Opened in 1902, first Pacific Electric interurban rail line between Los Angeles and Long Beach was the last to close on April 9, 1961. As seen in this film, the trains and tracks were in very poor condition while new freeways were being built. Much of it reopened as the Blue Line light rail in July 1990.

130 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Ride the Last Red Car”


      Hey, Mic. Couldn’t really tell from Wikipedia. Did you guys get to ride on the Red Cars, or did you just hit the charts in 1962, after the cars were already gone?

      But above link is important because it shows exactly the kind of culture that Seattle needs most. In other words, nobody can call it “Passive Aggressive.” I imagine being the person who had to take passenger complaints for the Red Cars.

      It would definitely energize our politics if somebody could stand up at a public meeting and call an elected official a Maroon!


      1. OK, put in a seat for the driver, and I’m with you, otherwise it’s a call to 587 to file a ULP.

    2. The Roger Rabbit movie made it pretty clear that chief benefit of hiring “‘toons” was that they’d never unionize. Except!!!! When it was funny! But run this by my Local. Be good if there was some way to but the conversation on YouTube.

      Mark AKA 2495

    3. I enjoyed the blast from the past. One thing: was that train loud or what? Compared to this, any 62 bus plying its route (or even starting up on layover) along 65th on View Ridge is a whisper.

      1. The sound has to be recorded separately and stitched in later. The type of camera that would record both images and sound and put both on the same film wasn’t within reach of the average person at that time.

        It would all depend on where they recorded the sound. Microphone under the car? You don’t hear the clacking noise of the throttle level going through its motions, so it obviously isn’t on the camera itself.

        They may have even grabbed stock sounds of the PE that wren’t even recorded as part of this film.

  1. I rode the blue line last night along with some other lines. It was a bit of culture shock. I felt out of place with my lack of fresh scars and facial tattoos. The trains were dirty to a comic degree. For example, why was a big black garbage bag of unknown contents abandoned on the floor? Did someone go to take out the trash and forget it in their hand till they were on the train? After transferring, I discovered an eighth goes for $40 on the red line. Been some time since I bought pot, but IIRC, I can get that for $20 in B’ham. I was then entertained by a conversation I would accuse of over acting had I not known it real. I’m tempted to give over the highlights, but I’m worried the other readers will feel as uncomfortable as the only not poorly dressed passenger who told his date to just ignore it.

    1. Problem being what, Ben? At least whatever, or whoever, was in a bag. Wish somebody would be that courteous on some of our service. Curious about the scars, though. Knife, box-cutter, windshield or tattoo parlor option?

      Past ten years or so, I’ve been noticing that if you don’t have a lot of tattoos, employers will look at you like your double breasted suit has moths. Also, I think throughout history, more people than not had tattoos. A Celtic girl in 79 AD didn’t have to get out her purse to show her ID to a Roman Liquor Control Board officer before she cut him to pieces with her axe.

      Really sad, though. Thinking back to some great interurban rides north of Chicago, it’s merciful that the druggists in all those towns where the North Shore ran GP lanes down the main street could only sell cough syrup, and “malts” at the “soda fountain.”

      Now they’d have to deal with huge agribusiness suppliers and State regs from Hell to stock their shelves. And product if medical weed couldn’t have nostalgic brand names like “Panama Red” or “Acapulco Gold”.

      Seriously, though. For equipment condition, look under “Public Funding Cuts”, “Flint, Michigan drinking water,” and also “United States of America”. Lot of deferred maintenance going around.


      1. I was actually contrasting it with how clean and calm Seattle and Bellingham transit is, but I guess that aspect never made it from my brain to the touch pad on this silly phone. Loved the suit analogy BTW.

      2. Ben – it depends on what transit. There are plenty of bus lines in Seattle that are the opposite of clean and calm. Even Link in certain sections can feel a little sketchy.

    2. I spent a weekend in LA last October with the intent to travel where I needed/wanted to go solely via transit. I will never do that in LA again, and it had little to do with the dirt (I’ve traveled on the Zambian versions of matatus–Mark D will know them–in Lusaka). The rail system simply sucks for transferring; the airport service is a joke.

      I stayed, because of my main purpose in going there, in the USC area. There is a light rail line (Expo) and BRT line (Silver) that go to this area…except that you can’t directly transfer between the two. They are sort of close at Jefferson, but not particularly, and a pain in the arse with even a small amount of luggage on a hot day.

      Just getting to the Silver line was horrid. You first take a shuttle from LAX (more on this later) to the Green Line LAX station; not in itself any more of a big deal than taking one to a rental car place–so far, so good. Then, however, to transfer to the Silver BRT line you get to use the Harbor Fwy station. Anyone who ever complains about the Judkins Park station needs to spend 5 minutes at Harbor Fwy, which sits dead center in the interchange between the 105 and 110 freeways. Being a Saturday, it was a 20 minute wait in the loudest sustained place I have ever been, unscreened and unprotected from anything. A truly miserable experience.

      Sunday I rode the Expo Line up to Metro Center and the Red Line to Hollywood, with a side trip to Koreatown (by foot, though an easy enough bus trip). If you’re at Metro Center or going from one side of downtown to the other, the transfers work well. One thing I did like about LA transit is that the buses were easily distinguishable by type and color as to what sort of service they provided. Very intuitive and straightforward, especially compared to ours.

      The thing that really got me, however, was the trip back to the airport Sunday afternoon. Once again, the enjoyable transfer at Harbor Fwy…but that wasn’t the worst of it. Arriving at LAX station and going down to the airport shuttle bus, the damn thing pulled out just as the first of us got to the bus level. THE ONLY REASON FOR THIS SERVICE EXISTING is to transfer people from train to airport. You can tell when the trains arrive from downstairs, yet the driver left anyway. Maybe a coincidence? Well, we got on the next bus and sure enough, just as the first folks made it to the bottom of the stairs the bus pulled out again. It must be a regular occurrence since the people–airport workers–just ran straight for the street and blocked the bus (not advisable, but effective). Almost everyone taking the shuttle were employees, not visitors, and after my experience I can see why. I’ll be renting a car next time I have to go to LA.

