Three train stations in Chinatown

This is an open thread.

105 Replies to “News Roundup: Lost and Found”

    1. The extension was, unfortunately, needed.

      When the PTC mandate was first passed in 2008 after the Metrolink Chatsworth crash, the railroads dicked around. First they tried to get it repealed. Then they refused to use off-the-shelf technology (track circuits, balises, ERTMS/ETCS, etc.) and tried to cheap out on PTC by buying gadgetry from snake oil salesmen. When they finally realized that they *actually had to implement it*, it was 2012 and they’d wasted four years. The big freight railroads had picked a dumb system as a result of listening to snake oil salesmen, and it took them another year of implementing it to figure out that they needed a huge number of radio antennas on Native American tribal land (requiring prior review and approval), which caused another couple of years of delay,

      At this point, they’re committed, they’re going to implement it, they’ve implemented half of it already, but except for SEPTA and Metrolink, they simply can’t actually finish it by the end of the year. Most of them are saying they can finish it by 2018. The MBTA and Pan Am Railways have basically not even started implementation, so they are worrisome.

      1. Why does a terrorist have to do anything besides kick back in Vegas on his organization’s dime- ISIS gets huge amounts of money for oil and antiquities- and just watch the news on TV and online?

        So every time something- like our railroad signalling system- comes apart form stupidity, cheapness, laziness and lack of leadership…”Die in a cloud of rust, Infidel Dogs!” On Twitter.

        Leaving Business and Government to crack open the Heavens screaming:

        “No! WE did it! We cheaped out! We were preoccupied with trying to discern the difference between our (donkey) and a hole in the ground! You people can’t even wreck a Lionel electric trainset!”

        Case in horrible point of reality. Tank of coal-cleaning chemical rusted through- Freedom Industries had gained true liberty from regulation. Charleston,State Capital of West Virginia.

        Water for 300,000 people poisoned. Authorities now say water “acceptable.” Believe that? Go drink it.

        This is also what the word “freedom” means to the same part of our country where Abraham Lincoln was a tyrant, also by restricting their freedom to….well, like, you know the 1860’s equivalent of a tractor?

        So why waste a gumball of C-4? Just remember to end the message with “Infidel Dog!” And then go watch the news. And die by laughing so hard you choke on your own popcorn, you terrorist scum!

        Read it and puke.

        Mark Dublin

    1. (Cautiously Optimistic) Congrats, Joe! (even if it isn’t your county)

      Any bets on how soon Community Transit will decide it can now afford to honor ORCA LIFT?

      1. Glenn, problems with my “flash” player, so can’t look at the video. Will say, though, general rule in the transportation industry is that person at the controls is ultimately responsible for what happens to vehicle and passengers.

        If section of the Tillicum Bridge collapsed, I doubt anybody from TriMet head office to the legal department would fault the driver for refusing an order to proceed. Union and management can fight afterward over whether the order should have been given.

        And Jarrett, good to get point of view against urbanization, but laws of mathematics and physics are hard to challenge successfully in court.

        When nothing and nobody can move- including to get to work- because of the sheer number of cars on the roads, the most car-loving city in the world turns uninhabitable. Presuming anybody can get out.

        Did your interview include questions as to whether your subject would support as many levels of underground tunnel necessary to keep his street driveable? Or elevated highways above his roof?

        So this one’s beyond ideology. To keep Seattle in any condition that your interviewee could stand to live in, absolutely possible. But since his way of life involves consiberable travel, his own income and quality of life depend on different means of transportation.

        He’s likely too young to remember, but pretty good chance that whoever originally lived on the land that became his property had similar feelings about pending change resulting in his present neighborhood.

        So good final questions would have been: “Where are you planning to move to, and how long do you think it will be before you have to move again?”


      2. KGW does have one still image you can blow up that is positioned under the big video display

        It would be interesting to know just how deep of a pool of water Siemens thinks its light rail cars can operate through and still not have issues.

        If you look through some of the historic street railway photos of Portland, you can find the horsecars operating in water that is probably at least a foot deep, and the cable cars operating in water that is probably two feet deep. They used steam locomotives to switch freight cars along SE Water Avenue industries into the 1950s because the deep water would short out the traction motors on the diesels.

        One nice thing about the Seattle hills is that you don’t seem to have three foot deep water accumulate in your downtown streets too often.

  1. I was riding the 11 from 4th and Pike yesterday. As we passed the stop at 6th and Pike, which the Capitol Hill bound buses used to stop at, I started wondering if the decision to not stop there actually improved the speed of the bus. From my admittedly anecdotal experience, it seems like it hasn’t really made a difference speed wise; mostly it seems to have made the bus stop at 4th and Pike more crowded. Anyone remember what the stated goal of removing the 6th and Pike stop? Has it been a success?

