ride in one of the new models.

    Man, that is some crazy kind of tricked out ghetto-riffic bus! The tall one with the high windows…it’s like the Scion Xb of buses…and the seats…they actually have fabric that grips your butt! No more sliding onto the aisles or holding the pole for dear life around corners.

    Great selection Metro!

    1. My understanding is that many of the new buses can be retrofitted for the rear-facing wheelchair slots. Get that done and get Metro to understand the math of cash incentivizing, and pretty soon your bike will be the biggest bottleneck in the loading process. ;)

      1. Not only were there three bikes to load at Kent station (mine and a couple traveling on to Timberline), but I got off early so I could let another bicyclist on 104th on without him having to wait for the next.

      2. Oh, but hey, if they can put a rear entry for mobility, then why not bikes as well! Just roll on as many as there is space for…no more bike racks!

      3. + 100!!

        I was at a stop a few days ago where five bikers wanted to get on. Change the policy. Let bikers stand with their bikes. Policies are, in theory, cheaper to change than bus parts.

      4. “I was at a stop a few days ago where five bikers wanted to get on. Change the policy. Let bikers stand with their bikes. Policies are, in theory, cheaper to change than bus parts.”

        Yeah, but it’s truly a safety hazard with other passengers loaded. When I’m deadheading I’ll scoop up all cyclists that will comfortably fit on my bus. But when a bike gets dropped and injures somebody else on the bus, that’s going to be on me as a preventable.

        If you really want to push for this you need to push for a Sounder-like mounting system for extra bikes inside the coach to allow them to be safely secured. If there is space for the bikes, great. If not, then they’re out of luck. In practice, I doubt this would work since the buses are usually quite full when there are more cyclists around than bike-rack spots available.

      5. Velo,

        Assuming a mobility device slot has no device in it, wouldn’t that be an acceptable place to hold a bike, with the seat up?

  4. To get past the bureaucratic barrier to less-than-three-seat rides to the airport from West Seattle, and to consolidating the SR 520 and I-90 trunks, I’d like to suggest a swap, of sorts, between Metro and ST:

    Have Metro extend the 120 from Burien TC to the south terminal airport stop and Airport Station, taking over the path currently served by the 140 and 180. Terminate the 180 and 560 at the airport, adding a south terminal stop for the 180. Move the 140/F up to S 144th to serve Riverton Heights, and send the 132 down to TIBS.

    Then, have ST put the 554 in the DSTT, and assume a larger share of the annual debt payment on the tunnel. Bring in the other I-90 Metro routes and push the 255 upstairs with its SR 520 siblings.

    I’m optimistic this can happen, if the ledger balances well enough between the agencies.

    1. Brent,

      Have you proposed any of these plans to any of the agencies? Or have you expressed a desire to have the 255 surfaced (or the 554 submerged) to Metro or ST or your local county representative?

      I strongly agree with you that this would be a meaningful usability improvement for very little cost, but you know as well as I do that talking about it on STB won’t accomplish squat…

      1. I do write to Metro and ST multiple times a month, but hopefully judiciously.

        I like to put my suggestions out here first, to have people point out the most obvious flaws. But if one of my suggestions does make sense, then, I’ll write to Metro or ST.

        I’ll usually get an email back thanking me for writing. If I want a question answered, I usually write to one of my elected officials.

        Several of my suggestions to ST have been enacted (though who knows whether my writing had anything to do with it). Metro, not so much.

        By putting my suggestions out here, I’m more likely to get several other people to write in with the same idea, or to find some transit employees to push the idea from the inside.

        For the idea of swapping routes in the tunnel, Mike Orr pointed out that ST would assume a larger portion of the debt-payment responsibility by putting more of its buses in the tunnel. So, I’m glad this blog was here to vet the political complications standing in the way of enacting the tunnel route swap.

    2. The south end swaperoo sounds like a great idea. It would improve service in the West Seattle-Burien-airport corridor, make SeaTac station more of a transfer point (it’s more pleasant than TIB), give service to underserved Riverton Heights, and truncate the 180 would would (hopefully!) lead to more service between Kent and SeaTac.

      I wouldn’t necessarily couple this with putting the 554 into the DSTT. That would create a dependency between the two, so that one would fail if the other fails.

