This is an open thread.

105 Replies to “News Roundup: A Little More Direct”

  1. Am I the only one getting nauseated by general (including Sounder) reference to “freight delays” without specifying the cause, namely both coal and oil trains? These damned things look more than a mile long.

    For years now, passenger transportation from buses to rail has been trumpeting to the skies its superiority for reducing fossil atmospheric pollutants. So why hasn’t our industry been on all the media, and down hard on urban, state, and national legislatures that the fossil fuel industry is ruining our last countermeasure against its damage?

    Seems to me sharpest scraper is to call crud crud.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I keep wondering why instead of bringing freight in from the East, south of Seattle, and then routing it up through the population centers, they just don’t use that Empire Builder track north of Seattle and avoid traipsing through the metro area.

      The most informative answer I received on this was from Fnarf in a SLOG comment who said that that track is basically overloaded as is (hence maybe the Empire Builder troubles). Is that the case? I suppose I could ask whether they could expand it and get the inevitable answer about cost and length of time to build.

      Also isn’t there a freight track that goes diagonally across the state down through Yakima? Can that be used? With all the talk of local medium speed intercity rail, shouldn’t we start planning out how that would look?

      1. It’s money.

        It costs a lot less to bring stuff through the Columbia River Gorge, as the Gorge is flat while there is a mountain range east of Everett they have to cross, which takes quite a bit more fuel, and thus more money.

      2. Heavy commodities like grain, oil and coal will usually take the Columbia River Gorge route to avoid the uphill/downhill trip over the Cascades. Once those cars are empty, however, they are often routed over Stevens Pass (Empire Builder route) or sometimes via Ellensburg and Yakima back to their source.

        It isn’t just Amtrak that is getting screwed in BNSF’s Hi-Line meltdown. Power companies are complaining of low coal supplies and they are beginning to sound alarms about electricity shortages this winter which seems odd, given the amount of coal we see heading overseas via Seattle. Grain producers have been complaining about getting last year’s grain shipped and a bumper crop is ready to harvest this year. Grain cars have been in short supply because BNSF has been more interested in shipping sand to the Bakken fields and less concerned with moving grain (both commodities use the same cars). Also, an express produce delivery company in eastern WA recently shut down because of shipping delays with BNSF. Meanwhile, Union Pacific has reported that their business has picked up dramatically with many shippers moving from BNSF.

      3. If it’s a matter of cost, then this is a case where a fee should be applied so they are charged for the full impact on society to the point where the northern route becomes less costly.

      4. A fee on what?

        They pay the same property tax as everyone. Washington has no income tax. Unlike Oregon, where the primary oil route is owned by the State of Oregon, all of the BNSF route is privately owned.

        Only real fee that could be charged would be penalties for late passenger trains, and the Supreme Court knocked that type of fee out some time back.

        Intermodal customers are complaining about slow service too. A lot more is going by truck now.

      5. A fee on carbon based fuels. Tax coal (along with other fossil fuels) and eventually we stop digging and shipping so much of it. It still might make sense to move stuff via the Columbia (because it uses less energy) but not as much.

      6. I’m not sure you could get a tax on specific fuels being shipped through Seattle though. Other places have attempted that in order to get emergency preparations for oil explosions funded, and it hasn’t worked out.

        Maybe convince BNSF to re-purchase the line on the east side of Lake Washington and send the oil that way?

        If something is at risk of blowing up Microsoft, then maybe Bill Gates would take notice, and he has enough money that people actually listen to him.

      7. Yes, there constitutional limits on states and cities trying to regulate interstate commerce. But local governments do have the right to require that railroads operate safely within their jurisdictions (subject to oversight by the STB and federal courts). As long as BNSF maintains a safe operation, they are free to transport whatever commodities they desire.

      8. I meant carbon taxes is general, not specifically. It is really incredible what we are doing right now. Our biggest long term concern, by far, is global warming*. We’ve managed to lower our own use of fossil fuels, but we are busy digging up those same goods and shipping them overseas … to our economic competitors. Economic competitors, by the way, is just one concern. They are military adversaries as well (ask anyone on the 7th fleet). Meanwhile, we are using our most efficient form of land transport to move those same fuels, rather than move processed goods. Really, truly, profoundly stupid.

