67 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Remembrances of Redlining in Seattle”

  1. While riding the FHSC, I saw this sign on the operator’s compartment door.

    “Information gladly given; however, please don’t disturb the operator while the car is in motion.”

    There is something wrong with that sentence. Can someone tell me what it is?

      1. I noticed last night at 5:45 that two cars were following each other by 4 minutes (NextBus) as one made the right turn off Yesler onto Broadway, while its follower was just turning left onto Yesler from 14th. The only other car on-line was on Yesler heading east.
        Either Nextbus was way off or somebody must be talking to the drivers while they’re moving to screw up headways so badly.

      2. When it was on CTA motormen’s cab doors in Chicago, original text was:

        “I’m gladly informing you that you’ll consider yourself lucky if you get killed ’cause I missed that signal concentrating on your question. Thank You.”

        Maybe the grammar’s ok, but message I can’t stand is: “The TRAIN….is being held…due to traffic ahead. The TRAIN….will be moving shortly. We apologize for the delay.”

        Can someone tell me what it says about our system that we’ve got an apology programmed into our information system? Let’s see how long we can work with it disconnected.
        Maybe the passenger public will start asking for specifics as to reason for the delay, and why somebody doesn’t fix it.

        Though answer better not contain the word “issues”. Kind of telling how title of so many 1880’s railroad songs started with “The Wreck of Old…”

        But never included the words: “his air-brakes had some issues just before the train got moving off the bridge!” Also, you didn’t get to be a railroad baron by ever apologizing for anything.

        Lesson liberals need to learn. Because guys like the current water-poisoning Michigan governor have never forgotten how much this habit historically works.


      3. Mark,

        Try riding the NYC subway & their constant announcements about delays do to “train traffic ahead of us.”

      4. @Mark — I love your comments, man. Sometimes they seem to be a swing and a miss, but other times, like this time, just toss the bat, wave to the crowd and slowly walk around the bases. Great stuff.

    1. Even though english is my sixth language, even I know that they are using the semicolon incorrectly!

      1. Just out of curiosity, how would you correct the error: insert a verb in the dependent clause, replace the semi-colon with a comma or rephrase the sentence? I think it would read better as a title and explanation type of sign with the phrase “Information Gladly Given” boldly written and underlined with “Please don’t disturb…” written beneath the line and in a lighter weight and smaller font.

      2. Actually, after nine years diligently studying English grammar in school, I can say they’re using the semicolon correctly. It joins two complete but related sentences which would be grammatically fine on their own if the semicolon were replaced with a period. (Yes, “however” is a conjunctive adverb, but it can also start a sentence on its own.)

      3. William C, which punctuation fits better before the word however, a comma or semicolon?

        Also, think about the main, overall message they are trying to convey. “Please don’t disturb the operator while the car is in motion.” That’s all they needed to say. But even that’s a little confusing. Is it ok to knock on their glass door when they are stopped at a red traffic light? The car isn’t in motion, after all. No, of course it’s not. But their original message might lead some people to believe that is ok.

        I have now decided the appropriate sign that should be on the door … Please don’t disturb the operator.

      4. Many of the Portland Streetcars run with door open and the drivers seem to be willing to dispense information when needed. Does Seattle require that the door be closed or is it just a habit?

      5. Portland’s cars are from Eastern Europe, and have no cab air conditioning. There is a small cab heater that serves to blast hot air onto the windshield.

        So, comrade driver is just trying to stay warm / cold.

      6. “which punctuation fits better before the word however, a comma or semicolon?”

        That doesn’t matter; the pattern of semicolon+conjunction+comma is standard. You’d use a comma when both sides are part of the same clause: “Sam was, however, mistaken.”

      7. Also, think about the main, overall message they are trying to convey. “Please don’t disturb the operator while the car is in motion.” That’s all they needed to say. But even that’s a little confusing. Is it ok to knock on their glass door when they are stopped at a red traffic light? The car isn’t in motion, after all. No, of course it’s not. But their original message might lead some people to believe that is ok.

        You aren’t from around here, are you?

        “Please don’t disturb the operator while the car is in motion.”

        Why, that would lead to general mayhem. Imagine a fire on board, and someone wants to ask the operator what to do. Or maybe the streetcar is stopped for ten minutes (because, you know, parked car) and someone wants to know what is going on. You would have a train full of people mulling about saying “I don’t know what is going on, but you sure as hell better not ask the operator, I know that …”

        Just be glad the sign didn’t include the phrase “except, you know, when it is really important”.

