78 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Bushido”

    If the purpose of transit is to move citizens from A to B, in cost effective ways and dramatically increase the number of people using it, then it better start getting its act together. Collectively, transit agencies, the PSRC and our political leaders have not made a dent in either of those areas since 1996 when Sound Move was adopted. It’s been 16 years now, and little has changed. Let’s take them one at a time.
    COST EFFECTIVENESS: In 1996 the average cost of a transit trip, adjusted for inflation and counting all spending by all the transit agencies in our 3 counties, was $5.79 per ride. Operations were $345M and capital was $80M, which netted 109M rides, or 3.90 each, then adjusted up for 2011 $$ to keep it an apples to apples comparison.
    In 2011, ridership had increased to 168M, while spending for capital and operations steadily rose to 1.9B per year, or $11.71 per rider. That’s double. Ah, but we’re building a 100 year system and “that cost a lot of dough’, so let’s just look at spending for operations, and consider the $9B spent so far as free money and sunk cost to get better numbers for lower operating cost. In 1996 transit was spending $4.70 per rider (inf. Adjusted), while today it’s costing $6.44. Is this a case of all buck and little bang? (Source, Nat’l Transit Database)
    TRIPS ON TRANSIT: Total transit trips in the 3 county region have increased 54% over 16 years, or about 3%/yr. In the same period, population of the 3 counties rose by 21% and vehicle miles traveled rose by 62% to about 81M daily miles, of which about half occur on our freeways and expressways (PSRC). I don’t wish to discount transits contribution to our congestion problem, especially given that most transit trips occur during the busiest times of the day, but just keeping pace with VMT’s over the last 16 years is not nearly good enough, given that few lane miles have been added to our transportation network. It’s a political season, so ask any driver. “Are you better off than you were 16 years ago?” Maybe that’s a dumb question, but they are still the ones paying about 75% of all the bills for transit, so their opinion is worth something.
    Another good example of transit not living up to its potential can be seen on Central Link. When looking at all bus routes in the corridor being served by Link to the airport, over a 3 year period from 2008 to 2011, daily transit trips grew from 68k to 75k, or about 7,200 additional transit trips daily, for 3,600 people (ST/MT). iThis is in a region that grew by over half a million people That’s an equivalent of 50k VMT’s in a system bursting at the seams at 81m/day. I’ll stop there, as it’s unclear what effect completion of ST2 and other agency projects will have on overall transportation corridor improvements, and that’s not the intent of this posting.
    The point is this. Transit has much to offer society. For the past 16 years, it has not lived up to its promise of cost efficiencies or providing a significant alternative to congestion. Yes, it’s important to hope and dream for the future, but let’s also keep an eye in the rearview mirror as a reality check.

    1. What I have noticed is there is far too much politics (see: sub-area equity) and not enough science in the region’s transit planning. If planners were allowed to do what they wanted and didn’t have to kowtow to every little interest group, we would be much farther ahead.

      1. That’s both the strength and the weakness of our democracy: every little neighborhood group is empowered and everyone gets their voices heard.

        I think an good argument could be made that the scales have tipped a little two strongly towards decisions by committee—to the point where it’s become ineffective (and cost inefficient) to make good decisions. But, I’d be careful this.

      2. You’re right. I’m just a fan of Getting Things Done. Nothing frustrates me more than red tape.

    2. I think there are two things that prevent transit from becoming more effective in the region:

      1. Density/land use. Transit and density are a chicken an egg problem. Transit becomes more effective with increased density, but neighborhoods aren’t willing to increase density because they’re afraid of traffic problems; see, for example, the Potala Village project in Kirkland. Personally, I think regional trends show great reason for optimize, however.

      2. Gas prices & parking. As long as it’s cheap to drive a SOV, that will be the preference for many. Personally, I think that there’s a generational shift in preference, but unless the economics change, I don’t think we’re going to see a real shift region. But again, I’m fairly optimistic that the economics will shift.

