WSDOT has posted some really good timelapse videos of 520 construction.
The first here shows installing girders in Medina last weekend:

More below the fold (including some non-WSDOT videos I like).

Here is Bellevue Way semi-destructino from a few weeks ago:

Here’s a time lapse of Muni Rails being replaced in San Francisco:

Church and 30th St. San Francisco MUNI Construction from Ken Murphy on Vimeo.

Here’s a time lapse in slow motion, taken by a high-speed camera from a train.

50 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Timelapse Videos”

    The recent failure of Prop 1 can be attributed to many things. I for one think the Seattle area is pretty well tapped out paying for transit of all kinds. Some have the notion that Seattle will tax itself much more if only the right ‘package’ is assembled. That may be true, but looking at the economy in general, and our region contrasted against our nearest neighbor tells a different story.
    Both Portland and Seattle began expanding public transportation beginning in the 80’s – Portland with Max light rail and Seattle with a bus tunnel. Both cities have been making large investments in infrastructure to support transit with buses, light rail and commuter rail. So where are we at after 30 years?
    Portland’s TriMet, with about 1.5 million people in their service area provides 104 million rides annually across all business lines. Seattle area provides about 162 million rides within four separate transit agencies with a population of 2.8 million.
    Looking at the total operating budgets of both areas reveals spending on transit operations at $415 M. in Portland or about $325 per capita, while Seattle area residents pay an average of $630 per capita, or nearly double. This excludes the $643 M. being spent annually on capital projects regionwide here.
    Finally, looking at average cost to provide the service, less farebox revenue reveals an average transit trip in Portland is subsidized at $3.06, against the average trip in the Puget Sound of $5.25. That’s a huge difference! Individual subsidies by our local transit agencies are as follows: MT= $3.86, PT= $6.46, CT= $8.10, ST= $10.01.
    Looking at other metropolitan areas in the west show subsidies in Salt Lake UTA= $4.07, Denver RTD= $3.51. You can do your own analysis by mining the National Transit Database, which is what I did using 2010 reports. I avoided California, as the number of agencies and boundaries get messy when looking at transit in total.
    I conclude this morning’s missive by asking the question: Do we operate in a vacuum, and only Puget Sound metrics should apply to our discussions and decisions, or should we be concerned about the high cost of transit in general here, as we advocate for more?
    Maybe a simpler question would be: Do you open your IRA statements, then look at how other investment vehicles are doing?

    1. Some portion of the cost difference may be because Salt Lake, Denver and Portland all have a much higher share of trips by rail and their rail systems are more mature – especially if only operating costs are considered, since a single operator can carry several hundred passengers.

      Are the wages and benefits higher in Puget Sound?

      Also, especially ST & CT carry a lot of relatively long-distance riders, especially on Everett and Tacoma peak hour trips where the coach sometimes makes only a single trip. Those have to be very expensive to operate and probably drive up the subsidies given that the fares are very low compared to the distance traveled.

      1. Also look at the relative structure of the agencies. How many operators, maintenance, management, executives, planners, etc.

      2. Rails share in SLC= 40%, DEN= 22%, PDX= 41%, SEA= 6%
        Distance is a big factor for CT and ST. Is that a wise policy decision to move workers 20-30 miles to job centers each day? Tacoma and Everett seem to think so.

      3. The problem is we’re 20+ years behind Portland. Wait 20 years from now, with East & North Link up and running and we’ll probably narrow that difference quite a bit. In fact, given our geography, downtown-heavy commute, and currently high overall transit mode share, we might beat Portland. Shifting a lot of those transit trips to rail should be most helpful.

        That said, we’ve been making and will continue to make a lot of major capital investments that will take time to depreciate and pay off. 50 years from now we might be in really good shape cost/ride wise.

      4. All those cities have more rail covering more ground than Seattle. According to the ST2 plan, when it’s done, it’s expected that Link will carry 52% of all transit trips in the region, bringing ST’s share to 66% of the transit market in 2030.

        This report comparing Seattle vs Portland transit operating costs a.k.a “all-bus” vs light rail trunk & feeder, claims that Seattle could save $70M-100M annually if its network configuration were more like Portland. Notice that TriMet has very few buses running on freeways compared to the dozens and dozens Metro/CT/ST run.

    2. “The Seattle area is pretty well tapped out paying for transit of all kinds.”: If that’s true, we’re lucky that ST2 got in under the wire. It will make the biggest contribution to transit and mobility we’ve seen in the past fifty years.

      Pugetopolis’ population is over 3.2 million, not 2.8 million. Seattle has a higher percentage of transit riders than Portland does.

