88 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: KC Streetcar”

  1. Why are the stops on Northbound 3rd Ave not coordinated for the E and the 62, and the E and the 5? A significant walkshed in West Wallingford that can take both the E and the 62. As for the E and the 5, the overlap is even larger, all along the western-side of 99. Wouldn’t it make sense to consolidate the stops on 3rd Ave? Don’t tell me it’s to consolidate all the Rapidrides into one stop!

    1. Seems likely that they wanted all the RapidRides to stop in the same place. I agree that this is not a very useful arrangement when you’re willing to take any of a few different lines. I know I live right next to 8th Ave NW so the 28 is most convenient, but I’m happy enough to take the 5 or D Line if the 28 will be a while. Unfortunately the 28 shares stops with the 5 downtown, but not the D Line.

    2. @Ambarish, it used to be that the Fremont-bound/Wallingford-bound 5/16/26/358 all shared one group of stops, while the Ballard-bound 15/17/18/28 (can’t remember if the 40 was around at this point) used the other stops. I believe Metro/SDOT were just too cheap to build RR stops every block. This might be the biggest negative for the post-358 world.

      At this point, I’ve moved further east from Aurora, so I’m happy that at least the 26/62 share one set of stops, but do wish that I had the option of taking the E if the 26/62 are super late.

      1. Ambarish & Skylar: Whether Metro’s decision was good or bad, you can solve your problem by scooting up to 3rd & Virginia. The skip stop pattern ends by then, and that’s where you can catch EVERY bus that uses the Ballard, Fremont or Aurora bridges. So for you two, all your choices are there. Also the QA & Magnolia buses.

  2. Any news yet on how ridership and customer satisfaction is with the FHSC?
    After 3 months, and now ULink reporting ridership last week, it would be interesting to correlate the daily ridership numbers – kind of a quick and dirty ‘Before and After’, if you will.

  3. Friday I took transit from Bellevue to Mt Baker. Google transit didn’t even include the option of using Link, why? I took a 255 and transferred in the Bus Tunnel to Link. Weird to have the train already full when it pulls in to Westlake; kind of annoying real as I expect my personal carriage when getting on there :=. This was about 8:30AM and I’d say a good 20% of the passengers had baggage indicating they were headed to SEA airport. The walk from Mt. Baker Station was identical to the Transit Center Google had me using. The transfer in the tunnel is seamless.

    Going home I wanted to see CHS and UW so I rode Link all the way to the end of the line. Ridership is impressive. The stations, not so much. I guess I was expecting a Beacon Hill experience. Noteworthy is that Link is only 5 min faster than the 48. That makes the 48 actually a better option for all real destinations. For example it would have saved me at least five minutes and a longish walk back to the Montlake Flyer stop. That actually translated into a 15 min faster trip because I would have gotten an earlier 255.

    Unless you’re going to a game it’s a long ass walk to anywhere from UW station. Hint, wait for the elevator if you’re going to use the sky bridge. This station is far worse than Mt. Baker for train to bus transfers which is very disappointing.

    Going back east I was actually headed to Overlake Hospital. So the 550 to Bellevue TC would be at least as good a choice as a 255 to S. Kirkland P&R. Again a transfer in the Bus Tunnel would be seamless but couldn’t a person take the 48 and transfer at I-90 and save a few minutes?

    1. I suppose that some trips on Link may be a few minutes longer. Taking the train though has a few advantages. One is that Mt. Baker to UW is the same price as the 48 off-peak, and 25 cents cheaper peak. The second is the consistency. Even if the trip takes a few more minutes, the trip will always be that length. Route 48 is subject to delays due to bad traffic and such, and especially with that trolley wire construction mess on 23rd avenue. Link is more or less always on time (sometimes it runs a minute early, so be careful). On April 9, with Mariners and Comic Con going on, as well as fantastic weather to check out the new light rail line, as well as technical difficulties like a power outage at TIBS, I took the train. The train was just 4 minutes late, which is amazing given the circumstances (and that is about as bad as it ever gets, absent a problem actually moving trains, like a vehicle breakdown).

      The transfer at UW leaves a lot to be desired. This is why I think that even a drawbridge would better than another ship canal tunnel for Ballard. It’s hard to comprehend why they didn’t even decide to put some sort of bus transit center on the upper level of UW station or something. It’s hard to imagine that Stevens and Rainier Vista is considered a Link transfer point. It would be at least somewhat tenable if there was a speed walker from there to the mezzanine level (which I have suggested before). But yeah, always take the elevator at UW station, unless you see the arrival sign and it says something like 6 minutes to the next train. It was smart for them to put in two elevators as opposed to one in most Link stations.

