49 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Mistakes”

  1. Yesterday, a man made a mistake by standing on some train tracks in Auburn to have his picture taken by his girlfriend. An Amtrak train going 79 mph hit and killed him. Other people make mistakes. Slow down?


      1. Johnny, you missed the point of this post’s video. People will make mistakes. They’ll take pictures on tracks, or pull out of driveways when they shouldn’t. That’s never going to change. But if we slow down cars and trains, we can reduce the number of accidents and deaths.

      2. I agree. Which is why I-5, SR-99, I-405, and I-90 should immediately get a 20 MPH speed limit. [/sarcasm]

        Meanwhile, speaking seriously, there are other competing priorities. Maybe the Ballard Terminal Railroad, if it ever actually runs trains, should run them at 20 MPH… but the BNSF mainline should prioritize through traffic over pedestrians the same as the interstates.

    1. We all can make stupid mistakes that maim or kill us. But if I am ever unfortunate enough to do something like that, I wouldn’t want my stupidity to be used as a reason to stop normal adults from doing something that normal adults normally do.

      Shorter version: I’m sorry the guy’s dead. But that’s not the train’s fault.

      1. There needs to be a cultural shift in the way we think of RR right-of-ways.

        The public just doesn’t seem to have even a basic level of respect for how dangerous the environment can be.

      2. Rather than be obsessed with blame and fault, might be better if the United States concentrated on putting itself in the First World by seeing to it that no major rail line has a single grade crossing.

        A long-overdue generation’s worth of work like this might also offer us the years of decent-wage jobs that could bring our economy out of the toilet without a single piece of legislation with the word “stimulus” in its title.

        For a country that claims to espouse an established religion of forgiveness, it’s worth some serious self-examination to see why so many people’s default position is that somebody has to be punished. Especially somebody who isn’t rich.

        And call the result “accountability.” And have that term include the largest prison population on the planet.

        Mark Dublin

      3. Every country in the world has major railway lines with grade crossings. Yes, even England and Germany and China. It’s probably not actually the top priority.

        In those countries, people usually know better than to stand on active railway lines. What we need is a hell of a lot more trains running, in order to get people used to the idea that *railway lines have trains on them*.

        Obviously, we have to stop imprisoning so many people. Legalizing all drugs would be a start. What does that have to do with idiots who stand on railway tracks?

    2. Wow, you have outdone yourself, Scam. Let’s hope that the woman whose boyfriend — very foolishly — stepped on that track doesn’t happen to read this blog.

      Because you’ve essentially “thrown him under the train” in your insane obsession with attacking any form of public transportation.

      1. I’ve outdone myself? Did any of you even watch the above video? Am I misunderstanding it? Someone correct me if I am. I thought the video’s message was everyone needs to slow down because people make mistakes, and if we all slow down, less accidents will happen. How is that controversial? Instead of you blowhards telling me I’m off base, YOU explain the message in the video.

      2. Oh, and I am not throwing him or her under the train. I’m saying he made a mistake by being on the tracks. And all I was doing was asking would the message in the video apply in a case like this? Instead of demonizing me, give your own take on the video. You interpret its meaning.

      3. In case anyone is actually as stupid as Sam pretends to be:

        The video cautions driving behavior that acknowledges and aims to mitigate errors of judgment that others may make when engaging in an otherwise lawful and mundane activity such as turning from one road into another.

        Sam, by contrast, suggests that we must slow down and dumb down all systems, of any sorts, in any locations, in anticipation of willfully dangerous behavior involving a series of conscious decisions to trespass and to enter into harm’s way.

        Sam is the poster child for false analogizing.

      4. Thank you d.p. You explained it perfectly.

        Unfortunately, Scam probably got a few dollars from the Cascade Policy Institute because we replied to him. I’m including myself in the criticism.

    3. The night back in November when the northbound Sounder was blocked, I got off at Puyallup and waited for a bus to get to Federal Way. As I waited, an Amtrak train came by at a very fast speed. Sure we were at a train station, but damn, it would’ve been really easy to fall onto the tracks before the train came. It was dark and there was barely any warning before the train came REALLY FAST. I don’t even remember seeing any warning signs that high-speed(for being so close–obviously not ‘high-speed rail’) trains would be passing by there. Of course, as an adult you know not to stand close to the rails but it would be very easy for a child to get loose and run around.

      1. There must have been some crossing-sequence horn blowing from the engineer, wasn’t there?

        Even on systems that grade separate everyone, express trains signal their approach as they enter the station.

      2. Rural roads are far more dangerous.

        At least most railroads have designated crossing locations, often with bells and gates…. rural roads generally have *nothing*, and cars come whipping out of the blue at 55 mph.

      3. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the Auburn-Enumclaw Road, 55 mph, two lanes, with houses and driveways along it. I don’t know if it’s still that way. I would not want to live in a house like that. But on the other hand, the locals all know it’s the main road and that they should always expect a car to come bulleting down it anytime. Non-locals don’t get off the highway so they won’t encounter a bullet car (since they are the bullet car :).