      1. Sometimes I’m convinced that they do that to encourage people to take the Flyaway bus instead (which is geared to travelers and higher-paid airport employees).

      2. It would have been much faster to use the FlyAway bus and backtrack from Union Station through Metro Center to the USC area (or even the 102 bus directly there), especially as I was traveling on a weekend, but as a transit and travel geek I wanted to do what I have done in countless other cities and use the normal transit systems. Yes, after one tube trip in London I use Heathrow Express now, but I did try the tube first! The LA experience was bad enough, and the lack of transferability between high-capacity modes outside the downtown area lacking enough, that I won’t do it again. It’s a car for me in LA unless I am going to one single location well-served by transit.

        (The Crenshaw line may help with the trip I took once it’s complete as it looks like you can transfer to the Expo line directly, so once that’s open I may reconsider when I make a quick trip to USC.)

      3. However, I would contend that the FlyAway is a regular transit service, on par with Denver’s airport express buses which charge a similar higher fare and accept monthly passes. For a long time the LA Metro rail map had lines for FlyAway until they replaced them with little icons when FA expanded service to so many locations.

        Heathrow Express fares are ridiculously high and I took the tube instead. It helped that my hotel was on the Piccadilly Line and the tube ran every few minutes.

        Since I have no car, renting a car is too cost-prohibitive for my weekend day trips to LA but if you have limited time and come from out of state, I can see why you would.

      4. Fair enough and may use FlyAway sometime. Heathrow Express I like because it basically drops me off at my family’s doorstep (or close enough), it’s a tiny percent of the trip’s overall cost (especially when booked early), and no luggage hassle on the Tube. The “local” Heathrow service works fairly well also for about half the cost. I love the Tube in general but it’s a bit of a trek from Heathrow to where I am going, and sometimes I’m visiting quickly on a long layover.

        If it weren’t for work requirements I’d have dumped my car too, even with the horrid 11 as my bus line (thanks, annoying local gadflies!). I almost never get a car in cities, particularly for short trips–even spent a weekend in Phoenix last fall and just used transit because it went where I was going (and that’s how I saw your work at the rail stations!).

  2. In reference to the previous thread about lack of early morning weekend service in NE Seattle, I did some sleuthing around with Google Maps and, by in large, the gap in service is real. Even though Link trains arrive at Westake station as early as 5 AM Saturday or 6 AM Sunday, bus connections don’t start up until considerably later than this. For example, plugging in 65th/35th to downtown on a Saturday morning, the earliest possible arrival is 6:35, which requires slogging it out all the way on the 62, with the earliest possible 65->Link trip arriving downtown at 7:13. I guess Metro figures that anybody with an early morning plane to catch can just spend $7 on Uber and connect to Link that way.

    Another factor that is disappointing is that even after the 65 does start up, Google assumes (rather pessimistically) that you do not have an Orca card, so it shows 65->Link as costing $5, while the hour-long 62 slog as costing just $2.50. It also assumes worst-case wait time for Link, while relying on overly optimistic schedule data for the 62 across Fremont and Dexter. The result is a claim that the 62 slog is better because it cuts the fare in half, while taking just 3-5 minutes longer than the 65->Link connection. So, the moral of the story is – don’t rely on Google completely when planning your trips.

    1. Yes, when available it is definitely best to get a second opinion from the local trip planner.

    2. So Metro should spend thousands of dollars on hour on early morning feeder service to Link so airport travelers don’t have to spend $7 on an Uber?

      1. It’s not just the travelers, Sam. People who work at the airport have shifts all hours of the night and day. They, too, would like to be able to get to the airport, and not end up driving Uber.

      2. Brent: Sam was responding to a specific earlier comment of asdf2’s: “I guess Metro figures that anybody with an early morning plane to catch can just spend $7 on Uber and connect to Link that way.”

        While you are right that there are other people who might want to travel from NE Seattle to the Airport in the wee hours of Sunday morning (And a pretty convincing case can be made that early morning airport shift workers are a much better reason to provide transit to the airport than are air travelers), the same sort of argument could be made about travel between any two points at any given time — why isn’t there just in case bus service from North Bend to West Seattle at 3 in the morning?

      3. Should ST3 include a little money for regional owl service funding, like the Bay Area did with bridge tolls? It’s got to be cheaper than some of the pork in ST3.

      4. No, Sam, it’s so you don’t have to lose thousands of dollars over flights missed and rates accelerating like something outbound from Cape Kennedy while trapped in I-5 traffic in a car with a purple mustache on it.

        Give it a try sometime soon, any morning rush hour of the week. Like Tom Paine said, “Time makes more converts than Reason.” During the Enlightenment, it was politically incorrect to speculate on conversion numbers for “Dumb as a Rock.”

        “These are the Times that Try People’s Patience!” And not just the Seattle ones.” I’m going for coffee.


      5. PS. Everywhere in the world with evening or night owl or early-morning service subsidizes it from daytime service. People will not buy cars only if transit runs full-time, and large cities couldn’t physically fit a car for every person without de-densification. Also, the last run of buses and trains has benefits beyond its number of riders, because many people won’t make a round trip on transit that depends on the last run in case they miss it or it doesn’t show up. That’s not as much of an issue with the first morning run but there may be a parallel effect; e.g., the first run makes people more willing to plan trips using the second run.

      6. Brent,

        People who live and 65th and 35th do not work at the airport. An airport worker couldn’t afford a month’s rent from two months’ wages.

      7. It’s not easy to run a transfer-based network around Link at Husky Stadium and a frequent grid given the land use patterns of NE Seattle. Once Link gets to Northgate the frequent grid is the transfer-based network, and better fundamental conditions for transit ridership lift all boats.

      8. The point is – there has to be some travel demand between 5 AM and 7 AM on a Saturday, or ST would not be running Link. While it’s not reasonable to expect all the lines to be running frequent service at that hour, it is reasonable to expect something – as in one measly trip on any of the 65/75/372. FWIW, before the restructure, the 71/72/73 started running on weekends as early as 5 AM, so the span of service has been reduced.

