120 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Streetcar Safety Day”

  1. My sound system is still asleep this morning, and I can only judge by the video. I wish good luck to this effort, and thanks to everyone connected with it.

    But for this line, and every new project from here on, and really, the whole rest of our system, one request. Exactly as for an increasing number of our police officers, I’d like exactly the video camera used here to deliver real-time video of in-service operations.

    With all footage available to the public, and also frequent mandatory viewing for every official overseeing this service. So everything and everybody working well can be noted for commendation, in addition to whatever’s in need of correction. Looking forward to frequent viewing.

    Mark Dublin

      1. ..and to be clear, our senators in DC aren’t really relevant for such things.

        Have you ever worked on progressive transportation legislation in Olympia?

      2. Outgoing State Senator Jeannie Kohl-Welles once expressed a wish at a committee meeting that she wanted to see more transit advocates in Olympia.

        That’s up to Sound Transit, Pierce Transit, and Intercity Transit to not make it an overnighter of a trip.

      3. Ruby S., Define “progressive transportation legislation” and we’ll talk. Because I certainly have lobbied for transit for the North by Northwest region of our state.

        Brent: Well put Brent. Sounder South to Olympia. Or at least express bus service as part of ST3. Make it happen.

      4. Did I say anything about “enforcement?” Seriously, if anybody ever tried that, first resistance would be from their union local. My own worst worry would be that the presence of the camera would distract the driver’s attention.

        So I’d definitely specify that nothing in these particular videos could be used in any way for the discipline of any individual. Good remedy might be to technically prevent any connection of the video with driver on duty.

        Remember that Metro can, and does, already mount cameras anywhere in the system it wants to. Though I would also insist that my cameras be mounted on the front of the car, so no driver will get the feeling of being checked over their shoulder.

        My main intent is to let the public watch operations- inspired by the video above-and get a full real-time picture of the car’s operations. It would take a very guilty conscience, and unhealthy fear of criticism to object to anything on camera.

        The more conservative the legislator, the more they should approve. What better than to have firsthand evidence of public waste and malfeasance?


    1. Last month they had the first fatality on MAX Orange Line. In keeping with TriMet tradition, the first fatality was completely inexplicable as it happened in a place surrounded by fencing and relatively isolated from much of anything else:

      Considering how much effort is required to get killed there, a significant problem seems to be public attitude about getting onto tracks.

      1. Certainly possible. That could be why they didn’t release a name.

        It’s easier to get onto the Union Pacific main line next door though.

        Also, they’ve hit a few people on the line along I-84. The one survivor said they were just trying to get from 64th to 82nd Avenues, and for some reason the tracks seemed an obvious choice at the time.

    2. After being in Portland last week and riding the Portland Streetcar, I walked the length of the First Hill route last week to see what’s “coming soon.” The best thing I noticed about the First Hill route is that there aren’t an excessive number of stops–SDOT certainly got that right. But Seattle has replicated some of Portland’s most frustrating and time-wasting features.

      The first big boo-boo is the length and placement of some streetcar platforms. In Portland, before the streetcar can open its doors, all of the streetcar’s length must be aligned with all of the platform. This problem is particularly troublesome at locations where there is a streetcar platform at the near side of an intersection. If there’s just one auto stopped at a red light ahead of the streetcar at an intersection, the streetcar must wait for the auto to clear the space and then move into proper position to open its doors. The result is that sometimes it can take 3 light cycles for a streetcar to make it through an intersection with a near side platform.

      Unfortunately, there are several stops on the First Hill line that have been designed and built specifically to replicate that situation. The outbound streetcar is going to encounter this problem at Broadway/Yesler and on Broadway near Seattle Central. The 2 solutions to the problem would be to not build stations on the near side of an intersection; but if it is necessary, build an extended length platform that is long enough to allow the streetcar to open its doors when there is a car ahead of the streetcar.

      The outbound streetcar is also going to have to deal with another problem at 14th/Washington. There is a stop sign at the end of the platform that requires every vehicle to come to a complete stop before proceeding past the platform. That means that after turning onto 14th from Jackson, the streetcar is going to wait in a long line of stopping and starting cars before it can even get to the platform.

      The platform at Swedish Hospital looks to be–by far–the most successfully constructed stop on the line: mid-block placement, convenient to the destination (Swedish) and not designed to be blocked by traffic (or to be an obstruction). The stops on Jackson, west of 12th Avenue, are also well placed. The station at 12th/Jackson might be too far from the nearest bus stops, but there isn’t an obvious better spot for that station.

      Overall I think the First Hill line will have ridership that is higher than most of STB’s skeptics would predict, but once the line starts passenger service, its design flaws are going to be very apparent.

      1. The near-side stop issue. Even if the platform is extended enough so that the streetcar can open its doors behind one car stopped at the red light, that still won’t work when there’s two cars (or one truck) in front of it stopped at the red light. Extend the platform a little bit further and you have the same problem with 3 cars.

        Ultimately, near-side stops are just a bad idea period, as no matter how far back you extend the platform, it’s not enough. Near-side stops also create safety issues, as some of the impatient, right-turning drivers stuck behind the streetcar will inevitably end up turning right from the left lane in front of the streetcar, while the streetcar is stopped to load and unload passengers. This is an accident waiting to happen.

        In general, I consider near-side stops appropriate only under one condition. While near-side stops are bad for thru-riders, they do save a light cycle for people exiting the vehicle at that stop. So, if it’s expected that there will be significantly more people getting off the bus/train than staying on, a near-side stop makes sense. One rare example of this is the westbound route #50 stop at Alaska and MLK. Since the dominant path is getting off the bus to hop on Link to go downtown, not staying on the bus to go to West Seattle or SODO, this is a very rare case of a bus stop that should be near-side. (In reality, course, this bus stop is far-side, leading to unnecessary missed trains).

