The Sounder

This is an open thread.

89 Replies to “News Roundup: Earth, Wind, and Fire”

  1. Portland MAX-and ST LINK- in windstorms? Portland could already have an answer. If it’s still running, a vintage trolley line down to Lake Oswego has a motor trailer coupled to the streetcar- letting it run where there’s no catenary.

    I wonder if a light rail system could afford to buy enough of these “assists” to keep at least some service running when the power is down? And for power lines and tree branches across track:

    PAT Transit in Pittsburgh runs huge plow trucks to keep busways clear of snow. Could light-rail systems have a fleet of its own equipment for quickly getting debris off tracks?

    And AMTRAK? I wonder if it wasn’t obsolete when it opened. I think some ocean freighters still carry passengers- years after planes out competed the great liners. But I don’t think anybody would argue that for intercity or cross-continental speed, freight an passengers belong on the same track.

    For a start, could it make sense to build a chain of regional HSR systems, linked end to end? At the height of the interurbans, I’ve read that it was possible to ride across sections of the country this way.

    Considering that the route length coast to coast is in same league as the Trans-Siberian, I think many passengers, especially tourists, might like stop-overs in several cities on their way across.

    Because schedule and quality-wise, am I being unfair to say that, like with Greyhound buses, our country’s honor requires our flag to be removed from certain locations.

    Mark Dublin

    1. wind storms likely guarantee shutdowns on the future East Link line. I hope they keep auxiliary trains on the Bellevue side to prevent loss of service when the bridge has to occasionally shut down.

      1. The Bellevue Facility will be merely Operations & Storage. For the foreseeable future, only the SODO facility will be Maintenance.

        But hey, since the engineering department’s best argument for the turnback track in ID Station is the need to cycle trains through the SODO maintenance base, having some maintenance in Bellevue could help get the ID Station center platform built. However, I think that would require a larger footprint in Bellevue, and increased ongoing maintenance costs.

        Still, when capacity maxes out on North Link ca. 2035, people will realize how bone-headed it was not to enable shorter dwell time at ID Station.

      2. Gosh Brent, not sure where your info comes from, but two things need clarifying/correcting.

        1. The Bellevue maintenace base is called “Operations and Maintenance Satellite Facility”. It performs all routine maintenance, including cleaning, safety inspections, and routine repairs & scheduled maintenance. Only heavy overhauls will remain at the Sodo site, including wheel-truing, traction power motor work, and body work.

        2. The primary need for the IDS pocket track is related to the need to remove malfunctioning trains from service that are coming form the east side. There will be a nine-mile tunnel route firm IDS to Northgate, and no place anywhere along there to store a wounded train or vehicle if something happens between Bellevue and IDS. You wouldn’t want to have to drag a such a train all the way to Northgate (and under UW) just to reverse direction back to Sodo. That would be inefficient, risky, and disruptive to service for passengers.

      3. Railcan: Is 2. really accurate? If that is the reason for IDS turnback tracks, it could have easily been done at Westlake, where a center platform wouldn’t add substantial value to the station.

      4. Alex: then you’re still bringing out-of-commission trains through 5 stations, once in each direction, for no good reason. If ST honestly believes that capacity in the tunnel will be strained, they probably don’t want to ruin headways up the entire Central Link line to bring in a dead train from the Eastside.

        A connection from the East Link tracks to a pocket track at IDS makes it possible to turn trains around with minimum impact to the tunnel itself. Incoming trains would wait for the mainline to clear so they could cross into the pocket track, and the disruption as they left southbound towards the OMF would be minimized since half the trains leaving IDS are headed to East Link anyway.

        Not saying I agree with this analysis, if it even is ST’s analysis. But it is at least consistent with everything they’ve said about constraints on tunnel operations.

      5. Kyle – But, will in-service trains be taking this route in the evening as well? If so, they should definitely put the turnback at Westlake – or even Pioneer Square – to allow those trains to carry passengers into downtown. If even one train a day is scheduled for that, it’d be a more significant use-case than damaged trains.

      6. Wye not send broken down trains more directly to the O&MF?Thanks for the correction on point 1, railcan.

        As for point number 2, couldn’t a wye do a better job of handling that concern?

      7. Brent –

        Yes, but (a) it’d prevent in-service trains from dropping off passengers in downtown before turning south (if there are any such trains in the evenings or shoulder-of-peak), and (b) a Y would be more expensive and difficult to build, given the East Link tracks will be descending on the existing I-90 express lane ramps.

      8. William C,

        The trains using the turnback track won’t be letting passengers off at the platform. The turnback track is located halfway between the platforms, and adjacent to the revenue tracks. The passengers would have to step down onto the tracks, and walk to the platform, then step up. I doubt the Federal Railroad Administration would approve of such a plan.

        However, if a disabled train took the flyover track over to the southbound track into Stadium Station, passengers could alight there safely, and walk around to the northbound platform to catch the next train into the tunnel.

        Yes, this would be expensive, and ought to be part of ST3, but buidling another whole line because capacity on the north fork of Link maxes out ca. 2035 would be billions of dollars more expensive.

      9. ST spokespeople have previously said Pioneer Square, University Street, and Westlake Stations are not long enough for a turnback track. But the space below Jackson St north of the ID Station platforms provides enough length there.

        Still, having the turnback track there, instead of a center platform that can be used for the Spanish solution, as well as to make transfers as smoothe and quick as possible, would be a much lower and worse use of that high-value space. We agree on that point, right?

      10. Westlake, where a center platform wouldn’t would add substantial value to the station

        Fixed that for you. Center platforms avoid the need to go up and down again if you went to the wrong platform, got on the wrong train, changed your mind about your destination in the middle (possibly because of travel-time delays or missing a transfer or realizing you can’t fit that trip into your day after all), or transferring to a route going in the opposite direction. The only disadvantages people have cited are platform overcrowding pushing people onto the tracks and higher station costs. So that’s a lot of ongoing advantages. The crowding issue doesn’t happen often in Seattle and it could be handled other ways; e.g., encouraging people to spread out up the stairs, or putting a partial barrier along the middle of the platform (psychological separation but still allowing people to walk through). The station cost, if it really is higher (because of the wider separation of the track), is a one-time expense, and we should stop prioritizing one-time capital expenses over hundred-year ongoing benefits.

        I’m not saying we must tear up Westlake Station and rebuild it, but side platforms are a bad idea period and we should stop building them.

      11. side platforms are a bad idea period and we should stop building them.