    3. The other day I was thinking about the costs Google shows that you mentioned. One the trip options in its trip planner was showing me a total far of $7.50. Ideally Google Maps would have some setting to let me indicate I have an Orca Lift card. Displayed fare amounts would then take that into account.

      1. Google Maps also has no idea you can transfer between services with an Orca card. They assume face value fare for every bus, train, etc you get on.

  3. The city of Portland isn’t sure what to do with Ankeny Square, so it’s offering to lease the space for $1 for the best idea.

    My thinking is that this might be an interesting way of encouraging business development in some of the under-used transit spaces near certain transit centers.

    What ever happened to the underused space at the Bellevue Transit Center that was being discussed here some years back? Anything useful ever go in there?

  4. Further thoughts on the 65th Ave NE pile-up of service:

    I watched a 62 go by, heading west at 20th Ave NE yesterday afternoon. It did actually have a passenger on board! I caught a westbound (northbound) 71, which had two passengers on board, and rode it through the wealthy tail up to the Wedgwood layover. Nope, nobody else got on board, and the other two passengers were off before the view crest segment. The 65 I took back south had a couple passengers on board, before the gentlemen waiting at the same stop and I boarded. It was about 0.5 load factor by the time it reached the U.

    I pondered how much more useful route 71 would be if it followed route 62’s tail to NOAA at Sand Point for its layover. The only disadvantage I could see is less ready access to food and a restroom for the driver.

    1. You have to give these routes time. People will take months to a) realize the route exists and then b) discover that they can actually use it. If the buses are still empty in a year then we can talk about cutting them, but assuming that they’ll be full after just 3 weeks of service is rediculous

    2. The scenic tail of route 71 is still the same it has been for years. If riders near those stops have not discovered them by now, why would they suddenly notice them this year?

    3. The thing with people not knowing the 62 exists is that non-riders often don’t pay attention to bus schedule changes. Somebody may have looked at the 71 schedule in the past and given up on it because it wasn’t frequent enough or didn’t go where they wanted. They may or may not notice a 62 on the street, much less inquire where it goes or when. But one day when their car doesn’t work or they take a class or somebody mentions it, they’ll look at the 62’s schedule and see it works for them. That could be a year or two after it starts running. Somebody else may move into the area because the 62 is there (and the more-frequent 372 and 65 and 76 and soon Roosevelt Station) who wouldn’t have moved there when it was just the 71.

    4. Q.E.D: Northeast Seattle is a frequent service sinkhole for bus hours. Supply more peak service for the strivers who live there and recognize that their kids have cars they’ll use to get around in the midday and evenings.

      1. It’s not that simple. The 65, 75, and 372 also connect Lake City to the U-district, and the area around 125th/Lake City Way does have real density. You can’t just screw over lake city simply because the areas the bus has to pass through along the way don’t get as many passengers. It would be like canceling the 271, due to low ridership in Medina and no ridership to/from the middle of the 520 bridge.

      2. asdf,

        Sure, run the “through” buses, but absolutely positively don’t bother with double service on 65th. Also, forget about 75th and 55th except at peaks. There just aren’t enough people there in the daytime and in the evenings people will drive. It’s a very affluent area.

    1. Finally, conclusive evidence that the Free Market creates massively better public service results than Government. We don’t have to sweat ST (you name the number) ever again!

      All that’s gotta happen is for Seattle’s present-day speculators to follow their forebears’ example.

      And then do cost-benefit comparison with the bloated and wasteful proliferation of those miles long parking lots with shields for signs. Then we’ll see who can create better designed sprawl a lot cheaper!

      And in addition, not one, not one! Southcenter or Bellevue Square has built into it a single roller coaster, ferris wheel, or cotton-candy stall where you can win a teddy bear by throwing baseballs that dump a guy into a tank of water.

      So would really be too bad if somebody else got the contract because you missed your plane while watching you Uber fee spin like an old slot machine. You could’ve been eating the world’s greatest corn beef sandwich at the Shaker Heights car-stop!


    2. Sam:

      By 1911 the entire system was owned by the Southern Pacific Railroad. It may have started as a real estate Ponzi scheme. It spent most of it’s years as a member of the evil empire though.

      Do a little research into the giant steel octopus that are Southern California in the early 20th century, and it might give you a better appreciation for the antics of bumbling but privately held transit systems.

    3. There’s a difference between streetcar suburbs and car-oriented sprawl. Streetcar suburbs have the housing within walking distance of the station, are mixed-use, and arranged in a line that makes it easy to take the streetcar from one to another. It encouraged density around the stations because people find it advantageous to be near a station. Car-oriented sprawl is like peanut butter: housing is located anywhere and often in cul-de-sacs. There may be some negative effects with greenfield developments on train/BRT lines, but they have only half or a third of the energy use and carbon emissions as car-oriented sprawl, so it’s silly to worry about them in the current era.

    4. I feel that article tried to compress a long history into too sort a space. Huntington did start an interurban railway (Pacific Electric) and a streetcar company (Los Angeles Railways), but he competed with Southern Pacific which eventually squeezed him out of the interurban business in 1911. That left him LA Rys., which he owned until it was sold to National City Lines after his death. PE was profitable until 1923, then began a long decline (which ended for SP inen 1953 when they sold the passenger business to Metropolitan Coach Lines. Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority then bought Metropolitan coach Lines operations in 1958 and the former LA Rys. from National City Lines, but service declined until the last interurban line closed in 1961 and the last streetcar line closed in 1963. LAMTA then renamed itself Southern California Rapid Transit District and ran only buses until the new LAMTA was started.

  5. Folks, I think we got a real problemo…

    Apparently Capitol Hill Station is leaking:

    This can cause some serious, genuine problems:

    NYTimes: $2.4 Billion Subway Stop Was Leaking Before It Opened

    the authority is facing a lawsuit from a subway rider who said she and her mother fell down an escalator at the station last month after moving to avoid water dripping from above. Meng He, 29, who lives near the station, said the women felt drops hitting their heads as they rode the escalator up to the ticket-booth area. Her mother shifted her body to the side, letting go of the handrail and falling back into her daughter, Ms. He said.

