Photo from Flickr user Erubisu 27

This is an open thread.

134 Replies to “News Roundup: Relocating”

  1. Two things:

    #1. Really like the idea of moving Amtrak to a place Tacoma close to the mass transit hubs. Walked around there July 4th, took forever to find the Amtrak station.

    #2. I’ve got a Flickr post/rant up about Sounder North leaning towards trading them for buses: – note the last paragraph, the State Auditor’s Office has an audit inbound I hear of Sound Transit.

  2. RapidRide update:

    It is now day 13 of RapidRide having zero real-time info on OneBusAway, and of it totally sucking to walk twelve minutes to “Manure Station” only to find out the bus is 14 minutes — or more — away.

    1. At least the 40’s reliability has improved from, well, completely disastrous to consistently-five-minutes-behind. I find myself walking Leary much less often.

      1. FYI, OneBusAway recognizes the existence of the line, and it works for late-night “scheduled trips”. So it’s not as if Metro doesn’t have the GPS working.

      2. I’ve noticed that my opinions towards the D vary significantly depending on whether the stop I’m at has real-time arrival information or not. Fortunately, most of the stops I’d need to use do.

      3. Too bad there are only two RapidRide stops for Ballard Proper — “Manure Station” and “Ha! We Didn’t Bother to Tell You We’re Not Putting In Real-Time For Another Year Station”.

        Both are 10-12 minutes walk from the neighborhood center, so it can easily be 26 minutes from when you leave your home in a state of zero information until the time you actually set foot on the slow-ass bus.

        Rinse and repeat at Pike Street in the other direction.

  3. This news roundup makes it sound as if all is hunky dorey in transitlandia. After day 13 of the Metro re-org, things are a complete disaster. This website really is an alternate universe.

    1. I don’t know about “complete disaster” — I like the 50, and more frequent service on the 21, and the 40 gets good reviews — but the deficiencies of RapidRide aren’t news. We’ve been reporting on it for years.

      1. I’m pleased with the frequency improvements on the 50 and transferring to/from Link is reasonable. Also, I like direct trip to West Seattle/Alki.

      2. The 50 is half-hourly, which is not a frequency improvement. If it were every 15 minutes, it could be interlined with the 21 for hyper-Rapid frequent service to West Seattle from SODO Station all day.

      3. The 50 is now reliably 1/2 hourly headways until mid evening versus its predecessor which had headways outside of peak from 45-75 minutes and ended 2 hours earlier than the present 50 schedule. It has made a significant difference to me.

        I was able to go to a party on Capitol Hill this weekend, stay for the entire party and then come back on the 2nd to last 50 bus to my neighborhood. I couldn’t do that before.

    2. Traveling from Fremont to the U-District, the jointly planned 31/32 more than make up for the loss of the 45/46/30. So for me it has been an improvement.

    3. FYI everyone that writes for STB besides Martin was either on vacation last week or is on vacation this week, and none of us work downtown so we’re not able to easily check in out pm operations downtown right when work is getting out. It’s just a limitation of a volunteer blog.

    4. I get the sense that if RapidRide were running every 7.5 (peak) or 10 (off-peak), we wouldn’t be hearing that many complaints. It’s just not frequent enough to do what it needs to do.

      The only other complaints I hear in any volume:

      1) Shoulder and off-peak service to Admiral and Alki now sucks.
      2) There is no one-seat ride to downtown from Seward Park or the VA loop.
      3) The tunnel is a bit slower at 5:00 p.m.

      Those are really not huge complaints, and a lot of people are benefiting.

      The lesson here is that Metro needs to make scraping together the pennies to increase RR C/D frequency Job 1.

      1. I completely agree about RapidRide. Compared to A and B where RR was a very significant increase in service hours, C and D had a small increase in service hours. The major improvements really are fare payment, real time info and bus related.

        As you said Metro should really recognize that theses corridors deserve more service than A and B, and if Metro wants to start to build a transfer based network higher frequencies on core service really is necessary.

      2. …and to add insult to injury, the “major improvements” you list aren’t working yet for the most part.

        That said, their absence wouldn’t hurt as much with adequate frequency.

