107 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Dumb Ways to Die”

  1. really sad considering what happened last night at Columbia city station. we have a huge problem with people on milk way not following the lights from personal experience. so sad

    1. was the person crossing the tracks at the marked crossing and ignored the lights? or somewhere in-between the stations?

      1. Has anybody advocated stepping in front of a moving vehicle that has the right of way? I’m guessing not.

      2. They have advocated crossing streets illegally, which is not only against the law, but dangerous and stupid.

      3. You’re right Norman, we are so dedicated to transit and making cars look bad, that, in the past, we have advocated risking your life and stepping into traffic just to take a stand against the freedom of the automobile. Maybe some commenter, sometime in this blog’s past was frustrated enough with particular walking amenities (or lack thereof) to suggest this, but disrespect for the law and irresponsibility with one’s own life are hardly defining characteristics of STB.

      4. “Has anybody advocated stepping in front of a moving vehicle that has the right of way?”

        I recommend stepping behind a [forward] moving vehicle that has the right of way.

      5. Sometimes, they set up the pedestrian signals so that crossing the street in a way that is technically illegal is not only safe but the only sane thing to do.

        Heading south on Fremont Ave. across 39th St. is one example of this. There’s two intersections one right after the other and if you obey the pedestrian signals to the letter, the second turns red right after the first one turns green. With cycles over 2 minutes long (it’s a crazy 5-way intersection), it would take over 5 minutes to traverse a mere 100 feet that way. But, for at least 10-15 seconds after the pedestrian signal at the second light has turned red, the traffic light is still green so there is no reason you can’t just walk across, as long as you’re willing to look back over your shoulder to make sure the light is actually still green.

        There are other intersections that have similar characteristics. I’ve seen tons where when you press the button, the walk sign doesn’t come on until a full cycle later, even if the light is already green and is going to remain green a full half-minute later. Intersections like these simply compel people to jaywalk and that’s what all the regulars do. Only tourists from out of town, who don’t no any better, actually obey such signals.

      6. advocated and encouraged jaywalking… which is not only against the law…

        Except in many, many of the world’s great cities, where it is either perfectly legal or never enforced.

        …but dangerous and stupid.

        Only if you do it wrong.

        Norman, you’re clearly doing it wrong.

    2. It’s astonishing how many people just cross the tracks without looking, especially right after a train passes in one direction. It doesn’t even occur to them that trains could arrive from both directions at approximately the same time.

      That said, some of the comments focused on the grade-level alignment along MLK are really risible.

    1. What did anyone in Sandy Hook, Newtown, Connecticut do to bring about their deaths, save for the perpetrator and his suicide, apart from living in the “Greatest Nation on God’s Green Earth” and in a place where the manufacturers of certain products are totally absolved of product liability?

      Not the same as driving around the “booms” at a “Level crossing”.

      Besides, how many people have been killed by motor vehicles since Friday Morning? Average is 10 per day. Where’s your outrage over that?

      1. 29 kids and teachers killed by a madman in some random New England town: A terrible tragedy engendering national shock, sadness, and outrage (or at least, an opportunity for TV personalities, if not everyone, to show they’re still capable of feeling same) for days before being completely forgotten.

        100 people dying every single day on our roads: Price of progress! What do you mean you’re feeling shock, sadness, outrage? OMG YOU’RE WAGING THE WAR ON CARS~!

        And then there’s this: http://seattletimes.com/editorial/cartoon/2003/042303.html

    2. well last night there was an accident involving a pedestrian crossing against the light so it is appropriate to remind people to, well, not be dumb around trains.

  2. First Hill Streetcar –WALK OR RIDE?
    The debate continues north of us in Vancouver, with some great commentary by Jarret Walker on the utility of slow streetcars.
    FHSC will average a mind numbing 8.3 mph from end to end, with the result that most trips could be completed faster by walking or taking a trolley to 3rd Ave. (e.g. Walking from Broadway/Yesler to 3rd is 10 min, whereas FHSC to 4th/Jackson is about 14 min, counting an average wait of 5-8 min). Here’s a link to an STB post a year ago on the subject.
    Mike Lindblom wrote extensively back on Mar 13th on the ‘Consolation Prize’, showing compassion for it’s First Hill recipients. Mr. Whisner (speaking for himself only) makes a compelling case for using the money to vastly improve service of the existing trolley fleet, including a line on Yesler. I think the only clear winners here after the dust settles will be the cyclists.
    So why discuss it, as it’s a done deal? Well, ST is about to give PB $2mil to study HCT/RapidStreetcars to Ballard. SLUT is even slower than FHSC by up to 50% (according to SDOT website), so any streetcar to Ballard will need lots of exclusive ROW to compete with shoe leather! Anyone care to guess how the study is going to turn out? (or as Gomer Pyle used to say, “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise”) The time to kill these dumb oddities of transit are just after conception, before they suck increasing operating revenues out of the dying corpses of our transit systems. Maybe there’s a pill out there Seattle can take.