    “I tried to push her back up, but there was too much momentum, and we went tumbling down,” she said.

    Ms. He says she injured her right foot and ankle and has had to use crutches. Her lawyer, Robert W. Georges, notified the authority that she planned to sue, claiming it should have fixed the hazardous conditions at the station.

    Just what we need right before a generational referendum on transit… a personal injury lawsuit over one of Sound Transit’s glistening new stations. Let’s get this fixed Sound Transit. For safety and ST3 and safety and perfection and safety.

    1. So, if I understand the story correctly, the woman let go of the handrail and knocked her daughter down the escalator, and somehow ST is to blame. I agree that the leak should be fixed, but someone should look into pressing assault charges against the woman.

      1. Actually no. That was in NYC and has nothing to do with ST. My observation that Joe pointed out was that water was raining into the north tube at CHS just north of the platform area. That is bad. If it’s a broken pipe it’s bad, if it’s a random leak it is bad as it’s all downhill (literally) from CHS

    2. The DSTT leaks like a sieve… for the last 25 years, so what’s the big deal.
      On other news, ‘Man bites Dog’, filing suit against ST for lack of passenger screening.

      1. When they built Westlake Station, the Terra-cotta wall on the south side leaked badly.

        It was discovered that the contractor had installed the supports for the false wall angled in the wrong direction – towards the station.

        They had to go back in to redo them so they dealt with the ground water correctly, away from the station platform and towards the drainage built to handle that.

    3. Fact of underground civil engineering since beginning of the world, Joe. Most tunnels and their transit stations are in the way of a river. So builders have to persuade the water to flow around the facility, not through it.

      Usually takes a while after opening to get nature’s plumbing adjusted. And whether it’s the Mississippi or the one through Century Square, rivers change course over the eons. And weeks.

      But ST really is missing tourist revenue that could send LINK to Vegas: judging by the sulfur smell, Beacon Hill Hot Springs is already on our property. With rail service right into the lobby where you get your towel.

      The Shaker Heights van Swearingens and the North Shore’s Sam Insull are spinning in their graves fast enough to power a bullet train!


    4. I’ve been told that all tunnels slope at lradt very slightly at pretty much all locations in order to deal with drainage issues.

      1. lradt. Curious, Glenn. Is this an abbreviation? Online, finding pics showing drainage following inside radius of a curve- which is always sloped to the insider with angle increasing with train speeds.

        Close? Thanks.


    5. From the February Agency Progress Report:

      “Contractor is working on leak remediation which continues
      to develop new leaks on a weekly basis. ST remains
      concerned about schedule to complete leak remediation
      work. A definitive date for completion of this work has
      not been determined.”

      It sounds like ST and the CHS contractor are well aware of the issue.

    6. Residents will please refrain
      From flushing toilets
      While the train is at the station…

  6. For North King residents, how would you save N. King ST3, knowing that West Seattle getting light rail is non negotiable, and the WSTT and Metro 8 subway won’t be on ST3 In addition, the likelihood of Ballard to UW on ST3 is slim. Is speeding up the timetable by a few years enough to support N. King projects?

    1. North King is already getting north link in a few years, so I think ST is focusing on areas of the region that have no link service. I’m all for speeding up Ballard link, but we’ve already had many comment chains on this and the reality is that the only way to speed up Ballard is to either cut a different project or push a different project to the back of the line….. there is no magic way to get Ballard link here faster

      1. QA, have this exact project in mind for my concept of using same approach as we did with the DSTT.

        Begin with elements we either have or can quickly get, so as to get passenger service moving along final corridor.

        Deliberately designed to progressively advance service right behind the digging machines, so to speak. And also leave behind a permanent improvement.

        Like this- just theoretically. Say chosen alignment is Ballard to Fremont to subway thru Queen Anne Hill to Second Avenue Tunnel to SODO elevated to Duwamish bridge to West Seattle subway.

        First phase: First Avenue Connector to South Lake Union line across Fremont Bridge to Leary Way to Ballard- all of which I think being considered. Maybe branch off a line past Gasworks Park to the U-District.

        Use same cars as on SLU and FHSL, except more segments. Or if possible, closest to same size cars as or future light rail line. In addition, pave and groove-rail trackway so trolleybuses can also run it, with or without streetcars, or different modes different phases.

        Bore Queen Anne Tunnel so as to keep above running. And then feed previous phase transitway and routes into the tunnel when it’s finished. While constantly developing the surface parts of the system.

        Neither cheap nor easy. But lends itself to a time-frame whose length we can’t know, carrying passengers and shaping development for however long ’til the major civil engineering is done.

        All the while, creating a strong inheritance of surface transit that’ll keep on supplementing the main line when it’s built. Look up “Tunnel Boring Machines” online. As the world keeps populated and technically-advancing, technology is steadily advancing too.

        But either way- for however for however many years and decades the big stuff takes, we’ll still be in action. Substituting working-time for waiting time is good for morale and product quality. The opposite of just waiting.

        What’s everybody else think?

        Mark Dublin

    2. If ST3 fails, ST2 Link will still be significantly better than we had in 2015, 2008, or 1995, even for people living in Wallingford, Greenwood, and to a lesser extent Ballard. We should still fill in the gaps of urban villages without Link nearby, whether in ST3 or a Seattle-only measure, but we don’t need to have a sky-is-falling attitude. If ST3 fails and local rail is not feasable, then we’ll just have to make the RapidRide lines the best they can be as a mitigation. People along the lines should be told that no trains means we’re taking your parking lanes, no ifs, ands, or buts.

      1. I agree. Well said, Mike. ST2 was the big one. Now we have to be careful, and pick our projects carefully. This might mean — no, most likely means — we have to be willing to let a bad plan fail and try again.

