59 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Motor Mania”

  1. Congratulations on the new ‘Circular MattMobiles ™ becoming a reality in Seattle.
    Each tram car holds up to 6, and although there is only one station on the waterfront, and all trips are round trips, hey, it’s a start!
    It should be up an running at the end of the summer.

  2. So the C and D lines are coming in the fall. I’m just guessing, but the C line will replace the 21 and 56, and the D line will replace the 15 and 18. And looking at the maps, the C and the D, like the routes they are replacing, will be through-routed, with the C Line continuing on as the D Line, and vice versa.

    I think RapidRide needs to scrap the whole idea of trying to get people to enter through the front door between 7pm – 6am. With the driver having to open all the doors to let people off, and with people being trained on RR to enter through any door, it’s unrealistic to expect people to suddenly switch the way they board at 7pm, especially downtown, when the backdoors will be open anyway to let people off. Besides, after 7pm, people still would not have to show a RR driver their transfers, so what’s the point of having the front door rule?

    1. Sam,

      RapidRide is already pay-at-the-front between 7 pm and 6 am. Yes, this was done with little public attention, but you’ll notice the stickers on the off-board ORCA readers. Unless Metro decides otherwise, and hires late night and early morning fare inspectors, that won’t change.

      Somewhat not exactly related, I’ve heard a little bit of interest from some folks at Seattle City Hall to make the E Line (and until then, the 358) the free line within downtown. This would save the cost and congestion of adding a free circulator bus, would make the free bus easily identifiable and frequent, would encourage intra-downtown trips on the bus that already can move the most quickly, and could become 24/7, making it a win for riders who can’t afford to pay any cash. As a bonus for social service agencies, they would be able to save their free vouchers for trips into and out of downtown, so the issue of having to come up with more money for more free vouchers starting September 29 becomes moot.

      If there are social services that the county thinks the free circulator needs to serve, and balks at the E Line being free because of its downtown routing, then change the E Line’s downtown routing to be more of a circulator, since it isn’t through-routed.

      1. I know it’s already like that. I’m saying that Metro should do away with that front door after 7 on RR rule for consistency sake, and also because it’s unenforceable and confusing for people. And your logic about it having to do with fare inspectors not working those hours falls apart because fare inspectors don’t work weekends, yet all doors are opened during the daytime on weekends.

      2. I think making the RR E the free circulator is a terrible idea. It would completely slow the bus down and then what happens when it leaves the free area – would you really have an inspector on each bus? Also – it wouldn’t be easily identifiable – wouldn’t it look just like the C and D RR buses?

        I also think that the RR E is an opportunity to make the 358 more desirable for a range of riders to use. There are a lot of folks who avoid it because of the craziness that this proposal would actually concentrate on the bus Downtown.

      3. Awesome. Transit is a social services agency. Will SHARE/WHEEL have a seat on the ST board? Real Change vendors selling ORCA cards?

    2. The C will replace the 56, and the D the 15. The 18 will (if September’s changes are approved) be rerouted through Fremont and Westlake Ave (i.e., along the suggested streetcar route). The 21 is being truncated and changed, but will remain a 35th – downtown route. I don’t know about interlining the C and D.

      1. With frequency being increased on the C Line, can we now straighten out or get rid of the western portion of the “ST Express” 560?

        Yes, West Seattle deserves a direct route to the airport, but riders have voted with their feet against the 560 being that route.

      2. So if the 18 gets rerouted, does that mean there will be a substantial cut in service on 15th Ave. between the Magnolia Bridge and the Ballard Bridge?

        Currently both the 15 and the 18 travel that stretch of road. Some folks seem to think that the Interbay area might see some more development over the next few years, so I’m not sure that reducing the bus service through Interbay (by half?) will be the best long term solution there.

      3. SMP: not by half, but yes, it’s a reduction. RapidRide is reducing service levels from 6 buses an hour to 4 on both corridors. That really, really bugs me. But sadly, given the ridiculous constraints put on Metro by the county council (and, in turn, by the people they represent), there’s no much else they can do. The service hours to maintain current service levels on the two corridors could only come at the expense of buses like the 42 that the council has essentially forbidden Metro from replacing.