    1. If it averages 8.3 mph, that will actually be better than most forms of transit in comparably dense settings. Buses average 5-6 mph during the day up 3rd Ave, and less on Jackson. Entire bus lines average 5-6 mph in dense cities.

      The real problem is the indirect routing.

      1. Which is one reason to advocate for a grade separated solution such as a subway. Much faster travel times if not impeded by other traffic like sharing tunnels with buses.

        We know that the travel time on Link to Capitol Hill Station will be 3 minutes or less compared to the nearly 20 minutes by bus now.

    2. I think you’re preaching to the choir here – we all know that in terms of providing actual mobility, the FHSC is a useless, waste-of-money pile-of-shit. Maybe cyclists will be winners when it’s all over, but right now, Broadway is actually worse to cycle on than it was before since we’ve got streetcar tracks, but no cycle track yet.

      And yes, this does make be a bit nervous about ST3, as I have a bad feeling that the suburbs will get real rapid transit on the ballot, while all we get is more crappy streetcars. But, if that’s what they propose, all we have to do is just vote it down and let them come up with something better the next time.

      1. One of the main benefits of being a city that is late to the game in terms of building a modern day streetcars line is we can learn from other city’s mistakes. We can study what cities do it right, and learn from them. So it amazes me that even after Seattle has had the luxury of studying others who have come before them, the SLUSC and FHSC is what they came up with. How did we come up with something so mediocre?

    3. Why would anyone ride the FHSC end to end when there is a subway connecting them? If you are at capitol hill and want go to the ID you will take Link. The purpose of the FHSC was to connect destinations on first hill to Link.

      European Tram systems (which the TMP bases Rapid Streetcars on) do work pretty well, and are a fraction of the cost of subways. If done correctly i do believe they can work in Seattle. The trick is doing it correctly.

      In the TMP:
      Rapid Streetcar: “Priority over vehicular traffic is provided wherever possible, and traffic operations and stop spacing are designed and managed to achieve a high level of speed and reliability.”

      Local Streetcar (SLUT,FHSC): “they are not designed with speed in mind and
      therefore do not operate in transit-only lanes or with priority over traffic.”

      1. No argument there Dustin. That’s why I used a midpoint to compare walking to 3rd. Harborview to 3rd on the MT3/4 give similar time savings. So we’re down to a couple of stops that compete favorably for streetcar to Link/Sounder over walking. The bigger utility will be short hops along Broadway where you can SEE the streetcar coming, and decide to wait for it.
        Jackson will be interesting. I’ll bet most riders will wait on the curb for a MT-bus, and if a Streetcar comes along first, then walk out to the median. There will be many more buses passing a point than trams.
        As far as the TMP, I wince when I see statements like “Priority … whenever possible,…” and providing high levels of speed… (compared to 5 mph, anything is fast).
        Just sayin’, once the $2mil is spent, we’ll play hell building something that didn’t get watered down and compromised to death because of the Seattle Process and short budgets.

      2. Here’s the problem: “where possible”, which really means, “where convenient and cheap”. The places transit needs to be able to move are the congested places.

        European tram systems work in different sorts of cities. In old parts of those cities they get a fair amount of what’s essentially dedicated ROW by virtue of operating on streets with little or no car traffic or in dedicated routes through alleys and plazas. That’s possible because there are major, dense commercial areas that don’t front major car traffic streets.

        There’s a reason that the best American transit systems don’t feature streetcars downtown. Seattle and Portland have downtown streets with little or no car traffic but need to run so many bus routes down them that any potential speed disappears in a cloud of curb-space congestion and stoplights. But Seattle and Portland aren’t among the best American transit systems, and as cities they resemble miniature New Yorks or Los Angeleses more than miniature Amsterdams or Parises.