        As ever, meh on your logic.

        Any given station should be designed for whatever arrangement will minimize platform access from the surface or from transfers to other lines or modes. To the extent that any given station site will have circumstances and constrictions unique to it, any sort of unwavering blanket design prescriptions — mezzanines, any one kind of platform over another, huge platform capacity even at minor stations — is a recipe for pervasive overbuilding and middling outcomes.

        Reversing directions on the same line at any arbitrary station is not in any reasonable person’s top 100 design priorities, nor should it be. No rider will ever head in the wrong direction more than once in a lifetime. Direction reversal due to changed plans/travel conditions is a rare event, and of no particular burden in a system without fare gates.

        None of your stock arguments for universal center platforms achieve anything that can’t be done better with some good signs and an agency-wide attention to wayfinding.

        Elevator breakdowns may be of greater concern, but where center platforms lead to more complicated station arrangements, you may wind up with no fewer lifts and no more redundancy. A better response would be to mandate off-the-shelf elevator designs that can be maintained well and fixed with minimal delay.

        Transit advocates need to stop insisting that we plan only for edge cases. That’s why our transit is so terrible at handling the basics: making it easy and intuitive for people to head in the direction they are headed, expeditiously and without hassle.

    2. Because schedule and quality-wise, am I being unfair to say that, like with Greyhound buses, our country’s honor requires our flag to be removed from certain locations.

      So, you would prefer that Amtrak cease operations? Or just the long distance routes?
      Or what would you prefer to see Amtrak do?

      1. If the United States is willing to finance a coast to coast passenger line with its own track and facilities, I’ll work to get the measure passed, and gladly pay the taxes for it.

        Though I think that since Korea, this country has long had the choice of anymore wars where we spend money equivalent to the rail we deserve. and get nothing but hurt. And pay for our railroad that way.

        I’m not going to support ending existing service. But I am saying that keeping slow, late, freight blocked passenger trains can’t be a winning fight political or fiscal fight forever.

        I think that building regional high speed rail lines and then connecting them when and where possible is an incremental approach that will be faster to build and easier to pay for than trying to fix the service and setup we have.

        And for the length and variety of a trip across the United States, visitors especially might enjoy one or two stay-overs at hotels in different cities. Maybe in hotels owned and maintained by the railroads. A long trip might be a lot less stressful than a coach seat all the way across. And definitely cheaper than a train compartment.

        So most important of all: passengers will much sooner be able to ride enough fast, schedule-keeping state or region-wide service that they will once again believe good train-travel is possible at all.

        I’m also old enough to remember when a long-distance Greyhound express ride could be a wonderful experience. Clean, well-maintained buses, professional and polite drivers, “Post House” restaurants with very good food.

        My last ride- possibly in every sense- should have been effortless for everything above. I-5 is a straight shot north from San Francisco to Eugene. And a 180 degree opposite from everything above.

        Ruined a deliberately chosen jet airliner-free trip from San Francisco to Seattle via Sacramento.

        BART- excellent. California Amtrak Capitol Corridor- nice, upgraded Sounder. Outdoor supper and espresso cafe in Sacramento, beautiful evening, concert- perfect. Breakfast in Eugene- great. Talgo to Seatte-same.

        Cascades extension to Sacramento. Let’s do it. But meantime,
        the richest, biggest, strongest republic in world history shouldn’t need very long to fix the missing part. Some of us like ground travel-and hate present air travel- well enough we’d pay same as Alaska Air ticket to ride it.

        Fourth of July weekend: last look at the coach from outside, right by the door…Dawn’s Early Light. For for my country’s sake, I wished with all my heart I could Pledge Allegiance with a very sharp scraper.

        Mark

      2. “And for the length and variety of a trip across the United States, visitors especially might enjoy one or two stay-overs at hotels in different cities. Maybe in hotels owned and maintained by the railroads. A long trip might be a lot less stressful than a coach seat all the way across. And definitely cheaper than a train compartment.”

        How do you figure that? The accomodation charge on the train is not much different than the cost of a good hotel and daily food. So not only would the trip take longer, but it might cost more too.

      3. This depends entirely on when you buy the tickets, thanks to Amtrak adopting the airlines yield management ticket price system.

        However, I can tell you that a co-worker had to fly to California to attend to a dead relative, but came back on the train, all the way from Bakersfield, as even buying a bedroom for his wife and himself cost about 1/3 the price of the airline ticket back. Sure, that won’t be the case for everyone but it was the case in his particular situation.

        The big problem with trying to get economical Amtrak tickets is that stuff starts to sell out during the tourist season, so the prices are relatively high. The fact that sometimes the Cascades trains sometimes sell out, with the last Portland to Seattle ticket going for some $60+, speak volumes on the need to add more capacity to existing trains.

      4. Amtrak’s best deals are a month ahead, or during midweek sales during the low travel seasons (October, November, February, March). In the low travel season you can get a last-minute booking for minimum price when the airlines have cranked it up. Except now there’s North Dakota oil workers filling the trains so that could dash last-minute bargains. Sleeping rooms are the lowest price if you book ahead or if there’s a vacancy after you get on the train. The surcharge is around $250 for an apodment-sized room, but it includes meals so that’s $48 off, and a fancy sleeper-only lounge car with movies, and maybe a newspaper. So the minimum net charge for the room is similar to a motel or low-end hotel, and it really comes down to how you feel about a tiny rolling hotel room vs a stopover.

      5. Mike, the sleeper-only lounge car with a movie theater (and a bar!) is only on the Coast Starlight, not the Empire Builder. But both have wine & cheese tastings for sleeper passengers (above age 21) only.

        If folks want to pay for a coach seat and sleep in a real bed, that’s an option that exists today. It would work a lot better though if there were two trains a day in each direction. That way if they wanted to stop off in Spokane or Fargo, they wouldn’t have to detrain and reboard in the middle of the night.

    3. “I think some ocean freighters still carry passengers”

      Yes, my aunt and uncle took one to China. I don’t know how widespread they are but you get a room and basic board and a window overlooking the monotonous ocean waves for days. Good for couples wanting to spend uninterrupted time together, or singles reading War and Peace or The Lord of the Rings or the Bible, but not good for those who are easily bored or like to be in a community of travellers.

      “could it make sense to build a chain of regional HSR systems, linked end to end? At the height of the interurbans, I’ve read that it was possible to ride across sections of the country this way.”