      1. I see the collegiate in Jaws II but I guess I missed the gothic part. I still contend that the station design is the ugliest of them all; Sodo/Stadium excluded since they’re really just “stops”. Until experiencing it first hand I didn’t believe the access and non-existent transfers were so bad. Although Link from Mt Baker may be more reliable to actually get anywhere you still win by just taking/staying on the bus. Guessing that access to CHS takes just as long the same would apply to virtually all trips from RV all the way to Montlake. Of course DT to anywhere else in the city Link is a win… I think.

        A side note, coming into Seattle on the 255 I was taken back by the shear volume of the construction. Things are booming in Bellevue too but I’d wager that there is more square footage currently under construction in Seattle than the total of what exists in all of DT Bellevue. Uff da, we need a Ballard Link :=

      2. I totally agree that UW station is a terrible transfer, but let’s not forget that it was never meant to be the link transfer point for all of north Seattle. When Rosevelt and U District stations open in a few years they will be (geographically) much better transfer points. Let’s just hope that sound transit makes bus infrastructure a priority in those new station designs…

      3. But UW station IS the Link transfer point for the entire eastside north of downtown Bellevue coming into/out of Seattle on 520, for now and all eternity ;). That alone should have forced the designers to do something intelligent for bus transfers.

      4. But UW station IS the Link transfer point for the entire eastside north of downtown Bellevue

        Yeah, not so much. Better off, especially if coming from the south to transfer in the tunnel DT and take a bus, any bus, going across 520 and transfer at Evergreen Pt Fwy Station. Coming from the north it’s only 8 min to stay on the train and go DT. You’ve got a minimum 10 min walk to Mountlake if you hustle. I’m guessing a minimum of 5 minutes from the bowels of UW station to a bus stop on Pacific. And then said bus still has to fight it’s way across the Cut and onto 520. So even from the north I’d say stay on the train and xfer DT. Then you’ve got the choice to go 520 or I-90 with loads of transfers at Bellevue TC.

  4. Per wiki

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KC_Streetcar

    2 mile system. Cost 100mil$. Rides are free.

    Im sure it will help gentrify the area nicely and make developers a lot of money, but as usual the 100 mil $ in capital spending would have been better spent upgrading the existing bus network with brt like features (signal priority, off board payment, real time arrival info, etc)…

    1. Also, per http://www.kcstreetcar.org, 10 minute peak headways. Really? Spend 100mil$ on a 2 mile line and only provide service every 10 minutes? Maximum 5 minute head ways should be a requirement in order to get federal funding. This thing is a toy.

      1. 10 minutes is high frequency for Kansas City. Nothing here exceeds that headway. It was delivered on time and on budget. Expansion plans are already underway. Ridership is expected to equal or exceed the First Hill line in Seattle.

    2. It’s hard to imagine KC getting this excited about a new bus, even if it had “brt like features.” And if this line results in the level of development that they think it will, then it will have been money well spent.

      Congrats to KC. I hope this line works out well for them, because they certainly need some sort of spark…..

      1. I agree that the “new transit toy” factor is real. But the 10 minute headways will discourage people from actually using it.

    3. I was in KC last January and wrote a piece on page2 about transit in KC. The new streetcar will operate on a very busy corridor and I think it will be very popular. KC is an interesting metropolitan area; it’s glory days were about 100 years ago during the height of the streetcar era. The latter years of the 20th century were pretty rough on KC and the city’s vibrancy and status declined dramatically. But KC has great “bones” for an urban revival effort. There are plenty of surviving Art Deco buildings and the downtown business district is scaled to streetcar dimensions. Creating this modern streetcar line will help to revive some of the old, positive urban social patterns of 100 years ago.

      Link to my page2 post on Kansas City: https://seattletransitblog.com/2016/01/13/transit-day-kansas-city/

      1. So this all begs the question, how is the First Hill SC doing? My take was that even though it’s slow and less frequent than you’d hope it would still attract decent ridership. I know millennials can hike the route faster than the SC but overall how is it doing now that the novelty has worn off and U-Link is the sucking up all the oxygen in the room.

    4. I was in KC last year for a conference. There were a decent number of people on the streets during the day, but come 5PM the place turned into a zombie-apocalypse ghost town. It seemed half the downtown was given over to parking lots and structures. Still, it’s impressive that they’re going to run it until 2AM on weekends, and will be maintaining better headways than FHSC.

    5. Read up on KC regional transit for a work project a few months ago. Have already forgotten many details, but they have in fact already invested in BRT and have a good deal more planned (or already under construction). The starter streetcar line is short, yes, but if I recall seems to have good transfer points with major bus routes, connects key destinations, and is expected to function as a trunk line for an expanded streetcar network.

      Think they are also unifying multiple regional providers behind a single brand.