    3. I suppose you could create two LID’s (Local Improvement Districts) for each, and let each build their rail lines, spending as much as they can muster or stomach. Watch the political support evaporate then.

      1. Pretty much same situation as when transit began, Mic. Separate lines, usually separate companies, until demand got large enough that the services had to be unified. A very dynamic time.

        Sort of win-win whether voters are outraged or encouraged. Either way, the people will either appreciate a change of demand one. Second being the way leaders have arisen throughout history.

        Followers literally grab leaders by the collar and put them in charge whether they like it or not. Which the best ones usually don’t, but start leading anyhow. Your choice:
        Either leader gets the statue, fitted with patent pigeon- discourager.

        Or, for fanning the fury that installs the leader- you get the statue, but without budget-busting mechanism. Either way, we the people win.


      2. A levy spread across 50,000 people costs far more per person than one spread across 700,000 people. That could be the reason support for local LIDs evaporates. Not to mention that these are regional transit, expected to benefit the region and people who travel to the neighborhood or want to have the option of traveling to the neighborhood, not just those who live in the neighborhood.

    4. @mdnative — I think you answered your own question. It is highly unlikely that ST3 can be “saved”. At best we can do little things, like add the NE 130th station (it is incredible to me that those folks can’t even add that). But there is no way that Ballard to UW or the WSTT can be added, because that would mean subtracting other projects. Since those other projects can’t be subtracted, nothing will be built any sooner. It will be twenty years before we get the second most important line to Ballard — who knows when we get the first. Meanwhile, of course, what is arguable the most cost effective piece of rail in the entire state (the Metro 8 subway) sits as only a vague dream.

      Not that other areas are any better. There is nothing planned for Juanita, while Issaquah (a less densely populate area) will have a three seat ride to Seattle. Can the East Side be saved? I really doubt it. I really doubt, at this late stage, that the powers that be will resurrect the sensible, wide spread, quite appropriate BRT plan for Kirkland if it means throwing away an empty, 20 minute train to Bellevue.

      I would like to think otherwise, but I think it is highly likely that ST3 will consist of stupid projects, and that it will fail miserably at the polls as a result.

  7. I went to Vancouver BC this week and purchased an all day pass ($9.75 CAN) plus ($6.00 CAN) for the Compass Card. Total for one day riding = $15.75 CAN which is about $12.12 US. Slightly cheaper (at current exchange rates) than the Metro all day pass at $8 plus $5 for the ORCA card.

    1. The Compass Card can go negative, so the $6 is more like a credit to a future emegency fare.

      Also, the Compass Carx can be eetrned for a refund.

  8. Of course Sound Transit didn’t run three car trains on the first Saturday Mariners game of U-Link.

    1. Comic Con is also going on. It was crowded like peak when I rode yesterday afternoon, and that wasn’t going towards Safeco. An announcement said trains were delayed due to an accident. Was that separate from the electrical problem?

      ST did a marvelous job keeping the line running, and got TIBS back online in time for the fans.

      1. Yeah, they did a really good job moving the crowded trains considering the foolish lack of foresight in not running three car trains. Still way better than the buses would be. I took a train to UW from Capitol Hill, and the train was four minutes late which is really quite amazing given the loads.

        But what was with the Tukwila station power outage? Obviously the rails still had power. Couldn’t they just have served the station like normal? The only thing you lose are the elevators, escalators, and TVMs. They could have just stopped at Tukwila (the only Link station with a park-and-ride, mind you), with a warming to disabled people who need elevators, and making the trip fare free for people from Tukwila.

      2. There were two interruptions Saturday: a power outage at TIB and an accident on MLK. I got email alerts about both of them. I was at the tulip festival yesterday so I didn’t see anything, but as we walked through the Convention Center after returning the zipcar we saw the costumed personages. By the way, the Convention Center has local artwork along the walls of the second floor; it’s as interesting as an art gallery and free.

      3. I discovered last year that it actually is possible to get to the Tulip Festival without a car, and it actually doesn’t take that much longer than driving – the trade-off, of course, is that the schedules are very limited. Basically, you can take either the Amtrak train (9:30 arrival) or the Amtrak bus (2:00 arrival to Mt. Vernon, and depart from Mt. Vernon on either the Amtrak bus (4:00 departure) or train (8:30 departure). The bus departs from King St. Station, stopping only at Everett Station along the way. (You can also take the 512 to Everett Station and join the Amtrak bus up there). To traverse the 5’ish miles between Skagit Station and the actual tulips, you can bring a bike on board the buses and ride it to the final destination. The local roads have good shoulders for riding.

    2. ST seems to have dropped the interleaved 2 & 3 car trains after only a week or so of doing it. Ridership spiked the first week and then appeared to do a bathtub curve.

      Crowding on my daily U-link commutes seems to have really ramped up this past week. The week before, we had a handful of aisle seats available on every train, with people standing by choice. This past week more and more people seemed to “discover” u-link, and we had true SRO in both directions on all my trips, plus I witnessed an actual crush load around 3 pm southbound on Friday, well before either the commuter peak or the M’s game traffic.

      1. Seriously then, what will it take? Will they still be trying to run two car trains once east Link opens?

      2. What’s a bathtub curve?

        I’m eager to see the first and second month’s ridership.

      3. A bathtub curve is an elongated U shape, which commonly shows up in machinery failure rates graphed over time. In our case, I refer to this pattern:
        * An initial spike of high ridership on opening week – tourist riders, novelty riders, who just want to check out this newfangled train thing.
        * Followed by a period of lower ridership, as the novelty period has ended, but regular transit riders have still not shifted from their old bus-centric patterns (this roughly correlates with the period of overuse of the 70 from riders used to the old university expresses)
        * Finally, followed by a period of high ridership as users become accustomed to the new system and shift their travel patterns accordingly.

        I suspect a dip or trough in ridership between the initial novelty riders and the final use pattern is what faked-out ST into returning to 2-car consists this past week. That or this past weeks high ridership / high loads was a fluke due to ECCC and the good weather, and we’ll be back to having elbow room again on monday morning.

