92 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Underground Maps Unravelled”

  1. Quick question: if ST3 is approved by voters next November, when can we reasonably expect the new light rail lines to go into service?

    1. Half of that is to leave enough time to draw the new maps. Extending spines is not for the faint of heart, or so says Maxwell.
      And adding one merge point? Oh the horror of that thought.

    2. It depends on what gets approved. Tunneling takes a long time, but there are places where it is worth the investment.

    3. ST has been assuming 15 years based on the size of ST1 and 2. The first 4-5 years would be planning and EIS writing, the next five years would be the first construction projects start up, and the last five years would see the shorter projects finish and some segments opening and the dependent projects get underway. It also depends on the revenue stream: the amount collected each year determines how much bonds can be outstanding, so some projects may have to wait until funding accumulates. ST1 and 2 could probably have been done quicker if more things could have been started simultaneously. If the entire phase is larger than ST2 (as Everett wants with its additions and Seattle Subway wants with its complete network) then it would take longer.

    4. I’m a little disturbed reading something about ST3 in the Seattle Times yesterday…that the politicians had ladled in riders to fund education.

      While obviously we are all for education, I do not want a transportation bill that is already laying claim to large amounts of tax money to have the kitchen sink thrown in.

      Right now, based on this, and my dislike of the technological choice of batteries-only for alternative buses, I am recommending a No vote on ST3.

      1. I am really torn on ST3 anyway.

        Perhaps had Jessyn put the whole damn highway expansion tax to referendum or gave the money to Sound Transit partners like King County Metro and CT, I’d call Jessyn a hero instead of a sellout beholden to the WEA.

        Luckily I don’t have a vote on ST3

      2. Here’s the article: Vote to expand light rail next year could mean $500M for education. I had totally forgotten about that. It was part of the political compromise between ST3, the gas tax, sales tax on road projects (which some lawmakers wanted to exempt because they’re paid by the gas tax), and education. Exempting road projects from sales tax created a hole in the general fund, which the surcharge on ST3 was supposed to replace, but it got diverted to education (which is not a complete loss to the general fund because part of it would have been spent on education anyway).

      3. Still does not make it right to take transit dollars for education.

        A dangerous precedent has been set.

        Jessyn Farrell betrayed transit advocates in any event.

        Worse yet, and now we all hate sore winners but I have to say dammit it was really close Community Transit Prop 1. I would like the same for road proponents. I would rather have seen more money for transit grants for those county level transit agencies – especially those who are going to have to restructure to feed the light rail stations. Dammit, Jessyn just wussed out like a Steeler when they don’t have the refs helping ’em out.

      4. It may not be right but the alternative would be for our money to be spent on highways in Spokane. Pick your poison.

    5. You’ll enjoy hearing that the Pacific Electric Subway in LA was proposed in early 1924 and opened for business in late 1925. Granted it was only about a mile, but was a rail tunnel built 90 years ago under a populated area and complete with a 10 story terminal building… http://www.erha.org/pewhs.htm
      Planned, designed and built in about 18 months… facepalm

      1. Portland’s first electric street railway opened in 1889.

        By 1893 (4 years later), a fairly dense network of electric lines were serving the city and there was an interurban line to Oregon City (15 miles out).

        By 1905 (16 years after the start) pretty much all corners of the metropolitan area were served, with an interurban line going all the way to Estacada (20 miles out) and Troutdale. The World’s Fair / Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition came to town and the street railway was moving 1 million passengers a week. Cars were scheduled past the exposition grounds every 30 seconds.

        On the other hand, in those days Portland mostly lacked paved streets, and putting track in was pretty much just a matter of throwing down rails and ties and covering everything back up with dirt. Underground electricity was pretty much an unknown feature of the urban landscape.

        Build Link on Highway 99 on the surface just like those days, and repave the road with gravel behind the track machine, and you could probably get to Everett in a year. Would most people be pissed at the result? Sure, but it would be done as fast and with similar results as those lines 100 years ago.

        MAX yellow line was built in Interstate Avenue (part of highway 99W down here) in only 5 years start to finish (planning started 1999, construction started 2000, line opened 1 May 2004) but the result isn’t something the Seattle area would probably want.

      2. I’ve never heard exactly why it couldn’t be reused back when the metro system was first planned. I did hear there is a single building foundation in the way, the Bonaventure Hotel, but condemning it to get a whole intact tunnel back is a drop in the bucket given the billion dollar cost of a new tunnel.

        Yeah after all those decades of a decayed downtown LA with a vacant Subway Terminal Building and empty lot at the portal, when these properties could have been acquired easily and for nothing, now they are both redeveloped,

  2. Well, this is an open thread. Today I saw yet another example of criminals getting treated better than honest riders on Metro. Taking the first of 3 buses home from work this morning when someone got on and just did not pay/ What did the driver do? Nothing. I have to work tonight. I am part time so I do not get paid a lot. I do not have enough money to go to work and come home. (I am hoping to borrow a few dollars) If I cannot raise the money I am walking home from Seattle to Des Moines. If I do no have my fare I do not ride. This criminal thinks the rules to not apply to her and Metro agrees. Someone justify that please. I know you cannot

    1. I think Metro’s only justification is that those with a social conscience that allows them to take a bus ride without paying might also allow them to bean a bus driver who challenges them, and the drivers are neither equipped nor paid enough for that.

