2016-06-06 Mess of buses on 3rd Ave

This is an open thread.

82 Replies to “News Roundup: More Miles”

  1. The City doesn’t just have District Councils. It also has a formal relationship with NextDoor. What else could we want?

    Oh, yeah, we also have city council members elected from districts. But the district councils represent the real grass roots. The council? They’re just elected.

    1. The entire way that Seattle interacts with its citizens is in need of fundamental refresh or complete change. District Councils have ingrained participants, regardless of their mix. Their outreach to their neighborhoods is limited to non-existent — and unless a neighbor is somehow “in the know” they are completely unaware when and where meetings or held or what topics are covered. That’s even before they get interested to volunteer! The lack of diversity is merely an outcome, but the fundamental cause is the lack of accountability and outreach for the councils.

  2. It’s odd that the graphs the city provided include all but 2 of the 13 district councils. Southeast and East are missing. I wonder if those two are more racially diverse, and including them would draw too much attention away from the trend, thus muddying the message.

  3. All is good Martin.

    Happy for another open STB thread. Grateful really.

    1)Gotta say man, right now what would I give for a poll measuring if folks will vote for the current version of ST3? How many are just dead-set against it, how many are willing to gamble four years from now a different package, how many are swing voters, and how many are “true believers”? Maybe STB can take a poll of its own…

    2) San Fran to Santa Clara is like Seattle to Everett. Just saying.

    3) Nice to hear Island Transit is bouncing back. It is my understanding fares could be charged on the county connectors – not just the Everett Connector. I’m of the view if the state is going to subsidize basic connector services, charge a fare on those routes. Fare-free is fine in-county, but once the main source of money is out-county…

    4) We should have open threads on Sunday, Tuesdays & Fridays. Just my two cents.

    1. Joe,

      I don’t see a senior/disabilities half-fare discount being advertised. Is that an oversight?

      Every county around Island now accepts the Regional Reduced Fare Permit, including Whatcom (though Whatcom also offers a county-only discount card, for free, while the RRFP costs $3). Is Island County planning to enter into the RRFP inter-local agreement?

      1. Did I read right that Santa Clara still doesn’t have a senior pass? Can’t believe that with California’s demographic, the Board doesn’t not only get recalled, but have their office furniture dumped on the sidewalk like any poor person whose only malfeasance is not being able to pay their jacked-up rent!

        Mark

      2. VTA has senior fares. It mentions a list of qualifying IDs, the first being a “Regional Transit Connection (RTC) Discount Card” which I guess is the local one. BART’s lack of a bulk discount or unlimited passes has been a sore point of forever, but it does have senior fares. (And an unlimited pass within San Francisco is available.)

    2. 2) Frisco to Fremont was built by an earlier generation, so like the DSTT but earlier. Fremont to Beryessa (eastern San Jose) is under construction, like ST2. This sounds like an extension from Beryessa to downtown San Jose and north to Santa Clara (an odd U shape, but in-line if the long-term goal is a ring around the bay as originally planned in the 1950s). In any case, the proposal is not an entire line from SF to SJ-SC, but just the extension from Beryessa.

      They should check the travel times. Embarcadero to Fremont is 45 minutes, so to downtown San Jose would be over an hour, and Santa Clara more than that. Caltrain is 1.5 hours from SF to SJ, or an hour on a baby bullet, and less to Santa Clara. So the SF-SJ travel time won’t be much better than Caltrain; its main advantage is frequency. If we guess 1.5 hours for Santa Clara to Embarcadero, trains can’t terminate at Embarcadero so they’ll have to continue to at least Daly City. That gets up to two hours, which ST considered too long for a single line (Everett-Tacoma), and split it in the middle due to drivers’ breaks. Of course, a good chunk of the ridership will probably come from the East Bay to the South Bay, rather than SF to the South Bay. So they could, um, split the line in Fremont. One-seat riders would be disgruntled though.

      1. Considering I have to commute from Skagit County and by the time I get to Everett Station I’ve already made one transfer from either a taxi or the Skagit Transit Route 300, I have little pity.

