91 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Building an NYC Subway Car”

  1. I noticed on the 73X the other day that the auto-announcement for Convention Place Station still mentions the Greyhound Bus Terminal. That got me wondering… how often are those messages changed, and how hard is it for metro to update them?

    1. I wonder if some of the people who program the automated voice announcements might not be very bright. I’ve noticed that, for example, the South Bellevue Park and Ride announcement on one route was vocalized as the “S Bellevue Park and Ride.” In other words, because there was a letter abbreviation on some written page for the word south, the person programming automated voice announcement for the route input the the letter s, so that the announcement said “s” and not the word south. LOL! Another mistake they make is they add n,s,e & w directions to streets that do not have them. “Next stop, Northeast Redmond Way.” There is no map or street sign that says northeast Redmond Way. It’s not called that. Virtually every sign and map just says Redmond Way. Metro superfluously and unnecessarily adds the “northeast” to their announcements. Then lastly, they have a government agency bias when choosing which stops to announce, so, for example, when the B Line enters the BTC, it will announce City Hall, but not Bellevue Square, even though the destination most passengers is the mall over city hall by probably a 10 to 1 ratio. It isn’t logical.

      1. One time my bus said “are Dee” instead of “road” (road was abbreviated “rd.”) It didn’t take long for them to fix that.

      2. The bias is against announcing private companies. I guess to avoid the appearance of favoring certain companies.

      3. They also make a special point of announcing destinations like “DSHS” and “Post Office” which only a tiny percentage of the people on the bus are visiting. Why? I have no clue.

        In any case, I think it’s important to keep the number of destinations announced as brief as possible so the announcement doesn’t go on and on.

    2. I have mentioned this to Metro numerous times without any response.

      Took a while for them to fix “Broadway Avenue” but they eventually did.

      Also, 5th/Jackson mentions Link, Orca, Sounder … but not Amtrak. Don’t know why. It can’t be a government thing … because they DO mention the Intl District post office (among others)

      1. What bugs me on the A northbound at 176th where it announces the airport but not the Link station. It seems to be random which Link stations get mentioned and which don’t.

      2. The A-Line at 176th street used to mention the link station in addition to the airport, but it doesn’t anymore. My guess is that they thought that it was too lengthy of an announcement. It seemed a bit long to me. And it’s probably fine, since the last stop is a link station anyway.

      3. In other cites the rapid transit station would be considered the most important thing in the area. In Chicago the buses say “Transfer to Red Line” or Brown Line etc, and the sign inside the bus says the street name and the el line.

      4. Probably the best place to transfer from a line to link NB is seatac but SB unless you end your trip at seatac you’re probably better off transferring at TIBS because you don’t have to cross a street to get to your stop.

      5. Except that the A has traffic lights and turns getting out of TIB, plus three more stops, plus the road speed limit.

    3. Highline Community College changed its name to “Highline College” on July 1. On July 5, I took route 166, and the welcome announcement still said “Highline Community College,” but the announcement of the stop that the college is on said “Highline College.” This is actually pretty quick for metro.

    4. It’s not just Metro. CT only just updated their next-stop signs and announcements last week for routes 201 and 202, which were re-routed in early June.

    5. Today on the 60 I noticed that it announced “Seattle Central College” … so the system must be updated with some frequency … I would imagine that it’s some sort of download that they get

  2. Speaking of bad announcements, why is OneBusAway still showing the weekday schedule on the 4th of July? I can only imagine how many confused people were waiting and waiting for a weekday-only bus that was never going to show up.

    1. Yeah … I don’t understand why the system cannot display special schedule days on holidays …

    2. It’s not even a special schedule just for the holidays. It’s the same schedule as every other Sunday, so it’s obviously in their database.

      I almost fell for it myself. Fortunately, I had enough knowledge of the Seattle transit system to realize something was up when everything seemed too frequent for a Sunday to be believable. (Thankfully, the route I was waiting for is frequent seven days a week (the C-line), so I didn’t lose much).

  3. How much of a priority should it be for sdot, metro, the city and county to provide signal priority and off board payment? Is this not a big deal? Would the ability to control all the traffic lights in the city from a central location be of great use?

    1. It’s a priority, but SDOT and Metro are both faced with huge funding challenges. SDOT provides signal priority and helps fund off board payment where and when they can, but they have a longer list of projects than they have money to build them.

  4. Wish bad information systems were the most discouraging thing under discussion this morning. Maybe it’s because the happy tone in the pitch under the video has been used so often to sell us everything from diapers to Viagra to politicians.

    But I wonder how many viewers and listeners noticed in passing that the United States of America can’t make steel anymore, or design transit cars.

