For Posterity
Our Changing Waterfront
  • King County Metro is looking for undergraduate and graduate interns. Go here and search for “intern”.
  • Wonder why the 3rd and Pike bus stop is closing for construction? This is why.
  • Danny Westneat: A longtime tenant discovers her landlord was shielding her from the modern economy. ($)
  • In 24 out of the 25 largest metro areas the median income household can no longer afford the average new car.
  • 15 different methods to protect bicycle facilities including their pros/cons and cost.
  • New ‘bikeology‘ curriculum for 6-12 graders fills common gap in bicycle education for junior high and high school age teens.
  • Charles Montgomery describes his concept of the ‘Happy City’ in Vancouver, BC.
  • Food desert‘ study for Delridge neighborhood empowers those who are affected to develop implementable solutions.
  • New housing units far outstrips demolished housing units 8 to 1 citywide (2.6 to 1 in Single Family zones, 5 to 1 in Lowrise zones, 15 to 1 Downtown and 18 to 1 in Neighborhood Commercial zones).
  • 2,000 units in four towers proposed on former Seattle Times site in SLU. Parking ratio of 0.85 is low, but not that low given the large number of Amazonians that will likely work a stones throw away.
  • Parking study for West Seattle development with all-day frequent bus service but no on-site parking confirms there there is plenty of on-street parking available.
  • Council unanimously passes ridesharing compromise legislation.
  • 80% of NYC’s taxi rides could have been shared.
  • Senate Transportation Committee co-chairs no longer see eye to eye.
  • Philly speed senors trigger red light. I’m curious to see if it works.
  • Win a free Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB)!
  • Video of one shared Muni/Google bus stop in SF. My first impression, I didn’t realize so many people used the Google buses.

This is an open thread.

93 Replies to “News Roundup: Past All the Hype”

  1. I don’t have any problem with Google buses, but if they’re going to use the Muni bus stops, they need to pay for it. And not just a small token. I’m talking all the market can bear. Just how you’d figure out what that is, I don’t know, but here’s a new revenue source for Muni.

    1. Seems like a problem for the city of San Francisco or appropriate jurisdiction to address. Google is paying for youths to ride buses for free in the area because muni can’t accept the direct cash. It’s a story written earlier on this blog (google to offer bus passes for youths).

  2. Why? We give away street space in all kinds of other contexts. Why are we justified in soaking this one company, who is serving actual tax-paying residents, who might feel they’ve already paid for their usage of a street and sidewalk?

    1. Here’s a context where Seattle charges for the use of its sidewalk
      And I’m not talking about soaking a company. Just trying to run government like a business. And if Google doesn’t object to me using an empty office on its campus, or setting up a little snack bar out on the lawn, then I’ll let them use the bus stops for free.

    2. Because there are real costs to private buses’ use of bus stops. When a public bus comes along, it may be delayed and its riders inconvenienced. The private buses’ operators should compensate the public for those costs.

      Here in Seattle, you see this often at Bellevue and Pine in the mornings, as a Microsoft Connector blocks a much larger, fuller 545 from accessing the zone.

      1. Note that this is a very special situation. Microsoft actually works closely with Metro and ST to design routes that complement, rather than supplement, the existing routes. Historically, the Capitol Hill bus has stopped at Broadway and Howell, far away from any bus stop. However, due to construction on the First Hill Streetcar, Microsoft needed a new temporary place for the bus to stop. They eventually chose the current stop as the “least bad” option. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only shared Metro/Connector stop, and it’s not going to be around for much longer.

      2. The Madrona/Leschi connector stops at the outbound 11 stop FS 23rd/Madison in the mornings.

      3. Isn’t it interesting that this sort of problem doesn’t arise with trains?

        If extra, privately run trains are being operated on a public train line, they are carefully integrated into the schedule so as not to interfere with the standard public trains.

        The wonders of centralized dispatching and not having to deal with auto traffic.

  3. When I suggested bicyclists should be taxed and tolled for using public roads, just like cars, I was told that no, they shouldn’t, because bikes are much better for the environment than cars, and we want to encourage people to bike to work, not discourage them. Isn’t this the same thing? Don’t we want to encourage tech companies to provide buses for their employees so they don’t drive cars into work?

    1. I went to college at UCSB and bicycles there were supposed to be registered. Most of them were. I don’t have any problem with some kind of registration fee for bikes.

