44 Replies to “Podcast #32: Clickbait”

  1. Portland population density is lower than Seattle, but the density of stuff around the bike share stations (population, stores, etc) is mostly fairly high. It isn’t so great around the north Portland stations, but the stations around SE Portland are in areas similar to Ballard.

      1. Portland population density is fine for bike share, in my opinion. Bike share works in Minneapolis, Denver and some other places that aren’t that different. The key is station density.

        When I look at the Biketown map, it seems like a decent start, but they are nowhere near where they need to be. Even on the west side, there are gaps. But on the east side, it looks like something that is simply unusable. Let’s say I’m somewhere on Salmon Street, which sits between Hawthorne and Belmont. I can’t imagine ever using bike share, anywhere on that street, no matter where I am headed. I have to work my way over to a main street and by the time I make it to a station, I’m probably most of the way to my destination. If I have to go a long ways, I’ll just take the bus (again, I’m now on a busy street). While the west side is not perfect, the east side is a mess. NACTO clearly states that if you are serving an area that is likely to be less popular, you should cut down on the number of bikes per station, not the number of stations. Stations shouldn’t be more than 1,000 feet apart. The most successful systems have them “evenly spaced an easy walking distance apart”. New York is a good example. They blanket Manhattan as well as the less densely populated Brooklyn. Even in most of Jersey city you don’t find the gaps that you do with Pronto or BikeTown. Either an area is covered (with lots of stations) or it isn’t.

        Of course that is easy to say, and hard to implement. The big problem with most bike share systems is they think too small. As transit programs go, it isn’t expensive, but folks underestimate the costs. Spend 20 million and you are likely to have a system that will pay for itself in a few years. Spend 2 million and you are likely to get nothing more a toy. For political reasons, of course, cities start small and try to grow. When starting small, there is a tough trade-off between coverage and density. Portland will likely fill in the gaps in their system, while they expand. I think Pronto simply spread itself too thin and was fractured. Although BikeTown is thin as well, at least the coverage area is obvious and contiguous. You can almost draw a perfect circle around the coverage area. Pronto is nothing like that. There are basically two completely different coverage areas, neither one of which is reasonably round. It is quite possible that they simply didn’t have the money to build something half way decent. If that was the case, in my opinion they should have concentrated on one end of town and added sufficient stations there.

        I would have gone one of two ways, either north or south of the ship canal. My first choice would be south of the ship canal. Basically everything between Mercer and Jackson. The east edge would be MLK Way, and there would be a handful of stations north of Mercer, primarily around Lake Union. Even that might be too much money, though.

        The other alternative — and this would make sense given the sponsorship of Children’s — is to focus on the area north of the ship canal, relatively close to the ship canal. It is tricky drawing a line, of course, because either you make it long and skinny, or you have only a handful of stations on the upper plateau. If push came to shove, I would make it long and skinny, although bulbous in Ballard and the UW. So basically everything south of about 55th, but with holes cut out of Wallingford and Phinney Ridge (sorry). In Ballard you would probably go a bit north of Market, to around 60th. This is less than ideal, of course, but actually fits our infrastructure. That gives you the Burke Gilman, which means trips between the Ballard, Fremont and the UW are easy, but the only real two dimensional areas would be the U-District and Ballard. As weird and as non-standard as that would be — even for a starter system — I think it would have been much better than what Pronto delivered. Because the coverage area would be relatively small, you could then have sufficient stations density (all over Ballard, the U-District, lower Fremont) which in my opinion would work just fine.

      2. There is definitely some considerable irony that some of the MAX stations are about 200 feet apart while there are gaps like that in Biketown stations.

    1. Portland as a whole is lower density and has long had a larger SOV mode share than Seattle. But central Portland has several things going for it: a larger walkable area, short blocks, linear park blocks and scattered statue amenities, flat landscape, punkish bar hangouts right downtown (Seattle’s downtown bars are mostly upscale), more pre-WWII buildings designed for walking to, an earlier commitment to MAX and streetcaes with several lines now, a better streetcar route through the center of downtown (like if we had a streetcar along 5th Avenue), etc. All this arguably makes it easier to have an urbanish lifestyle without trying in the central area. Plus the stronger environmentalist influence from Oregon’s tradition and the anarchist stronghold in Eugene. Add on top of that the bicycle infrastructure in the 00’s, and it revealed a latent biking demand. With a strong resident bike community comes a large demand for bikeshare, I guess.

