52 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Goodbye, Joe”

  1. So regarding Friday afternoon’s Link issues,

    was the route 97 bus bridge really only running from SODO station to Stadium station? That would turn many 1-seat rides into 3-seat rides (or, more broadly, n-seat rides to (n + 2)-seat rides). It would also seem silly to run a special, last-minute, expensive-to-operate bus for just one mile, especially when at minimum you already have the 150, 101, and 594 providing 8 buses per hour off-peak/reverse peak, and the 101, 102, 150, 177, 178, 190, 590, and 595 in the peak direction going to the same two stops as the 97.

    At the very least, it would make more sense I think to have it run to capitol hill/UW, or even an I-5 express to UW from Stadium station (like the 97X they ran one weekend).

    1. Late Saturday afternoon, hung around a couple of hours to watch DSTT handle the day’s events. Didn’t exactly hope they’d have to turn back trains at Westlake. Would’ve made great posing, though.

      A young RapidRide fare inspector stationed at Nordstrom entrance (I know, I know, not RapidRide route, so she didn’t inspect any fares, which proves above point) told a passer-by he’d have to get a bus to SODO. Thirty second walk and ten minute ride to Stadium and back featured a lot of trains.

      Also, real security people told me they’d never heard of the bus bridge, at least not lately. Won’t say I was disappointed I didn’t see emergency turnbacks at Westlake, because next time I’m going to be the one who misses my flight. Starting to miss the days when all the Legends were Urban and hadn’t gone Suburban yet, let alone Regional.

      We’re not told whether Joe actually rolled into Delaware on AMTRAK, or Greyhound because of a mudslide. But between traffic conditions on I-5, mechanical issues, and freight interference, just as he was about to congratulate himself for taking LINK to SeaTac, information readout at SODO would have told him to ride the 174 to Everett. Well, that’s what FOX news says.

      Quit laughing, Mike Pence. Problem with your helicopter could put you on DC Metro.

      MD

    2. Available seats on the buses might have been a problem, especially in the outbound direction. Those specialty peak expresses and routes 101 and 102 tend to be SRO in the peak hour. (But the situation was resolved before the peak of peak.) Transferring 400 riders from a train into the space gaps on some 590s and 150s might not work.

      I just hope the incidents that bring Link to a halt become less frequent.

      1. I think priority needs to go to the thousands of incidents that bring everything on I-5 to a halt between both rush hours every single weekday.

        Necessitating permanent transfer of me from Intercity Transit 605, and either Sounder or ST 574, to a LINK ride from Angle Lake to points north. After a 50-mile drive each direction.

        Bet me I can’t get Tim Eyman to help me shift Sound Transit’s whole budget to getting Sounder to Lacey and supersonic jet ferries from Port of Olympia to Bellingham. I need a new watch, Tim, since travel time just blew out the old one. Oakland University and no it’s not in California.

        Mark

    3. A bus bridge is an appropriate mitigation for a breakdown, and it’s what ST has announced it would do in these situations. Stadium and SODO are right next to a bus base do there’s no difficulty getting a bus, and just driving back and forth does not take that many hours. Having a dedicated bus bridge is simpler for passengers, especially those from out of town or occasional riders who are afraid about unknown buses taking them far away to somwehere they’ll get lost. It also guards against overzealous drivers who won’t accept their Link ticket and give them a lecture about paying another fare when transferrring between agencies. And the bridge may have been longer than two stations for part of the time, as when it went from Westlake to Intl Dist a week ago.

    4. @AlexKven — I’m pretty sure the answer to your question is no. You are right, that would be silly. But more to the point, the train was stopped well before it got to SoDo. Or at least it was when I was trying to ride it. As (bad) luck would have it, I was trying to get to the Rainier Valley then, starting at University. After waiting a good long while in the station, I figured something was up. Eventually, word got out, and everyone was told what was going on. I simply hopped the next bus in the tunnel, and got out at I. D. Then I took the 106, which happened to be right there.

      Anyway, the whole thing was a mess. The 97 is designed for when the tunnel is closed. But the tunnel was open. That is why people got confused. We saw bus after bus go by, but no train. I don’t understand why they couldn’t just run the 97 in the tunnel. That would be much simpler, and much easier to understand. The bus would say “Backup Light Rail — Airport” and everyone would get it. If not, the driver would open the door and yell “Hey! The train is broken! If you want to get to Rainier Valley or the airport, hop on!”. That is much simpler than going to the surface and trying to figure out where to catch the bus.

