70 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: The Greenest Car”

  1. VISION 4020: (40 years back and 20 forward – Transit in King County)
    …….Pop(mil)..Riders/yr(mil)
    1970….1.159….33
    1980….1.269….66
    1990….1.507….74
    2000….1.737…101
    2010….1.861…125 (incl. ST services in KC)
    2020….2.018…??? (Ulink open)
    2030….2.159…??? (ST2 open)

    From 1970 to 2010 population rose 60% and transit rose nearly 4 fold. Nice!
    Fares in 1970 were 20 cents base, plus 10 cents for a 2 zone ride.

    1. This period is amazing:

      1970….1.159….33
      1980….1.269….66

      A mere 100,000 new residents doubled transit miles.

      Was that a period of expanded bus routes?

      It seems that each additional 100,000 has less of an effect though (this would be a good log graph, like a stock price, to emphasize the percentage of the whole increases rather than the linear amount).

      1. Those are millions of riders per year John, not miles, but your comment is still valid. Doubling ridership in one decade was truly amazing.

      2. In the 70’s gas prices went from $0.29 per gallon to around $0.70 per gallon. Raising gas today to $6.00 per gallon would have a stunning effect. I don’t imagine Metro and ST would be able to keep up…for a while. Then new subsidies would allow for expansion of the transit systems.

      3. I see that the 560east is expected to go away.

        But even today, average wait+travel time from Bellevue to the airport is 61 minutes via the 560, and 64 minutes via 550+Link during peak, before accounting for unplanned gridlock (which is just as bad on the Renton S-curves and horrible on Rainier Ave S in Renton), and allowing for a minute to cross IDS.

        Add the 560’s service hours into more 550 and 566 service, I say. Move the buses where people’s feet have voted.

        Let the underperforming 560 cease to be a misplacement of resources!

  2. Ooookay. I think I’ll stick with the bus.

    So, I found that proposal to have operators pick loader duty (and perhaps getting OT to do it, on operator wages) to be really disturbing, not just on a level that there is something bizarre going on in Metro management, but on several levels.

    If it becomes part of the pick, Metro can’t add to or reduce the number of loaders based on their needs, until the next pick. We may find within a couple days that loaders are needed at all tunnel bays, up and down 3rd Ave, and perhaps even on 2nd and 4th Ave. We might see some need for them in the AM peak, or all day in some points, or perhaps after sporting events.

    If it is work that is limited to operators, we’re in trouble at that point. And Matt gets his point proven that the RFA conversion didn’t save any money. Though I don’t think any of us have argued the point that Metro is above finding a way to turn the RFA conversion into a money-losing venture, if it wants it to become a money-losing venture — and that’s where the operators-picking-loader-duty idea becomes really disturbing.

    I was really hoping Metro would embrace the RFA transition as a step forward in modernizing the fare payment system. But then, I’ve been hoping for some time that Metro would embrace ORCA, instead of maintaining all the disincentives.

    1. I would imagine Metro has at least 10 operators on ‘limited duty’ at any given time (non driving restrictions). Hummm….

      1. Then why would loader duty be offered in the pick? Does it say it is for operators on restricted duty only?

      2. Just posing the question that maybe instead of taking 10 drivers off the road for what has to be little more than a ‘portable orca scanner holder’, that they can use drivers on restricted duty for fill in work. +10 dirvers for the day.

      3. Oh, you’re trying to apply common sense. Got it.

        I still don’t see playing fare police at a rear door as part of the operator job description, and therefore an assignment I would have expected the union to reject.

        We can make those jobs full-time by making them split shift: Work a transit center in the AM and downtown in the PM, for example. I don’t see it as that hard to hire and train loaders, and convince them to stick around, as long as they aren’t temps. BTW, with direct hire, equal opportunity is easier to enforce. And if layoffs end up occuring, at least they would occur by seniority.

    2. To clarify: are you saying that standing around swiping people’s cards as they enter the back door pays just as much as driving a 60-foot bus?

      1. Yes, I am saying that appears to be the case, and it might be pre-programmed overtime, as well.

      2. It’s in the union contract! Metro tried to remove the “loader” category from the contract since those positions hadn’t been used in 40+ years, but the union resisted.