    2. “Information gladly given” is the problem.
      1. The subject is a concept and not a person. In the last part, the implied subject is “you”. With a semicolon, there should be a relationship to the subjects of each half. A period is better.
      2. The sentence doesn’t imply what is “information”. Is the driver single? Which Chinese restaurant is better? Lol
      3. How can something be gladly given if it is conditional? better yet, how can someone even talk to a driver separated by a glass pane and locked door?
      4. “You may request transit information, however….” Would be much clearer to the rider.

      1. 4. Better grammatically, perhaps, but I think the meaning is pretty fucking obvious, even to people who barely understand English. I ran this thing through the Spanish to English translator and even I get the gist of it: “We love information; don’t molest the driver when the thing is moving” (“Información con mucho gusto; sin embargo, por favor no molestar al operador cuando el coche está en movimiento.”).

        I ran that sentence through a different translator the other direction and came up with:

        “information with a lot of taste; however, please do not disturb the operator when the car is in motion.”

        Mmmmm, tasty information.

    3. I noticed yesterday, thanks to this post, that the signs TriMet has on the MAX cars have been carefully cut to remove the top several lines. It now just says “don’t disturb operator while train is in motion”. The most obvious remnant that the top of the sign ever existed is that it starts with a lower case letter.

      Apparently asking politely didn’t work.

      Maybe the next step will require the addition of a minor swear swear word or two, and then if required move on to the big leagues.

  2. Glenn, just found a way to put above video and transit in the same sentence:

    “In addition to being literally forbidden by law to buy the home of one’s choice, in many places in this country, well into the 1950’s, people with brown skins could be jailed not only for riding in the wrong part of a streetcar, but for refusing to give up a seat anywhere on the car to a ‘white’ person.”

    Extra parentheses around second color is because one, skin color means nothing genetically, but two, fair-skinned blondes from different parts of Europe got killed for being in each others’ neighborhood for about two generations. Though even in Chicago, that nobody ever wrote this into law. Luckily, in disrespect for age-old customs, third US generation kids didn’t give a damn if the guy on the next lathe’s great grandfather killed theirs back in wherever.

    And three, blonde-jokes aside, law never said Poles and Czechs had to give up their streetcar seats to the other one. Though either demanding or acceding could cause a fistfight. “Giving me your seat? Heyyyyy…what’re you implying here?”

    But best thing about the video is to show that for most of this country’s history, “politically correct” meant agreeing by reflex that someone should lose their job, get thrown out of their church, or go to court, or jail, for selling their house to someone darker than you. Or their banker. Not so long ago, “politically incorrect” meant “legally actionable!”

    So nowadays, when somebody tells me that fighting to make this country finally stop spitting on our own Bill of Rights since before the ink was dry is (air quotes required by law) “politically correct”, really correct answer is: “Damn! It’s about time people started noticing!”

    Mark Dublin

    1. In the case of Portland, Interstate 5 was built right through Albina, which for many years was the few places where someone of sub-Saharan African descent was allowed to own land. The freeway really tore apart the neighborhood and it remained an economic dead zone until fairly recently.

      Southwest Portland doesn’t seem to have been as heavily damaged for I-5.

      So this persisted until long after the streetcar era.

      I think the big city charter cleanup they did around 2002 finally cleaned up most of Portland’s racist zoning laws, which by then were (thankfully) no longer being enforced.

      There are still major issues created by too many decades of this.

      1. Understatement, Glenn, though still got my calculator figuring how many decades its been since a couple of hundred years before 1776. And about 150 years since some other things.

        It’s true that every ethnic group arriving in this country has always had to fight its way in. Every one of the ethnic groups on the colored flag in the MLK video. But however hard those people struggled to get the rewards of their work- they always got to keep it. In addition to not having their wives legally sold to a brothel.

        Even the anti-slavery civil war movies invariably portray Black slaves as humble, helpless victims. Or brave but endearingly simple. Leaving out that if northern Blacks hadn’t been finally allowed to volunteer in such numbers, the North would have lost the war.

        Or…that in a society where “Gentry”- word to South Lake Union, despite different dress code, and concealed-carry doesn’t work for dueling pistols- thought work smelled bad, slaves very often had skills like piloting steam boats. In addition to everything every other arriving nationality did, except getting paid and not being owned.

        So for a decade of Union boots on the ground- balloons didn’t work for close-air support- blacks did and earned everything all the other ethnic groups did. Right out of the most earnest Path to Success lecture.

        Too bad that the North didn’t feel like helping Black people defend the rights they’d earned by saving the Union. The returned former owners-including slave-ones- simply killed off the Black middle-class, took their property and wrote laws that put Black people into slavery for walking too close to a railroad track.

