115 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Road Rage”

  1. Any chance Amtrak Cascades will find a way to keep the extra northern trip permanent?

    1. If the money’s there. That’s what it’s always about. Once, I asked a WSDOT rep if there would ever be a daylight train between Seattle and Spokane; he simply replied with that “thumb-rubbing-on-two-fingers” gesture.

      1. On the same note could this be an opportunity to push for a different alignment for Cascades North? If for some reason I-5 was completely obstructed again perhaps in an area where detours might not be as easy we would be heavily reliant on rail and air for transportation of commodities and people and lets just say the current rail alignment is not the most secure as a back up (landslides). These are just ideas and I am not completely familiar with what the options would be for routes but thought people with greater knowledge might be able to chime in.

      2. About the only other way that trains could get out of Seattle going north would be the Burke Gilman Trail, which is of course a non-starter. But it would be fun to see someone propose it, due to the instant, monumental, vibrant, world-class freak-out it would cause.

      3. Other alternatives that would cause a similar freakout would be to repurpose the I-5 express lanes or the Interurban trail.

      4. Can’t they realign Amtrak to the Bellevue freight tracks? Then it would be permanently safe from mudslides and we’d remove tracks that are an eyesore and a danger all along the coast. King Street station would then become a satellite connected Tacoma Station by Sounders.

      5. For starters, the trip would take vastly longer than it does today. The thought 0f Seattle to Everett via Renton makes me cringe.

      6. @John,

        WHAT?!?!?!? That rail line has been there since the 1890’s when the GN came over the Cascades on one of the worlds truly scary switchback lines. The passenger trains on the line are a small percentage of the total traffic.

        This post is a put-on, right?

    2. Have we figured out how we’re going to pay for the 1/5th (or 1/4?) of the bill Amtrak isn’t going to cover anymore?

      1. If we can’t pay for it, and the 2nd train has to be truncated at Bellingham, here is one interesting proposal that will never happen because it would make too much sense. Adjust the weekday schedule of the second train to get into Seattle around 8 in the morning, and leave Seattle around 5 in the afternoon. Now, allow this rescheduled second train to replace a Sounder run. And, while you’re at it, you may as well take advantage of Stanwood Station to allow or to replace the ridiculously expensive CT runs that provide a one seat ride from Stanwood all the way to downtown Seattle.

        The schedule adjustment should only happen on weekdays – the weekend schedule should remain the same so people in Bellingham don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to use it.

        (Yes, I realize that north Sounder is a boondoggle, but I am taking as given the fact that killing it is politically impossible.)

    3. Well it certainly won’t be with Sound Transit’s rolling stock, which is what they’ll use to provide the additional trip. Also, the engineer and conductor will likely be BNSF employees, as they are the ones who normally operate the cars (Amtrak provides maintenance service to the Sounder fleet). I’d imagine that an Amtrak staff member would be on board to collect / scan tickets, however.

  2. Confirms my old idea that in return for license fee, authorities should have the choice to issue someone either a driver’s license or a regionwide transit pass for same period.

    Driver training should also be many times more intensive. And insurance companies should start bringing the full weight of their industry on the car manufacturers to quit sacrificing driver’s field of vision to styling.

    Above measures would go along way toward decreasing amount of bad personal driving and increasing use of public transit.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Mark, we would have to have a good solid public transit network first. Last i looked 3 of the 4 major systems in the region have or are on the edge of collapse.

      1. Mrz, my calculation is that once people fully understand how much skill and responsibility comes with a properly-driven automobile, they would find it a relief to redirect their travel money to a transit system that provides them with the benefits of mandatory motoring without the hassle.

        Or to put it another way, large numbers of people possessed of transit passes instead of drivers’ licenses would create a lot more than a two thirds majority for any transit vote.

        Mark Dublin

      2. “my calculation is that once people fully understand how much skill and responsibility comes with a properly-driven automobile, they would find it a relief to redirect their travel money to a transit system”

        Bull. Given a choice, people prefer to drive their own car everytime. What we need to do is make it too expensive for the po’ so the rest of us can get where we need. Aka tolls and gas taxes.

    2. I agree with the driver training. Have you looked at what the Germans have to go through for the privilege of driving? And raise the age to 18. It’s mindblowing that we’ll trust a 16 year old with the deadliest weapon in the United States but we won’t trust a 20 year old with a sip of alcohol.

    3. A driver’s license lasts 5 years and only costs $30 or so. A transit pass for 5 years goes for way, way more than that.

      1. And transit passes can’t get you into bars. [But perhaps this suggests a national identification card with a residence stamp that acts as a transit pass in your home zone..]

  3. From the Transit Maps tumblr (link), here is a map of the London Underground created entirely in CSS. I’ve never been good with CSS – in fact, I find it incredibly frustrating to work with – so that makes this map all the more impressive to me.

    1. Wow. And did you see his CSS TARDIS? If I was still teaching HTML this would be a great example to show my students. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Anyone taken a look at he map of deficient bridges on I-90? Looks like it isn’t all that unlikely that our other major highway could experience bridge failures in multiple areas. If they can’t handle a collision with a truck I don’t want to know what would happen with a decently strong quake.

    1. Truck impacts and quakes are not the same. A bridge like this is called “Fracture critical”, when taking out a randomly chosen beam can make the bridge fall down. We’ve got a ton of old bridges like that, but it’s unrelated to their earthquake safety. Mostly they just bounce in a quake. WSDOT tracks seismic safety of bridges separately.