        So those assignments are in the pick for fulltime drivers. Logic and economy notwithstanding.

      3. Does the “loader” assignment pay full operator wages?

        Does the contract specify “loading” as part of the operator description, or were “loaders” once a separate description, but an ATU-covered position?

  3. Here’s a trivia question:

    After East Link opens and the Blue Angels perform over I-90, what will ST do about the lake washington bridge closure? It seems crazy to shut down the entire line.

    1. What ST is currently doing is running the 550 over 520 to South Bellevue, and a shuttle from there to Mercer Island. The train can’t go on 520 (yet), but East Link could be split into two segments: Mercer Island – Redmond and Northgate – Intl District (or Stadium if trains can’t turn back at Intl Dist), and a bus from Intl Dist to Bellevue TC. Rainier Station would be closed, as it is today.

      1. Silly me, the shuttle could go from UW station to BTC and avoid the I-5 traffic.

        Potential problems: if there are no turnbacks or crossover tracks on the Eastside, the trains may have to go back and forth on the same track, making headways longer and erratic. And if a train breaks down there would be no way to bring a relief train, and if it breaks down blocking the tracks the system would stop.

    2. Why exactly is the bridge closed anyway? I ask because this matters when it comes to the train. If the bridge is closed to avoid rubber-necking drivers crashing into each other/driving into the lake, you could argue trains on fixed tracks should be exempt because they can’t really crash into anything and are operated by professional highly-trained operators. If they’re afraid of a plane crashing into the bridge, or the pilots getting distracted by moving things on the bridge (but not the 10,000 boats on the water)… well okay, but then maybe we need to talk about why the Blue Angels get to f things up every afternoon for 4 days (no Blue Angels? Blasphemy!).

      1. There’s a zone that’s required to be clear for aerobatics performances. I think it’s more about making sure nobody’s in the way if there’s a crash than avoiding distraction.

        I really think they should move a show like that out to some place where clearing a large area for the show doesn’t have much impact, and then send a couple shuttle buses out there from Seattle. But I don’t really care much about aerobatics myself.

      2. (Then again, the odds of the best damn stunt pilots in the world actually crashing into the I-90 bridge have got to be pretty low, and we’ve already had plenty of bridges collapse in this region without being hit by airplanes… so maybe they should forget collision risk and keep the bridge open to transit the way it’s open to emergency vehicles.)

      3. Perhaps the trains could get a heads up when certain maneuvers will happen, and be held during those maneuvers.

      4. The bridge marks the spot where the planes intersect when doing head-on maneuvers, if they are going to collide that’s where it will happen.

      5. I’m sorry, but I say it serves commuters right. If you work on one side of the lake and choose to live on the other, then these are the types of things you are going to have to put up with. If you don’t want any delays in your commute, move closer to work. If you don’t want to move closer to work, then at least just shut up about delays in your commute.

      6. I know contempt when I see it for the military.

        E.g. “maybe we need to talk about why the Blue Angels get to f things up every afternoon for 4 days”

        It just went downhill from there.

        The Blue Angels are there not just for civilian morale and economic growth, but most importantly as a force for recruitment & awareness. As a Navy Leaguer, I can tell you that a Blues show and/or – preferably and – a Tac Demo is a great help to our efforts to promote the Naval Services.

    3. Or, perhaps the Blue airplanes could (should?) be relocated to Whidbey Island or McCord instead, removing
      them permanently(!) from the urban core?

    4. I want to respond to quite a few of the, er, problematic comments down here.

      Jason: It is a safety issue and a matter of reflections into the pilot canopies plus you have very high speed aircraft moving very low to the deck very close to one another. Air show maneuvers are conducted so that in the event the worst happens a box can be cleared so most if not all crash debris would not land on people. The US Navy Blue Angels run a very safe operation, and asking you to put up with a few days of minor inconvienence isn’t much to support our troops and support the local business community who do get revenue from Seafair activities. Frankly, I wouldn’t have came to Seattle this summer if not for the Seafair airshow.

      Al Dimond: Your attitude towards the Blues leaves a lot to be desired, but you got it right. It’s a safety issue, see above please.