    We not only used to make the best transit cars in the world, but we designed and built every inch of them, from steel and from our mills. That’s how the world got PCC streetcars that are still in use after decades, including years under third world conditions.

    And subway cars that served New York City and other US systems, not until they fell apart, but ’til the factories that built them were allowed to. It wasn’t just the carbuilding and steel-making jobs we lost that really wrecked our nation. It was the design skills underneath all the iron and fire.

    Everybody who was close to the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, remember what we went through with the Breda buses, and think how close the comparison was, not with a bus but with a dumpster. Not only were we forced to by junk from a vendor with a reputation for it. We did not have a single vendor in the United States of America willing or able to build us any better.

    Somebody who has served recently with an armored division, please tell us: if Seattle were willing to pay as much per Tunnel bus as the armed forces pay for a tank- could we have had a dual power bus that performed anywhere near as well?

    Mark Dublin

      1. Really feeling my age, Elbar. Because everybody else with any personal operating experience with the Breda Tunnel buses seems to be either dead or too deep in PTSD to write you a list. The Breda buses were designed and manufactured in Italy in the early to ,mid 1980’s, began service in 1990, and were fitted with components from several countries, and assembled in Issaquah.

        They were both so heavy they cracked their own frames, and so underpowered they could barely do freeway speed downhill. They were clumsy to handle, their brakes screeched, and their suspension made them ride like dumpsters.

        Their mode change mechanism was primitive for its own main purpose, and added needless weight. Rear section carried a small, weak diesel engine and a full transmission across the back of the trailer. Diesel powered rear axle.

        Front section had the electric motor ahead of the center axle it powered. Mode change had compressed air pistons on each separate drive shaft move the shaft in or out of its differential. Compressed air always has a freeze problem in cold weather. And mechanism had to be added to make center drive shaft engage gears.

        But real embarrassment was that the Neoplan company had already given us their own dual power prototype to try out, which ran only on its electric motor powered by a diesel and generator on the highway-same as diesel electric locomotive- and traction power on trolley wire. Far superior bus, at lowest bid.

        Very telling, however, that of the whole world’s bus-building industry, we only got three bids, Neoplan being the lowest.

        However, for some reason never explained to the public, Neoplan refused to post the performance bond clearly specified in the procurement. So Breda got the work, and the most innovative transit service of the decade got fifteen years of permanently impaired service.

        Unfortunately, even the few good qualities of these awful machines were their most lasting ill effects: the strong, powerful electric motor, the good vision from the driver’s seat, and the correct number of doors for the Tunnel- three- maintained their unnatural lives ’til their replacements arrive next year.

        If the zombies kill Brad Pitt and seize Seattle in World War Z II, Props Division will have the perfect transit system for them. Including the smell.

        But worst of all for me, like I said above, is that the United States of America, as well as a generation of really good operating people, really deserve better.

        Ideologically, no political persuasion should accept terrible public equipment. But like any defense project in war-time- and if freeways are national defense like their title says, so are buses- if private industries reject this work re: profitability, this is one of the things Government is for.

        Mark Dublin

        Their few positive qualities-a very good, strong electric motor, good vision from the driver’s seat, and three doors for heavy passenger loads had one bad consequence:

      2. One of the problems being Breda has always been more of a rail car maker than a bus manufacturer. Except for the tunnel busses I’m not aware of any other buses they designed or partially built.

        Even in rail cars Breda isn’t great, most US systems who have bought Breda vehicles have been very unhappy with them. Unfortunately they keep winning contracts due to low bids.

    1. in a related fact …

      if a Canadian bus manufacturer like New Flyer buys american steel and makes parts for buses with them … then it FAILS the Buy America Act.

      if a US company buys Chinese steel and makes bus parts and ships them to Canada … then it MEETS the Buy America Act.

      Also, no Iron Mill in the US will make girder rail anymore … lots of other countries do, but not here. Our two streetcar lines have it because they were self funded (got it made in Austria) … but the Broadway extension? the CCC line? they will not be able to use that rail because of Buy America.

      So, they will either have to fake the flange way using normal rail or they will have to use LR55 rail like they are using in Kansas City (although switch components for this rail type are as of yet unproven) …

      so yay America … thanks to protectionism we will end up with lower quality infrastructure

      1. Thank you, Mark Dublin, for the Breda explanation. I moved here in 1989 so I must have ridden these buses without realizing what they were called. Screeching brakes sure ring a bell. Wonder if these were the buses that so often popped open the windows at the slightest breeze going across the 520 bridge?

    2. There are only a few plants on earth that are able to do that level of stainless steel fabrication. With Amtrak consuming most USA capacity with the new viewliner order, and Chicago Metra consuming much of the rest, there are only so many other places to go.