      2. Thanks for the perspective (that goes for you too, Glenn) — I always like hearing about Portland or other cities.

      3. GuyonBeaconHill (or anyone else):

        Any chance of you writing something to that effect to the editor if the Oregonian? They seem to pay more attention to what people from out of town have to say than we who live here.

      4. In either street rail or buses, I don’t think any transit agency in this country would permit passengers to deboard a vehicle that’s not completely in a zone.

        Main reason is that if the traffic signal changes ahead of the train, an empty space will open ahead of transit, likely holding it through another cycle.

        No driver would dare shut doors and move the vehicle while people are still leaving or boarding.

        Nearside stops should never be allowed. But if a stop can’t be moved, traffic ahead of the train- like on SLU northbound in front of Whole Foods-car traffic should be signaled out of the zone so train will never be blocked, entering or leaving.

        All zones should be far-side. And a hundred percent, traffic signal held green until the train enters the zone. But mainly, street rail simply should not run in mixed traffic. If they have to…maybe the city shouldn’t have the line ’til they can.

        Mark Dublin

  2. When is this going to start running? SDOT needs to open up — give a date certain or explain why routine testing is taking so long — are problems being encountered? I’m personally looking forward to being able to ride my bike to the south waterfront and then return on the streetcar (making my bike ride down hill all the way….neat trick).

    1. Ditto.
      The MOST obvious question on everyone’s mind is
      if you don’t know
      WHY NOT?
      (for all the good this 1st Hill booby prize was supposed to take care of and now something south of $200 m spent, SDOT and Mr. Malone needs to fess up.

      1. Mic, I think that to be fair to boobies who have trained very hard for Olympic gold, it’s only fair for officials to make every effort to provide a level playing field. Especially for a sport being resurrected after 70 years of disuse.

        So… when a hush falls over the crowd, the TV cameras roll, comes the tradition-honored question from the sport’s most revered champion: “What Idiot Designed This?” No moron in the world can claim a wrong decision!


    2. someone from seattle streetcar told me at this safety event by the end of the year… that would then be within the next 11 days and I haven’t seen an announcement.

      its does appear they are simulating service by stopping at the stops which I understand is the last phase of testing to occur (after operator training and vehicle testing)

      1. Working in pioneer square is surreal to think that much testing is required, it’s not like these steer, and the endless test trains are annoying.

      2. Just speculating here but so far there appears to be 2 cars (406 & 407) that were behind on the testing schedule, ie, I haven’t seen them on test runs until recently. I think the 407 is Amazon’s but the 406 could have been holding up the show.

    3. If the streetcar were so badly needed, Metro would have been running buses following the streetcar route as an interim solution until the streetcar is ready to operate. The fact that they haven’t indicates that even Metro/SDOT officials believe the streetcar more of a toy than a tool of serious mobility.

      Much of the riders the streetcar does get will be opportunistic riders who would have either walked, but happen to see the streetcar coming, so they hop on. Along Jackson, the streetcar will simply poach riders away from existing buses.

      Which brings forth the question – is OneBusAway expected to support real-time information on the First Hill Streetcar? So that riders along Jackson can at least know which stop to wait at, rather than have to guess?

      1. Maybe they would if CHS was open. CHS is currently closed so people don’t need to be funneled to/from there quite yet.

      2. Metro has underserved lower Broadway ever since the 9-local was deleted, so that was Metro’s fault. The streetcar creates a new connection between Broadway and Jackson which is useful. However, neither of these are useful enough to justify a streetcar. The problem with the streetcar turning at Jacison is it can’t replace the 9, and it terminates at Denny so it can’t replace the 49. That makes it a strange beast, and we’ll see how many people actually take it between Broadway and Jackson. Other than that, since it exists we might as well make the most of it.

  3. Nice video. Interesting perspective from driver seat. Mixed traffic operating beside lots of parked cars.

      1. Instant replay from the booth says you’re right, which begs the next question.
        Don’t they get signal priority, like holding the red for a couple of seconds? This one was really close.

    1. MAX and Portland Streetcar (only in places unfortunately) have their own signals. On downtown streets these are European style straight lines and cross lines to try to make auto traffic ignore them.

      I think Tacoma Link has these too, but it has been a long time since I was in Tacoma.

      I zoomed in on the paused image of the signal in the video but I was unable to determine if the small box to the left of the traffic signal is such a streetcar only signal. So, it’s possible they have their own signals that just aren’t too visible in the rest of the street clutter. It makes sense to stop highway traffic on the street in all directions so people don’t turn left in front of them.

    2. Absolutely not! Whoever either turned the signal pre-empt off or forget to install one should have their car towed onto the tracks just across the same intersection in time for the arrival of the next train!

      If I had your Ferrari, Mic, I’d at least take one of those annoying parking places before then.


  4. White DPD boards are up at Convention Place Station for demolition and new temporary bus access ramp… everything goes but the eastern most part of the platforms.

    Nuts to me this station is closing with no replacement station for Link, its surrounded with so many high rise cranes.

    1. I agree that there should be a station around 9th and pine. I wonder how deep the tracks are and what it would take to actually build an infill station there?

      1. That’s about the one place you could build a station; the tracks are actually fairly level there. It’s a decently good idea; ST and SDOT should look into it.

      2. If I’m not mistaken the Link tracks level out where the trains are laying over under Pine by the Paramount. I wonder if its possible to build an adjacent platform at this spot north of the tracks for the inbound in this new convention center, and south of the tracks for the outbound utilizing that ST construction site next to the Paramount

      3. Urban station for Link? No, that isn’t their style. we are damn lucky that the bus tunnel was built before Sound Transit started thinking about rail, otherwise there would only be a couple stations downtown.

