New Flyer XE40 Demonstrator (punkrawker4783/Flickr)

This is an open thread.

76 Replies to “News Roundup: Shaping Up to be Awesome”

  1. On the twelfth day of burtmess, my city gave to me
    … twelve minute waaaaaaaaaaits (bass/tenors: if only you’re so lucky)
    … eleven roads decaying,
    … ten percent taxes,
    … nine schedules, nein,
    … eight cans of red paint,
    … seven transfers tardy,
    … six cashers fumbling,
    … four minute lights,
    … three sprawl-to-rides,
    … two bulb-less stops, and
    … [rit.] a paper transfer could it really be?

    (“burtmass” or thereafter “burtmess” might profitably be substituted by “transit” if presenting to a lay audience.)

  2. I was wondering if anyone out there knows anything regarding the new trolleybus procurement. The order was supposed to happen this year, but I haven’t heard anything.

  3. Unbelievable. Kemper Freeman inserted the following sentence into his official biography:

    Kemper’s insistence on the creation of more than 10,000 free parking spaces for the Bellevue Collection has helped ensure its access to all of the Seattle region.

    1. It really should read: “…ensure its access to all who own a car…”

      Also interesting from the transportation goals page:

      Too many of our transportation projects are planned to be at capacity on opening day. A more effective and traditional approach is to allow for 20 or more years of growth beyond opening day.

      1. No it shouldn’t read that. If Facebook has some kind of slogan that said … “Letting friends stay connected no matter where they are,” Should they have to change it to “Letting friends (who own computers or have a smart phone or have some connection to the internet) stay connected no matter where they are?”

        Your comment is petty and petulant.


      2. Hardly Sam,

        ANYONE has access to the Internet regardless if they own a computer. Access is a near as the closest public library. You see any free and open cars being provided?

        What we do know is that cars cost our society plenty. Garages perpetuate sprawl.

      3. It’s really that easy to own a car, huh, Sam? Well, please fork over $10K so I can buy a new cheap car.

      4. Why would you buy a new car, cheap or otherwise? I have two cars and they cost less than $10K put together.

      5. AndrewN – while I’m against highway expansion in general, even those who don’t own cars still do get some benefits. Even if you don’t own a car yourself, you might rent one or ride in a taxi occasionally and will get to use the highway then, or your transit agency might decide to route a bus along it. And then, of course, you will probably use the highway from time to time as a passenger in one of your friends’ cars.

        I’m not saying that the benefits to a non-car-owner are sufficient to outweigh the costs – they’re not – but I am saying its dishonest to claim that the benefits are zero and you will have no access to wherever that highway is going whatsoever.

  4. re: First Hill Streetcar …

    On Broadway the traffic lights the Streetcar will have to pass on Broadway are:

    Howell St (new light for the streetcars to cross the SB traffic lane)
    SCCC (mid block) (important for SCCC students et al)
    Pike Street (busy street although no more left turns off of broadway when streetcar operational)
    Pine Street (busy street)
    Union Street (not so important)
    Madison Street (very busy street)
    Columbia Street (Swedish Medical Center main entrance (kinda important but it’s not the Emergency room entrance)
    Cherry Street (not so important)
    James Street (very very busy street / I5 access route)
    Jefferson Street (kinda busy)
    Boren Ave (extremely busy)
    Yesler Way (end of Broadway)

    Out of those traffic lights … I could see TSP given to SCCC, Union, Columbia, Cherry, and Jefferson … maybe Pike/Pine as well.

    However, James St and Madison would be problematic as they carry a lot of traffic (although they are putting TSP on the Boren intersection.)

    On Yesler way the traffic lights are at:

    Boren Ave
    12th Ave
    14th Ave (where the streetcar turns south)

    There are no lights on 14th until Jackson St.