    3. Mark,

      Metro did have a choice when buying the tunnel buses. NeoplanUSA of Lamar, Colorado had a competing bid that was proven using tech borrowed from its parent company (that it was beginning to separate from at the time) in West Germany. But the board of the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle (it had not been forced to merge with Rufus King County yet) decided to go with Breda (now AnasaldoBreda) becasue, you guessed it, they promised to do the production not in Lamar, Colorado where Neoplan had a permanent factory and was paying good wages, but in Issaquah, Washington State. While I had not heard about the Neoplan performance bond issue until now, I did hear that after Local 587 raised a stink, the workers in Issaquah finally got paid at an above-minimum wage:
      (Scroll down to the section under “TCFL”
      Of course, the location in Issaquah, as when Breda/AnsaldoBreda always sets up shop locally to win bids, was touted as being permanent and being the future production point for rail cars all over North America:

      But hey, at least Metro ended up with some useful 60-foot ETBs. Other places on the planet have fared far worse:

      AnsaldoBreda in Denmark:

      The company has recently become known for delaying the delivery of the new IC4 high-speed Diesel multiple units and refusing to acknowledge penalties claimed by the government because of these delays. The trains were supposed to be ready in 2003, but so far Ansaldobreda has only been able to deliver a single set for testing. May 21st 2008 the Danish customer DSB announced that they would cancel the entire 5 bill. DKK (€670mln) contract unless at least 14 sets are delivered and in service by May 2009. However 70% of the contract amount has already been paid to AnsaldoBreda.

      Update in 2014: The IC4 still cannot run in a train, something which is vital for Jutland to Copenhagen rail operations. The brakes don’t work as they should, the axle boxes break, the wheels wear out too soon, and on and on

      AnsaldoBreda in Sweden:

      The Rusting streetcars of Gothenburg. I’ll let Google Translate be your interpreter:

      AnsaldoBreda in Norway:

      Ansaldobreda is also responsible for providing the new fleet of Classe 72 EMUs for NSB (Norwegian State Railways) local trains in Norway, replacing the aging BM69 units.

      They have also, partnered with Firema, delivered the most recent trams (SL95) to the City of Oslo in the years 1999-2004. Both the NSB trains and the Oslo trams experienced initial technical problems, SUCH AS NOT BEING ABLE TO RUN IN TEMPERATURES BELOW 50 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT* which Ansaldo/Firema received heavy criticism for.

      *(These temperatures apparently can and do occur in Oslo, Norway!)

      Best result in Oslo is that the city will now replace all of its streetcars at once, both the DuWags from 1979 along with the AsaldoBreda-Firema’s from 2004!

      AnsaldoBreda in Boston:

      The Type 8 LRV for Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)(manufactured 1999-2008 with interruptions) These LRVs had extensive problems, and Breda’s attempt to gain the contract for an order of MBTA Blue Line cars was refused despite Breda having the low bid.

      At least Los Angeles was able to come to its senses, dare I say, with a little help from me:


      But not with damage (some speculate it is from the extra heavy AnsaldoBreda cars) done:

      Keep an eye on their contract with Miami and Honolulu for the next chapter.

  5. NYC subway cars — always wondered what makes them choose the long side bench style seats versus the two seat style, with some facing forward, backward and some sideways (like on the E and F line, the ones we used to call the “McDonalds” seats because they had similar brown, orange, yellow colors.

    1. seats are a waste of space when you are over capacity. bench seats on the sides allow for some seating … but more efficient to have standing room.

      1. Hey, I’m with you!

        I also loved the design of the old Manhattan blue buses (1970s) which also had bench seats. They are efficient. They are all essentially for the semi-“handicapped” for people to squeeze into without effort. A skinny person or kid takes up just the space he needs, same as a husky guy like me. And, they have plenty more standing room!

      2. For the most part, weren’t the NYC blue buses during the 70’s repainted green buses? At least that’s what a lot of them looked like to me.

        For long interborough travel, the more seats the better for tired working people lucky enough to get the seats.

      3. you talking about the GMC fishbowls? (with the rounded front window (later angular) ? if so, they were green and repainted blue.

      4. Bench seats or 2+1 seating allows more people per bus and it makes getting in and out quicker. However, it works best on frequent routes where most trips are under 20-30 minutes. It would work for the Center City routes (Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, First Hill). In another transit system the 45th-to-downtown routes would come every 5 minutes and take 15 minutes, but in Metro’s case they take 30 minutes and you can wait another 30 minutes, so that’s stretching it. Likewise, in another transit system the E and 150 wouldn’t be the primary way to get to Shoreline or Kent — you’d use rapid transit for that — so people wouldn’t routinely be on a bus 45-60 minutes and demanding a seat because of that. But here it takes 45 minutes just to get to 145th & Greenwood.

