This is a classic Oran video from 2010. Link Light Rail is much faster and safer than driving in the snow.

34 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Link Light Rail vs. Snowy Freeways (Link Wins)”

  1. Now that ST3 has passed can we let DP come back? Sure, he wasn’t always the friendliest guy but he added some interesting dimensions to the conversations. And I have to admit I found his nihilistic sense of humor to be refreshing.

    1. I doubt d.p. would want to return from banishment because with the passage of ST3/4 out to 2041 there is nothing left to passionately advocate for. The suburbs won the day and that’s point, set, match. About the only thing left to decide is what pattern to choose for wallpaper.

      1. Mic, Three reasons out of a fractal infinity of them why the suburbs can’t even play badminton.

        1. How many days are there in 30 years?

        2. When suburban kids run away, do they head for Kent or Capitol Hill? Until Brooklyn Station opens, when they’ll be sitting on the sidewalk on The Ave, hitting you up for change to buy a corned beef sandwich and a cup of coffee (NOT espresso, that’s a train back in Italy!) I forget, do you take the A-train to Brooklyn or Harlem?

        3. In thirty years, South Lake Union will have a MAX Yellow Line stop. BTW, speaking of Portland-related sports, when all those IT people move in there, good idea if they always let Tonya Harding win. Anybody from Canada, what’s Emergency Room code for “point, set, and match”?


    2. Any way all comments from anybody that nobody else can stand to me? Anybody looking to get into politics to save our country needs all the practice we can get.

      Also, with the company I keep here in Olympia, where people are so sweet they can’t stand to listen to that great song about a recruit promising to kill the company bugler, leaves me ‘way out of condition for the days ahead. So every [AH], patch me in.

      “And then I’ll find dat udder pup (My God, he’s going to kill a little dog!) Da guy dat wakes da bugler up…(and murder a musician!) And I’ll spend da rest of my life in bed!”

      -George Gershwin

      (Get out of our cafe! I can’t stand violence! Upon which her co-worker tells me she can’t interfere with my freedom of speech.)


    3. Much as I appreciated his unique viewpoint, the tone of the comments section is significantly different with and without d.p. With, it becomes full of hysteria. Without, it remains mostly the cordial exchanged of views it was intended to be. When he first left I was afraid nobody would fill such a maximally-urbanist viewpoint. It was d.p. who convinced me a 45th line was feasible and it could serve both Fremont and Wallingord because an underground line can zigzag without losing much travel time. But today when I read RossB’s magnificent defense of a Metro 8 line, I thought, this is it, this is the supposedly missing viewpoint. Quoting, “These folks don’t know how to build a subway line.” How much more d.p. can you get?

      Last I heard d.p. moved back to Boston, and while he’s supposedly still be interested in Seattle transit, I imagine it becomes less significant as time goes on. Somebody could interview him perhaps.

      1. This is why people invent Time Machines. So they can actually show things to 25 year old people, like the lyrics to “Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning” (on an actual tan-colored paper sheet of music from 1918!)

        And proof that a corned beef sandwich never had any actual corn in it except what the cow ate for its last meal. Or that “Take the A-train” was a jazz song about a subway run that made the Harlem stop. Or what jazz and Harlem were.

        And that the yeara current 25 year old was three, a young skater named Tonya Harding got into a lot of trouble because her ex-husband seriously injured a competitor of hers named Nancy Kerrigan with an iron bar to further Tonya’s career, though the law never proved she was to blame.

        As it turned out, both of them were seriously outskated by a Ukrainian girl named Oksana Baiyul who looked like she wasn’t allowed to eat. Though there’s absolutely no proof whatever that any of them ever rode on MAX. So I don’t dare mention DP and Boston in the same sentence.

        Because it was 1963 when the Kingston Trio topped the charts with “MTA”, a protest song against a five cent fare increase that left somebody trapped forever on a speeding PCC ’cause he couldn’t afford to pay as he got off. If DP has gotten a guitar, he could send STB on a PCC down an alternative universe ST-3 funded DSTT-2 while we all fumble for our nickel.

        Please bring him back.


      2. He moved back to Boston but still cares about transit in the area and still follows the blog (and gets frustrated by some of the fallacious arguments or ridiculous assumptions made by some commenters). I do too, but I tend to suffer fools much better than he does.

        His tone never bothered me, maybe because I’m not a pussy. Wait, that isn’t fair, because plenty of people have pissed me off. But I would rather have someone say my argument sucks to my face, rather than imply that, for example, I don’t care about the suburbs. I take those insults personally, because I’ve lived in the suburbs, and personally know how difficult it is to get by with very little money while trying to raise kids without a car there.

    4. No. For those of us who care about transit and legitimate debate based on facts I can attest that dp didn’t add anything.

      This blog shouldn’t be about silly entertainment, it should be about moving Seattle transit forward. As such, I’d keep dp banned.

      1. No, dp added numerous pertinent facts. Fortunately, others since his sadly-deserved banning have continued giving such invaluable facts – but let’s not forget d.p. made many legitimate contributions to the debate.

