This is an open thread.

65 Replies to “News Roundup: Dream Job”

    1. This could be a great way to get home from the airport, especially late at night. Now, if only UberX were allowed to do airport pickups…

      1. What about any event travel?

        Say 5 people want to go to a Sounders game from nearby homes..easy pickup!

  1. From the commuter rail -> regional transit link above:

    In the 2007 strategic plan, GO chairman Peter Smith emphasized that the agency needed to “grow into an even more comprehensive system that links multiple activity centres and communities,” spreading its mission beyond just serving peak travelers into central Toronto. The plan specified the goal of expanding service to every 15 minutes during the peak hours and every 30 minutes off-peak. In the post recent five-year strategy of GO’s overseeing agency (Metrolinx), the agency lays out its plan to transition to an “all-day regional transit service.” You can be assured that the largest U.S. commuter agencies have no such plans on their radar.

    One year ago, GO took the most significant step yet in that direction, bringing all-day, half-hourly, two-directional service to the Lakeshore commuter lines, up from one-hour headways. The change has already increased ridership by 30% on those lines.

    Sounds like an ideal blending of a future Sounder + Seattle Subway Expansion designs. Reading other articles, GO in Toronto are using DMUs (as suggested by STB commenters at various times).

    GO Rail and a Regional Express Rail Network

    “GO has since purchased diesel multiple units for the Union-Pearson Express service,[6] and low-emission Tier-4 diesel locomotives to propel bi-level trains. ”


    1. I’ve always thought that the Bailo Vision, a regional rail network to that allows for quick node to node travel, is essentially impossible because node to node connections aren’t that useful in a dispersed urban area when you still need a car to travel from the node to your final destination. Problem is that nodes just aren’t nodal enough. In Seattle, such a system would not get anywhere near the ridership to justify rail. Maybe a system of express buses. You find workable systems like this in Tokyo, London and Paris, but those cities are big and have transit systems at the nodes to take you to your final destination. I’ll grant that the GO system around Toronto is might fit the Bailo Vision, but there some caveats. Weekday boardings are around 250,000, so there is more ridership to support all-day and counterflow service; it is downtown oriented; it was cheap to implement originally; the railway lines were already there; GO has purchased most of its rail network outright at reasonable cost.

    2. Decades ago, regional local trains were part of the transportation system in many cities.

      Only a few have retained those to the point they are still regional networks:
      (Regional rail on the map is standard FRA compatible equipment operating EMU or electric locomotive trains)
      Granted some of SEPTA’s service is only half hourly, but they do so all day long.

      Of course, the problems with nearly 100 year old infrastructure and badly entrenched management methods has its disadvantages as well.

    3. You do realize GO is not going to be in charge or operate the UPX. It is different company.

  2. On page 2, I’ve posted a link to 3 historical timetables from the 1970s (routes 7, 9 and 42). Comments, suggestions and tech tips would be greatly appreciated.

  3. That Bolivia article is interesting because they are planning a fairly large network of these gondola things.

    On the other hand, for a city at 15,000 feet above sea level and near the summit of the Andes, La Paz is one place where it can be said that Seattle is probably too flat for that type of system.

    I flew into La Paz once and it was an odd feeling because the plane had none of the usual descent time at all.

    1. Seattle is too flat for that kind of system

      Ha, that’s funny. It probably doesn’t rain often enough, either. Seriously, though, I see no reason why altitude makes a difference with this system, or any other electric system. There location probably plays havoc with internal combustion systems, but that is a different matter.

      Local relief, on the other hand, makes a big difference. Overall budget and the volume of people makes a difference, too. This is why a gondola based system makes perfect sense for much of Seattle. We don’t have the money (or won’t spend the money) building first class light rail everywhere. If we do end up building light rail to places like First Hill, the Central Area and South Lake Union then it won’t be for a very long time. Meanwhile, there are huge obstacles in the way of various routes. Some of these are natural (we are a very hilly city, although not as hilly as we used to be) but some are man made (I-5, Aurora, etc.). The end result is that ground level solutions just aren’t there for some very common, very obvious routes. Capitol Hill to South Lake Union is a great example. Try getting from Harrison and Summit to Harrison and Fairview. It’s not that far as the crow flies. But for a person, it requires an extra six blocks of walking. You could ride your bike, but that hill is a killer on the way back, and the road is nasty. You could take a bus, but unless you are planning on reading War and Peace, I would recommend against it. On the other hand, a cheap gondola could have you there in no time.

