Cascades being push/pulled north out of Tukwila Station

This is an open thread.

124 Replies to “News Roundup: Still Working”

  1. So to John Mica (a Representative from Florida), “the Interstate system is a national system” and the states should be forced into a single interoperable tolling system, but to Marco Rubio (a Senator from Florida) who is likely to be the Republican Presidential candidate and win the Presidency, the Interstate System should be turned back to the states.

    Maybe Marco needs to walk across the rotunda and set John Mica straight: “We’re getting out of the road business, John. Let them eat asphalt.”

    1. I wouldn’t put any money on Rubio being the GOP candidate or the GOP winning the election at this point.

      Also no matter what a President wants to do, things like highway funding are up to Congress (note the burn the government to the ground crowd is a minority even within the GOP caucus)

    2. The unintended upside of Rubio’s plan is that it effectively removes the punishment for states that lower their drinking age below 21. A California ballot proposition is trying to lower the drinking age and states that CA would lose $200m federal highway funding per year if it passed. If Rubio cut federal highway spending enough that the lost money is negligible, states would feel free to lower their drinking age. I don’t think the tradeoff is worth it though.

      1. Based on young people’s natural and healthy reflex to disobey anything their elders both forbid them to do while doing themselves, I think drinking age should be lowered to twelve.

        Meaning that below this age, people should be able to drink as much legal (no antifreeze regardless of vintage, including Ripple) alcoholic beverage as it takes to make them throw up a lot.

        Should be fewer lethal injuries because kids heal up faster than their elders. And drunk people really stop being cute by the time they’re forty.

        Parents and the rest of the galaxy will still have a deadly-powerful weapon against bad behavior: send it viral every time their children throw up or go staggering around looking “OMG Killme Killme Killme! gross. With special America’s Most Disgusting Drunk Kids Video shows.

        But on thirteenth birthday…cut off for life! Ridicule by their peers, and juniors? “Bottle Baby, Bottle Baby! So natural forces of disobedience this time will work for the positive. Though the law will have to look the other way when twelve year olds get fake ID to prove they’re too old to drink.

        Since nobody fourteen can drive (and are also already charged with homicide if they do drive and kill somebody) drunk driving stats should go down. But: one ironclad Federal mandate: yearly road test with the State Patrol’s top driver in the passenger seat.

        Authorized to issue either a driver’s license or a yearly national (if Marco Rubio doesn’t get elected) ground transportation pass and a bike if you don’t have one.

        Mark

      2. In my rural township we drank with parental consent as teens. There were, in fact, peer pressures applied to excesses. There were no dramatic teen drink driving accidents. The result for me was to stop drinking easily (to save money) at age 22 and never go back. Federal funding for “highways” maybe needs to focus on things like truck trains :-)

    3. Just to be clear considering the snark in the original comment, I’m not averse to the Federal Government getting out of the road-building business, especially in regard to urban freeways. Any extensions to the Interstate System at this point are political or developer subsidy roads that the states ought to fund themselves.

      That said, without Federal revenue sharing the system is likely to degrade through the low-population states between the Sierra/Cascades and Mississippi River so it’s not a slam-dunk decision. Montana especially can’t keep nearly 1000 miles of Interstate (I-90/94 plus I-15) up to readiness all by itself. Wyoming, South Dakota and New Mexico would also struggle. Those are very important roadways.

      1. BDawe,

        I’m a lover of railroads; my Dad worked for Wabash/Norfolk&Western/Norfolk Southern and I still have stock in NS that I value highly. So if the Interstates started to fall apart, I’d personally benefit.

        But I’m not fool enough to think that the rails could even begin to replace the system’s trucking volumes without tens of billions of new investment. Even now the oil trains are forcing grain off BNSF. If you tried to add a few dozen I/M trains to the Highline daily it would grind to a halt a la the post-SP merger UP. The hundreds of trucks per hour that cross the Siskiyou’s would require at least two trains per hour between Eugene and Roseville. Willamette Pass (including the reservoirs to the west) and the Sacramento Canyon simply would never be able to handle those volumes, no matter how much money you threw at the problem. The geographic constraints are too severe.

        Had we never built the Interstates the rails would somehow have kept up with the increased volumes, but now that all the grading and bridgework is done, it makes more sense to invest enough to keep them in good repair.

      2. The wouldn’t it stand to reason that trucking companies should provide their own infrastructure, to effectively compete with the railroads?

        And, in that same vein, Passenger conveyances of whatever form should be self supporting without a tax infusion.

      3. BDawe,
        That means we’d have Interstate highways up the west coast, up the east coat and from NYC to Chicago. Is that what you’re proposing?

      4. Jim Cusick,

        It would have made more sense in 1957, but it does no longer. The country has made its pact with the devil by building all those super-highways, and there’s no going back. In a few years after the fracking bonanza is spent gasoline prices will be back in the upper single digits or will already have broken $10. At that time the wisdom of the Asian and European nations in making more compact cities will become crystal clear. We’ll be the technological laggards while they zoom ahead.

      5. @Anandakos

        Why is it up to the taxpayers now to perpetually ‘solve congestion’, for both commuters and trucking companies?

        Simply deed the rest of the remaining Interstate ROW to the trucking companies… if they build and operate their own ‘Truck Only’ lanes. Run as either a for profit Infrastructure company, or a Co-op, the cost would be born by those who stand to benefit.

        It would work the way the NJ Turnpike does, with the separate Truck/Commercial – Passenger car Only lanes.

      6. Anandakos: The railroads would need to be restored to their former capacity. They’ve been allowed to deteriorate *massively*.

        But I believe in the long run it would be cheaper to rebuild and maintain the Northern Pacific line and the Milwaukee Road line across Montana, than to maintain those Interstates.

      7. Oh, also, some commentary on fossil fuels…

        This is not investment advice, but I finally dropped my NS stock because NS is *heavily* exposed to coal; it’s their biggest sector. And the coal industry is dying fast. (I still have stock in CN, which has basically no coal exposure.)

        Meanwhile, when it comes to oil, the price is being kept low *not* by the fracking, but specifically by Saudi Arabia opening the spigots in order to drive the frackers and tar sands guys out of business. Saudi Arabia can keep this up for 10 years. By then fracking and tar sands will probably be banned for their extreme recklessness. So gas prices may go up a lot then.

