New XT60 takes a break at the Montlake Triangle

[Update 11:30am: WSDOT responded that the MyNorthwest link reporting Good2Go identity theft is a 2013 issue that has been resolved. We’ve uploaded WSDOT’s full statement here.]

This is an open thread.

131 Replies to “News Roundup: Close to Launch”

  1. FHSC: Aside from my trip report last week, noting problems with equipment, fare machines, display boards and noting the great ride quality, …
    Anyone have some stories to tell?

    1. Was more or less fine going to the Sounders game on Tuesday. Left CHS at 6, got to Occidental at 6:35 but getting from 5th & Jackson to Occidental took 12 minutes because of cops directing traffic. Left on time after the game and got back to CHS in 24 minutes. Once CHS opens, if you sit on the west side of the stadium, I think FHSC will be time competitive with Link to CHS at least on the way home. There aren’t the bottle necks like trying to cross the train tracks to IDS or the circuitous route to Stadium that Link has after events.

      1. “… but getting from 5th & Jackson to Occidental took 12 minutes because of cops directing traffic.”

        I thought the turnback at 5th was built for situations like this. Why didn’t they use it?

      2. the westbound streetcar track shares the left turn pocket to 2nd Avenue South from South Jackson Street. The flow would probably have been worse without SPD. I saw the queue from my bicycle.

    2. Good observation, Mic. With east fix, from two periods of street rail history. Chicago, 1952. PCC streetcars hadn’t arrived yet. But before that, every car had a conductor collecting fares, and recording them by pulling a cord attached to something on the front wall that looked like a small grandfather clock. Total had to match money at the end of the shift.

      Flash to Seattle before unforgivable destruction of City property. But until 2005, Waterfront Streetcar had a conductor too. No only checked fares (I think) but also opened rear sliding door. So…however: historic requirement that conductors wear dark uniforms with shirts with brass buttons up to the top of the collar.

      While you’re at it, Mic, covertly paint the FHS cars either green and light yellow or make them dark blood red by opening a stockyard at Jackson and Occidental so painting the cars with cattle blood every trip so, like everybody in Chicago told little kids, color would always be regulation.

      Good thinking!

    3. Car I rode the other evening had a very noticeable flat spot on one of its wheels. I hope we can presume there is a wheel-truing machine in the car barn?

      1. Is that what causes the very loud thumping noise I hear from from of the trains when I’m walking to work in the mornings? It sounds like a flat, but for a train, so this makes sense. Makes the whole street vibrate if you’re nearby.

      2. Rode car 401 last night and it definitely has a flat spot on one of the wheels. Vibration and noise was very noticeable. Usually ride is smooth and quiet so this car has a problem and should be taken out of service until fixed.

    4. Worked fine yesterday PM peak outbound. That’s the same trip I tried to do a week ago but the streetcar didn’t show up. I didn’t make a special trip to ride the streetcar; I was coming back from a Chinatown grocery trip.

    5. I tried again to use it as part of my commute to First Hill this week. The driver was in training. Managed to stop at every light from 5th and Jackson to Broadway and Marion. Got stuck in the backup at the pointless 4-way stop on 14th. The driver rang the bell incessantly for no apparent reason. Opened the doors at every stop regardless of whether someone was boarding or alighting. What’s the point of having rider-operated doors? All in all a slow and frustrating ride. I don’t think I’ll ride it again until they learn how to operate it like they value people’s time. The ride quality was good though.

      1. Previously folks were complaining that the streetcar wasn’t stoping at every stop without folks pushing the stop strips.

        I guess folks are going to complain either way.

      2. I just don’t see the point of having door request buttons if they are going to open all the doors anyways. It just confuses people, and wastes time and energy.

      3. The door open buttons are probably part of the streetcar’s basic design. Link has them too. The bigger issue is the stop request strips. The presence of the strips implies it won’t stop unless somebody presses them, but that conflicts with the expected behavior of trains which are supposed to stop regardless. At least subways do, and buses in the DSTT do, and Swift does. I haven’t had as much experience with streetcars so maybe stop-on-request is more common there. Ironically, VTA light rail is stop-on-request, which feels strange and unlike a metro, but given its extremely low ridership it makes sense.

      4. That’s just nuts. Every subway, tram, streetcar I’ve ever ridden in the US, Asia, and Europe makes every stop. The PA announces the next stop. I would be pissed if the damn train just kept rolling along, because, um, this is Seattle, and we do it different here.
        If it has so few riders, then a bus would have done nicely.

      5. I’m pretty sure MUNI in SF doesn’t on the outer surface stops. You have to pull the cord.

        It seems to me that automatically wasting riders time by stopping at every stop, regardless of whether or not it’s necessary, places a higher value on promoting the optics of high capacity transit over the travel times for actual riders. So, pretty much in line with what I’d expect from the FHSC.

      6. The corollary expectation to mandatory stopping is that at least one person will get on or off at every station almost always anyway. If they don’t, that raises the question of why it’s a train rather than a bus.

      7. I’m fine with stopping at every stop, I just wish they would use the doors the way they were designed to be used. Even on Link the doors should be user-actuated. It keeps the conditioned air in and saves wear on the doors. Maybe they think Americans are too stupid to push a button.

      8. Subway doors do usually open automatically. The open button is for unusual situations like when it’s sitting at the SeaTac terminus, and so that people don’t get stuck inside.