      I for one salute your honesty and ethics, and I very much hope your economic position improves to the point that you no longer have to worry about the cost of bus fare.

      1. The only real choice metro has is asking king county to be able to respond to nonpayment and remove the criminals (yes, stealing is still a crime). Not likely.

      2. It’s a lose-lose situation for Metro. Either they don’t confront the fare evader and lose a fare. And if enough people realize Metro is toothless, there will be more widespread fare evasion. Sort of like the rainbow transfer scam people have going now.

        But if Metro does confront non-payers, they risk a violent confrontation. People have been shot for a lot less. And Metro will definitely lose money because the amount of time spent arguing or waiting for security will be be worth more than a $3 fare. Unless they make the fine for not paying $50-$100 to cover the extra operating cost of delaying the bus. Except that would hurt low-income people disproportionately so is it really fair?

        I’m sympathetic to people who don’t have fare for a “legitimate” reason. I don’t carry much cash on me, and almost never coins. So if my UPass didn’t work or was lost, I wouldn’t have bus fare. But working at a large employer like UW has taught me that it’s really really hard to make exceptions because that creates a slippery slope for when it’s okay to not pay a fare. Is a sibling’s wedding an excuse for missing the final exam? Cousin’s wedding? Third-cousin twice removed? And if bus drivers are routinely making judgment calls about who has a sufficient excuse, that will lead to more passengers spending more time begging for an exception as well as inconsistency across the system.

        Short version – as long as Metro is consistent, I’m okay with them either not having confrontations with anyone, or refusing service across the board.

      3. Short version – as long as Metro is consistent, I’m okay with them either not having confrontations with anyone, or refusing service across the board.

        Of course, they’re not consistent at all. I’ve been on buses where drivers refuse to move for several minutes, wasting hours of aggregate passenger time, until the non-payer exited the bus. I’ve been on buses where drivers don’t say a word, and I’ve been on buses where a variety of half-measures were taken. Whatever the policy is it’s not uniformly enforced.

      4. Yeah, it’s pretty much driver discretion; or lack thereof. I’ve seen one driver let people on that just honestly said they didn’t have fare but kick off someone trying to pass a phony transfer and lie about it. That works on the mean streets of Kirkland. Drivers in other areas at night should play it safe and avoid confrontation.

        I’ve never seen a driver refuse to let someone board that said they didn’t have fare but would make it up next time they boarded. And that goes for suits riding into Seattle in the morning from S. Kirkland as much as it does for people that don’t have two Greg Nickels to rub together.

      5. The rule is that if someone doesn’t pay then the driver reminds (or informs if they aren’t familiar with out system) that the fare is $x.xx. Some people pay up at this point. Usually it’s those who are rushing the bus and need a moment to get their pass or fare ready. Otherwise drivers are supposed to brush it off.

    2. Metro is free if you don’t want to pay.

      If you DO pay, and travel in a group, uber is usually cheaper.

      You can guess how this is going to go…..

      1. Why don’t you spend a week not paying, and either beg for rides or walk defiantly past the driver and endure whatever drivers do say, and then tell us how pleasant it was. It’s not a viable strategy for the thousands of grandmothers and ordinary people who don’t want to face a confrontation every day. Saying “Metro is free if you don’t want to pay” is unrealistic and an insult. If you want every bus trip to be like asking for change on a streetcorner then maybe it’s free in some sense but that’s not something most passengers are willing to do.

      2. It’s not free. Just because cops don’t catch you doesn’t mean it is isn’t a crime. I can litter, jaywalk and probably steal quite a bit a bit in this town and nothing will happen. Until it does.

      3. You can guess how this is going to go…..

        Ridership will increase around 2% a year after Uber and Lyft begin serving Seattle?

    3. Mathew, allow me to argue the typical Seattleites’s position to explain what you saw:

      The criminal is the victim, and the honest, hard working taxpayer is the criminal, and it’s only fair and just to take from the evil taxpayer and redistribute their ill-gotten and privileged gains to those, through no fault of their own, are forced to commit crimes to survive. Remember, just as a business owner didn’t build his business all by himself, you do not earn your paycheck all by yourself. Others … yes … even criminals and those who choose not to work, help you earn your paycheck, and they deserve to share in it just as much as you do.

      1. That’s about the perfect description of socialism. There are no crimes, except having money, that’s a crime. And having “privilege.” You probably don’t even hit red lights because of your white privilege.

        No thank you, I prefer sanity.

      2. I’m six foot four and weigh 250 pounds (all muscle). I went into a store yesterday and grabbed a Pepsi. I walked out without paying. The woman at the counter said “Excuse me sir, you forgot to pay”, but I kept walking. What do you think happened? Did she jump out from behind the counter and try and tackle me? Of course not.