      Also, we need to remember one of the big reasons tech companies provide the buses is to avoid the cost of more parking lots. It saves them money to provide the buses.

      1. That would be true, except zoning regulations typically a parking space for every employee whether needed or not. Providing buses may mean more parking spaces stay empty, but it doesn’t get the company out of building such parking spaces to begin with. Especially if the parking was already built before they started operating buses.

        A more accurate reason for providing the buses is:
        1) It helps attract good employees to work there vs. choose a job somewhere else.
        2) Even though employees are not required to do work on the bus, in practice, many do. The value of whatever extra work gets during during people’s commute is worth something in and of itself.

        There is also a secondary reason in that it’s good for PR and helps the company look more environmentally responsible. But that reason is not nearly as important as the first two.

      1. The one or three stops in the hundred that a given transit vehicle makes in a day’s operations that is delayed for a few seconds by a GoogleBus or MicrosoftConnector is lost in the sea of delays it suffers from ordinary traffic.

        I’m sorry, but this is class envy that you, David, don’t have a job at MS that comes with a CruiseMobile.

    2. That is one of the reasons. The better reason is that the registration fee won’t pay for the administration of the tax.

    3. When I suggested bicyclists should be taxed and tolled for using public roads, just like cars, I was told that no, they shouldn’t, because bikes are much better for the environment than cars

      The City of Seattle and King County budget document arrangement on their web site is not familiar to me. However, I can tell you that where I live a significant portion of the city’s transportation budget comes from property taxes. These are paid by property owners or renters through the rent they pay to the property owner.

      Thus, here in Portland anyway, if you were to push this position based entirely on equitable financing of roads vs bikes in terms of taxing each in an equitable manner based on their actual costs to the city, you would find that bike users should get a refund for the amount they travel, while auto users should actually be taxed more than their current rate.

      I would suspect the city of Seattle costs vs revenue are similar to this but not being familiar with the arrangement of the documents on the web site I haven’t been able to muddle my way through them – but then I haven’t tried too hard since your fair city isn’t where I live. I have a hard enough time keeping up with my own city government.

      However, the Seattle city and King County budget documents are certainly there, and if you feel you have been slighted by your fair city I suggest you dig up the actual numbers and start a protest movement.

      1. “Thus, here in Portland anyway, if you were to push this position based entirely on equitable financing of roads vs bikes in terms of taxing each in an equitable manner based on their actual costs to the city, you would find that bike users should get a refund for the amount they travel, while auto users should actually be taxed more than their current rate.”

        Local truck users would probably get socked with a surcharge.

        Users of trucks driving *through* the city, who pay *nothing* in local taxes, would probably get socked with an enormous surcharge.

      2. Nathanael,

        HOW would they get “socked with an enormous surcharge”? Well, ironically, anywhere except Portland which could request access to the PUC weight-mile reports. Any other city would have no idea that a given truck transited its boundaries at a given time.

    1. I completely disagree with his argument that “Moving tourists and moving commuters are basically the same thing.”, but I agree that the on the meta-level a project like this has the potential to give cities a good reference cost wise, although not so much utility wise.

      1. I agree, Adam. That is why I am torn about the project. On the one hand, if it is done quickly and cheaply, then everyone in the city will know that this is a cost effective and appropriate means of moving people in many cases. On the other hand, it perpetuates the idea that gondolas are only for tourists. We have serious transportation problems (like handling all of those people who will inhabit that 2,000 unit building mentioned above). Gondolas would do a great job of that, but not if we view them as only for tourists, and not “serious transportation”.

        Furthermore, if the project fails because it does become too expensive, then people will get the wrong idea. The same could also happen if it fails because it isn’t popular. One of the worst things we could have is a gondola that just sits there — it sends the wrong message and people might not understand that it failed because it didn’t provide the kind of service that a Capitol Hill to Cascade (to SLU to Seattle Center) gondola would provide. In other words, it could fail simply because it is in the wrong spot.

      2. I agree that the on the meta-level a project like this has the potential to give cities a good reference cost wise, although not so much utility wise.

        This depends entirely on the need of the tourist. Is this tourist just traveling for the sake of traveling, or are they trying to get from the Great Wheel to the convention center for transportation reasons?

        I don’t think that the gondola as proposed would have ever helped me too much, but something like that sure would have helped me a few times if it had been built further north.