        Even as packed as it was towards the end of last week, it’s still a hundred times better ridership experience than the buses it replaced. I’d rather be on a crush loaded train than a crush loaded bus any day of the week.

      4. Oh, good, so maybe this week we’ll be back to the interleaved 2/3 sets like the week before last.

      5. I’ve ridden it every day (besides today so far) since they announced they’re going to mix in 3 cars, I’ve consistently seen every other train have three cars. Even on Saturday and Sunday they had them running.

    3. I was on a 3-car train Saturday early evening. Wonder if they just stuck one or two in at random, or if they somehow staged them closer to Stadium as the baseball game wrapped up. My trip was northbound after the game had started.

  9. Has ST released any weekday ridership data with UW back in session? Most other systems in the US that open have released these data fairly quickly.

    1. Not that I know of, but it’s been pretty inconsistent anyway, based on my daily rides to/from the UW. It’s still very much in flux, with commuter students/faculty/staff still figuring out their preferred trips. The second week of classes had far higher loads than the first week. The 70 was very much totally FUBAR from overload the first week of classes, thanks to computerized trip-planners balking at the walk distance from the north half of campus to the Link station. I suspect a lot of those riders are starting to see the light with regards to the 10-15 minute walk vs. getting passed up by a perpetually behind-schedule 70, leading to the increased loads on the train. I don’t know if loads are actually lighter on the 70 this week, because I haven’t needed one, but it seems the logical source for the new Link riders.

      A lot of people have started trying to ride the 31 et al. one or two stops on Stevens Way from the liberal-arts quad to the Rainier Vista walking path in order to transfer to Link – probably because that’s the #2 option in most transit trip-planners, after the 70. But travel speeds are so crappy and dwell times so long on Stevens (thanks to the added load) that I can easily outpace those mid-campus buses on foot.

      Doing the full walk from the quad to the station seems to be the best and fastest option, but I have yet to find a trip planner that will actually recommend it, no matter how you set the options. I remember the old KC Metro online trip planner had a field where you could set your maximum walking distance to something large, but that option is long gone. It really needs to come back.

      1. Heh…as an aside, I was trying to figure out transit holes on the 372 whilst minimizing walking, and the trip planner was giving me up to 0.8 mile walks to transfer between potential routes. It required quite a bit of forcing to get things to work the way I needed (not my neighborhood; trying to resolve an issue that was raised here). Setting the walking parameters is a useful feature that needs to return, both to minimize AND to maximize options.

    2. Link was expected to replace use of the 71/723/73X, not the 70, whose primary transit market is Eastlake/Fairview. If the 70 was overcrowded from downtown due to trip-planner recommendations, that’s a serious flaw in the trip planner giving false advice. I have avoided the trip planner in the past because of its unwillingness to show Link alternatives, and I hoped that was fixed in the latest version.

      1. The official ST/KCM trip planner seems to – as of now – be properly pointing riders to walk to UW station, but the 3rd party trip planners that most people actually use (Gmaps, etc) will tell you to ride the 70 to/from downtown as the #1 option, if your UW destination/origin is on the north end of campus. #2 is ride a stevens way bus for 1-2 stops between Rainier Vista and the north end of campus. #3 is something even more convoluted that might be practical for someone physically unable to walk more than half a block.

      2. We can come up with other interesting options for the trip planners. How about 26X + 44?

      3. 556 + 550?

        (inspired by an actual 556 + 560 trip I was suggested as an alternative to my usual U-Link + 120 route)

      4. Oh yeah, trip planners suck. One time it told me to wait 20 minutes to transfer to a bus to take me two blocks.

        What’s interesting is that when the old 71/72/73 so-called express took Eastlake instead of I-5 (which was most of the time when I rode it), it’s basically the same as the 70. I bet a lot of it is people paying cash who want a paper transfer.

        I’m starting to think it would have made more sense if they opened UW Station and U-District station at the same time, instead of opening U-District station at the same time as Northgate.

      5. AlexKven,

        Hey! I was a trip planner for Metro for three years in the late 1970’s. We did not suck! They really trained and equipped us well. Before you got on the phones you had to pass a pretty rigorous test about the system. Then, to make it amazingly quick to find anything, they photocopied ten shrunk down versions of the taped up Metzger maps hanging on the walls mounted on very hard pressed board in a case wherein each board would slide in and out. One board was one-tenth of the county.

        There were thumb holes like large holes on a rotary phone on each slider, stepped up like the alphabetical notches in a dictionary. After a few weeks it was body memory to pull out the right slider for the origin address or route number.

        The schedules were xeroxed of artfully cut up standard schedules squeezed together so that everything for almost every route fit on a single 8-1/2 x 11 sheet. They were put in plastic sleeves in big fat ring binders and had tabs for each route, again staggered so it was easy to see and grab the right one.

        We wore headsets so we didn’t have to hold the phone and when we got a call assigned a light would flash (no rings) and you just turned a switch to answer. Very efficient.

        We were pretty amazing, seriously, and that’s not a brag. An average operator during times of constant calls would handle about 40 calls per hour, or one every minute and a half. Some were “when does the next bus come on route blah-blah”, and if it was during the base service nearly all operators could tell the person any timepoint without looking after four to six months. So that call might take twenty-five or thirty seconds total.

        But then there would be the first time rider who had two addresses and maybe didn’t really know how to state King County’s beyond crazy street numbering system. So some conversation to be sure which 914 14th Avenue the customer was asking about would be necessary, sometimes at both ends of the trip, and it required a transfer. That might take two and a half minutes to be sure that the customer got it all down correctly.

        During training and when we were “extra board” we got paper Metro Employee passes and some of the drivers thought they were counterfeits. There was this very strange guy who drove the 5 on weekend nights. I lived in West Green Lake at 77th and Francis and often had to cover for a weekend graveyard. This guy would hang at Shoreline CC about six minutes overtime and then come booming down Greenwood at about 45 or 50. The first few times I got the assignment I almost had to run out in front of him to have him notice me (probably would have done that only one time). He was one of the most suspicious of the paper pass.