    1. If memory serves, it was less to speed up Capitol Hill buses, and more to segregate and speed up the commuter buses particularly after the 307 moved out of the tunnel and became the 522.

      1. The 10 & 49 will have a routing change in March, Outbound only- L 8th, R Pine to regular route. There is no left turn wire from Pine to Bellevue so the 43 (peak only) and 47 will remain with the current routing.

    2. I’ve never seen a bus from 4th able to make the stoplight at 6th, so it ends up stopping anyway.

      1. It’s a hit and miss. I catch the 301 at 6th Ave and often see those trolleys whiz by in the bus lane. But other times the red light traps them. . . and yes, once in a while, inexperienced riders think they’re serving that stop and try to get on.

    3. The stop at Pike and 6th worked just fine for years. So I’m pretty sure one or two angry neighborhood meetings with chairman of the King County Council transportation committee will get it back.


    4. Whether service is faster or not, I doubt that Capitol Hill buses can stop there now. The 301, 308. 312 and 522 have been serving that stop. And Metro just moved the 76, 77 & 316 there in the last schedule change. The majority of these buses are artics. I don’t think the stop can handle Capitol Hill buses, especially if they’re going to increase service. UNLESS, they can stop there during non-peak hours.

      Besides, 6th is a mere two blocks from 4th. I was actually happy when Metro removed 6th Ave as a stop from the Capitol Hill buses. I think many of us know how closely-spaced stop can be irritating.

    5. Yes, but I though the stop removal would allow buses to go from 4th to 9th nonstop, since the lights are timed for the speed limit, but none of the ones I’m on ever do.

  2. Just a quick reminder: The one and only hearing on honoring ORCA LIFT on ST Express and Sounder is at noon at Union Station today. I suggest being there before noon, so the hearing doesn’t get gaveled closed at 12:01.

    There is also a hearing at Union Station at 10:00 am if anyone has anything they want to say to ST about ST’s 2016 Service Implementation Plan. Don’t get caught in the stampede to tell ST the SIP is perfect. Be there at 10:00 am sharp, or yield the floor to the critic(s).

    1. Don’t get caught in the stampede to tell ST the SIP is perfect. Be there at 10:00 am sharp, or yield the floor to the critic(s).

    1. I find it a totally worthy investment for the City to pay for free transit passes for public school students. That they are charged more to ride the bus than senior citizens are is a head-scratcher.

      This would be a key tool in the City’s toolbox for fighting generational poverty.

      One question I have, though, is whether public transit is as safe as yellow buses at all school ages. A one-size-fits-all solution may not fit well.

      1. Senior 50% discounts are required by federal law/regulation for transit agencies accepting federal assistance (which I imagine is virtually all).

      2. The city does give kids who live more than 2 miles from their school Orca passes. I see no reason why those that live close enough to walk should get free bus passes. Generations of Seattle born children have managed to do it themselves without a problem, it might actually be the most exercise they get all day.

      3. Buses for quarter-mile or half-mile trips are rarely a solution to anything beyond mobility for the disabled. If the safety issue of walking is crime, the risk of crime would still be there waiting for the bus stop. Better to solve the problem for real with better lighting and/or policing. If the safety issue is getting run over, it’s time to build more sidewalks and safer street crossings.

    2. Could be Metro drivers are really behind this, Sam. Late one afternoon on the Route 7, pulled into a zone behind another artic with flashers on, and the driver standing outside the bus.

      For good reason. Sixty feet of eight year old girls had mutinied, and were mostly swinging from the overhead bars and screeching in a very old ancestral tradition. I called up through a side-window and politely asked one of the ladies why she wouldn’t respect the bus driver.

      Answer: “Cause he’s a BUTT-HEAD!” Day was saved when woman supervisor came on-scene, and as I’d often seen happen on arrival of lady in uniform, situation solved itself in thirty seconds. Had never met driver, so no opinion on merits of the complaint.

      So unless you’ve got a really convincing lady police officer disguise- might think twice which color bus is less dangerous. Also, stay out of this, Mic! Hope you weren’t the one who caused the uprising!


  3. A frustrated note on “rail bias”… Riding a bus south on 5th Avenue these days, and months, gives a perfect illustration about why bus lanes, BRT, etc. etc. will never be as good as rail not just in the eyes of the people but also in the eyes of the government. For months, a construction project has shut down the bus lane on the west side of 5th. If that were a LINK or even a Streetcar lane, there is no way SDOT would have permitted this to happen, of course. They would have figured out how to do the work without shutting down the train for months. But since it is a bus lane, no big deal. The very people responsible for our transportation all know it is OK to delay buses… will buses with new paint and fancy payment systems get any more respect? I doubt it.

    OK, I feel better now.

    – Eastside Rider

    1. We’ve not seen anything close to real BRT in Seattle. Check out the Guangzhou BRT in China and its 1 million daily ridership to see good BRT. There’s a video on Youtube about it that illustrates why it is actually great to snatch up general purpose lanes for real BRT.

