a fascinating documentary from 50 years ago about the engineering and development of BART. They literally reinvented the wheel.

98 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Transport for Tomorrow”

    1. Really think these events need more multiculturalism. Bet they had bagpipes and tenor-drums (the real reason Scots were feared in battle!) when they opened SkyTrain.

      And that the Montreal subway, which has rubber tires ’cause the ones in Paris do, got opened with a kiss from a French general dressed like Claude Rains in “Casablanca”.

      With a formation of those great Mirage jets, and also the Concorde breaking the sound barrier with Le Marseillaise blaring in the background.


      Followed a week or two later by a mob with 3-color pins on their Tea Party Era hats storming down the boulevard waving pikes carrying the heads of whoever authorized the expense.

      With both the above totally eclipsed by a ten-hour parade of tanks and missiles, culminating in a giant hug and ten-minute kiss from a Russian general who looks like a bald bear at the opening of every single spectacular station on a typical subway.

      Possibly surpassed now with a line of black limousines with fox-fur seats driven by expressionless guys in ten thousand dollar suits and dark glasses. Who don’t need concealed-carry permits. Though I don’t think Vladimir is a kissing kind of Chief of State.

      So, considering our celebration budget, I all the future ST’s can honor every single culture in Seattle, including old Ballard, King of Norway, fire engine with the Norwegian flag at the top of its ladder and all.

      And maybe both Sweden and Finland if both U-District and West Seattle lines come through for Ballard.

      But I’m not going to whine about entertainment costs postponing the rest of the system for a hundred years. The smile I got from the little girl I gave my Pass to was worth it.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Mark;

        He he, ha ha. Well I wanted SeaGals… and if I owned a plane, I’d have it fly over to help celebrate the big WIN for transit geeks.

        I think frankly people miss the point of the Launch Party which was public outreach, to tear down the silos between government & the constituency.


      1. I saw this headline in big letters on the front page in a newspaper box on Friday. This is more proof of the Seattle Times being absolutely nothing but a suburban anti-transit opinion rag. The sooner they are liquidated, the better.

    2. Compared to flustercl**k that was the privately funded 520 bridge party that occurred two weeks later, i’d say the money was reasonably well spent. ST knew that the crowd was going to come. If you didn’t spend any money on it, it would have been a free for all.

      1. Yes, and:

        *No community outreach
        *No community education
        *No community building
        *Little to no crowd control
        *No transit geeks coming down to celebrate with the economic stimulus that comes from that

    3. “Considering the scandal over Sound Transit ULink Launch Party spending”

      Is it a scandal?

      “”I think it was a very smart & cost-effective party”

      So not a scandal. I think the size of the party was reasonable, although I would have left out some peripheral features (e.g., the bands). But the important thing was that ST did logistics well. Queue management was effective and ready for a larger crowd. There were shuttles from Northgate that I suppose somebody used.

      So it wasn’t really a scandal in ST, but a brou-ha-ha in the media. Lindblom does tend to overly dwell on the cost of things, without equally considering what the money is buying or what the alternative would be if we didn’t buy it. An umbrella costs money, but if you don’t buy it you’ll get rained on.

      The real issue is whether ST oversizes the Angle Lake opening this fall. University Link was a quantum leap in Seattle’s transportation and justified a big party. For south King County, Angle Lake is just a P&R two miles closer than TIB, so not much to write home about. Its party should be small and dignified, and not make a mountain out of a molehill.

    4. Hey, there’s a photo of me getting someone to sign a postcard to remind themselves to vote for ST3! Or I think it’s me; I don’t recognize myself from behind.

      I thought it was a well-run party (the mini LINK trains are adorable); my only suggestion would be for the DJ to play music with a lower BPM so people would walk more slowly and be easier to latch onto for the purposes of selling ST3. There was a slight feeling of preaching to the choir, at least during my 9-noon shift: you don’t show up to a transit party at 9AM on a Saturday unless you’re already civic-minded.

      Capturing the enthusiasm of that day, channeling that energy into engagement, and humanizing infrastructure is money well-spent.

    5. Lars Laeaon was making a big deal about the party cost on his program today. You’d think they could have fed the entirety of India with $800,000 or something.

      1. I think it was about 12:40pm when he made the comment. He’s got both a national show and a northwest show. I think the northwest show comes first.

      2. Ok, it’s about 1hr 30 into the northwest show. He’s interviewing an Oregon candidate for governor and brings it up as government spending gone astray.

  1. Yesterday was the first day of RapidRide 24/7 All Door Boarding. So when I went out to catch the B Line, I wanted to see if Metro was on the ball enough to remove the little signs above the off-board ORCA readers that say RapidRide Only 6 AM – 7 PM, and the stickers on the middle and back doors of the RR buses that say Use Front Door Only 7 PM – 6 AM. And of course, they haven’t been removed yet. Nor are there any signs on the bus or at transit centers and bus stops notifying people of this change.

    Someone defend Metro to me. If Metro management aren’t lazy and incompetent, why wasn’t this very simple task complete on the first day of RR all door boarding? And if they can’t even get the simple things right, how can they get the big projects right?

