This is an open thread.

106 Replies to “News Roundup: Swallowing the Pill”

  1. Toyota and Hino to test hydrogen fuel cell buses on Toyko bus routes

    The hydrogen-based society is one step closer to reality. Toyota Motor Corp. and Hino Motors will begin testing buses powered with hydrogen fuel cells on Tokyo streets next week.
    “While public transport undoubtedly has considerable environmental benefits, most public transport networks run off public power grids or consist of gasoline or diesel burning vehicles,” Toyota said in a statement. “Shifting only a fraction of these networks over to zero-emission fuel cells could significantly reduce overall vehicle emissions.”

    Using a fuel cell developed by Toyota for use in its Mirai hydrogen cell sedan, which generates electricity from the chemical reaction between hydrogen stored in an onboard fuel cell and airborne oxygen, as well as a Hino hybrid bus, the two companies hope to make the dream of a hydrogen economy a reality.

      1. ¿ 1) Hydrogen is not an energy source ?

        Batteries are not an energy source.

        Hydrogen has one proton and one electron. If it is generated from methane (an energy source) then Hydrogen is also an energy source.

        If it is generated from water using catalytic methods (which can approach 100% efficiency) then, again, it is an energy source.

        If it is made by splitting water using electrolysis or light harvesting, especially using renewable energy like solar, then it is, again, a source of energy.

        ¿ 2) Electric Vehicles are at least three times more energy efficient than Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles ?

        FCEV are electric vehicles. The fuel cell produces electricity. The motor is electric. They even have a small battery for buffering.

        Compression of hydrogen? Uses a trivial amount of energy (like an air pump for your bike tires). Why do people keep bringing this up, I have no idea.

        ¿ 3) You need to build a multi-trillion dollar hydrogen delivery infrastructure ?

        It already exists. The US produces enough hydrogen to power tens of millions of vehicles. There is only the last mile issue of building pumps and that is happening.

        ¿ 4) Hydrogen is Not Clean ?

        “About 95% of hydrogen in the US is made from natural gas in large central plants, according to the Department of Energy. It’s a method called natural gas reforming.”

        Steam reforming is very efficient, and since it is centralized, the carbon by products can be captured…in fact, those can (and are) transformed into usable by-products (like carbonation for soda). However, in the city and suburbs, they emit zero pollutants.

        If the Hydrogen is generated using solar. Then it is a zero-carbon well to wheels cycle.

        ¿ 5) Hydrogen is not ‘Renewable’! ?

        “Hydrogen is classified as ‘renewable’ when it’s extracted from water by means of hydrolysis.”

        Sunlight + water = Hydrogen
        Hydrogen + Oxygen = Water

        100% clean cycle.

        ¿ 6) Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles can’t compete with Electric Vehicles ?

        Toyota, the progenitor of the most successful hybrid, the Prius, chose Hydrogen as its successor instead of Batteries. In fact, they cancelled their contract with Musk because they saw him as a dead end.

        Toyota is the largest automotive manufacturer in the world. And for good reason.

    1. I’ve forgotten how the hydrogen revolution is relevant to transit. If hydrogen cars go mainstream, then hydrogen buses and trains can too. It would be easier to convert a bus fleet than everybody’s cars because it’s a limited number of vehicles, a central fueling plant at the base, and bulk purchasing.

      If you’re intending for hydrogen cars to replace transit, that can only work in the outer suburbs, where a car for every person can fit on the roads simultaneously. It does not scale to hundreds of people going to one place simultaneously, as in busloads to downtown at rush hour, or in apartment neighborhoods. Even downtown Bellevue would not function without transit, as you see eight 550’s per hour filled to capacity and imagine how much space that many cars would take if the bus didn’t exist and most people didn’t carpool. (Average number of people per car: still around 1.2.)

      1. To be fair to John, there are many reasons to be pro-transit. Congestion relief, livability of streets, cost, etc. But, reduction of CO2 emissions is one of those. An H2 infrastructure and fuel cell cars would definitely reduce CO2, as long as they weren’t primarily derived from fossil sources. And H2 would serve as a useful mechanism of energy storage that would allow a transition of energy sources to non carbon.

        Batteries are doing a great job of catching up and providing reasonable storage, and I suspect they might be good enough before fuel cell costs are low enough.

        But, I can see the discussion as being somewhat relevant to transit. Certainly relevant enough for an open thread.

      2. I don’t object to discussing it; I’ve just forgotten what John’s goal is. To make buses use hydrogen? To replace transit with hydrogen cars? To replace all the cars with hydrogen cars? It’s the replacing cars part that seems irrelevant; the people he needs to convince are drivers. As for what we should do regarding transit, tell Metro to buy hydrogen buses? Get the county to contribute to hydrogen research? Just marvel at how wonderful hydrogen technology is?

