46 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Healthy Buses”

  1. Buses, planes, trains, ferries, and even gondolas should all have air cleaners to remove airborne transmitted diseases from public transportation. What Ralph Nader did to the auto industry for public safety, needs to be extended to transportation and public health.

    1. That tube is going to last a week on the USA’s third-world road infrastructure.

      Let me guess, the neck-tie bunch has never been on public transit before?

      1. If the U.S. keeps wastings billions upon billions of tax dollars every year subsidizing stupidly expensive transit systems, our critical road infrastructure is just going to become worse and worse.

        The $2.6 billion wasted on Central Link light rail would have completely rebuilt I-5 through Seattle with enough money to create SWIFT-style bus service on several routes (including the Central Link route) also.

        One of these days, the public is going to realize that highways and streets are vastly more important than little toy trains, and start demanding their tax dollars be spent on critical road infrastructure instead of being wasted on toy trains.

      2. > If the U.S. keeps wastings billions upon billions of tax dollars every year subsidizing stupidly expensive transit systems, our critical road infrastructure is just going to become worse and worse.

        Glad to hear you’re finally advocating the cessation of federal highway funding.

      3. Normal, what’s you’re attitude towards bicycle and pedestrian funding? Do you support sidewalks, or do you consider them a waste of taxpayer money?

      4. @Norman

        ” The $2.6 billion wasted on Central Link light rail would have completely rebuilt I-5 through Seattle…”

        Define rebuilt.

  2. Hey, does anyone know the status on any of these?
    1. Central Link ‘Before and After’ study
    2. Ridership Audit by the State Auditor

    1. I’ve got an info request in with ST on #1. It is due out, by contract, on May 21st, and should not exceed $642,429. It should be a monster study for that.

      1. I got a quick reply. Thanks Brant, I look forward to reading it.

        “I’m writing in response to your query about the Before and After Study (B&A Study) for the Initial Segment Project. The B&A Study report is currently in process. Sound Transit is planning to deliver a draft of the report to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in June. FTA will have a period of time for review and comments, and Sound Transit will revise the document accordingly. Then the document would be available for public requests.


        Brant Lyerla | Transportation Planner | Sound Transit, Office of Light Rail Project Development | 206.398.5404 | brant.lyerla@soundtransit.org

  3. This is something I’ve always wondered. Why don’t other animal species build transportation systems for themselves? And how do they survive without them? And if the answer is because they aren’t able to build transit systems, then why don’t we build and operate them for them? For example, crows have to travel back and forth many miles from their roost to their feeding area every day. What about a gondola system to help them travel? And maybe tiny escalators to help squirrels (especially disabled squirrels) to get from the tops of trees down to the ground. A light rail system for geese. I’m serious about this! If humans need transit systems to get around, why don’t other animals? Who is with me on this?

    1. I guess if you define transit as passive travel, perhaps any kind of airborne seed that floats in the wind in order to pollinate.

      1. I’m saying many other animal species have a “home” that is located many miles from their “work site.” What do you think about the idea of us humans creating transportation systems to help these animals travel more quickly and efficiently?

      2. So, yes, as a thought experiment interesting.

        For one thing, animals don’t currently have traffic jams…or do they?

        Do ants get “backed up” when exiting, entering the nest with food?

    2. I sort of like this question. Makes you think outside the box.

      1. Largely, other animals have not changed as much, and as quickly, as humans have. Our ability to travel on foot basically satisfied our travel needs, but our needs grew quickly while our ability declined. Crows need to travel long distances in the air, but they do pretty well at it on their own. We’ve grown our ability to travel off of foot, however, through ingenuity and the great communication and archival ability that has allowed us to collaborate on inventions within partnerships, around the world, and across generations. This same ingenuity, creativity, and archival has caused us to grow our travel needs. This is civilization; there are interesting examples of animals developing something like culture, but in nowhere near as advanced or fast-moving a way as humans have.

      1a. When humans invent useful things we incorporate them into our culture very quickly, so that they almost turn into universal necessities to live within civilization. I can only imagine trying to live without using the wheel for transportation for a year. Even in a dense and walkable part of the city it would be a challenge, and I’d be limited compared to other people. Consider that in less than two generations cell phones and the Internet have gone from inventions to near-ubiquitous parts of living in the developed world, such that you really miss a lot of the culture if you go without them (I held off getting a cell phone until pretty recently, so I’m fairly aware of this). Over a somewhat longer time, the train, the bike, the car, and the airplane have taken fast transportation from new invention to vital need in the lives of many people.

