55 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Race Across Japan”

    1. They really don’t know how good it is going to be, I hear more people excited for the system to open up rather than not wanting it.

      If you’ve never been to Honolulu, traffic there is hellish, more so during the tourist season

    2. More than most entities in the the Libertarian closed-thought-loop, Reason tends to do a reasonable job of writing with facts intact.

      It is not doing so here.

      Firstly, alternative plans (BRT) were vetted, and the lane space necessary to detangle a BRT system from traffic to any worthwhile degree was found to be lacking.

      Secondly, the linear nature of the Honolulu metro area makes it one of the rare auto-era cities where a significant proportion of destinations and daily trips fall within walking distance of a single corridor. That is why it’s ridership estimates are quite promising, and why it provides a genuine alternative to sitting in traffic for enough residents to be a worthwhile investment.

      I down know Oahu well enough to know if the line is longer than it needs to be, or if any of the stops are poorly placed. But as general idea of a project, it is more than sound, no matter the ramblings of the handpicked selection of regressive academics featured in a shallow Reason piece.

      1. d.p, Did you catch the snippet at the end about the dangers of private bus operators? This video is falling way short of libertarian principles, even if you can get over them not naming the price tag of all the different things the spokespeople in the video are asking for.

      2. This project is expensive, but ranks better than ULink in capital cost per boarding (44 v. 49 thousand per daily boarding), and in cost per mile (254 v. 628 thousand per mile).
        Their 116,000 daily riders dwarfs Ulinks 40,200 in 2030.
        source: http://www.fta.dot.gov/12304_14783.html. You can compare all FFGA’s as of 2013 for all 8 LRT projects nationwide. Most come in at 20-30 thousand per rider on capital cost, and 100-250 Mil on cost per mile.
        Opinion: Total federal funding is drying up and percentages are dropping. All this talk about multi billion tunnels under QA or tubes under here or there are just distracting from conversations that should be taking place. How should limited ‘local’ resources be spent to reduce dependence on SOV’s and increase transits mode share in the near term, not 2030 or beyond. We can’t keep kicking the shiny new transit can down the road forever with false promises of new cities in Lynnwood and wildly false/unsupportable estimates of ridership to gain federal funding that just isn’t there anymore.

      3. mic, if you’ll help us elect people who get people excited about rail, that federal funding wouldn’t dry up – it would expand.

      4. Electing local officials to compete at the national level for more rail implies all projects are merit based. Not so. It’s a diminishing pot of money, and spread around the US on many other factors other than pure merit. Patty has been a great ‘bring home the bacon Mom’, but even she has her limits.
        Notice there is only one other WA project on the books between Project Dev.-Final Design-and FFGA. It’s the CRC extension of MAX to Vancouver, and we all know where that is now, so zip on the big screen for Seattle for rail.
        Electing locals to push through tax increases for ULink scale spending is feasible, until local bus operations start to grind to a halt because of lack of operating funds. Their zeal for local rail will evaporate faster than fart on a bus.
        I know you mean well Ben, but transit doesn’t operate in an ecconomic vacuum. It provides less than 10% of our regional mobility and will never capture over 50% of the funding pots you require for the vision of the future.
        McGinn has it right. Pretty maps for a campaign flyer, and not much substance for follow through. He’ll get his money worth out of it, which is where it ends. d.p. gets his slow streetcar as a consolation prize, and 2030 is suddenly here with the same crappy <10% mode share for transit.

      5. “Electing locals to push through tax increases for ULink scale spending is feasible, until local bus operations start to grind to a halt because of lack of operating funds.”

        We should halt Link’s expansion because the state won’t allow us to raise sufficient revenue to fully fund Metro? Has the state offered to allow us to fund Metro — to the cities’ transit master plan levels — in exchange for foregoing ST3+? Voters presumably have a limit beyond which they won’t approve, but we have no idea what that limit is. It’s certainly not related to Metro’s current restrictions. Also, if long-term trends mean more and more Metro cuts (and CT and PT), then Link and ST Express may become the only transit available. That’s already true in Snohomish County on Sundays, and almost occurred partially to PT on weekends. That’s actually an argument for expanding Link so that it will be available to neighborhoods as Metro is reduced.