      Oh, and I did notice the sign saying there was a problem, but the sign was ambiguous. It said no stops between SoDo and Stadium, so I figured there was some police incident (it being the day of the inauguration). It seems reasonable to simply close a station (or two) and then just keep going. It means riders would have to backtrack (via some other bus) but in my case, I didn’t care. It wasn’t until it was obvious the train wasn’t coming that I started getting nervous. Thankfully someone knew what was going (not an official) and told us. Speaking of which, I saw several Sound Transit security guards mingling about when I got there, but then they disappeared. I assume those guys have walkie-talkies. Why someone couldn’t just tell them what is going on, and then have them explain to folks waiting is just another example of how poorly Sound Transit handled the situation.

    1. Considering each Presidential candidate’s qualifications for the job, fact that popular vote was close enough for the Electoral College, Brent ….do you really think what you’re suggesting would be a good idea?

      Doubt very many Electoral Tech students either watch FOX news or have a Twitter account. But how big a student loan will I need, and where I can get one of their sweaters?

      Mark

      1. Even I barely noticed, but Hillary Clinton got over 2.8 million more popular votes than Donald Trump.

        There are plenty of ways to mess with an election, including electronic voting machines with no paper trail (such as in Ohio), scaring families of a particular ethnicity into fleeing the country and taking all the legally registered voters in their family with them, scrubbing the voter records while having trouble explaining why there were more votes counted in a county than the number of voters recorded having voted (as happened in King County, forever bringing into question whether Christine Gregoire actually got the support of more voters than Dino Rossi, and the guy in charge of that mess is now running elections in LA County. Doh!), armed death squads at certain polling places, denying candidates the right to appear on every ballot despite proven broad support (yes, this happens in the US&A), etc.

        Relying on a relic from the time of the 3/5 Compromise is the most unique of all methods I’ve seen to deny the will of the people, and now more powerful than any small-time shenanigans.

        Of course, we’ll still have a Two-Party Sithdom even if the Agreement Among the States goes into effect. Changes to the way we vote for president within a state have to come from the state legislature, thanks to the US Constitution. That’s one reason why Maine’s successful ranked-choice voting initiative avoided changing the presidential ballot. And why I will continue to vote for my favorite candidate for president, while Democratically-controlled legislatures and governors are content with the Sithdom. Give me a ranked ballot, and I will probably rank the Democrat, somewhere in my list.

      2. Considering each Presidential candidate’s qualifications for the job, fact that popular vote was close enough for the Electoral College, Brent ….do you really think what you’re suggesting would be a good idea?

        Huh? Switching to NPV, as the law Brent mentions would do, would prevent losing candidates whose voters are arranged just so from winning the presidency despite losing the election. In this case, that would rather obviously have lead to the more qualified, less dangerous candidate taking office. It might not always work that way, but either way it would be much more democratic, and it would empower swing voters in 50 states rather than swing voters in 5-10 states.

        Doubt very many Electoral Tech students either watch FOX news or have a Twitter account. But how big a student loan will I need, and where I can get one of their sweaters?

        Other than the “making a joke about how “college” means two thing” I can’t begin to make sense of what you’re trying to say here. On the (increasingly rare) occasions that I’m able to make sense of your comments, I often find them worthwhile. I don’t know why you insist on writing in such an impenetrable style.

    2. That is a great idea, but it probably won’t happen for a long time. Those in power don’t usually relinquish power voluntarily. They use ridiculous arguments or appeals to tradition (or religion) to hold on to power.

      In the case, the rural states are the ones with the power. There is simply no incentive, for example, for Texas to agree to this proposal. If people in Texas believed in a more just system, then sure. But for their own self interest, certainly not. It is highly unlikely that we will see a reverse of what just happened. Elections like this one (and the one that happened 16 years ago) are simply the result of big cities being in favor of Democrats. There is no incentive for a minority — especially an oppressive minority, such as the Republican party — to relinquish power. Every state that voted for that proposal also voted for Gore (and Hillary Clinton). Unless something weird happens (e. g. Florida getting a wave of Democratic spirit and signing up) then I just don’t see it.

  2. Yup, Joe the Biden will be missed. That’s for sure.

    Moving along, I have to say it would be helpful if we had an update on Amtrak Cascades funding. Ditto Washington State Ferries.

    One last thing: I’ve made a new year’s resolution to update my Senior Project Report on fast ferries in this state and turn it into a book with the new Kitsap Transit Fast Ferries. Figured you’d wanna know.

    1. I believe that Federal support for “State” trains ended four or five years ago. So, the only Seattle-Portland-Eugene train supported by Amtrak appropriations would be The Coast Starlight.

      1. Yes, federal support for operating anything under 750 miles, except the Northeast Corridor, is gone, unless it is a commuter service and qualifies for FTA funding.

