87 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Perspective”

  1. Everybody interested in the question of public transit on the Waterfront, including possible restoration of the George Benson Line:

    The Waterfront project is staging a public event at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall, Wednesday July 12, 5:30 to 8:30 pm.

    Good transit-motivated attendance will be extremely important.

    KC Metro Routes 1,2,13, 15, and 18, locals those last two.

    Other details: Waterfrontseattle.org

    Mark Dublin

    1. The City Council Members are all passing the buck by saying that the Waterfront Trolley Cars, the Melbourne W2s which George Benson purchased using public funds, are owned by King County and so there is nothing the City of Seattle can do.

      Except George Benson was never a King County employee of any sort.

      He was a city councilman and also a member of the board of the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle.

      So where is the bill of sale for these cars? What entity paid for them? Seattle or pre-merger Metro? And then where is the transfer of title to Rufus King County, now d.b.a. M.L. King County? I’ll bet there isn’t any and that these cars legally still belong to Seattle.

    2. Regarding the waterfront and the new ferris wheel…is that thing permanent? To me, it seems kind of inappropriate smack dab in the middle of our new & improved civic waterfront. And then when it lights up and goes into rave mode, it’s just plain tacky. Anybody agree with me?

      1. It’s a little tacky. But I think of it as a feature and not a bug. Tacky should not be taken completly out the waterfront. Ivar’s would be proud

      2. I think we could use a bit more tacky around here. Sometimes it seems like the City is at risk of turning into a giant University Village.

      3. I’m with you, GuyonBeaconHill. Well, I can handle the ferris wheel itself—tourist dollars, blah, blah, blah—but holy mother of cats I never knew about that light show until I walked through Kerry Park the other night. Tacky, cheesy, you name it. Ugh. Saddest part was you could just make out the iconic silhouette of Rainier in the dusk, but the eye was unwillingly and continually drawn down to that cheap carnival claptrap.

      4. A plain and simple ferris wheel would be fine in the center of the waterfront, although I think closer to Myrtle Edwards or down by the stadiums would be better. But when the light show starts, it needs to be somewhere else–like Coney Island.

      5. Funny, too, in a city that refuses to consider even tasteful ads on bus shelters (let alone on top of buildings) for aesthetic reasons.

    3. Correction, Mark. July 12 is Thursday, not Wednesday. Hope a lot of transit people will be there anyway.

      Considering recent figures showing how many extra cars will be added to streets in that vicinity due to the Deep Bore Tunnel and its tolls, it’s a serious matter now for the new Waterfront to have transit that can carry a lot of people, and run clear of traffic.

      It would be wonderful if George Benson’s streetcars could be part of the program- incorporated into a modern integrated street rail system. Serious heat needs to be directed to elected officials from King County, which runs our systems, the Seattle City Council, which is responsible for the Waterfront, and also Sound Transit, whose board includes officials from both agencies above.

      The streetcars, past, present, and future are theirs, because they’re ours. For all matters relating to transit from here on, the “not our agency” excuse is one with which no voter should have anymore patience at all,

      Mark Dublin

  2. OK, put on your thinking caps on this morning and play ‘More Transit on the Federal Dime’.
    Here’s a link to a conversation on New Starts and Ridership Projections from last week.
    And another to FTA proposed rule making to streamline how New and Small Start funding will take less time and money to jump through all the hoops in the future.
    In comparing the Old and New way of applying for Federal funds, there seems to be some opportunities in there for Seattle, if all the changes go through as mentioned in the article.
    1. Elaborate baseline scenarios will not be required.
    2. Local ridership modeling will be generated from common data in DC using only 1st year of operation, or optionally 1st and 10th year out.
    3. Point values of the six categories have been shuffled around some, with fewer points given to very long systems in favor of shorter quicker to build options. (Travel time saved really promoted long runs like ours, over more compact design)
    I’ve only touched on a few changes proposed, but this could make Federal funding more or less competitive to an area depending on how much grandfathering the FTA will do on current systems planned, like ours, and if new segments like Ballard, W.Seattle or Udist lines can capture $$ using some new guidance to get the coveted highest ratings.