      Also, it wasn’t me who talked about DSTT debt payment; I don’t know about that. Maybe it was the other Mike?

  5. Will the First Hill streetcar have transit signal priority? Whether it terminates at 2nd and Jackson or 2nd and Occidental, the streetcar is going to get stuck in pre and post game traffic. This is an area where it can take 10 to 15 minutes just to go a few blocks after a game ends.

    1. You know, this is a really good chance for those who feel that Link is overpriced and we need a more MAX like system. They should push to get signal priority and BAT lanes for as much as the Seattle Streetcar Network as possible. Perfect chance to see if traffic running rail can work as a mass transit system in Seattle.

      1. Please don’t call them “BAT” lanes. BAT lanes can be converted to parking part of the day, which is a really, really bad use of a transit lane, just for the convenience of a half dozen drivers, who don’t get it that their one parked car single-handedly reduces the capacity of the road by 16-25%.

      2. Call them what you will, or remove the ability to park in BAT lanes, doesn’t matter to me. I think you understand what I am saying.

      3. I think I do get what you’re saying, and it’s one of my big worries about thinking streetcar lanes are going to be a transit panacea for Seattle. Without dedicated lanes (and BAT-style is probably as close as you could get) their usefulness is limited IMO. I know all the arguments about choice riders and we’ve already voted the First Hill line in, but wow.

      4. The First Hill Line exists because First Hill was promised a rail line but didn’t get one, and the political will does not exist to build a truly nice rapid trolley with nice stations etc.

        Streetcars are also quite good at stimulating development, which is how it was used in Portland. There’s potential on Eastlake and north of Denny to Aloha for something like that, perhaps, and a streetcar to bridge the gap between the Fist Hill line and the SLUT and serve as a circulator for downtown tourists etc. I don’t think anyone regards them as a panacea.

      5. A streetcar BAT lane could not be converted to parking for part of the day since the streetcar rails (and hence, streetcars) would still be in it.

    2. Sam,

      Even Link takes its time coming down the tracks from IDS to Stadium Station after a major event. But I’ve never seen anyone standing on the railroad tracks. They all seem to know how to look both ways.

      1. I’m talking more about vehicle traffic. After game, Jackson and surrounding streets gets clogged with traffic. It can take 10 to 15 minutes to move a few blocks. Looking at the proposed alignment map, it seems like the First Hill streetcar will get stuck in that pre and post-game traffic.

      2. No, what he’s asking is if the streetcar will have signal priority or will it not. The SLUT doesn’t and it suffers for it.

      3. The explanation I’ve heard on this blog is that the SLU streetcar’s signal priority has been suspended for the duration of the construction at Mercer and Westlake.

  6. Looking at the 8 reroute this weekend I must wonder why Olive is not more utilized as a bus route. If the 43 ran up there we could avoid the annoying turn onto Bellevue. Same for the 14. Olive’s one way so southbound wouldn’t change but getting to Pine is a lot easier than getting from Pike.

    1. I can think of a few reasons:

      – That’s a lot of redundant bus wire for a very small number of routes. If we’re putting in that much wire, let’s take care of Denny instead.

      – I often wait at Pike and 4th for the first bus that goes up the hill. If the 43 and 49 are no longer at the same stop, I can’t do that anymore. We should be consolidating corridors, not splitting them apart.

      – Olive has freeway traffic. I want to keep city buses as far away from freeway onramps as possible.

      – The current 43 is probably not long for this world. Maybe it’ll die with the car tab. Maybe it’ll die when U-Link opens. Maybe it’ll be rerouted along Denny, and interlined with the 8. Either way, I don’t think we can justify capital expenditures that are only for the 43.

      – A simpler way to fix the 14, if it stays (which it might not if the car tab fails), is to move it to only use Bellevue. This is simpler and cheaper. And couplets are bad anyway. :)

      – Similarly, I would really, really like to see Pine St made bus-only and 2-way from 1st through 8th. That way, buses could be moved off of Pike entirely, and we’d avoid both the awful zigzags through Bellevue, and the complexity of the Pike/Pine bus couplet.

      1. Your third and fourth points contradict themselves. The 8’s on Olive because of freeway traffic on Denny. All the overpasses have some degree of freeway traffic.

        Your last point is a good one. Transferring to a Capitol Hill bus from Link is so time consuming with the stops a block apart. I’ll walk up Pine or Olive rather than walk to Pike to wait for a bus.