  6. So I’ve updated my Transitmix map. I haven’t made the kind of dramatic additions I did last time (where I added some 30 lines in the space of 2 days), however I have been doing some editing, taking advantage of new features to route buses down the streets I intended to route them down, while also e-coloring routes in order to take advantage of the expanded color palette. One thing that the one of the new features allows me to will be to show Link and Sounder on the map, though I don’t intend to add them until later.


    1. The South King county/Pierce county part is way off. Is that the really, really old 174 on there?
      And I don’t think the 182 was ever routed like that.

      1. It’s not meant to be a current map, it’s meant to show a potential future (the frequencies on the lines, which you can access by clicking on them, really show this). The 174 on this map is meant to be Rapidride A consolidated with PT 500/501 for simplicity. Similarly, the 182 is meant to be consolidated with PT 62. I’ve actually used several of your ideas (the 146 especially) in developing this map, which is still unfinished.

      2. I like your thinking. 181 to downtown Tacoma is a great idea. I don’t think it could work without an inter-agency funding agreement, which could be a problem. But it would balance the responsibilities between counties a bit better. Instead of pierce transit doing 4 routes (402, 500, 501, 62) and metro doing 1 (182), Pierce transit would do 2 routes (402, 501), and metro would do 3 (181, 182, A-Line).

        Kent to Federal Way would suck. I personally think it’s more important to have a connection between Federal Way and Kent Station than a route that is somewhat redundant with the A-line. If metro makes the 183 more straight so it takes less time, then they could operate it every hour with 1 bus in operation, or every half-hour with two buses.

      3. Looking at the map, I think the 183 would have to run virtually nonstop between Kent Station and Federal Way TC to be able to do it every half hour with just 2 buses.

      4. @asdf If the 183 ran on 320th to military, then Reith road to meeker, then straight to Kent station, a basic map software travel time is 21 minutes in current traffic (meaning it might often be better). You can look at my TransitMix (http://www.transitmix.net/map/24937/line/74623) and it says that peak (every 1/2 hour) can be done with 2 buses if the average speed can be kept at 20 mph, with 10% recovery time. If needed, some extra time can be gained by making part of this route run on I-5 (making it a partial express.) One idea is to break this into two hourly routes, 1 route taking I-5 to 272nd St from FWTC, then military road to Kent, the other taking military road to 272nd St, then I-5/SR 516 to Kent, providing a combined 30-minute frequency between FW and Kent. This is also on my transitmix for now (183a and 183b).

  7. I mentioned a week or so ago I heard Metro was going to switch Rapid Ride’s board through the front door after 7pm policy to that of 11pm or 24hrs before the end of the year. Another thing I learned is they have cut back on RR FEO’s. When they used to have just two lines, there were 12 FEO’s. But now that there are six lines, there are just under 20 FEO’s. On paper, that seems like it would be enough, but in reality, I rarely encounter them anymore. Less than once a month.

    PS, if they ever create a 7th line, I hope they skip the letter G. Juvenile minds will know why.

      1. Letters A through G. Three slot schedule holder. I could see Beavis and Butthead types making mischief out of that.

    1. The RR B door signs still say 7pm as of the 4th.

      Of course, it wouldn’t be surprising if they change the policy but don’t get around to changing all the signs until several years later.

      1. Because that’s still the RR policy as of now. Enter through the front door after 7 pm. My sources tell me, though, that the policy will be changed to either 11 pm or 24 hrs before the end of the year.

    2. Spent much of this past week riding the red buses. Both C and D lines terminate in weird locations. Would make more sense to end in Burien and Northgate respectively. The new E line does an awful lot of meandering, for what?

      1. I’ve heard the D would have been extended to Northgate but Metro didn’t have enough money for that so it sent the 40 to Northgate instead. It costs money to have a sufficient number of hotdog red buses for a longer route, plus it’s an implicit promise it will be frequent forever, and that’s precisely what Metro didn’t feel able to promise.

        The F’s meandering has been heavily discussed and lamented here. See the inaugural ride article in early June. In short, it detours into TIB station because Tukwila didn’t want it stopping on Southcenter Blvd and ST is weak on skirting the edge of transit centers. It meanders on W Valley Hwy because Strander Blvd across the RR tracks isn’t finished. It goes to Tukwila Sounder Station even when there’s no train (i.e., midday, evenings, weekends) which most of us think is a waste of time. It uses Oakesdale Avenue in Renton because I think something isn’t finished with Lind Avenue; I forget what. It’s slow in Renton because the Renton streets are slow; there’s not much you could do there except add transit lanes. And get the damn highways out of downtown Renton, but that’s a long-term problem.