    4. I have astonishing news for you! Public transport is generally _not_ fast. Using a speedometer app on my phone taking local route city buses from downtown to Capitol Hill the maximum speed attained is usually in the neighborhood of 12.3 MPH. Taking LLR from Sea-Tac the maximum speed was 30.5 MPH. If you want quicker transport opt for a cab.

      1. 30.5 mph is not the maximum speed of Link. Just do the math. End-to-end distance is about 16 miles, scheduled in 38 minutes. About 8-10 of those minutes are spent stopped at stations, so the remaining 30 minutes or so much average at least 30.5 mph in order for the trip to fit within the scheduled time. Basic calculus says the maximum speed must exceed the average speed and where there’s a lot of stops and starts, the maximum speed must be considerably higher than the average speed.

        Casual observation comparing the relative speed of the train on the elevated section next to I-5 with the cars on the freeway suggest the train is probably going about 55 mph during this stretch, which I believe is in line with what the trains and tracks are designed for. The only time the train’s maximum speed is ever going to be 30.5 mph is if something is wrong with the elevated tracks.

        Oh, and downtown to capitol hill on a bus is not a good trip to measure the average speed of public transport. That section is excruciatingly slow. Most routes are at least somewhat faster than that. For instance, the routes I ride most often have long freeway stretches at close to 60 mph.

      2. …I was about to say. I’ve paced Link in my truck and it was running roughly 55-60 mph where it parallels I-5 right at SR 599. As the train curves away from the Southcenter interchange, it slows down on it’s approach to TIB Station.

      3. Yeah. I’ve observed the Link train’s speedometer through the cab door window. Link’s top speed is NOT 30.5 mph. Average, perhaps. It runs 55 mph for a long stretch along I-5 and 599, and on the Airport Link section. It even touches 45 mph for a short period in the Beacon Hill tunnel. Hell, it often cruises at 35-36 mph on the street running MLK section.

      4. Link’s maximum speed is 55 mph. In surface segments (MLK, SODO) it has the same speed limit as the adjacent street. The latter could be changed if city officials allow it, but it would require gates and bells in MLK, which the neighbors would object to and it would cost money.

    1. The contract is to study both Link AND a streetcar. Having the same people study both under the same contract ensures that the lines are coordinated and will complement each other rather than one getting in the way of the other.

      1. This points out that ST is contributing $2M and the city is contributing $800k, contrary to Tim’s assertion that the city is providing most of the cash.

      2. Yes, I did not have all the figures. I assumed that since the city is championing the streetcar that they would be providing both of the funding. Apparently not.

  3. I have to agree that given the accident last night it is poor timing for the video. I’m thinking that this was an automated blog post?

  4. Hey, I have a good idea! Let’s lay some train tracks down in the middle of the street in a residential neighborhood. What could possibly go wrong?

    1. Ever tried to cross Rainier Ave north of Columbia City? Much less safe than the Sounder train. Maybe we shouldn’t have high speed thoroughfares in residential areas?

      1. “Maybe we shouldn’t have high speed thoroughfares in residential areas?”

        This blog constantly advocates for density and TOD on “high-speed thoroughfares”, like MLK Jr. Way. In other words, this blog always advocates for building residential neighborhoods around or along high speed thoroughfares.

        Generally, the “high-speed thoroughfares” were there first, like Aurora Ave. N. Then density advocates come along and lobby for density along these thoroughfares to put more people close to transit, which usually uses the “high-speed thoroughfares”.

        I think most people in most neighborhoods want “high-speed thoroughfares” which they can use to travel between neighborhoods or between their neighborhoods and freeways.

        For example, I doubt if many people who live near Aurora Ave. N. would prefer it be only 20 mph. Because people who live near Aurora Ave. N. probably use it often to get where they need to go, and they don’t want to have to go no faster than 20 mph on those trips.

        Do you really want to slow traffic on every road in this city to a crawl? Or, are you suggesting Seattle prohibit any new housing near existing “high speed thoroughfares,” like MLK Jr Way?

    2. Link should have been grade separated in Rainier Valley. That would have precluded surface collisions and let the train run at 55 mph rather than 35 mph. But it didn’t to keep the capital cost down.

      1. Yes. ST was able to keep the cost of Central Link “down” to only about $2.5 BILLION for 15.7 miles of light rail, or approximately “only” $160 million per mile. It currently carries around 15,000 people per day along MLK Jr. Way. For “only” $160 million per mile.

        Of course, U-Link is costing something like $600 million per mile.

