Brenda in Her Youth (2011 Photo – Sound Transit)
Brenda in Her Younger Years (2011 Photo – Sound Transit)

While on a visit to the future Roosevelt station site recently, STB tipper Leslie B. heard that one of Sound Transit’s tunnel boring machines (Brenda) hadn’t moved in a few weeks. We reached out to Sound Transit, and Kimberly Reason told STB that the problem was a large boulder:

Brenda (TBM #1) has stopped mining since July 22nd , and has been undergoing inspection and repairs.  Mining is currently expected to resume next week, following a final inspection and readiness check. Evidently, Brenda encountered a boulder large and hard enough to damage several of the teeth on the TBM cutterhead. The inspection and repairs have been carried out to date without incident and per plan. Brenda is currently 1500 ft. from U District Station. No delay to the overall scheduled is expected.

Brenda is now a veteran, having been refurbished from the ULink project prior to working on the Northgate Extension. Though this stoppage was unplanned, teeth wear is very common occurrence, and the anomaly here seems to be the rate of wear caused by the boulder. So this bears no similarities to the more systematic bearing and sealant problems of another famous TBM you just might be familiar with.

62 Replies to “Brenda Hits a Snag, Tunneling to Resume Next Week”

  1. Teeth wear isn’t an issue. These machines are designed to replace teeth from the inside. What bothers me is Sound Transit’s lack of communication. This is one more example of not explaining delays. Another example-why is Broadway still restricted 8 months after it was supposed to open?

    1. Who said anything about a delay? In fact, the statement from ST specifically said “no delay”.

      So what do you want ST to do? Call a press conference to announce that there is “no delay”? Why should they do that?

      This is a large, complicated project. Things will happen, things will be overcome. It’s called “construction”.

      1. Perhaps I should have used the word “snag” instead of “delay”. The point was that ST could have used this as a teaching moment. “We have stopped tunneling for a few days to replace teeth. This is a contigency we plan for, and the work can be done in place. There will be zero impact on the schedule.” Which is what they just announced, but only after a reporter’s inquiry. It’s just bad PR, and it is not an isolated case.

      2. I wouldn’t expect ST to call a press conference every time some mudhog breaks a shovel handle, nor every time they replace a tooth on the machine.

        And pausing for mechanical inspections is just demonstrating prudence. More power to ST for doing it.

        And I’m not really sure ST’s role is to “teach”. I’d rather they just focus on getting the job done safely and on time.

      3. If they had a press conference every time something happened the act of having press conferences would add time to the schedule. Be careful what you wish for.

      4. I think what people me by ‘bad pr’ is the lack of transparency and apparent eagerness to never inform anyone plays into the distrust of government that is rampant in the US right now. Even though it’s not an issue, even something like a twitter account mentioning new teeth would change the optics on how they handled things.

    2. First of all – The First Hill Streetcar is a SDOT project with ST funds. Plain and Simple.

      Secondly – As Lazarus said, why would they explain an issue that isn’t a delay and has float built into the timeline? Brenda is very much AHEAD of schedule. If the setback was expected to be a few months, then yes, a press release would have been issued, but it isn’t. Plus, 1500 feet away from U-District Station is fantastic considering when it was launched from Roosevelt.

      1. The UDistrict box isn’t quite done yet anyway, so a little delay on the TBM isn’t going to measurably slow down the project. They’d probably have to stop the TBM if it got there too early anyway.

      2. No, JayH is referring to the Capitol Hill station pedestrian tunnel underneath Broadway. The delay there has nothing to do with the streetcar. Broadway was supposed to have been returned to full width in front of Annapurna last year but the street is still constrained and bikes are still being detoured around that corner. It’s really annoying to have to keep crossing back and forth over Broadway if you’re walking and going blocks out of your way on a bike so you can’t even use the bike lanes.

      3. The closer is now on the east side of the street. I assume something in the station’s exterior on that side isn’t finished.