    1. Clarification: it’s not “year 1” or “year 1 and year 10”, it’s either “current year” or “current year and projection 10 years from now”.

      So basically, this means the time to apply for money is right after you have a good year!

  3. The real-time signs on RapidRide B are wildly inaccurate. Several times I’ve seen them implausably say “22 minutes” or such when the frequency was 15 minutes and the actual bus came 10 minutes later. And likewise “13 minutes” when the frequency was 10 minutes.

    Yesterday I arrived at BTC and the sign said “22 minutes” even though the bus was right there. Its doors were closed so I didn’t know if it would really wait 22 minutes or not. I checked the schedule and it indeed said “15 minute frequency”. Two minutes later the bus opened its doors for passengers and departed. When I got off the bus and walked to the crosswalk, I looked back at the sign and it said “28 minutes”. That should only happen if it knows there’s a traffic jam delaying the next bus. But given my experience with the other signs, I have to assume it’s just telling lies.

    1. Can we get Metro to rename the RapidRide lines? A, B, C, D & E aren’t very descriptive. How about RR Pacific Highway, RR Bellevue, RR Ballard, RR West Seattle or something along those lines?

      1. It will become more of an issue if RapidRide is expanded. Metro has rightly divided routes into xx (Seattle), 1xx (south), 2xx (east), 3xx (north). Sound Transit has a less-obvious scheme with the first two digits. But A/B/C/D/E/F don’t tell you anything about where the route is. What happens when we add G/H/I/J/K/L? It will be more arbitrary letters to memorize.

      2. Agreed, we should switch to colors. Red, Green, Blue, Green over Red, Light Blue, striped Red/White/Blue (must salute on passing), …
        the combinations are endless.

      3. Keep the effects of color-blindness in mind… and that using colors may create a barrier to expanding RapidRide. Text will always have to accompany color.

      4. And while we’re at it, can we also get them to rename all their bus routes? Numbers aren’t very descriptive. What about Metro Route West Queen Anne to replace the 1, and Metro Route West/Central Queen Anne to replace the 2, etc.

      5. I think the idea is that the number of RapidRide lines must remain small, as the high all-day frequency of the RapidRide lines is too expensive to do for bus routes beyond the most important. And even many of the most important bus corridors will still never get RapidRide service because they will be getting Link service instead.

      6. asdf, GuyOnBeaconHill’s point was letters like A, B, C, D, etc., aren’t descriptive. They don’t tell you where the bus is going to go, so they should have names instead of letters. And I wanted to just expand on his great idea, because numbers aren’t descriptive either. I just want things to be consistent. If letters are bad for buses, then so are numbers. Right?

      7. Simple. Go back to the old system that Seattle Transit used and have the best of both.

        2-West Queen Anne
        3-Jefferson Park
        6-Stone Way-Green Lake

        A-Pacific Highway
        D-West Seattle

      8. Mike,

        There’s nothing so great about Metro’s scheme, either. What’s so great about putting the 44 next to the 45? Or the 271 next to the 272?

        Reserving two-digit numbers for the frequent routes, wherever they go, makes a lot more sense to me than assigning numbers based on geographic location. (Not least because all of those Eastside routes are also Seattle routes!)

      9. “I think the idea is that the number of RapidRide lines must remain small, as the high all-day frequency of the RapidRide lines is too expensive to do for bus routes beyond the most important.”

        Metro already admits that there are many more “core routes” that deserve frequent service (15 minutes until 10pm 7 days a week). It has achieved it in recent years on the 7, 36, 44, and the 15/18 and 26/28 combinations. Other routes are “almost there”: 8, 10, 43, 48, 49, 120, 358 — frequent except some gaps evenings/Sundays. Metro would fill those if it had the money. (Of course, some would say if Metro deleted the 4, 25, 27, etc, it would have the money, but even that wouldn’t be enough I think.) Of course, it costs less to fill in the frequency gaps than to convert a route to RapidRide. I just want the frequency, please.

