zach shanerHaving successfully met our fundraising goal last month, we’re thrilled to announce that Zach Shaner, who has been volunteering for us on-and-off for the last few years, will be our first staff reporter!

Zach has lived in Seattle since 2009 and has been writing for the blog off-and-on since 2010. In addition to volunteering with STB, Zach has worked at Pierce Transit, the City of Tukwila, and Commute Seattle, and he also recently co-founded a bike rental delivery service. Zach recently served on the ULink Sounding Board, and will soon serve on the first iteration of the Seattle Transit Advisory Board. Due to his busy work schedule, we’ve only been able to get a taste of Zach’s writing, and it’s left us hungry for more (the preceding food analogy is in honor of one of my all-time favorite Zach posts, How to Cook a Train).

We couldn’t be happier to find someone who can hit the ground running. Expect to see a lot more news and analysis in the coming months as Zach gets ramped up. Between the elections, Move Seattle, Sound Transit’s System Plan, ST3, Metro’s Long Range Plan, and U-link opening, there will be plenty to talk about. If you have news tips, story ideas, or well-informed gossip, please send it Zach’s way.

And rest assured that our existing volunteer staff isn’t going way. Zach is going to supplement, not replace, the opinion and analysis you already get from STB.

Thanks again to all of you who gave during the fundraising drive.  We’ll keep the link up on the right-hand side for a little while longer if anyone still has a deep desire to give.

23 Replies to “Welcome Our New Reporter: Zach Shaner”

  1. Hey, Zach. Congratulations. And to STB for the re-incarnation of Karl Kolchak, the classic reporter-type guy who found the mad Civil War doctor living in the Pioneer Square underground, and waking up every ten years or so to get more blood!

    Will have to be a prize-winning series, because all the espresso in everybody’s blood now will make it impossible for him to sleep more than two months at a time.

    Martin, if Zach tells you there’s a mummy running around between Husky Stadium and Westlake, it’s doubtless a straight story, no matter how much Sound Transit tries to cover it up.

    And Zach, please try to resist the temptation to run around with your tie coming loose, smoke a lot, yell into the phone all the time, and get a Remington typewriter the size of a New England clothing mill.

    You could have some serious competition in the restaurant world, though, if an establishment on the Number 13 line just north of Boston is still there. Though flame broiled wolf is probably a different clientele than pan-fried Kinki-Sharyo.

    But could be harder to change into your flight suit now that the closest telephone booth is in the Trieste Cafe in North Beach in North Beach. Reachable by the 41 Union and the 30 Stockton. Though the 24 Divisadero needs some feature-length coverage for those of us that think we can drive a trolleybus.

    Ability to make your readers look a harsh truth in the eye is the hallmark of the next Clark Kent. Wonder if Superman could handle all the late nights and a 1948 Remington. And not get battered into becoming DSTT investigator Casey Corr!


    1. “if Zach tells you there’s a mummy running around between Husky Stadium and Westlake…”

      … it means that Boneshaker was true. Which means we need some investigative reporting into what happened to the blight gas.

      Welcome, Zach. So that’s what mic meant by your “new role”.

      1. If all the ladies must dress in steampunk uniforms like Briar, then this is a good thing for Seattle.

    2. OMG, I didn’t realize it. Giant drilling machine under downtown… could it be… Bertha? Was the Boneshaker the Bertha of 125 years ago? Does Bertha not only portend delays and sinking buildings but also a new drug and zombies and a wall around downtown?

  2. Congrats Zach! Look forward to working with you on STAB (I couldn’t be at the confirmation hearing or I would have introduced myself).

  3. I look forward to his scathing STB Exposé:

    Hydrogen: The Clean Fuel…and Seattle’s Attempt to Suppress It

    Welcome, Aboard!

      1. I think one theory is that a the flammable rain proof cloth stretched around the outside of the dirigible had two pieces negligently sewn together creating a gap.

        Thunderstorm weather created conditions for static electricity to arc across the opening, setting the cloth on fire. Which then ignited the hydrogen.

        The captain managed to keep the ship level until it got within survivable jumping distance of the ground. More people aboard survived than were killed.

        German airmen had been flying the Zeppelins since regular passenger service in 1910. But they gained their superb proficiency in World War I, where their altitude advantage let them bomb England with impunity until fighter plane engines got supercharged.

        From my readings, the crews viewed their hydrogen pretty much like airliner pilots look at jet fuel. The Graf Zeppelin, built before the Hindenburg and named for the company founder, survived to be dismantled.

        Helium would have been much safer, but in addition to being in hostile hands, and expensive to make, also didn’t have the “lift” of hydrogen.

        But main fact about airships ignored by steam punks is that the biggest airship couldn’t lift as much freight as a truck, or as many passengers as a bus.

        No matter how many zombies a goggled pilot could handle, nobody could fill a Baldwin locomotive with hydrogen and fly it.

        Also: bus crashes have been known to kill many more passengers than the end of the Hindenburg. The two real reasons for switch to airplanes was both greater load capacity, and ability to handle weather.

        But- pray that most horrible thing Zach has to report live is a Busway filibuster. Oh God, the INhumanity!


      2. Well your fantasy is your own.

        However, here is a more likely scenario.

        For burning to occur, you need the fuel and oxygen to mix.

        You can’t simply “light” hydrogen — which was stored in multiple gas sacs within the covering (oh, you thought it was just one big balloon…no, no, no).