      3. The C line is what I have seen first hand and it has indeed been a “complete disaster”. It’s not just people grumbling because they don’t like change. The changes don’t make sense and are not an “improvement” by an measure that is perceptible to actual customers.
        The frequency of RR C is so unpredictable that the service is next to worthless. People are missing one bus by seconds, then waiting for 30 minutes for the next only to be passed because it is full. The addition of WIFI is just an insult to injury. Also the 56X was changed to use only short buses instead of the longer articulated ones which were already quite full. No reason to pull that equipment from the 56X. The loss of the 133 really has no replacement any more. The 54 is sorely missed by many.
        I stand by my comment that this board is an alternate universe if the overall impression is that the re-org has been achieved with only minor issues. I know people in both West Seattle, and Ballard who have essentially given up on Metro transit completely since this has occurred. Most are hopeful that this will improve, but realistic in their expectations that transit connectivity within the city may be a thing of the past.

      4. That said, their absence [the BRT features] wouldn’t hurt as much with adequate frequency.

        Truer words have never been spoken.

        C and D had a small increase in service hours.

        D had a decrease.

      5. JBT, sorry if I was unclear. I agree that RR C/D is having major issues. My point is that most if not all of those major issues are directly caused by inadequate frequency, and that the rest of the restructure is having only minor issues, while bringing a lot of benefits.

        I’ve heard nothing but good things about the 31/32 corridor (signage gremlins aside), the new 5/21, and the addition of service to Westwood; mostly good things about the 40 and 50; and less complaint than expected from those who lost service, unless they have to ride RR C/D, and from PM peak downtown riders.

      6. “Metro should really recognize that theses corridors deserve more service than A and B, and if Metro wants to start to build a transfer based network higher frequencies on core service really is necessary.”

        Metro does recognize it. Metro has no reason to blemish its own reputation and RapidRide brand. But there’s no money for additional service hours, and no public will to delete the 61 and 40 to make the D more frequent.

      7. Sorry, Mike, but the cavalcade of lies and obfuscations in the run-up to the restructure — and especially that last-straw bullshit they pulled at 15th & Market — have thoroughly convinced me that Metro does not know or care what they’re doing.

      8. Sometimes the mentally ill do not know that they’re mentally ill.

        Other times, the mentally ill realize that they can placate the politicians better in the short term. with sub-standard crap that appears good to non-riders than with anything that would actually help people get around. It’s not a good long-term strategy, but Metro does not seem to give two rats asses about that.

      9. Seriously, Mike, you’re talking about an agency that just fleeced both the taxpayers and the FTA for something that is demonstrably shit.

        “Pathological” would be the gentlest description of Metro’s behavior.

      10. Metro is fundamentally a county agency. 2/3rds of their constituents live outside of Seattle. This makes a lot of what they do seem crazy from an urban standpoint, but it’s quite logical. It makes sense that they standardize on buses instead of trying to build rail – they’re mostly a suburban transit system. It also makes sense that they focus on 1-seat rides and long-distance P&R style service for the same reason. This is also why they play the *not enough service hours for C&D lines* card, while running very inefficient routes in other areas.

        Seattle simply doesn’t have the votes to be a priority for Metro. That’s ok, they’re acting exactly as they should for a county entity. But I wish Seattlites would see how important it is to have our own transit agency with a mandate for urban (not suburban) transit.

    5. My wife and I ride the 306/312/522 to get back to Kenmore. I’ve noticed that if I take the new stop on 6th & Olive, my ride time is comparable to what it was before. Previously, I was getting on at 6th & Pike, and the bus would get on I-5 from the Pike Street express lane ramp.

      My wife, on the other hand, now gets on at 4th & Union, and she’s been finding that her ride home is now 10-15 minutes longer. Much of this problem seems to be caused by the bus getting stuck behind right-turning cars at University (which are in turn stuck by pedestrians on 4th crossing University), bus congestion at 4th & Pine, and more bus congestion at the right turn from 4th onto Olive.

      So the Highway 522 bus service is definitely slower for us boarding near Pike and Union. I don’t know if there’s much of a difference for those boarding further south.

    6. I’m quite aware that frequency on the replaced lines (15, 18, 54) was actually decreased. That is something that shouldn’t have happened, and that this blog reported ad nauseam.

