126 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Emirates Air Line”

  1. Does Federal Way have a valid complaint?
    ST’s Financial Plan (May 2011) would indicate that YES, they do have reason to cry foul – on several fronts. Looking at page 2 reveals a huge imbalance between local tax revenues by sub-area, and the corresponding expenditures within each sub-area for the period between 2009 and 2023.
    Case A: The NSA (N. sub-area) will generate 3.4 B in local revenue of the 11.8 collected, or 29% of the total. East will generate 3.1 B, or 26%, and SSA (S. sub-area) will generate 1.9 B, or 16%. So far, so good. But look at the combined spending (Capital, O&M, O-head) by sub-area gives an entirely different picture. NSA will receive 8.0 B, paying in only 42% of the total for their ‘fair share’, whereas the SSA will receive only 2.5 B, being expected to pay for 75% of all their costs.
    That’s nearly double what NSA will pay.
    Case B: Looking at FTA funding and bonding for both sub-areas paints a different picture. NSA will get the lion’s share of both, at 4.1 B, or 50% of that pie, whereas SSA will reap only 454 mil, or 5% – just 1/10 that of Seattle. Yes, it’s competitive funding, but just scraps of meat left on the table for them?
    Case C: “Who pays for what services” is another area where Federal Way and the SSA have a legitimate complaint. Seattle pays for only that portion of light rail services operated within their area and nothing else.
    The SSA will pay for it’s share of Light rail operations, plus commuter rail and express bus services. Granted, most riders using those services originate in the sub-area, but what about NSA commuters using the reverse-commute function. Many STEX routes are well utilized going both directions to/from Seattle, yet Seattle pays nothing. Is that fair? Or what about reverse trips on Sounder? Another free ride for NSA?
    If fairness, balance, and equity are the true litmus test of a regional system being built, then I have to side with Federal Way, Kent, Auburn and many other sub-urban cities that watch Seattle build it’s world class transit system at the expense of their citizens. Waiting their turn has rarely worked out for them in the past, as Seattle likes to start with a clean slate each time a ‘New’ package is put together.
    Will ST3 be any different?

    1. Look, If seattle grows and prospers, Kent/FedWay Etc. Grow/prosper with it, if Seattle dies, they die as well. IT makes sense to strengthen the regional core the most. I was raised in Kent, and love my giant suburb, just as much as any south sounder, but, I completely disagree with you that Fed Way has anything to gripe about. They need to just accept their declining revenue, and work WITH Sound transit, rather than against it, to find funding sources to complete the system. When someone slaps you in the face(federal way slapped ST in the media), how much do you feel like helping them? Whereas, if someone comes and asks you What’s wrong, how can I help?

      Which of those two reactions is more likely to come to a good result???

    2. Other subareas’ elected officials made more effort to lobby for federal funding. Federal Way politicians thought they were entitled to the fruits of other politicians’ labors, without having to lift a finger.

      Then, when they finally do lift a finger, it is to nitpick everyone else’s work.

      Is there a case to be made that any politicians from Federal Way have made any effort to get light rail to Federal Way other than by attacking Sound Transit? (Maybe they were too busy lobbying for excessing highway funding?)

      For South Link, through the efforts of numerous people, $10 million (I realize that is not a lot) was just awarded by the federal government to help with 200th St Station. I’m not aware of any of the Federal Way politicians helping to secure that $10 million.

      Also, to Charles’ question: I don’t recall anyone complaining during the ST2 debate about Renton being in the wrong subarea. I don’t think any elected officials from Renton have brought up the issue, either. You might ask them. Keep in mind that Renton benefits from the 560 and 566.

      I think Federal Way politicians are looking at these numbers and drawing the wrong conclusions. The obvious conclusion is that if they start making the effort to lobby in DC, they, too could get practically a one-to-one match for their local pay-in.

      Instead, they have concluded that they are victims, and are owed a baby, so they send a missive to King Solomon saying that a certain baby really belongs to them. The king sees two claimants on the baby, and so orders that the baby be cut in half. The mom cries “Noooo!”. The other says, “Okay” with a smile. King Solomon then sees who the real mom is. Federal Way politicians are looking as credible as the Okay woman in that story.

      1. I’d love to see the marching orders to ST’s lobbiests in DC. I don’t think Federal Way gets mentioned much.
        OK, I’ll give you that one, so what about Case C? “Who Pays?”
        In 2023 ST2 will be finished. Link will be generating 83.7 mil annual trips. Of that, NSA will generate 70% of those trips, and SSA about 4.5 mil trips, or 5% of the total.
        Yet SSA will have paid in $331 mil. in operating costs, compared to NSA’s $992, or about 1/3 that of Seattle’s share, for 1/10 the service.
        All this chatter is water over the dam, until it comes time to craft ST3. The baby may get sliced and diced if Seattle doesn’t recognize they are not the center of the universe, and subject to special rules of fairness.
        The re balancing of local revenue and expenses would likely pay for Link all the way to Federal Way City Hall.

      2. MIke, you’re confusing the measures of service and productivity. Service, plainly stated, is money spent. Productivity, plainly stated, is trips taken.

        If the SSA is getting less than its share of ST’s sales tax revenue (not all revenue, since many of those federal grants are awarded project-by-project) spent on providing service (and that includes capital costs) in the SSA, then there is something to complain about.

        But the mere fact that expenditures in the NSA lead to much higher productivity/ridership makes the case that the money spent in the NSA is being invested well.

        Be careful how you raise the issue of two-way trips. If the remedy is that reverse-peak trips then get cancelled in order to satisfy subarea equity, then the baby just got sliced in half. Where two-way express service exists, it allows employees to get to businesses in the suburbs, allowing those businesses to exist. Don’t get me started on the nonsense of having one-way-only commuter service just because of subarea equity rules, resulting in wasted deadhead and withering suburban business districts.

        Still, the best strategy for Federal Way is to ask the ST Board (which is dominated by suburban politicians) to look at how the 2-way issue is handled, and handle it better, *while* lobbying in Olympia and DC to provide more money for transit, instead of trying to scuttle the transit agencies.

      3. Thanks for engaging Brent. I don’t discount the fact that cost/benefit ratios are superior on the low hanging fruits of the North. It just wrangles me that suburban cities get short changed in a lot of other ways.
        Here’s Case D: Farebox Revenues. (Table 2).
        Comparing suburban services show CR fare revenue will rise from $2.96 to $3.81 between 2010 and 2030, for a 29% increase.
        STEX will rise from $1.55 to $2.80, for an 81% increase, with service levels nearly constant.
        Link will actually go down from $1.37 to 1.35. Guess who gets the benefit of lower fares? I’m not convinced that Link will be significantly cheaper to operate than STEX for similar distance trips (that jury is still out)

      4. The baby may get sliced and diced if Seattle doesn’t recognize they are not the center of the universe, and subject to special rules of fairness.

