Looking Across the Mukilteo Station Bridge

This is an open thread.

76 Replies to “News Roundup: Happy 40th”

  1. It would be nice if they could extend the Lander overpass over Link tracks and put in a bus transit hub by 5th similar to what Northgate has. Currently there are too many route stops spread out to far.

  2. So, the Eyman initiative is to roll-back the ST3 MVET, and eliminate tolls on 405 and 167…doesn’t that already violate the single-subject rule?

    1. It does and I’m sure he knows that. His plan is just like the previous initiatives. Extract money from donors that are unable to realize they are just donating to his scams. He’ll spend a fraction of their donations on the initiative, then split the rest between himself and his next one that is setup to fail.

      Remember, he doesn’t actually intend for these things to go into effect. Even when asked about the prior $30 car tab measure, he claims lack of support, but the courts threw it out (see he didn’t say that because he doesn’t want new donors to realize he’s scamming them this way). Honestly I don’t feel bad for the people who donate to him or sign his measures, since a fool will always be separated from his/her money.

      I do think he’s annoying in that he wastes resources in the legislature and in the courts, but I don’t fear that his measures will ever actually be enacted. Still would be nice not to see government money thrown out the window every time.

    2. It raises years of uncertainty because even if the initiative is unconstitutional, the legislature might implement the same policies itself out of fear of getting reelected, the same as it did with initiative 601 and how it self-censors its own programs (even for constitutionally-required education). It’s also interesting how if Eyman can’t prevent Snohomish County from voting for ST3, he’ll resort to Clark County and Spokane Valley voters to try to gut it.

    3. Yep, like Jon says – never forget that Tim Eyman is not in the business of changing laws, he’s in the business of promoting initiatives. It makes no difference whether Eyman’s initiatives pass, fail, or die in court so long as people keep donating money to his campaigns, because that’s what pays his salary.

  3. Information request: Do Metro buses have voice announcements at every stop, or just the major ones? What information is announced for each stop? What is displayed on the screen? Do you find the stop announcements annoying?

    1. Metro now announces every stop in an effort to comply with the ADA. I think this change happened fairly recently. If you find them annoying, imagine how annoying it would be for sight-impaired passengers to constantly have to ask where the bus is.

      The stop name is announced at all stops (usually just the cross-street, but sometimes both street names), and major destinations are also announced at their nearest stops – 4th and Spring, for example, gets ‘Seattle Central Library’ in its announcement. I don’t know how the information in each stop announcement is decided, but I find they usually make sense to me.

    2. 20 years ago, there were still a few TriMet drivers that would say each cross street. I think they had started the habit on the streetcar lines and just kept at it.

      1. …..so this type of system isn’t necessarily a recent development, but a return to how to things used to operate.

        Except, in those days, there wasn’t a speaker to amplify the sound.

    3. I like them, especially at night when residential stops all look the same (dark) or I’m on a bus route new to me. After awhile though, I do tend to ignore the voice and concentrate on the visual.

    4. It’s surprising how much people have gotten used to the automated stop announcements. When they started last year, many people were afraid they’d be too distracting; you’d be jarred from your book or nap every two minutes and it would make riding the bus unpleasant. But they just blend into the background.

      It helps that they’re not loud like Chicago’s. But Chicago’s are one-word: “Cicero”, “Addision”, so they’re short and sweet.

      Two things from Chicago I wish Metro would adopt are better multimodal transfer annoucements and route maps at bus stops. “Belmont. Transfer to Red Line and Brown Line trains at Belmont.” That makes it easy to transfer even if you’re a visitor. The overhead sign also says something like “Belmont; Red+Brown Line”. Metro sometimes announces Link stations, sometimes not, uses inconsistent wrording, or just says “University of Washington Link Station” as if everybody knows what Link means.

      The route maps are simplified: just the major streets and turns, and every El transfer. Somebody complained earlier about Metro’s light rail icon next to the route number on bus stop signs. The icon means “there’s a Link station somewhere along the route.” The complaint was that the station may be in the other direction or at the far end of the line, and it may miss a closer station. Well, if there’s a route map it clarifies where the station is.

      1. On streetcars in Gothenburg, automated system, display and voice, give both approaching stop, and stop after that.

        Having done radio in high school, I was comfortable with the PA, and passengers didn’t mind my use of it.

        However, Metro gave as much PA training as was necessary to turn it on. PA, trains, or cars, many things are automated that would work better with humans trained to run them.

