This is an open thread.

81 Replies to “News Roundup: Very Sleek-Looking”

  1. Does anyone know what the survey paint marks on the Westlake parking lot are for? They appeared a few weeks ago and are pretty much the whole length. I’m optimistic they are survey marks for the cycle track design, but I’ve heard nothing about it.

  2. Goodness gracious great Batteries of Fire! Kentians catch flaming Tucksla on exit ramp, video goes viral!

    Video of battery car on fire near Kent

    Most manufacturers are ready to produce fuel cell cars. Germany’s Hydrogen Highway just got a boost from industry. And Jerry Brown in California authorized the construction of 200 new stations!

    Daimler gets hyped on hydrogen, plans 400 H2 stations in Germany by 2023

    Daimler the Mercedes parent is introducing a hydrogen filling station network to Germany.

    The so-called “H2 Mobility” plan doesn’t refer to more tow trucks for stuck Hummers but rather Daimler’s goal of 100 hydrogen filling stations by 2017 and 400 by 2023. In making this plan happen Daimler will be partnering with Shell, which already has most of the world’s limited experience in running hydrogen fuel stations.

    1. You’re hyping hydrogen and you’re making a big deal out of a battery fire? Really?

      If you bothered to look at the details, you would notice that the fire was contained to one zone of the car, the car had already warned the driver to stop and exit the car.

      1. That was quite considerate of the car, don’t you think?

        “Excuse me, but I just have to explode…”

    2. It’s impossible to have a compact way to store energy that isn’t volatile. Gasoline is volatile, so is diesel. They both burn. Batteries are volatile and get more so the more energy dense they are. Hydrogen fuel cells also are volatile. Any time you put a lot of energy into a small space, if it all gets released quickly, bad things can happen. It doesn’t matter if it’s electricity in a capacitor, or a really heavy spring. It’s simply the laws of physics.

      1. I witnessed a 2000 Ford Ranger fire just last week. The lady had pulled over because the engine was acting strange, and I pointed out the her engine was on fire. Within about 5-10 minutes the whole thing was engulfed. Total loss. And she didn’t crash into anything. Energy is volatile. Gas/oil can catch on fire, so can batteries, so can Hydrogen…

        If you don’t want your vehicle to catch on fire, ride a bicycle.

      2. It’s not all the same.

        Batteries hold charge in solid state materials. That means the storage, and the charge are in the same massive heavy — and dangerous — unit.

        Gasoline is held in the tank ready to be pumped when needed. However gasoline is heavy, both the liquid and the fumes. The reason for fires is that the gasoline stays near the accident, vaporizes and causes a fireball.

        In a fuel cell car, there is the fuel cell itself, which transforms the hydrogen into electricity, however those units are getting smaller and smaller because it’s not the storage, just the instant electricity. (Think of the difference between a standard hot water heater in your home as a tank (battery) and the newer tankless ones (fuel cell)).

        Also hydrogen is lighter than air. While today’s tanks, such as those made by Quantum Technologies, are Kevlar sheathed, and can withstand the impact of bullets, if there were a rupture, the hydrogen would float upward, away from the crash. Thus nothing to stay around and burn the way gasoline and batteries do.

      3. No matter how you cut it, when one mentions hydrogen, I think Hindenburg and its catastrophic plunge to Earth.

        QT’s Kevlar sheathed tanks may stop bullets today in a laboratory test, but what about after those couple seasons of Winter and road salt applications. Kevlar wears. At freeway speeds, grit and debris will slowly erode Kevlar fibers.

      4. Just like it “floated upward” from the Hindenberg “leaving nothing to stay around and burn”?

      5. The cause of the Hindenburg fire (and I say fire, not explosion, because the craft descended with its interior skeleton roughly intact) started with lightening. This is verified by photographic evidence.

        The Hindenburg had several electrical systems, including one in the radio room attached to the trailing antenna that extended some 50 feet behind the craft. If lightening struck it could have gone into the radio room which included not only radio equipment but batteries. In addition the diesel engines had batteries and these were no doubt on the same circuit (because what else would power the lights, radios, other facilities on the “air ship”).

        The diesel engines of the day were very leaky and fumey. There were no doubt high concentrations of diesel fumes in the cowlings. It has been theorized that these vapors ignited and heated up enough to set the covering of the craft afire.

        If you study the films of the Hindenberg, you will see that it is burning from the outside in — the cover is burning..not the interior sacs of Hydrogen. Occasionally a sac would burst and a whoosh would go up with some embers. But this is as I said…hydrogen does not pool and burn, it is lighter than air, it goes upward!

        In the end, despite hydrogen sacs bursting, the craft did not explode! It merely wafted down to the ground (in flames because of the paints and diesel fumes). The steel skelton remained intact. It did not explode in mid air or its pieces would be all over the place and all would have died.

        But in fact, many many people were able to jump out as the craft slowly went to the ground, and afterward! Hydrogen, could have been said to have saved many lives on the Hindenberg!

  3. Could some of the funding for Burke-Gilman improvements come from Sound Transit? If they can build a garage at every suburban station it seems like they could contribute something to a trail that will see increased use when the station opens.