  2. Express Toll Lanes. Has anybody ridden, say, the 532 northbound toward Lynnwood or Ash Way? Have read that reason buses have to merge is that the road suddenly loses a lane- resulting in some sudden decelerations and confusion. Is this right?

    Story seems to be that the State Legislature decided to do this. So now, the Governor is proposing to “harden” the shoulder. Meaning that at rush hour, there’ll be another GP lane. But no shoulder, like to get suddenly immobile car off the highway.

    At meeting in Olympia, I told a committee politely how bad, and why, this idea sucks like a Black Hole in space. Ruins my Grateful Dead/The Band reputation to agree verbatim withe the chief of the State Police.

    Any first hand observations or ideas?

    Mark

  3. The perception of an imbalance to living units and on site parking will be the next hot topic along link in SE.

    Things change…..

  4. Also I am all for tolling but wish everything our state does, including good to go, wasn’t such a disaster.

  5. Can anyone explain to me why in the Central District, route 8 deviates from MLK over to 23rd between Yesler and Jackson? I looked on Google and Oran’s Seattle Transit Map for a major destination in that area and couldn’t find anything that seemed worthy of a deviation like that.

    1. I could never understand it myself, and a few months ago, finally had a chance to talk to a Metro official about it. The reason is basically historic. It does it because that’s what it did for the past 50 years, and you can’t change it now without somebody complaining about having to walk a couple extra blocks. I agree, it is totally ridiculous.

    2. The 8 is only twenty-five years old or so, and the MLK segment is even younger. The deviation seems to be to reach the Promenade 23 shopping area, transfer point, and the Douglass-Truth library. MLK north of Mt Baker is almost all residential and doesn’t have these amenities. Madison Valley has a more limited range of choices, which didn’t exist when the 8 was created, and is higher-end is higher-end than the 8’s lower-income ridership can afford.

      1. Mike Orr is correct.

        The deviation has existed for only as long as the MLK section of the 8, which dates to about 1998. It is in place to serve the shopping district at 23/Jackson, as that was considered to be a driver of trips on what was, at one point, a very lightly used route segment.

      2. Route 8 was extended in the June 1997 service change (weekdays only). It was extended again in 2009.

      3. I forgot about that. Route extensions are a common way deviations get introduced into the system. Initially, you start with a route that operates in a straight line, with a loop around the block at the end for the bus to turn around. If there is any kind of destination on this loop, they’ll put in a bus stop because “why not?”. Then, when the route gets extended, somebody complains about losing their stop in what used to be the turnaround loop, so the bus continues to serve the stop it did before, only now, it’s a pointless route deviation, rather than an actual turnaround loop.

  6. OK. Where in Seattle is there “Too Much Green?” If somebody means grass and trees, I invite you to look at aerial maps of the city over the years, every map has fewer trees.

    Trees clean things out of the air, like for instance gasoline and diesel fumes. Haven’t been paying attention to fashion. Is everybody thinking that some new Peter Pan movie isn’t being fair to Captain Hook?

    Either gimme some explanation or gimme a break!

    Mark

      1. I’m not anti-park by any means, but consider Westlake Park and the park just south of the King County Courthouse:

        1) Useless as parks
        2) Unbeatable transit connections
        3) Walkable to tons of jobs

        People would scream bloody murder of course, so it will never happen, which is a shame.

      2. Bzzz. bzzz, troll alert. Stereotyping and oversimplification found. Parks and complete streets (vegetation/bioswales) are an important component of urban villages, for the residents’ health and comfort. There are a variety of park shapes, sizes, and relative locations that could meet this need. Cal Anderson Park and the P-Patches at Summit & Thomas and 16th & Denny are examples of in-village amenities. New York’s Central Park is a large consolidated park accessible by subway from the villages. The conflict between open space and density comes when there’s a housing shortage, especially in station walksheds. That’s what Seattle has. So we need more housing around stations and in urban villages, which means more density, and open space will just have to be on the periphery, and station-area streets can be designed with not-much-space-taking vegetation.

        I don’t have a particular opinion on how much open space is enough vs too much, but I think Seattle has enough and those who want more are just whining. The biggest problem is that Seattle’s large parks are so isolated on the periphery and have limited transit to get to them. Since we can’t move those parks or create similar parks in the interior, we’ll just have to provide more frequent coverage transit to them.

        There’s one way we could address all these demands: condemn some single-family houses at the periphery of urban villages and build a park/open space there. NIMBYs keep demanding open space in multifamily areas near stations. Why can’t they give up some of their precious single-family areas for them? Especially since that’s the majority of residential land, and four lawns are kind of like a park but benefit only the four homeowners.

      3. Wait, wait, wait. Both these parks are routinely filled with people! I see kids on the play equipment at Westlake Park pretty often, and people sitting at benches and tables all the time. And it’s a common site for meet-ups, temporary installations, performances, and demonstrations. As for City Hall Park, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it empty; it’s a needed spot for rest and recreation, like Occidental Square, Victor Steinbrueck Park, or Pioneer Square.

        There are lots of useless plazas and tiny parks in and near downtown, but I wouldn’t paint these ones with that brush.

      4. @Al Diamond

        If we want to maximize TOD around transit centers, we have to look at the locations we already have too. I can’t expect Roosevelt to not want a park near Link when downtown has several.

