32 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Yoram Bauman ‘Splains I-732”

  1. what do you think are the prospects of a complete Woodlinville-Renton Eastside Rail project being completed by 2050?

    1. I’ve been involved with the Regional Advisory Council on that issue for years now, and I can assure you, at the current pace, there will be nothing done by 2050.

      1. What assures you that the pace won’t change in 34 years? How many people currently on the Regional Advisory Council will still be on there-or-Earth same number of years from now.

        Consider a couple of candidates now in the news, who are definitely the end of their professional generation and show it, and also the quality of the news that largely put them where they are.

        Isn’t there a slight chance that their 2050 replacements will take some object lessons from what happened to transit, and civilization, when their 1982 to 2016 planned things?

        Mark

      2. You have to subtract the time to plan and build whatever it is. Giving it ten years means that by 2040 the region would have to to:
        – Decide to do it.
        – If it’s going in the Eastside Rail Corridor, overcome the opponents in the Kirkland City Council and Save Our Trails.
        – Commit to rebuilding the Wilburton gap where I understand the track has been severed.

    2. Probably not. There are the complications: someing is going to happen in the CKC portion of the rail corridor, ST3 proposes to use the seriously constrained section from South Kirkland Park-N-Ride to Lake Bellevue, and portions of the right of way through Kennydale are only easements.

      Whether the “something” is BRT or LRT north of South Kirkland is a big political battle, but in any case, either use plus the proposed dual-purpose trail will consume the right of way. Since neither Woodinville nor Bothell really wants to grow to become regional center, most of the commuters on I-405 will continue to be from Snohomish County. So to avoid riders having to transfer from buses to Link in the middle of the journey, Link would have to double back to I-405 and then climb the steep hill north of Bothell. So, It’s pretty difficult to see Link being pushed north to 128th, say, by 2050.

      There won’t be anything left for a “heavy rail” track through central Kirkland, so using the track north of Kirkland Way for heavy rail commuter trains would be difficult or even impossible. On the other hand, even ignoring the easement issue, the right of way is too narrow for two tracks through Kennydale, so Link can’t go south to Renton.

      Taken together, the constraints on the system mean you’d end up with LRT in the northern half of the corridor and “heavy rail” in the southern half. Now maybe that’s viable because relatively few people except Boeing employees commute through Bellevue from north to south. But it certainly means you would not have “a complete Woodlinville-Renton Eastside Rail project”.

  2. Figured I’d pass this along here from Sound Transit as now crowding has hit Sounder North:

    “Starting Monday, September 12, the number of cars on Sounder North trains will be rearranged. In the morning the trains getting into Seattle at 6:44 a.m. (train 1701) and 7:44 a.m. (train 1705) will be 3 car trains. The trains getting into Seattle at 7:14 a.m. (train 1703) and 8:14 a.m. (train 1707) will be 2 car trains. In the afternoon the trains leaving Seattle at 4:33 p.m. (train 1702) and 5:35 p.m. (train 1706) will be 3 car trains. The trains leaving Seattle at 4:05 p.m. (train 1700) and 5:05 p.m. (train 1704) will be 2 car trains. These changes could last up to six months. Thank you for for your patience.”

    I’m sure many, including me, are skeptical of the cost-per-rider invested in Sounder North but it’s good to see ridership uptick. I wish we saw it like a year ago so it’d impact ST3 decisions.

    1. Is it really a rearrangement, or is ST starting to get into the habit of announcing train lengths? Maybe space was being wasted in the third cars because people were piling into the front two, not knowing if there would be a third car coming.

      1. Your guess is 100% better than mine. Mine would be to get folks to plan their commutes a bit better.

        Me personally I’d like to see in 2017 the Sound Transit Citizen’s Oversight Panel finally dole out some Sounder North benchmarks. If those benchmarks aren’t met, maybe with Spine Destiny to Everett some painful conversations can be had about Sounder North alternatives…

        I, for one, am campaigning for an Amtrak stop at Mukilteo for many reasons. One is so the taxpayers aren’t burdened with an expensive Sounder North station that could possibly go unused.