        Federal Way will get a train before Ballard and other high density multi-family city neighborhoods. Fairness is connecting all of the population centers in the region, regardless of their municipality. As far as this issue is concerned, Seattle has had its share of “disappointment” — we were promised a train to Northgate decades ago.

      5. MIke, I’m not sure what you are asking for in your latest comment. Are you asking that Link fares be raised? that STExpress fares be lowered? that fare revenue be split among the subareas, regardless of where it is collected?

        In legalese, what is the “prayer” for your “case”?

      6. I’d be willing to settle out of court IF Link costs are apportioned by station boardings. SSA will have 3 stations, out of 30+ systemwide, and only 5% of the boardings. I’ll take 5% of the operating cost of Link’s 1.6 Bil through 2023 for a total of 80 mil, instead of the $331 mil being allocated. That’s an extra 1/4 Bil we didn’t have today.

      7. MIke,

        Does that mean you’ll give up the expensive 574, 577, and 578 lines, and sell off the parking garage?

        Where will you find a lawyer who has the relevant experience and works at a law firm that doesn’t have at least one other lawyer at that firm on retainer with ST? ;)

      8. MIke,

        What would you say to eliminating the subareas in exchange for getting the light rail all the way to Federal Way TC?

      9. in exchange for getting the light rail all the way to Federal Way TC?

        Federal Way needs light rail like a fish needs a bicycle.

      10. “Federal Way needs light rail like a fish needs a bicycle.”

        Then why are some Federal Way elected officials making a campaign issue out of being red-facedly in favor of getting light rail to Federal Way?

      11. I’d be willing to settle out of court IF Link costs are apportioned by station boardings.

        That’s the single most backward thing I’ve ever read on STB.

        Federal Way’s ridership potential is so low that it might cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per rider to reach it. Then it might cost dozens of dollars per rider to serve them.


        Why should those who must be subsidized most heavily for service pay the least?

        MIke, it’s becoming increasingly clear that you’re a resident of Federal Way or elsewhere in far-south King County. But guess what? You’re very own criticisms of the Lynnwood project and its ridership estimates apply tenfold to where you live. The awful truth: bashing one and advocating the other makes you a plain old hypocrite.

      12. “Your very own criticisms…”

        Maybe “hypocrisy” is too harsh a word. But vocal parochialism is separated from hypocrisy by a very fine line.

      13. Jack: It’s somewhat ironic that Ballard joined Seattle for the public services, and yet Ballard might have light rail as soon as Northgate if it were a separate city today.

      14. You think Ballard would be a different subarea if it hadn’t joined Seattle? I doubt that. Only if Seattle hadn’t annexed north of 85th St (then you might be able to justify a separate “north of Seattle” subarea), and maybe not even then.

      15. You think Ballard would be a different subarea if it hadn’t joined Seattle? I doubt that.

        We could afford to fast-track real transit to Ballard as part of this subarea if we’d made a priority of it.

        And it Ballard were still a separate city, the subarea project planners might have had to try harder for our votes.

    3. I wonder if King County is just too big and all encompassing and it’s raison d’etre of being able to provide consistent systems across an economically connected area is no longer valid.

      In some sense, it’s either too big — or maybe not big enough! Economically, as say Black Diamond for example gets built out and is considering running rail on an existing line to Tacoma, how do you manage all of that and distribute taxation in a way that maximizes benefits.

      Also, are we masking competition under the guise of “fairness”?

      And what is the goal of Transit. The publishers of STB clearly have stated that Transit=Social Engineering. Even if you swallow that pill…if we are engineering society, what is the blueprint? Are we all supposed to live in 50 story 1-bedroom condos…except for the people who own them, and live on Mercer Island in estates? Or can we redesign what I term the “State-City” that recognizes the new structures such as HSR and Aeropolises and their potential for new lifestyles that combine nature and urbism, density and sparsity?

      The State-City

      1. There may be good reasons to split the county into Seattle, suburban, and rural counties; and likewise to revive Seattle Transit and withdraw from Metro. But as always there are tradeoffs. Politically it’s not going to happen because some in rural east King County have been trying to break off as Lincoln County/Cedar County for years and it hasn’t gone anywhere. (They want to develop their farmlands into sprawl.)

        It’s not plausable in this generation that Black Diamond would want a train to Tacoma. What do you mean by Black Diamond getting “built out”, how big is that? I’ll refrain from speculating whether you mean “more Black Diamond” (large-lot houses and nothing else), or a Renton-size city or Bellevue-size city.

        “Social engineering” means forcing people/brainwashing people to live a certain way. That’s a mischaracterization. The issue is the wisest way to spend limited public resources to have the most robust infrastructure. Like any investment, you have to look at sustainability: what will last over the long term, and what is relatively immune to shocks? If people want to live in isolated houses on the periphery, fine, but the rest of us shouldn’t have to pay extraordinary sums to subsidize their wastefulness, or shortchange our real transit needs to give disproportionate service to the periphery.

        “50-story 1-bedroom condos” is a hyperbole. Nobody is suggesting that. The urbanists are suggesting east coast row houses, Vancouver duplexes, 6-10 story apartments. Maybe a few 20-25 story buildings. The people who are proposing 40-story buildings are downtown developers, and that’s fine downtown. In the far future maybe we can go for Manhattan, but let’s do a modest upgrade first.

        The urbanists are also saying we need more 3+ bedroom units in the inner city for families, and amenities such as grocery stores/drugstores in Belltown. That’s what Vancouver’s West End and Yaletown have, and why they work so well.

        “3 story apartments surrounded by a national forest… It is a rail system that is high speed”

        That was Le Corbusieur’s vision a hundred years ago: the “Garden City” and “Radiant City”. “Highrises in the park”, or isolated single-use zones surrounded by emptiness, requiring cars or transit for all daily trips. That is the model behind suburban superblocks, office parks, and cloverleaf highway interchanges with no-man’s-land around them. Le Cobusieur, being French, assumed grade-separated transit lines between the nodes, and envisioned highrises rather than detached single-family houses. Those aspects were not retained in American suburbia.

        American suburbia is based on two visions: Le Corbusier’s and the English “country house”. Office parks, Southcenter, 167, and residential zones are Le Corbusier. Tracts of single-family houses are the “country house”. Back east suburban houses were even called “in the country” — strange as it sounds to us Northwesterners where “in the country” means truly rural, as in Skagit County or Eatonville.

        The suburban model is of course social engineering as much as urbanism is. Mortgage subsidies were given to suburban houses, especially newly-developed land, while inner-city neighborhoods were redlined. Federal taxes paid for suburban highways. City/county taxes paid to extend sewer lines and schools. Urbanites subsidized suburbanites. Large urban renewal projects dislocated people and industries, practically forcing them to move to the suburbs. All of this is beyond just “white flight” and “wanting a better house and a better school”.