      2. Anytime you first build the street network thinking exclusively of cars and then try to retro-fit it in ways so that transit can run efficiently, it’s always going to be expensive. Had MLK and the Tukilwa section of I-5 and SR-518 been built with train tracks from the beginning, things would have been much cheaper. Just like had the downtown transit tunnel been built at the same time the downtown buildings were built, it would have been a lot cheaper too.

        But you can’t go back in time and sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and say – you know what – you can’t just hold the functionality of transit hostage because of design decisions made 50 years ago. We need to move forward and built something that works. And just throwing buses down on the road we already have doesn’t work nearly as well.

        Yes, if all we cared about were the end-to-end downtown->airport trips and nothing else, we could have boosted the frequency and span of the 194 for much less than Link cost. But Ranier Valley residents would have been stuck with the 7 or the 42 to get downtown. And they would have been stuck with either a cab or 90-minute bus adventure to get to the airport. And trips between Beacon Hill and Columbia City would have also been close to an hour by the time all the waits and transfers are added up. By the time you add enough buses to handle all of these trips at ten minute frequencies all day long, you would end up with a system that, in the long run, would have been more expensive than simply building and operating Link.

        And the impact of Link is all the larger for the north segment. If you want to go Northgate->U-district->Capitol Hill->downtown, how else can you do it? The only alternative is the hodge-podge of buses we have today that’s slower, often stuck in traffic, and carries far fewer people than Link can carry.

      3. The cost would have been $200 million to $1 billion higher if it had been fully grade-separated. That’s the sticker shock people were concerned about. It may or may not have been a rational fear that people would have voted Link down if its cost had approached $3 billion, but there was no existing light rail line in the region that the public could compare it to, so ST made its best guess.

        Saying Link cost $160 per mile ignores the huge difference in cost between surface, elevated, and underground. We’ve gotten significant value for the $160 vs the $20 that Portland’s, San Jose’s, and San Diego’s mostly surface system has. In other words, it competes much better with driving than an all-surface system would have, and gives something new to the region (travel time from Beacon/Rainier and later UW). Not everybody going to the airport lives downtown or could use the 194 without going out of their way.

      4. “We’ve gotten significant value for the $160 vs the $20 that Portland’s, San Jose’s, and San Diego’s mostly surface system has. In other words, it competes much better with driving than an all-surface system would have, ”

        Are there any traffic studies showing any reduction of the number of cars on either MLK Jr. Way, or I-5 between the airport and downtown since Link began operations between downtown and the airport?

        Anecdotal evidence would suggest Central Link has had absolutely no impact on the number of cars using the streets or highways that Link parallels. So, can you cite any evidence that Link is actually taking any cars off the roads?

      5. “Competing with driving” does not imply taking cars off the roads. It implies creating capacity for growth without expanding the road network. And Link is attracting more ridership than the bus routes it replaced (194, 42, 42 Express, 38).

      6. Looking at the first two years of Link ridership in the ‘Corridor’ (I-5, Mlk, Rainier) there were 68,500 daily linked trips on buses before Link, and 75,700 on all modes (bus + rail combined) after two years.
        So overall bus hours of service are up 3%, plus Link hours, and total boardings on all transit up 7,200. That roughly equates to taking about 1,500 cars off the road due to transit along all the lane miles in the corridor, less any new vehicle traffic due to population growth.
        So I don’t think the roadway counters will register much difference due to Link. (Source: Before and After Study – Draft July 2012)

      7. It’s impossible to isolate the effect of Link on number of cars on the roadway, as there are numerous other factors, such as the state of the economy and population growth.

      8. “Are there any traffic studies showing any reduction of the number of cars on either MLK Jr. Way, or I-5 between the airport and downtown since Link began operations between downtown and the airport?”

        That’s irrelevant. The purpose of high-capacity transit is to bypass congestion, not make it go away. Transit marketers sometimes say their line will reduce congestion, but that’s wrong. Any congestion reduction would likely be filled by drivers making additional trips. What’s relevant is whether transit ridership is increasing, and/or whether it provides a more convenient way to get around than the previous transit line. Link is far more convenient than the 194 by being more frequent, running later, and stopping in several more neighborhoods. Even if it “loses” 9 minutes travel time compared to the ex-194, you gain it back by not having to wait as long for the train and not having to schedule your day around the bus’s schedule.