      4. SMP they are proposing adding the 32 to 15th W but that one doesn’t go Downtown – it goes from UW to Lower Queen Anne via Wallingford, Fremont, and Nickerson. My understanding is that it’s intended to replace the portion of the 30 that used to go down Westlake which is where the new 18 will run.

      5. Thanks for the info Aleks. I guess that one of the things that sorta concerns me is the fact that apparently the RapidRide D will be the only route that will go over the Ballard Bridge. The new bus 32 will serve Interbay, but it doesn’t cross that bridge so it only connects to the 18 around the Fremont area.

        I think that will mean that anybody who wants to live near the ‘downtown’ Ballard area to but wants get to any of the businesses/employers that are located along Elliott Avenue near the old P-I building would have to take a long walk to 15th to catch the D andtransfer to the 24 or 33 near the Magnolia Bridge. Or they’d have to transfer twice, just to get from Ballard to the SE corner of the Queen Ann area.

        I don’t know how techies will really groove to that sort of daily commute. There are plenty of other places that these folks could live besides Ballard, I suppose. Or they could just use their cars. On most days I think that it’s usually a pretty quick drive down 15th from Ballard to the Sculpture Garden area.

      6. The issue is whether 15th W is the center of a neighborhood or peripheries of neighborhoods. It’s all peripheries, with little within walking distance of any bus stop, and the new Whole Foods commercial area is heavily automobile-oriented with huge parking lots in the middle. So there are a few riders in the area, but does it compare to the number of riders going from Ballard center to downtown, Fremont, or Seattle Center? Likewise, the issue of a route on Nickerson between Magnolia and SPU. Certainly a few people ride it, and they have spoken up. But is that enough people to justify an all-day route as the 17 was? Metro seems to have thought no. The tradeoff in that route was the circuituous routing between Ballard and downtown, which relegated it to a milk run, all the more annoying if you live on 32nd NW or were taking it in lieu of waiting for the 18 or walking to the Leary Way stop where the 15,17,18 converge. I suspect more people were cursing at the 17’s circuitousness than were getting on or off on Nickerson.

  3. Want Sustainable Local Transit? Look to Disney’s EPCOT Center

    The essence of the Disney solution is to separate where you work from where you park. The gridlock of bumper-to-bumper cars on urban roads is created each morning by people all going to the same place to park. The final mile of the daily commute is responsible for 50% of the energy used.

    The Disney solution is simple, inexpensive, and effective. Put generous parking garages, evenly dispersed on a one to two mile perimeter of target businesses. Each garage will be connected directly to a continuous loop people-mover, either a monorail, a tram or a skyway, to convey commuters safely the last mile or two to work.

    http://planetforward.org/idea/want-sustainable-local-transit-look-to-disneys-epcot-center/

    Argument for LINK parking lots?

    1. Yes, that’s what the DSTT would have done if the original proposal had been accepted. Buses would terminate at Intl Dist or Convention Place, and a high-frequency circulator would take them to downtown. Suburbanites screamed that they didn’t want to transfer, and we got the bus tunnel instead.

      I have mixed feelings about Disney’s vision. It’s “modern” in the sense of completely separating cars and pedestrians. Modernism has gone too far, and led to “highrises in parks”. On the other hand, Disney envisions comprehensive public transit. That’s what’s missing in our (sub)urban developments. They built the highways but neglected the transit. If you want to have highways and big garages, you need to have transit too, so that it doesn’t force everybody to drive.

      1. What I like about this idea is the concept of “membranes” where you can have cars ferrying between nodes, but within the nodes, you have pure pedestrianism. In some sense, every enclosed mall does this.

    2. Yup, let’s turn America into a Disney theme park. While we’re at it, bend over so we can inject that radio chip where the sun don’t shine.