      1. I think there’s also

        3. The downtown/commute focus of the system. If we could at least turn Seattle into a grid system, it would help a lot with making transit easy to use for non-work purposes.

      2. If we want to Get Things Done, we do best by focusing on the most cost effective portions first. That does mean downtown, until all of our major neighborhoods are connected to downtown a lot better than they are today.

      3. The downtown obsession wastes untold service hours, ensures that every transfer penalty is a maximum sentence, and is a big part of why Metro can’t even muster the will to put spontaneous-use-enabling all-day service frequencies on even its flagship RapidRide service.

        Seattle’s downtown obsession violates every basic principle of efficient transit service. It routes every possible trip through the most arduous, traffic-choked bottleneck. Even when one of leg of your journey is a subway, this continues to be true on the other leg.

        Moreover, by running gobs of low-frequency routes with no comparative frequency advantage between them, you fragment your demand to the point that high-frequency trunk routes no longer have the demand to support them. Thus pathetic failure to justify 15-minute service on RapidRide after 11, on a corridor that previously had combined service exceeding that.

        You won’t solve this with “more of the same” any more than you will solve it with a streetcar to nowhere.

      4. Driving an SOV is not at all cheap. The problem is that a large majority of the cost is a sunk cost that is paid just to have the car available and ready to drive, costs which are exactly the same regardless of how much that car is actually driven.

        The relatively low marginal costs of driving, once the fixed-costs of car ownership are already paid creates the illusion that driving is cheap and transit is expensive, as evident in the numerous numbers of short trips for which the marginal cost of driving is less than the bus fare alone, before you even talk about what it actually costs to operate the bus. And taxis seems so unbelievably expensive that most car owners assume that nobody who isn’t totally desperate would ever use one. However, when the fixed cost of car ownership factors into the calculations, especially the fixed costs of owning a car that doesn’t get driven very much, transit and even the occasional taxis no longer look so bad.

    3. Isn’t most of the increase in operations cost due to the increased cost of diesel? Even when adjusted for inflation, the price of diesel has more than doubled from 1996 to 2012.

      1. Short answer is no. While fuel cost have more than doubled, they account for about 10% of total operating cost, so while operating cost rose 37% faster than inflation, rising diesel prices can only be blamed for about 25 cents per rider. Costs vary across agencies, vehicle types, and operating environments, but that’s a rough number. Labor is a much higher component of cost. Operating efficiency is the best place to start looking for savings.

      2. Higher diesel prices don’t help, but employee health care costs are likely a big part of the mix too. Those can increase labor costs even when operator wages stay flat.

      3. Health care needs to be provided by a single-payer system (like Canada) or an NHS system (like the UK). The employer-based system is causing massive, massive distortions in the entire US economy. It means that no profit-and-loss statement reflects economic reality, and it’s causing myriad bad choices in both the public and private sectors.

    4. When transit opponents bring up the argument that public buses should turn a profit, I need to remember to ask the question, “Are private bus companies required by the ADA to provide paratransit service in the areas their buses run?”

      1. I just tend to reply by saying that transit doesn’t have the freedom to turn a profit unless it can also invest in development, and not be restricted in height or mass.

      2. Nor does public transit have the option to not be wheelchair accessible, or to cheap out on accessibility and communications to deaf/blind passengers. The buses themselves are getting more expensive, without increasing capacity, in order to keep up with accessibility requirements and expectations.

        Compare a Metro bus to a Greyhound bus, and see how Greyhound chooses not to be accessible.

      3. Nor do private bus operators have the mandate to serve all neighborhoods at all times of day. If Metro could choose to only run a small number of buses during rush hour and that’s it, Metro could probably turn a profit too.