    Sam, candidate for President of the comment section. Let’s make STB great again!

      1. Same for the United States of America, Joe. Would really be great if we could quote your employment-related statement to Sam in a message to the guy who used it so often on TV.

        Loud enough to make the marmot on his head bite him as it flees back into Olympic National Park. However, don’t think Martin deserves to have his hair turn grey before Northgate station opens.

        Though that would be a good incentive to elect a different Congress.


    1. It’s a Sunday. Businesses will often only put up signs to notify people of changes on weekdays.

      1. Bob, if by this Friday, the old board-through-the-front-door-after-7 signs are still up on the RapidRide doors and ORCA readers, and there are still no notices posted at bus stops and transit centers, and there are still no messages posted inside of RR buses about Saturday’s 24/7 All Door Boarding change, will you then be willing to admit that the people who run Metro are lazy and incompetent?

      2. Everyone’s a bit lazy and incompetent. I know a guy that continues arguments from premises literally nobody has agreed to, for instance.

      3. I’ve seen entire corporations fail to notify customers of big changes, so that doesn’t really make Metro incompetent compared to, well, everyone else in the private and public sectors.

    2. Look, Sam has a point. Metro (and Sound Transit) are some of the most incompetent transit agencies when it comes to messaging.

      Assuming that the decision to extend all-door boarding was not made by some drunken councilmember on a Friday morning, why the hell were the “front door after 7” signs not removed ages ago?! It’s not like enforcement of the rule would have changed at all.

    3. Here’s some investigative reporting you can do, Sam. Find out how many buses Metro has, and how long it would take somebody to go around and put a sticker on all of them. See if it can be done in four hours on a Friday evening.

      1. Challenge transit advocates to do it in four hours, hand them a set of stickers, and set them loose. You’d have it done in two. :-)

    1. The “6 STONEWAY” was replaced by the 358 (actually 359) at least 20 yeas ago. The route of the 6 STONEWAY ran from downtown > Aurora Avenue > Stoneway > Green Lake > Aurora Avenue to 145th Street.

      1. Route 6 went away when the route 6/359/360 corridor was combined into the 358 in the Feb 99 shakeup.

        Less than 20 years ago.

        The number has never been reused.

        The “6 STONEWAY” route name convention was eliminated in 1978. Route 6, up to its last day, operated all the way to Aurora Vill on nights and Sundays, making local stops (and was horrifically slow).

      2. I still miss the old 6. I lived in downtown Fremont when it was replaced by the 358 after the 359 went off the bridge. The 6 made it possible to connect with Wallingford, Woodland Park playfields, other Green Lake recreational facilities, and points north on Aurora. The awkward upper Fremont stop that was added on Aurora above 46th did not compensate for taking away the 6. As Netro claimed it would.

      3. Yes, Nick, that post from a few years back by Bruce Nourish is an excellent example of how corridor legibility can lead to ridership growth.

        And despite Elbar’s complaints above that with the 6 gone, the utility of getting from Fremont to Lower Woodland, Green Lake, etc went away, the ridership stats showed that not only did an extremely small number of people use the 6 for these trips, but more people got more utility from the routes on this corridor after this long, slow deviation was eliminated.

        When Metro did the community outreach for this consolidation, there were very few (maybe only one) complaints about removing the Lower Woodland route segment.

        Bus routes can’t be everything to everyone. This was a lesson Metro learned here (and reaped the benefits) as well as on Delridge (ridership skyrocketed with that restructure too), but cannot point to as they prepare to rollover to ACRS on the 42.

      4. No! You don’t understand. We must have hundreds of routes along with multiple variations of each route. All routes should divert to every pocket of riders or point of interest along the way. One seat rides everywhere! No transfers! Who cares if most routes run only once every hour or two hours, at least you don’t have to transfer.

      5. @Chris: It’s possible to believe both that the E Line is a fine route that shouldn’t divert from Aurora to serve lower Fremont, and that our current transit network makes it unreasonably difficult to travel between lower Fremont and areas directly north of it along Aurora, a road that passes directly over it.

        Before dismissing these complaints by accusing people of transfer-phobia, ask, “Where would I transfer to the E Line, starting from lower Fremont?” At 105th, after going all the way west to Ballard and back on the 40? Downtown, after sitting through some interminable Mercer backup on either Westlake or Dexter? Would you walk up where you’d have previously caught the 6, take the half-hourly and circuitous 26 to Northgate, then transfer to another half-hourly route toward your destination from there? Maybe take the 5/26/28 south from 38th then cross over via the stairs at the Dexter exit? Or the 62, then walk up the ramp to that stop?

        I’ve actually done a lot of these things (sometimes with different route numbers before the 62 restructure), in addition to walking the mile or so up to 46th. They’re all sort of equally bad. This all from Fremont, which is itself a key transfer hub between local services!

      1. Wasn’t that the 358? Whichever, it was main reason I qualified on trolleys so soon. With only a year or two seniority, it was my only chance not to have to drive the damn thing.

        Badge 2495. Which I always hated because it sounded like a price-tag at Sears.

