88 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Moscow Metro”

      1. I like the way the Bollards go up and down quickly. Our DSTT barriers impose up to a minute of delay for every bus or train that enters or leaves the tunnel.

      2. The DSTT barriers were mandated by Homeland Security, comrade. I’m sure that Metro would rather not have them at all.

      3. Yes, I’m sure that the Homeland Security demanded they be as slow-moving as possible.

        Also: source? Or just typical Seattle speculation?

    1. If we want to make Link run faster between downtown and the airport, this would be some low-hanging fruit.

  1. There’s no point in showing us the Moscow Metro. It’s something that could never be built in this region. The Soviets had absolute authority. We have a rail system in name only. It’s more of a glorified milk run on rails. Out political system will not allow us to build a truly great local rail system.

    1. I agree 100% with you Sam. It’s hopeless. Time to stand on the tracks and get it over with.

      1. Wanna do it together? So as not to traumatize the same train conductor too much, let’s spit up. You stand on the Link track, and I’ll stand on the Eastside Rail Corridor track.

      2. No Way Jose’
        I’m toast tommorrow, and you’re still standing beyond 2020.
        Pleeaazzee Sam, after me. Maybe Mr. Bailo d.p. Bernie and Niles could join us. That’ll wipe out all the malcontents in one fell swoop. Wait for it.

        OK Chorus, encourage us all.

      3. See, some of y’all might consider me a malcontent… but if I didn’t actually believe that Seattle transit could actually work if only we could drown Seattle Exceptionalism in a bathtub and refashion our network upon the principles and best practices seen in thousands of functional transit cities the world over, then I wouldn’t be here wasting my fingertips.

        Yes, that means growing a collective spine and not letting 3 mph milk runs win the day.

        It means not accepting as inherent any of the cumulative bullshit that winds up “maxing out tunnel capacities” even at pathetically slight ridership numbers by any objective standard.

        It means not being okay with multi-mile in-city stop spacing for the sole benefit of hypothetical suburban commuters whose numbers will always pale in comparison to urban users and who will always require whopping operating subsidies.

        And yes, it means not overpromising and underdelivering for the umpteenth time. Which is not the same as opposing badly needed targeted subway plans.

        We’ll see how that last one pans out, but I think I can be forgiven for being cautious and a little incredulous.

        When there’s any transit in Seattle that works — anything about which to be contented, I’ll no longer be a “malcontent.”

      4. d.p., I’d like to remind you that the DSTT will be taking over 200,000 people per day in 2030 (and that’s conservative, the full Link system will have over 285,000). Those ridership numbers don’t seem slight to me.

      5. “And yes, it means not overpromising and underdelivering for the umpteenth time. Which is not the same as opposing badly needed targeted subway plans.”

        Could you please restate this, as I am not sure I understand what you are saying.

        I had hoped after our discussion the other day I had cleared up your misconceptions about the Seattle Subway, but if you have any other questions you would like answered, feel free to ask them and I will answer them as honestly as possible.

      6. DSTT will be taking over 200,000 people per day in 2030 (and that’s conservative, the full Link system will have over 285,000

        Adding up all the 2030 ridership projections I come up with 129,500 for everything except the existing Central Link stations for which ST doesn’t conveniently list ridership in 2030 as they do for the projects that have no real world data. Your numbers suggest a growth of 134,000 daily riders from today’s 22,000 for Central Link. I don’t think 500% growth is conservative; in fact it’s not even realistic when growth for all of King Count is only projected to be 15%. And this conservatively assumes ST will do something they’ve never ever done; meet ridership projections for new stations.

      7. “except the existing Central Link stations for which ST doesn’t conveniently list ridership in 2030”

        If you couldn’t find it in 5 minutes of Googling it must not exist!

      8. Calm down big fella. I didn’t say it didn’t exist I just don’t have any need to find the breakdown. For East Link it’s actually the entire project ridership which is easier than adding up stations. It doesn’t matter how you slice the numbers there’s just no way Central Link ridership is going to grow 5X just because they can now go to the UW, Northgate and the eastside. DT is the single biggest trip generator for transit. The ridership from Central Link to DT is what it is, far less than what ST forecast, and that’s only going to change through growth.