    1. Sound Transit, WSDOT and UW are already paying for improvements to the trail and trail connections at the Montlake Triangle (corner of Montlake and Pacific). UW also already has funding for the segment between 15th Ave. NE and the Montlake Triangle (CMAQ funds from PSRC)

  4. So the DBT is going to collect even less tolling revenue now? Wow, you guys are hosed. WSDOT is going to burn so much money on that thing.

    1. Yes indeed, they’ll be charging 1/2 of bus fare instead of double bus fare – super intelligent minds at work.

      1. To be fair, the real problem was that we made the decision to build the tunnel in the first place, and relied on unreasonable toll fares to finance it. The advisory committee was in the unenviable position of trying to make an unreasonable plan work.

    2. Oh they are finding ways to hose people…. Trust me.

      I discovered my motorcycle was tolled in the SR 167 HOT Lanes in late-August (according to my GTG statement). I’ve taken my motorcycle in those lanes numerous times before with no toll or issue. Per State Law, motorcycles are permitted to use the SR 167 HOT Lanes free of charge. It’s even posted on the website. These erroneous charges are being slid in unbeknownst to roadway users with GTG on their two-wheeled vehicles. It’s wrong.

      I’d advise you that the folks making the tolling decisions aren’t engineers or transportation planners, but crock economists.

      1. There’s an enormous difference between being erroneously charged and being fraudulently sold a multi-billion dollar freeway tunnel. WSDOT, whatever their flaws, ain’t getting rich bilking motorcyclists at a couple bucks a pop.

      2. You have to cover up the GTG pass to not be charged, Same way it works with an SOV driver who decides to drive HOV one day (thus not needing to pay in the HOT lanes) You have to block the signal, otherwise, yes, it will certainly charge you.

      3. The motorcycle GTG pass is a black dot with two squiggly antennae. It is to be mounted on your headlight. You can’t exactly cover that.

        GTG has never charged me before August and now they have. That’s erroneous…and fraudulent, especially if folks don’t realize they are getting dinged.

        Motorcycles are covered in the HOV and HOT lane by Federal Law. Any restrictions must be approved by FHWA per 23 USC Sec 166.

    1. Another interesting way to do it is carsharing. The idea being that when it’s time to go home, all the carshare cars are the same, so the carshare cars can be permitted to box each other in and nobody is impacted on their trip home. Combine that with the small size of the SmartCars used by Car2Go (which is plenty to carry one person between home and a park-and-ride) and you can easily carve out a “Car2Go” section of a parking lot with 50% more car capacity than the same square footage conventionally striped.

      For example, the following very-common “H” arrangement can hold 10 cars with conventional striping:


      But the same space could squeeze in 15 Car2Go vehicles by dividing each “H” into three equal-sized pieces instead of two. Since the vehicles are smaller, the smaller size of each piece is not a problem. And since the vehicles are all carshare, the middle vehicles being potentially boxed in is not a problem either. The middle spaces would just be the first to fill in the morning and the last to empty in the evening.

      The best part about this scheme is that you can precisely control the size of the Car2Go section to meet demand. Since the aisles are still open, you can even have a compacted Car2Go parking on part of a row, with regular parking spaces on the other part. If we wanted to, we could implement this on a pilot basis at Northgate or Green Lake P&R’s today, with nothing more than a couple of signs and a few coats of paint, and see how many people take advantage of it.

  5. I wonder if Spokane’s system is what I would call “cargo cult transit”. They want to build a new, fancy looking transportation system that will help them redevelop a neighborhood, hoping to get the same success that SLU is seeing. Instead though, they build a BRT (which is a good thing!) and just hope they can trick people into thinking its a train.

    I can’t help but wonder if they have the fundamentals in place to make this plan work:
    1) local growing business that need lots of new workers
    2) a housing shortage
    3) a growing population (due to #1)
    4) new zoning that enables TOD near the new lines

    If they don’t have these things, the will get a fancy bus/train that will have just about as many riders as it had before.

    BTW, I would consider it “cargo cult transit” if they hope that building a fancy transit like will magically bring TOD and employers when they don’t already have both. Its just more amusing when its a fake streetcar.

    1. As a former resident and continued frequent visitor to Spokane, I can tell you that the answer to your question is no. No to every item on that list.

      The bus system in Spokane is not bad given the limited resources they are working with, but almost everyone drives. A fancy new bus won’t change that. There’s never a shortage of parking, not even downtown in the middle of this proposed route. Spokane may be growing a bit, but not in the center. Not even in city limits. The growth right now is out along I-90. Soon it will follow the new freeway up into the forests to the north.

      1. Which came first, the chicken, or the egg?

        I haven’t spent much time in Spokane, but… I assume that like, as in most cities, most of its abundant downtown parking is private. Are developers going to replace parking lots with storefronts before attractive downtown transit is in place? Are businesses going to cede to their competitors the advantage of a dedicated free parking lot? If there’s no plan to encourage walkable downtown development at all that’s not so great, but a commitment to a high level of transit service might encourage private developers to build around an assumption other than universal driving. It’s hard to imagine them making such a change with no external stimulus.