      2. The number 6 wasn’t retired. It just hasn’t been re-used. Certainly, you were able to read the above comments after translating them into Brooklynese using a translation program, and noticed that nobody said number 6 was retired.

        Your next assignment is to ride the E Line and see if all the printed materials mentioning routes 6 and 358 have been removed.

      3. The restructure was already announced and about to go into service. The newc route was going to be the 359 but then the shooting occurred and it was renumbered to 358 before service opened. I was visiting Europe at the time and heard about the shooting from afar.

  2. On link trains, why are there buttons for passengers to open the doors? Is there ever a time when the driver doesn’t open all the doors at a station?

    1. I can’t speak for the way Link trains are used, but on TriMet the trains will lay over at the end of the run at the station platform.

      Since it makes little sense to dump all the inside air onto the station platform for 10 to 20 minutes, they usually close the doors. To open the door to get into the train, so you aren’t waiting for 10 minutes in the rain, you press the button.

      1. It’s the same here. At SeaTac airport and UW stations, the Link trains wait in layover with the doors closed, but, if you push the button, the door will open for you, allowing you to wait on the train (seated), rather than on the platform (standing). During active service, the buttons do nothing.

      2. Yes, it’s a good idea to keep the doors open when the heat or A/C is running. That’s especially true at non-tunnel stations.

      3. I think this is a cultural misunderstanding from Procurement. In the entire rest of the world, those buttons don’t even need a decal of a finger pointing to every one.

        Which are definitely a good idea for LINK. We could have the 1% For the Arts go for a wide variety of decals, from white gloves to manicured nails to skeletons to bomb-sniffing brown lab paws.

        Only ST has to be alert that no artist be allowed who got either got stuck in an LINK elevator, or got to the bathroom late because they had to ride to the next station and take Rapid Ride back to Tukwila.

        Because worldwide transit practice demands that only the index finger be used.


    2. Depends on the station. I’ve pressed the button at HSS (the end of line) as the train lay in wait. No doubt in 5 years I’ll be doing the same at Northgate.

  3. Is it time to push the Board of Elections to create a Link rider drop box? Since the early numbers are about 70-80k daily boardings on Link now, it seems irresponsible to me that almost all drop box locations are all very auto-oriented – at least 2 blocks from a Link station entrance. Let’s take actions to lobby for a change to happen before the ST3 vote!


    1. I believe the set of drop locations includes places like downtown Seattle and Red Square at the UW – which don’t seem very auto-oriented to me.

      That said, I think the ultimate solution is for the department of elections to just send postage-paid return envelopes with the ballots and avoid ballot drop boxes altogether. This avoids any possible appearance of bias in choosing the locations of the drop boxes. (I’m assuming that the post office allows for a way to do this so that the county only has to pay the return postage for people who actually vote).

      1. The Downtown and UW drop locations are still not at Link stations, asdf2.

        It would make much more sense to do things like move the Rainier CC location to Mt Baker station or add a drop box at KSS or Westlake.

        The bigger point is that we need to raise this issue with the Board of Elections!

      2. Better solution: Amendment to the State Constitution specifically mandating poll voting.

        One, it fixes in citizens’ minds the difference between a ballot and a lottery ticket.

        Two, it reminds people that running a government is a matter of hands-on attention and action between neighbors- which in our country include several hundred million people.

        Three, it gives neighbors a chance at a last-minute discussion that can either confirm or change a vote.

        Four, it allows voters a chance to compare posted election results with their own sense of the actual vote.

        Five, it gives sworn public officials, like the poll judge I was last allowed to be in 2008, the first-hand chance to pass along not only the numerical information, but also the reasons for the outcome, and the mood behind the marker-stroke.

        And six, it forever removes the clear and present danger of computerized elections, which have same reason, and worse menace, than mail-in ones.

        They’re cheap. And nobody who knows computers will trust them in a race for dog-catcher. The Prime Minister of Nigeria has too many kids.

        Mark Dublin

      3. asdf2, isn’t Red Square built on top of a giant parking garage?

    2. Department of Elections is planning to add more ballot drop boxes later this year. You should contact your King County Representative with suggestions for locations. The current locations are very much oriented to people who are driving. Mt. Baker Station or Beacon Hill Station would likely be good spots for a drop box and downtown Seattle could use a couple more, too.

      Using the USPS isn’t the best means of returning a ballot. If your ballot gets delayed and it isn’t postmarked by the date of the election, it isn’t counted. But any ballot that is dropped in a ballot box or at a van by 8pm on election day is guaranteed to be counted.

    3. I drop my ballot off at Union Station. It’s right next door to International District Station. It’s also an accessible voting location.

    4. If you work downtown or can go downtown sometime, there’s a dropbox at the county administration building, around the corner from Pioneer Square Station. I drop mine off on my way to work.

