I’ve recently finished reading Darrin Nordahl’s ebook Making Transit FUN!, and it’s inspired a few ideas.  I’ll write up a review soon, but for now I present my latest idea: the Brooklyn Slide.  Imagine if instead of walking down two long sets of stairs or escalators in the future Brooklyn Station, you could shoot down a slide from the surface right to the platform.  This would save countless hours of passenger commute time, and would be fun.

Considering Sound Transit is only halfway done with design, there’s still plenty of time to add this little, cheap design enhancement.  Though I show a straight slide in my illustration, this could be helical after a straight section.  This could also likely work at the Roosevelt Station, Capitol Hill Station, or Bellevue Station, as they have similar designs.  If there’s any concern about safety, cleaning, liability, or maintenance, I refer you to previous designs implemented in parks throughout Seattle on city land, built safe enough for children to use.

Transit slides are not unprecedented, there are several that have been built as retrofit installations.  The difference here is that we have the opportunity to build one right into the station from the start.

Brooklyn Slide, Matt Gangemi

61 Replies to “Making Transit Fun: The Brooklyn Slide”

  1. Well Matt, as long as you’re dancing in front of the ST Legal Affairs Office, could I offer a more practical idea.
    Transferring from Rainier Stn to Mt.Baker Stn would save lots of time for all the the Eastsiders going to the airport (about 1,500 each day). Forcing the transfer at IDS is time consuming, so . . . enter my Super-Trebuchet. It’s only a mile between stations, and allowing for windage and all, the catch nets wouldn’t have to be too big. Maybe a big Trebuchet for people and a smaller version for luggage, bikes, and kids.
    Sorry Mattmobiles ™, You lost the contract to the low bidder.

    1. ST doesn’t do low budget. Besides, who’s going to use a three “seat” ride to the airport. I say just put in a rail gun at BTC and provide direct service.

      1. Those things are awesome with supersonic speeds and 100+ mile range. Everett to Tacoma in a 21.6 seconds. I’ve heard the landing is a bit abrupt.

    2. I had to look up Trebuchet to see what it was.

      Perhaps a gondola between Rainier station and Mt Baker station? As a bonus, it could go up to Beacon Hill too.

    3. Instead of a gondola, how about a nice, smooth, paved off-street bike path. According to my back-of-the-envelope calculations, this would enable anyone without luggage can save significant time over going through IDS with nothing more than a simple skateboard.

      For those that want details, here are estimated travel times between Ranier Station and Mt. Baker station (on the train, moving south) using three different modes:

      Ride bus/train to IDS 5 minutes
      + go up/down stairs to SB platform 3 minutes
      + wait for train 5 minutes
      + ride train to Mt. Baker station 11 minutes
      = 24 minutes

      2) Walk to bus stop for #7 SB 1 minute
      + Wait for #7 bus 10 minutes
      + Ride #7 bus south 10 minutes
      + Walk to platform on Mt. Baker station 2 minutes
      + Wait for train 5 minutes
      = 28 minutes

      3) Exit Ranier station 1 minute
      + Hop on stakeboard and ride down
      hypothetical path that would be built
      along Ranier 7 minutes (about 1.1 flat miles)
      + Walk up platform to Mt. Baker station 2 minutes
      + Wait for train 5 minutes
      = 15 minutes

      Looks to me like the skateboard wins hands down.

  2. Matt, I think this is brilliant. Inexpensive, novel, fun and useful. And it could even be a minor local tourist attraction. This is the kind of thing that makes people love their city.

    Can it be built in a lawsuit-proof way?

  3. I’m certain this suggestion is met with roaring applause from University of Washington students.

    1. I think it would get a rather large mode share of those ingressing to station platform.

      1. Those going to the airport could even toss their luggage down the slide too. The luggage already goes through a slide at the airport to get to the baggage claim anyway.

  4. Wait, are you trying to make Seattleites have fun? We are much too full of ourselves to do something for the fun of it. REI will have to start selling high-performance sliding gear to the newly minted slide enthusiasts.
    This smacks of pinko social engineering!