        Well, it was called jail. Which meant that while a slave master had some incentive to keep his property alive and able to work, the private contractors who rented prisoners just went back and bought some more. Good thing that doesn’t happen now!

        All above clearly proves that the Work Ethic really does work. Mainly by showing what happens when the earned success results in robbery, rape, and murder which the perpetrators don’t need to call politically correct because for them, it obviously goes without saying.

        Being on the receiving end of which impelled the fathers of all those angry white Chicago workers to get the hell out of Romania and come here. Where they knew it would never again happen to them.

        Mark Dublin

    1. Well, it would be on Google Maps for starters. GTFS takes a while to get uploaded and approved.

    2. The monorail still isn’t on there. It preceded Google by about 30 years and the smarty pants over there still can’t figure out that it is actual, operating transit.

  3. Is there at least a schedule for FHSC? Just saying every 12 minutes doesn’t cut it especially when there is no working real-time arrival.

      1. some years ago, at a job I had, the 4th meeting in as many days was called to establish our schedule — WHICH KEPT CHANGING….

        I asked my boss why we were even bothering to make a new schedule since it was all bound to change anyway.

        He looked me dead in the eye and said:

        “We have to establish a baseline so we have something to deviate from.”

        He wasn’t entirely joking, and truth be told there’s actually some wisdom in it….

  4. FHSC update: As of 11am, nextBus only shows 1 car operating (#404), so best case is hourly headways – not every 15 minutes.
    Anyone know is there are more cars on the route, or if nextBus just doesn’t work?

      1. Sometime after 12 the 3rd car entered service and it’s stayed that way all day. Headways at 20-25 minutes (schedule shows 15) with trips taking about the same time. Operators appear to take minimal breaks at either end.

    1. well it doesn’t start running until 10 am on sundays, which I always found odd in just how late it starts for such a major transportation route.

    1. 2+ decades and good riddance. Our first annual meeting of Alt-Trans, now Transportation Choices awarded Rep. Benton the “Transportation Dinosaur of the Year” award, complete with scale model T-Rex delivered to his office.

      1. I so love you guys had the guts to do that. Other “Transportation Dinosaur of the Year” potential nominees:

        *JESSYN FARRELL for allowing a massive highway expansion tax to go through WITHOUT a referendum

        *ALEX ZIMMERMANN & QUEEN PEARL for the air pollution every Sound Transit Public Comment with their Orwellian two minutes of hate

        *JAY INSLEE for signing into law a massive highway expansion tax WITHOUT a referendum

        *MARTHA “nonROSE” ROSE for bringing Island Transit to the brink of bankruptcy

        *JEFF SCHERRER to accept on behalf of all opponents to Community Transit Prop 1 for running the most Negative, Destructive, Pessimistic campaign against transit between Vancouver, BC and Vancouver, Washington

        *TROLLS ON STB for coming on here with sinister anti-transit motives

        I’m sure that should be a long enough list…

      2. Any legislator could have moved for an amendment to hold a referendum. None did. Why single out Rep. Farrell?

        I have to agree about Gov. Inslee, though. He could have partially-vetoed a whole lot of highway spending.

      3. Farrell demanded money for public education out of the transportation bill or referendum. Coulda done it, shoulda done it, only fair.

        Here’s the way I look at it: Not just is $500 mil plus transferred away from Sound Transit to education, not just is Sound Transit dollars used to cover a tax break for WSDOT but now all the road lovers have extra money to campaign against us.

        I would rather the tax money been used for multimodal grants and kept the money in the transit community. Or a referendum as many House Republicans and some Senate Republicans wanted.

        So Farrell gets singled out….

        Yup, Governor Inslee could have been a true environmentalist and said no money for highway expansion. Maintenance, new bridges and new transit – all with voter approval.

      4. Why single out Rep. Farrell?

        Joe has a real bee in his bonnet about her. He brings her up without any provocation, trying to pick a fight about her amendment. Best to just ignore him in these moments. At least this time he refrained from using the nonsense-phrase “education-industrial complex” or smearing teachers. Progress!

      5. Mic, best solution to funeral problem is right out of transit history. More than one car-line had a streetcar with beveled-glass windows just for elegance.

        Cemeteries, like anywhere else in the city, had streetcar track. Anybody know if the electric freight line in Eastern Washington is still operating?


      6. I agree with the principle of maintainence and repairs for freeways instead of expansion, but the 167 completion was a repair. That road was damaged by political warfare from Seattle when it was built, and last year’s highway package finally repaired that damage.

      7. “That road was damaged by political warfare from Seattle when it was built, and last year’s highway package finally repaired that damage.”