        I’m of the view transit is good so more transit, more places, more often.

        But I do get how the time penalty wears on folks. Sure does on me. I can’t do a job in Seattle spending four-six hours a day commuting. Barely was able to do a very part-time one at Paine Field for a while.

    3. I would have to strongly disagree that BART to Santa Clara is anything like Everett. That’s because the project goes through Downtown San Jose.

      Downtown San Jose is more comparable to Downtown Bellevue and probably even more prominent than even Downtown Bellevue. There are blocks of 20 to 30-story buildings and a major state university there (San Jose State). There are the San Jose Sharks arena and a huge convention center nearby. Daily parking fees for workers are high. There are several world headquarters there. Finally, there are light rail lines south of Downtown that could be much better connected if BART went into Downtown San Jose.

      I don’t fully get why BART needs to go to Downtown Santa Clara though even though that’s in the project description. It won’t have a direct San Jose Airport connection, although one is being discussed. While those few miles from the Sharks arena to Santa Clara is not in a subway so it is cheaper, it does parallel Caltrain — and Caltrain is supposed to release the electrification contract this summer. I suspect that this funding would help get BART to Downtown San Jose or Sharks arena but the last Santa Clara stop will probably not get funded.

      1. Agree with Al – Santa Clara is Silicon Valley, much more like our Eastside as a major job center.

      2. “There are blocks of 20 to 30-story buildings”

        There are? I couldn’t find them. I found one or two ten-story buildings downtown. And along the light rail line in north San Jose and a few blocks east, two-story buildings as though that was a hard limit. Then when it crosses the Santa Clara border, six-story office parks. No 20-story building anywhere.

      3. “I don’t fully get why BART needs to go to Downtown Santa Clara”

        For the same reason Link goes to downtown Seattle and downtown Bellevue. That’s where the largest concentration of destinations is, transfers to everything, a lot of visitors stay there, and people have business contacts and meetings there even if they don’t work for those companies.

      4. San Jose State University has over 32,000 students and a number of bachelor degrees and graduate problems. It’s about 60 percent of the size of the University of Washington’s Seattle campus. It is the major state university in Santa Clara County, which about the same in population as King County.

      5. San Jose has over a million people. I don’t see Everett quite catching up. Or Seattle, for that matter. Also, of course, BART started several decades before Link.

      6. >> Downtown San Jose is more comparable to Downtown Bellevue and probably even more prominent than even Downtown Bellevue.

        Yes, except it is even farther away from the “big city”. It is a really long way from Oakland, let alone San Fransisco (as Mike said). This makes the dynamics of a long distance subway — even one with blazing fast speeds and very few stops — dubious. It will simply take a very long time to get between those cities that way, and even shorter trips (e. g. Fremont to San Jose) become difficult, when you count the time spent on each end. Like just about every station outside the urban core (including Fremont) I wouldn’t expect many riders from there.

        As Breadbaker said, in terms of population, San Jose is huge. South Bay in general is huge (it is California, after all). San Jose has more pockets of density than all of Washington State outside of Seattle. If you think that is an exaggeration, just count the census blocks over 25,000. Bellevue has a couple. Kent has one. There aren’t any in Snohomish and Pierce County. But there are dozens in the South Bay area, just like there are a bunch in Seattle. Unfortunately, unlike Seattle, they are fairly spread out. If you look at more moderately dense areas (10,000 to 25,000) it shows the same thing. It is pretty easy to look at the census maps for Puget Sound and see that all the moderate to high density areas are in a fairly tight area (all within Seattle city limits). Bellevue is the one major suburban employer, and it has that nice little cluster of density worth serving in combination. But South Bay is much harder. Both employment and density is a lot more spread out.