  5. a modest proposal

    Yesterday, I was on the bike path along I90 just west of the mount baker tunnel.
    Traffic was moving slowly and steadily, probably due to construction in the tunnel, but no lanes were closed.
    The cars and road noise were faint, and there were no horns, no jake brakes, and no boy racers zooming from lane to lane.

    Proposed: in the 100 (or so) most populous counties in the US, Interstate speeds shall be lowered to 30 mph, to be enforced by speed cameras every few miles, on pain of losing federal gas tax money.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_most_populous_counties_in_the_United_States
    Wouldn’t apply to local roads or state routes, so texas could be texas.
    map: Its a tiny percentage of the US.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_most_populous_counties_in_the_United_States#/media/File:U.S._counties_population.JPG

    This wouldn’t increase capacity, but I believe it’d reduce the hours per day congestion occurs, because there’d be many fewer speed mismatches, where drivers have to slam on the brakes.

    It also wouldn’t reduce capacity when congestion does not occur.

    Pros: quieter and much less pollution in places where people live.
    design speeds, lane widths, exit ramps, curves could be redone to match geography and built environment.
    fuel economy improvements

    Cons: unpossible.

    1. I went through on a bus around 12:30 yesterday, and there were signs warning of a crash in the tunnel blocking one mainline lane. (We zipped through in the express lanes without any slowdown.) If you came through afterwards, I’d guess you got the ghost jam from that crash.

  6. Serious question from Joe – one of two….

    Do you think, as I do, that if Sound Transit had an elected board and a genuine chance existed to get some transit advocates on the Board that ST3 or a ST4 would have a better package than the one that many have issues or outright opposition to?

      1. ST has money to spend. Politians get elected and stay in office by spending in thier districts. Many politians dont know or care about quality transit, they just want to spend the money.

        So when i say “ST is corrupt” i mean it is under the influence of polititians that may or may not be operating ung the publics best interest. ST should be Immune to the whimes of politians. It should operate on facts and data and follow well documented transit planning protocals.

      2. Well that same kind of attitude was used to justify the cause of denying light rail to Bellevue and Seattle…

        I think frankly the data stacks up that congestion relief up and down I-5 is necessary. Also that by having Everett & Tacoma within the Sound Transit district for around 20 years means they are at some point going to want light rail and chrome trains. So?

    1. If you get enough genuine transit advocates on the Board, then maybe. But you’d also get at least a few who are (to use Peter Rogoff’s term) “hostile to the mission of the agency”. A severely divided Board could be really problematic, even if more of the members are excellent by some transit-advocacy metric.

      Many suburban mayors have an understanding of transit that is deficient in predictable ways, but at least having them on the Board helps the agency in dealing with the cities. There’s a Lyndon Johnson quote that comes to mind.

      1. Dan;

        I believe the LBJ quote applies well to the situation. I would rather a few Eastside skeptics be on the Sound Transit Board than on the outside taking potshots at Sound Transit… I would rather “Bernie” or somebody preferably more civil be on the Sound Transit Board from his (likely) Seattle perch asking tough questions of the suburbs and of regionalism than on the outside.

        I somehow don’t see how anybody but a transit advocate would want on the Sound Transit Board. The work involved in campaigning, then holding down the job should dissuade many.

        Let me put it this way: If ST3, Version 2016 goes down and granted I hope it doesn’t… I hope some of us fellow transit advocates would be more receptive to risking it and having the Sound Transit Board be elected so ST3, Version 2020 can get more transit advocate support. I’d love to see you on that Board. I’d love to see Martin & Frank on that Board. I’d love to see Erica C. Barnett on that Board.

        One last though: I joined the Skagit Transit CAC in part because I was tired of being critical from the outside. Goes back to the LBJ quote… ;-).

      2. “Many suburban mayors have an understanding of transit that is deficient in predictable ways, but at least having them on the Board helps the agency in dealing with the cities.”

        The cites understand that they can’t ignore transit any longer. Residents increasingly want more transit choices, and companies are increasingly locating to where there’s good transit to them from several directions. Everyone is sick of freeway congestion and random gridlock, and they’re willing to do anything, even ride a bus or train. Even if it takes longer. And $10 parking is an additional motivation. Not only does Seattle have paid parking, but also downtown Bellevue, and as we heard last week even Mukilteo, so I assume other cities are heading that direction. The cities realize that there’s no future in quarter-lot cul-de-sacs: there’s no room for more of them and they create a lot of infrastructure headaches and expense. So the cities realize that transit and trains are their future, even if some residents and Kemper Freeman still believe that more highway lanes and parking lots will solve everything.