        “It provides less than 10% of our regional mobility”

        The single biggest reason for this is lack of frequent rapid transit to the neighborhoods. The reason that so many people in Chicago, New York, and DC don’t have cars is that they can walk to a subway and it comes in 5-10 minutes even at 10pm. Getting Link to the U-District, Northgate, Ballard, and airport is the single biggest thing we can to improve transit’s ridership and effectiveness. (The same is true for West Seattle, Fremont, Greenwood, and Lake City.) If we have a limited amount of money, let’s at least improve the situation in some neighborhoods rather than not doing much at all.

      6. Mic is right about one thing. ST3’s success depends on how well its opponents can mislead the public that a vote against ST will somehow improve Metro. Much of the public has so little understanding of the situation that they’re prone to believe ST and Metro are the same thing, and that somehow buses are being held back by Central Link.

        Also, if further Link expansion is rejected, we’ll still have ST2 Link, and that’s the most critical part.

    3. The spokespeople in this video are not reading off the same cue cards. One says there are certain chokepoints that need to be fixed, so why not work on those. Another says the roads are not wide enough everywhere. Another says there are not enough miles of freeway. They offer no figures on how much their dreams of more and longer freeways would cost, and whether they could even handle the extra traffic the wider arterials would push onto the freeway. No gueses on the cost overruns on their dreams. Heck, they can’t even agree on what the problem is that needs to be solved. Nor was a single picture shown of actual gridlock.

      And then they have that snippet at the end about how dangerous buses can be, and the need for better regulation. This organization is clearly hell-bent on opposing transit in all its forms (including private), and is somewhere to the right of the Washington Policy Institute (that Republican front group that opposes rail because buses are better, and then opposes buses because everyone should just drive.)

      1. I don’t know about the big island, but I’ve been to Maui. The road system is basically a letter “H” on its side. The arms of the H go to the NE, SE, NW, SW points of the island with the brace running north south. When I was there, which was quite a while ago, everyone drove rental cars. The same Pontiac Sunbird convertible, blue or green with a white interior.

        Seems like it would be a natural for light rail, surface level and make the island a lot more pleasant. ( One thing that Hawaii is in the forefront of is Hydrogen for vehicles and for energy. Some of this is being done in conjunction with the military bases there. Perhaps they can put this effort to use in transit. Powering light rail via fuel cells removes the need for complicated catenary. )

    4. Ah, propaganda by pro-roads lobby. At least that is what this video sounds like to me. I don’t hear a lot of facts, but a lot of opinions about how rail does not solve traffic problems in general.

      I like how the opinions of the handful of “experts” in this film substitute for hard evidence of what they are saying. They say that they have calculated the system to not be worth the money spent, and that roads will solve the problem much cheaper without providing specific details as to why this is true.

      I laughed quite a bit when I heard the line that it would be “far cheaper and more energy efficient” to just widen the roadways. This isn’t a line we haven’t heard many many times before, is it?

    5. 1. Elevated. Sounds good…and cheap.

      2. The billions for this 20 mile system still make it cheaper per mile than Seattle LINK. And Hawaii has the most expensive real estate in the world, so that excuse won’t work either.

      1. Yeah I know, I was hearing them complain about “only” getting 20 miles of light rail for their 5 billion. We have spent a lot more for a lot less.

        They were trying to make it sound bad, but I can’t help but feel this actually sounds like quite a good project.

      2. These days people can win significant fractions of a billion dollars just from MegaMillions. And the number of individual fortunes at that number increase.

        Now consider 5 billion purchasing something that hundreds of thousands of tourists and residents benefit from each and every day and which provides jobs, growth, development, technology.

        Doesn’t seem like much.

    6. If the alternatives analysis really has material defects, then the city should get sanctioned and fix it. Hawaiians and the feds deserve a fair comparison.

