This is an open thread.

77 Replies to “News Roundup: Mayoral Revolt”

  1. Why is it a problem only that Amtrak lists the station as “unstaffed”?

    It isn’t staffed. There is no Amtrak employee to check bags, make reservations, handle ticketing issues, meet and assist passengers with diabilities, deal with unaccompanied minors, ensure the safe behavior around the trains, etc,.. and… most importantly, workers who are legally out of their control. (You can’t discipline/fire volunteers)

    Shortage of money for the purposes of staffing it, hence, if the milk’s free, why buy the cow?

    And who is this Lloyd guy, anyway?

    1. At the end of the article, it’s revealed that Amtrak has an “attended” designation for stations, which means it’s served by non-Amtrak employees. They’ve declined to list Olympia as “attended.”

    2. Out of respect to the volunteers, I think they should categorize it as “Attended” or create a third category if needed. I guess they are just risk-averse and don’t want to publish literature and set expectations that the station will have staff when they can’t guarantee it.

    3. The Olympia/Lacey station is nice, but it’s really remote. The bus takes almost an hour to get to downtown Olympia and even longer if you want to go to TESC. From Seattle the 594+601 combination is easier.

    4. My point being that Amtrak would staff the station if funding were there, but if Olympia wants it advertised/sold as “staffed with volunteers”, then let the locals advertise it.

      1. Mr. Cusick – why is it wrong to designate OLW as attended, instead of unstaffed? Apparently “Attended Station” is used in the Amtrak timetable, so Lloyd is not asking for a new designation, but to properly designate OLW as “Attended.” I think Amtrak needs to make EDM an unstaffed station. This designation is mainly for non locals traveling.

        The station definitions are on Page 136 of the current Amtrak timetable. and yes, OLW fits the definition of an attended station.

      2. Again, it’s just a matter of who becomes responsible for the information the public receives.

        I just don’t think it’s Amtrak’s problem.

    5. I can understand Amtrak’s adversion to listing it as staffed or attended when the station was new. However, it has been 18 years and the volunteers have consistently been there and have done a good job. They have proven they are worthy of the station being listed as attended.

      1. Maybe the state should make it a staffed station and the volunteers could apply for the job, and get paid for it.

  2. “Metro successfully sued over slippery bus steps. Damages are unclear.” I just looked up this case. The damages were $1.3 million.

    1. Love that the brief cites a case that was litigated against the Boston Elevated Railway.

      Anyone know what type of bus this was? High-floor or Low-floor?

    2. $1.3 million for slipping off a bus?! $1.3 MILLION?!?!?! All Metro’s fault too. Not his in a single way. I’m sure he followed all of the reasonable, safe deboarding procedures: using the handrail, wasn’t carrying anything, watched his footing on every step, took one step a at a time, had his shoes tied properly and loose clothing out of the way, and was wearing the proper wet weather shoes for that days conditions. Oh, and of course he didn’t make the typical high floor, 2nd/3rd stair leap off the bus.

      Good quote from him:
      “I’m going to be in increasing pain the rest of my life,” said Knappett, “until at some point I decide I can’t take the pain any more and choose to have my leg cut off.”

      I feel the most sorry for Metro…

      1. The figure will come down on appeal. It always does.

        I’ve had some near-misses on very wet Metro floors. Not the stairs, but in the center aisle, which is perfectly frictional rubber.

        Water is wet, people!

      2. The operator pulled away and did not summon help for the faller.

        If you read Metro’s claims of what was not proven, it was actually a rather dismal, absurd defense.

        The lesson is not so much about yellow stripes, but about observing that the passengers have alighted safely, and if someone slips and falls, sommoning EMS, which is what is now expected.

      3. The passenger states that he landed upright.

        I broke my ankle in a similarly sudden and violent way once; I went into shock. It took at least a minute to realize something was terribly wrong and many minutes before I felt any pain.

        There’s no way a driver could see all that unfold in the normal time frame before driving off.

  3. I absolutely love Matt’s idea for a two trams from Seattle Ctr – one to a Broadway Tower, and the other to the waterfront. It’s only 3600 ft +/- from S.Ctr to the Slut Barn, then another 3500 to Cap Hill. What a ride that would be, at least twice as good as the 8.
    On the other end, Matt has it going to SAM. (nothin there!, and I’m still pissed about the streetcars)
    It’s a straight shot, 3600 ft to Cruise Terminal, where the Fast Ferries may end up, then another 3600 to Colman Dock.
    Now that’s a connection for tourists, commuters, and damn near everyone for about $100 mil.
    Put out the Kettles, let’s finally “Rise Above it All”.

