March Madness in rail line openings begins on the 5th in Los Angeles. The 11-mile, 6-station, Foothill Gold Line extension in the San Gabriel Valley opens March 5. When the Regional Connector through downtown LA opens in 2021, the Blue and Gold Lines will be joined, forming a continuous line 48.6 miles long between Long Beach and Azusa. A future extension from Azusa to Montclair will add another 12.6 miles, making this line rival the Everett-Seattle-Tacoma Link spine in length.

76 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Foothill Gold Line Extension Ride”

  1. First Hill Streetcar monitor.

    I tried to take the streetcar northound at 1pm from 5th & Jackson. The real-time sign said “Arriving & 35 minutes”. That didn’t make sense because it’s supposed to be every 15 minutes. Looking east, there was some large thing in the middle of the street with lights apparently doing one of those “Merge Right” signs, although different from the usual kind. So I wondered if the streetcars could get past that point. A southbound train came and proceeded to the terminus. A woman arrived and asked when the train comes. I said “A few minutes ago it said ‘Arriving and 35 minutes”. She looked and asked whether 35 mintues meant 35 minutes past the our or in 35 minutes. I said the latter, “but it’s supposed to come every 15 minutes and there it is down at the terminus, so maybe it will come in a few minutes and maybe it won’t.” My chain wallet got caught in the slats in the bench so I tried to free it. The woman offered to help, then a man came and offered to help, but there wasn’t anything they could do. I kept pulling and pushing the chain and finally it freed itself. Fortunately i didn’t have to miss a train or leave the chain behind. I waited a bit longer and then said, “Well, I tried to take the streetcar”, and left.

    1. Thanks for pointing this one out to Operations, Mike. Bulletin soon forbidding drivers to carry chain wallets. However, as often happens, type will change the “n” to an “r”.

      Leaving a whole shift to make sure their wallets didn’t fall down into a chair in the “Bull-pen” (driver’s lounge) at the base. For 35 minutes, forgetting it was chained to their belts. One of which, unfortunately had its chain snag on the chair.

      This is the main flaw in conspiracy theories. Huge damage results form the conspiracy to cover up how the chair got ripped. Like the London police always say in Monty Python: “We’re seeing a lo’ of this litely!


    2. Riveting story, Mike. You had me on the edge of my seat while recounting the whole ordeal.

      Though that was likely because my chain was caught as well, and I couldn’t get up.

    3. I discovered yesterday that the schedules of the streetcar and the westbound route 27 happen to be set up so that if everything is on time, both vehicles travel down Yesler between 14th and Broadway at the same time. But before you get any bright ideas of transferring from the 27 to the streetcar to go to Capitol Hill, the stop at Broadway/Yesler is only wide enough to hold one vehicle at a time. Which means if the streetcar pulls up to the stop first, you can’t get on it, even if your #27 bus is stuck behind it for several minutes. I also got to watch the streetcar make its 3 mph left turn from 14th onto Yesler. Really pathetic. Even the trolley buses are able to make turns faster than this without losing contact with the overhead wire.

      1. If memory serves me right and the grade is downhill, asdf2, a trolley driver would ease into that curve with their foot on the brake.

        Starting with pedal half way down at going into the curve, putting the motor into a generator to take speed down smoothly, and then into the airbrakes going into the curve.

        3 mph would be on the high side if there’s a switch there. If so, if the ovehead is designed correctly, the wire will be “live” under the switch, so that light pressure on the power pedal will complete the uphill turn.

        If the overhead is designed by the same firm that put a dead spot a half block uphill from foot of the Queen Anne Counterbalance, the Historic Preservation Society still prevents Metro from fixing the results.

        This is why Atlantic drivers are sent to LA on the pretense of checking out the Gold Line. But their secret destination is San Francisco, to drive the 24 Divisadero uphill a hundred times, so to weed out personnel with a debilitating fear of death.

        But steel wheel of rubber tires, both directions at Yesler and 14th, 3 mph is about 2 over-speed. So neither throws poles or leaves tracks.


    4. Is Mike Orr sincere with this story or this some next level trolling? I love it! And it’s inspired me to write my own story in the near. tbc …