    1. $10,000 worth of gear from REI that I bought the day before my activity? Check!
      Subaru that I use to pretend I’m outdoorsy, but never take out of the city? Check!
      Keep Tahoe Blue bumper sticker from when I moved up from California? Double check!

      Alright kids, lets drive to the Brooklyn station for some extreme outdoor sports!

    2. “are you trying to make Seattleites have fun?” Let me clarify: in the same way that an upzone doesn’t force people into dense housing, this does not force anyone to have fun. Seattlites are welcome to use the escalator, and avoid eye contact with anyone smiling as they exit the slide.

      1. A slide can funded out of the 1% for arts. It evokes the image of a declining urban population :=

  5. Funny. When I was eight in Chicago, just having everything from steam-powered commuter trains to diesel streamliners to PCC and Peter Witt streetcars to CTA heavy rail elevated and subway to the Electroliner within half a mile of my house was so much fun I wouldn’t have noticed a slide.

    In all my travel aboard LINK these last three years, I’ve never seen children not having fun, and many parents have told me their kids always like their train ride better than what they’re on the way to do.

    And one time when I was driving the Route 7, a little boy told me: “I think driving this trollybus must be just like driving a starship! And I bet you have lots of wars with space aliens!”

    That really was more like the 174, but sense of departure from ordinary time and space was accurate. Of course, full-time transit driving really does put you in a different space-time continuum from ordinary earthlings.

    Mark Dublin

  6. That’s what’s preventing some guy who lives in North Bend and works at the Boeing Everertt plant from getting out of his car and taking two or three buses to work. There isn’t a slide at the transit center.

    1. Please point out to me where Matt said anything about how lack of a slide is a reason why some people don’t take transit.

      1. My snide little remark was more a response to the title of the book “Making Transit Fun!: How to Entice Motorists from Their Cars.”

        I am for trying making transit fun. It certainly can’t hurt. I just think there a whole lot of people who can’t be enticed out of their cars with gimmicks. I wasn’t directing my comment at Matt, just the title of the book. Sorry if I offended anyone!

  7. The key to making the slide safe is to force a waiting time between each person who gets on it, and not have a pool at the bottom. There is a correlation between watery landings and slide catastrophes, especially among college-age students.

    An ORCA-activated turnstile at the top ought to do the trick. It can be set to detect that the slide is empty, and not accept RRFPs. The lawyers can make sure the turnstile is Title-VI-compliant while they are doing the research.

    Also, they should crunch the numbers on whether it is cheaper to keep an in-house Slide Specialist on staff, or what the going rate is on hiring a slide maintenance company every couple months.

    1. If we keep with a straight line slide, the user can visually see all the way to the exit. No techno solution required.

      1. Except that the person in back is making the (possibly uninformed) decision of when to go, and the person in front pays for the consequences if they’re wrong.

        I mean, usually there’s no problem there, but if there were people walking close behind me I wouldn’t necessarily trust them to do it right.

      2. Surely you’ve ridden a slide before. How did that work out for you? Was there an electronic gate involved?

        It really takes two people to do it wrong: someone stopping or going the wrong way on the slide, and someone starting their slide with this occuring. Someone behind you doing it wrong won’t be likely to hit you unless you’re also doing it wrong.

      3. How long’s it been since most of us STB readers rode a slide? Last time I took my daughters to a playground equipped with slide, there was one kid who spent nearly the whole time we were there trying to climb the slide in reverse direction – probably because it upset the intended use of the apparatus.

    2. Just charge a nickel for each ride – CASH ONLY. That should keep everyone from bunching up at the bottom :)

    3. “in-house Slide Specialist on staff, or what the going rate is on hiring a slide maintenance company every couple months”

      I’m thinking if they use a 3’x4′ piece of shag carpet and a super-soaker filled with cleaning solution, it might be hard to keep the station staff from cleaning the slide too much.

  8. I was going to suggest that there be some kind of burlap sack bin at the top for those worried about ripping their pants/skirts, but then I remembered that the bag ban is coming (this month?) so everyone will be carrying a canvas or plastic bag they can sit on anyway!

  9. If Sound Transit does this, I predict within a week they’ll be an “Out of Order” sign posted, while they wait for specialized parts to be flown in from Germany.