      9. Ben,

        For the record, that line item referred to our unfortunate present-day “capacity problems,” born not of particularly high ridership but of asinine policies compounding one another — making the driver leave his booth and walk the car while a line of buses idles, allowing on-board bus payment and refusing to take steps to eliminate cash, barriers at tunnel entrances that lower so slowly they might as well be hand-cranked.

        Just a couple of examples of what Aleks has memorably called Seattle’s “pathological inability to learn from other cities.” Individually they seem minor; cumulatively, they’re why we really don’t have a “mass transit” system that can handle masses.

        As for the future numbers: 200,000 – 285,000 boardings, if those numbers are to be believed, is not what I would call “slight.” But they’re also not out of the ballpark for what many metro lines around the world easily accomodate — even light-rail metros with similarly-sized infrastructure to ours.

        (But are those numbers to be believed? 285,000 would be 3/4 of BART ridership! BART is already 40 years old, has four branches, is located in a metropolitan area with well over twice our population… but like Link, BART is built for commuting from the sprawl and has experienced significantly lower ridership than hoped/predicted/designed for.)


        Seattle has a wee bit of a history of overpromising and underdelivering on transit.

        The 1996 Sound Move vote would have had U-Link built by the time I moved here.

        TransitNow was supposed to dramatically improve the frequency and user experience on all of Metro’s “core” services (I should have been able to get from one part of town to another in less than 75 minutes by now).

        RapidRide was going to be real BRT.

        The First Hill Streetcar would be a worthy stand-in for the missing Link stop.

        Sell that shiny, extensive subway map to the voting public at your own risk. If a single one of its lines gets built, it will be a miracle. That’s why I support “targeted” subway segments — transit-mobility game changers that could be built sequentially.

      10. To clarify my BART example… BART should frankly have 800,000+ trips today to justify an assertion that Link would be able to garner 285,000 trips in 20 years on its similarly-purposed system in a much, much smaller metro area.

      11. BART should frankly have 800,000+ trips today to justify an assertion that Link would be able to garner 285,000 trips in 20 years

        I don’t think it really scales that way. BART has 104 miles of track covering a much wider area. A better comparison would be just the 50 miles of the BART system closest to the city center. Of course that makes it even more unlikely Link can come close to it’s promised ridership.

      12. “Sell that shiny, extensive subway map to the voting public at your own risk. If a single one of its lines gets built, it will be a miracle. That’s why I support “targeted” subway segments — transit-mobility game changers that could be built sequentially.”

        Seattle Subway isn’t trying to sell any map, route, segment, technology…. or anything of that nature.

        Once again, Seattle Subway is only trying to move Sound Transits planned studies of various routes forward in time. The map is just an estimate, a vision, based on past studies, but in no way are those lines set in stone.

        You have made it very clear that you want the Purple Line to be built first and don’t like any plan that doesn’t exactly conform to your vision. I understand that, but there is no need to spread disinformation about what Seattle Subway is trying to do. I thought in the other thread I was quite clear, but apparently not.

        Would you like me to go over any of that again? Was there anything I was not clear about?

      13. Your numbers suggest a growth of 134,000 daily riders from today’s 22,000 for Central Link.

        My bad. I didn’t count ridership from the North Corridor north of Northgate. That segment is scheduled to be open in 2023 so that number should be subtracted from the 134,000.