        The problem with suburbia and your dispersed model is that they depend on high energy input. Lots of land taken. Long power lines and sewer lines serving only a few low-density customers. Gasoline to get around. Transit can’t compete in a low-density environment. Most people do not live within walking distance of a grocery store, school, or frequent transit stop. You say hydrogen cars are the future, but that’s putting a lot of eggs into one basket. Suppose you’re wrong and it doesn’t work, or it can’t be scaled up quickly enough? With a low-energy baseline, such as NYC where cars aren’t required, it’s no big deal: the choice drivers will just have to suffer for a while. With a high-energy baseline, such as Kent, it’s a crisis because people can’t get to the store or work or do anything. You can because you live next to a shopping center, and people in Kent Station can because they can walk to a transit trunk, but most people in Kent aren’t so lucky. They have to spend an increasing percentage of their income on gas, and they can’t walk places even if they want to.

        The same issue occurs with long-distance food and monoculture. Our food system is utterly dependent on oil to make the fertilizer and transport the food. That’s fine for supplemental luxury foods, but not for people’s lifeline. We need to move back toward local food and local production (small industries).

        Europe responded to the oil shock of the 1970s by building transit and walkable neighborhoods, and gradually weaning itself off oil. The US ran the other way, especially in the 1980s and 00’s. That’s a dangerous situation to be in.

      2. Bailo, Bailo, Bailo.

        1. Western Europe has high-speed rail and people there don’t live in “state-cities” with hundred-mile one-way commutes. Why? Because it’s too expensive for most people to ride high-speed rail to work every day. Why? Because it’s expensive to operate. Why? Because it requires a lot of energy.

        2. You’re missing the whole point of where and why high-speed rail is fast. High-speed rail goes really fast through the sparse countryside. It goes really fast there because it doesn’t have to stop. If a high-speed train stops for a small cluster of three-story apartments in the middle of a national forest, an unlikely proposition at all, it’s not going to stop there very often, and not over a very wide span of the day.

        Both of these points are doubly true for air travel — actually, thinking about air travel, and why masses of people don’t commute by airplane every day, is instructive when thinking about the possibilities and limitations of high-speed rail.

        If you want to engineer society you have to be aware of the design constraints imposed by the laws of physics. That’s fundamental to engineering anything. This “state-city” nonsense is totally incompatible with reality.

        3. Here’s a question that’s really important if you’re going to engineer anything: do people want to live in three-story apartments in the middle of national forests, where the only way to get to the rest of the “city” — the only way to see your friends, the only way to shop, the only way to go out to events — is to ride an infrequent train with poor span of service?

        The American Dream of a house with two or three cars in the suburbs is, for all its problems, at least a popular dream. It has created a world in which those that attain the dream have a tremendous amount of mobility to what matters to them (in many ways, at the expense of those that haven’t attained it). It became possible because the automobile and its fuel became affordable. The lifestyle is problematic and unsustainable in subtle ways (maybe so subtle they couldn’t have been known at the time), but it is at least desirable, and possible enough that it got built. I’m pretty sure you’re proposing something that’s neither desirable nor possible.

      3. Mike: It’s not just the energy input. I just plain don’t *want* to live somewhere where I have to drive everywhere. Walking is fun for me, and driving is not. And I know for a fact that this is true for many people.

        I don’t want to take the driving-centric lifestyle away from anyone; I just want to be able to live my life the way that I (and many other people) want, without “urban planners” and transportation engineers and zoning boards conspiring to take away my options.

      4. Aleks, yes, I don’t want to drive either. But we live in a democracy and the majority want to drive, and on top of that, they’ve been successful in promoting the illusion that everybody except a few wierdos want to drive (and have a large detached house with a yard). So I think we have to focus on the practical problems of shortchanging walkability and transit.

        I think Christopher Leinberger wrote that 33% of Americans want to live in walkable urbanism, 33% want to live in driveable sub-urbanism (with a large detatched house and yard), and 33% could go either way. But the housing stock is 80% suburban single-family, a gross mismatch. That’s why urbanists are so insistent that we need more dense neighborhoods now.

      5. “I’m pretty sure you’re proposing something that’s neither desirable nor possible.”

        Allow me to answer for Bailo:

        “The Social Engineers on STB are proposing something at least as undesirable, and for that reason, impossible.”

      6. “The urbanists are also saying we need more 3+ bedroom units in the inner city for families, and amenities such as grocery stores/drugstores in Belltown.”

        +1 YES PLEASE!!! My dream is to live in a 3-bedroom unit (I have 2 kids) in a building with a grocery store on the ground floor. I really wish I could find a 3-bedroom condo that cost the same as my 4-bedroom house, but I can’t, so I live in a SFH. I am sure there are other parents like me who realize we don’t need a yard if we can live near a park, and I would love to never have to weed anything ever again. Seriously.

    4. Mike, the Sounder “reverse commute function” is about nothing more than moving trains back to their starting points for another trip in the “peak” direction. They are only in-service because the staff is already aboard, already being paid, and the extra time-cost of stopping on the reverse trip is only a couple of minutes, so why not make a handful of fare dollars off of them.

      Those reverse trips are minimally useful and minimally used. Charging Seattle because they happen to exist would be a huge affront to the reasonable allocation of funding resources.

      As for ST Express buses, routes that are well-used bidirectionally are indeed charged to multiple sub-areas. You’re flatly wrong on that one.

      Federal funding: When South King has the ridership potential for an expensive infrastructural project to make a lick of sense, the Fed is likely to fund it. Don’t blame Sound Transit for the Fed’s reluctance to toss money into a black hole. (Lots of good projects have fallen victim to this same reluctance; South Link not one of them.)

      I don’t quite understand how you’re deriving your numbers in Case A. Are you looking at both sales taxes and fares? Where are you getting your 42%/75% “pay their own way” numbers. There is effectively no operational “subsidy” beyond fares and tax collections, all of which are governed by sub-area equity.

      1. Case in point, one morning I took Sounder to Tacoma because I had business at the Pierce County Courthouse. There were two or three other people on the railcar. (One woman lived in Puyallup and was going to UW-Tacoma.) But the train isn’t running for those four people. It’s running for the 500 people who are going the other way on the next run. But since it has to go to Tacoma anyway, and reverse-commute service is important for when people need it, why not allow those four people to ride it?

      2. If the train is stopping at stations where nobody is getting on or off that’s a huge waste of time and fuel. I’m guessing there are other factors the come into play with revenue vs non-revenue service.