      The article and video assume that everybody drives and nobody takes transit, because they don’t even address the issue of non-drivers’ experience. As if transit is completely for “other people”. Why are these other people? Why shouldn’t they get any part of the choice? Why shouldn’t their travel times and wait times matter? It’s not like they are slaves or non-humans.

      What I’d want to know to evaluate this line is, how much does it reflect the city’s dominant trip patterns? How many of the city’s walkable neighborhoods does it serve (if the city has any walkable neighborhoods)? What levels of existing transit do these neighborhoods have, and how much would this line change it? The video devotes just seven seconds to the route, and the article ignores it completely. I know nothing about Honolulu except that there’s a large hotel district (Waikiki) somewhere, so I can’t tell. But the video says it serves “a popular shopping center”, and the map shows it serves the airport and mostly follows the freeway. I assume that the freeway reflects the city’s dominant trip patterns — or created them. I wonder if there might be a better coastal route, from Kapolei to the airport with a transit bridge across the inlet, that existing transit may not be addressing. Of course, shipping traffic may be too much for a bridge, and a high bridge may be too much for an iconic view, and the neighborhoods may be too stinkin’ rich to be seen taking transit, but these are the kinds of questions a serious transit task force would ask.

      Another thing about Hololulu I heard in a high school radio class, is that because such a large percentage of the population are tourists, its radio stations have a special exemption on how many minutes of commercials they can play per hour. The argument being that tourists don’t listen to the radio all day like residents might, and they aren’t affected by the long-term impact of lots of repetitive commercials, so if they’re a large percentage of the market, let the commercial floodgates open. I’m not sure if the limits are still in effect (they may have been abolished in deregulation), but the point for transit is… if such a large percent of the population is tourists, that’s hundreds of thousands of people, and how well does the rail line and the rest of the transit network serve them?

      Their second-most effective argument would be if the city overpromised congestion relief. Did it really promote this line primarily as congestion relief? If so, shame on it because rapid transit can’t relieve congestion, it only provides an alternative to it. Which gets to my third point…

      The video devotes just fifteen seconds to the route and its effectiveness, and the article doesn’t mention it at all. I know nothing about Honolulu except that Waikiki is somewhere. So from what little the video says, “

  1. “Shocking videos of Buenos Aires train drivers sleeping and reading a book.” Story from The Telegraph. It’s my understanding LINK trains don’t have driver compartment cameras. It seems like it would be a good thing to have. Do most US trains not have driver cameras due to union objections and privacy concerns?


    1. If you want to know the answer to your question, why don’t you write ST and/or Metro, and ask?

      1. Maybe it should? All you’re doing is posting multiple negative stories about rail, including one from a source that philosophically opposes public transit as a concept. I’d be curious to know whether you even live in the Puget Sound region and/or ride transit on a regular basis.

        Or is it just that you enjoy sticking it to the Seattle libtards by showing them how horrible trains really are?

      2. The only thing this argues for in my opinion is yet another reason to ask that our new likes be automated if we can manage it.

      3. You could be an automaton, a virtual creature. You could be a monkey that can type. Or more likely, you could be a caricature.

        Or maybe ‘Sam’ is not your real name.

  2. Anybody notice that Mayor McGinn supports the Madison AVENUE Bus Rapid Transit (see the post “Bruce Ramsey’s Imagination Problem”)? Since when do we support NYC transit? I myself support Madison STREET BRT.

    1. I support BRT on 23rd. :) And Delridge. And on the 128, reconfigured to an Alki – White Center route.

  3. So, I read Richard Conlin’s latest newsletter. In there, he mentions the Link line north or Northgate and writes:

    I am particularly interested in whether we will have a station at 130th St, between the planned stations at Northgate and 145th. While there is not much current development around 130th and I-5, this station would be very convenient for Lake City and Bitter Lake residents, and I have asked DPD to evaluate the potential for zoning changes that would create additional TOD opportunities.
    I agree completely. This is why I’m a huge fan of Conlin. He seems to “get it” better than anyone else (at least as far as Seattle is concerned). He probably gets it for other areas, but figures it is best to defer to folks in that area (not what I would do if it was my city, but if you folks in Bellevue want to do that…). Often it is the little things that make a difference (like a stop at 130th NE).