        BART should help, in much the way that BART has helped travel in the Oakland/San Fransisco/Berkeley area. But like BART, there is probably little value as a long distance connector. It’s main value is as a ‘Y” cutting through a fairly urban area. From what I can tell, it won’t do a great job at that, either. While East Bay could use another line (and Muni could be improved) at least there are a fair number of stations in Oakland (not as many as their should be, but still better than average). From what I can tell, this lacks that. More to the point, it seems to lack a comprehensive approach to the region. I could see having a subway with a basic ring, along with a branch out to the southeast. But the main thing is to have very good, complementary bus service. Unlike, say, San Fransisco (or even Oakland) it just isn’t compact enough to serve well primarily with a subway. Almost all the heavy lifting will be done with buses, not trains — if they don’t work together well, then this likely won’t have that many riders.

        Interactive census maps: http://arcg.is/1t9gOqX, http://arcg.is/1t9gbOd

    4. In response to 3): the article points out that Island Transit is thinking about putting fares on other routes, but they can’t afford the one-time costs associated with the move. It would be chump change to put fareboxes on buses in Seattle, but Island Transit is a tiny, cash-strapped agency in a far more hostile transit environment.

      1. Nick;

        Yes, there are some serious 1-time costs with the move.

        I think the mismanagement of the previous Island Transit administration created the “far more hostile transit environment.” Also Island Transit has tapped out its sales tax authority and either must be creative or make do with what it has.

  4. I think it’s interesting to contrast transit construction timelines with local road construction timelines. For example, the new Narrows bridge in Tacoma took only five years to build from 2002 to 2007, but connecting it’s HOV lanes to Tacoma is going to be completed some 13 years later in 2020.

    Central Link broke ground in 1996 and opened in 2009. Thirteen years of construction to build a new subway from the airport to Westlake center doesn’t sound as bad when you compare it to the thirteen years its requiring to run a new lane from the Narrows to I-5.

    Yes, construction of Link through ST3 is going to run for the rest of most of our natural lives, but then I5 isn’t ever really going to be complete either.

    1. Distance equals time. Much of the time is planning and property issues, and more distance means more problems. The farther you go, the longer it takes.

    2. 1) Where does SR 16 have a tunnel?

      2) How much money did WSDOT spend per year on the project compared to Link? WSDOT’s budget is all the money accumulated in the gas tax fund. ST’s tax rate is limited by the legislature, and it’s further limited by its debt/asset ratio. A different financing structure could do more things simultaneously, but ST has to do them at a trickle. Also, SR 16 is like the hundredth highway WSDOT has built, while Link was the first light rail line in the state. It’s not just an issue of construction and management experience, but also applying the regulations to a new situation, and perhaps the cities were less cooperative than the could have been. (They definitely were during the planning phase; I’m not sure about the construction phase.)

    3. Adding a lane to an existing ROW is very different than adding a lane when you need to acquire property to expand the right of way (think 145th BRT and 85th BAT lanes in ST3). More cost and more time to acquire property

    4. Fletc3her, your memory is messed up. Central Link broke ground on Nov. 8, 2003, with a ceremony at the Airport Way site of the operations and maintenance facility. I know. I was there.

  5. The east platform will be closed for upwards of 3-4 weeks while BNSF removes the old platform and builds the third main. Expect Sounder and Amtrak Cascades delays here.

    Slated to be open July 1, it will extend the third main for another 5 miles to James Street in Kent.

    Construction is also underway on the third main between Pacific and Kent. Once completed, there will be 24 miles of 3 main track.

  6. Union Station needs some signs. It’s a confusing, mysterious structure for new visitors. Is it an opulent homeless day center and restroom? Is it a regal entryway to the for thousands of executives who work at Sound Transit World Headquarters? And if it’s a transit hub, where are the signs?

    Sam, Union Station Expert

    1. Thanks for your concern for the unfortunate, Sam, but except for having to support families and pay their bills, those Sound Transit employees are there by their own choice. They all do have homes, but their schedules and work ethics don’t permit them to see them very much.

      However, you can help! Start contacting the entire Sound Transit Board, and demand that every one of those downtrodden coffee-addicted wretches be immediately represented by ATU Local 587! And that you’ll pay their first five years’ dues!