      4. Private bus companies, by some date in the future (that keeps getting pushed out) are suppose to be 100% ADA accessible (lift equipped), but are not required by law to operate paratransit service. I’ve though about the paratransit requirement, and it MIGHT be possible to NOT have paratransit service. You’d forfit any/all grants you get from the federal government in the process, plus if you had it before you’d probally wind up getting sued by every federal agency and disabled rider who no longer has their ride. Reforms of these programs has to happen, the public can simply no longer afford to provide this service. In short, the transit agencies need to be able to say “no Mrs. Smith, we cannot take you to the safeway on the other side of the county, instead we will take you to the one closest to your home” (and yes, people do make those kind of trips). Also better flexibility in scheduling is a must, and personally i’d like to see coordinated transfers inbetween ACCESS and other agencies go away. Everyone else has to get off one bus and wait for the next one, if these people want equality than they should do the same thing. And if you cant, than you probally shouldent be travelling alone. It would probally also help if medical trips were picked up by medicare/medicaid. Regardless, its still going to be an expensive service to run any way you look at it.

      5. Given that Metro has a knack for getting nearly all its fleet replacement done with federal grants, and also gets an operating subsidy from USDOT, we would lose a lot of fixed route service by saying No to paratransit.

      6. Brent:
        The ADA requirements for private operators are nearly as tough as those for public operators, when it comes to bus purchase. Summary adapted from appendix D of 49 CFR 37 (Code of Federal Regulations):

        First, there is a “taxi exception”: nobody is ever required to buy accessible “automobiles”. If the vehicle is a “van”, however, the standards apply, even to taxis.

        In practically every other case other than the ‘auto’ exception, either accessible vehicles must be bought, or the operator must prove “equivalent service” — the main distinctions are in who is permitted to offer “equivalent service”; in many cases, accessible vehicles *must* be bought. The number of cases where “equivalent service” is allowed has been slowly declining with amendments to the law and the regulations.

        The law has a special classification for “Over The Road Buses”, which are buses with a luggage compartment underneath a passenger deck. The requirement to purchase accessible OTRBs phased in slowly. The current version only became effective in late 2011. Previously, everyone except “large operators” of fixed-route service were allowed to offer “equivalent service”. Greyhound was already required to buy only accessible buses, however.

        Places like Greyhound have been mostly using very slow wheelchair lifts, however.

        Also, they’ve been keeping some very old buses around.

        The ‘full fleet accessibility’ requirement for OTRB operators applies only to ‘large operators’…. and started applying on October 29, 2012. ‘Large operators’ can get exceptions, but they’re only supposed to get it if (a) they didn’t purchase a whole pile of inaccessible buses between 1998 and 2000, and (b) they purchased enough buses to replace their inaccessible fleet before 2012. Which means they’re only supposed to get the exception if they’ve been expanding service faster than they can buy buses. Which really isn’t happening.


        Anyway, what I’m saying is, the paratransit requirement is the only one which doesn’t apply in any way to private entities. The other accessibility requirements pretty much all *do* apply to them.

      7. So, if
        (1) all ordinary buses and trains were accessible;
        (2) the damned sidewalks were all present and accessible (this is a *huge* issue)
        (3) medical trips were covered by National Single-Payer Health Care (a huge amount of paratransit is apparently dialysis trips)
        (4) taxis were all accessible (they are in London, have been for years)

        Then I suspect the paratransit demand would drop to manageable numbers. If people are still asking for paratransit then, we can reform it. However, #1-4 simply haven’t been done. The biggest problem is that 2-4 are out of the purview of transit agencies, but transit agencies are having to pick up the slack for those failures.

      8. Greyhound was starting to get wheelchair-compatible buses when I last used it in the mid 2000s, so maybe more of the fleet is equipped now. My bus had four seats in the middle of the right column which converted to two wheelchair spaces, and a wheelchair-only door in the side wall with some kind of lift or ramp. I didn’t pay close enough attention to see how the lift worked, but there were one or two wheelchair passengers for part of my journey.

        The main problem with this situation is that Greyhound’s cross-country routes run only once or twice a day and are packed, so the loss of two or three seats makes a real difference. People regularly get bumped at transfer points and have to wait 4+ hours till the next bus.