    3. ST is shy about giving precise coordinates of the TBMs for good reasons. Some property owners with pre-existing damage would love to charge ST for repair expenses, if they can figure out when the machine passes under or close, and then lawyer up.

      U-Link will open on time and under budget. (Which brings up the question of why the savings can’t be used to go ahead and build 130th St Station as part of Lynnwood Link, when the station would cost ca. $25 million to add onto the line, be easier to build as part of the original line, and the savings from U-Link is much larger than that.) Northgate Link’s tunnel boring is about halfway done, in under a year, with both machines having made it to Roosevelt Station. You can’t beat that kind of progress with a giant lead pipe.

      ST’s progress is a lot more real than, say, the Highway 99 tunnel being “70% done”.

      1. I don’t want to get on a rant here, but U-Link is a decade late and 2 billion over budget based on the original ST proposal in 1996. I happily admit that the redo of this project is going well, but as much as Sound Transit wants to forget the past, I will not let them.

      2. Let us thank the Creator that ST didn’t treat tunneling under Portage Bay as a “promise”, and that they didn’t treat their original financing plan as a “promise”.

        Hopefully, the Board won’t treat passing by 130th without a station as a “promise”, now that the money is amply available, and the cost of adding what would be a very popular station is a mere blip in their budget.

      3. @Brent White,

        I doubt very much that ST would transfer funds that the voters approved under ST1 onto a project that was part of ST2. ST would be wise to use savings on ST1 to pay for ST1 projects, or to pay down ST1 bonds.

        Now if the build-out of ST2 comes in under budget, then *maybe* ST would see fit to transfer ST2 savings onto other ST2 projects, but I highly doubt that the 130 St Station would qualify for consideration.

      4. “…but I highly doubt that the 130 St Station would qualify for consideration.”

        And that right there demonstrates one of the reasons I am considering voting against ST3. Sound Transit seems determined to construct passenger models and site stations while pretending that bus service does not exist.

      5. @William C,

        Actually, you have it backwards.

        One of the supposed advantages of buses/BRT that the rail critics keep touting is how flexible it is and how it is easily rerouted. This is somewhat true, but not as true in the real-time operations sense as it is in the general planning sense.

        ST understands this, and what it means is that bus routing can be adapted to meet LR station locations. Problem solved.

        I.e., why on earth would ST plan LR station locations around current bus routings? As long as buses can be re-routed, ST would be wise to site LR stations where they makes sense and have Metro adapt to them, not the other way around.

      6. “why the savings can’t be used to go ahead and build 130th St Station as part of Lynnwood Link”

        It seems to be a political decision. At the STB meetup a few months ago with the ST speaker, he said that the board was leaning toward putting the surplus toward ST3 while it’s pending, rather than adding ST2 enhancements. I interpreted that two ways: (A) a large down payment on ST3 may reduce financing costs and make planning/budgeting easier, (B) it makes 130th Station a carrot to hang before voters as a reason to vote for ST3.

      7. @lazarus, again, you don’t understand the limitations of bus routings. They are indeed flexible several years in advance, but not infinitely so; some routes continue to be better than others. We can send the Madison Park – Downtown bus along either Thomas/John, Pike, or Madison, but we can’t send the Madrona-Downtown bus up to John & Broadway to meet the train. Also, traffic considerations intervene – suppose we placed a station on Mercer; would you suggest we divert east-west buses there during evening rush hour? Not without huge traffic improvements!

        For both those reasons, stations at 145th and Northgate Way won’t work to serve Lake City.

      8. “ST would be wise to site LR stations where they makes sense and have Metro adapt to them, not the other way around.”

        Station sites that make sense include consideration of effective bus connections. If buses have to travel in slow and convoluted routings to get to the station, few are going to ride them. The transit network suffers.

      9. @Oran,

        Bingo. And that is part of the reason 145th was chosen over 130th — it’s much better for bus connections and has more potential for even more and better improvement.