      1. Today I rode from 14th (outbound) to Broadway to check out the Link Station.
        1. Fare collection doesn’t accept bills, just quarters apparently. I entered my credit card and the instructions are not very clear what to do and when. After pushing the green check button several times, with the streetcar turning onto 14th, I got the message ‘processing’, which lasted until the car doors opened. About the time I decided to risk being checked, it spit out a ticket. The guy waiting behind me just boarded.
        2. PA system was broke, so the operator left the door open and we got to chat for a while. Breakdowns have limited getting enough cars on the street to make scheduled headways.
        3. Ride was smooth, but clearances to the parking lane are just too damn close. At the flea market, a small box van parked with his wheels touching the curb, and still had to unbolt his left side mirror for the train to slip by.
        4. I just missed the car heading back (inbound) but was able to almost catch it by Madison. Tiring at Swedish, I waited for the next car. The reader board said it would be along in 109 minutes (YIKES – I thought) Well, thankfully I only had to wait 30 of that, but that’s too long between trains.
        5. It was raining, not too windy and only 1 of the 3 seats was dry in the shelter.
        6. I chatted with a guy eating ‘Gold-Fish Crackers’, and to entertain ourselves, found we could drop them into the streetrail flange, with water running downhill, and have races back to the intersection. Not the Datona 500, but pretty close.
        7. Lady passenger waiting wanted to know the difference between inbound and outbound, and the only answer I could give her was – “It depends on your point of view” -lame
        8. Ridership was pretty light for a Sunday afternoon.

      2. See, now this definitely makes the case for the British terminology of “Up” trains and “Down” trains.

  2. For those who might not be familiar, the gold line is ok. But the rest of light rail in LA is sketchy, slow, or both.

    1. The mostly-exclusive ROW in this video looks good, however the land use around every single station looks terrible. I know next to nothing about LA’s system, so I ask: is this line particularly useful, or is it meant to be a string of park and rides?

      1. Look at Del Mar station in Pasadena for an example of TOD along the Gold Line. They built housing spanning the tracks.

        Give the extension some time. It’s not like Link on MLK had TOD from Day -14.

    2. I’ve ridden the Blue Line a few times, although the last time was several years ago. I remember it going very slowly south of downtown on surface streets and through a rail yard, then it started zipping along the surface and made overpasses over several major intersections, but then slowed down to crawling speed in central Long Beach. My impression was that the first time I rode there were more grade crossings in the middle that had been replaced by overpasses by my last visit, but I’m not 100% sure about that. Even with the overpasses the line felt slower and less capacious than BART, which is odd that southern California would tolerate given that its population is several times higher. It looks like the parts of LA with heavy-rail subways have a significantly better deal in terms of mobility than the parts with the Blue Line or I presume the Gold Line. That has been part of the reason I’ve persistently preferred underground heavy rail over surface light rail. Although the overpasses do significantly improve the light rail.

      1. Other than the gold line and maybe the Expo line, none of LA’s light rail routes really carry any choice riders.

        Median household income of riders is less than $20k ( and ridership is declining even after spending billions on rail lines (

        Unless LA changes parking policy (parking is cheap and everywhere), transit is so slow, there is no point in using it if you have a choice.

        Of course transit isn’t really the important part of TOD style development anyway (

      2. TOD without the T is an oxymoron. It might be Transit-Ready Development, like Reston Town Center or downtown Burien, which developed first to attract high-capacity transit, and will eventually become TOD. But if there’s no HCT or at least something like RapidRide intended, then it’s not TOD. What it is, is a walkable neighborhood (otherwise known as an urban neighborhood or small-town center). That might succeed without frequent transit, but it would do even better with it. The key phrase in the article is, “better bus service”. If it means a full-tijme frequent route to a larger urban center, and removing bottlenecks in the right-of-way, then it is a form of transit oriented development. If it just means making an half-hourly route 15-mintues peak hours, or an hourly route half-hourly peak hours, then not nearly as much.

        “ridership is declining even after spending billions on rail lines”

        Nice sound bite but the two are barely related over such a huge metropolitan area, without further details about what ideal the ridership is being compared to, what percentage of the population is served by those rail lines, and what’s happening in the other areas. I would guess that even with the planned investments, the rail lines will still only serve a quarter of the coverage of the NYC subway and related lines (PATH). So a lot of people can’t use it even if they want to because they’re not near it. Which means that it should have been four times bigger and built decades ago, to have the maximum possible impact.

        “Median household income of riders is less than $20k”

        That could mean that transit-dependent areas are especially well served, which would be a good thing. Also, there’s a societal bias toward driving and against transit in LA, which is not the transti agency’s fault and it can’t do anything about it. Better transit would bring more riders, but it wouldn’t necessarily reach Chicago or New York levels until that bias disappears.

      3. Fine points. The bias is enshrined in land use code in LA is the issue. It’s not possible to throw enough at the transit resources when you have enormous areas of only modest density. Now that uber/lyft is a thing, transit is even less relevant for those who have a choice.

      4. “But Mike, downtown Burien is TOD. A lot of people call it that, so it must be.” Yes, at a smaller scale something might be TOD, but if you look at a larger scale it might not be. Burien is TOD in the sense that you can walk to the 120 and F and 560 and 180, which makes it possible to get out of the area without waiting a long time for a bus, sort of. But if you scale out and ask, “What can you get from Burien in a half-hour or hour?”, it takes an hour just to get to downtown Seattle, and many trips and jobs are beyond that, so transit in and out of Burien is a time bottleneck, so at a regional scale there’s not much “T” in its TOD.

