Cameron Crowe’s Singles, easily the best romantic comedy ever made about Seattle transportation policy, was released 20 years ago today.  If you’re familiar with the movie, then I probably just made you feel really old.  If you’re not, all you need to know is that the main character, played by Campbell Scott, is obsessed with building a “supertrain,” convinced that if he gives people good coffee and good music, they will get out of their cars, and they will ride.

Thankfully, 20 years later, the debate appears to have resolved itself. We’re finally building the Supertrain* — or something close to it.  Though it’s unlikely we’ll get the line across Elliot Bay to Bainbridge and Bremerton on the next ballot, the rest of the routes are coming along quite nicely, don’t you think?

Above are a couple of screencaps I took when I watched the movie recently. If anyone has better images or even original artwork from the film, I’d love to know about it.

*not to be confused with the 1979 TV show of the same name.

39 Replies to ““Singles” at 20”

  1. That map is frighteningly all-too-plausible as a proposal in Seattle’s regional transit debates.

  2. Except the train in Singles, according to you, was going to get people out of their cars, but LINK is not designed to do that. LINK’s goal is not to get cars off the road, it’s to get people off of buses and onto trains.

    1. Link’s goal is to do both. What its goal is not, is to reduce congestion, it is most certainly designed to get people out of cars however. IT is designed to give people an attractive alternative to congestion, and help expand capacity for a rapidly growing city.

      1. Nope. The next time you’re on a LINK train, look around you. You’re looking at former bus passengers. A tiny fraction are former car commuters.

      2. How are you supposed to tell if someone is a former bus passenger or a former car commuter by looking at them?

        And quite a few of the passengers, especially in the Valley, are new arrivals, like me. I moved there when I returned to Seattle after being gone for 8 years.

      3. The ‘Before and After Study’ of Central Link will detail all of that and more. ST said it would be released in late Sep, (ref JN/ST), but so far we’re still waiting. I should be a hell of a read for a $3/4 mil report.

      4. I haven’t ridden the bus in Seattle since college (just 2 years before this fine film was released) but I ride light rail to every sporting event, show at Benaroya, and festival downtown.

        Before light rail, guess how I got downtown? I drove.

        Sam – your proclamation has been blown to smithereens.

    2. David, I am considered to be this region’s preeminent transportation authority. I am also a respected Sound Transit expert and historian.

    1. Seattle’s culture is uniquely hostile to a good environment for singles. It’s a wonderful place in many ways, but there’s a reason I met my wife on the East Coast.

      1. I married STB. Being an STB author is like an abusive relationship you just can’t leave. Maybe with just one more post, I can make everyone believe I’m right.

      2. Before you go blaming the culture of an entire city maybe you should take a look in the mirror and then reassess the status of the dating scene as you know it.

      3. I’m a Seattle native. So I’m not trying to hold myself above the city, just make an observation.

        The “Seattle Freeze” as a social phenomenon is very real. The people I know who arrived here as single newcomers, especially, will all confirm it. It’s tough to come here and establish a good social life. And, beyond that, we also have a real dearth of nightlife that doesn’t consist of loud shows by shitty hipster bands. All of that means it’s just not an easy place to meet people. My eight years on the East Coast were split between Boston and DC, and both of those cities made it much easier.

      4. I did not find this to be the case. I came here single and less than a year later was engaged to my wife.

        I have yet to encounter this Seattle freeze, but I think it is because I am naturally outgoing AND I really do think my Southern accent helps.

      5. My take, having moved here two years and two months ago, is that the experiences of incoming Seattlites bifurcate based primarily on one factor: whether they work as engineers in the IT industry or not. The former move here and find themselves rolling in job offers and money, but end up with minimal social life; a minority complain vocally on the internet about the Seattle Freeze. The latter have a much more typical social and economic experience, with some struggling and some thriving in each respect in a more typical distribution.

        I’m in the first camp, and I know way more people socially in real life through this blog than through work, which is odd given that we’ve had, what, half a dozen meetups in that time? IT culture, particularly in the totally engineering-centric departments like mine, actively hinders one’s social life.

      6. Speaking of which, when is the next STB meetup? Don’t think I haven’t noticed that there hasn’t been one held since I’ve been back!!