      Also, though I don’t think you’re tough enough to carry through on this one: Tell the Board you’ll keep on contacting them cc’ing your every STB comment to them all. I give it one key-click ’til they all cave.

      Mark

      1. I don’t have to cc anyone. Everyone, including the POTUS himself, comes to the STB comment section to read my thoughts on transit and land use issues.

    2. It’s a restored historic building that people go in to marvel at. It leases some office space to Sound Transit. I haven’t seen homeless people in there but perhaps they let them use the facilities as quasi-tourists. But they have to leave at 5pm when the building is closed. There are signs at the door saying no Amtrak trains here, go to King Street Station. That’s the biggest thing they need a sign for, and they have it.

      1. Mike, so you’re saying that it’s mostly a museum? An architectural time capsule? Then why not put up a sign saying something like that? “Welcome to Union Station. Come visit an empty piece of history! Yes, from the outside we look like a busy, bustling transit hub, but once you step inside, you’ll be like, what is this place? There’s nothing here. Don’t be embarrassed if you were fooled. It happens to everyone.”

    3. Actually Mike, ST owns Union Station not leases it. Paid $1 for it from the City and then restored the building.

      1. No, Paul Allen owns the Vulcan properties behind it and ST does lease space from those buildings as well. Otherwise Union Station is ST owned outright.

  7. Would be wonderful to have catenary over the tracks at King Street Station. Also, while Talgo Nortwhest cedar and green colors are okay, The Coast Starlight really should be red and orange. But I forget: are we going to have to wire the John Wayne Trail?

    Mark

    1. Does “electrified” mean there was catenary from Chicago to Seattle that was ripped out? Or did trains switch to electric power near Seattle?

      1. The MR was electrified from Harlowton to Avery, and from Seattle/Tacoma to Othello.

        The gap never got electrified, and the story of that is a story of total mismanagement.

      2. Seattle and Tacoma to Othello, then more from Avery, Idaho to Harlowton, Montana. Ripped out in 1974.

      3. The electrification system in Washington was shut down in 1972, before the system in Idaho/Montana.

  8. And finally- really mean, but can’t resist. Is any BART critic, or supporter, heartless enough to mention word “Maintenance?” If anybody ever needed a Safe Zone!

    But in this connection, “trigger word”, like maintenance, doesn’t mean legally-actionable death threat. squirt For squirt gun full of rustoleum (aimed at a train, a train!), you could find something like a ticked punch for a menacing “click.”

    Mark

  9. RE: camano island article … Interesting that Island transit doesn’t charge fares. What’s the history behind that? Is it simply that the transit agency is so small that fares collection wouldn’t make much of a difference in the budget, the Island voters don’t want fare because of the operational advantages (faster loader) or for equity reasons (transit users generally poorer, rather see all residents pay for O&M, not simply riders)? Just curious if anyone has insight on that.

    1. AJ;

      Fare free was thought of as a means of reducing hassle since only 10% or so of the cost of providing service is recovered from each rider. But as a harsh klieg light has been shone on Island Transit after a near-death experience, fare free ideology is being rolled back.

      Let’s remember at one point Skagit Transit was fare free too. Then the 2000-2002 recession happened… and the public refused to backfill in sales tax what fares could cover.

    2. Small-town systems tend to have low fares, and some of them find it’s not worth the hassle to collect it, since it doesn’t raise much and it’s only a fraction of the operating cost. The problem at Island Transit was bad management: the routes were dependent on state grants which were given as short-term launch funding, and the county wasn’t willing to raise taxes or charge fares when the grants ran out; they just applied for more grants. The state renewed the grants for a while and then cut them off after recession. There was also a problem with the treasurer or such, not giving the board enough information to understand the precarious financial situation, and the board not pressing them to do so. All of that led to a shutdown of the Island County portions of the inter-county connectors: the Camano Island to Community Transit route was lost entirely, and the Tri-County-Connector from Mt Vernon to Whidbey was truncated at a middle-of-nowhere transit center between Mt Vernon and Anacortes I gather. Some legislators at one point were also considering yanking funding from all inter-county connectors (e.g., the Mt Vernon to Everett route), because not only is transit socialist and useless to most residents but it’s mismanaged too. The loss of Camano Island service was acutely felt by the people in the area, and led to more driving or being stuck and having to quit a job.

