34 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Christmas Cranes”

    1. Earlier this year, I remember they were going for an “December 2016” target opening, by opening on December 31st. I guess they missed their target.

  1. Thanks for this topic to start the New Year with, aw. Whole story of New York’s subway world is amazing. Starting with a car that looked like, and probably was, a barrel, pushed and pulled like a giant fan.



    Many, may links. But remember a couple of things from one of them. One, that the 1904 one was built in record time because by then, sidewalks were so crowded that nobody could even walk up Broadway at rush hour.

    And also, that the system rapidly started noticing that the more capacity they built, the more crowded the trains got. Surprised that neither The Seattle Times or (this could never really happen!) some commenter would demand an investigation as to why this long-known phenomenon was covered up ’til it was too late.

    But, for historic challenge from civic history:




    When’s Ed Murray going to get to drive a train? If operator shortage continues…ok, a couple years on the Route 4 just to break him in.

    Happy New Year!


  2. Then please commit to getting involved in 2017. Because most people who show up in the Seattle process think ‘If only everything would never change, things would be great.”

  3. So with Sound Transit requiring a 4-hour period at night where Link is completely off, and refusing to innovate in any way to operate during the night, and not even being confident enough in the robustness of the light rail system to forgo a single night, running Link 44 consecutive hours instead of 20, then how will this work with a 116-mile long light rail system in 2041? Under the current operating pattern, the closure will almost certainly be longer than 4 hours. And it takes much longer for trains to reach the termini in the full build-out. Are we possibly looking at 9pm for the last train to Tacoma?

    1. I’d imagine there’d be at least 2 new bases (hopefully built with 125 meter service bays) long before 2040, one east and the other way north or way south.

    2. Even with more bases I don’t see how this will work. If the last train to Tacoma is at 12:30a it still won’t arrive until after 2. The train to Everett will take even longer.

      1. There are a number of options. For instance, trains leaving Ballard after midnight could run only to stadium station, then rest on the SODO base for the night. Trains leaving Ballard at 11:30 could get to Tacoma by 1:15 AM, before resting in the south base for the night, while still providing service a bit past midnight from Beacon Hill to Sea Tac.

        I’m not to worried. There is no way ST would get away with last trains in the middle of the city at 10 PM when everyone is already used to later hours.

        All things considered, I would rather have a four-hour maintenance window in the middle of the night than deal with what Washington D.C. is deal with today, 40 years from now. (Although, special late-night service for New Year’s Eve and 4th of July would be appreciated).

    3. If you are worried about the software updates thing for their dispatching system that is sometimes brought up, keep in mind 25 years ago, only a few geeks (like some of us here) were working with what became of the Internet, and email came via half hourly UUCP feed.

      What is happening now in terms of details like scheduling does not mean it is permanent. Some systems (CTA blue line) operate their trains all night. MAX starts at 3:21 am on weekdays and doesn’t shut down until 1 am on most weekdays and later than that on Fridays.

      Sometime between now and 2041 there will be technical changes to the system. Chances are, at some point, they will need to look at diffferent scheduling.

      1. I’m not so worried that it isn’t possible. We already have subways that operate 24/7. What I’m worried about is that Sound Transit will be stagnant in innovating on their operating procedures, and refuse to consider ways to make Link operate more hours. It’s not really an issue for things like the Issaquah line, which would probably stop operating in the 11pm hour anyway, and is close to the east base. What I’m more worried about are 90 minute+ spine trips. My hope is that Sound Transit would do its best to end service along the system in a consistent manner by intelligently assigning trips to the closest base to their terminus, i.e., having the last southbound Tacoma train go to the south base from Tacoma at around 12 to 1, and having the last northbound Ballard train do so to the central base. I would also hope that they do have some truncated spine trips serving later at night (like keeping southbound green line trains leaving downtown between 12 and 1 by truncating at the airport, or continuing on the line to the south base if it can get there before central base).

        My concern is that they will assign trains to bases independently of operational considerations, and the last train to Tacoma will be before 10pm because it’s a central base train.

      2. It doesn’t even seem like it would require much innovation. People have operated railways without computers for the majority of the history of railways, right? Or has this computer learned to say, “I’m sorry, Dave…”?

      3. Some non-24 hour systems, like the Los Angeles Metro Gold and Expo Lines, actually have trains in operation 24 hours a day (i.e., the last train pulls into the yard after the first train pulls out of the yard). The track maintenance is accommodated through single tracking, but the purpose for shutting down the system is to give it a chance to reboot if necessary. This is the same logic why Southwest Airlines does not operate service all night long, even though logistically on most nights the last plane pulls into a hanger on the West Coast around the same time the first one pulls out on the East.

