216 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: LA’s Got Lines”

  1. I just got back from Portland over new years. Their light rail is actually light. I wonder why Link can’t be more like MAX. The freeway-aligned MAX trains go almost as fast as the cars on the freeway, and most of it is in the road, like Link is on MLK. The Link in Seattle is mostly either a subway or a “monorail” type elevated train, costs billions to build, and takes decades to construct.

    1. Most of us regret not building the MLK section underground. Grade separated moves much faster since it doesn’t stop at lights.

      Also, we don’t need grade separation less in the downtown core than we need it in the suburbs. The canal crossing and downtown are our biggest bottle necks, and grade separation is the only realistic way to solve that.

      1. I think the biggest problem with the lack of grade separation is the limitation on frequency as well as reliability (although it shouldn’t stop at lights either). Not that there is enough demand there to justify more frequent service, but with more frequent service, you could try adding a SoDo transit center. I know there are problems with the idea, but if trains ran every three minutes, you might be able to make it work (and it would be really cheap). But with the current frequency, I don’t think it would ever be popular.

        I think the cheapest and best thing would have been to simply build tunnels for the side streets. That means that the train would still not be able to go at top speed, but it never would have stopped for a traffic light, and it could run as often as we wanted.

      2. (Anecdotally) Lately I’ve been on trains that miss multiple lights in a row, stopping at each one. I’d love to hear from an operator under what conditions this seems to happen and if they are working on fixing it. The whole system that controls trains and traffic lights and cross walks must be fairly complicated and customized, and I imagine safety is the first priority and keeping trains moving is the second, followed distantly by looking for opportunities to allow traffic to cross MLK.

    2. Freeway alignments generally suck. Nobody wants to live near a highway and the station areas generally have a bunch of cars due to the freeway which make the station area much less walkable.

      We’re getting freeway alignments here too. Just not quite as much as Portland.

      As for why there aren’t more MLK like alignments here, The Seattle area doesn’t have many wide flat streets where it is relatively easy to give rail a couple of lanes.

      If we’d made our system more like Portland it wouldn’t serve Capitol Hill at all and serving the U-District would have been a challenge as an expensive ship canal crossing would be required no matter what.

      Arguably Seattle has built a better system than the average US light rail system because of the greater amount of grade separation. Sure it is expensive, but LINK is faster and has greater capacity.

      1. I agree, although there is value in having a light rail line terminate at the freeway, or crossing it. This can make for very a good bus to rail connection. For example, if North Link ended at the Mountlake Terrace station, it would be a very good stop. Buses from all over the north end could serve it, and folks could transfer to areas to the south.

      2. Lynwood is right next to th highway with a good HOV access ramp.

        That said extending to Ash way with off-freeway stops in the Alderwood area would be even better.

      3. >> Lynwood is right next to th highway with a good HOV access ramp.

        Exactly, which is why there is no point in going further (or even that far, if there are similar good stops earlier).

      4. Lynnwood TC is pretty set in stone at this point.

        The arguments I have for Ash Way are:
        1. It s the last really huge P&R lot going North from Seattle.
        2. It is north of the worst of the congestion (a reason for not terminating Link at Northgate, 185th, or even Montlake Terrace.)
        3. Off-highway stops near the Lynnwood CBD (such as it is) and the mall. This gives some chance for TOD and future transit supportive land use.

      1. We wouldn’t want to emulate No. 3 Road in Richmond either, where the Canada Line bisects the city with a massive concrete viaduct. i’m not the biggest fan of what is being constructed in Sea-Tac/Des Moines.

      2. Meh. If Richmond were an older city marked by tight spaces and buildings shoulder-to-shoulder, you might be right.

        But the streets of Richmond were six-lane auto sewers long before the Canada Line got there, and they weren’t about to get any skinnier. You’d be hard pressed to find a shadow thrown on any thing of significance by that viaduct, much less anywhere “bisected”.

        Funny how the auto-LOS fetishists never seem to object to massive concrete viaducts like I-5, next to which the Canada Line’s is positively svelte.

      3. Yeah, I agree with d. p. Looking at the satellite or street view of Richmond and the stations there I would say that the sky train actually makes the area look nicer. That is why elevated trains on some areas are pretty easy to implement politically. It would work for Interbay, because 15th is a big noisy street and the trains are already there. It could work for Aurora as well. But inside the core of the city it is a lot harder (although I think the city would be willing to go elevated through downtown — after all, they voted three times for that, and that was for a monorail, not a SkyTrain).

      4. 15th NW and Aurora are the two remaining streets that are wide enough for a surface train like MLK.

      5. I wasn’t thinking surface train, I was thinking elevated (like SkyTrain). But you still need some width for that, too.

      6. I’m generally not a fan of elevated transit over busy roads, or elevated highways for that matter, but I do agree that in Richmond, the Canada Line actually makes No 3 Road look better (or as the gps calls it “no three road”). Partly this is because the viaduct is low and has ivy covered columns and partly because it has led to much wider and partly covered sidewalks. There is also a separated bike lane under this section which isn’t problem free as a bike lane, but also enjoys the weather protection of the sidewalk. The separated lane only runs northbound, but I use it all the time when I bike in Richmond. I also think the line adds needed excitement and pizazz to the centre of Richmond, for which the local term of endearment is “Ditchmond”.

    3. I really don’t think the two could be compared. MAX is more of a tram-train operation with street running in city centers. Link is more of an s-bahn type arrangement.

      Puget Sound has more people than our entire state, With typical USA sprawl that means trying to cover an area vastly larger than TriMet covers. You need the higher speeds. Higher speeds would be nice here, but aren’t quite as vital. 15 miles on Link gets you partly into the suburbs. 15 miles on MAX gets you to Hillsboro and the end of the Portland urban growth boundary (Forest Grove has a separate boundary due to the farmland between Hillsboro and Forest Grove).

      Higher speeds would be nice here to attract more riders, but competing against freeways mean those speeds need to be in the 70mph range. This can be done, but not with intermediate stations that actually appeal to the bulk of the passengers. For that you need decent urban centers to carry people between. The only one of those we have is Vancouver, and Clark County has been pretty adamant in not wanting any sort of transit improvements. C-Tran is already in court due to efforts to increase bus speeds on Fourth Plain.

    4. At grade on Interstate sucks. Has been a real point of contention for car traffic. Also, Yellow transfer to other lines at Rose is a bit of a walk. Should put transfers closer together than this.

      1. The whole mess at Rosé Quarter needs a redesign. Originally Interstate had an overpass so there was a lot less auto – MAX – ped interference. The Rose Garden construction put everything on the surface, and it really doesn’t work well , especially with the huge crowds trying to cross the roads when events are happening.

      2. These issues could even more significantly bite Portland if they were ever to connect Vancouver to their yellow line. This is where I see Seattle spending the extra billions really pays off. It makes a big difference over the long run.

      3. Downtown Portland to Clark County will always be fastest with the express buses, unless some sort of commuter rail is started. In the meantime the frequent stations along Interstate connect to a number of frequent bus routes that feed the network. Downtown Portland isn’t the only place to which people commute.

      4. Exactly. It’s about an hour from way the hell out at Salmon Creek to downtown Portland on the 105, even at 6:50 in the morning.
        http://www.c-tran.com/105-i-5-express/2012-06-07-15-01-39/105-weekdays-south-to-portland

        Even if you were to build MAX elevated over I-5, you would have to have some intermediate stations somewhere because otherwise there simply would not be enough riders. All the intermediate stations mean something because of all the connecting bus routes. Those intermediate stations will add time. Furthermore, with Clark County so thoroughly spread out, and with diverse destinations in the Portland area they want to go, the C-Tran express bus routes work best when dealing with the sort of sprawl you see in Clark County. For it to really work for the bulk of the population of Clark County that comes over here, you need to be able to do downtown Vancouver to downtown Portland in 12 to 15 minutes, so that those that need to transfer to assorted other routes to get to their diverse locations can do so without a transit penalty. The only way this type of transit time is possible would be to use the proposed new passenger railroad bridge (WashDOT has this as an eventual goal to increase Cascades service) to also get commuter railroad service.

        MAX yellow line takes 35 minutes to get from the Expo Center to PSU, and about 19 minutes to get from the Expo Center to the Rose Quarter:
        http://trimet.org/schedules/w/t1190_1.htm

        19 miles per hour may not seem great, but end to end Link averages 24 mph
        http://www.soundtransit.org/Schedules/Central-Link-light-rail
        which really isn’t that much faster. It’s what you need for the Puget Sound region’s longer distances, but for north and northeast Portland our area desperately needed something better than the #5 to tie all that together.

        Interstate MAX may not great but it is vastly better than the #5 bus it replaced, and it ties together a bunch of heavily used bus routes which dump a lot of passengers onto each train. Above you say that there is a huge problem with auto congestion along the line. Did you see what Interstate Avenue was like before MAX went there? It might not have been as bad as, say, the outer reaches of Denver Avenue or Williams Avenue were 20 years ago but there were buildings that were boarded up and the whole area had an air of desolation about it.

        Sure, if the line were extended to Vancouver it wouldn’t attract a lot of downtown Portland commuters, but there is a lot of land between Marine Drive and the Lloyd Center, and all of those are likely to be destinations for people from Clark County as well. People headed to those locations would be far better served by the existing Interstate MAX line, which connects such heavily used bus routes as the 72 and 75 than they would be by having one or two intermediate stations that didn’t provide quite as good connections to the places they are trying to go.

        Those headed to downtown Portland from Clark County would probably continue to take the C-Tran express buses. They are almost point to point (Vancouver -> Lloyd Center, Vancouver -> OHSU, Vancouver -> Downtown) like driving is, and those are better suited to dealing with the vast dispersal of population in Clark County sprawl.

        Link and Interstate MAX are two different lines built to satisfy two different transportation needs. Sure, Interstate MAX is slower than Link, but it provides an important north-south connection in the grid that was no longer being met by the #5.

    5. I’m going to make a basketball analogy. My apologies to folks who know nothing about basketball, but I think it will be obvious (or you can look up the teams). Saying “Why can’t we be more like Portland?” is like a Denver Nugget fan saying “Why can’t we more be like Sacramento?”. Anyone with any sense would ask “Why can’t be like San Antonio?”. Don’t get the analogy? Don’t worry, let me explain.

      Vancouver BC and Portland are fairly similar to Seattle. None of the cities are very old, and much of their growth occurred after cars were popular. All of the cities are still growing pretty fast. They all have lots of hills and lots of water. None of them have old subway or inner city train systems.

      But Vancouver kicks ass. They are the San Antonio Spurs of transit. They are way more successful than Portland, and way more successful than Seattle. They have one of the most successful transit systems in North America, up there with Toronto and New York, which are much older (and bigger) cites. They have done it without silly streetcars, or trying to build light rail out to the farthest suburbs (even though it serves plenty of suburbs). They use a combination of light rail where it makes sense, and buses where it doesn’t. We should stop looking at Portland for ideas, and look to Vancouver instead.

      1. You have to have Vancouver’s land use planning in order to truly emulate their transit system.

      2. I agree that we should emulate their land use planning as well, but most of the system would have made sense without it. Or they would have simply ignored areas that are less populous (and have no interest in becoming any more populous). There is no train to North Vancouver, despite the fact that it is bigger than Lynnwood.

      3. The City of North Vancouver (not to be confused with the District of North Vancouver) is an honest-to-goodness small city, with a density of 10,551/sq mi within its compact boundaries.

        It is just one of about a dozen of Vancouver or Vancouver-area centers of activity that are far busier and denser and transit-amenable than, say, West Seattle, but that no one thinks are ready for billions of dollars in overblown bridge-trains.

      4. Ross, isn’t it true that Vancouver BC inherited a tunnel running pretty much exactly where Skytrain needed to go, and a lot of existing rail right of way outside of downtown for the pillars?

        I remember coming in from the south on Amtrak, and seeing Skytrain pillars right beside our track. Like most real wealth- an inheritance can put someone farther ahead than a lifetime of work.

        Mark Dublin

      5. Vancouver inherited a downtown tunnel not exactly where Skytrain needed to do, but it threw together a pretty good service plan and connective approach that has mitigated some of the routing’s flaws. (Though arguably not for the West End, whose bus access is now also under attack from the “pedestrianize everything” dipshits.)

        As for the pillars you passed on Amtrak’s not-so-direct route into town, that represents one very brief and last-built segment (about 10% in length) of just that particular line. It is also the weakest segment in the entire Skytrain network.

        It only seemed extensive because you were moving so slowly at the time, and because so many Skytrains passed above your head as you crawled along at 2mph.