        * Think it is “terrorism” or military conflict? Sorry, global warming just makes those problems a lot worse (ask the folks in The Pentagon). Think it is economic stagnation — again, nothing will do as much long term harm to the economy as global warming.

      9. Well, if you want to do that, we could just make the BLM land where they are digging all this stuff up have equivalent mineral rights fees as private land.

        But oh gosh no! That would be crippling to the economy, and the Rockefeller family and its descendants wouldn’t make as much money off the oil boom as they are now.

      10. For all the energy expended on the global warming, coal train, and oil train issues, I would think concentrating on the lack of value to the taxpayer at the mine would be the optimum target.

        We can blame Senior Bush for this one, I suppose, since this situation all started on his watch (1990)

        Perfect opportunity to channel new revenue into alternate engery source production.

      1. It is only 136 miles from Quincy to Hinkle, OR. UP has an intermodal load out there by the yard. Surely draying the containers 136 miles and using UP is much cheaper than truck all the way to Chicago.

        This is the obvious solution.

    2. Do you want the make and model of the car when one hits a Link train? Do you want the license plate of a truck blocking the SLU Streetcar tracks?

    3. I have been meaning to contact ST. Seems every other day I receive an e-mail about Sounder delays due to “freight interference”. Did not ST pay BNSF big bucks for track and signal infrastructure improvements so that there WOULDN’T be delays for Sounder trains? Sounder (unfortunately) is not an all-day service, so when it does run, the freight trains can wait!!

  2. “Metro cuts already hurting; might be why your bus doesn’t show up.” I wonder if that’s why the 250 flat didn’t show up at OTC the other day. Two trips went by, no bus. I get that the route is on the chopping block but it’s not gone yet…

    1. I had the same experience with the 242 earlier this week, 2 no-show trips in a row.

  3. Also, not to tell a union president his business without having his wages deducted from my paycheck, but wouldn’t temporary hiring to fill present service be preferable to making passengers miss buses with no warning?

    At least when general service cuts happen- which is not inevitable- passengers would know about new trimmed schedule. Worst thing transit can do to passengers is to deliberately leave them standing for a full hour or so without warning. Result of a missed bus on a light run, meaning longer headway, can result in a lost job.

    Let word get around about that fact, like from someone who did lose their job, and ridership could deservedly go off a cliff. As campaign tactic for reversal of recent negative vote- counterproductive.
    Better just to threaten these cuts if next vote doesn’t pass than to induce people who can’t afford Lyft to buy beater cars and not sell them after even successful vote.


    1. If you hire a bus driver you have to train a bus driver. That makes no sense for a month or two of service, Mark.

    2. Still, a trip on the schedule means a bus is supposed to be there. If Metro can’t do that, it put Rider Alert signs at the bus stops saying the trip is cancelled.

      1. So, because they don’t have a driver to do a run, they print up some rider alert signs quickly and send somebody else out to drive the route and put up the signs on all the bus stops?

      2. They know when they assign the shifts that there’s nobody for that shift. And they know now that there’s a shortage of people, so they could delete the same runs every week, and then they’d only have to post notices once. I’m concerned now that any route I might take the next run may be silently cancelled, and if it’s the last run of the day I don’t know whether I should take the bus before it in case the last one doesn’t come, or the bus before that, or….

  4. The “judgmental” map of Seattle reminds me of a related Madison, WI map. Cartographers are starting to take a stand against these lazy maps, informing us of their inherent racial/class bias.

    Now it’s all I can think about when I see maps like that. One of the dangers about making maps (and data visualizations in general) is that it might not be clear what agenda the creator is pushing, or why certain elements are included and others excluded.

    Maybe a little off-topic, but since it was linked to, I had to say something!

      1. @Glenn: That’s just a touring map as far as I can tell. Unless there’s something more sinister in the text I can’t read. Often maps like that give an incomplete or biased description of a city, and could be improved, but aren’t made maliciously.

        The “judgmental map” is all about making nasty generalizations about people based on where they live. There are a million ways that can go badly and few that it can go well.

        Meanwhile the famous New Yorker cover JB posted is an clever multi-layered comment on people’s perspectives and spheres of concern, in a totally different realm than either of the others.