      14. Well, I was quite content to end it all, but for the sake of putting d.p. and Ben at ease, here’s the math on tunnel capacity per:(http://www.globaltelematics.com/pitf/SoundTransitCentralLinkOpsPlan.7.29.08.pdf)
        Take Bens number of 200k in DSTT in 2030, so 100K each direction. Divide 100k by 15.4 (pg 34 – Line Load factor) to get maximum passenger boardings in the peak PM hour of the day, or 6,493 boardings in one hour.
        Divide that by 148 (74 seated, 74 standees)to get number of cars needed and again by 4 car trains to get number of trains (page 49), gives you needing 10.9 trains per hour in one direction.
        That works out to 5.5 minutes between trains in the peak hour of the day, or 36% of system design capacity using 2 min. headways.
        So, even if Ben is right (I hope he is, but have serious doubts), then there is still plenty of room left more more trains and riders.
        I declare d.p. the winner.
        You may get off the tracks now. (you’re welcome) Sam and I shall remain.

      15. “The section of the line from Westlake pocket track to Stadium pocket track is designed for a 90-second design headway, to enable an ultimate two-minute operating headway.”

        Man, I could’ve saved a lot of typin’ time had I found that document long ago.

      16. OK, make it dozen +1 drinks. MIke or mic. It was getting confusing with two of us using the same name.

      17. Mic = MIke = (ohnowIgetit),

        That dozen drinks offer was originally for Mike Orr, on account of the many fastidious debates he and I had on one particular point (stop spacing and corridor access rather than ultra-expresses with ultra-local overlays, and the need not to scrimp on mass transit with urban utility for the sake of regional spindles). In the grand scheme of transit advocacy, though, our failure to see eye-to-eye on that point was pretty minor. Thus the conciliatory drinks.

        That said, your linked article is so valuable that you are definitely owed at least a drink or two. And not just valuable for winning arguments: its baseline capacity and headway specs should be required reading for any transit advocate/dreamer/proposer who wishes to discuss augmenting Link.


        How are estimates useful if they do not, on some level, also function as promises. You don’t spend the money building it without an implicit promise that “they will come.”


        What is this is not a sales pitch. (Hint: it’s a sales pitch. “Wow! If I support this I’m getting a train to Morgan Junction and Greenwood!”)

        If I had billions of dollars lying around, I honestly wouldn’t give a crap which segments came first. I go downtown and to LQA way more often than I go to the U-District or Wallingford! Either one would get me to Capitol Hill a thousand times more easily than today!

        So no, it is not about inflexible vision (but way to sprain yourself turning my words around). Ben now claims that he wants many simultaneous corridor studies, each with multiple ROW and service-pattern options explored. He now claims that whatever emerges as having the best ROI will be put before the voters first. I am 100% behind this… if that is done in good faith and with no predetermined results.

        But way to slather your reply with dickishness despite being wrong multiply wrong.

      18. Your link to AirBart makes the case for not throwing good money after bad, and it brought back some memories of OAK, where I used to work. “Build it and they will come” only works with baseball fields.
        That said, it’s a real dilemma for transit to admit failure, shut it down and try something else. We did that in private industry all the time for failed ideas, but politicians don’t seem to have the stomach for such things. North Sounder is a good example of horrible operating costs compared to parallel bus service (6 times as much), yet try to get it cancelled and listen to them squeal. You could offer free bus rides to 2500 motorists a day, and still be money ahead.
        OTOH, once something is built, the sunk cost is gone, the debt will eventually be retired and some pretty impressive structures will be left standing. If we can throw trillions at a few wars, bail out a few hundred banks and millions of homeowners, then who am I to say that spending a few billion on tunnels is all that bad?
        My gripe is that even discounting the entire capital cost and debt, the new facilities are not any cheaper than the ones they replaced, like Airport Link. If Univ Link doesn’t get cost/boarding under buses, then it was all a huge hoax, and one that drains away operating revenue that could be providing more service for more citizens.
        End of Rant.

      19. d.p., as I explained in the previous thread, you have interpreted Ben’s beliefs that a Ballard-DT line makes the most sense as something more than a simple opinion. As I asked you before, where has he ever stated anything remotely close he himself, much less Seattle Subway only wanting to studying that line? You could not produce any quotes the other day, if I remember correctly all you could pull out was ‘subtext’ or ‘reading between the lines’, in other words you just made it up.