      1. Sorry about obscure reference, Sraphanger. Still nursing 4′-high-vampire type bite-marks from time I gave our pet vervet monkey water instead of fruit juice.

        Every town in Africa, and some other places, has a large extended family of these creatures. Unbelievably cute. Just what every newly arrived American family promised their little daughter for a pet.

        These are also the only creature on record that a local humane society- an island in the caribbean, I think-begged the locals to shoot these adorable little monsters to save the rest of the local wildlife.

        Usual escape- and attack-mode is screeching cloud of them jumping and swinging through the acacia trees. Farmers loathe them because MO is to rip every single fruit off a tree, take one bite out of each one, and throw it away.

        So I really should have said that the young ladies – I’m not sure how you say “butt-head” in Vervet- triggered terrible ancestral memory in the driver who got torn to pieces by vervets fifty thousand years ago while he was in the incarnation of a leopard.

        Good thing the lady supervisor got there- our vervet worshiped my mother. Ramtha was busy in Yelm advising JZ Knight how to bug Metro.


    2. Excellent observation, East-Side. As usual now, same massive high-price urbanization is causing same transportation problems. Including fact that because buses can (theoretically, depending on car traffic) get around obstacles, that is exactly what they have to do.

      It also doesn’t help that places that should know better, I mean San Francisco, open valuable bus lanes on escalator-steep arterials to regular traffic 6PM. Not midnight, as absolutely necessary.

      Last visit, counted five packed trolleybuses trapped between top and bottom of the hill-with more constantly arriving. No, cable-cars don’t have that problem.

      Will say, however, that European streetcar drivers have learned to adjust their speed to let car departing parking space get into motion, without stopping the streetcar.

      They also seem to know how to miss the car by very small clearance. Remember- since streetcar presence can’t vary laterally at all, street rail is most comfortable plaza presence for pedestrians.

      # Seattle Waterfront and its current design team. Can’t say the same about pedicabs and golf carts. Hope hash-tags can penetrate wrong thinking with a foot of armor!


    1. You imply that the Jarett Walker sorts are pro population growth. I wonder if pro density people are pro growth, or they simply recognize that convincing people that density is inevitable is easier than somehow slowing global population growth, something that comes with a host of contentious ethical conundrums. I’m pro density, and I’m definitely for population control.

      1. Yeah this one is like climate change, John. Everyone gets an opinion but not all opinions are created equal. Not in the face of cold, hard facts. In climate change the cold, hard facts are that it’s real, it’s caused by humans, and it’s a big problem.

        In “urbanism” the cold, hard facts are that denser places are 1) More environmentally friendly, 2) Safer and 3) Healthier. As Jeff Speck notes, dense cities pollute less per capita, have lower (traffic + crime) per capita deaths, and have less obesity per capita.

        You can argue subjectives all you want, saying “Well I prefer the suburbs and you prefer the city – who’s to say who’s right?” And that’s fine, because it’s subjective.

        What you CAN’T say, is that, objectively, living in a dense city ISN’T better for the planet’s health, and the health and safety of its people. Because it is, because we’ve shown it is.

      2. Lower density areas require more infrastructure and energy per capita. They talk about how pleasant it is for them, but they’re having more of an impact on others.

      3. What are you talking about?

        Population growth is plummeting historically. In about 40 years, the fertility rate was cut in half, not through “population control” but through development and greater freedom and autonomy for women. That has absolutely nothing to do with how to manage population growth in a particular place, which is always going to happen, even with a steady or declining population, because people move around, jobs move around, industries rise and fall, etc. Overall population trends are a complete non sequitur.

      4. Proven best way to lower number of births is to let people earn enough money to live what the Nordic countries would call an ordinary decent life.

        And more than anything else, offering women full equality, opportunity, education, and same amount of political power any man has.

        World over, if women have the say over how many children their family has, number rapidly declines from about twenty to about two.

        Works for Sweden. And rest of Northern Europe- to the point where countries have to actively admit and grant citizenship to darker, younger people eager to earn the amount of wealth that enabled their elders to retire early.

        And also enough money to support these elders in the comfort to which they’ve grown accustomed. Same as it works for us, except we bring down cost by keeping workers coming in, but also keeping their presence illegal.

        Works well enough that if Donald Trump ever built his Wall, every apple-grower from Republic to Yakima would form up a convoy and drive to Texas and knock it down with their pickup truck bumpers.

        Wonder why so many people, though a small percentage of the population, are so hostile to simple solutions that work. Whose accomplishment is very largely in their power. Why are they the only ones who have to be coerced to do their part?

        Mark Dublin

      5. Lower density areas require more infrastructure and energy per capita

        How much “infrastructure” does a farm have?