      3. Mike, since you’ve used the counter-commute run, can you answer Bernie’s question?

        Did it even stop completely when there was no one on the platform? What would you estimate the time-cost was? (I’d guess 3 or 4 minutes tops — all within what would be the on-board staff and station attendants’ paid shifts anyway.)

      4. And Bernie, I have cross-checked the schedules. The first two inbound trains definitely correspond to the only two reverse-commute trains, which definitely are the same equipment used for the last two inbound runs.

        There are no other in-service train movements outside of the peak-direction service span.

      5. From inside the car I can’t tell whether people are getting on/off at other cars, or even other doors. That’s why I spoke only about the people I could see in my car. It stopped at every station.

        It is not “a huge waste of time and fuel” to stop at empty stations on a reverse-commute trip. It takes almost zero additional fuel to stop, and it adds five minutes to an hour-long trip. The five minutes does not impact Sounder’s schedule for the next trip, so it doesn’t matter. If you want to save fuel, cancel the trip, but then you’d have to buy another train to make the next northbound trip.

      6. I wish CT we’d figure this out for all the buses driving down the freeway empty. If you’re paying a driver and you’re paying for fuel maybe you should take a moment to pick people up.

      7. It is not “a huge waste of time and fuel” to stop at empty stations

        Maybe Brian can chime in here. It’s my understanding that trains have great fuel efficiency per ton rolling along on level rails but accelerating all that mass up to speed is a different story.

      8. “I wish CT we’d figure this out for all the buses driving down the freeway empty. If you’re paying a driver and you’re paying for fuel maybe you should take a moment to pick people up.”


        If CT wants people to Buy Local (i.e. in the CT taxing district), bringing people out to Snohomish County for the day might make it easier for the King County hoardes to do that. I’d do that on my day off just to ride on the upper deck and enjoy the view.

        Besides, doing so doesn’t add many stops.

        The question, then, is how many buses deadhead back to Snohomish County in the morning and King County in the evening?

        One other sidenote on subarea stupidity: The 512 runs on Sundays, while the less-connective 511 and 510 run separately on Saturdays, because that’s what the budget allows. Without subarea stupidity, the 512 could run on Saturdays, and the savings could expedite building Link.

      9. I take the Sounder for fun (I live in Ballard and since no Ballard station was ever built [on the north line] it never worked for me from a commuting standpoint). But I love trains so I frequently take it, both to Tacoma and Everett. When I took the very first reverse commute, back from Tacoma, the train was almost empty. That was years ago, already. Since then, I’ve noticed a marked increase in patronage. When there’s a Mariner’s game, all the more so. I can’t speak for the morning reverse because I can’t get up that early, but in the afternoon, seems someone gets on/off at every intermediate station.

      10. Some questions arose while I was out.
        Case A used Financial Plan pg 2 numbers through 2023. Local revenue of 3.4 B is listed on line 1, Sources of Funds, “Sound Transit Tax Revenue”. Fares and other Revenues are listed separately. Everyone points to a shrinking local tax stream as the reason Fed.Way projects got cut. I’m pointing out there are a lot of other factors that influence those decisions, and the logic isn’t quite as straight forward as everyone would like to think it is.
        There is nothing hypocritical about my stance on Lynnwood TC’s 16,000 riders per day, and my stance on how sub-area funds are allocated. Those are two entirely separate issues, and name calling can’t change that. I would cry foul if ST claimed Fed Way TC would generate that kind of daily ridership too. Fed. Way is twice the size of Lynnwood, about the same distance away from Seattle, next to I-5, has tons of buses rolling by, and has a mall. Sister cities almost.
        One thing we didn’t discuss is the cost per mile of Light Rail going to Fed. Way. Obviously they can’t justify an expensive tunnel all the way. Maybe not even an elevated line. But that leaves open a whole lot of other options to get there. (a good topic for another day, perhaps)
        On the reverse commute STEX buses, why is the O&M line under Use of Funds a big fat ZERO under North King sub-area through 2023? All I can do is rely on ST’s numbers to be accurate. If I’m wrong, call ST.

      11. MIke,

        If NSA ST board members are asked to have the NSA assume half the cost of Sounder, I’m afraid they’d say, “Okay, and we’ll shut it down, thank you.”

        So, if you want to change the rules in the middle of the bond package, be prepared for others to also want rule changes to their benefit and your detriment.

      12. I’ve done the reverse commute train from Tacoma to Seattle and counted about 10% full meaning under 100 people on the whole train. But that’s $400 to put towards diesel fuel so I don’t see it as a waste. The problem with reverse commute trains is they run so infrequent that you forget they’re there. How I happened on the reverse commute South Sounder is I noticed that one could transfer and basically go directly from Tacoma to Everett virtually non-stop – once a day. You can’t however go the other way on the Sounder.

      13. Fed. Way is twice the size [population] of Lynnwood…

        With an even lower population density, believe it or not! And even less in the way of distinct or compact centers of economic activity.

        …about the same distance away from Seattle…

        It’s actually almost 50% further. Lynnwood is 15 miles from downtown. Federal Way is 22.

        I would cry foul if ST claimed Fed Way TC would generate that kind of daily ridership too.

        Then the rest of your argument is dust. Pathetic numbers don’t justify the hundreds of millions that it would cost to build, even at-grade.

        That you would argue the terrible numbers mean you should pay even less of the whopping costs is the height of arrogance comedy: “We’ll have less than 5% of the boardings,” you say. “So even though we’ll require 10% of the construction costs and 15% of the permanent operating costs, I only think we should pay 5% of what it takes to build and run it!”

        You’re not helping your case. In fact, you’ve probably made the best case so far for a total cancellation of the project!

      14. “It’s actually almost 50% further. Lynnwood is 15 miles from downtown. Federal Way is 22.”

        And yes, MIke, that’s as the crow flies, not as the train travels. So no arguments about “bypassing the Rainier Valley.”

      15. d.p.: You don’t win a debate by splitting hairs, then claiming ‘Gotcha’.
        Fed. Way is twice the size [population] of Lynnwood…
        FACT: Lynnwood = 35,835, FedWay = 89,345
        With an even lower population density, believe it or not! And even less in the way of distinct or compact centers of economic activity.
        FACT: Lynnwood = 4,573 per Ac., FedWay = 4,011 (close enough)
        …about the same distance away from Seattle…
        FACT: STEX 512 is 35 min. to Seattle in the Peak, SO IS FED.WAY on the 577.
        The trip is the same, so my point about being sister cities stands.
        If it’s so damn important to get to Lynnwood in ST2, I’ve not heard one good reason why Fed Way is a different animal – except local revenues are short – which goes back to my original premise – the accounting system has been unfairly manipulated in favor of Seattle, at the expense of suburban cities. Man up, and own it.