  8. A small update on the Tri-County Connector crisis up here in Washington State – and granted this is a partisan news release, but it seems the Tri-County Connectors are running on “start-up” funds:

    Yet the two transit agencies began to rely on this temporary grant as a permanent funding source for the Everett Connector routes. They received a second Regional Mobility Grant of $1,440,000 for the 2007-09 state budget cycle, and a third grant in the 2009-11 budget cycle of $1,624,000. In that third application, the agencies wrote: “Upon expiration of this grant cycle, Island Transit and Skagit Transit will maintain funding for this service through locally-approved sales taxes and other various funding sources. This grant will allow the time necessary for both of our transit agencies to identify future funding sources to ensure we have the funding to continue this service after this grant, enabling us to bring the operating costs of this vital service ‘in house’ after the 2009-2011 grant term ends.”

    Unfortunately, after five years of receiving what was meant to be start-up funds, future funding sources were never identified as promised. Instead, Island Transit pleaded for financial help from the Legislature in 2012 and received an $818,000 appropriation in the state supplemental transportation budget to keep the Everett Connector routes afloat. This was about the same time Island Transit broke ground on its massive new $22.4 million headquarters in Coupeville.

    I share the same frustration as the man at my church. We need this route restored. I am willing to work with Island Transit to make that happen. But in the end, Island Transit must recognize that temporary grants and legislative bailouts are not sustainable sources of funding, and it needs to make the same commitment as Skagit Transit to cover the costs “in house” as promised and restore its Everett Connector route.

    SOURCE: http://houserepublicans.wa.gov/news/hayes-opinion-editorial-island-transit-everett-connector-funding-062714/

    I’ve tipped off a friend in the Whidbey Newsgroup for her to trust but verify these serious allegations. I may (and do) believe them, but the source is partisan. This is frustrating as heck.


    1. Republicans don’t care about anything that doesn’t help sov’s move. They like congestion. They don’t like sharing the ride. So why is this a surprise.

      1. John,

        I find that comment a bit odd. I know Rep. Hayes, an Army vet who also is a Snohomish County Sheriff and he wouldn’t do something that cynical. Plus you know and I know SOVs move faster when more transit users get off the road for a variety of reasons.

        No the problem – assuming these assertions of his are facts – is we have a transit agency that is run based on hope as a strategy. I think those of us who are STB commentariat know hope is NOT a strategy and that many in Olympia do not share Rep. Hayes’ views on transit.

        Perhaps, in conclusion, we need to relabel these “startup grants” as a permanent state funding transfer to local transit agencies and work from there. Thoughts?

      2. The entire transportation system in the USA is run with hope as a stategy. That’s why gasoline taxes haven’t been increased in Washinton, Oregon, or at the federal level since the early 1990s. Everyone hopes that someone will come up with some sort of magic way of making funding appear without any actual effort put forth to create funding.

      3. Except for the five times Washington raised its gas taxes between 2000 and 2010 [the rate is close to double what it was in 1990]

      4. Thank you William, especially with Governor Inslee seeking a carbon/CO2 tax to hike gas another dollar a gallon. Without a vote of the people.

        As a Republican, I hope he does that. It’ll guarantee a Republican Governor. But as somebody who believes taxes should face the voters, not so much.

      5. If all taxes should go for a vote then nothing will ever get done. We should hold our leaders accountable for their actions. How can we expect them to take actions without being able to pay for them?

        I’ve got no objection with referendums if the legislature is so
        Inclined but they need to be allowed to do their job and we need to hold them accountable. If they vote a tax we don’t like we vote them out.

      6. I disagree, there are many times voters have voted to tax themselves more. With the highly regressive tax code we have, it’s only right to let voters vote on taxes.

        I don’t want to fuel paranoia over taxes, but firing a politician after going bankrupt or having to cut back spending on basics is in the end small consolation to working stiffs.

  9. ST has published a more detailed map of station locations in the Federal Way Link alternatives. (Linked from soundtransit.org under “Latest News” in the main projects page.) It’s just a map; no further explanation.

    A few observations. The SR 99 alternative has a station just north of 240th on the west side of the highway. Three alternatives move it west to the college or east to the east side of the highway. 272nd station is on the southeast corner. 320th station is on the south side of the transit center.

    The I-5 alternative has 240th station north of the intersection on the west side of the freeway. An alternative zigzags over to 99 (east side) and back to the freeway. 272nd station is north of the intersection and a bit west of the freeway. (Going into a P&R?) 320th station is in the same location as the 99 alternative, although two alternatives put it further southeast next to 320th adjacent to the freeway.

    There is nothing about 344th or south Federal Way, so that’s outside the plan.