      3. Right now, electric systems are dependent on wires. Batteries can only be used for very short hauls.

        That means your clean transit is limited by third rails and catenary.

        With hydrogen you get complete independence, just like with any onboard fuel.

        That means you can push clean bus transit further out before anything else is built.

        And China right now has implemented a hydrogen street car. Again, you don’t have install and maintain wires in this way.

        More over, you can also integrate automobiles, like Uber taxis and in the future, self-driving vehicles. It is an implementing technology.

      4. Yes, John’s goal is to replace transit with hydrogen cars. “They’re more flexible”. Now if Sound Transit would just stop egregiously and foolishly refusing to built that Link line up East Hill, “transit” would be worth saving.

      5. New Flyer battery-electric bus range: 120 miles. Fast charging available.

        Even if you’re pessimistic about the range due to cold weather, it’ll certainly go 90 miles before needing to be charged.

        It’s already being used in Winnipeg on a very conservative route: running 25 miles, charging for 10 minutes, repeat.

        There is no possible use for hydrogen which can’t be done better with batteries.

    2. Cool, but they’re not the first. AC Transit in California (Berkeley, etc) have been testing out a fleet of 12 hydrogen fuel cell powered Van Hool A300K’s since 2009 (I don’t know if they’re first, either). I got a chance to ride them a year ago and they’re smooth as butter. Hope we can start using hydrogen up here soon to replace our diesel fleet.

      There was one hiccup with the Van Hools though… The back door’s open/close status got mixed up so the bus wouldn’t drive even though the door was closed. We sat on the bus while the bus was restarted a couple times. Each restart was about a 3 minute process.

      1. Hydrogen buse should be called “hydrogen-electric” buses — the fuel cell is an electric generator, and the motors are electric. Basically all the nice features of smooth running are shared by battery-electric buses.

  2. In other news….

    Whidbey Daily News: Island Transit board to revive off-island routes Friday

    A last-minute addition to the state’s transportation funding has earmarked $2.3 million for the doomed routes, allowing Island Transit to continue them past their Aug. 3 cancellation date.
    . . .
    Almberg said he has scheduled a meeting 8 a.m. Aug. 27 with Bailey, Rep. Dave Hayes and representatives from Skagit Transit in order “to see if we can improve our connectivity.”

    “I am proud of the transit board for their lobbying efforts and specifically thankful to Senator Barbara Bailey for resurrecting this route from the ashes. She is the 411 hero,” Johnson said. “I would caution the community to remember that this is two-year funding, so although it is really positive news for the short term, we are still in search of a long-term solution.”

    Let’s find that long-term solution. Time to speak up and tell Skagit Transit you want them to service Deception Pass State Park so we don’t go through this process every two years.

    Joe also appreciates an open thread that isn’t back to back.

  3. For the most part, developers seem to have gotten better in the past year or so about erecting temporary sidewalks on the street out of barricades when they close a sidewalk to stage construction equipment.

    From the pictures, however, it appears that Sound Transit’s contractor hasn’t figured this out:

    Along an arterial link John, there is absolutely no excuse for not having a temporary sidewalk. The traffic lane is plenty wide enough to carve a sidewalk out of it without impeding traffic, and walking along the fence there without a barrier is not safe. The cost of putting a few barricades out on the street for a few weeks is negligible compared to the overall project.

    You would think that agencies like Sound Transit would take the lead on issues like this and require their contractors to better accommodate pedestrians when they close a sidewalk for weeks or months on end. Sadly, it appears as though they do not.

    1. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the contractor/developer pays an increased permit fee if they don’t provide alternate pedestrian access. At any rate, I wish pedestrian access was mandated absent a showing of good cause by the developer/contractor as to why it’s not possible (e.g. the 5th & Columbia development).

      1. Oof, that reminds me of my walk to the QA QFC for the past 6 months – 1 year. The sidewalks all along N 5th were blocked every other block on alternating signs so you’d have to cross the street 3 or 4 times just to get to the damn supermarket :(

      2. Yes. I thought more than once about moving out of East QA when the north sidewalk on Mercer was closed and the crosswalk at Taylor wasn’t open yet…

      3. @Zach L:

        I hear you – that used to be my QFC when I lived in Belltown. Gates Foundation construction was problematic back then. I also remember walking all the way to QFC one day, forgetting one of the marathons was going on, and not being able to cross Mercer to get to the store.

        That really made me want to move.