        Also, it should be noted that officials and the public tend not to recognize the difference between Transit-Oriented Development, andTransit-Ready Development, and call both of them TOD. Worse, they call Transit-Adjacent Development TOD.

        Transit-Adjacent Development = like the apartments and houses around the Ash Way P&R, or the big-box stores south of Southcenter Mall, or Federal Way. The building entrances are turned away from the bus station, so that you have to walk out of the way to get to them, and/or across large parking lots or intersections.)

      5. Mike;

        How about you recommend a book or two for people to read about Transit Oriented Development?

        We really, badly as a transit geek community in the Puget Sound need to start a book club. I mean really bad.

        Thanks Mike.


        Joe Kunzler

      6. I don’t know any books about TOD in particular. There’s my list of books on urbanism I made for you a few months ago, but it’s not coming up in my searching now.

      7. Can you find that list? I’d be sad if I lost it. It was in a post or article when you were making your Amazon list. (Which, by the way, I don’t think you announced where it is.) But it contained The Option of Urbanism (Leinberger), Makeshift Metropolis (Rybczynski), City: Urbanism and its End (Rae), Sprawl: A Compact History (Bruegmann), Dead End: The End of Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism (Ross), and of course Human Transit (Walker).

      8. The LA Times story is flawed. Jarrett Walker wrote about it on his blog.

        The “billions spent” on rail is for lines that are still under construction. That’s like saying we’re spending billions on ST2 and ridership is down. Well, North and East Link haven’t opened yet.

      9. TOD, transit adjacent development, urban development, etc, its all about parking and specifically minimizing it. When there isn’t good transit service (combined with a lack of walkability and place), you have much higher parking ratios. Higher parking ratios require devoting a tremendous amount of land and/or building volume to cars that isn’t used for housing. If you have quality transit and can provide <0.5 spaces per unit, that means parking can typically be one floor underground. When you have to (by code or market) provide 2 spaces per unit, there's one floor underground, most of the ground level floor and at least 2 above ground floors of just parking (typically too cost prohibitive to dig 4 levels underground except in the most high value locations). All that parking is eating up zoning floor area ratio and space within the building's allowable height limit and zoning envelope. And I'm just talking about physical space, then there is the huge cost of parking ($20,000-50,000 per space) that gets added on the cost of building the building which gets passed onto the residents plus makes a building more expensive to build without providing any additional residential units (which is the point of building housing in the first place). Much development cant pencil out when it has to provide so much parking and if it does, it usually consists of inactive ground floors, surface parking lots, entire above ground levels of parking with no eyes on the street.


    Watching the video, confusion started to change to shivering fear. In the excitement over the new Gold Line, somebody didn’t read the packing slip, so failing to see that through a mixup, the they’d been delivered a new fleet from Philadelphia.

    And by then an experienced crew from the Norristown line was already in the control seats. When they didn’t see the third rail they were used to, they quickly appropriated a pantograph out of the Gold Line shops, bolted it to the roof, and electric-taped it into the circuit.

    Will have to check accident reports for that day, but my guess is that at least LA realized they’d never be 35 minutes late again.

    Also, re: acceleration and braking, every potential voter was demanding another ride, and all the little girls were ordering their Daddies to vote “yes” next transit vote, or he’d really “get it” when she turned 18 in ten years.

    For MLK, video proves that after a run or two, motorists and pedestrians know to get behind cover every time the gate comes down. Like they say in the Gold Line’s (Hollywood knows it when they see it!) “Who loves ya, Baby?”


  4. In light of the Link train hitting the woman at Holgate last week, here is a visualization of all reported collisions with Link on MLK since it’s opening up until the end of November 2015 (data provided by Sound Transit).!/vizhome/LinkMLKcollisions2009-2015/Dashboard1

    Within that six-year period the train has had collisions with 10 people, 33 cars, and eight “fixed objects”, equating to a collision on MLK about every one and a half months.

    MLK and Othello is the intersection with the most highest rate of collisions, with two collisions with people, four with cars, and one fixed object. MLK and Dawson is second with 7 collisions with cars. I’m counting Othello higher because a collision with a person has a much greater chance of resulting in serious injury/death as compared to a car.

    1. It was a special fixed object: a safe rolled out of a vehicle presumably while turning and it came to rest perfectly positioned to be nearly impossible to see by a north bound train due to its low profile.