      2. We actually do operate transportation systems for other animals. I’m going to dubiously try to generalize this by saying we do it when their contact with humans causes their environments to change faster than their transportational abilities can react. There’s individual transportation of animals as pets, to and from zoos, etc. But there’s also mass transportation of animals away from areas affected by oil spills, since an otter’s transportation ability is otherwise not sufficient to deal with the situation. I’m sure someone knowledgeable could think of other situations like this. We’ve also built assistive transportation infrastructure for animals. Again, on the individual level, we do this for pets in many interesting ways. But then in the wild, consider as an example the work done at Carkeek Park to create a transportation corridor for salmon (this was needed because of humans’ rapid destruction of salmon transportation corridors). Or at the Ballard Locks. If I recall correctly, there are human-built rest areas for migratory birds. These systems don’t necessarily resemble the transportation infrastructure we build for ourselves, but we’re not building for ourselves. Salmon would never board a Submarine Rapid Transit system, and not because of the lack of dedicated ROW and signal priority. Again, someone with real knowledge of this could surely come up with more examples.

      3. On a darker note, we provide mass transportation of (though not for) animals within the system of industrial agriculture. Humans have rapidly changed the way these animals live, and modern agricultural practices are transportation-intensive. Humans have also rapidly altered the form of agriculturally important species through selective breeding, but, of course, not in ways that enhance their transportation abilities. Cowboys, of course, still drive cattle, but not as far because there’s little open land to do it on. And the industrialization and consolidation of slaughter has resulted in places where animals have to enter in trucks.

      3a. Humans also transport massive amounts of live plants and viable plant seeds for planting and cross-breeding — sometimes intentionally and sometimes not.

    3. Crows do not need any human assistance to help them travel. According to http://www.crowbusters.com/facts.htm, crows fly at 30 mph, with short bursts of 60 mph. Given that crows go directly from origin to destination in a straight line, unencumbered by ground-based obstacles, traffic, or the direction of roads, this is easily fast enough for a crow to beat a car door-to-door on almost any trip with a city or Metro area.

    4. And the correct answer is …. animals do not need transportation systems to get around because they aren’t dumb enough to locate their home so far away from things that they need one to get around. They are smart enough to know to locate their home within easy traveling distance to the areas they frequent.

  4. How about improving the air quality outside the bus?

    Norway’s Zero team crosses Europe in hydrogen cars without a backup

    It’s not quite a trip around the world, but a trek that Norway’s Zero team recently undertook in a pair of hydrogen-fueled cars is certainly an impressive enough feat in its own right. Late last month, they drove two Hyundai Ix35 FCEVs from Oslo to Monte Carlo (admittedly one of the easier ways to technically “cross Europe”), relying solely on the existing hydrogen refueling infrastructure — that’s as opposed to other trips that brought along fuel trucks as backup.



    May 8th in Sedro-Woolley @ Community Center from 5:30PM until 6:30PM
    May 10th in Mt. Vernon @ Skagit Station from 5:00PM until 6:30PM, Presentation at 5:30 PM

    Some new service improvements are in the works…

  6. Super simple economics: If you want riders to use ORCA, don’t charge for getting the card.

      1. Something that is polically attainable by September 29 is reducing the value of paper transfers to 1 to 1.5 hours from the tear point (which, unfortunately, has to take into consideration the calculated end time of a run).

        Thanks to mailing free vouchers out to car tab recipients instead of mailing out free ORCA cards with loaded value, we’re stuck with the paper transfers for at least two more years.

        Ironically, the council approved the voucher mailout program a week before asking for a study of how to get more riders to use ORCA. Short attention span.

      2. But one thing that might be politically feasible, and get suburban council member votes, is not issuing paper transfers in the Central Business District.

      3. [a] We’re having a hard enough time switching away from the “one-seat ride” mentality as it is. If we create any more disincentives for transferring, it will be even worse.

        [b] The problem is cash fares, not transfers. If you don’t hand out transfer slips, some people will switch to ORCA, but other people will just pay cash even more often.

        IMHO, the only acceptable replacement for paper transfers is a low-income ORCA. If we don’t get that, I’m happy to keep paper transfers (and their accompanying fare evasion) until the end of time.

      4. Perhaps changing the policy on paper transfers on Metro would be to begin cutting transfers for the time issued then accept them for an hour.

        If you want more time get an ORCA card. A step towards weaning us off paper transfers?

        Additionally, Could Metro change policy and allow a transfer credit on Metro with ORCA last longer than today? Is it technically possible for ORCA transfer privileges be different for each agency if they wish to do so? Add Owl transfer ORCA for Metro only? Leave the cross agency transfer as it is today if it is too difficult politically to adopt maximum daily fare or other incentives over cash.

        If we can’t bring all the ORCA partners along – then allow each agency to adopt ORCA incentives when ORCA is used on their system.

      5. If Metro won’t budge on incentivizing ORCA, ST could unilaterally set their fares at $1 for RRFP with cash, $2 multi-county, $3 full adult intra-county, $4 multi-county, and drop e-fares by one penny from current fares.

        CT could set theirs at $1 RRFP, $2 local, $4 inter-county, and $5 long distance, with a penny drop in their e-fares.

    1. Charge a more reasonable fee. The things only cost 50 cents to make. Most other cities only charge $2. Boston and Bergen give them away for free.