      The smaller the city, the lower the fare seems to be. That’s partly because they have no evening service and often no weekends, they run hourly or less, and they run either a short distance in a small town or along rural highways that are rarely congested. They may also get a bigger subsidy if they’re seen mainly as a social service for the poor/elderly/disabled/kids. So the fare is low and a small fraction of the operating cost, and at some point collecting/administering the fare may not be worth it.

      Snoqualmie Valley Transportation runs something like this. A few years ago Metro withdrew service from the Snoqualmie Valley and launched SVT in partnership with the Snoqualmie Tribe and a senior center in North Bend. Metro provides the van and startup support (scheduling, marketing), the senior center operates it, and the tribe subsidizes it. There’s a “shuttle” from North Bend to Duvall, and a loop route in North Bend and Snoqualmie. The fare is a $1 donation, or free if you transfer to/from Metro. So clearly they aren’t depending on a $2.50 fare to keep it running.

    3. This has been discussed before. I lack the time to find it, but there are some significant issues with charging fares at a small agency:

      1. Financial accountability and staff levels: How much staff does it take to count and document the cash income? Typically they have to have a procedure in place to make sure that nobody is skimming the cash, but if your agency only has several people in the office how closely can you do that?

      This is particularly the case with an agency like Island Transit, with routes scattered pretty far away from the central office.

      2. Repair and maintenance of fareboxes costs money.

      3. The Federal Transit Administration formulas change when the agency charges a fare, and there is thus less money coming from the fed’s FTA grant system if they charge a fare.

      4. The trips take longer because people tend to pay cash, and thus operations cost more.

      A fair number of agencies have looked at these reasons and determined that they are better off not charging as it would actually cost more to charge a fare and deal with the results than it would be to just not charge at all.

      I’ve responded to this before with some links to some of the studies that are out there by a few of the transit agencies that have looked at this and decided against charging a fare. You might try looking for them as a couple of them show how the math works.

      1. I remember reading something about how some advocates were trying to get NYC MTA to not charge fares of buses (but keep them for subway) partially because the big operational benefits are during bus onboarding and partially because poor people take buses more than subways. I think there is merit to that idea, on both grounds.

      2. “Ridership increases of 20% to 60%… Although public subsidy and sometimes total cost may increase, the subsidy per passenger drops significantly.” (p. 11)

      3. Places like Seattle would not be able to absorb a 20% increase in ridership without significant investment. You need more buses and drivers and service hours,

        However, if you have Island Transit Route 1 and go from 3 riders per trip to 20 riders per trip it means you have made a huge gain in efficiency.

    1. It’s interesting how you can guess the authors just from the first paragraphs. RossB’s are the longest and fact-filled, while d.p.’s have the most hysterical swearing.

      I also liked the link to the article by Richard Florida, The Relationship between Subways and Urban Growth. Florida I’ve seen before; he’s an urbanist who’s perhaps a bit too optimistic about the “creative class”. The article shows several correlations between cities around the world and their subway systems, and makes the point that the largest subway networks are not in the largest cities, and subway-network growth does not lead directly to population growth. However, the article was cited as an argument against 30-mile extensions to suburbs as small as Everett and Tacoma. Um, it doesn’t really address that; it’s more high-level. It doesn’t say whether any other city has similar lines or how effective they are or whether they’re a good idea or not.

      1. >> The article … makes the point that … subway-network growth does not lead directly to population growth.