      6. Electric lines, phone lines, and roads, all longer than in a city and serving fewer people per yard.

      7. “Electric lines, phone lines, and roads, all longer than in a city and serving fewer people per yard.”

        You don’t know much about scaling do you.

        The cost of running a 50 yard line shouldn’t be much more than running a 100 yard line in an open area.

        However the cost of making even the slightest adjustment in a dense city, where you have to account for those being inconvenienced becomes much more pricey.

        And again, it’s unclear, even from this thread, whether the the argument is Density for its own sake, or Density as a lifeboat in the face of Unbearable Population Growth, or Density as some sort of crushing imposition to curtail environmental damage.

        Notwithstanding that when people talk about Density, they never mention the large estates and mansions that permeate even urban areas…only that middle class people living in already small middle class homes are somehow “destroying the planet”….as they whiz overhead, dropping unspent fuel from their private jets on heads.

      8. That’s a good point about adjustments being far more expensive in urban areas. But, simultaneously, lines (and, to a lesser extent, roads) in rural areas are much more vulnerable to weather, which means more need for maintenance. My guess is that the urban line would still come cheaper over its lifespan, but I’d be very interested to see any study.

        And you’ve left out another option: density as something people legitimately want, to be close to events and stores and any number of other things. That’s why I support it – not for the environment, though that’s a nice side-effect, but because people want it and should be free to live in it. That means, yes, the large “urban” mansions should by and large be replaced – by the free market, as demand goes up and millionaires are outbid.

      9. “And you’ve left out another option: density as something people legitimately want, to be close to events and stores and any number of other things.”

        This is why density is popular.

        Go live in a small town in Iowa, and you’ll find that half the population (or more) gets stone drunk nearly every night basically because they are so bored.

        Go to a big city, and people are instead going to museums, concerts, lectures, club meetings, the theater, restaurants, parades, parties, clubs, classes, and on and on and on and on.

      10. By the way, the statement about small towns in Iowa? Personal communication from several people who grew up in small towns in Iowa. When they went to college (where I met them) they were pleasantly surprised to discover that there were things to do for fun other than getting drunk.

  4. What was that person in the audience getting all worked up about towards the end of the “Gridlock” video?

    1. No freaking idea, of course from what I hear, there is usually one guy who gets all worked up.

    2. The guy who was interrupting the speakers?

      I was there at the meeting, so I overheard a bit of him talking to another audience member at the end. He was saying that even if we provide alternatives to driving in Seattle, it won’t solve congestion, because there’s no wall around Seattle and people from the far suburbs can drive in and still clog up our roads. Apparently, he missed the point that by providing good alternatives to driving, people in Seattle can get out of the congestion and won’t need to sit in traffic with people from Arlington and Enumclaw.

      1. Haha got it, thanks for the clarification. It sounds like misguided hyper urbanism (never thought I’d say that…) or something. I wonder what his solution is, building a wall around Seattle?

      2. Sounded to me like the opposite – that he was saying transit doesn’t work since some people can’t use it, so we should just spend all our money widening freeways.

      3. My guess is he’s on the Board of Directors of Donald Trump’s wall-building company. Too bad the one in China is already finished.

        But for a real entrepreneur with a sense of British Isles history there’s a wall restoration project for which everybody in England and Scotland will be glad to contribute.

        In around nine centuries AD, the Romans built a wall to save their English colonies from the red-haired tattooed Comanches, men and women, screaming at their generals to personally get off their chariots and come get fed to the foxes.

        Now that Scotland has voted to stay part of England- there are probably a fair number of “no” voters in Scotland, and regular people in northern England who’d at least talk with Donald about various reconstruction plans.

        Meantime, our region’s completely blocked freeways are probably much longer barriers than the Chinese and Scottish walls end to end. And hugely more effective at blocking things.

        Though would be great to open EastLINK with a four-car musical ride featuring bagpipes, war-drums, and tattooed kids in furs yelling at anti-transit people how their pet fox is hungry. No more fretting about shoplifters.


    3. He was also mad that the speakers were talking about things other than cars and roads, because “this is a meeting about traffic! Not transit and bikes!”

  5. Regarding the Jarett Walker piece:

    There are those that don’t like change in one particular part of their lives or another.

    However, when it comes to transit projects, there is also a certain group that has been whipped into a fervor over a change because some mass media or propaganda group has decided to spread a bunch of exaggerations.

    For various reasons, the “Our Private Property is Under Attack!!!” and “Big Government Takeover of our Entire Live Looms for [several] Public Parking Spaces!!!!” opposition group to Eugene’s EmX BRT expansion come to mind.

    1. I still say that it’s hilarious to read about the north end neighborhoods getting all cranky about loss of free, on-street parking in residential areas when large swaths of the Central Area haven’t had it for years. We survive…

      1. There are several entertaining situations in the Eugene case. One, of course, is the fact that public parking spaces aren’t private.