    1. Dessert Express is an interesting idea. It will be more interesting when CAHSR gets to Palmdale. Connecting Palmdale and Victorville would have high bang for the buck.

      The WP’s suggestion to spend the money on the NEC is not helpful. There should be other funds that could be spent on the NEC.

    2. Have any of these idiots who write opinions/articles for the Big Newspapers ever been out of the USA?

      What they used to do in France back in the 1980’s, for example, was run a high-speed train using good ol’ 1435mm (that’s 4 foot 8.5 inches for you retards still unable to comprehend Metric) from, say, Paris to just outside of Lyons (i.e. the original French High Speed Line) where then the train used a regular electrified line from there to, for example, Dijon or Lausanne or Basel.

      Are there tracks from Victorville to Los Angeles? Yup! Infact the Southwest Chief Amtrak train uses them daily. Takes about 3 hours now, could take at least 30 minutes less if it used the Metrolink San Bernardino Line between Los Angeles and San Bernardino.

      http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/BlobServer?blobcol=urldata&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobkey=id&blobwhere=1249237330097&blobheader=application%2Fpdf&blobheadername1=Content-disposition&blobheadervalue1=attachment;filename=Amtrak_P03-revised.pdf

      Can they be electrified? Sure! In fact I’ll bet BNSF would love to be able to use Electric engines over Cajon Pass. Would give them an advantage over UP on the same route. And the Metrolink San Bernardino line I mentioned above is prime for electrification too!

      Could a Diesel engine be attached to the front of the high-speed train for the portion that is not electrified?

      Why lookie here:

      http://www.trainweb.org/tgvpages/images/atlantique/dieseltgv.jpg

      But no, no, all is lost. Let’s just widen I-15 again and ship more gasoline $$$ to our eternal friends the Saudis.

      1. Sorry, I didn’t mean to insult the truly mentally retarded. Especially since most of them can figure out that a Base 10 system is always easier to use than a Base 12 or Base 16 or Base 5,280 one.

      2. I forgot, Metrolink has an express train now on the San Bernardino Line that goes from Los Angeles Union Station to Sen Bernardino in 65 minutes (stops in Covina on the old PE and Rancho Cucamonga on the old AT&SF). Dump those stops and you can go from LAUS to San Bernardino in 60 minutes using the existing max 79 mph tracks. The Southwest Chief does San Bernardino to Victorville (that’s up hill) in 70 minutes.

        80 minutes from Victorville to Las Vegas.
        +70 minutes from San Bernardino to Victorville using Cajon Pass.
        +60 minutes from Los Angeles to San Bernardino using Metrolink SB Line.
        —-

        3.5 hours? That’s very, very competitive with both a post-TSA commercial aviation system and Interstate 15, especially on weekends. Electrify from Los Angeles to Victorville and you might be able to reduce it by up to one hour without any need for trackage faster than 79 mph.

    3. Please don’t tell me that you people actually think it’s a good idea to run high-speed rail from Victorville, CA to Las Vegas. You can’t be that brainless. Can you? Really?

      1. You assume we’re for it? I just posted the link for information and discussion. I have mixed feelings about it. There’s also the issue of federal approval vs federal funding. If it just needs approval, fine. If it’s money diverted from other, more beneficial, HSR lines, then that’s bad.

      2. Read Erik G’s comments.

        Obviously it makes no sense if it actually stops in Victorville, but everyone is assuming it will be connected to LA proper by train.

        It would equally make no sense if it didn’t actually reach Los Vegas.

      3. And yes, Vegas-LA is FAR from the most important line; it would do OK but it shouldn’t be allowed to crowd out the many MANY better lines for money. But it is basically a private consortium proposal.

  4. Okay, thinking out loud:

    Metro should consider renumbering the 2600’s into the 6600’s, since all 60-foot hybrids they’ve bought in the past four years have 6’s as their thousands digits.

    Likewise, the 2870-series coaches (2005 D60LF’s with Caterpillar engines) would become the NEW 2600’s.

    What do you guys think?