        Just because these parks are busy doesn’t mean they are useful. I think you’d find that many of the people in these parks are actually there because they are homeless. These parks are already ersatz housing, in a way. Unfortunately our land use policy doesn’t promote the development of enough housing at reasonable costs because we reserve so much land for low/no density uses.

        Not to worry, as I said above. There is less than a snowball’s chance in hell of this happening. AFAIK I’m the only supporter :)

      5. Oh, I’m sure that a lot of people I see hanging out at some of the downtown parks are homeless. I think I read somewhere that this was actually a consideration when designing Victor Steinbrueck Park — that homeless people will be there, and that it should be a space that works for them. Still, they’re a lot busier during the day than at night — people that hang out there mostly don’t sleep there. So the idea that people are in these parks because they’re homeless is bunk. They’re not ersatz housing, they’re genuine public places.

        I’m not going to claim that every park and plaza near downtown is great. A lot of them really are pretty useless, and many public and private attempts to “activate” dead spaces haven’t really attracted people to sit in awkward little plots of land between busy roads, with maybe a single building entrance adjacent. As far as I can tell the plaza outside King Street Station is truly useless, as is the little triangle across Jackson from it. The space between Union Station and Jackson Street is so useless they turned it into a parking lot (I can imagine that space being legitimately bustling in the past, if Union Station was ever a busy inter-city rail station). Most “plazas” out in front of office towers are basically the same, except that they’ve never been useful; they’ve made “windswept plaza” a cliche in this town.

        There’s a post up on Seattle Bike Blog right now about taking “family bikes” onto trains. Clearly bakfietseses and similar things fill a niche in the sort of city we have (though obviously only so many bikes of any sort can ever fit in a train car), because our urban form and public spaces don’t, on the whole, do a great job of supporting the simple, common task of running some errands on foot with a couple kids. If we’re going to build a city where that sort of thing is the norm, we’re going to have to figure out the difference between the public spaces that do work and the ones that don’t, not just blow them all away. Because people are going to need to step out of the sidewalk rest their feet (kids or no), kids are going to need to nap or get their crazies out, people are going to want to sit down for a coffee or an ice cream cone or a sandwich.

        Absolutely call out the spaces that don’t work, and elements of spaces that don’t work. But recognize that some do work, and some are really important parts of the city.

    1. As long as the green spaces are clustered around Portage Bay, I don’t see what the problem is. From the graphics in the DJC, it loooked like theu were planning for quite a bit of density around Campus Parkway. It’s better if U-District gets their park near the shoreline than right next to U-District Station.

      1. The new West Campus would have been very well served with the southern UW station in the original design to cross Portage Bay rather than Montlake. Now all that density will just put strain on the Roosevelt BRT and 70 lines. With the exception of what looks like one tall building to be added at 15th and Campus Parkway, almost all of the new development — especially the biggest buildings clustered along Pacific — will be at a stretch walking distance from both HSS and UDS.

    2. Really — it sounds from the article like UW wants to build directly over the U District station, which is the main drum STB has been beating, and build up to 300′ in some places. So we’re complaining that they’re considering a park along Portage Bay? That’s the ideal place to add a park!

    3. You guys beat me to it. I was going to say the same thing. This looks really good to me. I’ve been debating a guy from the Urbanist about the “need” for more green space at the UW. He, and the city, basically think we need more parks and plazas. I think that is ridiculous, given the nature of the UW (which is essentially one giant park). The city (and the writer at the Urbanist) basically think that doesn’t count. In my book it certainly does, and the campus is as open, if not more open, then most parks (a lot of parks close at dusk, i can walk around the campus all day).

      In any event, this park looks very nice, and looks like it is in a great place. In general the plans sound great. The central campus is preserved. You have a park in the nicest possible place (along the waterfront). The park would be easily accessible by huge numbers of students and office workers wanting to get a break from the increasingly urban landscape. Meanwhile, this weakens the case for a park up the street, closer to the station (which would be the worst possible place). This is the gap — and then some — between stations. As Al said, it is the ideal place for a park.

      I really like everything about the plans. The new buildings along with the park look great.

      1. Agreed, Ross.

        Longtime STB readers know that Martin (all due respect) has a rather irrational distaste for most proposed parks and green space.

      2. There is way too much of the “shave it and pave it” in some of the discussions here, and I say that as someone actually in the profession who depends on new density and construction for my livelihood.

        Just a quick glance at the proposed UW density in the article gives me great hope – they are turning large swaths of parking into structures–even around the stadium and arena and adding high-rise construction while still providing open space in one of the most beautiful campuses you will find anywhere. Good on ’em.

    4. The “way too much green” statement doesn’t seem to match the article. UW development over U-District Station sounds suitably dense, and development around Campus Parkway likewise sounds like a good urban village. Having open space mostly south of Pacific Street is a suitable compromise between the urbanists and open-space advocates. That puts the open space in the periphery of the stations’ walksheds, which allows the most people to live/work/shop within a short walk of the station, while the open space is just a recreational walk away from the station. That’s the same model as Roosevelt Station and Greenlake. It’s much better than Jackson Park North and Jackson Park South Stations.

      1. I have to agree with folks here, when I first saw this article I thought it was 100% good news. Here I thought UW station would only serve a sports stadium until the end of time and here UW comes to the rescue with 300 ft towers.

        Almost no other station in the current build out is going to have 300 ft towers. Not Capitol Hill, not anywhere in Rainier Valley, not even in Northgate.