      2. The most interesting thing about that article is how hard Ms. Meyer had to push New Flyer Industries to take seriously the idea of manufacturing european-style buses designed for high-capacity urban-core transit… and that she seems to have been successful in opening New Flyer’s eyes to the possibility.

        Sure, she may be doing so for the wrong reasons — she seems way too obsessed with the “looks like a train” branding — but the benefits of these vehicles are more than skin deep. Roomier, with open floor plans, extra-wide doors, extremely low floors, and multiple articulation (which makes turns less jarring, and which increase length just enough to encourage planners to employ them on legible routes without sharp turns or pull-out bus stops), these buses don’t just look more like trains. They actually act more like trains.

        That said, agencies even in smaller cities like Spokane need to stop deluding themselves into believing that transit that is only frequent for 4 hours each weekday is going to change the public’s movement habits even slightly, much less spark any Magic Development (which, no matter what Martin or Lynnwood or that dumb Institute for Transportation & Development Policy study we keep seeing linked say, does not exist in the absence of myriad other factors).

    2. The first thing I think of when I see these vehicles is their potential on the Madison HCT corridor in Seattle.

    3. I think the negativity over the Spokane buses is a bit much. I live there now and sure, most people drive but the bus system is actually pretty solid for the resources they have there. If they put this “trolley” system in place, they picked the right destinations for it – it’ll connect the universities to downtown, and downtown to the “hip” neighborhood of Browne’s Addition. Lots of blighted old industrial land to upzone in between, and no NIMBYs either. Spokane City Council has said the right things about wanting TOD and more mixed use in the downtown area, specifically east of it.

    4. Look, if they had any sense they would realize the days of affordable urban living in Seattle are done and gone.

      Rather than cram in tenements (sorry, apodments) there is a whole state of Washington, full of small cities, that could be turned into the kind of mini-Seattles that people crave. If they want apartments and walkable streets, and transit, build that in Spokane and let people move out of Seattle (reducing all the logjams) instead of wrecking it with too much density. And when Spokane fills up, then Yakima, Kelso…Ephrata!

      So build that light rail in Spokane, and open those gluten-free bakeries. Urbanists await!

      1. How will you convince those small towns and rural areas to accept apartments and walkable streets?

      2. How do you expect those small towns and rural areas to accept large numbers of people of different poltical, cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds?

        Many people live in places like these to avoid dealing with such diversity.

      3. Ethnicity: Many central and eastern Washington cities already have sizable Hispanic populations.

        Apartments: Have you ever been to Tri-Cities. Not only does it have scads and scads of apartments, but it has a much more comprehensive bicycle network than Seattle (and no hills). In some cases they have separate bicycle paths in each direction…in addition to big wide side walks!

    5. All I can think about this article is, “how to design transit for women: make it pink!!”

  6. In this shakeup, Pierce Transit takes over route 560.

    I have always wondered–What is this with ST giving King County routes to Pierce Transit? Seems a bit senseless to use PT-operated buses on routes that don’t even go to Pierce County. First it was the 577, then the 566 and now the 560!

    I’ve personally made it a cardinal rule to strictly PT-operated-King County ST routes, just like I eschew ST routes being run by non-ST coaches.

    1. If you do that on the 545 or 522, you’ll be skipping anywhere from 10-20% of the trips. I’ve noticed that those two routes (especially the 545 eastbound and 522 southbound later at night runs) have a noticeable percentage of trips operated using Metro-branded buses.

      Though, I have to ask, why do you shy away from them? They’re still Sound Transit routes, insofar as Sound Transit contracts with Community, Metro, and Pierce Transit to operate them.

  7. That was a ridiculously on-point and transit-friendly answer by Richard Conlin on Horses Ass. It seems like there’s no questioning his transit credentials; the only question is whether his other shortcomings make it worth taking the risk that Sawant can be as effective at advocating for our issues.

    1. His answer re: Metro is utterly content-free, and his answer re: ST answer is the same everything-everywhere pablum that he and every other ST board member regurgitate when anyone mentions the agency’s lousy record of building or operating best-practice transit.

      There is no there there.

      1. The talking points are working – so what’s not to like about them?
        20,000 boarding a day at Lynnwood – no problem. Dysfunctional tunnel in Bellevue – no problem. Ridiculously high cost per rider of N.Sounder – (refer to talking points)
        Sorry Martin for the FUD. Would the last critical thinker in Seattle please turn off the lights.

      2. I really don’t see what the problem is. He addressed the situation in as detailed a manner as the situation called for. He mentioned 130th, which is key. He mentioned connecting Ballard and West Seattle to downtown (I know you don’t like the part about West Seattle d. p. but there it is). He mentioned connecting Ballard to the UW. He didn’t mention the bridge over the freeway (at Northgate) but that was about it.