        So let’s trace this down. The Hindenburg had a large trailing antenna sticking out the back. Many witnesses said the lightning struck this. But electricity has to follow the path, and that antenna lead to…the radio room. Now, how do you power a radio in a 1930s blimp? Well, you have to use generators, but those only work when the propellers are turning. You also have batteries. Batteries, are highly explosive and flammable. (On YouTube a fire officer talks about how he burned his own house to the ground by improperly storing a 9v battery!)

        So, lightening hits antenna. Goes to electrical system, explodes battery either in radio room or engine room. Yet, what causes the fire to expand. Two things. The large diesel engines were full of fumes and unburned oil everywhere. And the covering was made of very flammable cloth covered in even more flammable paint!

        And so you say, but, but, but didn’t the hydrogen “Explode”?

        Nope. Hydrogen is lighter than air. I goes upward. As soon as any rupture occurred in the air sacs it would flow up. Now what if it had ignited. Good question. What happens when H2 burns is H2 + 2 O2 = 2 H2O.

        That’s right…Hydrogen turns into water. In other words, a Hydrogen “fire” is self-extinguishing. What you see with all the “smoke” coming up from the zeppelin is actually a giant cloud of moisture, which helped no doubt to mediate the battery-diesel fuel fire. The great whoosh was from the expansion of the gas into a giant cloud of water vapor.

        Then you could look at lives lost. Now what would happen if a jetliner coming in for a landing at 200 ft suddenly caught flames and had one of its wings explode. Yep. No hope for survivors. Yet over a hundred people were able to ride the craft down and jump or run.

        And the final nail your sick anti-hydrogen scenario– the metal frame work. Once the skin had burned off, you can see the entire steel skeleton charred but intact! If the hydrogen had “exploded” as you impugn, it would have been inside the steel frame and scattered the girders all over the place. Girders would have impaled people and buildings.

        So, you see, the entire Fish Tale that you trolls spin about the Hindenburg makes absolutely no sense. Anyone with an engineering mindset who sits down to review the details would see that.

  4. Congrats to Zach and to STB! Although I don’t always agree 100% with the opinions expressed on here, I do always appreciate reading the opinions of others, including the writers and commenters here, as well as the detailed information provided to your readers. You’ve done a great service to the people of Seattle. Keep up the good work.
    ~from Tacoma/South King County

    1. Thanks. I’m always amazed by people who get disgusted with STB because they disagree with 1% of the posts (e.g. about the DBT)

      1. Were you here in Seattle when Casey Corr was covering the Downtown Seattle Transit Project for the Times?

        Worst thing wasn’t the percentage of him in the population, but the almost a hundred percent of the real problems with the Bredas that he missed.

        Best he could do was that they were too heavy. Leaving out the diesel that couldn’t push a golf-cart, the fact that the transmissions were denting panels on the trailers trying to push their way out and escape.

        Also that when power “dropped out”, it often meant that the accelerator fell off its mounting and fell in the street at, say, 42nd and University northbound.

        Speaking of steam-punk and dirigibles structured like the Brooklyn Bridge- every Breda driver should get a long coat and a pair of round goggles for a uniform. Though the only zombie he’d be fighting would be the one he was driving.

        Wonder if anybody will do a flick called “Night of the Rolling Dead?” BTW, interesting coincidence: recently used LINK for a faster escape than the “7” from a Woody Allen movie that smelled worse than a zombie.

        STB needs a film critic- doesn’t it,Martin?


  5. Really great to hear- congrats Zach. And can’t wait to hear more about the Seattle Transit Advisory Board- you’re definitely a good addition to that as well!

  6. I’d love to see some reporting on the HALA meetings that take place at 2:30 every Monday. What are the debates like, the public comments like?

  7. Congratulations, Zach!

    My tip: sign up for daily news clippings from Let me make it clear that I’m not associated with this site in any way. I merely signed up several years ago — and really enjoy starting my morning by seeing what’s going on in transit around the entire US. At least weekly, there is usually a Western Washington item.

  8. Would also be good to find some archived copies of The New Electric Railway Journal- the best transit journalism of the twentieth century, though I’m not sure whether it’s online in the 21st.

    Kicker was that its publisher, Paul Weyrich, before he learned the truth about the French Revolution, thought King Louis was justifiably beheaded for being a communist.

    But his main position on transit really was correct: that the Federal highway system and all the capillaries it spawned was the biggest socialist enterprise in human history.

    He was highly skeptical about heavy-rail rapid transit projects, holding that many of them spent money for “show”, where light rail would have been a better fit. On LRT operations, back to the days they were called “interurbans”, he was dead solid.

    He even printed a couple of favorable articles about the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel- with pictures of re-wiring, by hand and under “pans” at CPS.

    Good slot to fill in the future when you’ve finally become a right wing publisher who thinks Paul Weyrich should get his head cut off for liberalism. DSTT buses have strobe lights on their right hand mirrors to prevent that kind of brain damage, but watch that yellow strip.


    1. “the Federal highway system and all the capillaries it spawned was the biggest socialist enterprise in human history.”

      Especially when you add the indirect effect of zoning. Zoning started before freeways, but the freeways created all these new edge cities where zoning was entrenched from the beginning, in a particular mid-century way that separated everything into single-use zones, like an obsessive neat freak who organizes their books by color. So people got used to being able to veto any changes on other people’s lots in their neighborhood, as if they owned all the lots. Yet somehow it’s the American way, and we love freedom and want to eliminate regulations, but not those regulations.

  9. Awesome choice. With all of the talent STB has had in the ranks of volunteers, it makes a lot of sense to hire from within and select someone who has proved he is a great fit. Best of luck in the new staffed era.

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