        But you bus guys can’t have it both ways. You can’t say on one hand that, “We should build buses/BRT instead of LR because buses are more flexible,” and then on the other hand say, “LR should adapt to current bus routings because buses aren’t flexible.”

        Either they are flexible or they aren’t, and if they are then 145th is a much better location for transfers and future improvements than is 130th.

      10. ST understands this, and what it means is that bus routing can be adapted to meet LR station locations. Problem solved.

        I.e., why on earth would ST plan LR station locations around current bus routings? As long as buses can be re-routed, ST would be wise to site LR stations where they makes sense and have Metro adapt to them, not the other way around.

        Good Lord.

        It might be time for the Chair of the ST Board to explain again what Metro/Sound Transit cooperation means.

      11. “Bingo. And that is part of the reason 145th was chosen over 130th — it’s much better for bus connections and has more potential for even more and better improvement.”

        That is the main reason I think 130th should be chosen over 145th: it’s much better for bus connections, and has more potential for even more and better improvement.

        Also, I’m glad you at least agree that buses aren’t infinitely flexible: e.g. you assert they can’t flex enough that 130th could be equally as good as 145th.

      12. Good Lord indeed.

        Almost every terrible transit outcome in recent American history — including the ones right here — can be chalked up to so-called “rail people” plotting a fantasy napkin map and then telling the so-called “bus people” to figure it out.

        Invariably at the expense of everyone’s time, at the expense of overall utility, and ultimately, at the expense of a transit system that is good enough for people to choose over driving.

        Arrogance + cluelessness = poor outcomes. And we boast some of the most arrogant + clueless people around.

      13. Bus connections from where? From the heart of Lake City and Bitter Lake, 130th/125th is most direct. 145th is out of the way.

        My point is design the bus connections at the same time as the rail line, and optimize both, do not leave it to the “bus guys” to figure it out after you’ve spent millions/billions on something permanent.

      14. 145th might be better for bus connections from the east on 522 (Kenmore, Bothell, etc.) if (if!) 145th is a lot faster and more reliable for buses.

        But then there’s Lake City. It will always need transit connections to Link and to the east on 522. A station at 130th allows a many needs to be met with a single bus route, which would be useful to a lot of people making a lot of kinds of trips, demanding and justifying the high frequency and boarding improvements that make mass transit perform in a way that’s attractive to the masses.

      15. “145th was chosen over 130th — it’s much better for bus connections and has more potential for even more and better improvement.”

        How do we know this? Neither 145th nor 130th have a full time, full span east west bus route.

        145th was chosen over 130th because the City of Shoreline was willing to support the 145th line at the jump; supporters of 130th (North Seattle neighborhoods of the 5th district) came late and until recently were in disarray.

      16. It’s not a tradeoff between 130th and 145th; ST merely needs to build the 130th station. ST has taken off the table both moving the one station to 130th and forbidding a second station at 130th. The EIS includes 145th station and an option for 130th station. But it didn’t do the EIS study for 130th, so that would have to be done as the first step.

        The main issue besides deciding to build the station is bus routes. We need a frequent east-west route from Lake City to the Station to Aurora. That could be part of the 522 or 75 or 330 or another route. However, ST3’s project menu includes HCT work on 145th, which could only mean rerouting the 522. That may be OK as long as 130th gets another route.

        Or if 130th Station is not built, then another route would have to go from Lake City to 145th Station. That could be the 330. Only it must be frequent.

      17. Oh, and Shoreline is apparently pressuring ST to not build 130th Station. So there’s that too.

      18. It’s not unreasonable to think of 130th-vs.-145th as an either-or choice. This is not a line running through a dense urban fabric where it needs to make regular stops to pick up lots of walk-up passengers. It’s a line running along a freeway, where most riders will arrive via some kind of motorized vehicle (whether a personal car or a connecting bus) for a long time, possibly permanently. The freeway, its interchanges, and the large footprint of Jackson Park will permanently suppress station-adjacent development. This line is also a trunk line for Snohomish County, where local transit is truly oriented around feeding I-5-based express transit. There’s not much point slowing service to Lynnwood to make both of these stops if one could serve as many riders. If ST’s projections show that once 145th is built 130th doesn’t add many riders beyond additional P&R capacity, well… that actually sounds about right. We’d say the same thing about 145th if 130th was the one that was definitely being built.