    2. Although no accidents are certainly preferred, I seem to recall that the EIS for the MLK surface running alignment predicted nearly 30 accidents per year. If that is accurate, we seem to be doing something right. Additionally, the accident rate for car vs car and car vs pedestrians are better than before Link and are still better than Rainier Avenue S.

      1. As I recall, MLK (Link + GP lanes) carries about three times as many people as Rainier yet the absolute number of collisions on Rainier completely blows MLK out of the water. And when you look at per person per mile statistics, Rainier’s stratospheric numbers have no peer in the city.

      2. Well, yes, streets with thousands of of amateur-driven cars going every direction, and parallel parking and lane-changes, will have more accidents than an exclusive-lane rail with just a few intersections.

    3. The original Link proposal was surface from Mt Baker all the way to SeaTac (via Southcenter Blvd, thus the Southcenter station that people miss). That plus the SODO surface alignment would have made it 90% surface, except the DSTT which already existed, the Beacon Hill tunnel which was necessetated by that routing, and the Capitol Hill tunnel which urbanists fought for (rather than Eastlake or the I-5 express lanes). The argument for the light rail mode was that it could run on the surface where it’s flat, so that it would have lower capital costs over a fully grade-separated system. And the original intention was to make it run mostly on the surface. But then more and more neighborhoods insisted on elevated or underground alignments, `and the public was willing to pay for them, so now we’ll have a situation where the ST2 network is some 90% grade-separated, and only Rainier Valley and SODO are left in the cold — the double-edged sword of being the first segment before anything opened.

      I believe the cost of collisions over the lifetime of the line should be included in the cost estimate of surface alignments. Not just the monetary costs to ST and the victims, but the delays from line blockages and the intangable costs of the loss of life. Of course they’d have to be estimated because they’d happen in the future, but average numbers from other cities could be used. But if these costs were added to the capital cost of surface alternatives, they wouldn’t look so much cheaper than elevated or underground alternatives.

      Then we would just build a fully grade-separated network in the first place. And ST would feel free-er to consider surface-incompatible technologies like heavy rail or driverless trains. That would help everyone’s travel times and frequency, not to mention eliminating a whole class of collisions.

      1. Does anyone know if the system studied the idea of “undercutting” cross-streets with stations on MLK? Though if you’re here this morning, Glenn, hasn’t MAX had some flooding problems over the years?

        It’s also true that the rounded shields that can be raised to couple, and lowered to cover the ends of LINK cars can push aside something a standard car or truck would demolish.

        Most other systems don’t bother with the cover, in case their Bus Bridge is too slow to handle the asteroid that just fell on the tracks at rush hour. Easy to point out that the industry-standard unshielded coupler would have delivered the safe to Westlake with no further damage to either wheeled object.

        However, the six hour argument about whether Security or the driver has to take the safe to lost and found would have necessitated a bridge out of Brooklyn to handle bus drivers fighting with passengers about the farebox on a northbound 41 at Westlake.

        Also, Republican County Councilmembers’ new stipulation that drivers empty every farebox into a safe in the stub tunnel. Or the Stadium starting March 19.


      2. Biggest flooding ploblem on MAX is the undercut spot on SW 1st Avenue, where it ducks under part of the Morrison Bridge.

        Powell Blvd undercuts SE 17th Ave, the UP main line, and now the MAX orange line. No problems there, mostly.

        It’s a problem solved by adequate drainage.

  5. Gotta say I wonder if you guys will endorse out of Seattle again, you should Sen. Barbara Bailey. She’s been rock-solid, rock-solid on getting Island Transit aid for connectivity to Mount Vernon and holding Island Transit to account as well. Her two opponents are currently zeroes on Island Transit, and one of her declared opponents was on the previous Island Transit Board that ran Island Transit to borderline bankruptcy.

    I “get it” if you want to give no endorsement considering the negative attention arising back in 2012 from our progressive allies, the positive attention from a smaller number of conservative & moderate allies, and the sense having a Senate Republican majority makes it more difficult for transit. But the local media up here in Skagit-Whidbey is beating the drum… and I’ve came out and surprise, surprise, smirk endorse Barbara Bailey for another term.

  6. Here’s how I could see a ST4 unfolding…

    a) ST3 extends the spine enough to appease Everett & Tacoma (and their hangers-on)

    b) Snohomish County (at least) gets a loan, due in return for full-throated support & understanding of ST4. Anything less, ST3 projects can be brought to a halt.

    c) ST4 is renewal of ST1 taxation authority – so there’s no run back to a difficult if not hostile state legislature beholden to the WEA on the left, road lovers on the right…

    d) ST4 focuses on east-west trusses & elevating light rail through Seattle. Snohomish County (for starters) pays back Seattle by understanding ST4 is Seattle-centric and Seattle-needed.