        PS. Greyhound is continuing to cut service. The Seattle-Chicago route was deleted in the early 2000s. Now the Seattle-Denver route is gone too. The reservation system will put you through with transfers, sometimes to non-Greyhound routes.

        PPS. Greyhound’s reservations is not currently showing any schedules this week to or from New York, or westbound from Chicago, whether to Seattle, Denver, or LA. That must be a side effect of hurricane disruptions.

      9. Thanks for the legal info, Nathaniel!

        As for paratransit, and who rides it, the passengers going to dialysis don’t qualify just because they are going to dialysis. They qualify because they have a mobility issue, and the fixed routes aren’t an option. Giving a paratransit ride to everyone on dialysis would be a huge drain on Medicare/Medicaid, and, I suspect, would balloon paratransit ridership.

        Dialysis rides are nowhere near the majority of paratransit trips, at least from what I’ve seen. If you are interested in trip categories, I bet Metro has a report at ready they could provide. They can certainly provide you with plenty of info on who qualifies to ride Access.

    5. I think is already starting to be a sea change to transit ridership as noted in the single year double digit increases in ridership in some corridors. Further, as our road system reaches the upper limits of its carrying capacity (at least during peak) transit will (and already is) being seen as an attractive alternative.

      And the icing on the cake is the reality that fuel costs for cars will become prohibitively expensive in the coming years. This will drive urbanization in Seattle but also near other major job centers. I’m not worried about ridership on our transit system. If anything, I worry that we will not have enough transit infrastructure to accomodate demand in the coming decades.

      Ultimately, what I want to see built is this: http://seattlesubway.org/vision/

      1. Fuel costs are going to fall,and fuel efficiency of private vehicles is going to increase greatly, meaning driving will become less expensive, not more expensive. If you drive a car which gets 40 mpg and gas is $3/gallon in 2012 dollars, driving is pretty inexpensive.

      2. How will fuel costs fall? Residents of developing nations will pay top dollar for their first barrel of oil, while Americans will cut back on their 100th barrel–watch for economic decay in areas once supported by such spending. I suppose by bailing out the Highway Trust Fund by billions we can go on pretending all is well?

        How will fuel efficiency increase greatly? Aerodynamic fish cars? Slower speeds? Lighter vehicle weights? That’s not how Americans roll, last I checked, mediocre and hotly contested efficiency standard upticks aside. And slower speeds with today’s sprawl would mean longer trips–a largely sedentary population is as a large sedentary population does.

        Drive a car? Don’t bother learning, unless that’s your job. Ray Bradbury survived a few years in LA, and never had a driver’s license.

      3. Hilarious, Norman. Indeed, one day, oil prices will fall — but only after all cars are electric and nobody cares any more. Please read the Deutsche Bank report on peak oil and the future of oil prices.


        Here’s the tricky bit: while electric cars will drive out gasoline cars, the initial purchase cost of new electric cars will still be quite high. The middle class and the poor will therefore choose public transportation in preference to driving for economic reasons. With our ever-poorer middle class (thanks to the Republicans) this trend will only accelerate.

        This stacks on the trend that people don’t really want to drive, perhaps because they can’t use their electronic devices while driving….

        Certainly, many the wealthy will continue to drive (or be chauffered). With the middle class cars off the streets due to cost, the wealthy may even find driving more pleasant.

    6. First of all there is “transit” and there is “transportation”.

      Based on this blog, transit is clearly social engineering. The people who support transit have no intention of moving people from where they want to live to where they want to work. They have already made value judgements about which lifestyles are in agreement with their ideology and which do not fit.

      Their bent is that of centralizing authoritarian government who wishes to take power from the middle class, reduce our land and home sizes and independence of action, and restrict us to one or more high density living zones.

      Thus under the guise of making transportation better for all, they in fact make it worse in an effort to force everyone into their taxing bases. Over time, once they have set the trap and snared people in, they will raise costs and devour a bigger percentage of income for “infrastructure”.

      1. Their bent is that of centralizing authoritarian government who wishes to take power from the middle class, reduce our land and home sizes and independence of action, and restrict us to one or more high density living zones.