      4. The station should be on the other side of the freeway. Capitol Hill has a lot of residents; the Paramount has a few theater-goers and half its walkshed is taken over by the freeway.

      5. Should be, yep. Unfortunately, the tunnel slopes up pretty steadily from the freeway to CHS, without leaving any level spots for stations.

      6. Can’t rebuild CPS east of 9th due to the horozontal curve veering toward CHS under i5. And west of 9th the track centers are too narrow for center platform. Crossover would have to be removed, sidewalks ripped up between 7th to 9th and big retaining walls and Utilities moved. It’s a shame.

    2. Having a big huge convention center directly on top of the region’s highest capacity transit line but not having a station does say a bit about transit philosophy.

      1. If you mean I-5, Glenn, you’ve got a point. But for both the freeway and Westlake Station, and the soon-to-be former CPS, would be a good test of skill at demolitions.


      2. But about the Orange Line fatality, Glenn, it looks like Tri-Met made every effort to prevent such things. Even subways occasionally have somebody get killed by a train- though usually falling or getting pushed off a platform.

        In this case, it looks like the victim may have made a considerable personal effort. In one case on he E-3 transitway south of Downtown, the casualty got knocked flat and had the train roll over him.

        Awhile later, doubtless after going online to avoid his mistake, he did get killed on Rainier, I think. Tri-Met has likely learned some things about accident prevention. But still: what were traffic fatalities for the same week?


  5. Good morning fellow STB commentators. Today is a good day as anti-transit blowhards (i.e. anybody who opposes bus service anywhere, trolls who just snipe at Community Transit) are about to get the muzzle from the Everett Herald.

    My thoughts are generally as follows:

    Being somebody who feels like I have to maintain air sovereignty over the Everett Herald comment threads or at least get my point across – especially in regards to transit service; happy the Everett Herald is doing this. I hope it’s permanent. I’m happy to pay the Mukilteo Beacon $10/year – yes, ten bucks a year – to opine without anonymity and support their site.

    I’m not going to support websites with a subscription like the Whidbey News-Times that give airspace to Garrett Newkirk who has proudly cheered and preyed upon the death & sacrifices of US Navy personnel, or yours with the anonymity and quite frankly sniping as much as I consider Mukilteo/Paine Field my vacation community of choice. I know the Whidbey Daily at least pre-approves all comments and because of the delay, it becomes about quality not quantity or “air war”.

    I really think online commenting works best when it’s more like letters to the editor: Speak thoughtfully for and from your side of the aisle, without anonymity (or at least the newspaper staff should know precisely who you are if there are issues), cite sources and be prepared to discuss the issues in depth without troll names or trolling.

    One last thing, ultimately: The sniping at people who request transit service is also, I gotta tell you as a disabled person, kinda hurtful and can muzzle & intimidate precisely those who need transit the most. Please keep this in mind if/when you decide to turn the comments back on. Letters to the editor standards are best.

    There you go. All you anti-Future of Flight bus service people, well if you wanna keep sniping… soon we’ll know who you are, or not hear from you. I can live with that.

    I can also live with and frankly encourage skeptics of light rail for Paine Field. I don’t know if I let it be known yet but Boeing, Everett Transit, Community Transit and King County Metro have now partnered to increase Boeing Paine Field employee awareness of transit options. I think quite frankly some of that is because of STB commentators stepping up – job well done.

    I also have to say here as a member of a transit agency’s citizen advisory committee that internet comments are great. It’s just we need to have some standards and a respectful tone in general.

    If any of this is STB Comment Policy Whining, hey I’m sorry. Not intended that way. I <3 STB and have recently started to financially support STB. I call upon others to please do the same.

  6. I know they’ve said the streetcar will be free for the first few weeks; how about keeping it free for a period equal to the amount of time that it’s been delayed? That would give us a free streetcar for well over a year.

    1. Is the South Lake Union Streetcar still free? It would be an injustice for the FHSC to start enforcing fare payment before the SLUS does.

      1. Yes, I got checked by a fare enforcement officer a few months ago somewhere between Mercer and Denny.

    1. I think it is ridiculous. All due respect to Seattle Subway (a group I continue to support vocally and financially) I think the map is ridiculous. If you look at the full map it has more miles of rail than just about any city in North America. It will pass Mexico City, and be second only to New York City in terms of mileage. One line to the airport is a stretch (as should be obvious) but two is ridiculous. Issaquah to Kirkland? Renton to Burien to West Seattle to downtown? Woodinville to Northgate to Crown Hill to downtown? Really silly ideas. Extremely silly. Even if you could afford to build these (and we can’t) you would have such low ridership that BART’s headways (15 to 20 minutes) would seem frequent.

      There are some good things here, but precious few, and they get lost in the fanciful airship, gondola, jet pack, everyone gets a Buick nonsense of this map. Mount Baker to Judkins Park to Capitol Hill to South Lake Union to Belltown is fine. I wouldn’t go to 23rd and Madison (since that would mean skipping Fist Hill yet again) but the general idea is fine. Likewise, UW to Ballard looks spot on. They got that right.

      But most of this is simply ridiculous, and they really do themselves a disservice by suggesting it as a vision for our area.

      1. if any st3 is to happen, rail to tacoma & everett will happen. no matter the length of your paragraphs, that’s an electoral fact. might as well get as many seattle projects done as possible. these projects seem great to me and you don’t give us any reason to suspect otherwise.

        anyway, i doubt your claim about miles of rail. LIRR goes all the way out to port jeff, metro north runs to new haven, and NJ transit to $deity knows where. that’s way longer than everett to tacoma.