      2. All I can say is that any of the threads where I was challenging him (those are the ones where I had the information, I don’t challenge otherwise). d.p. was severely lacking on his command of ‘the facts’.

        Be thankful RossB stepped in, even though I don’t share his point of view.
        He is a much better contributor, except sometimes he can be a bit ‘squishy’ in his numbers, but otherwise is well thought out and intelligent with his comments.

      3. &William C,

        I can’t remember dp ever getting his facts right, but we are now in a trumpian world where supposedly the truth doesn’t matter but entertainment and bellicose yelling does. But when the goal is to actually get something done I still think facts matter.

      4. @Lazurus — Oh please. Here you are, on a blog, insulting someone who literally can’t defend himself against your allegations and you haven’t bothered to cite one fact to support your case. Go ahead, list the top five times he got his facts wrong.

        Or how about you point out the factual inconsistencies with this comment:, which pretty much sums up the situation we are in. Where did he get the facts wrong on what could easily be the most eloquent repudiation of the spine ever written?

      5. His facts were right, at least regarding an ideal city network. He said essentially that anything as dense as Jackson Street to 65th should have a grid of grade-separated lines, and that they’d be well-used (“It’s a city, and in a city people go places and do things”) and would allow Seattle to reach its potential (especially if zoning were improved too). He pushed for half-mile station spacing because that means even if you live halfway between and a few blocks away it’s still only a quarter-mile walk.He wanted stations at Bellevue Ave, 15th, and 23rd. Since I live at Bellevue Ave I know that would benefit me; as it is I often take a bus to Link because it’s not that close. His and RossB’s networks are about the same except he was even more insistent that “of course an underground line in inner-city Seattle is worth it, you’d be stupid not to think so”, We disagreed on the suburbs, namely that I thought his termini were too close in and his outer commuter rail/BRT was too infrequent; I felt it cut too many people off for the dubious reason that their housing wasn’t dense enough (they can’t afford to live closer in, and the zoning lock prevents more inner housing).

        The problem is, what do you do when the governments and most of the public don’t want that vision, when they want something like ST1/2/3 instead? Instead they prefer spine reaching from Everett to Tacoma, with one combination city-suburban network with 1-2 mile station spacing, and no Ballard spur because Northgate and Lynnwood were promised capacity and frequency. And when the state won’t allow Seattle to tax billions of dollars to build its own network? DP’s attitude was “Too bad, build a perfect network or nothing”. But if the governments and public aren’t willing to approve a perfect network, then antagonizing them and diluting the yes vote means we’ll end up with nothing. I lived with nothing for thirty years and am not willing to do it any longer. My attitude is close to Martin’s and a little less than Seattle Subway, “Build what the governments and public are willing to build, because some HCT mobility is better than none.”

      6. He concentrated on the city network part of things, but turned a blind eye towards the longer distance needs.

        The problem is that Puget Sound needs a city network as well as a regional network. Buses stuck on the freeway aren’t working for those people, and so they are pushing for some sort of alternative.

        Between Berlin and Potsdam there is an S-Bahn line that runs frequent trains, but for the most part are not especially crowded. That part of the line has been electrified since the 1920s. It makes a fair number of stops, but provides a decent local service in that area.

        However, regional express RE1 runs once every half hour on the parallel main line, stops at a few stations that allow transfers to the S-Bahn, and covers the distance faster. That seems to be where the crowding happens today.

        Concentrating only on the urban part of the problem only tackles one part of the problem. Making the system work well in a sprawled out region needs several solutions.

      7. As one who got slimed for the Cardinal sin of pointing out that the jog from Fremont to Phinney at 43rd serves a large number of people in a very steep hill, I have to agree that he could be way over the top.

        Instead of attacking other posters it would have behooved him to attack the politicians at the State and county levels — and their “small”-business funders — ultimately responsible for ALL the transit idiocy in the region.

        In particular, the Sub-Area Equity principal and the embargo of “urban” voluntary taxation, essentially guarantee something closely resembling the The Spine as currently planned is the only high-capacity transit that ever can be or could have been constructed.

  2. Sure on a snowy day, Link wins but realistically how many of those happen in a given year? Zero to Six would be my answer.

    If “because Link works in the snow when freeways don’t” is its strongest reason to be built, there’s a problem.

    1. I had the misfortune of driving a friend to the airport from Maple Leaf at 16:30 last Wed. I offered that driving him to link at Husky Stadium was probably faster and less stressful but he choose I-5. He was lucky to make his flight after the hour and a half drive. It doesn’t take snow to make driving suck.

      1. R, sometimes worst thing in the world is to finally be right about something. Pretty much the way Einstein must have felt when the first A-bomb went off. I’ve always been answering transit critics that while light rail does not cure congestion, it makes choice to get stuck in it voluntary.

        But now I see that truth is much worse. Everybody going zero that I see while I’m looking out the window at them at 60 (they were just now talking about Albert Einstein’s take on space and time on the radio) live in a parallel universe where the train is actually the vehicle standing still.