      Russia still has those. The elektrichkas connect end to end between major cities, at least between Moscow and St Petersburg. They’re used by those who want to travel cheap, avoid foreigner’s fares, don’t care about travel time. It would be like Cascades connecting to a Skskiyou line between Eugene and Sacramento and then into the Capitols and Surfliner systems.

      I wish Amtrak or Greyound or somebody would just put in a Eugene-Sacramento bus route timed with the Cascades.

      “Considering that the route length coast to coast is in same league as the Trans-Siberian”

      What? Amtrak takes three days and crosses four time zones. The Trans-Siberian takes a week and crosses some twelve time zones.

      “And AMTRAK? I wonder if it wasn’t obsolete when it opened.”

      In some senses yes, and it wasn’t intended to last more than a few years. It was intended to demonstrate that ridership was so low it would be practically nonexistent. Except the ridership didn’t do that, and rural areas without other transit grew to use the trains, and it became a backup transportation system after 9/11, and trains regained some of their previous popularity, and airlines cut down to apodment seats and no meals and longer security checks, etc.

      I did believe Amtrak should shut down the national network and build up regional networks instead, until someone convinced me that shutting down the national network would make it practically impossible to ever restart it or replace it.

      Coordinated regional HSRs make perfect sense, and standard-speed rail or buses are viable for regions that aren’t ready for HSR. But they need to be time-coordinated and run several time a day, to compete with airlines and driving. And have through ticketing of course.

      1. My long comment above- should have said Sacramento-Eugene. But trip could be possible- even the one I rode. But really glad for descriptions of world non-air travel conditions.

        Those Russian “elektrichkas” sound a lot more fun than the ones I had in mind. All those characteristics? Be honest. In what way wouldn’t trip be faster- and more enjoyable- than Amtrak same distance- if it ran the route? Also, just perfect change after a freighter trip across the Pacific!

        With the right library, writing material from pens to computers, art projects- bet if you kept the floor swept, they’d let you bring sharp chisels. Try that on a plane, broom or not. And come on- haven’t you ever spent equivalent amount of time in company is worse than no company? One person’s “boring” is another person’s “Peace at last!”

        Also: how does TSA handle gangplank boarding? Relief from current airport procedures would be worth all above even without classics or chisels. Also wonder how close crew would let you get to chart room, wheel house, or any other means of understanding the ship?

        Note I only put US coast to coast single-company rail travel in same league as Trans-Siberian. Wonder who’s next in line after us? And anybody besides Russia ahead of us? Very curious about the Trans-Siberian. Any direct experience?

        My own guess is that every regional HSR should be required to prepare to integrate into a cross continental system when the comes. But my guess is that HSR regional would be easier to do than building the whole thing from scratch. Or from still-operating freight rail.

        And Mike, and everybody else: you’ve got to read “The Lunatic Express” by Carl Hoffman. Reporter brave enough for the Congressional went around the world in the lethal bus, rail, and air transportation available to vast majority of the world’s people

        Despite massive crowding- most of world’s people are used to much closer quarters than any of us- and have adjusted their comfort level and manners to adjust and enjoy. Freighter cabin would have carried a whole province, burners to cook, and livestock to eat. Which would have been delicious.

        The author’s general treatment was unbelievably kind and helpful. In general, the only really depressing time was the last leg: Greyhound San Francisco to East Coast. Death unlikely, but much preferred. Must read for everybody in transportation.

        Mark

      2. The elektrichkas are commuter rail like Sounder. The only difference is they go out a hundred miles from the city, and they run every hour or so. I didn’t do the epic journey; I used the regular trains. But the end-to-end distance per line is some 2-4 hours so I don’t think there’s food or anything. As for power outlets for your laptop, hahaha, we’re talking Soviet era-trains and small-town stations that are just a bare platform.

      3. Mark, there are several freighter lines that allow passengers; most will take from 6-20 depending on ship configuration. Many have pools, video libraries etc. but of course these trips are more for contemplation than the active zoo life aboard a typical cruise ship. Also, when you reach port you are in the working areas, sometimes many miles away from where you might want to end up. Small issues though, and what is likely a fascinating way to travel. My understanding is that you are basically billeted among the officers and they are more than happy to show you around the ship from stem to stern. Trips on these ships are available from cross-ocean journeys of a few days to round-the-world routes of a few months.

        There are a couple of opportunities to travel much as one would have “back in the day;” scheduled passenger/cargo ships on scheduled routes to locations remote and not easily reached otherwise. Some are on my bucket list: the Aranui out of Papeete (Tahiti) to the Marquesas and the RMS St. Helena to St. Helena, Tristan da Cunha and Cape Town. There’s even a small ship that travels from Honolulu to the out islands of Kiribati. Check travltips.com to find out more.

    4. Regarding Amtrak:

      It’s probably going to prove impossible to completely separate freight and passenger traffic. We don’t do it on the roads, we shouldn’t do it on the railroads. In really busy corridors, we can afford to have separate passenger and freight routes, but it’s still going to be desirable to do some track sharing.

      The Northeast Corridor, Metro-North, the Long Island Railroad, SEPTA, the MBTA — all of these, owned by passenger operators and quite busy, carry local freight traffic. So do the Metra-owned tracks in Chicago.

      For some unimaginable reason, every time people think of Amtrak, they think of the most questionable routes, the 5 ‘problem routes’ across the mountains and deserts. Please, when you think of Amtrak, think New York City.

      And when you think of the “long-distance” division of Amtrak, think of New York to Chicago and New York to Florida. These routes were built as passenger mainlines first and foremost. The fact that they are under the control of primarily-freight operators is a shame and should be fixed. The freight operators would do just fine as tenants of the passenger operator, like they do on the Northeast Corridor.

      There is no reason to build brand-new passenger routes when the passenger mainline of the New York Central Railroad is sitting there being underused by lower-speed freight traffic; better to build new routes for freight, get the freight out of the way of the passengers, and restore the old passenger mainlines to their original function.

      It’s different out west where there were never many good passenger railroad mainlines, but east of the Missouri River, they’re just *sitting* there. There’s one in Iowa which is barely even being used for freight, but the state government got taken over by anti-rail nuts and is unwilling to rehabilitate it.

  2. It’s not really a fair to compare the cost of that segment of the CAHSR to the FHSC on a per-mile basis. For one thing, they’re totally different systems going through totally different terrain. The bigger problem though is that FHSC is a complete system including vehicles and a maintenance base.

    The CAHSR contract is just for demolition, clearing, grading and building some bridges and viaducts. It doesn’t include rails, signals, OCS, vehicles or a maintenance facility.