  5. It would be significantly easier to do a css map of Seattle’s light rail system . Maybe you should start with that Mark in Kenmore.

    One takeaway from the I-5 clusterfuck is that having all your transportation eggs in one basket is just begging for trouble. Mike Orr asked us to defer a discussion to the next open thread on why branching Link from the single spine to the north was/was not feasible at this point.
    d.p. makes a good case for it, noting the travel times and utility of walksheds along the way is superior to a couple of stops along interbay, and how all lines don’t have to make a bee line to downtown Seattle to be functional. He notes that not one shovel of dirt will be turned for several years, and there is still time to get this right.
    Looking at the self imposed headway limits on Link of 3 or 4 minutes under Capital Hill, depending on who you talk to, versus the design specs of the DSTT and what other agencies do on 2 minute or less headways, you can also make a case for using those time slots before even embarking on the 2nd tunnel concept (Seattle Subway, et al).
    My own favorite idea is to embrace the fact we have an esisting spur to Convention Stn, and we continue that to SLU, Seattle Center, Lower Queen Anne, Interbay, Ballard and beyond (all grade separated from traffic of course), rather than get stuck with extending the streetcar to Fremont as a consolation prize of our own makings.
    The BART II concept of regional transit is a mistake to replicate, IMHO, and we do a disservice to future generations when we blindly accept as fact that either Northgate OR the ‘Emerging CBD of Lynwood’ will produce twice as many riders in 2030 as all 3 stops in an existing Emerged CBD of Bellevue. That’s just preposterous, and the planners should be held accountable for explaining EXACTLY how they can support such wild projections.

    1. The 3-minute vs. 2-minute headway limit in the DSTT is about who you talk to. If you talk to people who know what they are doing (Sound Transit), it is 3 minutes. If you talk to a few armchair amateurs, you can find ways to imagine getting it down to 2 minutes. Show me actual experts who say 2 minutes is possible, and we have something to talk about.

      1. That is factually inaccurate, Brent.

        “90-second design headway, for ultimate 120-second operating headway” = the original engineering specification, per publicly-accessible documents sourced to the actual responsible engineering firm.

        “3-minute headway” = the new and approximate limit, brought to you by the short-sighted decision to eliminate a vent structure so as not to annoy and already-hostile landlord with a property taking. (As Mic notes, this applies to the Capitol Hill tunnel, but not the DSTT. It should also not be beyond fixing via a retroactively added vent structure — certainly cheaper than miles of new subway and a brand new DSTT.)

        “4-minute headway” = someone taking the 3-minute headway and rounding up, just to be on the safe side. Because, oy!

      2. (Which poses the additional question of why trains are arbitrarily dwelling for 30 seconds. Last time I was back East, I was reminded how dwell times between 5 and 12 are commonplace.)

      3. DP, where roughly would this vent structure need to be? Also, how large would it need to be?

      4. Let’s assume that we’re going to build both the east-west and north-south Ballard lines eventually. The question is, which one should we build first? The east-west line could connect Ballard, Fremont, and Wallingford to the light rail system. The north-south line could connect Ballard, Interbay, and Lower Queen Anne to the light rail system. My opinion is that the first one would provide the most benefit because very few people live in Interbay, and Lower Queen Anne already has relatively fast and frequent connections to downtown.

        Now let’s talk capacity, assuming that there’s a limit of three-minute headways in the central part of the system. If the Ballard Spur were built, that means three-minute headways between the U-District and the International District, and 6-minute headways out to Ballard, Northgate/Everett, SeaTac, and the Eastside. Using four-car trains, that would mean 80 cars per hour through the city center and 40 cars per hour to each of the branches.

        By comparison, current service has 7.5-minute headways at peak with two-car trains. That’s 16 cars per hour. Even with a three-minute headway limit on the Capitol Hill stretch, you don’t run into any problems until capacity on the branches needs to be more than 2.5x the current city center capacity, and city center capacity needs to be more than 5x what it is now.

        That could happen someday, but I think it’s extremely unlikely to happen in the next few decades. That’s plenty of time to build the north-south Ballard line as well. The east-west line could then be modified to stop serving downtown directly if ridership from the north demands better than 6-minute headways at that time. Alternatively you could retrofit the tunnel under Capitol Hill with enough ventilation to handle 2-minute headways.

        Regardless, capacity in the central area should not be the main reason to build the north-south line before the east-west one.

    2. Don’t trust anything from globaltelepathetics. Those guys are ideology based and don’t know real engineering

      1. Dude, that’s an official ST engineering document.

        Globalideologics may disagree with ST for reasons 180° removed from my reasons for being critical of ST, but I fully support its right to publicly display documents that are no longer hosted on ST’s site for the sole reason that they reveal broken promises and might be cause for retroactive embarrassment.

        Transparency. Always.

      2. Sound Transit gets beat up here for planning for too much capacity. Then, when it appears Sound Transit planned for too little capacity, they get beat up by the same critics. I’ve stopped being interested in what people who have it in for Sound Transit have to say about a system they do not want.

      3. I want a system that works, which much of ST could conceivably be if we stopped throwing in the towel and letting the “regional nodes” and “urban branching is impossible” idiots carry the day.

        Anti-urban planning forces are objectively wrong about what works about mass transit. It’s perverse to claim that should be immune from criticism.