        Eventually, though, he checked on the pass and found out they were legit and started watching for me. And after I made the permanent board, of course I got the crappy 11PM Friday to 7 AM Saturday, 11PM Saturday to 7 AM Sunday and then3 PM to 11 PM on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday shift. By then he knew to watch for me but he still would bring the bus to a smoking halt. A very strange guy.

      6. We can come up with other interesting options for the trip planners. How about 26X + 44?

        Just to see what interesting combinations it would give me this week (a couple of week ago it definitely was giving me interesting stuff) I put in a random spot near the Burke Museum at one end and King Street Station at the other.

        One of the suggested options on Google Maps was 43/44 over to the 355.

      7. Anandakos,

        LOL, I meant the online trip planner (which I thought was sufficiently implied). Informed humans are fantastic trip planners. That’s why I plan my own trips without the online trip planner. I’m sure if you were still a trip planner, you would direct people to use U-Link instead of the 70. The trip planner on the website sometimes doesn’t recognize the names of some major destinations. Actually, being as young as I am, I had no idea that there used to be a 24-hour human-staffed trip planning hotline (I guess how else would someone in the ’70s figure out how to use the bus, since there is no website).

      8. Alex,

        Yeah, it was faux indignation. I knew you meant the online version. But it was a good opportunity for a “way back when” story. Thanks for reading.

    1. It will be interesting to see how this works out, as it means they will have to operate reverse direction on the one way streets to get between Galleria and the turn around just west of Galleria.

      It’s a good thing they’ve waited until after the Broadway Bridge mess is over to do this. With that getting finished up maybe buses will be able to return to the Steel Bridge at some point. They’ve been cancelled or rerouted during the afternoon peak due to the traffic mess on the Steel Bridge, which is overflow from the Broadway.

      1. I think they will almost certainly need flaggers to stop traffic on 10th and 11th. I wonder if they will have extra drivers on hand to hop on for the turnaround. Getting them out of the way during rush hour would be tough, if the operator has to get out, and go to the other end.

  10. (posting in the correct forum) I noticed a few quirks about UW station yesterday.

    There were about 12 people waiting to use the ticket machines on the street level – many in Mariners garb. Go down 1 escalator, and there were 2 ticket machines not being used. Maybe in addition to a giant sign saying “fare paid zone” ST should also have a sign saying “additional ticket machines available down the escalator”

    Several minor technical issues. The train I was on didn’t have any audio or visual announcements of upcoming stops. Also, 1 elevator and 1 up escalator at UW station were out of order.

    Montlake is really, really not built for pedestrians. Between Pend Oreille Road and the station there is literally no marked crosswalk to get across Montlake or 25th Ave. If you’re walking down the west side of 25th Ave/ Montlake, the only options are A – be redirected onto the Burke Gilman trail and then cross at Rainier Vista, or B – cross multiple times at 25th and Montlake around Pend Oreille Road which is a time-consuming slog. Well or C – dash across Montlake when traffic clears, huddle on a median if you can only get halfway across.

    Time from stepping off the train to arriving at the Rainier Vista bus stop was about 6 minutes. Trying both the escalators and elevators, I did not see a single bus sign in the station. Wherever these signs are, they aren’t in an obvious place. And if the rumors that they don’t have arrival times for Stevens Way, they’re even worse. I had to default to texting OBA once I was in the elevator (I didn’t get service with Verizon in either Westlake or UW stations).

    1. What pedestrians exist on the west side of Montlake Blvd between 45th and the station? Why is the crosswalk at Pacific Street not sufficient; how would crossing in between be more convenient? The pedestrian overpass looks like it has a stair from the west side of Montlake; doesn’t it?

      1. No it doesn’t. The pedestrian bridges connect the east side of Montlake with the Burke Gilman trail, the west side of Montlake is completely isolated. I learned this myself. I was at 25th and 55th, and due do delays on the 372, there was no 372 for 25 minutes. I decided to walk to UW station. I walked south to the intersection of 25th Ave and Pend Oreille. My options were A – turn west and walk uphill onto campus and take the Burke Gilman trail, B – turn east and cross 25th Ave, then Montlake – both of which are long light cycles, or C – continue southbound on 25th Ave. Once 25th and Montlake Blvd merge into each other, pedestrians are stuck on 1 side or the other. The sidewalk on the west side of Montlake randomly ends about 600 feet north of the station, so there is no way to walk to Pacific. At that point pedestrians are forced to walk uphill to the Burke-Gilman trail and then walk across the bridge at Rainier Vista.

      2. So a sign at Montlake & Pend Orielle saying pedestrians should cross the street for a flat walk to UW Station would be a sufficient solution?

      3. Since Montlake is too narrow for sidewalks, I’d prefer a beg button crosswalk where the sidewalk ends. But barring that, yeah a sign saying which way to cross to get to UW station would be helpful. But if there aren’t even signs on Stevens Way, I’m not holding my breath.

      4. I have walked from the U Village to the light rail station crossing with the light on NE 45h and walked down on the east side of Montlake Blvd and it took about 20 minutes. I decided to try it instead of taking a bus to Rainer Vista and then having to walk from there. It was ok but I wouldn’t do it on a regular basis.

      5. There is really no reason to ever walk on the west side on Montlake Blvd. Just use the overpasses and take the Burke-Gilman trail.

    2. A lot of us who use the UW station use the (faster) elevators instead of the long two-part escalators… which can make the difference between catching this train or missing it and waiting for the next one. This means we never see anything on the mezzanine levels.

      Regarding crossing Montlake, there are 3 old pedestrian overpasses from the Burke Gilman trail to the east side of Montlake, aside from the new one at the station. But there’s no way to cross Montlake from the actual Montlake sidewalk.

      I do get 4G LTE Ting service (T-mobile MVNO) in the Capitol Hill station, but none of the others. A 3rd party company is in the process of installing microtowers at their own expense along the tunnels and at the stations, and is leasing access to any cell carrier willing to pay. The buildout isn’t yet complete, though, and it seems like the Cap Hill station node is the only one operational so far.