        People who commit crimes don’t always get caught. But if there is a security guard or cop around, they do. Didn’t some guy get caught a while back for fare evasion by Sound Transit a while back? How did that go? Did they just let him off when he tried to run away? No, they stopped him and then he overreacted, tried to grab the cops gun and got shot. Fare evasion is a crime and it is treated like any other crime.

        Drivers aren’t cops. Nor are they security guards. This isn’t that complicated.

        (By the way, I’m really not 6 foot 4, and I’m certainly not all muscle. I also pay for my sodas).

      3. @RossB If in your example I was in the store as you did that theft I would step in front of you and block you from leaving. I am six feet 250 mostly fat though, If you hit me great then you get assault and theft when I call the cops.

    4. Question, Renn: A few years ago in Oakland, I spent 20 minutes on a bus stopped while the driver argued with a passenger over a twenty cent difference between the amount each one thought the passenger should pay. Eventually a supervisor arrived and settle the whole thing. I forget how, but it took 60 seconds.

      Now, supposed I had a job, like for instance driving that same route, with, as is fully justified, no tolerance whatever for reporting late. And my car had broken down. And my smart-phone was broken so I could not use Lyft. What’s my coldest most hard-hearted self interest there?

      Or what if I’d been a passenger with an international flight to catch? Or any other passenger whose sense of proportion will swiftly impel them to pull their wallet, stuff a dollar in the farebox, and politely request that the driver consider the fare paid!

      Renn, with your work-ethic, your wallet would have cleared leather like in those old Marty Robbins gunfighter songs, and your request to the driver would not have included “please”.

      From my driving days, most people on their way to work or school pay the right fare, because it’s the easiest least-hassle thing to do. And most drivers cut some slack for people who don’t have change because they can’t get any, or who’ll at least pay something. Transit’s best interest is just motion them aboard.

      For the rest, whatever the reason- back at the base, write an incident report, for which driver gets a half-hour’s pay. Where worse trouble is involved, unobtrusively call the police. To Metro, getting into a dispute over the fare itself is Gross Misconduct.

      By the balance sheet, since transit drivers stopped giving change, overpayments more than balance the opposite anyhow. But main solution to whole fare payment question is to make at least regional day-passes easily bought off-coach.

      Polite fare discussions cost many times more in lost time and passenger good will than fare evasion.



      1. Mark, I appreciate your explanation of Metro’s position – it does make sense.

        Many years ago, I was on vacation on Toronto and a young man got on the relatively full bus and begged forgiveness for being short on his fare, saying he had forgotten to buy his monthly pass and was on his way to get it. After a brief argument the driver shut the bus off and then the Voice of God from control boomed over the speakers that all passengers are required to pay the full fare and the bus wouldn’t move until this was done. A man got up from his seat at the back of the bus, walked to the front and dropped a dollar coin (we have one and two dollar coins here – you ought to try them) in the box with a loud clink. Speaking in a heavy Eastern European accent, he said “It’s only a dollar – now let’s get on with it!” I wanted to be that guy!

      2. I have paid the fare of people in need. I enjoy helping when I can. I also have exposed riders who refuse to pay or I see taking a transfer from someone off the bus. I have been hit for this. Punched, slapped. I even told a driver about someone getting on the bus the at the same stop as me that someone who was begging for a free ride had a big wad of cash. He did he took it out and was loudly counting it at the stop before the bus showed up. I saw that guy again and he said that he hoped we were in prison together so he could rape me. I stand up for what is right.

    5. Well tonight was more reasons why I hate riding transit. I take 2 buses and the link to work. First bus was the Rapid Ride a. No problems there. When I got to the airport I broke out the 6 dollars in mostly loose change I was able to scrap together. (One 1 dollar bill, one 1 dollar coin and the rest in quarters.) I went to one of the machines to fill my orca and what happened the machine ate my dollar coin. So I moved to another machine and was bale to put what I had left on my orca. I will never see that money again. Transit gives no refunds. On the train I had to listen to someone blasting horrible music. The train was full so I could not just move. Then I got to the spot where I catch my third bus the route number 4. I was at the stop 10 minutes before it was supposed to arrive. It did not show. I had to wait for the next one at 10:30. I was late for work. Thankfully there were no emergencies that needed to be dealt with while I was late. Of course since there is no accountability with Metro nothing will become of this.

      1. If you’re double-charged or mischarged you can call customer service and the’ll send a free ride ticket. I imagine the same would be true for TVMs. In this case it sounds like it didn’t recognize the type of dollar coin.

        No-show buses are an endemic problem. They’re caused partly by traffic which Metro can do nothing about, and by bus breakdowns and silently cancelled runs because Metro can’t find enough drivers.

      2. Traffic was not an issue last night. The roads were almost empty. All I know I got in for being late (as I should have)I am held accountable but Metro is not. Why is that?