        In short, he is way more detailed about transit issues than anyone else. I subscribe to all the newsletters (from every city council member) and it isn’t even close. He was an advocate for 130th, and the potential for a line connecting Lake City and Bitter Lake before most people even thought of the idea (he mentioned it as a commenter on this blog). If you dig through his old comments you can see him explain exactly how folks (well, the mayor who everyone is gaga over) really blew it with regards to the Roosevelt station. Basically, if things went his way, Roosevelt wouldn’t even have a station unless they agreed to zoning changes. Speaking of zoning, he has been the strongest advocate of progressive zoning on the council. He is an enemy of the anti-density crowd (see how often his name appears in the comments when people complain about Apodments, or new apartments, etc.). It wouldn’t surprise me at all if many of the “Seattle in amber” crowd votes for the Socialist just because they hate Conlin (and density).

        I’ve got nothing against his opponent, but especially since we are likely to have a new mayor, I think it is crazy to throw away a guy with his experience. The board is a board. They trade, they compromise and they make deals. If we want nice transit system for Seattle, I don’t think we can do better than Conlin. If we lose him, we will start over, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we simply don’t get some of the things we want. As far as zoning is concerned, it wouldn’t surprise me if the new mayor decides to “start fresh” with a “new look” at zoning. Sawant will be too busy pushing for a new $15 an hour minimum wage and accepting praise from the Stranger to bother dealing with zoning. The result? More foot dragging with regards to dealing with the incredibly high rents in this city.

      3. Okay, so his answer contains one valuable specific (130th cross-transit) and one problematic assertion of Magic TOD (Rainier Highway Median New Town; not gonna happen).

        But his “priorities” list is the standard political-side-of-ST boilerplate: in a mere three dozen words, he promises 120 miles of grade-separated rail lines (90% of them through total sprawl).

        He doesn’t deign to address the possibility that such ambitions might be beyond the funding ability and will of the region, or that the places to which the ST fantasy factory wishes to spine-and-spur are so woefully ill-suited to the proposed levels of service that the lines would be permanent ridership disasters even if he miraculously got them built. (Meanwhile, the non-delusional engineering side of ST is forced to trim the bone from the system core to preserve the fat elsewhere, rendering the little that actually gets built woefully ineffective.)

        Re: Roosevelt: I actually recalled the exact opposite. I thought it was Conlin who brokered the final deal, allowing the homeowners of the Roosevelt Neighborhood Associate full leeway to decide on which undesirable and inconvenient tracts they would “accept” moderate density, and then allowing them to take credit for being “pro-growth and pro-transit”. I thought he was thrilled with the shitty urbanism that is to be installed between the two empty blocks of subway stairwell, the most generic-looking high school in America, and the suddenly-dense freeway underpass.

        Do you have any links to his statements on the final Roosevelt outcome? I’m really curious who is remembering correctly. My memory would seem in keeping with his general lack of interest in the form that growth takes in South Lake Union and Capitol Hill, in whether the results are good or usable or walkable or even more dense than what was replaced, as long as someone is making a profit for which he can claim credit.

        I do know that Conlin is capable of understanding complexity, and that he can talk a good game with or without specifics (his reply to H.A.’s waterfront question is tailor-made to placate the Fnarfs and the STBs that are paying attention to the issue). But I haven’t seen much evidence that, when it comes time to actually step to the plate, Richard Conlin goes to bat for anything other than the political expediency of Richard Conlin.

      4. To be clear, between the thrown-bone near-term specifics and his renewal of allegiance to ST regionalism, his brief mentions of “better connecting” Ballard and West Seattle offer nothing in the way of real strategy or insight. Unless you’re a hardcore anti-transit Lesser Seattleite, gesturing in the general northwest and southwest directions and offering an unspecific endorsement of future acton is politically obvious.

        What Conlin doesn’t do is make the slightest commitment to ensuring that the right tools get used in the right places, and that permanently bottlenecked or poorly-routed crap doesn’t get rubber stamped the way Conlin has rubber stamped every service-degrading and anti-urban modification that ST has made thus far. Commitment to excellence or STFU.

      5. Here is the newsletter with the comments I mentioned: The section titled “FOUR TRUTHS ABOUT THE ROOSEVELT REZONE” is the important one. The second paragraph of “truth one” is really the key part of my argument. No one has said this. He admits that the city dropped the ball. You can’t improve unless you admit your mistakes and learn from them. I haven’t read anything anyone has said that comes close to saying this.

        Read the latest statement by Murray as a comparison. Read statements by other city council members. It is pretty easy to browse through the archives ( and see stuff you agree with and stuff you think doesn’t go far enough. But compared to other city council members (or candidates) there is way more substance there than anyone else. Furthermore, most of the time, he is fighting the good fight. Compared to the rest of the council, he is the one fighting for density. Roosevelt might have turned out to be less than ideal (to say the least) but it was probably the best we could do given the initial mistakes. It was denser than a lot of the city council (and many neighbors) wanted. He proclaimed it a success at the end of the day for good reason. If he hadn’t, the next community that fights upzoning will point to Roosevelt and say they don’t want to become that.