      6. Historically land use patterns have followed transportation technology and infrastructure at least as much as the other way around. That doesn’t mean you can drop a bunch of train service on top of offramp settlements with perma-fucked pedestrian situations and expect them to turn into Manhattan, or even Queens — proving this once and for all is the one truly great legacy of the Bay Area’s big postwar transit investments. It does mean that, if we covet Vancouver’s land use, we should look at their transportation investments, especially in the parts of town where positive incremental land use change is at least possible (i.e. where you wouldn’t start by just blowing up everything). We may want higher zoning, but the right transportation investments will encourage better use of the zoning we have, and that’s even more important.

      7. I would also point out that of the cities you mention with a high percentage of transit use (Toronto and New York) there are significant differences in the networks. New York of course has a huge percentage of subways / elevated (in places), but longer distances and higher speeds are handled by LIRR, Metro North and New Jersey Transit. Toronto has a huge network of traditional streetcar lines with key routes by subway.

        A subway would be kinda nice in places in Portland but the density to do something like the Ballard -> UW subway just doesn’t exist to make it pencil out financially. Places like SE Hawthorne have lots of transit usage, but outside the main road it’s still mostly single family houses / small apartment buildings / large older homes converted to multi-family.

      8. Just as a clarification, the downtown tunnel that was converted for the Skytrain wasn’t really ideally located, but it was a reasonable cost compromise. And the Expo and Millennium Lines both use railway corridors extensively. The whole section of the Expo Line from Clark Drive to New Westminster runs along the old interurban line. It is mostly elevated in this section but the right of way obviously was convenient for putting columns. And it also represents a compromise location. With a budget to tunnel the line the whole way, it would have made more sense to run the line under Kingsway and then 8th into New Westminster. The Millennium Line also shares a railway corridor for part of its length, the part that you see on the Cascades train, but it switches to Lougheed Highway when the railway ROW is just too far from anything to be reasonable.

        I’m also not sure how much of Vancouver’s land use planning that you would need to replicate to have comparable numbers. Skytrain gets strong boardings even running through areas of single family dwellings mixed with a few townhouses and walk-up apartments. This is because a ton of the ridership is from bus transfers that collect passengers from these areas. Skytrain is very frequent during rush hour and much faster than buses would be along its route, so the transfer is desirable. Bus passengers would fight for their transfer if they were ever threatened with a one-seat ride to downtown because the bus would be so much slower.

    6. “Their light rail is actually light. I wonder why Link can’t be more like MAX. The freeway-aligned MAX trains go almost as fast as the cars on the freeway, and most of it is in the road, like Link is on MLK. The Link in Seattle is mostly either a subway or a “monorail” type elevated train, costs billions to build, and takes decades to construct.”

      All these things are what makes Link more effective transit. All American light rails before Link were similar to MAX: surface-running, only one underground station if absolutely necessary, along freeways where available. But the most effective transit has to be fast (no cross streets), frequent (not limited by cross streets), and have stations where concentrations of pedestrians are (neighborhood centers, not freeway exits). MAX is chalk-screechingly slow downtown, and in the near eastside it’s a long walk from Burnside or Stark or Hawthorne where the people are. I never moved to Portland because it would be so sad to have a light rail I could rarely ever use unless I lived on 84th or Gresham or Beaverton, and whose downtown segment was like the SLUT.

      I supported the monorail because I was afraid Link would be watered down like this. At least some other monorail supporters felt the same way, because they emphasized the elevated nature and grade separation.

      I was very glad that Link turned out “pre-metro” like. The MLK and SODO segments were unfortunate, but at least 99% of the line wasn’t like that, and SODO does have crossing gates. I was further glad that ST2 Link was 100% grade separated for a time, although a couple minor surface segments were later added in east Bellevue.

      It does not take “decades to construct”. Each phase takes fifteen years. It could be faster if we paid for it up front rather than in a slow trickle, which forces contracts to be spaced out.
      (Sam will say, “But University Link took twenty years!” No, it was deferred. When planning restarted after they found a favorable Ship Canal crossing, it took a typical ten years.)

      The I-5 alignment north of Northgate is unfortunate of course. It’ll have the same problem that MAX has in east Portland. People living in places like Aurora and Lake City will have to take a bus to it or long walk (0.75 mile from Aurora, 1.5 mile from Lake City), and that will decrease ridership, and increase demand on parallel buses.

      1. Mike, there’s some serious historical inaccuracy in your claims. In fact, the majority of American “light rail” routes since the “light rail” revival started have been nothing like MAX. The archetype was the San Diego Blue Line, which consisted of taking an old railway line and repurposing it with streetcar-like vehicles, with a little street running to get from one railway right-of-way to another. LA’s Blue Line did exactly the same thing, and so did the Gold Line, and so did the Expo Line. So did New Jersey’s RiverLine, and the northern extension of the Newark City Subway, and great hunks of Hudson-Bergen Light Rail (including the bit in the tunnel, a disused railway tunnel), and great hunks of Vancouver’s SkyTrain system.

        This is still being done with a lot of disused and underused railway lines right now, such as Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit.

        The equivalent in Seattle would be running a line down the Interurban right-of-way, or the East Side right of way. But oh no, those must be turned into worthless trails. :-(

      2. Oh, also nearly the entire Salt Lake TRAX system is also on old railway rights-of-way. So’s the first line in San Jose (the less said about the later lines the better), the first line in Denver, and so on and so on.

    7. Well, then the straight elevated/freeway aligned portions of Link should match freeway speeds. Especially with ST’s aspiration of extending Link to Federal Way, then Tacoma, as well as Bellevue to Redmond and Lynwood to Everett. Speed is absolutely essential. It should be up there with running Link 24/7 and building another Link depot.

      1. I’ve heard that too. There are sections that are dead straight and have long distances between stations. 70 mph should be the goal since there is already a fleet of light rail cars by the same manufacturer out there that is capable of that.

      2. And here is where I must remind everyone that if your project is not primarily about long-distance (i.e. scheduled intercity) travel, and it has enough distance between stations to either get up to 70 mph or to save any statistically-significant amount of time by doing so, then you’re doing transit wrong!!

      3. With the distances involved with Link and the distances between some of the stations, and with the ability to have real regional train service take the place of longer distance commutes blocked by heavy freight traffic, it seems to me that Link really needs to be both local and regional.

        Significant efforts in some European cities have been aimed at trying to make transit speeds competitive with driving. To do that you need a regional rail system with speeds faster than driving on parallel roads in order to make up for the local bus / tram connections and transfer time.

        With urban freeways and American cities penchant for sprawl, that means regional rail connections need to be somewhat faster than the speed of auto traffic, and for Link that means comparable speeds to parallel Interstate 5.

      4. 1. Link (like BART before it) aims to “be both local and regional”, and every indication is that it will (like BART before it) fail miserable miserably on both counts.

        2. When your “parallel road” is a hypothetically-60mph freeway, competitive transit speed are impossible. You have to win on ease and utility, which Link clearly doesn’t. Another good reason questioning distance overreach

        3. Even on Link’s ridiculous spacing, the difference between a 55mph and 75mph maximum speed would save, at most, a minute here and there. But once you’ve prioritized speed over access to the point where that could possibly matter, you’re guaranteed to be building yourself a sprawly system so utterly pointless that you should return to the drawing board with a whole new set of priorities.

      5. There are specific urban geographies where it might make sense to get up to high speeds (for instance, if your urban area is broken into two pieces by a giant lake, you might want to go as fast as possible across the lake), but in general, DP is right. For urban rail, if your station spacing on land allows for 70 mph running, your stations are too far apart.

  2. That video is absolutely funny!

    As for MAX being slow in downtown Portland, you have small block sizes & the assumption that there are padestrians crossing streets wich you don’t have with grade separated rail in parts of Seattle.

    1. The big problem with MAX in downtown is that the traffic lights are still synchronized for maximum auto throughput, so MAX regularly winds up waiting at signals.

      There is also the different goals. Link by nature is a longer distance line and those that have valid KCM fares but no ST fares are likely to stay on the surface for movement inside downtown. Here, it’s all one agency so those moving local within downtown are cheaper to move by train than bus, so it might as well serve everyone.

      1/3 of TriMet ridership is on MAX. Less frequent station spacing increases speeds but makes those stations more time consuming to access. That’s worthwhile for Link distances. Here, it would probably decrease overall ridership.

      1. Good point, but I do wonder if there are any MAX stations that could be removed to speed up travel time without impacting riders. Perhaps some kind of signal priority could be implemented instead?

      2. NE 7th has been closed due to a construction project for months. Nobody seems to have noticed.

        It’s idiocy that the convention center and Rose Quarter stations are a block apart.

        The old routing through downtown needs to be redesigned. At that time it was insisted TriMet have stations every two blocks. The transit mall alignment does once every four blocks for buses and MAX and works better. If the functions inside Pioneer Courthouse ever move, that would be a good place to consolidate Pioneer Place and Pioneer Square stations. Put the tourist information and TriMet office in the old courthouse. That also means events at Pioneer Square won’t interfere as much with passenger movement.

      3. Yeah, the north-south route is actually decently fast.

        (Its connection to the Steel Bridge, agonizingly not-so-much.)

      4. What you are describing can be compared to the NYC subway when it was built a century ago. The numbered lines tended to have stations closer together especially in Manhattan vs the lettered routes. This is especially true in Brooklyn & Queens where some stations can be as much as a half mile apart.

      5. Yeah, the north-south route is actually decently fast.

        I thought it would be a disaster because the old transit mall was really slow and ate time like crazy. At peak periods there would be a traffic jam of buses running from Salmon north to about Couch. Adding block long light rail trains to the mess seemed like it would make things vastly worse.

        Some months back I was talking to the driver of a #17 and he said that he really liked going through the downtown transit mall now. “It’s the only place on the route where I can reliably make up time if I need to.”

  3. LA also has plentiful and cheap or free parking everywhere. Excepting perhaps for red or purple lines if you live very close, driving is always faster and cheaper than transit.

    1. Only if you already own a car. If you can avoid the fixed cost of owning or renting a car, there are a bunch of areas in LA where transit is cheaper. LA turns out to have one of the highest percentages of car-free households in the US — most people don’t know that.

      The Red and Purple Lines are definitely faster than driving the same routes in rush hour (Red because it dives under the mountains, Purple because Wilshire Boulevard is SLOW). The Blue Line is of comparable speed to driving when there’s rush hour traffic. The other lines, probably not, but guesses are that Expo will probably beat driving from downtown Santa Monica to downtown LA in rush hour.

  4. 37 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,

    2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.

    3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.

    Ezekiel 37

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Ezekiel

    The truth and value of the Bible, is its reminder that across the ages some things change, but the important ones don’t. This is the reason Shakespeare works perfectly well with machine guns.

    It doesn’t take long in Israel, and environs to see that in world affairs the things that don’t change are the weapons and the names of the great powers. Who all really, really want the east end of the Mediterranean.

    And in most of the world, the survival every indigenous state is a permanent balancing act, playing off hugely more powerful neighbors. Same as the United States of America, incidentally, at least through the Civil War- when the only thing that kept British marines out of New York and Washington DC was that the English people would not fight for slave states.

    2600 years ago, Ezekiel was trying to give some encouragement, maybe in person, to people who had been ethnically cleansed out of their own country because their king picked the wrong side of a war. With very fresh personal memories of former fields and streets littered with bones formerly called their countrymen. Same places look the same right now.

    Not long since everybody knew that Los Angeles would someday build a regional electric system across the frozen flames of Hell- after California burns itself out. Given terrain differences, in Scriptural time, we’ll catch up in an eye-blink. But there’s a reason why a very early book mentions the importance of sweat.

    That’ll teach STB to avoid certain theme songs on Sunday!

    Mark Dublin

    1. MAJOR mistake: Unfortunately, the only things that DO change are the weapons and the names of the Great Powers. Reason that future WASL’s need to put math and science far behind History. Which makes reading too important for wasting time on multiple choice tests.

      MD

  5. I’d be curious to know the distance apart for the Purple and Expo lines. On map they look pretty close. Could go to show that a 520/Sandpoint line would be successful in parallel to I-90 line.

    1. Purple and expo will be closer together. Of course, density in LA neighborhoods there is much much higher.

      1. LA is crazy dense along both of those routes. Doesn’t look that dense from the sky, but start looking at all those small apartment buildings and you start realizing how many people actually live there.

    2. Yeah, way more people and besides, look at the stop spacing. There are lots of stops along there, spread out within a reasonable distance. Many of the stops would compliment bus service through the area, forming a decent grid. This is simply impossible for a 520 route because there is a lake in the middle of it. The lake forces terrible stop spacing, and you can’t run buses connecting the area making a decent grid because buses can’t swim and fish don’t ride the bus.

