32 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Monongahela Incline”

    1. Yes, they definitely need to build a few of those to help feed Link stations. At least one between the bus stop on 520 and the UW station would be nice.

      1. My first thought is a First Hill Line between Harborview Hospital and the park between the King County Courthouse and Yesler.

        But like a fairly large series of passenger inclines from early last century, carrying full-sized streetcars- from horse-drawn to electric.

        Like the Monongahela mechanism- and the San Francisco cable-cars- the technology originated in mining country, where it was necessary to lift rail cars full of coal and ore over distances short laterally but long and steep vertically.

        Wish “Steam Punk” would go away. These mechanisms were products of a time when human mechanical skill and ingenuity was taken for granted. And nobody even thought about zombies in Pennsylvania. And- life and death- every worker wore clothes that wouldn’t get caught in machinery.


      2. The Genoa line seems to be the opposite: further horizontally than vertically, and seems like it could be modified to do a U shaped line: down from the surface from the bus stop, horizontally under the ship canal, then vertically to get to the station or even surface.

      3. Didn’t elevators generally originate in mining? And modern scaffolding? Mining has long been a way to concentrate fabulous amounts of wealth, and American cities of that age are physical expressions of concentrated wealth.

    2. Steampunk is about the continuation of that era, if we hadn’t turned away from it in the 20th century. Then we’d still have streetcars and walkable neighborhoods. There would still be continuous innovation, so Olympia would have a 125 mph “Interurban” from Seattle. And Seattle would have maglevs to California and Chicago. And the grandsons of those coal miners would be building train elevators at Harborview. Zombies aren’t required, and I think they’re a scar on steampunk. However, they can be seen as a continuation of Dracula/Frankenstein horror stories.

      1. Regarding Mark’s concern about working conditions, this doesn’t mean freezing 19th-century practices into place forever. “Continuous innovation” is not just in technology but also in social and political structures.

      2. The lady’s paper also notes, I think, that ordinary citizens, whose friends and family members were also threatened and hurt or killed by these conditions, finally insisted that their representatives correct them.

        The newspapers of those days also deserve credit precisely for sensationalizing the actual horrors resulting from those conditions.

        Terrible fires following train wrecks were also a common fact of railroading. Steam locomotives pulling wooden passenger cars got into frequent wrecks with God-awful casualties equivalent to a modern jet airliner crash.

        Our governor shouldn’t have to beg on his knees- in futility- for the Federal Government at least to insist that BN doesn’t keep bringing a mile of extremely flammable oil under our city every day- on cars the operators themselves admit are defective.

        Bhopal. Lake Magantic. As the phrase says about Liberty, protection from industrial mass murder has to be won and re-won many times.

        Mark Dublin

  1. http://melissakramerscincinnati.com/?page_id=17

    Got this one from Wikipedia just now. The author, Melissa Kramer, should be invited to do a guest posting for these pages.

    This article is absolutely stunning, not only for the unbelievable transportation technology of the kind I’d do anything to bring back to our country, but for its revelation of the working conditions of not so long ago that resulted directly in the legal protections we take for granted.

    And the public attitudes and assumptions that tolerated these conditions for so long, but finally changed. And considering political forces now ascendant, the fight needed to make sure these changes aren’t completely reversed.


    And this one is equally awesome, but also a plane-ticket away right now. Much the same technology of San Francisco cable cars: a set of jaws reaches down and grips a moving cable. Trieste mechanism has been replaced the little orange “locomotive” containing the grip controls with a smaller mechanism that the tram couples onto.

    Not to stretch a point- which can do as much damage to an article as bad-handling can do to a steel cable- I really but the above systems share several things with the first twenty years of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. And the Queen Anne Counterbalance before it.

    Special address to special conditions. Uncomplicated- and if necessary operable without computers. And reliance upon skilled human labor at every step. For years’ current and past operations, and usable for as many more years to come as necessary.

    Thank you very much for this posting, Oran.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Should read: “but I really think…” Truly apologize for continued typo’s which really disrupt communications I take very seriously. Hopefully this coming Wednesday’s cataract surgery takes care of this condition.

