From KCDOT news:

One day before the nine-day closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct; King County Councilmember Joe McDermott challenged County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen to a race from West Seattle to Seattle City Hall. Each man used a different form of transit with McDermott riding the King County Water Taxi, Constantine riding a Metro bus, and Rasmussen riding his bike. Watch what ensues!

60 Replies to “West Seattle to Downtown Race (Open Thread)”

  1. I love it. Bike it is!!
    Oh, and regarding the “work clothes” quip: I can spend 20 minutes showering and changing at home, or I can spend 20 minutes showering and changing at work. The time is not really an issue (if you’re fortunate enough to work for a company that provides those facilities, that is!)

    1. Are you saying you sleep in your bike clothes?

      I does seem they were all within moments of each other.

      1. Touche… though pulling on my bike clothes on the way out the door is a lot faster than showering and putting on office clothes. Next they should do a bed-to-desk race, which includes all those incidentals…

    2. How long would that trip have taken by car, or motor scooter? And why didn’t one “contestant” drive?

      1. I saw the video. Obviously, they don’t want people to know how much faster it is to travel by motor vehicle than by other modes.

        Also, it would have been very useful to have a travel time by motor vehicle prior to the viaduct closure to compare to travel by motor vehicle during the viaduct closure, to see how closing the viaduct impacts travel time for motorists.
        [ad hom]

        Grant: the video did not answer my question about how long that trip takes by motor vehicle compared to other modes. Did it? Of course, this is a question you would rather not have to answer, right?


        This morning, with the viaduct close, this commuter made it from W. Seattle to an office in the north part of downtown in 20 minutes by car. He said that was 50% longer than last Friday, which means last Friday that trip took him about 14 minutes by car.

        Using other modes, in the video above, it took 28 to 35 minutes to get from W. Seattle to City Hall in the south part of downtown.

        So, with the viaduct open, driving is much faster than other modes. And even with the viaduct closed this morning, driving was still faster than other modes were with the viaduct open.

        How long did that trip take by bus this morning?

      3. Norman, traveling by ‘motor vehicle’ (isn’t a bus a motor vehicle too?) is faster than transit (sometimes) because of the emphasis and priority (investment, right of way, R&D, etc) given to enabling SOV travel on a massive scale in the latter half of the 20th century.

        Norman, as you know, an infrastructure built around SOVs as the primary form of transportation is the most expensive way of getting around. Between the cost of cars, massive freeways, liability insurance, fuel and maintenance, not to mention the environmental costs (which we have mostly failed to capture), it costs society a huge amount of money. It may be the fastest way (unless everyone wants to use the same roads during the same 2 hours each day) but that doesn’t make it the best way.

      4. The point that is blatantly obvious is that any of the three modes in the video are much slower than traveling by motor vehicle. [ad hom]

      5. “traveling by ‘motor vehicle’ (isn’t a bus a motor vehicle too?) is faster than transit (sometimes) because of the emphasis and priority (investment, right of way, R&D, etc) given to enabling SOV travel on a massive scale in the latter half of the 20th century.”

        This is just stupid. Are you saying that SOV’s have right of way over trains or buses? lol Where?

        The reasons cars are much faster than transit is that you can park your car right where you live, instead of having to walk to a starion/stop; leave exactly when you want to, instead of waiting for a train or bus; travel non-stop to your destination, instead of having to stop every mile or less to pick up and drop off other passengers. This is just inherent in transit.

        “Norman, as you know, an infrastructure built around SOVs as the primary form of transportation is the most expensive way of getting around.”

        That is just flat-out wrong. Link light rail is vastly more expensive than driving a car, including the cost of the streets for the cars. No comparison.

    3. Also figure in the 1 hour of aerobic exercise that you get from bicycling. Then it’s a major win because of the doubling up on the time, the single shower instead of two. (one getting up, one at the gym)

    1. Bummer. I’ve enjoyed having the 17/27 on Dexter to fill out the 26/28/23/124 schedule on my way home from work each night. But then, 17 wasn’t on OBA for the Dexter stops either, which was a hassle.