    1. My chairlift* transit network may yet see the light of day. Bwahhahahaha!!

      *detachable, enclosed, whatever!

    2. A third leg from S.Ctr could fly to Lower Queen Anne (2800′) before heading down to Amgen and beyond (3700′).
      S.Ctr would once again become a ‘happening place’- full time.

  4. I can understand why a train fetishist wouldn’t want to talk about a train crash, but yesterday 50 people were killed in an Argentine train crash when it failed to stop at a station, crashing into a barrier. It’s at a time like this that someone should explain if something like this could happen on Link, for example, and if not, why not? What safeguards do our trains have that the Argentine train didn’t?

    1. Not using 30-40 year old rolling stock helps. That plus the fact that both the FRA and the FTA are very anal (as compared to the rest of the world) about brake checks.

      Interestingly, the station at which the tragedy happened (“Once”) is named for September 11th, 1852.

    2. LINK has a lot less mass and moves a lot slower than commuter trains like the one that crashed yesterday … and LRVs are inherently easier to stop because they have both disc brakes on all the wheels AND track brakes that push on the rail head when “dropped” (this is a legacy safety feature from their streetcar ancestry and often used to prevent hitting cars running red lights)

      1. Still, at that low a speed, it sounds like the train cars were extremely flimsy. I would have expected much less damage and maybe that they would have jackknifed and come off the rails.

        Contrast that with the Gare de Lyon crash were it was going at speed, plowed into a stopped train, and killed 60.

      2. John … that’s why we regulate things like safety in this country … this was a packed commuter train and at least a couple cars crumpled on impact (again basic physics in action) … keep in mind though that 12mph is still quite fast … your airbags will deploy in a car at a 5mph impact.

      3. remember … this train was approaching the terminal so I would imagine that most people were no longer sitting as well … that leads to more injuries.

        This is why Link enters the airport station SLOWLY

      4. Link enters Airport station slower than it does other stations because it has to be careful of the switch, and sometimes wait for a passing train. (Did the Argentine train mess up on a switch, or is Once really the last station?). The tail track planned for 200th St Station will alleviate that problem.

        Link also moves between IDS and Stadium Station slowly because of the heavy and inattentive foot traffic crossing the tracks, as well as the security checkpoint, and waiting for buses sometimes.

        I feel far safer on a train or in a bus than in a car.

    3. Well let’s see, cars in America cull somewhere around 80 to 100 of the population each and every day. So there would need to be ~1.5 to 2 train crashes of this magnitude per day to get anywhere near the direct harm rate from cars in America.

      And that’s not counting non-lethal injuries (and the associated health care and lost productivity recovery costs) nor indirect harms caused by the toxic emissions of cars (try not to breath around them).

    4. Would like to be able to say that main difference between LINK and any Argentine system is that LINK is located in a technically advanced country under clean and competent government that doesn’t allow its infrastructure to fall apart under passenger service.

      With an electorate willing to pay to keep its public services in good repair. Well, like my favorite version of the old patriotic toast says: “Our Country: when right to be kept right, when wrong to be set right, for, right or wrong, this is our country!”

      Can’t see why this crash is particular embarrassment to rail as a travel mode. Worldwide, planes crash, boats sink, and buses routinely fall off cliffs. Private automobiles routinely do all the above, often more than one at the same time.

      People also frequently walk off high places- I’m told 15′ and you’re likely dead.

      You might want to read a great new travel book called “The Lunatic Express”- no, not about the Route 358. Brave reporter decided to travel around the world on the transportation available to the average member of the world’s population. He deliberately chose planes, boats, and bus services with publicized record for killing passengers.

      Interesting- once author got used to crowding, dirt, and discomfort, he really had a great time. Only really depressing bummer was Greyhound ride from Los Angeles to the East Coast. Recalling overnight on that bus line last year, can relate.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Also, the DC Metro and BART cars were fashioned from aluminum foil and mounted on the wheel truck using thumbtacks and rubber cement, as was the style in the ’70s.