        This has made the cities more pro-active on the ST board than you might have expected twenty years ago, and they united in asking the legislature for ST3 funding (successful) and local-bus funding (unsuccessful). Some people question their positions like “light rail to Everett/Tacoma/Issaquah”, but earlier it would have been, “No light rail anywhere, no frequent buses, just wider highways and P&Rs”. So the cities are evolving, even if not as fast as we think they should. Elected boardmembers may be less forward-thinking. Some districts may vote in transit experts, but others might elect transit opponents and know-nothings. What’s certain is that they won’t have the responsibility of their city/county on their shoulders, so they may not look wholistically at what the city/county needs.

    2. No.

      ST3 isn’t so great because the cities are asking for what’s in it.

      An elected board won’t change the political pressure from the local communities.

      1. Glenn;

        Therein lies the rub. Regionalism got Seattle its rightful light rail via Sound Transit. But now that we’re talking about expanding the spine to most of the megalopolis – oh and some trusses for Seattle, Seattleites start to cringe or in the case of Bernie go nuclear.

        I wonder how Trimet ever got its light rail built to Gresham, Hillsboro and McMinnville plus a WES built… I wonder if Portlandites in the urban core felt the same way when expansion was discussed.

      2. fil, and Glenn, I have to be careful, because if this was 1965, we’d talking World War II history. But in 1992, after a judge’s ruling that the representation structure of the politically independent Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle was unconstitutional, an election made a deliberately non-political agency a part of King County government.

        No one could say that the Election was corrupt, although, with the help of The Seattle Times, the campaign featured some diversionary preoccupations that smelled corrupted. Sort of like the present bathroom sign wars in Carolina.

        The several years’ long campaign took place two stories above rotating boring-machine cutters and a few miles from the most problematic bus purchase in transit history.

        Meaning that at the very stage of the project that most needed top-management attention and decisions, blanket excuse for doing something easier was: “No time. Governance, you know.”

        The Breda fleet finally revealed how zombie apocalypses really get started. Governance- Lord, how I hate the word- has always been a distraction in Haiti. It’s an undeserved miracle that two TBM’s aren’t at same latitude as Bertha.

        With elected officials blaming each other at the top of their lungs instead of appointed professional ones.

        So here’s how I see it: Like many other choices of machinery, results depend more on the brains behind the hands at the controls than differences in gearing and linkages. Or emblem on the radiator.

        And even more on the personal qualities of the hiring team, read “voters.” Who right now need a change of agencies like they need anything attached to a Breda emblem. But the Metro code of discipline has a useful term.

        To avoid the “G-word”, KC Metro and ST merely need identical term in their work rules:
        Phrase “We can’t do that because we work for separate agencies” equals summary termination for gross misconduct.

        Mark Dublin

      3. I wonder how Trimet ever got its light rail built to Gresham, Hillsboro and McMinnville plus a WES built… I wonder if Portlandites in the urban core felt the same way when expansion was discussed.

        1. Arab oil embargo. It was the 1970s.

        2. Portland’s air violated federal clean air act standards, so no new money for highways plus other economic standards.

        3. Mt. Hood Freeway got canned due to citizen uprising. $300 million in federal transportation money allocated to Portland and its region suddenly became available for other projects.

        4. Gresham is only 15 miles out, and it’s a continuous group of city blocks from Portland to there. Not terribly dense, but not vacant either. Think Shoreline along 99.

        5. At the time, Gresham was the fastest growing city in Oregon

        6. …but no freeway could be built to there without completely destroying a bunch of housing and other neighborhoods. Mt. Hood Freeway would have destroyed something like10% of southeast Portland’s housing stock.

        7. Everett is about 30 miles from Seattle. TriMet’s district doesn’t even go that far.

        8. TriMet’s appointed board usually has some or all local business community members. They have some interest in financial responsibility.

        9. TriMet isn’t necessarily immune from political garbage. The worst example is the Yellow Line termination point at a facility that has occasional events. It is also owned by the Portland equivalent of the Puget Sound Regional Council. The regional planning group set that location as the next priority.

        10. TriMet needs federal money, and federal money requires a certain performance.

      4. Keep in mind that item 1 had caused gasoline rationing provisions. Purchases were limited to 10 gallons per customer at many gasoline stations.

        Reagan may have repealed the last bits of the energy conservation measures instituted in that era, but a lot of people thought of energy conservation as an important issue until maybe the Bush 1 era.

        It’s probably safe to say that gasoline rationing of the 1970s would cause a vastly different development pattern in the sprawl of Puget Sound.

      5. Glenn, my understanding is that (11) the state of Oregon is much more supportive of transit, at least financially and probably legislatively, than Washington is. I’m not certain about the nuts and bolts of all that, but certainly if the state legislature here was not so anti-Seattle (and by proxy the metro area), we’d have a better funding mechanism and likely more money. The state’s attitude towards its largest user of transit also trickles down by default to harm transit agencies in Spokane, Clark County, Whatcom/Skagit, the Tri-Cities, etc. etc. etc.