      1. Still and all, Zach, you raise a point that often comes up in comparisons between cost of transit in Seattle and same systems elsewhere.

        In Seattle- and many places whose vertical terrain and resulting views attract a large population- necessary tunneling and elevating and real estate costs raise transit building costs as well.

        So rule is: the faster you need the train to go, pick someplace linear and flat where nobody wants to live. And also since there’s nothing to look at, you can save the cost of coach windows.

        But on the other hand, a larger population of people who are rich enough to afford the taxes, and young enough to look to the future, makes transit there pay for itself.

        On the downside, you’ll have to get those “wraps” off the windows even faster than getting our flag off Amtrak cars and Greyhound buses! Especially the ones from public agencies, starting with the state lotteries. Which I really hate even to imagine.

        Mark

      2. When Texas was planning its north-south Nafta highway, it included space for a freeway and trains and utilities, whatever might be needed in the future. I think the project was cancelled, but that’s what’s missing from the rest of our Interstates: they’re single-mode. Like the 520 bridge without sidewalks. Although at least some Interstates have pedestrian trails in some sections, or allow bicycles on the shoulder where there’s no other road. But in Texas’ case a single multimodal right-of-way was planned in the first place.

    1. It is, however, fair to compare the costs of building high speed rail in the USA with the costs in Europe.

      Spain is not flat in a lot of locations, and in fact the AVE lines have a fair number of tunnels on them, and some pretty long bridges in places.

      The 81.4 mile Barcelona to Figueres line was built for 3.7 billion Euro, or a bit less than 46 million Euro per line mile, or about $56 million per line mile at today’s exchange rate.

      This is Europe we are talking about, not China with its vastly cheaper labor rates.

  3. The transit vs. parking “study” is incredibly misleading. Free parking in a neighborhood with generally free parking is counted as “subsidized” parking even though the employer has no control over whether the local government chooses to charge for parking there.

    That means that any employer not located in a paid-parking zone is deemed to be “subsidizing” parking. That includes almost everywhere in the region, except for core Seattle neighborhoods and a few other urban centers. It would be better to ask “does your employer have a parking lot/garage?” to isolate employer provided parking from city provided parking.

    1. So the parking lot has no value? If that is the case, can I buy it for a dollar? Maybe I can store some stuff there, or put up a taco truck.

      The parking space has value, the only question is how much. In some neighborhoods, a lot. In other neighborhoods, not so much. Either way it is a subsidy.

      1. I didn’t mean to imply that a parking lot has no value. It certainly does. Employers with employee parking lots (free or paid) certainly do pay for them. I’m talking about free on-street parking, which employers cannot control and cannot plausibly “subsidize” in any way.

        Throwing every type of parking into the “subsidized” bucket fails to distinguish between those employers that happen to be located in a free street parking area but don’t have parking lots (e.g. most small businesses in QA, Magnolia, West Seattle, Rainier Valley, etc.) and companies that actually give cash to employees to pay for parking costs, like Amazon does. For the first group, street parking is a byproduct of geography. For Amazon, subsidized parking is a deliberate corporate decision. That is an important distinction.

      2. Sorry, my fault. I should have read the article first. You are right, that is a really stupid poll. They clearly state that “This particular question did not specify whether the parking benefit was a formal program offered by the employer or simply a case of the employee being able to park anywhere there was an available spot in a generally free parking neighborhood.”

        I’m not sure why they would put that in there. Either you provide parking (on your property) to your employees or you don’t. Who cares is there is parking in the neighborhood. Besides, that forces employers to make a value judgement, with regards to parking. For example, in Fremont, there is plenty of free parking. But in lower Fremont, it is hard to find, which is why there is a paid lot. On the other hand, if you want to walk a ways, then you can always find free parking (up the hill). So now an employer (who doesn’t provide parking on their property) has to weigh all that and say yes or no to this poll? I agree, that is a really flawed definition and misses the whole point of the survey.

        At best, you could ask a followup question (is there free parking nearby) but I personally don’t think that is that important a question, and, as I said, will always involve a value judgement (what exactly is “nearby”?).

      3. I haven’t been to Fremont in a few years (mid 2000’s), however the last time I was there, free parking was very much a struggle to find off the main drag of 35th—-even going uphill from it, it was bumper to bumper.

    2. But not far outside of those paid parking zones most employers will provide (and are often required by zoning/regs to provide) a free parking lot. That costs money to build and maintain. Hell, half the reason why parking benefits have a limited exclusion from fringe benefit taxability is so that suburban employers don’t need to calculate imputed income on whatever that cost is over their employee population.

    3. So the government is subsidizing parking rather than the employer — the effect for workers is the same, right?

      I have to imagine that people that use free street parking all day for work are a minority. It doesn’t take too many workers parking on commercial streets before business owners want time restrictions to keep spaces open for customers, and it doesn’t take too many people using residential street parking before residents start campaigning for an RPZ. There are a few areas that are old enough that buildings weren’t built with off-street parking, dense enough that off-street lots weren’t added later, and sparse enough that parking restrictions haven’t been necessary… but really, how many are there?

    1. I agree. This may be there way of trying to push the Seahawks to put in grass. Even just laying out grass for every game (and pulling it back out after) would be cheaper than building their own stadium. Oh, and don’t expect the city to build you a soccer only stadium — that will never happen.

      1. The Sounders will probably build themselves a soccer stadium at some point. Laying down temporary grass every week is not a solution—cost and numerous feasibility issues aside, players tend to complain more about those surfaces than the FieldTurf.

      2. @Jason True, the temporary grass they lay down for friendlies isn’t very good. I’ve heard players like the turf used in Vancouver more and it has been recommended by FIFA over FieldTurf. I wonder if that would be an acceptable compromise? I’d really hate to see the Sounders move to a soccer specific stadium for many reasons – not only because I doubt they’d find a workable location in the city but also because this is the only city in the US that can sell out an NFL stadium for soccer games and it would be a shame to lose that capacity. There are very few European soccer stadiums as big as Clink and we manage to sellout games. The energy at Clink is unmatched.

      3. So, why not install permanent grass? Wouldn’t that be better for reducing Seahawks’ player injuries, too?

        It’s not as if a string of high school state championship games are being played there, and turning it to mud.

        Ask fans of both the Seahawks and Sounders whether they would prefer to have a somewhat spotty grass pitch or a pristinely-picture-perfect artificial turf pitch, and I think they will overwhelmingly favor grass.