      2. It was supposed to be seehat on a par with the infamous New Yorker cover. It was sort of done in the style of political cartoons of the Victorian age, which might take an hour to find everything. It also used typical British humor of the time, which is not quite as obnoxious as the Judgemental map of Seattle, but can still be a bit biting.

        But, it is just to say that the New Yorker cover, while creative, was one step in a very long line of humorous maps.

    1. Certainly, though I love maps and really love being judgmental, the “judgmental map” is just a visualization of those clickbait “What Your $CITY_NAME_HERE Neighborhood Says About You!1!1!!” articles. The real question we need to ask is, “What do you do in your neighborhood?”

    2. Yeah, I think the whole point is to play on stereotypes, which can be pretty funny (“Beards and $15 cocktails”). But make jokes about “Stabbings and Gunshots” in an area that is diverse, but much safer than Ballard was during the 70s and I think you lost me. That only perpetuates the ridiculous notion that Seattle has really scary parts to it. I don’t want to dismiss gang violence, but like lightning, it can happen anywhere (like lightning, it tends to occur more often in some areas than others). Generally speaking, Seattle is very safe (even the “bad neighborhoods”) but old stereotypes take a while to die, and maps like these don’t help. Of course, there are people who are looking to buy a house, in which case maps like these help a lot (since they can get bargains on the “other side of the tracks”).

    1. Interesting. Purple and Gold.

      Personally, I think that since both East Link and Central Link will be serving the UW campus, the lines should be assigned the colors Purple and Gold. It makes sense and emphasizes the importance of the UW in the local region..

      1. This would be zero cost. They will need to assign colors anyhow, so they might as well choose ones that highlight the importance of the UW to the entire region.

      2. I’d like to reserve Gold for the 45th Street Subway: Ballard-Fremont-Wallingford-U District-Children’s

      3. well….that line might not get built in any of our lifetimes. and it isn’t interlined with any other line either.

        It makes much more sense to have East Link and Central Link assigned the colors Purple and Gold. They are being built, they both serve the Husky stadium/sports complex, and they are interlined for a significant portion of their route.

        Also, given that the UW is the 2nd(or 3rd?) largest transit destination in the state, it makes sense to assign these two lines the colors Purple and Gold as a way finding aid. “Need to get to the U? Take either the Purple or the Gold line!”

      4. I don’t care how much it costs. It has value, and UW is not entitled to free things of value from Sound Transit.

      5. The only real value it has is as a way finding guide to the riders.

        But value in the color choice itself? Na, I doubt that very much. Typically transit agencies don’t sell or auction off the colors used to reference their transit lines for the very reason that the choice normally has no value.

        But hey, maybe there is a Coug out there that is willing to pay more to have the two lines labelled the Crimson and Gray lines. Maybe THAT is how you turn color choice into a money generator for ST — have some poor Coug pay more NOT to have it be the Purple and Gold lines.

      6. Really? So exactly how much “value” did Metro get for selecting Purple and Gold for the new bus paint scheme? Or how much “value” did ST get for implementing their White over Blue Wave paint scheme? And who the heck paid?

      7. Yes, really. You miss the point. We’re not talking about the value a transit agency derives from branding itself, but the value an outside institution gains from slapping its brand across a public amenity. The UW colors are as distinct in our market as the Nike swoosh. Personally I have no problem with vehicle branding (those other regulars here do), but UW should pay for it just like anyone else.

      8. Nobody else is going to pay for it. So in a market where demand is so low, what exactly would the price be? Zero, which is exactly what the price should be.

        The real value of using Purple and Gold is as a way finding aid to the end users! But there is no mechanism to have them pay.

      9. On what do you base your assumption that “no one else” would be interested in the permanent or long-term branding of Link vehicles if Sound Transit ever opened such a bid?

        I have no idea, off the cuff, what the price would be—which in no way means there shouldn’t be a price. You could probably start by figuring out what advertisers pay ST for temporary wraps.

        Again, I can’t say it better than Kyle did: It has value and UW isn’t entitled to things of value from ST free of charge.

      10. I would be OK if the UW paid ST for the Purple and Gold lines exactly what the UW paid KC Metro for painting their buses Purple and Gold.