    1. That’s a nice looking map.

      In general, the one thing I wish there was more of was transit maps over regular maps. For example, a nice transit map over a Google Map. Transit maps like that one are great, but of course they aren’t done to scale, which means that if you just want to get an idea of the transit coverage you have to flip back and forth between it and a regular map.

  3. Is there possibly a way we could get metro to add a button to the passenger area of the bus that tells the driver “you’re 10 minutes late and I’m about to miss my transfer because you’re driving like a friggin snail”?

    1. I’ve been on buses downtown where the driver seems to watch the timer on the walk light and under about three seconds slows down to stop, even though for a number of lights downtown there are several seconds between the walk light going to zero and the yellow caution light coming on. They should stop doing this.

    2. I used to complain to bus drivers when the bus was considerably late. But then I realized it probably wasn’t the driver’s fault. Bus drivers can’t control traffic. And from my experience, if a bus gets to its turnaround point late, the driver will usually depart immediately rather than take the break they otherwise would have gotten. Nor can drivers control if a bus breaks down and trips have to be cancelled. Drivers are just the unlucky customer-service branch of Metro who deal with passengers face to face. Still, an acknowledgement or apology to passengers as they board would probably help to calm some of the passenger frustration.

      More productively, can bus drivers radio each other? For instance let’s say I’m going from downtown to Sand Point. The 73 from downtown to UW is running 10 minutes late because of tunnel congestion, and the 73 pulls up to Campus Parkway as a half-hourly 75 is about to leave. Can the 73 driver radio the 75 driver and say “hold up 30 seconds, I have some transfers for you!” Because that would help for narrowly missed connections.

      1. Often, though, it is the driver’s fault. I’ve seen lots of times where there is no traffic, and yet the bus is still late because the driver interprets an 8:00 departure from the first stop as “pull up to the stop and open the doors at 8:03”. It doesn’t sound like much, but if you’re talking about a route with 10-minute service frequency, all it takes it one bus pulling out of the gate a couple minutes late to start a vicious cycle of bus bunching.

    3. Since Metro is cancelling runs every day for lack of drivers, Alex, great chance to start answering your question first-hand. Even if you only last long enough for one whole trip through Downtown Seattle. Not kidding.

      First five minutes in rush hour passenger service will explain a lot. In six months, your relief will no longer have to pry your clenched fingers off the wheel. After three full moons, you’ll notice that the fangs and fur have stopped being lunar phase or time of day related. Same as with traffic-light timing.

      After about a year- both from your own driving experience and your free transit pass-you’ll start noticing that some drivers handle the bus, and the rest of the job better than others. “Attitude” major factor. Which is greatly affected by how well good performance is rewarded. And punished.

      You’ll also have a powerful sense of how much a driver needs to learn- and not out of the book. Aptitude? Some trainees are immediately comfortable with handling machine and passengers.

      But every basic move at the controls-steering, accelerating. braking is trainable. Same with reflexes and judgment. And also the Instruction Department’s aptitude for teaching these things.

      You’ll have a great STB posting on this one. Along with enough solid substance that your count-council member will start acting on your reports. Same with public comment period at council meetings. Any rule yet against showing up in uniform? Didn’t used to be. Management staff will often quietly appreciate an advocate with union protection that doesn’t apply to them.

      For real service complaints, one word to your elected rep is worth a five page essay to Customer Services. But now I’m protected from anything transit-related except I-5, here’s a really good advocacy thing for STB:

      Get transit advocates into regular contact with ATU Local 587. Both organizations will immediately begin to benefit greatly. Especially if Full Time Route 7 Operator AlexKven is on the phone at Local 587 offices!


      1. As I was waiting for a train at Stadium Station, I eavesdropped on a conversation that 2 drivers were having about changing bases. Both thought that they would like to move to either South Base or Atlantic Base, but neither wanted to move to Central Base because of “all the drama” at CB. It seems like most of a driver’s job consists of dealing with traffic and passengers, but how much of a driver’s life is spent dealing with “drama” at the base?

  4. Idea. Fresh off the popularity of my vitamin-infused edible paper transfer ticket idea …

    Ok, like, you know how there are different colored and different levels of credit cards? There’s gold, silver and black and stuff? So how come we don’t make different levels and colors of ORCA cards? So if you pay a lot of money for a 2 zone peak fare card, your card is platinum or black colored, and maybe there’s even a special bell that goes off in the bus alerting the passengers that someone with a premium-level ORCA just tapped-in. And maybe people with higher-status cards can earn reward points, too. I don’t want mistakenly thinking I have an LIFT card. Thoughts?

    1. The criminals you mentioned above would then know who to mug.

      Also, it would show the difference between traditional rich Seattlites who would buy the plain card to not flaunt their wealth (and be frugal), and the new rich Seattlites who would buy the platinum card to go with their McMansion.

    2. How about combine the ORCA card with sports trading cards? Imagine how much a Shawn Kemp Supersonics ORCA would be worth someday?

    3. A string of lights both inside and outside the bus and a bell that flash and ring like a jackpot winner when the platinum cardholder taps his card, and a sign saying “HONORED PATRON”. The airlines also have some ideas with their frequent-flyer plans.