      As to the overall effect of the restructure, I am loving it! Half-hourly 132 service is freedom for bus-dependent South Parkers. Access to Costco and the quickest access to Link? YES!

      We also got direct access to Westwood Village on the 60 now, and cut-off Arrowheads Gardens gets weekend service.

      The curly-Q-ish 131 is gone! – replaced by a now direct route that serves 4th Ave S, Highland Park, and the denser section of White Center.

      On top of that, buspocalypse did not happen, to my surprise. 3rd Ave is moving decently swiftly during PM peak, as is the tunnel. Some work is left to be done in the tunnel, but I don’t think we’ll see any more routes being kicked out, at least for capacity issues.

      Part of the problem in West Seattle is that the speed improvements haven’t happened yet. Indeed, some in West Seattle have fought those speed improvements tooth and nail. I see the RapidRide path and the 120 path abutted by lots and lots of street parking. Of course, RapidRide is going to be slower, and as a result less frequent, if there are no bus lanes. I encourage riders from Ballard to ride the C Line and see the real cause of the less-than-optimal frequency on the D Line.

      Metro did about the best job on this restructure that they could, with the available money. Other entities, such as SDOT, did not rise to the occasion.

      1. “Metro did about the best job on this restructure that they could”

        You are quite the cheerleader.

        The problem isn’t that West Seattle residents have fought speed “improvements” tooth and nail. The problem is you have an arrogant organization that has a solution looking for a problem. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

      2. It was extremely broken. The problem is that the core part of the fix wasn’t done right. Not enough service hours, and the facilities weren’t prepared enough for the start of service.

        I maintain that if RR C/D had frequences of 7.5 peak, 10 off-peak, and 15 night (until 1 am), very few people would be complaining, and most of those would be people who live in the Admiral/Alki area. As it is, the line is just overwhelmed and not functioning well.

      3. They’re not dealing with static ridership in West Seattle either – up 18% since spring, apparently.

    7. I’m more than a bit annoyed at how badly the reliability of the 41 has gone to hell in the late morning since the service change. the 10:01 departure Southbound from Northgate TC has gone from being 4-5 minutes late to as much as 30 minutes late at best it has been “only” 10 minutes late. Earlier buses (the 9:46 and 9:31 departures) vary from being on-time to as much as 50 minutes late.

      I know Metro is trying to squeeze more service hours out of the system by reducing layover and recovery periods and some routes had excessive layover and recovery times in the past. However making it impossible for some routes to offer any sort of reliability at certain times of day is a false economy. This is particularly true of frequent trunk routes like the 8, 41, 48, and 71/72/73/74 between the U-District and Downtown.

  4. Maybe this isn’t a big deal, but I’ve been noticing a lack of sign consistency on Metro buses that are going to Seattle. Some signs on the bus (the one above the windshield that people outside of the bus see) say simply “Downtown,” while others say “Downtown Seattle.” For example, the other day I noticed the route 28 showing “Downtown,” and the D Line showing “Downtown Seattle.” I don’t think it’s necessary for a route originating and ending within Seattle city limits to mention the “Seattle” part. “Downtown” is sufficient.

    1. BTW, the RR bus’ front sign was wide enough to fit “Downtown Seattle” all in one line … which is exactly the same number of spaces to spell out “Lower Queen Anne.” So they don’t use “Uptown” on the front sign because it fits and LQA doesn’t.

    2. What you describe is Metro’s traditional practice. Back in the days of roll signs, the sign said “Downtown Seattle” in tiny print that was illegible from a distance. When Transigns showed up, Metro started using “Downtown” for Seattle routes and “Seattle” for suburban routes, including those like the 106 and 130/132 that had major Seattle destinations other than downtown. (The 358 is an exception.)

      I suppose it could just be inattention or it could be that as sign resolution gets higher they would like to go back to “Downtown Seattle.”

    3. Yep, I saw “47 Downtown Seattle” yesterday. Different kinds of buses seem to have slightly different destination names programmed in. I’m not enough of a wonk to know the differences between the bus varieties, but I can tell that buses saying “Downtown Seattle” generally have a different shape than buses saying “Downtown” or “Seattle”, and the sign details are different too (font, brightness, and whether the lettering is all one size or multiple sizes).