    I want the highway 99 alignment, please.

    1. Thanks for the update. As I see it, there are a few considerations for light rail south of SeaTac, in priority order:

      1) Serving the buses. Generally speaking, this area is not very dense. For light rail in this area to even be moderately successful, there will have to be a lot of bus to rail service. If light rail was a divining rod, it would take a sharp turn east, at 516, to serve Kent. But it won’t, so it makes sense to maximize bus to rail service along the corridors, and that certainly includes 516, but also I-5 and 99. I really don’t know what stops are the best for quick bus service in the area.

      2) Serve the college. This is probably the best location for walk up riders anywhere along this corridor between SeaTac and Tacoma.

      3) Serve the pockets of density along that route. This is where you are completely right — 99 makes more sense. A little south of 216th and a little east of 99 is a fine stop (for that area). Likewise with 260th. I really see nothing gained by going east to I-5.

      Of course, that is, assuming that buses can get to the stations just as easily. I would sink all my money on a transit center somewhere close to 516 and 99. I would spend whatever it takes to make sure the buses can get there easily (HOV ramps on I-5, HOV lanes on the highway, etc.). Ideally, it would serve the college as well. That might not be possible. If I had to compromise, I would sacrifice the college, and try to make the system a bit better. For example, if it turned out the best spot for a transit center is east of 99, then I would build a bridge over 99 (just as we plan on building a bridge over I-5 for the students at North Seattle College).

      Once you built that station, I wouldn’t go any further. There really isn’t much between there and Tacoma. That’s a really long distance. Since most Tacoma riders probably want to just go to Seattle anyway, they would be better off with express bus service on I-5 (which will soon be all HOV lanes). The only people who would benefit from light rail south of Highline Community College are the very small number of people close to a station and folks from Tacoma who want to go to SeaTac. I think spending money on making faster bus to rail transfers would be a much better way to spend the money.

      1. You’re right about a terminus at Kent-Des Moines. But you can have both the KDM station and one for the college. If this is really going to be the end of the line the drop down south of the KDM station and run on the ground to the college.

        IT’S LIGHT RAIL; it doesn’t have to be on an elevated structure to go between two closely separated stations out in the boonies.

        Now there’s some question that ST is actually committed to extending to Federal Way and Tacoma by its founding documents, but maybe that can be repealed.

    2. Kent has already promised TOD neighborhoods at its Link stations if the 99 alignment is chosen, and I think Des Moines will follow suit. The optional stations I didn’t mention (216th and 260th) have development possibilities too, although smaller.

      Regardless of whether Federal Way and Tacoma are justified, the political weight is in that direction so turning east is a non-starter.

      I had to look up highway 516; it’s Kent-Des Moines Road.

      “Serving the college” has tradeoffs. The best station location is on 99 between 240th and KDM Road, which is a 10 or 11 minute walk from end to end. The “preferred” location is north of 240th, which would require Kent buses to turn left onto 99 to get to it. But it’s more pedestrian-friendly than right at KDM Road. It’s right in front of a college building, but the main campus is a 5-minute walk west across a large parking lot. I don’t want the station right at the campus (the westernmost alternative) because while that would be good for students it would be bad for buses and residents, and the latter is the all-day demand. Let the college mitigate its parking lot with a nice walking path or add some buildings in the lot.

    3. I really really don’t understand the option that goes from 99 to I5 and then back to 99 again … (the 4th/blue option) … I mean what possible benefits would that actually have other than making an unnecessary jaunt eastwards

      1. The hypothesis was cheapness, speed, and serving the P&Rs. Federal Way in particular thought it would make it more likely for the line to reach FWTC sooner in our limited-funding envirionment. The study will hopefully show that 99 is not more expensive, not slower, and has greater all-day ridership potential.

        Another motivation for the freeway route is if the cities object to a train on 99, as Tukwila did re Tukwila International Blvd, which it had just rebuilt (for cars) and didn’t want it torn up again. However, the cities have not objected to a train on Pacific Highway.

        Especially the zigzagging is screwy. Why go to I-5 just to come back two miles later? The alternative is there because it was required by the mandate (“an I-5 alternative that serves Highline College”). Hopefully the study will show how screwy it is and it’ll be deleted. But the only thing worse than an I-5 alternative that zigzags is an I-5 alternative that doesn’t zigzag (i.e., stops at 240th & I-5). We have to make sure that alternative is dropped before dropping the zigzag one.

  10. I have an idea that improves Metro trolley service.

    On stops where passing wires are provided, the switch where the passing wire diverges from the main should send the bus’ poles to the passing wire by default. This prevents trolley operators from using the lift when their poles are not on the passing wire. If a following bus doesn’t want to use the passing wire, then he/she can signal left to throw the switch and keep their poles on the main wire.