    Later in the same newsletter, he writes:

    If Sound Transit is to go to the ballot in 2016, we must have an array of possible routes to select from. The Capital Committee has approved $6 million in three contracts to study I-405 BRT; Redmond to Kirkland and on to the U-District; Kirkland, Bellevue, Issaquah; the Eastside Rail Corridor; Lynnwood to Everett; Renton to Tukwila, SeaTac and Burien; and Downtown Seattle to West Seattle and Burien. These studies will provide information on possible options and future costs and ridership. They will complement two studies already underway, Ballard to Downtown and SeaTac to Tacoma, to provide core information on what the Board can reasonably consider for the next ballot measure.

    Wait, what? I thought they were also going to study Ballard to the UW? I know they decided that they wouldn’t do a Ballard to UW line instead of a Ballard to downtown line, but why not study both? It would make more sense to me than just about all of the other areas they want to study.

    1. Isn’t Ballard – U-District included in the Redmond – Kirkland – U-District study?

      Also, some of the Downtown – Ballard alternatives include a turn to the East in Ballard, suggesting an extension toward the U-District.

      1. OK, Redmond, Kirkland, U-District, Ballard. I’m OK with that as long as we can build it in pieces and the Seattle folks don’t have to pay for another crossing. I think another crossing (at Sand Point) or something similar would be really expensive. I also don’t think you can piggy back onto 520. But if we study this thing and conclude that lots of people would go from Ballard to the UW (and places north) then maybe we only build that piece (along with a similar piece on the east side connecting Redmond to Kirkland). Seems silly to not connect them (or to connect them via bus) only when you ignore the financial cost.

    2. Conlin apparently made a mistake, the study area is Ballard – Redmond. He was probably thinking that a single line through the entire corridor in one phase was unlikely, and forgot about 45th when he was writing that list. Or he figured that both Ballard-east and Ballard-south would be too much for ST3, and explained it poorly.

      “some of the Downtown – Ballard alternatives include a turn to the East in Ballard”

      Which ones? No official alternative that I’ve seen. If ST decides to construct both Ballard-south and Ballard-east in ST3, it will have to decide whether to interline them or run them separately. Otherwise it will presumably choose Ballard-south and postpone Ballard-east, and the issue is moot. There’s a good argument for terminating Ballard-south line pointing north toward Northgate and Lake City. That would be more grid-correct, and would be harder to do later if the Ballard-south line continues east instead of being a separate line.. There’s little need to give Interbay or Fremont a one-seat ride to UW via Ballard. Interbayans can transfer downtown, and Fremonters can take the 31/32. However, if ST decides affirmatively to deemphasize the Ballard-Northgate possibility, then it would make some sense to give a one-seat ride on UW – Ballard – Burien – Renton.

      1. “some of the Downtown – Ballard alternatives include a turn to the East in Ballard”

        Which ones? No official alternative that I’ve seen.

        Corridors 1-3 have a turn toward the east at their northern terminal. Corridor 4, which is also one of the LR alternatives, continues north of Ballard.

        In order to keep their options open, if might make sense for ST to allow for a junction at the northern end of the Ballard line so it could be extended both North and East.

      2. Oh, I didn’t interpret those as intending to continue east, and it never came up in the meeting or discussions. Oh well, either interlined or two lines is acceptable.

    1. I seem to recall similar videos that I’ve gotten from pointers in comments here. One involved a race from London to Manchester (I think) by Flying Scottsman or motorway. And there was the classic where Clarkson demonstrated that high visibility vests improves safety at level crossings.

      1. I enjoyed the “race across London” one as well — one went by car, one by bike, one by transit (think it was just Tube, but can’t recall).