  2. Concerning affordable housing, if a piece of property is upzoned to allow apartments, doesn’t the value of the land increase accordingly? Wouldn’t this increased land value be passed on to the renters as higher rents? Seems like the biggest winners are the property owners.

    1. You have to consider *why* the value of the land increases – it’s because you can put more units on it. As a result, the increase is spread among more people. I haven’t seen any evidence that it’s not a wash.

    2. Half your statement is true – the owners win when they sell the land someday, since it’s worth more. But land value doesn’t affect rents. Would the next person pay more for an identical apartment in an identical location as you rented just because the zoning changed? They wouldn’t care in the slightest.

      But if you’re talking about demo’ing any structure on this land and building taller, then yes – overall the land owner may be able to profit more from this land. But they’re also providing more units, which provides more value to more people, and sunk a significant investment into their land to achieve this.

  3. I swear Rodney Tom made a big mistake making Curtis King of all people Transportation Committee co-chair…

    I mean every fight for transit has become a clawing fight for us and a disaster for a party trying to be moderate and thoughtful and fiscally responsible.

    I mean are we up against Jim Harbaugh or what?

    BTW, please STB put out the requests for donations to the “hostage rescue”. Enough’s enough because I left the Left in part to support local democracy. Sadly Curtis King Harbaugh forgot that……

    1. Joe,

      I think it’s not just that King is a Republican; Tom votes for transit pretty consistently. It’s that King is an EWa Republican; e.g. someone who thinks that the wheat he grows, not the planes and software King County sells, pays for the roads he drives on.

      1. If you look nationally, the Republican Party has become a rural party, with a side order of suburban support — in short, King is typical and Tom is unusual.

        There’s a reason for this. There are absurdly few elected Republicans who do *anything* to support the needs of cities. This is one of several reasons I’ve completely given up on the Republican Party. I hope that a second party will arise to challenge the Democratic Party, because in cities with populations as small as 100,000, the Republican Party simply doesn’t *qualify* as a second party.

      2. What I worry is that party you speak of is the socialist/Sawantistas.

        I hope the Republicans become more libertarian and local control. Frankly, I’ve came to the conclusion that although quite a bit of local government is enthralled by moneyed interests, having decisions made by DC or Owemypia is NOT the way to go. Let local governments decide on transit and local taxes – not some insulated place only moneyed interests can get to.

      3. I would enthusiastically support that sort of party. Unfortunately, the local Libertarian Party is even more a joke than it is at the national level – last I checked, its website looked like a guy’s home-done personal page, and it hadn’t been updated in years.

      4. I put my hope in Rand Paul………….

        Ted Cruz is a populist the same way W was.

        Scott Walker seems like a guy w/ a hidden agenda. As much as I passionately love his smackdown of public sector union greed, I worry there’s more to his heroic stand for taxpayers than that. Then there’s Scotty’s getting out of the heavy rail business (which benefited WA ST… YEAH!).

        I see the Dems have no real candidate yet. Dems need to start developing those candidates…

  4. What is the logic behind not allowing bus riders to board buses at certain end of line/layover stops? Yesterday I got off the Metro 66 at 5th and Jackson to go shopping in the International District. When I was done about an hour later I returned to the same location for a return trip on the same route, a grumpy bus driver told me that this was not a stop, that I would have to board at Jackson and Occidental, which is four blocks away. Since both the 66 and 16 will be using this new terminus for an indeterminate period of time, why not let riders board there, or if not, at least immediately around the corner where there is a regular bus stop?

      1. That’s what I thought too, until I read the details… apparently, she and others were trained that the train being able to start was a sign that no doors were opened. In that case, the awfulness would be the trainer’s.

        This article does not speak well of Metro’s management in general. Unless there’s another side to the story, they seemed to keep handling this situation poorly and keep lining up the messenger in the sights of their rifle.

      2. Fair enough William. The trainer also needs to be punished.

        Remember I’m an R saying this – but one of my friends works mere feet from one of those militia political Vipers trying to cut Seattle’s light rail spine. I’m going to try to size up this Viper jock soon.

      3. Far be it from me to side with Metro’s heinously broken management culture, but in this case, it seems clear that the employee in question has a decades-long track record of terrible relations with her employers, her peers, and the public whom she must inevitably deal with in the course of her chosen career(s).

        What’s more, she seems to have a history of shirking blame, and of couching her lousy job performance and manner of communicating with her superiors as some sort of badge of honor. It was she who almost rear-ended another train at Westlake, yet she claims management was to blame for not buying the excuse she found for her mistake. (There is no substantiated evidence that any other drivers had near-misses on account of the lights. Her whistleblower claim was dismissed.)

        Years later, a door stuck open repeatedly, and for miles: she accepts not an ounce of blame.