  4. I’m a no vote on ST3 at this point, entirely because many of the projects don’t seem like good uses of our money. Even though I’m happy with the spending in my area, Seattle, I don’t think voting for someone else’s money to be wasted is good thing. I have two questions about how this could become something I’d vote on.
    The first question is does anyone have better plans to spend the money which would go to poor projects. For example, Link from Lynnwood to Everett is expected to cost over 4 billion dollars but only attract 40k daily riders. Does anyone have a better idea about how to spend 3-4 billion dollars in the Lynnwood to Everett area? I’m having trouble thinking of anything. That is probably too much money for more buses. Sounder North is a flop. It’s probably not enough for a new high speed rail line. Link is too slow for the distances and as we’ve seen has poor expected ridership. What would effective use of $4*10^9 look like? The same question for all the iffy projects, like Sounder to DuPont. What should that money go to? Is it even possible to do this, or are we dealing with development patterns which simply aren’t amenable to transit?
    This leads me to my second question, why do we not have the ability to tax different subareas at different rates? I’ve asked this question before, but I think it warrants asking again. If we aren’t able to come up with effective projects for a subarea, why should that subarea spend money on not effective projects? Is there a way to get ST the ability to tax at different rates?

    1. I have had this fantasy for a while of a high speed rail from Vancouver to Vancouver. The sort that has top speeds of 180mph. Then maybe the section between JBLM and Everett could be quad tracked for local which would still be time competitive with 70mph freeway, but would have enough stops to act as commuter service. $50 billion would be a good start for the section through Sound Transit’s region. Of course I have no idea if there would be a way to make that cost effective. I just like the idea.

      1. Ben, you’re right about the high-speed rail network. But you’re giving it needless limits. Vancouver, BC is good north terminal.

        But Glenn’s going to get real mad if you make him get his luggage thirty seconds north of the (architecturally great!) Greyhound station across the street from the Union one in Portland.

        Can’t deny it’ll be good to finally have a giant transfer complex in the scenic wetland where the MAX yellow line now terminates. Providing a fun old-fashioned LRV ride through the rest of the quaint old city. But better south end would be either San Diego or Mexico City.

        However, I doubt you’d get many votes from anybody inside ST’s boundaries for any plan to set today’s residential and travel patterns in cement, let alone stone. Who wants either their customer base or their job opportunities permanently confined?

        As for local income boundaries, compare present-day South Lake Union and Columbia City with the ones I last drove buses through 25 years ago. Good exercise for a vote with 25 years of future consequences.

        Right now, Sounder North provides some passenger service to a coastline otherwise isolated from the rest of the region’s network. But over next 25 years, high speed passenger ferry passengers will become rail ridership.

        Also, along with Point Defiance Cutoff, scenic train-rides could also draw a lot of tourists.

        But real potential north corridor indicator is I-5 every workday rush hour of the year. North-end passengers satisfied with present commuting speed are already walking. Coupled with another local vs. regional metric:

        One overturned fish-truck and scores of single-car accidents have recently brought several hundred miles of pavement to a sudden termination-for-lateness halt. Since we jam like a region, we might as well start to move like one.

        So better to plan with max flex for the next quarter century than try to go back to the cracked-glue outlook of the last.


      2. The big issue is the walk from the Vancouver WA station to anything with decent transit service. You can wait half an hour for the oil trains to clear the crossing between the station and everything else.

        Could be a decent station for transfers to a bunch of places if it were thought out different.

      3. I only said Vancouver instead of Portland because I like the sound of Vancouver to Vancouver. Yeah, I can easily see why it would make more sense to continue it across the river. Speaking of which, maybe by then they’ll be ready to give another go at replacing the I5 crossing.

    2. It’s never been reported how many of those 40k riders would simply get on Link at Lynnwoid if the extension isn’t built. It might be less impactful than ST is portraying.

    3. People in Snohomish County who have spoken up seem to think that the ST3 money being spent there is being well-spent. Some of them have even suggested they wish they could just vote for Everett Link, so that voters in King County aren’t forced to waste King County tax money on Ballard Link.

      Anyway, I certainly support Link to Everett, as I have seen they need a way out of congestion, too. I wish it were more along residential arterials, but the residents up there disagree. And I certainly support Ballard Link. Voting ST3 down will only delay both, or possibly kill both. There is no plan for coming back with a proposition to make Snohomish County voters pay for Ballard Link and get nothing for themselves, and there is no justification for such a plan. Nor is there a plan that pencils out to have Seattle go it alone on Ballard Link.

      As Zach reported last week, the outer subareas will help pay for the tunnel necessary for Ballard Link. Let’s take that deal and vote Yes.

      1. “People in Snohomish County who have spoken up seem to think that the ST3 money being spent there is being well-spent.”
        People in SnoCo want something slower than express buses and a few billion more expensive than a local bus network. If I know something not good, and someone asks for it thinking it good, should I give it to them and then shrug when they find out thirty years later that it isn’t good?

        “Anyway, I certainly support Link to Everett, as I have seen they need a way out of congestion, too.”
        I5 is congested but is it often slower than 30mph, the average speed of that Link segment? Asides from I5, is congestion bad there? In Seattle I can regularly beat car times on my bicycle. Could I do that anywhere in SnoCo at any time? This is why I was asking if anybody had a better idea about what to spend on. Because Link is too slow for the job.