      These aren’t two obscure places, either. We are talking about two very populous areas (for Seattle) and one very big employment center. A gondola could be built ten, maybe twenty years before we start talking seriously about building light rail between there. Worse case scenario, you are stuck with a transportation system that didn’t cost that much to build, doesn’t cost that much to run, is redundant, but hugely popular (similar to the Monorail, one of the few public transportation systems that actually pays for itself). The only thing that is stopping it is the bizarre desire to be a follower, not an innovator. If more American cites had them, we would too. But until then, we will continue to be jealous of the crows.

      1. It makes sense in places, but La Paz is talking building a 12 mile network of them. La Paz to El Alto is an hour by road, but 20 minutes by gondola. It’s an insane Andes road filled with sharp hairpin turns as it climbs an escarpment. Only city I can think of that has something like that in the northwest is Hood River, and that is only a short section of old US 30 east of town.

        We in the USA were blessed with several generations of dynamite wielding construction crews that dealt with that type of thing in urban areas.

      2. A gondola from West Seattle to First Hill could help out with not only regular transportation needs but as additional emergency services connectivity. It also looks like it would be fun to ride. I wonder what the ticket would cost.

  4. I think East Link’s Hospital Station name needs to be changed. It’s going to be too confusing for everyone. People who are trying to get to hospitals in Seattle and other Puget Sound cities will wind up at Bellevue’s Overlake Hospital and Group Health by mistake. So I have a solution that will be less confusing and a nice callback to Bellevue’s history. 70 years ago Lake Bellevue used to be called Sturtevant Lake, and the land surrounding land was called Brierwood Park. So people don’t get confused, I think Hospital Station should be called Brierwood Park/Sturtevant Lake Station.

    I also think Bellevue Station’s name should be changed. That will be too confusing, too, because there’s already a South Bellevue Station on the same line. People won’t know which station is which. So I’m currently researching what Native Americans used to call the land around 112th and 6th, where Bellevue Station will be located, and I think we should call it that historical name, to avoid confusion. Or, about 3 blocks away from the station, there’s a park called Robert E. McCormick Park. What about renaming Bellevue Station Robert E. McCormick Park Station, to avoid confusion?

    1. I would rename the Bellevue Station as I-405/NE 6th Station. Central Bellevue is a bit of a misnomer…

    1. I wonder how many people who are outraged that the 61 is going away either voted against the save metro measure.. or didn’t vote at all.

      1. No matter what government does, someone is going to be outraged. A minimum bar for reasonable outrage here ought to require that either (a) you ride the bus being cut, or (b) enough people ride the bus that cutting the bus has a non-negligible negative effect on quality of life of non-riders,or perhaps (c) group (a) seems to disproportionately contain people who cannot be outraged for themselves. This is a first round cut, which for the most part cut stupid empty buses. So the number of people falling into class (a) is small and (b) isn’t plausibly an issue. I’d be surprised if there had been systematic discrimination here — the process is designed to avoid it, but perhaps (c) really is an issue. Otherwise what we have is a small group of people complaining (legitimately) that they got hurt. But unless they have a suggestion of how to restore service for free, this is a zero sum game: to avoid hurting them, you’;d have to hurt someone else. Do they have any specific suggestions?

      2. The people outraged at the 61 going away are the same that were outraged when the 17 all day went away, which only had ridership from downtown Ballard south and was largely an auxiliary bus to the old 15 and 18.

      3. @Robert Cruickshank Maybe the did, maybe they did not. The vote maps still up on the net show somewhat lukewarm support for transit near Sunset Hill. The bigger problem we had was turnout in the city though, and I think that is likely where the bigger problem was.

      4. @djw

        True, I think the bigger problem on Sunset Ridge was turnout, and that was a city wide problem.