        Another is they had this huge protest about a “big government stealing all our private property” over a piece of land Lane Transit District needed that was 900 square feet.

        Then, they went on a rant about needing bigger highways rather than transit, which would require vast swaths of land and probably involve the far bigger state government.

        Seriously, 900 square feet is a “big government threat” of some sort.

    2. most already probably know about this book but a really good read about the politics of and opposition to urbanism and transit should read ben ross’ “dead end”

  6. What is the minimum value you can add to an ORCA e-purse? Is it still $5?

    If so, that is annoying when I’m $0.25 short of the airport on Link with my pass, but not taking 20 airport trips for the foreseeable future.

    1. You can get a Link ticket for less than $5. It also doubles as a souvenir showing the date of your trip.

      1. I’m not sure if you can put less than $5 cash on an e-purse at a TVM. It probably has to do with transaction fees to the company owning the technology.

    2. The WSDOT ferries take e-purse, so, if nothing else, you could eventually spend the money on that.

      1. You can also load passenger passes to your ORCA card as well. That is what I have done but there isn’t much benefit for doing that besides one less card in your pocket.

    3. I didn’t believe it, but the ST site indeed says there’s a $5 minimum add for e-purse. That seems both pathetic and appalling, even more so for cash purchases. I’m pretty sure I’ve loaded something like 37 cents onto a NYC Metro Card, and at the QFC here I once rang up 18 cents on a debit card. So having to add 2 complete fares at a time even with cash seems like it should be completely unacceptable.

    4. Four dollars for an all-day paper pass- worth it to be able to relax about how many times I’ve tapped my monthly pass.


  7. John, laws of physics are beyond ideology. Five hundred cars, streets, arterials, higways, and wide lawns, you can’t get two objects into the same space. Though likely some theories postulate these things happening, with universe-shattering explosions. Which, granted, would temporarily clear a lot of congestion.

    Though to me, like most formative ideas of most people favoring either side of legislative aisle , current political labels are pretty much out of date. I’d put division as partly generational, but even more, difference between Comfortable and It’s Desperate and Furious Opposite.

    Seattle presently demands that residence be limited to those who can not only afford this minute’s massively unmerited housing cost, but the future ones gathering speed like a ram-jet.

    Would everybody Comfortable with that atrocity please stop calling yourself “Liberal”? So we can start getting our historic constituents to rip those Donald Trump bumper-stickers off dented and other work-oriented fenders?

    With things like transit and other large scale questions, I see difference as being short- or long-term view. Especially regarding wealth. Petroleum and automobile-fixation share this with the agriculture of soil-demolishing cotton-based slavery.

    Fast money outweighs-and thus destroys- much higher value in the future. Which in addition to making liberals unhappy, enrages anybody who deserves to be called Conservative.

    Transit-wise, incidentally, past millionaire developers like Cleveland’s van Sweringen brothers, built streetcar lines deliberately to serve their tenants. If Shaker Heights Station still has that sit-down deli with the world’s best corned-beef sandwiches, most partisan mouths in Cleveland will be too stuffed to argue politics.

    Present Seattle residence-rabies infests every single major city in the entire world- doubtless including Pyongyang, North Korea, where Kim Jong iL will hold his breath ’til his head explodes if you say it.

    But there’s a definitely hopeful thing about this. Many of these places are in fact pleasant, pretty places to live with much more personal freedom and privacy than the average US suburb.

    Meaning that if we can see to it that the average person can earn enough money for such housing, both coercion and exclusion will go away. Creating communities which are places where “liberal” means “leaning to generous”, and “conservative” mans “tending to be careful.”

    Though Neo- Conservatives probably have an ingrained aversion to corned beef that will leave plenty for everybody else.

    Mark Dublin

  8. And believe me, Sam, my nights driving cabs in Detroit, much more than the ones on the Route 7 twenty years ago, leave me more than aware of the value- and absence- of the personal safety that freedom itself requires.

    But in the years I drove the 7, I actually saw the System, transit, police, and government at least get an intolerable situation under control. After months of personal assaults- far too much time- we finally got some decent police presence.

    Patrol cars often followed buses. And coordinators finally got out of the dangerous habit of ordering drivers with violence aboard to stop and wait for police. So drivers, radio coordinators, and police started communicating and cooperating.

    With standing loads of excited young passengers, I made it a point to use my PA to make polite requests for order. And if that didn’t work, I’d learned to pick up my radio phone with my left and, and call the police with nobody seeing me do it.

    Reporting route, run, coach number, direction of travel, and location. Resulting in being able to simply drive up behind the patrol car, open the front door- and just point over my shoulder.

    One thing that really helped: a fair number of drivers liked the 7, for the straight wire and good speed. So passengers came to see us as permanent. Knowing we knew them by sight and experience, and that if severely corrective words were in order, we’d pull up to those paid to deliver them.