        In general, I don’t think Conlin has been outstanding on transit issues, but he has been way better than average. More importantly, he is getting better (again, with regards to Northgate and 130th, he has been great). With regards to density, he has been the leader. Like the mayor, he is the enemy of the anti-density crowd. It would be a shame if we lose both of them in this election, even if the new members feel much the same way. In comparison, I don’t see anything that Sawant has said that suggests she considers zoning changes or improved transit as a priority. Meanwhile, her second bullet point item on her list of issues is simply impossible at the city level (an income tax).

      6. “He mentioned connecting Ballard to the UW.”

        I thought there would be a round of cheers in STB-land for that. It’s the first time I’ve heard any official put Ballard-UW at top priority alongside Ballard-downtown and even recommend it for ST3.

        As to whether we can afford all that and Everett and Tacoma, we don’t even know the costs yet until the studies are done, so it’s premature to assume they’ll be unaffordable or that people will be unwilling to pay them. Once we have concrete proposals and price tags, then we can talk about whether we can afford them now or later, or what lower-cost alternatives might be adequate.

        “I haven’t seen much evidence that, when it comes time to actually step to the plate, Richard Conlin goes to bat for anything other than the political expediency of Richard Conlin.”

        Who would be better? We have a few people who understand the importance and potential of comprehensive transit, and a lot of people who don’t think it’s that important as long as the existing Metro service doesn’t get cut. We shouldn’t toss out above-average people unless there’s somebody clearly better. Otherwise we’ll end up with below-average people and be worse off.

      7. You make a good case, Ross, I must admit. I found that same link too, but I might have been so put of by his called the result “a win for everyone” that I may have too readily dismissed the rest of what he wrote as Monday-morning panderbacking rather than as a serious plan for how to approach these issues in the future.

        But I will admit that this is the closest Conlin has come to a set of principled stands in favor of good urbanism.

        I’m still not sure that I trust him to put positive outcomes over his own political aspirations, — and I still don’t see much substance in his transit thinking or in his record on the ST board — but I’ll admit that this isn’t a cut-and-dried Council race with any unequivocally terrible choice.


        Mike, Tacoma and Everett and whatever other suburban light rail spurs Conlin parrots the ST board’s wish to “fill in” are not good ideas, period. But you won’t learn that from any ST-commissioned study that presumes a “complete the spine” outcome and that arrives at it by favoring passenger-miles over actual passengers, that treats billions of dollars for a few thousand mostly-peak riders as a valid expenditure, that ignores the sum of worldwide experience of transit operations, that treats pledges of Magic TOD as more desirable than existing multi-faceted and walking-enabled urban places, and that is completely disinterested in multi-modal transit connections or the kind of projects that actually relieve people of automobile dependency.

        That study is worth less than the bandwidth that will be used to distribute it.

        You need to read what the late Roy Nakadegawa — civil engineer, urbanist, AC Transit head, and a long-time elected member of BART’s board of directors — wrote about that agency’s increasingly misguided, sprawl-chasing mission and guaranteed-to-fail-by-any-metric-imaginable San Jose plan.

        There’s a brief rundown of the litany of drawbacks in here, but you should really read every word of his wonky and scathing 2001 piece on the subject.

        Read it, and then think about about our “spine”.

    2. I’ll be interested to see how Kshama Sawant approaches these issues. We need some true left-wing transit advocates on the City Council. Hoping she can fill the bill.

      1. It really doesn’t matter what her approach to the issues would be, because she would be shouting into the wilderness. No one else on a downtown-centric council will work with her.

        And, for what it’s worth, based on her approach to other funding issues, her answer will be “Raise taxes and then give everyone a pony.” Unless she can show how she would overcome the resistance to higher taxes (which she has not so far in any arena), that’s not a serious answer.

      2. Have you ever actually heard the woman speak, David? She is articulate and cogent, forthright and impassioned but also practical. She sits at the intersection of academic thought and populism, and her ability to make a persuasive case on matters of civic import is unmatched. She is no ivory-tower theorist.

        You are flat-out wrong to suggest that she and the leftward discourse shift she would represent would be irrelevant on the Council. Her vote will still be needed on many matters, and so some of her priorities will find her way into the business at hand. That’s how small elected bodies are designed to work.

        (People dismissed as irrelevant the right-wingers who got themselves elected to school boards and oversight panels a generation ago, you know. But lo and behold, they shifted the discourse and opened a place for even crazier wingers to get elected, and their destructive fundamentalism is now seen as one of two valid poles of our warped civic discussion, with the former center now seen as a leftward extreme. Do not underestimate the power of shifting the available spectrum of discourse.)

        Meanwhile, municipal income taxes are more problematic than statewide ones, as people will always make a hypothetical stink about residents and employers crossing boundaries to places without them. Thus the neo-conservative-instigated race to the skeletal-governance bottom (my point again about who gets to set the parameters of discourse). But in a city with demonstrated desirability, it is laughable to suggest the tax base would up and flee en masse, and a municipal income tax is a whole lot better than endless regressive sales taxes and licensing fees that leave us forever broke no matter how high they climb.

    1. Well, he seems to be trying to play both sides with his bit on transit:

      “Instead of ongoing, exhausting, unproductive wars between the various modes of transportation, let’s make sure that people have choices about transportation by create linkages among the modes. That includes making sure we have affordable and expanded bus service throughout the city, an expanded light rail and street car system, and better streets and bridges.”