      2. The bad news is that I suspect the 14N is on borrowed time, even if the $20 fee passes. Given the budget situation, a major restructure of routes in the central city may well be in the cards for February, and I’d give the 14N even odds of going away completely.

      3. Maybe we could combine the 8 with the 11, and the 43 with the 48.

        The 14N does feel a bit useless, as nice as it is to have access to Summit. But reconnecting the street grid across I-5’would give us a better way to serve that neighborhood.

      4. Making Pine two-way for buses is the best idea. That would eliminate the double turn on Bellevue, and create a direct connection from Westlake Station to the eastbound buses. When Convention Place is closed, it’ll no longer be possible to take a bus to Convention Place and walk to the Summit area instead of walking out of your way to Pike Street for a transfer.

        The 43 has a 50% chance of staying; I wouldn’t rule it out just yet.

        The 14N has already been cut to hourly evenings, and is scheduled for elimination in the budget-cutting scenario. However, it’s still a useful route because the area it serves is very high density. It has two things unfairly stacked against it. One, the infrequency, which makes people walk or take another route instead of waiting half an hour for the 14. Two, the fact that it comes right after the 43. People take the 43 because the 14 is constantly late; they don’t want to take the chance it’ll be ten minutes late today.

        If the 14N must be cut, the best idea would be to make it peak only. That’s when it’s full. It fills up in just the first three stops.

      5. If the 14 were scheduled five minutes before the 43 rather than five minutes after, then you’d see who really wanted to take the 14, vs who’s taking the 43 because the 14 is so unreliable/infrequent.

      6. Maybe we could combine the 8 with the 11, and the 43 with the 48.

        Not sure what the latter one would entail. Isn’t the 43 + 48 called the 43? :)

        The most promising suggestion I’ve heard for the 11/12 is to have three interlined routes on Madison. One runs to 19th and stops; another continues up 19th to Galer; and the third is a diesel bus which runs up to Madison Park.

  7. OK everyone. I want a few good answers for this:

    Many times I’ve seen on here that roads are heavily subsidized and that car owners do NOT pay for the total cost of road use. I want to believe in this wholeheartedly, but how do I tell my friends and co-workers when they reply that the gas tax is what pays for roads, that their vehicle license tabs pays for roads? How do I tell them that is isn’t enough since the roads here are horrible? Their general reply is something along that lines that “the tax money isn’t being used properly.” What’s a good, fast, simple way of describing what we believe but they don’t?

    1. I usually tell them to look it up. For example, in Seattle there is a pretty good website for Bridging the Gap (property tax) about the huge amounts of money that a major paving project takes. I also often point out that many of these roads like recently repaved Stewart St are used by a lot of commuters from outside Seattle that do not pay the property tax.

    2. Here’s a link to SDOT’s budget info. For 2010’s adopted budget out of a 310 Million budget, only 13.5 Million comes out of Gas taxes (labeled as “Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax”). That works out to just over 4% of the budget. If you add in the commercial parking tax ($21 Million) you’ll get another 6.7%.

      The rest comes from a range of sources including heavy truck fees, property tax, federal grants, etc… Add to that the fact that gas taxes are in decline because people are driving less and buying more efficient cars and you should have a pretty convincing argument.

    3. The MVET pays for approximately 60% of Federal (which means “most”) highway expenditures. That’s why the next five extension of the surface transportation bill will cut the annual budget from about $40 billion to $26 billion.

      I’ve got to give the Republicans kudos on that one: they’re tired of the lie that “fuel taxes pay for roads” and are willing to stop raiding the general revenues.

      1. Sorry, bad data:

        Mr. Mica’s proposal would provide $35 billion for surface transportation in fiscal year 2012, rising to $42 billion in 2017. Existing funding provides $51.5 billion.

        It’s falling from $51 billion to an average of $38 billion over the re-authorization period.

    1. Could you make a RR thumbnail so we can get a countdown a bit closer than Link? And then a FHSC one when you’re done with that. :D

    2. Its not quite as bright, but certainly a lot more easily readable than some of the signs they are coming up with today. I still think some of the older rolling stock, Flyers and 2000 series MANs could hold down the schedule just as well as these new RapidRide Coaches and Orion 7s with their new bells and whistles.