      2. “it has more miles of rail than just about any city in North America. It will pass Mexico City, and be second only to New York City in terms of mileage. ”

        Maybe that’s a problem for the other cities rather than us. All cities should have a network like New York’s, scaled to the size of the city. That’s how they built in the early 1900s and Chicago retained it. One issue might be comparing light rail/subways in isolation when Chicago also has an extensive commuter rail network. They should really be considered together because they’re both transit mobility. Link just has a higher proportion of “commuter rail” functionality than in Chicago is served by Metra. Many cities with subways do verge into “commuter rail” functionality at the edges such as London. It’s a tradeoff what the proportion should be, with reasonable arguments on both sides. When London converted some of its edges from mainline trains to the Underground or Overground, it significantly increased frequency. That’s a good thing because more frequency makes the network more useful, but it’s also the usual criticism of BART and Link.

      3. “All cities should have a network like New York’s, scaled to the size of the city.”

        Cities like New York and Chicago didn’t grow first, and THEN put in the rail lines,
        the rail lines allowed growth to happen without resorting to massive highway infrastructure having to be built.

        Highway building is the excessive and wasteful spending in those areas.

        There are numerous examples where they were <a href="http://ep.yimg.com/ay/yhst-133252830141239/77-street-subway-entrance-bay-ridge-brooklyn-1916-7.jpg"building subways into suburbia.

        In Brooklyn, the Bronx, Upper Manhattan.
        The IRT Dyre Avenue line is part of the defunct suburban “Boston-Westchester” commuter railroand.

        Where Sound Transit is making a mistake is keeping the new lines too close to the freeways.

        I suppose everyone is happy to spend the 50+ Billion dollars to keep the freeways and arterials growing to match the “BRT” and SOV demand. (and transit use low, percentage wise)

        Building the way we are, with reliance on expanded arterials and “BRT Light” service, and then trying to upgrade to a more efficient rail service is going to leave us looking like Los Angeles.

      4. anyway, i doubt your claim about miles of rail. LIRR goes all the way out to port jeff, metro north runs to new haven, and NJ transit to $deity knows where. that’s way longer than everett to tacoma.

        Except Metro-North, LIRR and NJT are full scale passenger trains, not light rail.

        They also operate single track with diesel power where electrification doesn’t make sense.

        The New York City subway doesn’t go to Montauk.

        For regional services there are Cascades and Sounder trains. Putting effort into making those more viable would do far more than putting the money into a long distance light rail line.

      5. Of course, nowadays railfans lament the fact that LIRR, MNRR, and NJTransit cars all look like subway cars, without the personality of the old lines.

      6. “Cities like New York and Chicago didn’t grow first, and THEN put in the rail lines,
        the rail lines allowed growth to happen without resorting to massive highway infrastructure having to be built.”

        We should have done so too, but since we didn’t we have to retrofit it now.

        I understand that when MAX was built to Gresham, it was to prebuild transit for future growth.

        “For regional services there are Cascades and Sounder trains. Putting effort into making those more viable would do far more than putting the money into a long distance light rail line.”

        You can argue about purity or you can cooperate with the political authorities to get something built. The political authorities want light rail to Tacoma and Everett. It’s not that or Sounder, but that and maybe Sounder, or nothing.

      7. Ergo, as some have said “All politics is local”, so your local elected officials have to hear more from the people who would rather grow the region without adding pavement.

        Political authorities react to problems. They perceive the loudest complaints being “I Want More Freeways”, when they hear the loudness of poeple complaining about traffic.

        The smallest and most quickly acheivable ‘solution’ is widen the roads.

        That’s why our Faux BRT systems gain traction.
        However, the end result over the long run will be to spend as much as would have been spent on an LRT alignment in the beginning.

        One approach gets you a place that resembles Los Angeles,
        the other will resemble European cities, or New York.

        Therefore, given the same money spent, my OPINION is that we should work towards the latter.
        Build the rail infrastructute ‘ahead of the curve’.

        I don’t want to live in Wet LA.

      8. The responses are telling.

        Saying that the other cities should have New York’s amount of rail, scaled for population, is making Ross’ point for him. New York has 12 times our population as a city, but is less than 4 times as large – hence their huge advantage in density. Density is what makes rail work.

        This plan wouldn’t give us very many miles in the densest parts of our city. It would prefer miles through very sparsely populated areas. Where they by definition won’t work as well.

        The argument that the politics makes this necessary is a far stronger argument than that we should get as many miles of rail per capita as NYC. But it fails to address the idea that as an advocacy organization, Seattle Subway might consider trying to change the politics, instead of giving in to them, and touting the poorly used suburban rail that will make up most of this plan.

      9. I kinda like the sound of a wet LA.

        They are building a lot of light rail and subway in places that make more sense and opened two decades before us. They also have a regional rail system and the nation’s busiest Amtrak corridor outside the NE. Sure, they built a lot of freeways but that’s the past and it’s hard to shake entrenched habits but things are changing. Over 2/3 of voters in the LA Metro voted for big transit expansion. ST2 only got 58% region wide in the same year.

      10. “Ergo, as some have said “All politics is local”, so your local elected officials have to hear more from the people who would rather grow the region without adding pavement.”

        Or we need to get better politicians into office. Not just at the city level where it’s easy (supposedly), but also at the county, ST, and state level. But that’s where we run into a problem with numbers. Seattle is 1/5 of Puget Sound’s population, and 1/6th of the state’s. If we take Seattle’s population as a proxy for urbanists, we’re outnumbered. And the poorer parts of Seattle like Rainier Valley vote pro-car like suburbia (pro Deep Bore Tunnel, anti Metro), so that more or less makes up for the suburban urbanists. So the majority is pro-car and pro-highway and pro-Link-to-Everett-and-Tacoma, like it or not. So you have to both change the politicians and change suburban people’s attitudes. And that takes a long time: decades of incremental work.