      2. The bike won in the “race across London.” That was a very entertaining segment. The Stig had to use public transit…so he was on both bus and tube. I think speed boat came in second, transit third, and car last.

    1. I remember seeing you post a few other mock up maps you made, they looks nice. could you repost the link.

    2. Great looking maps. The 120 is an excellent candidate for RapidRide conversion.

      I know I’ve disagreed with you about this before, but I will continue to say that the tunnel is poorly placed for West Seattle service. Using I-5 would create a reliability nightmare, and the tunnel really doesn’t bring much benefit. The route should use today’s routing into downtown (and the planned Alaskan Way/Columbia routing when the viaduct disappears). Save the tunnel for the service that really benefits from it — northbound lines using I-5 and eastbound lines using I-90.

    3. Thanks for the proposal. I have no specific opinions on the Delridge/Burien routing and stops, except that it seems strange that Delridge has no “stations”. That suggests that Delridge is an unimportant segment, when it’s actually one of the primary reasons for the route.

      The DSTT idea is unlikely to go anywhere. It would take Metro a year to implement the change even if it wanted to, and in two years the viaduct will come down if I remember right, so that would mean moving the 120 into the tunnel only to move it out again. And all buses will now be kicked out of the tunnel when that turnback track is completed, so I doubt Metro has any intention of moving any routes into the tunnel in the meantime. Although if the 71/72/73X are drastically reduced when University Link opens, that could free up some space.

  4. Anyone take LINK to Columbia City this weekend for Seafair? I heard there was a free shuttle from Columbia City to Lake Washington to watch the events. I’m curious about how crowded it was and how frequently the trains ran. I had to work all weekend and so missed all the fun.

  5. http://www.fta.dot.gov/12304_14783.html
    I found it interesting to see each project with both opening year ridership and forecasts for generally 2030 as ST does. Being a data wonk, I plotted them on a graph to see how various agencies see ridership growing over time. Surprisingly, most slopes on the growth curves are very similar, with maybe Dallas being too optimistic.
    Looking at U-Link for 2030, then working backwards would put ridership at about 17,000 daily in 2016, growing to ~20,000 in 2020. Adding that to Central Link to 200th would add another 50,000 daily, for a total of 70,000 in 2020 if that segment continues to grow at better than average rates.
    No point here – just interesting for some.

    1. The ridership numbers of u-link will have a lot to do with Metro’s decisions on bus service. If nothing changes, the bus network we have today will put a lot of people on a slow slog through the U-district to downtown who would have preferred to have taken the train. For example, Ravenna to downtown should be a straight shot down Montlake to Link, but today’s off-peak bus network forces a 45-minute-minimum-long trek to downtown via the U-district on the 71.

      I hope the station is going to have lots of bike parking, because the Burke Gilman trail will be a very important route (including my primary route) for accessing it.

      1. I’m curious if Metro’s financial picture in 2015 dictates massive truncation of routes to Link to save on bus hours. That didn’t happen in the reorgs after Central Link went in. Bus hours actually grew as in the Rainier valley as a result of Link. (ST: Before and After Study, Draft, 2011)

      2. When will Metro release a real draft proposal on the cuts? Next spring or fall? I may have to move next spring if my rent goes up significantly, and I don’t want to end up in the land of infrequent buses (thinking about possible evening/Sunday cuts on the 7, 36, 49, etc). Perhaps I should “let RapidRide be my guide”?

  6. Announcement. I am proud to accept this position I have created for myself. I believe because of the quality of my comments, the years of service I have dedicated to this blog’s comment section, my respected position in the transit community, and my gravitas, I should now be considered Lead STB Commenter.

  7. Pretty cool, they demo an FCV being used at JFK airport:

    Powering the Future: Running on hydrogen

    In the meantime, it’s lent prototype hydrogen fuel cell Highlanders to research institutions and government agencies like the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, as part of a testing and demonstration program.


    SeaTac and Port Of Seattle need to get in on this deal and score some Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for their fleet!

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