      Zed, please see this picture showing two Blue Angels at the merge, the barge under them as show centrepoint and to port/left the I-90 bridge. Close, but not exactly there.

      Sam: Amazing comment, I hope you stand behind it. People can buck up here… and after all some of these whiny people who whine and moan about celebrating our freedom from terror, our freedom of speech can kiss my Oak Harbor Navy League feet!

      1. Your comment leaves me with nothing but questions.

        “Your attitude towards the Blues leaves a lot to be desired”? Is there some sort of correct attitude toward stunt pilots? What does an aerobatics show have to do with “our freedom from terror, our freedom of speech”?

        It’s absolutely right for our society to have a conversation about whether an aerobatics show, however beloved the performer, is worth four days of midday I-90 closures. Maybe we disagree, maybe lots of people disagree, but if you think that means I have a bad attitude toward the Blue Angels, you’re a moron.

      2. Al, it’s worth not four days of I-90 closures but a mere total of 10 hours over four days. It’s worth it if you support our troops promoting themselves and giving the world’s best air show demonstration, if you understand as I do that Seafair brings a lot of people from outside Seattle – such as I – into the area to spend money, and if you can understand that we have road closures all the time. I mean just a few weeks ago to see a friend in West Seattle I had to have a ride navigate around the street fair – did I go into full public rage on some blog? Of course not, Sam’s right.

      3. “People can buck up here… and after all some of these whiny people who whine and moan about celebrating our freedom from terror, our freedom of speech can kiss my Oak Harbor Navy League feet!”

        Just don’t dare use that freedom to criticize SeaFair or the Blue Angels!

      4. I just would appreciate some res-pect for our military, instead of the typical progressive bashing that we’ve seen on display these past 24 hours that’s all. It’s time to knock it off people, head back to the barn, and call it a day.

        You guys – with my support in some cases, have a lot of fights to fight. Soon, Governor Rob McKenna will have a transportation package to send to voters. Soon, a Republican state legislature will have to be reminded of the importance of transit. Next year, Kathy Lambert will face the voters after her pro-CRC, pro-SonicsArena vote and I wonder if you will stand with her or throw her under the bus because she’s an R. I could go on.

        I’ll say this a bit differently: We owe our troops over there a lot more than nasty comments about their jet demo team rockin’ our world. How about, “THANK YOU”?

      5. “I just would appreciate some res-pect for our military, instead of the typical progressive bashing that we’ve seen on display these past 24 hours that’s all”

        Not a single comment here has been disparaging to the military.

      6. I know contempt when I see it for the military.

        E.g. “maybe we need to talk about why the Blue Angels get to f things up every afternoon for 4 days”

        It just went downhill from there.

        The Blue Angels are there not just for civilian morale and economic growth, but most importantly as a force for recruitment & awareness. As a Navy Leaguer, I can tell you that a Blues show and/or – preferably and – a Tac Demo is a great help to our efforts to promote the Naval Services.

  4. Shell opens new station that provides hydrogen fuel at no cost

    Petroleum giant Shell has opened a new fuel station in Newport Beach, California. While the company’s opening of a fuel station is not often accompanied with any sort of fanfare, this station is decidedly different from the rest. The new fuel station in Newport Beach makes hydrogen fuel available to consumers at no charge.

    http://www.hydrogenfuelnews.com/hydrogen-fuel-offered-for-free-by-shell/855079/

    1. Good thing the ERoEI of Hydrogen is not abysmal, that’s why folks have abandoned their little Carbon spree for Hydrogen already, right? Good thing we can build and maintain all those roads from not coal fly ash and oil, but instead Hydrogen, right? Good thing building and maintaining all that electricity, water, and sewage out to the boonies can all be done on Hydrogen, right? Good thing we can support 7+ billion people by dumping Hydrogen into the soil to grow the crops instead of using all that oil and Phosphorus, right?

      1. Hey, the less coal and oil we’re using for transportation, the more we can preserve it and use it for the things it’s absolutely required for. Not that I’m particularly hopeful about the prospects for hydrogen in the near term, but your argument doesn’t really hold water.