        “I kinda like the sound of a wet LA.”

        LA has undergone a major transformation, from car-dependent hellhole to almost the most comprehensive transit outside NYC. I still don’t like the frequency at the edges (south, east, and northwest suburbs) and the trains only reach a small fraction of the population, but I understand there’s an area the size of Seattle with frequent grid transit everywhere, which sounds amazing. We could do worse than to imitate that.

      11. New York, London, Mexico City, Seattle.

        One of these things is not like the other…

        OK, enough of that. There are basically three things we can do. The first is to build an appropriately sized rail system in the area, combined with very good bus service. The rail should serve populous and popular areas and work well with the buses, ensuring large headways on the former and high speeds (and pretty good headways) on the latter. Cities like Toronto and Vancouver have done this.

        The second is to build long expensive rail lines to far flung areas with little demand. I’m not talking about commuter rail. Commuter rail is just fine; but commuter rail is cheap (because it leverages the existing rail system). I’m talking about systems like DART and BART. Outside of San Fransisco, Oakland and Berkeley, BART sucks. Ridership is pathetic. Likewise, DART has been a big failure. Both of these systems follow the same pattern of low ridership and low headways. The areas covered by these systems have very low overall transit ridership.

        The third is to assume that you can have it all. I get that. I’m a liberal, too. But cities have other needs: health care (including mental health and substance abuse treatment), daycare, housing, education, public safety, to name just a few. This is why cities that have much greater transportation needs and much better projects than us aren’t necessarily going to build those projects. For example, the second phase of the Second Avenue Subway (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Avenue_Subway) will carry an additional 360,000 people. But it isn’t funded. It may never be built. Because they have other concerns. So do we.

        I can go into the details as to why 90% of the map is out of scale for this region, but it is best to look at other cities. Look at the census maps ( http://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?useExisting=1&layers=302d4e6025ef41fa8d3525b7fc31963a) and what cities have built and which ones are very successful and which ones aren’t. Look at ridership levels and look at headways. Not just of the train system, but the overall transit system. The fact that the Vancouver model works so much better than the Dallas model is not a weird coincedence. It is what most experts said was bound to happen.

        I should probably end there, but one last thing because I love analogies. The SR 99 tunnel project is having trouble because Bertha is having trouble digging the hole. But lost in the debate is what this will mean for transportation once she finishes. There will be no ramps at Western and no car pool lanes. This is less than ideal, to say the least. In fact I would say it is unacceptable. Freight has to move, buses have to move, trucks have to deliver food and yes, even the occasional person in a car headed to areas not served by transit should be able to move. But this problem will not be fixed. No one will dig a tunnel connecting SR 99 with Western. No will expand the tunnel to allow for HOV lanes. That’s it. We have, essentially run out of money for the area. The same thing is likely to happen if we build DART style rail lines. We may be stuck with a system similar to the one in Dallas, while people wonder why we didn’t build something more sensible when we had the chance.

      12. He he. Well I’ll wait for your Page 2 post.

        I have my ongoing concerns as the Transit for Paine Field booster here about light rail ridership versus light rail costs in money & commute time & political capital of a Paine Field diversion………. as I’ve said before, buses first.

      13. “Sure, they built a lot of freeways but that’s the past and it’s hard to shake entrenched habits but things are changing. ”

        Which is my point, Oran, we here in the Puget Sound Region are on track to build a lot more freeways, and lay a lot more pavement BEFORE we have a decent transit system…

        BOTH Suburban and Seattle proper ….

        in place.

        Unfortunately, I don’t have Mark Dublin’s freedom to speak to things (i.e. I’m not retired, yet), so I can’t tell you where the bodies are buried, so that’s why you hear these little snippets from me, sometimes cryptic.

        But it’s why I chastise occasionally about the posters on this blog, and even Seattle Subway, for being VERY WEAK Transit Supporters.

        I appreciate RossB’s arguments in support of a Better Bus System, (although I cringe whenever he glosses over $ figures sometimes with a blanket ‘this costs less’ statement), and I agree Seattle needs a better bus system.
        I don’t use the in-city service, but I support the ‘Frequent Grid’ concept, and get extremely disappointed when local powers-that-be water down proposals because they wear the ‘Do No Harm – to SOV Traffic’ blinders. :

        Madison BRT, for example.

        The First Hill Streetcar should be operating on a CAR-FREE Broadway. If you’ve lived around here for any length of time, you’d know Broadway is just an alternate to I-5 from Pill Hill to get to the north end (Roanoke St).

        The DBT is not meant as a local feeder (at least the tunnel portion), it is a thru route alternate to I-5 for the Port of Seattle. Part of the $50+ billion I was talking about before.
        And what I was talking about was that (from knowing someone on the Washington State Blue Ribbon Transportation Commission – the final report was completed in 2000) to solve our ‘gridlock’ was going to take $40+ Billion in highway improvements. (I just extrapolated to account for YOE amounts)

        From my time on the I-405 Corridor Program Citizens Committee, two things became obvious:
        Laying Pavement is the default solution.
        Laying Pavement COSTS a Freakin’ TON of MONEY !!

        The response to mobility to ‘improve roadway throughput’ is so ingrained in the system, that I would say it is not merely entrenched, it is like you are Ripping the Nerves out of planners so suggest another solution.