        Honest balance sheet might show above result doesn’t pencil out.


      2. All in all, I think the automated stop announcements on the Metro buses are mostly acceptable, while those on the Sound Transit routes operated by Metro are horrible. For some reason, Sound Transit buses crank the volume way way compared to Metro buses, and the announcements are much longer in duration. For example, it should not take over 10 seconds to announce Yarrow Point Freeway Station, but it does. Sound Transit also adopts the practice of repeating about every other stop announcement twice (why, I have no idea), which doubles the annoyance factor.

        Fortunately, I have since discovered that sitting near the back of the bus avoids the worst of the problems, as the speakers the announcements come out of tend to be clustered towards the front of the bus.

        With Metro, I think the announcements should cover just the stop name, not destinations. The practice of deciding what destinations to include is inherently subjective and arbitrary, and Metro’s choices to include destinations like “Social Security” and “Work Source” convey a subliminal message that riding the bus is for poor people, rather than everyday people. Trying to announce every possible destination in the U-district for Montlake Freeway Station is flat-out impossible.

        The purpose of the announcements is to allow a visually impaired person to know when to get off. There is usually no information about how to reach the announced destinations one you get off the bus anyway, so the destination announcements are still effectively useless for anyone that hasn’t done his/her homework ahead of time.

      3. “Metro’s choices to include destinations like “Social Security” and “Work Source” convey a subliminal message that riding the bus is for poor people”

        It’s omitting private companies because of endoresement and favoritism issues, so what’s left is public and government facilities that skew toward poor people. It only announces private entities if they’re so big they can’t be ignored, like malls and stadiums and Boeing.

      4. I find it very helpful when some drivers, of their own accord, mention transfer points when making stop announcements. The auto announcements don’t do that, unfortunately.
        As auto announcements go, the one I find super annoying is the somnambulent voice on the First Hill street car.

      5. With the huge number of peak-only routes in the system, automated announcements of transfer points of all route might actually do more harm than good. I can just picture in my mind the voice on the 44 calling out “transfer to the 63, 64, 76, 301, 316, 355, 512, 661, 810, 821, 855, 860, 871, and 880” every time the bus crosses I-5, at all hours of the day.

        That said, announcing a transfer opportunity that exists in the frequent, all-day network does seem reasonable, as long as it’s quick. The New York subway briefly calls out “transfer to the X, Y, and Z lines” before each station, and I think that sets a reasonable precedent.

        On the other hand, reminding everybody that King St. Station is “served by Amtrak and Sounder” is just useless noise. You can’t ride either Amtrak or Sounder without doing your homework in advance (and in the case of Amtrak, buying the tickets), so anybody planning to connect to either service will already know that King St. Station is what they want. (Nor would anybody relying on the announcements know that the Amtrak and Sounder are at completely different parts of King St. Station with completely different entrances).

        Similarly, listing all the government destinations at each stop is also useless noise. The corner of 8th/106th is a good example of this. Right in the middle of downtown Bellevue, the one destination the system decides to call out is “social security”. Better to just not call out anything except the cross-streets of the bus stop.

      6. Announcing route numbers is of questionable benefit even it’s only all-day routes. The New York example is subway lines, not bus routes. Subway lines are always frequent, form a simplified network that people can memorize or carry a postcard map in their pocket, probably go where you’re going, and have a lot more passengers than a bus route. Chicago announces transfers to el lines on both the el and buses, but does not announce bus routes. If you’re on the 44, what good is it to announce the 28? There’s not much on it so only people who live there would want it and they already know where it is. If you’re a visitor, “28” doesn’t say anything about where it goes, and you’d have to consult a complicated 100-route map to decide if it’s relevant to you. The subways in New York and Chicago function like our RapidRide network is supposed to, so there’s the key. Announce a few strategic routes, not all of them. Since the RapidRide network is incomplete (there’s nothing in the east half of the city) you’d have to add some other routes like the 44 and 48. But Metro’s long-term plan does have a four-level graduation: Rapid (26 routes), Frequent (15 min), Express (all-day expresses which don’t exist much yet), and Local (30-60 minute). So you could announce just the Rapid routes and future Rapid routes. Maybe add the Express and Frequent routes if they’re not too many.

      7. The practice of deciding what destinations to include is inherently subjective and arbitrary,

        Subjective, sure but not necessarily arbitrary. A driver might notice that people aiming for a certain destination are prone to miss it (perhaps because that destination draws a population who haven’t been there before), and therefore start calling it out. That’s not arbitrary, it’s just good customer service.