      Personally, as I see it, the newspapers are the only ones indicating any kind of war. This war is a fiction, and the way Street Space has been apportioned as of late is quite intelligent. But at any rate, he’s mocking the current efforts to create alternatives for everyone, and advocating them at the same time, that’s scary to me, and very very unclear to me about what he plans to do, or perhaps it is clear, he really doesn’t want to do anything. I dunno.

    1. It sounds like the issue is that it’s currently used for long term parking, but there’s a feeling among nearby businesses is that there is a need for short term parking.

      1. The city condemning someone’s property simply for the reason of wanting a parking lot to be short-term parking rather than long-term is an outrageous abuse of power. The government should exercise eminent domain only in the most extreme cases.

      2. Sam is totally right — this doesn’t strike me as worthy of eminent domain at all. Parking is not location-sensitive enough to condemn someone’s property to build it, ever.

      3. Absolutely correct: this is an abuse of eminent domain. This is neither the location of a public project nor for the construction staging for a public project. If the city wants to provide subsidized short-term parking to waterfront businesses, it can goddamned well find some space to lease on terms that will be acceptable to an owner.

        But… even the McGinn-hating Times doesn’t attempt to portray this as his abuse. This is a City Council abuse. Blame Richard Conlin and the other due-process-averse Feudal Lords for whom due-process subversions are the reason to get out of bed in the morning. This one ain’t the mayor’s doing.

      4. dp. and if there’s no such owner? The viaduct is coming down. A bunch of parking is being removed. Some are asking that it be replaced. The City Council seems to believe that we should replace the parking. It’s their job to make decisions. I don’t necessarily agree with the decision, but it’s hard to argue that it’s outside their competence. So what precisely is your argument that there’s no public need? Or is it just that you don’t agree with *this* need. We need to be super careful going down that pathway, since it either makes you dictator of Seattle, or empowers every single NIMBY around.

      5. Listen, I know that Kelo v. City of New London set the scrutiny bar for articulating a “public us” ridiculously low — so low that a dozen states rushed to immediately set a higher bar for themselves. So we’re not discussing legal right here. Only moral right.

        And the overwhelming majority of people agree that forcible taking one person’s property for the sole purpose of handing it (or the benefits of the activities occurring upon in) over to other private parties is an unconscionable abuse of the “public good” rationale underpinning the eminent domain process. Furthermore, economists tend to agree that such private handovers will rarely cause any measurable economic blip whatsoever, much less spur growth that will be felt by the public at large.

        To wit, see the Atlantic Yards debacle (taxpayers got hosed, no one has benefitted but developer Bruce Ratner, one Russian billionaire, and maybe Jay Z). Or see the hundreds of places around the country still recovering from botched “urban renewal” exercises, many undertaken with promises of good-spreading private enterprise. Or see New London itself, where Pfizer walked away from the development for which the city had fucked its own residents, leaving that precedent-setting eminent domain folly with an actual economic contraction. Yay for the public good!

        Again, if the City Council thinks a temporary infusion of parking during the Viaduct teardown is so vital, it should brainstorm ways to make more available, either on its own properties or by striking a deal with another garage or lot owner. But easing the minds of some well-connected property owners by steamrolling the rights of a less-connected property owner shouldn’t sit well with any civic-minded person.

      6. Yeah, all that stuff d.p. said… and this also: seizing someone’s property because it’s in a particularly critical location is sometimes a reasonable thing to do. Roads, railways, and trails must follow direct paths. Schools, parks, stations, and interchanges usually have to occupy contiguous areas of land in specific places. In contrast to this, parking isn’t all that location-sensitive. For the vast majority of waterfront visitors any old downtown garage is just fine. Furthermore, this need for extra parking is:

        – Temporary. It goes away when construction is finished.
        – Seasonal. Parking demand is much higher during the summer.
        – Part-time. That is, it’s not that parking overflows all-day, every-day, just during peak visiting hours.

        That suggests some workaround using garages elsewhere in downtown Seattle and shuttles or changes to existing transit services would be adequate. Eminent domain should not be a first option, or a way for governments to redistribute city land however they see fit. It should be a last resort for acquiring necessary land for public projects.

  8. Bellevue residents incensed about a̶f̶f̶o̶r̶d̶a̶b̶l̶e̶ ̶h̶o̶u̶s̶i̶n̶g̶ giant boarding houses being built in their single family home neighborhoods.

    1. Thank you, Sam. Martin, I think you should change the front page to make an accurate accusation. Did you miss the fact that the headline of the article says “Boardinghouse”, not “affordable housing”? Or is the Seattle Transit Blog just yellow journalism?

      The article linked to clearly states that Seattle has licensed boarding houses: “Seattle has licensed boardinghouses that provide affordable places for people on small incomes. These places meet building codes and provide a safe environment, which makeshift boardinghomes might not.” Maybe a valid criticism of Bellevue is that it should license, rather than ban, boarding houses. But criticizing the city for preventing flophouses is just unprofessional.