      Mark Dublin

    2. I attempted to take the Trieste-Opicina line this summer. It’s been out of commision for several years and I actually saw it run the day I got to Trieste. Later in the afternoon it was broken again so I took a bus to Opicina and caught a Slovenian taxi from there. When I told my Slovenian driver about the tram not working he turned his palms up and said “heh, it’s Italian” and we both knew what that meant.

  2. You run a private urban transit company. In order to improve speeds on your busiest route, you propose switching the route to a proof-of-payment system. How would you implement POP as a private transit company? Assume that your route has 10,000 daily customers and 2% attempt to evade the fare, therefore 200 passengers would need to be cited.

    You could act like you are any other retail businesses and call the police on them for petty theft, essentially treating fare evaders as shoplifters. By the end of the first week, the local PD would be inundated with the number of times your operators have called to have these people cited for fare evasion, and as such the PD decides to stop responding to calls reporting fare evasion.

    Seeing as “call the police” is no longer an option, how else could a private transit company enforce a POP system on their services? Hire off-duty officers (can they cite offenders without an on-duty officer present)? Form your own private PD like the private railroads have (prohibitively expensive, and probably not legal for a bus company)? Are there any other options for enforcement of a POP system?

    1. Talk to transit in Stockholm- where service which used to be private was turned over to Veolia, who since lost the contract to another private company.

      Very likely either fare inspectors and are still public employees, or private fare inspectors have authority to call on police and courts for enforcement-exactly like store security.

      From personal contact, I have a great deal of respect for the people of Securitas, headquartered along the Route 4 streetcar line, which at that point of the route, goes by Securitas HQ at 60. Across the tracks is a 17th century tower with a gold lion holding a sword on top.

      Not on company logo, however. Could be trademarked by, say, Sweden. But uniformly, Securitas men and women I’ve met in Sweden, Norway, and Finland would be a credit to any public police force in the world. Especially here.

      Only thing I’d really like to see is having them all sworn in as police officers or soldiers, not private guards. Honestly, only thing I dislike worse about current give-public-to-private trend is to do this with prisons. Forget fare inspection! Except for pathological governmental cheapness, why would anybody in a free country give a rent-a-cop authority to handcuff, club, body cavity search, and throw in solitary?

      With money that in a public agency would go to officers’ salaries share with stockholders? Like every democracy-and-civilization-destroying practice, this is good example of a bad habit turning armed, dangerous, well-lobbied and out of control.

      Frankly, would rather face zeppelins structured like the Brooklyn Bridge with passengers being screened for decay and surveyed for falling body parts. Wish that assignment right now on everybody regularly doing body cavity searches. Especially on people who haven’t yet been convicted of any crime.


    2. 2% of riders attempting to evade the fare does not translate to 2% being caught by the random fare inspection, much less 2% being cited. Most catches result in a warning, not a citation.

      ST’s fare inspectors work for a private contractor, but now have authority to print and hand citations to riders. The need for police doesn’t come in until someone doesn’t pay the fare and hasn’t paid the fine, ignores the trespass warning issued the second time they are caught, and gets caught a third time. Yes, the police do respond, and I’ve seen some riders get arrested, but it is rare.

      1. I wonder if the fare inspectors and/or ST police are authorized to collect fine payment on the spot.

    1. Great! Excellent chance that 4,000 drivers, supervisors, mechanics, and communications workers can offer the low bid by organizing a democratic non-profit cooperative to run the system!

      In Israel, Dan cooperative handles Tel Aviv and Egged intercity. Practice probably wider in the past than now. Whether spread from the US or only human, workers would rather have a normal family life and participate in Management via complaint.

      But seeing how much of our fleet is made overseas, it’s only right that some historic work arrangements from offshore be brought back to life here. You 587 people: given labor relations right now, what would you think of this alternative?


    2. Transportation Prop 1 is about putting more service directly on the street. That seems like a better use of taxpayer money than creating yet another transit beaurocracy.

      1. The Seattle Transportation Benefit District already exists, it’s not a “new” anything. SDOT already has experience buying service hours through Bridging the Gap funds. The STBD Prop 1 ordinance specifically says that the hours purchases will follow the Seattle Transit Master Plan and Metro’s service guidelines, both of which have been established for some time.

        That all boils down to this being a way to more or less legally launder money over to Metro so that Metro could do what it was going to do in the first place but for money, which is provide transit service inside Seattle.