      The “47 Downtown Seattle” was especially laughable. As if anyone would think a trolleybus might go to downtown Burien or Kirkland.

  5. I sure hope Prop 1 in Pierce County passes. Tacoma has so much potential. A ready made urban landscape, a concert/sports venue that seats 30,000 indoors which is something Seattle doesn’t have. Fantastic parks and great history. What is unfortunate is that Tacoma has also been caught in the maelstrom that has sucked commerce and culture away from it towards Seattle.

    I hope some large employer nationally would consider Tacoma whose urban core that could easily absorb several thousand workers.

    1. Tacoma is not going to gain any major employers without a more robust transportation system feeding downtown. If Prop 1 fails, when an employer looks at Tacoma, they will probally get an “F” for public transportation, even with ST Express, Sounder and Tacoma LINK. Tacoma and Pierce County have often been the child left out when it came to regional devlopement. Although, an intresting thought.

      If Prop 1 fails, and PT collapses, could the board cancel all local bus service and instead funnel the money into ST for new inter-county “express” routes along major corridors? Since the route would be “express” this would relieve them of providing expensive shuttle service, and with more widely spaced stops to meet the “express” criteria (like other ST Express routes that make stops on surface streets) would a higher level of service be provided to the majority of the community rahter than the mess that would be left behind?

      The shuttle riders would get the short end of the stick, but is there a point where people say that its better to spend the few tax $$$’s on a full 40ft bus on a major throughfare, rather than a shuttle van with 1 or 2 people on it is a better choice? Knowing full well the impact to those people?

  6. Does it trouble anyone that the menu on Intercity Transit’s news story includes a link to a “Standard Tort Claim” form? The safety officer at East Base once commented to me that she could rip out seats if she could be given tort reform. Have our public transit agencies really turned into a judgement slot machine?

    1. Yep. Thats one area where government laws need to be reformed to restrict claims and lawsuits against government, save for extreme cases of gross negligence, and even than restrictions on that. All those claims cost taxpayers money…

    2. Meh on your specific example. As litigious as this country is, there are open floor plans and standing-room transit vehicles from sea to shining sea.

      Metro employees seem especially prone to justifications for “Seattle Exceptionalism” that don’t even come close to passing the smell test.

  7. I worried about the cancellation of the 46. I rode it occasionally this summer. Numbers were low, but those people are heavily transit-dependent–some elderly folks as well as a number of carless liveaboards in the Marina. And Golden Gardens is a great resource that should be accessible to all Seattlites, regardless of car access. Sometimes the quantity, rather than the quality.

    How expensive would it be to schedule 8-10 44’s a day to run up to GG and back? That’s be something like four or five additional service hours.

    1. You’d have to either dieselize those runs (and all the trips they take during the rest of the day) or string wire, which would be horrendously expensive and controversial in a view area.

      Metro has tried to serve Shilshole on several occasions, in several different ways. Each time, they’ve cried uncle for near-total lack of ridership.

    2. I rode the 46 occasionally. I don’t think I ever saw more than five people riding it. Sometimes I was the only passenger. It’s sad that there’s no more direct service to Golden Gardens or other stops along the way, but based on what I saw I really can’t fault Metro too much for reallocating their service to more productive routes.

    3. I think for low demand corridors like this, a radical idea of car or shuttle service that would take you to nearest frequent route and do it for an ORCA tap + small fee.

    4. Golden Gardens is accessible today via the 48, plus a long, steep staircase. For the disabled, a motorized wheelchair can easily connect to the 44 via the Burke-Gilman.

      1. Again, your solution is specious. A non-athletic person is simply not going to attempt to climb that hill. Nor walk the distance on the Burke Gilman. A person who has physical challenges and yet not enough to classify as disabled isn’t going to have a motorized wheelchair. Indeed, many disabled persons don’t have the luxury of that conveyance.

        The fact is Golden Gardens is now inaccessible to large numbers of people. In the grand scheme of things, this choice may be ok given greater needs elsewhere. But it is concerning that whole square miles of the city are being left without bus service.