        BUT…. by then, electric cars will probably be widely available and mass-produced. So if gas prices do go up, people will just switch to electric traction. This will provide a constant downward pressure on gas prices without taking cars off the road.

        It’s even easier to convert local-service trucks to electric traction than it is for cars, so I expect that will happen during the same time period. That just leaves long-distance trucks, and I believe that traffic *is* going to go back to the rails, because it’s completely insane that it isn’t on the rails right now.

  2. Alternate reporting of the Pronto stats would treat female ridership at 23% as “more than double the expected”. Likewise that 43% of ridership was outside expected age category in a rainy/hilly town with an inbred car-centricity seems pretty good start.

    These bikes as they are need to be where people in a given demographic both are and also where they are going (challenging).

    Electric bikes? Or hold the line and wait for autonomous PEV on an Uber platform (persuasive electric vehicle) ?

    1. At least in Central DC their bike share is really popular. While DC isn’t Seattle, there are a fair number of hills, some of which are surprisingly steep and long. Also remember Seattle is pretty dry in the Summer. While some months in the fall/winter are miserable and wet that is less of a barrier than snow and ice in the winter in other cities.

    2. Anybody remember an electric bike being pushed by a trailer full of car batteries heading down to Portland about 20 years ago.
      We put a covered wagon top on the trailer, reading ‘Portland or Bust’, and made it to the Longview Bridge crossing the Columbia before the whole contraption imploded to the great delight of STP hardcore riders passing us for the umpteenth time.
      Where where Lithium Ion batteries when we needed them?

      1. Mic, think I read once that in Europe after WWII when fuel was scarce, vehicles were powered by devices that made charcoal give off combustible gas. Weird-looking contraption. Pretty sure they used them on buses in Turkey.

        Sometimes they were pulled on trailers, like the diesel generator Portland used- don’t know if still- to run a historic car down to Oregon City. In the absence of catenary. Wonder if any wood-gas- generator company put in a bid for the auxiliary power units on the new trolleybuses?

        Major bicycle advantage over batteries, especially in the Northwest: plenty of fuel when riding through either a forest or wherever in Eastern Washington has anything left to burn.

        Mark

        Mark

      2. Mark, this was also done in Japan during the war. Have seen extant photos of normal-looking vehicles with chimneys and the like on them, and I’m pretty sure the buses (or at least some) used them as well.

      1. A trike with enormous potential to move one and two riders on shared vehicles using smart phone apps to hook up with others. With GPS enabled phones and cars, along with computer profile matching (eg: females only wanting to pick up other females with a positive history of riding), and using real time ride matching sending both trike and rider to the same point, it’s only a matter of time before they are here.
        These PEV’s are like apodments are to SF housing. 3 can park where one car can park now.
        Rocket Science? You bet.
        Pie in the Sky? More pie please. Yum

    3. I disagree with the current Pronto narrative about it’s all downhill. I did a rushed project for the Pronto data challenge that I think is relevant to the electric bike vs more stations question: http://tfliss.github.io/pronto_data_challenge_static/Pronto.ipynb.html

      The second chart at the very bottom shows some well connected red-colored stations that are below where I’d expect. Even though there’s no key, those are Capitol Hill stations. I’m guessing they would probably be about 10 arrivals per day higher per station if the route was flat. The under-connected, under-performing stations at the left are University stations. They are hurt far more by their separation from the main network than the rest of the network is hurt by the uphill. In the first chart, if you hover your mouse over Capitol Hill (CH), you can see the downhill trips and missing uphill returns, but in my opinion the effect isn’t the dominant feature of the the network.

      This leads me to think that at this point a bigger network will help drive usage more than electric assist will for the same investment.

      1. Besides general network expansion, Pronto could improve its attractiveness greatly by paying more attention to details. For instance, the bikes have silly bungy cords to tie stuff too that, for most items don’t work (try riding Pronto carrying something as mundane as a water bottle or laptop – unless you happen to have a backpack on you, you’re out of luck). Even Houston’s bike-share system gets this right by having baskets mounted to the front of their bikes.

        Then, there’s issues with the placement of many of the station. Walking up and down a few stairs to get between the station and one’s ultimate destination is not a big deal, but lugging the bike up or down stairs, riding the bike up or down a handicap ramp with tight spaces, that was never meant to accommodate bikes is a very big deal. Within the Burke-Gilman corridor, the dominant form of access is, not surprisingly, the Burke-Gilman trail. To fully utilize the trail, the stations along the trail need to be located immediately alongside the trail, or at least, at the same elevation as the trail.

        For instance, the Montlake Triangle station is at street level, when it should have been up higher, at the same level as bike path. The station at the back of the UW Med Center is tucked away out of sight, and useless for anyone not headed specifically to the UW Med Center. It should have been located alongside the Burke-Gilman trail next to one of the overpasses leading to the Med Center building. The station at the UW rec room building is also tucked away out of sight, at street level, rather than trail level, requiring unnecessary lugging of the bike up and down just to get in or out of the station.

        Similarly, the Children’s Hospital Station should have been located next to where the Burke-Gilman Trail, not literally on the hospital campus itself. That way, the up and down, plus waiting for the stoplight happens off the bike, not on the bike. It also leads to a station that is useful for local residents, rather than just hospital employees and nobody else.

        I also think Pronto should look a bit more closely at their pricing model – as the system expands, 30 minutes isn’t really enough, and for trips at the edge of the 30-minute range, the current system encourages users to cut corners on safety (e.g. ride too fast on wet roads, run red lights, etc.) in order to make it under the 30-minute limit and avoid usage charges. It is also unfair that if you ride a bike up a hill, you might end up going 1-minute over and have to pay, when you are actually doing the system a favor by getting a bike to the top of the hill without somebody needing to truck it up. Perhaps the 30-minute limit could apply to peak hours only, with a 45-minute limit during off-peak hours?

        Finally, I find it utterly ridiculous that Pronto is charging users sales tax. That makes about as much sense to me as charging sales tax on transit fares. Meanwhile, Uber, for some unknown reason, doesn’t have to pay sales tax. Go figure.

      2. I couldn’t even see it in the data the day when they moved the station from Westlake station to 2 blocks away it made that little difference. The station outside of ACT theater get tons of traffic and it’s really not a good biking experience getting to it.