        Is that a fair statement in your opinion, at least regarding the state of Oregon’s impact on local transit?

      6. Oregon actually has a mass transit division at the state level.

        Their involvement in the first MAX line was a bit limited, though fairly vital. The concept was “we’re going to tear up the Banfield Freeway anyway so we might as well add light rail.” It made both projects cheaper than if each had been done separately.

      7. For your reading pleasure:
        http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/PT/Pages/about.aspx

        ODOT, through the Rail and Public Transit Division, will provide the leadership to develop a unified vision for transportation planning and investment in the state of Oregon. To increase access to alternative transportation by engaging communities at a grass root level in the future of transportation, the division will:

        Support mobility and choice for the Elderly and Disabled population
        •Connect transportation services throughout the state
        •Ensure equity and coordination in funding and services to all communities
        •Encourage better transportation choices for the environment
        •Provide leadership, tools and solutions for better access
        •Provide effective and efficient stewardship of state and federal funds
        •Provide targeted and effective education and technical assistance

        Washington could certainly use one of those inside WashDOT.

      8. There is some reference in this chain to light rail service to McMinnville. When did that happen?

      9. Didn’t.

        Joe’s going out to the aviation museum there, and his last stretch is on Yamhill Transit.

        I’m guessing he’s taking WES service to Wilsonville to get YT’s route. It’s not as nice as Sounder (TriMet didn’t want restrooms for a 30 minute trip) and they only run two car trains, so it’s closer to light rail than commuter rail – at least if you compare it to Soundsr.

  7. Even the KC Streetcar will run until 2am on weekends. We really need to figure out how to do that for Link.

    1. Yea that’s going to be safe. Since KC is ranked at No 10 for most violent crime cities, I’d say this is the place to be after midnight. I get that this should help the area gentrify and increase development. But I’d be amazed if they get 5,000 riders a day. There’s just not that many people living there. As another person pointed out after 5 it’s a ghost town. Go Royals!

    1. How much faster could ballard and w seattle be built if we didnt build another tunnel through DT Seattle? Ballard could be elevated and stop at westlake (maintanence yard in interbay). W Seattle could stop at Sodo to the ID(use existing soda maint yard). Do we really need another tunnel through seattle in ST3? Cant 4 car trains at peak headways in the exisiting transit tunnel provide enough capacity for the next 20 years?

      1. Somebody from LINK operations weigh in on this one. But my guess is that even with buses removed, between two north-south lines and EastLINK, another added line would make headways mean same thing as “couplers”.

        Also, anybody tunnel-averse needs to look at a simple street-map from Westlake Station north. Even if the new line can bypass Westlake completely, Third avenue will probably have to be cut-and-covered back to Denny.

        And then bored to break into the existing tubes under Third Avenue. Half a block from where in the late ’80’s, our engineers had to relocate the underground river flowing into the Sound under Century Square.

        Reason officials both elected and professionally appointed need to hear from somebody besides me that we the people need relevant technical information too. And nobody has to tell an engineer that whatever technical explanation that can’t be put into plain English means either that the source doesn’t understand it either, or is lying.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Boston MBTA runs 4 lines (Green B,C,D,E) into one trunk line. Each of those run at 6 minute headways in the peak, all using level junctions at the crossovers. You can do the math from there.
        This is the same headway used to sell puget sound voters that they were getting the equivalent of a 22 lane freeway, or 24,000 riders per direction in the peak hour.

      3. There’s points on the timetae where MAX will be running a green line train one minute ahead of a blue line train, and that’s on the surface.

        Granted, that headway means the entire system can melt down really easily when an auto gets stuck on the tracks or something.

        Link’s tunnel, however, isn’t prone to stray autos anywhere near as much as MAX.

      4. Forcing a transfer would likely kill ridership. There was an earlier study of Ballard to downtown with a forced transfer at Westlake. Ridership was underwhelming (~30k riders IIRC).

        A level junction in theory could be built at the turn just before Westlake but construction would likely require an extended shutdown of the DSTT. A further problem is shoving another line in the current tunnel wouldn’t increase platform capacity any. Shoving 500k riders through the current stations might be a bit of a tight squeeze.

      5. Forced transfer to what?

        If the line is required to run Ballard to Tacoma the same transfer pattern will happen no matter what. At least having it in the same tunnel means you don’t have to walk through a maze of mezzanines.

        Lots and lots of platform capacity could be added to the center between the tracks.

        Construction closures will be a problem. However, they will need to do that anyway no matter what they do, because if Ballard to Tacoma is going to be the operating platform a junction will have to be built somewhere. Most of the time TriMet has managed to do this type of thing during the night maintenance closures most of the time. The track replacement in downtown Portland will mean a two week closure of that section.