      1. They may be made of only $0.50 of materials (doubtful considering it contains a radio device) but the vendor charges $2.50 per card. We don’t have any other source for them. The county could make the political decision to provide 1 card for every citizen of the county but you’d be talking about $5-10 million in costs to do so.

      2. $5-10 million is chump change compared to the service-hour cost if we don’t find a way to streamline boarding downtown.

        Also, make the e-fare slightly odd amounts, so that card balances rarely hit zero exactly.

        Since ST and Metro are the agencies swallowing the card cost, the two of them should be able to agree to waive the card fee henceforth.

        But, since we can program the ORCA VMs to do most anything, maybe they can ask for a suggested donation for the cost of the card. People might not feel like donating, but it’ll hopefully shame some into not throwing their cards away.

      3. Actually, RFID cards are much much cheaper than the 50 cents I listed if one can purchase them from the People’s Republic of China; think 5 cents or so. I was giving a price of a “U.S. Made” RFID card which is what an entity like ORCA would be required to buy.

      4. Perhaps the vendor is already getting the cards there. Still, our payment to the vendor per card will be $2.50.

        The contract was for ten years, so I don’t know what happens then.

        If we do make the cards free (an idea that didn’t even get a mention as a long-term possibility in the ORCA access report), we’d have to find alternate ways to discourage throwing away used-up cards and getting new ones each time someone uses an ORCA VM.

        That’s why I’d suggest e-fares, to start, of .74 for RRFP, $2.24 for off-peak, $2.29 for one-zone peak, and $2.99 for two-zone peak, while simultaneously raising the cash fares to $1.00, $2.50, $3.00, and $4.00. The penny reduction in “regular” fares would count as mitigation for the increase in cash fares, and make it so that e-purse users who are counting pennies hold onto their card. That penny reduction might seem tiny, but it might represent a few hundred thousand dollars in Metro’s budget projections, which is why I am suggesting the most minimal reduction. If Metro can afford more (which it can’t) I’d still stay away from round amounts for “regular” fare.

        (The $3 and $4 peak charges are intended to reduce cash-and-change fumbling during peak to just cash fumbling, and those who can’t afford it simply need to take a few minutes to go get a free card.)

  7. Another week, another update on my parking statistics from http://seattleparkingspot.blogspot.com/

    The price continues to go down as the effects of the $25 ticket starts wearing off. Time to find parking in all areas remains about a minute on average and that spot remains, on average, a little more than a block from my destination.

    In the process of cleaning up the posts and double checking. I did find a couple of double posts. To give an example of how much impact this has, here’s the before and after removing duplicates of the global averages.

    Global Averages with Duplicates:
    Average Cost per Hour: $0.49
    Total Cost for Parking: $30.17
    Average Distance from Destination: 1.14 block(s)
    Average Time spent Searching for Parking: 0.9 minute(s)
    Total number of hours parked: 60.95 hours
    Total number of recorded parkings: 40

    Actual Current Global Averages:
    Average Cost per Hour: $0.5
    Total Cost for Parking: $30.17
    Average Distance from Destination: 1.2 block(s)
    Average Time spent Searching for Parking: 0.94 minute(s)
    Total number of hours parked: 60.75 hours
    Total number of recorded parkings: 38

    Also, all new posts are now tagged with their neighborhood.

  8. Idea for a way to celebrate Metro’s 40th Anniversary:

    In response to the Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern railroads’ “heritage unit” locomotive program, IMO, King County Metro should do the same to commemorate 40 years of service.

    The scheme is the same as it is for UP and NS: paint a handful of random buses in not only “Retro-Metro” paint schemes but also in the paint schemes of their predecessors (Seattle Transit System, for example). Imagine a 7000-series Orion in 1970’s/80’s “Sunrise” colors!

  9. I’m looking forward to Rapid Ride C, but I’m going to miss my one-seat-ride from Alaska Junction to Greenwood via the 54 & 5. I’m sure there aren’t many riders out there who utilize that as a through route, but it happens to work very well for me…

    1. Are you still trying to claim people are fleeing cities? The population in Bangkok has nearly doubled since that building was built. It’s Bangkok’s strange ownership laws that leave empty blocks on valuable land downtown.

  10. One more suggestion on paper transfers: Follow Kitsap’s lead by making them only good on the next run of whichever route following the time of tear, and make the time of tear the projected end of the run.

    If a route runs hourly, the transfer would be good for an hour on that route. If it runs half-hourly, the transfer would only be good for a half hour on that route.

    If the paper transfers are clearly always worth less time than an ORCA transfer is, they will hopefully go out of style.

  11. Is it healthy to wake up early? Seems there are some Parents upset about proposal for earlier school-bus pickup

    “It’s incredible,” said Bruce Gray, the father of a third-grader at Orca K-8. “I can’t believe the board would consider changes with impacts this big for thousands of kids when there is so much confusion and so many unanswered questions.”

    Same Bruce Gray from ST?

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