    2. Some of the signs don’t even work. At least with a broken analog clock it’s right twice a day!

  4. Okay Guys: Technical Question Regarding Trolleys and Kneeling

    While riding the A line yesterday I made an inrteresting discovery: Each time the operator kneels the coach and raises it back up again, the pressure in the bus’ air resevoirs is reduced by as much as 25-30 psi. If the operator kneels the coach at every stop (a la Community Transit), this causes the compressor to cycle on and off more frequently, which leads me to my next statement–the re-generation of air pressure.

    On diesel and diesel-electric hybrid buses, the compressor is driven by the diesel engine and therefore the air regeneration rate is variable–more pressure build-up when the bus is accellerating than when the bus is idling or coasting. A trolley’s compressor, however, is driven by an electric motor and thus runs at a fixed speed. Can a trolley generate enough air between stops (boardings/alightings) when the driver decides to kneel at every stop like a CT driver?

    1. A quick call or e-mail to transit in Vancouver BC should get you your answer. Their trolleybuses are probably pretty close to what we’re going to get, maybe exactly.

      My question is why CT drivers automatically kneel every bus at every stop without being asked- and without delaying service- and here a request is needed, which does delay service.

      Might call your King County Councilman and also ATU Local 587 about that one.

      Mark Dublin

      1. After a few minutes’ thought, I apologize for suggesting that the public call the union local whose membership I held for so many years, for any reason. The local isn’t equipped to handle anything like this, and receptionists have all they can do to handle union business.

        And since the union doesn’t write operating rules, this isn’t where criticism should go.

        One of the most positive hopes for the merger of Metro Transit into King County government was that service under the direct control of elected officials would render the system more accountable to its passengers.

        For that hope to be realized, it’s necessary that passengers develop a working relationship with the King County Council, individually and as a group. So the more our elected reps hear from the public on transit matters, the better the system will work. As the vote presumed.

        Mark Dublin

      2. And look at the massive effort it took to get the council to do the right thing regarding Metro finances last year. That was sort of ridiculous when you think about it.

    2. Electric air compressors regulate pressure by cycling the motor on and off. When the pressure in the tank drops below a certain threshold, the motor is turned on, and runs until the pressure is over another threshold, when the motor is turned off.

      The speed of the motor is constant, but the controller chooses how long to run the motor. If, for whatever reason, the driver is using a lot of compressed air, the motor will run more often and for a longer time. If not as much compressed air is needed, the motor won’t run as often.

      I doubt the new buses will have a problem getting enough compressed air, but KCM knows more than I do.

    3. The trolley air compressors fill the tanks plenty quick. There will be no trouble with kneeling trolleys.

  5. Charging $5 for ORCA creates the perception that Metro finds value in people paying with cash, and that they don’t want poor or irregular riders using the card. In reality, Metro just wants to create the perception that they don’t want the card to be thrown away.

    Fine. Charge 25 cents for the card. (Or, rather, $5.25, with $5 of e-purse to start you out.)

    1. Better yet, as others have suggested, make the cards returnable for a refund on your “deposit”. The perception that you are making a deposit that is refundable makes people much more willing to plunk down $5 for the card. It is like generous return policies at retail stores: The idea that I can always return it if it doesn’t work out factors heavily in the decision to purchase.

      So the various transit agencies need to come up with a method for accepting returns on the cards. Sure, some will not be returnable due to damage, but maybe people will take better care of them for that reason.

      1. Just to be devil’s advocate:

        1. For people with little money, the promise of getting $5 back in the future is still not an incentive to get the card. (Of course, making it free isn’t even an incentive until they perceive the likelihood of savings from using the card.)