      11. Lazarus, purple and gold are two of the colors in Metro’s brand identity. The others are red and green,

        Link’s brand colors are blue, green, and white. Purple and gold are not among them. If UW wishes to change that, they are welcome to pay for the privilege.

      12. Apparently Metro has simplified their paint scheme and is now just going with Purple and Gold.

        And nobody is saying re-paint the Link LRV’s, just that ST should do the right thing and use Purple and Gold as the line colors/designators for the 2 Link lines that will serve the UW.

        It’s a wayfinding aid to the users of Link, not branding for the UW.

      13. Lazarus, that is a picture of a bus. All the current buses are also two-tone. The signs have four colors. The corporate identity still incorporates red and green, as well as black.

        Choosing purple and gold for anything, especially when done specifically to highlight the UW, is free advertising, plain and simple. The UW is a semi-autonomous entity that does its own fundraising; it can pay for its own advertising. (Being a public institution, I do think they’re entitled to “wayfinding landmark” status, such as use in station names and signage. I think the same for hospitals.)

      14. Lazarus, repeatedly saying “it’s not branding, it’s wayfinding” doesn’t magically make it not branding through repetition.

        Painting public transit with the colors of a major external institution broadly identified by those colors is advertising, plain and simple—which is why companies pay for wraps. It’s branding at its most basic. It’s a rolling 400 foot (if four cars) billboard with incredibly high exposure. A Target train wrap doesn’t somehow become not advertising if there happens to be a popular Target at the end of a train line. And permanent paint isn’t somehow less of an advertisement than a vinyl wrap.

        I mean, you said it yourself in your initial post: “it emphasizes the importance of UW in the local region.” That’s very nice for UW, but that’s not wayfinding, it’s advertising that has value and that should be paid for.

        I suppose you would call it mere wayfinding as well if a certain Eastside software company, out of sheer altruistic concern for riders not getting lost, recommended painting East Link vehicles with the red, blue, green, and yellow of a rather recognizable set of “window” panes?

      15. Purple will be used as the exclusive color for trolleybuses and I don’t think it had anything to do with helping people find the UW.

        How is naming the two only regional rail lines we have (for a while) after a single institution that lies on it helpful? I don’t think it aids wayfinding at all. Decking out the Husky Stadium and The Ave stations in UW colors (or a UW theme) would be far more useful. What about Downtown Seattle or Bellevue? Are they less important than the UW? I like the UW and I graduated from there but this idea is placing too much emphasis on the UW. It’d make more sense if this was a short spur line that primarily served the UW or the UW built and operated its own transit lines.

        I don’t like naming rail lines after colors to begin with and I’m not even colorblind. I’d rather see letters or numbers as the primary designation, as is most commonly used for metro systems all over the world.

      16. Oran,

        I think the letter naming scheme for Link lines went out the door when RapidRide started using letters. I can only imagine the confusion trying to tell someone to take the C line and have them end up in West Seattle instead of Lynnwood.

  5. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a pool of people with commercial licenses and experience driving buses part-time who tend to have extra free time between late June and September?

    1. driving a school bus does not qualify the person to drive for metro, or ct etc.. they would need the same training as all hired metro drivers.

  6. Good lord. I disliked microapartments already, then after reading the Publicola article (a seemingly pro article), it’s even more clear that they are horrible forms of housing that no one should ever have to settle on as their only means of housing. I mean no sinks in the bathrooms? Bike parking for only half the units? And the owners think that people will pay $600+ for the “privilege” of living there?

    And at the same time, we have developers fighting tooth and nail to get rid of true low-income housing. Short of banning all microdumps outright, they should restrict them to non-profits in all locations, even in urban villages. At least they are forcing nearly all of them to go through a design review process, rather than allowing these sleazy developers to sneak them in during the middle of the night.

    1. And exactly why do you have the right to tell people how to live? Show me a new unit with the amenities you want at less than $600/mo with utilities and basic furniture included. Outlawing these units just drives people out of the city. And maybe you’d prefer not having people that can’t afford more than this here, but I’m hoping you just don’t understand the consequences of your opinion.