        I don’t really care what John Niles does or doesn’t want. It’s irrelevant to the fact that the above engineering document is an official document. It just happens to be hosted on his site because it isn’t hosted on ST’s anymore.

        And since when has ST been criticized for “planning for too much capacity”. Are you referring to the gigantic station monstrosities? That’s about architectural chest-thumping, not about capacity. The platforms and staircases certainly don’t end up any wider because there are three-acre mezzanines (nor do they need to be, if your aim is a low-headway system as demand increases).

        ST’s ridership expectations at Northgate and especially Lynnwood are unfounded, but that has little to do with the available capacity. Especially when you artificially hobble your ability to provide demand-responsive future service on the basis of fraudulent assertions that junctions are impossible and that 3-minute minimum tunnel headways are a widespread industry standard.

      4. Yes, by all means, burn all the books if you have an ax to grind – even the official planning documents carefully preserved by JN.
        We’re not talking about too much or too little capacity here. We’re talking about using the capacity we have NOW. Duh!
        Choking off discussion on using the DSTT to it’s design capacity shouldn’t even be an issue, but here we are. Choking off trains and capacity from the north end is akin to zipping along the interstate on 2 lanes and suddenly your’re down to one through Mainstreet, USA, then back to 2 on the other side of town. Highway engineers are all over that one.
        Oh wait. I just described the ‘disaster’ of I-5 in Mt. Vernon.
        Has ST built in their own disaster by omitting a system critical component? A vent shaft, or did they decide the north end would never have the ridership to justify needing one?

      5. Niles and crew are really good at cherry picking bits and pieces of info out of obsolete documents and then quoting it like it came out of the Bible or they just solved the Kennedy asassination or something. If you seek the truth, don’t listen.

      6. If I’m not mistaken, the “complete, official, unedited, 61-page Sound Transit Central Link Operations Plan from July 29, 2008” was created before the TSA mandated the security barriers at the tunnel protals, wasn’t it? Would those happen to affect headways in the DSTT?

        It was also published before there was practical, routine experience with trains in the DSTT.

      7. AW, I’m pretty sure there are no actual barriers on the tracks, only on the bus lanes. The tracks enter between jersey barriers skinny enough that no driver could accidentally or intentionally squeeze through them at enough speed to escape attention or capture.

        I haven’t a clue whose idea it was to defy worldwide precedent by making the trains crawl at snail-speeds by the guard stations, but they’re still moving unimpeded, and they still don’t take more than 60 seconds to clear the block.

        Lazarus, you’re not making any sense whatsoever.

    3. My main concern about the spur is that it threatens to break the regional consensus. We can only build what the public, transit fans, the ST board, mayors, councilmembers, and state tax arbiters all agree to. Seattle Subway has had success because it tries to extend that consensus, arguing that “more” would be in everybody’s best interest. The current spur approach is divisive. It seeks to reopen decisions which ST has already made, which has cascading effects on the North Link timeline and contracts even if the first shovel of dirt hasn’t been turned. It calls ST incompetent for not including in the junction in the first place, and for not building to Ballard before it built to Lynnwood. You can’t convince somebody to do something by antagonizing them, or sowing divisions which might indirectly lead to ST losing some politicians’ support.

      If you really want to pursue the spur, you need to present it in a positive light. Put together a proposal, and give ST a petition with a large number of north Seattle signatures. Include evidence that a significant number of Ballardites are willing to accept a Ballard-UW-downtown line or Ballard-UW shuttle as a medium-term substitute for a direct Ballard-downtown line. Say that ST simply must design the junction now to ensure it can be added to North Link someday, and show how U-District station is being designed to accommodate a potential spur or east-west platform someday. Then you can put pressure on ST to adopt the plan, and on politicians to not stand in its way.

      For Northgate/Lynnwood, you’d also have to convince them that half-frequency is adequate, and not a diversion of the dollars they put into Link. For North King you can say, “This is in our subarea’s best interest.” For Snohomish, you can arrange the budgets so that Snohomish dollars aren’t going to change (or to trains they won’t be getting).

      The frequency argument is going to be a hard sell because ST is convinced that Lynnwood needs both Central Link and East Link trains peak hours. At minimum you’ll have to show that, if your predictions are wrong, we can still get adequate capacity to Lynnwood peak hours.

      I have also said that the minimum frequency on all lines needs to be 10 minutes until 10pm no matter what. This is an essential step toward comprehensive transit in the area, and is the only way to make people start being willing to downsize their number of cars.

      1. Mike,

        What has “get along and go along” really done for mass transit in Seattle?

        First Hill is gone and poorly served, forever. Graham is gone. A Rainier subway is gone. Bellevue station is useless. We’re contributing hundreds of millions of urban dollars for track that bee-lines it across the lake and up to the I-5 sprawl.

        Thanks to irreversible errors, Link’s modeshare in Seattle’s most transit-dependent neighborhood is positively middling. As in, sub-Houston and sub-San Jose. Expected modeshare for East Link is awful, despite multiple high-demand nodes and the ever-worsening lake bottlenecks. ST’s predictions for Northgate and Lynnwood seem far more impressive, but their peak-load predictions only crunch if one expects 70% of the line’s total usage to come during rush hour. (In which case, why build and operate an all-day mode.)

        Two years from now, I fully expect ST to be going to bat for more streetcars in lieu of real in-city transit, and for me to be saying “I told you so”. I’d rather that not be the case, but it is clearly the path down which we’re headed.