        2. Paying out this $5 may come with a need for staffing, high administrative overhead, and very few places to return the card.

        3. Unless the policy is that the card must be in good condition when returned, some will intentionally tear up the card, and return the pieces, still expecting their $5.

        4. Without seeing where to return the card, buyers will correctly perceive what a pain it is to get their refund.

        I think it would be far cheaper to just have return bins. Reusing the cards may still be difficult, but at least the perception is created that Metro/ST don’t want them in the landfill.

      2. If Orca doesn’t work out, who in their right mind is going to spend $5 on either parking or bus fares, plus an hour of time, to go to the customer service office to return the card? Almost no one.

        The only card return scenario I can see that would feasibly work is to program the TVM at SeaTac airport station to support automated distribution and return of Orca cards. Upon arriving in Seattle, tourists would pay the $5 for the card, but upon leaving Seattle, they would return the card and get their $5 back. By eliminating the net cost for them, you remove an incentive for them to use cash.

        In addition, we should also start seriously considering providing a slight discount on the fares for people using Orca (or make the inevitable next fare increase apply only to cash payers). Washington D.C. already does this, so a cash surcharge is not unprecedented.

      3. In Seoul they have multiple machines that you can return your T-money card at in the subway stations and it gives you the deposit back.

      4. I like the ORCA discount idea. Even a $.25 savings each time would be a big incentive for most people to use an Orca card. I also like the deposit idea where customers can return their card at any TVM to get their money back. Of course there will always be people who refuse to get an ORCA card for whatever reason (cost, perceived lack of privacy, infrequent transit use) but the fewer cash transactions the better.

      5. Brent – good criticisms. I’ll just say that (per the video) knowing that you *can* get a refund if you want may be all we need to further ORCA adoption. As with states that charge a container deposit (soda cans, bottles, etc), many people never get their deposit back. Its not a great example as containers are used for a very short period of time.

        I agree setting up an infrastructure to get that deposit back could be problematic. Maybe you’d only be able to get them at the vending machines and the Metro customer service booth.

      6. One ORCA return center at Union Station, one at the airport? It would be better than nothing, surely?

    2. Great idea for tourists and out-of-region business travel. I mean, why not?

      1. From what I read, NY MTA has two types of Metrocards: passes and pay-per-ride refillable cards. It doesn’t appear that the two can be combined.

        FWIW, it doesn’t appear that the card itself costs any money beyond the cost of the fare or pass being purchased.

        Part of why DC Metro can now get their Smartrip cards cheaper is they have a new supplier. It may be overkill to make ORCA all plastic. Make it a hybrid, plastic around the electronic components, and paper to fill out the shape, and I suppose it could become cheaper to produce.

        Also, FWIW, DC Metro is phasing out their paper fare cards, and adding a $1 surcharge for each use of them now.

  6. I have a job interview this week (yay!) and it’s right on the Link line (yay!). But wait. It’s directly on the line, but… it’s more than a mile away from the nearest station. (Tukwila.) Which is up a fairly substantial hill.

    I know, I know, we don’t want to slow down the almighty airport riders’ trip to downtown, but would it hurt to have stations that are NEVER more than a mile apart? Because I would love to use Link for my regular commute should I get this job, but the thought of hiking back up that hill in the cold and dark once winter gets here… ugh. A mile isn’t an awful walk, but along Southcenter Boulevard it’s not going to be much fun either. In bad weather I’m going to be so tempted to drive instead. It’s just adding insult to injury that the train will be running directly overhead! (Riding my bike down the hill might be a possibility, though I think that’s not the safest place to ride… getting it back up the hill, well, I suppose I could use the 140 for that.)

    According to Google the trip is 42-45 minutes via Link (whether I walk that mile or take the 140 — which runs only every 15 minutes) and 14 minutes by car. I must admit that as much as I’d love to take Link, that’s a notable difference.