    Meaning civil order is possible, and the public should never be given reason to believe otherwise. But also requiring above all drivers experienced and confident behind the wheel.

    A smoothly-driven sixty-foot bus at street speed best gives the most powerful sense of the kind order it’s best to abide by.

    Mark Dublin

  9. At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I want to ask: If passengers are required to use headphones for music, hold conversations at a relatively quiet volume, and keep drinks covered, why aren’t operators held to the same standard?

    I’m not trying to be a twit, really. It’s just that my riding pattern has changed lately and there are a couple of operators in particular, in the late evenings, who have various types of music playing and/or will stop in the road to have a friendly chat with another operator. I fully understand that drivers are also humans and the bus is their office. On the other hand, passengers kind of have to “intrude” into that office and having music going loudly enough that I can hear it over my own earbuds–unless I turn mine up loud enough that it can’t be good for my ears–and the bus stopping a few tantalizing feet from my stop–but in the middle of the street so the driver can’t/won’t open the door–for a conversation are both a little irksome at the end of the day.

    I’ve e-mailed Metro’s customer service (leaving out specific operator information for now because I don’t really want to get anyone specific in trouble) but haven’t yet heard back.

    1. I had a 550 driver the other day who was blasting AC/DC and he was so distracted by it that I was worried he was going to have an accident. I reported it to ST because I thought drivers weren’t allowed to have personal electronics while driving.

      1. My legal and legal teams have orders that if I’m ever heard to say either: “Back in my day (any wrong memory)…! or worse, “You young people don’t know how good you got things!” it will be proof I’ve got no more quality of life.

        But I truly don’t remember seeing any of these things in my driving time, either as a driver or as a very frequent passenger. Anybody driving now, please give us some information here.

        Have either drivers or their superiors- both of whom angry passengers consider co-members of The Great Overpaid- really gone this slack?


    2. Call your county council member, and have them speak to Metro about it. Know the myriad complications, but from my own driving days, I thought it would be good if passengers could call the union.

      Idea would be just the opposite of getting drivers in trouble. Rather, fellow drivers who happened to be union officers could start to sense a public being specifically and justifiably ticked off.

      Valuable thing to know as contract negotiations approach. Passengers, after all, are the ones who pay public employees’ wages. And who also select and hire county council members.

      Mark Dublin

  10. Some comments on sea-tac expansion. First, where do we draw the line in regards to airport expansion? Having options is nice, I certainly have made use them. However, the added cost of the expansions, the noise, the pollution, and the overall congestion isn’t. When do we start to require airlines to use larger capacity jets instead of making more flights? And when do we start taking an overall approach to our transportation system instead of leaving each mode in its own silo. For example, why do we continue to support small aircraft (puddle jumpers) from Sea-Tac to PDX, and other regional terminals? Why don’t we consider expanding Amtrak Cascades service to replace the lower capacity flights, by adding trains and making connections at either end (access to PDX by rail appears to be pretty feasible by building a connection from the UP line and paralleling the MAX tracks, and use of a people mover or bus shuttle system to get from Sea-Tac to an expanded Tukwila station) to handle more traffic? Most of these corridor and regional flights seem to be small “puddle jumper” aircraft, that take nearly as much, if not as much airport terminal and runway capacity as a larger 737, 777, etc. They also run every 30-60 minutes in-between Sea-pdx. That is a LOT of runway and terminal capacity that could be freed up right there, for a slight inconvenience of those few (comparatively) travelers who go in-between the two airports. Long story short, our transportation modes need to be able to complement, and not compete with one-another.

    1. I definitely get what you’re saying. I live as far north as the U-district, and I typically have to deal with the rumbling of passing planes overhead, from 5 AM to midnight, as often as every 2 minutes. I recently spend nearly $7,000 upgrading all of my windows in order to block out the noise.

      The problem, though, is that we live in world where government tries to do as little as possible and leverage the private sector as much as possible. Airport facilities are expensive, but once they’re there, the passengers pay for the actual cost of operating the planes through their airfares. There’s also the fact that high speed rail tracks all the way to Portland and Spokane is massively more expensive to construct than more gates and runways at SeaTac (e.g. a few billion dollars vs. over a hundred billion dollars), and the construction impact much larger also.

      1. I think that at least in my lifetime, there will become a point where air travel becomes expensive again, simply due to rising fuel costs and the airlines will be forced to ration out their flights as a lot of the short haul trips will simply become too unprofitable for them to sustain, and its an eventuality that us as a society will have to prepare for. Same goes for gasoline/diesel for our cars, I don’t think it will dry up overnight but the simple costs will become higher and higher forcing changes in our travel patterns. Something we should be preparing for not only to stretch out our supplies, but to make sure things are in place when that time comes. Now I may be an old man, or even deceased when it happens but someday it will happen.