      16. I had always thought Lynnwood and Federal Way were equidistant, and Everett and Tacoma too. But when I counted the blocks, Lynnwood and Kent are equidistant, and Everett and Federal Way. (Or rather south Federal Way, 340th Street). Tacoma and Puyallup are beyond even that.

      17. .STEX 512 is 35 min. [from Lynnwood] to Seattle in the Peak, SO IS FED.WAY on the 577.

        So 15 miles on I-5 to Lynnwood takes as long as 22 miles on I-5 to Federal Way? If anything, this suggests that the traffic to Lynnwood is worse, and that the light-rail alternative is actually more important from the north!

        I speak a lot on here about spontaneous trip-making. You may deny that distance matters, but it does. 22 miles mean people make fewer trips, less often, and only for more important matters (work, major errands or events) than at 15 miles. So until the invention of the teleportation device, your demand ceiling at 22 miles is going to be proportionally lower than at 15 miles.

        MIke, you know that I don’t love the Lynnwood project either. If it were up to me, I’d leave the line at Northgate until the city itself had good enough transit to get around — people could P&R or transfer at Northgate and have access to anywhere.

        But the truth is that I-5 traffic — and not just at peak, or in one direction — stays bad beyond Northgate, helping to make the case for a release valve that extends to the next logical point north. Which happens to be Lynnwood, 15 miles out.

        To the south, the traffic gets a lot light once past the airport. And — what luck! — there will be a large P&R to let people switch to rail at South 200th (which is, not coincidentally, 15 miles from downtown Seattle).

        Those who would have driven to the rail station in Federal Way — and yes, they would have driven to Federal Way station, because no one lives by it!! — can just as easily drive there and still avoid I-5’s primary traffic troubles. And all this can happen without the insanely high costs of building and operating 7 more miles of rail that we already know will be poorly used!

        4,000 /Ac is pretty dense.

        For the purposes of calculating transit demand, 4,000/sq. mi. is approaching zero, I’m sorry to say.

        Even worse is that said 4,000/sq. mi. are spread evenly across Federal Way. The city has essentially no concentrations of higher density, nor does it have any large parks or uninhabited areas to skew the statistic. It’s just 4,000/sq. mi. across and 4,000/sq. mi. down, boundary-to-boundary. And almost 100% cul-de-sacs. You couldn’t draw a better illustration of “sprawl” if you tried.

        Let’s face it, those 89,000 Federal Way residents will never be able to get to transit without driving. And once they’re in their cars, a big portion of them aren’t getting out of their cars no matter where you build the train. And another big chunk aren’t going anywhere that Link — with its miles between stops and its crappy connectivity to urban or other transit — even goes. Yet another chunk are Bailo racists who’d rather still hop a highway express bus than deal with minorities on the train into town. And a bunch more might P&R in SeaTac anyway for the lower train fare.

        The remaining demand is way too low to justify the extra 7 miles of construction, and certainly too low to justify the mayor’s outrage.

      18. The Bailoman has not proven to be a racist. Kent has minorities. JB has supported the 1970s housing on East Hill that, whatever its other merits, is more affordable than average and has a higher minority concentration. The whitest areas are northwest Seattle, northeast Seattle, and Snohomish County.

      19. For the record, 320th St is exit 143 on I-5 (highway 18 is exit 142), downtown Seattle is exit 165 (Stewart St/Denny Way/Olive Way is exit 166), and SR 524/44th Ave W (near Lynnwood TC) is exit 181 (I-405/Alderwood Mall is exit 182). Exit numbering on interstates is based on distance from their southern or western terminus within that state, so that’s pretty close to d.p.’s numbers, but I can see how they might seem closer; Georgetown (the Corson/Michigan ramp at exit 162) is about at the midpoint between them.

        For even more perspective, if we extended Seattle’s street numbering into Snohomish County, 196th St SW (SR 524, near the TC) would only be NE 265th St.

      20. Yeah, I was being too flippant for my own good. In fact, if I remember correctly, John may be the parent of a multiracial child or step-child.

        The context was a recent post in which John expressed his fear of traveling through the Rainier Valley in the late evening, and made reference to “sketchy” characters and on-board thefts (of which there has been precisely one documented).

        So really, he’s more scared of “urban-feeling” situations and interactions than of any particular racial or demographic group.

        Apologies, and I would edit if I could.

        (Meanwhile, Federal Way is indeed slightly less white than Kent, though still whiter than SeaTac. But its tract development style and the fact that nobody walks anywhere contribute to a lack of interactions across class lines that engenders a fear of doing so in other contexts.)

      21. d.p.:

        First, the 4000/acre comment was a joke. That would be over 2 million people per square mile! The most dense neighborhoods in the US top out at something like 250 dwelling units per acre.

        Second, I actually don’t think Bailo is scared of urban anything. We know he likes Manhattan. I think what he really doesn’t like is what Jane Jacobs calls “grey areas” — the parts of cities which are too dense to be called suburbs, but not dense enough to be sustainable, vibrant, *safe* urban neighborhoods. Not coincidentally, much of Seattle falls into this category, if only in aggregate.

        So I agree with Bailo that Seattle is hardly ideal. Where I disagree is where to go next. Despite his affection for Manhattan, he seems to feel that Kent represents a better model for the region, whereas I would like to see more of Seattle approach real urban densities (i.e. over 100 dwelling units per acre).

      22. not dense enough to be sustainable, vibrant, *safe* urban neighborhoods.

        Wow, those oxymoron’s are right up there with army intelligence! Had the “pleasure” of driving into Ballard this weekend. Seattle has so neglected it’s roads it’s criminal. I have a new appreciation of why Seattle folk think surface ROW for Link through Bellevue would be just fine since Bellevue has roads that work and screwing them up wouldn’t be nearly as bad as using Seattle’s current ROW which is borderline dysfunctional.

        As much as I support bicycle infrastructure; instead of $5k on “green” bike boxes maybe a better use of money would be reflective paint so you can actually see lanes at night. Then again, maybe not since “lanes” is such a schizophrenic concept with on street parking taking over at certain times.

      23. Yes, Bernie. Safe, vibrant, functional, appealing urban places. Cities. People live in ’em. People love ’em. People flock to ’em.

        Ever heard of Paris? It’s quite renowned! And not just for tourist; a few million people live there, too!

        Seattle ain’t Paris. You and I and Aleks and Bailo certainly agree on that. But Ballard Avenue is lovely this time of year. The next time you’re near here, try getting out of your car and walking around a bit. You just might like it!

      24. Aleks,

        I’ve never seen that abbreviation for “acre” before, so that one flew right by me!

        The Bailo-comment context, for the sake of reference:

        Bailo’s mind is a pretty interesting tangle of contradict, and I tend to find myself less irritated with him than confused.