        “Nor is there a plan that pencils out to have Seattle go it alone on Ballard Link.”
        If Seattle’s subarea can pay for Ballard->Downtown, then Seattle’s subarea does have a plan which pencils out. But I never suggested Seattle go it alone. I suggested Sound project make the best projects, then tax the benefiting subareas proportionally to cover the cost.

      2. Just think if they ran it on 99 then they’d have two north-south transit corridors. Now they are replacing their fairly good express bus trunk line with light rail in the exact same corridor.

      3. The Seattle sub-area does include Shoreline and Lake Forest Park, not just Seattle, so a Seattle-only funding source would have a smaller tax base than the Seattle sub-area of Sound Transit. I also believe (but am not sure) that Sound Transit, with its larger tax base is able to borrow money at lower interest rates than the city of Seattle is.

      4. “As Zach reported last week, the outer subareas will help pay for the tunnel necessary for Ballard Link.”

        The board hasn’t voted on it yet. So it’s not “will”, it’s “might be”. And the same for everything else regarding ST3.

    4. why do we not have the ability to tax different subareas at different rates? I’ve asked this question before, but I think it warrants asking again. If we aren’t able to come up with effective projects for a subarea, why should that subarea spend money on not effective projects? Is there a way to get ST the ability to tax at different rates?

      That would take a fundamental re-engineering of the RTA structure. Legislative action, obviously, but it’s more than that. It’s a single taxing district, which by common law means a single tax rate. The alternative would be to structure Sound Transit as multiple taxing areas, but then you’d need a majority of voters in each area to approve projects. As an Eastside voter, I can’t vote for a higher tax rate in Seattle than I apply to myself. Even the Legislature can’t get around that.

      Make Snohomish it’s own taxing area, and they can no longer count on Seattle super-majorities to approve tax increases that don’t get majority support in Snohomish too. Rail to Tacoma becomes dependent on a majority in Pierce County. And a majority in South King too, because it has to cross South King to get to Tacoma. You see how the whole thing unravels fast.

      1. Strange how even though laws are written by people for people, we are able to accidentally write ourselves into spending billions on suboptimal projects. Thanks for the informative response.

      2. I don’t have any firm ideas on the politics or implementation details of having different tax rates between the different subareas, but for me, the fundamental appeal of having different tax rates would be that different subareas vary in how much they use transit, and areas that use and want more transit should be able to buy more transit for themselves.

        If you look at the boarding numbers, King County Metro has about 63 annual boardings per King County resident, Pierce Transit has about 13.5 annual boardings per Pierce County resident, and Everett and Community Transit have about 16 annual boardings per Snohomish County Resident. If you include Sound Transit ridership, then the disparity becomes somewhat less extreme, but King County residents still use transit at about a 3x higher rate than Pierce and Snohomish County residents. My guess is that if you compare Seattle residents to suburban residents, the difference is even greater- probably a major reason that the votes for additional bus funding in 2014 succeeded in Seattle but failed in larger King County.

      3. “The alternative would be to structure Sound Transit as multiple taxing areas, but then you’d need a majority of voters in each area to approve projects. As an Eastside voter, I can’t vote for a higher tax rate in Seattle than I apply to myself. ”

        In New York State we can do exactly that. There are a dozen “special benefit districts” within my township each of which pays a higher tax specifically to fund something special (like streetlights) which existing only in that district. Voting on the existence and borders of these districts and the tax rates therein? *Done by the entire township*, not just by the potential residents of the district. The tax within the district must benefit the district, but the members of the district don’t have special voting rights over its existence.

        Your court rulings on what is possible are probably different in Washington State.

    5. >> The first question is does anyone have better plans to spend the money which would go to poor projects. For example, Link from Lynnwood to Everett is expected to cost over 4 billion dollars but only attract 40k daily riders. Does anyone have a better idea about how to spend 3-4 billion dollars in the Lynnwood to Everett area? <<

      I've asked that question before and actually got a pretty good answer. Unfortunately, I didn't copy the link. (oops). The short answer is lots and lots of little projects. One of the false assumptions about North Link is that the biggest weak link in the entire Snohomish County transit system is the lack of a dedicated line from Lynnwood to Everett. This is absurd. Most of the day (if not most days) an express bus on the HOV lanes will be faster than a train. Even if a train manages to get there faster, it still won't improve things that much. You still have to get to the train. Since very few people actually live close to a station, that means taking a bus to the train. Those buses travel some slow roads, and improving those roads would make improve things much more than improving a line that is already reasonably fast. Those buses could simply get on the freeway and go to Lynnwood.

      Hopefully someone will answer your question (again). For example, does Swift operate completely in bus lanes the entire way? If not, how much congestion does it encounter. What about Swift 2 (or 3)? I would imagine a lot of the other buses encounter congestion.

      If nothing else, you could spend it on service. Swift only operates every 12 minutes, which is pretty infrequent for BRT. At a minimum it should run every 6 minutes. Same with Swift 2. Add frequency on all the other buses as well, and you could have a pretty nice system (I would imagine).

      I would imagine North Link is the hardest area to justify the high spending. With East Link you have lots of very good BRT plans (such as the one for Kirkland here: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/11/16/kirklands-brt-design/). There are a lot of potential busways (Eastgate to downtown Bellevue or maybe I-405 to South Bellevue). With South King and Pierce County you have the potential for really good bus service as well as improvements to Sounder. All of this would enable much better end to end service than extending the spine or building Issaquah light rail.