      2. From an intellectual standpoint, it may be disturbing that areas of the city don’t have bus service. From a practical standpoint, in an era of limited resources, we need to put the buses where people have demonstrated they want to ride. Right now, that’s West Seattle, where we have people getting passed up every day on the 120 and RR C, and downtown. I don’t think it’s OK to have empty buses running at the same time people are getting passed up. Metro has tried to serve Shilshole with a downtown route, a neighborhood circulator, and most recently a route to the U-District with some extra shuttle trips. None of them attracted more than infinitesimal ridership, so we need to send the buses somewhere where there are riders.

      3. I agree, given the budget realities, serving Golden Gardens and Shilshole is an extravagance Metro simply can’t afford. I’d much rather the service hours went into RR D or the 40 which people do actually ride.

        Similarly the 37 needs to die, put the service hours into the 120 or the RR C.

      4. More buses on the 120 and C Line should be a temporary bandage, until bus lanes and signal priority can be installed.

        Is SDOT waiting for a calligraphed invitation from the Executive?

      5. The 37 serves a vital route that is used by Anyone in Alki / North Admiral that is not served by the 56X. You can’t go stranding whole areas of the city and not serve them. Alki / North Admiral has a wide variety of housing with many rentals and more diversity than the average daydreamer on this board may realize.

      6. Very few people ride the 37, and it’s no mystery why: the walkshed is tiny, mostly consisting of central Alki and isolated housing on Beach Drive and Harbor Avenue. 40-foot buses running at the peak of the peak aren’t even half full.

        Again, out of financial necessity, we need the buses to go where the people are. The 37 isn’t the worst offender in the network, but be honest… which would serve more people: the 37, or the same service hours being used to ensure that no one gets passed up by RR C?

        The commuter line that actually does all the work in Alki and Admiral is the 56X (and 57 in Admiral).

      7. Routes like the 37, 46, 42, etc are luxuries Metro can ill afford. I’m not for “cutting off neighborhoods” but getting rid of low-productivity routes and route-segments frees up service hours for corridors where there is proven demand such as RR C & D, the 40, or the 48.

        It also means less complaints by non transit users of Metro paying to run empty buses all over the place.

  8. $5.25 for Seattle service on CT is getting mighty expensive. Are people going to pay almost $2 more than Sound Transit fares ($3.50)?

    1. ST doesn’t serve the north and east county areas where the $5.25 fare will apply. The fare will be $4 for the CT routes that are competing directly with ST routes.

    2. Having CT commuter routes more expensive than ST Express is a good thing. It’ll mean less opposition, and maybe even welcoming, when Link or ST Express take over the trunks completely and the CT buses are reorganized as feeders.

    3. You’re talking about trips that are 35 miles each way.

      In your average car, you’ll be burning through 3.5-4 gallons of gas ($14-$16) round trip, before you’ve even paid a cent of your other per-mile costs.

      I think a $5.25 fare is more than fair.

  9. Anyone been on route 566 recently? Auburn opened up a road parallel to C Street recently, but the poly line on OBA still shows the 566 using C to get between Auburn P&R and Auburn Station, whereas this new road is a much more direct route/has fewer lights.

  10. Just for clarification, Tri-Met sells 30-day passes in addition to, not as a replacement for, monthly passes. You can still buy calendar passes online and from Tri-Met directly.

  11. Rail~volution in Seattle? Wow! I hoped it would come here someday, but I thought it would be many years away, since we don’t yet have much infrastructure to show people or host tours of.

      1. Yes but it’ll be a lot more impressive when they’re actually open and ST2 is finished. Currently Link is just a starter line, although it does give a nice trip to the airport. But Portland had Rail~volution twice, so maybe it can come back in a decade when things are rolling.

        I can just see a group of 30 travelling to Lynnwood to hear the mayor talk to them about its TOD plans, like Portland did with Clackamas Town Center. (DP shouts, “They’ll be the only ones on the train!”)

  12. I like that you can now get from Seattle to Olympia with a (theoretical) single transfer. It will be interesting to see if this catches on. It will come down to transit reliability versus congestion, I expect. That’s often the driver for getting people on mass transit.

    I would get more excited about King Street Station renovations, except this is the third one that I can recall. Maybe this time they will get it right.

    1. This has been true for quite some time. In fact, only recently has it been the case that you can’t use ORCA. Intercity used to accept passengers flashing it on the Olympia express route.