        The poster child for this highway myopic viewpoint is the current project to ‘improve’ the intersection at Canyon Park in Bothell, where 228th St. S.E. crosses the Bothell-Everett Highway (SR 527).
        City Planners believe they will be ‘improving’ things. City Planners also think that creating that glorious Downtown Grand Boulevard (10+ lane widths) where SR 527 meets SR 522, was an obvious choice, but found out that the citizens of Bothell didn’t think it was. They voted down that proposal. They didn’t believe it constituted a valid portion of the parks improvements it was lumped in with.

        All my above examples are just minor players in the transportation game, too.

        I sometimes am amused by Dan Ryan’s comments about Kirkland. I believe he has a genuine belief they really are looking at the big picture on regional transportation, ..
        I, however, am somewhat jaded, and think he is being naive. I see Kirkland looking out solely for their own parochial interests, and don’t want the infidels in their back yard.

        California jumped ahead on their statewide rail program (Amtrak California), because even though the powers-that-be down there got weak kneed when two proposals came up back in 1990 (Prop 108 and Prop 116).

        However the citizenry saw the logic in them, and Passed both.

        If someone from suburbia is reading this blog, then what they need to do is NOT get involved in the technical minutiae being argued here, but be going to their local city councils and while not necessarily being the strident ‘tin-foil hat’ citizen making their public comments (remember, to most council members, Cars First – Transit Second), they should be getting their like minded fellow citizens together and be the one supplying the kerosene, rags and sticks (and the matches), so they can confront the Status-Quo.

        I’m with Seattle Subway on this, – Think Big… but I personally don’t think we Think ENOUGH Big.

      14. If Vancouver had our politics…

        … the transit governing board would insist on a Skytrain Spine to Langley, White Rock, Horseshoe Bay, and Victoria before considering the Broadway-UBC line or other inner-city lines. Urbanists would suggest more West Coast Express lines to on existing freight tracks but would be shot down.

        Can we exchange our politics and public attitudes with Vancouver?

    2. Almost everything inside the city limits is pretty close to perfect, in my mind. We can quibble about stops and precise routes, but that’s for later. All I’ll say now is: Either get South King and Pierce to pay for 100% of that Duwamish Bypass, or delete it!

      Outside the city limits… I’m really questioning Issaquah-Kirkland, but if it is built, South Bellevue is just the right alignment for it. And I think 522 BRT can be improved a lot more cost-effectively than rail can be put along that corridor. (Remember right turns!) As for the rest, well, it’s already been discussed here at great length.

      1. Your comments are usually very good, William, but I don’t see how you can think that everything within the city limits is pretty close to perfect. Just because it isn’t as bad as what is planned for the suburbs doesn’t mean it isn’t bad.

        Here is yet another article by someone who obviously knows his shit about the inappropriate nature of West Seattle light rail: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/12/16/lrt-vs-brt-to-west-seattle-a-mapped-comparison/. Lake City is borderline at best. But a line from Lake City to Ballard just doesn’t make sense. Why stop there, anyway? You are leaving out Bitter Lake. You are leaving out north Queen Anne. Shouldn’t we add a second line in Rainier Valley, this one over on Rainier Avenue? All those lines are absurd, but they make as much sense as one covering West Seattle or Holman Road. There just isn’t the potential ridership along those lines to justify the rail line. Read a census map or imagine all the other destinations and it becomes obvious.

        No one is planning a rail line on Rainier Avenue (despite density higher than West Seattle) because they assume that folks there will take a bus (to light rail or their destination). Same with every other combination. The fact remains that most of the riders in this town will take a bus just like every other transit system our size. Or we will build crap and taking a bus will remain crappy and people will continue to drive. Building idiotic rail lines will likely lead to the latter.

        Ballard to the UW and the Metro 8 subway both make sense because they cover very urban areas (assuming the latter includes First Hill) and connect very well with buses. Almost everything else does neither. The Holman Road subway is an exception because it actually would include Lake City. But the rest of the route would be served just fine with the Ballard to UW subway. The area around there is very low density, so either way you have to take a connecting bus. That subway would not be the worst thing in the world, but it would be hugely out of scale with Seattle, and would have very low headways as a result. Why spend billions building a railway so you can run a train every 20 minutes when a bus would be just about as fast and run every 10?

      2. “No one is planning a rail line on Rainier Avenue (despite density higher than West Seattle) because they assume that folks there will take a bus”

        Link was originally going to be on Rainier, but ST decided it was too narrow and had too high car volume, and the construction impacts would be too devastating for the neighborhood. None of those things have changed since then.

      1. Mike, Ross B, and Zach L, the point more or less buried on the Stranger article is that we’re talking about fifteen years after a successful 2016 vote for anything to happen “on the ground”. (Under or above it, either.)

        So while these schematics are certainly useful, the nearer we start even to begin digging, the more details we’ll have to overcome. Some of which can cause major change of route. Or the whole existence of anything projected.

        However, STB has never yet mentioned the most immediate and definitely most important part of the project: How we are going to handle our transit system through the years while the colored lines grow tracks?

        Having been in on the DSTT years before its either its completion or its existence, I think that for all today’s readers, this is the part of the work we’ll be gladdest to have been part of.

        Also to have lived to see the start of!

        Mark Dublin

      2. 15 years is when the entire phase gets finished (although ST is considering 20 or 25 years and ST Complete is based on 30 years). Individual extensions and segments will open before that. The original ST2 schedule had U-Link and 200th opening in 2016, Northgate in 2020, Redmond in 2021, and Lynnwood and 272nd in 2023. With the recession that got postponed to U-Link in 3early 2016, 200th in late 2016, Northgate in 2021, and Lynnwood Redmond and 240th in 2023, and the phase ending in 2023. ST3 will be similar.

  7. When do the articulated trolley buses start arriving? Seems there’s a pretty good number of new standard size trolleys in the fleet now.