      Which is not to say that Seattle did the right thing, either. It suffers from the same stupid philosophy (the more rail you build the better). This set of proposals (even without a new Ballard bridge) would be much better for Seattle: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/11/30/an-alternative-for-st3-with-something-for-everyone/. This (more than anything) is why I will probably vote no as well. I don't want to rule out a change of heart, because all I have to go on is a draft proposal. But since the fundamental plan is to build rail where it doesn't make sense to build it (and not build it where it would be cost effective) I will likely vote no as well.

    6. “why do we not have the ability to tax different subareas at different rates?”

      Because it’s a single tax district, and different tax rates within it would be taxing people unequally, which is unconstitutional. We can imagine a federated agency with five tax districts, each with its own election. That might also split the board, so that only members in one district can approve that district’s projects.

      So why isn’t it that way? It’s because the demand to the legislature was for regional transit, meaning across subareas. There was already Metro, Community Transit, and Pierce Transit within their counties, but they failed at inter-county service. They didn’t have the temperment nor tax base to provide this: they couldn’t fund a rail service, and even if they could\, inter-county service would be low on their priorities so it wouldn’t get done because their primary mandate was to their county. They did have the 4xx and 8xx which were unidirectional peak-only from Snoho, and the 594 was recently launched from Tacoma, but other than that you had to take the 6 to Aurora Village and transfer to whatever preceded the 101 (610?). So Sound Transit was launched, mainly to connect Lynnwood, Everett, Tacoma, Lakewood, Puyallup, Bothell, Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, and Issaquah to Seattle and to each other. So that’s what it focuses on. “Subarea equity” came late in the game; it was a side amendment to prevent Seattle from sucking up all the investment money, for those Ballard-UW rails and such. Although it turns out it doesn’t actually prohibit it; it just requires ST to disclose how much of each subarea’s money benefits the subarea.

      “Does anyone have a better idea about how to spend 3-4 billion dollars in the Lynnwood to Everett area?”

      The alternative is pretty clear. Implement the other four Swift lines and double their frequency beyond CT’s plan. Express BRT from Everett, Mukilteo, and Edmonds to Lynnwood. That Paine Field loop. Then you could throw in a streetcar or two somewhere around Lynnwood or Everett. Or lower the budget, because the issue is how many buses does Snoho need for effective transit, not how can we spend exactly $3-4 billion.

      I don’t think Link beyond Lynnwood or Des Moines is necessary. But I don’t oppose it either, because:
      (A) it’s how you get to a majority deal in the single tax district. A few transit fans voting no because inefficiency, is not the median voter. Martin makes this case in the last podcast.
      (B) it’s Snoho’s money to spend how it wants. It’s not the place for a Seattlite to tell Snoho where to spend their money. It’s Snohomish County activists who have standing to say that.
      (C) a seamless regional train network is a good thing in the long run, even if it costs excessively to build it. A much bigger waste is all those SOVs on I-5 and 405 and the infrastructure for them.

    7. “The same question for all the iffy projects, like Sounder to DuPont.”

      That’s not iffy because it has larger significance than DuPont. It serve JBLM better than Lakewood does I’m told; and that’s thousands of people who could take transit. It’s also partway toward Olympia; and several people from diverse quarters have argued for Seattle-Olympia Sounder eventually. That would require expanding the ST district or a bilateral agreement with the state or Intercity Transit (to fund the Thurston County part). I’d prefer the latter to avoid an influx of exurban anti-tax No voters that might tip the balance. In any case, the issue is not ripe yet because neither the state nor Thurston County is ready to move on it yet. But extending Sounder to DuPont prepares for it, and also makes the interim gap shorter.

      1. I’m sorry the people got hurt. But could just as easily-or more- have been a car as a bike.

        Serious personal prejudice: I think that of all wheeled machinery, including trucks, private cars relate the worst to everything else on the same pavement. Whether on wheels or in cross-training shoes.

        I think streetcars have a much better record, at least in places where people grow up listening for bells and noticing their own distance from outsides of cars.


        And also how to deal with grooved rail from the first time they get on a bicycle.


      1. Right. Next you’re going to try to tell me that Sound Transit didn’t overpay when it spent $858,379 for a couple of cakes from Safeway and some confetti for the opening of UW and CH stations. Even the Pentagon is like, they spent almost a million dollars for a two cakes??

    1. King5 has updated its story. I offer my condolences to the family of the deceased biker, and all others involved.

    1. That list of incoherent sentence fragments is one person’s views. I’m not sweating yet.

    2. Thanks for alerting the population to this horror, Glenn! Though worst thing about it personally is that it’s so long I probably wrote it. English departments don’t like to talk about this is that there’s always been a fair amount of sleep-writing.

      In addition to writing that puts the reader to sleep, such as every single text-book in the world, which considering their price in relation to their value are doubtless sold by the pound.

      Because monster movies were so much better with acting rather than special effects, the “Frankenstein” script writers would never have had to write anything that long for the pitch-fork scene. We’re not talking about an Ayn Rand speech here.