      5. Considering that the vast majority of Sunset Hill residents never ride the #61, yet a majority of them still voted for prop 1, it is probably the case that yes, a large majority of the tiny number of people who actually ride the #61 regularly, actually did vote for prop 1 (assuming they bothered to vote at all).

    2. I sometimes take the 61. When I’m waiting on Market Street, if the 61 comes before the 40, I hop on. I have just a little more walking to do when I alight off the 61 than off the 40. I only wish it had more patronage, but as stated, very few avail themselves of it. So, in a crunch, it has to go. Just like the jitney a few years ago which ran a circular route, from Ballard to Fremont and back. It actually served NW 65th Street! Was a great way to get to Woodland Park Zoo from Ballard. Alas, it also had very sparse ridership, even though the communities in question lobbied hard for it, and it was eventually cut. I wish those jitneys could be brought back–it was years ago and who knows where they are now. Seems they would cost less to maintain than a full bus and could be used on some of the less patronized routes.

  5. Moving the current tenants of the strip mall now is a better idea than trying use money to help them limp along in their current location given the access issues they will have. Hopefully the owner of the building will take this opportunity to develop it into something that fits the new station better.

    I could easily see prospective tenants like 7/11 or Starbucks wanting to be there on day one…

    Given the station proximity, they might even consider building a multi-story residential building with retail on the bottom.

  6. Route 61 could easily be turned back at the Ballard Senior Center, which is west terminal for the 44, or in Downtown Ballard, where it could meet the 18 and the 40- which now also serves Fred Meyer. When revenue comes through, Magnolia could be even better terminal- no Ballard-Seattle route now.

    Pioneer Square: anybody else think decline of Pioneer Square began when the Waterfront Streetcar was reduced to paved-over tracks? First Hill line might help, though even better if line was also routed northbound through Pioneer Square- either to First Hill line or new Waterfront line- or both.


    1. Typo: should have read Ballard-MAGNOLIA service- with possible connection with Route 24.


      1. That makes much sense, even if it is just to the northern-most part of the serpentine-turning of the 24. Had to get from Magnolia to Ballard last week, and the fastest way was walking across a creaky old bridge over the railroad, then across the locks.

    2. Mark, I suspect that might have been part of it; also buses being moved off First Ave. might have contributed somewhat. A lot of it was the recession too. All this happened right around the same time, too, making things worse.

      1. nobody takes the 99 now … that still runs up first ave from Jackson to at least Clay st (somewhere in Belltown)

        and the 16/66 (which are on 1st ave from Jackson to Seneca) … on the rare occasion that I take one of them from Occidental/Jackson to 3rd/Pike … I am usually either the only person or one of 3 or so and usually they are just people hoping to catch up with the RapidRide bus they just missed

    3. Decline? Pioneer Square has always been a high concentration of vice and crime, dating back to the the first settlers of Seattle. The types and amount of vice and crime have fluctuated throughout the years, but it’s never been a friendly neighborhood like the article wants it to strive for. It’s going to take a lot more than a few family friendly restaurants and stop signs to turn it around.

      And I love their picture of Occidental Park, which is basically representative of the 12 – 1 lunch hour, where it gets flooded by office workers. At other times, you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. I never feel unsafe walking through it, but it’s not a park I’d like to linger around.

      1. I arrived here over twenty years ago, long before the Streetcar met its well earned death, and buses were (quite rightly) moved off first. In my time here, Pioneer Square has never been an attractive neighborhood. Of course the recession made it worse, but it was plenty squalid even when times were good.

      2. I had a problem with the author saying people should “get over” the presence of “dangerous street people”. As a woman who worked and still bikes through that area, and I am used to being harassed there. It’s not about being a snob or wanting to hide from “people less fortunate” but from all-to-frequent demeaning experiences. To invigorate Pioneer Square, we will have to actually solve the underlying problems, rather than “get over it”.