    1. How ST4 unfolds depends on what’s in ST3 and whether it passes the first time. So you’d have to start with what you predict will be in ST3 assume it passes in November. The maximum assumption based on the ST board’s leanings in the December workshop is a 25-year plan featuring downtown Everett and Paine Field (not north Everett; I think Snoho conceded that if I remember), Tacoma Mall, hourly Sounder South, Kirkland-Issquaah LRT, 405 BRT, 522 BRT, and Ballard and West Seattle in the Split-Spine configuration (but not the 45th line).

      If all that is in ST3, it’s hard to see an ST4 package as large as ST1 or 2, because the common interest in large projects will likely diverge. If you look at the low-hanging fruit, it would be the 45th line, Lake City/Bothell line, half-hourly Sounder (assuming hourly was done in ST3), and — if Seattle urbanists can get ST’s attention — a Metro 8 subway of some kind. I don’t think 405 LRT or 520/Sand Point LRT or Burien-Renton LRT will have enough support then. So Snoho would say, “We don’t need much.” Pierce would say, “We’d like more Tacoma Link lines and half-hourly Sounder”. South King would say, “How about that half-hourly Sounder.” East King would say, “Um, I think we have enough light rail.” North King would say, “We’ve still got a lot of needs and potential ridership.” Can you create an evenly geographically-dispersed package with that?

      There’s also the timing of things. ST2’s openings are in 2016-2023. ST3’s openings would be in 2020-2041. The Everett and Tacoma extensions would open at the very possibly earliest in 2027 (assuming full-steam ahead for 10 years), but more likely in the 2030s (to let smaller projects go first and save up enough funding for the big projects). Would the ST4 vote be before or after that? If it’s after, and the urbanists’ predictions of low all-day ridership in the Everett and Tacoma tails come true, then Snoho and Pierce may lose interest in any undone extensions. If the vote is before they open, then their performance would be unknown like it is now, and people would vote their prejudices.

      A large ST3 plan would use ST1+ST2+ST3 tax authority. So they would be maxed out until 2041. So anything beyond that in the meantime would require going to the Legislature. Would it be worth voting now for things that wouldn’t even start for twenty years? Is that fair to our children? And we really can’t predict what the situation will be like in 2040, how people’s attitudes will have changed, and where the population concentrations are. Will Seattle’s zoning have allowed it to grow to a million? Will Totem Lake and Issaquah be populous neighborhoods to spite the critics? Will a world war or an oil crisis or a cutoff of overseas shipping or a big earthquake have occurred?

      I believe that over the next few decades people will gradually see the need for a comprehensive high-capacity transit network (a la Seattle Subway), and large walkable urban villages with housing available for all, and that the suburbs need to support city transit because it benefits the entire region, but we can’t depend on it happening until it happens.

      However, there will be facts on the ground when these urban centers get built up, which will happen if the population keeps increasing. When there’s a lot of people in all of them, it will be no longer tenable to say they shouldn’t have robust transit options to all surrounding areas.

    2. Another issue that might crop up over the next two decades is expanding ST’s service area. Not Thurston Coujnty, but to Smokey Point and Maple Valley. The counties are unbalanced right now, with Pierce including Spanway, Bonney Lake, and Orting. But Snoho doesn’t include the faster-growing northwest area. Will this imbalance be allowed to continue? Especially if the Pierce exurbs start getting more ST service, and Snohomish starts looking for ways to serve that now-left-out area.

      All-day ST Express and/or Sounder to Olympia should definitely be negotiated, but I’m less sure about adding a whole new county that’s even more exurban and presumably anti-tax than the existing ones.

      1. Mike, you’ve given me a lot to think about.

        The part that really makes it difficult for me to instantly respond is the idea of ST3 using ST1 & ST2 authority in the process…

        Generally I agree with you. A ST4 is going to be more difficult than I thought for the pithy reasons you give.

        Oh and I’d like to see Sound Transit provide good service to Olympia. Especially when the state legislature is in session. If that means a risky decision to move the Sound Transit district to overly progresso Olympia, OK.

      2. Well, Mr Dublin can tell us what Thurston County voters are like. Evergreen College is probably pro-transit, and I imagine many state workers are, but what about beyond that?

      3. It’s a real unfortunate mix of development patterns too. Olympia and parts of Tumwater could be really good transit areas. Lacy is so poorly planned it is difficult to get around even by driving, let alone anything else.

      4. Annexing Marysville and extending Sounder North and ST Express would be somewhat of a no-brainer. Throw in a new transit center on the reservation (which would require their annexation, which would be complicated to say the least) near the mall/casino and you might have yourself a nice, marketable transit destination (but unwalkable and ultimately remaining a park-and-ride forever).