      2. Nitrate fertilizers are already made from Hydrogen via the Haber Process. While currently that Hydrogen comes mostly from natural gas, it could be manufactured via electrolysis.

      3. Hydrogen is economically produced using natural gas. Sure, you can spend more and produce it using solar power, but in that case it would cost much less to go with battery powered cars.

        Shell is likely just trying to drive demand for hydrogen cars, likely using expensive renewable means, and once the market exists they’ll switch back to fossil fuel sources they’re used to.

      4. So, business as usual, news at 11. Good thing we can still pump out all that natural gas using clean liquid propane when there’s no water to hold in a few parts of the country, right? Anyways, I drought we’ll have trouble adapting.

  5. Great open thread!

    1. My first run was on the 308 fall shakeup 1982. 1400 MAN artics were amazing things to drive. So my own take on ridership increase is that it had a lot to do with service increase over the years in question.

    2. I don’t begrudge drivers, light-duty or otherwise, working in stations, or even helping collect fares. Just so they collect the fares on the mezzanines. But their best use is general passenger assistance. In my observation, inquiry discussions between passengers and drivers slow Tunnel buses as much as fare collection will.

    Added benefit is that drivers in question will return to driving duty with heightened level of information to improve their own Tunnel skills.

    3. I’m sorry to see that our antiquated patent laws have forced Toyota to needlessly re-invent technology which the US car industry mastered decades ago. Spikes are for “Twilight” runs on Forks Transit. Any ’52 De Soto could do the same thing with its steering post. Sheesh!

    Mark Dublin

    1. One more incentive to help in the tunnel… (Yeah, I know, Metro and ST don’t think in terms of market forces):

      Make the train *free* in the tunnel for RRFP holders. Anything we can do to minimize the loading delays caused by having wheelchairs, scooters, etc board buses in the tunnel (short of an illegal outright ban), when the train will get them where they are going, is worth the lost fare revenue.

  6. My wife rides the 271 from the U District to Bellevue most days. The printed schedule on the bus stops in the U District all state that the bus leaves from 45th and the Ave. This stop has been abandoned for the 271 for over a year. While regular riders would know this and take it from its first stop at 43rd and 15th, a tourist or infrequent bus rider would wait for the bus at the marked stop in vain. But when would a tourist ever come to the U District?

      1. Nope, no alert, though I think they finally took “271” off the sign for the stop.

  7. Managed to not touch my car all weekend. Logged many hours on my bike with a child carrier on the front, running errands and having fun all over Seattle. The two times I hopped on a vehicle was when I loaded my bike on a bus. Not only did I pass line after line of stopped cars, but had a lot of fun doing it.

    Seattle is starting to reach the point where cars make less sense than other means of transportation from a convenience and even a time perspective. That really shows on weekends like these.

    1. That may well be the case for those who live in Seattle but not for those traveling into the city or through it from points south, north and east. Be reasonable when you hammer the car too much. Other modes make a lot of sense when there is good transit that is regular and dependable even at night and that is likely to be the case within city more than outside of it. Try and get Sound Transit to run more buses to the eastside after say Sounder games or Sounder trains to the southside at weekends etc. and after evening soccer games when 60,000 came to the match last night and I’ll have more sympathy with your arguments against the car. I did take the 554 bus after the match last night but it was over crowded and metro only laid on one bus for the 554 after the game.

      1. Tim,

        There were two more 554s coming later in the evening. Sure you might have had to wait an hour. Guess how long I had to wait for my 132? Yep, an hour. And there were no 132s sitting by the stadium ready to pull off.

      2. I’m curious if anyone living on the eastside has ever combined driving and cycling as a way to avoid local traffic and parking hassles around the stadium, while also avoiding a dependency on hourly buses that might leave you behind for lack of room. In other words, with a bike attached to the car, drive to a residential neighborhood somewhere within easy biking distance of the venue, but far enough way so finding free street parking isn’t an issue. Then park the car and hop on the bike for the last couple of miles.

        I can see this working really well for husky football games, as you could park practically anywhere in north Seattle along the Burke-Gilman trail and have a very easy ride to and from the stadium. Downtown would be a bit more difficult, as getting from the stadium to practically any free parking space would require a fair amount of hill climbing. But still doable if you’re looking for an excuse to get in a good workout.