        So why don’t I positively, affirmatively propose and argue on the merits for the Ballard Spur plan? Well, however naively, I’ve done that. Only to be shouted down from all sides with utter bullshit about the “impossibility” of sub-4-minute headways or junctions in light rail tunnels, or about the zillions of people who will be reverse-commuting to Imaginary Downtown Lynnwood, or about how subways are “regional” and streetcars are for getting around city. Ignorance abounds.

        It turns out that I wasn’t the first person to conceive of the Spur, nor will I be the last. (As I’ve said, it is obvious to those who have used transit extensively in these quadrants of the city.) Unfortunately, the initiative process for which Keith started to get the ball rolling was co-opted by Ben’s [ad hom]. Keith was cost-conscious. Ben is so profligate that Seattle Subway is guaranteed to collapse under the unreasonableness of his expectations. But Ben misinformation-ed his way into relieving Keith of his plan. (Sorry, Keith, if you’re reading this, but that is what happened.)

        As for “half-frequency” on the north branch, that’s a total canard. If Northgate/Lynnwood service is inherently commuter-focused, then run 4.5-minute frequencies at rush hour while running 9-minute frequencies on the Ballard Spur. The rest of the day, 9-minute frequencies on each branch is likely to suffice… though you might discover that all-day Northgate demand is actually weaker than demand between contiguous urban places with good cross-transit.

        Going along and getting along is, as Mic implies, throwing in the towel and acquiescing to massive waste and an ultimately sub-par result, too useless to be more than a commuter rail for a chosen few, a fringe mode while the rest of the city keeps on driving.

        But perhaps you’ll get your wish. This frustrating and ultimate very stupid city may deplete me of my will to bother. But do stay tuned for the eventual “told you so”s.

      2. “What has “get along and go along” really done for mass transit in Seattle?”

        I can see a future where I don’t have to ride the 71/72/73X like I do every weekday. Where it doesn’t take 1 1/2 hours to get from northeast Seattle to west Seattle or Burien, or 45 minutes from Columbia City to the U-District. Where I could actually live in Rainier Valley and not have a 1 1/2 hour commute to northeast Seattle. Where I don’t have to take the 41 + 348 to Shoreline like I did Saturday. Where I don’t have to transfer to the 550 to Bellevue like I did last week. Where I might even take Link to U-District and the 31 to Fremont or the 44 to Ballard in preference to the north-south buses even if the Ballard rail lines aren’t built, or during the ten years it takes to construct them.

        “sub-San Jose”

        Extremely unlikely. I’ve been to San Jose twice in the past year. VTA at rush hour is like Link on a slow evening.

        “Two years from now, I fully expect ST to be going to bat for more streetcars in lieu of real in-city transit, and for me to be saying “I told you so”.”

        We’ll find out in time whether that happens. It’s too early to say. I’m not going to just give up now because it might go bad. That can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

        “So why don’t I positively, affirmatively propose and argue on the merits for the Ballard Spur plan? Well, however naively, I’ve done that.”

        You’ve shouted to the choir. I don’t know how much you’ve talked to ordinary north Seattle people, and you apparently haven’t done it in an organized enough way that can show evidence of a large number of people supporting it… evidence which is crucial if you want to persuade ST and the politicians.

        “Only to be shouted down from all sides with utter bullshit about the “impossibility” of sub-4-minute headways or junctions in light rail tunnels, or about the zillions of people who will be reverse-commuting to Imaginary Downtown Lynnwood, or about how subways are “regional” and streetcars are for getting around city.

        Again, you’ve shouted to the choir. And all these are negatives, not positives. You need to show that your system is better, not that the status quo won’t work. It obviously will work because there are hundreds of buses on these routes that will be replaced, and thousands of people who would welcome — actually are desperate for — better frequency, reliability, speed, and lack of overcrowding. Even that NE 6th station. It takes two extra minutes to get to the train. As compared to waiting ten minutes if the bus passes you by at peak hour, or waiting twenty-five minutes in the evening.

        “It is obvious to those who have used transit extensively in these quadrants of the city.”

        Then why wasn’t it brought up during the entire decade and a half from 1993 to 2008 when ST1 and 2 were being planned? Apparently not enough people in north Seattle thought it was obvious.

        “Unfortunately, the initiative process for which Keith started to get the ball rolling was co-opted by Ben’s enormous ego; he simply couldn’t stand a competing vision, or a process where he was not in charge.”

        That may be, although I have no evidence for it. Ben is the most capable person to bring something like this forward, so it really would be best for you to talk further with him about mutual benefits and how to integrate what you both want. But you’re so against Ben I know it’s unlikely. Look at your words: competing vision. You’re competing with Ben; you’re competing with ST. Competition is great in a rugby match but in a public works project it’s about inclusion, refining, modifying, extending, synthesizing a vision.

        ST has a responsibility to explain how U-District station is designed to be expandable for a future east-west line that ST is anticipating, so that it doesn’t have to rip it out or put in a long transfer passage in fifteen years. It hasn’t done that yet. So that’s a starting point. Then focus on the junction. It’s a small piece of insurance in case it becomes useful later. Focus on getting ST to explain publicly why it won’t pencil in hooks for that now. This is where it would help if you could point to a thousand signatures advocating that.

      3. @Mike, d.p.,

        I do not understand why U-District Station can’t be stacked so that a Ballard line junction can be accommodated without interference. Of course it would cost more because greater excavation would be required to go deeper. And cross-platform transfers from the spur to the north end line would turn into an escalator ride.