      3. All of first avenue used to be really sleazy, back in the day. South Lake Union used to be a dumpy, warehouse filled neighborhood, too. Most of the Central Area was filled with black people (long before there was a gay presence there). All those areas changed, and are still changing. I think Pioneer Square will as well. The key here is that the neighborhood population is growing. Eventually you reach a tipping point, and an area becomes more self sufficient and popular. The added population also justifies the extra police presence. I don’t buy the idea of the streetcar making a difference, but I do think getting rid of the viaduct will help a bit. As long as the city keeps growing, and the city allows more housing in the area, this area will get nicer.

    4. William and Rapid Rider, I was talking more about empty storefronts. Those other problems will probably always be there.

      1. Although I will say I pass through a group of street people every morning on my way to work from the bus with no problem. But that’s just anecdotal and shouldn’t count, I guess.

  7. > Rail union unhappy with BNSF proposal for one-person train crews.

    In other news, Turkey union unhappy with Thanksgiving.

  8. Hmm… is it really faster to take Denny Eastbound between 1st and 3rd than using Broad? Maybe at non-rush hour times, but bus 8 often takes 15-20 minutes to get between 1st and 3rd on Denny.

  9. Have a little respect for local history, Rapid. Compensation is that real scum and villainy has moved blocks north into the Financial District, with no street rail at all ’til First Avenue line goes through- with sad loss of character and characters with names like Slim and Shorty.

    Too bad the boring machine broke down before it found even one skeleton with a knife between its ribs. Still hoping it will find one or two, in addition to well preserved house ill repute, a couple of steamboats, and an opium den with decorated 19th century pipes and spoons.

    But mainly miss villainy section of Elliott Bay books with streetcar shaking cafe floor. Hopefully this in-its-day futuristic modern development will help eliminate piles of horse-droppings- including those moved in spirit form to University Street station area.


  10. I drove Route 1 yesterday afternoon. The new inbound routing on Denny Way eastbound does save time except during the afternoon rush hour when it took 20 minutes to go four blocks at 5:00 PM. It would be nice if Metro allowed us to use a downtown version of the “Friday night reroute” with the old wire on 1st Avenue but you would miss servicing the bus stop on Denny Way eastbound nearside 3rd Avenue. With cars stacked up eastbound from the waterfront to I-5, it does not make any sense for passengers to wait at this stop to go southbound on 3rd Avenue if they are able to walk to the 3rd Avenue & Cedar Street stop.

    1. Interesting SDOT should study the traffic there to evaluate putting a peak hour transit and right turns lane. Given my understanding of the signal timing and traffic there, I suspect they could put a transit lane between 1st and 3rd. Since EB congestion on Denny is terrible anyways and you’d preserve two general lanes at the key intersection of Denny and Broad it seems like it would be a workable solution.

    1. Thanks for posting that. Very interesting the massive scope of the project and all the engineering feats it depends on. Seems like we could learn a lot from it.

      Apparently their TBMs were built by Herrenknecht in Germany. I wonder how they stack up to the ones by Hitachi Zosen.

    2. Crossrail 1 & 2 along with Thameslink and HSR2 show the value of “going big”. Lessons we could well learn for our largest cities here in the states.

      1. Note though that both TL and CR were conceived in more or less their current forms in the early 1990s. TL has been pretty much on the agenda ever since. CL since about 2000.

        It’s worth taking a look at the DLR and contrasting approaches.

        I’d be very surprised if HS2 actually gets built: I suspect that the Tories and Labor will both make vague statements of support in their manifestos, but neither will outright commit to getting it done, and that it will be quietly dropped as too expensive at some point during the next Parliament.

        Thameslink used to be referred to Thameslink 2000. It’s hardly a poster child for on time or efficient delivery.

      2. Sure the Second Avenue line is much needed but only the first couple of miles are funded. The real problem is NYC really needs the entire Second Avenue line along with a couple more the same scale as it or Crossrail.

        One issue is the insane construction cost. Building infrastructure in the states is crazily expensive and no place more so than NYC. $2 billion plus a mile for the Second Avenue Subway.

      3. HS2 is going to get built. There’s too much commitment to it; it’s gotten to the point where literally no political party opposes it, it’s got support direct from Scotland (which makes it a major political issue in the UK, since every Westminster party is trying to defang the SNP), and the funding for it is continuing despite “austerity” budgets.