      8. Actually, even some bus routes are announced in the NYC bus system. Mostly they’re the Select Bus Service and bus routes to LaGuardia (which isn’t served by the subway), but they *are* announced.

        The non-NYCT services are also announced as “connections”–so Penn Station is announced as “Connection is available to Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit, and Amtrak.”

  4. Aarhus in Denmark is setting up to do a “light rail” (what we would call light rail cars only they operate over the main line for much of the distance there) line that is similar in length to Link to Everett.

    Their cars will have toilets though.

    1. The official website has a table of travel times (in Danish, but it’s obviously in minutes). Seems to be a small improvement over the existing local railway, but generally pretty slow over the full distance.

    2. Is that really three lines covering different parts of the same street with no overlap? That looks worse than the 11 and 12 on Madison which at least overlap somewhat. Or is it an illusion of the map, and people don’t really want to travel between lines 1, 2, and 3 in a straight line.

    1. The Renton ST3 was still a good article! Pity they didn’t get behind light rail earlier. Maybe they were counting on the high capital BRT, and so had to pivot late. Would have been nice to at least get the Burien-Renton light rail corridor EIS fully funded in ST3.

  5. I have to send a huge thanks to the Washington State GOP. By putting out their policy which is so far from reality, they’re making it that much harder for Trump to even get votes in this state, let alone actually succeed in winning here.

    So thank you GOP! By sticking your heads into the sand, your hastening your own demise.

    1. I guess we’ll find out in November if the people within the Sound Transit area agree with the GOP or not.

      1. Not all votes against ST3 are against transit. Some will be against ST3. I’m most likely planning to vote no because spending money on LRT to West Seattle (where BRT would be better), Issaquah (where you can’t even keep buses full), Everett (especially Paine field), and Tacoma does not sound like a good investment to me. There is no project that directly benefits me and I’m fine with a delay of the few good projects in ST3 given all the bad (particularly since it’s not like we’ll get anything in the next year or two).

      2. Compared to the rest of the country, we don’t have to worry. Donald Trump and the American people will have Republican leadership to thank for any victory of his. Along with results of that.

        Same for Republican leadership here in Washington. Which side actually has voting majority in Washington if they vote? Which Trump-party win will assure opposing side all vote next time.

        Remember how many terms Mr. Obama’s party held Congress? Half of one? Will teach people Presidency may not be election that matters.

        Over last 40 years, Republican right has proven one thing: Political victory goes to whoever gives the less of a crap what anybody else thinks about anything.


  6. I’d like to know more about this “war on cars”. As a pedestrian (fully obeying the WAC, RCW and SMC of course), I almost get run over/killed by cars a few times a week, sometimes daily. As a pedestrian, I can’t think of a time I ever put a car in danger. Maybe pedestrians are making strides killing cars elsewhere, but my personal battles in the “war on cars” are not going well.

    1. As a pedestrian, I “caused” a car accident once. I was crossing in a marked crosswalk and a car was speeding down the road. Seeing the car, I stopped crossing before I got to their lane. Finally seeing me in the middle of the road, they slammed on their brakes and stopped just short of the crosswalk. The car tailgating them didn’t stop fast enough and rear-ended the front car. I continued on unscathed.

      So that’s my part of the war on cars accomplished.

      1. Third car could have rear-ended both of them and all three blown up. Best to take few seconds needed to consider all possibilities. In any war, lots of casualties can’t even be identified.


      2. When I’m crossing an unsignalized intersection, I will look up at oncoming traffic. There is usually a gap between vehicle clusters, and it’s easy to just wait a few seconds for that gap to come by. Presto. An easy crossing without drama.

        Yes, sometimes there are no gaps to be seen in which case yes, you have to step off the curb and force a car to stop. But not every time.

      1. (article describes streets closing to automobiles in Paris. Some are permanent and others are monthly. The usual protests are made.)

  7. 1. Don’t want to bother Joint Base Lewis McChord, but need info about “Close Air Support.” Meaning that if you’ve got an entire freeway system packed with enemy vehicles that can’t move, what’s maximum you need to kill everybody in your gun-sights? True, survival means be on rapid transit. But suck it up, guys. Unless you’re motorized French surrender-monkeys, (See pro-Gulf War rhetoric), gotta face that war is Hell!