    Jackson St there are traffic lights at (IIRC I don’t travel enough on Jackson to know for sure):

    14th Ave
    12th Ave
    8th Ave (where the streetcar track to the car barn will be)
    7th Ave
    6th Ave
    5th Ave
    4th Ave
    2nd Ave Extension
    2nd Ave
    Occidental Ave (needed for the streetcar to cross the traffic lane to it’s terminal track.)

    here is a link to the track plan for the FHS showing traffic lights, new turn pockets, etc …

    1. Union St has to be the worst light on the planet. Very short light for cars trying to cross Broadway, often constricted to just one lane due to off-peak parking. Just close it IMO, maybe make it a through street for bikes/bus.

    2. TSP needs to be put on the busy streets too. Seriously, do designers not understand the *point* of it?

  5. Speaking of Kemper Freeman, several times I have suggested this blog contact his office to request an interview for this blog. I think it would be interesting to read Q & A between Duke and Freeman.

    1. Kemper’s actions (purchase of the Bellevue City Council to oppose East Link, legal action to oppose East Link) tell me all I need to know about his stance.

      What could he possibly say that I would care to read?

      1. Intelligent people like to hear INTELLIGENT opinions other than their own. I don’t listen to Glenn Beck and I don’t care to read whatever Kemper Freeman has to say.

    2. I bet there isn’t one STB blogger who would agree with you that Kemper Freeman isn’t an intelligent man. I would like to see him challenged and questioned by an STB blogger in an interview. It would make for interesting reading. Two passionate, informed people, coming at transit issues from opposite sides.

      1. Given that KF’s mom was actually struck and killed by a car, it sort of makes you wonder why he is so “pro-car”….. You would expect that he would have a more balanced approach, but no…..

      2. Kemper Freeman is not well-informed. Whenever he speaks or writes on transit, he pulls statistics out of nowhere. He is a classic bullshitter. Just one example is his claim of 2,000 trips per day to Bellevue on East Link (ST’s estimate, if you treat two boardings as a trip, is closer to ten times that).

        If he didn’t have commercial properties generating over a billion dollars in annual revenue, he’d just be another crank that everyone would ignore.

  6. Thanks for reminder on First Hill Streetcar event tomorrow. I’ll show up if at all possible, and would encourage same for everybody.

    Signal and lane priority need and deserve some serious political effort. But more important, in the words of a certain former President, current plans to run the entire southbound line with no wire overhead cannot be allowed to stand.

    It’s only on standard maps that south is completely downhill. Before tomorrow’s meeting, anybody in the Capitol Hill neighborhood should walk southbound on Broadway between Pine Street and Swedish Hospital and use your imagination.

    I think everyone attending should direct pointed questions to the presenters on this one specific point: What is the maximum grade any battery-powered streetcar has ever had to run with a standing load for an entire duty cycle? Look up “Light rail, Nice, France” online. Two flat plazas. That’s responsible battery operation.

    I’m willing to have Seattle participate in an experiment regarding hybrid propulsion for street rail. Occidental Mall and the Waterfront might be safe proving-grounds. But going wireless southbound on Broadway presents needless and preventable risk to both operations and passenger safety.

    It’s bad enough that this idea wasn’t dumped the first time it was broached. Until the transit world has several years’ experience on topography equivalent to Seattle’s, taxpayers, businesspeople and prospective passengers should approach this matter with threats referencing the financial and legal part of the Warren Zevon song.

    And please don’t harass Ethan Melone about this. The people who give him his orders take orders from us, the voters. Every predictable result of this piece of stupidity will be our fault if we allow our elected officials, city, county, and Sound Transit, to proceed with present plans.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Though I’ll probably end up riding the streetcar frequently between Swedish and Capitol Hill Station, its list of failures is long and sad:

      (1. Putting the cycle track on Broadway is a mistake. Broadway needs the 2nd travel lane for bus/car traffic to/from the hospitals, and Broadway is steep and awkward compared to cycling on 12th. It would have made so much more sense to put the streetcar on Broadway, retain a 2nd travel lane, and have a world-class cycle track on 12th between Jackson and Pine, using 11th or Nagle Place to transition to Broadway the rest of the way to Aloha.
      (2. The center platforms on Jackson force riders to choose between bus/rail before taking trips.
      (3. Yesler Terrace residents(both present and future) will have to travel 19 blocks to get to IDS, when it’s a 7-block (though admittedly steep) walk.
      (4. Battery operation without ubiquitous signal priority is crazy.
      (5. Travel times will be so uncompetitive from IDS to the hospitals that we won’t be able to incentivize transfers to/from Sounder, cut any of the First Hill express buses, or reallocate the service hours of the 9 to better use.