      1. Get one or two people you know and trust and rent an apartment or house? If there’s been any problems with people getting driven out of the city, it’s true, low income housing getting displaced by microapartments and luxury condos.

        How many microapartments have rent for less than $600/month? Even perusing the website, shows most are in the mid to upper $700/month range. There was a sub $600 one, but it was on Pike and 23rd, and the pictures made it clear that it’s a 40 year old building. Those rates, for 100-200 sq ft of bed, plus sharing living and cooking space with total strangers doesn’t seem sustainable, and I worry what will happen when the owners can’t fill those spaces.

        But I digress. Microapartments had their chance. The developers and owners couldn’t play nice, and now Seattle has to make a stand.

        And you’re right, I have no right to tell people how to live, but I do have the right to support legislation that prevents affordable housing in my city from becoming a race to the bottom.

        But the best part of your comment is the number one statement that pro-microapartments use to accuse everyone one who disagrees with them in any way “OMG U DON’T LIKE TEH P00R PEOPLEZ” (edited for dramatic effect).

        I 100% support true, low-income housing, urban rest stops, food banks, homeless service, etc IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD, and I can’t reiterate this enough to all the pros: MICROAPARTMENTS ARE NOT LOW INCOME HOUSING, NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU CLOSE YOUR EYES AND TRY TO BELIEVE. What I don’t support is: sub-standard dwelling units popping up all over, with no design review process. That’s not healthy for my neighborhood or my city.

      2. So your big concerns are that they’ll end up empty, and people can’t afford them. If these two arguments make any sense together, please tell me how.

      3. My biggest concern is that low-income people are going to be forced to pay more than they can afford, to live in substandard boarding house-esque situations, with people they don’t know or trust. No one should be forced to choose between living a long ways away from their work or paying outrageous fees for living in these dumps.

        But hey, maybe you’re just an anti-low income, pro-developer shill, but I’m more hoping you just don’t understand the consequences of your opinion

      4. “No one should be forced to choose between living a long ways away from their work or paying outrageous fees for living in these dumps.” And you’re removing one of those choices.

      5. There’s a large gap between “low-income” people who qualify for subsidies and those who can afford an $1100 average apartment. That’s who these $600-700 apodments are targeting. (BTW, there are a few studios in Summit for $750-850.) And people may not have one or two trusted friends they’d want to live with — who are looking for a new place the same month they are, and want to live in the same part of town, and work near there. And as for the more economical “get a room in a house”, most houses are in low-density areas not near frequent transit. Apodments cater to those who want to live in dense areas near frequent transit, and are willing to pay more to do so.

    2. Yeah! Living in a car is much nicer.

      Seriously though, there are thousands of homeless kids in the city. The parents simply can’t afford to rent. Do you really think they give a rat’s ass about bike parking? Seriously? Oh, and low income housing waiting lists are a mile long. Allow more apartments everywhere, especially small apartments and especially apartments without stupid requirements (like parking) and prices wouldn’t go up that high. Hell, just loosen the rules on mother-in-law apartments or allow conversions of single family houses to multi-unit housing and eventually thousands of people in this city (including young ones) get to sleep with a roof above their head.

      1. The people living in cars couldn’t afford to rent a microapartment unit. The people whose kids are on the streets couldn’t afford to rent a microapartment unit. And just building blindly is not going to lower the cost of housing, no matter what your Econ 101 “supply and demand” graph tells you.

        We need to either create more legislation and more funding to build more low-income and homeless housing in this city. Or god forbid, we require more developers to build homeless/low income housing in exchange for those coveted building permits.

        Mother-in-laws and conversions of single family homes are good ideas, but small steps in the Great Housing Journey Seattle has in front of it.

      2. So, you are saying no one will rent these at $700 a month, but people won’t move out of their cars either. Huh? Call me crazy, but I think someone who can’t afford $1500 a month rent might just decide to move into a $700 a month apartment that is easy to get (since no one wants to move in there).

        My God, man, use your head. How in heaven’s name can restricting the number of apartments possibly make apartments more affordable? You don’t have to go to college, you don’t have to know squat about economics, you can just look around you and realize that supply and demand is a reality. Oh, and you think people should “Get one or two people you know and trust and rent an apartment or house”. WOW! Crazy idea. I bet no poor person ever thought of that. Sorry, but that is so obvious as to be laughable. But then what? What if that house costs 3 grand a month to rent. What if that apartment costs $1,500. Guess what — those same people move into that $700 a month apartment that you claim is easily available. Jesus, man, it is so freakin’ obvious.