      1. Ride the Ducks! Not.

        The duck bus passes a lot when I’m waiting for a bus at 4th & Pike. For years the sing-along song on the bus was always “Stayin’ Alive”, long after disco had been forgotten elsewhere. Recently they’ve started branching off into other songs, but not much better. It makes me feel bad for tourists. Hint: take an Argosy bay cruise instead.

      2. Ha, that’s cool Glenn. It makes me sea sick just looking at it though. I think it needs some retractable pontoons (outriggers if you will) to add stability. Maybe for West Seattle — one stop ride to downtown :)

      3. Right, and hourglass effects make a lot of sense for BRT (or express buses), especially since all the heavy lifting has been done (i. e. 520 is done and already has transit lanes and some transit stops). Basically it means one seat rides for the the vast majority of the riders.

      4. Really dense cities can have parallel multi-track subways running quite close to each other. However just because such transit density works in an area with a high density of people doesn’t mean you can pull the same thing off in the middle of Grant County.

    3. The fully urbanized Westside of LA where the Expo and Purple Lines will run is not comparable to the cross Lake Washington corridor.

      1. no, but they show nearby parallel lines can be successful. “By 2030, the full Expo Line is expected to attract 64,000 daily riders”. “Ridership on the Purple Line is expected to increase by 62 000 passenger-journeys per weekday by 2040, when the full extension is open”

        Bellevue,Kirkland and etc are just under 1/2 the densities of these areas. 30,000 daily riders would be good ridership numbers. Also, I think these areas will start seeing a considerable increase in density over next 30 years.

      2. Density across the entire West Side of L.A. is about an order of magnitude higher than any definition you can come up with for our sprawling Eastside. Furthermore, such density is maintained across areas containing millions, while no more than a few thousand Kirklanders live anywhere remotely transit-amenable, and number that the density quarantine ensures shall never increase.

        And furthermore, demand rises exponentially in relation to density, not linearly as you imply.

        And lastly, there’s the little matter of all that water, with its density of zero people/anything.

        Really, Les, you’re making a fool of yourself.

      3. You’re missing the point, les.

        We are way behind L.A. in traffic and freeway/arterial capacity.

        When we get there, then the numbers pan out for rail.

        Remember how a Cost/Benefit analysis works?

      4. d.p. if you haven’t notice, both lines terminate near the ocean, but then you usually miss the obvious. Oceans are not tremendous sources of ridership. One only needs to look at Gresham Or (Portland’s most highly ridden line) to see the potential success of the Kirkland/Redmond area.

      5. Well, explain to les what goes into a Cost/Benefit analysis (such as the one that was performed for the eastside), and he will understand your point.

      6. Jim Cusick you can’t compare LA, the car capital of the world, to Seattle. LA is much more conducive to sprawl then cities like Seattle and San Francisco, and LA is way behind in the LR arena. 62,000 boardings a day tells me they should have put their lines in 40 years ago. 35,000 is all a line needs to keep subsidies under 2.00/rider. Given Portland runs 1.50 vs 2.50 for their average bus, I think Kirkland would be ok. Gresham is tops for Portland and runs in the mid 30,000s last time i checked.

      7. The swath of L.A. in question is about 10 times denser than all but about 20 square blocks of either Seattle or Portland.

        And your dumb 2nd-crossing obsession would be lucky to get 12,000 boardings (6,000 very expensive people) per day.

        Part of being an effect advocate is understanding when you’re the one pulling wool over your own eyes.

      8. And yet that’s what the studies predict.

        Compare to East Link: Seattle + Bellevue + Overlake + Redmond. Every primary Eastside destination. Low density yields poor access. Estimated to max out at 45,000 boardings. Too poor ROI to even apply for Federal subsidies.

        And your line is fucking secondary to that.

        https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B6BApITCIAAtgEO.jpg:large
        https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B6BApITCIAAtgEO.jpg:large
        https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B6BApITCIAAtgEO.jpg:large
        https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B6BApITCIAAtgEO.jpg:large
        https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B6BApITCIAAtgEO.jpg:large
        https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B6BApITCIAAtgEO.jpg:large
        https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B6BApITCIAAtgEO.jpg:large

        [ah]

      9. d.p. i already stated that Santa Monica is more dense then Kirkland/Redmond but I always have to restate for you I guess. But Santa Monica is also much more dense then Gresham Oregon. And once again, Gresham has Portland’s greatest ridership, about as high as Seattle’s current Central Link. Santa Monica/Hollywood area having projections for over 62,000+ for two closely parallel lines tells me they are long overdue.

      10. Did you know that Oran, who repudiated you above as politely as a human could possibly muster, lives and works in the region in question?

        You are foaming into a vacuum here.

      11. Jim Cusick you can’t compare LA, the car capital of the world, to Seattle. LA is much more conducive to sprawl then cities like Seattle …

        Bullshit. Absolute, utter bullshit. We all know that L. A. sprawls. It sprawls like crazy. But so does Seattle, it is just smaller in total population, so it seems more concentrated. Meanwhile, plans like adding additional light rail to Kirkland, Lynnwood, or Issaquah would involve miles and miles of service to sprawling suburbia. Even a light rail line to Tacoma, which is a small, separate city, with its own interesting history, would involve miles and miles of service to sprawling suburbia (which is why it is a stupid idea). Think I’m making this up — let’s check the facts.

        Go to the density maps. Here is my favorite, but just pick your own: http://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?useExisting=1&layers=302d4e6025ef41fa8d3525b7fc31963a

        Now, zoom in to L. A. Unlike a lot of big cities (but like Seattle) there are very few census blocks bigger than 100,000 people per square mile. But there are dozens, if not hundreds over 25,000. Many of these are right next to each other. Many of these are by the ocean. For example, zoom in to Long Beach. That is a fairly square section, that is about a mile square, and every single census block is over 25,000. Every single one. Oh, and believe it or not, people in L. A. like to visit the beach (go figure).

        OK, now zoom in to Seattle. Other than downtown and the U-District, we have nothing like that. Nothing. Oh wait, the Central Area is kind of close, but of course, there are no plans to build anything there. There are no blocks above 25,000 in Snohomish County. None. Zero. Zilch. The biggest one north of the U-District is in Lake City, which we somehow managed to skip. Likewise, the only one south of Beacon Hill (and that includes all of West Seattle) is in Kent, in an area that we also managed to skip. None in Tacoma either. There are a couple on the east side, but Link is going to go right by them. Oh, and there are none in Kirkland. Absolutely none. In fact, there are no census tracts in Kirkland that are even above 10,000 people per square mile. If Kirkland was a Seattle neighborhood, it would be Magnolia — West Magnolia (because East Magnolia is more populous).

        Oh, and like I said below (https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/01/04/sunday-open-thread-las-got-lines/#comment-579474) the L. A. system is designed to compliment the bus system, while rail fetishists here seem to only want to replace really good buses with crappy rail. East Link is it as far as rail goes for the east side, and it is OK. Adding another rail crossing before we even have covered areas like South Lake Union or the Central Area is nuts. Absolutely nuts. L. A. is building a decent system. You are right, they should have built it fifty years ago. And yes, the folks there love their cars a lot more than we do. But don’t pretend that a light rail system here, or especially another lake crossing would be anywhere near as successful as anything being built in L. A.. Not even close.

      12. The Gresham line has that many boardings end-to-end. Including quick trips to the Lloyd District and Hollyood.

        THERE AREN’T 35,000 PEOPLE RIDING TO GRESHAM!!

        Meanwhile, THE LOS ANGELES RAIL PROJECTS AREN’T JUST ABOUT SANTA MONICA!!

        Santa Monica.

        Greater Westside of Los Angeles.

        530,000 people live in the latter.

        Capiche?

      13. Gresham MAX has bus routes that feed it from the north. Also, Gresham MAX was built on the very same rails as the old interurban line that had been there for 80 years previously to MAX, so the basic orientation of downtown Gresham was already set up for access by train.

        I went to Kirkland once by bus, and found it so difficult to get around on foot once there I don’t plan to repeat the experience. Sure, Gresham has vast sprawl problems, but the basic railroad line and many of the downtown buildings between Powell and MAX were a good start.

        Gresham was a high priority because the buses that went there were getting overcrowded and were too slow to really work any more. So, there was already significant transit demand there and in places between there and Gateway.

        Also, there’s a fair amount of traffic at the intermediate stations. It wasn’t just Gresham driving the ridership.

        Weather the Kirkland to UW crossing gets put in the long range plan or not isn’t for me to say since I have no dog in this fight. However, there are some significant differences between what was going on in Gresham in the late 1970s and what I see in Kirkland today.

      14. Aren’t you going to explain to les what went into the Cost/Benefit analysis for the I-405 Corridor, d.p.?

      15. ST preliminary studies never included Sandpoint/Kirkland nor a line connecting both Kirkland and Redmond. The Redmond North Bellevue line had projections of 18,000-22,000 riders, and a 25-31 minute travel time. If they came across at Sandpoint they could catch Kirkland and garner another 10,000+ riders easily by 2030(by completion date).

      16. “the agency’s Eastside MAX Blue Line “has carried 199 million rider-trips since opening in 1986 as the Portland area’s first light rail line.” TriMet reports that the 15-mile [24-km] line, linking Gresham to downtown Portland, “has seen steady ridership growth” from an average of 19,500 weekday rider-trips in its first year to an average of 41,100 daily trips last year (ending 30 June 2005). ” http://www.lightrailnow.org/news/n_por_2005-01.htm
        kapish.

      17. d.p i’m not talking boardings to Gresham [ah], nor am i talking boardings to kirkland. i’m talking boardings in general. [ot]. like greshamites make stops at Lloyd District and Hollyood, Kirkland will have UW, Children’s, U-Ville, Pill-hill and etc stops.

      18. “they show nearby parallel lines can be successful”

        Sure but Expo/Purple looks more like building Ballard Link in parallel to Central Link.

        The LA equivalent to I-90 and Sand Point/520 over Lake Washington would be Red Line/101 and Sepulveda Pass/405 over the Santa Monica Mountains but even that’s stretching it considering both sides have way more traffic going across in both ways.

      19. Ross, yes, sprawl is everywhere, but LA is special because of its car culture. LA has a density that is substantially higher than Portland or Seattle’s yet LA has LR routes that could easily handle ridership numbers greater than 60,000 and yet no rail exist yet. Portland built Gresham’s line in 1985 at under 20,000 boardings/day (now about double that). LA is long overdue and it’s not that Seattle is premature (not in every account anyway). I agree with you, there are only a few routes deserving of lines in the Seattle area and many wasteful ones being considered. But my 100,000/30,000/1.5 rule applies to Kirkland/Redmond just like it does to Gresham. Give me a city of population 100,000+ connecting to a large metropolis and I’ll give you 30,000+ riders at subsidies of 1.5 subsidized/ride. Gresham is a perfect example. The LA lines, as expected, reflect a substantial difference in these numbers.

      20. “You are right, they should have built it fifty years ago”

        Maybe the cost/benefit analysis they did back then wasn’t telling them to.

      21. Oran, my point is two parallel lines can both be successful. It is a matter of what one considers successful. In LA two lines each drawing over 60,000 is considered a success. For Kirkland and Bellevue, I think two lines each drawing 30,000 or greater would have to be considered a success.

      22. Les, you and Jim are [ah] that you’re even receiving rebukes from Glenn, who has his own strong rail bias and habit of proposing implausible projects with dubious chances of success. (Though to his credit, he does seem self-aware about this, and willing to learn and grow.)

        You’re also so crazy that I no longer even understand where you’re sending this parallel multi-part line which you’re so convinced will draw more people than the entirety of SE and Airport Link. Across population vacuums like Bridle Trails or Rose Hill? Perhaps you think Microsoft HQ needs two separate trains! (That seems vital.) Or are you zigging and zagging on and off of multiple highways, which was the only way the ST version studied depressed costs enough to keep the ROI merely “egregious” rather than “criminal”.

        Regardless, you’re still pulling 30,000 out of your ass. Only with significant cannibalism from the already-underwhelming East Link does either 520 rail or Kirkland-Sandpoint get anywhere into the 20s. Adding 10,000 because “downtown Kirkland” more or less assumes that every person in downtown Kirkland comes or goes by train, because downtown Kirkland really is that fucking small!

        And of course, that’s if you randomly decide to consider 30,000 boardings on a $3-$4 billion line “a success”. Which is insane. A new bridge or adding new rail width to 520 would cost billions more than the I-90 lane and tunnel conversions, and you think that’s glorious because the per-passenger subsidy would be “only” $2 (or more) per boarding until the end of time?

        [ah]

        And then you keep comparing Kirkland and Gresham to parts of L.A. with hundreds of thousands of contiguous people at high density on a real street grid? Do you want to add up actual boardings at the east end of the Gresham line? I wouldn’t be surprised if it were a fraction of that magic number you cite — it’s the downtown-Lloyd and downtown-Hollywood segments that push those numbers into marginal respectability. A place like Gresham couldn’t possibly be more irrelevant to any other part of this discussion.