    2. GOP points our another real safety hazard. Dozens of Planned-Parenthood opponents can be killed any minute by a Republican legislator whose automatic goes off in his pants pocket while speeding to a vote to make it illegal to use Medicare funds to treat gunshot wounds from legally-carried weapons. State Police “Emphasis Patrols” should ticket LINK passengers for distracting gunshot-wounded traffic-trapped Republican legislators as their train roars by.

    3. Might note, Jon, that after the State Supreme Court swiftly handed Tim Eyman’s head to the State Legislature and a Democratic Governor on a plate, they immediately pulled the apple out of his mouth and sewed it back on, complete initiative language, lifetime career of wrecking State government and all. Gulf-War or otherwise, not every Surrender Monkey was French.

    4. Thanks, Glenn. Karlsruhe, Germany has had these for years, running both streets and main tracks. http://www.railway-technology.com/projects/karlsruhe/ Pretty much what we need between Everett and Tacoma. But while they’ve cut back their bistro cars to special-event service, our voters deserve them every day, to make up for the decades of transit-building delay that dwarf 25 years.

    5. Sorry I didn’t find out about the law ’til it was too late, or I would have organized a campaign to force our Senators and Congressmen to take back every dime of Federal money we got for the Waterfront Streetcars (we barely squeaked out of a much-deserved penalty for eleven years of mothballing transit the Feds paid for.) City, county, Seattle Art Museum and Waterfront Project officials didn’t have to be Republican to destroy a fortune’s worth of irreplaceable transit.

    6. Anybody want to help me get a double-tracked Waterfront car-line with a subway tunnel to South Lake Union? (10th-floot archives Downtown Library. Detailed plan by Downtown Seattle Transit Project Engineering team.) Worth it just to spite the arrogance and plain bad faith with which so much invaluable public capital was literally faded out of Project plans from one rendering to another. Chief designer told me he never heard of George Benson. I like bananas just fine, but can’t say “Ook! Ook! Ook! in French.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I’m in on 6. Pulling the benson bell as a kid is probably what set me on my course to reading this blog regularly. And ever since finding out the battery tunnel will be filled with Bertha tunnel spoils, I’ve been trying to figure out a better fate for it.

  8. Here’s the video of the 80 year old woman being attacked. Some say that other passengers didn’t help her, that they just sat and watched it happen, and then when the driver opened the bus doors, they ran away. That’s what some have said.

    1. Sam, I’m not being sarcastic at all saying thank you for these last two comments. I am losing patience with the ongoing political quarrel between proponents two absolutely compatible modes of transit. But that’s not the point.

      And neither is how smoothly I’ve seen bike tires and grooved rail, and their operators, share very narrow street space in three other countries.

      Side-note is that over same history, in every country automobiles were notorious for the amount of terror and death they caused. Especially in combination with previously well-understood and always-terribly-dangerous vehicular horses.

      And from what I’ve seen with wheeled vehicles in general, streetcars are the most comfortable fit for pedestrians and cyclists. While private automobiles lead the ticket, even above trucks, for the absolute worst.

      But my point is that after more than fifty years without street rail, we now have to re-learn the skills, reflexes, and habits that went away with the streetcars. And also, in this country, with bicycles. Meaning that as cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians, we now need some fast refreshment-training.

      Is there any bike-and-streetcar training in the schools? For our own fixed rail division, how well does any driver reading this think the company is teaching them how to drive with bikes in your lane? And for cyclists, what organized training are you getting?

      I think that ST and Metro, SPD, and Emergency Medics should to share regular and frequent public events. Would be good for riders – and tramway drivers- from the rest of the grooved rail world to be on the event team. This isn’t ideology. It’s machine-operating safety, which can be taught and learned. As a budget item, saves much more than it costs.

      Mark Dublin

    2. Anybody know what transit system? Seats don’t look like Metro or ST. Driver gets credit for lack of crash. Also for staying at her radio while being attacked. After getting the coach over safely, really most important defensive measure.

      Route, run, coach number, location and direction of travel! Visible weapon? Firearm, specify. That much is enough to save some lives, even if not yours. Very often, police listen to scanners. And will already be headed in to stop trouble, including the one they just saw get on your bus.

      Lady driver also should get the Congressional for bravery putting up resistance she did considering size, strength, and rage of the attacker. She could have gotten away a second or two sooner, but hesitated to leave the victim.

      Battery-disable showed both professional knowledge and either very cool head or training good enough to have it “take over” without a thought. As every citizen should have, whatever their work.