        For the umpteenth time, no one on this blog wants to reduce your land and home size or restrict you to high density living zones. We just want to make it possible for people who want to live in high-density environments at reasonable cost to do so, and not to use regulation to favor low-density environments that are already oversupplied (judging by market prices).

      2. Somewhere down the rabbit hole is a place where nobody wants to live where rents are high, and everyone wants to live where rents are low.

    7. To keep things in perspective of how our collective transit agencies are perporming, I looked up the 2011 operating costs for our peer agencies in the western US. I lump all the Puget Sound agencies in one pot because the lines of control and service get more mixed up everyday with multiple providers in the same geographic areas. Here’s how we stack up, sorted by annual linked trips (the entire transit trip including transfers).
      $6.44 (ST,KD,CT,ET,PT)
      $3.73 Portland
      $2.47 San Diego
      $3.04 SF Muni
      $4.88 Sacramento
      $5.20 Salt Lake City
      Here’s the challenge. Why are we so much more expensive and is it really justified in our transit arena?
      How much more service could be put on the street with Muni’s or Portlands cost per rider?

      1. Muni’s cost per rider is low(ish) only because they have so many riders, due to very dense land use. Nobody considers Muni well-operated or well-managed.

        As for the others, I think the “Seattle Process” has a lot of blame to take. I’ve been watching the back-and-forth of Seattle transportation politics, and it sure doesn’t look like the process which built the San Diego Trolley — there, there is a rough consensus on where the trunk lines should be, that the trunk lines should be rail, which bus services should complement them, etc., and everyone’s moving as fast as they can find money. Major changes are implemented fairly quickly there.

        I haven’t studied most of the others carefully, but Salt Lake City is getting better overall bang-for-buck with an absurdly sprawled geography — but with very unified politics. It seems to me as an outsider that the “we can’t improve this because one guy is gonna complain” mentality is hurting Seattle. The same mentality is also hurting San Francisco, but they can *afford* the waste, if you see what I mean.

      2. It should also be noted that the Salt Lake City transit system completely shuts down on Sundays. If Seattle did that too, the cost per rider would probably be lower, but I think we all agree that would be a very bad idea.

      3. One category where I bet we’re doing better now than two years ago is marginal cost per rider.

        40/40/20 meant we had to add 8 relatively empty suburban trips in order to relieve 2 overcrowded urban peak commuter trips.

        With the floodgates open, Metro is now adding peak commuter trips to match ridership. What a concept!

      4. Brent, the end of 40/40/20, while helpful, has only gone so far.

        Witness the recent expansion of night service on the 128 to half-hourly until the end of service, while Magnolia loses its night service entirely and core routes like the 16 and 40 struggle with hourly night service.

  2. As the ST Board gets ready to consider the 2013 draft SIP, I’m still torn by a painful miss in the 512 restructure: ST service from Everett to Lynnwood would disappear during AM peak, and ST service from Lynnwood to Everett would disappear during PM peak. (Yes, I realize such service doesn’t currently exist, but it seems unfortunate to have a service during off-peak, and then not have it when there is the highest demand for that service.)

    The solution for the PM peak is straightforward: Through-route enough of the 511s as 512s to satisfy ridership demand for express rides from Lynnwood to Everett, changing the sign after the bus leaves downtown Seattle.

    I’m not sure what the best numbering scheme would be for the AM peak, but it would involve having some buses that start from Everett go to Lynnwood first, before continuing as 511s to Seattle. These would be additional trips beyond the demand for express service from Everett to Seattle.

    Yes, this would require some additional platform hours. But it should save CT an even larger number of platform hours.

    1. The CT 201 and 202 combine for 15 to 20 minute frequencies most of the day between Lynnwood and Everett.

      1. CT will be doing a restructure next year, to take advantage of the duplication created by the 512. So, the 512 expansion is not expected to take effect until the fall pick.