      2. Cascades southbound from Everett: 9:52am, 8:59pm. Northbound from Seattle: 7:45am, 6:50pm. Neither of those serve a peak-hour commuter, and they’d be overcrowded if a hundred or more additional passengers came on.

    2. I’m not a regular user of Sounder North, as I do not commute from Whidbey Island, but when I have used this service for Seattle day trips, the last AM trip into Seattle train has always been packed. Yes it is anecdotal, but when I board at Mukilteo riders definitely know to fill all available cars.

    3. Today I noticed that the Seahawks train to Everett was 5 passenger cars with a locomotive at each end of the train. Looks like they just match a 2 car set with a 3 car set to create the Seahawks game train,

  3. Prediction. Radical Urbanist Fundamentalists, along with Public Transit Jihadis and TOD Fanatical Extremists, will call for the development of the Mercer Slough Nature Park next to the future South Bellevue Station. They will do this, first, by refusing to call it a wetland, instead, calling it a swamp. Then, they will demonize any opposition to their proposal by calling them NIMBYS. Finally, they will justify their actions by siting the precedent of the Bellefield Office Park and I-90 as being built in and over the slough without damaging the park.

    1. Actually, the plan for TOD supporters from what I’ve heard is to support TOD nearby and not on the swamp itself. So, you’re wrong.

    2. Worse than that, Sam. Truth is that Julian Assange has just snitched on what all fast-food hamburgers are made out of. Causing the muskrat market to crash, I mean splash.

      So the residents of several Cajun villages in the wetlands are out of patience with Fish and Game over delays on their licenses for the alligators that climate change is replacing them with. Also upset with rumor that there’ll be no “Moor and Ride” for airboats.

      Now, as Emmylou Harris asks seriously in “Leaving Louisiana In The Broad Daylight”: “Did you ever see a Cajun when he really got mad?” If not, Sam, good idea to start referring to the vicinity as “Bayou Mercier” and get out of South Bellevue on the 550 before sunset.

      Mark

    3. Actually, they’re going to build a nineteen story high rise on the south side of your property.

  4. Anyone notice how the transit layer for Google Maps is now not working for Seattle? You can select a bus stop just fine, but if you just select “Transit” on the left hand bar, it shows only Link and the streetcars (not the buses, like it used to). I don’t know if Google or Metro did something to mess it up, but it is unfortunate, as this was a great map for the county (I think Oran’s map is the best one for the city, but it only covers the city). It doesn’t seem to work for Snohomish County either (although I don’t know if it ever did).

  5. I’m a big fan of the trolley buses, and like the look and feel of the new fleet that’s hit the streets. But, I have some observations and questions to share.

    1. A coworker who rides the 3 and 4 up James Street towards Harborview told me that on more than one occasion the bus has been unable to climb the James Street hill. The solution has been for some people to get off and walk up the hill. I don’t recall hearing this before with the previous generation fleets. Any insight as to whether these are flukes or if there’s something seriously wrong with the new 40 foot trolleys? (And the last time I heard stories like this was in the 1980s from San Francisco where the diesel 1X California runs had to have people get off in order to make it up Nob Hill)

    2. Yesterday I saw a #12 dewire on Madison right in front of Trader Joe’s. It looked like nothing more than rapid acceleration caused this–there are no switches or turns in the wire at that point. It was nice to see the driver recover by running the bus in battery mode so he could at least get out of the intersection before reattaching the poles. Are the dewiring problems with the new fleet so bad just punching the accelerator leads to dewires?

    1. Haven’t been told about problems powering up steep hills. The quality of max torque from a standing start is what trolleybuses are really for. On routes that carry heavy passenger loads up very steep grades. You could say they’re natural replacements for cable cars. If a coach won’t do that, deboarding some passengers to lighten the load isn’t what the manual calls for.