        Instead the one station most of us thought would never have any kind of development near it is going to have more than almost any of the others outside of downtown.

        Thanks UW for doing the right thing.

      1. Wonder how many times each actor playing Borg had to rehearse that sentence ’til they got the intonation right. Notice also that none of them have either a British or Southern accent

        You know, in “1984” the evil Big Brother representative told the captured hero that they hardly had to brain-wash anybody at all. And this was before TV.

        Some how it’s hard to imagine anybody being terrorized by a Philco with vacuum tubes,

        However, Orwell’s publisher forbade him from describing the Tyrant’s most likely torture technique: giving a recalcitrant prisoner a giant noogie. Assimilates them every time!

        “Die Young in Poverty!” Ok, I know, I know, that’s a Vulcan’s Big Sister. All over the Galaxy, girls know pointed ears hurt more when they get twisted.

        Mark

  7. So, the new schedules after the March 26 U-link shakeup are out, at least on the OneBusAway website (navigate to a stop, view “complete timetable”, and select a date on or after March 26; as far as I know, you can only get to this from the website, not the mobile app).

    One big surprise is that the OBA schedule lists no trips serving westbound Montlake Freeway Station after the change, although eastbound Montlake Freeway Station continues to be served as normal. At the same time, the destination sign on the westbound 545 now says “Yale Ave” as soon as the bus clears Evergreen Point, which suggests OBA’s info may have some merit. (At least, as of yesterday, the westbound 545 is still stopping at Montlake Freeway Station to load and unload passengers).

    As far as I can see, the “mitigation” for this closure involves operating the 541, along with the 542 (peak hours only) and operating the 542 midday on weekdays, every 30 minutes, during which the 542 does not currently operate at all. If I’m reading the schedule correctly, evenings and weekends, a trip from Redmond or Kirkland to the U-district would require backtracking all the way to downtown Seattle. (Even a transfer to the 271 is not possible because the 271 doesn’t stop at Evergreen Point freeway station).

    If this information is correct, it would be a significant disappointment, and make it significantly more difficult to anything on the Eastside after work that ends after 7 PM.

    One would think that a major closure like this would be major news, but so far, the Metro, Sound Transit, and WSDOT websites all give no hint that this is about to happen. Hopefully, the OBA schedule is just wrong on this one.

    1. It’s probably due to the 520 construction, like how the northbound 43/48 stop has been apparently missing for several months.

    2. This’s a very important question. I think it’s a glitch in OBA, because I haven’t gotten any alerts from the 520 bridge project about closures, and they just built a nice new ramp up from the station last summer. And, OBA has other glitches; it doesn’t show any Community Transit routes after the 11th.

      Still, someone needs to confirm. If the Montlake Freeway Station is going away, it’d be horrible.

  8. Can’t get onboard with the Ugh. Is it really a problem or a preference? I see–indeed, have sat next to–animals on planes fairly often, and it’s been fine. I want a world with freedom from the tyranny of the car for all, including people who sometimes need or wish to travel with pets.

    1. djw, this could be the kind of slanderous urban legend usually saved for minority groups, reasonable fire-arms laws, and transit. But any real verified instance of an airborne pet pig? Sure giveaway is term “politically correct.”

      Mark

    2. Agreed. Pets are often a hurdle for transit adoption. I know that there were times in my life when I would have forgone owning a car but did not because I needed to get my dog around.

    3. Yes, I was put off by the ugh too. If people really want everyone to stop using cars, that means (sometimes) bringing your pet on transit. local or longer distances. just like rankler comments. By all means, if you don’t want pets on transit, then back in the car they go……

      1. So the pet can have your seat. (or the space in front of it, since they’re not allowed ON the seats.)

      2. If people really want everyone to stop using cars—24/7 public transportation, but, politically, we won’t get there.

        Other than that, a cat in a cat carrier, at the least, is manageable on a bus—If you can stand the attention from the cat lovers.

    4. Well then I guess it’s back in the car we go with my family’s extreme pet allergies.

      1. Having seen a violent dog/dog and later dog/person interaction on my bus (not a good thing in an enclosed space) I concluded long ago that larger pets (other than service dogs) have absolutely no place on any mass transit system unless they are fully secured/muzzled. So what Cascades is doing is the furthest it should ever go when it comes to pets.

      2. The good news is that I doubt many pet owners will take advantage of this.

        If most pet owners already have cars, driving to Portland usually makes more sense than taking Amtrak.

      3. With Amtrak this should be easy to deal with Amtrak, since they can easily choose some cars to be pet free.

        Is your family able to use Metro buses? I feel like I see a dog (service or otherwise) on every sixth or seventh bus I ride. (And I’ve never, in hundreds of bus rides with dogs over decades, seen anything approaching what Kyle S describes.)

      4. @djw

        I’ve seen a few aggressive dog incidents in ~12 years of regularly riding when the dog is clearly out of control and jumping at/on passengers. One became a heated confrontation between the owner and a person who took offense when the dog lunged on him.

        Much more common are irritating (on seat, across aisle, unleashed, barking) situations.