      9. Another data set that ‘may’ be relevant would be the WSDOT annual traffic volume report.
        Looking at I-5, at Interurban, shows traffic volume in ’08 was 185k units, went to 188 on ’09 (Links 1st year), then down to 185k in ’10, and down again to 181k in ’11.
        Now, try sorting out the recession, gas price increases, Link effect, population growth, etc and you’ll have your answer (nobody is that smart)- but there is some evidence that traffic on I-5 is better after Link than before.

      10. “That’s irrelevant. The purpose of high-capacity transit is to bypass congestion, not make it go away. ”

        In other words, transit only benefits those who actually use it — it has NO benefit (such as reducing congestion) for those who don’t use it. Therefore, there is no reason for people who don’t use transit to have to pay for it.

        “Transit marketers sometimes say their line will reduce congestion, but that’s wrong. ”

        This is exactly how ST1 and ST2 were sold to the public. THe public was told that these programs would reduce traffic congestion, thus benefitting everyone. That, of course, was a lie. Transit does NOT reduce traffic congestion, and therefore does NOT benefit those who don’t use the transit they are being forced to pay for.

      11. “Link is far more convenient than the 194 by being more frequent, running later, and stopping in several more neighborhoods.”

        This is so stupid. They could have increased the frequency of the 194, plus added a new bus route down MLK Jr. Way to the airport and run all those bus routes a lot later into the night, for a fraction of the cost of Link.

        Implying that buses can not run at 7.5-minute intervals or run late at night is disingenious to the extreme. Buses could do everything Link does at a fraction of the cost. And the 194 between downtown and the airport would still be 10 minutes faster than Link. Cutting the headways of the 194 in half and operating them it hours per day would have cost a tiny fraction of what Central Link cost.

        You don’t need trains to have short headways and operate late at night!

      12. ““Competing with driving” does not imply taking cars off the roads. It implies creating capacity for growth without expanding the road network. And Link is attracting more ridership than the bus routes it replaced (194, 42, 42 Express, 38).”

        Adding buses “creates capacity for growth without expanding the road network”, also. Adding buses, van pools and car pools increases road capacity without adding lanes.

        Link has more capacity and shorter headways than the routes it replaced. So, that is not a fair comparison. You should compare Link to what would have happened had they added capacity and shortened headways on the existing bus routes. SWIFT bus and the RapidRide bus routes have experienced increases in ridership by adding capacity and shortening headways. The same thing could have been done with buses on the Central Link route.

      13. Norman, take off the blinkers. In two ways.

        1) Transit benefits everyone even if it does not reduce traffic congestion, because it enables growth that the road network by itself could not accommodate. There is an equilibrium point for congestion, below which people are willing to tolerate it, and above which it will choke off growth. Transit allows us to add more people to the area, which benefits everyone, while keeping congestion the same.

        A corollary of this is that even if a transit project temporarily succeeded in reducing traffic congestion along a given corridor, the area served by that corridor would just grow, such that congestion would again reach the equilibrium point.

        So, I repeat: transit adds capacity, and in doing so benefits both its users and those who don’t use it.

        2) The reason Link has increased ridership is because people would rather ride trains than buses. The 194 already ran with high frequencies and over a long span of service. It had reached a ridership ceiling of the number of people who were willing to use the bus to get downtown. When it ran at half-hour frequency, buses were too full. When Metro upped that to 15-minute frequency, there was a lot of extra capacity. Yet Link trains running every 7.5 minutes often attract more than an artic-load of people traveling to and from the airport station alone. And Link ridership in the Valley massively crushes ridership on the old 42 and 42 Express… the difference approaches an order of magnitude. Running 42 buses every 7.5 minutes would have just resulted in a lot of empty buses, the kind people like you like to complain about.

      14. “1) Transit benefits everyone even if it does not reduce traffic congestion, because it enables growth that the road network by itself could not accommodate.”

        Buses add capacity at a fraction of the cost of light rail. Van pools and carpools add capacity at virtually zero cost to the public.

        Growth is the biggest evil in the world. We should be doing everything possible to stop growth, not to enable growth.

        So, if you are using growth as a “benefit” of transit, then you have it backwards.

      15. “The reason Link has increased ridership is because people would rather ride trains than buses. ”

        This is not proved at all. Many improved bus systems have increased ridership by 50% or more over the existing bus system. I think SWIFT has had an increase in ridership close to 50% over the previous bus service it replaced. That is just a tired canard that has been disproved by many studies.