    2. I think we need to take the Manhattan approach and make developers close streets and sidewalks on their own time, mainly 10pm to 6am. It’s like freakin’ Mad Max out there during the day, including rush hour.

      If we can send a man to the moon, land on a comet and visit Pluto, then a developer can build a building without disrupting the flow of the city.

      1. Developers in Manhatten do, at times, close sidewalks during the day. Sometimes, it really is unavoidable, for instance, if they need to repave the sidewalk. The difference is that, over there, they will always cordon off section of the street with a barrier to create a temporary sidewalk. Even if the temporary sidewalk means loss of street parking or a travel lane, they do it anyway. Because, without sidewalk, the city is just not functional.

      2. But that doesn’t happen often here. Look at the two blocks for Amazon Towers. Of the eight sides, there’s like two (maybe?) pedestrian tunnels. Construction should be required to keep a sidewalk open, provide a pedestrian tunnel or protected bypass or they can find some other way to build a building.

        The ONE legitimate excuse for closing off a sidewalk completely is what you mentioned: repaving the sidewalk.

  4. Can somebody, especially from Metro, tell me why Metro drivers should be forbidden to use body-cams, so long as they don’t interfere with attention to driving?

    For true self-defense against abuse from either side of the law, these devices should work a lot better than firearms. Without the chance of killing bystanders by mistake, or having you expensive handgun stolen out of your lawful holster by five junior high school kids.

    In this case, a camera enabled a law-abiding citizen to legitimately and credibly report behavior that the officers’ own superiors needed to know about.

    Metro buses are equipped with cameras that can report violations by both passengers than drivers. What’s the problem with drivers, and every single passenger aboard, being able to do the same?

    Though bet cat videos will still kick glasses-pics to the YouTube curb every time.

    Mark Dublin

    1. ‘Resistance to Change’ is the strong force here.
      I suspect managers don’t want to deal with invasion of privacy issues stemming from drivers wearing body cameras. Wearing the camera on your glasses could be perceived as a safety issue until most of the population has taken combat flight training and are used to heads up displays.

      1. Good points, Mic. Like any other distractions, especially, and much worse, cell phones, and texting, though this seems more a problem with locomotive engineers, should stay against rules.

        With camera use more or less confined to discussions with key law enforcement personnel about transit related response time.

        And FCC pro-decency understanding that terms like SNAFU were invented for critical combat situations, and can still save lives. FUBAR too, though this usually applies to long standing policies.

        However, fighter plane-type “heads up” technology is critical for info for real time reading of speedometers which most manufacturers place under the dashboard under the steering wheel.

        Could also help to identify which zone occupants want to board any particular bus, though this is usually closely held secret.


      2. I’m waiting for metro to issue night vision goggles in response to a driver missing something on the Owl Runs.

      3. I would think that drivers should be able to utilize their constitutionally protected right to videotape cops just like the public, particularly since many cops nowadays believe they can get away with lying about their actions and having their story trusted more than the civilian’s-in many cases, those of people of color. However, management should be able to discipline drivers who take video of civilians and display it on youtube or some other social network site w/o their permission.

    2. Afraid allowing them would give drivers who get caught using their cell phones an out, e.g., “I wasn’t texting, I was adjusting the volume on my cell’s video camera.

  5. I wouldn’t see hugely improved Waterfront transportation as an either-or choice. Whenever, or if never, the Deep Bore Tunnel gets finished, the present miserable approach to public transit has go.

    Mark Dublin

  6. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard that there’s a “massive transit plan” backup if the Viaduct becomes unusable and the tunnel isn’t ready. But they’ve never said how massive it would be or what it would entail. And it raises the question of, if they can do a massive increase in bus service, why don’t they just do it now? We need comprehensive transit.

    1. Considering Metro can’t hire and retain enough drivers to provide current service, I’m not sure how they are going to handle Prop 1.

      Has anyone with actual service planning knowledge dug into the logistics of this ‘massive transit plan’?

      1. The only massive thing about it would be a short term surge in buses and drivers kept on the road beyond regular service and the re-deployment of routes unable to navigate their current route.
        Metro is limited to spare ratios of drivers and buses. Paying overtime and keeping buses on the road is strictly a short time phenomenon – Both wear out quickly.
        That’s the Plan, short of buying Bolt Bus and Greyhound.

      2. It implies a massive amount of money to Metro, which could hire drivers with a couple months’ lead time, or could perhaps hire a few drives a week to get some increase out the door faster. But buses would be a problem because all of them are in use rush hour, and that’s precisely the time when the increase is most needed. So “keeping buses on the road longer” would only help the peripheral shoulder time, and “re-deployment of routes” sounds like simple reroutes, but that won’t create capacity for the people currently in cars who are intended to be on the buses.