        As a Sounders season ticket holder, though, I will *not* be voting for the taxpayers to build yet another sports palace.

        If CLink won’t say Yes to grass, maybe Husky Stadium will… Then, we may be able to have the largest attendance in the world at futbol matches, and host the Clubs World Cup.

      4. @Brent, Because the Seahawks love it, and (despite what a large part of the soccer community believes) the evidence is spotty at best that the surface actually increases injuries. The problem is how differently a soccer ball bounces and rolls on an artificial surface, especially matted, worn FieldTurf. There has also been some suggestion that the stadium orientation and roof make growing grass difficult.

        Anyway, can’t imagine a stadium wouldn’t be mostly or entirely privately funded, and don’t see the Sounders ever leaving the city.

      5. The original plans for the stadium included grass. That was one of the big arguments for the stadium. Build it with grass and we will be able to attract a soccer team. You can’t do that in the Kingdome. But my understanding is that you can’t do that very well at Seahawk Stadium, either, which is why they scrapped that idea. That, and the league eased up on requiring grass.

        For what it’s worth, the old Sounders (the original Sounders) actually liked astroturf, as crazy as it sounds. They were all old first division English soccer players, who couldn’t run as fast the current Sounders, but had skill for surpassing the new guys. They liked the consistency of the astroturf. I’m sure they would have preferred excellent grass, but given the choice of typical grass and synthetic (where the ball rolls true, if a little fast) they preferred the latter.

        Worn out FieldTurf sounds like a problem that should be solved. There is no reason why they can’t replace the thing more often.

      6. The original plans included planting temporary grass whenever a quarter-final or higher soccer match comes around.

    2. Unfortunately for the Sounders, all of the good real estate is taken. This seems like posturing to get a better lease deal at the CLink since there is zero appetite for public funding. I doubt the Sounders could even afford to buy enough land in Seattle, much less build a 50k seat stadium. Moving to the burbs would be suicidal.

      The rest of the league is raising the bar for stadium quality. DC is finally getting out of the wreck that is RFK. San Jose is moving out of Santa Clara’s toy-sized stadium. New England is finally seriously looking at a new Boston stadium. I think Hanauer is jealous that 16 of the 20 teams will play on natural grass in 2015.

      The playing surface at CLink is the only problem with the stadium, but it is a serious and intractable problem. No longer will the Sounders be able to deflect criticism of the FieldTurf at CLink by pointing out the truly terrible stadiums across the league, because those will all be gone. I wouldn’t be at all surprised for MLS to eventually require natural grass fields.

      1. @Alex
        MLS is not going to require natural grass. Plenty of European FIFA stadiums use artificial turf, but none of them are FieldTurf. Vancouver uses a German-made surface that is fairly common in Europe. I’m crossing my fingers for a solution that works for both the Sounders and Seahawks.

      1. As people mentioned, that would kill fan support. Even moving a bit south to SoDo would hurt fan support. Not as much, of course, but fans like to walk from downtown to the game. Unless they dramatically change the zoning (which is unlikely) walking to SoDo would be a lot less pleasant.

    3. Sounders fans seem to be more urbanist on average that football, baseball, or basketball fans. Part of soccer’s appeal is its worldwide and European centerpoint, while football and baseball’s popularity is based on American exceptionalism. We have different sports, we have cars instead of subways, we have car-dependent stadiums, that sort of thing. Soccer’s growth started in Seattle because of our closeness to Vancouver and the Cascadia mindset and people wanting something different from “Monday Night Football” and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and their monopoly hype and team-owner arrogance. (Not that international soccer is free of those corruptions, of course.)

      So for people going to a Sounders game, taking Link to CLink is part of the “european” experience. If it moves to the suburbs it’ll lose a substantial part of its attendance and fan base. Whereas for Seahawks and Mariners fans, Link is just a practical convenience, and while it may marginally influence their willingness to attend a game, it’s not as intrinsic to the game. Meaning that if they moved to the suburbs they’d lose the “inconvenienced” fans, but they’d gain enough suburban fans to replace them.

      1. Seattle’s isolation on the edge of the Rand/McNally map fosters a need among the local urbanists a desire to plug into a sport such as Soccer that has a chic internationalist flavor to it.

        It’s a shame that Vancouver closeness did not rub off on the Seattle mindset insofar as fostering a desire to radically expand right of way public transportation.

      2. …or insofar as providing enlightenment re: the principles of contiguous urbanism, the value of holistic transit networking that doesn’t see rail-in-isolation as a mythical panacea, and the symbiosis of land use and functional transit.

        …or insofar as repudiating anyone who would try to get away with describing West Seattle as “dense” or “densifying”.

      3. Please go to Phoenix or Dallas or Portland or San Jose or San Diego or Atlanta or Houston or a hundred other US cities and see whether their current transit and future plans are better than ours. It’s only the northeast and the largest cities (now including Los Angeles) and San Francisco that are more like Vancouver. I wish I had a wider choice of cities where I could work and live and still have decent transit and walkability, but only 10% of the US is like that. So I’m glad Seattle is at least taking steps (and already has high ridership for its population), even though I absolutely agree that we should become much more like Vancouver (or Chicago).

      4. Mike, I’d disagree with including Portland in the same list as Phoenix, San Jose, and Atlanta.

        While PDX is overall less dense than Seattle it is nothing like the sprawling low-density sunbelt cities. It also seems to tie transit and land use together in a way that is unusual in the US. Not as successfully as Vancouver, but I don’t know that anywhere other than DC in the US that even begins to compare.

        Both Seattle and Portland are light-years ahead of anything other than a handful of cities in the US.

        While I wouldn’t mind having MARTA rail here, the crappy and confusing bus system combined with the low-density sprawl make transit useless in Atlanta unless your origin and destination happen to be within walking distance of a station.

        Overall I agree with you that Seattle is unusual by US standards, even if we are still far from Vancouver.

      5. San Diego’s got some serious holes in its existing system (basically, some of the spine routes are missing entirely), but its future plans are *good* — and they look like they’re actually going to get implemented. (Not gonna defend the other cities you mentioned.)

  4. Announcing the new transportation startup — Wayt.

    Inspired by Uber, Lyft, and Wayze, Wayt allows users to connect deeply and, at times,
    viscerally when traveling through the urban environment here in Seattle. Wayt’s
    technological platform uses existing King County Metro Transit vehicles, and nothing
    else, to save everyone both money and vanity, if not time. After all, your taxes
    have already paid for the Metro buses, shelters, signage, and drivers. Why not give
    ’em some good use?