        As an example, I arrived from Friday Harbor once on the Victoria Clipper (great off-season ticket prices). I found that it was another hour and a quarter for the next #99 to go by, and getting anywhere was pretty much an exercise in You Can’t Get There From Here. Broad Street was blocked by a BNSF freight train, I couldn’t use the pedestrian bridge at the Sculpture Garden because the gate was closed for the evening, and the Elliott Bay Trail was closed for the evening as well. It is possible to cross at the overhead walkway at the Bell Street Pier, but then when you get to Bell Street and Western Avenue you get to try to run across a cross walk that goes across an unsignaled exit ramp from the Alaskan Way Viaduct that is essentially blind in terms of giving pedestrians safe sight lines.

        At least the Seattle Gondola doesn’t sound like it is intended to get the tourists killed while crossing the street, like that part of town seems to be.

      3. In reply to RossB: Bicycles would also be more popular and have a greater impact if folks would see them as serious transportation, rather than recreational toys.

  4. Siemens has been given notice to proceed with the new Charger series of locomotives. These will be the new locomotives used by the State of Washington for the Amtrak Cascades service. This is a joint order with several other states, primarily managed through Illinois.

    The Railway Age article (the last one from the list) lists the weight at 120 tons and the horsepower at 4,400.

    Some years back, it was pointed out by someone living in Germany that one of the problems facing the Amtrak Cascades is the weight of the locomotives.
    and how this weight plays out in terms of what is practical when it comes to going around curves:

    So, unfortunately, with the weight of these new locomotive still at 120 tons each, I’m not sure they really get us to where we need to be in terms of increasing train speed on the Cascades. It seems to me that with the light weight of the Talgo trains, what really needs to happen is a lighter weight locomotive with half the horsepower. Using two locomotives – one at each end of the train – would therefore still give the same horsepower but distribute the weight over more axles, and could allow for higher speeds.

  5. Doesn’t matter how fast they CAN go when they won’t be ALLOWED to go faster than 110 mph (or whatever the top speed limit is likely to be here during their expected lifespan – I’m going from memory).

  6. and that will be for such limited stretches of roadbed, the term High Speed Rail, or even Higher Speed Rail is pretty much a PR term for what is actually happening between Seattle and Portland.
    And don’t even get me started on heading north to the next big town.

    1. Even in the northeast, the Acela Express may go well over 100 mph between Boston and providence, but through Connecticut and New York, it spends a lot of time going under 40 mph. Speeding up the slow parts of any route is usually way more cost-effective at improving travel time for any route than speeding up the already fast parts.

  7. Google recently decided to pay for muni’s entire youth subsidy program ($25 million a year). So what you’re suggesting is already happening. Let’s just make sure we don’t turn the tech companies into some kind of scapegoat for income inequality. That won’t help anyone.

  8. Ferry transit will get a much needed revenue injection with a new car tab tax. That’s a critical transit need for many, and it’s a statewide fee hike so some of the extra tax we send east will be coming back to serve us!

  9. After 20 years it amounts to an eviction notice, as the bill exceeds Marson’s monthly Social Security income.

    Unfortunately this has to happen. Too many people in Seattle are freeriding, taking up expensive centralized resources and not paying fair market value, or bringing in money and skills to a complex urban environment. Rather than more taxes, there would be greater equality if the free market were unleashed in Seattle.

    As far as the tenant, $680 still rents a one bedroom around Kent, Auburn and places East.

    Or if she has a friend, they could pool their money and get quite a luxurious one.

    1. You know, John, I’ve come to the conclusion that basing who gets what according to what we call the market system, which lacks a number of things to create theoretical free market conditions, is fine for luxuries of choice, like coffee and brandy and car “makes and models” and leisure travel.

      But for things people need to survive, like necessary healthcare, not cosmetic face-and-other-things lifts, and stable long-term homes, it’s probably best that whether people theoretically have a right to these things or not, we should pretend as if they did. If, as General Custer’s marching song Garryowen goes in its original, we “consider a whole skin” desirable.

      Worried and terrified people are never really very productive. And their kids tend to turn savage in the most serious sense of the word when they watch their parents endure those conditions as the reward for good lives of hard work and obedience to the rules of the system. Like the people who just got forced to leave the Lockhaven Apartments in Ballard. Funny that the original owner lived a comfortable life for himself and his family for decades on a business plan that included decent treatment on those of us who rented from him.