        The junction south of International District is planned to be a flying junction, but building a level flying junction in a tunnel requires a lot of tunnelling that can’t be done with a TBM because of the tight radius required.

        Either that of the “belly” of the diverging line to or from the “farside” track has to be too large. In the U-District case it would probably require the north-to-west track swing as far north as 55th or so.

        But the truth is that ST is probably wedded to a single level design for Brooklyn.

        d.p., I know you want a level junction and there is a track plan which might make it work. Assuming a single-level station as planned for Brooklyn, if the north to west track diverged immediately north of the platform into the space between the two running tracks and continued north for a full train length before crossing the southbound “main line” track, you could ensure that at least one fouling train could be stored for the time necessary for the southbound track to clear while not fouling following northbound mainline trains.

        Now that would take the line up to about 50th before the crossing, but that would be five blocks south of a tunneled flyunder.

        On thing, though. One cannot run 4.5 minute frequencies on one line and 9 minute frequencies on the other line, because the nine minute trains have to fit in between two of the 4.5 minute trains. That means that in the best scenario there are two 2.25 minute headways followed by one 4.5 minute headway each nine minutes. According to this very post, the omission of the ventilation shaft forbids headways in the tunnel up to Capital Hill of less than three minutes.

      4. I didn’t have time today to write the long reply to Mike that I wished/wish to, but thank you for your thoughtful input, Anandakos.

        The short reply, on the matter of headways, is that I was tossing out averages, and wiggle room exists:

        If the missing vent requires the entire distance from distance from Capitol Hill to Husky Stadium be treated as a single inviolable block, i.e. that two trains can never be travelling that segment in the same direction simultaneously — and please let that not be what it means, because that would be stupid beyond all comprehension — then one might simply have to schedule the headways on the higher-volume branch unevenly. A 6-minute interval followed by a 3-minute interval.

        Systems from New York to London schedule uneven intervals on one of multiple branches. It isn’t a problem, as long as the longest possible wait on the branch remains quite short, and as long as the uneven distribution of passengers will not cause overcrowding.

        Link trains will be, by design, well below capacity before reaching the U-District. Even at the peak of peaks, a six-minute window will not cause ridership to hit anywhere near peak load. And if only half of the Northgate trains come from Lynnwood, it might even be beneficial to have the train with the 6-minute wait start empty at Northgate, while the train with Lynnwood commuters comes through 3 minutes later (picking up a smaller percentage of Northgate passengers).

        Below the U-District, where perfectly even demand-absorption will matter most, headways on the combined services would remain even.

        (Of course, if not being insanely self-defeating about it, one would build the darn ventilation structure, bringing minimum running back down to two minutes like it always should have been. Still $billions cheaper than building a new canal-crossing subway line from scratch.)

      5. How long can it take to dig a vent shaft and install the fans? Ulink doesn’t start for three fricking years, so that should be enough time to condemn a small surface footprint somewhere close and start digging.
        Link has been arbitrarily ‘hobbled itself’ in the busiest segment – forever.
        Capacity was cut in half with NO public input as to why.
        Would you accept a new ferry that only carried half the cars promised?
        Would you accept a new 4 lane freeway that choked down through a 2 lane tunnel?
        How about your new dreamliner that can only fly at 300 mph?

      6. If the junction absolutely, positively cannot be done (and I’ve read several good posts in this thread as to why that is not necessarily the case), why not treat it temporarily as a completely separate line? Stack the station at Brooklyn with no junction but also continue the line south from Ballard to a maintenance/storage facility in Interbay. If funds do not allow further extension at this time, terminate there for now.

        This line would have the benefit of being able to extend on both ends as financing/demand occurs–south from Interbay to LQA and to Westlake station (or through SLU to Convention Place), and east (some distant day) to 520 or even NE towards Lake City/Bothell. If a crossing at Fremont is deemed more desirable, the maintenance/storage facility would probably have to be smaller and sited in in the Frelard area somewhere, but this again would only need to serve this line as once connections were made to the trunk line existing operations facilities would also be available.

        Operationally this is not a perfect solution but it seems doable, and once there was a connection to the rest of the system, future interlining such a west side line branching from it up Aurora could be possible.

  7. Back on the East Coast, we had a simple solution for dealing with crazy 5-way (or more) intersections. We called them “rotaries”, but most people call them roundabouts.

    Seattle has lots of tiny traffic-calming traffic circles, but I can’t think of too many real roundabouts designed for high-speed travel.

    Is there a reason for that? It seems like we have a number of places where they could be really useful. The intersection between Stone, 50th, and Green Lake Way comes to mind.

    1. Roundabouts of the type you’re talking about take up a lot of space. That’s fine if you include them in the original plan for the city, but retrofitting them would mean buying up a bunch of homes and businesses to make room for the roundabout. It just wouldn’t provide enough benefit. Furthermore, pedestrians are usually shunted around the edges of a roundabout, which means less direct walking paths than the current grid system.

    2. Keep in mind that there are differences between the East Coast rotaries and the “modern” roundabouts that WSDOT is building around the state. Modern roundabouts are always yield to traffic in the circle.

      SDOT did consider building a roundabout at the six-way intersection of Renton Ave/51st Ave/Roxbury St. I don’t know what happened to that plan.

      1. Rotaries in Massachusetts were changed years ago to make cars yield to the traffic in the circle too.

        But they are still a test of wits, bravery and driving skill.