      Also, the torchlight mob violence was somewhat tempered by the kindly old Burgomeister who was a standard character in movies ending with “Zere are some sings dot Mankind vas never meant to know!” (lightning, thunder, wolf-howl, organ music, cast of characters.)

      However, since a Burgomeister was something like a mayor, would be great to give Ed Murray some scenes dressed in leather pants, a hat with a feather in it, a German mustache and a beautiful curved meerschaum pipe.

      But the length of this piece leads me to believe it was actually written on a single-seat ride from Metro Transit’s early days. However, with the best route and schedule structure in the world, main single-seat problem is number of buses finally arriving in, or leaving, the same place at same time.

      The “Wall of Buses” creeping southbound down Third Avenue so they could get on northbound I-5 at Cherry Street was not legendary ancient civil engineering in China.


    1. I’d also go criminal if I was exiled to the suburbs;)
      But seriously, do you have a decent idea about how to reduce poverty?

      1. Ben, few months ago, The Times had a banner article about fact that none of the pillars holding up I-5 from Ravenna to Boeing Field is up to earthquake standards.

        And also, by bus or car, notice ride quality provided by most of our streets. And I suspect the more you know about large structure, the less you want to either use it or be under it.

        Or flush it. Or if it’s coming out of your tap, drink it.

        So: Local, county, State, National…the Earth’s natural forces like water, wind, wear, and ice, added to plate tectonics, are giving us an unparalleled supply of work that’ll be very well-paid with moderate dose of unions.

        Without one ounce of stimulus wet by a single drop of Liberal coronary blood.

        Whatever the income bracket in Oakland during when our Viaduct’s twin gave us a reminder, doubt the rescue dogs- who really did get depressed trying to save day-old dead people- could read a tax return.

        Sooner or later, considering Seattle-area income bracket, with every paw-scratch and whine the dogs will be failing to find equally dead people with much higher incomes. Let alone being able to swipe a rescued credit card held in their teeth.

        But this year, you can help. Tell your local Democrats to overcome their fear of Franklin Roosevelt. And put in for Republican precinct committeeman to help rebuild the party that formed Metro Transit, but is now in worse repair than the average highway bridge in Washington State.

        And Sam….crime really does move to the suburbs, but also hate to live next door to poor people. Like Bill Gates, for instance. So don’t let the Medellin Cartel chief who just moved in next door get hold of your tax returns.


  5. I’m curious how Metro re-assigned articulated buses after the restructure. Presumably a lot of articulated buses were freed up from the old 71/72/73 routes. I’m guessing many of them went to the 62, and the 372 seems to have pulled from the cancelled 66/68 (and to the detriment of the new 67) but it does seem that a surprisingly low amount have been used to bolster the 65, 75, and 67.

    1. There aren’t enough articulated buses to go around so Metro assigns them to where the greatest overcrowding is. Metro’s budget was essentially frozen between 2000 and 2008; it only had enough to maintain operations. Then the recession hit and it was planning for cuts. Then suddenly the economy improved and Seattle passed Prop 1 expansions. That didn’t give Metro enough time to buy and deploy more articulated buses. Last time around the 11 got single buses and they were overcrowded, so Metro promised to give it articulated buses this time, plus the Capitol Hill restructure was expected to add riders to the 11 (especially when the 10 was moved off Pine), so with this and that and the other the 11 got articulated buses. Now Metro has said the 62 has gotten unexpected crowding so it directed some articulateds there. I can’t say about crowding the 65, 67, and 75. But I can say that I observe that the 75 midday seems to alternate between articulated and single, and when I took the 11 Saturday afternoon it was a single bus and standing room only.

  6. The mention of being sensitive to noise at the 15 minute mark in the video is laughable. It has gotten so bad that you need to plug your ears at parts. There have been some small improvements, but is still a pretty awful aural experience going through Transbay tubes.

    1. Yeah, the whole thing is really interesting to watch from 50 years’ distance. The noise in the Transbay Tube is appalling.

      I love the part where the narrator says that using a wider gauge “seems bizarre.” Um, that’s because it is. That decision has really screwed BART, making it a lot more expensive to buy new cars than it ought to be. It also prevents interoperability and makes system expansion even more expensive.

      Ultimately, this does a great job of showing that the theory behind BART was to graft a “modern” rapid transit system onto the emerging low-density sprawl patterns of the postwar Bay Area. Rather than question the sprawl, they questioned existing mass transit systems like the New York subway. BART was designed to support sprawl, and that explains many of the decisions that made the system what it is today.

      And even though many of those decisions were bad ones (like a wider gauge), the system is still a workhorse that carries huge numbers of riders, and without it the Bay Area would have been screwed.

      1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Track_gauge

        Robert, as wiki article points out, broad gauge has always been associated with stability. Recalling the general outlook of the early 1960’s, BART engineers undoubtedly saw their work as the first step in the eventual broadening of track gauge nationwide or farther.

        And in a lot else. Of all the considerable damage the Viet Nam war caused this country, the 180 degree reverse in our national state of mind is the worst and longest-lasting. 1963 saw a future of constantly more beneficial technology in public works.