      2. Brent,
        How do you know they will be doing a restructure next year? There is nothing on the CT website. The CT Board just approved the February 2013 service change about a month ago. It seems unlikely they would have approved a September service change so soon without a public process.

      3. CT hasn’t approved a restructure for next fall. But an ST staffer told me CT would have another process that leads up to such. I don’t expect CT to move on such a process until the ST Board votes to finalize the 512 restructure.

      4. Can somebody explain why ST has to wait for ST’s restructure to implement theirs? Even if CT does nothing, nearly everyone is going to be better off with the change than without. ST should just go ahead with their restructure ASAP. If the 512 ends up duplicating the 202 for a few months, so what? We are still better off than if we wait.

      5. Unless a CT employee tells you they are looking at a restructure for the 201/202, it is just conjecture at this point.

    2. For peak-direction trips, riders can transfer at Ash Way P&R between frequent 511 service and frequent 532 service. This covers all 512 stops (including MLT and 112th Street, which the otherwise excellent 201 and 202 don’t serve).

      Thanks Brent for your lobbying efforts in favor of 512 expansion beyond just Sundays/holidays. The connectivity improvements within Snohomish County and the increased Seattle service frequency will help a lot.

      1. You’re welcome! And thank you for pointing out the 532 connection. I didn’t realize it was actually frequent at peak-of-peak until I looked.

        BTW, would you prefer the 512 in the DSTT, or to keep it upstairs with the rest of the CT commuter routes and ST 510, 511, and 513?

      2. I would prefer to keep it upstairs, so that people can wait for the Snohomish County bus at the shoulder of the peak without having to check which number is running at that exact moment. But, if there’re noticeable traffic delays, I’m willing to put it into the tunnel.

      3. ST should keep 512 upstairs. In fact I wouldn’t change anything from what the 2013 SIP is proposing for 510/511/512/513.

        Even the idea of increasing service on route 513 from 6 AM + 5 PM trips to 10 AM + 10 PM trips, which at first caught me by surprise, seems really smart the more I think about it. In particular, PM service every 20 minutes should entice more people to use the Eastmont P&R or to make local bus connections on Evergreen Way. Also, this will help Mountlake Terrace riders.

    3. There is also no peak-period service from the U-district to Everett as a one-seat ride, even though such service is available at all times, off-peak.

      1. CT’s 810, 860, 880, and 885 all serve Ash Way P&R, with the aforementioned frequent-at-peak 532 connection.

  3. Okay, in recognition that route 120 may be the next candidate to recieve RapidRide treatment, I present to you my idea–The I Line (I have already used the letters G and H in my other two “what if” RR ideas).

    I don’t have a stop list yet (it is extremely duifficult to consolidate the stops on the Delridge-Ambaum corridor), but I’ll give a description. The I line is a limited-stop version of the 120. However, the I Line differs from the current 120 in its routing in and around downtown.

    The I line will be designed to serve the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (when open) instead of surface streets and operate via 1st Ave S between Edgar Martinez Drive and the West Seattle Bridge (making only four stops) rather than the Alaskan Way Viaduct (alternately, the bus can travel via I-5 between EMD and the WSB). Thus, riders on the Delridge-Ambaum corridor finally have a one-seat ride to SODO, the Stadiums, the International District and Pioneer Square.

    1. Interesting thought, but it would take some infrastructure investment. There’s no off-ramp from the Spokane viaduct EB to 1st ave. You’d have to use 4th. And that leaves us with either a widely separated couplet, or at-grade crossings of busy freight rail lines, neither of which is ideal for Rapid Ride.

      If Seattle were really serious about investing in BRT, we’d be talking about building a transit-only on/off ramp connecting the Spokane st. viaduct to the SODO busway. That would be a step toward real BRT.

      1. “There’s no off-ramp from the Spokane viaduct EB to 1st ave.”

        How is the 21 getting to 1st Ave eastbound, then?