      3. So agreed on these points.

        The Burke Gilman is so critical to Pronto’s success and it could be even more attractive with UW Link opening. They need to be well placed along the trail which is flat and probably the best place to ride a bike in Seattle (being a flat off-street trail linking so many destinations). Bike share works so well with top notch bike infrastructure especially as much of it is isolated to certain areas.

      4. I agree, greatly expanding the coverage area and strategic placement near infrastructure and popular destinations is more important than investing in a few electric assist bikes in a smaller area. With 7 speeds the current bikes are adequate for most hills. I’m turning 65 years old and I have used them to ride up from 2nd to 12th on Yesler and from 4th and University to the Frye Museum on Terry for concerts at St. James Cathedral. Hills are all about picking your routes carefully. I also prefer to walk back downhill to the Rapid Ride from First Hill because – dark rainy streets – will the breaks hold on those heavy bikes on slippery leaf covered streets? The baskets could certainly be made more useful.

  3. The PM commute last night was a mess, in part thanks to all of the cars (legally) parking in bus lanes downtown, as well as all the other streets where PM rush hour no parking restrictions were not in effect.

    Since Veterans Day is generally a work day in the private sector, and now Metro is running a nearly-full bus schedule, parking in the bus lanes is causing severe traffic problems for almost no additional parking. It was ridiculous to see buses backed up for blocks because (in part) there were exactly 2 cars parked in front of the library on 4th.

    1. Oh yesterday was bad too? Somehow I avoided that. My god Monday and also now it’s taken 1 hour to go from Pioneer Square to Denny Triangle on the surface by bus.

  4. I was at Monday’s council meeting where portions of the HALA were approved. Sawant said she would vote yes, but that the fees were set too low. This was done as part of a grand bargain, but that developers were already trying to renege on their end. It looks like Roger Valdez is continuing that effort.

    Look at the urbanist article. The study we commissioned recommended fees be set (“conservatively “) at $64-80 per sf. We are implementing fees at $5-17.50 per sf. That looks to me like developers won an 80% victory through the grand bargain, and are now pounding away at the other 20%. Once that’s done, I’ll expect to see them call for outright subsidies for developer profits.

    1. The issue to me is not how much or how little developer fees are, but how much more housing gets built. I rejoiced when I read that HALA was approved 100%. It may not be perfect but it’s a lot better than anything else that has been proposed.

      1. Mike, I agree that building (affordable) housing is the point, not imposing fees for their own sake. But given that there is a direct correlation between fees collected and housing built, I don’t see how you can say the actual amount doesn’t matter.

      2. Not sure that is true ken. Maybe it is, but maybe not. Developers have already shown very little appetite to build higher if it involves fees. Basically you are saying that prices and profit are related, but that doesn’t mean charging more is more profitable. You have to account for the volume.

      3. John, I deliberately made a connection between fees _collected_ and housing built. I understand there’s a legitimate argument about deterring development or not, but Mike’s comment read as “the numbers don’t matter, it’s just good we’re taking a step.” It is good we’re a taking a step, but the numbers still matter. (Think $56 million vs. $12 million)

        And as for developers and fees, it seems that the relevant argument is not about fees in isolation but about total costs and profitability. Fees are an input cost, just like concrete and everything else. To suggest that developers wouldn’t build because of higher fees without looking at overall costs seems highly dubious to me.

      4. The problem in SLU was that the fees kicked in only if the developer exercised an “additional height” option. If the fee scale is equal for all heights, that removes the disincentive to go up to the hard limit. Developers want to build to the hard limit and even higher if they could, because that’s what they’re doing. The existence of an all-height fee scale creates another potential disincentive, but I believe it’s trivial and won’t stop development. If one developer declines, another will build. And if nobody does, then we can consider lowering the fee scale.

    2. Was the $80/square foot “conservative” recommendation for commercial properties, or would that apply to residential too?

      I think one of the reasons we’re seeing a building boom in office space now is that developers building now can avoid fees, which although low today are unlikely to ever decline given the political climate. $80/square foot on a 700,000 square foot building is $56 million. That’s a lot of money.

      1. Alex, I believe the consultant’s report was focused exclusively on commercial development, since that’s what was on the table at the time. I agree $56 mlllion is a lot of money. But so is $1 million. These numbers need context. What would be the overall cost to develop a 700k SF building? And remember, that $80 (max) is now down to $17.50. So you’re talking $12 million, not $56 million.

        Let’s also remember that the concept behind a linkage fee was that new development actually increases the need for affordable housing, not decreases it (by creating associated jobs that don’t pay enough for people to afford out market rate). Or, as noted in the October Urbanist article explaining these fees:

        The fee schedule is far below the conservative $64 to $80 recommended in a study by David Paul Rosen & Associates, meaning developers will not pay for the full impact their projects have on affordable housing. But the fees are still projected to total $195 million over the next decade.

        http://www.theurbanist.org/2015/10/01/how-seattles-mandatory-affordable-housing-program-will-work/

      2. It’s not because of fees. It’s because demand is at an all-time high, the vacancy rate is low, and people are leasing them as fast as they can build them. They wouldn’t let a little thing like a fee stand in the way of mega-profits.

    3. The study we commissioned recommended fees be set (“conservatively “) at $64-80 per sf.

      Are you talking about O’Brien’s study? The one written by an Affordable Housing org?

      If I remember correctly that study looked at what the fee needed to be to maximize affordable housing dollars. It didn’t consider the effects that could have on discouraging market rate construction. We need to find a way to maximize affordable housing AND maximize market rate as well.

      1. Seattlite, while repeating my disclaimer that I am not an expert on this, here’s a couple of thoughts:

        1) Yes, the DRA study linked to by O’Brien. I believe they are consultants, not an actual affordable housing organization. I’m not at all one to believe that something is true just because it’s in a study. OTOH, it’s clear they put a lot of work into it, and I’ve yet to hear anyone seriously challenge or dispute it. If you or others can point to serious objections to it, not just casual aspersions, I’d be interested to see them.

        2) You wouldn’t really need a study to see “what the fee needed to be to maximize affordable housing dollars.” That number would be “infinity,” or “$1 trillion,” if you want to be realistic about it.

        3) As to what the report looked at, it’s confusing because there are now two reports, one from 2014 and one from September 15. Having looked at the new report, it seems clear that the “conservative” they refer to is whether or not the fees would actually mitigate the full impacts of the new development. (Conservative meaning they wouldn’t.) So based on this part, a fairer statement from me might be that “the fees actually adopted would mitigate less than 20% of the demand for new affordable housing created by this development.”