      3. It isn’t that Metro can’t hire drivers fast enough to maintain Prop 1 service. It’s that Metro went for a long period letting attrition draw the force down to the number of drivers needed after the November 2014 cuts, and bet against Prop 1 passing. Prop 1 passed, and the City asked for more service faster than Metro was set up to hire and train for, so drivers got a little overtime, and even part-timers got to partake of some extra hours. From what I hear, Metro hadn’t caught up with the optimal staffing level until sometime after the June 2015 service change.

        Metro could handle the back-up plan if the viaduct were scheduled to close, and the announcement was made sufficiently in advance. Having the viaduct suddenly taken out of service would definitely test Metro’s fleet and force.

        Given that when the tunnel opens and the viaduct closes, the volume of traffic that can be handled will suddenly go down, I’d start phasing into the supposed back-up plan anyway. If the buses got ROW priority over SOVs and enough buses were provided, they would be full tomorrow. Even without the ROW, the C, D, and E lines, and the 120 have insatiable demand that seems to appear as quickly as extra buses do.

      4. I would hope that SDOT (at least) has at least the outlines of a real plan. As noted above, given a flash flood of additional funding (presumably from WSDOT?) not only would Metro presumably need to hire and train people as well as scrounge buses from somewhere (vehicles being retired/surplused by some other transit system?), but someone(s) would need to seriously think about how to get all of those buses into/out of/through greater downtown Seattle at the rush hours without massive delays. Things like traffic signal coordination, parking removal / bus lane expansion, bus stop re-assignments and/or possible routing changes, more efficient handling of delays due to wheelchair loading and offloading, answering questions from bus newbies without holding a bus in a zone for 90 seconds, discouraging or better handling of cash fumblers, etc.

      5. Er, I was talking about AWV replacement, not Prop 1. Prop 1 is presumably a smaller increase with more lead time. I don’t know how Metro is handling the buses for it, but at least a third or half of Prop 1 is off-peak runs when spare buses are available. The other half is “reliability improvements”, which basically means more buses for the same scheduled runs, so some (most?) of that will be peak hours.

      6. I would assume the ‘Plan’ also includes a lot of real time management of resources by both Metro Control Center and 911 Dispatch, such as making 3rd Ave bus only full time, and maybe 2nd & 4th bus only lanes during the peak. Heavy loads along some corridors may have to sacrifice some tails to redeploy buses and perhaps a relaxation of being qualified on the route.
        In an emergency, most anything goes.

      7. I would assume bus lanes to be key here, if for nothing more than enabling Metro to do more with their existing drivers and buses by not having them stuck in traffic Making the buses more productive. It boggles my mind how much time is lost with a 80-100 person bus stuck in SOV traffic and waiting at lights.

  7. An update from a question I asked a few weeks ago (and a golf clap for Metro): the 15x in the 7:35 route (at Ballard and Market) has switched to the accordian-esque double bus after running a short bus that was standing room only.

    1. All AM peak trips on the 15x were already designated as 60ft equipment. If a 40ftr was showing up, it was because that what was available.

  8. Kent now wants the I-5 alternative? I thought Kent wanted 99, and Federal Way and Des Moines wanted I-5.

    1. The 99 alternative is all but useless to Kent? I-5 is at least a little closer to them. Why would Kent want that?

      1. Riding a bus from anywhere in Kent to the middle of the freeway or riding it down the hill to 99 makes almost no difference, except there is actually the possibility to access services and businesses on 99.

      2. They want 5 and not 99 because they’d rather have a borderline useless route in 20 years than an extremely useful route in 22 years.

      3. Because Kent owns the east side of SR99 down to 260th and even protrudes onto the west side for a few blocks at a few places along the roadway. In other words, Kent has valuable real estate that might have been used for dense development with an addtional Link station say at 250th and SR 99. But that won’t happen now.

      4. It can still happen if Kent zones for it. RapidRide is still there, the college is nearby, the population is increasing, and people want walkable choices without having to leave south King County.

  9. I hope the viaduct does end up being condemned before the tunnel is anywhere near complete, and the successful execution of the contingency plan shows Seattle that it can in fact live with one less freeway.

    1. … and we’ll be able to connect the street network across Aurora, which otherwise will probably be pushed back to the 2019-2020 timeframe at earliest.

      Fuck the fucking tunnel and every fucker that pushed it through.

  10. I wish that John Talton, whom I respect, had added a cautionary paragraph on another “mobility” problem:

    The fact that as the term used to be understood in this country, the chance of most people’s ability to change their social condition any direction but downward has come to an end.