        However, just to make you feel better, and to dispell any lingering doubts, I will clearly state this one more time: Seattle Subway is in no way tied to a route, a map, a technology, a segment, a line, or anything of the sort. It is only about raising money to get ST to study NOW the routes and alternatives it was already planning to study in the future.

        I don’t think I can state it any more plainly. However if you still think there is some loophole there, I can try and reframe it for you.

    2. Many of the subway system stations built during the Cold War Era in Communist countries are designed to also serve as bomb shelters. Too bad the North Korean missile test was such a bust. With a successful test we could have mustered some Korean commie fear mongering into support for a Seattle Subway/bomb shelter project.

      1. The London Underground was used as a bomb shelter during the Blitz in World War II.

    3. It’s entertainment. STB routinely shows movies on Sunday of transit systems that couldn’t be built here.

    4. My,my Comrade.

      At one time talk like that would get your comment O/T’d by the Transit Blog Commissar.

      Please watch your step, or your rations of vodka will be reduced 23 percent!

      1. How can a comment on an open thread post get O/Ted?

        It could still get ad hommed, of course. ;)

      2. Given the new liqour laws coming online in this state come June, we will have even more Vodka! Kirkland Signature Vodka!

    5. There’s no point in commenting on a blog so as to construe everything in the worst possible way. Yet, people do it anyway.

    6. Looking at their subway map…sort of fascinating.


      It doesn’t look all that centralized…or rather there are multiple centers, with a ring allowing you to jump between the spokes.

      I would be as if we built out LINK and then added a loop around Lake Washington so you could come in on one spoke, switch to another, and ride back out in a different direction.

      1. Ugh, I so dislike schematic transportation maps.

        They work well if you’re acquainted with the area you’re in, but if you’re a new tourist, they make it difficult to gauge distance.

      2. The Metro lines echoe Moscow’s historic growth. The Kremlin is the center of the city, at Kitai-Gorod station. Around it are three or four ring roads, surrounding the successive areas of growth. The most of these are the Garden Ring which the Ring Line approximates, and the Moscow Ring Road (freeway) which goes around the outer stations.

        All the Ring Line stations are transfer stations, and it’s common to come up the escalator out of one of these stations and find thirty people at the top waiting to meet people. I’ve seen something similar at Vancouvver’s Broadway station though at a smaller scale.

        The Metro functions like a freeway: everybody (except the die-hard drivers) uses it because it’s the fastest way to get around.

      3. “It doesn’t look all that centralized…or rather there are multiple centers, with a ring allowing you to jump between the spokes.”

        Moscow is as big as New York City, so the center is large. The area inside the Garden Ring is roughly like lower and midtown Manhattan. The very center is historic, so protected from development. The Garden Ring area played an important role in 19th-century literature and poetry, so some of the 19th-century buildings are preserved. The Soviet-style apartment blocks start at the Garden Ring and go out about six Metro stations. Since the 1990s even more apartments were built at the edges, and buildings less than 10 stories were being torn down to be replaced by taller ones. Development has now spilled out past the Ring Road (MKAD), and Metro extensions are being planned there.

        “Business centers” (clusters of highrise office towers, upscale apartments, luxury retail, and a Metro station) occur in various places inside and outside the Garden Ring. Pushkinskaya and Arbatskaya, the two big transfer stations in the west third of the Garden Ring are two such areas. There’s a new one now that’s being promoted as a high-tech center; I’m not sure where it is, I think out west somewhere, maybe Smolenskaya.

    1. I commuted from St. John’s Wood to a building near Freston Road (close to the BBC headquarters) when I worked in London for a short time. I got so sick of cramming onto a Jubilee line train at St. John’s Wood that I took to walking through Regent’s Park to Baker street where I’d catch the Hammersmith and City line (affectionately known as the Hammersmith and Sh**ty line).

      On a visit to London years later I realized there was a decent bike route from our flat to work that was just over 3 miles long. I’m sure I’d be biking if I were there today. Their bike routes back then were roughly similar to our burgeoning neighborhood greenways although they were mostly just signs and paint. Lots of improvements have been made since then (2000). Given how flat the city is, I’m surprised they never developed much of a bike culture.