        As to whether the fees were “conservative” enough to not discourage development, O’Brien’s (really the City’s) page links to the earlier report and states:

        Second, the economic analysis conducted by DRA shows that Seattle’s jobs, real estate and development markets are so strong that we could raise our fees significantly without halting the growth we are experiencing. The more modest fees that Council are considering are below the level that the analysis suggests would slow development. So I do not believe we will halt more housing from being built than under our current IZ program.

        I didn’t see this supported directly in the earlier report, but am limited on time and still not an expert. Would love to see some other opinions, preferably grounded in some fact or supporting reasoning.

        Here’s a couple of links for anyone wanting to dive in:

        http://www.seattle.gov/council/issues/affordablehousing/linkagefee.html
        2014 report: http://clerk.seattle.gov/~public/meetingrecords/2014/plus20140721_1b.pdf
        2015 report: https://seattle.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=4025738&GUID=230502BF-DEF7-4978-94FA-43C35613513F
        http://www.theurbanist.org/2015/10/01/how-seattles-mandatory-affordable-housing-program-will-work/

      2. 2) You wouldn’t really need a study to see “what the fee needed to be to maximize affordable housing dollars.” That number would be “infinity,” or “$1 trillion,” if you want to be realistic about it.

        To state something so obvious even Grant and Sawant would be forced to admit it: fees above a *some* level would minimize affordable housing dollars to zero, because no one would build. You don’t seem quite so clueless as to not understand this, so I’m puzzled by what you’re trying to say in these two sentences.

      3. DJW:

        I was responding to this comment:

        If I remember correctly that study looked at what the fee needed to be to maximize affordable housing dollars. It didn’t consider the effects that could have on discouraging market rate construction.

        My response may have been a little flip, but to spell it out a bit, look at those two sentences. Seattleite suggests (first sentence) the study looked only at maximizing affordable housing dollars in a vacuum, which I think we both agree would be entirely meaningless. And yes of course there is some level that would be too much–I don’t think you could say I’ve claimed otherwise.

        Thanks also for the ringing endorsement. I am seriously considering signing all my posts “not quite so clueless” for the next week or so. :)

  5. 1. Roger, put a sock in it! Just because I put a roof over my house doesn’t mean the clouds are going to decide it’s not worth it to ever rain again. On the other hand, if I set my own house on fire, that will definitely induce huge fires to make the same decision. Right?

    2. What governmental agency’s constitution is any Republican, by which I mean Dixiecrat, election-winner going to swear allegiance to? One fiftieth of the States? Or all fifty one at a time, and one former country?

    Abraham Lincoln pleaded with Robert E. Lee to command the Union army. Lee said that his allegiance was to his home State. Fitting they buried all those dead soldiers on his lawn. Wish the blue-coats had given him a shovel.

    3. I’m working on my reflexes and timing myself to see how fast I can shut off the radio every time anything about any Republican candidate, starting with what they say about anything.

    But also checking my stop-watch to see which party makes me hit the switch quicker. This election should be the Democrats’ to lose. Trouble is, in 2010, the electorate gave them what, by that formula, was rightfully theirs and very hard-earned.

    Will say I give the watch a few more ticks for Bernie Sanders, because I’ve heard so much less from him than from any other the others. Like I did for current President. But lesson of that experience is that if there’s something I need that I don’t hear, candidate speaking isn’t going to fight for it, let alone deliver it.

    Good thing polls are a block away. Gives me slightly less excuse not to vote. Luckily, also I know whom I’m going to write in. About whom the thing I like best is that she doesn’t want the job.

    Mark Dublin

    1. BTW: Should have said “…by the same token” about the fires. Which also very often create huge floods and landslides as after everything root-bearing thing gets burned away.

      With the present housing market, the fuel of desperate money seems larger than every dry twig east of the mountains. Meaning when this one burns itself out everything on rail through Seattle is going to meet same fate as Northline Sounder.

      MD

      1. You’re a credit to your State, Joe. Washington’s real Republicans have given the place a lot, including a municipal utility system that I wonder if another vote of the people can give us back. (See! Metro is transit-related- and can be again!)

        You guys are also the cornerstone of a movement called “Democrats for Improved Republicans”- whose chief motivation is to deprive our party of its last pathetic campaign refuge: “Well, the Republicans are worse!”

        So for your own sake, keep it at Lincoln and McKenna. One of this region’s worst weaknesses is to worship somebody just because they’re from New York. Rudy Giuliani is no Jim Ellis! Leave that to the art community. In particular the car barn destroying Sculpture Garden team, and everybody on the Waterfront project that thinks golf carts count as electric transit.

        Mark

      2. Giuliani (“Ghouliani”) actively supported police brutality, and pushed for police to be allowed to harass innocent people and beat them up with no consequences, as well as supporting warrantless spying, and so on and so on.

        He was horrible. It was all worthless too; had no effect on the crime rate, except perhaps for increasing the crimes-committed-by-police rate. The crime rate simply went down 18 years after the amount of lead in the air went down and stopped poisoning babies. (There’s *masses* of research on this; Rick Nevin and Kevin Drum both have extensive lists of links.)

        Last Republican I liked on the national level was Charlie Crist in Florida; he isn’t a Republican any more. I liked Jeffords; he quit the Republican Party too. I like Ashley Swearingen in Fresno, but I suspect if she goes above the Mayoral level she’ll quit the party too.

      3. Nathanael, Rudy Giuliani cut crime dramatically and took the fight on crime on with both fists. I don’t particularly care or weep or mourn what happened to the career criminals he and the NYPD fought to make NYC livable again. Comments like “The crime rate simply went down 18 years after the amount of lead in the air went down and stopped poisoning babies” destroy your credibility 180%.

        Have a nice day. Oh and THANK a cop!

  6. So why aren’t UD residents who oppose parks also called NIMBYS? There’s even some dude in that article saying they don’t want a park because it will attract the homeless. Sounds like a NIMBY to me.

    And Keven Desmond, I know you come here every morning to read my column. You do realize when you create the next Rapid Ride line, you are going to have to skip over the letter G, right? Or else Beavis and Butthead-types will spell out a bad word in the schedule holder.