      Etc etc

      1. I’m unclear on the extent of battery operations that Mark is describing. Is the thing literally supposed to charge up from Chinatown to Broadway, and then run without wires the whole way back?

      2. I think it’s mostly the down hill sections that won’t have wire. The idea as I remember it is to use regenerative braking to recharge the batteries.

      3. the complexity of adding the wire to the southbound track through the intersections of Pine St, Madison St and Jefferson St is what lead them to come up with the off-wire idea. That and the little-used wire for buses to head down Broadway/Boren to get to Atlantic Base would have to be completely re-engineered.

        Personally I think it is a bad idea … especially since it effectively isolates the fleet from each line (Even if they connect the two) … that and in the summer with the AC on … I don’t know how it will make it only on battery.

        FYI … the steepest part of the FHS will be from Yesler to Boren

  7. “What’s wrong with clean buses, courteous drivers, well-policed passenger behavior, and high-tech passenger information systems? Microsoft transit appears to be an example of doing it right.”

    By doing it right you mean “doesn’t have THOSE people on them” don’t you Kemper?

    1. He didn’t say or mean that at all. But you mentioned it. That’s what you thought of. That’s where your mind went.

      1. “Well-policed passenger behavior” is completely transparent code. It doesn’t even bother to hide what it’s driving at.

        If you need further convincing, just read his comments in the Stranger interview about the difference between Bellevue Square and Southcenter.

    2. Seattleite, I thought you just said “I don’t care to read whatever Kemper Freeman has to say.” Did you suddenly change your mind?

      Microsoft transit fills a lot of holes that Sound Transit was unwilling to fill. I won’t claim that it’s not nice to have busses without drunks on them (Microsoft drunks are all high-functioning alcoholics) but the biggest differences aren’t the clean busses and well-policed passenger behavior. The things that matter are the high-tech passenger information systems (reserve a seat online, get accurate schedules), routes being run during Microsoft definition of rush hours as opposed to Sound Transit’s definition of rush hours and functioning WiFi on the busses.

      Microsoft tried to partner with Sound Transit. The partnership failed. Microsoft went its own way. Don’t hate on them for having needs that cannot be met by an inefficient public transit system.

  8. two sound transit comments:

    Pity that ST stopped updating their project updates page.
    It used to be a good source of information, but not lately. Did someone leave?

    Painful to keep seeing the empty construction site at Capitol hill station.
    I understand they’re doing a contractor handoff, but it would still be nice to see materials and workers go in. Even better to some sign of a station being constructed.
    Site has appeared vacant for at least six weeks.

  9. Any news (or reasonably informed speculation) on the Senate transportation committee, post-coup?

    I heard one report (not sure how solid) that it was to be a Democratic / Republican co-chaired committee. If so, any idea who would choose the co-chairs?

    1. The Senate committee will be co-chaired by Eide and King, based on what I’ve read. King is extremely anti-transit.

  10. Any sense on when ST will enable “next train” signs? I realize it took WMATA 10 years to perform this task, but by 1993 all stations in the system had accurate next train arrival signs. That was 20 years ago so I’m guessing it isn’t the technology that’s the holdup.

  11. How does one actually comment on the Kemper Freeman blog? I can’t seem to find a comments capacity there. Would that really surprise anyone, though?

      1. His explanations are nonsense and he has no credibility to anyone who has ever even seriously thought about transportation in a constantly growing metro area.