      How much of the $630 per capita is due to Link tunnelling? We’re getting a far better system for our money, with only two unfortunate slowdowns on MLK and SODO. MAX takes ten minutes just to get from Pioneer Square to the edge of downtown, and then crawls across the Steel Bridge, and bypasses most of the potential ridership area in east Portland.

      I don’t want a transit system like Denver or San Jose or Dallas. (Haven’t seen SLC’s.) I want one like Chicago, DC, New York, or San Francisco that truly runs all the time and goes everywhere and has decent speed and comprehensive night owls; that’s the only way to get the majority out of their cars. (Of course, all these systems have segments with overcrowding or slow buses, but they’re still more comprehensive than Seattle.) It costs money to build a comprehensive system. If we settle for a system like Denver or Dallas or San Jose, we’re really saying that transit should remain an afterthought and we expect most people to keep driving forever. That was understandable in the days of 30c a gallon gasoline but things have changed since then.

      Seattle is squeezed between Puget Sound and Lake Washington. That forces people to live further out than they would in other cities, especially on the north-south axis. Without the lakes, we’d have a shiny Bellevue just east of Madison Park or Laurelhurst, and an industrial Kent between downtown and Bainbridge Island. But we don’t, so people have to travel further in a few limited corridors, and that incidentally encourages them to use transit.

      1. I only used the population within transit’s service area, as reported to the FTA, which is smaller than the entire 3 county population total.
        Capital costs (tunneling) was excluded from all the operating costs. I did mention last years capital spending of $643 million, which adds another $230 per capita in annual cost, but that varies year to year.
        I don’t dispute your observations on our topography, but merely ask the question if it’s good public policy to ‘enable’ more development further from Seattle by having commuter rail trains to Lakewood, and light rail trains to Everett and Redmond. Plop down a mega garage, and the rush is on. Those trips from the hinterland carry a very steep price tag – day in and day out. That was one of my points for doing this.

      2. I contend that the unique geography of our region, with Puget Sound, Lake Washinston, Lake Sammamish, and the Cascade Mountains, has actually helped transit work effectively and reduce sprawl. These geographical obstacles provide a de-facto urban growth boundary, which is prohibitively expensive to expand. They also provide chokepoints for access to the city that makes transit priority effective and driving relatively expensive.

        While the Eastside certainly does have its dosage of suburban sprawl, it’s not nearly as bad as South King County, Pierce County, or Snohomish County, and I find the Eastside orders of magnitude easier to access by bike or bus than the other suburban regions in our area.

        I credit this to the regions geography. Without lakes and Mountains, sprawl would continue further, and we’d have to operate buses going 20-30 miles each way, instead of 10-15 minutes each way. Without very expensive lake crossings, instead of having 2 GP lanes on 520 each direction, plus a westbound 3+ HOV lane, we’d probably have 4 or 5 GP lanes each direction, plus (maybe) a 2+ HOV lane. The transit mode share would have been considerably less and the levels of service would have been considerably less as a result of the drop in demand. Similarly, without the increases in land value that result from being near water, there would have been pressure to build more freeways and wider freeways, creating more uncrossable behemoths that obstruct pedestrian traffic. Freeway corridors are very difficult to serve effectively with transit, and Metro/ST’s struggles with the the I-405 corridor with routes 240, 560, and 566, are examples of this.

        Biking would also have been more difficult, both due to the increased distances that would have been involved, and due to the increased obstructions resulting from more and wider freeways.

      3. If you look at the percentage of commuters using transit we are doing better than Portland (as others have mentioned above).

      4. At Microsoft, about 1 in 3 employees get to work by some means other than driving alone. Can you name a single destination in Portland of a comparable size that matches or exceeds this that is not located downtown?

    3. There are a number of documented reasons why transit is more expensive to operate in this area. Here’s two of them.

      -Our (nearly) all-bus system. There is no other transit system in the country of our size that is so heavily reliant on buses. There are many corridors in the Puget Sound region that could be served more cheaply with rail, and in any other region they would have been converted 20 years ago.

      -Our high percentage of peak-only routes, which are more expensive per-hour to operate than all-day routes for a variety of reasons (part time labor, deadheading, etc.)

      I’m not familiar with the structure of the transit agencies in the other regions you cite, so I’m not sure if your cost comparison is apples-to-apples, anyway. Is there an equivalent of Sultan, WA covered by Portland, Denver, or Salt Lake’s transit agency? You’ve included 4 different transit agencies in the Puget Sound average, which includes a lot of very expensive rural routes. I fully expect our region to be more expensive per-trip than others (for the the above reasons), but I still want the comparision to be fair.

      1. It’s not just that we run peak routes; it’s that we charge the same fare for those routes as for much cheaper to operate locals and rapids.