      I think the takeaway is that bike lanes are paramount. Portland has extensive bike infrastructure, as does New York I hear, so a lot of ordinary people bike. We’ve seen this in the Netherlands on a larger scale. I suspect that even in such areas and with an extensive bikeshare system, the vast majority of trips are still on owned bikes rather than bikeshare. Because those who bike all the time own a bike, and those who bike occasionally or for part of their trip use bikeshare. I can’t see occasional bikers or partial-trip bikers ever outnumbering owner-bikers in miles per person. High-tourist cities like London and New York may have the largest bikeshare use, but Seattle is not a high-tourist city. The Space Needle and Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square are nice and all that but it’s not like the worldwide flock going to New York the Statue of Liberty or the World Trade Center site or Central Park. So we can’t expect that extent of tourist bikeshare users.

      Given that most bicycling is on owned bikes (by my armchair estimate with limited knowledge of other cities), the best bang for the buck is an extensive bike-lane network. That will make grandma feel safer biking, kiddo feel cool biking to school (“My other car is a Porsche.”), everyone biking to the supermarket, etc. Bikeshare is a niche on top of that. I’m not saying we must delay bikeshare; I’m just saying we really need the infrastructure now. Because even some non-environmentalist cities have gone big on this and we’re falling behind.

      1. The street grid here is a huge help. SE Division is a terrible street to bike on these days. It’s gotten way too busy. Two blocks south, Clinton has been turned into a bike thoroughfare and local access street. People trying to treat it as a bypass freeway of Division or Powell have concrete barricades that prevent it from being a through street for auto traffic.

        You could do this in places in Seattle, but it would be much more difficult due to the major roads hogging most of the best and flattest routes.

        Even so, I’ve been able to walk from the Convention Center to Volunteer Park on a relatively flat (nothing really that much steeper than SE Clinton in Portland) and quite low traffic street route by carefully choosing the route.

        So, there are some opportunities in places.

      2. I think the takeaway is that bike lanes are paramount. Portland has extensive bike infrastructure, as does New York I hear, so a lot of ordinary people bike.

        So do we! Maybe its not perfect, but is is coming along, and as it is, the results are very good: http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2016/03/02/national-report-seattle-is-among-the-safest-for-biking-and-walking-despite-lacking-infrastructure/

        People don’t use bike share in Manhattan or Chicago because biking in town is a wonderful, pleasant experience. They use it because they got there by train, and now want to go a few blocks. Taking transit for that type of trip isn’t worth it. Walking is OK, but maybe you are in a hurry. You can’t use your own bike, because it is at home, miles away. Just as taking a cab makes sense, so too does grabbing a bike. The difference being that grabbing a bike is a lot cheaper (and often faster) than hailing a cab.

        While there are investments we can make in bike infrastructure, we have to be real in terms of who it would actually benefit. Unlike a lot of cities, there are simply too many hills in the way for a lot of long or even mid distance trips. No amount of investment in bike infrastructure can fix that. Despite the fact that I go to Lake City all the time from my home in Pinehurst, I will never ride on 125th. That road, despite the fine work that the city did adding a bike lane, is just too steep. Much of the city is that way. It really isn’t lack of infrastructure that keeps me from heading to the UW, for example (there are bike lanes, many of them separated, the whole way) it is the hills. Meanwhile, just fixing individual problems — like the Ballard bridge — would pay for a top class bike sharing system for most of the city.

        Bike share is simply a very good bang for the buck. We have a decent bike system, we could use a good means of connecting bikes with public transit, and bike sharing is a great way to do that.

    2. Re why the mayor rejected Bewegen, my guess is he realized an all-electric network was not the best value, that some electric bikes for hills were better than all electric bikes, that the cost of electric bikes precluded a larger service area, and that bikeshare would really succeed only when it covers more of central Seattle and the Burke-Gilman corridor. Plus the minimal bike lanes now and helmet law discouraging people. On top of that may have been particulars of the Bewegen contract, or sponsor lukewarmness, or the prospect of going through another round of bidding with different criteria.