      5. Actually, north Sounder is already a pretty big boondoggle, about to become an even bigger boondoggle when Link extends to Lynnwood. ST’s long range plans to keep north Sounder running, even after Link goes all the way to Everett is just nuts.

        If Link, one day, did extend all the way to Everett, and I-5 traffic between Everett and Marysville continues to get worse, having a shuttle train running between Everett and Marysville to connect with Link would not be the worst of ideas if the rail bridge could be upgraded to allow faster travel speeds and BSNF could be convinced to allow for a remotely reasonable price. Unfortunately, I am not too optimistic about either of these assumptions happening.

      6. The thing that is lacking isn’t a train to Marysville. What’s lacking is a regional train going all the way to at least Bellingham.

        Get some sort of Cafe/Lounge car and SE if the state can be convinced to pay for the Everett to Bellingham part of the trip and make it basically another Cascades trip.

    3. Snohomish County (for starters) pays back Seattle by understanding ST4 is Seattle-centric and Seattle-needed.

      What the effyouseekay are you smoking, Joe? “Snohomish County” is not a “thing” that can pay back any other “thing”. It’s a collection of voters who distrust the “welfare cheats” and gays in Seattle and will NOT vote to continue taxing themselves for Seattle’s benefit.

      You can take that to the bank.

      The only way Seattle will get a decent urban rail system is to do the job itself.

      1. Anandakos;

        I have a more… warmer view of Sound Transit District residents in Snohomish County than you do.

        I do agree that you might be right, “The only way Seattle will get a decent urban rail system is to do the job itself.” Yeah, probably… with the timelines we’re talking about here.

    1. Glenn;

      I think this would be a good thread to discuss the problems of cash fares. Island Transit is about to charge a cash fare on its Oak Harbor-March’s Point & Camano Island-Mount Vernon & Camano Island-Everett routes.

      The article you mention says;

      It’s not clear how much TriMet spends collecting cash now, but Tucker said 10 cents of every cash dollar the agency accepts at the fare box is spent collecting that dollar.

      That reflects the cost of counting all the money — by hand, because bills and paper fares are comingled in fare boxes — and getting it into a bank account. Counting cash also requires stricter oversight and more security. With no paper trail, theft is more difficult to detect.

      “Every day, cash is pulled off vehicles and out of ticket vending machines, counted and deposited,” Tucker said. “It’s a really elaborate process we do every day for every vehicle.”

      Cash also leads to maintenance problems. Wadded-up bills can jam fare boxes and the ticket vending machines installed on MAX platforms.

      “One less wet bill that jams the fare box on a rainy day is one less service call we have to make,” Tucker said.

      Electronic fares will have overhead costs, too, including credit card processing fees. But TriMet expects most users of the prepaid card to buy their fares in larger chunks, so the fees would come off of $25 transactions instead of $5 ones. Fees are also smaller on online transactions because they’re less likely to be fraudulent.

      I know for Skagit Transit it’s 3-4 cents on the dollar spent generally to collect fares. It’s well worth the investment.

      I also know if Skagit Transit and Island Transit is ever going to join ORCA, the State of Washington will have to cover the startup costs for us up here. Those costs are enormous for transit agencies to bear unless we have a special taxing district to help with the costs.

      1. It would be nice if they could come up with a way for Skagit and Islsnd to share fareboxes. That magnetic card thing Skagit Transit uses seems like a nice low cost solution that is could be a better fit than ORCA.

      2. Actually Glenn, Skagit Transit gifted Island Transit five (5) fareboxes. I agree the magnetic cards are nice… but ORCA is better for those who commute down towards Everett, Mukilteo, Seattle and points south.

      3. I haven’t ridden Skagit. Are “the magnetic card thing” multi ride tickets that get stamped for each ride? That’s a system Anchorage has been using for nearly a decade and it seems to work extremely well. The medium is essentially free and it really does improve throughput.

      4. Well Anandakos buddy, the magnetic card doesn’t need to be stamped on the card for each ride but for $2 all-day passes in-county it’s recorded on the farebox the person paid all day and is boarding bus 1234 on route say 208 or route 300. It’s a good system, but not what most riders want… which is ORCA.

      5. The card is also used to issue change of sorts. If the only thing you have is a $10 bill and you get on in Everett and are headed to Mt Vernon, the fare in only $3. So, the farebox issues you a magnetic card with the bslance on it, and you can use the card to pay your fare until the balance is gone. The farebox records a printed tally on the back of the card so humans know the card balance too.

        The read + print process really doesn’t take that much extra time over what an ORCA tap does.

        It seems to me it’s a nice intermediate system in terms of not requiring quite as much investment as the full blown smart card system but is better than coins into a box that many smaller agencies can afford.