    1. No…Metro retires numbers for a little while until decommissions clear up a whole block, usually.

      Those 2600s and other 2000s you’re referring to will eventually be replaced by upper 6000s. Just like 3000s are being replaced by 7000s. No sense in renaming them. Plus, you’d have to change a lot of internal paperwork and database stuff.

  5. I drunkenly boarded the 2 home from belltown on Friday night. I keep my ORCA card in my wallet and generally just tap my wallet against the machine. It didn’t work. I took it out and tapped just the card. It didn’t work that way either. The bus driver told me I “broke” my card. I’ve never heard of braking an ORCA card. The operator was nice and let me board, I fumbled around for cash on the way out.

    Can anyone clue me in on this? Do I have to go downtown for a replacement?

    1. yes … Orca cards can fail … if they are in your wallet and you sit on it you can bend them which may break the RFID antennae inside the card … this will cause it to fail.

      Mine failed in a similar fashion earlier this past week … and yes you need to go to the pass office if you want a new card quickly (costs $5) and you will need to put $$ on it to use it (transferring balance can take up to 48 hors or so)

      You also need to re-setup any e-purse auto-load for the new card online

      1. FYI, I broke the RFID chip on my ORCA card in October 2011, paid $5 for a new card (even though I had several cards in my possession, I had to buy a new card), and I had to wait 10 days before the balance on my broken card was transferred to the new card.

    2. You can also do it online if you don’t mind waiting for them to mail you the replacement card.

  6. The C and D lines will have about 33 buses each; twice what A and B do. Not sure how many will be out en route at any given time of day, but that’s a lot of fare inspectors…Still, I hope fare enforcement is bumped up during and after the RFA change.

    1. From what I’ve heard, there won’t be a proportional increase in the number of fare inspectors. They will be stretched even thinner.

  7. Thanks for the movie. Cars and roads have definitely improved in years since, and I think driving skill and manners as well. Which proves we can do the same with transit, now that there’s no choice about it.

    And hey, Big Don: Great idea for ORCA card distribution! Seriously, why not pay Real Change vendors to sell ORCA cards? Probably cheaper and quicker to implement than same number of TVM’s.

    Mark Dublin

  8. “Dad, can I borrow the car?” and “Motor Mania” are required study for anyone learning to drive.

    I love it after Goofy has smacked into the light pole, and after all the guys get off the streetcar through his back seat, how the last one tips his hat and gives a pleasant greeting, being a “Mr Walker” type, of course.

  9. The County Council, and Metro staff, likely have trepidations of being accused of callousness toward the poor if a cash fare increase is proposed.

    If a 25-cent e-purse fare decrease is proposed, that could cost Metro roughly $11 million of its budgeted $125 million fare income, which dwarfs the $2 million in additional fare revenue Metro hoped to collect as a result of the RFA going away.

    So, maybe the political track to take is to propose reducing e-purse fares by some odd amount, say five cents. Traditionally, fares have been in 25-cent increments to prevent change fumbling from becoming even more cumbersome. But there is no particular reason to set e-purse fares in 25-cent increments.

    A five-cent ORCA fare decrease would cost the county somewhere around $2.5 million a year. But it should more than make up for itself in increased ORCA boardings and saved service hours. No new technology or software is needed. No inter-agency agreement is needed. All it takes is a vote of the county council, new signage, and changing the fare amounts in the ORCA master computer.

    This can be billed as a fare decrease, including for the poor. I doubt there would be a hue and cry over not simultaneously reducing cash fares the same way the ORCA-challenged complain about increased cash fares being an attack on the poor.

    Youth ORCA fares and senior ORCA fares could simultaneously be reduced by five cents. If Metro thinks this would violate the RRFP inter-agency agreement, then skip the senior fare decrease. But I really don’t think it does.

    One positive side effect is that ORCA cards with e-purse loaded will rarely reach exactly zero in remaining value, so fewer will get tossed.