      Martin’s characterization of bikeshare as pro-transit is interesting. I’m not sure how true that is. I suspect more people use bikeshare instead of transit rather than to extend transit. Some people wouldn’t take transit anyway, but other people might ride rather than wait five or ten minutes; the same incentive as driving vs transit. The best feature of bikeshare is filling in gaps in the transit network; e.g., going straight when transit is indirect or requires a transfer, such as the Summit area to Westlake & Mercer (8+SLU streetcar is not a substitute; I walk instead), or Capitol Hill to Children’ (will be better with Link+RapidRide 44, but still not a direct one-seat ride, or from some parts of CapHill).

      I’ll reiterate the question I posed earlier and RossB responded to: what priority is bikeshare among our non-car transportation needs? How urgent is it? Where should it fit in the project order? There should be more public discussion of this, rather than just quietly shelving bikeshare or ramming it through without much debate of where it fits in.

      There’s a larger issue beyond bikeshare/transit mode share. Recent evidence indicates that when you give people more transportation choices, there’s a shift from transit to walking and biking, larger than the shift from cars. That can influence public policy to deemphasize transit. Should we be concerned about that? If so, what should we do?

      1. Put a chicken coop car on and it could revive the Interurban, taking farmers and eggs from Kent farms to Pike Place Market.

      2. Copenhagen’s first try at a bike share failed too. They tried again. Maybe we need to wait until we have the infrastructure and then do the stations in the right place. Maybe a waterfront to Capitol Hill tourist gondola would really get people on the bikes to come down if we put protected lanes on Pike or Pine. Or maybe we just need our waterfront to be finished. We do have cruise ship tourism and if we can market it to the tourists in the summer, it could bankroll the system for the rest of us who only use it occasionally all year round.

      3. Bike share has been shown to integrate very well with transit in other cities.
        For example (not the only one): betterbikeshare.org/2016/07/11/helsinkis-instant-bike-share-boom-shows-potential-integrating-transit/ Unfortunately our system was launched before this was fully understood.

        A NACTO study also showed that bike share users tend to bus slightly more in outlying areas (last mile to high-quality transit) and use the bus slightly less in dense central areas (instead of a local bus stuck in congestion or on an awkward route). I tend to do both, favoring whichever mode is quicker if I’m in a rush. On days when I can take it slow, I might also bike share to “get outside” for a few minutes. On a very rainy cold day I might take a slower bus (even though short-ish bike share rides aren’t that bad even when the weather would put me off of a longer “100% bike commute ride).

        My personal feeling about bike share and transit is that it is a hand-in-glove complement for BRT (or even watered-down RapidRide “enhanced bus”). BRT moves station spacing farther apart to the point that it can be quite a long walk. The lines are relatively expensive, so they are spaced farther apart than standard bus routes. The spacing, however is almost precisely the ideal range of a bike share ride (a 10-15 minute ride). For me personally, the 372 route is marked as RapidRide in the long range plan (by 2025, I think). However it’s a 20-minute walk to the nearest stop. It will make no sense for me to use it. The bike share ride to that stop would be under 10 minutes though, and I’d use it all the time. I have a similar last-mile issue with the future Roosevelt RapidRide route. “last-mile bike share” would also enable short neighborhood trips (people in my neighborhood invariably drive the 1 mile to Lake City) as a bonus. It makes it easier for people not living and working right on top of a RapidRide stop to decide to give up a personal car. And that makes it easier to move more parking to give BRT more priority. Even for people living directly in Transit Oriented Development, having more transportation options (including bike share) makes it easier to reduce parking requirements and have greater density. Being able to substitute even a small amount of expensive parking with denser development would offset the relatively small capital expenses needed for bike share docks.

      4. @TIm F — Exactly. Bike Share really does fit our city well, for at least two reasons:

        1) Our light rail line has very wide stop spacing and our bus system is moving towards that (for performance reasons).

        2) We are an area of plateaus and valleys. This makes is very difficult to bike everywhere, but really easy to bike some places. For example lower Fremont to Phinney Ridge is a real pain (I would rather walk). But Fremont itself, as well as Fremont to UW or Ballard is great. So too is Phinney Ridge — you can get to Greenwood easily and all the way up to Shoreline without too much effort.