        And there is no evidence that people are willing to pay the massive difference in cost of riding trains vs buses, if the riders actually had to pay the full cost of the trains, including capital costs.

        In fact, there is a local situation that pust the lie to your claim. Between Everett and Seattle several times more people ride buses each day than ride Sounder trains, even though they have their choice of train or bus. The buses are full and the trains are mostly empty. Proving your claim to be blatantly false.

      16. “Running 42 buses every 7.5 minutes would have just resulted in a lot of empty buses, the kind people like you like to complain about.”

        I am talking about improved bus service, with the same stops as Link has, which would have reduced travel times significantly. Again, how do you explain the large increase in ridership of SWIFT over the previous bus system?

        Also, you know very well that many bus routes were altered to force those riders to transfer to Link trains. If they had the same new routes force-feeding a new SWIFT-style bus route down MLK Jr. Way, it would likely have the same ridership as Link, although the people going between downtown and the airport would be taking the new SWIFT 194 Express and not having to detour down the Rainier Valley as Link riders are forced to do.

      17. “We should be doing everything possible to stop growth, not to enable growth.”

        Everything? That’s easy. Just crash the economy.

        People lose their jobs = instant congestion relief
        Foreclosed houses = cheaper housing and property
        Less retail sales = no money for light rail construction and no money for bus service

        Sounds like a transit opponent’s dream come true.

      18. Link is also much more reliable, by and large, than all the buses that serve and used to serve the corridor that Link serves. If instead of building Link you tried to just add more buses, they would inevitably get bunched up, which means even if service were 7.5 minutes on paper, you would still have to plan on waiting 15 minutes. Link is also much more efficient than buses at getting lots of passengers on and off quickly, which means a bus serving MLK would inevitably be slower than Link serving MLK. And the only way any bus serving the airport could be competitive with Link to downtown would be to completely bypass every stop along the way.

        Yes, you could make the buses just as reliable as Link by giving them a mostly exclusive right-of-way, traffic signal priority, level boarding, and three doors on every bus. But if we did that, we would have ended up with a system that cost just as much as Link did, but would have provided less passenger capacity.

      19. If you seriously think growth is bad, then I don’t even know how to engage in an argument.

        Without growth, we’re finished. No economic development, no renewal, just endlessly decaying infrastructure. You are old enough that you lived through the ’80s around here. If you thought those were good times, I’m not even sure what to say.

      20. “If you seriously think growth is bad, then I don’t even know how to engage in an argument.

        “Without growth, we’re finished. No economic development, no renewal, just endlessly decaying infrastructure.”

        Replacing decayed infrstructure is not “growth.” If you tear down a 3,000 square foot house and replace it with a new 3,000 square foot house, that is not growth. But it does create jobs. If you replaced the Alaskan WAy viaduct with a new viaduct with the same capacity, that would not be growth, but it would create a lot of jobs. Continued maintenance and repair of the infrastructure we already have is not growth, but it does create jobs.

        If the world keeps growing we will soon run out of a lot of natural resources. I thought even the dullest person was able to figure that out. How many fisheries have been depleted? How many forests eliminated? And yet, you think continued growth is a good thing? That is very sad.

      21. Is it the apocolypse? I find myself agreeing with Norman.

        “If the world keeps growing we will soon run out of a lot of natural resources… How many fisheries have been depleted? How many forests eliminated? And yet, you think continued growth is a good thing?”

  5. Seems to me that when someone is hit by a train doing something they shouldn’t, it is the BEST time to remind everyone else not to do the same thing. Great video!

  6. Okay first of all let me just say that if they add new branches to south link south of R. Beach station that will add a ton if new trains on the mlk light rail tracks. Is this a good idea? Having ever single train from the south going through mlk way? In the future, this could be 3 minute head ways. They will need to grade seperate the line OR create a new line on marginal way, a more direct way with much less stations so people in federal way could get to seattle faster. My ideas..

    1. There are no plans to add branches to south Link or to increase its frequency. When the 2-car trains go to 4 cars it will automatically double capacity. Adding a branch to Renton and another to Kent, each at the same 10-minute frequency, would lead to a bottleneck in the DSTT. Part of the assumption with routing Link on the surface in MLK was that it would have less frequency than north Link.

      A bypass line in Georgetown would be more likely, perhaps in twenty or thirty years after more Seattle lines are built. South King and Pierce can’t have two lines through Seattle when many Seattle neighborhoods aren’t on Link at all.