        He takes as an axiom that cars, and only cars, enable travel “where, how, and when people want to travel.” He never even tries to address the situations where cars fail, or what happens when (as happens directly outside his office window every single day) highway-bound cars overwhelm city street grids (or, for that matter, the highways themselves). His world is a place of magic fairy dust where it’s always possible to limitlessly expand vehicle capacity without compromising livability. When anyone challenges that notion, he never acknowledges valid points in the challenge, but dismisses the challenger as a tool of Sound Transit (which for him is the root of all evil).

    1. Sort of how the Governor’s official bio doesn’t mention she was the president of an all-white racist sorority that excluded blacks.

  12. D line update, updated…(same link as above)

    “Did we say we added more green lights for RapidRide buses at eight new locations in the past two weeks? Well make that 10…”
    “All told, the D Line now has 27 of 30 planned locations with longer green lights.”

    1. What’s the criteria for a bus to get a green light?
      Just be there to hold the green longer or shorten the red in all circumstances?
      Or is it more restrictive than that.
      On or behind schedule?
      Time of day?
      Backlog of traffic in GP lanes?
      Any other reasons the circuitry is present but not enabled for transit priority?

    1. I guess that’s what happens when you build your commuter train 400 feet from the nearest building and maroon it in a sea of parking! No one around except those up to no good.

      Did you write all three dozen unabashedly racist comments yourself? [ad hom]

  13. (And please, no limericks…)

    FCH JU Publishes Study on Alternative Powertrains for European Buses

    Hydrogen fuel cell buses compared best to conventional powertrains, offering similar performance, flexibility of route selection and a low infrastructure cost per kilometre. It also outperformed conventional powertrains on emissions and noise.


    1. Please, no Hydrogen spam. Oh, snap!

      Well, let’s see, the report has “trolly increase in total costs of ownership due to major technological improvements.” So major technological improvements will increase the costs of trolly lines over time. Wow!

      And good thing we have that other planet to live on to avoid those well-we-just-burnt-the-CO2-not-locally-hooray! problems with producing the Hydrogen from methane or whatever. Ooooh, looks like they’re also assuming carbon capture sequestration is totally going to pan out. Coal gasification and cooked planet, here we come!

      Up next, the usual solar-to-Hydrogen “alpha research but is totally a slam dunk moving forward, no really!” article spam?

  14. Protruding Metro bus ‘bulbs’ work, but at the expense of drivers:

    Metro Transit’s “bus bulbs” help transit save precious seconds, but at one West Seattle intersection they’ve led to potentially hazardous driving conditions.

    How is it that a bus bulb costs $100,000. Rough cost for pouring a 2,000 sqft concrete patio:

    $213.56……….> gravel delivery
    $???? ……….> gravel layout labor
    $192.20……….> reinforcement
    $1922 ……….> form, pour, and finish
    $1601.67……..> concrete delivered
    $400.00 ……..> two times deliver fee (I added my sefl incase)
    $4329.42 …….> Total

    Where does the other $95k, go?

    1. Don’t forget the saw cut and asphalt patch. I don’t suppose you have to pay for barricades and a flagger for your patio either.

    2. My guess would be: design, engineering, permitting, admin labor, etc? And you can probably double or triple the cost of the bid Metro would get relative to a private business, just because they’re a gov’t agency.

    3. There’s a lot of utility-related work: New electrical connections (signage, shelters), drainage changes, new bus zone pads (to reduce in-road rutting), etc. that have to be designed, permitted, and installed. Any curb ramps that were touched have to be replaced, which are labor-intensive. Additionally, there are expences for traffic control signage and the occasional flagger/traffic cop.

      1. Have they actually added bus zone pads. Not that they are a bad investment but I see an awful lot of places where multiple routes stop that don’t have them and would seem to be a higher priority. In general the NW seems to always opt for low cost limited life asphalt over higher cost lower maintenance concrete.

    4. You know those metal poles at Metro bus stops that have the button you can push that will trigger a little flashing light up top to signal the bus? Those cost $1,100 each.

