36 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: LightRail”

  1. I guess the title is “Lightrail”, not: “Light Rail”, none of which appears. But the magic needs a new rabbit. And some carpentry training before sawing anybody in half.

    Historic accuracy demands that in San Francisco, light beams are supposed to be- well, you know, like tie dyed ribbons. Or maybe that’s just along the Route 6 going through the Haight. And linear – well, face it, the ’60’s died fifty years ago. So have to face that “bath salts” make you see lasers. Especially along gentrified corridors like Market Street.

    Transportation-wise, read once that first problem for the Channel Tunnel crew was that since, in a tunnel under an ocean, airborne salt water means a light beam can’t go straight. Meaning: “Where’s France?”

    But wish the artists would do another “take” aboard the J, K, L, and M lines at rush hour. Also Muni’s trolley routes. At PM rush hour. Operating conditions, equipment condition, crush loads, compressed vertical traffic…the magical result of anything moving at all rests on the skill of the operating people.

    Proving old truth: Magic doesn’t smell like either incense or sulfur, but sweat.

    Mark Dublin

    1. How about a more artistic way of displaying next arrival information in the Downtown Tunnel? At least that might get it accomplished.

      1. Last weekend I went to Northgate and Bellevue on different days. I was struck by, “Why do Belltown and Rainier Avenue have real-time signs when the Bellevue and Northgate transit centers and the DSTT don’t?” And why doesn’t the Northgate transit center have a TVM for refilling ORCA cards?

        (Northgate did have a real-time display years before anywhere else did, but it rarely worked and it is now gone and has not been replaced. I assume the reason is they don’t want to put money into the TC until they rebuild it. But it can’t cost that much to install a portable TV and TVM.)

      2. Northgate had a TVM the last time I checked. They also used to have monitors with arrival information (as did the old Bellevue Transit Center). The monitors and the system driving them weren’t maintained and eventually the monitors were blanked over.

        I’d love to see more stops around the region (including Northgate Transit Center) with monitors displaying real time arrival information, similar to what can be seen along 3rd Avenue downtown.

    2. The upstairs/downstairs concept is useful for another reason: I suspect few San Franscisco drivers even know where BART goes. They may know vaguely their closest station and that it goes “to Berkeley” or “to SFO” or “to somewhere in the East Bay”, but they don’t know much beyond that or where the intermediate stations are. I see people drive practically from one station to another without irony. When I tell them there’s a train or bus that goes practically door to door, it’s news to them, and it goes in one ear and out the other.

      New York is the only American city I’ve found where the majority don’t have cars and they know where the subways go, at least in their home borough. DC is a possible second for full-time ridership. But in Chicago and San Francisco I meet so many drivers who either don’t know where the rapid lines go, or even if they do know (because they ride it sometimes) they still drive even when it’s practically station-to-station and a one-seat ride. More marketing on exactly where you can get from and to on rapid transit — beyond the downtown-to-airport and commuter trips — would probably help.

      1. Well, maybe I’m just more highly evolved than other people, or more sensitive to when a wrong is being committed, but I think this is offensive. Imagine if a transit agency had an ad campaign that singled out a group by race. People would be outraged, right? This is no different. Singling out a gender to correct a behavior offends me.

      2. The ad campaign is not just singling out males (and females) who feel they’re entitled to more space than everyone else.

        “other no-no’s include nail clipping, pole-hogging, door-blocking and one set to debut in 2015 that states “Pole Are For Your Safety, Not Your Latest Routine.” The do’s urge riders to let others off, take off that bulky backpack and offer seats to elderly, disabled or pregnant riders. One urging straphangers to “keep the sound down” on headphones is a welcome addition.”

    1. No.
      First there was Nancy Reagan’s War on Drugs.
      Then there was the equally successful War on Christmas.
      The War on Cars is shaping up to be equally successful.

      1. I just don’t know how good I have it where I sit in an actual seat, have my legs together and a book in my hands most of the time.

    2. I think it high time we had a war on the dishonest use of language. The primary meaning of war is the world war sort. Some people want there to be less cars on the roads and are willing to take some limited actions to try and make that happen. Calling those actions war strikes me as dishonest. Yes war has more than one definition, one of which fits in that context, but using the word war in that contexts makes it into something is not. It makes it sounds epic; it makes it sounds personal; it makes it sounds like some sort of pitched battle, when really it’s a few blog posts and a discussion or two with some local representatives about how we as a society can become less car dependent. It’s similar with most of these uses of war. Using that word exaggerates the phenomenon and raises emotion.