      The other passengers? Video doesn’t show their size, likely strength, or real number. Though there seemed to be ‘way too little movement when the attack first came down. Let alone during the worst of it. And to me, this is most critical thing in the whole event.

      Five or six high school students of either gender should be able to at least make him stop hitting the lady. Especially if they’re in good physical condition with enough martial arts to fall or get thrown fracture free. And all possible ways to not fight fair.

      Along with calm, unthinking awareness, including not only of possible danger, but people around you, friends or strangers, who’ll reflexively join you to save that poor woman. Including how to fight as a coordinated group.

      Even better reason than walking into the side of a train to save texting while wearing earphones for when you’re home alone with the door locked.

      The mass-defense reaction is already in us from the monkeys, including small light vervets a dozen of whom would literally have ripped that guy to shreds. Speed and mass screeching, also help, even without razor sharp teeth. Vervets can also probably be trained to clear airways, stop bleeding, and stabilize fractures ’til Medic 1 arrives.

      Which should all be first half hour of phys. ed from preschool on, every day. And all of above being first move in any “gun control” program or legislation. Incident shown is always possible. And effective physical response always necessary.

      But in that video, only use for a hand-gun would be to make sure the chamber is empty and break the attacker’s nose with it. For which the edge of a plastic notebook also works. Too bad nobody carries a folded newspaper anymore. Easy to have enough control not to kill the victim with either.

      Like with transit, though: System and citizens who both need and finance it have to be ready to pay taxes for all that training. For civic life and public school too. 24-7-365. Before anybody is really a citizen “Good to Go.”

      Mark Dublin

  9. It seems unfortunate that the planned light rail lines do not provide time competitive connections between distant destinations, Everett and Seattle for example. I would guess it is technically feasible to design light rail vehicles with a higher top speed, but it is my understanding that the long trip times are largely a function of the number of stops. What we would really need are express trains with fewer stops. It seems like it would be possible to run express trains on longer routes by installing crossovers which allowed a preceeding local route to be passed by briefly traveling in the opposite direction’s track, allowing for express service on the planned two track infrastructure. Clearly the timing would have to be pretty precise, but variable speed could be use to compensate for small offsets. The potential fundamental flaw is that in such a system is that a mistake could lead to a horrific head on collision between trains traveling in opposite directions, but the right control systems should be able to mitigate the risk. I’m curious what those with more knowledge on rail operations think. Is the opposing track ever used for passing?

    1. The main reason it takes a long time, is because it’s a long distance. If you run trains that skip stops, you’re also skipping a lot of the utility of the line. Would there be enough ridership between the express stops to fill a train decently?

      You could possibly run with multiple stopping patterns on a two track line, but as you pointed out, you would need precise scheduling; any deviation from the schedule could lead to cascading delays. The proper way to do express trains is to add express tracks, like they do in New York, Paris and Chicago.

    2. What we would really need are express trains with fewer stops

      What you’re describing is really not compatible with the rail system that ST hopes to (and, God-willing, will be refused the mandate to) build. Link is a Rapid Transit system. These systems tend to dedicate specific tracks to frequent service in particular directions, and have fixed stations at which all trains call (or, in the case of really advanced systems like New York’s, a 2-tier system of “express” and “local” stations).

      As you’ve noticed, these kinds of systems have trouble scaling out over the immense low-density distances that ST is trying to stretch them to. Commuter rail is a much more applicable pattern to serve the region which ST insists on serving with rapid transit. Commuter rail is much more flexible (passing tracks, station service that varies on a per-train basis, level crossings rather than full grade separation) and is much more appropriate for serving the Puget Sound’s suburbs and satellite cities.

    3. Other people will have to comment on whether it’s technically and legally possible to switch between tracks like that. My worry is that it wouldn’t scale- maybe it could work with 15 minute headways, but you’d have much less room for error with 3 minute or less headways.

      Secondly, if light rail isn’t time competitive for long distance trips, that’s an argument against building light rail across long distances.

      Thirdly, in your example of a long distance trip, you’re making an implicit error that undermines your premise. “Seattle” isn’t a destination”. Northgate, Roosevelt, the U-DIstrict, the UW, Capitol Hill, Downtown, Pioneer Square, the International District, Stadium, Sodo, Beacon Hill, Mount Baker, Columbia City, Othello, and Rainier Beach stations are all close to some destinations. Even the least used of those stations averages 1000-2000 boardings a day. If you skip stops, you’re making it harder for people to reach their destinations. Arguably we should have even more stops on Link- First Hill and northeast Capitol Hill Hill stations would have been extremely useful.