    3. Given the Seattle Process, that would take a year or more to get started. Plus, you know as well as the rest of us, the ordinance only says that Seattle can purchase bus service from Metro so that’s a non-starter in the first place. Nor is it consistent with the one time I agree with Mayor Murray: There’s no reason to cut a countywide Metro off at the knees. Suburban riders come into Seattle and benefit it just as Seattle riders are benefited by being able to get out to the ‘burbs.

      1. Some people don’t have a car. Or they don’t want to drive in congestion, or pay bridge tolls or gas, or be sealed off from humanity in a bubble, or they’d rather sit and read or sleep than drive.

    4. No thanks. I don’t want Metro’s fairly good safety record to turn into the mediocre to disastrous sort of record typical of low-bid contract operators.

  3. Okay, so that Seattle Metro project that I talked about last Sunday? I thought I’d start by giving an overview of the system in 2014, line by line.

    Line 1 (Flaunteroy Line, Red): Capitol Hill-Cascade-Pike Place-Downtown-Harbor Island-Admiral-Alaska Junction-Flaunteroy Ferry Terminal-White Center. Used to be a much longer line until recent projects had new lines take over some portions on Line 1.

    Line 2 (Overlake Line, Blue): Lake City-Northgate-Crown Hill-Ballard-Queen Anne-Uptown-Belltown-Downtown-International District-Mt Baker-Mercer Island-Enatai-Bellvue-Crossroads-Microsoft-Redmond. The system’s busiest single line, connecting some of the most important areas in Seattle. Particularly famous for a Station on a Bridge on a bridge over the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

    Line 3 (Rainer Line, Green): Magnolia-Interbay-Uptown-South Lake Union-Cascade-First Hill-Yesler Hill-International District-Mt Baker-Columbia City-Rainer Beach-Allentown-Tukwila-Airport. Used to operate all the way to Tacoma until the recent opening of Line 13.

    Line 4 (Duvall Line, Yellow): Waterfront-Downtown-First Hill-Capitol Hill-Eastlake-University District-Laurelhurst-Wedgewood-Lake City-Lake Forest Park-Kenmore-Bothell-Woodinville. Has grown into a very important line over time, despite not really being planned for in it’s early years.

    Line 5 (Aurora Line, Purple): Shoreline-Aurora-Green Lake-Wallingford-Westlake-Uptown-Belltown-Downtown-First Hill-Central District. Used to operate North to Everett and South to Renton before like Line 1, the outer segments were taken over by new lines. A planned extension to Bellevue is regarded as widely controversial.

    Line 6 (Everett Line, Orange): Everett-Lynwood-Shoreline-Aurora-Green Lake-Wallingford-Westlake-Uptown-Belltown-Downtown-SODO-South Park-Tukwila-Airport-Des Moines-Federal Way-Tacoma. An express rail line that is a metro recreation of the old Everett-Seattle-Tacoma interurban.

    Line 7 (Issaquah Line, Cyan): Shilshole Bay-Ballard-Zoo-Fremont-Wallingford-University District-Lake Washington-Evergreen Point-Bellevue-Factoria-Eastgate-Lake Sammamish-Issaquah. The second line built across Lake Washington, it is one of two lines that perform primarily function as East-West lines.

    Line 8 (Pacific Line, Pink): West End-North End-Stadium District-Downtown Tacoma-South End-Parkland-Spanaway-Elk Plain. Has served as a major catalyst for the development of Tacoma in the late 20th Century.

    Line 9 (Kirkland Line, Chartreuse): Canyon Park-Woodinville-Kingsgate-Totem Lake-Kirland-Houghton-Bellevue-Factoria-Newcastle-Kennydale-Renton-Southcenter-Tukwila-Burien. Seattle’s major suburban metro line (Though there are some segments within Seattle proper), the Burien-Renton segment was once a part of Line 1.

    Line 10 (Tacoma Line, Brown): TCC-Central Tacoma-Hilltop-Downtown Tacoma-Port of Tacoma-North East Tacoma-Twin Lakes-Federal Way-Lakeland-Auburn. A line that’s widely panned by urbanist type for going through the seeming middle of nowhere.

    Line 11 (Madison Line, Gold): Laurelhurst-Madison Park-Central District-Capitol Hill-First Hill-Downtown-Central Waterfront-SODO-Harbor Island-Youngstown-Delridge-White Center-Burien-Normandy Park-Des Monies. A line known especially for the tortured process in which it was funded and built.