      19. @Oran V,

        Bitter Lake? Last time I checked Bitter Lake had Rapid Ride.

        So you are saying that someone in Bitter Lake would rather take a local bus across town and then pay a transfer penalty to ride LR as opposed to just taking the one-seat ride that they already have with Rapid Ride?

        Really? You are saying that Rapid Ride is that bad? Because I thought people on this blog loved BRT.

        ST scored the 130th St Station as adding NO (as in zero) net riders to the system. Is it possible that the 130th St. Station scored so badly precisely because ST to into consideration the available bus service?

      20. Sigh. So many straw men, so little time.

        local bus across town and then pay a transfer penalty to ride LR as opposed to just taking the one-seat ride

        Where and whether a transfer penalty is worthwhile has everything to do with the distance involved in each leg, the relative speed of the radial trunk to be accessed, and the location and quality of the transfer. There are universalizable geometric principles to guide such planning decisions, but your attempt to demand that either transfers or one-seats be declared universally “good” or “bad” is preposterous.

        Bitter Lake is 8.5 miles north of downtown. 99 and I-5 are barely 3/4 mile apart at this point. Do the math.

        I thought people on this blog loved BRT.

        Not BRT. Try again.

        adding NO (as in zero) net riders

        In fact, plans that studied building both stations not only added 1500 additional net riders, but also suggested that 3x as many riders would access 130th if both choices were available. Pretty heavy strain to call that “worse”.

        You simply don’t have a retort to that last published fact, which is why you keep piling up your straw men.

      21. @Lazarus

        Well on days like today when an accident on SR 99 closes off large section of the BAT lanes, having a grade separated option is always nice.

        Not to mention that Link will always be the superior way to get to the UDistrict and Capitol Hill.

        Or another way to put this: just because I can use the 40 to go downtown doesn’t mean the 41 is useless to me. They both have their uses and a one seat ride on the E line does not negate the benefits of easy access to link.

        Nor does link negate the need for E Line.

      22. Lazarus, not everyone is going downtown and even if they are so what? It’s better access to regional rapid transit. More choices! You keep harping on how Link in the north end is going to be a game changer. Well, here it is. It’s good enough that people are willing to take a bus to it, plus better connections to everywhere.

        But yeah, what d.p. said. So many straw men and prejudices you wrote up there.

      23. @Oran,

        The key is that the ST modeling showed no (zero) net riders to the system when a 130th St Station was included. As such, the addition of the station provides exactly zero net transportation benefit.

        Yes, it is nice for people to have choices, but in the era of tight budgets ST needs to spend their money where it does the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of citizens. Providing a second option for riders who already have an option hardly satisfies that mandate.

        You guys need to move on.

      24. Like Oran I’m stunned that Lazarus said that. Of course ST needs to watch its budget, but there are also other factors, such as the large concentration of people in Lake City. That’s what we’re building Link for, to move people around, and the largest concentration of people north of 55th Street is in Lake City. When Lynnwood Link was first drawn up, people didn’t thing there was any way to serve Lake City so they gave up on it until the Lake City-Bothell line. But then there was an extra station in one of the Aurora alternatives, and people realized ST was willing to consider more stations, and that the same station could be moved to the I-5 alignment and have a bus to Lake City, and it took off from there. Lake City is still the largest pedestrian concentration in north-north Seattle, so it’s absolutely worthwhile to have the station there. And ST didn’t say no, it just deferred the station. That “no additional riders” is because there’s no existing bus or enhanced TOD there: ST isn’t allowed to consider speculative possibilities in its ridership numbers. But it can built the station anyway, and we can encourage it to, and ST and Metro can change their policies to make the bus and upzone a reality. ST did not say the station is categorically not cost-effective or otherwise unreasonable; it just declined to include it in the initial Lynnwood Link project. Now it has money to do so if it chooses to. So far it hasn’t, but it could, and should.