    3. I know exactly what intersection you’re talking about. It is really awful for pedestrians and not so great on bike either. One thing that would surely make it worse is preventing cars from ever stopping — you’d never be able to cross at all!

      The solution for this intersection is the removal of Green Lake Way between 46th and 50th. This road was not in the original street network of the area and not only isn’t necessary for general local mobility, it hampers it. It was added to funnel traffic from northern Wallingford to Aurora when that was the major north-south highway of the west coast, but that isn’t the case anymore. Take out that one road and you can shrink the intersections at 46th and 50th to a more reasonable size and give them shorter, more normal signal cycles that offer better throughput and better pedestrian conditions. If we took out that road we wouldn’t even miss it.

  8. I thought about taking transit to the Ms last might; however, I ended up taking my car. My thinking was:

    1) My son from college was visiting this summer and recently had an ear infection. Did not want him to catch cold.

    2) With two people would have cost $10 in fares. And I knew I could find parking for not much more.

    So we drove. First off signage to the stadiums is horrible. I almost missed the exit though I’ve taken it many times. But then there is the frustrating lack of signs to insure some one they are on the right path. (I am glad that they seemed to finished all the construction near the busway however).

    Crossing avenue after avenue the was one small sign just before 1st avenue that said “Stadiums”. No arrow. Do I turn? Or go straight. Since we had time I decided to play dumb and go straight.

    This took me towards the ferries on Marginal which was a nice drive (at 5:30pm the roads were all surprisingly empty so far). I though we were going to get chuted into a ferry lot, but there was a last turn back to at Atlantic.

    We waited 5 minutes for a freight train to do some shuttling. As I pulled up Atlantic I saw a parking lot for $20 but thought I could do better (and it not want to be in the brunt of existing traffic).

    I saw a sign for $15 near Krispy Kreme and took that..but man, it almost cost me an axle! It was this gravelly pockmarked area near the train tracks. I had to drive a few hundred yards to be parked in weeds near a ware house.

    Really I would love to have used transit but not take an hour on the bus and waited in the rain (the 150 being my option). On a good traffic day the trip can be as short as 20 minutes from Kent. To truly compete we’ll need all day rail on Sounder.

    At the same time, even if Seattle is car oriented, it does a terrible job of it. Poor signage. And I kept thinking, if they want to build something why not more parking garages in Sodo!

    1. Not counting water, Seattle has about 84 square miles of land. Of that, about 26%, or 22 square miles, is dedicated to public right-of-way (meaning roads and parking). Sure, some of those roads are used by buses, but it’s a tiny fraction compared to the total amount of paved roadway in the city.

      Additionally, there are about 280,000 households in Seattle. If we assume that there are about 3-4 private parking spaces for each car (one at home, one at work, and 1-2 at retail businesses), then that’s just shy of 1 million parking spaces. At 200 square feet per space, that’s an additional 7 square miles of private parking.

      So we’re now at 29 square miles for vehicles, and 55 square miles for everything else.

      My numbers are rough, but no matter how you shake it, we devote a *lot* of space to cars — far, far more than we devote to other forms of transportation.

      1. I like that write-up…that’s the way I’ve always looked at it, but never had the actual numbers to pop in. Curious-where are you getting those from?

      2. Aleks, when you’re accounting for acreage of parking, you need to allow for the fact that a lot of those parking spaces in the central city are stacked up.

    2. Instead of parking at Kent Station and taking the train, you could have parked at the airport and taken the other train. SeaTac Airport has a promotional rate of $2 per hour on weekend game days. If that is still too much, check out any of the satellite parking lots that have lower rates and free shuttles to the airport terminal. If you want free parking, you’ll just have to get to TIBS early, and enjoy all the fun activities you can find in Seattle that you can’t find in Kent.

      1. In the past I’ve taken LINK from Tukwila where there is free parking. I do not however find the ride exceptionally pleasant and there are some dicey characters milling about the station.

        If I have to go to SeaTac and park, I’d rather just go to Safeco and park.

        To answer the other poster, we’re talking about a known quantity of seats in the ballpark. It is not too much to ask that there be sufficient low cost parking whether nearby or with a some type of fast shuttle.

      2. $2 per hour * 5 hours (including travel time) + $5 round trip per person in fares works out to be about $15 if you’re alone, $20 if you’re traveling with someone. if you’re willing to walk half a mile, it doesn’t actually save any money whatsoever over simply parking downtown.

        I was in a similar situation once in New Jersey with my parents and sister. We were going to a Mets game and already had a rental car. We did the math and, guess what? Transit fares for 4 people, round trip, were at least ad expensive as parking + bridge tolls. And, so we drove. And this was New York!

        Bottom line – fares matter! It is difficult to convince people to take transit when transit fares cost more than driving!

      3. Of course it is, carpooling is always cheaper. Vanpooling even better.

        For commuting purposes, though, car/vanpooling has one restriction. Miss it, and there’s no second chance, you’re driving.

      4. Apparently, you’re getting your gas for free and your car does not depreciate as its mileage increases. Or maybe your economic calculations are simply wrong. I’ll let you decide. But the last I looked there was a 4 as the first digit on most gas prices in Seattle.

    1. My recollection is that this bus and one or 2 from other manufacturers were loaned to Metro Transit in the early to mid 1980s preparatory to hanging wire for the 7 and 43/44 in the 2nd phase of the ETB rehab/expansion. I remember riding a short French electric artic (Renault?) on the 14 out to Mt Baker and back and remember seeing the bus in this photo a couple of times downtown. I worked at 4th and Pike 1981-85 and it was during this time frame that those buses were here. Perhaps an Ikarus as well?