    Line 12 (Central Line, Gray): Mountlake Terrace-North City-Jackson Park-Northgate-Roosevelt-University District-Montlake-Madrona-Central District-Judkins-Beacon Hill-Rainer Beach-Bryn Mawr/Skyway-Renton-Renton Highlands. A line formed by merging the northern branch of Line 1 with the Southern branch of Line 5.

    Line 13 (Steliacoom Line, Lavender): Burien-Airport-Des Moines-Federal Way-Tacoma-South End-Lakewood. One of three “cheap” lines, formed in recent years by making small modifications of existing structures to create a new line.

    Line 14 (Lynwood Line, Dark Green): Marysville-Everett-Lynwood-Shoreline. Like Line 13 above in that it was formed from infrastructure already in use by other lines.

    1. It’s fairly easy to visualize your system. Nice work!

      One change I suggest is having Line 6/Everett be renamed to the Interurban Line or renaming it for Highway 99, since leaving Tacoma out of the name would make it useless north of Seattle.

      Also, Lynnwood has two Ns.

      1. But you might be a little surprised once I start showing exact alignments though.

        As for Line 6, If you’ll look more closely, I deliberately chose not to have any line start with the same letter as another line, this serves as yet another identifying feature alongside color and number. And I pointed out last week that Line 4’s name was aspirational when it was chosen, being named The Duvall Line despite at the being nowhere close to it. The same applies to Line 6 here, it didn’t even reach Downtown Everett until around 2000 in this world. (And Line 7, which was named the Issaquah Line in the 70’s, but didn’t reach there for almost three decades after Line 7 opened, Lines 1 and 2 also count, as they were named the Flaunteroy and Overlake Lines despite not serving these areas in their initial phases)

      1. Damn spelling errors, I always seem to figure out a way to mess up. And also, I’ve thought things over, and I’ve decided to shift around a few names:

        Line 6, was Everett Line, is now Interurban Line

        Line 7, was Issaquah Line, now Ballard Line

        Line 10, was Tacoma Line, now Hilltop Line

        Line 12, was Central Line, now University Line

        In the case of Lines 6, 7 and 12, these were each alternate names for each names line that I had been considering. But by doing this, I can go with my preferred names for the eventual Line 15 and Line 17.

  4. Since this is an open thread, I’d like to propose a possible solution to the “Bus 2” conundrum. It seems to me that the “problem” stretch is from about Eighth Avenue to Broadway. East of there most people using the route will probably be very happy with the increased reliability of the Madison Avenue BRT improvements.

    So, how can we serve the Eighth to Broadway section of Seneca efficiently? Let’s go Back to the Future and visit Bus 2 before the overhead rebuild in the late 1970’s.

    The route in those days went east on Pike from First to Fifth Avenue and turned south to Seneca where it joined the current route (it had a contra-flow lane on Seneca). The reverse route went northbound on Sixth to Union and then west to First.

    Renewing the old route would still put the eastbound buses in the mess at Sixth and Seneca (and it would be hard to get that contra-flow lane back…..), but there is now a new and almost traffic-free route two blocks to the east: Eighth Avenue. There is no wire there today, and there isn’t a lot of overhead clearance under the Convention Center, but I bet that there is sufficient clearance for directly mounted wire supports.

    I would suggest that service be provided on this route seven days a week during the 7 to 7 base service period; it could be live-looped in the 10/43 turnback or, if there is insufficient capacity there, the Lenora loop between First and Third.

    The eastern terminus would be the Thirteenth and Pine loop. I expect two buses could provide 30 minute headways.

    1. I’ve thought about the Lenora live loop and decided that’s a bad idea. It would mean that the buses would have to turn left from First to Pike which is a terrible intersection. So, I checked the usage of the 10/11/43 turnback route (Pine westbound to Second southbound to Pike eastbound) and found that at no time does the 10 run more often than every ten minutes and the 43 and 11 no more often than every fifteen each. During midday the 11 runs only every thirty minutes, so the Seneca shuttle could run on the opposite fifteen’s of the 11.

      Therefore, it seems easy enough to slot two more buses per hour into the current usage of the turnback.

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