  2. Starting point?
    Ending point?
    What bus?

    Sounds like this was all in good fun :)

    Maybe elected officials should ride transit more often (doesn’t Vice President Biden use Amtrak?)

    1. It looks like Constantine was starting at the Junction. I’d assume McDermott also started there and took the water taxi shuttle down to Seacrest.

  3. Thanks, Metro, for the awesome late night ride on the 132!

    After spending the evening down in Federal Way, I got off Link at SODO Station, walked a block to the nearest stop, and, voila, it included the 132 on the sign!

    The bus picked me up and immediately the bars came down on the BN&SF railroad track. The bus approached, stopped, and the bars went up! The train just to the south stood still while the bus crossed. How did Metro pull that off?

  4. After just viewing a TV report about “viaduct closure of doom 2011” and the rather snarky comments about lack of parking at Link Light Rail and lack of use of bike lock stations, I’m reminded why using TriMet is a blessing. It gets some flak (latest being the driver kicking off the baby incident), but at least most of the area seems to believe transit can do its job.

    On a related note, I have a coworker that was so terrified of the viaduct closing she left work early on Friday to be home before it was closed and then is spending the extra money to spend a night in a Queen Anne area hotel to avoid commuting with it closed. This just seems bizarre to me. Didn’t Los Angeles survive a major freeway closure with no problem?
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    1. I don’t read too much meaning from comments on TV and newspaper sites. If you read the Seattle Times comments during the Sound Transit 2 election, you would think it was doomed but it passed, overwhelmingly.

      While only Tukwila Int’l Blvd has free parking, there is paid parking near every Link station, including those downtown.

    2. Carmageddon was on a weekend.

      Please tell me she rode the bus from her Queen Anne hotel to her downtown job.

      I can’t believe somebody wouldn’t go to a P&R if they’re that worried about the traffic. A week’s hotel would cost $500 more or less.

      Of course, we don’t know where exactly she works. It may be a place that’s difficult to get to by bus.

      1. The last Carmageddon we had here when I-5 went down to 1 lane lasted weeks, and had about zero impact on traffic (I drove it a few days and sailed right through). People overestimate any single road’s worth. There are almost always dozens of ways to get between any two points.

      2. Her job is on lower Queen Anne. I think she was only staying Sunday night, probably hoping to get into work early as the other person in that department was taking a vacation day, unrelated to the viaduct.

        Today NWCN is again making it sound like the water taxi is overcrowded and playing up that it’s outside the norm that a rider might be required to ( :-o ) stand on a Metro bus route from W. Seattle to downtown.

        @Matt the Engineer, I remember that too. I was living in Seattle at the time and it was really fine. The key was people bothering to use alternatives beyond the one driver in a single-occupancy vehicle. :-)

    3. She may also be treating it as a kind of vacation. Pacific Place has an ad where you can get a $200 room at the Westin, including a $100 gift card at Pacific Place and a donation to charity.

    4. It gets some flak (latest being the driver kicking off the baby incident), but at least most of the area seems to believe transit can do its job.

      That said, I believe Seattle actually has more transit users, and definitely more transit commuters, per capita. So we’re doing something right. :)

      1. Also Seattle has the coolest bus drivers.

        [Not joking — drivers in other cities are usually professional and do their job well, but Seattle’s the only place I’ve had myriad experiences of bus drivers going above and beyond to help me out…]

  5. Photos from the Viaduct Event on Saturday, for those interested:

    Pretty good turnout for a wet and dreary day.

    Rat City Rollergirls on the Viaduct:

    Seattle Cossacks Motorcycle Stunt Team on the Viaduct:

    1. On top of an already hefty city parking tax and 7 day a week parking meters and meters till 8 or 9pm in many locations.

  6. Hello everyone, I found this site via googling I hope you can answer a couple questions about a fare warning I got this morning.