      2. Chatsworth called and wanted to remind everybody that Argentina is actually a fairly advanced country. Why they even have an extensive Metro and Tram network. The particular train appears to have been of an older variety that was being phased out, I think.

        I recall a ferry operator near Seattle haveing 4 80 year old vessels in service until recently?

        And another one with a nearly century-old vessel still active?

      3. Bernie, accidents happen everywhere. In the US, rail accidents are less likely than other places due to better technology and higher standards that we have here. They still can happen, as you pointed out, but if you’re arguing that trains are dangerous based on that example, I think you’ve got a double standard here.

        Yes, 7 people died and 70 were injured, which is a horrible loss and a horrible accident, but equivalent accidents are monthly occurrences on the global road network (not counting your standard collisions). For example, less than two weeks ago there was a 75 car pile up in Florida that left 10 dead. 5 days later, another pileup kills 1 and injures 38 in China. On Valentine’s Day, one person was killed and 15 injured in a pile up in Germany. December 2011, 40 cars pileup, killing 2 and injuring 25 in New Orleans.
        November 2011, 7 people died and 51 people were injured in a pile up in the UK. You can do this for just about any month and year you want. Despite this, people treat the train accident as an indication of a design flaw (or failure) that must be fixed, while the pileup is considered a “freak” accident and simply accepted. There’s a huge perceptual disconnect.

      4. if you’re arguing that trains are dangerous

        Not at all. Just pointing out the fallacious idea that our government could never let this 3rd world atrocity happen. The idea that rail is a 100 year investment and once done it’s paid for is false. Build something you don’t need for 100 years and you have to cough up maintenance for the entire time until it really might be needed.

  5. Not sure where the Seattle Times’s “propery” is, but their property is in the Cascade neighborhood. Wonder what might become of the building with their name carved into it.

  6. If you had a girl in Kalamazoo, you’d want to get there at 110 mph. And, if the train had Wi-fi you would do well to spend a few minutes with the Nicholas brothers, Harold and Fayard.

  7. The Kalamazoo article is fascinating.

    So with today’s Amtrak technology and track, I can live 130 miles from Detroit Metro and commute in at about an hour! And get to live in a nice, right-sized city/exurb like Kalamazoo.

    This is amazing. I have thought we should worry less about city to city HSR and merely develop high speed commuter lines. For example, Centralia is a mere 84 miles away from Seattle. A 100 mph “HSR” train would make it possible to live in a nice rural community and commute in at under an hour up to Tacoma or Seattle!

    Modest improvements in a 100 mile regional North-South corredor would be my desire for High Speed. If we could get our trains up to Bos-NY-Wash speeds of 165 mph around here then half of Western Washington would be in the “Metro” area.

    1. This also applies:

      Tough Housing Market Leads to Rise of Super Commuters

      parre’s 600-mile (965-kilometer) odyssey of buses, trains, planes and automobiles inaugurates him into a growing group of executives. Researchers such as Mitchell Moss, an urban policy and planning professor at New York University, call them “super commuters”: men and women who have a residence in one city and work in another far away, often 100 miles or more.

      From 2002 to 2009, the number and concentration of super commuters grew in eight of the 10 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, according to an analysis by Moss and others at NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management. In the area surrounding Philadelphia, those workers rose 50 percent. In the Houston area, they almost doubled, Moss’s research shows.

      1. You did notice that those super commuters are largely weekly commuters, and maintain a second home in their work city. The cost and time for the long distance commute is just too much for the daily grind.

      2. I have occasion to do this once in awhile from Greenville, SC to north Atlanta (about 1:45h). It sucks. I can’t imagine doing it as a long-term solution…and I don’t even have to deal with most of Atlanta’s traffic. Generally it’s just worth it to get a hotel for the week and go home on the weekend, just to avoid the commute.

        It makes me not mind so much the Seattle-Bellevue commute when I’m back here–although I wish the firm would relocate into Seattle where most of us choose to live!

      3. @aw

        Some of them do.

        My brother is a super commuter, he works in Philly consulting and lives in Connecticut but he only travels a few days a week.

    2. I don’t know why I’m bothering, because you should know all this stuff already.

      1. It takes some time to accelerate a train up to a max speed of 110 MPH, and commuter trains need to make several stops on their way to destinations. The train won’t average anything near its top speed, and certainly won’t go that fast in populated areas without expensive infrastructure improvements; so the “one-hour train to Centralia” is a pipe dream.