        Yes. Parallel subways exist in places in the world. Of course they do. Because duh — some cities are huge, bustling, busy places with tons of demand.

        [ah]

      23. Jim Cusick as far as I know there has never been a comprehensive study Kirkland/Redmond study. That’s what was needed but they took the Sandpoint study off the long range plan. With 2 stops in Kirkland (5-10,000 riders), a Park-n-ride at 405 (all those commuters from places such as Woodinville – another 4-5,000 riders easily) and then stops in Redmond and a connection to Northern Bellevue which they have done a PRELIMINARY study on(18,000+ riders. I find this rather high.) they could achieve the numbers. If they should connect it to new Bellevue line Boardings from Kirkland/Redmond area to new Bellevue stations alone will draw another 4-5000 riders. Project this to 2030.

      24. [ot, expletive]. i never said it would draw more than Central link. I stated that Central Link is currently drawing 37,000/day and that a 2nd line east could draw over 30,000. Once U-Link is added I expect Central to grow substantially. I was using it as a barometer of success is all; ST consistently publishes it’s numbers regularly not because it is a failure! I don’t think Glenn understands that ST has over 700 buses using or directly connected to 520 routes and that Gresham only had a population of 50,000 when they put their line in. Yes a bus dependent route but none-the-less not even 1/2 the current population of Kirkland/Redmond. As far as route, I never stated one until just doing so for Jim Cusick, please read. But this is the whole point of a study and I don’t have ST’s budget, sorry to disappoint. But again you continue to attribute things to me that I never said. And to bring in capital cost to the discussion is an entirely different component which I’d rather skip given your inclination toward absurd conjectures. I’m only arguing ridership and subsidies.
        http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/congestionpricing/value_pricing/projects/involving_tolls/entire_roadways/wa_vpt_sr520seattle.htm

        And again, you write stupid things like how Glenn is arguing against me and yet you fail to mention that Sandpoint was the most requested route to be studied by ST. Obviously there are 1000s who are “twisted” like me.

        As I stated before, I only compared LA’s Parallel lines to Eastsides in that lines can be close and still draw their own independent population of riders. LAs line successes are based on 60,000/riders. Belleveue/Kirkland/Redmond on 30,000/riders, different degrees of success. And some interesting points came up along the way such as LA lines are way overdue which proves what a car culture they are. I also just came up with another point, which is topology needs to be considered when arguing transportation. Seattle area is a very restricted area when it comes to routes(example messes like Bertha), and lends itself more to funneling. LA basin has much more opportunity for a grid of routes, something Glenn left out.

      25. I’ve only been encouraging d.p. to straighten out how les thinks by bolstering his argument with the data from the one comprehensive study that was done for the entire eastside, the I-405 Corridor Program.

        That cost/benefit analysis that compared highway lanes, BRT and Link on the eastside came to the conclusion that Light Rail doesn’t fit within the parameters as was defined.

        You haven’t explained to him yet, d.p.

        DON’T YOU KNOW how a cost/benefit analysis works?

      26. Jim Cusick I’m not looking at capital cost, that’s another couple of pages of discussion. But I would be interested to see any link for such.

      27. Reasons why Gresham MAX made sense for tri-met to build way back when:
        1. There was already ROW most of the way
        2. The Feds paid for a large chunk of it
        3. It was cheap to build (see #1 and #2)

        No way is a second crossing of Lake Washington going to have all those factors in-play.

        The east side of Lake Washington barely has the population, density, and employment to support a single rail transit line, much less two.

        Building another crossing would be expensive and carry few riders. For the same money there are many other transit projects that can be built with a better benefit for the cost.

      28. Thank you, Chris.

        There are only so many ways I could fathom to state the obvious, and you’ve managed to do so with a clarity and concision I’d lost the ability to muster.

        It is so frustrating the see facts, math, scale, and precedent consistently rejected as if they were opinion and hearsay around here. It’s like we aren’t even allowed to reach a baseline of rational, productive, sense-making conversation and planning.

        …the most requested route to be studied by ST. Obviously there are 1000s who are “twisted” like me.

        No, because the ST document listed the precise number of these idiotic requests. It was somewhere around 110, and the document explicitly pointed out that those requests were the direct result of Seattle Subway/STB wishful thinking, rather than evidence of any mass-movement groundswell.

        I’m sure if I put as much effort into a stupid idea as you’ve put into this one, I could get a hundred [adhom] to buy into it. That still wouldn’t improve the idea, nor make it likely to happen.

      29. “Jim Cusick I’m not looking at capital cost, that’s another couple of pages of discussion. But I would be interested to see any link for such.”

        Well, if d.p. understands what goes into the c/b analysis, he would be able to answer your question. It’s his argument.

        At this time, since my laptop with some direct links (as opposed to just the I-405 Corridor Program Study, and the Trans-Lake Washington (520) study home pages at WSDOT) is effectively dead right now. You could google them, and spend most of the rest of your social life navigating them.

        I have the printed Draft and Final EIS’s for the I-405 Corridor Program, along with most of the printed documentation of what did and what didn’t go into those. (I only have the EIS data for the Trans-Lake study, one can only hoard so much of this stuff)

        You have to realize, I only visit the STB for the entertainment value any more, since the discussion level mimics the ST comment section. (and I won’t pay for that access, let alone for its questionable news value)

        Maybe I’ll see people on here testifying at board or city council meetings.
        or at area Open Houses, when I can make them.
        Of course, the only ones I’ll know are the ones who use their real names here.

      30. Reasons why Gresham MAX made sense for tri-met to build way back when:

        A few others:

        4. There is no freeway to Gresham. I-84 only gets you halfway there, so there is no fast way to drive parallel to east side MAX. However, during the late 1970s Gresham was Portland’s fastest growing suburb. This left a significant void in the transportation picture. The Mount Hood freeway was proposed, protested, and abolished. The freeway would have removed something like 5% of southeast Portland’s housing. So, they needed something that would be able to move lots of people in fewer road lanes than what they were doing.

        For the purposes of this discussion, imaging Kirkland being connected to the UW by the Ballard bridge rather than a nice broad fast moving freeway, with Lake Washington replaced by an angry mob that doesn’t want to be displaced by bridge widening.

        5. Interstate 84 was being rebuilt from its 1960s configuration. With everything being torn up already between Lloyd Center and Gateway, there wasn’t much additional mess required to add MAX there.

        6. To this day many of Portland’s busiest bus routes are eastside routes. #9, #4, etc. all do that while running the entire distance from Portland to Gresham. There is no really good express routing, so some sort of reserved lane system had to be put in place. In those days Beaverton was at the outer edge of farmland, and the tech boom that hit Washington County hadn’t happened yet. The east side was where all the problems were happening, and no indication of the coming Washington County boom were in sight.

        7. In the late 1970s Portland violated the clean air act standards on an average of something like 100 days a year. We don’t have Puget Sound so the dirty air gets trapped between the Cascades and the Coast Range when the Columbia Gorge vacuum cleaner isn’t running. There are (or, at least were) severe limits on the types of things that could be done under these conditions, and one of those limits is (was?) federal funds for new highway construction. There was no choice in the matter but to build some sort of mass transit improvement.

      31. d.p., I believe that’s a technically incorrect use of exponentially. You mean geometrically.

    4. Chris Stefan, like I have said many of times, I am not considering capital cost but only ridership/subsidies. Capital cost is a whole other blog waste of time. I guess d.p.’s reading skills are contagious.
      And like d.p. you offer no comp analysis to back you up, just kool aid!

      1. Those are the things that go into an EIS, and how they decide to pursue further action. Sometimes questions like yours disappear early on in the process, for technical and sometimes political reasons, so they don’t get the full vetting you’d like to see.

      2. Yeah! Why worry about billions and billions of dollars down the drain?

        I’m a fucking infant and I want my train!!!

      3. Okay, so let’s review.

        Capital costs don’t matter to you.
        Fiduciary responsibility doesn’t matter to you.
        Demand density doesn’t matter to you.
        Paucity of destinations doesn’t matter to you.
        Walkability and urban regeneration don’t matter to you.
        New versus siphoned passengers don’t matter to you.
        Genuine passenger time savings don’t matter to you.
        Objective, demonstrable capacity need doesn’t matter to you.
        Real-world experience doesn’t matter to you.
        Improved quality of life doesn’t matter to you.

        All that matters to you is me want my trains!!

        Are we on the same page here?

      4. d.p. that’s why its not worth discussing with you, you pull too many things out of your ass with not enough tp to clean it up.

      5. …says the person who compared the highest-demand swath of the nation’s second-most-populous city to Kirkland.

        I never thought I would encounter a more ridiculous human being on this blog than Jim. Thanks for proving me wrong, for wasting everyone’s time and energy, and for being a human roadblock standing in the way of informed, rational discussion.

      6. I made a simple statement and if you find it so revolting then you have serious issues my man:

        “I’d be CURIOUS to know the distance apart for the Purple and Expo lines. On map they look pretty close. COULD go to show that a 520/Sandpoint line would be successful in parallel to I-90 line.” Note the words CURIOUS and COULD. No statement of facts ever mentioned.

        Furthermore, what LA considers success and what ST considers success are obviously two completely different realms. For LA they wait until ridership is over 60,000 before they put some lines in. For Seattle they do it much earlier. But as Gresham has shown growth occurs significantly and quickly. So how you come up with your comments and conclusions is obviously due to some sort of anal hemorrhaging.

      7. Yes, your constant straining to justify your pet obsession, your insistence on hammering away at nonsensical comparisons, and your categorical refusal to accept refuting evidence, must be my problem.

        [rolls eyes]

      8. d.p. it’s one of those things we’ll never know, at least not in our life-time. I think parallel lines can co-exist and be successful without being a major draw down on each other. You believe not unless it is in smell-LA. Is it fare to leave it at that?

      9. “…and your categorical refusal to accept refuting evidence”

        which explains why you don’t use your real name.

      10. So I had a non-flippant point. As long as we’re talking multiple lines to the Eastside, we have to start from the realization that the second or subsequent lines are only useful to the degree they do something the first doesn’t do. Once you talk about two ways of getting to Redmond, you’re talking a highly cannibalistic ridership model.

        With one line serving Seattle-Bellevue-Overlake-Redmond, there are really slim opportunities for incremental ridership.

        You’re really just looking at the points on both sides of the lake that are too far north to be well-served by East-Link on I-90. North Seattle into Kirkland and not much more. Trip pairs that mostly don’t rate a single Metro bus today.

      11. Les,

        Sorry you can’t just handwave away capital cost. Even relatively cheap transit capital projects look horrible with low ridership. See the VTA, Baltimore light rail, or the Tide in Norfolk.

        You want to speak of operating subsidy, however low ridership rail lines require high operating subsidies. I don’t know the subsidy required for the current 520 buses, but I’d be shocked if they are all that high. For a new Lake Washington crossing to even match the one required for current buses would need a certain level of ridership. One that might not be present on such an alignment.

        We really need to avoid building any more Sounder Norths.

        For the money required to build a second Lake Washington crossing you can do a lot to save bus service hours and increase ridership therefore reducing the operating subsidy needed.

      12. Les,

        Parallel transit lines can work but only when the geometry of the built environment supports them. Plenty of cities have parallel transit lines that work, not just LA. However every single one I can think of is far higher population than the Eastside.

        Seattle can support parallel transit lines as well. See downtown/Ballard/Crown Hill or Ballard/UW and Queen Anne/Madison Valley.

        The issue is the lines in question have to go from somewhere to somewhere, ass through areas of reasonable density, and preferably have a geographic barrier of some sort between them.

      13. Dan Ryan from a survey I read it sounds like UW/Childrens/Zoo/Pill Hill are as big a draw for Eastsiders as downtown Seattle is. Question is where does the cannibalism occur? What is the cutoff point to which someone would choose East Link to arrive at UW vs a SandPoint option. And at what station and direction would it be faster to arrive in Downtown Seattle from Kirkland. At what point is the trip going to be a turn off to ride Link due to only having one line available, and therefor diminishing Link ridership? It would have been nice if the study was left in LRP. But the entire area’s population will be above 300,000 by the time East Link is done and I think two lines would definitely succeed by the time an ST3 or 4 were to be implemented.

      14. Still getting over d.p. making me blush.

        Les: the challenge is the numbers. I live in downtown Kirkland, and a train from Kirkland to the zoo would have been awesome the two times in my life that I’ve been there. But that’s a use case that doesn’t scale well.

        UW is more meaningful. But the 540 has the worst metrics of any bus in the ST system. It’s not even close. There’s a single bus in the AM that has decent ridership from Kirkland to UW, and then it really does drive around mostly empty all day.