    Turn an unpopular fare adjustment into a wildly popular fare adjustment by shifting it five cents in the other direction, and make the RFA transition work!

    1. How, How??
      “A five-cent ORCA fare decrease would cost the county somewhere around $2.5 million a year. But it should more than make up for itself in increased ORCA boardings and saved service hours.”
      I doubt a 5 cent invisible fare change would have ANY effect on anything. much less service hours.

      1. Some quick math. $126m total fares paid on 110m riders is $1.15 each, a nickel reduction would be a 4.3% reduction across the board.
        But ORCA is only about half the fares, and of that most are pass/passport or cash sales at the farebox, so epurse can only be maybe 1% of total fares. That’s insignificant on elasticity of fare to drive other things.

      2. The five-cent fare decrease would be quite visible.

        Fares
        One-Zone Peak
        Cash $2.50
        ORCA $2.45
        Two-Zone Peak
        Cash $3.00
        ORCA $2.95

        You do raise a good point about the difference between a fare decrease just on e-purse and a fare decrease on all ORCA products. If it is just on e-purse, the county could probably afford a full 25-cent fare decrease, and not blow the whole $2 million profit. But then, how many customers would switch from monthly passes to e-purse? I doubt it would be many, and the phrase “So what?” comes to mind. If more riders switch from free riding for a one-time monthly charge to per-ride rationed riding, that should please critics of Metro’s purported wastefulness.

        So, perhaps a 25-cent e-purse-only fare decrease would be more effective and less costly. But it wouldn’t be as widely popular among the monthly passholders. If the choice is presented to the monthly passholder diaspora as a fare decrease for e-purse only (with the accompanying speed-up of buses) and not changing fares at all, I doubt many monthly passholders would protest the e-purse only fare decrease. Nor would self-proclaimed advocates for the poor, since the rebate could be made available to those who only have a few bucks.

        Consider the messaging:

        Fares
        One-Zone Peak
        Cash/Pass $2.50
        E-purse Only $2.25
        Two-Zone Peak
        Cash/Pass $3.00
        E-purse Only $2.75

        .

        The ideas for rebates or bonuses for bulk e-purse purchases are much too invisible to serve the purpose of convincing change fumblers to change their ways. And, as aw points out, it requires an inter-agency agreement. Life is too short.

    2. Just give a 5% premium on ORCA e-purse loads. It’s simple, but it would need inter-agency agreement, so it probably won’t happen.

  10. Last week, I decided to start logging data associated with my parking around town on http://seattleparkingspot.blogspot.com. I’m planning on keeping this up and might as well post updates in this open thread once a week.

    So far for last week:

    Average Cost per Hour: $0.05
    Total Cost for Parking: $1.27
    Average Distance from Destination: 1.21 block(s)
    Average Time spent Searching for Parking: 1.13 minute(s)
    Total number of hours parked: 23.15 hours
    Total number of recorded parkings: 15

    Only 15 parkings recorded, but that will change. :)

    1. I’m a little skeptical about your “time spent looking for parking” estimates. .. Especially for those spaces that are 3 blocks away. At what point do you start looking for parking in your journey? Do you travel to in front of your destination and then start looking for closest available parking or do you pre-plan your parking based on accumulated experience?

      On another note, do you have parking states for areas recently mentioned as controversial such as ID/Chinatown or Belltown?

      1. I’m a little skeptical about your “time spent looking for parking” estimates. .. Especially for those spaces that are 3 blocks away

        Well, let me flush out the details of each one and see if you still think that the estimates are questionable.

        University of Washington (Sakura blossoms): I entered the UW campus and started the timer when I made the left onto NE Stevens way. The lot was extremely full and I was stuck behind a car that was waiting for a spot. This was the N5 lot (the closest I know to the Quad) and my “block” is a downtown block, which is about 300 feet. The distance to the Quad is about 1100 feet, which is 3.66 blocks (I underestimated the difference. Corrected in the spreadsheet and will be part of new global averages when they are calculated).