      1. I thought the Renault might have been a Duo-Bus brought in to demo for the tunnel? I have a postcard of it turning by the 7-Eleven (is it still there) by the Ballard Locks and that one is definitely an artic.

        Of course, thanks to politician interference created by the promise of a “permanent” factory in Issaquah, The Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle went with Breda.

        While Portland had Diseasel Articulated made under license by Crown Coach in California, any electric Ikaruses would have had to come for a visit from behind the iron curtain. But then again, this is the “Soviet of Washington”…

      2. My recollection needs to be revised. I’m remembering the time when one or several dual modes visited Seattle prior to Metro purchasing those dreadful Bredas.

  9. I have an honest question. Okay, most public things are free. Public libraries, public parks, public pools, etc. Things that are run by local municipalities that are for public use are free. It’s free for people to use them. So why then isn’t public transportation free?

    1. Sam, that’s a good question. It made me remember when I was a teenager and would ride the bus(#26) to go downtown and explore the region before I had a car. I once asked the driver about people who couldn’t/didn’t pay and he told me that since it is public transportation, they couldn’t ‘force’ someone to pay who didn’t want to pay. Now, this was back in the early ’80s, so I don’t know if the rules are different now. But, yes, I’ve often thought of your question, too…

    2. The reason that public transportation isn’t free is because most transit agencies in major cities have their origins in private companies that once operated for-profit. Governments took over operations when they went under because the cities still needed them in order to function. Initially in some cases they thought they could restore systems to profitability by consolidating redundant competitive lines. Once this hope was lost, systems just didn’t change.

      For what it’s worth, the city pools in the town I grew up in charged admission and sold concessions. State and national parks aren’t all free to enter. Public universities charge tuition. It’s hardly universal that government services are offered for free.

    3. Reasons:
      1) If transit is free, demand will overwhelm the system, leaving no seats available for people who really need it, and no money to increase service to accommodate them. It’s a bit counter-intuitive, but if every who drives to work suddenly decided to all take transit on the same day, the system would grind to a halt and become unusable.

      2) Fares pay for about 25% of Metro’s operating budget. Take that out and you have to cut service by 25% to make up for it, on top of the 17% cuts already looming.

      3) Without fares, people would use the bus as a roving homeless shelter.

      1. The homeless problem is not inevitable; it exists because we don’t have enough low-income housing or mental health programs. The number of homeless was tiny until the 1980s, and for the first several years it was called a “New York City problem” until it spread throughout the country. What was created can be reversed, and then the homeless would not be overwhelming our buses and parks.

        However, the “tragedy of the commons” problem is more unavoidable. If transit is free, people will use it for things they’d otherwise walk to. On the other hand, it is possible to have capacity at that level. And for those with a monthly pass or U-Pass, additional trips are already free, so to some extent it’s already happening.

      2. @ asdf

        “It’s a bit counter-intuitive, but if every who drives to work suddenly decided to all take transit on the same day, the system would grind to a halt and become unusable.”

        The experiment I want to do is have everyone who takes transit, drive alone for a month. Do a Puget Sound “Drive Yourself to Work Month” promotion.

        The reason for a month long program is to make sure the weenies who can’t avoid the issue by taking vacation or sick days.

        Think of it, all the agencies could save some money for a month, plus do some major maintenance on vehicles and facilties, and most importantly, answer the question “Why should we spend all this money on Transit?”

      3. Americans have stopped using libraries reading books. Most of the library patrons sit in front of a computer monitor and surf. The demand for workstations is insatiable.

    4. Sam, transit is free in Island and Lewis counties. However, the reasons for it being not free cited by asdf don’t really apply to them. They’re also pretty minimal systems.

  10. Wanted to ask: how does Battery Street Tunnel fit into the current viaduct replacement project? Renovation of BST seemed to fall into and out of various iterations of the overall project plan…I lost track. Does the deep bore stop just shy of BST, and simply connect there? Or does it go under BST and connect with Aurora…does BST even exist afterwords?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. The deep bore tunnel is going to bypass the Battery Street tunnel, ending a few blocks north of Denny. I don’t know what the plan is for the old tunnel afterwards. I imagine they could keep it open as a quick way to drive from Aurora down to the waterfront, or they could just close the thing.

    2. The current WSDOT plan for the battery street tunnel is to close it and fill in its north and south entrances when the viaduct permanantly closes and the bored tunnel opens. I asked the dot once as to why it would be not kept open and they said it needed big $$ to upgrade the safety systems and to bring it up to current driving standards. In the future it would be interesting to see if a renovated tunnel could be made on battery street to connect to a new 2nd or 3rd ave transit tunnel….

      1. Off the wall, perhaps, but in this rainy climate, an abandoned tunnel that close to downtown could make a great pedestrian and bicycle facility, without the need for ramps that meet automotive standards.

        Not something that would be cost-effective to build from scratch, but if it’s already there and we’re going to spend money to fill in the ends…

        How would the cost compare to the hazardous cycletracks being proposed all over the city?

    3. The Battery Street Tunnel is closing and that’s good. About the only silver lining in the DBT project is the accompanying work to open pedestrian connections across Aurora; that’s incompatible with ramps down to the Battery Street Tunnel. On the other end of the tunnel I’m not sure there’s going to be road capacity for a bunch of traffic from Aurora.