    4. We have commuter rail connecting between the three major cities – Everett, Seattle, and Tacoma. Seattle-Bellevue will be 20 minutes on light rail with only 3 stops “in the way” between downtowns. If we built express service between downtowns, how is that different than Sounder? They are different kinds of transit, and we should invest in both. But Link won’t, and shouldn’t, be time competitive with Sounder (or Express buses)

      1. Both local and express trains can easily be kept on schedule. As long as there’s absolutely nothing unscheduled in their way for their whole route.


    5. The kind of trains ST purchased are limited to 55 mph. The same brand trains can run at 60-65ish if it’s in the design spec. Heavy rail like BART runs at 85, and commuter rail like Sounder often runs at 79, 90, or higher. But both the train and the track have to be designed for the target speed.

      Sounder’s problem is that it meanders (Auburn/Buyallup detour) or runs where there’s no population (the north sound coast). Other cities built their population centers along existing rail lines and they evolved into commuter rail or rapid transit. We have some old cities along convenient rail lines (e.g., Kent and Auburn), and actually statewide there are mainline tracks to all the largest cities (Tri-Cities, Spokane, Wenatchee, and I think Ellensburg) so we could run Cascades-like service to all of them. But other suburbs were built along freeways that as far as I know never had rail (Federal Way), or the major boulevards bypass historic rails (the Interurban went via downtown Lynnwood, not highway 99). And in other cases the historic rails aren’t very helpful, such as Seattle-Renton-Bellevue-Woodinville which is the long way around and bypasses the Redmond/Overlake jobs area. My theory is that Seattle was too small in the 1940s when car mania hit; it wasn’t large enough or dense enough to require keeping commuter rail so it was obliterated, and then development occurred without regard to where the rail rights of way were.

      1. Just think if ST had elected to build a heavy rail system…

        Why was LRT chosen again?

      2. Because it can run on the surface with intersections, which lowers capital costs. Link was originally intended to have a lot more surface segments such as Mt Baker to SeaTac, because that’s what all the American light rail systems before it had. But as the lines were designed people said they wanted it faster or they didn’t want their streets torn up, and they forced it underground or elevated. Downtown to UW was always going to be underground after it was moved off I-5/Eastlake, so the first neighborhood after that was Tukwila. It didn’t want trains or construction on 99 because it had just beautified the road, so it forced it elevated and just crossing the road and that also lost Southcenter Station. Rainier Valley asked for a tunnel but was told the flat valley didn’t require one. Roosevelt was going to have an elevated station at the freeway but successfully lobbied to get an underground station in the neighborhood center. After that, engineering determined it was cheaper to remain underground till 95th rather than weave around the freeway supports. After the initial segment opened, people saw how slow MLK was and they didn’t want that, so they got ST2 fully grade separated at one point. But then Bellevue wanted its downtown tunnel and asked ST to economize, so it reverted to surface in parts of Bel-Red and Overlake but is still 90% grade separated. So that’s how we got a mode that was supposed to be inexpensive on the surface but is instead mostly grade-separated and expensive like heavy rail.

      3. Well written Mike. All I’d add is this: I am of the view if we could do ST all over again we’d have just done heavy, high-speed rail and told the bus systems to feed the heavy rail. Most Sounder stations double as Amtrak Cascades stops anyway.

        We’d also try to set things up so Seattle could get some subway action because Heaven Knows women love roses delivered by a white knight via light rail. He he.

    6. It’s not necessary to switch tracks.

      I just returned from Santiago, Chile, where at least two of their very efficient Metro lines (including the one I used most frequently), run alternate-stop trains during rush hour–and they do so on what appeared to be two or three minute frequencies. All trains stopped at several major stations, but other than that they alternated. Maps showed the stations as either “red” or “green” (or both), and lights above the car doors indicated which one that train happened to be. I had never heard of such a thing but it seemed to work there, and I don’t recall slowing or pausing in between stations to wait. During non-peak hours the trains stop at all stations. The stop spacing is fairly close as well; the system is a true urban Metro.

      1. You essentially halve the frequency to each station that way. I hated the skip-stop J/Z pattern in New York for that reason.