    1. I agree the lady in that article is using a despicable argument against a park, but the term nimby
      almost exclusively refers to being against development and other humans in their vicinity.

  7. “Pronto made a very quiet bike share station change last week. A new station is now located at the Montlake Triangle. The station has capacity for 14 bikes… The move should greatly improve access for Pronto riders”

    14 bikes for thousands of students…

    1. Have to start somewhere. Especially since there aren’t Pronto stations all over campus.

      If Pronto added 100 bikes to UW Station, it would also need to add ~100 more spots at stations within the bike-shed. That’s more complicated, since destinations are more diffuse.

      1. Agreed, the network is key, not dock size. Bike share rides are very short. The bikes get recycled through the system and people will want to get on and off Link, so it’s effectively much more than 14 bikes. The UW network is undersized, but the performance looks on-par with what you’d expect in a 15-dock network (a handful of rides to/from each dock each day). Football games should stress that station more than Link if anything does, but I’m guessing they won’t until the network grows. I guarantee no one’s going to take a Pronto from SLU to the U District just to get on Link. It will be interesting to see what happens to usage at the Children’s Hospital dock, though.

        My take is we effectively have a 15 dock network around the University that performs as well as 15-dock networks do in other cities (a handful of rides to/from each dock per day) and a 45-dock network in the rest of the city that performs as well as 45-dock networks do (20-30 rides to/from per day average over the year). Dropping one giant dock at U-Link won’t change the network size.

        The thing is usage doesn’t really start to take off in terms of trips to/from each station until you get at least 50 other docks within 15 minute rides. It’s pretty consistent across cities.

        http://nacto.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/NACTO_Walkable-Station-Spacing-Is-Key-For-Bike-Share_Sc.pdf

        Here’s Chicago’s Divvy network back in 2015, when it was more comparable to ours:
        http://chi.streetsblog.org/2013/07/30/diving-into-divvy-stats-bike-share-trips-spike-on-the-weekend/

      2. UW Station is going to have a hundred people getting off a train every five minutes. A bike that leaves will probably be gone at least an hour. Even if only a small fraction of the train arrivals want to use Pronto, I can’t see 14 spaces as being enough.

    2. It’s entirely possible that station will be overwhelmed with demand (I have no idea), but it’s silly to use the “thousands of students” to 14 docks ratio, for two reasons. First, because if demand is consistently multidirectional and going to stations ~10-15 minutes away, 14 docks could serve quite a few people throughout the day. Second, I like bikeshare and support expanding it, but let’s not pretend it’ll ever be anything but a niche product in the overall transportation market. Even with vast expansions and improvements, a small fraction of UW station riders will use it.

      1. By comparison the Pine and 9th station at the Convention Place bus tunnel station (I know it’s just buses) looks like it has about 17 docks. I think it maxed out at about 30 rides to/from per day average during the summer, which is about what you would expect from a station with 40 practical destinations. There were always plenty of bikes available when I used it. The ULink station has a little more than a dozen destination docks, so it should see far lower usage.

        It’s possible it will get a reasonable amount of back-and-forth traffic from the Stevens Way station to shorten the walk for a bus2link transfer. It might get used by Childrens’ Employees if a lot of them end up commuting via Link, but that would be a reverse commute balanced by folks coming in from the Stevens Way transfer. There will be some reverse-commute UW employees and students as well.

        I’ll be really interested to see what happens. It will be a great test of whether the size and density of the network matters or having a station near transit matters. Will the Link station single-handedly produce numbers like the two-station Waterfront network? Pier 69 averaged almost 70 rides to/from per day at the peak of summer with 28 spots. The Aquarium dock is smaller and had a more normal peak average at around 40. ULink is not even opening in the summer.

        The UD-01 station is right on the Burke-Gilman trail and sort of in a neighborhood. It could also become a feeder station for ULink. It’s current numbers are miserable (peaked at about 20 rides to/from per day). Bike infrastructure does matter, but the network matters far more. The two pioneer square stations do about as well as the entire University network, I think because they’re near the end of the 2nd Ave PBL. But every time I look closer infrastructure only seems to help in the context of a large dense network. Bike share seems to be very different from both recreational cycling and traditional bike commuting in that respect.

        Personally, I’d love to be surprised and see demand go through the roof when ULink opens. It would provide a good argument to drop moderately sized networks around other transit centers where it can help even out system equity.

      2. UW is not just a university, it is also a cultural center (Meany Hall/Kane Hall, etc.). Since UW Link station site was chosen to serve sports fans, medical employment, and the edge of the school campus instead of the cultural center (Red Square), Pronto can be very useful for getting the outside community to cultural events on campus. But I heard the Pronto station is a 4 minute walk from the UW Link station. They should move it closer once that station opens.

      3. Instead of moving the dock they just added, why not add a dock atop the triangle? It would be closer to the BGT and convenient to the upper level exit from the LR station.

      4. Unless/until the city expands the system I think they are working with a finite number of stations. Expand already!

  8. Great news for Sounder North. Systematically improve the corridor from mudslides through mitigation, prevention, and the construction of key walls. As is, Sounder North ridership is a joke, but continued improvement of reliability will surely see increased usage. I’ve always thought it sad that we can put a man on the moon but we can’t figure out that a wall will stop mudslides… And the hysteria surrounding the safety of Sounder North has also been amusing to me. We shouldn’t cancel Sounder North solely because of a few mudslides! Actually give it a chance to succeed with the appropriate upgrades. This should be the preferred way to get to Everett, via a commuter train, not a slow light rail spine… Now let’s get a Seattle-North Downtown station!

    1. The commuter train is slow, in case you didn’t notice. An hour to Everett, but cars can get there in 30 minutes. That same hour is the time it takes ST Express and Link to get to Everett. Sounder North’s biggest problem is not the mudslides but the fact that the bulk of southwest Snohomish’s population is centered on 99 and I-5. Only a very few people can walk to Mukilteo or Edmonds Stations, and most would have to drive out-of-direction to take it to Seattle. That’s why its ridership is so low. Sounder South is right in the middle of the population mass, at least the segments between Tukwila and Auburn and Tacoma Dome and Lakewood.

      1. Mike, with respect that’s one of the lower quality comments I’ve seen from you:

        “The commuter train is slow, in case you didn’t notice. An hour to Everett, but cars can get there in 30 minutes.”