      5. It’s a bit of a d$*k move but if I see a dog whose behavior is concerning me at the bus stop I tell the driver, especially if it’s a packed bus. I’m pretty tolerant having spent a fair bit of time around guard dogs, but I’ve done that probably 3 or 4 times in the last 15 years, usually they will decline to let the owner and their pet on the bus. I’ve also alerted them when getting off that they have a problem in the back probably half a dozen more times. Admittedly as a late night rider in downtown I’ve done that many more times for humans. ;-)

        It’s unfortunate for the vast majority who train their dogs well that the driver doesn’t have the similar 10 minutes to observe them to determine that. :-(

      6. If you have extreme pet allergies, you can’t ride the train right now *anyway*. People on the train will have cat hair and dog hair on their clothing from home.

        So if you’ve been riding the train, you don’t have extreme pet allergies.

      7. Worth noting: Amtrak is only allowing pets in carriers.

        Oh, also, service animals are already allowed, and *not* in carriers. Again, if you have “extreme” pet allergies, you are not taking the train right now.

      8. Passengers applaud as boy removed from plane over allergies
        Associated Press | February 26, 2016 8:28 am
        An Arizona boy who was removed from a plane after having an allergic reaction to dogs onboard was visiting the Pacific Northwest as part of a bucket-list trip for his terminal father.

        I guess if you’ve got a peanut allergy and the person next to you opens a jar mid flight they offer you a parachute.

        Personally I’ve encountered more children, neither muzzled or on a leash, that I’d rather have thrown off (under) the bus than dogs. YMMV.

      9. I’ve been on several flights where they announced right before we were boarding that this would be a peanut-free flight as one passenger was allergic; if any of us had brought snacks with peanuts, please either save them for later or turn them in to the flight attendant for a free replacement. IMO, that’s a really good policy – especially the free replacement; I’d hate to have brought PB&J’s for a five-hour cross-country flight and then be left hungry.

        It’d be a lot more difficult to do with dogs, of course.

    5. Yeah, I’m thankful for Metro’s policies. I love my dog more than I care about not owning a car.

    6. The “ugh” is perfect and fitting. Same as pets in stores, especially grocery stores. These aren’t service animals, their peoples’ pets (“children”). It’s rude to bring a pet into a grocery store. I believe it’s rude to take them into any store. The ONLY exception is true service animals.

      I put these people in the same category as smokers. They feel they don’t cause disruption, but to everyone around them, they are a nuisance.

      Pets should not be allowed on the train. Poor decision by Amtrak.

      And who gets to determine if they don’t stink? Do they get a complimentary baggy to pick up the poop? Who gets to say if they aren’t disruptive?

      1. There’s a difference between pets in a grocery store and on a train. A grocery store has food out and in the open, a bus or train does not.

      2. I agree that not allowing pets is a barrier for people adopting animals or riding transit. If a person takes transit routinely, and doesn’t own a car, what do they do when their dog needs to go to the vet? Make them take an Uber? Zipcar? Beg a friend to drive them?

        Some of the complaints about pets can also be applied to people. Some transit riders take up multiple seats, or smell bad, or are very noisy. Should we ban babies on transit because they’re crying pooping machines?

    7. I agree. Disallowing pets on transit is a barrier to adoption. And the “Ugh” by itself is way too editorialized without backing it up in any way – the reader is just left to guess at the underlying reasons.

      1. Allowing pets on transit is clearly *also* a barrier to adoption, so there’s no clear answer.

      2. There is nobody who has ever decided not to take a train because people had pets in carriers. Nobody *ever*. It’s an urban legend. Lots of people claim that someone else might decide to do that, but as far as I can tell it’s never ever happened; I’ve never seen a firsthand account ever.

        By contrast, plenty of people have decided to take their car because pets are completely prohibited on the train.

        Also, pets are big money: Cascades is charging $25 per pet, and if you cross between north and south of Seattle another $25, and if you cross between north and south of Portland, another $25.

      3. @Nathanael
        “Cascades is charging $25 per pet, and if you cross between north and south of Seattle another $25, and if you cross between north and south of Portland, another $25.”

        Where are you reading that?
        There is a restriction on trips that have Thruway Bus connections (no pets allowed there), but if they are on one train from Bellingham to Portland, for instance, then that is one trip, one $25 charge.

      4. “There is nobody who has ever decided not to take a train because people had pets in carriers. Nobody *ever*. It’s an urban legend. Lots of people claim that someone else might decide to do that, but as far as I can tell it’s never ever happened; I’ve never seen a firsthand account ever.”

        You have observed, what, 0.0000007% of the train runs in the world?

        More in your favor, how can somebody know when they’re buying a ticket whether somebody will have a pet on the train? Is it a last-minute ticket and they’re looking across at the waiting area?

    8. When Nobel Peace Prize nominee Donald Trump becomes President, I hope his first oder of business is to reopen Guantanamo Bay Prison and send dog owners there who don’t shorten up the leash on their dog as they are walking down the bus isle, allowing it to brush-up against other passengers!

    9. It’s interesting that Hreyhound has a no pets policy, but congress specifically made an issue about pets having to be allowed on Amtrak.

      Even though they are also the ones that complain about Amtrak needing to operate more like a private business.

      If congress would actually put money into installing pet areas and funding staff to clean up after them, I might be more supportive of this. However, as irresponsible as so many pet owners are about dealing with their pets, this is just going to be another money sink that has nothing to do with actual transportation service.

      1. Even though they are also the ones that complain about Amtrak needing to operate more like a private business.

        Everyone knows this is utter and complete BS, right?

        “Be more like a private business! No, of course you can’t cancel that wildly inefficient route through the middle of nowhere, I mean, look at whose congressional districts it stops in!”