      25. And that extra travel time to Shoreline or Lynnwood is 20-30 seconds. ST could even make that less if it encouraged faster boardings like some other cities do. 30 seconds is not significant compared to the tons of greater convenience it would give to hundreds of riders.

      26. Lazarus, as we’ve told you repeatedly at great length in other threads, we can look behind Sound Transit’s numbers at the methodology they used and see that methodology is wrong – utterly, completely, wrong. They pretend feeder bus service doesn’t exist, which is as great a hole in their plans as pretending the UW doesn’t exist. So, “Sound Transit said no additional passengers” is completely worthless – and, what’s more, every planner who had input into that number should be fired for utter incompetence.

      27. From what I have read, those added passengers don’t include much in the way of bus transfers because of the isolation between KCM and ST.

        If that is the case, I think a new round of ridership estimates with good bus service connections is in order.

      28. Lazarus, 130th only netted zero riders if 145th was a given. If the choice was 130th or 145th, 130th won hands down.

        And that is WITH ST’s models intentionally downplaying any bus reroutes. They got burned by Metro not really reorging around the initial segment. However if the work being done around U-Link opening is any indication that assumption (that Metro will not reroute to feed Link) should probably be reexamined and the models ran again.

      29. “It’s not unreasonable to think of 130th-vs.-145th as an either-or choice. This is not a line running through a dense urban fabric where it needs to make regular stops to pick up lots of walk-up passengers. It’s a line running along a freeway, where most riders will arrive via some kind of motorized vehicle (whether a personal car or a connecting bus) for a long time, possibly permanently.”

        That’s all beside the point. The riders are east and west of the potential stations, not along it. A bus on 130th would pick up some passengers, and a bus on 145th would pick up other passengers. It happened that ST chose the wrong station for the largest number of Seattle passengers, so an additional station is in order. (145th will of course get a lot of people from Kenmore/Bothell/Woodinville, but that’s irrelevent as far as Seattle passengers and Seattle’s transit needs are concerned. Seattle, which happens to be the largest city in the region, and with higher density than Kenmore, Bothell, or Woodinville.)

      30. Grrrr. Look at the distance between them. 130th and 145th should both be built, *obviously*.

    4. ST has public-relations people for things like this. Perhaps STB can ask them for some background info on ST’s TBM usage. How often do operation-stopping blockages occur, and how long do stoppages normally last? What kind of contract are the TMBs under? Does the contractor pay for repairs, or does it come out of a contingency budget? What was the original float buffer in the timeline, and how much of it remains? The float is normally 9 months I think.

      1. ST doesn’t own the TBMs. They are owned by the contractor. That was one of the reasons that the ST2 tunneling contract went to the winning contractor: they already owned one of the machines (Brenda was used to do the CHS-PSST portion), so their bid reflected this reuse of an expensive machine.

    5. The First Hill Streetcar is delayed because the manufacturer oversold the new hybrid battery powered trolleys. Well that was the first reason. Now that they are delivered, the delay that SDOT won’t talk about is due to Seattle City Light and them not working well together. SDOT doesn’t like to talk to city light because of previous issues with liability. So they are like siblings that can’t get along as they waste taxpayer money complaining and deflecting the blame.

      You didn’t hear this from me though. Oh and if you don’t believe me? Why is it that all the cars have been delivered but there was a “delay” recently that SDOT didn’t give any information on why? :)

      1. And the paint is flicking away on the station names on Jackson Street, and there’s probably graffiti somewhere, and the clear wall panel with the flower painting looks vulnerable to vandalism…. Didn’t Sam say all crime happens in the city?

  2. On Sunday we had a video introduction to the Eglinton Crosstown line in Toronto.

    If you want to see what work down there in these tunnels is like, do a Google search for videos of this Eglinton line with variations of “tunneling machine” and similar terms.