        It’s also strictly necessary; the West Coast Main Line is full.

  11. “•Mercer Island still seeks bailout out of their disastrous decision to build a smaller parking garage for aesthetic reasons; this time, a second lot.”

    What is with the snarky description? I am under the impression that this blog seeks to promote an efficient and complete mass transit system for the greater Seattle area, and with that is promotion for policies that encourage individuals to drive less.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but hasn’t many of the readers and writers of the blog been criticial of large park and ride construction projects? If Mercer Island (the place I grew up on, and NO my family was not rich, thanks for stereotyping) purposefully built a small park and ride, why would this blog be critical of it? I understand the “WHY” they did it, but isn’t discouraging automobile use (both on and off island) a GOOD thing for promoting transit use?

    1. Yeah, I pretty much agree. I’m not sure any size of P&R they could have built in that location would be “big enough” that it wouldn’t fill up, if it was operated by an agency like ST that insisted on free parking.

      So MI wants to manage use of land and road space near its fledgling town center? Good for it. There’s no reason any town should have to host a P&R for half the eastside in such a location, doing nothing for the local economy, if it doesn’t want to. I’d go a step further and support putting MI in charge of operating it. Then they could live with the consequences of charging for parking, or not!

      1. Switching to pay lots would be a good solution to the Mercer Island problem I think. Maybe a private lot would even worth looking into?

        It probably wouldn’t take much of a fee to discourage east side folks from parking there when they have their own free lots near home.

      2. I don’t think the characterization of the headline was fair either.

        The decision on the park and ride looks particularly silly in light of how downtown Mercer Island had developed since it was made. I thought it was a bad decision back then, but was obviously in the minority. My impression is that the current council would have decided differently.

        After watching Monday’s meeting of the council, I’d say that there’s a near consensus among the council members that the current P&R setup isn’t serving their constituents well, and that simply adding spaces won’t solve the problem [construction induced demand]. There also seems to be a willingness to accept paid parking and to consider Mercer Island contribution to the cost of any solution.

        The big problem is that commuter park and rides have crappy economics: a given space will struggle to get more than 350 customers a year. [basically one car during the day M-F, plus some evening and weekend usage.] I doubt MI’s voters would approve the expenditure required to build a P&R.

    1. The commenters on the West Seattle Blog are ridiculous. They are essentially saying that the bus needs to do an around the block detour so that drivers who don’t do an around-the-block detour don’t get stuck waiting behind the bus while it’s loading passengers. I shudder to think of the kind of transit system we would have if these people got their way everywhere.

      1. West Seattle Blog comments, in my experience, are about as reflective of the attitude of West Seattleites as Seattle Times online comments are reflective of Seattle as a whole. I’ve stopped reading them, except when I’m in the mood for some Fox News-style “watch the train-wreck” entertainment.

    2. Buses have taken that deviation as long as I can remember (35 years) but I’m not altogether sure why. There may be a perception that it would slow traffic on California Ave. too much to have the bus stop there. Also all the other buses thst go through the Alaska Junction stop there, so maybe it was thought that it makes transferring easier.

      Has Metro planning ruined Broadway on Capitol Hill, as someone asserts in the comments over there?

    1. Outside of hitchhiking, the best I can think of is to take 554 to Issaquah, transfer to 208 to North Bend then bike about 25 miles on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. Taking 215 from Downtown to North Bend also works if your schedule permits and you do it before the first round of cuts.

      If you’re doing a multi-day hike you probably wouldn’t want to leave your bike there, in which case either hitchhike or spend your first day hiking from North Bend.

  12. “TransitScreen’s Business Development team is looking for a superstar City Manager who will be in charge of growing and retaining key strategic partners via managing relationships, implementing and optimizing integrations, and negotiating and executing incremental opportunities in Seattle. We seek a dedicated and accountable individual with enterprise software sales experience, who is passionate about urban planning, multimodal transportation and sustainable growth.”

    Can someone translate this from Buzzspeak into English? Thanks.

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