    1. Good idea, SR. Same for a few more turnback wires, like at Stone Way for the 44 so buses from the U-District don’t have to go all the way to Ballard to turn around. And for supervision turning back trolleys when they fall late, resulting in two buses so close they should be coupled.

      Which, incidentally, the Russians used to do, with incredibly beaten-up Skoda’s. At least with Russian machinery, dents and scrapes don’t seem to stop them.

      Also add to the list moving the substation breaker and its dead spot around the corner and a bloc east of its present location a block from the bottom of the northbound Queen Anne Counterbalance.

      Would have more sympathy for budgetary arguments if these problems hadn’t persisted over about forty years of budget cycles. Possible cure: electric transit all taken over by a single workers’ cooperative. Anyhow, one way to put trolley service under management who sees it as main purpose.


      1. I continue to be amazed 20 years after moving away from QA that that dead spot at the bottom of QA Avenue is still there.

  11. Trolleybuses run on the weekends now? I just noticed this today on multiple routes.

      1. no. ETBs are normal for weekends … maybe not on all lines but most … they’ve only been a rarity duet the construction of the First Hill Streetcar … but since that’s done … there’s no reason not to run them (unless the qty of drivers is short)

        note: 40′ Gillig ETBs are used more than normal on runs like the 43 on weekends

      2. Actually I’ve gotten weekly alerts on trolleys and with the exception of holiday weekends there’s been no etb’s on weekends for some time now. I read them every week. Come back to me on Friday and maybe it’ll be different. But they never motorize on holiday weekends. Also just because the first hill project is done doesn’t mean that someone else doesn’t have a project that requires shutting them down (only allowed on weekends for obvious reasons and discouraged on holiday weekends).

  12. Start Homes At Reasonable Prices (Nowhere near Seattle)

    If you’re like me, you realize that there isn’t a chance in hell that you could ever by a decent home in Seattle or now, anywhere near here.

    The good news is someone is doing something about it. Remember all those jumbo-loan-subprime-homes that sold for $600,000 and defaulted? Well, someone bought them cheap, fixed them up and now is selling them for what they should have in the first place: $160-200,000!

    Starter Homes in Demand With Builder LGI Shares Soaring

    Cheryl Pate-Yow rushed to LGI Homes Inc. (LGIH)’s sales office south of Houston the day after receiving a mailer that said she could own a new home for $689 a month, only $24 more than rent on her one-bedroom apartment.


    So how about it…how long do you think people can hit themselves on the head with a hammer, before they realize how good it feels when you stop?

    1. I wouldn’t buy a home in South Houston if someone gave it to me for free. There’s a reason housing is cheap there.

    2. Define “decent home.” If you mean 0.25 acres with a single-story rambler spread, then no, you’re not going to find that in a semi-dense urban environment. If you mean a smaller lot with off-street parking, two stories, and a basement, those can still be found for under $300,000, especially if you’re willing to add in some contractor (or your own) work. I know this is true because I recently did it. If you want a townhouse (which I’d have liked to have but got overruled on location), even easier.

      Living in South Houston is cheap for the same reason that living in Algona is cheap.

      Also, I wonder if that builder is being up front and telling people that the $689/month is principal-and-interest only and doesn’t include mandatory PMI/MIP (unless a buyer brings a substantial down payment, which isn’t required), property taxes, and property insurance. With Texas property tax rates and the other items, that “only $24 more than rent” usually turns out to be “only $505 more than rent.”

    3. So when’s your going away party, John?

      I lived in Houston for six years and I will tell you right up front that it is unlivable for an extended period for anyone who’s lived here. There are places in Texas — mostly in the Edwards Plateau area — which have decent weather and are lovely. But the only reason to go to Houston is to improve one’s resume; for ten months out of the year one simply can’t spend any time outside before 9:00 PM.

      The good news is the they let anyone do the job there IF that person can actually do the job. It’s the least “credentials” oriented place in the United States. I believe that is one of its greatest competitive advantages.

      1. I almost made the mistake of thinking JB is moving to Fort Worth (Chistolm Springs). But he didn’t say that; he qouted someone else who did. Last I heard JB was looking around Yakima.

        BTW, that Chistolm Springs article is dated 2008 and the comment is from 2011. So who knows if it’s still as inexpensive or popular as it was.

  13. Since this is an open thread…

    1) Does anyone know of an appropriate street to park a car for a few days (possibly up to 4 days) by the Edmonds station? I haven’t been up there in person yet to see what the town looks like or if this is possible. The Amtrak website indicates that there is no long-term parking.

    2) I just thought of the Stone Way turnback for the 44 yesterday. It’d be a good one!