  3. I was working Saturday, so only heard reports. Did anyone here ride the monorail? Was it packed to the gills, or did the fare upcharge reduce its contribution to transporting the masses back to Westlake?

    1. There was some confusion with reroutes around Seattle Center with many buses running on Mercer in LQA and where to catch buses. I saw a #62 on Mercer at Queen Anne N which is not a normal sight. Also waited for an 8 on Denny by 5 points cafe with a big group of people when everything was over and streets reopened including Denny only to see the 8 coming down 5th Avenue under the monorail tracks and turn onto Denny passing us and making us all run after it to catch it.

    2. There was a very long line at the monorail around 3 pm, looping all the way to the Armory. There was also a huge crowd at the Rapidride E stop at Denny and 7th, unfortunately with no one telling them that the bus had been rerouted. Lightrail from Westlake to UW was also packed full.

    3. There was a huge line outside the Armory around 3pm which may have been for the monorail. I took a C from QA & Mercer which I assumed was an extra but the driver said was on reroute. There was a downtown-rush-hour sized crowd at the stop. Surprisingly the mass did not fill the bus: it left with the aisles empty. Maybe first-time riders didn’t realize it goes downtown since the sign doesn’t say so. There was a “to terminal” RapidRide immediately behind it, both turning left from Mercer Street to Queen Anne Ave. I also saw a 62 there.

      I didn’t ride Link Saturday so I didn’t see how crowded it was or how well it was holding up. I meant to check it on the way home, but I was stymied getting lunch at Seattle Center. The Armory restaurants had tremendous lines, the Uptown restaurants also had long lines, the pho restaurant at 3rd & Pine had tables but they were busy and never got around to giving me a menu, so I ended up at the bus stop saying if the 11 or 10 comes first I’ll go to Trader Joe’s, if the 49 comes first I’ll go to Broadway for lunch, and I forgot about the train.

      1. I have a feeling that large scale citizen marches are going to become more common in the next 4 years. Metro and Sound Transit should make clearer plans for irregular operations on days of planned service disruptions.

      2. I feel like the civil rights protest era is restarted. I wasn’t born during the original ones but it seems like how they’re described.

      3. For what it is worth, you might try to get one of these yard signs (you have to scroll down the page a little) next time you come visit us down here in the nether regions south of the Columbia River:
        http://www.nwgsdpdx.com

  4. Anyone else concerned that the King County Sheriff’s office thought it was OK to park squad cars in the middle of the entrance of Capitol Hill Station on both Friday and Saturday night, directly in front of seats that are supposed to ostensibly be for passengers?

    1. I saw police cars and officers in front of the southwest entrance at 7pm Friday, but not inside the station. I don’t even understand what you mean by “deep in the station”, because how can cars get down the escalators? (Hmm. is that why the escalators are broken.) In any case, if there’s an assault or shooting at a station, the police would likely close off the whole entrance or station as a crime scene.

      1. I’ve seen this too – cop cars parked *completely inside* Capitol Hill station. We’re not talking about the normal thing where cops will leave their patrol vehicles parked up on a sidewalk, but a situation where a cop has driven all the way inside the station entrance and then just left the car parked smack in the middle of the TVM area. It’s really bizarre, and yet for some reason they appear to have decided that this is acceptable behavior. Makes me think we need some bollards at the station entrance.

      2. If we don’t know what the situation was that prompted the impact, we can’t tell whether the impact was appropriate. Limiting the police footprint or installing bollards would require convincing the mayor to give the police department a strong message, and I doubt that is likely. It would be interpreted as being soft on crime and limiting police effectiveness. What we can do at this point is to ask the police what’s their criteria for bring cars inside a station and how do they weigh the impact on passenger operations.

  5. “The right of suffrage was much more diffusive [i.e., extensive] in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes.” (Translation: “Well, yeah, we’d win all the elections if we let them vote but….hey, what are you, a 3/5 of a person lover?!!!”)

    -James Madison, Famous Founding Father, leading framer of the Constitution, Bill of Rights Champion, fourth US President, and like George Washington and Thomas Jeffereson, slave-owner.

    http://time.com/4558510/electoral-college-history-slavery/

    Brent,

    In the Founders’ time, there was a legitimate argument that a nationwide popular vote might make citizens less-populated regions decide their votes would never count, and secede.

    When the Electoral College began, most people still considered their States to be their country. And never traveled more than twelve miles from home in their lives. Doubt most of us would move back and fight (grenades, not footballs) for former home State. States we’ll fight against is another list.

    However, if there’s a good job with a new light rail system, it doesn’t make somebody a Confederate sympathizer to move to North Carolina. Or if he comes back to found another one in a Free State.Truth is that if we the American people didn’t agree about everything important to holding a country together, we’d be about ten major countries in Europe.