      How much would the card cost? $5 silver, $20 gold, and $10,000 platinum?

  5. The three greatest men in the northwest are Tim Eyman, Dori Monson, and Kemper Freeman. And if I may, I would like to thank Mr. Freeman for putting on Snowflake Lane. It starts every night promptly at I’m not sure when, and runs every night through some date in the future. Be sure and check it out! Make it your transit excuse of the Christmas season! (I refuse to call it the holiday season).

      1. Trolling in and of itself is not against the rules. Has to be on topic (this post is open so that last comment doesn’t apply to this thread). It’s advised to not feed the trolls though.

    1. And on a national level I nominate Donald trump. He says we poor folk can walk to work 10 miles for all he cares.

  6. One of the things I dislike about National Frenzied Shopping Month is how badly it screws up so many bus routes thanks to network planning that routes the buses through shopping center parking lots.

    Yet, shopping centers are sort of logical places to go with these suburban routes because they do generate ridership.

    Any thoughts or good examples on how to deal with this type of mess?

      1. Paint is cheap, re-timing lights is cheap. However, since the vast majority of shoppers are auto drivers/passengers, the likelihood of ANY change to benefit transit is virtually zero until at least 2040 in WA. No legislation would ever pass city or county governments whose very existence relies on the sales taxes collected at shopping centres.

    1. Glenn, this is going to take a lot of personnel, but can lots themselves be reconfigured so as to leave clear bus-only lanes through them, and back to the arterials? At tulip shows, halloween events, and the like, farm kids can handle parking-lot-attending.

      The lots may have to remove some concrete space dividers, and transit will need a lot of on-site supervision, but I think this is a manner of use of space, and controlled vehicle arrangement. I doubt you’ll get pushback from either transit passengers, shoppers, motorists or-if you’re good- bicyclists.


    2. Which routes do that? The buses used to go into the mall at Northgate and Southcenter but they don’t anymore.

      1. The only one I can think of that is stuck in mall traffic in Northgate is the 16, and that route will leave the mall area next year.

      2. Thanks very much.

        That’s good to hear that they’ve been able to get the routes out of Northgate.

        I’ve only been through Tacoma Mall once or twice on the bus. It seemed like the major transit center for that was on the edge of the parking area as well.

        That’s really good that this type of bottleneck has been avoided.

        TriMet has a few of these that are pretty bad, and a few are worse this year due to route changes associated with the orange line opening.

        They do a temporary month long stop relocation at Clackamas Town Center, but last year that wasn’t enough. At least once the 79 was blocked for close to two hours.

        I’ll have to look closely at what they did at Northgate and see if anything like that could work here.

      3. The transit center is directly south of the mall (both just east of I-5), while access from I-5 is via the Northgate Way interchange north of the mall. Northgate Way is a popular driving route to the mall from the east and west, but can be overwhelmed by the combination of east-west through traffic, mall access, and freeway access. In general there’s an excess of north-south road capacity in the area (compared to limited east-west capacity). Metro planners (and savvy drivers) thus tend to avoid Northgate Way across the interchange and in front of the mall.

        – The 40, which approaches from the west on Northgate Way, cuts south on Meridian (and College Way) down by North Seattle College and crosses I-5 at 92nd (no interchange), but surely still gets caught in interchange and mall traffic on Northgate Way west of Meridian when it’s heavy.
        – The 345 and 346, approaching on Meridian from the north, head down Meridian to 92nd also.
        – The 347 and 348, approaching on the 15th/Pinehurst/Roosevelt artery from the north, jog over to 5th Ave NE on Northgate Way.
        – The 75 approaches from the east on Northgate Way, and stays on it to the east edge of the mall at 5th Ave NE. It can certainly get stuck in traffic.
        – The 68, approaching from the south on Roosevelt, goes all the way to Northgate Way, jogs over to 5th, then backtracks to the transit center.
        – The 66 and 67, approaching from the south on 5th, slip straight into the transit center without crossing the mall or Northgate Way.
        – The 41 is the only route that goes through. When aligned with the I-5 express lanes, to/from the south, it uses the reversible entrance/exit to 1st Ave NE at 100th, right at the transit center. This is the best thing about the transit center’s location, which the light rail station will inherit even though this advantage will no longer matter. Otherwise I guess it uses the regular Northgate Way interchange (though there’s no reason Metro couldn’t reroute it in cases of extreme congestion). To/from the north, it uses 5th Ave NE to 125th to go to Lake City, which is probably what I’d do if I was driving in heavy traffic (I don’t have a lot of experience with this, though).

      4. For a highway oriented shopping mall, I really like what they wound up doing there:

        This tangle is completely surrounded by roads that get clogged up during December:

        Unlike Northgate, they’ve made their parking lot so large that there is no off-site place the buses can get close enough to the shopping center and still really serve it that well, and then there’s the mess on the local streets trying to get into and out of all the parking lots and between the parking lots and the freeway. It’s really quite reminiscent of the Mercer Mess with a true square mile of parking lots in the middle of everything.