      2. There must be a reason they do it, though – that system runs at bare minimum headways at peak hours and the trains are as packed as anything you read about in any other non-US city (yes, they even have to use “pushers” at doors to get people in). Platforms are packed with people and my assumption is that it is more a way to halve the crowd trying to board a given train at major stations where all trains stop than anything else. The major stations and transfer points aren’t skipped, just intermediate ones. In practice this means large stations still get two minute service while, as you note, intermediate ones get 4 minute service. This occurs on the two newer lines (4 and 5); not sure if they plan on doing it on the two lines that will be opening in the near future. It would be interesting to know why they decided to do this.

        I’m not familiar with the J/Z situation in NYC; my train there was the 6.

      3. The 1/9 also did the same thing in New York from the 80s up until about a decade ago.

        It was stopped because the intermediate stations became more popular and needed more than half service, and it wasn’t worth the slightly faster trip from the most popular stations.

    7. “If you run trains that skip stops, you’re also skipping a lot of the utility of the line. Would there be enough ridership between the express stops to fill a train decently?”

      The networks with an A/B stop pattern only do it peak hours when there’s a trainful of people to both halves of stops and it’s running five minutes or less to each half. That way everyone has an incentive to self-select to half the trains for a faster ride, and nobody is waiting more than five minutes. The major stations are A+B so all trains stop there.

      When I came back from Vancouver once, the Cascades train was broken at the last minute so they chartered buses. It took ten buses for one train (plus a block of hotel rooms, and people making other arrangements). So they split people by destination, and I was put on an Edmonds-and-Seattle bus. That way we all got home quicker than if every bus made every stop. An A/B stop pattern is the same concept.

      It also occurs on commuter rail like Caltrain, where two trains peak hours serve a complimentary subset of stations. It’s not called “A/B” but it does the same thing.

      A/B stop patterns were more common on subways in the late 20th century, but they’ve all abandoned them as far as I’ve seen. It may cause more confusion than it’s worth, or express buses may do the long-distance role better, or a commuter rail line may have gotten more service, etc. However, it still occurs on Caltrain as far as I know.

  10. Does anyone know if the “Flyer” stop at E. Olive Way and Melrose is in the ST3 draft proposal?

      1. OK, I’m looking at this idea, but wouldn’t all these people still have the unpleasant walk over the freeway when they get home at night?

      2. @Chris: From having used these stops a few times, I think the walk between Stewart/Yale and Capitol Hill is less bad than the walk between Olive/Terry and Capitol Hill. Crossing the Olive Way ramp you’re right in the path of multiple lanes of vehicles accelerating toward the freeway (it’s similar to the Rainier offramp to I-90, some of the cloverleaf ramps at 405/NE 8th, and some of the ramps at I-5/164th near Ash Way P&R). On Denny you face a series of more typical, if rather busy and loud, urban traffic situations.

  11. Is there any legislature horse-trading Seattle can do to secure control over it’s transit future? Right now to get our subway built:

    * The state legislature has to approve taxing authority for Sound Transit
    * King, Pierce, and Snohomish county politicians have to negotiate a ballot measure
    * The ballot measure has to be approved by voters in the three counties

    If any of these steps fail, then we don’t get any more subway construction.

    And now Tim Eyman wants to give all the voters in Washington State veto power over subway construction in Seattle- even those who won’t be taxed to build ST3

    This is an absolutely crazy system for Seattle to depend on when we disproportionately use and depend on transit to get around the city.

    1. The ST1, ST2, and ST3 tax authorities are perpetual. We don’t need to go back to the legislature to reuse them, we just have to go back to the legislature if we want a higher tax rate than those. The reason we went to the legislature in 2015 was that the ST1 and 2 streams were insufficient for the number of projects and timeline we wanted, plus they’re maxed out until 2023 when ST2 construction ends and the bonds start gradually being paid off.

      The three tax streams are each a mixture of sales tax (mostly), property tax, and MVET (a small part). Eyman’s initiatives could do anything to them, such as repealing the MVET, stopping ST’s projects cold, or restructuring or abolishing ST. But they can’t repeal a tax that has been pledged to bonds until the bonds are paid off. So if ST has already sold certain bonds, it can continue the projects funded by those bonds.

      Some have argued that if ST3 passes in 2016, ST can sell the bonds quickly and then Eyman’s initiative in 2017 can’t touch them or threaten ST3. But ST can’t raise all the bonds at once in early 2017 because it has a state-mandated cash/debt ratio, and it imposes on itself a stricter cash/debt ratio. Plus, ST1 and ST2 are maxed out until 2023, so it can only sell bonds on the ST3 stream until then, which is half the total. So realistically it can’t bond much before a November 2017 vote can choke it off, and not enough for any of the light rail extensions.