  8. Took my first trip via transit to the Eastside this week.

    Only took 2.5 hours. Even though the interwebs and even the sign at the bus stop itself said that I-90/Rainier stop would be open until 9:25, that was a freakin’ lie. Every Eastside bus from at least 8:55 on blew right past the over 30 of us standing at the stop. We all kept thinking that the next one would pick us up until a few after 9:30 we gave up, some calling cabs, others friends, and a the rest of us trudging down to catch the 7 DT.

    While we were waiting a Supervisor walked past behind us, and when someone had the nerve to ask what the issue us, he snapped that it was the State that decided to close things down early and Metro couldn’t do anything about it. Well maybe not about the closing, but you damn well could have sent someone over to tell all of us waiting at the stop that the posted information was bullshit and to start finding alternatives NOW.

    35 minutes makes a difference.

  9. Went to watch the Angels, on Sunday; took the 16 to downtown, and Link to Mt. Baker, where we walked from the station to Lake Washington Blvd park, an easy mile walk.
    We didn’t take the shuttle, as we were a bit afraid of the traffic it would get caught in. Anybody take it?

    Mt. Baker station is a bit frustrating. While a nice station, the streets around it feel terrible for walking. Several big streets intersecting, no interesting human-scale businesses (unless I want some auto-parts or a used pressure-washer), etc. We didn’t even notice the pedestrian bridge, which doesn’t connect to almost-but-not-quite-adjacent transit center well. It seems that could’ve all worked out better, though the “light-rail apartments” seem like an encouraging venture.

    1. We took the shuttle. On the way to the event, the shuttle picked up at the Othello station. After the event, it dropped off at the Columbia City station, which was a lot closer, begging the question, why didn’t it pick up there too? I’m assuming due to road closures or something?

      Also, thank you to Metro for using buses with AC for this shuttle route. Being packed in there like sardines on one of the hottest day of the year WITHOUT any AC would have been a disaster.

    2. I think it’s an absolute travesty that the bridge elevates you to the station platform level and gets you within about 10 feet of the platform as the crow flies, yet forces you to go down, cross a street, then go back up again. There absolutely needs to be a direct connection between that bridge and the station platform.

  10. I went to the unveiling of the 10 foot tunnel boring machine scaled replica at the Mile Post 31 museum last Thursday night. I know that 99% of readers of this blog would probably wish the thing would implode but I am hoping that when the real thing arrives it will be really cool and work well. The model helps us to see how intricate the boring machine is and you get to see a working cutter head and I think the insides as well although that didn’t seem to be the case on Thursday.

    However, I did get to briefly talk to Washington State Secretary of Transportation, Paula Hammond, and I started to discuss extra Amtrak trains to Vancouver, BC with her and received the disappointing reply that so far the second train has been a disappointment to the Amtrak Cascades. I pointed out that all of the mudslides and attendant delays were probably the cause of much of that disappointment and she gets that but…. Supposedly, we’re getting some federal funds to ‘study’ the problem. I’d rather we got the money to fix it as I think we all know why the problems are happening. Big officials are easily distracted from talking to those of us without an ‘official’ position somewhere in local or state government so sadly, she had to pass on before I could ask her about the Point Defiance Bypass and other Amtrak-related projects – well fast speed/track projects. Another time perhaps.

    I can say, though, that things seem to be happening at the yard in our Vancouver as space has been cleared for additional track down there and two bridges I think built already. Vancouver is a very busy station in all respects. I just wish that the Amtrak station stood out a little more – it seems kind of lost amongst all of the tracks in and out of it!

    1. I’ve alwatys liked the Vancouver WA station–having the platforms at angles to each other is kind of cool (one eastbound, one N-S), plus you’re right at the end of the Columbia bridge. Too bad there’s not much to do around there–I did the 24-hour, around Washington train (Seattle–Portland–Spokane–Seattle) once but went into Portland whilst waiting for the transfer to the eastbound train. Of course you could do it in Vancouver and stay completely in WA, but Powell’s is such an easy walk as you kill time in PDX!

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