      For life and death conditions, main question is still not “Are you the buyer or the seller?, but “Are you the thing hanging on the hook and bleeding?”

      And BTW, I’m doing just fine rent-wise in Olympia, as will many others who will move various places if Seattle holds to its current “business plan” as to income requirements to live there. If present conditions persist, more than the new residents won’t tolerate living with us, the sentiments of us exiles toward them will be the same.

      With earlaps.


      1. My take on it is that there seems to be a conspiracy between the super rich of Washington State and the local yokels. The former get all the real economic control, and the later are grandfathered into to resources far in excess of their true personal economic productivity.

        That leaves a tiny sliver of resources available for people with even skills and high wages to compete over. Meanwhile the apparatchiks and politicians thereof feed us endless paradoxical tales of how we’re better off living with less — all the while they and their serfs have at their disposal two orders of magnitude more stuff.

      2. Mark: I came to the same conclusion. “Free markets” work fine for luxuries (as long as they’re not specifically natural-monopoly situations, like transportation networks are), but they work really poorly for necessities.

  10. Unless they come up with an even better solution than tilting trains like Talgo, then the speed is dependent on the current track and the curve radius and bank. Even with the proposed HSR updates, I believe that still wouldn’t allow anything faster than 90 mph.

    Still, who knows. Maybe they can add a magnetic strip, make the trains very low to the ground, or some other innovation that lets us keep the train and move the trains faster.

  11. That happened to me last night as well on one of the other threads, though I just figured it was a problem with the old version of Safari I was using at that location.

  12. Unless they come up with an even better solution than tilting trains like Talgo, then the speed is dependent on the current track and the curve radius and bank.

    No, the speed around curves is also dependent on the weight per axle, which means the heavy locomotives are the limiting speed factor. If you look at the comparison on the link you will see the comparison is what is allowed on the exact same curve with the lighter weight equipment that is allowed in Europe. Reducing the weight of the locomotive thus could allow for higher speeds around the curves.

    1. Right, but isn’t it a requirement of Talgo to have heavy engines at both ends to keep the thing from flying off the rails?

      1. The requirement is that what is on the front end (and front end only – sometimes they run without a cab car) meet FRA collision standards. This can be done in a lighter package than 120 tons. The Colorado Railcar DMUs owned by TriMet are only in the 80 ton range, as an example of what can be done with a lower horsepower engine that isn’t as heavy. That puts them down in the 20 ton per axle range, or about what the Talgos are. True, they are only 1,500 horsepower, but if you put one at each end then you get the same 3,000 horsepower they have now – just with the weight of the engines distributed over more axles.

      2. John,

        No. My wife and I were in Spain about twenty years ago when the Talgos were new and saw how they perform in electrified territory. South of Madrid on the old main to Sevilla the Autopista crosses over the tracks. Both of us had ridden the train down from Madrid to Malaga where we went to a conference but wanted to explore Spain some, so we rented a car for the drive back.

        Anyway, I remembered having gone under the Autopista and when I saw the overpass I said, hey, let’s do a little train watching here. We parked and within five minutes a Talgo came ripping around the pretty tight curve that took the tracks under the highway. It was probably clocking about 115 or so running under catenary. As each car entered the curve it swung out in that Talgo way, and since it was so sharp and the train was fast-running, they were tilted about fifteen degrees from vertical. It was pretty amazing.

        Anyway, they cruise when the power is electric, because the whole weight of a catenary-powered electric locomotive is low to the rails. The frames have the weight that in a diesel-electric is mounted higher in the prime mover and alternator or generator.

        To apply enough tractive effort to the rails electric locomotives have to be ballasted, but they can certainly be lighter than diesels and have a lower center of gravity.

      3. You can do some pretty light weight diesel locomotives as well. Take a look at the diesels used with Talgos in Spain:
        However, the market for such a locomotive that meets FRA crash requirements is basically limited to the Cascades corridor. It would be best to start with something like the Colorado Railcar DMU or the equivalent now being offered by Nippon-Sharyo.

      4. While I was riding my bike on the first day of spring, just now, I was imagining low rider trainsets.

        Think about those flatbeds, which are really low, and where they share a truck between them. Ok, now think about how much height you would need off the ground for passengers. Like the height of an airplane fuselage…with just the barest amount of head clearance. If we could get the height of the cars down really, really low, wouldn’t that let us go really, really fast?