        There are plenty of reasons why you might want to oppose apodments. They could be ugly. They could increase the number of poor, or otherwise undesirable people in your neighborhood. They could make parking harder. But to say that they will somehow hurt poor people is utterly ridiculous and flies in the face of simple logic.

        Still not with me? Man, OK. How about this. Some young guy moves to Seattle and takes a job at Amazon. He is not a developer, but a tester. Fresh out of college, he is ready to hit the ground running. He “only” makes 40 grand a year, though, so he can’t be expected to buy a house, or even afford a fancy apartment. He looks around and notices two places. One, an apodment going for 750 a month. The other, a small studio going for 1100. He figures he will save the money and go for the apodment. Wait. Before he can move in, the city decides to shut down the apodment.* So, he gets the apartment. But wait. No big deal, right? Right. Tough luck, yuppy scum.

        But wait. At the same time, some waitress with a kid just got a raise. Now she is (almost) earning 15 bucks an hour. Guess what. She wanted that apartment, but the Amazon guy took it. Plenty of fish the sea, right? Wrong. Landlords notice the lack of units and raise their prices. Now the apartment across the street costs 1200. No big deal, right. Yeah, easy for you to say — you don’t have a kid and a job as a waitress.

        * Obviously the city isn’t trying to shut down apodments that are already built, but restricting the ability to build them is essentially the same thing.

      3. Again, your examples are saying that we need to shove those that can’t afford market rate apartments, into tiny, substandard rooms. Do you think that waitress wants to move, with her kid, into a 200 sq ft room for $750+/month? With your argument, tough cookies, she has no choice. And I don’t know anyone that would choose a $750/month apodment over a $1500/month apartment with a friend, and I’d be surprised if you do.

        I’m not saying build less, in any way. I’m saying build more. But also build more low-income housing to match the rate of new apartments. Why should microhousing be the ONLY choice for low-income people?

      4. I think you missed Ross’s point. The mom+kid would have stayed in the $1100/month place, but the Amazonian took it.

        “But also build more low-income housing to match the rate of new apartments.” Great. I’m on board with that. What’s your plan? How would you fund this? Come up with something and if it gives us more units I’ll support you.

        But I don’t see why outlawing aPodments would help you in that effort. By blocking them, you’re removing potential units from Seattle. And every additional unit built in the city means one more household can afford to live here.

        “Why should microhousing be the ONLY choice for low-income people?” Surely it isn’t. There’s subsidized low-income housing, roommates, rented out legal or illegal basements, crashing on a friend’s couch, living in cars, camping in the park, moving out of the city, and probably a few options I missed. But I don’t understand why you’re so adamant that we remove one of these options, and one that for some people happens to be the best option (or they wouldn’t rent there!).

      5. “there are thousands of homeless kids in the city. The parents simply can’t afford to rent”

        Most homeless kids are on the street because their parents abused them, or kicked them out of the house because they’re gay, or the parents are drug addicts and can’t raise the kids, or the kids have mental problems the parents can’t handle, etc.

        “some waitress with a kid… “wanted that apartment, but the Amazon guy took it… Now the apartment across the street costs 1200.”

        People with kids or spouses probably can’t get apodments. I lived in a studio alone for several years, and when I wanted my SO to move in, the manager said the apartment was “too small” for more than one person and wouldn’t allow it. That’s why I moved to

      6. … a one bedroom. So if managers think 348 sq ft is too small for two, they probably think 220 sq ft is too small for two too.

      7. Apodments are much nicer as a general rule than old houses that have been chopped up into rooming houses. If you want examples of substandard housing look no further than a U-District rooming house.

        They also tend to rent for less than apodment but not by much.

        If someone really only wants enough room to sleep and store a few changes of clothes why should we stop them? I mean just because you wouldn’t live in less than 1200 square feet doesn’t mean that everyone should be forced to.

        Hell some people who live aboard boats live in less space than an apodment.