        Definitely the reason ST-3 passed. Huge number of people vote positive (wonder if mile markers on I-5 really mark voting district lines) because they know Positive vote gets a lot of slow hesitant drivers in hybrids out of the way of their SUV’s.

        Uh…he wasn’t going to Boston, was he?

    2. The point is that it’s good we now have at least one line that’s mostly immune to snow conditions now.

    1. LA Metro organized a speed dating in the subway event on Valentines Day if you’re looking for ideas.

      1. Man, talk about a Superbummer (do they still have bummers, or did those go away with the ’60’s and hubcaps?)

        Here I always thought Speed Dating was a mating custom between two very close relatives in the Ozarks whose families own rival enterprises in the industry that replaced moon-shining after marijuana got legalized.

        Also named for the haste with which they always have to go find someplace where they won’t be disturbed every time their crazed uncle’s meth goes off went off like the main event for the Manhattan Project.

        Or their other Cousin Raylan, who is now a US marshal, shoots their other cousin full of holes with a .44 magnum. (Like with Omigod They Killed Kenny! in South Park, he’s always back next “Justified” episode.)

        When I read your comment, Oran, I re-read the book “Winter’s Bone” again. Worth reading, because it describes, with considerable background, a little known part of our country that it’s better to read about than get killed seeing firsthand. Though firsthand visit beats seeing the movie.

        Now? Just glad I’m not handling complaints in Los Angeles Metro Rail Customer Services Office day after any of these events. Or trying to get to the airport. I really think a Musical Ride with romantic music every Friday night would be a lot better idea.

        But on the other hand…isn’t LA’s whole motto “Hey! Who Loves Ya, Baby?!


      2. They never did again after 2015, which leads me to believe that speed dating on the trains was unsuccessful. Otherwise they would have trumpeted a marriage or child from a relationship from the event.

      1. You’re on the right track (sorry) Joe. Venue will be hard enough. Lot will depend which route to Spokane is closest to the distance between Paris and Intanbul. Haven’t yet found freight interference figures for original Orient Express.

        Or, we can just run LINK back and forth ’til mileage adds up the same. Really too bad we have to wait so long for walk-through trainsets. Conspiring murderers will look silly trying to sneak in and out of LINK doors every stop.

        Selection of person who will become the dead body every murder mystery needs – problem is that none of best candidates would be caught on transit dead, meaning we’ll have to kill (we’ve all got our favorites) and then put him on the train.

        Greatest part will be where the hero, a really dashing fare inspector (how come in the movies we never see these detectives actually inspect anything, let alone an ORCA card?) decides that the guy deserved to get stabbed by all three hundred passengers because he always forgot how many times he tapped.

        Oh, right, the train will pull a tank car full of hot chocolate. Forgetting something…what was it…The Romance Part!

        Hate to break this to LA Metro, but not worth the ticket down there. No matter how much capacity it’s rated for, the industry hasn’t yet got anything with the RPM’s to get any serious transit advocate a date. Especially if they drive full time.


  3. I grew up in Boston and relied on the Green Line LRT. It was often better in the snow, but they needed to keep a small fleet of derelict LRT cars from the 1940s alive with plows on them to clear the tracks; otherwise they were also vulnerable to a heavy snow or deep freeze.

  4. I was in Tokyo a few weeks ago when it snowed and found the surface rail from the suburbs was running late and at greatly reduced frequency due to snow on the rails. I hope our network stays more resilient as we continue to build it out.

  5. A fairly major issue with ST’s mobile schedule I noted yesterday when my flight home was delayed by an hour–I hadn’t thought much about the train downtown as I was originally scheduled in at 10pm, so when delayed until 11pm I checked the Link schedule to see my options. It lists the 11:19, 11:34, and 11:49pm trains as “Airport Station – To Downtown.” Cool, I thought–it runs reasonably late enough on Sundays. Walked pretty quickly as I wanted to get home, and when I got to the station heard the announcement “Last train to Downtown Seattle and University of Washington departs at 11:19.” Hmmm…so I’m here in time for that thankfully, but what’s up? Once I got on the train and expanded the schedule I was reminded that the last two trains only ran as far as Beacon Hill (and have a horrible bus connection from there downtown; come on, Metro!).

    The problem with this is that nobody coming into town and going downtown is going to expand the schedule. The schedule says “To Downtown;” there’s one line — so why expand it? Then all of a sudden you’re stuck in an unfamiliar neighborhood after midnight with no clear knowledge of how to get downtown.

    ST, could you please fix this on your mobile site schedule? The desktop schedule is clear and does give connecting bus information, but people arriving at the airport aren’t going to have access to that (or expect to have to).

    Additionally, since the line serves the airport, and since there is for all intents and purposes no “Sunday schedule” for flights — in fact, Sunday evening is a rather busy time at the airport — it would be nice to keep the Sunday last train the same as every other day (perhaps trains could go out of service returning south instead of north, as you’d pick up the busiest areas with the last train that way).

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