        Checking Google Earth it’s 35 min – 1 h 40 min on morning rush hour. Sound Transit 510/512 would love to make Everett Station to downtown Seattle in 35 minutes.

        “Sounder North’s biggest problem is not the mudslides but the fact that the bulk of southwest Snohomish’s population is centered on 99 and I-5.”

        I consider both of these situations equally problematic. The first is a safety and logistical issue. One slide now til April-May… and this has happened before with other trains… and we have a disaster-film size disaster.

        The second is because transit agencies with the exception of Everett Transit & Community Transit 113 are NOT feeding the Sounder North rail. Nor is there a marketing campaign to advertise the route that I’m aware of.

        All that said, it is time to hope the slide retention works. I do believe fundamentally it is time to trade Sounder North in for a more cost-effective solution that meets the ridership demands. The sooner, the better as Sound Transit needs the freed-up service hours.

      2. More specifically, WSDOT says the 95% reliable travel time between Everett and Seattle that corresponds with the arrival of the last 3 scheduled ST Sounder North AM trains is +/- 5 minutes from being an hour trip (55-66 minutes). For the first train it is 45 minutes.

      3. Joe, your first criticism of Mike’s comment is on target–that one can drive to everett at 1:00 AM in 30 minutes isn’t relevant to Sounder N, which runs during rush hour.

        Your second critique, though, is off the mark. Sounder N isn’t as slow as Mike implies, but it’s no much faster than other routes that it makes sense to go substantially out of direction to Mukilteo or Edmonds to access it. The relevant transit agencies don’t run service because the demand almost certainly isn’t there. (A related criticism of WSF and ST for not coordinating ferry arrivals better is worth making, but I suspect the lost ridership is pretty small.)

      4. I realize that 30 minutes is not possible rush hour, but my main concern is the general all-day network, not special peak service, and I’m irked that ST Express and Link will be so pokey. (Tacoma has the same issue: 60 minutes on STEX and Sounder, 30 minutes in a car. That’s why people aren’t stampeding to the trains in a mad rush.)

        “The second is because transit agencies with the exception of Everett Transit & Community Transit 113 are NOT feeding the Sounder North rail.”

        Which missing routes would be worthwhile, and would they really have a competitive travel time with the existing buses and future Link?

        “Nor is there a marketing campaign to advertise the route that I’m aware of.”

        I can’t believe that commuters in Snohomish County don’t know that Sounder exists. Newcomers of course, but they’re a tiny part of the population.

      5. Mike, the fact of the matter is that all-day service between Seattle and Everett or Lynwood is simply unnecessary, at least to the levels that require dedicated ROW investment.

        It’s certainly far less necessary than all-day service within any of those municipalities.

      6. “all-day service between Seattle and Everett or Lynwood is simply unnecessary, at least to the levels that require dedicated ROW investment.”

        We’re building the ROW for peak needs, and we get the rest of the day for essentially free. We’re not building the ROW solely because of off-peak needs.

      7. “I can’t believe that commuters in Snohomish County don’t know that Sounder exists. Newcomers of course, but they’re a tiny part of the population.”

        They know there’s some sort of train to the airport, it’s just that unlike those on this blog that live in the ‘Seattle Transit Bubble’, most suburbanites live in the ‘Regional Auto Bubble’.

        They see train tracks in places, and know sometimes trains get in their way, but they don’t bother figuring out the details.

        Transit is a foreign and scary place for most… and besides, you get all wet when you go between various transit modes. Kinda cuts into the ability to hit the garage door opener, drive to the workplace (preferably with covered parking), do their office work, come home and hit the remote on the garage door opener, and never have to see anyone.

        Had a few neighbors like that.

        In Los Angeles, the car is king because they wear them like jewelry. It’s a statement, and the weather is conducive to showing them off.

        Up here, in WET LA, everyone is afraid of getting wet.
        Peoples butts are stitched to the seats.
        They’re not Road Bullies…. They are Wet Weather Weenies.

      8. “We’re building the ROW for peak needs, and we get the rest of the day for essentially free. We’re not building the ROW solely because of off-peak needs.

        Which is exactly the reason I-405 is getting widened.

      9. And your point? Do you have some way to convince companies to stagger people’s start times evenly between 6am and 2pm? Or to change the fact that people are used to certain companies being open 8am-5pm and others 10am-7pm, and don’t want to keep track of “This company opens at 7; this company at 9; this company at 12?” Workers also have to call people in other companies, so they both have to be open at the same time. That’s the main reason for the peak bulge. Part of the bulge is people going to work 9-5, part of it is people doing one side of an alternate shift (e.g., 11pm to 7am), and part of it is the all-day number of people doing personal errands — all at the same time.

        If you don’t have adequate transit peak hours, then people have to forego job opportunities or errands or drive to them. If you’re thinking that not extending a transit ROW will make people stop living in Snohomish and Pierce County, no it won’t because it hasn’t yet and Seattle is 1/5 of the metropolitan population. Then we come to widening 405. That’s not at all like extending transit lanes or rails, because cars take up several times the space of each person in them. That’s the part that’s nonsensical: widening 405 to meet the never-ending car demand. Instead of installing BRT or a train and dealing with the last-mile problem from the stations.

    2. Andy W, I just hope WHEN the big mudslide pushes Sounder North into Puget Sound you’re in it, you’re able to escape, and you’re trying to swim to shore with two mainstream media journos in bright windbreakers try to interview you…………………………………………………

      That will be fun. I’ll stand on the shore and offer you coffee plus a blanket.

      Get my point? Grow up.

      1. When the last house on the bluff slides down the hill, I’ll declare the line to be safe from the laws of gravity. Just wait until an oil train of 100 cars ends up taking a bath.

      2. Absolute agreement. 100 oil train or coal train cars in Puget Sound would be an ecological disasster that progressive agitators from all around the world should be demanding justice for…

        If Democrats REALLY cared about the environment they’d invest in a inland, off-the-shore rail line and close off the coastal line.

      3. Wishing for a train crash just to spite me, and I’m the one that needs to grow up?! Sickening, just wow… Seriously guys, put the snide comments away. I’m just trying to have a discussion. Sounder North is far from perfect in so many ways, you all have pointed that out. I was merely trying to complement WSDOT for trying to improve something instead of giving up. Sheesh, only on this blog can people take a compliment so negatively.