        As a result, bike share just makes sense for this city. It complements our transit really well. I do think the contrast between the two systems is striking. There is always a trade-off when it comes to making transit routes. Add a bunch of stops and people don’t have to walk as far — unfortunately, everyone spends more time on the bus. Add more routes so that people don’t walk as much and you spread yourself very thin. But for the cost of maintaining a weak line you can flood the city with relatively inexpensive bike stations and every time you add more stations, the system gets more popular. In fact, the growth is not linear, but exponential (see the graphs on the second page of this: http://nacto.org//srv/htdocs/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/NACTO_Walkable-Station-Spacing-Is-Key-For-Bike-Share_Sc.pdf).

    3. Another possibility is a kind of Bike2Go. If people could leave bikes tied to any sidewalk post, that could be more of a last-mile solution, especially in the outer neighborhoods like Rainier Valley where buses aren’t as dense or frequent as in the center. An average Car2Go sits thirty minutes before somebody takes it. There’s a problem with people taking them outbound in the evening to single-family areas where they’re relatively inaccessible until morning, but that may be a worthwhile tradeoff to get some kind of last-mile solution operational to a limited extent.

      1. Portland’s BikeTown works that way. It charges a bit for locking to something that isn’t a station, and a huge amount more if that spot is outside the one area, and credits a bit for bringing them back home.

      2. I really believe that Bike2Go is the model that would make the system unusable. Even if the bikes tend become unbalanced, congregating in the middle of the city during the daytime, and further out in the evening, I say so be it, as it’s not worth driving up the cost of operating the system to pay people to drive around in trucks, moving the bikes all day.

        That said, I do believe the problem would be less of a case with bikes, since the home area would be much smaller, and the areas it would include would be mostly mixed-use anyway (and relatively flat, too, minimizing the net movement of bikes from the tops of hills to bottoms of hills). My biggest reservation about a system where bikes are not secured to stations is how to prevent theft and vandalism from destroying the system. I guess, as long as the bikes are at least secured to a bike rack, rather than simply locked to themselves, it would be ok. Although, there would inevitably be cases of people securing bikes to things they shouldn’t (e.g. fences, handrails, private property), similar to people parking Car2Go’s in places where they shouldn’t (e.g. loading zones, driveways, private property, etc.).

        Speaking of which, I’ve always wondered if it’s ok to end a Car2Go trip in your own driveway (obviously, someone else’s driveway would be a big no-no). As long as it’s clearly visible from the street and not blocked in by your personal car (e.g. another user must be able to drive the car away), one would think it would be ok. But, I’m not sure. This would be a useful feature for people that live in a single-family home, with a driveway, on a street where parking is difficult to find, but don’t personally own their own car.

      3. You still have the same problem, though — you need more stations. Let’s say Pronto added this. Great, now from CHS I can get over to First Hill. But what about getting back? There are no stations there (OK, there is one, but you get the idea). Allowing something like Biketown is a great idea, but it really only complements the core system. They charge extra, and for a handful of users it is great (it also gives them an idea of how to expand), but I don’t think it leads to much higher ridership. You need stations — lots and lots of stations. Pronto didn’t have that.

      4. By the way, one of the ways it compliments the existing network is dealing with bike share stations that are full. Certain public bike racks have an orange sticker on them, and you can lock a Biketown bike to those particular bike racks with no additional charge.

        At very popular locations that may see short term overloads, incorporating a general purpose bike rack into the system may be helpful.

        It also means that what is in effect a partial bike share station can be established by adding an orange bumper sticker to any existing bike rack and adding the location to the GPS system that governs charges.

        Assuming you are willing to limit the expansion to those willing to carry their own helmets with them, the entire Burke-Gilman from Ballard to UW could be done with about $20 in orange bumper stickers and maybe $200 in hours invested in software adjustments.

    4. I agree the pre-war/streetcar era Portland is really walkable and transit-oriented. But outside of that there is a lot post-war suburbia in East Portland and SW Portland through annexation, as well as Forest Park and Columbia Slough area that really waters down the urban parts of the city in national rankings for things like walkscore, density, transit and bike usage, etc. I’m actually curious how the pre-war Portland stacks up with pre-war Seattle.