        But that was precisely the argument made in a previous comment. d. p. was using that article as a counter-argument, nothing more nothing less. There may be other arguments for building out to Everett or Tacoma, but the idea that it will lead to very high growth in those cities is dubious, and goes against that very study. I just read about an interesting study that seems to back that up as well: http://www.governing.com/topics/transportation-infrastructure/transit-oriented-development-doesnt-need-transit.html?platform=hootsuite. None of this surprises me. I haven’t seen much of a correlation between growth and improved transit. The closest we have come is a change in zoning that has followed a change in transit. But that change could occur with or without any major transit improvement and still get the same results in those neighborhoods.

      2. The article as I understood it was talking about the population of the entire metropolitan area and their entire subway network, not just one line in isolation. It didn’t get into individual lines so it’s unfair to apply it to an individual line. If it did look at individual lines maybe one of them would be comparable to Everett, and maybe they would have discovered factors that they didn’t mention in this report. And it did in fact say that cities with larger subway systems are more decentralized, so that could be an argument for people moving toward Everett. (Although that would depend on ours being a “large” network; I’d say that’s unlikely because it has only a quarter as many lines as some others.)

      3. Improved transit certainly can lead to population growth along the transit line, but:

        + There needs to be zoning to allow it to happen.

        + It needs to be an actual transit improvement. Taking longer to get places isn’t an improvement.

      4. RossB’s article:

        “But what if people who live near transit stations drive less and own fewer cars for reasons that have nothing to do with the transit stations?”

        And Ballard grew in spite of the Monorail not being there yet and even after it was canceled.

        “Rather, the most important factors were the scarcity of parking and the number of bus stations in the vicinity.”

        The issue of rail transit’s effect on development and car ownership is probably dwarfed by the macro variations in population size, job creation, and the level those jobs pay. Maybe ubiquitous local buses and expensive are more effective in generating density and lower car ownership. But that’s rather irrelevant to why I want a subway network. It’s because I as a non-driver want to get between every part of the city and metropolis when I need to faster than those buses can do. Because it’s great to have a walkable, mixed-use neighborhood with jobs so you don’t have to leave the neighborhood much (as many UW students find in the U-District). But sometimes you do have to leave your neighborhood or quarter of the city, and sometimes you may have to take a job on the other side of town or in a suburb, or you need to take care of elderly relatives who live there. If you live in Ballard and want to go to Bellevuie, Redmond, or Lake City, it takes over an hour. That doesn’t stop some people from moving into the densified Ballard housing, but it makes it more time-consuming to get around to most places if you live there. But a grade-separated subway line, suddenly it’s easy. The same thing in the Haight and Little Italy in San Francisco: they’re not on BART so it’s takes longer to get around than if you’re he Mission District, and all those little trips add up. Then there’s the Hawthorne district in Portland: it’s good but it would be better if the Blue Line went through it, rather than along an isolated freeway two miles away.

        There’s another fact that’s a bit inconvenient for transit advocates. Other studies have shown that if you make a neighborhood really walkable and bike-friendly, with good bike corridors to the other activity centers — which you should do because walking is the mode built into humans and requires no equipment, and the majority of everybody’s trips is walking (even to their car) — then the mode share of walking and biking increases as you’d expect, but transit takes the biggest decrease. People don’t switch from cars to walking/biking as much as they switch from transit to walking/biking. So that may be part of why the “T” in TOD is not the biggest factor in urbanism.

        But in spite of that, a well-functioning city has both walkable development and comprehensive buses and rapid transit or a comparable higher level — not just one or two of these but all three, and then they’ll all be well-used. Chicago has a walkable grid, and buses every 5-10 minutes that are packed, and the el and Metra, and they’re all well used.

      5. “Maybe ubiquitous local buses and expensive are more effective in generating density and lower car ownership.”

        … expensive parking are …

        “the Haight and Little Italy”

        … the Haight and North Beach …

      6. Yeah, my point is — and I think it is d.p.’s as well — is that people often mention that transit will lead to growth, as if the idea is self evident. Of course it is a factor, but absent any evidence, we shouldn’t assume it is a significant one. Open a new bakery in Bitter Lake, and maybe hundreds of people will flock there, and get their lattes and biscuits every morning. But I don’t see the city promoting that, or dozens of other plausible growth ideas. You have to look at studies, and so far, no one has cited a single one to support the case that better transit leads to growth. In fact, it has been the opposite (little to no correlation whatsoever).