      7. We hear the plaintive cries for a meetup, but a formal meetup with speakers and/or public officials is a massive effort to pull together, and none of the most active authors who might have the inclination to run one are currently in a professional/personal place where they can commit to carrying one over the finish line, or they have other transit side projects going on that are the focus of their real-life efforts. Moreover, there aren’t any banner efforts (e.g. big upcoming ballot measures) to focus such a meetup on, somewhat limiting that aspect of its potential utility. I wouldn’t expect one before the new year.

        Informal get togethers are much easier, but they don’t really require our coordination, you guys can do that in an open thread if you’re so inclined. I can promise you at least one informal meetup, which I will arrange for the day the 42 goes away, probably in the Feb service change.

      8. Unless ‘formal meetup with speakers and/or public officials’ is transit code for ‘wine, women, and song’ I believe you are overthinking the requirements for a get together!

    2. Thanks to WashDOT and the folks at All-Aboard Washington, at least you got the Talgos, which could go much faster if allowed.

  3. Supertrain sounds like a modernized take-off of Ecotopia. The Seattle Freeze doesn’t have anything to do with buildings or transportation.

    Maybe there really is something to the “Seattle Freeze” – the attitude that although we’re polite in Seattle, we’d just as soon not welcome outsiders in. It’s a “have a nice day…somewhere else” kind of vibe.

    It’s good to see the next generation has honored this time held tradition. I was afraid Lesser Seattle might have died with Emmett Watson.

  4. Soundtrack was better than the film, in my opinion. Hey, it had Mudhoney on it (song didn’t appear in the film, though another of their songs appeared very briefly). Nice that Wayne Cody and the X-Man made an appearance, though in a cheezy scene.

    My favorite musical (ish) film comedy set in Seattle? Alan Rudolph’s Trouble in Mind.

  5. Thanks, Frank. Yes, you do make me feel old. Reminds of when I used to sit in my IR classes and dream of moving to Seattle. Guess some dreams do come true! And just think. In another 20 years, Seattle will have not just one — but TWO bona fide “modern” light rail lines. Another 40 years after that and we’ll be starting to catch up to the D.C. that I left to come out here.

  6. When people asked my wife about what her husband did, she’d say he does transit planning like the guy in Singles.

    I feel old now.

  7. Although he was unnecessarily mean about it, and although his dismissal was rooted in reactionary 20th-century axioms (“People love their cars”), Mayor Skerritt’s rejection of Campbell Scott’s SuperSprawlTrain was in fact correct.

    No “gridlock solution” was ever going to come of a train that sent tenticles in every direction, but served absolutely nothing anywhere it went. Few would have taken it, and those who did would have used it as a licencse to build a sprawling estate on a former Duvall woodland while still commuting to a job in a downtown skyscraper.

    I haven’t a clue why Campbell would ever have come up with this BailoTrain. He lived at 19th and Thomas. He frequented concerts and hangouts in Pioneer Square, and occasionally went to parties in obscure Delridge locations that were impossible to find even with the help of the world’s most loud-mouthed mime.

    Much like the one we’re ending up with, the train he proposed would have been of little use to him, or to anyone he knew.

    That said…

    Frank, if you’re looking for one more quintessential screen grab and you still have the movie handy, look for the scene in which Campbell makes his pitch to various City Hall underlings.

    He shows them a model SuperTrain station — it is a highly accurate miniature of Convention Place, with a train that rolls into the current northeast-bound bays. It’s worth capturing and adding to this post!

  8. the campbell scott character was advocating an ineffective transit design, to which ST is clinging in the suburbs. his character’s main flaw was not pursuing the Kyra Sedgwick character with greater speed. there was even a dream scene in which he seemed to be seeking romantic advice from Sonic Xavier McDaniel (who may have battered and was not a great team player, though he played hard and tough). the Matt Dillon character turned down the Bridgett Fonda character. clueless guys. there was a scene outside the Virginia Inn where they got a parking spot; could that really happen when parking rates were low? pearl jam members played backup to Dillon in the band. a Seattle guy Magnano had a bit part; much later, in real life, he smashed a Honda of mine outside High Road Automotive on Leary.

Comments are closed.