    Wayt users experience transportation through the city like this:

    First, an unspecified period of waiting on the sidewalk, near the corner, at the curb.
    Then, craning your neck to look down the street for the bus.
    Later, a sense of relief floods your amygdala when the bus comes into view.
    Following that, a lighthearted “pas de deux” to decide who boards first! And then, a
    rollicking ride up and down the hills, to and fro. It’s a sensory experience for all
    to behold. (Especially the olfactory senses!) Finally, an arrival reasonably near
    your destination. Everyone out through the rear door, please! Or, if you prefer, the
    front door.

    Special features include:
    Exposure to people you wouldn’t come into contact with otherwise!
    Standing time! (Studies have shown that standing improves posture and can lead to an
    increase in muscle tone)
    A variety of hormones released in response to common stimuli! (boredom, fear,
    hunger, panic, rain, having to pee, etc.)
    Time alone with nothing but your thoughts!
    An increased sense of your personal limits!

    Know your city, know your fellow citizens, and know yourself, with Wayt!

    Anyone can sign up to be a Wayt user. You don’t need a smartphone. You don’t need an
    ORCA card. You don’t need exact change. You don’t even need any money in your
    pocket. You don’t need a valid transfer or pass. You don’t need a shirt or shoes.
    Come on out to the curb as you are, and Wayt!

    Sign up with Wayt today! Don’t wayt… er, as it were.

    Hurry up and Wayt. Because, what else do you have to do?

    1. +1 to the creative writing contribution!

      I will shamelessly admit that I have gotten er, exponentially better at dawdling ever since I downloaded a mindless phonegame (twenty fortywayt), and that real time arrival apps are crucial for wait management. However, I’ve also met people with smartphones who didn’t know about real time arrival apps.

      While apps are no substitute for frequency and it’s a shame that we seem to trade car dependency for smartphone dependency, it’s a shame that people are underusing tools they already have. When people get an ORCA, whether from the machine, a kiosk rep, or their corporate provider, people should be told about these tools, as well as how to give feedback to kcmetro — this is a less-laughable use for a nice QR code.

  5. The Sound Transit Board meets today to update the Long Range Plan (among other things).

    There are 14 amendments to the corridor list on the agenda, all additions. But that’s a shorter list than before. Relative to the agenda of the Executive Board a few weeks ago, I count five changes.

    REMOVED: M1. Add Corridor No. 1 from Downtown Seattle to Magnolia/Ballard to Shoreline Community College as a Light Rail corridor.

    REMOVED: M9. Add Corridor No. 14 from the University of Washington to Sand Point to Kirkland to Redmond as a Light Rail corridor.

    REMOVED: M19. Add Corridor No. 31 from Issaquah Highlands to Overlake via Sammamish, Redmond as a Regional Express Bus/BRT corridor.

    REMOVED: M27. Add Corridor No. 41 from North KirklandTotem Lake Urban Center to downtown Seattle via the South Kirkland Park and Ride and State Route 520 as a Regional express bus corridor.

    ADDED: M26. Add Corridor No. 40 along 145th Street from Interstate 5 to State Route 522 as a Regional express bus corridor. (this was in an earlier iteration, then deleted, now added back).

    http://www.soundtransit.org/About-Sound-Transit/News-and-events/Calendar/Board-121814

      1. I doubt it. That would be really stupid. You can’t ignore Lake City along that corridor — the ridership is just too high. That, and the fact that traveling along 125th is much faster than 145th makes 125th the logical route, which makes a stop at 130th a good value.

      2. Probably not. The merits of a 130th station are the same as before; i.e., to connect Lake City – Link – Bitter Lake, possibly with a 75 reroute or a new crosstown route. The significance of this corridor seems to be its implications for the 522. Is ST tipping its hand that it prefers to truncate the 522 at 145th? That would make it a completely suburban route (facilitating Kenmore-UW and Kenmore-downtown trips) and withdrawing from Lake City.

        That may be acceptable if Metro boosts Lake City service; e.g., changing the 41 to Northgate – Lake City – 145th Station and making it full-time frequent. I don’t think Lake City to Bothell necessarily needs a one-seat ride. And having the 522 go to 130th Station (Pinehurst Station?) was only one of several alternatives, and never acknowledged by ST. There are legitimate tradeoffs for terminating the 522 at 145th, 130th, Roosevelt, or downtown — they all make it a different kind of route serving slightly different populations, but still a useful route. The worst scenario would be terminating the 522 at Northgate, which has too much congestion and turns between here (Lake City) and there.

      3. There are trade-offs to be sure. I’ve thought about the subject a lot, since I live close to the area, and walk around there a lot. I may end up writing a little “Page 2” blog about the subject. In my opinion, when you consider connecting potential ridership and speed, 125th is the best choice. 145th means skipping one of the biggest stops along Lake City Way. Northgate is too slow (as you said). Roosevelt is actually really slow, too, especially southbound in the evening (the traffic light at 15th favors left turn drivers coming off the freeway, which leads to massive backups for those heading south on Lake City Way). Going all the way downtown would be just silly, as it would negate one of the values of having a light rail system.

        Also, while a newfangled 41, which went from Lake City to Bitter Lake would be great (I personally would love such a bus) it really doesn’t solve the problem. How, exactly, would that help someone trying to get from Lake City to Bothell? The answer is that it wouldn’t, which means that you still need a bus that travels along Lake City, connecting the very populous 145th area with the growing area around 125th. That bus would need to travel very frequently, day and night, otherwise you are asking the folks in Lake City to make a three seat ride to Bothell, which just seems crazy considering the obvious linkage in the area. For example, if you took a job at UW Bothell, and your wife took a job in downtown Seattle, then Lake City makes sense as a place to live (especially given today’s transit). The last thing we want to do is make things worse for folks trying to make such an obvious connection.

      4. “while a newfangled 41, which went from Lake City to Bitter Lake would be great (I personally would love such a bus) it really doesn’t solve the problem”

        That’s not what I suggested. I suggested extending the current 41 north to 145th and 145th Station. So you’d take the 41 north to 145th (not all the way to the station) and transfer to the 522. For 130th I suggested rerouting the 75. So putting those two together and adding David Lawson’s earlier suggestion about the 40, you get:

        * 40: existing route Downtown – Northgate Station, then on NE Northgate Way and Lake City Way to 125th (75’s path). This creates a one-seat ride between north Seattle’s southwest and northeast urban villages. It could be extended to 145th if desired.