        From what I’ve been able to gather from his various itinerant missives, he doesn’t “like” Manhattan so much as he’s comfortable negotiating and navigating it because he’s been visiting it since his Long Island childhood. He’d never consider spending more than a day in its bustle, and he has trouble to fight the urge to escape even its safest public spaces when the sun disappears and the unfamiliar people start to give him the willies.

        Long Island, meanwhile, continues to inform his sense of how the world “should” look and how people “should” want to live. This is true even of the stuff that contradicts the other stuff: sometimes he buys into the mythological Levittown utopia, where a chicken in the pot and a shiny car in the driveway of every working (white) person trumps all other spacial concerns; other times, he describes an ideal modeled on the older towns and villages that dotted the island before the sprawl took over, distinct and quaint commercial centers surrounding each served by a “high speed rail” (i.e. Long Island Railroad) station for longer-distance travel.

        Nearly everything he writes on this blog boils down to one of these paradigms.

        (Never mind that Nassau County has been experiencing a great deal of migratory poverty and suburban decay since he left. He hasn’t yet figured out to reconcile that with the soft-focused perfection of his nostalgia.)

        Regardless, suggesting that the Seattle Symphony’s attendance numbers would improve if it relocated to a tabula rasa suburban facility surrounded by acres of parking does not suggest a person who is totally comfortable when downtown or traveling through the “lower-income minority sprawl” of the Rainier Valley at night.

      25. This is turning into a full-blown JB psychology analysis. I don’t recall JB ever saying he likes Manhattan. He likes the efficiency of the subway and LIRR for getting from JFK to Long Island. He may find Manhattan valuable as a museum piece or tolerable to live in for a few years, but not ideal. He has recommended apartments next to shopping centers, and finds Southcenter an appealing and social place. He has recommended building a Southcenter on the Seattle waterfront — saying Seattlites would be glad of the greater shopping opportunities and ambience. Simultaneously he has recommended small towns with high-speed rail connecting all towns into a national grid.

        I can’t say how these ideals compare to Long Island because I’ve never seen the latter. But most people agree that Long Island is “better” sprawl than other places: because LIRR is always running and the stations have compact town centers around them. If Pugetopolis had kept its pre-1940s infrastructure and channeled growth to existing centers, Sounder would be half-hourly, Kent would have a large town center, and Federal Way would not exist (instead Auburn would be bigger). But JB supports Southcenter, sigh. And Southcenter and I-5 and 1970s housing (they all occurred simultaneously) is what turned these streetcar suburbs into sprawl.

        I’m often tempted to call JB Robert Moses’ son, except it’s only partly accurate. It’s amazing to me that anyone would call Southcenter appealing, and I sometimes wonder if he’s pulling our leg. But there are people who think the future is decentralized, as in Joel Garreau’s “Edge Cities” and Robert Bruegmann’s “Sprawl: a Compact History”. So it’s good to have a representative of that viewpoint around to remind us it exists. I still don’t think it’s a viable model for the future, however.

    5. Although it’s not really apples-to-apples, I feel I need to mention that the suburbs have had a lot more money spent on transportation in the last 30 years than the city of Seattle has. Look at the Interstate 5 expansion in the Federal Way area, the huge expansion of the I-5/Hwy 18 interchange…now, look at the money spent in the actual city of Seattle–it is far less than practically ANY other major city in the Puges Sound region. So, if money being spent on public transportation finally starts to even that out, then I say GREAT.

      1. Ok, if Link expansion to FW is so useless, then why was it sold to the public as part of ST2? It seems to me this was part if the strategy to get south end yes votes. I don’t think you can blame people for being upset, when it appears they were mislead.

        This situation seriously hurts transit expansions in the future. How many south end residents are going to vote for st 3? Who would believe what st says at this point?

        People on this forum are way too willing to excuse ST’s breaking their commitments; at some point this is going to come back to haunt us all when ST 3 is rejected.

      2. If Link gets as far as Des Moines, and ST3 calls for building all the way to Tacoma, I think Federal Way transit riders will tend to vote more heavily for ST3 than they did for ST2, regardless of what Skip Priest says. Indeed, if all that is in the package, I think it would be politically suicidal for him to oppose it.

      3. One more thing, Mike,

        ST hasn’t broken its commitment to build Link to Federal Way. It has been honest and forthright about how long it will take under the current financing structure.

        A few transit haters are jumping at the opportunity to claim ST has broken its promise, when it hasn’t.

      4. Cynical, cynical. If the South King revenue hadn’t collapsed, Federal Way would be getting its train and we wouldn’t even be discussing this. The ST3 proposal is going to reflect whatever South King residents (including Federal Way) want, are willing to pay for, and can pay for. That also has to be balanced with how much Pierce wants Link and is willing to pay for it. North King will be pretty much uninvolved with those issues, except to the extent it impacts a Burien-Renton line.

        I do hope that ST3 will either confirm the Federal Way extension or cancel it, rather than dragging ST2 out beyond 2023. The intelligent thing to do at this point is to reevaluate the extension based on the information we now have, rather than just blindly plodding on following old assumptions.

      5. Yes Brett, anyone who expects ST to deliver what they said they would is a ‘transit hater’…. The low standards of people who read this blog never cease to amaze me.

      6. Nope, Mike you are putting words in my mouth. You *don’t* expect ST to deliver. Raise your own standards.

        But then, it isn’t clear if you wanted ST to fail in the first place. MIke clearly *wants* ST to fail, and is doing what he can to keep ST from delivering.

    6. MIke, you’ve been throwing out FUD about every Link segment for years, but now that ST is likely to drop one of the least productive segments, you’re suddnly very passionate about it.

      It is absolutely idiotic to say that Federal Way gets no benefit from Link if it isn’t in the city limits. When we start paying for highways solely with funds raised by those within a mile of it, mayve things will be different.

      1. Wow Martin, your attempt to muddy the waters, and re-direct the conversation with a totally made up quote is below even your standards of journalism.
        (It is absolutely idiotic to say that Federal Way gets no benefit from Link if it isn’t in the city limits.)
        Could you point out where I remotely made that statement.
        And BTW, there’s a difference between being “suddnly {SIC) very passionate”, and rationally making an argument using different cases and ST facts to back them up.
        I didn’t hear anyone dispute one fact as being false.

      2. Could you point out where I remotely made that statement.

        You didn’t. Your new best friends in the Federal Way government did.

        You completely understand how FTA formulas work, and what state law requires with respect to subarea equity, and yet you’re still throwing up this extremely misleading formulation about expenditures vs. revenues to imply deviousness on the part of ST.

        It’s a big internet ,so if you don’t like the journalism standards here, feel free to get it somewhere else. You might enjoy the Seattle Times comment threads.