      15. Dan Ryan there’s cannibalism out of convenience and there is cannibalism out of inconvenience. Do I want to take a link from Ballard to UW in order to get downtown or do I prefer a direct route to downtown. Of course I’ll go to UW if that is the only option. Is this what the folk of Ballard want?

      16. I want trains to everywhere. And a pony.

        You’re not addressing the real question that d.p. was asking. How many riders will you have for your billions of dollars?

        We’re talking about a bridge crossing that has been judged less likely to be successful than a train to Orting. Because at least Orting won’t cost multiple billions of dollars.

      17. Dan Ryan, yes I agree suburbia is a much harder sell for LR. But after spending a year in Mesa Az which had the worst performing bus system I’ve ever ridden, and then seeing how successful their park-n-ride LR stations became, I was converted to a true believer in PnRs for LR. The end station I boarded was the busiest on the line with the exception of ASU. In many burbs convenience is critical otherwise ridership suffers. And Ballard shouldn’t be cannibalized and forced to ride through UW to arrive downtown, nor should Kirkland through Bellevue. I imagine Lynnwood will have the same type experience, ie, very dependent on PnRs for ridership.

      18. Dan Ryan I’m not interested in talking capital investments. That goes in a whole different line of argument and can be quite extensive and philosophical. I like to keep cost at a subsidized rider level.

      19. I don’t know how to have a conversation about rail investments without talking about capital cost. It’s almost all capital cost.

      20. How nice for you.

        Let me be the first to thank you for your personal contribution of $3 billion to build your prized pet boondoggle.

        Because nobody else is going to pay that much for something that lackluster.

      21. I don’t doubt that suburbs can generate transit ridership. I just got back from Toronto where the suburbs have bus service that’s designed well and runs frequent enough that people will use it. You don’t need rail for that.

        Bus service in Mesa sucks because the frequency and span sucks. No one is going to ride an hourly bus, let alone transfer from one to another hourly bus, unless they don’t have a choice. The light rail runs every 12-20 minutes and runs really late into the night on weekends. Of course, people are going to take it and since bus connections suck, they’ll drive to it.

        I used to live on the Eastside and commuted to UW and downtown Seattle for years. Lived in Kingsgate with access to ST and Metro freeway expresses. I’d love to see better bus service.

        If you’re not interested in talking capital costs, how about a discussion on improving bus connectivity between the Eastside and Seattle north of the ship canal? All I’ll say about the Sand Point crossing is let ST do a proper study and do it right. I support that.

      22. Yes Mesa is suburban but there is a grid of streets and highways feeding the line far to the East and South.

        Also take a look at a map the residential areas along Main are much denser than the majority of the Eastside. Most of it is continuous density similar to central Kirkland. Sure Phoenix sprawls, but it is fairly dense for auto oriented development.

        Finally extending out Main from ASU and Tempe was dirt cheap due to the wide road with a median. Far cheaper than any crossing of Lake Washington is going to be.

        No matter how hard you try you can’t ignore geography and geometry when planning transit. It is not Field of Dreams where “if you build it they will come.”

      23. Les,

        ST3 isn’t finalized, but clearly both Ballard-UW and Ballard-Downtown are both high priority.

        Assuming Ballard-UW is fully grade separated the total trip time will be less than Ballard-Downtown using the current buses under the best conditions. Heck given traffic congestion it will beat taking a car for much of the day.

      24. We’re talking about a bridge crossing that has been judged less likely to be successful than a train to Orting. Because at least Orting won’t cost multiple billions of dollars.

        Also, Orting has a lot of vacant land. With the way Pierce County sprawls out everywhere, in a few decades that line might need to be something like the New Jersey Transit RiverLINE (occasional freight service and diesel light rail for passenger service). 30 years ago Redmond would have been nearly as hard for people to place on the map as Orting. The Orting line is on the long range map. The Long Range Map is a different animal than a map of stuff to throw money at with a detailed analysis right now.

        Long Range maps can be important. For example, the TriMet long range plan has led to the preserving of the Lake Oswego – Portland railroad line as the Willamette Shore Trolley. Today it isn’t worth doing anything with other than tourist trolley service, but parallel highway 43 is two lanes and there is very little room to expand it. Long Range, that line will need to be something more useful so it needs to be preserved as a complete line. Believe it or not the airport line was once on the long range map since it really didn’t pencil out in terms of ridership. Some developer came along and offered a deal for the line to get built and it could be built quickly as there was at least a rough idea of what the line should do due to the long rang plan. As it turned out, the airport line is actually a bit more popular than the original analysis said it would be.

        So, by all means put the UW-Kirkland route on the long range map. One day, maybe 30 or 50 years in the future, it could be necessary. Or, maybe 10 years in the future Microsoft will decide it needs a direct transit connection to the UW and offer to pay the majority of the construction costs (after all that’s the type of private money that funded our airport line with no required time consuming federal analysis or all that).

        In the meantime, if Kirkland wants to do its part for such a line, it is going to have to change its land use practices.

      25. And in the meantime, the effort really needs to go where the demand already is, but the transit service is lacking.

  6. Does anyone know why buses (specifically the 3 and 4) travel on E. Cherry instead of E. Jefferson between downtown and 23rd? It seems like it would make a lot more sense to just keep going on James the whole way from downtown until 23rd. James becomes Cherry and the 3 keeps going on Cherry, while the 4 would turn and head south on 23rd (as it does now). That would mean fewer turns (for both buses).

    1. I’ve wondered that too. I assume it’s because James Way is a larger automobile street, almost like a highway, while Jefferson is a narrow street more suited to trolleybus speed, and perhaps has more housing density. Or maybe to serve the corner of Harborview and the south side of Providence. Or maybe just because that’s where the streetcar went.

      1. I think the streetcar history idea makes a lot of sense. In other words, it is based on history. Looking at this map: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/images/Seattle1933.jpg there was a cable car up James, but it stopped right about at Broadway. Meanwhile, there was a (presumably quite popular) streetcar along Broadway that turned onto Jefferson and did that little dogleg onto Cherry that the 3 does. Of course now instead of two logical routes, both buses do a dogleg on 9th, while the 3 does an extra dogleg on 23rd. Both would be unnecessary if the bus ran on James and then Cherry.

        From a density standpoint, it looks to be a wash. From a destination standpoint, it does as well (from what I can tell). I’m not sure if the doglegs cost much, but I was just curious.

      2. Also, d. p. is right as far as the diagonal part of E. James. It has been a street for a long time, but only in fits and starts (as it is most of the way). On this old map (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/51/Seattle-1911-map.jpg) you can see how Madison was the only diagonal street to the east of Broadway. Meanwhile, Cherry went through (which makes sense). I never knew the area that most people would call the Central Area or the Central District was (at least in part) called Renton Hill. Here is another old one (that is a bit fuzzier): http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/eb/Seattle_map_1909.jpg

      3. Oops, I worded that poorly. The gridded part of E. James has been there a long time, but the diagonal has not. But the gridded part has always been (and remains) only a partial street. It is obvious (as d. p. pointed out) that like a lot of those wide, curving streets, it was built for cars. To be fair, some of them were originally built for streetcars, but not that many (and that wasn’t one of them).

      4. Also, other than history and inertia, is there any reason why the bus couldn’t be moved? I know the street is a lot uglier, but as a bus rider, I guess I don’t care. I would assume it would save a couple minutes for the typical rider, which would be worth it.

      5. The giveaway really is in the gentle/”sweeping” quality of the curve, and the way the ground has been regraded to ensure the most even ride for a car’s suspension at a relatively-high pass-through speed.

        This is a street built for the physics of automobiles, with essentially every other ingredient for a block of properly-scaled urban streetscape ignored.

        You would have difficulty finding a former streetcar street that looked anything like that. (A former streetcar street is likely to look something like this.

      6. Ross: They’re not moved because relocating the wire is really expensive and sometimes (I’m not sure if it would in this case) really gets the neighbors riled up. I’m a regular rider of the 3 and 4 and would really love to have it moved. That right turn in front of Harborview would be especially nice to remove since the traffic backups there are horrible. I think that (eventually) the 3 (and 4, if it continues to exist) will move to Yesler. That trades the right-and-then-left for a somewhat easier to make left turn, since traffic isn’t backed up that direction. It doesn’t do anything for the dogleg at Cherry but I wonder if Metro would really want to make the change since Jefferson / 21st is also layover space for the returning-to-downtown trips, complete with passing wire and switches. Laying over buses could make three rights to get back to Jefferson / 21st, it would just add another switch going westbound on Jefferson…

      7. Thanks Wes, I appreciate that. It was pretty much as I guessed — more inertia than anything else. There are bigger battles to fight, that is for sure. But if we ever add a station at 23rd and Cherry, then I think moving the buses would make a lot of sense. I’ve been mulling over a “long range plan” for light rail that would include a north/south station there, and wanted to know. I’ll write more about the subject soon.

  7. The LA subway lines (Red and Purple) are built to a very high standard, the other lines aren’t nearly so nice. They are about like Portland light rail, and seem to be routed through the path of least resistance.

    Los Angeles county has 10 million people living there, and is 4000 sq miles. The 6 lines serve such a tiny geographic portion of the area, it’s amazing they get as many riders as they do (300k+boardings). SF’s Muni metro manages nearly that much with tiny little trains running in a 900,000 person area.

    Anyway, LA is very diffuse and decentralised, so it’s difficult to make proper mass transit work there. It’s cool they are investing as much as they are, but it’s hard to imagine that making a difference except over a very long term. Seattle, on the other hand, is in a much better position for this stuff.

    1. I understand the criticism, but L.A. really is getting serious about a high-legibility, high-effectiveness, high-frequency bus system to complement its rail investments. Including absolutely dedicated lanes on major boulevards (this has already begun). If only Seattle showed a consistent commitment to (or even interest in) the usable service structures that Los Angeles has been pursuing of late.

      The rail network, for better or for worse, recognizes the distances which L.A.-ers routinely have to travel just within the fully urbanized sphere, and so trades off speed for access. Save from a single awful (but potentially fixable) legacy bottleneck on Flower Street, L.A. Metro Rail is faster in every place and in every way than MAX. Most of the recent expansions studiously avoid freeway running, and though their chosen ROWs aren’t always ideal, the fully-built-up quality of Los Angeles ensures the lines are never running through Nowheresville, as so much of MAX does, or as so much of Link intends to.

      1. Yeah, I was thinking that might be the case. There are a lot of big, gridded streets in L. A.,and the buses can do wonders there, if the trains compliment it. I would say the only thing that surprises me a little bit is the way in which is seems to focus on getting downtown. I always think of L. A. as sprawling, with destinations everywhere, as opposed to a city where most of the trains would head downtown. In other words, I’m surprised it isn’t a bit more gridded (although it looks like some of the newer lines seem to be doing that). But, again, maybe with the buses you achieve much the same thing (fast frequent service to most of the city).

      2. Also, in comparing it to Seattle, it is important to keep in mind that L. A., a land known for its sprawl, is way more dense than Seattle. Or, to be more precise, has way more really dense locations. We only have a handful that are comparable and aren’t about to get light rail. So, even if L. A. simply ignored bus to rail interaction, it would still outperform a lot of what people want to build around here.

        Meanwhile, Seattle seems to ignore the bus to rail interaction, even though (based on what I just said) it is a lot more important here. So far there are no plans for a station at 125th; we will have a station at 145th and 185th, even though a station at 155th is better for buses; and light rail from Ballard to the UW will be done long after we have a station at Angle Lake.

        For the last one, it is obvious that it would be a huge breakthrough for transit is this town, given the way our streets run. We don’t have a huge grid, but around Ballard is one place where we do. Not only that, but buses can move way faster going north/south through there than east/west. It is also one of the few places where you could run a line like that and not have the buses get stuck in the bottlenecks (that our city if full of).

      3. There are plans for a station at 130th, it’s just waiting for funding. Declaring it not high enough priority to displace something else in the ST2 budget is not the same as not planning a station at all.

      4. 1) Declaring it a lower priority than a whole bunch of objectively-crap choices is evidence of an endemic problem of conceptual comprehension at the agency.

        2) Ask the people halfway between Edmunds and Othello what happens when an ingredient is just “waiting for funding”.

      5. Yeah, what d. p. said. Besides, why is it we needed to fight for it? Why is it, after the fact, that citizens had to say “wait a second, wouldn’t a station at 130th make a lot of sense”? That really wasn’t rocket science, nor did anything substantial change in the city. It is not just a matter of misplaced priorities (which is bad enough) but lack of imagination. That is very worrisome. That suggests incompetence. That suggests that Sound Transit really doesn’t know what they are doing. To throw out another basketball analogy, that is like a coach saying “Hey, how about we recruit some tall guys! Brilliant!”