      That being said, I couldn’t care less of some transit riders splay their legs. I meekly say excuse me and sit down. Being uncomfortable makes others uncomfortable and uncomfortable people don’t assume such expansive poses

      1. The war image is just what they intend. A police state confiscating cars and melting them down and arresting drivers until there are no cars left. A war against the values that made this country great. People under siege.

    1. So glad I’m moving to SF, where the powers that be actually have a clue about how important operable rear doors and urban seat layouts are to a functioning transportation system.

      1. In SF you trade not having to yell “back door” for rude, unhappy operators, a system with a fifty year record of bureaucratic disfunction, and vehicles that may or may not show up due to a lack of regular, preventative, maintenance.

        Good luck with MUNI.

      2. Be wary of what you wish for… MUNI always seems great to visitors with “Novelty Transit” like Seattle, but is a ragged, undermaintained system staffed with downright mean drivers, except for the F.

      3. Does anyone know if buses currently being ordered in Seattle will have rider-triggered rear doors? It’s not surprising that current buses, which mostly arrived during the RFA/PAYPTTF era, don’t have them, but now that we exit just like other cities, we should be able to order buses whose rear doors work like those in other cities.

      4. As far as I can tell the newest buses in Metro’s fleet (the 6000-series and the 7000-series) are equipped with the sensors for rider-triggered rear doors.

        Check out this website: http://www.vapordoors.com/Sensing.html
        You can clearly see the same ultrasonic sensors on the doors in that video above.

        What I don’t know is if King County Metro’s buses are equipped with the processing module necessary to make the rider-triggered rear doors work.

    2. Dare I ask how legal this is? Not that I have opportunity to use it (one of the drivers who used to refuse to open the back door on bus #1 now drives bus #2; irony of ironies).

      1. z7 and Tim,

        No need to bother police on this one- other understandable priorities. Or hire an attorney.

        Instead drop go online to Customer Services, giving time, route, direction of travel, and bus number at least bring the driver and his base chief together for a discussion of policy and passenger relations.

        Also operating rules, which, as with most organizations, a very large percentage of employees don’t know. Also true of other organizations, bad habits cause more problems than premeditated malevolence. Correction is easier and cheaper for all concerned than final result of their continuation.

        Also not a bad idea to email a copy of your statement to your King County Council member, just for the record. Will develop better habits in them, too.


      2. I’ve actually phoned in regarding this issue, and the service representative just made excuse after excuse. “They’re used to picking up at park and rides where everyone is boarding.” (right, the Evergeen Point movable bus stop park and ride) “They don’t want people sneaking on from the back.” (yes, the 0.2 people / bus who do anything at that stop, boarding or deboarding)

        I’ve sent in repeated emails with all the relevant details. Other passengers (who have to make the same transfer) have politely mentioned to the driver, when exiting through the front door (delaying every other person on the bus on the walk up front), that they didn’t see the posed safety danger, and the driver unilaterally declares that it’s not safe (despite other reasonable drivers making it safe to exit through any door by pulling the fuck forward).

        I haven’t been impressed by Metro’s treatment of this. It would save everyone time (most of the time) if exiting at the back were established as a default, but there seems to be no effort to make doing so penalty-free.

      3. Yes, complaining might not do much for that incidence but it will spike up the aggregate complaint numbers. Management does pay attention to those. Complain so that it’s in the system and gets put in the manager’s report.

  2. I thought World War I was supposed to be “The War that Ends All Wars”. But maybe that’s why people called it “The Great War” because they knew that the next step would be if they put a number on it.

    Too bad. Should have known that calling something “Great” is just a dare for somebody to go for “Really Super”, on the way to “Perfect”, which would lead to an endless string of “tweaks” and adjustments.

    Of all the questions, war mentioned above begs three like a dog pleading for steak:

    1. Which one will make President Obama look worse, getting the country into a quagmire-like daily morning commute between Everett and Seattle- or leaving helpless civilians to face ISIS brutality, like for instance a century of wars on things like cars and males?

    2. Which fighter plane is better for close-air support in this one: the A-10 or the F22- assuming we need all our Sabre Jets to deter Bear bombers if Vladimir Putin decides that Russia can regain her former glory and either liberate or wipe out males and cars?

    3. Wouldn’t the transit system do better if its ad campaign featured a martial arts instructor from the Navy Seals explaining the pitfalls of certain fighting postures in any theater of combat- from Van Cortlandt Park to Flushing Main Street?