    It’ll be broken more than it’s open, just like our fancy escalators!

    1. You think we have problems?

      28 BART escalators out of service

      “I’ve been here 15 years, and I’ve never seen this,” said Robert Cotton, BART’s chief escalator-repair manager.

      One escalator at the West Oakland Station has been out for more than seven months.

      Another at Civic Center Station in San Francisco has been idle since Jan. 10, and two others at the busy station have been down for a month.

      In fact, nearly half the escalators reported out of service last week were in downtown San Francisco – the three at Civic Center, plus four at Powell Street, three at Montgomery Street and a pair at Embarcadero Station.


    2. How is a slide going to be “out of order”? With no moving parts, there’s nothing to break down.

    1. They already have one of these, it’s called the Pioneer Square Station bus tunnel entrance. Seen it with my own eyes, one of the beautiful people decided that the landing on the upper level stairs was as good a place as anywhere.
      REI will just have to produce a technical shell system that can meet the rigorous demands and extreme conditions of urban sliding.

  10. How about this — you don’t even need a station.

    You could just connect the slide to LINK “Hopper car” so that it feeds the passengers (like wheat from a silo) right into the aisle when it arrives.

  11. WAIT a minute folks.
    This is not going to work.
    Some drunk transient is going to try to go the wrong way.
    Hair, teeth and eyeballs everywhere, I tell you.

  12. It would be really cool to have slides in the ST ad at the top of the page. I keep on getting the East Link open house ad, but I know I saw the one for 200th St. The advertisers might appreciate the distracto-tron effect.

  13. Making Transit FUN!

    Maybe someone can invent a technology that is able to defog the windows of the bus on days like today. I got to take the Kirkland Tour of Homes (aka the 255) and if it wasn’t for the electronic reader board couldn’t tell where the heck we were. Being able to see out the windows would be fun; missing your stop definitely not fun.

    1. The technology exists. Air conditioning + heat. Not at all efficient, but it’s a solved problem. Though I’m not sure if all of our buses even have air conditioning (this is Seattle), or if they’re sized large enough to handle the load of a hundred wet passengers.

      1. I’ve been on Greyhound and charter buses that duct air across windows instead of just roof mount climate control. There’s also anit-fog sprays and polymers that are very effective. And there’s double pane glass that would cost more initially but save on heat and AC as well as provide some noise insulation. Come to think of it, a little quiet would make riding the bus a lot more fun. The 249 was a newer 40′ coach that was pretty nice. The artic on the 255 sounded like it might not make it back to base; at least not with the same number of seats that it started with.

  14. How about a rock wall to climb out of the station! Slide in, climb out.

    1. I think teeter-totter would be the green sustainable thing to build. You recover the energy of those going down by raising those going up. I’m sure there some federal money up for grabs in development of this renewable energy source.

      1. Fatties sort of ruin the whole teeter-totter thing, otherwise brilliant.

      2. You need to think outside of the station box. This would be a hybrid teeter-totter with regenerative braking used to create hydrogen for fuel cell assist when required. This would be supplemented by building up at least 12 stories and installing a windmill at the top of all station towers.

    1. Sorry. This was published for about one minute on Friday, before I realized I had scheduled it wrong.

  15. Speaking of fun, what’s the current status of the SnoCo double talls? I heard initially they had some reliability issues (based on a British design, how shocking). It would be fun to ride on a double tall. Any chance they could be used on the 532 and/or 535?

    1. Any chance they could get used on a route that operates outside peak-direction-rush-hour, so people who are visiting SnoCo but don’t live there would actually have a chance to ride it?

      1. Community transit does not provide any reverse peak or off peak commuter service. Sound transit does not own any double talls either.

  16. What a marvelous idea!!! You’ve done it again Sound Transit – and I just love you folks for it. If a giant slide to the train platform doesn’t get thousands in Seattle running to embrace regional transit, I don’t know what will! Bravo ST and I sure hope to see this thing alive and well at a transit stop near me very soon.

    1. Note that to my knowledge Sound Transit has not considered this idea. I did e-mail in a comment to the most recent design review, but any celebration might be premature.

  17. All my snarkiness aside, this is a great idea and something I’d make a point of using whenever I could.

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