      I haven’t had to deal with any out-of-order elevators at UW station yet, but if that happened during school commute hours there would be serious backups.

      1. I think there might’ve been an out-of-service elevator during last Friday’s evening commute. Around 5 PM, I saw the south elevator come twice before the north elevator came once. The first time, it was too crowded for me to get my bike on, so I needed to wait for the elevator to come a second time… and then, at the end, I got on to a crush-loaded two-car train.

  11. Glenn, and Sam:

    Oakland Art Museum has some artistically masterful engraved contemporary posters showing, to detail of a speculator’s coat button, the way many ordinary people looked at railroads.

    Also amazing design-wise was how the artist could fit every crime of the steel-wheeled monopolists into a single massive anatomically correct octopus. This campaign season especially, great exercise to dig out the campaign public relations of years past.

    The badger on Donald Trump’s head would be accurately depicted squalling, clawing, and showing medically informative signs of rabies.

    The fact that Donald would not, like other capitalists, appear as a pin-striped beach ball in a top hat, would be not to compliment his healthy eating habits, but to suggest real condition of his finances.

    Bernie couldn’t have not had a cigar. Or thirty years later, a long thin cigarette holder and a top-hat. Except in both cases, because of State he’s been Governor of, he’d need a “Green Mountain Boys'” hat- maybe they could use same template as Donald’s badger, except also with a cigar.

    For Hilary, look up “Gibson Girl.” Brandishing a bloody hat-pin like a flaming sword. A realistic depiction of “open carry” on transit in 1904. Choice for transit “groper” between amputation or having Nurse Ratched’s grandmother pour mercurochrome all the way through their hand was excellent deterrent.

    Pin-point (sorry) accurate No holster. Easy to clean. No silencer needed. Won’t go off if dropped. But also so economical that NRA’s sponsors will only say the “pin” part. But for ST cute-animal-passenger-behavior posters, maybe the little Seat Hog will have a girl porcupine for a sweet-heart.


  12. I have a story idea for someone. What are the gender and racial dynamics of Pronto riders?

    1. Does “dynamics” mean “demographic profile”? Or what kinds of dynamic changes do you have in mind? You might start with the fact that Seattle is 70% white, so if everyone equally used Pronto its ridership would also be 70% white, and any interesting differences would be how much it’s higher or lower than that. If there is a difference, I would first look at the location of Pronto stations and how that demographic profile differs from the city. That may or may not suggest adding stations in areas with different demographics. As for men vs women, my naive assumption is that men ride bikes more than women, and that a bikeshare system would mostly attract people who were on the edge of riding bikes anyway. But why does it matter, if more of the population wants to ride bikes and Pronto makes it more convenient to? The ultimate long-term goal is a situation like the Netherlands where I think a third of the population rides bikes regularly across all ages and genders.

    2. Better story idea: What about the class dynamics, Sam? will deliver a brand new bicycle to your door for $75. A used one costs around $25 “on the street”. Pronto charges $85/year for membership. I would argue that Pronto is a luxury good for upper-class people who don’t want to mess with, storage, locks and replacing stolen bikes (which occurred roughly every year-and-a-half back when I still bicycled in Seattle).

      1. If Pronto is actually convenient for where you live, it can certainly be cheaper than a $75 Walmart bike. Just a single quick bike tuneup typically costs $100. The single day rentals are incredibly overpriced though.

      2. You wouldn’t tune up the Walmart bike though. My mom bike commuted for years on what the hard core would call “bicycle shaped objects”. When she was done we had about four or five bikes with various issues which we Freecycled. It avoids heartburn when it gets stolen.

    3. Well for starters, Sam, they are probably Earthlings, because these bicycles are definitely designed for species with two hands and two feet.

      Must also be about same size and configuration. Unless if they’re a lot smaller, they could fit several of themselves into the same suit, though joints would show through the spandex.

      Also frequent quarrels as to who gets to see anything and which one has to ride on the seat. Probably what touched off the Star-type Wars. Transportation-wise, gender’s main effects include adjusting horseback riding position, but also streetcar floor height.

      Great if we could get some of those cars for our First hill Connectors. But gender answer for Pronto is probably that advent of Utilikilts, following several generations culminating in Presidential candidates all showing up in slacks, removes all gender complications.

      “Racial dynamics” take us back to clue as to what Han Solo’s got under the hood. And bar clientele where Han blew away the alien with a blaster under the table- precedent being gunfighter who rode side-saddle dropping a harasser with a Derringer, which left him as dead as with a blaster.

      Personal physical characteristics of Nazi leadership indicate racially that slime under pressure indeed generates power, especially if it’s got clubs, guns, and gutless opposition from democratic countries.

      Though fact that any aircraft of the 1930’s could lift Hermann Goering also indicates undeniable superiority of every racial group who worked on his plane.

      But if you really want to nauseate humanity across all gender and racial borders, Sam, ask same question about color scheme on the seats of our Metro’s new fleet. Question should center on speculation re: racial and gender characteristics of the planet where they wear suits of that material.


  13. Can anyone direct me to a solid analysis of why consolidating transit agencies withing Snohomish/King/Pierce is not a good idea? I know that the proposal has been floated at the Legislature, but wanted to see if any hard analysis has been done on the pros & cons.

    1. Beware of the tradeoffs in consolidating agencies (Human Transit) If you integrate the transit agencies together, you dis-integrate them from the cities that control the streets they travel on and have more complete knowledge of their residents’ overall needs. This can lead to the city not prioritizing signal priority and bus stop areas, not granting street-operating permits they otherwise would, and in the worst cases having an antagonistic attitude toward the transit agency.

      I haven’t seen a legislative proposal for this. The state sees regional transit in Pugetopolis as a distinct need, but local transit is out of sight, out of mind in the counties or sub-county transit benefit districts. The state barely allows them to expand at all or keep their services up in a recession, claiming to be protecting taxpayers’ interests from runaway government.

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