42 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: An Exchange”

  1. I know it’s been asked before, and I don’t know if it’s been answered, but I found out what happens when you tap an ORCA card with less than a base fare at a Link station. The result? “Insufficient funds please revalue card”

    1. A used an insufficient e-purse ORCA card on a Metro bus last month. The driver told me to put another 25 cents in the farebox to make up the difference. He then gave me a transfer in case I needed to ride another bus, all with a smile.

      1. I have multiple cards; this one doesn’t get used much. And if it had Autoload, I wouldn’t have been able to test this.

      2. Autoload has been working fine for me since I got my ORCA on the day it came out. That said, I don’t have any expiring credit cards or empty checking accounts. There was only one glitch out of dozens of Autoload transactions.

      3. I have another idea. Why not have my e-purse migrate to a pass once I’ve paid as much as a pass? The reason I stay with an e-purse is that I have to ride the bus twice a day 5 days a week in order to pay a pass off and I don’t usually do that. However there are times when I get close and wish I had a pass. Maybe this would be difficult since our passes are all of differing amounts but still the idea that I could be paying more for my e-purse than a pass which would get me unlimited rides a month is a bit irritating.

  2. The recorded female voice that makes announcements at Link stations places the emphasis on the word “light” when she says Link light rail. Her voice goes up. She says “Link LIGHT rail.”

    Add this to the list of trivial things that annoy me.

    1. Not really a “recording”. I believe the announcements are synthetically computer-generated by text-to-speech software of some sort. I’ve also noticed that some of the announcements are darn-near unintelligible without also looking at the text on the overhead readerboards, which makes them not very useful for the visually impared!

      1. Is there any reason why those Link Light Rail announcements are played at Convention Place Station? After dropping off a friend a the bus there, I noticed the “Please have proof of payment prior…” one being played over the speakers.

      2. My pet peeve is the “please report unattended items… to a Metro employee” in places outside the DSTT. While technically all the operations crew are Metro employees, everyone on-duty at an ST station outside the DSTT will be wearing Sound Transit uniforms. Better yet would be to just say “uniformed staff member or security guard”.

      3. Why are the elevator buttons in the Link stations so confusing? I’ve seen elevator buttons that are marked “S” or “P” and others that say “Surface” and “Platform”. How about some simple, intuitive labels like “UP”/”DOWN” or “STREET”/”TRAINS & BUSES”?

    2. There is a driver on the 15 (older black woman, greyish hair usually up in a bun) who always emphasizes the last syllable of street names in a similar rising tone. It’s almost sing-songy. ga-LER street, ar-mo-RY way, nick-er-SON em-er-SON fish-er-MENS term-i-NAL. And she announces most every stop. On those rare occasions when I’ve forgotten my iPod and she winds up driving the bus I’ve waited for, I’ve actually waited another 20 minutes to catch the next 15 (or walked 10 minutes to the Ballard Bridge to catch a 17 or 18). It’s that unbearable to my ears. So I understand your annoyance :)

      1. But that’s the thing. RFID has a finite life and ORCA should have a plan in place to replace the cards after x number of years.

        For example, the CTA has a policy that Chicagocards “expire” after 4 years. You have to verify your current mailing address and they will send you a replacement at THEIR expense.

  3. Spaniards are onto something.

    Have long favored giving lifetime transit passes to every single constituent of every constituency whose elected representatives receive substantial support from Kemper Freeman.

    Might be even better idea to drop them from C-47’s over wherever Tim Eyman lives, like WWII leaflets announcing Allied liberation.

    Would be worth paying extra for my own card just to have number of cars involved, and especially two political figures named, out of the way of my transit ride.

    Mark Dublin

  4. This is completely off topic, but a friend recently mentioned to me that Amtrak had run some kind of test train across Stampede Pass a few months ago. I know there’s been talk of starting a Cascades-style service to Spokane for quite some time. Does anyone know if this ‘test train’ is related to that plan? And if so, does this mean that we’re getting any closer to a daylight Seattle-Spokane service?

    1. No relation, unfortunately. They were testing a Electronic Train
      Management System that has been installed on BNSF’s Stampede Pass route. This was done in April 2011.

  5. Two years ago tonight (17 July 2009) many of us were on pins and needles in anticipation of the Link opening to TIB – Happy 2nd Birthday, Link!

  6. Does anybody think I-1125 will draw in Yes votes from the Anti-99 DBT Folks? Obviously the anti-toll crowd will like it and maybe even some folks in Montlake? I’m wondering if this latest effort might actually be a brilliant move on his part to split the Seattle vote.

    Still, it really pisses me off that, yet again, the whole state gets to vote on the fate of our light rail system. Thoughts? (No need to inform me of how distasteful Eyman is. Trust me, I already know)

  7. About I-1125: Doesn’t the law say that an initiative can only have one subject? If this one passes, won’t court challenge get it thrown out? Remember, though, that State Supreme Court did just exactly that with his first initiative.