      Drivers have told me that the new trolleybuses seem to be having a lot of trouble keeping poles on the line, in places and conditions where previous fleets have never had such problems.

      It’s a mechanical problem, either getting the tension right on the mechanism that holds the poles to the wire, or adjusting or replacing the “shoes” that hold the power collector to the line. Often happens with new equipment.

      Mark

      Mark

      But I really doubt that passengers get off a stalled bus to lighten the load. Since the steep part of the climb to Harborview is only a few blocks long, people naturally just decide it’s fastest just to get out and walk.

    2. The new 7s pop off the wire much more frequently. I tweeted to KCMetro a few months ago and noticed they were doing wire work the next week or so. I even got a reply saying a couple intersections were worse than others and to let them know if it keeps happening.

      It’s gotten better, but naturally today it jumped off the wire one time. Getting outta the way on battery power is neat, though.

    3. I know someone that used to live on Queen Anne (maybe in 2008 or so) and said that sometimes people had to get off the bus because it couldn’t get up the Counterbalance when they didn’t have trolleys running.

  6. On another thought cloud, I wish some of us would demand Dow Constantine debate Todd Herman who just foams at the mouth how bad Sound Transit is and how bad of a person Dow Constantine is. So sick of it…

    Democrats should have debated and took on Tim Eyman back when and maybe we wouldn’t be in this mess we’re in now. Democrats and transit advocates need to learn from the late Andrew Breitbart many things, one of them is don’t be passive in the wake of absurd attacks.

    Oh and when Jesse Young stands up and says he’s coming for Sound Transit like http://mynorthwest.com/category/podcast_player/?a=10009827&sid=1130&n=The%20Todd%20Herman%20Show at 29:55… get Sound Transit’s back. Period.

  7. For those that occasionally find themselves visiting Portland, last week TriMet started its fall service changes. Other than the slit of route 71 into a 71 and 73, not too much has changed.

    Eventually there is supposed to be a significant restructure, including sending the 99 down Macadam Avenue and over the new Sellwood Bridge. So far, all they’ve been able to get everyone to agree on is the name change for the route, without the route actually reflecting the name change yet.

  8. So, taking a look at Sound Transit’s website, North Sounder is currently scheduled at 59 minutes from Everett Station to King St. Station, with no serious prospects for improving upon that figure in the foreseeable future.

    Soundtransit3.org projects 31 minutes from Everett Station to Lynnwood, Paine Field Deviation and all. Throw in another 28 minutes to downtown Seattle (http://www.soundtransit.org/Lynnwoodextension), and we get a total travel time from Everett to Seattle of 57 minutes via Link vs. 59 minutes via Sounder.

    So, the question becomes – if Link is faster, more reliable (no mudslides, freight train interference), much more frequent, and serves a lot more destinations (including all of downtown, the U-district, and more), than one has to ask – why is ST continuing to pour more and more money into North Sounder, even after Everett Link is all built? On the surface, commuter rail being a peak-only faster alternative to light rail makes sense, but when the “express” train is no faster than the local train it’s supposed to bypass, it doesn’t make sense anymore.

    One could possibly say Edmonds and Mukilteo, except for the fact that the bulk of (albeit anemic) ridership north Sounder does get is originating from Everett.

    1. I’ve been saying for a long time now that ST should cancel Sounder North and put the money into the Everett Link extension and interim buses. But ST has been reluctant to cancel a voter-approved service because it thinks the public wants it to keep running and it should only be canceled as a very last resort. The best time to cancel it is now in ST3 so it would have voter sanction backing it up, but ST didn’t include that in ST3 and it’s too late to put it in now. ST has vaguely indicated that if ridership continues to worsen it might start considering the unthinkable about Sounder North, but it’s threshold for that seems to be very high, and now that ridership is increasing that contradicts that.

  9. Kitsap County is going to be voting on their own Prop 1 this fall to raise the sales tax to fund a fast foot ferry from Bremerton to Seattle. The eventual plan is to have fast foot ferries from Kingston and Southworth as well.