        Anywhere but Seattle, these peak expresses would charge a double fare.

      2. Diving into the data confirmed my thoughts that distance has a great deal to do with our high costs.
        TriMet has a service area of 570 Sq.Miles. ST’s is 1,066 or twice as big.
        Trimet’s avg trip length is 4.3 miles.
        Compare that to our providers: MT 2.7, PT 5.3, CT 11.4, ST 13.3, which jives with operating costs per passenger cited above.
        Maybe we’re doomed forever with high costs, as our citizens aren’t closing down entire towns like Bonney Lake, and re-locating into apartments in SODO. We should at least be charging a kings ransom for the excessive subsidies for those that choose to do it.

      3. Denver’s RTD has firly extensive service to Longmont and Nederland which are both quite a ways from Downtown Denver.

        Then there are a bunch of services for the commute to/from many outlying communities, including the one that South Park is based upon:

        And the Denver-Colorado Springs intercity bus, which used to be (poorly) run by Greyhound and Trailways has finally been taken over by a partnership between the various transit and planning agencies along the Front Range:

        Salt Lake’s UTA runs service all the way from Ogden to Provo and also runs one of the few transit routes that serves a major ski resort:

    4. I think the real disappoint has to be the lethargy and cost of light rail deployment here. I is called ‘light’ for many reasons including cheap and fast to implement. Yet after two decades we only have one complete line of 15 miles and have spent more than $25 billion dollars!

  2. Is Onebusaway broken?

    Last week it showed 255’s and 545’s 30 minutes off schedule and told me buses departed that never came

      1. It is probably the data feed – or perhaps the app is dependent on accurate schedule information and the data comes in as “Route 255 Run 12” and it is referencing an out of date schedule. The 255 had significant schedule changes, and the 545 had some added trips which could have changed the run number.

        Nevertheless the net effect is that the app is useless at the moment.

    1. Metro is currently in the process of moving the buses to GPS and the way their data feed is working, for the buses that already have GPS, the OneBusAway info on them is complete garbage. Maybe one day this will be fixed, but in the meantime, be extremely suspicious when OneBusAway claims a bus is 30+ minutes late on a Sunday morning. Most likely, that bus is actually close to on time.

      1. Rt 255 data has been broken for months. Intl District Station continues to be missing and buses aren’t being tracked. I sent the Metro data folks an email and they are looking in to the cause of the problem. I suggest you do the same. Go to Metro’s developer page for the email.

    1. You know what I like about STB? It is a self-perpetuating oligarchy.

      Don’t like what the owners and moderators say? You can build your own blog.

      Want to do more than just journalism? You can build your own organization.

      It sounds like LA could use an organization similar to STB, where dissenting opinions can’t get shouted down. Moderation is so much more polite.

      1. But you have to remember that in Los Angeles, if you use public transportation, you are viewed as inferior or that “something must be wrong with you”. This is changing slowly, but has only really in the past 5 to 10 years. ($4/gallon gasoline helped).

        Southern California has such organizations, however they are drowned out by the Bus Riders Union, and the ADHD-afflected media seems to prefer to cover them, perhaps in part to further the myth I have alluded to above, that public transport investments should not take priority over asphalt investment because “see, look at the whackos that ride the bus/train”.

    2. Why don’t they do something constructive – like occupying something.
      I have to admit though, I’ve always wanted to learn how to march and play the drum at the same time.
      How’s the world treating ya Gris.

  3. Does anyone know why the New Flyer D60s drive and sound like a dying pachyderm trying to bicycle up the counter balance? are they just old? or does it have something to do with the fact that the D60s are built like 2 30′ buses attached at the mid point whereas the D60LFs are like a 40′ bus attached to a 20′ trailer? (I would imagine that the location of the articulation joint has some bearing) …

    regardless it is amazing how much nicer the ride is on the D60LFs (older and newer) …

    1. The D60HFs are notably older, and have a louder and less efficient engine.

      The fact that almost all of the D60LFs are really DE60LFs, and therefore have some electric traction helping them along, reducing diesel engine noise.

      I can’t imagine the articulation joint’s location would affect much more than turning radius, but a Metro mechanic would have to tell us that.

      1. Yeah, we’ve only got about 30 D60LFs, and over 250 DE60LFs. You can spot a D60LF because there will be no roof hump on the trailer, and only a small one on the tractor portion (for the HVAC). All the hybrid variants will have will have a large roof hump on the trailer for the battery pack, and some have a second pack on the tractor portion as well.

    2. Older, bigger engines and worn out gears are your answers.

      The D60s use a Cummins M11 engine – a large-displacement low-reving 10.8 liter turbodiesel. They’re no longer made as they don’t meet current EPA emissions requirements. They make peak horsepower at only 1200 RPM, and at full throttle at that speed have a very low, bellowing exhaust note.