      4. Andy, it would be better to stand down something that doesn’t work safely…. instead of fawn over choo-choo. I’m happy WSDOT is trying slope stabilization. Let’s see if it works 100% until Monday with extreme weather between then & now and we’ll talk.

      5. “If Democrats REALLY cared about the environment they’d invest in a inland, off-the-shore rail line and close off the coastal line.”

        If Democrats really cared about the environment, we’d be building the dedicated passenger tracks from Seattle to the Oregon border right now, so that we could run trains like Caltrain does and improve Cascades and the Coast Starlight. They would also fund a Vancouver-like metropolitan transit network. And nationally they would do all that infrastructure investment that has bipartisan support except among the tax-and-deficit allergic R’s and D’s.

      6. Andy W, I just hope WHEN the big mudslide pushes Sounder North into Puget Sound you’re in it,

        I’m not a fan of Sounder N either, but dude. Come on.

        Myself, I really wish all the drivers out there would stop clogging up public property and cooking the planet with their death machines, but in spite of my anti-car views, I don’t wish to see the rate of car accidents increase.

      7. Joe, zero fatalities on this stretch. How many thousands have died this year alone from car crashes, obesity related disease, and gun violence? How about the mortality rate of the airline industry this year? Ok, compare that to ZERO deaths ever on this segment of track. And WSDOT is still trying to improve safety (which they should)! Joe, I applaud your concern for the well being of others (though I’m clearly not a concern of yours), but I fear your efforts for safety are misplaced. If you REALLY want to make a difference advocating for safety, focus your efforts on car crashes, obesity related disease, gun violence, and the airline industry.

        The most logical argument presented in this thread was by Mike, when he explained that Edmonds and Mukleteo don’t have the population to support Sounder North. I can get behind that argument.

        I challenge you to stop picking things apart and to instead present solutions. Please bring back a special reprise of your North by Northwest report where you detail a plan that is better than Sounder North and the link spine methodology.

      8. Thank you Andy W, I appreciate the kind words. But until your butt is on that train, you won’t get it.

        We’ve had many close calls on that track and some derailings of other trains. Sounder North has been kinda lucky, and there are some preemptive cancellations to be safe.

        I am though for economic and ridership reasons as well an advocate of trading not eliminating Sounder North for something more equitable to all parties.

      9. Joe, can you point me to other proposals that have been tossed around? Have you had discussions on light rail express trains? I would imagine bypass tracks at most stations could accommodate an express train between Everett and Seattle with key stops (Paine, Lynnwood, Norhtgate). I know south of Northgate is locked in with two tracks, so the express would effectively stop at Northgate and continue as a regular route into downtown.

        I agree an inland route for Sounder North would be better if it were possible, but how can we afford the cost and time it would take to build a whole new set of tracks? It is with that rationale that I would prefer trying the best we can to shore up current Sounder North safety. I don’t see it politically possible to shut down Sounder North anytime soon.

        All ears to other ideas.

      10. Andy W, there were proposals to reactivate railroad track with a more inland alignment instead of let them become rails to trails. Sadly the rails to trails crowd won.

        Better to trade Sounder North for something better instead of fall over ourselves defending something we know is wrong.

      11. BNSF runs track inspectors up and down the line when conditions warrant.

        What’s interesting is that if the railroad ROW didn’t exist, neither would most of those homes on the bluff..

      12. Jim, I don’t trust “the railroad” corporation, I don’t trust Big Government too much and I don’t trust local politicians who blow off safety concerns and would rather roll the dice than work towards a more cost-effective, safer transit solution.

      13. The slides are going to be fixed. Due to really substantial stupidity by previous governments and previous corporate boards, that line along the shore is the ONLY rail route from Vancouver BC to Seattle.

        It’s the only route for Cascades, it’s the only route for intermodal, it’s the only route for coal, it’s the only route for oil, it’s the only route for grain, it’s the only route for chemicals.

        They will repair the slides. They have no choice. Their previous choice was to run trains down the Eastside Rail Line, but a bunch of idiots allowed it to be dismantled.

      14. My point is that Sounder North is the least of it. If you’re worried about safety, Cascades, the oil trains, the coal trains, and so on are what you should be worried about. And there are no alternatives except to fix the line, or rebuild the Eastside Rail Line.

      15. On this Nathanel, we kinda sorta agree as to, “There are no alternatives except to fix the line, or rebuild the Eastside Rail Line.”

        I prefer the latter. Big time. One oil train or coal train into Puget Sound would be an ecological disaster and possibly a humanitarian disaster.

        One passenger train into Puget Sound WOULD CERTAINLY BE a humanitarian disaster on par with a terror assault on our Paris (aka Seattle).

        We must do something proactively.

  9. How long until the final official results for Community Transit Prop 1 are in? Or are they in already? Haven’t heard anything.

    1. Chris, tomorrow at 1700 at http://www.snoco.org/elections/results/ecurrent.htm

      Currently:

      Community Transit Proposition 1
      572/572 100.00%
      Under Votes 8604
      Over Votes 15

      Vote Count Percent
      APPROVED 50,357 51.01%
      REJECTED 48,366 48.99%
      Total 98,723 100.00%

      Good guys are beating Them Trolls. Could have been an improved campaign.

      Let me just say I do think there was room for improvement:

      *More letters to the editor were necessary to counter the negative anti-transit campaign devoid of positive reform ideas just flooding the letters to the editor section

      *I believe some campaign swag would have been nice

      *I also believe nonprofits – please note the plural – who I constantly hear about need service should have had their service needs in the open. Where the new service was going would have raised positive passions for transit!

      *Finally, I believe the negative, destructive, trolling anti-Prop 1 campaign should have been called on the carpet for the misinformation and solution-lacking propaganda all over their campaign messaging. These folks don’t get it or don’t care that folks in Stanwood in northwest Snohomish County get a one-seat ride to/from Seattle with only a few stops in between: http://commtrans.org/schedule/422/ . That’s expensive! I guess if we had a few more letters to the editor, we would have started rolling this back.

      That said, Campaign Chairwoman Jennifer Gregerson did NOT let anybody down. Nope. Ran a positive & honourable campaign, ran phone banks and direct mail that helped carry the day. I’m honored to call Jennifer a friend. All indisputable facts the negative, destructive, cynical anti campaign cannot deny and can learn from.