        That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t improve the transit system, but it does suggest that maybe we should focus our transit system on the areas where people live now, instead of where we think they might live once a transit line is built. Maybe they will continue to live in the Central Area, where they suffer with slow bus rides all over town, instead of moving en mass to Fife, where they can enjoy one hour train rides to the city.

      7. “no one has cited a single one to support the case that better transit leads to growth”

        They’re mainly looking at real estate development, not population growth per se. As in, “The streetcar caused SLU to blossom, bringing large tax revenue to the city.” The streetcar is important according to the companies who subsidize it. And the streetcar was a factor in the companies choosing to locate there. But if the companies hadn’t located there, they would have located somewhere else, they wouldn’t not exist. So the workers would have gone there instead, probably within the same city or metropolitan area.

        “Maybe they will continue to live in the Central Area, where they suffer with slow bus rides all over town, instead of moving en mass to Fife, where they can enjoy one hour train rides to the city.”

        So they can enjoy one-hour trips from the CD to Ballard?

      1. Both “God” and “Ross” should be capitalized in that sentence. I’m no editor, but I know that. :)

        But, yeah, brevity is not my strong point. I wish I could write like d. p., but he is a professional writer. So my arguments tend to be verbose. Quite often (as in that case) it is simply a very complex issue, that requires a complex explanation. It is pretty easy to say “rail is appropriate for this area”, or “this light rail line is too expensive for what it delivers”, but unless you get into the details, it is very hard to make that argument. Unless of course (as has been the case too often with ST3 supporters) you just assume rail anywhere is worth it.

      2. I have a friend who writes for Time Magazine. The magazine is laid out in a way that it’s hard to see the author’s name when you’re reading articles; it’s off in an odd corner in small type so you have to stop and look for it if you want to know. But even without seeing the name I can recognize his articles just by the wording: common phrases, choice of analogies and humor, way of explaining. The same when I’m reading a RossB article or Mark Dublin or some others here.

      3. This doesn’t lend itself to brevity. When I participated in the Westside MAX citizen advisory committee meetings, it wasn’t unusual for me to receive 100 to 200 page bound volumes of material before the meetings.

        A $1.2 billion project was worth the hundreds of pounds of paper for the public outreach and feedback, and ultimately getting a tunnel alignment under the West Hills.

        A $50 billion project isn’t going to have any meaningful feedback in a web site comment that says “this sucks” unless the goal is pointless web traffic.

    2. Has d.p. yet brought up the point that Portland has built a huge amount of light rail, yet has a pittance of the per capita transit use Seattle has? With transit growth use rate in the 2% range rather than 12% range?

      1. I’ve never heard him mention Portland. I personally don’t know much about the Portland system, but it strikes me as one of those “OK” systems. Not that expensive, but not that useful either. Personally, I would love to see someone take a critical look at the various transit systems in North America. I think you would find that d. p. is right in just about every case. Investment in dense, urban areas, along with rail designed from the beginning to complement the bus system tends to be very successful. Rail going out miles and miles roughly following the freeway — thus being no faster than a bus at noon, let alone driving — tends to have very few riders, and very low frequency.

  10. Currently, my plan is to go to the InnoTrans railway technology exhibit this year in Berlin.

    1. Anyone have anything in particular they would like me to look for to provide Page 2 Writings?

    2. Anyone have any suggestions about other stuff to take a look at in Berlin? I know about the trail that mostly follows the path of the Berlin wall and the Trail of the 77 Lakes and a few other such activities.

    1. To #2: This requires advance registration and I wasn’t in charge of it so I’m not sure how difficult it is, but visiting and touring the Reichstag/Bundestag is incredibly interesting. The collective German psyche is so crushed by guilt for Nazism (and a little bit for the Stasi) that they were compelled to make their parliament building symbolic of it.