    And I’m definitely driving to the job interview. Just to be safe. (I had a very bad experience with a job interview back in the 80s — I was late because at least 3 #43 buses in a row just never showed up. (I don’t know about these days, but back then the 43 was a long route from Ballard to the U District to Capitol Hill to Downtown. I lived on Capitol Hill. The 43 ran about every 7 minutes or so.) When one finally came along after half an hour, I had already given up and started walking and was between stops. The bus stopped at the stop light and I knocked on the door and begged to get on the bus and the driver wouldn’t let me on. I walked further, caught another bus on a different route, and eventually got to the interview… 15 minutes late. I did not get the job and I was mortified by the lateness. This was a major impetus in my first ever purchase of a car.)

    Anyway, I know it’s a bit of a whine, but I really wish we had a few more stations on Link. To be a fully useful system you can’t go miles between stations.

    1. Travel time from downtown to the airport is long enough as it is, and the area around Tukwila station just doesn’t have enough around it to justify making it longer (and spending the money constructing the station itself).

      For you, my suggestion would be to ride Link to TIBS, and then bike from there. Google Earth imagery seems to suggest Southcenter Blvd. is just one lane per direction, plus a bike lane, so superficially (without having actually been there), I would deem it reasonably safe. Of course, every person’s comfort level is different, and if you find it too dangerous, it’s always your prerogative to drive instead.

      As to the 140 option, my suggestion is to keep that in mind as a backup in case you’ve got a flat tire or something else wrong with the bike, but it’s not worth it as a primary option – on my days, merely waiting for the bus to show up alone would take longer than just hopping on the bike and riding it out. And, even better, the geography is set up to make your commute downhill in the morning and uphill in the afternoon, so you don’t even need to worry about arriving at work sweaty. Yes, if cold and rain will always be a problem, but if you dress properly, for a short trip like that, you should be fine. Simply throwing a rain jacket and rain pants on top of work clothes, combined with a skullcap and gloves makes all the difference on a cold, rainy January day.

      1. Downhill is fine but the other direction is a killer — for me, anyway. And cars speed like crazy on that road, which why I would not feel comfortable cycling there. But I went by today and saw that there is a bike lane, which helps. I still don’t really want to bike it because (for health reasons I don’t really want to address on a public website) regular cycling with that kind of hill is going to be a problem for me for the forseeable future. I can do some cycling but anything with a long hill is tough. However, I could use the 140 to shuttle the bike up the hill, who knows.

        I just wanted to express my disappointment — I *want* to be able to commute with Link.

        Of course, I might not get the job anyway.

        As mic said below, that 5-6 mile gap between stations is ridiculous. But I also think there needs to be a station added at Graham.

    2. It’s nearly 6 miles running from Henderson to TIBS.
      It’s only 6/10 mi from Link to the mall.
      A station and pedestrian bridge would have killed ’em to serve the one of the largest employers and activity centers in South King Co?
      Even at the expense of some sales tax receipts for the City of Seattle from Westlake and Northgate?

      1. I honestly thought that Southcenter merchants might kick in for a shuttle from TIBS to the mall. Surprised they didn’t.

      2. We already have a shuttle from TIBS to the mall. It’s called the 140, soon to be renamed the RapidRide F.

      3. Southcenter is already on the shortlist for a station in a future Renton-Burien Link line. Nobody ever brought up a pedestrian bridge to Southcenter when the line was decided, or at least none that I heard. The Northgate bridge is an innovation: our job is to encourage ST to include things like this in future station planning, not to breate ST for not including it in past stations. A station at the “Southcenter corner” would have practically no walkshed, just the office parks on Interurban Avenue. Some people (including me) are recommending an infill station at 133rd, which the 150 could meet. But we can’t put stations at every low-traffic intersection. They would be rarely used, and boondoggle-fanatics would point to them as a waste of money.