    My trip started with the nicer bus that goes along 99 (paid using my orca card), I then transferred at the Tukwila Link station. Tapped there and went up the platform, quickly realized I was on the wrong side, and went over to the other side & tapped again–the fare people told me that’s where I went wrong. They did a check around the stadiums and said they I hadn’t paid at Tukwila–I explained the above, the looked up something on that pad they use, and gave me a warning and took a picture of my license.

    So, if I had tapped a third time at Tukwila, would that have reset things? Is the second tap what caused the problem? Do the fare people have discretion on who gets a fine and who gets a warning?

    1. It wasn’t necessary to tap the 2nd time when switching platforms. The Tap in ORCA speak is “a permit to travel” so you basically have 2 hours of time from the time you tap to travel on Link before your fare expires. Tapping the 2nd time at the same station has the effect of cancelling your trip permit. It is important to tap out when you arrive at your destination because Link fares are calculated based on the distance between station pairs. If you don’t tap out you are charged the maximum fare for the line (after your 2 hour travel time). (Currently $2.75)

    2. It doesn’t matter what side you tap on – it only registers what station you’re at. So tapping the second time was unnecessary.

      From the sounds of things, it interpreted the second tap as if you had gotten off the train. So a third tap might have corrected things (on-off-on), but I’m not sure. Two taps close together in time cause interesting things to happen.

      And yeah, fare enforcement has a lot of discretion.

    3. The second tap cancels the first one if both occur at the same station (I think this is how it works). A third tap would’ve prevented the situation you ended up in.

      For future reference, it doesn’t matter what side of the station you tap your card as long as you tap one of the readers.

      I’m fairly sure the fare people have some discretion as to whether to give a warning or fine.

      1. I’ve observed that they’re consistent in taking pictures of ID and issuing verbal warnings. In many but not all cases, they take people off the train to make them pay the fare even if they aren’t issuing a ticket.

      2. Is there any legal reason you have to surrender id and have it digitally recorded? I thought only the police could legally demand to see ID. Obviously a store clerk can ask for picture ID when selling alcohol but you have the choice of not making the purchase. Likewise you surrender the right to privacy if you choose to fly commercially. Do you agree to forfeit this right when you purchase an ORCA Card or step on to public transit?

      3. “Do you agree to forfeit this right when you purchase an ORCA Card or step on to public transit?”

        Isn’t that analogous to the example you had of commercial aviation?

      4. That’s what I’m asking. Is there really anything in the RCW that gives Link security this power or is it just plain old intimidation with a uniform and a badge? It’s been pretty well documented since 9/11 that you will be required to show photo ID. I have no problem handing over my ID, proof of insurance and vehicle registration when entering JBLM. If WSF starts asking I’m going to raise a stink.

    4. Still, it shows a usability problem in the tapping setup. How are new riders supposed to know that tapping a second time cancels the trip, that they don’t have to tap when changing directions, and that tapping another reader at the same station also cancels the trip? It says “TRIP CANCELLED” but not many people look closely at the message, or they may forget to until it’s already gone. Expecting people to read a brochure closely before riding a train is not reasonable. It just adds to the complication of different fares and zones on services run by different agencies or at different times of day.

    5. Thanks for the comments and explanations everyone. I’m going to try and get this warning off my record, I’ve filed a complaint with Sound Transit and am supposed to see someone at their customer service office next week. I also filed complaints with the FTA and US Dept of Transportation.

    1. There must be a mistake here. $10 per year for them would be like a 10th of a penny per year for any of us.

    2. I really hope they do this. I now have a view of the sound from my cubicle, and by far the largest polluters seem to be the ferries – they leave a plume of smoke everywhere they go, and there are always at least 2 or 3 in view. I wouldn’t be surprised if they pollute as much as all of the traffic on 99 through Seattle – maybe even I-5.

      Yes, the container ships and cruise ships have larger smoke plumes, but they move around a lot less.