        “The I line will be designed to serve the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (when open) instead of surface streets and operate via 1st Ave S between Edgar Martinez Drive…”

        While I would agree the I Line could fit into the tunnel until at least 2016 (if some lower-performing routes are bumped out), it will get kicked out eventually. I don’t see much point moving routes into the tunnel unless they will cease serving downtown at the time they cease serving the tunnel.

        Also, the 1st Ave approach to Edgar Martinez before baseball games is a parking lot. The routes were moved off of Edgar Martinez for a reason.

        But, yes, the 120 should get a lot of the RapidRide treatments.

    2. I appreciate the connections you are trying to make by routing the 120 away from 99. But I think it does a disservice to too many riders. Even if you make no stops, traveling inbound via 1st Ave S (by the way, there is an offramp)or 4th Ave S is several minutes slower than traveling via 99. 4th Ave S presents the additional problem that you have to spend longer on the Spokane St viaduct to get to the 4th Ave S offramp, and the further east you get, the more congested the viaduct gets.

      Also, don’t forget that putting any lines into the DSTT is a very temporary solution — once North Link opens, they’ll be booted out.

      I think the problem for riders to Sodo and the ID will be solved (along with quite a large number of other connection problems in the area) when the 50 becomes truly frequent service. Then, you’ll have a frequent-service transfer in both directions at Delridge/Andover.

  4. It was interesting to watch the effectiveness of having a multimodal transportation system in NYC this week.

    On Tuesday, the day after the storm passed, it was it pretty clear that roads, walking, buses and automobiles were the most effective form of transportation. With the subways out of commission, the flexibility of being able to reroute cars and buses on a road network trumped the rail system. Those people in the suburbs with cars could certainly move about more freely.

    What caught me by surprise was that by Friday, the gas shortages completely changed the equation. With the 6 line all the way to South Ferry back up and at least one connection to each of the other boroughs, the city folks were suddenly in a far better position than the suburbanites whose *only* option was driving.

    To me it just underscores the effectiveness of being multimodal and having transportation choices.

    1. Given the reports of massive traffic jams and the huge lines for the Brooklyn – Manhattan shuttle buses, I wouldn’t say that automobile travel was effective.

      1. Yeah, true.

        However, if they’d eliminated all private vehicles from the roads in the city, they could have pulled together a pretty effective system of just buses, emergency vehicles, etc. Limiting lower Manhattan to 3 person vehicles was a start, but obviously anything more dramatic would have been politically unviable at that stage.

      2. Also, the gas shortages were caused not only by the inability to get gasoline to the stations, but also by the inability of some stations that had gasoline to pump it. Of course, the problems with the electical supply was also affecting the subways (and in our city would affect some buses).

      3. It’s clear that the electrical distribution system is the “single point of failure” in modern society, the one which needs more redundancy. Buildings with cogeneration systems managed to ‘come up’ quick.

        So, those of you considering putting solar panels on your house? Consider a system where you are capable of separating from the grid, even if you are normally grid-tied.

      4. Consider a system where you are capable of separating from the grid, even if you are normally grid-tied.

        That’s already a requirement. It’s a safety issue. You don’t want to be energizing lines that could be down or potentially zap a lineman working to restore power. And of course you don’t want your generator powering the neighbors house ;-)

    2. I live in NYC. I can tell you the subways not running is a disaster that continues to affect all of us. Buses were most certainly NOT adequate, so they were free (if you were lucky enough to squeeze on).

      I don’t know where you heard transportation is running smoothly here, but you’re sorely mistaken.

    3. Gas shortages, subways not running, massive traffic jams – sounds like the real winners here are feet and the bicycle!

      1. Remember, the Brooklyn Bridge was originally intended for pedestrians. It has a huge potential pedestrian capacity. This has not been used properly in recent years.

  5. Anyone else look at the webcam for Capitol Hill Station lately? Most of the pit is squeaky clean, and it looks to me as though they’re about to start building the station itself. I thought that was pretty exciting.