    2. The King Street Renovation plan was always a many, many, many step plan.

      Actually, if you looked at all the steps necessary to rehabilitate the building back at the beginning, you might have wondered whether the building was worth saving.

      They’re practically building a new building, a replica if you will.

      But now they’re doing the seismic retrofit, and they’ve already installed geothermal, so it’s worth it to finish now.

    3. It’s actually a really good connection if you have the time. I take the Sounder and 603 down to Olympia once or twice per session to lobby. I also took the 590 series and 605 to visit a friend on a weekend but the 605 bus has tons of deviations from the 603 direct route to downtown Olympia.

  13. Auto Row Story:

    If the plot of land the city wants to turn into Low Income Housing is in the middle of the planned developement could the Pierre family swap it for the same amount of land on the edge?

    I’m pretty sure Lake City already has a fair amount of Low Income Housing. How much Mixed Use does it have? Seems to me the area needs a better balance of subsidized housing v market rate in that area.

    1. There is quite a lot of new market rate housing in the area roughly bordered by 125th, Lake City Way, 130th, and 35th. But Lake City has room for way more (although its peak-hour downtown buses don’t have much room for more riders).

      I don’t get the impression that Lake City has particularly more subsidized housing than any other middle-income part of the city.

      1. I’ll bet they’ve got more subsidized housing than Magnolia, Maple Leaf, Wedgewood, and Broadmoor.

      2. I said “middle-income.” Wealthy neighborhoods are a different kettle of fish, and it’s pretty much impossible to change the fact that they have enough political clout to keep public housing out. (And, for that matter, Broadmoor is essentially private property, although its existence is completely silly.)

    2. That article was pretty silly.

      Lake City has plenty of affordable housing now, and plenty of market-rate (middle income) housing now. The Bill Pierre developments and the fire station developments together won’t change the mix much.

  14. Ridership seems vaguely up on the Magnolia routes I’ve been on – a combination of the move to 3rd, the school year, and bicycle commuters making the seasonal transition, I think. 3rd is still less pleasant than 4th, though the OBA signs are nice. For riders that are used to the smooth turn from 4th, the NB 3rd jog on Broad is also very ‘augh! why!?’.

    I was amused by the suggestion in an earlier thread of the 24/Locks transit as an alternate commute option for oppressed W Ballardites…

      1. I had a bizarre Magnolia trznsit experience yesterday – at the end of a 29/D/33 wander to dinner and back, I tried to catch a 24 with a broken sign and he insisted that he didn’t go where I needed to go. Which is true sometimes, but not at that particular hour. This was a (otherwise very wonderful) driver who has driven the 19 before and definitely knows where I live. Because some 24s don’t go down Viewmont in near-peak and he was quite insistent he wasn’t the bus I wanted and his sign was broken, I decided to walk the loop so as not to extend the argument and hold up the bus full of unloading late commuters. Unloading commuters slow the 24 down significantly, so I ended up briefly continuing the conversation at my proper stop at the other end (“YOU TOTALLY GO HERE!”).

        Much more amused than annoyed by the whole thing – the driver is someone I personally like who was clearly trying to be helpful but I think he thought the 19 runs later than it actually does.

      2. He might have been right. As of this shakeup, the last two 24s (leaving downtown at 8:56 and 9:31) terminate in the Village.

      3. Like I mentioned, I -know- he in particular went down West Viewmont because I beat him there. I am well aware that the 24 is a little dubious about when it serves West Magnolia and that service there has changed without much notice before, which is why him saying he didn’t go there was plausible enough for me to get off the bus.

      4. Oh… poor reading comprehension on my part. Didn’t see that you had seen him up there.

        By the way, I was downtown last night for a show and happened to see that 10:00ish 33 you asked about last week go by.

    1. With more people walking a few blocks downtown instead of hopping on the bus just because it is free, more seats, er spaces, are available for those actually travelling long distances. I bet all of the routes headed out of downtown are slightly fuller because of the end of the RFA.

    1. Is there a place to plug them in?

      Diesel engines are generally kept running in cold weather to prevent the fuel from gelling. This can be avoided by plugging them into electricity which can be used to heat the fuel enough to keep them liquid.

      If there’s a place to plug them in, the next question is, are the diesel engines modern enough to have the ‘all-electric fuel heating’ option? Older ones don’t.