    1. U-Park lot north of the station for up to 6 days. Sign says $15/24 hrs, but have been told that when multiple days are requested from the electronic kiosk, it drops ($12/day?).
      Most of the street parking next to the station has 3 hr limit.
      Parking lot at the station is owned and operated by Sound Transit for the Sounder commuter train, Free, but can’t park longer than 24 hrs. Lot is full by last train into SEA @ 7:41 AM.

      Hide & Ride is a good 8 blocks east before 3hr limit signs disappear.

    2. Before blowing $48 on parking, it might be worth considering alternative options to get to Edmonds Station. Community Transit bus serve between Lynnwood and Edmonds isn’t too bad Monday-Saturday (beware, though, it doesn’t run at all on Sunday). If the bus doesn’t work taking Uber to the station is another option. It’s not free, but if Edmonds is closer to you than Seattle or Everett stations, I’m guessing the distance is close enough to make even the round trip cost significantly less than $48.

      1. Also, CT is done for the night by 10, so if your return trip is #517, and it gets in a little late, you won’t have the bus option.

  14. “I like your thinking. 181 to downtown Tacoma is a great idea.”

    And it would require a new bridge through the Blair Waterway, but it would probably be worth it.

    “I don’t think it could work without an inter-agency funding agreement, which could be a problem.”

    That wouldn’t be as much of a problem as right now. I’m envisioning this system having a mostly distance based fare system (with an additional zonal overlay ensuring that super short trips aren’t too incentivized), where you tap on/tap off on every bus. This would make it lot simpler to tell what parts of a trip took place where and how the operators will divvy things up amongst themselves.

    “But it would balance the responsibilities between counties a bit better. Instead of pierce transit doing 4 routes (402, 500, 501, 62) and metro doing 1 (182), Pierce transit would do 2 routes (402, 501), and metro would do 3 (181, 182, A-Line).”

    First, in reality, everything is now Sound Transit, at least in terms of branding. King County Metro and Pierce Transit still exist as operators, and still have the main say where most of the routes they operate go, but what people see on the street is all Sound Transit. Secondly, the A-Line and 501 are archaisms, they’re currently called the 174 and 451. The reason for the number shift is consistency, with the first digit (or the lack of it) determines where a spends the majority of it’s operating it. Here, routes numbered 1xx operate in South King County and routes numbered 4xx operate in Pierce County. (With xx being Seattle routes, 2xx being Eastside routes, 3xx Snohomish County routes, 6xx being Thurston/Lewis/Pacific/Grays Harbor County, 7xx being Whatcom/Skagit/Island/San Juan county 8xx being Kitsap/Mason/Jefferson/Clallam County, 5xx are Intercity routes (ones that operate through at least three fare zones) and 9xx represents Rail and Ferry routes (but not streetcars).

    “Kent to Federal Way would suck. I personally think it’s more important to have a connection between Federal Way and Kent Station than a route that is somewhat redundant with the A-line. If metro makes the 183 more straight so it takes less time, then they could operate it every hour with 1 bus in operation, or every half-hour with two buses.”

    I’m thinking of altering that segment, since I just realized that the 182 doesn’t need to go past South Federal Way with a Link station at 348th. However, while Kent to Federal Way no longer has a one seat ride, most of the major options are frequent (169 to Link/174/584+590, 153 to 181) 7 days a week. Though like I said, this map is far from finished, and things will probably change quite a bit while I’m working on it.

  15. Does anyone know what the off-peak headways for Link light rail will be in 2016 (after extensions to UW and Angle Lake open)? Will Link remain at 10-min off-peak frequencies, or will frequencies be improved to 7.5-min? While Sound Transit’s Service Implementation Plan assumes that peak frequencies will be improved to every 6 minutes, it doesn’t seem to mention off-peak headways.

    This is very important because it largely dictates the frequencies of connecting buses. At 7.5 minute base headways on Link, connecting buses can have 7.5, 15, or 30 minutes for well-timed connections, whereas 10 minute headways on Link would require 10, 20, or 30 minute headways. As I’m planning some bus restructure ideas for U-Link, this is crucial information.

    1. I would guess the only change for now would be longer trains (three cars or even four) which is not possible now due to logistical constraints. Other than that I don’t expect frequency changes until later.

      1. Also according to the SIP, they plan on continuing to run 2 car trains. By 2019, the expected demand will exceed the design capacity.

      2. if 2-car trains can handle the new additional stops … why extend them? I would imagine that the chart though is showing the averages … so at rush hours / peak usage times I would expect to see 3/4 car trains as the norm.

    1. I’m confused. Isn’t the Ballard street car study already done in conjunction with the ST long range planning?

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