        On the center east side of all that, and completely inaccessible without going through parking purgatory, is the MAX station and bus layover facility.

        North of Mongomery Avenue there’s a decent sized group of apartments and condos:

        I’m thinking maybe the best solution for this awful mess would be to bury most of the parking lot in an extension of the apartment and condo development, and built a residents and transit (RAT?) set of lanes / roads above the exiting parking lot mess. The apartments and condos would have surface streets and sidewalks sort of along what you see north of Montgomery, only buried under that would be the existing mall parking lots.

        Obviously, its 180 miles off topic for this blog, but it’s something to consider when looking at running transit into places like South Center Mall and the like.

      5. @Al — This [quick access to the express lanes) is the best thing about the transit center’s location, which the light rail station will inherit even though this advantage will no longer matter.

        Yes, it is rather ironic. The main advantage to a transit center there is that the 41 very quickly gets on the freeway and to downtown in the morning. This will go away. I’m not sure if there was a great alternative though. You could have put it at Roosevelt and Northgate Way, but that would have been really expensive (a lot more digging). Even thought that would have been much better for buses, I’m not sure if it would have been worth the extra money. Northgate Way and the freeway would have been much better for buses, but that is right by a major set of ramps, which means that during rush hour, it is actually worse than the current location. With the current location, a pedestrian overpass will make this a very quick shot to the college, which makes it better overall than any other freeway location. Buses will serve the local area just fine (5th) and those a little ways away will eventually have other options besides the transit center, such as Roosevelt (for Maple Leaf) or 130th (for Lake City).

        The 41 is a major hauler for the area. When the express lanes aren’t going in its favor, it typically heads south on 5th and gets on the freeway via the Lake City on-ramp. It is usually very slow going. That is arguably the best thing to come out of Link getting to Northgate. Getting to downtown in the morning will be better (the buses are packed right now so the added capacity will be most welcome). Getting to the U-District and Capitol Hill will also be a huge improvement. But getting to downtown or any of those spots in the evening will be much, much better.

        I would agree that 5th is the best option in the area from a traffic perspective (although I’m not sure either). Worth mentioning is that the new 67 (a very frequent bus) will loop around from Roosevelt to 5th, via Northgate Way. This will give riders the chance to experience the holiday traffic in all its splendor.

      6. In the 80s the stop was at the inner side of the parking lot next to the Bon Marche entrance (now Macy’s) on the east side of the building. All the routes stopped there except the 16 which had its own stop on the north side of the mall, complete with a long bench that had an Indian-looking canoe behind it. Then the main stop was moved to the perpendicular driveway on the east side so the buses only had to come in halfway. I think the 16 remained on the north side. Then it was moved to the current location a block south of the mall. This time the 16 was moved too and the canoe stop was abandoned for years. I think they finally took it out in a remodel.

        At Southcenter the stop was again inside the parking lot next to the Bon Marche entrance. Now it’s on the adjacent boulevard, Andover Park West, on both sides of the street.

  7. Ok, how ’bout changing the plastic upholstery metro uses on its seats?
    I always have to hold on to a rail and my bag to keep us from sliding everywhere. As I recall Trimet uses actual cloth upholstery, which had some friction with other fabrics.
    The slickness of the plastic is particularly unpleasant with aisle-facing seating.

    1. TriMet has decided to go with a far worse seat design than Metro for future orders. What they are getting is a variant of what Metro has but with no cushioning.

  8. Some help with traffic counts please. I’m looking at the WSDOT Annual Traffic Report for 2014. As I read it, Urban count point P1 (not to be confused with Rural P01) is on I-5 near the King/Snohomish county line. It says ~94,000 vehicles each direction on an average weekday. Am I reading that right?

    Let’s say it’s 80,000 from 5:30 AM – 7:00PM (SWAG). That’s only 6,000 cars per hour spread out over at least three lanes; four if we count the HOV, or 1,500 vehicles per lane per hour. That’s ~24 vehicles per lane per minute. I’m probably high on the guess for that time period so if someone has better numbers or can point out the correct way to read the report then please chime in. But, if we “roll with it”, over the 1-1/2 hours that North Sounder runs there would be 9,000 cars southbound on I-5; figure 1.22 occupants per vehicle that’s 11,000 people. If Sounder is moving 1,400 that’s 12%. I think I’ve got a major error in my math, like off by a factor of 10 but even if it’s 1.2% that’s not insignificant during peak commute. I know you can say it would only be another 20 buses but unless WSDOT makes the HOV lanes 3+ buses are quickly becoming an non starter because there travel times are becoming unreasonable.

    Like I said, I’ve probably got a major math error so someone please put up the correct numbers; or at least a better guess.

    1. I see different numbers. I looked at the same PDF, then drilled down this way: Annual Average Daily Traffic Volumes, SR 005 Mainline. It is hard to pick a data point, but once you get around milepost 140 (north of Tacoma) you get in the 175,000 to 200,000 range*. I think it is very difficult to guess how many go each hour, though. But from a daily carrying perspective, Sounder is still significant. It is hard to guess how many of those vehicles are carrying more than one passenger. But Sounder carries over 10,000 people, or about 5% of the number of people who drive alone.