    I was approached by somebody campaigning against the plan on Saturday and I find their framing interesting. They say it is unfair for Kitsap taxpayers to foot the bill for transit from Kitsap County to King County while King County taxpayers pay nothing. That it will drain jobs from Kitsap County forcing people to go to King County for work rather than creating jobs in Kitsap County. And that the benefit of the transit link will only go to those who own property near the ferry terminals so it is unfair for everyone to contribute through a sales tax increase.

    I don’t find any of their arguments very compelling. I told the guy who handed me the flyer that I was planning on voting for the ferry and he replied, “You know it will raise your taxes?” which I think is the real issue. The question of who pays for our transit is an important one and a sales tax increase is ultimately regressive. But, it is in some sense the mechanism that the state provides so it’s what we have to work with.

    The question of whether King County should contribute is interesting, but I don’t think King County residents are going to agree to a sales tax increase on their side to improve connectivity with Kitsap County. I do think the benefits of such a link flow mostly to Kitsap residents, property owners, and businesses so it makes sense for it to be paid for by people on this side of the water.

    Yes, Kitsap County needs to address the question of jobs being formed within the county itself, but I find it hard to imagine a business which was thinking of locating in Kitsap would change its plans based on this ferry link. It’s more likely that increased population made possible by the transit link would have a knock on effect creating more service jobs there. Ultimately possibly enough population growth in Kitsap that employers would find it beneficial to locate businesses there.

    I find the last point most telling since if property owners near the ferry terminals see their property values increase as a result of the fast ferry then it shows that they expect the ferry to have value such that people will want to live near it.

    1. The justification of the ferry is the existing demand, and the convenience of more two-way mobility, and the environmental benefits of leaving one’s car behind. I’m not saying it is justified, but that’s the basis for claiming it is. I’ve heard the subsidy is more than the benefits would be, but since I’ve never lived in the west sound I have no comment on that. I can say it’s not worth it to King County to pay for it. Bedroom communities are dependent on cities, not the other way around. As for generating enough high-paying local jobs so that people wouldn’t have to commute, that requires densification, which Kitsap is against. And why would companies be willing to locate in Kitsap when they’re having enough trouble locating in Tacoma and Federal Way because “that’s so far away and hard to get to and people don’t want to live there”/ There are people who prefer the semi-rural life of Kitsap, the ones who are there now, and the ones who start local businesses there, but they like it because it’s rural and a bedroom community and the riff-raff are deterred by the ferries.

      1. “I’ve heard the subsidy is more than the benefits would be, but since I’ve never lived in the west sound I have no comment on that.”

        I’ve had many weekend stays in Vashon and Poulsbo, but that’s not enough to say what it would be like to live there full time and experience the impact of having or not having a foot ferry.

    2. The optics for who pays and who benefits do look somewhat regressive. I hope there is a plan for a low-income fare on this service, so it is truly a public benefit.

  10. It’s time for an investigative report on UW Station. Why are so many escalators stopped regularly? Are they really that defective? Why were the next-train countdowns turned off a couple weeks ago? It’s odd that Capitol Hill Station still has them but UW Station doesn’t. Of course I can understand they’re not that accurate anyway; they’re usually correct +/- 3 minutes but sometimes they’re off by more than that. But still, that happens at both UW and Capitol Hill Stations, and only UW Station has them turned off.

    This morning I was leaving a train toward an escalator when a nice sign in front of the escalator told me it was closed further up. I walked back to the elevators but they had 1 1/2 loads of people so I went to the opposite escators. You’d think ST would discourage people from using the elevators to make them more responsive for disabled people and bicycles, but the escalators are closed so often it’s pushing people toward the elevators. One thing that would help would be signs in the middle of the platform saying the escalator on one side is closed, so you don’t end up going to it and then finding out. Signs outside and on the bridge would be helpful too.

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