    3. Hey…at least now there IS a 140! When I worked in that area (on 52nd), there was no bus service at all on Southcenter Blvd west of I-5. They were literally building Link on our lot (a pillar was about 20 feet outside of my window) but getting there by bus required taking the 150 and then walking about a mile through the wasteland between Southcenter and the west side of I-5. I pretty much decided to just drive after the 100th time it was raining and I got hosed down by cars driving through the lake under I-5 there.

      I left before Link opened (although I used to walk up the hill to see the construction progress), but we were excited it was going to be that close and even more so that the 140 would actually provide service to us. In some cases that made it even faster to take Sounder to Tukwila and hop the 140 there, since the Sounder running time was around 15 min as opposed to Link’s 35.

      I hope that your interview goes well!

      1. Thank you!

        Yes, the 140 beats having nothing! I wish it ran as often as the train does, though. ;)

        I thought about Sounder but I’m not sure how well that would work since I’d have to take Link down to Sounder anyway. I live by a Link station so it probably would be faster just to take Link straight there.

      2. Indeed–I was coming from further north, so it was just a matter of choosing either Link or Sounder when I got downtown. From most places on Link it wouldn’t make sense to backtrack.

        Would that there were an interchange station at South Boeing Field…. :)

    4. “…along Southcenter Boulevard it’s not going to be much fun either.”
      Showing the need for a serious program of sidewalk and walkway improvements.

      “It’s just adding insult to injury that the train will be running directly overhead!”

      This leads to my suggestion, a while back, that the overhead rail line should be designed to double as a canopy for a pedestrian walkway. No agency has taken me up on that idea, though…

      1. I think they did some sidewalk improvements along that street but I’m not 100% sure of what they did. From driving along there it does strike me as not very pedestrian-friendly.

  7. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/travel/2018592820_trboltbus08.html

    Originally published Saturday, July 7, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    BoltBus gives Amtrak a run for the money on Seattle-Portland travel

    “Greyhound’s low-cost BoltBus competes with Amtrak for travel between Seattle and Portland and Seattle and Vancouver, B.C.”

    “Who’s the winner? When it’s rainy and cold, sitting inside a train station is better than standing on a street corner waiting for a bus. But when it comes to overall 21st-century convenience, BoltBus is the winner.”

    1. Amtrak for me. Big time – get to walk around a bit, more leg room in business class, better quality of passengers in business class, more opportunities for a picture window and, and hot food!

      1. Is AMTRAK so great that you would be willing to pay the full actual cost of your trips on AMTRAK and forgo the taxpayer subsidies that reduce the cost of your AMTRAK tickets?

      2. We all presumably pay taxes, so we’re already paying for the subsidy. If you’re paying for it anyway, you may as well use it, no?

      3. Norman, yes. It’s why I’m in business class – I understand there is no to little subsidy.

  8. As ST gets ready to potentially restructure the 560, I looked at the boarding/alighting figures for that route for a typical weekday (pages 156-157 in the 2012 SIP). It turns out there is decent demand for service between Burien TC and West Seattle, between Burien and Renton, and between Renton and Bellevue. Furthermore, a peak down the page to the 566 shows heavy demand for trips continuing from Bellevue to Overlake.

    The oddity was the low demand for trips to the airport. Only 24 passengers a day ride the bus from West Seattle to the airport (and I realize the 560 only does this full path during peak hours). 37 passengers get on the 560 to Burien or West Seattle.

    53 passengers ride the 560 from points east to the airport on the average sample day. Only 30 ride it back the other way.

    These numbers are down in 599 territory. It appears the vast majority of riders going between the airport and Bellevue are already taking Link+550, or any other combination.

    I predict that the 560east will actually be the eliminated portion of the route, with more service added to the 566.

    With the boardings and alightings at Fauntleroy Ferry Dock not outperforming other neighborhood stops by much, and Vashon voters not voting in the ST district, I also foresee a straigntening of the route to stay mostly on Ambaum, 35th, and California, hopefully getting ridership back up.