      The other noise they make is a high pitched whine or growl, which comes from worn gears in the transmission and differential that no longer mesh perfectly. It’s almost deafening in the trailer section of many D60s. That combines with the exhaust sound to make a two-note chord that carries better than either sound would by itself.

      The Gillig 40′ diesels actually use the same engine & transmission, with a less aggressive camshaft that reduces power to 280hp from 330. This gives them a softer exhaust note, but the pitch is about the same. The reduced weight of the 40’s means the gear whine isn’t as prominent either, but if you listen for it, it’s definitely there. Basically, every sound you hear coming from the D60’s is also coming from the Gilligs at a lower volume. And just judging by the sound, the transmissions in both are on their last legs.

      The newer D60LFs use a variety of engines, depending on when they were ordered and what EPA requirements were in force at that time. Metro’s preferred Cummins engines weren’t always available when some batches of buses were being ordered, because Cummins was slow to get engines available that met new emissions standards in 2004/2007. I believe most D60LFs have either Caterpillar D9 or Cummins ISL engines. Both are similar designs, 8-9 liter direct injection turbodiesels. They’re rambunctiously loud at idle, and quieter than the M11s at speed. They’re smaller displacement than the M11s, but the turbo runs at a much higher pressure. As a result, the exhaust note is quieter but the turbo whine is much more prominent, often louder than the actual exhaust note, and they kind of sound like they’re whistling up hills.

      The transmissions in the D60LFs aren’t whining yet. But they will get louder as they age; they use the exact same Allison transmissions as the older buses, and we can expect the exact same noises in the trailer section once these get a few more years under their belts.

      1. Comment of the week right there — great info. I’ve actually been on a few D60LFs with terrible axle whine, although unlike the D60s it’s usually worst when the driver comes off the throttle and the diff isn’t being driven hard.

        I’ve got another one for you: what’s the clun-clunk from the back the 40′ Gilligs (only audible in the interior) when the driver comes off the throttle at low speeds?

      2. While I’m not sure exactly which clunk you’re talking about (I’ve heard quite a variety of clunks and thumps in the Gilligs), it’s probably safe to assume it’s the old motor mounts and suspension bushings going bad. I’m pretty much stabbing in the dark on this one, though.

        All the engine, transmission, and rear suspension mounting bolts are isolated in rubber bushings to prevent vibrations from being transmitted to the body. At this age they are starting to break down, and often the bolts, originally centered in the middle of a solid rubber donut, are now able to slide side-to-side through cracks in the rubber. Driver steps on the throttle, engine & axle twist one direction. Driver lifts, they slam back the other direction. If the rubber’s shot, everything’s able to move an inch or so out of position, and clunk metal-to-metal.

        There’s about a dozen or so joints and mounting brackets of similar construction in the back of those coaches, and they’re probably not going to get replaced unless someone is already tearing it apart for an unrelated major repair.

  4. While the moderators could object to my posting these websites again, I would like to summarize them for the benefit of those who may wish to have some insight on the national “Transit Riders Union” movement.

    First, every one of the “Transit Riders Union”s nation-wide seem to be all associated with the Los Angeles BRU and its parent organization The Labor/Community Strategy Center :

    They have often strayed from their alleged core cause of improving bus service for the poor:
    (Scroll down to “Let the Palestinian People Go”)

    Below that, see how profitable this campaign has been for its “leaders”:
    (A $135,000-plus salary for the BRU head Eric Mann in 2008)

    Here is a summary of the BRU’s past tactics and accomplishments:

    Their goal of getting the rest of the USA “moving toward a clean-fuel bus-centered system.”
    And they demand that 50% of operations and 50% of capital budgets be restricted solely for buses regardless of needs or funding sources.
    (This has earned them the nickname of the “Bus Drivers‘ Union”)

    They would rather have you sit on a slow bus that stops every block, gets stuck in traffic, but preserves a single seat ride:
    (Regardless of where the employment centers are!)

    They waste precious Federal government time with requests for unjustified Civil Rights investigations:

    Is it a coincidence that new Seattle “Transit Riders Union” has the same yellow t-shirts, and similar logo as the L.A> Bus Riders Union?
    (I really, really, REALLY hope it is a coincidence!.)

    Lots more coverage from L.A. Streetsblog here:

    Even more critical coverage here:

  5. So I just did a check of Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz, are there no travel sites that have trains as an option or am I just missing something? I was hoping to do the whole flight+hotel discount, but obviously with a train. When I go to Amtrak’s website and plug in some dates to get prices it has some hotels near the station to pick from but all are $100+.

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