Please, put down your drink.  Then read Michael van Baker’s post about gondolas.  It is hilarious yet intelligent, stringing history together with current events to come up with a possible future.  It’s genius.  I don’t love the recent criticism that Amazon isn’t philanthropic enough – that’s their business, and I believe that social services should be provided by the government.  That said, the Seattle Center to SLU to Capitol Hill line likely benefits Amazon more than any one entity.  And considering how slow our tax-averse state is to build infrastructure, a helping hand from the private sector would be appreciated. 

I wonder if stringing a fiber optic line on the thing would be useful.

43 Replies to “The Ama”

    1. Yes! Why not? We’re digging a hole anyway. Though it might be more accessable with a gondola – you have a place for a downdrop at every tower.

      1. Indeed, it was especially a utility tunnel under the ship canal near the University Bridge that many of us pointed out to the tunneling skeptics during the Sound Move battles as evidence that indeed tunneling can be and had been performed in Seattle with success.

      2. What for? The city already has 500 miles of dark fiber.

        ??? There’s no connection on link trains, though. And good luck getting your LTE working in the tunnel.

      3. Yep, there is tons of dark fiber laying around. Plus the speeds and number of channels (multiplexing) is increasing faster than demand. Verizon strung fiber all up and down our street and then abandon the FIOS project. This was sold recently to Frontier. I just checked and they have no plans to bring it the last hundred feet to anybodies home.

      4. I tried Clear wimax and gave up on it in disgust. Total waste of time. My connection was throttled to 5kb and their support techs couldn’t figure out how to fix it. Three modems later, I said good bye…

    2. I believe they are putting Fiber in the new portion of the tunnel. But it is only for ST use.

    3. Jory is correct, only ST and Metro will have access to the fibre optics in the new tunnels. There simply isn’t enough room to squeeze more things into the running tunnels.

      1. That doesn’t sound right. Do you know how small a fiber optic cable is? It’s not like we’re asking for a water main.

      2. There needs to be wireless access in the tunnels both cellular and wifi. I’m sure you can get the carriers to pay for this especially if the consumers demand it.

    4. There’s really not a lot of need for more backbone fiber. What’s needed is more last mile fiber to businesses and homes.

      1. What’s needed is more last mile fiber to businesses and homes.

        …business and homes and trains and stations :)

  1. It’s true that social services should be provided by government, however, business in many cases goes out of its way to leverage government against spending on social services to extract more corporate tax breaks (welfare).

    1. That’s sort of the american philosophy on philanthropy. More charity and less government. Europeans generally don’t give to charity because they think the government should do it. Americans generally give more to charity precisely because they believe the government shouldn’t do it.

      1. Americans give to charity because (A) the government isn’t taking care of the problem, (B) a sense of civic responsibility beats in their hearts, (C) it’s tax-deductable, and/or (D) it’s good PR for the donor — essentially an alternative form of marketing.

        The issue is that, for private charity to really fill the healthcare gap, poverty gap, education gap, and transit gap — would require so many billions of dollars that no group of companies or individuals could fill it. Only governments can do it, either by raising taxes, deficit spending, or changing the incentive structure to bring down the costs dramatically. So expecting private charity to pay for poor people’s healthcare means millions of people won’t get healthcare, even if the donors are extremely committed to doing everything they can.

      2. I’ve never understood the tax deduction argument. When normal people (myself included) file their taxes, any money that you give to charity results in, at most, a 33% rebate on your taxes. If what you’re after is more money, then wouldn’t it be better to just keep the money you would have donated?

        I mean, if you were going to donate anyway, I can see why the tax deduction would make you donate more — you can give a larger amount with the tax deduction than you could without — but I don’t see how it could induce giving in someone who wasn’t going to give to begin with. 33% of 0 is still 0.

      3. It doesn’t do zip for me. Every time I calculate my deductions, it comes out less than the standard deduction. Even the year I had both $2000 in medical costs and a fire in my apartment building that gutted half my posessions (a capital loss). There are special deductions for both those cases, but only if they add up to 10% of your income, which these were just below. So I don’t itemize deductions, and thus I get zippo for charity contributions. People say if I have a mortgage, then my deduction would be higher than the standard. But I’m highly debt-adverse and don’t want to commit to a 30-year mortgage, so I don’t.