    1. I would like to see a model where the 560 service hours were redirected into having the 566 branch at Renton, where every other bus alternates between Kent and the airport, with the airport bound buses equipped with luggage racks, in acknowledgement of the fact that travelers going to the airport are usually carrying luggage and need someplace to put it.

      Do this and I see a lot of new ridership potential. There are 50,000 people who work at the Redmond campus, enough so that every day, at least some of them are going to be headed too or from the airport. The opportunity to take advantage of employer-provided free parking and work, combined with a quick, convenient, transfer-free bus ride to the airport would be extremely attractive for employees who live near work and are traveling out of town. And even employees who don’t near work might be tempted into combining this revamped 566 bus with the MS connector.

      1. @asdf,

        The branched service you describe is what we have now, sans the 560 continuing to Overlake, and with some ridership continuing on north to West Seattle during peak.

        Ridership from Overlake and Bellevue to Kent on the 566 is much stronger than ridership from Bellevue to the airport and Burien combined on the 560. Check out the numbers in the 2012 SIP, pages 156-157.

        In all fairness, there are several routes performing more poorly than the 560, but the 560 suffers from being in the south subarea, where cuts are more direly necessary, and the SIP promises that a restructure is under serious consideration for 2013.

        It’s the duplicativeness of the Renton-to-Burien segment, the low performance in the segment, the rollout of the F Line, and the fact of that segment being in the south subarea, that are likely to doom the 560 to a severe cut.

        For Microsofties going to the airport, the 545+Link seems to beckon too strongly. (And really, how many Microsofties head straight between their job and the airport when going out of town?)

      2. An interesting example of how people will actually choose to take an indirect route and transfer, rather than take a single-seat ride, *if* the indirect route has frequent service *and* one of the legs is on a train.

      3. I used to travel directly between work and the airport quite often in the pre-Link days, where it was largely necessary to arrange my plane flights to occur during normal working hours if I wanted a decent transit ride home.

        Now, the combination of Link, plus the fact that I moved to a place with more frequent night and weekend service to downtown makes direct airport->home trips more attractive than they used to be.

        That being said, while a direct bus from Redmond to the airport would be nice in the short term, I can see how it would run contrary to the direction of the transit network in the long term, especially when EastLink is up and running.

        Maybe the proper solution here is not a SoundTransit bus to the airport, but Microsoft operating their own airport shuttle instead? They already have a shuttle that does from Overlake Transit Center to downtown, a complete and useless duplication of the 545 (I’m guessing this is a legacy service leftover from the days before the 545 existed). I wonder what the ridership would be if that bus were redirected to the airport and equipped with luggage racks. The ability to take advantage of free parking at work while you ride the shuttle to the airport and take a two week vacation to Europe would be a nice perk.

  9. So does the First Hill streetcar mean the end of trollies along Broadway and Jackson? How can they have the streetcar wire and trolly wire running in parallel? If they were able to do that, why couldn’t they have kept the DSTT electric only?

    1. Streetcar and trolleybus will run alongside each other as the 70 (when electric) and the SLUT do, and as do many shared tram/trolleybus rights-of-way outside the US. This does require some fancy overhead wiring at times. To make it easier, the First Hill Streetcar will run offwire its entire inbound (south, then west) route, so wire will only be needed outbound. Battery power and regenerative braking will supply power inbound.

      1. I thought the battery portion was only for the downhill on Jackson, not for the entire south/west trip.

      2. For David Seater: My information about only the outbound being electrified comes from this article in Railway Gazette: http://preview.tinyurl.com/7saze5f
        The original link has gone bad so I have linked to a copy in my Dropbox. I have had verbal confirmation of this from elsewhere but no further written documentation that I can find. I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

      1. That’s not even a near side stop. The bus was just going along like usual and the guy was an idiot. The stop is at the NS of 3rd and Seneca.