      6. I live in a small city whose bus agency uses the magnetic paper cards. I’d take ORCA any day. An ORCA tap takes a second. Inserting the card, waiting for it to get sucked in, read, and printed takes seconds. And I end up with a stack of expired cards. Wasteful.

      7. Ideally, ORCA would be easier and cheaper to expand.

        TriMet looked at getting involved with ORCA rather than going its own way, and actually decided to dump $30 million or something into their own card system. The current ORCA doesn’t do what they want, and there is this whole process where a new agency has to get approved by the pod to enter the ORCA system.

        Intercity Transit had one bus route that used ORCA readers. Today, they don’t.

        Having used Island Transit and Skagit Transit buses from time to time, I would love to see ORCA available up there. Unfortunately, the current political tangle and expense with ORCA seems to prevent its practical expansion.

    2. The comments claims that there won’t be a way to refill the pass at MAX ticket vending machines. Is this true? If so, then the system is not going to work as well as intended.

      1. I don’t know if that has been decided or not.

        I’m pretty sure the current machines won’t be able to add value to a card.

        I’m not convinced that many people will even get a card. A fairly significant number already use the cell phone ticket system, and supposedly the card tap system is compatible with the newer cell phones.

  7. “Mike Orr says

    February 21, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Well, Mr Dublin can tell us what Thurston County voters are like. Evergreen College is probably pro-transit, and I imagine many state workers are, but what about beyond that?

    Mike, to tell you the truth, I think there’s a caucus this next week that’ll be my first of the 22nd District. Truth to tell, the move out of Ballard left me pretty badly shaken, first because it was sudden, and worst because there was no choice about it.

    But both the nature and the speed of it confirms my present thinking that this entire region is in an exploding state of flux. On the positive, meaning things like the planet of Cul-De-Sac might as well still be updated pastures.

    SR101 hitting I-5 just west of the Capitol is south end of the metal roof pavement ending in Everett. Best omen of all for needed change.

    Like I’ve said before, as is in development discussion right now, these places have no “bones”. Which I think means hard and unpopular to either bulldoze or rebuild after the flood which current newer land use makes inevitable.

    In addition, along with earthquakes like the one that cracked the capitol and regular flooding, an active volcano with a record of lahars (tall-timber filled mudflows nothing and nobody can outrun)…

    I other words, at least on this point, the worse I like something, the less I worry that it’s permanent. Transit approach I have in mind for places like this is to buy some real estate next to a development like the one across the field from my favorite cafe in a new business park in Lacey.

    Good quality reasonably priced density. But mainly, designed as ideal for transit, including streets ready for buses, and convertible to rail on very short notice. Not only to start providing a transit friendly life, but to the idea in plain sight where current home-owners- and their kids- can start seeing this pattern in action.

    Most of them for the first time in their lives. PhD. thesis: majority of children who ride a train regularly vote transit-positive with their first transit election.

    Bus transit right now, including express too damn slow- Tacoma shouldn’t be an hour, or Seattle two. Absolute requirement for anything express is just plain “Stay off I-5!” Fastest way right now is fastest build on new Cascades-Sounder track south from Lakewood.

    Amtrak station in Lacey is about ten miles from the Capitol- by my clock and odometer, a fifteen minute non-stop bus ride meeting every train- something that has needed to exist for last at least ten years. For another ten or twenty, ’til we can shoot a line straight down I-5, should be fast to build and work just fine.

    State government is a quick walk for anybody interested or for public comment, but can’t very little presence a half mile or so down to the Transit Center and the port. But two really nice influences.

    Evergreen State College seems to have required course in manners and good intentions underlaid with intelligence and capability. Students definitely use the buses that come up there. Will doubtless use more when it exists.

    But equally excellent influence is Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Personnel there above all finally deserve national leadership with any idea of actual world history. Every compliment to Evergreen above, equal at JBLM. Who will he large ridership when something finally goes by there.

    So transit-wise, this place is wide-open and waiting. What isn’t here, there’s nothing permanent in the way of putting it here.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Do you mean that a BART line should run under Geary? From what I remember a couple of years ago, and on earlier visits, I’m not sure the neighborhoods are full enough yet. Though for sure this will change.

      Wonder if there are any future plans to head for Marin County? Curious if tunnel to Oakland can be duplicated. Not sure whether the Golden Gate Bridge can handle rail.? But again, probably awhile off.

      If I had a MUNI project to work on would be to get those dozens of stop signs- or so it seems- out from in front of the 180′ trains of the N-Judah. The line used to run PCC streetcars. Also, and this is personal:

      I really liked the way a train of cars going three separate routes would couple of uncouple for Tunnel service. But I’m told that the Breda cars were too big to handle it.

      If those miserable rolling junk piles were only a US problem, at least we’d have the excuse of no experience. Though now we’ve got plenty of experience, and all of it bad.