  6. What’s the deal with the map for the 24 on OneBusAway? I’m trying to plan my new commute to work (I’ll be connecting with the 24 from the 216) and I’m trying to figure out which street it actually runs on.

    1. Except there’re a few peak runs of the 19, which uses Condon Way instead of Government Way. Both routes are marked on the 24’s schedule (which alexjonlin linked.)

    2. It really doesn’t take long at all to wind through Magnolia — there are no traffic lights and few stop signs on the streets involved.

      1. I wouldn’t go so far as that – it takes something like 25 minutes for the 24 to get to Discovery Park from the top of the hill and close to 15 to get to the Village, sometimes longer. The 24 has to go downhill in a wiggly path to meet the 33 route, then uphill again.

        Viewmont & W Viewmont are legitimately fast, though (fast enough to worry trick-or-treating parents! http://www.magnoliavoice.com/forum/topic.php?id=46551)

  7. David L. – 24 does go pretty slow at peak in peak direction, when the stop spacing of ~every block is actually used. Getting down and up the hills where it meets the 33 route can be slowish too.

    Dean Williams: 24 runs N down 28th and then S down 34th from downtown. If you’re going to somewhere in Magnolia Village, getting off and walking downhill from McGraw may be more efficient than riding it around, depending. 19 is the route that cuts the loop, but it only runs in peak direction.

    alexjonlin: I wouldn’t call it useless, and I’m past the Village.

  8. I just got back from Vienna, which is basically transit heaven. No fare barriers, trains come every six minutes all day and all evening, trams run between the subway lines, buses to the boonies and commuter trains as well.

    To give a contrast to Paris, when I was in Paris there was an accident on the B line that goes to Charles de Gaulle. There were no signs about this, the information office told us to take a bus that literally never came, and we all ended up taking cabs. In Vienna, there was an accident on the U-2 line, so you just hopped on a tram to another line and got where you needed to go. And if the tram didn’t work, there was a convenient bike share nearby, and some of the best biking infrastructure you’ll ever see: two-lane cycle tracks everywhere, which were “bike only” not mixed use, bike-specific traffic signals, you name it. On Sundays, when Vienna is pretty much shut down, there is no car traffic and all the transit runs on the same schedule as during the week, so everyone takes it.

    1. An accident on the RER is like an accident shutting down Link in Tukwila. Not much opportunity for redundancy; the best option is to make sure the primary service breaks as seldom as possible.

      Comparing that to the redundancy offered by a dense urban transit network is pretty apples and oranges; though in either case, aiming for minimal unexpected outages remains a paramount goal.

  9. Oh, yikes! That’s when you hop off the one car and into the next (separate from the fight), and then use the emergency operator intercom.

  10. Tunnel observations this evening:

    1. Platooning was not discernable in the northbound direction. I didn’t spend any time watching southbound.
    2. Many of the buses stopped twice at the Westgate platform. One that didn’t stop twice violated the rule of stopping within a bus length of a platfrom marker. Given that it flew right by a blind passenger, I hope the loading assistants knew which bus he was waiting for. Which brings me to …
    3. The loading assistants are now calling out route numbers as the buses approach. Some of the buses are getting waived by if nobody responds, though I think those were the ones that had already stopped once away from Bay A.
    4. Bus 74: pathetic ridership. I’m not sure everyone there realized it was headed for the U-District.
    5. The queues entered both doors, when loading assistants were there, about evenly. Great job!
    6. The buses that stopped away from their bay were all Bay A buses. Again, Bus A is overcapacity during peak-of-peak hour. Shifting more routes to Bay B couldn’t hurt. If it somehow backfires, it could be reversed.

    Tunnel time trial (after peak of peak):
    southbound Westlake-to-Stadium 8:40
    northbound Stadium to Westlake 10:40

    Whatever slowdown there is with Link going south, it can be attributed mostly to time for passengers to load the train.

    Northbound, it’s about the bus algorithm, which still isn’t quite working. Bay redistribution is about the only thing that would make much more difference. Sorry I was too late to do the time trial during peak of peak.

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