      But let’s not overestimate the impact. If it merely repeals MVETs, that’s the smallest part of ST’s tax structure, so it would have less than a third impact on the projects. It’s only if he goes after the other two taxes in other subsequent initiatives that he could stop ST3 completely and substantially cut ST2 and existing operations.

  12. How does everyone think President Trump will be in regards to urban mass transit?

    1. His ideological predecessor made the trains run on time, so there’s that.

      (except he didn’t really)

    2. Hard to say. Being from one of the places that needs transit as a major part of the daily life, it might be ok.

      Probably lots of projects that would serve Trump properties.

      Much spends on congress.

    3. This candidate’s very effective M.O. for his whole public life has been to make it impossible for anyone to know what he’s going to do. Including extremely successful tactic of answering every question about what he actually plans to do with a repulsively gross remark that attracts more reporters than similar-smelling road-kill attracts maggots.

      Who if they could talk or Twitter would probably be better reporters. Due to their insatiable appetite for the exact type of inside information these assignments provide. And energetic discovery and delivery that would make Public Radio look as toothless as it already is.

      So for people in trades like public transit- and all the rest of them too- best approach would be to treat this candidate’s administration pretty much like we’d handle the earth-quake we’re a hundred percent destined to get. At a time when our country’s every public structure and system is literally, not morally or politically, falling apart.

      A useless Federal Administration will likely do same-same thing to national disaster assistance as a Force 9 ‘quake. Interstate transportation contacts broken , exactly like all the other large-scale contacts we need like fuel and power. Four to eight years’ recovery if we’re lucky. Though best luck could be broken contact with Washington DC for same length of time.

      We do as much as we can with what’s available to us- which is probably a lot more than anybody thinks, precisely we’ve never been forced by events to find out for sure. And also cooperate with other places, regional, State, and local, with same approach to exploding sewers and crumbling highways that we need to. Networks and alliances don’t need shared borders anymore.

      Good first-hand experience for political repairs about seventy years overdue. Bet political participation in general becomes a widespread use of limited time off. In other words, pretty much what we’ll have to do if the other candidate wins. Starting with long-lost concentration on the Congresspeople we elect.


  13. I’m surprised that I read this article referencing scramble walks on Gizmodo and not here. http://gizmodo.com/a-simple-change-transformed-one-of-la-s-busiest-interse-1779684171?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+gizmodo%2Ffull+%28Gizmodo%29

    I’ve been a proponent of scramble walks for a long time, and often think that a few more of them in downtown Seattle would tremendously increase auto traffic throughput. (Especially if you were to pick the roads that feed I5, University, Spring, and Madison)

    1. Well, Jeff Speck in “Walkable City” doesn’t like scrambles because at regular intersections there’s always one direction open, whereas at scrambles you have to stop and wait 3/4 of the time, and if they’re every block that’s a lot of stopping. I don’t mind them as much; the one at Pike Place works well.

      1. My problem with not having scrambles is that there’s usually a line of traffic in seattle waiting to make a turn when the light is green. because of mixed speed pedestrian traffic,

        I’ve been two cars away from intersections crossing 2nd or 1st and not been able to get through going straight many times. It requires scramble walks in key locations and lighting synchronization to make both pedestrian traffic and automobile traffic work well together.

        I live downtown, and park my car in a garage with an entrance off western.

      2. I’m ok with scrambles at Pike Place Market, only because there are no left turn phases (so you get a walk sign about half the time) and because there are a huge number of pedestrians that take advantage of the scramble phase to cross diagonally.

        But trying to do that at every intersection downtown is just shoving pedestrians out of the way in the name of better throughput for cars. It would also lead to a world of rampent jaywalking – when the light is green in the correct direction, people will just go.

        Ultimately, driving downtown is a luxury, but pedestrian activity downtown is a necessity for downtown to function as a downtown. I can think of one intersection downtown (4th/Olive) where heavy pedestrian traffic does impact a fair number of buses trying to turn, but, even then, the delay is only on the order of a minute or so, and in the long run, as we rely more on underground rail and less on surface buses for getting in and out of downtown, that will become less of an issue.

  14. Not an untried concept. Always liked it. But question for us is: Do “scrambles” work any better or worse than regular intersections for transit-only reserved lanes and preempted signals?\


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