    It’s not so much that the cost of living and working in our rejuvenating cities is so high. It’s that for the exact years that re-urbanization has gained steam, the average person’s wages have left most people’s wages far below the ability to either live, work, or eat dinner.

    In Europe the cities have always been what our suburbs have been for recent decades: communities “gated” by income, in addition to race and ethnicity.

    Our own attempts at equality right now look threadbare and hypocritical. Europe forthrightly never had them. There, it’s natural for residence in the suburbs, whatever each country calls them, to carry same resonance there as “ghetto” does here: a serious downside to any transit line between the two worlds.

    Probably chief cause for current worrisome Middle Eastern travel and career plans for young Europeans tired of life in the suburbs.

    So moving the “Keep Out” signs to the other side of the fence improves nothing. And in our case, brings to our cities the exact conformity of lifestyle and attitude that some really great sit-coms used to make fun of.

    And in classic Continental style, no pretense of anybody ill-paid having any reason to be there at all.

    One really good thing, though: the brave and creative young people who used to run away to Seattle will now flee to places like Bellevue, Medina, Kirkland and Lynnwood. Giving these places their first chance in decades of being what Seattle, San Francisco used to.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Except that even European suburban ghettos have better transit than Seattle’s most urban neighborhoods, so they can get to the city center and anywhere in the region whenever they want to. The problem is that they don’t want to because the rest of the city doesn’t want them around, to the extent that that occurs.

      1. … which proves that mass transit by itself is often irrelevant to the problem, as Mark is pointing out. People in Seattle can get around, too; it sometimes takes a while, but we can. Transportation difficulties can pose a challenge to social mobility, but the barriers are social and economic as well as physical.

      2. The comparison is with suburbs like Renton and Bellevue, where transit is less than in Seattle. Yes, you “can” get somewhere on transit from an arbitrary location in Totem Lake or Juanita, but it often involves walking half an hour, across a freeway cloverleaf, to a half-hourly or hourly bus, during the limited span that it runs. Lower-cost areas like Renton and Burien and Kent are just as inconvenient. Having good transit in an area to give people more convenient choices is a good thing in itself. So the Paris ghettoites are better off. That doesn’t solve their social problems but it eliminates one set of practical-logistical problems.

    2. The movie “La Haïne” for instance. Three teenagers from an immigrant banlieu go to central Paris to shoot a cop. The banlieu appears to be on the metro, because they have no difficulty getting to a station.

  11. Yes, take Link along I-5, because what we need is a slower, $3 billion version of the 577.

    1. Federal Way’s top priority is lowest construction cost, in the belief that that will get it to FW the soonest and most certainly. Keeping its part of 99 low density and car-oriented seems to be secondary priority. As to whether Tacoma cares about I-5 vs 99, I have no idea. They just want a train, and businesses coming to Tacoma, and shoppers coming to Tacoma. However, I recall that the construction-cost difference for I-5 vs 99 was very small.

      1. I’m actually really excited about this, because I can finally take light rail to I-5 every day and count cars.

      2. This thing, since it has to exist, should have been built out from Tacoma instead of continuing south in a meandering fashion past Angle Lake. It serves commuters to Seattle no purpose as, as Alex mentions, the 577 is considerably faster. If it were built out from Tacoma it would at least serve the purpose of making it easier to commute there for people living in Federal Way and SW King County, and it would gain more support from Pierce County if only because that line is centered on Tacoma. If the lines ever met up someday fine (not really, but politics and stuff), but I’m not sure they would ever need to. The people missing out would be Tacomans going to the airport, and that’s about it. Buses would serve everyone else better–especially if further improvements are made at the entrance to DT Seattle. (A maintenance base down in Fife or so would be cheaper than building the entire line, assuming one isn’t planned for the extension anyway.)

      3. Scott, sounds like you’d like to extend Tacoma Link. It probably would have completely adequate capacity.

      4. Anandakos, can’t argue one way or the other on that one (capacity-wise I think you’re right); I was thinking more along the line that if we have to build this thing (south Link) we should have started from Tacoma and built outward, perhaps to meet someday if the entire line becomes somehow useful at the price, or not if Tacoma can be served adequately without it.

  12. BTW, were they any specific questions for the city council candidates on ST3 (especially for Districts 1, 4,5) on where they wanted the Seattle projects to be

  13. ST3 survey results are in. 25k surveys filed, grade separated were exclusively preferred. Top NKC projects were 1) WS 2) Ballard 3) New LR DT tunnel 4) Ballard-UW

    Huge coup for the WS ppl, who want light rail even more than they want to prevent upzoning!