      Unless you can be fair, stick to criticizing Seattle.

      1. Out of curiosity, would “neighbors incensed about affordable housing” have been okay? I don’t think, given STBs generally pro-density, anti-NIMBY stance the paraphrase is too far away from the basic editorial tone of the site. I’d be prepared to concede that the apparent singling out of Bellevue residents is unfair—either use the original headline, or be sure that you aren’t chanelling _Almost Live_ stereotypes (especially since, if I’m thinking of the right neighborhood, the people in question don’t really match the stereotype anyway).

        As for the safety and licensing arguments, they sound a lot like the sorts of arguments you hear in favor of licensing taxis, and punishing services like Lyft for lack of license.

      2. No, I don’t think changing “Bellevue residents” to “neighbors” would have been an appropriate edit. The key edit that Martin made was to change “Boardinghouse” to “affordable housing”.

        Here’s a question for you: If I posted an article about Tent City and called it “affordable housing”, would you call it accurate? I’m not saying that a boarding house is the same as Tent City. I’m saying that you cannot change the topic and pretend that it’s accurate.

        I’m still waiting for Martin to chime in on this.

      3. And I agree, licensing isn’t necessarily the right response here. A city limiting the number of unrelated adults still allows Garage Mahals inhabited by a single family. All things being equal, that’s probably worse than a high-density boarding house.

        Seattle Transit Blog might be pro-density and anti-NIMBY but they’re also frequently anti-suburb. If anti-suburb is to be the guiding theme of the blog then they should limit themselves to Seattle as the blog title specifies.

  9. Speaking of Sound Transit routes and which agency operates them for ST: How is the decision made regarding which routes are “owned” by Metro (that is, they operate always with Metro hardware using Metro route numbers and are listed only on Metro’s web page) versus Sound Transit? A case in point is KCM 271 (Issaquah TC to University District) versus ST 542 (Redmond TC to University District). 271 covers weekends, is a longer route and hits more population groups than 542, but Metro is solely responsible for 271 while the 542 covers just two population centers. Yet, ST also runs the 555/556 between Issaquah and Northgate.

    I’m not complaining, just curious. It all works for me so I’m not that concerned about the logo on the outside.

    1. I think the short, simplistic answer lay in the original ST1 package, where long range rail plans were laid out for the region. Rail could not be built in all areas at once (and pass a vote), so the outer nodes were given regional bus service, to be replaced at a later date by rail (ie: ST550, PT, and CT routes to Seattle/BTC/etc)
      ST elected to change the livery of those routes to their own, and pay for them to show the electorate that they too were getting something for a yes vote now, not 20 years from now.
      Now that the dust has settled on that, ST is looking to contract with others for a better price, or at least keep MT from gouging them to badly, where routes cross jurisdictional lines. Try giving the 550 to PT – Ha ha.
      Eventually, rail/BRT will replace all those buses as the system matures.
      Plan A.

    2. It all comes down to who can do it for less and who has the right equipment. That’s why st 560 is now operated by pierce transit. Pierce transit currently operates 40 foot buses only while king county metro and community transit operate 40 and 60 foot buses. That could also be a factor. Essentially sound transit pays other agencies to operate their services. BNSF operates sounder service, while the local agencies operate the bus services. King county metro operates central link. Sound transit DOES operate Tacoma link though.

  10. I found this comment on Sound Transit’s Facebook page:
    “I was at the South Everett Freeway station at about 10:25 Am to catch a bus at 10:34 AM and your bus driver arrived about the same time I did and didn’t wait 30 seconds for me and because of your drivers incompetence I have to lose 25 dollars in wages…”

    As the comment later makes clear, this extremely early arrival was caused by Sound Transit’s use of “estimated time points.” Wouldn’t it be better to abolish estimated time points, except in special circumstances such as southbound 590 at Tacoma Dome Station where no one is going to mind if the bus is early (since Tacoma Link and many other buses make the same trip anyways)? If this person’s story is accurate, then that would mean that one would have to arrive at the bus stop over 10 minutes before the bus arrives in order to be guaranteed to catch the bus, which would significantly reduce transit’s ability to compete with the automobile. And while arriving at a destination early is nice, you can’t depend on the bus being early and so you *still* have to plan your day to account for your bus arriving on time or late.

    1. I’m having a hard time believing that story. At 10 am, the North End commute has largely cleared out…at least down to I-405. Oddly enough, there is a 10:26 bus that departs the S Everett P&R for Downtown Seattle. The rider most likely lost track of time and forgot to look at the bus schedule. OOPS!!!

      From my view, the rider’s argument went out the window. I also know too that the S Everett P&R is prone to being over capacity and he may have lost track of time looking for a parking spot. While I understand your concern regarding “estimated time points,” I think the practice should remain. Commutes are variable, and any incident can throw a wrench in travel time or greatly improve travel times downstream of the incident.

    2. So, he arrived at 10:25 for the 10:34 bus and caught the 10:34 bus, so I see nothing for him to complain about. If he wanted the 10:26 bus, he needed to leave earlier.