        Where are the turn back crossovers in the tunnel? There’s obviously one at the Westlake station or they wouldn’t have been able to operate the original section of the line. So, UW to Westlake could continue to operate normally with turn back happening at Westlake on the crossover there.

        If there are no crossovers from ID to University what you would have to do is operate the trains in the reverse direction on both tracks. It means reducing service levels.

        Maybe do these service reductions at night?

        You can do a lot during an overnight shutdown, if you just throw enough people at it.

      6. Forced transfer if the Ballard line is built separate from the rest of the system. I believe the specific suggestion was to run the LQA and SLU or Belltown sections as elevated.

        As to putting a junction in before Westlake, the DSTT is in twin bored tunnels there. An extended shutdown would be required to connect the current tunnels to the existing tunnels, particularly as it would likely need to be built as a level junction. We are talking about a lot more than just track work. (Which is what will be required for joining East Link and doing ST3 as planned).

  8. Serious question from Joe – two of two….

    My schedule has somewhat changed – perhaps for the better – but since I’ve opened my fat mouth to too many people I guess I can make a special afternoon-evening Skagit Transit 90X trip to tomorrow’s ST3 meeting at Everett Station. 5:30 PM-7:30 PM (1730-1930 Hours). I will probably skip out early… but I intend to arrive early as well. Meet-up maybe?

    I have it on ok authority the Snohomish County Economic Alliance (SCEA) light rail boosters will deploy, Everett Transit will likely be present, and Sound Transit staff will be there trying to mediate between the SCEA and most regular STB Commentators…

    So I wonder how many of you will be joining me at Everett Station tomorrow starting at 5:30 PM. Just get on the elevators and go up to the fourth floor. Big conference room up there. Saved my “Travel Light” shirt for this meeting… even though again I will likely leave early (one of Skagit Transit’s weak points is lack of frequency).

    As they say on “The West Wing”, “I should sell tickets to this meeting”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwUqL4U3jmM

  9. Yesterday I had the opportunity to take the 62 from downtown to Ravenna and I can see why it’s so unreliable. I thought I would save time since the 62 was arriving when I was at 3rd and Pine, and this way I wouldn’t have to walk down to Westlake Station, wait for the train, walk across Rainier Vista, and wait for a 372. I’m not sure if I did.

    The bus got stuck at the Fremont Bridge to let a boat go by. Then right after the bus caused gridlock at 34th St being stuck behind an articulated 32 and 40. Then right after that the bus got stopped by the Fremont Troll by what seemed like protesters blocking the street. I have no idea how common each of those are, but they added up.

    1. the bus got stopped by the Fremont Troll

      Now that’s something I’d like to see! Is there by chance a video posted on You Tube? :=

    2. I really do think Metro/SDOT has to do something about 34th & Fremont. With the advent of the 62, there are now two major routes (40 & 62) that run articulated buses almost all the time. The 31/32 also run articulated coaches at peak. Those bus stops are barely long enough for one.

      Another issue is in the southbound direction, where the 62 has to make an unprotected left turn, into a street that’s frequently backed up due to bridge openings. Eventually most operators just get fed up and make the left even if they block the intersection for a bit, but that’s not such a great situation. Often the problem is actually a 40 that gets through the weird pocket right turn.

      At least in the southbound direction, Metro could move the 40 stop around the corner on Fremont Pl, so that it can go through the right turn and get into the left lane, leaving the right lane free for the 62.

      For the northbound direction, Metro could maybe just convince SDOT to expand the bus zone to the entire block, so that the first coach that arrives can just pull forward far enough for a second coach.

      1. Skylar –

        If the zone northbound went the length of the entire block, a coach stopping in the forward most position would have an extremely difficult time getting out of the zone and far enough to the left to make a right turn onto 34th.

        Similarly, it would be impossible for a coach leaving from the head of the zone to turn left and continue towards Ballard on Leary.

    3. I ride the 62 every day. It’s a great neighborhood connector, but is 5-10 minutes late more often than not. Cutting it in half by East Green Lake would make sense, as would having it continue to Northgate instead of to Sand Point. The 26 could continue to Sand Point instead, turning right onto 65th from Latona, thus avoiding all the zigging and zagging around Woodlawn it does now – making it a bit more of an ‘express’ than it is now.

      1. I so much wish this! I used to have a great one seat ride from North Fremont to Northgate via the old 16, now gone, and literally every time I’ve tried to go to or from downtown on the 62 it’s gotten caught by the Fremont Bridge being up. At least I still have the 5/E…Metro, don’t get any ideas!