      I’m not sure how many people ride the bus, but I would imagine it is quite similar. From what I can tell (http://stb-wp.s3.amazonaws.com//srv/htdocs/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/01141338/METRO-AND-ST-RIDERSHIP.png) none of the South Sound buses are heavy haulers, but they add up. 3,000 here, a 2,000 there, etc. I would guess around 10% of the trips are taken via transit and about half of those with Sounder.

      * Page 74 of the PDF.

      1. once you get around milepost 140 (north of Tacoma) you get in the 175,000 to 200,000 range*.

        I was looking at the North end. I-5 between Tacoma & Seattle I think has more lanes than north of the city. I don’t know if that justifies vehicle totals double what I thought were reported in the north end or not but it’s not an order of magnitude off either. If my numbers stand, and I can’t believe they do, Sounder North is relieving 12% of the commuter traffic on I-5. Like I said, if it’s just 1.2% that’s still huge. Lots of numbers have been thrown out about how expensive Sounder North is… and it is. Not so many numbers about how expensive SOV comunting on I-5 is.

      2. The assumption that without Sounder North, every current Sounder North would be driving alone all the way downtown is a false assumption. If bus service were increased to make up for the lost capacity, these people would most likely just take one of the buses.

      3. The assumption that without Sounder North, every current Sounder North would be driving alone all the way downtown is a false assumption.

        As I said in the original post, “I know you can say it would only be another 20 buses but unless WSDOT makes the HOV lanes 3+ buses are quickly becoming an non starter because [their] travel times are becoming unreasonable.” I-5 is beyond capacity during peak commute so there has to be an increase in capacity. You can do that by getting more people to take transit but they’re not going to do that when travel times are unreasonable.

        Everett to Seattle Traffic Is Blowing Up

        An hour and 45 minutes on a bus from Everett to Seattle doesn’t cut it. I’m far from waving a Go North Sounder flag just because it wasn’t shut down during our 1st storm of the season; you know, before the ground is saturated. But we have to come to the realization that I-5 isn’t the answer. I posted the numbers because of a comment made to the regard that getting just one car off I-5 is worth the cost per seat of North Sounder. I don’t agree with that and think there needs to be a major reduction in the subside. Increasing ridership by making it reliable is a good start in that direction. WSDOT or any available State money spent on preventing mudslides pays dividends way beyond improving passenger service. It’s the quinisential “no brainer”. The numbers, if they’re close to being right show that passenger trains do provide a significant increase in commuter capacity. And, if succesful in increasing ridership travel by train pays big dividends back in environmental quality; another thing we’re running short of in Pugetopolis.

  9. You know, Guy, every time I’ve ever had surgery where I’d have to be awake before and after anesthetic, I’ve always been disappointed I have yet to hear a screaming romantic argument among operating room staff.

    But drama could be more serious problem. Worst of all would be like “Waiting for Godot”, where for about five hours curtain to curtain, characters that look like winos keep yelling things that Ripple would really straighten out.

    Think Bull-pen at any base.

    But at four AM with a whole shift signing in, what would happen if one driver was Romeo and the another one was Juliet’s cousin Tybalt, and the window supervisor was Mercutio, and gets run through with one of those nasty really thin swords?

    However, script does allow enough time for him to sign in a half dozen guys giving a speech before he dies. But even worse, what if parts were assigned by seniority at shake-up. Use your imagination what Juliet could look like for four months. Or more.

    OK. Christmas season now. Who’s got seniority for George Bailey, the good banker. Hey, Sam, I’ve got it! To honor his service to transit and the community, Kemper Freeman can be Mr. Potter!

    Meantime, “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow…:” Central’s no worse than anyplace else. However, one tool of theatrical criticism could really help: the big hook that Vaudeville used to drag really putrid acts offstage!


  10. The speaker suggests user research before finalizing maps. What a wonderful idea! He also suggests simplicity where possible.

    How about it, ST? Do we really need the southernmost MLK easterly squiggle on Link diagrams, especially when Mt. Baker and Columbia City stations are actually further west than TIBS?

    I can only deduce that the current squiggle seems to be to keep from offending the perception that I-5 is a north-south straight line for ST Express diagrams and I-5 driver perception.

    We have one of the few situations in all of rail transit where diagrams put in a huge extra set of curves when the stations themselves are mostly in a row. We’re making our diagrams more complex than we need to!

      1. Thanks Oran! I’m glad to know this! It’s an improvement over the jogs.

        I would note that the speaker also points out that being too simplistic on diagrams can be a bad thing. My preference would have been for the stations from IDS to Capitol Hill to be in a semi-circle, with straight lines to the north and south. One of the things that a completely straight line does is not show that the city has a “heart”. Everything looks non-descript in this diagram.