      1. It’s a bit different trying to do that comparison because Portland had streetcars and interurban during the war. Significant parts of our WWII boom happened along rail lines because of the gas rationing, and tire rationing pushing people to transit anyway, and the lines were already there and running. Vanport was served by bus because it was a completely new city built specifically for ship yard workers, but it was washed out in a flood in 1948 so its impact on the framework of the city wasn’t extensive.

        One huge difference is the freeway. I-5 goes through downtown pre-war Seattle. Here, it was built along the east side of the river and away from downtown. There was an attempt to build a downtown freeway early on by converting Harbor Drive to a freeway, but it was such a failure it was demolished about 12 years after the project was finished. I-405 is our downtown freeway now, but it was built so late in the game (1970s) that it had to go around the edge of downtown. The freeways are still obstacles, but nowhere near as intrusive to the urban core as what happened in Seattle.

        So, there were several things that conspired to keep our pre-war core reasonably intact.

        Somehow, we managed to loose an awful lot to surface parking. If Portland were running Seattle’s Pioneer Square about 1/3 more buildings would have been lost to surface parking lots. In one or two places they have been useful as places to put food truck pods but for the most part all that surface parking really doesn’t do much for urban activity.

    1. Only problem for this posting is that there’s no way to work in the irresistible clickbait message that somebody nobody ever heard of ’til a minute ago is standing there in the shredded remains of a (uniform or clerical garb of your choice).

      Or the dubious claim that after your classified military green laser flashlight has damaged a poor bear’s eyesight, he won’t kill you anyway? I mean, who wouldn’t? (Click to find personal injury attorney, both for bears and humans in shredded camo.)

      But with charging stations in public view- Factoria Park and Ride, right?- shouldn’t some fish-treats persuade your cat to pretend it crawled into the charging station to get warm and have a heroic fireman save him? And not get clawed. Same with savage crocodile who will help your kitten instead of eating him.

      Mark (Hey, my doctor just told me this product only works on Sean Connery I want my money back!) (click!)

  2. I had a chance to look at the charging infrastructure deployed for the pilot. It’s much less obtrusive than overhead wires or diesel emissions. It would be a great upgrade to the metro electric fleet.

  3. It’s quite unfortunate that some of the buses on display at Innotrans aren’t available on the USA market. Some of those could go 120 miles on a charge, with layover charging adding to the distance. It’s the type of thing they are using in Hamberg to electrify their routes.

  4. Literally the first sentence of Lindblom’s Angle Lake story:
    “Commuters have been flocking to Sound Transit’s new Angle Lake Station, which is already near its 2018 ridership target, since the grand opening in September.”


    1. Ya. That is pretty spectacular. Link is pretty much setting ridership records from end to end.

      But the big question is, after the big surge due to new extensions opening, will the ridership growth go back to the double digit growth is was seeing? Or will it settle into a more sedate 5% or so?

      I suspect growth will settle into the 5 to 10% range, which is still darn good.

      1. Depends entirely on the land use and zoning changes.

        MAX had great growth too in the first few years (about 1986 to 1993 or so), and then the zoning got frozen. One area is even considering a downzone so a planned apartment complex isn’t built.

        I’m optimistic about Shoreline and Lynwood but I’ve heard single zone pitchforks rattling in places. Everett could do some pretty nice things, but it could do some pretty backwards things too.

    2. I’m more concerned about a respectable number of all-day boardings at stations than about the growth curve. Link’s ridership shows that people are more willing to ride Link than the pessemists said, even in the suburbs and with its wide spacing and Rainier Valley detour. The success of Angle Lake has as much to do with UW at the other end as with a station and P&R in the neighborhood. From the south end, UW and later Bellevue and other parts of north Seattle are reasons to take Link. Without the extensions, you’re transferring to a bus downtown, which is much less reliable and a time-consuming transfer. Those factors are enough to make the difference between taking Link and driving. We probably will see a fair number of riders from Federal Way and Tacoma Dome in spite of the travel time, because of the convenience and one-seat ride or train-to-train transfer. It may not be stellar all-day performance or repay the “billyuns and billyuns” of dollars to build it, but if there’s a respectable crowd boarding it and it helps me get around, then that’s good enough for me.