    Forget ISIS, Benghazi, or the fact that the commuter electric rail company in Bombay runs its own morgue! Joint Base Lewis/McChord has transports on the runway ready to go, either to save or obliterate males and cars!

    Embarrassed to sign this one….

  3. Why does Sound Transit’s Pierce subarea have more exurban land than the other subareas? It’s odd that Bonney Lake, Orting, Spanaway, and Du Pont are included while Maple Valley, Smokey Point, and Snohomish (city) are not.

    1. At first glance the combined population of the cities with ST service is about 2x the cities you list without it, so that might be part of it. More cynically, it could just be that Pierce County has more skill at pork-barrel politics than the other areas.

    2. I believe that the entire district roughly follows the urban growth area boundary for the region.

      1. Maple Valley (and Black Diamond!) is in the King County contiguous urban growth area. How is that different from Orting or Bonney Lake? Well, maybe they needed to bump up the population of the Pierce sub-area to make it a more-or-less equal partner with the other sub-areas.

    3. One reason is that the Pierce County towns happen to lie within P&R distance of major regional transit services that ST would operate whether those towns existed or not.

      ST is more involved with feeder service to South Sounder than any other regional service it operates — it’s not hard to catch a bus from Smokey Point or Snohomish to a major ST node (Everett), but it’s a CT bus. That may be a rail bias thing… but might also have something to do with the local agencies’ willingness or ability to fund the feeders. IIRC ST stepped in with the 596 when Pierce gave up the 496… so Bonney Lake is actually getting something for its tax money. Conversely, ST feeders would be redundant in Snohomish and Smokey Point because CT runs them already (plus some direct-to-Seattle service from Snohomish); KCM’s service to Maple Valley is similar — a rather long all-day route to Kent, some peak expresses to Seattle. These places just wouldn’t stand to gain much from ST.

    4. The Sound Transit district was decided in the early 90s and covers all the urban centers that were identified then. That’s why it ends at Everett, Woodinville, and Issaquah. The urban growth boundary is further out — that’s the extent that non-rural building is allowed — and it goes out to Kangley, North Bend, somewhere beyond Smokey Point, Orting, etc. That area allows exurban development (but not growth targets) and will not get regional transit.

      Since then, it looks like Marysville is becoming an urban village (according to its long-term plan), and Smokey Point looks like Overlake did in the 80s (minus Sears). So they appear destined for more-than-exurban. Was that a late decision by Snohomish County, too late for the Sound Transit boundary? Or is it really a broken mirror image, that their counterparts in Pierce County are in the ST district while they are not? If so, it could be just political maneuvering in the southern county, but I wondered if it was more than that.

      Anticipating Sounder may indeed be a reason, as Bonney Lake is part of Sounder’s cachement area and justification. But remember it was decided in the early 1990s, before either the PT route or the ST route existed or the PT service area shrank. So it wasn’t because of those things. I think Bonney Lake had a PT route then but it went to Tacoma. Likewise, I don’t know when the 168 was extended to Maple Valley; it may have been in the early 90s or it may have been later. Earlier I think it all stopped at Timberlane, and Maple Valley had a Maple Valley Highway route. The Maple Valley extension was originally weekday-only, then a WSDOT grant added weekend service. The grant was going to expire a year or two ago and Metro said it would have to reorganize or withdraw the service, but that hasn’t happened yet so I don’t know what’s keeping it going. In any case, for whatever reason the ST district ends at Kent even though Covington would appear to be in the same situation as Bonney Lake on the same Sounder line.

  4. Why is it that Sound Transit can’t get online Thursday’s board meeting video in a timely manner?


    Hard to write updates from the meeting without the raw video… if I’m going to spend the time writing updates on light rail and possibly Sounder North, then I need the raw video. Otherwise the mainstream media can do the job. Our job as I see it here at STB is to add context and flavor and raw data in defense of a viable mass transit network.

  5. Bailo news dump:

    How solar power and electric cars could make suburban living awesome again (Wonkblog, C Mooney)

    Essentially, the combination of electric cars and home solar panels is becoming increasingly popular among affluent suburbanites, even conservatives, due to lowering prices and no-money-down financing. He says this could lower suburban energy use to city levels.

    My impression is, this may be a partial solution for the outer suburbs. It’s not a solution for cities or inner burbs where the size of cars is also critical: electric cars take as much space in congestion and parking as conventional cars. And there are just as much opportunities for electric buses and trains (whether trolleyed, third-railed, or batteried). And they’re not a solution for the working class: the price may be coming down but it has a long way to go to match a used $5000 clunker.

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