      5. That’s sort of what the Talgos are doing. Not only does lowering the train lower the center of gravity, but it also helps with the weight as there is simply less total weight as you have less structure in the cars to deal with. Unlike the freight cars you talk of, the Talgo trains have the floors so low in them that the walkway between cars actually goes through where the axles would be, but they have eliminated axles and only use stub axles.

        This image:
        which is halfway down this web page:
        shows just how low they had gotten with the floors when the Talgo III cars were built. The Talgos built for the Cascades trains in the 1990s were even better as they managed to get a wheelchair accessible passageway through there between the bistro car and the first coach.

        They might even be able to drop the floor a little lower if they really worked at it. However, the problem there is that the Talgos are basically designed to work with standard European level platforms, and if they did a design with an even lower floor then it would be unique to the USA and Canada.

        However, first things first: right now the USA is still going the wrong direction in terms of the weight of the locomotives to move the train with. Right now, the cab car + locomotive combination used on the Talgos weighs more than the entire Talgo train, and the locomotive and cab car each only have four axles. 30 tons per axles vs 20 tons per axle makes a bit of a difference in how hard the track gets slammed on the curves, and right now the Talgos are limited to speeds on the curves that don’t even approach their capability, due to what they are being hauled with.

    2. IIRC, the long-term Cascades plan was to get lightweight tilting engines to go with the Talgo cars.

      But that was to be done *after* all the track upgrades were finished — including the long stretches of passenger-exclusive third track — which is still a long way away.

      So I think this locomotive purchase is more of an interim thing. It’s still not a bad purchase for WA because the locomotives will have a strong resale market, in the form of every other intercity rail corridor in the US, many of which have fewer sharp curves.

  13. I’ll bite. How are they different? In both cases you’re moving a large volume of people. Sure, there are different payment and connection issues, but stations, towers, and cabins would be similar/identical. Government would certainly build things differently than a private company (see: Portland’s beautiful tower), but this can at least set a goal for costs.

    1. I’m talking about users, not the physical infrastructure. A average transit riders has so many different needs compared to someone essentially riding a tourist attraction. It’s like saying that Link riders and Monorail riders are the same.

      1. Sure. But I’m missing why that’s important. Showing off features like capacity, cost, and reliability can be really helpful in convincing the public this can be a real transit system. I don’t think having different income or destinations will significantly detract from this.

  14. I’ll bite. How are they different? In both cases you’re moving a large volume of people. Sure, there are different payment and connection issues, but stations, towers, and cabins would be similar/identical. Government would certainly build things differently than a private company (see: Portland’s beautiful tower), but this can at least set a goal for costs.

  15. I thought I hit reply to the very first comment, with mine above, and it wound up being a comment on the whole article. Kinda looks like lots of other people hit the same thing.

      1. Seems to be working now.

        Some decades ago I was actually a reasonably good computer programmer.

        Thankfully, I wound up taking a job in the railroad industry where I get to hit things with big hammers instead. Somehow, this seems much more satisfactory than dealing with various computer issues.

        Unless, of course, they let you solve this type of problem by hitting the computer with a big hammer.

  16. What’s going on with Cascades to BC?

    I’m heading up a for Canucks game on Sunday and every train had an alert. Something about track maintenance. And it seems like it’s running a bus instead. Also on Tuesdays they’ve cut 2 trips entirely.

    Guess I’m driving!


      “On three Tuesdays (March 11, March 18 and March 25, 2014) Trains 510 and 517 will be canceled, due to track work being performed by BNSF Railway. Passengers will be provided bus service to and from all stations between Seattle and Vancouver, BC. All other trains are running normally.”

      Sounds to me it is a Tuesdays only thing, which is usually a low passenger count day.

  17. The bike chart is really cool, though I wouldn’t give a parked car buffer four stars for bicycle safety since there’s still a risk of getting doored, albeit reduced.

    1. A correctly designed cycle track should have a one to two foot buffer between parked cars and the edge of the cycle track.

    1. Yes, that location certainly could have used a good 3S gondola system.

      Adding capacity would be tough. They can’t have more than two cars on the line without stopping people mid-air to wait while you load. I suppose they could replace the cars with longer units, but only if their tower and cable can handle the extra weight. It’s also possible they could improve flow at the stations to increase frequency – though if I recall correctly they already board and unload on opposite sides.