      1. Your talking Fairbanks or Duluth cold; never be an issue in Seattle. However, as strange as it may sound they may actually pollute less left idling than going through a cold start. The other thought is that the current required to A) heat up the glow plugs and B) turn over an immense engine like that probably does require that they be plugged in. My guess is that they use the generators rather than a starter motor to crank them over. Where’s Brian?

      2. Freight engines are kept running at night in Ithaca to prevent fuel gelling. In the spring and fall, not just the winter. I haven’t looked up the exact temperatures, but I think the tolerance is much less than you think it is.

      3. Poking around, information is hard to find, but the accepted cloud point for railroad diesel seems to be pretty damn high — 25F in summer blend fuel on UP in the Pacific Northwest. The winter blend cloud point is 12F. BNSF may have different requirements.

        Anyway, the point is, yeah, they really do need to keep the fuel warm.

      4. You’re right. I’m surprised that no. 2 diesel gells at 20F. It’s never a problem with over the road vehicles around here because winter blend fuels can handle -25F. Railroads may have reasons to not want to use blends (cost, fuel economy, etc.). But you’re also correct in that it’s been well above freezing in the pacific northwest for months. The average last frost date in Seattle is late March and given the temperate effect of the Puget Sound there are only a handfull of days where the lows are in the low to mid 20s.

        Seems locomotives also have batteries and starter motors so it’s not a requirement that they be plugged in like fighter jet to start. Modern locomotives have automatic shutdown and restart capability. It appears the main reason is cost (#14):

        Since starting diesels is time consuming, they are frequently left running even in warmer weather. Fuel consumption drops to only a few gallons per hour in idle mode.

        Keeping in mind that BNSF doesn’t have to pay the highway taxes and they are negotiating a huge contract it only costs them maybe $150 to leave the train running. It wouldn’t take much additional crew time to burn through that amount of cash. They may even save on maintenance of things like filters and most engine wear occurs during start-up.

    2. I would ASSume (I know, I know the dangers of doing so) that if there aren’t currently places to plug in the engines, that they would be planned as part of either Amtrak’s new maintenance base or one of the King Street station projects.

    3. Are you sure they were left running all weekend? Most modern locomotives are shut down unless the weather is extremely cold. Some newer models will start themselves every 4 hours and run for a period of time to keep everything warm.

      1. While I was reading your post, I realized that your name, Zed, is also the Australian name for zero.

  15. One unseen trade-off that will come from moving Amtrak to Freighthouse Square will concern parking. Tacoma Dome Station only allows parking for 24 hours at most, but has round-the-clock security. The old Amtrak station on Puyallup Ave, meanwhile, allows parking for the duration of a passenger’s trip, but always reminds folks that it’s at their own risk given the location.

    Meanwhile, good on PT for the route-by-route conceptualization of what will happen when Prop 1 fails.

    1. Agreed in full, especially the idea of conceptualization. If voters like I want to approve/deny taxes – and I say we should have the same rules on tax exemptions… then we better know the consequences from more than the chamber of commerce & property rights lobby.

    2. Damn, that route-by-route info is scary. The planned cuts are truly horrifying. I hope good turnout for the president drives a good vote on the proposition.

      1. I moved back to Tacoma earlier this year from Butte, Montana; a city with a bus system that only operated during the day Monday through Friday, with no evening, weekend nor holiday service. Hardly anybody used it. Living there was just not sustainable unless you had a car. Prop 1 failing, to me, is taking a transit system like that in Butte-Silver Bow, yet implementing it in an area as vast and inhabited as Tacoma and Pierce County.

  16. Every 40 I’ve been on (Sunday night Fremont to Ballard, Monday afternoon Downtown to Fremont, Wednesday noon Fremont to Downtown) has been pretty packed.

    Not a soul got off between Fremont and 7th Avenue, however. It was like an express bus heading into downtown from Fremont. I wish they would call off the last stop where it’s one block from the SLUT, however, because I ended up walking from 7th, which is a ways. Didn’t make a huge difference because the trolley got to me as I got to it.

  17. Anyone have any experience with the 62? Saw one go by this morning downtown with 2 souls on board. I wonder how that route is performing.