        * 41: Northgate Station – 5th Ave NE – 125th – Lake City Way – 145th – 145th Station. Possibly continuing west to Aurora and Shoreline CC.

        * 75: Existing route Campus Parkway – Lake City, then straight west on 125th/130th to Aurora. Potential extensions to Greenwood, Shoreline CC, or Ballard.

        I’m not quite satisfied with the 41 going so far east and then so far west, but this scheme is the least changes to existing routes and historic routes, and I don’t know how else to serve 5th Ave NE (or how necessary that is). It can be justified as two interlined routelets (a U-shaped route), and replacing the 330.

    1. It looks like Sand Point is being removed as a separate corridor, instead being merged into 520. That seems pretty reasonable as no one was asking for 520 and Sand Point, it’d be either/or.

      T 25: Northern Lake Washington HCT Crossing: This study would
      examine cross-lake HCT transit options that would be needed
      when ridership demand exceeds capacity for existing cross-lake
      transit options or those planned in East Link. This study would
      examine alternatives including and parallel to State Route 522 and
      State Route 520, including connections from Sandpoint to Kirkland
      and Redmond/and or Bellevue.

      1. In Britain, they’d call this a kick into the long grass. After East Link and the other cross-lake services exceed capacity, they will study this as one option among several. ‘Several’ to include 520 and the options around the north end of the lake.

        I’m not young enough that I expect to see that.

      2. Seattle Subway said from the beginning that Sand Point was about ST4 and beyond, and that all they wanted was for it to get fully studied. Putting it on the same level as 520 is a pretty big win.

      3. “Long grass” is correct. East Link will not exceed capacity in our lifetimes, nor will the transit scalability of the 520 bus lanes (no matter how well or poorly they get connected at either end in ways that meet non-hypothetical transit needs).

        I’m not convinced there will be an ST4, given the project mediocrity and electoral-math shenanigans being engaged just to give ST3 a shot at passing in aggregate (despite almost certainly failing in more than half of its sub-areas), but this move isn’t about punting to ST4. It’s about punting to ST43.

        And that’s a good thing.

      4. To me the Sandpoint crossing was always more about killing light rail over 520 than expecting to see a new bridge in the next decade. If we do need another bridge crossing in the future, it shouldn’t be 520. Over the top of the lake or Sandpoint make a lot more sense.

        Also, in the city the idea of the east-west line stretching out to UVillage and perhaps Children’s has an appeal.

        As long as the “inevitable” 520 LRT crossing is put up against Sandpoint instead of standing alone as an “obvious” option to the powers that be I will be happy. I don’t expect either to happen for some time, if at all.

      5. >> Also, in the city the idea of the east-west line stretching out to UVillage and perhaps Children’s has an appeal.

        No, no it doesn’t. Sorry, I hate to be rude. When I first looked at it, I thought it sounded great too. Then I looked at it some more and realized that it would simply be a big waste of money. Here is why:

        The population really drops off east of the UW. At first glance, I actually thought the opposite. There is a very densely populated census block just east of 20th and north of 45th. But the devil is the details. A stop there couldn’t be built (and wouldn’t be built). It is too close to the other station (robbing Peter to pay Paul). It is also perched on the edge of a little hill, where there literally is no pathway. This means that if you have logical stop spacing, most of the people have a tough time getting to the station. The population really drops off east of there. You have the hospital, but that is about it (and the hospital is surrounded by housing that is very resistant to change). We are talking west Magnolia in terms of population density, pretty much all the way to the water. There are some reasonably populous areas to the north, but again the devil is the details. There are parks and a cemetery that cut off the population, so not that many people would walk to a station.

        It is easy to assume that, like the greater Ballard area, buses could transport people there. But again, that really isn’t the case. The biggest chunk of people live up in Lake City. They aren’t going to go south, when they will go west (to 125th or even Northgate). Closer to the area is 65th, which unlike 45th (west of the freeway) is not a huge, congested street. Just run a bus along 65th and some of the other streets and save your money for more important projects (like just about anything). The station is east of the freeway, which means it won’t be that hard for the bus to get there.

        No, the light rail line as is currently being built serves the northeast part of town really well. There really is no need to build anything more there. You can pretty much throw a random line down anywhere in the city and find projects that are a better value.

      6. “The population really drops off east of the UW.”

        Psst, there’s a shopping center there that people travel to. Metro prioritized it with 15-minute service and it has been one of Metro’s biggest successes. There’s no reason the Ballard-UW line couldn’t be extended to Children’s at any time, independent of whether the lake crossing ever sees the light of day. Of course, this segment has a worse cost/benefit ratio than some other Seattle segments, but that doesn’t mean it has no benefit or is forever unworthwhile. Maybe in time University Village will build a multistory village with housing.

  6. I’m sad to see there is still no fix to the death trap of having no center turn lane on Dexter north of Mercer. I’ve lived and biked on that street for 12+ years. It’s far less safe now than before despite what Cascade and other will say. This is mostly because it has arterial level traffic and desperately needs a place for cars waiting to turn across heavy traffic. In the first 10 years there was one accident I witnessed in my block during my daily wait for the bus. In the 2 years since then I have seen 4, including half a dozen close calls and nearly been in one myself. It either needs a center turn lane or they need to figure out how to halve the traffic using it.

    I also enjoy that the Stranger conveniently ignored the southern part of the work done on the Viaduct. But we’ll let that slide. ;-)

  7. How come we think certain types of transit in foreign cities are cool, but we would be completely against them if they were in our city? I’m thinking of the Hong Kong Tram in particular. It seems to go against everything most everyone here stands for. It’s very slow. It’s not grade-separated. It takes paper and coins for fare. It doesn’t seem to be accessible. But since it’s in Hong Kong, we ignore all the negatives and say it’s a completely reasonable mode of transportation. But if it were in Seattle, we’d do nothing but complain. Why is that?

    http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-hong-kong-trolleys-20141218-story.html

    1. Because it’s supplemented with legitimate, high speed transit and mostly used as a tourist attraction?

      1. Yup. And even this vestigial 110-year-old short-haul basically-a-bus tram system operates in restricted or exclusive lanes pretty much everywhere that such exclusivity matters.