  2. I’ve found the response to the Amazon philanthropy piece interesting. Thought it was much less criticism than observation.

  3. I am still doubtful about any cablecar/gondola being effective enough. Having rode Zacateca’s teleferico several times, and I love it, I still think that the stuff is way to slow.

    Entertaining article, btw.

    1. This system isn’t racing a Subaru from West Seattle, it’s racing the #8 bus from Seattle Center to Cap Hill. The way to win that race isn’t a fast mode, it’s getting out of traffic and minimizing boarding delays. So the cheapest way to grade separation and POP wins. And this is a pretty cheap way to grade separation and POP.

      1. I understand that, and agree it is a good way to achieve grade separation. With that, does it still compare to moving enough people fast enough vs. the sloth #8? I never took it since I didn’t need to.

      2. The < 1.5 mile route from the Seattle Center, stopping at SLU, and ending at Cap Hill would take about 7 minutes (assuming a single cable gondola – a 3S system could run faster). The scheduled time for that journey on the #8 at peak times is over 40 minutes. And that's assuming that you arrive just as a bus does. Add more time for your average wait to catch a bus.

      3. Not to mention that the 8 rarely keeps to its schedule during peak. The few times I’ve ridden it then, it got progressively later as it approached I-5 from Seattle Center.

      1. Well, not on its present QA – Cap Hill route, which was originally advocated by Herman Adalist when he ran for Mayor in 1969 – everybody thought he was nuts. But, he also campaigned for pulling down the viaduct, too.

        The “old” #8 was the 8 Ravenna, now the 30/74, but in those days (approx 1940-1980) ran under the wires as far as 35th Ave NE and NE 55th Street.

  4. It’s amazing that Metro and the City did not implement the #8 until only 20 years ago. And it seemed only 17 years ago, they discovered that the bigger articulated buses were needed for that route. It was very frustrating trying to get to bumbershoot from Capital Hill with having to wait while crowded smaller buses passed by the Broadway and John stop.

  5. So instead of waiting in traffic on the bus, you’ll be waiting in a Crystal Mountain-like lift line. Great. Then again, I skied there before the current regime of high speed quads were installed so maybe there is something to this. Anybody know the range of capacities available?

    Oooh! And you could have premium service for an extra fee that lets people avoid waiting with the little people… Um… Maybe not.

    1. A reasonable speed and size single cable gondola can move 2,400 passengers per hour per direction. That’s equivallent to what – 24 articulated buses per hour running in each direction on just this section of route at all times? Until you approach that capacity, there should be no lines.

  6. Amazon employees by and large don’t need a gondola to get to work. The majority of the employees are young and plenty able enough to walk that hill. What they need is a decent way to do it. An overpass over I-5 at about Republican or Harrison would do it. One that’s wide enough for bicycles would be nice.

    Secondly Amazon needs to drop the parking subsidy. As it is, it’s nearly free to park at work. (of course the gas isn’t included)

    I’m not saying that a gondola wouldn’t be fun to ride, but I’d rather the money be spent on better walking and bicycling access to the city.

    1. Sure. Young people can walk. And some probably don’t mind the 20+ minute walk up a hill in the rain.

      I’m strongly in favor of good pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. I just don’t see why you’d jump straight to either/or. Transit and feet work well together.

      1. Because while a motorized transit system works, it has much higher operating costs than decent sidewalks and bike routes. Therefore to move more people for less money, I’d rather the city spent it’s cash on things that were more cost effective, and healthier.

        And there are plenty of people walking up the Lakeside overpass and up Pine but not many at Denny. I’m guessing because the traffic along that sidewalk is noisy and moves fast. A dedicated overpass between Lakeview and Denny would give all those appt and condo dwellers on Capital Hill an alternative way off that hill and over the I-5 moat.

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