      1. Careful man! When I said a bad word about West Seattleites, I got doxxed pretty hard!

        But yes, we need towers around new LR stations, not just 5 story nothings.

      2. I’ve got no problem with West Seattle or those who live there. In fact, I’m concerned for them, that when the numbers shake out, they will not get rail, due to low ridership projections. It seems it would behoove them to say “OK, if you promise rail, we’ll allow X number of new units and upzoning.” Just seems like a natural compromise so everyone wins.

      3. It’s not just the cost of rail and the upzones. It’s the fact that open BRT would serve more parts of West Seattle better than one train line would. In central and north Seattle you have concentrated high density around Broadway and UW/University Way, and to a lesser extent Ballard and the 45th corridor. So the high-density areas uniquely need rail, and we’re arguing that 45th would especially benefit from it too. West Seattle has several places that are more uniform density and not in a line. The difference between the highest-density places (the Junction and Westwood Village) and the other places (Admiral, Delridge, Alki, 35th) is not as much. So better transit should ideally serve all of them, not give one corridor super-wonderful transit and leave scraps for the others. Open BRT — with proper signal priority and reserved lanes — would fan out from the bridge to the four corridors (Fauntleroy, Delridge, 35th, Admiral/Alki), giving all of them the transit they should have, rather than just putting one rail line to either the Junction or Delridge and leaving everyone else to take feeders. Again, feeders would make sense if there were one obvious corridor that’s significantly denser than the others, but in West Seattle the only way to choose a single corridor is by political privilege, meaning the Junction/Fauntleroy.

      4. Congrats to West Seattle “neighborhood activists” for being supremely well organized in their pursuit of jumping to the front of the line and spending oodles of everyone else’s money.

        Congrats also to ST leaders for carefully designing a survey that pitted 3+ permutations of NW mobility plans against a single, top-listed SW possibility, and then declared the latter a “winner” by plurality rulers.

        I cannot wait to vote against the turd that is being methodically assembled here.

      5. Well said, Mike. Be careful what you ask for, West Seattle. You might get it, instead of something a lot more useful.

      6. Would upzong help that much? This isn’t Ballard or the U District or one of the other places with corporate offices. It could attract some along the beach where all the new apartments are now, but that’s nowhere near where any sort of high capacity line is going. Not to mention, I just don’t see that type of rezoning happening.

      7. I think you would have to have major upzoning to make West Seattle rail make sense. Basically, you would have to make it look like downtown Bellevue. I’m talking large office buildings, so that West Seattle is a major destination, not just a place to live. Don’t get me wrong — I like the area — it is charming and I visit there quite a bit. But it isn’t South Lake Union, or downtown Bellevue or even Fremont in terms of employment.

        The cost and lack of stations between West Seattle and SoDo make it very problematic for light rail. The best value for light rail by far is Delridge, yet when I hear people pushing for light rail, they seem to want to include the junction. If “downtown West Seattle” (what is now the area around the junction) were to grow to the size of downtown Bellevue, then I could see light rail working. Buses would funnel people there, and half the people would simply get off the bus and walk to their destination. But as it stands now, almost all of the bus riders would just walk to the train station — which is silly, because for less money, they could just ride directly to downtown (and save a lot of time).

        So unless West Seattle gets very ambitious — and is successful with their ambitions — I just don’t see light rail making sense for the peninsula.

      1. Ballard-UW was second overall for “Central Corridor” projects, but third overall among “Central Corridor” respondents. Interesting that the ‘burbs understand the value of east-west transit better than the people clawing their way along 45th.

    1. This is terrible news: since the Sound Transit Board distributed this “survey” it can’t very well now say “Thanks for all your interesting but uninformed feedback, but we’re going to ignore you and do the right thing for the Region” can they?

      And look how Seattle is maneuvering to get “transit” funds to build them a shiny, huge — doubtless it’ll be four lanes in each direction — bridge for general traffic. Well played “Transit Murray!”

      What a fustercluck. I feel sorry for Puget Sound.

      1. Light rail on I5 is just repeating the same penny-pinching mistakes made by Denver, Portland and others. LRT in the middle of an interstate median does nothing to improve land use. There is absolutely zero advantage to I5 over 99 except a minor cost savings at the expense of actual improvements to the region’s urban environment.

      2. The advantage is it’s a good place to:

        1) Put in cheap parking
        2) Interface with cars
        3) Interface with regional buses

        No, it’s not the train running through high density clusters that the urbanists among you enjoy — but it does map more closely to the real world uses and desires of suburbanites for regional rail transportation.

      3. Hopefully saner heads prevail and Lynnwood to Everett goes on the SR99 alignment. While the Paine Field alignment has many problems it is preferable to the I-5 alignment from a TOD perspective.