      It is also a disservice to all the people already on the bus to wait for stragglers, especially when the next one is only 10 minutes away, and, if the current bus is early, the next bus will likely be early too.

      I encountered the opposite of this once, riding the 44 on Christmas day. The driver insisted on waiting for the imaginary traffic congestion through Wallingford, just to stick the standard Sunday schedule and avoid leaving the time point early. Again, with 15-minute headways on the route, artificially slowing things down does more harm than good. Even if someone planning by the schedule has to wait for the next bus, the next bus will probably be early too.

      When headways start increasing to, say 30 minutes, waiting at time points starts to make sense. Even at 15-minute headways, a brief waiting period at big transfer points can sometimes make sense if it prevents a large number of people from missing their connection (but again, that only works if the driver is actually waiting for a connecting bus, rather than some arbitrary time on the clock and, even then, only if an unusually large percentages of the riders are actually making a connection).

      1. Sorry, no. A 10-minute headway is the cutoff at which it’s no longer a problem to wait for the next bus. Only at spacings that close can you guarantee that your bus/train/airplane connection to your ultimate destination won’t be totally screwed over by one leg of your journey leaving early.

        Which is why we need to end the practice of ridiculous padding and why we need a core network of 10-minute routes on which the next bus is always just a brief thumb’s twiddle away.

      2. You get bunching issues if they just run as fast as possible, without any timepoints or guidance. Los Angeles Metro found that out with their Rapid system. Some drivers drove faster or more aggressively than others, so on a 2-5 minute headway line (720 on Wilshire) you would often get three or four buses clumped together midroute. This even as supervisors were enforcing departure times at each end. While it still happens often midroute timepoints have forced drivers to manage their time better and not drive like maniacs to avoid picking up people.

      3. Plus, drivers get written up for leaving a time point early, if a service quality supervisor is parked around the corner, with schedule and accurate timepiece in hand. It’s not worth the hassle to shave a couple of minutes off the schedule from their perspective.
        Here’s the rub, with RR being a good example. Schedulers look at buses arriving late, and pad the schedule accordingly. But if nobody is arriving early, there is nothing to indicate the run time is too generous, so the system grinds along. With the route now being controlled by the slowest drivers, or crappiest signals, everyone else just has to follow the leader, bunch up near the end of the run to get a few more minutes in break time (which has evaporated in recent years).
        The most efficient system is one where buses leave frequently on clock face times, say 10 minutes apart, then drive to the end as quickly and safely as they can.

      4. That is certainly a risk, Calwatch, and one to be managed through training and accountability, and on routes as long as LA Metro Rapid’s, by some form of headway management or a timepoint or two in the middle of the very long journey.

        But the current experience in Seattle is the much more problematic case Mic describes: routes are constantly reset to the “slowest common denominator” — every route to Ballard got officially slower in the 2012 restructure, including RapidRide — which screws over all riders whether or not there is traffic, and which doesn’t even prevent buses from getting bogged down by cash-payers or other obstacles after they’ve sat uselessly at a prior time point.

        Meanwhile, early departures (drivers not realizing they were ahead of the slowpoke schedule) seem to be more frequent and cause more trouble than they ever have before. And OneBusAway’s estimates are useless regardless of how early or late your bus is running: if you’re catching a 40 in central Ballard and OBA calls it five minutes away, it is actually just around the corner thanks to the padding exercise. You’re going to miss it!

        Mostly though, as Mic also says, it’s problematic for your mobility to be at the mercy of an agency that thinks it’s so totally okay for short journeys to take 25-30 minutes that they’ll actually take steps to enforce that. It’s not okay. Transit needs reliability, but “predictable slowness” is not a valid form of reliability!

    3. Estimated time points are there because the schedule performance of routes that cover a long distance without stops is inherently unpredictable. If you remove the estimated time points, you have two choices: 1) buses are regularly very late, or 2) buses regularly have to wait, usually in locations where they would be waiting only on a small minority of their passengers and inconveniencing the majority.

      If you have the misfortune of having to catch an infrequent route at a place where it is on estimated timepoints, all I can suggest is adding a bit of extra padding to your schedule.

      1. There is also no alternative to estimated time points at places where buses simply cannot wait without delaying other buses behind them (due to lack of passing room). For instance, if either Montlake or Evergreen Point Freeway Stations were a hard time point, you would have a complete mess.

  11. I noticed today that they’ve started activating the real-time arrival signs for RR E on Aurora north of 46th St, conveniently listing the 358 arrival times. This seems like a pleasant step forward from the RR C/D roll-out, mostly thanks to the delay in implementing RR E… otherwise it would have been another epic mess with the still-unfinished station installation and reconfiguration of the Woodland Place N/N 65th intersection.

  12. Today, I observed drivers on Aurora blatantly ignoring the new bus lanes. Southbound traffic through Queen Anne was bumper to bumper, and the “bus lane” was just as clogged with cars as the other two lanes.

    People seem to obey the bus lane restriction when it’s convenient (when traffic is free-flowing, so it doesn’t matter), but as soon as there’s congestion, everybody seems to ignore it with impunity.

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