      2. Yeah… cross-country and intercontinental travel isn’t happening without air travel, and air travel isn’t happening without fossil fuels. A future where we don’t significantly reduce fossil fuel consumption is not a future. Therefore we’re going to do less cross-country and intercontinental travel in the future.

      3. For those of us with the time, you can cross the country in three days on Amtrak. Which is a lot slower than it could be.

        Intercontinental travel without air travel is a much bigger problem; the ocean liners take a week to cross the Atlantic, which is quite a lot. They’re surprisingly reasonably priced, but that’s probably because it doesn’t cost much to add rooms to a ship, which has a humungous number of them.

    1. When I think of bus/pedestrian fatalities, they seem to occur most often when the bus is turning left through an intersection. The accident above. The 2010 Portland TriMet fatalities. The 2003 Metro bus in Southcenter that killed one young immigrant woman. The 2002 Metro bus in Fremont. All pedestrian fatalities where the bus was turning left through an intersection.

  11. Maybe it’s obvious to others, but I’m kind of puzzled by where those Seatac buses are actually going to run from and to. The article said there weren’t enough walkways. So do the buses go to the terminal from somewhere else? To the planes from the terminal? From one terminal to another? Anybody know?

    1. The buses go from the gate to the plane. I don’t know about anywhere else, but this is how it’s done at Amsterdam-Schipol. The planes sit farther away from the gate (which makes it a little different from the small-plane areas at many airports, where the gate lets out at tarmac-level and the plane is close enough to walk to). I think this means each flight doesn’t occupy the gate for as long. It’s tough for people that don’t climb stairs well.

    2. Al is basically correct. The planes will board at “bus gates” in the terminal (not sure where those will be) and then take you to the plane sitting on a remote parking ramp.

      In the US, I’m aware of bus-to-plane situations for some gates at Washington-Reagan, LaGuardia, and LAX. Those are mainly for regional jets that they park away from the terminals. It is more common in Europe – I also had a bus experience in Casablanca.

      The issue with SeaTac is that there is very little paved parking space available to even run a bus operation. Gates are at a premium, but so is parking space, much of which is used for overnight parking of planes needed for early morning departures the next day.

    3. I’ve done the bus-to-plane thing twice before – one at JFK, once at London Heathrow. In the JFK case, they had a bus specially designed for this particular purpose. It was large enough to carry an entire plane load of people in one trip, and it had an adjustable height so that it could hook up directly to the jetway on one end, and to the plane on the other end. It was also nearly all standing room, with seats only for the elderly and disabled.

      In London, the bus to the plane was nothing more than a plain-old city bus, with stop-request cords and the whole works. The bus had way too many seats and not enough standing room. It also had no accommodation for luggage, was insanely crowded, and took several trips to get everybody from gate to plane. Also, since the bus unloaded at ground level, we had to actually walk on the tarmac for a few feet and climb a staircase to board the actual plane.

      The bottom line – buses to planes suck and, even in the best case (JFK), the process still adds a minimum of 20-30 minutes to the boarding process. In the case of London, the bus to the plane added about 45 minutes. (The bus ride itself was at least 15 minutes, as the gate where we boarded the bus was at the completely opposite end of the airport from where the actual plane was parked).

      1. My favorite bus-to-plane was a crazy thing where we walked into what looked like a big hallway with a jetway gate at the end… and then a door closed behind us and it DROVE AWAY to meet the plane. A two-story-tall vehicle with the drive on the bottom level and a big hallway on the top level. I think that was at Heathrow, but I think they only used it for a few international flights.

    4. I first encountered these in Duesseldorf in 1998. It’s an all-standing bus, you have to wait until it comes and fills up, and it takes you from the terminal to your plane. Then you walk up stairs to the plane’s door like in the movies. Passengers aren’t allowed to walk around the airfield so they have to have buses to carry them around. I also encountered them in Philadelphia where they take people across the airfield from one terminal to another. It certainly looked primitive compared to SeaTac’s internal subway and enclosed gangways, and O’Hare’s underground walkway with neon lights. But the Philadelphia airport was in a construction phase so it may be better now.

      1. Philadelphia uses these for the smaller regional planes. You now walk between terminals (a very long hallway).

    5. I’ve done the bus-to-plane thing at Munich, which has a relatively-new international terminal designed so that all gates can either use an air bridge or have passengers go to a bus to the plane. I’ve also had this happen in Manchester, UK.

  12. The Northgate Transit Center seems to be going steadily downhill: Real Bus Time display long gone, coffee shop also gone, and more and more panhandlers and other unpleasant characters hanging around. I don’t even like using the ORCA vending marchine there any more.

    1. Sorry to hear this, Elbar. Tell me, though, is the rest of the Northgate complex, and its surrounding neighborhood, falling into the same condition?