  18. After watching the new video of the Eastlink at ST website…I’m left to wonder why they are even building the east main stop at all…the video really makes it clear that there is no density there…ugh.

    1. I’m often amazed at how passengers are treated like idiots by engineers.
      Case A: Crossing the tracks at grade is just dandy at E.Main and Bel-Red stations.
      Case B: At S.Bellevue P&R, if you’re unlucky enough to have to park on the upper deck, then you get rewarded with a long walk, back to ground level, where you can begin the climb to the platform – which is virtually at the same level as where you started, and mere feet away.
      I suppose it’s unsafe to cross the tracks there.
      Engineer rebuts comment in 3…2…1…

      1. Case C: In the DSTT, crossing the tracks is prohibited by many, many signs. The mere possibility of someone doing it is so horrifying that a center platform must have a large enough stairway and elevator for rush hour traffic.

      2. A different situation. Coming from a dark tube into daylight or bright platform lights takes some adjustment, and the tube doesn’t offer much in the way of scanning the platforms until you’er virtually next to them. Having driven tunnel buses, I wouldn’t want peds to deal with in addition to all the other stuff going on.
        But open air stations. I don’t see the big difference between an at grade station and one 3 stories up. That’s just altitude. If I parked on the 2nd or 3rd level, I would choose to walk directly to my car, and save the hassle of following the mob down, over, and up again.

      3. Well, you would have to have TVM’s on the top level of the garage. Otherwise, you would have people having to go into the fare paid area, down to the mezzanine to pay their fare and then back up to the fare paid area. This would cause exactly what you are trying to avoid. As far as exiting the station, yes, that would be better.

      4. Most commuters figure out how to avoid the TVM on a daily basis. An ORCA reader at the head of the short ped crossings to the platform would suffice.

      5. It’s dumb, but I think I know what’s going on.

        To build a grade crossing, you need to (a) build a pedestrian bridge, and (b) add a section at the end of the platform which dips down to track level.

        While both of these things should be quite cheap compared to the extremely expensive parking garage, if you look at the situation with the unfunded Northgate pedestrian bridge, you see that people on foot are considered too expensive to cater for.

        Apparently even if they just got out of cars.

      6. Yeah, ain’t gonna happen. Besides, the garage will fill up daily, as it’s the only access to the system for I-90 and I-405 riders wishing to avoid the tolls on the floating bridge by then.
        They’re a captive audience, so ‘who cares how much shoe leather they spend in the station’.
        There should be a common index for each station.
        Ped Misery Index = Inverse of the avg combined steps taken by three classes of riders. (Park/Riders, Bus Transferees, and Pedestrians from the surrounding walkshed)
        I think SBTC would score pretty low. (meaning lots of steps for everyone)
        Elevator avg wait/ride times add two steps per second.

      7. This is a total non-story, and not about safety concerns. For street-level stations an entrance where you cross the tracks at-grade is the simplest way to build the station. For elevated and underground stations a single entrance from ground level is the simplest way to build the station. Without some serious potential for ridership gains why add more entrances?

        That’s why the Northgate bridge, connecting the station to the college, is important. It’s why a center platform for east-south transfers in the tunnel might be worthwhile. It’s why the path of buses through South Bellevue matters. And it’s why a bridge from the top floor of a parking garage that will fill up either way doesn’t matter.

      8. The point of a transit system is to allow the public to get around conveniently. If the goal were just filling vehicles we could just revert to the third-world situation where buses don’t move until they fill up, so the first passenger has to sit waiting for possibly an hour until enough other passengers arrive. A Northgate bridge or a Westlake Station Pike Street entrance may or may not raise the passenger count but it would make the system significantly more usable for passengers. It’s the same reason I advocate for center platforms rather than side platforms, because it makes the station more flexible and simpler for passengers.

        The argument for a P&R bridge is less compelling because drivers have already gotten a major convenience by the P&R’s existence, and the walk to the platform is a minor factor in their decision to take transit. But in the case of the Northgate bridge or a Westlake Pike Street entrance, it saves people from walking through intersections and traffic lights or a long way around a freeway barrier. That can add five or twenty minutes to a trip, possibly as much as the entire travel time, and make transit a non-viable alternative, or at least extremely inconvenient.

      9. perhaps ST could be convinced to install pole vaulting boxes on both sides of the chasm. I’d suggest the Gill Model 500 for only $329 each. Of course commuters will be responsible for their own poles.
        I thought about the worlds shortest gondola ride, but the cars would have to be timed with a Link train every 10 minutes – impossible!
        Somebody stick a fork in me. I’m done!