  8. I’m kind of surprised that SDOT has all this money to build new streetcar lines, but the abandoned Benson Line along Main has stood for 10 years now after service was discontinued. You’d think that if SDOT has the money to build new lines, they’d dismantle the abandoned ones (or whatever’s left of them).

    1. The Benson line’s fate was subsumed in the waterfront renovation project. See waterfrontseattle.org . The final transit report is under Library, Documents, Design Plans. It outlines four kinds of waterfront sbuttles: vintage streetcar (i.e., Benson), modern streetcar, electric bus, or electric minibus, It recommends the lattter two.

      1. Mike, thank you for finding those reports in the library! Please let us have exact location and reference numbers! Most important information in these pages yet on this subject!

        SR, Brent, and Mic, Waterfront streetcar details were in every Waterfront Restoration project rendering, with considerable detail, especially in section, until they pretty suddenly disappeared.

        I suspect that a lot of the effort to put street rail onto the new Waterfront diverted to the First Hill Streetcar. Which really should be built. However in my view, FHS should also be a benefit to a new Waterfront line by providing maintenance, communications, and substations.

        Underneath, though, this question is zero percent technical, and the rest percent political. Which means that as long as the project is still on the boards, an eraser can accomplish a lot of backed up trains and sailing ships “coming about” in a change of direction on the same forward course.

        I put in two years of meeting attendance on this matter. Which I think that a lot more public interest could still bring to the right completion, with or without me. Let’s discuss this some more.

        Mark Dublin

      2. The waterfront consultants argued for a streetcar on 1st rather on Alaskan so that the track space would be available for more pedestrian space and amenities.

  9. Metro seemed to be rolling out a new version of stop announcements this weekend. On the 65 and 71 I rode, every stop was announced, not just the major stops. It was kind of funny on the 71 considering how often there was a stop announcement, but how few times the bus actually stopped east of 35th ave.

    1. Yup. An email went out saying that many routes (several dozen and all of the big ones) would now have full compliments of stop announcements. Something about ADA compliance.

    2. The announcement says:

      “Beginning Saturday, December 19, riders on 80 more Metro and Metro-operated Sound Transit bus routes will hear announcements for all scheduled stops instead of intermittent announcements as has previously been the case. This is in addition to the 20 routes that were updated in November.

      Also on Saturday, external announcements will be automatically muted at stops served by only one route. Then, during the week of December 21, volumes for external route and destination announcements will be adjusted to improve service for transit customers with visual disabilities on approximately 50 test coaches. Full fleet updates to meet volume needs for all transit customers will occur after this initial test.

      Improved on-board stop, route and destination announcements will meet or exceed Federal Transit Administration requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and will benefit all riders. An on-site FTA audit in 2014 found deficiencies in Metro’s compliance with ADA regulations on stop and route announcements. Metro is committed to making route, stop and destination information fully accessible to all riders.

      Routes that will have internal announcements at all stops starting December 19 are: Metro routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 36, 37, 40, 41, 43, 44, 47, 48, 50, 60, 65, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 101, 102, 105, 106, 107, 113, 120, 121, 218, 150, 153, 166, 167, 179, 180, 187, 190, 200, 201, 208, 212, 214, 216, 221, 224, 226, 242, 244, 255, 271, 277, 301, 308, 312, 342, 345, 355, 373, Group Health Express, 891, 892, 980, 981, 995, RapidRide C, D and E lines, and Metro-operated Sound Transit Express routes 522, 540, 542 and 545.

      In the coming months, King County Metro Transit will phase in comprehensive on-board stop announcements on all routes to ensure that riders with disabilities and others who may need the information are consistently better served.”

      1. This sounds like a giant euphemism for “we will annoy the hell out of our customers until they stop riding the bus and switch to their cars”. How is anyone supposed to read a book, carry on a conversation, or do pretty much anything with high-volume stop announcements coming in every 30 seconds?

    3. I’m not looking forward to the noise. Chicago announces all stops but just with one-word street names, “Cicero”, “Addison”. At el stations it lists the connectiing lines a but redundantly: “Damen. Transfer to Brown Line at Damen.” Metro could do with shorter stop announcements and announcing Link transfers more prominently.

      1. And, while we’re on the top of stop announcements, some stops get not just one, but two announcements. One about a minute back, another when the bus is actually pulling up to the stop. And, for some reason, they pick stops that nobody uses to do this for, for instance, Yarrow Point Freeway Station.

    4. I just rode a new route tonight. It was nice having announcement for every stop because it was hard to see out the windows from the lit interior. Of course I also could use my phone gps, but it’s nice to have redundancy

      1. There has already been an electronic sign at the front of the bus listing the next stop for years. Metro doesn’t have to annoy everybody on the bus to post the information on the sign.

      2. That is an advantage of the signs and stop announcements. Before them it was hard to guess which was your stop because you couldn’t see landmarks in the dark, especially if it was raining. the signs are fine for sighted people; the audio announcements are for blind people (and secondarily for those who are reading or getting some shut-eye). I thought the drivers turn on the all-stops mode when a blind person gets on the bus. I don’t see what’s wrong with just doing that rather than always having audio announcements every stop.

        At minimum, keep the announcements concise. “4th Avenue”, “Madison Street”, “15th Avenue Eats and East Pine Street”, “John Street, transfer to Red and Blue lines and First Hill Streetcar”. Or if they want to get fancy, “… and routes 8, 9, 43, 49, and 60”, but I’m afraid that would be too fancy and lead to mistakes, obsolete routes, and time inconsistencies (don’t announce the 43 middays or weekends).