      2. Guess what? Metro’s 2040 long-range network plan routes the 5 down Westlake.

        Don’t worry, though; it’ll be 24 years…

  10. I chatted with a Link train driver at the Airport Station a few days ago. I asked about 3-car trains, how few there seem to be. I found out ST operates just two peak-hour trippers with 3-car consists. That’s why you can wait for a half-dozen 2-car trains to pass before seeing 3 cars.

  11. San Diego is retiring its first fleet of cars. These are the high floor cars with fold-out stairs. I’ve got it on good authority that at least two are now donated to museums.

    This might be an interesting opportunity for SoundTransit to get its hands on some economically priced cars for expanded operations for special events. Due to the high floor you wouldn’t want them for regular operations, but for occasional special events where four car trains are needed throughout the system it might be good to have some extra cars.

    They would need 1,500 volt static converters and a set of Nippon-Sharyo controls to make them work with the existing fleet. I wouldn’t think this would be too difficult or expensive, relatively speaking.

      1. Seattle can’t legally buy high-floor cars — fairly recent ADA regulations prohibits it.

        The high-floor cars from San Diego are mostly being sold to South American countries with no ADA equivalent. Theoretically they could be sold to LA, where all the light rail lines have high *platforms* (so the stairs could be removed and the cars made all-high-boarding) but they won’t be.

      2. ADA does not require that all entrances on the train be wheelchair capable. In fact, Sounder currently operates with only some entrances wheelchair accessible.

        It also does not prohibit the use of wheelchair lifts if using high floor cars, though if you have low floor cars there’s no reason to have lifts.

        That’s why, if you were to use them, it would only be to fill in during special events, and you would need to modernize the controls so that the other three cars on a four car train would be current low floor stock.

    1. ST has loads of extra equipment. Flush with cash they tend to buy equipment far in excess of need. They leased Sounder coaches for years to another city until they were able to put them into service. They could run 3 car trains all day long and still have plenty of reserves in the MF. The original order was for 31 cars back in 2003. That was expanded to 35 in 2005.

      Q: Why are those Link trains just sitting in the yard?

      When you travel on Interstate 5 past the Sound Transit maintenance base in the SODO neighborhood – the one marked “Rail” with the old Rainier R – you might see 30-40 Link light rail cars parked outside. We currently have 62 Link cars and run 15 two-car trains during peak periods,.. we’re buying 122 new light rail vehicles, tripling our current fleet.

      1. That’s good to know. There was a statement here some time back that suggested they couldn’t do four car trains on a regular basis on all trains due to the number of cars they own.

  12. So, I submitted my comments to ST3. It’s lengthy, so I’ll just post the Seattle-related comments here:

    “Rewrite from scratch, since your proposal is a mess. I’m not conviced that you need a second downtown tunnel, since you’re proposing three lines each at 6-min intervals, and the tunnel can do 90-sec. Apply the cash savings to Ballard-UW tunnel. Also, delete Ballard-Downtown (no longer necessary), and use that savings to get West Seattle line to White Center – use Delridge instead of 35th, since Delridge is a great direct route to continue to Burien and Des Moines some day.
    Use an ST Superbus for the Downtown-Ballard connection.”

    (BTW, Superbus means guaranteed 25 MPH minimum, including stop time)

    If you’d like to see my comments for other areas, let me know. (this is an open thread, right?)

  13. Mic, wish I’d been able to read your last comment earlier. Last time I was in Boston, there was still a doughnut stand on the platform in Park Street Station. Right where I’d get on a PCC streetcar- which at rush hour were coupled int two-car trains.

    As for DSTT operations, do you think there’s anything we can learn from the present Green Line? I seem to remember that trains followed each other almost coupler to coupler. But none of them moved very fast.

    As for how many freeway lanes a transit line can substitute for, my general comeback would be:

    “This morning? Every single jammed-stuck lane on the freeway below my window that everybody on board my train is passing at 60.”

    Mark

    1. Normally this type of protest would make me angry, but least half of the 62s that run from Sand Point to Princeton are completely empty. It’s a huge waste of service hours, even more so than the former 30 which at least people around here actually liked. Furthermore, the 62 is ridiculously unreliable. I tried to take it from Sand Point on Friday evening and the bus was 15 minutes late. To add insult to injury, they took articulated buses away from the 75 after the restructure so I’m now stuck on an overcrowded 75 while the late and empty 62s go by every 15 minutes.

      1. It’s only a month after the service was added; let’s give it at least six months before cutting it. I wonder how the old 26 was doing on reliability through Fremont?

      2. Pretty much the same. We would sit at the corner of 40th and Wallingford and see OneBusAway change from 10 minutes late to 15 minutes late, and from 1 minute away to four minutes away and stay at four minutes away for long periods. The old 16 was similarly unreliable. I don’t know if it’s the streets of Tangletown (which got their name honestly) or what, but nothing in that area ever seemed to be on time.