      2. The serpent speaks with forked tongue, but that doesn’t keep them congress critters from doing it.

      1. First-and experience is that huge white parrots with feathers on their heads are ok. Remember one ferret- or maybe full-sized weasel which would have more problems if they were a ferret because of all the places they could go if they got loose. But they didn’t.

        But one episode, I wish animal control could have got there quicker, but had to put on their hazmat suits. A dog got on walking on thee legs because he had to keep a paw over his nose while apologizing for the smell of the human that got on with him.

        Doubt that the human was any kind of a service animal.

        Mark

    1. Somehow new tech brings out a special type of delusion. For example once upon a time, people invisioned computer human symbiosis. It’s only now that we’ve had them for a while that we recognize them for what they really are, distracting advert vectors.

    2. Tony Seba makes a great case for the next big ‘Market Disruption’ in the video. I’m glad I watched it, knowing that IF battery technology finally makes the big jump in price and storage, and IF computers and Lidar sensors can do a better job than humans, and IF our society and laws embrace driverless-shared cars, then the whole game of roads, transit and parking change literally overnight.
      He claims we have too many roads, and way too much parking and spend way too much on cars for something that gets used about 4% of the time.
      Great food for thought.

      1. Remember, a computer’s output is only as good as what the most drunken, meth-using, inbred, expensively over educated community college dropout last told it.

        Remember also, you can’t ever allow them to decide what you should do, because humans probably make excellent lubricant 3D printer lubricant.

        Or easy to shave off their hair and dye it purple- so after we get automatic cars, also use the other company.

        Mark

      2. The story says the Google car has never had an accident, but has been run into by others 19 times.
        Yikes, this thing is a magnet for bad drivers to plow into. I’m a good defensive driver and haven’t been run into once in that same timeframe.
        It’s little wonder why there are too many roads when many of the cars are driverless.
        We mortals will be commuting suicide crashing into them at astounding rates.

  9. UW plan article mentions the UW learning to act as both a public and private institution. I think they are just acting like a private institution. For example, they are planning on knocking down Haggit and McCarty. Those are large and perfectly fine dorms, but when you’re trying to attract the richest students, those halls aren’t fancy enough. Meanwhile, the replacement options will be 30%-50% more expensive. Ostensibly the project is to increase the amount of housing. Considering the project will add about 6% more housing, I think the real motivation is pretty clear.

    1. Having lived in both Haggett and McCarty I would disagree with the characterization that they are “perfectly fine.” They were built in the 1960s. They were pretty ragged when I lived there, especially Haggett.

      Those buildings require major systems renovations that are prohibitively expensive; it is more cost effective to build new from the ground up. Just to take one example, showers. The ratio of showers to residents was IIRC around 1:8 in each dorm.

      As for not massively increasing capacity; more students requires more dining hall space (which was already congested at dinner times when I lived there) and taller buildings get more expensive when you switch from wood to concrete construction.

      1. Nah, still options for wood construction – cross-laminated timber (CLT) … which I admittedly know nothing about beyond what I read in these two articles :)
        https://www.theurbanist.org/2016/01/02/what-were-reading-tall-timber-towers/
        https://www.theurbanist.org/2016/02/25/urban-hubs-need-a-clt-boost/

        But yes – it was probably more cost effective to build new buildings rather than renovation. The college i went to had dorms built in the 20s, 60s, and 90s. The 1960s dorms were clearly the worst, and the college was trying to gut them to improve them, but at a certain point it’s better off just building a new one with better bones.

      2. More students (if they’re in-state) also require more subsidy to educate, which isn’t forthcoming. If the legislature wants to see enrollment expand, they should fund more FTE. UW, like most other state schools, is already stretching its resources to fund more FTE than the legislature is willing to pay for, but you can only go so far with that–lack of beds in the dorms is a non-sequitur on the topic of enrollment expansion.

    2. They were fine when I lived there in the late 80s, but recent students say that Haggett is very worn down now, as was Terry in its last year. The UW does need to do more to accommodate non-rich students (because its mandate is supposedly to educate average Washington State residents) and its new dorms have been excessively high-end, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the old dorms weren’t at the end of their life.

      1. This…. Had friends who lived in McCarthy about twelve years ago. It was considered one of the good dorms. It was far worse than the worst dorm at WWU, for instance. Terry & Lander were considered to be in far worse shape 12 years ago than the north campus dorms. UW housing was not competitive in quality then, but the new dorms, while nice, are really quite expensive for undergrad housing. The UW has to do a better job finding a middle ground.

    3. I’m not sure this example proves anything, really–colleges and Universities all over the country have been upping their amenities because that’s what students want, and regardless of whether they’re public or private they have strong incentives to attract the best students they can. (Rich isn’t really important, since the Feds will pony up loans for the rest of us, and we all pay the same tuition rates.)

      If anyone is guilty of shifting UW to being more like a private University, it’s the Washington State Legislature. Why retain a public identity when the public can’t be bothered to support you?

    4. “colleges and Universities all over the country have been upping their amenities because that’s what students want”

      That’s a biased metric because the students who can’t afford the amenities or exploding tuition drop out or don’t apply to the school.

      “the Feds will pony up loans for the rest of us”

      Not everybody can get a loan, and they may be awarded less than they need. And $100,000 college loans are problematic in themselves, as it becomes a hole in your income for years. And with Seattle’s housing prices, the last thing people need is a hole in their income.