      4. I would also point out that in Portland, only one freeway station lacks intersecting bus routes. Many of those are quite busy routes.

        The transfer environment at Federal Way seems vastly different to me.

      5. The 1968 plan specifically spoke out against freeway running, but then again we are not as smart as we were back then (plus those were silly “consultants” and “experts” and not Aunt Mabel’s community council and Mayors Quimby and McCheese). Even back then they spoke of BART’s stations and the fact that even people intending to take the train would just stay on or get on the freeway if they felt that traffic really wasn’t all that bad.

        Intercepting buses at freeway stations is fine IF the train has a time savings over the bus it is replacing. This line does not. There is also no inherent reason buses can’t be intercepted at non-freeway stations either, particularly the more useful lines perpendicular to the rail line (feeder routes).

      6. “but it does map more closely to the real world uses and hypothetical desires of suburbanites for regional rail transportation that they will not use except to attend football games six times a year.

        There, fixed.

    1. “City officials from Kent, Des Moines, SeaTac and Federal Way already had agreed that I-5 would be the preferred route for the more than $1 billion project. That consensus by the cities impressed the Sound Transit board”


      Why did Kent change its mind?

      Is this going to be the M shape that goes out to I-5, back to Pac Hwy & 240th, out to I-5 again, and past a but east of the FWTC?

      Why were we building south Link again? … Just to get enough money for Ballard?

      Why does Federal Way want a train that’s significantly slower than the 577? Does it really want it, or is it one of those cases where it just thinks it wants it?

    2. My mouth is about ready to make a longshoreman blush. Seriously, why are we doing this again?

      This just seems like ST wants to more appease politicians that provide transit that prioritizes long term ridership, redevelopment of commercial corridors with adding housing stock to the region without sprawling out. My only bet is political path of least resistance. We are building transit yet at the same time having to go where politicians want it to go which does not bode well for long term ridership.

      Yet somehow, the default option is to build park & rides. I am not sure what it is with the Mayors of these cities but I do not see the benefit of I-5. There is no time advantage, ridership is the same, only cost.

      I am not sure the NPR piece two days ago made a point with a restaurant next to light rail in Rainier Valley but has not had enough customers coming in to break even let alone make money. I do think there is some legitimate concern for making sure small business is sustainable next to these transit hubs.

      Next, why are we wanting a moving bridge for everything in Ballard? Do people not realize that takes away redundancy in the name of cost cutting? If the whole bridge fails, no one gets across!

    3. I want to know what’s going to happen to the $300-350 million ST saves. Would it go into Sounder? How many Sounder runs could it buy? What about east-west transit so that people can get to the Link stations? ST could buy RapidRide buses for Metro to run on KDM/KK Road and 320th. Or that all-day express from Kent to downtown that has been the biggest hole in the south county’s network. Or if ST just lowers ST3’s total cost by $350 million, what’s the chance that the money would be used for transit in some other measure, rather than for a non-transit project or nothing?

      1. Three runs, Mike; three runs per day, five days a week.

        And of course, that really only “buys” the time slots. It doesn’t pay to run the trains or to purchase them. Just to get BNSF dispatchers to notice the light on their CTC display…..

        And of course, that’s only if Matt Rose and Warren Buffet decide that they have “enough room” on their busy coal-and-oil-hauling railroad to accommodate the new Sounder runs.

  14. Interesting article about segregation and zoning in Seattle:

    The article makes sense to me. Seattle’s history is a lot more complicated than the quote from the report suggested. I have never met Alan Durning, but I think I met his brother, and I’m pretty sure he grew up in the greater Central Area (which includes Capitol Hill). This means he may have seen a lot of redlining, and wrote what turned out to be (in my opinion) a pretty sloppy sentence. Not only is it on questionable grounds from a factual basis, but it takes away from the bulk of the report. Any son of a politician should no better.

    I really like his work, though. It is just disappointing to see a dust up about a line or two that really wasn’t essential to the report.

  15. Insert here a generic rant against the idiots in Oregon City that have clogged the only access to their Amtrak Cascades station with parking for the summer concert series in the lawn across the street.

    Thank you, Oregon City, for making already bad conditions worse by making it impossible for the evening thruway buses to actually get to the station thanks to the double parked vehicles, and huge Clackistan style pickup trucks with mirrors sticking into the bus turn around.

    Combine that with the terrible 15 minute walking route to get to the station from the nearest bus route that actually goes somewhere, topped off with a busy four way stop where nobody actually stops for pedestrian traffic, Oregon City has truly set the bar extremely high for transit hostile access to a train station that was so hard fought to obtain.