  7. Hello. This is entirely a “what if” scenario, but how many of you STB-ers would like the idea of Sounder in the Eastside? There was a discussion on Railroadforums.com a while back about this.

    Obviously the Eastside rail line has been abandoned, but if it hadn’t, and ST wanted to run Sounder service to the Eastside, I’m thinking it would be more economical with self-propelled vehicles (similar to the old Budd RDC’s) than with locomotive-hauled equipment. That’s the trouble with US passenger operators–it’s “locomotive hauled or nothing.”

    1. Sounder on the Eastside would require a new line. The existing line just wouldn’t take commuters anywhere they wanted to go. And, no, 3/4 mile away from the center of Bellevue, and across a major freeway, doesn’t count.

    1. There won’t be on MLK. When (if?) North Link is running at 3 minute headways half the trains will be taking East Link to Bellevue, so MLK will still only see 6 minute headways.

    2. As I said above, the decision to route Link on the surface implied it would never be more frequent than 5-7 minutes, because at higher frequencies it would start to block intersections excessively and create traffic congestion.

  8. In my opinion, the primary goal for public transportation is to move people from their homes to their jobs. I wonder, when it comes to Central Link, if you take away tourists and travelers, people going to sporting events, and people going to shop or hang-out downtown, I wonder how many people Link is actually taking to and from work. I wouldn’t be surprised if less than 30% of Link riders actually use it to get to work.

    1. I expect it would be a higher percentage than that. After all, commuters take their trip about twice every weekday. The others do it less frequently.

      BTW, another class of commuter that is no less important than workers is students going to and from school.

    2. Doesn’t ST have rider surveys which would answer that question for you?

      Don’t foget, Link carries a lot of high-school students to and from school, also, plus I have see Link trains with large groups of grade-school kids on field trips. In bad weather I have also seen people riding Link just to get out of the weather.

    3. In my opinion, the primary goal for public transportation is to move people from their homes to their jobs.

      Why is that the most important? If you think about it that way, you end up with KCM’s ridiculous route network.

      1. Yeah I don’t know that I agree with the premise that commuters count more than other groups. I mean if someone shows up and buys a ticket to ride the train do I really need to evaluate the intrinsic worth of their destination?

    4. First of all, your premise is ridiculous. The goal of public transport is to carry lots of people in corridors where lots of people need to travel and the road network can’t physically meet demand without ruining the community. It doesn’t matter why lots of people need to travel. People often travel to work or school, but they also travel to shopping, recreational activities, and a host of other places.

      But your theory is also way off base. I moved one week ago, but until then, I used Link to commute to work every day. The trains were packed with commuters to work and school, both inbound and outbound.

  9. This is quite ridiculous. There should be a law stating that attempting to jaywalk across tracks of any kind is grounds for being charged with attempted suicide. I’m totally serious. Walking across tracks is suicide, unless there is clearly a signal that allows you to safely cross.

    Light rail trains aren’t buses, they have a long stopping distance. People should know this by now, because people have been killed by trains that have tried to stop in time but couldn’t.

    1. I’d want to stick a few more criteria into that proposal. Remember the Bellevue tracks which are cut on both sides but not officially decommissioned – someone should be able to jaywalk across those (say, between two businesses set back a ways from the street) without any problem. Also, not every track has trains coming as frequently as Link. I’d rather see more aggressive enforcement of trespassing laws that (I presume) are already on the books.

    2. Sorry, but it’s really situation-specific.

      People jaywalk across these all day, every day. No one ever gets hit, because they’re straight and the trains are known never to get that fast. (Clueless drivers sometimes manage to get themselves hit making turns, though.) Same deal here.

      Every impediment to crossing where it is most logical to cross is an affront to pedestrian mobility and reinforcement of an automotive society. (See: Mt. Baker station area.) Jaywalking properly and safely is already an exercise in individual responsibility; belief in the collective result of such exercises in reasoned behavior is the only way that a society will function.

      I wouldn’t want to live in a nanny state too stupid to distinguish between an easily seen 25 mph trolley and a winding 40 mph commuter rail whose crossing gates are there for a reason.

      1. Agreed on jaywalking. Living in DC it’s amazing how you can immediately tell who’s a tourist by how comfortable they are jaywalking or if they jaywalk at all. It’s going to be hard devolving back to a place where jaywalking is ticketed.

  10. So … lets say Seattle gets an NHL team (provided they ever play again) … I would imagine that we’ll have quite a rivalry going with Vancouver.