        It should be telling that multiple public agencies, in which she was in various positions of responsibility for the public welfare, have found her terrible at her jobs. It should also be telling that the only supporter the Times writer could locate was a “friend” with his own lawsuit pending!

        Incompetence + self-righteousness is a very dangerous combination. She’s not someone we should want behind the wheel.

        Metro has a lot of great employees, but it also has some drivers so terrible that they drag down the reliability and the professionalism of the whole system. I find it disturbing that the Amalgamated Transit Union and the appointed arbitrators seem intent on making it literally impossible for Metro to improve its workforce, even when an operator’s poor skills and poor demeanor are well-demonstrated and a risk to the public safety.

      4. Well put d.p.

        Stuff like this… and I believe Sound Transit reads this blog & many of the comments… only help that Viper jock I spoke of cut our rail. It only fans the flames of David Boze who’d like to turn the light rail trains into places for potted plants – and that was in reply to the last time I called into his acerbic show.

        With transit agencies attempting to dodge Curtis “Harbaugh” King and his team of bullies… now is the time to NOT give them free wood & coupons for wood glue for their framing project that transit is bad, transit is inefficient, transit is not run to a high standard, etcetera.


    1. It ran three days a week for several years, peak and midday, although I think it had run five or seven days a week before that. I never used it but it was numbered like a regular bus, not a van. That map doesn’t look complete so I’m not sure what Metro meant by “interurban routes”. The 226, 235, 240, 252, 253, 255, and 340 were already running in 1980 when I started using them, and they didn’t seem like brand-new new routes. Maybe interurban meant going to the small towns at the edges of the county.

      By the way, none of the Eastside routes were articulated until around 1983, not even the predecessors of the 550 (226 and 235), and those were half-hourly combined. (Maybe 15 minutes peak?) So that shows ridership was like 1/6 of what it is now.

      1. Metro agrees with you. :) All the routes that were less than hourly (such as the 210 to North Bend) have been reorganized since then, and turned into shuttles or shuttle vans or something. You have to look at it in the context of the rest of the network at that time. There were no transit centers, and almost all routes were very long milk runs that went to downtown.

        Northgate was one of the only places with an organized transfer point (a kind of pre-transit center). It was inside the mall parking lot in front of Macy’s. You can still see the now-useless separate loop. All the routes stopped there except the 16, which terminated on the north side of the mall, where again there’s a now-useless totem pole canopy that used to be a bus stop. (Although it may be completely replaced now?)

    2. I rode that route a few times in the early 80’s (before I had continuous access to a car); at that time and I think until the end of its days as a Metro route it ran only on Wednesdays, a morning and an evening trip to/from Northgate. I had the impression that upper Sky Valley residents used it as a shopping trip into the city, and people like me from the city (who had Wednesdays available!) could take it out for a short hike or even just a lunch up in the mountains. There was certainly no other reason for it but as a shopping shuttle for E King and Snohomish County residents. Skykomish is in King County but the rest of US2 west of there is in Snohomish, so Snohomish Co residents received more value for the route. I imagine that’s why CT eventually took most of the route over.

      It was actually a really pleasant ride up into the mountains.

  5. So, there is a public meeting on Thursday at the Shoreline City Hall about the upcoming 145th Street Light Rail station. Is it set in stone that there will be a 500-space parking garage there? How much input can people have in altering designs that Sound Transit/City Council have already come up with? As per the garage, I would prefer that millions of dollars be spent on improving bus routes. But if it is set in stone that there will be a garage, then what can we do to make sure that the garage is minimally invasive to the neighborhood, that the entrance/exit doesn’t disrupt traffic and what we in the neighborhood can do to insure that people don’t park on the street and block our houses.

    Complain all you want about my concerns, but this is a single-family home neighborhood and now we are getting this put into our area. I am all for Light Rail, although I still believe the route should have been along Aurora Avenue. But, it isn’t going to be there, so we need to make it the best we can. Do we push for no parking along 5th Avenue NE so we can have wider sidewalks(they are very narrow in this part of Shoreline)? How do we find out about possible neighborhood upzoning to allow apartments and condos coming in the future? And what kinds of questions should I ask at this meeting?

    1. Cinesea,

      This is exactly why 145th is such a lousy place for a station. There is a huge park in one quadrant, an exclusive private school with a large campus in another quadrant, and single family homes in the remaining two quadrants. There’s almost no useful walkshed.

      That and the fact that the full diamond interchange with I-5 means that 145th is clogged at rush hour which will kill bus reliability. The station should be moved to 130th.

      1. 130th is outside Shoreline. 145th is “serving both Seattle and Shoreline”. So 130th can only be an additional station, not a replacement. It would also lead to three miles between stations if there’s nothing between 130th and 185th. One throwaway station is not the worst thing in the world. Maybe in the future it will be a lesson to ST and the politicians if that station has less ridership than the surrounding ones. (And if the garage turns out not to be well-used, although probably it will be since people will drive in from Bothell Way.)

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