        Oh, and how about another example. How about a station at the intersection of the 520 freeway and U-Link? How hard is that. Just a flat section, with a station. The freeway is actually low through there (unlike the surface streets) so it would be pretty simple and pretty cheap. So tell me, Mike, when is that happening? When is that getting funded?

        No, I just think these guys (and gals) really don’t know what they are doing. It has taken a long time to come to this conclusion. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. I know a lot of decisions (like building a line to Tukwila before a line to the UW) were based on politics. I get that. But I really think they don’t know what they are doing. How the hell can you ignore the intersection of 520 and our light rail system? Put in a flat area and add that to your “future funding” category. I have no problem with that at all. But they didn’t even do that. No, we are left with projects that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars (if not more) because they couldn’t do something that is pretty obvious to a lot of people in this town. Aach!

      6. It’s the priorities, RossB. The Sound Transit board is made up of elected officials of various cities and counties, and furthermore in deciding alignments and stations they deferred mostly to what the cities in the affected areas wanted. You can’t call incompetence what was the result of nonexistent priorities and fragmented/broken political powers. You’re imagining a transit agency like Vancouver’s that doesn’t exist here, run by transit visionaries and with full authority and funding to implement whatever they want. If any of the powerful had given ST a priority of a 130th station or a 520 station, you can be sure they would have built one more or less OK. But the priorities were, off the top of my head, “U-District! Northgate! Lynnwood!” Nothing about 520 buses or the 48. So that’s what ST did.

        I’ve told the story of 130th Station before. In the North Corridor alternatives analysis, ST studied Aurora, I-5, 15th NE, and Lake City Way. 15th and LCW were dropped early because their ridership projections were lower than the others, and LCW didn’t go to the all-important Lynnwood and the Snohomish subarea (or at least, not the most populated part). 130th Station originated as an extra station in one of the Aurora alternatives. At that time everybody was writing Lake City off as, “Sorry, can’t serve this round.” So when the I-5 alternative was chosen, some people (including me) said, “Let’s bring that extra 130th station to the I-5 alignment. If it’s viable in one alignment it should be viable in the other.” It’s not a question of competence because it still doesn’t serve Lake City very well. It just makes it marginally better, so it’s better than nothing.

      7. I don’t see how you can call the lack of a 520 station anything but incompetence when folks are clearly considering the issue as part of their “long range plan”. Really. What are the alternatives? Another tunnel? Another bridge? Those will cost hundreds of millions of dollars (if not billions). Meanwhile, a station would have cost thousands. Hell, it would have made sense to just a flat section of track, where a station could be built later (in case someone on the east side wanted this while they wait twenty years for a light rail line that will never be built). We are talking about a very, very small amount money, but they ignored it. No one said “sorry, we can’t pay for it right now”. Or “sorry, we’ll add it later”. They simply ignored the issue.

        Oh, and 130th isn’t “marginally better” than the alternatives, it is hugely better. Either you ask Lake City (which is more populous than Northgate now and will likely be in the future) to spend forever getting to Northgate or go backwards, towards 145th (where there is more traffic) before they head south, where almost all of them want to go. The same is true of Bitter Lake, of course. But yeah, compared to the 520 stupidity, it is quite minor indeed (and can fortunately be fixed very easily). But guys like you (no offense) shouldn’t be asking them to fix it. Nor should guys like me be telling them they should have added a flat section next to 520. This should be obvious to them, no matter what their political priorities are.

      8. I still think there’s a whole lot more hidden politics in the Shoreline saga, Mike.

      9. The rail network, for better or for worse, recognizes the distances which L.A.-ers routinely have to travel just within the fully urbanized sphere, and so trades off speed for access.

        Also, for those having to travel long distances and needing higher speeds, there is MetroLink. It may not be the LIRR or even New Jersey Transit, but it at least operates some off-peak and weekend service.

      10. Really no overlap in the service areas, though, which is more or less okay because there’s nowhere in the proper urbanized area that would find hourly-or-less trains of any particular use.

        That said, I think Metrolink commuter passengers still get free transfers onto the city bus and subways.

      11. >> I still think there’s a whole lot more hidden politics in the Shoreline saga, Mike.

        Oh, I’m sure there is. I get that, which is why I shouldn’t automatically assume that the lack of a station at 125th is incompetence. There will be a trade-off. There are a lot of buses, and even more cars that go along 522. The first logical place for them to go is 145th. If they can overcome the traffic issues, it saves them all a few minutes over 125th (an area few of them want to go). But 125th makes sense as a way to connect the most people in the least amount of time. It is a compromise, and a very good one. So, yeah, I could see how someone could try and kill 125th as a way to make 145th even more important. But I really doubt it. That just seems too devious with very little reward (how hard is it to strike some sort of compromise).

        That is why my focus on incompetence has shifted to the 520 freeway and U-Link. In about a year, folks along that corridor could have the best commute in twenty years. Capitol Hill to Redmond? Very fast. Kirkland to downtown Seattle? Very fast. The buses travel in their own lane, never experiencing traffic, and passengers spend less than a minute transferring to a train (which comes every five minutes). That is a dream for a lot of folks, but it won’t happen. Instead of a transfer taking a minute, it will take about fifteen. First the bus rider has to get up to the Montlake Bridge level, then walk to the station, then go back down the stairs to the train. Good exercise, I suppose, but not exactly fast. If you add a decent walk on the other hand (from the bus to work) then the whole thing takes a lot longer than driving, if you get lucky with the traffic.

        All for what? To save a miniscule amount of time for those riding the train? For that sort of station, the only penalty is dwell time. The distance is so short that the train never gets up to full speed. There is no trade-off, there is no hidden agenda, there is only incompetence. Very scary, in my opinion, and someday people will start asking questions.

      12. One of the questions you can ask is, when was it decided, who was on the board then, how many are still on the board, and who were their local advisers (i.e., mayors and city councils).

        The 130th (not 125th) Station issue is more straightforward to answer. Why isn’t it considered a basic requirement of the extension? Because it wasn’t in the ST2 ballot measure. Why wasn’t it in the ST2 ballot measure? Because of a board decision ca. 2006 that solidified ST2, which was based on research in the previous few years and on the then-current long-term plan. So we can hold the board ca. 2006 specifically responsible for this oversight. Since then, Seattle has had two new mayors and some council turnover, and thus new ST boardmembers. These probably have better ideas, and the public zeitgeist is more favorable to urban-minded changes, but they have to balance the legacy momentum and previous decisions against their new ideas.

        The Montlake area issues are more complex because they came at a strange point between ST1 and ST2. ST1 envisioned a different canal crossing and thus different station locations, on the other side of the hill from Montlake. Then the north part was deferred due to cost overrun risk and a generally overoptimistic budget. Later the Montlake crossing was identifed and deemed lower-risk, and the north part was restarted. Roy & Broadway station had already been dropped, so there was no station between John and Portage Bay. So ST just moved the alignment, and Portage Bay station to Husky Stadium, and did not reopen the issue of other stations in the new alignment. That’s where the mistake was made, and that’s when we could have had Summit, 15th, 23rd, and Montlake/520 stations or deferred stations. So who was on the board then, ca. 2006? Activists are also at fault for not raising these station issues or a 520 connection at the time. A few isolated people might have, but not the groundswells we’ve recently had on 130th Station, Ballard grade separation and Queen Anne Station, and the Sand Point crossing. But, as you say, the board should be raising these issues on its own rather than transit fans having to do it.

        To me, these mistakes are just part of the long line of oversights that all sectors of Pugetopolis have made, going back to the failure of the 1972 subway and even further to the 1910 subway. The bright side is that both ST and Metro and the public are somewhat more responsive and urban-minded than they were in 2006, so they’re making somewhat better decisions sometimes (like accepting 130th Station in principle). Sometimes incremental improvements are the only way to turn a ship around.

      13. So here is another example of poor planning/forethought that has little or nothing to do with political infighting, as the station in question is/was always going to exist, and it is in a single jurisdiction: Northgate. Whomever thought that the station location was a great idea simply because the transit center was located where it is was paying absolutely no attention to how rail should work. The transit center works (somewhat) for buses as the downtown routes can enter/exit the express lanes at peak times right there. The Link station should have been located as an elevated station where it crosses Northgate Way, NOT at the ass-end of the mall adding several more minutes to any route coming from the east. Routes should travel on Northgate Way and stop directly underneath the station, which would provide a seamless and quick transfer and shave five minutes minimum turning and traffic driving around the mall. If for some reason it wasn’t possible to do this, the station should still have been sited at the northwest corner of the mall rather than the southwest.

        The whole idea of having to site stations (130th, etc.) because they were listed somewhere at election time is asinine on its face. It sets something in stone 15 years before a line ever gets built, half of which is in planning anyway. If a station location makes sense because new information comes to light or land use patterns change, it should be able to be added (same goes for deleting if necessary). Maps at election time should be as generic as possible and be quite clear that changes may be made as necessary, so long as the general neighborhood or community is served. What I’m hearing is that a station at 130th wasn’t added/funded because it wasn’t on a map, but that a station at 145th could have conceivably been built anywhere from Aurora to LCW depending on route chosen and that would have been okay. That makes absolutely no sense.

        Leaving out an entire quadrant of the city, with the most densely populated area north of 50th (and a hell of a lot of flat, non-view-obstructed land for further development) is a great way to get an area that has consistently voted pro-transit to throw up their hands and say “screw this.” Northgate is not easily accessible from Lake City. Saying NG is part of “NE Seattle” is ignorant as to geography; there are only two lanes of arterial traffic traveling west from LCW between 80th and 145th. 130th could work well for this area, at least until something like a 23rd–Montlake–LC–UW Bothell line is built…hell, they were promised that 45 years ago. I won’t even touch that 3rd lake crossing idea ever coming before such an N-S line is constructed.

      14. Being fixated on the Northgate TC dates back to the planning that led to Sound Move and Sound Transit. Back when planning was done connecting park and rides was the norm for most US light rail systems.

        At the time the Northgate TC had only recently moved to its current location from the East Side of the mall (right outside Bon/Macy’s)

        Transit thinking has evolved much (both locally and nationally) since then but the station location decision was never revisited. I’d have to pull the document archives for North Link but I don’t believe relocating the Transit Center was ever seriously considered.

        The ideal location for the station from an urban, bus integration, and TOD POV would have been 5th NE and Northgate Way.

    2. It always stunned me that the Bay Area, with half the population, has BART, while LA has the Blue Line which is partly surface, everywhere slower, and lower capacity. The Red Line subway is more like what LA should have, but it only goes a short distance. How are twice as many people over a much larger area supposed to fit in those, and by the way they don’t even go to most of the area. It’s just one of the many ways LA left transit and other things as afterthoughts and neglected them for decades. However, it’s recent turnaround with more subways, limited bus routes, and BRT lines is impressive.

      1. How are twice as many people over a much larger area supposed to fit in those?

        They’re not. L.A. rail isn’t supposed to be the great regional linchpin-for-all-problems, as BART tries (and spectacularly fails) to be.

        L.A. rail is about making a tangible dent in the problem of that city’s mobility, by functioning as part of a cohesive network that provides a reasonable option for enough people, on enough trips, enough of the time to avoid pervasive auto dependency and total gridlock. It is about weighed-and-reasoned priorities that create viable options, which is exactly what transit is supposed to do. That’s better than the “build the train a million miles and cross your fingers someone rides it” approach that seems to drive BART and Sound Transit.

        The Red and Purple subways cost a billion dollars a mile. There isn’t enough money in the universe to build that pervasively across an urban area of hundreds of square miles.

        I’m starting to wonder which parts of the West Coast should actually be deemed “la-la lands”.

      2. And New York and London and Moscow? The subways and commuter rail go practically everywhere, so that large swathes of the population rarely or never use the bus network.

        Or Cologne. I remember when I went to Cologne and got a rail map, and then I asked for a bus map, and the agent said, “We doesn’t really have buses.” The streetcars and S-Bahn go essentially everywhere so there are no gaps for buses to fill.

      3. Never mind the 150-year headstarts. Nor the slightly more organized arrangement of destinations. Nor the fact that none of those gigantic cities encompasses quite as extensive areas as the L.A. Basin.

        Because what you said isn’t actually true.

        I dare you to have a week of non-tourist itinerary in London, or to experience Moscow or New York as resident rather than visitor, and never use a bus or any other mode of transportation aside from a train.

        Never mind the vast swaths of Queens or urbanized Greater London that are no-fucking-where near trains, period. (London, in particular, covers a surprisingly spread-out amount of ground.) Massive populations whose primary transport is on the bus, every day.

        Despite the massive sunk-cost systems, your rail-fetish delusion of trains to every inch of built Europe is simply a fiction. It’s time to grow up and comprehend that.