      But how in the world could they sell one car to places that should know better, like Gothenburg in Sweden, and Oslo Norway?

      I can’t figure out why anyplace could make the low bid so overriding that this nobody can flat refuse for any reason a machine so plain lousy in every single way.

      Any thoughts why after Oslo and Gothenburg, the Swedish Air Force and the Norwegian Navy couldn’t remedy a problem to which World War II should have put a definitive, smoking end?

      Anybody know?


      1. Are you kidding? Geary is dense end to end, it just doesn’t look that way because it’s 8-lane stroad for most of it’s length. Marin’s BANANA demeanor toward development means that there really isn’t a critical mass for the kind of investment for a rail link yet. MUNI’s actually going the other way on coupling/uncoupling, most of the investments seem aimed toward gradually kicking everything but the M out of the Market St. Subway.

      2. Mark,

        The Golden Gate has a deep channel (> 200 feet) unlike the relatively shallow bayfloor south of Treasure Island. If BART were to go to Marin it would have to run east of Alcatraz and then continue east of Angel Island to Tiburon. There’s no way a line up there could run out Geary and then turn north. West of the Golden Gate Bridge the channel reaches over 300 feet in depth.

        Anyway, there is not now, and the voters will ensure there will never be, sufficient density in Marin or Sonoma Counties to warrant the stratospheric cost of BART.

        BART should go to Diridon to provide a connection to HSR, but that’s it for extensions.

      3. FDW,

        Yes, it looks like they’re going to stub the M in an extension to Park Merced, but I doubt they’ll kick the N out of the tunnel. It’s the highest ridership line in the system. Maybe they’ll through route the M and J so that people in Ocean View keep their one seat ride (albeit considerably more slowly from Broad and Plymouth to Embarcadero).

      4. FDC (cont’d),

        And there are plans for “Geneva LRT”. They might make a long route from the T to the Zoo via Geneva, Ocean and Taraval. Folks would transfer to and from BART at Balboa Park or the hopped up Muni Metro at West Portal or Bayshore to get downtown.

      5. Actually, the fact that the N has the highest ridership makes removing it a priority. The 16th St corridor allows the N to have more frequency in the Sunset, while retaining easy access to most of the things it already connects to east of Church.

        The Geneva LRT will likely bean extension of the combined K/L, and not the T.

      6. IIRC the plan was to run BART across the Golden Gate Bridge rather than in a tunnel. Supposedly stability of the cars in high winds was behind the selection of wide instead of standard gauge.

        There is some talk of needing yet another set of transbay tunnels both to deal with capacity issues and to allow maintenance on the current tunnels.

        I agree BART should not be extended into the hinterlands any further. The San Jose or the Santa Clara stations are as far as it should go.

        OTOH there is lots of density that could be served by further BART lines in SF, Oakland, and Berkeley. But given the cost even compared to fully grade separated LRT that seems unlikely, at least in SF proper.

  8. A much better through-route would be Gold Line to Expo Line. Folks from Montclair and Pasadena don’t want to go to Long Beach, but they very much might like to go to USC or Santa Monica.

    1. The East LA branch of the Gold Line will be through routed with the Expo Line. In any case the transfer situation will be much improved with a one-seat ride or same platform connection.

      1. Thanks, Oran. If they have a choice, I would expect that folks from East LA would be more interested in heading south than to Santa Monica, though they certainly might want to go to the Museum District and USC.. Also, it makes for two more equal total lengths (short East LA line + mega long Blue Line and loooooooong Azusa Gold Line and somewhat shorter than blue Expo. But, it’s their railroad.

      2. Nothing obviously precludes the branches from changing, although historically the Gold Line was the Pasadena Blue Line and always planned to continue, through Downtown Los Angeles, to Pasadena. The Pasadena-Claremont section was slated for “alternate rail transit” and actually had a test train on it in the late 90’s, which I rode when the RegioSprinter did its tour (DMU service). The East LA branch was supposed to be the extension for the Red Line subway. Ultimately, for load balancing purposes, I expect that the pattern may shift and trains will change destinations in Downtown LA.

  9. Talking with the bus driver this morning I was told that the only Metro route using 520 that will continue to DT after the shake-up will be the 311. I think this will be a big plus for reliability on the 255 albeit I’m sure there will be some growing pains figuring out the Montlake Muddle. Great news for Childrens employees if they follow the old plan to turn the buses around there (which makes sense).

    Also the 236/238 “super hero” route will become a loop with the 238 changing into the caped crusader at Woodinville in addition to it’s current cameleon act at Kirkland TC. This makes a lot of sense and should give a noticeable bump to ridership.

    1. The 255 will continue to downtown, as will the 252, 257, and 268. Metro punted on Eastside truncations this time around.

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