    3. I think I need a nice analogy of what micro housing / apodments represent to those who are against allowing them. If there is a demand for them at their current price point and amenity level, and we want to increase densities in the neighborhoods in which they are being built, what is the problem? This is the free market at work. If people don’t care about having a sink in their bathroom, they probably don’t want to pay premium rent to get it. Why mandate everyone get a full kitchen, bathroom, minimum sq ft if people don’t need or want it? Its essentially like a dormitory and we allow those.

      1. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m against them, but I’m not sold on the arguments for them, so I’ll take a stab at this.

        First let’s try some parallel reasoning.

        Why would anyone support the minimum wage? If there is demand for jobs at current wage levels, and we want more jobs, why make it harder to create them?

        Or: Why require new construction to meet earthquake standards? If there is demand for lower standard housing, and we want more low income housing, what’s the problem? This is the way the free market works. If people don’t care about having a house that will survive the big one, they probably don’t want to pay a premium rent to get it.

        So where I find libertarian reasoning goes wrong in these cases is that the assumption is that if you don’t allow the market to produce a certain thing, then the alternative result is that it doesn’t produce it. To some extent that happens. But it also can happen that something better is produced instead. Disallowing apodments may result in fewer housing units being built, but allowing them results in fewer housing units that are better than apodments being built, because developers are allowed to cut corners to increase their profit margin, and also because they face competitive pressure from other developers building apodments. There is a tradeoff here and whether it is worth taking depends on how much net housing is lost when you disallow apodments as compared to what developers would have built instead, and how much worse the apodments actually are.

        This probably isn’t the main objection, but it is one possible objection. For an in-depth theoretical discussion of why perfectly efficient markets may not be so perfect, I recommend this series: It doesn’t touch on this issue specifically, but it touches on the line of reasoning you’re using and the prequel in particular seems relevant.

        So I don’t think this is the main

    4. Seattle already has several thousand people paying a huge amount of money to live in apodments just like you describe.

      Oh wait, instead they are called university dormitories, only there you don’t get to choose who your roommate(s) is/are much of the time, and the university gets to throw you out if your class load drops below being a full time student, so if you have to work extra hours to pay off your student bills then you will have to move to a vastly more expensive apartment.

      So, I can certainly understand the attraction of them for at least one group.

  7. I’m getting pretty tired of some of the regular commenters here who have contributed nothing to this blog except comments. STB does accept and welcome guest posts. John Bailo, have you ever written a guest post? What about you others?

      1. Good idea! What I might start doing is act as sort of a de facto comment section assignment editor and will give my fellow commenters story and assignments on things I’d I’m curious about or would like to read about.

      2. Sam,

        Now sit down and take a breath. I’m about to break disturbing truth to you. It may cause you some distress, so it’s important that you be seated and calm.

        The truth: you have no “fellow commentators”. You have only people snickering about your mental state.

    1. From time to time I e-mail in stuff to include in the news roundup. For example, the BBC article on the gondolas in Bolivia was something I had sent in (and others had probably seen it as well – it isn’t as if the BBC web site is an unknown location) for inclusion there, and maybe that got the ball rolling on a few articles and comments.

      Articles would be nice to be able to do, but what is important is already covered by other writers here. I’ve signed up for a Page 2 account in the event it is ever warranted.

      What about you?

  8. Is there any way out of ORCA upcharging me 25¢ every time I transfer during peak period and arrive at my destination well within what should have been the original 2 hour transfer period? I don’t need it extended. Those quarters add up.

    1. You would have to pay the difference in fare in cash so why wouldn’t ORCA charge you the same thing?

      1. Point is it’s unreasonable to upcharge for a transfer when you’re already covered. If you can stay on the bus and be covered you should be able to change buses without penalty.

      2. I will add, this is where paper transfers get it right, and I suspect one of the reasons transit agencies would prefer people didn’t use them.

      3. Aren’t the transfers punched for off-peak vs peak? They are for one zone vs two zone.

      4. Yes, they should be punched. Which means if you haven’t been paying, ORCA is simply charging correctly, not overcharging compared to the cash fare.

        Josh, in your scenario, what would be to stop you from tapping (or paying cash) on the last non-peak bus, getting right back off and waiting for your peak bus to save that $.25?