    3. Of course, masses at Angle Lake doesn’t necessarily mean masses in Everett, but it’s a sign that it may be more than just a peak-hour wonder.

  5. I disagree about the driverless bus statement. Low-speed driverless shuttle buses have been repeatedly demonstrated in multiple countries already – not just Finland. There are already several manufacturers holding orders for hundreds of them. It’s going to happen. The question is more about when elected leaders will push for them.

    1. The question is more about when elected leaders will push for them.

      Isn’t that the statement I made?

    2. Martin and Frank, as I think you noted, problem battery-only routes wouldn’t work large standing loads on Jefferson, Yesler and Queen Anne Counterbalance.

      But hybrid battery-overhead like First Hill Streetcar will be good for longer and flatter routes. Also routes only partly wired. Doubtless we’ll start bringing in improved off-wire capacity for our trolleybus fleet these next years.

      I think SkyTrain works pretty much like this : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDhdiKBLavM As script points out, for road traffic “we’re not there yet.” But wish this mode would’ve been available for DSTT fleet. Ideal conditions for linear motor, Limited distance. Transit traffic only. Completely indoors.

      But every time I either hear or read that the decision to automate road vehicles is mainly a political one, I’ll call my every relevant elected official and tell them to keep human drivers. World War I novel “All quiet on the Western Front” says it all:

      “At the sound of the first droning of the shells we flash backward, in one part of our being, a thousand years. By the animal instinct that it awakened in us we are led and protected. It is not conscious; it is far quicker, much more sure, less fallible, than consciousness. One can not explain it.

      A man is walking along without thought or heed. Suddenly he throws himself down on the ground and a storm of fragments flies harmlessly over him. Yet he cannot remember either to have heard the shell coming or to have thought of flinging himself down.

      But had he not abandoned himself to the impulse he would now be a heap of mangled flesh. It is this other, this second sight in us, that has thrown us to the ground and saved us, without our knowing how. If it were not so, there would not be one man alive from The English Channel to Switzerland.”

      Every single computer-generated response is only as good as the worst piece of misinformation programmed in. Or more to the point, life or death information left out with no way to trace its absence. Or to note all the times nature’s own response worked.

      How many times does the average driver survive by a microsecond’s accurate response- unaware of ever being in danger? A huge percentage of the time, trouble owing to a lightning flash of simultaneous complete coincidences?

      Elevator? I’ll risk it. Same with train on inviolable right of way. But for general traffic, ’til I know the answer to the artillery question, my word to my reps is no. Starting from when we all had one cell, multiple million (maybe “Thousand” is more impressive in German) years of programming beats, what, twenty?

      And one more non-negotiable. Let’s start calculating the red-column (not -State!) cost of one unwillingly, and un-rehireably terminated worker. Around age twenty, Nature’s own fallback we call gang violence. Fired at forty or later, higher medical bills for a shorter life. And election results never good for transit.

      Also lost is what trained human workers of any number can absolutely do best: learn and report operating experiences that designers will need to improve the machinery. Especially the part that will eventually be automated.

      Definitely, progressively fewer needed as robotics advances. My formula for staff reduction: As long as your best driver wants to be in the seat, leave them there. So long as they treat passengers so they like that individual driver better than a robot.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Re video, is that induction? Also, I’m having a hard time seeing how under-road wireless power is necessarily better or cheaper than good ol’ trolley wire.

    3. I wonder how easy it is to retrofit a bus to be driverless? It seems to me that our new investment in battery powered buses and driverless technology go together. While I think it is great that drivers will be able to finally get decent breaks while they wait for the bus to charge, that still might be costly. But a robot can sit around and it doesn’t cost us a dime.

  6. (21:42) Regarding whether people are transferring from the A at Angle Lake because it’s closer than SeaTac. Some people predicted it would be a shorter and more direct transfer, so that could be part of it. I don’t know how much that’s true, but at last for the southbound A at SeaTac you have to go down an escalator, across a bridge, down an elevator/stair, wait for the stoplight, then backtrack under the bridge you just crossed to get to the bus stop. People may be avoiding that. (Especially since the elevator is currently broken.)