      2. It takes a lot of energy to repeatedly accelerate a train up to a max speed of 110 MPH between stops. It takes a lot of energy to propel a heavy train over long distances. Running at high speeds requires tight maintenance tolerances on rolling stock and tracks. High-speed trains are thus expensive to operate.

      3. If a fast, desirable commuter train runs to a place you think is “right-sized”, it won’t remain “right-sized” for long. It’s the same story of sprawl that’s played out repeatedly in our cities with faster modes of transportation.

      4. If the towns this train runs to somehow remain “right-sized” they’ll struggle to aggregate the demand necessary for efficient service across an acceptable span of time and to the necessary range of destinations.

      So… it’s not fascinating. High-speed rail isn’t all that high-speed in commuter applications, is too expensive to affect commute patterns, and, if it was implemented, would change the small towns it stopped in as much as the freeways have. So that people that really want to live in a small town but enjoy the economic and cultural advantages of the city (a common desire that’s extremely difficult to accommodate for the majority of people) will only keep sprawling the city (defined as a continuous economic entity) farther. Note that Europe has high-speed trains, and they have not contributed to the urban form you envision, for precisely the reasons I state.

    3. Kalamazoo is the home to Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College. Kalamazoo is the center of a metro area with a population of 326,000+ folks. The town has itself has a pop. of over 74,000.

      Centralia has a pop. of 16,336 (2010 census) and floods. OK, they do have a community college too.

  8. I had to laugh at the suggested gondola fare, “One could assume tourists will pay $10.00 and Orca card holders would be given a 75 percent discount ($2.50).” That would be a good way to justify ORCA cards to tourists.

    1. I think separating out tourist prices is genius. I paid $29 a person to ride up an aerial tram in Juneau, AK, and I certainly wasn’t the only one.

      Note: obviously we wouldn’t just allow people to short-circuit the cost with a $5 ORCA card. You’d want to require something like a monthly pass or a record of at least $20 worth of trips – something to indicate you’re a local.

    2. Thought I would add my thoughts here, as a visiting transit fan from Portland. My wife and I just spent the weekend in Seattle, and did not purchase ORCA cards. I fully intended to do so, but could not find a way to purchase them upon arrival at King St. Station (which looks great with the remodel, btw). The ORCA site was not very clear on where I might purchase a card, and as we did not use the transit tunnel or LINK, we never were able to buy a card. We payed cash for the Bremerton Ferry, and for the bus rides around town. There wasn’t much incentive to get the ORCA card; it wouldn’t have saved us money, and the hassle to find and buy one outweighed the hassle to carry around change for the bus all weekend.

      Contrast this to London, where there was big incentive to use the Oyster cards. We bought a set before we left for the trip, because the savings were significant.

      1. For future reference, the ticket vending machines at the International District Metro/Link station across the street from King Street Station sell ORCA cards. However, you’re right that there’s not much financial incentive to have one. The only case where using an ORCA card is cheaper than paying cash is when you’re transferring between transit agencies (from Link to Metro, for example), or if you’re transferring between buses in the same agency and that agency has stopped issuing paper transfers. For trips that use just one vehicle, you’ll pay the same whether you use ORCA or cash.

      2. (except you’ll be out $5 for the card – um, I mean you’ll have a great souvenier of the Seattle transit system for only $5!)

      3. Sounds like me and San Francisco. I tried to buy a Clipper card at the airport TVM and Powell Street TVM but they didn’t have it. The “intro to Clipper” videos that were playing implied I would have to go to a neighborhood card-buying event, so it was clearly positioned only for locals. Also, the pass I wanted, a 7-day MUNI pass, was not available for Clipper; only monthly passes were available. The 7-day pass was available only in paper form at the Powell cable car ticket window. So I wouldn’t save any money with Clipper and it was a hassle to get a card… so I stuck to BART tickets and the 7-day pass.

        (Later someone here said you could get a Clipper card at certain stores, but the signs and videos said nothing about that.)

      4. I ordered a free Clipper card in the mail and set up an Autoload. Tap and go from SFO. No fussing with ticket machines. It appears that BART TVMs don’t sell new Clipper cards.