        Meanwhile, Cologne-proper is way too small and compact to be relevant to this discussion, but that agent was fucking with the tourist.

      4. and NEVER MIND that automotive technology hadn’t made it a serious mode of travel 150 years ago.

      5. D.P., I lived in New York for a year. And other than trips to LaGuardia (which is in one of those swaths of Queens much farther from a train than it should be), I believe I took a bus a total of three times.

        And usually it was to cheat the MTA out of a fare. (I could take the subway one direction, and the bus back, and it counted as a subway-to-bus transfer.)

        Not necessarily saying I was typical, but it’s definitely possible.

      6. Sure. Possible. And probably slightly more likely to happen in New York than in London.

        But let me guess your circumstances: Manhattan or Brooklyn. Young. Professional or student. Busy, thus socially connected mostly within your work/school circle. Not there long enough to see people relocate much, or to have regular errands further afield. Probably white. Probably most people you knew were white.

        Just a guess.

        Oh, and you never even needed to jump across Central Park laterally, which is surprising.

        Yes, if your life is entirely contained in the well-trained parts of New York, you can go quite a while without needing a bus.* Again, more so than in London, where a number of central journeys are much better served by bus than train.

        But Mike honestly seems to believe that there are cities of millions, covering hundreds of square miles, where buses barely need to exist. He not only believes that’s an existing default all over the world, he thinks we can build such places from scratch, regardless of density or breadth or other factors.

        It’s not really about “possible” versus “typical”. It’s about sense versus nonsense.

        *(Though you may still have deprived yourself. There are a number of stunningly useful and frequent — like, every 90 seconds all day — “cross-buses” in Manhattan or Brooklyn that go perpendicularly to the primary direction of train travel, and which probably would have helped you out a lot in places you did frequent.)

      7. “But let me guess your circumstances: Manhattan or Brooklyn. Young. Professional or student. Busy, thus socially connected mostly within your work/school circle. Not there long enough to see people relocate much, or to have regular errands further afield. Probably white. Probably most people you knew were white.

        Just a guess.”

        Yep, that about sums it up for me!
        Nice try Kacie.

      8. “Mike honestly seems to believe that there are cities of millions, covering hundreds of square miles, where buses barely need to exist.”

        I did not say that. I merely said that a large subset of New Yorkers and Londoners and Muscovites rarely take the bus. Of course that implies they live near a train station and rarely go where the trains don’t go. But that’s still a lot of places and a lot of destinations! Not all 8 million New Yorkers can do that, but a large subset can, and many of those prefer to to avoid the at-grade issues of buses. I ignored the complexity of London’s night buses, which even those people use when the tube isn’t running. But the fact remains that these people would take the trains if they were running, and they do in New York.

        I mentioned one city that I was told “didn’t have buses” except in its periphery, and streetcars were comprehensive enough in the inner city to not need bus routes. I did not say there were other cities like that because I haven’t heard of any. I merely mentioned it as an ideal.

        Of course, Seattle is not building a comprehensive rail network like these. You’ll still have to use buses in Seattle even for some major destinations. When I have visitors and we take the bus all over town, sometimes they comment, “I’ve never used buses this much in my life.” Sometimes that’s because they drive everywhere. Other times it’s because in other cities they’d take trains for some of the trips. But our train network is still under construction (no U-District or Bellevue yet), and even when it’s finished it won’t be as comprehensive as some other cities.

      9. I apologize if I overstated your implication, but my point is that the percentage of “100% train everywhere” New Yorkers or Londoners is far slimmer than visitors ever seem to comprehend, especially those new to the place. (Frankly, you probably made some crazy crosstown Tube journeys that would’ve been five minutes on the right bus.)

        When you try to extrapolate your (already inaccurate) impression to suggest that the same thing is achievable in either places as extensive and decentralized as L.A., you wind up diverging pretty far from reality… and you miss the point that L.A. does possess the density and critical mass to support some really fantastic, ultra-frequent transit even in the absence of pervasive rail infrastructure.

        While Cologne was a pretty irrelevant example on account of A) smaller size, B) compact layout, and C) that bus in the photo being in the city center, I do understand what you’re getting at. Indeed, I can only think of a couple of regular-service Boston bus routes that enter downtown, because the majority of bus riders end up transferring to a subway somewhere along their journey. That said, there are a handful of vital crosstown buses in Boston that you would be a fool to remove from your mobility arsenal in the way that you seem to imagine most would do by default.

        And that’s in one of the most compact big cities in the western world.

      10. You have me exactly right, white Manhattan student, Fordham University at Lincoln Center, two blocks from Columbus Circle. I rarely had occasion to go to the East Side, IIRC on the occasions I did, I walked to 57th/7th to take the N/R to the 4/5/6. I left the borough several times a month, but only to places I could easily get to by subway. However, the list of such places is extremely numerous.

        Like I said, I was well aware that I was merely providing “anecdata” that was not necessarily typical. Also, I was assuming that — despite your mention of Queens — like most people not from that area (I’m originally from New Jersey), we were using “New York (City)” to mean “Manhattan” even though that’s obviously not correct. So my apologies if you think my anecdata does not even apply, given that in this discussion of Seattle vs. L.A., we are talking about areas that we might call analogues to New York’s outer boroughs.

        I’m with you in terms of sense vs. nonsense. Just as there are large swaths of Queens that lack train service and rely on feeder buses to the subway or express buses to downtown, it would be absurd to build a rail network on the Eastside that is as dense (or depending on how delusional they are, they may even be thinking more dense) than what we’d have within Seattle.

      11. Thanks for the engagement, Kacie.

        It’s nice to know that these discussions can attract some reasonable adults with worldly experience and an understanding that the universe cannot reorder itself around any one person’s biases or blind spots.

      12. I used the M79 quite frequently in Manhattan, mainly depending on weather/my schedule/what I was carrying. Hop off at Lex and walk the two blocks to the 6 train at 77th (or continue on to the West Side and the A depending on where I was going).

        Yeah, there are a lot of trains in Manhattan. Sometimes the places you are coming to or going from aren’t as accessible to them as you’d like, though, and the crosstown buses in particular are great at filling in those gaps. My rail “fetish” usually only manifested itself on uptown trips from Lower Manhattan, where I’d usually prefer to take a train than sit in traffic on the M15.

      13. d.p.: in practice, in New York, there are quite a lot of people (yes, even locals) who shun the buses and use only the subways and their feet.

        This is not just because there’s such an extensive and intensive subway network. The other thing: People walk astounding distances in New York. The comparison usually made when complaints come in about the crosstown buses is “You could walk faster than this”… and the thing is, people *do*. They just walk across town.

        You need a really, really extensive sidewalk network for people to even consider doing this.

  8. I need to mention a recurring problem for route 21 riders.

    According to Metro’s Schedules, virtually all Southbound trips arriving at Westwood Village after 1 PM serve what I call “the Roxbury Loop.” However, while most drivers will perform the loop at the end of their trip, some drivers will skip the loop entirely, instead proceeding directly to their layover at Westwood Village, even though their run cards say they’re required to do the loop. Reasons drivers skip the loop are mostly personal–“I’m running late” or “I have to use the bathroom real bad.” This is unacceptable.

    My regular stop for riding the 21 is at 28th & Roxbury, across the street from Safeway. The fact that some drivers will end their trip prematurely while I’m on my way home is a huge annoyance, necessitating an otherwise unnecessary transfer at Westwood Village to reach my destination point and adding an additional delay by up to 15 minutes–not convenient when it is wet or cold outside or late at night when there is a huge chance of being mugged or attacked while I am waiting for my transfer.

    IMO, Metro needs to more strictly enforce the Roxbury loop among their 21 drivers (“If you want a paycheck, you stick to the run card no matter what, or you’re immediately fired!”). Does anyone agree with me?

    1. Given how few people are likely to board the bus on the pre-layover loop northbound in the afternoon, I think drivers could be forgiven for taking an empty bus directly to the layover point, especially in order to prevent the entire next run from starting late.

      But if the bus has a passenger on it (you), and that passenger (you) is traveling to a destination on the official route that is past the divergence point, that driver has a responsibility to drive you where you actually intended to go when you boarded. These drivers have essentially kicked you off prematurely, for no valid reason, which should be a fireable offense.

      BTW, that schedule is confusing as hell. It’s so confusing that I actually wonder if some drivers can’t understand which trips do and don’t serve the loop. But it doesn’t excuse those who told you to your face they were cutting the route short.

  9. Maybe it’s just a change of scene thing, but every time I go to Portland, I come away with the feeling that it’s a more comfortable city to be in than Seattle. Though it’s also true that I tend to spend most of every visit in walking distance of electric rail, either MAX or streetcar.

    So I also wonder how much this holds for working people. Because I also get the sense of an older city bequeathed many nice things by very wealthy people in the past. And of a long-depressed general economy. Am I close?

    Comment that signal timing is main operating obstacle through Downtown is spot on. At least goof signal priority would take most of the pain out of the usual ride.

    Also, and this is more of an instinctive call than a statistical one, but for a city center as nice as Portland, I’ll forgive street-level operating speed in return for being to get on a car every five minutes for a ride where I can look out the window and relax.

    It’s also good to be able to walk across the street two minutes after getting off the Cascadian and buy and all-day pass from a machine. Though I wouldn’t class as a citizen with any Honor at all if I paid two dollars instead of “adult” six. Would also work if I could put both MAX and Amtrak on my ORCA card.

    A couple of hours’ walk in each city really tells the grade separation story. The ridge needing the only tunnel is about twenty blocks from the river. Everything else is a billiard table in all directions. Seattle is a beach, a cliff, six blocks, a freeway counting as a canyon, and another cliff. Geology bats first in a long string of innings.

    So I think there’ll come a time when Portland will need to “underground” MAX through the city center, but please not all the trains. And Seattle really should expand its streetcar network- as well as creating a comfortable pedestrian scene to get off into.

    And incidentally, missing understanding about term “monorail.” Most of the world’s elevated rail runs on two steel tracks. Seattle’s monorail efforts really ran up against the Tea-Party-reality-level problem of insisting that putting rubber tires on one elevated rail rendered civil engineering obsolete. “Elevated” has worked just fine for Seattle.

    Dan Ackroyd was peacefully looking out the window at the ‘El when Carrie Fisher threw the detonator switch. Like rest of movie, both real Chicago: affection for the CTA at its worst, and inadvisability of insulting girls whose families use Romanian caterers, and whose fathers trade favors with guys with names like “Mad Pete Trullo.”

    Mark

    1. Any way STB can do a red pencil just like [OT]? The DSTT and LINK on MLK are now pretty close to perfecting “goof” signalling, so no more budget needed.

      MD

    2. Portland (and Tacoma and Spokane) preserved more of their prewar buildings and city blocks than Seattle did, especially the old brick buildings, so that’s what makes it feel more comfortable and pedestrian-friendy. The bicycle renaissance and food trucks flowed naturally from this, as did converting the riverfront freeway into a park. Portland was more people-focused in its planning, while Seattle was more chasing modernism and big money and high automobile thoroughput.

      1. Exactly. Nothing to do with magic streetcars.

        If streetcars *poof*ed (or in any way contributed directly to) inherently preferable pedestrian environments, then Mark would spend every day hanging out at the South 25th Street Jack In The Box in Tacoma. Somehow I doubt that he is.

      2. I think one big thing is that they put I-5 on the east side of the river, so we don’t get the freeway induced traffic and traffic backups directly into downtown the way Seattle does.

    3. Outer Portland is lower density than here though, and transit ridership per capita is lower than Seattle. One of the most striking things about the eastern suburbs is several wide streets going to Portland parallel to the freeway. It makes you wonder, “Do they really use all those lanes?” Our cities and suburbs are somewhat a mess, and buses are stuck in traffic with no alternative (yet), yet still our transit ridership per capita is among the highest in the country, below the Big Six of course.

    4. if I could put both MAX and Amtrak on my ORCA card

      How many people here would find this useful?

      The reason I ask is that it has been said that the technology used for ORCA is some sort of relatively open standard.

      MAX ticket machines are set up for eventual USA adaptation of contactless credit cards.

      I’m wondering how easy this would be to adapt this contactless credit card tap pad to also be able to accept an ORCA card electronic purse?

      1. I think it would be wonderful if these card systems started merging together. Go to a different city and not worry about picking up a new type of card. I think Amtrak would be nice, too, but less of a big deal. I’m sure there are other uses, but I think of Amtrak as a rare event, and one where I don’t mind arriving a bit early, talking to people at a counter, etc. But for a bus or other transit system, it would be really nice to just get on the system and not have to ask so many questions.