    There have been a fair number of news teams brought into that particular tunnel so that the news crews are able to adequately understand the difficulties of tunneling, as well as the process. These news crews naturally have produced quite a number of different video bites for their news casts.

    It’s really very surprising that there aren’t more problems with these tunneling processes, once you see what is involved.

  3. Well…they have also been disassembling and redeploying Brenda’s spoil handling system between Maple Leaf Portal and Roosevelt Station. The “permanent” spoil handling system between these two stations will be in just the SB tunnel and will be of fixed length.

    This doesn’t mean that Brenda can’t do any mining in the meantime, it just means they will have to temporarily remove the spoils at Roosevelt Station using an old fashioned bucket and crane system.

    Ya, but no surprise that Brenda hit an erratic. The big surprise is that ST hadn’t hit one earlier. Glad to hear that she is OK, and being so close to Brooklyn Station she doesn’t have to go far to get to her next maintenance stop.

  4. I am still impressed by how quick Brenda has been progressing. I would assume that U-District to Husky stadium will be the very high risk/slower boring due to the UW facilities?

    1. The risk between Brooklyn Station and Husky Station is more schedule related. Apparently the UW only gave ST a short and very specific schedule window in which to complete their mining under the campus. Both machines will have to perform (which ever two machines they use on this segment).

      But tunneling always involves risks — both schedule and technical.

  5. I wish King County Metro Transit surface operations could get within a hundredth of the schedule reliability of any tunneling project in the region.

    Blasting boulders and digging huge machines out for repair is a snap compared to clearing street lanes even through rush hour only. Let alone a single all-day inbound transit lane on I-5, and, Heaven help us, a fraction of the signal pre-empt we need for minimal speed.

    We bored and cut-and-covered the DSTT in three years- the first of which was spent relocating utilities. Twenty-five years after opening, with several millions of dollars’ worth of signal equipment gathering dust, we can’t run the DSTT back-up free for two minutes during any rush hour in the week.

    Until we can finalize an agreement with Planet Krypton LTD, we’ve got nobody at boring machine controls who can see through mud and rock. Maybe it’s the speed-of-light time warp: thirty years to us is an quick meeting to Clark Kent.

    Who as a reporter would’ve also covered the whole project a lot better than Casey Corr, who couldn’t observe accurately through mountain air. Let alone boring the tunnel himself with a million underground personal barrel-rolls. While typing copy with a Remington that weighed as much as a loader.

    Recommended reading: “The Chunnel”, by Drew Fetherston. Best tunneling insight is the description of screaming bilingual arguments between French and British execs in the board-room.

    While down on-site, Irish laborers sculpted out the cross-passages with air-driven jackhammers. Like sculpture with a hundred pound hand-held chisel. In operating conditions where the air had so much salt water that laser beam wasn’t straight.

    And where a one degree boring angle up or down would drown everybody on-shift. Anyhow, just turning on the machine a short distance ahead of the correct soil cost Portland a year under the zoo. So let’s concentrate on those parking lanes, and leave the easy part to the guys underground.


    1. @Mark D,

      You are correct — Metro has never been able to operate the DSTT at it’s full potential, or at the level of service that they promised the citizens before it was built. We will need to wait for a rail-only DSTT to see what the DSTT can really do.

      When the DSTT is rail-only all sort of interesting options will become available.

      1. Agreed there. Even though now the tunnel is open in all but 30 hours out of 168 in a week, it still irritates me that Metro was so reluctant to have the tunnel open on evenings and Sundays for 19 years–you know, not thinking that there would be enough ridership on tunnel bus routes to justify having the tunnel open late or 7 days a week, or that there would be anyone like Oran, Martin, Mark or myself (or dozens of others) who would be outraged that such a major capital expense on Metro’s part was open only less than full time (78 out of 168 hours a week–that’s less than half!).