      1. I’m not defending the model (by a long shot) but the financial model of colleges, driven by federal loan policy, means that they don’t really compete on price but on amenities/experience. They don’t much care whether the bill is paid by mommy and daddy’s deep pockets or FAFSA loans–why would they?

  10. UW campus plan looks good. Having some open/green spaces is good design when paired with tall buildings – raising the height limits to 300′ from 100′ sounds like a strong step forward, in both West Campus & the Medical center. Also good that the renderings have buildings in the parking lots of East campus. Even if they can only build 2~3 story structures on the soft ground, that’s a great increase in use & density over the current parking lots.

    1. I agree with all of your points. I think a bit more growth on the east campus will be most welcome. It would make the case for additional public transit pretty strong in the area. In the short term, this means adding a bunch more Pronto stations. You would have a lot of people and attractions along Burke Gilman from I-5 to Children’s, with a subway station in the middle of it. That is just prime real estate for bike share (assuming you put in enough stations). In the long run, it would bolster the case for extending a UW to Ballard subway to the east (with a station next to the U-Village as well as Children’s). The case for extending it to the west (to 24th Ave NW) is stronger, but this will make the case to extend it to the east much better.

      1. What about the idea of having a “bike valet” – I think that’s a much better use of space than Pronto stations. The large parking lots around Husky Stadium would be ideal, as it’s a catchment for all the people bike commuting in on Burke Gilman from both directions (or even 520) who then transfer to Link/bus to get to downtown, etc.
        During big events (i.e. football games) they clear away the valet & convert the space back to parking. The asphalt surface of a parking lot works great, and everything else can be temporary equipment that gets trucked away when needed.

        https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/10/27/uw-station-needs-more-bike-parking/

      2. 1) A bike valet costs money to staff. If the primary beneficiaries are downtown commuters not who are not affiliated with the UW, the UW would have no reason to pay for it.
        2) It would only be a solution for 9-5 commuters. Pronto operates 24/7.
        3) Pronto offers the flexibility that you don’t have to return to the station on the way home to pick up your bike. For instance, you can hop on a bus for the return trip if the weather is bad. Or, maybe, you want to do a side trip on the way home to Green Lake or Northgate, in which case, if you don’t have to pick up a bike, you can avoid passing by Husky Stadium altogether.
        4) The space consumed by a Pronto Station is quite tiny. Because people travel in both directions, the number of people served per day has the potential to be far more than the number of docks.

      3. Sound Transit’s mandate is primarily to serve commuters. Yes, the valet would primarily serve downtown commuters, and that was the point – to increase bike-rail/bus transfers at UW-Montlake. I was imagining ST leasing the space from UW; I wouldn’t expect UW to give up the space from the goodness of their hearts.

        Pronto could be a good investment by the city to serve the neighborhood, but that wasn’t the lens i was looking through

      4. In the ideal world, we should really have both a bike valet and a Pronto Station – it shouldn’t be an either/or thing. Even with staffing costs 10 hours/day, 5 days/week, the cost per rider per year is probably still less than the cost of building a structured parking garage.

        But if we had to choose, I would still go with the Pronto Station (in addition to the unsecured bicycle racks already present under the bridge).

  11. With an option to buy 200 more Proterras in a year, I hope Metro is studying the on-time performance of the electric vs the diesel. I’m hearing the Eastgate leave times often aren’t being met because the bus is still charging.

  12. Why oh why did King 5 News have to publicize that the riders on the BUS are benefiting from the HOT lanes? If anything will wind up the hair-on-fire caucus, it’s that the effete, subsidized-by-the-rest-of-us-Merkans Socialists on the bus are getting to work ahead of them.

    The reporter seemed genuinely to understand that it’s good for everyone when people ride buses, but if there’s anything that produces lava-hot anger in modern Americans, it’s that somebody else benefits from a decision by government.

    Jealousy. Envy. It’s what real Americans do.

    1. and at the expense of real ‘Muricans who drive cars. Don’t they know the sole reason human beings were placed on planet earth was to drive automobiles??

  13. Just went through Tukwila. Looks like they’re making progress on installing a third track through there.

  14. I haven’t ridden the 550 for a couple months, and I just got a Sound Transit notification that it’s been rerouted off 5th Avenue! Has it been quietly moved out of the DSTT without my noticing?

    1. It may be moving out of the tunnel with the March service change to make room for U-Link. It was in the tunnel a week and a half ago when I took it, and I think I’ve seen blue-and-white buses in the tunnel since.

      1. I would hope not; if there’s one single bus route that should be in the tunnel, it’s that.

        Unfortunately, debt service agreements…

      2. Pretty sure the 550 isn’t being forced out by ULink. If anything is forcing it out it would be construction for East Link…

        Could it be related to lane closures on I-90 for the express lanes?

    2. With the March service change it will use the same 5th/4th routing as the 554 to unload passengers in downtown Seattle during the peak. This is a trial but we’ll see how long it lasts. It will still pickup passengers going to Bellevue in the tunnel.

    3. Westbound PM reverse peak trips will be surfaced from 3-6pm as a pilot project. ST is very sensitive about tunnel ops and ULink optics generally, but the only leverage they really have is over their sole tunnel bus route. But with no more Westlake holds for Link, no frequency improvement when ULink opens, and with the 71/72/73 fully removed, I don’t think tunnel ops will be much of a problem.