  10. Another fascinating stat from the 2012 SIP is the Sunday cost per boarding on the 512 ($5.19) vs. the pre-512 cost-per-boarding on the 510 ($8.94) and 511 ($6.75). See page 174.

    Clearly, the ST service planners knew what they were doing when they melded the two routes together. But if you’re still not convinced, look at the boardings per trip. The 512 topped all ST Express routes on this mark for Sundays.

  11. Speaking of density, I went joyriding today east from Kent to Black Diamond. I found this crazy bit of urbism in the middle of the big and bigger lots and rural homes..a place called Diamond Village


    It is built on the tiniest parcel of land and all the homes are 3 story narrow townhouses, detached. There are 30 homes but you could probably walk end to end in 5 minutes.


    Guess it shows how you can use even rural land and create urban settings admidst sparsity.

    1. A quick look at the map shows inefficient detached buildings, a location that would necessitate multi-hour multi-transfer bus treks to get anywhere, and thoroughly unwalkable public lands as the icing on the cake, if and when the bus did get you there. Unredeemable, energy intensive, sprawl.

      1. Actually there are amenities up and down the main road within .5 to 1 mile.

        Since these homes are small and affordable, why do you assume long bus rides? A husband could be a senior auto mechanic, the wife and assistant manager at Safeway.

        When rent becomes affordable, the city becomes obsolete. Agriurbism sprouts in the countryside. The density means a village.

    2. The problem is not so much the design, but the location. It’s disconnected; an exurb.
      If you’re going to create this sort of mini-urb, you need to *connect* it to the rest of the country, and roads are a pretty weak way to connect it.

      It looks like Black Diamond was actually built around a now-demolished railroad (hence “Railroad Avenue”). Wonder what it would be like if it still had train service.

    3. If the Diamond Village area wants to become a real village, with all of life’s necessities within a 10-minute walk, that’s great. But the size of the houses and driveways and (I presume) one-story Safeways with large parking lots will work against it.

      In any case, you have to consider the diversity of employment options. If somebody can afford a 3-bedroom house, they obviously aren’t working as a cleark at Safeway. Even a Safeway manager is a specialized job. There may be an office building in the village (now or in the future), but what’s the chance that it’ll have the right jobs for all the village residents? That’s the advantage of a larger city: there’s more likely to be an appropriate job a short distance away. It would be easier for Renton or Kent or even Covington to develop this diverse job base in its center, than for Black Diamond to do it.

      Black Diamond was one of the many coal-mining towns in early Pugetopolis, which all had railroads to transport both coal and passengers. Recently there has been a proposal for commuter rail on Maple Valley – Black Diamond – Covington – Auburn Station (connecting to Sounder). But so far there has not been enough public interest, not to mention how South King County could raise the money when it can’t even afford its Link extension to Federal Way. And in any case, commuter rail won’t get you to Southcenter on Sunday, so it’s not a complete solution.

    1. Speaking of trails, last Saturday I proved that it is indeed possible to hike as far out as Rattlesnake Ledge by bus! I took the 554 out to Issaquah, then rode my bike on a 3-hour ride to the trailhead through Preston, Snoqualmie, and North Bend, plus one additional hour to hike up from the trailhead to the ledge. The way back, I took the Snoqualmie Valley trail to North Bend, then rode the 209 to Issaquah, then hopped back on the bike to take the East Lake Sammamish Trail to Redmond, then returned to Seattle on the 545.

      It was a long, exhausting day, but well worth it.

  12. A metro train traveling from Prince George’s County, Maryland to Washington, DC was derailed due to a warped track. The excessive heat caused a “heat kink” that forced the train off its tracks. Luckily, none of the 55 passengers were injured.

    The 99-degree weather apparently caused a “heat kink” in the rail near the West Hyattsville station, derailing the inbound train and raising questions about how effectively Metro is monitoring its infrastructure for hazards brought on by the heat.

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