  8. Watching this video makes me wonder how difficult it will be to retrofit an existing rail line with catenary for electric operations. Imagine trying to upgrade the BNSF line while still running trains on it, for example.

    I keep holding out hope to hear about electrification of an existing rail line. BNSF has talked about it but so far no solid plans. Maybe they’re waiting for reliably expensive oil – a floor of $125 per barrel should do it.

    A good place to start would be their yards here in Seattle. I lived above Interbay for a while and always had black soot on our window shades although the cruise and cargo ships could also be to blame for that.

    1. It occurs to me that cities have benefited extraordinarily by clean air rules, especially as regards car emissions. I can taste it every time one of those old British Leylands that Pink Bus runs trundles up 1st Ave while I’m walking by. Even a city like Seattle without major air pollution issues is probably far nicer to live in than 35 years ago because of this lack of grime.

      1. Lets stop the grandfathering of existing diesel trucks (and busses)on clean air regs. Even with rooftop exhaust the dirty exhaust from older vehicles is making our downtown air hard to breath (let alone the health risks).

      1. Hmmm… Lack of funding and “… the threat of a lawsuit by the Planning and Conservation League of Sacramento … ”

        Somebody would rather have diesel trains in their view rather than look at wires. Niiice. Interestng link though. Looks like Electrification wouldn’t save a ton of money up front but would enable service expansions as well as faster acceleration and better scheduling.

        It would be an interesting exercise to know what electrification would do for Sounder in those departments as well. Hmmm…

    2. Due to all of the tracks that would have to be covered I suspect yard areas will be a much lower priority for electrification than mainlines.

      Encouraging the railroads to follow the same rules they have to comply with in the LA area would help with any pollution coming from the yard operations. Namely getting new clean and possibly hybrid yard shunt locomotives as well as shutting down locomotives instead of letting them idle.

    3. I’d like to see the Seattle to Portland Cascades electrified. With current ridership we’d be very close to full farebox recovery and if we get our electricity local there’s be a slight reduction in CO2 as well.

  9. Hey VeloBusDriver, you happy to have all of those charter buses out of downtown? I was driving one of them and I can tell you I am happy to be back in Portland…

    1. His answer is pretty easy to predict: 550, dedicated tunnel, haha to downtown traffic.

    2. Actually, I was on the surface Friday evening. I “informed” one that it would be easier if he illegally parked at the front or the back of our zone, rather than the middle. Hopefully that wasn’t you. If it was, please stay out of our bus zones – it’s hard enough to drive up there as it is without you all clogging things up even more. :)

      1. Nope wasn’t me. I was however part of a route that used the bit of third between James and madison that got told not be there anymore by a bicycle officer. I knew it was a cluster from word go, but I could only do what I was told…

        At any rate, all Metro drivers have that much more respect from me for braving that mess known as downtown… After spending 4 days driving a 45 foot coach I think I would lose my marbles driving an artic… And how on earth do you guys manage to drive the trolleys without worrying about the darned thing popping off the wire more?!

  10. 60 minutes re-aired the segment on the 1906 San Francisco Market Street cable car movie this evening. I went searching for the STB thread (April 18,2010) to see the uncut video. YouTube has pulled it over copyright complaints from EMI – perhaps from the music used in the clip. Too bad! Wish record companies weren’t so up tight about all this. Ironic – I purchased “Moon Safari” after seeing the video last year.

    1. So I’ve seen that video a number of times, but are you saying that 60 minutes made a whole segment out of it? What was their general thrust?

    2. Seems a reasonable compromise for the music industry is for YouTube to just insert a faint buzz anywhere they find unlicensed music, to prevent duplication. I’ve hit the copyright issue enough for it to be beyond annoying. A mildly annoying buzz would keep bootleggers off while being better for nothing when you want to share a video.

  11. I was hoping for this video to look more like that automated track restoration train. There’s no reason all of these steps couldn’t be automated on a train or two – including laying the track itself. The massively repetitive operations involved in this video scream for automation. Unleash a few automated HSR builders on the world, and you’ll drop costs enormously.

    1. Maybe. Until China started building HSR the proportion of track that had to be built to this spec was small. Even in France a lot of TGVs run on standard track. How though with China laying crazy HSR track it would make sense and would probably pay off the engineering of a machine.