        By 1973,certain future of inevitable nuclear war was succeeded by Mel Gibson driving a rusted out oil tanker around Australia, which eventually led to years of zombie apocalypses. Which were bad enough with just Conquest, War, Famine, and Death.

        They probably already had zombies in the cultures unwillingly relocated to Haiti a thousand years later. But clerical scholars from Greece and future Turkey early-on ascertained that these creatures would not only fall off a horse, but fall apart the minute they got on.

        Rough operation and loud noise is always the last warning machinery gives you after the rest of your gauges have gone dead from deferred maintenance. Smell of burning metal also excellent indicator.

        The absence of which makes the failure of a digital system undetectable ’til it happens.
        Reason I’ll only go for automatic cars when Lyft goes to 1951 Chevvies. With furry dice hanging from the rear-view mirror instead of mustaches on the front bumper.

        Which could be used by single-owner demolition companies for a battering ram. And which a future-oriented public also knew would soon result in a car that was all chrome and fins. Which actually did become a Boeing 707.


      2. Yeah seems to me we need a mass transit system that supports less urban sprawl.

      3. Actually, I’ve been told by one of the insiders that in the early days Southern Pacific was asked for advice about certain things with BART. SP was the one that suggested broad gauge. Supposedly they did this specifically to prevent BART from trying to operate on any SP trackage. (At that time some sections of the older transit lines also had freight service, as the FRA hadn’t become so restrictive on intermixing services on the same line.)

        Unfortunately, if true, that will never be able to be proven since none of those involved would have left traces of this plan.

      4. I have heard the Transbay Tube noise ever since I first took BART in 1987. Did the engineers not realize it would happen? Why has nothing ever been done about it? Is a loud noise on trains supposed to be acceptable?

      5. I was once told by a BART planner about the noisy door saga. In the late 80’s or early 90’s, BART replaced the doors since old ones were often failing meaning trains could not leave the station until the door was manually closed. Although BART wrote in minimum standards for noise, the winning bidder’s doors did not meet the standards upon installation. By that time, BART was so desperate to get new doors on cars that they decided not to stop the procurement – and thus the car noise got worse because the new doors were built cheaply and not to the noise standards.

      6. That sounds right, Al S. Keep in mind that by the late 1960s BART was over budget thanks to the nationwide inflation spurred by the Vietnam War. So a bunch of corners got cut, and the doors were one of them.

        You can also see some of the other corners that were cut in the video. They show an artistic rendering of the MacArthur station that bears little resemblance to the functional but barebones concrete platform that is there now.

        As to the Transbay Tube noise, this article from last summer indicated that track replacement in the Tube would reduce some of it. But I haven’t been on BART through the Transbay Tube since then, so I’d be curious if it actually did help.

      7. My understanding is that BART’s planners/designers thought that railroads were old fashioned and outmoded, so they wanted to create a very different system. That led to broad gauge, among other things.

        Another terrible decision was making the system two track rather than four track, with almost no turnback tracks and no passing tracks. BART was never going to need extra tracks–it was so well built that trains would never break down! BART riders experience delays daily because of that decision.

        BART is critical to the Bay Area, but it could have been better. BART is a weird hybrid of urban metro and commuter railroad. BART is now trying to focus more on the metro part of its system, but management must constantly worry about the suburban faction on its (elected) board.

      8. I have heard the Transbay Tube noise ever since I first took BART in 1987. Did the engineers not realize it would happen? Why has nothing ever been done about it?

        Is this the high pitched scream sound that increases and decreases with the speed of the train?

        There are an awful lot of transit cars out there with this issue. You will notice that an awful lot of full size railroad passenger cars lack this issue.

        If the noise is what I think you are talking about, the cause is the reliance on disk brakes. If you rely 100% on disk brakes, the wheel surface itself develops small flat spots and at higher speeds this makes an awful racket.

        Tread brakes, where the brake shoe contacts the wheel surface itself, don’t do this as the brake shoe wears away the surface of the wheel slightly during braking, and helps keep the wheels round.

        On full size railroad cars they decided that this, plus a number of other issues solved by using the wheel surface as part of the brake system, would mean that tread brakes would be retained on cars with disk brakes, but the tread brake would only be used for a portion of the braking force (something like 20% I think?).

        On transit cars there is a lot less space, so most of them don’t do this. It really should be done. It means a bit of extra cost on the cars, but imagine how much more welcoming line side residents would be to rail transit if that noise weren’t there.

      9. BART has massive wheel screech going around corners. *This is because of the idiotic cylindrical wheels.* BART is finally, now, ordering new cars with normal conical wheels. Reinventing the wheel was easily the dumbest move by the BART engineers.

        The BART engineers were arrogant assholes who didn’t want to listen to anyone who knew anything about designing railway systems. They were airplane engineers! They could do better! So they made a bunch of truly moronic decisions. The signal system is also a disaster since it does not follow fail-safe principles; they sort of patched it up, but it’s still basically defective in design. WMATA uses the same signal system and did not patch it up, resulting in one of its disasters recently.

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