    5. Thoughts on the rest of the article? Fair and balanced, or too provoking of the “war on cars” (I’m leaning towards the latter)? Concerned about the California/Fauntleroy junction mentioned in the article, and if so, what solution would you suggest?

      1. The article is anything but fair and balanced. The writer is all but saying that we bus riders need to just suck it up and wait 2 minutes to merge into traffic after every stop because it’s too much of an inconvenience to drivers stuck behind the bus to wait for it to move.

  15. Went to the FHS extension open house. The main issues are the terminus and the streetscape. The extension would have two or three stations: Harrison and Roy; Harrison and Aloha; Harrison and Prospect; or Harrison, Aloha, and Prospect. A Prospect terminus would put it two blocks from Volunteer Park (and two blocks from St Mark’s).

    For the streetscape there are three alternatives, or five including subalternatives. It’s more useful to look at the factors, which are distributed among the alternatives:

    (1) both streetcar tracks in the center lanes (car-streetcar-streetcar-car), which would preclude left turns but allow a second parking lane. (Note: the streetcar lanes would also be shared with cars.)
    (2) one streetcar track at the side (streetcar-car-streetcar-car).
    (3) two-way cycletrack, or southbound bicycle lane with a bio-buffer (planter strip). In the one-way scenario, the northbound lane would come up from Yesler but turn right on Thomas to 10th.

    Basically, there’s insufficient room for two bicycle lanes, a planter strip, and a second parking lane, so it’s a tradeoff between those.

    I found it hard to decide between the alternatives and factors. My instinct is to run it as far as possible to Prospect, but I’m not sure how high priority that needs to be. The center-running tracks seemed more natural to me than having one track on the side with a car lane between them. But the guy I talked to, a streetcar consultant, said Portland has that kind of side track. Re bike lanes, two-way seems the way to go because all the action and destinations are on Broadway. I could see people going up the sidewalk rather than detouring to 10th. On the other hand, I’d like to have a planter strip too, to keep the streetscape rooted in nature and clean the air and sink carbon. So I wish we could have both a two-way cycletrack and a planter strip.

  16. I wonder if, when Capitol Hill station opens, there would be any willingness to truncate the 49 at the station or perhaps in a Pike-Pine-10th loop. That would be an alternative to a north-south route duplicating the streetcar. It would mean that those going from north Capitol Hill to lower Broadway would have to transfer, and those from north Capitol Hill to south of Jackson would have to transfer twice. On the other hand, not that many people live north of the streetcar terminus, and they have to transfer already since the 49 turns.

    1. I’d go for the idea myself, but politically I wouldn’t count on it happening. The section between Broadway and downtown is the portion of the 49 that seems to carry the most passengers (and move the slowest – you can probably keep up with it on foot if you run. By bike, all you have to do is sit there and coast down the hill and you’ve left the bus in the dust).

    2. That’s the same segment that overlaps with the 10. Reinvest the service hours into the 10 and you’ll have one ultra-frequent route that covers most of central Capitol Hill, to complement the new ultra-frequent streetcar. Right now you have several overlapping 15-30 minute routes that give better-than-15-minute frequency only to Pine & Bellevue (sometimes Pine & Broadway). That covers only a small fraction of this heavily transit-riding, pedestrian neighborhood.

  17. Power to the city…

    FuelCell Energy Announces Sale of a 14.9 Megawatt Fuel Cell Park in Bridgeport, Connecticut to Dominion

    “This is a terrific example of urban redevelopment, providing a new source of tax revenue to the City of Bridgeport from a power production facility that quietly generates clean energy with a low carbon footprint,” said Bridgeport (CT) Mayor Bill Finch. “This fuel cell park will be another successful piece in our expanding Eco-Industrial Park, part of our BGreen2020 plan to protect our environment and green our City.”


    Multi-megawatt fuel cell parks solve power generation challenges for utilities as the combination of dramatically lower pollutants, modest land-use needs, and quiet operating nature of fuel cell power plants facilitates their siting in urban locations.

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