  10. OK, I feel really stupid for not thinking of this sooner, especially since I attended a little discussion group about the subject. One of the challenges with the Husky Stadium station is that buses get bogged down getting to it. Montlake Boulevard is often backed up quite a ways. But that got me thinking. Maybe the bus could use the UW parking lot. This would require cooperation with the UW, but there are plenty of buses that run through the UW. Buses could enter the area via either Mary Gates drive, if coming from Sand Point Way (http://goo.gl/maps/ToISY) or Walla Walla road, if coming along 25th (http://goo.gl/maps/PWJ57). In the case of 25th, you wouldn’t lose any stops. In the case of Sand Point Way, you would lose a couple stops. That could be avoided by turning left on Walla Walla road, but you would need to change the intersection to allow that (left turns aren’t allowed there) or have the bus to make three rights (http://goo.gl/maps/Tnysx). That doesn’t seem that difficult, but it would be a bit challenging (former bus drivers are encouraged to comment).

    Thoughts?

    1. OK, I just realized that buses don’t run down that part of Montlake Boulevard anymore (the 243 used to) so my suggestion isn’t that good. It would basically tradeoff campus service for a small savings in walking distance (from Stevens Way to the station). I doubt that is worth it. So, never mind.

    2. That is an idea, and I don’t know if it’s been sufficiently looked at. There are no buses on Montlake Blvd now because they were moved off it due to mega-congestion. But if there’s a path through the UW lands that bypasses the congestion, that may be worthwhile. However, going on Mary Gates Drive would bypass University Village, which is the highest ridership and turnover area.

    3. I can’t say for sure, but I would be very surprised if the roads east of the stadium, originally designed for parking lot access, are built to handle large buses pounding on them some 50 times a day, every day. I also don’t like the idea of missing the #75 stop by the U-Village. Also, even if those roads were somehow accessible by buses, that pathway would put the bus right in the path of all the cars going in and out of the parking lots. Before and after major events (especially after), traffic would be horrendous.

      While Montlake can occasionally be congested, it’s important to understand that the congestion is largely localized to specific times of day – usually, during the morning and evening rush hour. Even when Montlake is backed up, traffic is usually able to maintain a steady pace of at least 5-10 mph. Off-peak congestion on Montlake tends to happen only in special circumstances, such as a Husky football game or Montlake bridge opening.

      Also, Montlake pretty much only backs up in the southbound direction. Northbound, it’s almost always moving.

      No option is great, but I still think the least bad option is to just stick it out of Montlake and put plenty of recovery time into the schedule. On days when traffic is especially horrendous, the bus can simply do a reroute through campus, following the path of the existing route 25. Since there are no stops along Montlake, except for the station itself, no stops would be missed as a result of the occasional reroute.

      1. Montlake Boulevard backs up whenever there’s a bridge opening during moderately heavy traffic. On weekdays they don’t open the bridge during traffic peaks, but on weekends there can be pretty long backups caused by midday bridge openings, similar to backups heading south toward the Fremont bridge those times of day.

  11. I have an honest question. Does public transit in Seattle discriminate against wealthy people? When I think of the richest areas in Greater Seattle, places like Magnolia, Windermere, Laurelhurst, Broadview, Mercer Island, Medina, Somerset, Hilltop and Lakemont, there is very little to no transit service. But when I think of very poor neighborhoods, the public transit is excellent. I guess my question is, is it legal for Metro to deny bus service to an area just because a neighborhood is nice?

    1. 1) Why have wealthy people never noticed it then and demanded more transit?

      2) Magnolia, Laurelhurst, Mt Baker, and Madison Park do have transit. The level is the same as most of Seattle was in the 80s; it’s just that their service is unchanged while other areas got increased service.

      3) Transit and density are now linked. Magnolia and Madison Park asked to be excluded from the Ballard HCT and Madison BRT study areas, and from urban villages, with the understanding that they would therefore get no transit increases. Some things may eventually happen anyway, like Madison BRT to Madison Park or a downtown-Magnolia-Ballard route, but they can’t count on them/

      4) Somerset has at various times gotten more bus routes and they’ve been extremely low ridership. Also, much of the housing on the edges of Somerset and Newport Way only recently existed.

      5) As for Hilltop and Lakemont, I don’t even know where they are. The only Hilltop I know is in Tacoma, and it’s not rich.

    2. It takes more than one factor to create a pedestrian environment, d.p., but I’ve seen enough transit through heavy pedestrian areas to know that streetcars are far and away the mode most suited to them. They’re also the only transit vehicles that can push or pull a trailer full of bike-racks.

      Truth is, the only place I really hang out in Tacoma is the excellent art museum. Most frequent quick stop is the Anthem Cafe, arched into the Historical Museum, for my morning espresso between Intercity Transit 603 from Olympia and the streetcar ride up to catch the 8AM sounder. Buses work too- but longer walk than streetcar platform.

      Lunch or supper time, decision is easy: because I learned to eat Indian food in East Africa, the owner of the Little India Express at Freighthouse Square puts exactly the right ingredients and spices into my eggplant curry. See, it also helps to have attractive destinations to make a streetcar line go “poof”- though most of them just clang and make that electronic noise when they accelerate.

      Though maybe you’ve discovered best bell-tone for attracting passengers.

      And actually, there’s an important branch of medicine intensely interested in whether what they’re seeing in their electron microscopes are actually very small human beings. And how contagious they are. Be Hell to do a vaccine for an epidemic of that! Let alone finding protection that drug stores will sell!

      But considering the fact that legislatures are doing their best to reduce university research budgets to size we’re talking about, it’s good that the average store where these things are on sale probably charges a lot less than a billion dollars for them. Even with batteries included.

      Meantime, probably good idea to be careful about streetcars around art museums. Great Catalonian architect named Antonio Gaudi got run over by one. So you might use his death to panic art community to do away with these monsters. Seattle Art Museum already wiped out a nest of them back in 2005.

      Meantime, just listen for the bell, d.p. Think where the killed virus for a human being infection has to come from!

      Mark

    3. Lauralhurst actually has pretty good transit options for those willing to walk to Sand Point Way. Most points within Lauralhurst are also within two miles of virtually all points on the UW campus, plus the UW Link Station. One could probably commute to either of these two points by jogging in less time than waiting for a bus. And riding a bike would be faster still. Thanks to Children’s Hospital, Lauralhurst even has a Pronto station!

    4. Medina commuters have great transit service – the Evergreen Point Park and Ride is a walkable distance from much of the town or a quick ride in the car. Thanks to tolling on 520, we now have our own private bridge into Seattle during rush hour, making it a quick one seat ride on any number of buses into downtown (or the U District). You don’t even need a schedule, just hop on the first one that comes by or wait 10 minutes max for the 255 if you like riding in the tunnel.

      When ST decides to terminate all the buses at Montlake, then we Medina people can bitch about transit ;). Or when I-90 gets tolled and 520 turns back into a parking lot during the commute like it used to be! ;)

    5. Actually Sam, ST planning discriminates by pushing new rail lines into middle-class neighborhoods rather than add faster rail service to poorer ones. The CD was supposed to get a streetcar but the First Hill alignment killed that. Everyone pushes a Ballard and Queen Anne line even to the point of a tunnel, but no one dare mention a subway to 23rd and Jackson which could serve major hospitals and Seattle U. The West Seattle alignments serve Alaska Junction first, then it’s an afterthought to run down towards White Center. Many would rather push a crossing from Sand Point to Kirkland rather than run a line to Lake City. Many would rather serve Issaquah with a rail line than have one that goes to lower income areas in and near Renton. Many would rather see Link to Federal Way rather than Burien. Even with Central Link, the bulk of the riders are going to and from SE Seattle and that provides enough demand to let ST have a route all the way to the airport every 10 minutes; without those people, the line would probably be at 15 or 20 minutes.

      LA was doing much of the same thing in the 1990’s. Then along came a Title VI lawsuit pointing out that extensions were not serving poor areas, and bus service in poorer areas was terribly inadequate and slow and had loads of over 150 percent. Crenshaw was not a priority until after that lawsuit. The East LA line became a bigger priority after the lawsuit.

      I actually believe that if the environmental justice people start pushing the envelope and consider a Title VI lawsuit, the ST 3 discussion would likely fundamentally change.

      The whole subarea equity process has inherent biases to middle and higher income people. However, even within a subarea, there are rail construction advocates who want rail service to serve them to make their world some sort of urban utopia, and often there aren’t rail advocates who are looking out for those people who can’t afford to drive — and who frankly are an important market in in increasing ridership.

      1. I’ve never heard of a streetcar proposal in the CD. The First Hill Streetcar was a concession for dropping the First Hill Link station.

      2. http://www.seattlestreetcar.org/network.htm

        The May 2008 Seattle Streetcar network map clearly shows that the First Avenue line was originally envisioned to go to 23rd and Jackson as well as Belltown. Sound Transit 2 was approved in November 2008. Later Streetcar plans keep First Avenue but omit the Buellton or CD extensions.

      3. Brief mention of slow (and thus ultimately irrelevant) streetcars aside, Al hits it out of the park. A whole lot of bad comes from chasing symbolic “urban utopia” rail, rather than rail that would provide much-needed access where actual and long-desperate demand for urban utility exists.

        We’re following the malignant example of places such as Denver, where all the middle-class suburbanites brag like proud parents about their shiny new rail system, but few actually ride the thing.

        I guess some good has come from answering Sam’s trolling, this time.

  12. I think it’s interesting how blurred the lines are when it comes to defining Streetcars/Trams/Trolleys/Light Rail. The discussion above, really highlights how the same type of vehicle can be used in so many different configuration. It’s hard to compare LINK to MAX, because they were started at different times, under different conditions, and with different physical factors. Yes they are both “Light Rail”, but that term is used for a wide variety of systems. For example, Tacoma LINK uses the same vehicles as the Portland Streetcar, and MAX uses the same vehicles as the S Line in Salt Lake City. The S Line is called a Streetcar, but actually seems to run on it’s own RoW for most of it’s length. There’s also the diesel powered light rail systems. SPRINTER in San Diego, and the 28 mile River Line in New Jersey, that runs between Trenton and Camden (other side of the river from Philadelphia). Then there are the hybrid systems like the Muni in San Francisco, which is part Streetcar, part light rail, part subway.

    I think it’s clear that each system is (or was when first conceived) built to fit into the city that it was built in. As someone who lives in Portland, I love how MAX fits into the city and surrounding neighborhoods with relatively few large elevated sections, or deep trenches that impact the neighborhoods that it passes through. I think eventually there might be a need for a downtown tunnel in Portland, but not for a while yet.

    1. I think it would be great if STB did a piece about what constitutes light rail. Personally, I think the terms light and heavy rail are used to explain the different power sources, overhead catenary vs. third rail. The Chicago L is heavy rail but has sections that are street running with traditional rail road crossing arms at all street crossings, preserving the precedence over SOV’s.

  13. It takes more than one factor to create a pedestrian environment, d.p., but I’ve seen enough transit through heavy pedestrian areas to know that streetcars are far and away the mode most suited to them. They’re also the only transit vehicles that can push or pull a trailer full of bike-racks.

    Truth is, the only place I really hang out in Tacoma is the excellent art museum. Most frequent quick stop is the Anthem Cafe, arched into the Historical Museum, for my morning espresso between Intercity Transit 603 from Olympia and the streetcar ride up to catch the 8AM sounder. Buses work too- but longer walk than streetcar platform.

    Lunch or supper time, decision is easy: because I learned to eat Indian food in East Africa, the owner of the Little India Express at Freighthouse Square puts exactly the right ingredients and spices into my eggplant curry. See, it also helps to have attractive destinations to make a streetcar line go “poof”- though most of them just clang and make that electronic noise when they accelerate.

    Though maybe you’ve discovered best bell-tone for attracting passengers.

    And actually, there’s an important branch of medicine intensely interested in whether what they’re seeing in their electron microscopes are actually very small human beings. And how contagious they are. Be Hell to do a vaccine for an epidemic of that! Let alone finding protection that drug stores will sell!

    But considering the fact that legislatures are doing their best to reduce university research budgets to size we’re talking about, it’s good that the average store where these things are on sale probably charges a lot less than a billion dollars for them. Even with batteries included.

    Meantime, probably good idea to be careful about streetcars around art museums. Great Catalonian architect named Antonio Gaudi got run over by one. So you might use his death to panic art community to do away with these monsters. Seattle Art Museum already wiped out a nest of them back in 2005.

    Meantime, just listen for the bell, d.p. Think where the killed virus for a human being infection has to come from!

    Mark

    1. Gotta find another editor! Bet the last one came down with terminal human beings! Didn’t there used to be a message saying “you just posted that?” Especially a long message with a target that already gets ‘way too much attention. Sorry, guys. Not my day.

      Mark Dublin

  14. FWIW, Seattle shows up in the “big spenders” pie chart here.

    Probably not something to strive for just to get this recognition, but we should get some useful transportation out of it.

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