        I got the Muni 7-day passport inside the airport but of course, it’s no good on BART.

      5. As a visiting transit fan, I’m surprised you didn’t take the Link at all. I hope you will come again, mid-week if possible, and ride Link and Sounder.

  9. 1. Notice that many CT drivers automatically kneel the bus at every stop without being asked, and make the operation such a natural part of the stop that procedure takes no time whatever. Metro drivers, by contrast, wait to be asked, and often act as if whole idea is a nuisance. Highly tempted to go for ADA ruling confirming that what CT can do, we can do. Problem?

    2. Curious as to engineering considerations of gondola transit for Seattle. Seismic considerations? Will local geology hold the towers? Suspect $75 million is low, but would be worth a lot to replace that part of the Route 8 with something that moves.

    3. Generally enjoy both visiting Olympia and riding Intercity Transit. Great ride via ST and IT, with espresso stop at Tacoma. We could imitate more things about IT than their day passes, which they’ve had for years. However, it seems like Olympia really needs express bus service meeting Amtrak. Bus ride takes forever. Just for civic pride, Olympia and State of Washington should set up good connection.

    Mark Dublin

    1. re: #1
      I think it depends on the Metro driver and route. I’ve seen them kneel the bus without request, because some of their regulars are older and the driver knows they will need it.

      1. IMO, Metro should put limits on kneeling, especially in residential areas and at night (if not both). If I were Metro I’d install devices to reduce kneeling noise at all costs (mufflers on the air exhaust, buzzer-type alarms similar to those used as back-up alarms on trucks in recent years). All I hate about kneeling is:

        1. The Noise
        2. The Wasting of air. Wait for that air to regenerate (ie, the air tanks are full) before you kneel again!

      2. I don’t know how much of the noise is really necessary, but when the operator deems deploying the ramp or kneeling as necessary, it’s her/his job on the line if she/he gets a “preventable” for not doing so.

        If neighbors complain about noisy buses, Metro should just do a stop consolidation to deprive them of the stop, IMHO.

      3. Brent, that’s non-sensical. The folks complaining about the noise may not be the folks who ride the bus. It wouldn’t punish them to do away with the stop.

        And if the kneeling is being done for someone who actually needs boarding assistance there, it would be punishing the less abled person.

    2. the local geology has no problems supporting the space needle or the various tv towers located around the city (let alone skyscrapers) …

      1. Good observation, Gordon- but anything carrying vehicles has to deal with not only static but dynamic loads. Not really worried- cableway technology seems to work many rugged places in the world. Let’s check it out.

        Mark Dublin

      2. @Mark Dublin: They even build aerial ropeways on glaciers, which requires having adjustable towers as the glacial ice and snow creeps in various directions over time!

        @BA: Sure, but wind doesn’t impose the same dynamic loads as loaded gondola/tram cabins on a moving cable do. Generally speaking, wind acting on the towers isn’t the biggest problem for an aerial ropeway, its wind acting on the cabins causing them to swing that is the biggest problem. In an extreme condition, this can lead to a de-ropement, or possibly a cabin striking a tower.

      3. I think [BA] was saying that towers already factor in dynamic loads from wind, not that they’d have to factor it in from wind on gondolas.

        Actually, wind speeds rarely get very high here in Seattle. Gondolas shouldn’t have a problem (especially the three cable type).

      4. There are, of course, the occasional storms that damage and sink floating bridges. But other than that, no, it’s not really that windy.

    3. I was in Vacouver, BC last weekend and noticed they also kneeled their buses at every stop. I found it annoying as it added 3-10 seconds at every stop and was only necessary at 1 out of 10 stops. Also annoying was the associated loud beeping every time it stopped.

  10. I have fallen twice on Metro buses because of slippery floors. The worst are the Gillig electrics and diesels that have a smooth floor.

  11. Puyallup still trying to get parking right.
    Ha, that’s an oxymoron right up with “I’m from the government, I’m here to help you.”

    1. Even leaving out the tower, which is not really part of Transbay, the project is grandiose. Why do you need a park on top of your intermodal transit center. The important part is to get the basics right, starting in the basement with the trainbox. CAHSR has been plagued with overbuilt station plans like Transbay, Diridon and ARCTIC. Sound Transit could take lessons from them.

Comments are closed.