  12. Interesting article about weekend service on the NY Subway:

    “In the past five years, weekend trips have grown at twice the rate of weekday rides. At the same time, weekend service has been reduced; because of budget cuts last year, many trains during the weekend now run once every 10 minutes, up from eight minutes, forcing more passengers into fewer cars.”

    “The advent of the unlimited MetroCard in 1998 also prompted a big leap in the number of weekend rides, by making it far easier financially and logistically for New Yorkers to take leisure-time trips.”

  13. Fuel cell technology ‘is the ultimate solution’ 11th July 2011

    Fuel cell technology is the “ultimate solution” to reducing emissions from cars, according to Tony Whitehorn, Hyundai UK managing director.

    Speaking to Metro, he said that while alternatives are “constantly improving the traditional combustion engine” they are just “interim propositions until fuel cell technology becomes a true reality”.

    Mr Whitehorn stressed that Hyundai is investing in “all solutions” that can help reduce emissions.

    It comes after the launch of the carmaker’s Blue2 hydrogen fuel cell concept at the recent Seoul Motor Show.

    Codenamed HND-6, the Blue2 is Hyundai’s first saloon-style Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle which it claims shows a “blueprint” for future saloons.

    It is powered by a fuel cell electric system that delivers 90kW of power equivalent to around 120 bhp and fuel economy of 34.9km per litre.

    Metro also reports that Honda, which produced fuel cell-powered FCX Clarity vehicles in 2008, believes that mass-produced hydrogen cars will start to appear within the next four years.


  14. What’s with all the Sounder problems lately? Lots of mechanical failures causing train cancellations…under good weather. ?????????

    1. A friend of mine had to give up on Sounder because he couldn’t reliably get to work on time from Auburn.

    2. Today the debacle at King Street was beyond stupid. Not having the Jackson Street entrance is getting to be a real nightmare. Its clear now since no work has been done that the city and ST don’t give a shit about any of us.

      I was thinking of notifying both the UTU and the BLE, if they are still involved with the crews running the Sounders. People were starting to freak out the engineer because they were so crowded on the platform and almost literally getting in the way of train and spilling onto the tracks.

      ST, you suck so bad right now, it’s really not funny. Someone up top should get their butt kicked out onto the street for this mess.

  15. @Cinesea –
    “Many times I’ve seen on here that roads are heavily subsidized and that car owners do NOT pay for the total cost of road use. I want to believe in this wholeheartedly, but how do I tell my friends and co-workers when they reply that the gas tax is what pays for roads, that their vehicle license tabs pays for roads? How do I tell them that is isn’t enough since the roads here are horrible? Their general reply is something along that lines that “the tax money isn’t being used properly.” What’s a good, fast, simple way of describing what we believe but they don’t?”

    Simply, Roads are Expensive

    When we were looking at the I-405 expansion, the figures presented were (per lane-mile):
    $8m – at grade
    $40m – elevated
    $80m – tunnel (basic)
    $200m – Mercer Island spec tunnel

    To figure out who pays for what, check out this link, which describes the state portion of the gas tax, and has a good chart to base personal tax-outlay calculations on:

    The argument can be phrased better as “who pays for what, with their gas tax?”

    In effect, if I’m paying $300 per year (State + Federal), and driving roughly 10,000 miles per year, then I’m paying roughly 3 cents per mile.

    Is each 3 cents being spent on the roads I drive on?

    Use the SR-520 numbers, which is 115,000 cars per day, and multiply that by the per mile gas-tax outlay by those drivers using whatever roadway you’re looking at, and see how long it takes to pay it off.

    What’s happening is, a large portion of the Puget Sound urban freeways are drawing money from the gas-tax fund for expansion, and the infill, for local road improvements is made up by various local taxes. Check your city’s records on road projects, I’ve found local Real Estate Exise Tax as a large contributor on most projects, and Edmonds is trying to get its citizens to pass a local tax to pay for road maintenance. Earlier this year, that proposal failed at the ballot.

    I’d argue that the current gas tax is adequate to pay for all of the state and local road maintenance, and that if we want to have a major road improvement project, then it should be up to the voters to decide…

    Just like we did with ST1 and ST2.

    A well planned road package, along with fair revenue sources should be easily passed by the voters in the region.

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