        Now that is an impressive display of RoadWarrior Spin as I’d ever seen.

        I’m looking forward to the tolls on the new sections … I mean,… I hope I’m not having to pay for it with extra gas tax on my driving?

      8. @EricH,

        Impressive! Blame the failings of the state on Seattle!

        But I sure would like to see your reference for that highly creative bit of blame shifting.

      9. The Port of Seattle wanted to weaken the Port of Tacoma, so they prevented 167 from going all the way through when it was built. I don’t need a reference for it, because everyone in Pierce County who is politically aware knows it. Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge the fact will be incapable of winning anything in Pierce.

  5. On long island, there was a town called Garden City where Jews were not allowed to buy. I remember my grandparents being very affected by that fact. Redlining a sickening phenomenon; only seconded by single family zoning.

    1. Still, we had means of striking back that made those bigoted idiots leave so we could move in. As soon as the Country Club excluded us, we immediately built another one right across the hedge, and before nightfall sitting down to meals that made the enemy face the fact that they were eating the most expensive stale Wonderbread, spoiled baloney, and jello in the world.

      Also that the moths in their sorry velvet curtains had been killed by mold and dust. But our final revenge is that as soon as they got TV, they realized that everybody they loved seeing, and their directors and screenwriters, and every producer since DW Griffiths made Birth of a Nation…well, belonged to the other country club.

      But real clicker was when they found out that Irving Berlin made “White Christmas.” But listen everybody, this does not mean in any way that we are necessarily white. Good to remember, though, how many blonde blue-eyed Lutherans never came back from Auschwitz.

      See, secret not even Edward Snowden knows is that megadata surveillance is just a cover for the fact that in every village and city block, there’s somebody elderly and alert who really likes helping the police and remembers who lived next cave over at the beginning of the world.

      Well, like Sam Goldwyn, or Louis B. Meyer, can’t tell them apart used to say: I’m so happy I’m dancing a jigsaw!


  6. I rode the FHSC last week during rush hour and – while many have complained about the 14th Ave deviation – to me the real issue seemed to be just the incredibly slow slog along Broadway. It took over 20 minutes to get between Broadway and John and Broadway and Terrace (I rode it in both directions.

    It just seems too slow along Broadway to be useful, at least during the peak periods. I will say though that along the Jackson section it moved decently and seemed like it could potentially be useful as hyper local transit there.

    1. The trick is to start walking along Broadway until you see it coming. That way, worse case, you’ll still get where you’re going at 3 mph. Of course, if you find yourself keeping up with traffic, you may as well just keep walking, even if you do see it coming.

    2. Compared to the South Lake Union line, the FH line is painfully slow. Once the southbound SLU line clears the bottleneck at Fairview and Valley, it almost glides from there to the Westlake hub. The wait at Mercer is short compared to various traffic lights the FH streetcar has to wait at. If it can’t get some kind of preferential treatment at those intersections, even I won’t take it and I take streetcars largely for the fun of it. And Broadway is a disaster. Too bad. It should have and could have been better.

      1. You must be riding a different SLU streetcar than I’ve ridden. What frustrates me about it is it stops every single block for either a station or a stoplight or both.

    3. A modest suggestion: Trade the headways, so we can get 10-minute headway on the FHSC during the midday, and schedule for 12-minute headway during peak. Bring in a FHSC shadow bus to do every other run during peak, so we can get 6-minute headway between the streetcars and the shadow buses.

    4. Many, many times during the FHSC’s construction and then dormant period, I had need to be at Swedish after work on family matters. It was clear to me then that the streetcar would forever be stuck in the same traffic on Broadway–particularly south of Pine–that drivers were, and that it would be somewhat the other side of useless for anyone wanting to get from Capitol Hill to Little Saigon during those hours. Its existence is proof positive of political sausage making, as it provides no benefit on that stretch that a bus sitting in the same traffic wouldn’t.

      The stretch from the ID station up Jackson appears to have somewhat more utility, and at least the ride seemed better than that of a bus. So there’s that. Which is nice.

  7. Hey, Glenn, video on street rail in Melbourne showed a lot we can use:

    1. Streetcar-only lanes, with different pavement than the car lanes, is really only way streetcars can be anything but large, steel-wheeled stuck cars.

    2. “History” makes lots of room for future changes. So it would still be plenty authentic to refit the Benson cars with pantographs – though lower running speed allows for narrower ones than for Light Rail. Also, doors obviously had driver-controlled mechanism. Which will allow conductor to assist and inform passengers.

    3. What would happen if some vandal got into the Melbourne car shop and repainted all the new cars either green or dark red? Meantime- doesn’t this mean we could repaint one of ours to match the red ones?