  2. A few years ago I was in Kiev, Ukraine and took their version of the metro. It was a pretty decent system with one flaw for me. Everything was in Cyrillic characters. My map of the system from my tour book had stations shown in English characters. So I had to count stops very carefully to make sure I got on and off where I needed to. Other than that it was cheap, convenient, and clean.

    1. Cyrillic is pretty easy to learn if you’re just trying to sound out station names. I had a tough time at first when I visited Moscow and Saint Petersburg, but I learned the basics of Cyrillic in a day or two. It was a huge help though!

    2. One trick I’ve heard is to memorize the first and last letters of the station. Although I would probably memorize the first two letters instead, and make sure that no other station on that branch has a similar name (e.g., Fili / Filiyovski Park; Ismaylovski Park / Izmaylovskaya). Also, at least in Russian, “prospekt” means a large street (Los Angeles-style boulevard), “shosse” means expressway, “ploshchad” means square, and “park” means park.

  3. Why is Metro bothering putting OBS in the 40ft Gilligs? Aren’t they all going to be gone in the next year or so?

    1. It’s mandated by the end of the year, but it takes time for all the vehicles to be gone. It won’t be until next year that all 390 40′ Gilligs (trolleys excluded) are retired. Metro initially only purchased 169 Orion VII’s, so the other 221 have to be purchased before they are all gone. Heck, even Central and North don’t have any.

      1. Yeah, it’s a slow process. They can get about 5 per weak ready. Right now they’re working on new DE60s, and they’re waiting on more Orions. Plus there are 70ish RR buses to get ready before October.

      2. Why would we need 70 buses on a line that is less than 2 hours long (treating the C and D as one long line)? At 10-minute headway, you can only fit 24 buses on such a route.

      3. Does anyone in the know (i.e. not speculating) know whether mobility device “passive restraint” slots will be installed on the C/D RapidRide buses, or for that matter on other buses as well?

        Might some of the Orions be traded out for the buses with steps that are still running on 3rd Ave (not counting the trollies)?

  4. Why Norwegian music (In the Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt)for a Russian Metro station? That said, the Moscow metro station is one of the most beautiful.

    1. You’d have to ask the artist that. I expect because it offers the constant increase in tempo that he wanted to achieve.

  5. Moscow Metro is the most confusing, massive, and just epic-feeling urban rail system I’ve ever ridden on. We got lost for the first couple of days on almost every trip. The stations are absolutely gorgeous, though. Just an incredible system.

    I’ve been to Tokyo, Seoul, London, Paris, and NYC as well, and to me Moscow’s metro was the craziest, most confusing, and most massive-feeling of all of them.

    1. I should also add – it is an incredibly massive, dense, urban city as well. Moreso than most probably imagine. It has a slightly higher population density than NYC, but with 12+ million people instead of 8+.

    2. Mostly they built it to act as bomb shelters in the event of nuclear war.

      Not sure if it’s the best thing for post-Glasnost transit.

  6. Hey everyone,

    Don’t forget about the hearing on Metro’s fall route restructure.

    Monday night, April 16
    6:00 pm
    Union Station

    1. I know there are a lot of people on this blog who don’t like how metro has watered down the service changes. Please show up to the hearing if you are one of them.

  7. Rode the 520 bike trail today for the first time since the 36th/37th St. overpass closure. Used to ride it all the time but our office moved during the construction. At NE 40th there is a real time info board. It points down the on ramp (i.e. toward 520 westbound. Everyone walking to the stop is coming from the opposite direction. It might be two sided but I stopped at the intersection and you can’t see the sign. That seems incredibly stupid. At NE 51st they have a two sided sign I think but it’s between two shelters. Again it’s invisible for everyone walking up to the stop. WTF? Sure looks like a government agency with more money than sense.

    1. Note quite true. Each day when I leave work, I take the new 31st/36th St. bridge to the 520 trail and approach the 40th St. bus stop from the south. The new bridge is wonderful, as it allows me to get from the office to the bus stop in 6-8 minutes without waiting for a single stoplight.