    1. Federal Way already has a gondola … the 577/578 … which just happens to run on a highway instead of mid air.

      They seem content to sell off that gondola if they can divert the money into automobile infrastructure, leaving their bus commuters high and dry. Does anyone have any doubt they would do that if they could?

  2. Regarding the Emirate Air*Line, I wonder if they ever plan on extending either end of it? It’s a very short line, but perhaps it will connect in well with existing transit. I can’t see on maps how it will work out for people heading into and out of the area, but it seems that it connects to other transit systems.

    At first I was critical, concerned it was just another expo-type construction project for the Olympics versus a serious people-mover. I was also concerned that it was a poor application of the technology, but now I think they are probably taking advantage of CPTs best features given the area they are building it in.

    1. Unless one can use Oyster on it, it is unlikely to be of much use. Plus who’d wish in any way to support the Emirates Theocratic Regime by even setting foot on it?

      1. There is lots of juicy information on the gondola line at Wikipedia.

        Ballooning costs … failed plan for totally private funding … failure to do a safety analysis since it cuts through the airspace of London City Airport (yikes!)

        Emirates’ sponsorship was a late acquisition. And no, it doesn’t go to Emirates Stadium (home of Arsenal Football Club), which is a few miles north.

        Oh, and yes, Emirates Airlines is owned by the government of the UAE.

      2. Judging by the video, the area served by the gondola doesn’t look all that dense. Both stations took up a large ground footprint, and one of the stations was surrounded by a fairly big parking lot. Even in the video, where engineers had the ability to make the ridership volume whatever they felt like, the number of people actually riding it wasn’t all that high.

        This begs the question – is the Emerates Air Line a real piece of transit, or is it simply a tourist attraction in which people drive to one end, ride it back and forth, and then drive home?

      3. I can’t make heads or tails of the rationale for it, except as a fancy toy and an advertising tool for some fancy new flats at the Royal Victoria end.

        While O2 is a major destination (though with highly fluctuating demand, like most entertainment centers), most are likely to reach it via transfer. Transferring at Royal Victoria rather than Canning Town saves only 1 stop, and the Jubilee line is certainly faster.

        Maybe there are capacity justifications, or some less tangible benefit to be realized: New York’s Roosevelt Island cable car has remained popular even though the F train has run to the island for 22 years now. (Again, this suggests that the upscaling of the Royal Docks is a primary driver. See also: Portland’s South Waterfront.)

        But this is in no way about improved speed or mobility.

      4. Finally watched the video, and my real-estate development “fancy toy / advertising tool” hunch was clearly correct.

        Most telling is that there is no direct transfer from the Docklands Light Railway. It’s not so much the distance required to transfer — though at 850 feet via city sidewalks (or 400 feet through a not-entirely-self-evident, not-entirely-public cut-through), it’s pushing the “easy and comfortable” transfer range — but the fact that you can’t see from one entrance to the other.

        This is clearly intentional, as the DLR station abuts a whole bunch of lowish-income terraced housing. On the gondola side, though, you’ll see nothing but reclaimed waterfront and fancy/sterile new digs!

        Anyway, as a development tool, I’m agnostic if vaguely curious how this First World example will rate efficiency-wise. (How will it help or hinder Matt the Engineer’s crusade?)

        Still, as a wire-supported thing with people on it, hundreds of feet in the air and just a mile from an airport runway… you probably won’t find me on it anytime soon!

      5. Yeah, we’ve had discussions on the gondola blog as to whether this is a great idea. I think the ridership will be fine even if it ends up being used mostly as a toy for tourists (I waited in a long line and paid like $20 to ride the London Eye, on a rainy Wednesday afternoon years after they built the thing). But whether or not it can end up as a useful example of an urban transit system remains to be seen.

        And the flight path issue sounds like a potential nightmare. (remembering the helicopter crew the Coast Guard lost a few years ago in Seattle when it hit a power line going to an island)

      1. They are. It just seems to mean something different across the pond. Chelsea FC’s stadium is named (I don’t know why) “Stamford Bridge”.

  3. Question: How many of the world’s transit systems recognized for great accomplishments in service and technology even have the term “sub-area” in their language, let alone terminology? Just curious.

    Mark Dublin

      1. Just a reflex response every time the argument comes up. Every time I get back from a trip to either Vancouver BC or Portland, I hate the term “sub-area” worse in connection with transit.

        Same every time I drive from Ballard to Federal Way- or Bellevue or Lynnwood.

        Our neighboring regions and the automobile as a travel mode have this in common: they’ve gotten a gazillion local boundaries out of the view through the windshield and the wheels under my seat.

        Explanation only possible if and when “Almost Live” comes back on the air.

        Mark Dublin

    1. None. Because the world’s great transit systems do everything they can to meet the needs that actually exist, where they actually exist.

      Spending money in a particular location just for the sake of doing so, especially on capital projects that will be held up by the public as “transit waste” rather than “transit worth,” is anathema to that basic principle.

    1. Probably pretty well. It appears to have level boarding, and modern systems are capable of stopping a single gondola cabin in place for a moment to facilitate loading (the spacing system will correct for the extra gap on subsequent trips through terminals).

  4. What’s the cost per mile to build a typical gondola? I have been skeptical, due the ingress and egress requirement of a moving vehicle, a fairly large area is required for stations, and gondolas only work well for point to point trips.

    That said, if it penciled out and it could, say, connect Seattle Center to Capitol Hill, West Seattle to SODO, or Kirkland to UW, it might be a way to get to these population centers sooner.

      1. Gondolas scale up or down pretty well. Capacity is dependent on cabin size and cabin spacing. Cabins size is generally from 4 to 28 people, while cabin spacing can be from about 10 seconds up to a minute or more. Practically speaking, the larger the cabin the larger the spacing needs to be to accommodate loading/unloading (you probably couldn’t feasibly load and unload a 28-pax cabin in 10 seconds, for example). The highest capacity lift I’m aware of is the Gold Coast Funitel at Squaw Valley (4,032 persons per-hour per-direction). Whistler’s 3S claims 4,100 pph, but that is bi-directional (i.e. one-way capacity is 2,050 pph, which is usually how aerial lift capacity is stated).

      2. Even a totally packed 8 only has 100-150 people on it. And it only comes 2-4 times an hour (except eastbound in the afternoon, when it comes half-past-never).

  5. Eight languages on the TVMs? I’m jealous. ST is really missing out by not including Japanese, Hindi, Russian, Arabic, etc, as language options on the ORCA VMs.

    I will say, though, that showing the flags will probably not be as effective as showing








    Entrades de la gòndola


    גודולה לרכישה

    लिए टिकट


    واگن‌ سربازبر بليط



    гондолы билеты



    … especially at an Olympiad.

    Nor is eight languages close to sufficient at an Olympiad.

    Thanks to http://translation.babylon.com/ for free translation services. (I’m sorry my platform couldn’t support East Asian characters.)