    5. I’m still waiting for them to start announcing connecting routes at transfer points, but I believe I’m asking for too much there…

      1. I agree transfer info would be helpful. But I wonder if transfers are tricky because it depends on the time of day. I wouldn’t want to be told there was a transfer only to find out the bus doesn’t operate off-peak / evenings / weekends. Take the 71 crossing 25th Ave. The 68 runs every day, but not evenings. The 372 runs weekdays including evenings. So depending on what day and time it is, there might be transfers to the 68, 372, both, or neither.

      2. TriMet’s system works fine for this, including not announcing transfers that have stopped operating for the evening.

        AFAIK, TriMet and KCM use the same basic system.

      3. No, no, no. Stop announcements should be as brief as possible to minimize annoyance, and should only announce what’s absolutely necessary – e.g. where the bus is right now. Static information, that anybody can easily look up on the web (for instance, that 25th and 65th is a transfer point to route 372) should not be announced.

      4. Subway stations should be announced though. And not buried obscurely in a long sentence like Metro does. “Bla bla bla Lander Street, SODO Link light rail station with ORCA card vending machine.” “Bla bla bla S 176th Street mumble” and then sometimes “SeaTac airport station”. Turn it around and just say “SeaTac airport station”, and then maybe “S 176th Street”. When a subway gets established in an area, the stations are how people tend to navigate even if they aren’t using it at the moment. We should encourage that rather than making it hard to do. That’s how you increase network ridership the most.

      5. …then I suppose tying the announcements into the new SPD ‘real time’ Incident Center is out of the question.
        “Next stop, James St, … pistol whipping in the Park and aggressive panhandling just 1 block south”

      6. TrMet just says “Transfer to other bus lines” if there are more than about 4 or so routes to transfer to, to help reduce the annoyance. “Steele Street, Transfer to Line 10” doesn’t take that much time to say.

        Here it is helpful as, for example, to transfer from route 10 to 72 at 82nd avenue, you have to get off the 10 at Harold & Foster, since the intersection has three roads crossing.

      7. FWIW, I have never had any issues with Link Station announcements, as their appropriately brief and not repeated every 15 seconds. Now, if Link decided to try and announce every single destination within reason of Westlake Station, then repeat the announcement 3 times and crank up the volume each time, then I would start to object.

  10. Idea to help bus drivers from running over pedestrians in crosswalks when making a left turn. Whenever the left turn signal is activated, an announcement plays in the driver’s compartment saying something like “Watch for pedestrians.”

    PS, this is what part of the alphabet would look like if there were no Q or R.

    1. Might help; might hurt by distracting the drivers. It’d be interesting to find out. The real problem, of course, is the design of the support pillars on the edge of the windshield.

      1. Metro already distracts its drivers with announcements searching for people to work overtime and to be on the lookout for missing persons.

        BTW, anyone ever notice that even though the majority of bus/ped turning fatalities happen during left turns, Metro affixed its “Watch for PEDS” stickers on all the right outside mirrors, but not the left one’s.

      2. Sam: when I see the driver’s compartment when my bus passes another one, I see the sticker on the phone handset on the left says “Watch for PEDS.”

    2. As a pedestrian who was once hit in a cross walk by a car turning left, maybe a better idea is to have the bus beep really loudly when it begins a left turn, sort of like fork-lifts and some other vehicles do when they back up. It would give us pedestrians a heads-up to look over our shoulders quickly and try to sprint out of the way.

  11. No fair, Meanie! We’ll have to withdraw your award of the coveted Olympic prize just mentioned.

    OK. You have two vehicles approaching the place where you’re square between the rails texting above comment.

    Two vehicles roll toward you, a bus which can steer around you, unless the driver just broke rules and read your comment- and a streetcar whose only hope of missing you is to lock track brakes and hope nobody’s oil-pan leaked.

    Thereby putting the decision about your only hope of living in the hands of whoever designed the front bumper. Who has already defeated Darwin more than once! Sadly disproving his theory of what Nature selects for.


  12. Sam, you might also mention LINK trains stopped in service during rush hour, with drivers ordered to search their trains for passenger lost articles. This practice does seem to be approved of by both possessor and other passengers.

    But present and future headways will redirect appreciation. So best to start posting notices aboard trains: “Lost Articles Can Be Picked Up at Lost And Found.” Maybe the little “seat-hog,” my favorite creature on the posters, can be shown digging frantically toward Jackson Street with a wallet in their mouth.

    Meantime: I’ll be glad if I see one to let them have my seat for their luggage!”


    1. I’m pretty sure the search at Westlake was ordered by Homeland Security, for bomb sniffing drivers to look for suspicious bags containing things like exploding chicken bones. We can’t have trains exploding under I-5, shutting down a critical transportation corridor.

      1. A lot of things drivers find, including chicken bones returning slowly to their ancestral past, don’t need any creature particularly trained to find them. T

        There is also the chance, though, that the bomb squad is still finding it impossible for their dogs not to be distracted by chew-bones made out of baked peanut butter, making bombs either undetected or completely irrelevant to the dog.

        Though maybe, correctly understanding that delayed trains really are a hazard to general operations, these dogs are being trained to detect things that have the characteristic “lost” scent undetectable to humans.

        It could also be that every single stupid order and policy has a distinctive aroma that makes everyone in range bristle, though dogs are actually authorized to bite the perpetrator.


  13. I also understand that what you really want is to start your own blog, chụp ảnh cưới . But advice is exactly the same. Just to get into practice, would be great for you to join in the comment exchange here.

    Public transit is this blog’s focus. But you’ll gain excellent experience in exchanging ideas on any topic. That’s all.


  14. It’s nice to see Seattle put this together. Finally.

    Will there be a waterfront alignment..ever?

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