      1. @Mark. The shopping center hasn’t changed much from what I can tell, although I don’t go there very often. The surrounding neighborhood, however, appears to have more unsavory characters milling around.

    2. First up, Elbar: I agree with you.

      Second, and much longer: This is going to sound like a rant. Maybe it is. I also hate complaining when I don’t have a proposed solution but I’m breaking my own rule here because I don’t have one.

      Every place that serves transit in any significant capacity seems to be falling into this pitfall. The elevators into the DSTT smell of, well, you know, and have for so long that I’m not entirely confident it’s possible to clean them. I have no idea what was done on 3rd and Pike other than the amazing lighting–which is awesome, don’t get me wrong–but it’s back to having litter and shady dealings at all hours of the day and night but especially at night. Mount Baker TC…the 85th/Aurora…3rd/Virginia…anywhere in Pioneer Square…4th/Jackson…IDS. Northgate TC…I dislike transferring at them all.

      Since Metro is trying to make more efficient routes by encouraging transfers, this is only going to become more of a thing. Transferring in downtown after 9pm sucks. My spouse already gave up transit completely six months ago* so that means my primary use is now going to and from work with the occasional side trip since on my days off we go places together and that means by car. On the days I take my car to work, my spouse simply doesn’t go anywhere unless someone else offers a ride.

      I keep voting for transit. I vote yes, and yes, and yes because I know that this isn’t Metro’s fault and the network needs to be improved. And, yes, I know that the “shady characters” are people, too, and that social services need to be improved. But if we want people to ride transit for more trips, that means making night time service feel comfortable and safe. And right now, too many times–not the majority, but enough that it counts–it’s sometimes not one, or the other, or sometimes neither. That’s firmly in the city’s list of responsibilities. (To wit: There’s a “Police vehicles only” spot right there at 3rd/Pike; why is it seemingly never occupied past 9pm?)

      * Well, the abandonment of transit also came because getting anywhere past 11 or 12 at night is a crapshoot at best. Considering even the board game establishments in this town stay open until midnight, that should say something when it’s a 60 minute adventure to travel under ten miles that, in a car, would take twenty minutes tops. Like I’ve repeatedly pointed out in the night service threads, in response to “nobody would use night service and ridership would suck so let’s not put any money towards it,” these are trips that start at 7 or 8pm.

      1. To be fair, Prop. 1 did improve evening service considerably. The 40 and 41 used to be half-hourly after 7 PM and hourly after 10 PM, while the 71/72/73 used to switch to “local-only” mode after 7 PM. Just last week, I took advantage of the new service to take transit home from the airport after an 8 o’clock landing at SeaTac. Previously, I would almost always take Link just to the nearest Car2Go, and drive the car the rest of the way home.

      2. “I have no idea what was done on 3rd and Pike”

        When it closed there was a big fanfare that they were going to redesign the block and add lots of safety improvements. But I don’t see anything different except one row of metal posts (seats?). What makes it safer than it was, and was it enough to justify moving the bus stops for several months? As far as I can tell the only safety feature was the closure itself: it forced the loiterers to move and rearrange their habits. But that’s only a short-term solution.

  13. The more I read about the ST Planner job and requirement description, the more I think there’s an actual stated goal to hire the exact type of person who can be relied upon to make the same mistakes their predecessors always have.

    A few very simple requirements should lead the list:

    1. Applicants will have to prove they ride transit at least a commute trip in both directions every business day.

    2. Preference will go to applicants who use wheelchairs.

    3. Applicant will have to have a CDL, if for no other reason than to learn which end of the bus goes first, and also what air brakes are.

    Though seriously, I really that drivers and supervisors should be “rotated” through planning – meaning CDL aleady in possession, along with some basic understanding of what public transit actually is.

    Having union protection from retaliation, planners like these would put an end to habitual lying about things like actual dwell-times during tests.

    Meaning that fare-box use in the DSTT would have been dead on the drafting board.


    1. That’s a very good list of job qualifications. But it’s gonna be hard to find applicants in wheelchairs with CDLs. :-)

    2. Ultimate best part:

      Applicants will have to prove they ride transit at least a commute trip in both directions every business day.

      Somehow I think we would have better transit outcomes if the transit planner(s) rode the bus. Transit agency accountability would be a surefire guarantee.

      Penultimate best part:

      Applicant will have to have a CDL, if for no other reason than to learn which end of the bus goes first, and also what air brakes are.

      Though seriously, I really that drivers and supervisors should be “rotated” through planning – meaning CDL aleady in possession, along with some basic understanding of what public transit actually is.

      Having union protection from retaliation, planners like these would put an end to habitual lying about things like actual dwell-times during tests.

      “My” Skagit Transit Planner really makes me grrrr how she thinks local routes can connect to the 90X County Connector with the congestion today… and her boss makes me growl over his ideal state grants are the only way to go.

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