      The Tiergarten is enormous and beautiful.

      Alexanderplatz is interesting to see because it’s huge-scale socialist East German architecture that has been converted into a busy shopping area and tourist attraction.

      Taking a regional train or the S-bahn to Potsdam is neat if you have the time. It’s connected to Berlin’s transit system but is a totally separate city that’s very charmingly smaller-scale in contrast to Berlin’s metropolitan feeling. You can visit the summer residence palaces of the Prussian kings.

      1. Other than Innotrans, there seems to be some other event going on in Berlin. Hotel prices, even at hostels, were outrageous. The best value I found was in Potsdam, and it’s only about half an hour on the S bahn.

        So, Potsdam is already on the list, as are some of the huge parks and preserved forests.

    2. Loved Berlin – one of my favorite European cities. If you are a history buff there are no shortage of things to see (and the Germans are not adverse to pointing out where things were–or are today). There are still some Speer-era ministry buildings along the Wilhelmstrasse south of the Brandenburg Gate, and the 1936 Olympic grounds are still mostly intact, a brief trip outside the city center. The Jewish Museum is very moving, as might be expected. The Turkish areas of town are interesting to wander. Museuminsel is also wonderful (particularly the Pergamon Museum), basically at the opposite end of Unter den Linden from the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag. (I had no problem visiting the Reichstag, but things may have changed).

      Well worth the visit (IMHO) very near the large Zoo U+S Bahn station is the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, left as it looked at the end of the war with a stunning addition to it. Nearby is the KaDeWe department store, whose food hall makes Harrods’ look like Westlake Center’s (well, maybe not quite like that, but in my mind there is little comparison with KaDeWe!).

  11. Good luck to anyone who want to transfer to Light Rail from the # 65, # 75 and # 372 this Saturday from 230 pm to 7 pm as all 3 routes will be rerouted away from the UW Campus because of the UW commencement ceremonies that will be taking place.

    The closest the 3 routes will get to the light rail station will NE 45th for the # 65 and # 75 and NE 55th for the # 372. Presumable these will be same reroutes for the Huskies home games.

    I brought this up with the Metro planners before the NE change and I was basically told that Metro will take care of it and there should be no problem transferring to Light Rail during events at Husky Stadium

    Well these reroutes is another example why I don’t believe anything that Metro planners say.

    1. There are options. Walking from Link to Campus Parkway is one. As is, riding the 70 from downtown to Campus Parkway, as is slogging it out all the way on the 62. While the options stuck, this is just for a few hours on one day. You can plan around it. The detours for eastside->Seattle travelers during 520 bridge closure weekends have been worse.

      1. It might be a good day, if you’re physically up to it, to use a Pronto. There are stations all over and around campus, they tend to be underused, and you can drop one off at the station in front of the hospital.

      2. And it’s not like 4th Avenue South isn’t impacted by ballgames, which throws the buses off schedule in a large swath extending to Burien, Fremont, Greenlake, Northgate, and north Ballard, and probably other south end routes.

  12. On the new HOT Lanes,

    This is great, it moves the choke point south!

    Beyond that it doesn’t really do anything to solve the deeper issues driving the suburban sprawl of pierce and south king counties. But what is a person to do? There’s no coherent planning or zoning for this southern region. Yet, it remains the last affordable place to buy/rent a 3-4 bedroom unit (these happen to be SF but I haven’t see any nice 3 bedroom apartments near civilization for $350,000 so this is what people choose to buy.) So we keep building out and adding more cars. Until we find a way to redevelop the downtowns of Kent, Federal Way, Auburn, and Puyallup with a mix of unit sizes and a safe neighborhood like feeling this trend is likely to continue.

    1. Andrew, I couldn’t have said it better. South King needs to do MAJOR coordinated, comprehensive urban planning.

  13. 5 bicyclists killed by a pickup truck in Michigan tonight, and CNN online doesn’t consider that a top story?

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