      5. I guess it’s not worth going out of my way to do that to save a quarter so I don’t expect others would in any significant numbers. But the current system doesn’t seem fair to riders who pay that amount repeatedly despite no mention of the policy on KCM’s website.

    1. If speculators with dollar signs in these eyes and powerful friends have made regional commercial flights from Paine Field “inevitable”, then I guess we can now look forward to the “inevitability” of those speculators losing their shirts.

      Reliever airports do not prove necessary, nor advantageous, nor desirable to passengers, where the primary airport is not incontrovertibly maxed out. The reliever cannot enjoy the same critical mass of flight options, the advantage of connections, or any economies of scale that would make its flights remotely cost-competitive.

      In the end, ill-conceived relievers wither and fail. Then their eulogies are slathered in a tsk-tsking tone of inevitability by the same journalists who once trumpeted their arrivals.

      I’m headed to Boston this week, and I’d really like to fly in via Hanscom. How’s that passenger-service adaptation going? (No flights since 2008? Oh, I see.)

      Okay, well, I heard Metro Toronto got super excited when commercial offerings came to Hamilton (All year-round services withdrawn? My word.)

      Hey, Ciudad Real Central Airport was built with $1.1 billion in private investments, right? (Bankruptcy and tumbleweeds? Oh, dear.)

      Of all the dumb justifications for why we “need” a high-volume Everett supersubway, this just might be the dumbest.

      1. Most of the article discusses the growth in jobs around Paine Field, which has been quite a bit over the years. Some of that is Boeing, but a lot of it is not. It is only near the end of the article that a light rail connection is mentioned. Connecting such a large concentration of jobs with light rail makes sense. After all, the people who live in TOD need a place to work.

      2. Precisely zero of those jobs are situated in walkable environments, and precisely zero of them will ever be reached from any train.

        It makes no more sense to try to “serve” this sparsely-arranged employment with rail than it would have made to try to serve the zero-density industrial workplaces between Tukwila I.B. and Rainier Beach. Which, as you might have noticed, we did not do.

        Anyway, the specific inclusion of “inevitable passenger service” in this news-roundup tally was clearly meant to be read as a further rationale for passenger-oriented rail access. But the actually- inevitable gross failure of said scheme undermines that rationale entirely.

      3. Although you’re fond of reading my mind, I actually believe the Paine Field diversion makes things substantially worse, unless it became a significant passenger airport. I have no idea if it will happen or not, but the Mayor’s opinion is noteworthy.

      4. If Link does serve Paine Field, I think the best way to do it would be to route the main line up SR 99 and build a branch track down Casino Road or SR 526. The shuttle train could run the ~2 mi route with timed transfers (though I’m not sure whether transfers to northbound or southbound transfers would be better), without any delay to the main line.

        Even this scheme, though, seems severely overdoing it. Is there any reason to run a shuttle train? Wouldn’t bus service do just as good a job for cheaper?

      5. The boosterism of small-city mayors is rarely noteworthy. It invariably boils down to “if we build this [airport/entertainment facility/world’s largest ball of twine], they will come”.

        He might be all about launching passenger service, but he can’t make it thrive.

  9. The LA visitor’s observation’s on Metro’s lax policy on dogs did not surprise me. I ride Metro daily and have never noticed anyone pay extra for large dogs or keep small dogs in carriers. Community Transit’s policy that dogs boarding must be muzzled makes much sense.

    1. if u don’t have a muzzle for your dog on ct, just say it’s my service dog. they will not question that.and no muzzle needed.

  10. The Westneat article is horrible. He didn’t actually try to have the fees waived. This happened to us one time and we just sent a letter to the judge explaining the problem and he waived all the fees. I really can’t stand journalists who just complain about something that everyone has to deal with but somehow they get published. He says he gets emails about this all the time. If he had actually tried, he probably would have had the fees waived, and could explain to all those people to do the same. He could publish a helpful article. Then he could actually reduced the amount of fines levied, rather than increase it like he probably did with that article.

  11. Looks like they may be installing the 2nd ave cycle track this weekend, no parking signs all along the east side on 2nd down to Yesler in effect Saturday and Sunday.

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