    1. My gut feeling is that if you’re going to transfer to the train anyway, you may as well do it as soon as possible, to minimize the number of stoplights and bus stops you need to sit through on the bus. There could also be a fair number of airport workers parking their cars at Angle Lake and riding Link one stop to their work. I would expect it to be quite a bit faster than parking in an off-site employee lot and waiting for a shuttle, and quite a bit cheaper than trying to park on-site. (Of course, people that have to arrive before 5 AM don’t have this option).

  7. Mike, my own understanding of the video is that principle is pretty much same as for SkyTrain. As someone explained to me, magnets under car are the usual rotating magnets- except flattened.

    Fact that so few of these systems are used shows that they’re neither a simple or inexpensive solution. Would bet that part of SkyTrain’s original purpose, including the propulsion system, was to showcase new Canadian technology.

    For DSTT, advantage would’ve been that buses would not need overhead wire. Including the standard clumsy and interfering special-work. Joint use required hybrid buses, since different voltage between trains and buses would have required separate systems close to each other- and three wires instead of two.

    If we buses had had induction motors, we’d have been spared any bus wire at all. Over last several years, have gotten the idea, looking back, that we expected to get our trains at least several years before 2009. Meaning minimal investment in anything bus related, from special work to signalling. Reason I keep stressing approaches giving ability to flex with events.

    I really remember the Chicago and North Shore interurban cars, with about two thirds of the car a regular coach, and a baggage and freight compartment with a large side door. Doubtless did carry poultry, as well as milk, supplies, and motors and parts. Still think there’s a place for this capacity.

    I’ve mentioned once or twice the idea of leaving one car on a four car LINK train with more aisle space for both bikes and luggage. Truth to tell, for airport trains, luggage capacity is terrible. In high sections, only one seat per row has any space at all under it. Sandboxes, I think.

    Anyhow, big virtue of light rail, which since it can run street track if it has to is really street rail, is that it’s got the flexibility to be adjusted for conditions. Pic doesn’t show it, but there’s a toothed center track and a cogwheel on the front of the car. Indicating that the city has both many bikes and very steep hills. Doubtless much steeper than Jackson Street.


    1. The first real application of a linear motor for a transit-like device was in 1975 in DisneyWorld’s People Mover. So, it wasn’t really new Canadian technology, though they did pioneer getting it into full scale transit use.

      It’s a bit more expensive than regular track, but you don’t have to worry about wheel adhesion on wet track or a few other issues. There’s no gearboxes to maintain.

      It’s pretty much as you describe: the magnets interact just as they do in a rotating motor, but the magnetic force pushes the car on the track directly rather than having to have a rotating shaft converted to forward motion.

      It would be difficult to do this on something other than a rail vehicle. The tolerances for magnet interaction are pretty tight.

      However, other transit uses of linear motors exist. Among them: Alstom has been using linear motors as door closing mechanisms on some of its cars for some time. There’s lots less stuff to break.

  8. With regards to the idea that Sound Transit contracts out almost all its customer facing positions to Metro (or other transit agencies) except the Twitter account, doesn’t Sound Transit directly operate Tacoma Link?

  9. Regarding the operator change mid-run, isn’t this also giant security risk? You’re opening the door on an elevated section of track, opening the door to the cab, etc? I’m sure there are lockouts on the controls but still, it seems unduly risky when there are other methods.
    All it’s going to take is one crazy jostling with the operator or making his way onto the catwalk and that’ll be the end of that.

      1. I have been on a train numerous times when an operator change took place and it is done at a raised platform located just north of the yard where the trains are parked when they are not in service. The platform is between the Sodo and Beacon Hill stations.

  10. You guys refer to Angle Lake as “Parking garage surrounded by nothing” – I don’t think that’s remotely fair. South Bellevue will be a P&R surround by nothing. There is ‘stuff’ around Angle Lake – office buildings, hotels, apartment complexes, etc. Frankly, the number of jobs within a 15 minute walk is probably greater than some of the Seattle stations like Beacon Hill or Rainier Beach.

Comments are closed.