    When they declared the first car-tab initiative unconstitutional, the Court gave Governor Locke and the State Legislature a perfect reason- namely their own sworn duty- to ignore it. Instead, our electeds fought in the aisles over the ballpoints to sign Eyman’s bill into law.

    Rest is history. Discouraging thing is after two decades, nobody’s developed a permanent counterforce. Usually in that time, any new disease breeds antibodies. Maybe what’s needed is a whole permanent automatic barrage of initiatives to blizzard every election Eyman even talks about.

    I’m for a Constitutional amendment specifically declaring public transit a “highway use”- on every single ballot until it passes. My guess is that every year, in-migration of young people from places with good transit will add positive votes and nature’s own mechanism for electoral change will decrease the other ones.

    Meantime, have trains, tracks, catenary, and stations up and running everywhere on the east side except the I-90 bridge. Lake Washington is narrow at Sand Point. Sand Point Way is wide. Ballard could a good east-west line that direction. New generation of Bellevue business will probably make sure Olympia gets I-90 its light rail track before my Sand Point line gets to Kirkland.

    As for electoral spite from outsiders, might be good if our initiative campaign carried constant legislative plans from our side to benefit distant parts of our State who could really use a break. Give people Statewide a reason to like Seattle for a change. Good first one: every resident of the State of Washington shall be mailed a free ORCA card with an all-day pass on it.

    Could also be only way we’ll ever get one.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I think the one-subject rule would bite him in the ass again.

      That said, the legislature would probably write it into law on their own like they did with 695. They’re afraid of him.

    2. I wish the rest of the state would recognize what a socio-economic pressure valve Seattle is. Gives the dreamers and the misfits from Yakima to Lewiston-Clarkston a place to go and maybe get a new start. Or would they rather have to face up to the problems their micro-cultures create?

    3. Yes, the bill be thrown out, but it’s all part of the Eyman Cycle. When the judge throws out a law that is unconstitutional, that just proves that the system is against him so you should give him more money to run more initiatives which are written to not stand the single issue test and get thrown out.

    4. Well this is mildly reassuring. I don’t think the legislature would give in tbis time, especially since it is Puget Sound-centric, but Mark’s right. There ought to be an annoying progressive, perennial antithesis.

  8. Would someone give us a quick run-down of where we are at with the streetcar system? I’m having a hard time finding any current information on which projects were finally given the greenlight.

    My understanding is that the Council voted on a map of alignments for all routes last year, and that the First Hill project is underway, which will run from Aloha to King Street Station, and finish sometime in 2013.

    But I forget where we are at with the other lines (Intl District, University, Fremont-Ballard), as well as what the final decision was on connecting them all together (did they settle on First Ave, or…what?).

    Thanks

    1. I would say you’re assuming a lot more weight on the word ‘system’ then is probably accurate. There’s no funding for any of the other lines at present. Assuming the $80 VLF passes in November (and that Council puts it on the ballot) there will be some bondable revenue that could be used for additional streetcar lines, or for linking up the SLUT and FHSC lines at least.

      FHSC has not yet broken ground.

    2. Nothing else has been settled, anon.

      There is lots of talk right now that something will be on the ballot this fall to fund a SLUS/FH connector. Routing decisions are some time away, even if it passes.

      Other than that, SDOT is still working on the Transit Master Plan, which should have much to say about modes (rapid streetcar, light rail, BRT) for the major transit corridors.

  9. Riding the bus early this morning from the Qatari Inprocessing to Transiet Billeting made me think about the fairly extensive bus system at BIAP (Baghdad International Airport – huge base complex composed of camps: Victory, Stryker, Slayer, Liberty, Blackhawk and I think one more).

    I think a paper/book on the transit systems of our Expeditionary Bases would be fascinating. When did they start? Who ordered it and why? What happened after we turned the bases over to the host nation?

  10. After I got on and off a couple buses downtown that I don’t usually ride today, it became clear to me that hardly anybody is taking advantage of the utility of the Ride Free Area. Tha vast majority of the riders exit at the front, unless they see someone else exiting at the back. The vast majority of riders also queue up at the sign, and attempt to pay upon entry.

    I’m ready to support ending the RFA with or without the off-board infrastructure in place. It will slow the movement through downtown a tiny bit, but vastly speed up the routes that currently suffer under the pay-as-you-exit system.

  11. Rather than a bus pass, or “thin” bus routes that peter out late at night, what the denser part of the exurbs need is some type of shared personal transit system.

    For example, I live on Kent East Hill in an apartment complex that has similar density to some parts of Seattle proper. It’s a vast place with loads of parking. I think they should take one or two parking spaces and turn them into a ZipCar station. This would allow some people, most of the time, to walk, bicycle and when they have to do their grocery shopping or go to IKEA, then can use a ZipCar (in fact, make it a PickUp Truck).

    The other alternative is taxis which are way too expensive in the Seattle area.

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