        I mean, the New York and TTC subways never shut down at 7 PM every weekday, so why should the DSTT have in its bus-only phase? (And yes, I do know the DSTT stayed open until 11 PM on weeknights at one time, but that was sadly short-lived–Shame on you, Metro!).

      2. Mike Orr–What dodo-heads at Metro management not want to spend the extra money? Are they cheapskates? (That’s too nice of a word to call them…) Luddites? Something? What?

  6. Its a reflection on the two diggers – Brenda and the boulder minor, while Bertha and a foot long piece of metal major. A teaching moment.
    I wonder how big that boulder is – is Pamela going to run across it?

    1. Not really fair as Brenda vs. Bertha. The cutters are designed for soil and rock, which are either soft or have brittle failure. A boulder is just a bigger-than expected rock, so the cutters are designed to deal with it well, but they will wear out more quickly (hence this stoppage being not big news, especially given the variability in glacial sediments).

      On the other hand, metal typically undergoes ductile failure, which is why the pipe was such a big deal. TBMs are designed to crush up hard things and then remove the small pieces, but a metal pipe will bend and twist and stretch and not be crushed into little pieces, gumming up the works.

      Now, the issues related to diameter and pressure differential are a totally different question, as is the utility of the 99 tunnel vs. transit improvements that you could make with that money. But large boulders don’t have any bearing on Brenda or Bertha’s relative quality or worth.

      1. Ah, yes, there are some differences in design, the primary one being that ST’s cutter heads are stiffer and don’t let sand and grit get into the bearings and inner workings. The manufacturer of Berth is pretty much admitting this by all the stiffening they are adding and their change to the labyrinth seal system.

        A steel pipe isn’t exactly the material that Bertha was designed to go through, but neither should it penetrate the seal system nor allow grit into the bearings. And I seem to remember that when STP hit the pipe they consulted the manufacturer and the manufacture said it was OK to keep going.

        But I suspect you know all this……

  7. For a second I thought that headline said _Bertha_ will begin digging in a week!

    Are you still taking bets on whether Eastlink opens before the 99 tunnel?

  8. SR, it’s really a shame that “Luddite” has come to mean an enemy of progress itself. But as the world is experiencing right now, massive industrial changes bring not only social conflict, but mixed thoughts in knowledgeable minds.

    After years of accumulating very hard-learned experience, few traditional English weavers got rich, to put it mildly, but at least earned respect as skilled tradesmen.

    Term “journeyman” meant the period of training when a new weaver would literally carry his equipment around the country on his back, finding work where he could get it.

    With the advent of weaving looms powered by steam engines, it rapidly became possible to make cloth at undreamed-of speed. Thereby putting decent clothes themselves on the backs of the average person. Like most of the Industrial Revolution, a vast benefit to Mankind- though unpopular in poetry and literature.

    No question factory conditions were brutal- tempting to say by modern standards, but now that Feds can’t afford inspectors….. though every weaver, and farmer, knew that rural life was much worse. Rural and urban, fact that companies also owned politicians and police so transition was mixed blessing for workers.

    As I understand the original Luddite movement, the demonstrators were often skilled and experienced English weavers who didn’t object to the new power looms themselves, but to the companies’ attempt to save money by putting the machines in the hands of people unskilled at weaving, who above all worked cheap. Good thing that doesn’t happen anymore.

    You know, I looked at transit the same way as the real Luddites, and often compared trolley and Tunnel driving with exactly this kind of a transitional time. An old skill that rewarded persistent patience and long experience.

    Automated transit operation? Would hold off abolishing hand-driving until nobody loves it enough to make a career out of it. Of course, that’s what working museums are for.

    Everybody please go to this link. To one degree or another, for all industrial, it sums up the situation for a lot of us. And is a really magnificent song.

    Mark Dublin

  9. When they sold us this tech it was presented as easier than road building.

    Then when it gets stuck they start whining about how “yeah, even NASA stumbles”.

    So now it’s rocket science?

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