        West Seattle (Cupcake Royale): I purposefully park further away in order to park on an unlimited street, which is still only 3 blocks away. I started the timer when I turned off of Alaska. There were actually 2hr spots, but I wanted an unlimited spot and on the block where I park I had to turn around in order to be facing the right way, which burned a little bit of time. Timer stopped when I was ready to start parking.

        West Seattle (Alki): Very busy day. I entered the area that I was willing to walk and started the timer. Traffic was very slow, but then there was a parking spot along the way and since I was in walking distance, I took it. I overestimated the distance on this one. It’s also more like 1000 feet, or 3.33 blocks. Also corrected and will show up in global averages.

        Overall, I’m not too concerned about the under/over estimates because with a larger sample size they should get averaged out. I also expect to get better at estimating the distance as time goes on.

        At what point do you start looking for parking in your journey? Do you travel to in front of your destination and then start looking for closest available parking or do you pre-plan your parking based on accumulated experience?

        1. The general rule is that I start looking for parking when I get to an area that I would be willing to take a spot if it showed up. I think we all know that feeling when we go from driving to a place to trying to find a place to park. It will vary depending on the neighborhood (for example, downtown is harder to find parking, so I am willing to walk farther. In a residential area, I expect to find parking within a block from the house and don’t start looking until I get within that range).
        2. No. I park as I normally would, which includes using my previous experience. I have places that I look first based on my destination, but these are places that are publicly available and do not require any special permit or status. :)
        3. Driving to the front of the destination (and potentially passing open parking spots) and then looking for parking isn’t something I consider to be normal parking behavior. Then again, I like maps and don’t mind walking.

        I’m open to suggestions on improving the methodology. ;)

        On another note, do you have parking states for areas recently mentioned as controversial such as ID/Chinatown or Belltown?

        Not yet, but that’s just because I haven’t gone there yet. When I go, we’ll start gathering data. However, from previous experience in the ID, I’d say that there is no problem there. I can usually find street parking fairly easily and I like to shop at Uwajimaya, which offers validated 2hr parking. That’s more than enough to shop and walk to other businesses in the neighborhood. Heck, it’s enough to take the DSTT downtown, shop there, and then return.

        Belltown.. Well, I almost never drive there. The closest I get with a car is the Pike Place Market for the most part. When I go, I’ll record the experience.

    2. Here’s mine for Kent:

      Average Cost per Hour: $0
      Total Cost for Parking: $0
      Average Distance from Destination: 0 inches
      Average Time spent Searching for Parking: 0
      Total number of hours parked: Let’s say 3 hours per day, for the last 10 years…10,000 or more
      Total number of recorded parkings: 3 per day for the last 10 years…about 10,000 or more.

      1. He either leaves his car parked at home in a garage or designated parking space for which he pays for in some fashion or he isn’t grokking the real ritual of parking in big box stores.

        I’ve experienced the joys of trying to find parking at Ikea in Schaumburg IL where I had to resort to creepily following people from the exit as they walked to their car so that I could finally get a parking space.

        I’ve experienced traffic jams on Cicero Blvd in SW Chicago and its suburbs and it was mostly people trying to get to/from malls and box stores like Walmart. Not to mention that on weekends, the traffic on all major arterials and freeways is worse than during the weekday commute.

        John doesn’t realize that this is Kent’s and suburban Seattle’s probable future, a car hell of its own making.

      2. He either leaves his car parked at home in a garage or designated parking space for which he pays for in some fashion or he isn’t grokking the real ritual of parking in big box stores.

        I think we’re counting things differently. I count distance from parked car to the entrance of my destination, regardless of if it’s street parking or a private lot (paid or unpaid). The exception would be parking lots that are underneath the destination, like an underground garage. The 0 inches from his destination implies to me that he either parks on top of the store or drives his car into the store on regular basis. While this might be technically possible with the right car, I don’t think those are very popular here in the states. ;)

      3. Short of a car wash or drive-thru, I challenge you to name one parking lot where you can park 0 inches from your destination.

Comments are closed.