  16. Most interesting thing from the local jurisdictions comments on ST3 has to be that Seattle wants ST to study a multimodal bridge to replace the Ballard bridge. Fewer bridge openings for drivers and wider sidewalks/paths would improve things for everyone in that corridor.

    1. Other takeaways:

      Every eastside jurisdiction is on board with Totem Lake – Issaquah after Redmond Link. I thought there’d be more concern trolling about “impacts” on the ERC, but there seems to be a consensus for it. Kirkland also seems serious about a gondola?

      The north country cities really hate the STB suggestion of SR522 transit going down 130th. 145th or bust. Shoreline is promising transit improvements on 145th though.

      SR99 is DOA in Everett with the promise of a fight from the city if it’s picked. Paine field is the consensus in SnoCo.

      1. Wow. Thanks for the update, Ron.

        I never thought I’d say this but as it’s being presented there is no way in hell I will vote for this…and I sure as hell don’t want Seattle spending a damn dime on 145th so that a major city neighborhood is completely bypassed by service to the region’s HCT (a neighborhood that has historically voted for transit in much larger numbers than those suburbs making this call).

      2. It’s starting to look like I’ll vote against this, too.

        If we get an expensive West Seattle line that makes most trips slower than buses, a 522 line that bypasses Lake City, a South King line that’s slower than buses and serves no one except freeway medians, and one of the Issaquah lines that Sound Transit studied that both skips a lot of useful stations and is slower than buses… what’s left to vote for?

  17. If those transit cops can be fired for lying on their report about the bus driver, then if bus drivers lie on their reports to Metro, they should be fired, too, correct? “The passenger swore at me!” If the video shows the passenger didn’t swear at the driver, should the bus driver be fired?

    1. The difference Sam is the Metro driver (we’ll call him Strawman) isn’t going to be successful in getting the passenger fired. That cop was messing with a man’s career.

  18. for the central core consists of several neighborhoods and pays for the rest”–John Talton

    This, this, this, and this!. The ring around downtown Seattle is already part of “the central core” as he asserts and is increasingly coming to resemble the traditional CBD core along the axes defined by the DSTT. The near periphery needs the same transportation amenities as does the traditional CBD, most assuredly including “grade separated transit”.

    Sound Transit, by obsessing on a charter to built Light Rail Lines laid down a dozen years ago is missing important opportunities to increase mobility in the inner ring. Yes, the traditional CBD needs more capacity north-south by 2025; but that can be provided by a bus-version of the WSTT with good portals which would advantage the trips of far more people. Yes, Ballard and West Seattle need ways around the “portal” chokepoints of their namesake bridges. But West Seattle certainly doesn’t need more capacity between its bridge and downtown, and Ballard can get by for a while with no additional capacity between its bridge and the west edge of Lower Queen Anne.

    So, Sound Transit, Seattle DOT, get your heads together on ways to make BRT to both Ballard and West Seattle work well and let the big money be spent on east-west improvements which will tie the city together. ST can build rail-convertible bridges to both West Seattle and Ballard while Seattle makes the tough political decisions to give red lanes on 15th West, Elliott around the curve and down to the WSTT portal, through the West Seattle Triangle, and down Delridge. Also, make Aurora’s full time within the city, at least, south of the wishbone at the north end of the Aurora Bridge. These things can be done relatively quickly and increase mobility in the two pocketed neighborhoods dramatically.

    In all honesty, I think that the WSTT and red lanes on Aurora will make Ballard-UW less compelling. Yes, the 44 needs replacement with grade separated transit in order to serve U District trips from North Seattle. But with red lanes on Aurora and the WSTT, people coming from north of 45th/46th won’t be tempted by the three-seat subway trip, except maybe those riding the newly slowed 16. (I’m not ragging on the excellent idea of the “16 arc”; just facing the reality that going through Fremont is going to make its time from 45th and Wallingford to downtown much longer).

    So, even though engineering work has not even been started, in all honesty I’d focus on the Metro 8 between the WSTT Lower Queen Anne station and Capitol Hill Station first, then if the U District really is allowed to grow into a version of downtown Bellevue — it’s not a done deal — build Ballard-UW, but as we all agree with three more closely spaced but spartan stations. Be sure that the Metro 8 is built with a stub already in place to push it further through eastern First Hill or the CD as development trends there guide it.

    Eventually Ballard and/or West Seattle may grow densely enough to require the operational efficiency of rail transit, but it’s hard to believe either does at this time, and as Ross states over and over, both neighborhoods’ moderate but widespread density matches Open BRT better than a single rail line does anyway.

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