      Thus far, I’ve found the real-time information sign to be pretty accurate – it’s consistently said “due” as the bus approached and the time remaining is pretty consistent about decreasing by one minute approximately each minute of actual elapsed time. The sign often shows different arrival times from OneBusAway, but it happens it’s almost always the sign that’s correct and OneBusAway that’s wrong. It does make you wonder, though why OneBusAway can’t be backed by the same source of information that populates the real-time arrival signs.

      1. The 36th/37th St overpass is terrific and looks well layed out for pedestrians and bikes although I haven’t actually biked it. The issue is you can only see the real time info from the bike path which represents only a fraction of the people going to the stop where as everbody, including thos coming from the bike path have to go down the west bound on ramp. It gives people on the bike path a few seconds “early warning” to double time it but is completely obsured for people walking down the ramp. It could easily have been positioned to be readable from both directions. That is assuming it’s two sided like the sign at 51st.

  8. Current global averages for my personal parking in Seattle:
    Average Cost per Hour: $0.05
    Total Cost for Parking: $1.27
    Average Distance from Destination: 1.3 block(s)
    Average Time spent Searching for Parking: 0.93 minute(s)
    Total number of hours parked: 26.35 hours
    Total number of recorded parkings: 19

    I’m currently in LA, otherwise I’d probably have a couple more. :) For those wondering what this is, I’ve starting logging my experiences looking for parking in Seattle to give a picture of what it’s like over time. I am still tweaking my methodology, so comments are welcome.

  9. Saw several shiny new hybrid buses in Training mode driving up the Counterbalance. I guess if you’re going to test out a new bus, that would be the place to do it.

    1. Those are likely new part-time drivers in training, assuming there are at least 3 or 4 people on the bus. If you want to watch the action, hang out near 8th Ave W and W Olympic Pl on the 1 route. No guarantees that it’ll be as exciting to watch off the bus as on…

    2. I’ve seen them prowling around on Capitol Hill too. One on John at 21st (eastbound) and a couple weeks later on 23rd at Madison (southbound). Both on Sunday afternoons, incidentally.

  10. It occurred to me in watching this video that even as we tout transit systems as a solution to vehicle gridlock, we create gridlock of people. I’ve experienced this kind of massive people traffic in places like Tokyo,Bangkok, New York City, Chicago, London and even in Washington DC. Where walking down the sidewalk on Michigan avenue you experience that the sidewalk is wider than some streets and there are so many people about that you are constantly jostled and blocked as you try to move forward. In other cities, it was more around their transit systems including the famous Tokyo train crush, the sea of people at Kings Cross or rush hour at Federal Triangle station or Grand Central.

      1. … and it doesn’t tend to actually be gridlock, but rather a compact stream that makes it hard to go in the opposite direction. Unlike cars, people are actually rather good at moving quickly in a dense mass without undue problems.

        Also such things in the pedestrian space generally only occur at certain bottlenecks, and are quickly relieved once one is past that.

    1. And it’s also easier to fix. The number of streets in the US that would be truly overwhelmed by people if they were pedestrian-only 24 hours a day is approximately 0. On most of those streets, the gridlocked sidewalks are adjacent to griclocked motor vehicle lanes that have a fraction of the capacity.

  11. First Hill Streetcar groundbreaking!

    Monday, April 23 at 12:15 p.m. at Broadway and Boylston Avenue (near Swedish hospital).
    Please join the City of Seattle and Sound Transit as we celebrate this major milestone!
    To RSVP, please email: streetcar@seattle.gov

    1. I still haven’t figured out what the point of RSVPing for this by email is…

      That said, I do hope to be able to attend!

  12. I spotted a Metro articulated bus with destination signs displaying “Driver Training” at the Lynnwood Transit Center last Friday. It looked like the driver was practicing turning around in the Transit Center. Any reason why Metro is training drivers up in Snohomish County?

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