      For instance, today there are 41 northbound buses during the 5-6pm hour. After the restructure, this drops to 35. Without the reverse-peak 550, it will drop to 25. This could only improve Link performance, but stresses will remain especially southbound during peak, which will still see 44 buses in the 5-6pm hour.

      1. @Zach,

        “I don’t think tunnel ops will be much of a problem”

        Well you might not think so, but I hear that ST is in fact very worried. They are both worried about the transition period when ULink is operating but before the restructure (6 more bus routes in the tunnel), and they are worried about the period after the restructure.

        Remember that without buses in the DSTT the Link transit time from UW to DT would be 6 mins. With buses in the DSTT the transit time will be 8 mins. That is a 33% penalty that ST will be living with and of course it worries them, as does the general unreliability of buses in the tunnel and joint ops in particular.

        This isn’t to say that the opening of ULink wont be a success – it will be a huge success and it will be a real game changer, but we won’t realize the true potential of ULink until the buses leave the DSTT. Until then every Link rider coming from the UW will be paying a 33% penalty over what they should be seeing. And as good as 8 mins might seem that is still a huge penalty.

      2. But it can’t be worse than baseline conditions, by definition. Link isn’t adding frequency, and the restructure isn’t adding bus routes. At worst we’ll have 7 days of status quo operations, after which is gets significantly smoother.

      3. The current baseline doesn’t have passengers any further north than Westlake Station. Any and all problems north of Westlake resulting from current bus and train frequencies are basically invisible to the general public. That changes when ULink opens and you potentially have passengers waiting in the tunnel because of issues with joint ops. And it isn’t just a potential public relations nightmare, it is also a potential safety issue. You just don’t want large numbers of passengers sitting idle in the tunnel due to issues with joint ops.

        Look at it this way, there are two things you need to open ULink – technical readiness and operational readiness. It’s issues with joint ops and operational readiness that set the date of the 19th. Basically one week of operations with joint ops and the additional 6 bus routes is all the time that ST was willing to risk with a paying public.

        Additionally, if joint ops and the additional 6 routes wasn’t an issue going forward, then ST wouldn’t be insisting that they come out.

    4. Conundrum solved:

      Earlier today Metro inadvertently sent Transit Alerts to subscribers of ST Route 545 in which ST Route 550 was the route named as having its service disrupted. It was indeed ST Route 545 – not ST 550 – service that was disrupted in downtown Seattle for a while around midday today. We apologize for the error and for any confusion or inconvenience it may have caused for Sound Transit Route 545 customers who received the incorrect information.

  15. Interesting developments regarding the CRC and extending LR to Vancouver (WA). Madore and his ilk will probably have a fit.

    http://www.wweek.com/2016/02/24/light-rail-to-vancouver-rides-again/

    Also some interesting things are happening regarding Madore/Boldt and McClauley/Benton. Benton is one of the most anti-transit, anti-LR state Senators we have ever had in Oly. It would be hilarious if he quit his job being an obstructionist in Oly to keep his higher paying job in Vancouver only to lose that job too. Would warm my heart.

  16. As a Car2Go competitor makes ready to make its move in Seattle, the City Council could be ready to rescue Seattle’s bike share system and put Pronto on track for an expansion in 2017 with a committee vote on Friday.

    Seattle Weekly has an over the top article, We Need to Save Pronto. Then We Need to Fix It, complete with hyperbola like:

    Critics are eager to discard the bike share as a silly idea… In fact, Pronto bikes are kind of the exact opposite of that: no fun and totally essential.

    As if Seattle was in a race to the bottom with Detroit before Pronto saved the city. It goes on to exclaim how there were 15,000 riders in one year. That’s 41 people a day; sort of hard to make a business case for a $1.4M investment.
    Let’s think about that for a minute. Why did Key Bank lend $1.4M for this venture. Surely something must secure the debt besides 500 bikes because they’re not worth $2,800 a piece on the used market. Is the City already a cosigner on the loan? If not, why on god’s emerald earth would you offer the full price of the debt. When a bankrupt company goes on the blocks it’s typically pennies on the dollar. A reasonable amount would be the auction price of the assets plus maybe $100k in “good will”. If Key Bank doesn’t like the terms then maybe they want to get into the bike rental business.
    The whole thing starts to smell a bit like the Pike Place Fish Market.

    1. Evidently the tragically hip set in Tacoma sees bike share as a must have service too.
      Tacoma considering bike-share program
      This little tidbit I hadn’t seen mentioned before.

      The Seattle Department of Transportation has spent more than $300,000 to keep the program functioning since December.

      Under what authority does the City just dole out that much cash to a private entity? I can see why the business owners on 23rd are fed up with City Hall when they’re told “no soup for you.” So anyway, it’s not just $1.4M, it’s ~$150k/mo or $1.8M/yr to keep this thing afloat. Just remember, it’s not a spending problem, it’s a revenue problem. Ya right, and people thought McGinn was a bike nut?

  17. Not sure if this has come up before, but has anyone considered just continuing the Rapid Ride C through to Fred Hutch and stopping the operation of the street car until they have completed the construction of the downtown connector? The RR C will be more frequent, and faster (possibly) than the street car. It will provide more than enough capacity. Why not cut operating costs!

    1. Because that would require admitting that their past decision to launch the streetcar was a silly idea.

    1. not surprising for the local TV news channels aimed at suburban motorists and funded almost entirely by car dealer ads

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