    1. I can just see Babylon making a killing selling apps with their translation software, as long as it doesn’t come out, “Forgive me lord, I do not express any UK.”

  6. That gondola looks somewhat similar to the one I remember at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. As I recall that one was sponsored by Union 76 oil company.

    1. I had completely forgotten about those! I remember riding them as a kid. They were cramped buckets on a wire, and smelled like pee.

  7. Good practical point, Brent. Whether it hangs from a wire or is in contact with two of them, transit machinery gets a lot of abuse- one reason aircraft designers have had problems doing streetcars.

    Still and all, the world has a lot of experience with cableways, including terrain and climate like the Swiss Alps. A line from Queen Anne Hill to the Watefront Sculpture Garden, or from Harborview to Third and Jefferson can probably stay in operation through many future ice storms.

    Provided the ground under the towers can hold the footings.

    Mark Dublin

  8. Gondolas wouldn’t work in Seattle. Would quickly devolve into arial toilets and a place for the homeless to nap and drink.

    “No, that’s where you are wrong, Sam! People would have to pay to board!”

    Um, excuse me, but social service agencies would get free passes to give to the poor, like they do now. And if a person doesn’t want go get off at the other side, what’s going to happen? Will the gondola be held up and police called? Not likely.

    1. Order and cleanliness don’t seem to be a problem on the cableway in Portland- chiefly because there are transit personnel on cars and in stations.

      Mark Dublin

      1. I’m not really up on the Gondola terminology, but it seems like you can have various sizes, and a practical transportation system would probably have larger cars than this Emirates thing…. and then having an attendant might be practical.

        But that’s also a potential downfall: existing transit systems are very focused on reducing labor costs, and even going from driver+conductor to just a driver on a single train carrying 1000 people is considered a big win. A gondola system with an attendant on every car would have relatively huge labor costs unless it had so few cars as to have extremely low capacity.

        [Gondolas do seem very much a niche technology—perfect for extreme situations and places where you simply cannot build a right-of-way, but also low speed/capacity, and a bit inflexible. Even though they’re apparently “cheapish” to construct, I wonder how often it’s worth it…]

      2. @miles. Ariel Trams do have the advantage of having an attendant. Labor is generally not an issue, since you only have 2 cars. The weakness is that you go from < 1 minute frequencies to around 10 minute frequencies. If we're stuck designing around the homeless, then that's life. But cutting an average of 5 min off your trip each way is a great advantage.

      3. @Matt the E
        But labor costs have to be considered relative to the throughput of the system.

        Given the small unit sizes of even “large” gondola-type systems, the only way you’re going to get high throughput (and even then, not really high by general mass-transit standards) is by “pipelining”: having many cars traveling on the same wire—at which point, labor costs go up correspondingly for an attended system…..

        So the real issue is unit size (which of course is one area where rail has a huge advantage).

      4. The movie shows an attendant at both ends. A gondola has only two stations, and it takes just a few minutes to travel between them. So that’s not much time for an abuser to misbehave. The attendant may be instructed to force people to disembark rather than making a round trip or multiple loops, and he can stop the gondola if the person refuses to exit.

    2. Yes, there are homeless people on transit. How is this different from buses, except having the option of not riding with them?

  9. I think the gondolas would be great for amusement parks, fairs, and ski areas. That pretty much sums it up.

      1. It goes from the edge of downtown to one hospital. That’s less demand than a gondola from Seattle Center to Capitol Hill would generate, or from Capitol Hill to UW.

        Perhaps a gondola from upper Queen Anne to Fremont and/or Ballard?

  10. Interesting promotional for something that doesn’t look all that special, although I expect some of the views might become iconic enough to make the thing iconic. Actually I am jealous for my former homeland! Maybe we could get a gondola to get from Capitol Hill to the Waterfront neatly threading through the skyrises before dropping us down at piers below! Portland has a gondola, so why can’t we?

  11. I went to the new Milepost 31 museum yesterday and became their 869th visitor since it opened in December.

    I thought I would share a few thoughts on the experience:

    First off the two staff there were very helpful, well informed and quite enthusiastic and if you go when it is not that busy, one or other of them will only be too happy to show you around and explain everything from their soil samples to artifacts already found, to the principles of tunnel construction. There are lots of cool videos and displays and in March, they will get a mock up of the eventual boring machine.

    You can even take home shards of the viaduct from one of two large sacks of debris. There is also a display of some blunt cutter heads from previous boring machines and the videos of how these things work should be of interest to us transit buffs because of its relevance to Sound Transit’s albeit smaller tunnel cutting machines.

    Unless you have a lot of time on hand, it is not even a museum you can satisfactorily engage with in just one visit. I intend to go back later on after they get the tunnel machine display and then when they start digging, more artifacts may hopefully emerge from Seattle’s past.

    Should be interesting and I recommend everyone takes a look. It will be there for two years but am sure the debris from the old viaduct won’t be there for that long!

  12. All these views of the video and comments on it and no one is asking how the guy in the wheelchair is going to board a constantly moving gondola car? This from the the same group of commenters concerned about people in wheelchairs getting stuck on an island platform at International District. ;+)

    1. Asked and answered above. It’s not a problem. Individual cars can be stopped without stopping the line.

  13. Here’s a random old find for open thread, best described by its subtitle: “Assessing Legal and Liability Barriers to More Efficient Street Design and Function”

    This is clearly targeting California legal context, but their conclusion applies nationally:

    …In general, apart from the need to comply with a few federal and state laws, cities are free to adopt standards as they see fit. Furthermore, liability issues should not prevent a city from deviating
    from design standards for the sake of promoting walkable and bikeable streets. Instead, many of the biggest barriers cities face are non-legal. Lack of communication between city departments, street width requirements of city service vehicles and lack of progressive prevailing standards all act to prevent cities from developing codes that promote resource efficient communities.

  14. I found it amusing that on the Emirate’s commercial I heard this morning they prominantly mention that you can enjoy a glass of wine on your direct flight to Dubai. Does El Al serve ham sandwiches enroute to Tel Aviv?

  15. Today (Wednesday) I and five others attempted to board a 72 at Convention Place at 9:15am and were turned away because the bus was full. So I missed my transfer to the 30 and would have to wait half an hour for the next one. The second bus (73) came ten minutes later. It was almost full and the others got on, but the third bus was visible in the queue so I took that; it had six people on it. I arrived at Campus Parkway and a minute later the fourth bus arrived, again almost full. I went to the Easy Shoppe two blocks away. When I came back, the fifth and sixth buses had arrived simultaneously, disgorging seven people that I could see. The fifth had about six standing places free — the ones who had gotten off. The sixth had ten or twenty on it.

    Go University Link and North Link! Go October service changes!

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