  10. Anyone else been having a lot of trouble with One Bus Away? Besides all the video screen being inoperable downtown lately, it’s been pretty unreliable on my phone.

    1. The video screens not working seems to be a physical maintenance issues, unrelated to the OneBusAway service. It’s been a bit worse lately, but generally working for my routes.

  11. Aberdeen’s hydrogen centre refuels 1,000th bus

    The city council’s hydrogen production and bus refuelling centre – the first of its kind in the UK – recently made its 1,000th refuel.

    The centre, based at the council’s Kittybrewster depot, opened in March and provides fuel for 10 hydrogen fuel cell buses, the largest fleet in Europe.

    The buses only emit water vapour, which reduces carbon emissions and air pollution, as well as being quieter and smoother to run than diesel vehicles.

    https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/aberdeen/750105/aberdeens-hydrogen-centre-refuels-1000th-bus/

    1. The buses only emit water vapour, which reduces carbon emissions and air pollution, as well as being quieter and smoother to run than diesel vehicles.

      Air pollution at the point? Yes. Carbon emissions? Depends how the hydrogen is generated. Most is cracked from natural gas, NOT dissociated electrically from water.

      1. The process of converting natural gas to hydrogen is called reforming.

        Natural gas is CH4 — one carbon atom and 4 hydrogen atoms. It’s truly free clean energy from the earth (Nature’s Battery)

        It’s very efficient and clean and rather simple…just steam heat the natural gas and break off the carbon from the four H atoms. The carbon can be captured and sequestered or reused in by-products (like carbonation for beverages).

      2. As far as the buses themselves, consumption of hydrogen in a fuel cell produces zero air pollution, only water as a byproduct in the vehicle itself, near the populated areas.

      3. That “steam” you’re advocating isn’t something that’s coming out of a teakettle. According to Wikipedia it’s at 850-950 C at fifteen to forty-five atmospheres. It takes a bundle of energy to superheat that pressurized steam, and the usual source is the methane (natural gas) feed.

        TANSTAAFL, Dude, TANSTAAFL, especially in the energy industry.

      4. HYDROGEN PRODUCTION: NATURAL GAS REFORMING

        http://energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-production-natural-gas-reforming

        Technip awarded contract for CHS hydrogen plant in Laurel, Montana

        Technip, which plans to execute the project out of its Claremont, Calif., office, will deliver engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) services for the proposed hydrogen plant, which is to have a production capacity of 40,000 normal cu m/hr, the service company said.

        As part of the EPC contract, Technip will equip the plant with its proprietary top-fired steam reforming technology for the production of high-purity hydrogen as well as the export of steam.

        http://www.ogj.com/articles/2015/11/chs-lets-contract-for-hydrogen-plant-at-montana-refinery.html

    2. And by the way, nobody is “converting” natural gas to Hydrogen. There’s no nuclear magic happening; it’s all just chemistry. You can call it “reforming”, but in fact what’s happening is that enough energy is being dumped into the methane molecule to break the C-H bonds. The catalyst attracts the nascent Hydrogen to it allowing the ionized Hydrogen to bond into gas molecules instead of just jumping back onto the Carbon atom.

      TANSTAAFL, Dude, TANSTAAFL.

      Hydrogen is just another K[r]o[t]ch Brothers smoke and mirrors “solution”. Solar, wind, and tidally generated electricity are the only rational choices. Yes, that means batteries; lots of batteries, and they have definite drawbacks. But once in place such a system requires very little external input, unlike the Hydrogen mirage.

      1. I’ve no problem with solar powered electrolyzed Hydrogen. That’s a very good way to “store” solar energy. Your allies on the mouth-breathing right don’t want to do it that way, though. “Too expensive”. The Japanese have no fossil fuels so they don’t have that mouth-breather lobby.

        Yeah, they have the Emperor worshipping rightists, but at least they recognize the need for environmental cleanliness.

        The vast majority of Hydrogen is not clean.

      2. All hydrogen is clean in the cities, suburbs and any place where humans can breathe air.

        Any place where hydrogen is produced from natural gas can sequester C or reuse it. Natural gas is freely obtainable, and does not require a costly refinery to be used as a fuel.

        Any place that creates hydrogen from solar produces zero pollution.

      3. Sequestering carbon is essentially impossible. The only reliable way it can be done is with plants, which is sloooow. There are a few industrial techniques (carbon-negative concrete) but they’re not in common use or “industrial scale” yet.

    3. I am cracking up with laughter. They’ve managed to refuel 1000 times! For 10 buses! That’s 100 refuels per bus in over 200 days!

      The agencies which bought battery-electric buses have each refueled daily or more, which is over 200 times per bus in 200 days, for over 2 years now.

      Your beloved technology is so far behind it’s funny.

    1. Half-hourly Sounder South would be even better. It would be a reasonable compromise between those who want an all-day express to Kent, and those who want to do it with Sounder and not have too much frequency.

  12. Low bid on Bellevue Link tunnel drilling is $121m, 20% below estimates.

    Am I the only one that is concerned ST is going with the low bidder (by 20%) when said construction company it seems has zero experience with this type of job? I mean they’ve done some good stuff but their forte is “Roadways and Bridges”. Their tunneling experience seems to be Keechelus Dam to Stampede Pass.

  13. New fuel cell exhibit on now display in Vancouver, BC

    Hyundai has announced the launch of a new interactive exhibit for Science World British Columbia, at TELUS World of Science in Vancouver, that is intended to give visitors of all ages a chance to experience first hand the environmental benefits of the first zero-emissions hydrogen fuel cell vehicle available to Canadian customers.

    http://www.nsnews.com/new-fuel-cell-exhibit-on-now-1.2110683#sthash.3powtEqW.dpuf<

    1. Toys.

      Meanwhile, the battery-electric bus market continues to boom:

      http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/china-electric-bus-industry-report-2015-2020-300178202.html
      The production levels of electric buses are where electric cars were a couple of years ago. The same exponential growth curve is happening.

      And the tech is getting better very fast, with a new design having a 600 mile range proven in a real-world test:
      http://www.autoblog.com/2015/11/06/brighsun-launches-electric-bus-australia-600-mile/
      http://onestepoffthegrid.com.au/all-electric-bus-unveiled-in-melbourne-heading-to-sydney-on-one-charge/

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