    I am wondering … would the games be popular enough to convince Amtrak or VIA Rail Canada to run special trains for the games (either to YVR or to here)? I would imagine that they could easily be filled up with fans going either direction (same goes for MLS games

    1. Does Amtrak even have extra trains that they could use for this purpose? Obviously, buying an extra trainset to only use a few times a year is not going to work.

      1. There are the two Oregon trainsets that should be coming on-line soon. I imagine that those will primarily be used for service in Oregon, but they should allow one or two of the other trainsets to be a ‘spare’ until 2016.

    2. The thing is, do they have a substantial number of extra railcars around? I thought they had just about enough for the small amount of service they run right now. What we need are far more daily trains from Vancouver to Seattle to Portland in general.

    3. As Cascades service expands in the coming years, they absolutely need to have a spare train in the fleet. During low-demand periods, the trains can be rotated around the system to facilitate maintenance. This spare trainset can then be used on the busy Friday and Sunday runs between Portland and Seattle, and for holidays any major sporting events that occur. Timbers are playing the Sounders up in Seattle? Make a run from Portland. Huskies are playing the Ducks in Eugene? Make a run from Seattle. I would like to see this coordinated to the point where citizens of Cascadia come to expect and rely on extra train service for major sporting events and holidays.

      I hope they can find a way to make this work with the two new sets coming to Oregon in 2013. I’ve heard of one plan to break up one trainset and add 2 cars to each existing train. The second train may be used to improve service to Eugene, or as a spare trainset.

    4. Right now Amtrak has bus connections to and from KSS.

      Northbound – Train #500, the 5:30AM train out of Eugene, makes connections to bus #5600, for WA State destinations (exc. Edmonds and Stanwood), and bus #8900 direct to the border, stopping in Surry, Richmond, and then Pacific Central Station in Vancouver, BC.

      The ‘reverse’ of that setup: (There are more connecting buses to and from Vancouver BC, to other Amtrak Cascades trains, and the Coast Starlight)

      Southbound – Vancouver BC bus #8909, and the WA State bus #5609 make the connection to train #509 @ 5:30PM on to Eugene

      I tell my Vancouver hockey fans that they better win the Stanley Cup before Seattle gets a team, otherwise they will be as pathetic as NY Ranger fans, who lived with the scourge of having the NY Islanders to deal with.

  11. This is probably not the best timing of a topic. While it isn’t shooting or Newtown related, this is really a topic that should have waited a week or two to be posted.

    If anything, have a grown up discussion about how these things can be mitigated. Barricades/handrails along sections of platform where peds may likely be enticed to cross and where EMUs (coupled or uncoupled) do not pull up. …but to make humorous light of a grizzly issue a day after a person was hit by Link and after a grizzly national incident? Tasteless. Sorry.

      1. It’s a Wonderful Life was released a few days before Christmas, is set on Christmas, and has a vaguely similar plot to A Christmas Carol, but those are about the only reasons it’s considered a Christmas story.

        That said, considering that another Capra/Stewart film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, is almost as much about how much the New Deal sucked as anything else, it’s actually possible to rethink It’s a Wonderful Life as a parable about the plight of the modern liberal, cursed with actually caring about others to the point of sacrificing their own happiness for it, but as Clarence shows George, it does ultimately result in a better world. I think a lot of modern Republicans would consider Mr. Potter, who does get away with stealing the money that kicked off the plot, as the real hero of the film.

    1. That YouTube video for the freight train mudslide derailment on the Sounder North tracks last Monday has passed 29,000 views. The full two minutes is quite dramatic, for the buildup prior to the slide, but especially for the few seconds when you realize John Hill holding the camera was thinking rail cars might soon be moving in his direction. That didn’t happen, fortunately.

      Does anybody know if Sounder North passenger trains were running along that segment on Monday morning December 17 just a few hours prior to the mudslide derailment?

      I have new respect for the 48 hour rule no-go rule for passenger trains following mudslides, and I’m now thinking there should be a no-go rule when a certain amount of rain has fallen, mudslide or not.

  12. Audi to open natural gas, hydrogen plant in 2013

    The new, 44,000-square-foot facility in Germany will use water- and solar-generated electricity to produce hydrogen, in a process commonly known as electrolysis. Typically, large-scale hydrogen production has been blocked by excessively high costs and low yields, due to the amount of electricity required and the small amounts of hydrogen that can be produced.


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