        If they’re running artics on the 62, it’s at least not getting the treatment the 16 did, which was 40′ coaches full to the brim at noon. And there has never been direct service from central Wallingford (i.e., 45th and Wallingford) and central Fremont (34th and Fremont) before.

        Between the bridge, the huge number of construction delays all buses going down Stone Way have, the general slowness of 35th Street and the notorious number of people who ride on Dexter for three or four stops, anything on that route is going to be slow as molasses.

        Which is why I head east to Link at UW station instead of through Fremont anymore.

  14. I’m planning a trip for Monday morning. How can the ST 545 “Express” possibly take an hour to get from 4th & Jackson to Bear Creak P&R? It’s less than 20 miles and the majority of that is on the “freeway” going in the “reverse commute” direction. Er, well… primary direction to MicroSoft but criminy it’s 1/2 an hour just to Evergreen Pt. Freeway Station.

    1. The really big problem is downtown Seattle. Fourth St is overloaded all through peak hours, and then the bus does a zig-zag from Olive to Pine to Bellevue to pick up Lower Capitol Hill commuters to Microsoft.

      I’d strongly recommend taking U-Link and transferring to the 541/542.

      1. Problem with taking the 541/542 is they don’t go to Bear Creek. First I’d have to transfer from Link to a 541/542 at the tranfer hostile UW station which, as I’ve learned, means it would be better to take a 255 (or any 520 bus) and transfer at Evergreen Pt Fwy Station. Then I’d have make another transfer to the 545 at Redmond TC. If all the transfers worked perfectly it still take the same amount of time (within 1 minute) so I’m better off with the one seat ride. ST needs to do it’s own restructure and send the Capitol Hill softies to CHS or UW. Then it might be faster for the 545 to take I-90. Either way it seems crazy for the 545 to use Bear Creek as it’s terminus instead of Redmond TC. Having an “Express” leave 520 at 148th and spend the better part of 20 minutes wandering through Redmond is crazy when the direct route to the TC would be 520 to Avondale and loop back from the P&R on Redmond Way. Especially when the 148th routing duplicates RR-B.

      2. At 148th? Either that’s a misprint or a map error; the 545 stays on 520 till West Lake Samammish, and it only duplicates the B for two blocks or so. I’m equivocal on the Redmond routing – a lot of people do get off in downtown Redmond as well as at Bear Creek – but I don’t see where you’re getting the idea that 90 might be faster.

        And yes, Capitol Hill should maybe be restructured now. That stop was packed before U-Link, and well worth it even with the delay, but now things are different.

      3. Actually, I can transfer from the 255 to the 545 at Evergreen Pt. Fwy Station but the 255 takes 20 minutes to get from the ID Station. The transfers would have to be perfect (i.e the 545 arrives 1 minute after the 255) and the net gain is only 11 minutes. Chances are I’d end up on the same 545 so why risk the xfer.

      4. OK, I was looking at the 545 map wrong. You are correct that it exits at Westlake Sam but that’s only to serve a stop on Leary Way. If it’s going to do that it could still save probably 5-10 minutes taking Leary Way directly to the TC instead of going all the way over to 85th with all the local stops through DT Redmond. I mean this is supposed to be an “Express” right? Plus, there are several large apartments going in right now within walking distance of the P&R. Using the P&R as it’s terminus does make some sense in terms of layover space.

      5. Uh, I’m not Sam, and I wouldn’t be surprised if those stops in downtown Redmond are better-used than the P&R in the reverse-commute direction.

      6. … oh, “Westlake Sam” was supposed to be “West Lake Sammamish.” Makes sense now that I think about it. Still, sure, it’s bothersome when you just want to get to the other side of Redmond.

  15. I was lucky/unlucky to arrive in Denver on the day their new airport line opened to the public. I’ve been waiting for that line to open for a while but I never knew that the line was financed by a private/public partnership and that it actually is not light rail and can only integrate to the rest of their rail system through a transfer. I guess it’s more similar to the Sounder but you’d never even know it as they marketed it as nothing more than a new (highly convenient) line. I’ve spoken with people as recently as last week who were confused about the difference between Sounder and Link so that seems like a smart move.

    Nice to see they’re as geeky in Denver as here. It was crazy busy and the queue to board at the airport looked kind of like the line for Pirates of the Caribbean.

    1. The Denver airport line is actually more like SEPTA Regional Rail (using the same vehicles, in fact), Metro-North, or the LIRR than it is like anything else.

      1. Thanks for the SEPTA confirmation. I knew those cars looked familiar (and a bit dated). All they needed was the red, white, and blue logo and I was home.

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