      1. I read that article this morning too and I have mixed feelings about the whole Natural Gas issue. The fracking for gas in the Northeast has destroyed the natural water and it may take thousands of years to flush it out. Water appears to be an undervalued resource.

        On the other hand burning that bunker oil does have a high particulate mater and that’s not good either.

    3. The tanks would be affixed to the tops of the ferries so that if there were a leak the gas would dissipate into the atmosphere, rather than throughout the ferry.

      I think the Times got it wrong on this. If compressed natural gas (CNG) is used then the tanks can not be below decks. This technology is what was involved with the Pierce Transit explosion. With liquified natural gas (LNG) the tanks would be located below deck. The insulation requirements virtually mandate it.

      One problem, however, is that it would have to be shipped to the state from Wyoming or California, although there is a plant in British Columbia that might be a source.

      Also not quite correct. There is a CNG facility on the Oregon Washington boarder near Portland and the report indicates that even if only one boat is run on CNG a liquification plant would likely be located in Seattle. This would be a plus for the Port of Seattle and open the possibility of using CNG for train yard operations and trucking. Trucks from the Port in-particular would have a big incentive cost wise to make the switch. In a couple of years diesel rigs will be mandated to comply with tier 4 emissions standards. It’s cheaper to convert to CNG and you save on operational cost.

    1. Matt – I’m curious what you’ve discovered about what kind of wind conditions it takes to shut these systems down. I know under extreme wind ski lifts on mountains will sometimes shut down, but it seems to take pretty significant winds to force this. If they’re winds that occur 1-2x a year in a typical Seattle year, who cares, but if it happens 10x a year, it might be a bigger deal.

      I’m a huge supporter of a set of gondolas for Seattle. It seems like you could easily extend the reach of our burgeoning rail system with a handful of inexpensive gondolas, particularly for neighborhoods like West Seattle, Queen Anne, etc.

      1. I don’t think Seattle is windy compared to mountians, or even many other urban areas. I know that in Toranto they’re considering* the 3S (three cables) because they’re afraid of wind issues on a monocable. The 3S can handle much stronger winds than a one cable gondola. A monocable needs to stop at wind speeds of around 31 mph (27 knots), where a 3S can handle wind speeds past 62 mph (54 knots) without stopping operation – for comparison, 64 knots is considered a category I hurricane.

        I’ve actually been meaning to look into Seattle’s wind profile for a while now. Check this thread later in the day – maybe I’ll find time to look at it.

        * “considering” is a bit of a stretch – it sounds like they’re maybe two steps past Seattle in gondola marathon – in other words, they’ve gone about two steps.

      2. Well that was easy (thanks Internet!). On average Boeing Field has had 0 days of wind over 25mph in a year, and 5 days over 20 mph.

        Of course wind data is generally only collected at airports, and to be more confident it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put up a weather station for a year where you’d like a gondola. But it sounds like even a monocable gondola would work almost interruption-free in Seattle.

      3. On the other hand, even if operations could continue and it was objectively safe, what would the user experience be for a moderate wind? I would bet that the Seattle Times would love to run a headline about how people are too afraid to use the gondola system and what a waste of taxpayer money it was if the sway was unnerving to some.

      4. What would the user experience be like? The same as on a gondola in the mountains – a slight rocking. I’ve been on a gondola and many ski lifts during high winds. It’s not a big deal (except when on a ski lift and it’s down near zero – that’s freaking cold).

        But what’s it like going up Yesler when the bus driver slams on the brakes for a pedestrian? Much, much worse.

  7. Got a jury summons. It includes a transit ticket.

    The transit ticket reads “Good on Metro and ST buses only. Not valid for Link light rail or Sounder Commuter Rail.”

    Why does that make any sense. If one lives to the south, one is excluded from using Link or Sounder? Why on earth?

    I wonder what happens if one needs to transfer to of from an ST bus.

    1. I had two jury summonses last year. (I couldn’t finish the first one so I had to reschedule it from the beginning.) I think they offered to reimburse Sounder and Link fares, but you have to arrange it after you get there the first day.

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