  4. Mark, I think some caution about change in general is built into every living creature. Risk-takers’ chief evolutionary contribution is survivors’ memory of what risk just killed their brave buddy.

    Like everywhere else, the energy behind this country’s most dynamic cities and their transit systems was often bio-generated from greed and bribery, and smelled like it. Civic putrefaction is a process too.

    Good example, conception to completion of I-5 through Seattle in the 1950’s, before so much concern for public discussion. Somehow “process” really gets its worst mention when its purpose is to prevent or minimize damage to people least able to cope or resist.

    Nobody said “Politically Correct” in the times when nobody who wanted Jews in the neighborhood could get elected. And anybody who didn’t mind black neighbors would soon have a pile of ashes for a house. By way of neighborly correction.

    Real problem in Seattle, Mark, isn’t process. It’s a bad civic habit of using it as an excuse to avoid making a decision. For transit, cure requires a large number of advocates who know machinery and civil engineering, and also understand the people whom the project will affect.

    Advocates who will do the political spade-work for incumbents and candidates who are themselves both technically knowledgeable and willing to lose an election or two by insisting the job be planned and done right.

    And finally, and maybe most important, officials and citizens able to get digging immediately when it’s suddenly possible, but also keep working when the boring machines hit recessions, bad elections, or other swamps and giant rocks.

    Good example of habit for effective transit involvement: Every proposed transit route or project , drive the whole thing a lot more than once, walk all the tricky parts, and take a lot of pictures.

    And especially for real-time moving transit, if you’ve got the moving videos, interested politicians, or their staff, have the time.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I disagree Mark. The real problem in Seattle decision-making is that it is the only place I’ve seen where we consider one alternative at a time. From Metro CD restructuring to ST3 technologies and corridors to Seattle’s lane drops to even the Bertha dig, it’s one step – yes or no – and you have to be a supporter or an opposer. It’s one alternative at a time until the opposition noise level is tolerable.

      Most places begin with many alternatives. The recent LAX transit connector study had 17 for example. It’s much easier to avoid opposition and build consensus for an alternative when someone can compare alternatives and see what parts are good from each one.

  5. One day, all these cranes will be gone. And I will miss them.

    It’s hard to imagine a time when there won’t be huge cranes on the Seattle skyline.

    There used to be a few at the Portland South Waterfront development that were really well decorated this time of year.

    1. Climate change ensures a long-term population growth until an earthquake or tornado destroys the region. A blue-state sensibility and economy, and civil and social protections, could eventually bring an increasing number of red-state refuges.

      1. Climate change … could eventually bring an increasing number of red-state refuges.

        This is exactly why Democrats need to capture one more Senate seat in 2018 so that the State Legislature can pass a law which states that new residents to the state cannot vote for local, county or statewide offices for ten years after they arrive. We can’t deprive them of their rights to vote for national offices, but we should be sure to limit new arrivals’ ability to destroy the political consensus that has made the State of Washington great.

        They’ve already ruined Clark County and are rapidly spreading northward into Cowlitz. The time to act is now.

        This is NOT snark. I mean it.

      2. Me, too. That he implies Democrats are plausibly only a vote away from actually passing such a monstrously evil and reactionary plan suggests Poe. Then again, another normally sane commenter here argued, sincerely and earnestly, for overt housing discrimination as a matter of public policy, benefiting those who were born in the Pacific Northwest, so you never know.

    2. The refugees I was thinking of are the victims of red-state policies, not the perpetrators of them. People whop arte discriminated against or are fed up with no social safety net. The cost of housing in Washington would be a deterrent though.

      A waiting period for voting would surely be unconstitutional.

      1. Every state has a waiting period for voting, some as long as a year. What is fundamentally different about ten? Not for Federal elections; the Supreme Court has been clear about that. But state elections are the business of the state in question.

      2. If nothing else, a gen year waiting period would probably get us a new voting rights act so that the nonsense seen in other states doesn’t happen.

      3. Every person who has ever argued for measures to prevent people from voting has used exactly that argument — we can’t have people who aren’t like us coming in and disturbing what we have created here.

      4. I had to look it up, but you’re right, it has been ruled unconstitutional. In 1972 the Court ruled that Tennessee’s one year residency requirement to vote in state and local elections was unconstitutional, and suggested 30 days (which is the longest any state uses now.)

      5. Amen, Julie.

        For everyone else, your lack of respect for people who have different opinions from your own is depressing.

  6. Don’t worry, when those cranes are gone they’ll be replaced by tall buildings, which we like even more.

  7. Well once again I am right. I said last week when the holiday schedule was used on a non-violent it fouled up my whole commute I said the exact same thing would happen today. Guess what? It I’d all fouled up. I will get home from work almost ban hour late this morning. I have to leave a half an hour early tonight to make sure I make it. January 2nd is not a holiday.

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