      2. Exactly. The trolley is not the only or fastest type of transit in Hong Kong. The equivalent would be extending SLU Streetcar-like lines across Seattle and the region and saying that’s all the transit we need. The point is that transit has to be fast enough and frequent enough to compete with driving, and that means having something that competes with freeways. Streetcars don’t, although they can be complementary to a trunk network.

    2. Also, as mentioned above, the Hong Kong lines are quite old, and new lines would not be built that way if at all possible.

      North to south, the Portland Streetcar operates somewhere around 6 mph. Strassbourg, France built a new line about the same time, and when I ran the numbers from their timetable a few years back the average speed was about 2.5 times this.

      At 6 mph, the Portland Streetcar beats walking. Average speed of downtown city street driving in Portland is somewhere around 16 mph because that’s how the one-way street grid traffic light synchronization is set. So, if they could get the average speed up to the speed of the Strassbourg line, they would probably beat driving in most cases due to the time taken to park a car and walk from wherever the car is parked.

      The comparison is also fairly nice when it comes to ridership: Portland streetcar struggles to get to about 7,000 riders per day, while Strassbourg’s line is over 100,000 per day. One of these is an expensive solution that really doesn’t work that well, while the other truly provides a useful alternative to driving as illustrated by its ridership.

      Guess which of these two lines the South Lake Union line most resembles?

  8. Could the sr-99 tunnel possibly be going any worse? There’s a legitimate threat it will severely damage if not destroy several heritage buildings in pioneers square.

    BTW, That “we wrote about here” link is the same one as the previous link to bizjournals.com

    1. New WSDOT game plan?
      or
      Urban Renewal ala 21st Century. In the 60’s we just dozed 200′ corridors through downtown’s for freeways. Big Bertha will be much more subtle, doing it from below.

  9. Regardless of my opinions on Congress’s desire to make Amtrak synonymous with useless long-hauls, I see no reason to believe the Supreme Court is about to rule against the 2008 standards.

    Firstly, that the Court granted cert. in the first place implies that at least four justices are somewhat inclined to overturn the appellate decision against the 2008 rule. This “rule of four” is why a healthy majority of cases that make their way to the Supremes involve reversal outcomes: if a controlling block of justices were already in unwavering agreement with the prior ruling, the likelihood is that it wouldn’t be heard at all.

    The article implies that Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor are reliable votes on the pro-enforcement side. Kennedy is the wild card (as usual), but seems to be seeking reasons why the facts of the case are distinguishable as legitimately favoring a public good. Breyer seems wary of finding a new and sweeping restriction on how government goes about delegating its regulatory powers, which he sees as the precedential implication of repudiating Amtrak here.

    So chances are that it will all hinge upon whichever slightly-tangential legal question feels most interesting to Kennedy on the morning the Justices meet to rule on the case.

    1. Good analysis, thanks d.p.

      I’m not even going to count out the Four Crooks on the court (the four you didn’t mention); although they are coin-operated hacks owned by big corporations, they are not *specifically* in the pocket of the Class I railroads, and a ruling against Amtrak could have implications which would upset other major corporations.

      —-

      I like your statement “Regardless of my opinions on Congress’s desire to make Amtrak synonymous with useless long-hauls…”

      I’ve noticed a tendency among commenters to hear “long distance Amtrak” or even just “Amtrak” and immediately think California to Chicago via empty mountains. They don’t think New York to Chicago via lots of decent-sized cities, which is much more useful, but is lumped into the same “business division”. That’s what I would like people to think of.

      And that’s where the priority dispatching matters. If Chicago-Toledo-Cleveland-Buffalo-Syracuse-Chicago (/Buffalo-Pittsburgh-DC) reliably ran on time, it would really help. Drops in the on-time-performance of the Empire Builder affect the Empire Builder and pretty much only the Empire Builder. Recent, temporary catastrophic drops in on-time-performance of the Capitol Limited and the Lake Shore Limited measurably affected all the corridor routes west out of Chicago; I didn’t check the New York or DC ends or the connecting trains to Philadelphia, Florida or the West, but I’d bet they affect those too.

      (Incidentally, I chewed through all the available numbers for a while out of curiosity; it seems all the Florida trains and the Lake Shore Limited from NY to Chicago are profitable before Amtrak’s infamous overhead allocation gets to them. Which is to say, removing those trains would be bad for Amtrak’s bottom line; the profit would go away but the overhead would just be reallocated elsewhere.)

      I’m not sure how to change this line of thinking which associates Amtrak with the absolute worst-performing routes on Amtrak. It even causes people to associate Amtrak specifically with the worst-performing *segments* of the worst routes — such as the “iconic” trips through the Rocky Mountains on the California Zephyr, as opposed to the more popular Denver to Chicago run through the flatlands on the same train.

      The line of thinking seems to be endemic, particularly among the government officials in charge of Amtrak. Maybe it has to do with the malapportioned US Senate? There have been a bunch of ill-thought-out Amtrak cuts to high-potential eastern intercity routes over the course of Amtrak’s history, during periods when hopeless western routes were preserved. I realize some of these cuts were due to track deterioration, but still. The early-1990s cut of the Pioneer and Desert Wind was possibly the most sensible service cut Amtrak has ever made; usually Amtrak preserves stuff like that and cuts much busier trains. Even then, that cut coincided with the removal of the very useful Detroit-Toledo train.

      The initial creation of Amtrak seems to have followed the pattern used by the private railroads during their scheming to get rid of passenger trains; they always tried to cut the local and short-turn trains first, leaving the longer-distance trains for later. This is destructive from a long-run business perspective, but the ICC went along with it. At the start of Amtrak, they did “more of the same”, ripping out the local Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois networks, a disaster from which the passenger rail network has not yet recovered.

      But then Amtrak was actually intended originally as a step in killing off passenger rail entirely; luckily, that failed.

  10. How willing are transit agencies in general able to capitalize on the recent crash in oil prices? Provided they aren’t locked in at a high rate, it seems like a reduction in the second greatest cost driver, behind labor, would be a good short-term transit budget benefit.

    Sure, prices will inevitably rise shortly, but so long as operating costs are temporarily lower it would appear that now would be an excellent time to either put more money in rainy day funds, tackle some of the “nice to have” small capital projects like constructing of fixing bus stop concrete pads, or put into one-time expenditures such as more temporary staff for transit restructure planning and scheduling.

    1. Transit agencies may not be able to take advantage of this, depending on the agency. Some agencies purchase fuel with long term fuel contracts. If the retail price goes up faster than expected, they win. If the retail price drops or rises slower than expected, they lose because they are stuck paying the price in the contract regardless.

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