      1. 3rd and Pike. Presumably it picked up some riders at Pine St. But I was surprised it was so empty since it’s supposed to connect with Sounder. Either it missed it’s timed connection or folks haven’t gotten the memo yet.
        Just curious if anyone else has any observations.

      2. Interesting. The old 17 local had some outbound ridership in the morning. Perhaps a 40 happened to go through right in front of it?

    1. I was surprised some people other than me seemed to be riding the 29 through from downtown (vs to/from intermediate destinations) once I realized it was Ballard via Queen Anne Hill on a diesel. Put a Ballard headsign and the little express sign in the window and it’s amazing what bus commuters will put up with.

      1. I ride it sometimes from Columbia to Virginia, and then transfer to a bus that stops at Cedar. There’s always been a decent number of riders, a few times with standing loads as we leave DT.
        What I’m curious about are how many are still riding it from QA Hill to Ballard. I imagine it drops way off.

      2. That is an interesting question. I might ride it sometime to find out.

        The 2X has always had extremely high ridership, so the Queen Anne part of the 29 shouldn’t have any trouble filling up the bus.

      3. There were certainly still some people on (one on her phone complaining this was the slowest express ever). I wasn’t actually doing a headcount or anything, though.

  18. Random question: Does anyone know why the carpool ramp at Ash Way P&R is the only carpool ramp that is limited to buses only?

    1. If it is buses only, then it is not a “carpool ramp”. There are bus-only ramps in and out of the DSTT, and into and out of the various “freeway stations”, for starters.

      But is someone trying to turn that ramp designed for quick bus access into a more congested HOV ramp?

      1. Wow no need to be so combative. For clarity sake, I was referring to the direct access ramp, like the ones that exist at Lynnwood and South Everett P&R which ALSO allow carpoolers to exit. I am wondering why the one at Ash Way does not also allow this? Sorry if that was not clear to you.

        Also, thanks for the captain obvious information about the DSTT. That was really helpful.

        And the next time an HOV ramp is congested will be the first time. Drive by Lynnwood or South Everett sometime, there is never back ups getting on and off the freeway there. In fact, I would argue they help alleviate congestion by not requiring carpoolers to cut across all lanes of traffic.

    2. Probably because it goes directly into a “bus only” area at the Ash Way Park and Ride.

    3. Another reason that WSDOT has cited is that the P&R is very close to the I-5/I-405 interchange, and drivers might be tempted to access I-405 from the P&R ramps, which would require cutting across all lanes of I-5.

      1. Which is funny, because the 405 interchange is the exact reason I brought this up. As a carpooler entering the freeway I have to cut across 4 lanes of traffic, most of which is attempting to merge onto 405 at the exact same place, to get to the carpool lane to continue south to Seattle.

        That whole area is a mess.

      1. Wow, I need a shower after reading those comments.

        The rider was completely out of line and I do sympathize with the driver. However the driver likely violated agency rules in how he handled the incident. Hard to remember that during what was surely an emotionally charged incident to be sure, but rules against drivers “taking care of business” themselves are there to protect both the drivers and the passengers.

  19. Friday afternoon downtown, transit meltdown. I sat in a 7x for 20 minutes between Convention Place and Westlake at 5:45pm, and when I got to Westlake the signs said Link wasn’t running in the tunnel but was turning back at Stadium. People on the bus were surprisingly patient and muttered that it’s unusual. Nobody mentioned the end of the RFA as being a factor. Although I think in this case it may have been the end of the RFA plus something else. Last week on Monday, I spent 10 minutes on a 7x between ConventionPlace and Westlake, but I wasn’t there in the intervening days so I don’t know if it’s been happening every day or not.

  20. Hydrogen Refueling Infrastructure For Scandinavia

    Today Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and Hyundai signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with organizations from the Nordic countries, to support the market introduction of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and hydrogen refueling infrastructure between 2014 and 2017.

    This collaboration follows last month’s announcement by Honda’s CEO, Takanobu Ito, of the company’s development of an all-new fuel cell electric vehicle for Japan, the U.S. and Europe, to be launched in 2015.

    1. Fenrir, guised in green, yet still growing, consuming, sprawling. But why stop—humanity may well have already invested enough inertia to really cook its books—when there’s a killing to be made?

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