  11. Just out of curiosity, why are ST’s new Sounder MP36’s sitting in the Holgate Street yard all day? Were they REALLY that bad? Can somebody fill me in on this?

    1. When they arrived at Metrolink, they had many, um, “teething” problems.

  12. So on twitter I asked:

    Folklife @kcmetrobus shuttles are nice @kcnews but why can’t one pay with their orca card? Why $2.50 cash only? @SeaTransitBlog

    to which they replied:

    @gordonwerner The cash-only fare is in place to cover Folklife’s contract for Metro buses. More work is needed before ORCA can do that.

    Really? more work is needed to allow Orca cards be used in this situation? that sounds pretty absurd to me.

    1. The simpler solution is to take regularly scheduled bus service, and avoid the Monorail. Your ORCA card works and if you use cash (BOO!!!), your transfers are still valid.

    2. Well, for one thing they’d have to get the ORCA reader to charge $2.50 to an E-purse even if the card had a pass loaded. I bet you’d have a lot of frustrated riders trying to pay with passes that weren’t valid for the shuttle.

  13. Who is ultimately going to pay for the work that has to be done to the Skagit River crossing’s salvage and ultimate repair? Will the feds and Washington be on the hook for the total cost or will the truck driver and the company that owned the truck have to pay anything? Even though the bridge was deficient it likely would have stayed up even a few years more if it had not been for the truck’s over sized/over height load that ultimately made the bridge go into the drink.

    1. The ultimate payor will be the federal deficit. Just another straw on the camels back.

    2. You want to know this less than a week after it happened? From a group of amateurs? The officials probably haven’t even figured out yet what the driver’s culpability is vs WSDOT’s (if the warnings were insufficient); the bill has to be registered and sent and probably appealed, the insurance companies will doubtless blame somebody else, and the feds will take their time allocating money if any. You’ll know when it happens because it’ll be in the Seattle Times.

  14. Just some recent AnsaldoBreda news for all you fans of quality rail transit engineering:

    Oslo parks all 32 of their AnsaldoBreda-built trams (of which only 30 were in service):


    Gothenburg does the same with its AnsaldoBreda trams due to rusting:

    (Above are in Scandihoovian. Google Translate is ur friend)

  15. I took the Folklife shuttle bus from the Northgate Park and Ride to the Seattle Center (and back). The bus was a Metro bus driven by a Metro bus driver, but I couldn’t use my ORCA card. Does anyone know why?

    1. Preumably the ORCA system would have to be reprogrammed for it, and the accounting system would have to be set up to credit the Folklife account.

    2. Think of the Folklife shuttle as a private service operated by Metro using Metro buses. I don’t think you’ll find any cheaper private shuttle service than that. I suspect Metro doesn’t get enough from the contract to cover their service cost (especially if the operators are earning overtime and holiday bonus).

  16. King County Metro has finally released schedules for the A-Line. Sure, it was me who put it together, but hey, it’s a schedule isn’t it?

  17. I have an honest question. How come many bloggers and commenters on this blog, time after time, say that walking 2000 feet from MLK to Rainier Ave, often for Light Rail Excuse of the Week, is an easy and short distance to walk, but that a 300 feet walk from Bellevue Station to the BTC is too great of a distance for people? Is 300 feet a great distance or isn’t it? And if it is a great distance, isn’t it hypocritical to tell people 2000 feet is a perfectly reasonable distance to walk?

    1. I think the short answer is “there’s a difference between transferring from one mode to the other, and walkshed to/from your destination.”
      In a perfect world, bus bays would be above, below or at the same platform as trains, rather than a block walk away. There is nothing worse than standing at a long light, watching your train just arrive and open the doors, knowing you’ll never make that one.

    2. The distance on Edmunds from MLK to Columbia City is not a difficult walk, but the walk from Othello to Seward Park is farther and more challenging terrain wise.

      As for the Bellevue Station, I’m ok with its siting, I just wish they’d completely cover the platform.

      1. If they’re at 30% design on East Link, would it be appropriate that they have a 30% covered platform?

  18. Hey, d.p.: don’t forget to throw in a few “F” bombs. Makes you look gooooood. ROFL

  19. Houston, with no income tax, and car oriented sparsity, is besting the coastal cities in jobs creation!

    Houston Is Unstoppable: Why Texas’ Juggernaut Is America’s #1 Job Creator

    The ten largest metros have recovered 98 percent of the jobs lost during the recession, on average. But Houston, the first major city to regain all the jobs lost in the downturn, has now added more than two jobs for every one it lost after the crash. That’s incredible.


    1. Not because of no income tax and sparsity, but because

      1) They didn’t lose as many jobs during the recession, and
      2) High crude oil prices have led to a booming energy economy.

      Reason 2 is part of the cause of reason 1.

  20. Apologies for the somewhat macabre question–but given the death today of Senator Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood; might Senate Democrats in Olympia attempt to ram the CRC funding bill through the Senate (with the Lt. Gov casting a tiebreaking vote) before the Pierce County council names a replacement?

    Those of us south of the Columbia, who are counting on your right-wingers to accomplish what ours could not :(, are a bit curious about this–is there enough comity and/or parliametary protections in Olympia to keep this sort of thing from happening, or is there a chance that might try and take advantage of the vacancy in the Senate? Particularly given the bad blood around the Majority Coalition Caucus.

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