    1. If you look around hard enough, you may still be able to find a conversion guide published by the EPA on how to convert your car to run on hydrogen. This was published during the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s. These days, most places probably don’t have this available any more due to the liability of someone blowing themselves up. However, I have seen and read a copy that was available in our local library in Oregon City in the 1980s. It covers things like building your own home electrolysis facility for making the hydrogen.

    2. So, let’s go through that article.

      The usual claim from the hydrogen hucksters that hydrogen is a “plentiful resource”. In fact, it isn’t even a resource; it has to be manufactured, like electricity. The only renewable manufacturing method… is to make it using electricity, a process which wastes a fair amount of energy.

      The article estimates fueling costs for hydrogen to be equal to that of ethanol, which (I find upon doing research) is roughly 10% lower than that of gasoline. This seems optimistic, but let’s go with it. Electricity for cars costs less than 50% what gasoline does for similar cars.

      Meanwhile, nothing is said about initial purchase price; all reports, however, are that these are going to be more expensive to manufacture than battery-electric cars.

      And that’s before we get into the extreme expense involved in the fuelling stations.

      Hydrogen for land transport is a dead end. Give it up. It may have a niche market but it really has nothing going for it.

      1. The Institute of Gas Technology reports that “most commercial electrolyzers available today are capable of electricity-to-hydrogen efficiencies above 75 percent, while their capital-cost potential is far less than that of power stations that would be required to run them.”

        (written over ten years ago, imagine it has improved since then…)

        And that’s before we get into the extreme expense involved in the fuelling stations.

        H2 Station set up in 48 hours:

        these are going to be more expensive to manufacture than battery-electric cars.

        They will have everything a battery electric car has, but less of a battery (maybe an ultra-capacitor) and a fuel cell (which has become smaller and lighter than ever in current models by Hyundai and others). The battery in a battery car, as in a hybrid, is very heavy. At the same time, it’s not even a valid comparison since the range and ordeal of charging makes them unworkable for the average motorist.

      2. IIRC the major losses aren’t in electrolyzing, but in compressing the hydrogen to the extremely high pressures needed to store it. Compressing gases inevitably results in losing a lot of energy as heat.

      3. The crafty Germans have come up with a way to produce hydrogen from excess wind power that actually makes sense:

        Storing wind energy with hydrogen

        No loss from compressing the gas. No expense of building all new very expensive pipelines. The only problem is I can’t see wind energy ever having a large surplus capacity. In the US it currently accounts for only 4% of the electricity produced and about 8% in Germany. with the ever increasing amount being produced by natural gas that can be throttled back fairly quickly it’s hard to see the need to invest a lot of money to capture “excess”. Investing in the so called smart grid has a much better ROI.

  19. Aberdeen City Council’s £19m hydrogen bus scheme has stepped up a gear with the delivery of the city’s first hydrogen-powered buses.

    Council leader Barney Crockett said the hydrogen bus fleet, the world’s largest, will cement Aberdeen’s place as a “leading energy city”.

    He said: “We will have the world’s largest fleet of hydrogen fuel cell buses running on the Aberdeen’s streets, which will help us to not only realise our aspiration of becoming a world-leading city for low carbon technology and maintain our position as a leading world energy city.

  20. Is anyone here a good artist? Someone should create a joke map of STB’s vision for greater Seattle. A wildly exaggerated place where downtown’s density is on steroids, and just train tracks and bike paths where their used to be roads and cars. Not sure what else would go into it. Oh, gondolas! Lots of gondolas! There would still be a few roads, tolled and culdesacless, of course, and only cars with pink mustaches and buses would be allowed on them.

    1. People (including yours truly) have already created lots of different transit vision maps for Seattle. But none of them would be nearly as entertaining as a map (preferably accompanied by illustrations) of your fevered hallucinations about what STB writers and readers support. I think you are the best source for such a map, because it is difficult for any other mapmaker to fully understand the strange world of your mind.

  21. In 24 out of the 25 largest metro areas the median income household can no longer afford the average new car.

    That’s OK though since the 1% can afford the 30% hit in value when they drive that new car off the lot. Telling that the map of cities shows the only growth industry that enables people to be able to afford a new car is the federal government in D.C.

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