  11. On Thursday, I was on one of the 71/72/73 express buses where the driver mysteriously decided to take Eastlake, even though the bus was express and the I-5 express lanes were open in the correct direction (which I could confirm visually by looking out the window and observing which way the cars were moving). My question is – why? Does the gate between Convention Place Station and the I-5 express lanes have to be opened by one particular security guard, who is off on Thanksgiving, or is there another, equally stupid reason at play?

    1. A couple of months ago I was on a NB 72 and the same thing happened. The express lanes were open northbound but the driver also went via Eastlake and I wondered why. But when I got off the bus I was able look at his schedule card and it noted on there that he was to take the Eastlake route so he was just following the instructions that were given to him on his schedule card.

      1. I guess the problem comes down to this. The schedulers aren’t sure if the express lanes are going to be open, so they schedule the route conservatively, assuming that the bus will take Eastlake, just in case. Once they do this, the bus driver has to take Eastlake to avoid leaving Campus Parkway several minutes early. Except, that assumption isn’t really true. More often then not, the bus is late getting out of Convention Place Station anyway, and, even if it isn’t, the bus could always just sit and wait at campus parkway for a few minutes to catch up with the schedule.

        And for southbound trips, the above argument becomes complete nonsense – leaving Convention Place Station early in the southbound direction wouldn’t have any significant impact for someone traveling from Convention Place Station to ID Station, since tunnel buses go by every 2 minutes or so, anyway.

    2. I had a different strange I-5 experience. I was taking the 41 from Northgate to downtown in the afternoon. I-5 had a lot of traffic. The bus decided to “skip” a lot of traffic by hugging the right lane (shoulder?), but then had to exit at NE 45th Street. At which point we sat in even worse traffic merging back on to I-5. I don’t know if it would have been faster to stay in a middle lane on I-5. On another occasion, I saw a 41 travel as far south as Roosevelt and 50th. Maybe trying to avoid I-5 congestion further north?

      I’ve been on buses (not in Seattle) where when traffic is bad enough, the dispatchers will tell the drivers to take alternate routes that won’t cause them to miss any stops.

  12. This article (which uses Seattle as a key example) is one of the best articles I’ve read in some time… I often wonder, living in a city that’s currently thriving, whether many of today’s urbanists believe they see an urbanist trend but are really just seeing one aspect of an enormous trend toward economic consolidation. I’ll differ from the article in one important way: it points to government policy as the critical cause of the consolidation trend, and I think the development of the Internet has been at least as important. People often talk about the decentralizing possibilities of cheap, rapid global communication, but the centralizing and consolidating possibilities are even stronger: one company can directly administer one aspect of the whole world from, say, San Francisco (see Uber’s ambition to be taxi dispatcher to the world, in the sense that Chicago’s stockyards were once called “hog-butcher to the world”), needing only enough capital and organizational ability to smooth over differences on the ground.

    For a lot of the issues this blog is dedicated to this doesn’t matter. Whatever the reason, we’re growing economically and by population. We’re actually trying to build and expand infrastructure to accommodate newcomers, which is good for economic opportunity. We’re usually at least designing the new infrastructure with good things in mind (in the big picture, despite many quibbles with ST’s and WSDOT’s decisions and the end-to-end disaster of the AWV replacement, which we’ve managed to screw up at every possible stage). I think where it does matter is how we think about the economy as a whole, and how what we’re doing here relates to other cities. We often hear about the infrastructure progress of New York, DC, San Francisco… but these are the cities growing in wealth, not people. A big part of America’s story right now is aggregate prosperity that belies widespread struggle… and this seems to be happening city by city as much as family by family. It’s a big part of what’s behind the incredible political polarization by geography. And when we look at many of the businesses that draw so much wealth to Seattle, SF, DC, and New York, they’re often consolidating forces. Where it matters is our conception of the good: are we the baddies?

  13. Transport for London Fuel Cell Bus Achieves 20,000 Hours of Operation

    LONDON, U.K. – Ballard FCvelocity®-HD6 fuel cell modules have been powering a fleet of buses operated by Transport for London (TfL) since the first of these were put into operation in 2010. A total of five (5) buses were deployed that year with three (3) more added in 2013 – the fleet of eight (8) fuel cell buses is part of the transit agencies publicly stated goal to reduce CO2 emissions by 60% from the 1990 level, by 2025.

    The Transport for London fuel cell bus fleet operates on the central Covent Garden-Tower Gateway route, where it has now clocked more than 107,000 hours of operation and covered over 690,000 kilometres (428,000 miles), with fuel performance and reliability exceeding expectations.


    1. First fuel cell bus in Guangdong province unveiled

      At a recent kick-off ceremony of the major projects of Foshan Yunfu Eco Environmental Protection Industries International Cooperation Zone, local and foreign guests took a special type of transportation to the venue – the first hydrogen fuel cell bus manufactured in Guangdong province.

      The bus will be joined by another 28 buses next year, all of which will be used for public transport in Foshan and Yunfu for demonstration operation.

      The bus can carry 78 passengers and consumes 7kg of hydrogen for each 100km, and can achieve a range of 300km when fully fuelled.


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