    Thanks for great link.

    1. Thanks for watching. The trolley pole to pantograph conversion shouldn’t have been too big a deal. Just need a different bracket to bolt to the roof.

      I like the fact they move along at a decent speed, but I think you only see it twice in the video.

      I also lie the median running with an actually fairly attractive median. It’s a bit like New Orleans.

    2. Oh, yeah, and I think it is also interesting to note that if you watch closely, you will see a couple of the cars at really tight headways. In one case a car arrives at a platform just as the one in front of it is departing.

  8. What is Metro’s policy about strollers?

    A few days ago, I was riding a crowded 68 from UW. A woman boarded with an infant in a stroller, but either couldn’t or wasn’t allowed to park it in the wheelchair area, despite there not being any wheelchairs on board. I don’t know if everyone sitting in the front just refused to move or what. As the bus filled up, the woman left her older child (age ~6) sitting alone in the front and moved back to park the stroller right by the rear door. Which had the twin effects of stopping standees from moving to the very back and making it really hard for anyone to exit out the rear doors. I ended up being the only person standing in the rear while people were packed like sardines by the front door in front of the yellow line. Driver didn’t seem willing or able to do anything about it despite people from the back shouting that there was plenty of room..

    So what should have happened? Are drivers allowed to order people to vacate the front seats? The woman was getting some dirty looks, but I felt bad and wouldn’t have wanted her to have to fold up her stroller and carry her bags and 2 young children.

      1. Well yes, I can see that. I suppose I was asking about Metro’s practical policy towards strollers rather than the “official” policy. Since I could count at least 4 ways the official policy was violated on 1 trip.

    1. Kept quiet, but that before driver like that gets back to the yard, supervisor’s van takes him over to work in a day-care for a month. And also take at least a dozen children six of them in strollers, for a ride on the Route 4.

      Meantime, forget Customer Assistance and call our County Councilperson. Threaten to leave same number of kids in their office.


    2. In April I wrote about a woman who had to leave her stroller behind at Intl Dist when the driver said it had to be folded and she said it wasn’t foldable. She said she needed the stroller because it was a long walk home from the bus stop (apparently on Renton MLK), and she appeared to be low income and unable to afford a car or taxi. Also, my relative has had problems with her walker when the front area is full and the first row of seats (which have extra space for walkers) are full so she sits further back and the driver says she can’t have her walker there jutting into the aisle. And I have had problems with a rolling cart when all the seats with extra space are full and I have to use a regular seat and the driver says I can’t have the cart jutting into the aisle. Which leaves the question of what we’re supposed to do if the seats with extra space are full, and if I get off and wait for the next bus it might be full too.

    3. I’ve never seen all of the passengers in the front wheelchair seats remain in them upon entry of a person with a kid in a stroller; Some people do get up in such a circumstance to accommodate them; however, I say this having rarely seen a person with a kid in a stroller on the bus. Usually, when I get on, such people are normally seated someplace, usually due to the generosity of passengers.

      Our manners are really going downhill “round here”.

      1. Often during rush hour (last night among them) on the 11 a couple gets on with a child and stroller, usually with various bags as well, and despite the bus always being SRO when they board I have never seen people not get up and allow them the wheelchair area. Usually one of the passengers puts the seats up before they even get there. Those manners seem to be just fine, although I rarely any more see people offer to give up their seats to anyone–seniors, people with bags etc. The bag-on-the-seat and manspreading douchiness is also relatively uncommon, although both were in evidence on this morning’s ride.

  9. Hey, SEAN, sorry format here made it take so long to comment. Reason there probably aren’t any recorded apologies is that people know very well there’s train traffic ahead, each train carrying the entire population of Seattle.

    Also, you probably know what a New Yorker would answer if anybody ever apologized to them anyplace else in those polite, educated, patronizing tones. I’ve now sworn off trying to imitate New York accents, because I probably get them all wrong.

    But I know the tone of voice and content, even if I don’t know actual avian species to call a “boid.” And what would happen to me if I imitated that in any other Borough. I also know that, like in San Francisco, the smell of honest sweat coming from the whole transit system means that the traffic ahead does not include bus drivers collecting fares at fareboxes the Tunnel was never intended to use.

    Imposed for political reasons nobody could buy- if any other county’s government dared to take as many bribes for transit service as lousy as we get free, probably through lack of imagination or guts to honestly shake anybody down. Anyhow, the announcements still bug me like something out of the Woody Allen movie where a reaction do dental anesthetic transports Woody to a future where deep fried fat is a major healthful substance. Which, like butter, it probably really is.


Comments are closed.