    My main point here: Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Albert Gore and couple predecessor, and the Democratic Party lost their claim for office three or four decades ago. When they decided that the Republicans, who by then were James Madison Democrats, were right about the wages of everybody without a PhD.

    Above three elections lost by squeakers to opponents who shouldn’t have been able to see Democratic . dust. Democrat: A US Senator and Secretary of State. Republican, a “Reality Show” host whose previous Governmental experience comprised alternating sides of lawsuits that would’ve made alley-littering charges look like Legal History.

    Every single employer in the United States should join a class-action lawsuit against every regulation requiring a background check.

    So, temporary measure, Brent. While it still exists, all candidates campaign- and govern- as if they know they’re going to lose the Electoral College next Election.

    Mark

  6. Joe Biden is the real deal. It is a great National tragedy that Beau died when he did. Nobody out-Blue Collar’s Joe Biden.

  7. It seems that Seattle its the only city with escalator issues. Folks in San Fransisco are literally ‘climbing the walls’ angry with theirs.

  8. In this week’s US driverless bus news:

    http://presstv.ir/Detail/2017/01/22/507216/US-tests-worlds-firstever-driverless-shuttle-bus-

    https://sourceable.net/vegas-tests-driverless-bus/

    I continue to think that these things are going to be commonplace by the 2023-2025 Link openings, even though I think there are skeptics now. I think it’s going to change the way that we design and use light rail stations, like we will have less need for large park-and-ride garages and more need for loading areas where these mini-buses can charge and load riders.

    1. Transit agencies are generally very averse to trying things off the beaten path for liability reasons – if you do the same thing that everyone else has done for the past 100 years, and an accident happens, and you get sued, you can argue in court that since you did everything “by the book”, you cannot be negligent. Then, there’s all the other things that the bus drivers do, such as assist riders with information, enforce fair collection, and strap/unstrap wheelchairs. And, of course, the fact that the bus drivers all have unions, and will resist their jobs being outsourced to machines, tooth and nail. For instance, if buses go automated, you might see the drivers’ union start campaigning against transit measure, rather than for them.

      Eventually, automation will happen, but it will take awhile, and mainstream transit agencies will likely be late adopters, while trucking companies and Uber might be early adopters. I would also expect to see Link trains automated before buses do, as the technology required would be much simpler, and there are fewer opportunities for things to go wrong.

      1. You are spot on with your prediction of Link automation well before bus. The list of the things the bus drive and Link drivers both do runs to one thing: operate the vehicle. Train operators don’t give information; they don’t help with wheelchairs; they don’t enforce fare collection. Nada, Zilch.

        And in fact, operating the vehicle is one single operation 99.9% of the time: push forward or pull back on the controller. There’s even software to help them stop at the right station position.

        It’s a small step to add pushing and pulling that controller, and forward radar can be used to “big-hole” a train by slapping down the track-braked when a car intrudes the right of way ahead of the train.

        Expect “functional” automation a la BART in which the operator is really a monitor within five years and full automation within fifteen.

    2. The particular buses in question are used in France but do not mix with other vehicle traffic. They are used on a pedestrian mall where they are the only vehicle.

      The company says that intermixing with other road traffic is much more difficult than dealing with pedestrian traffic.

      1. Yes. I can imagine scenarios where a robo-bus might sit at a “pull-out” stop for a hour waiting for a clear spot in the passing traffic. Bus drivers put on the left signal and then bull their way into the passing traffic, depending on the bus’s size and (in some smart states, the “Yield” sign painted on the left rear of the bus).

    3. Driverless transit could be revolutionary — arguably the biggest thing to happen since rubber tires (which some believe was a step back). Imagine if every route ran every five minutes. Why not? Yes, it costs money for the extra buses, but a lot of those would be fairly small. If you can’t justify a bus, then run a van.

      You would need a lot more monitoring technology beyond the driverless cars, which themselves have a huge amount of monitors. You need to monitor the inside as well as the outside. Have teams of workers watching the screens, ready to notify people on the ground if there is a problem. Even a minor issue (like fare evasion) gets handled this way.

      Of course one approach is to simply go to a 100% fare validation system. Add a lot more readers at bus stops. On buses that aren’t as popular, put readers towards the middle of the bus. To a certain extent, this solves the bus union problem. Instead of having a thousand drivers on a thousand buses, you have a thousand assistants on ten thousand buses. Fare monitoring may be part of their job, but they are also security, assistance and just about everything that a bus driver does other than driving the bus. Over time, of course, the jobs could be phased out, to save money (when someone retires, the job isn’t replaced).

      It seems like things could fairly easily be phased from one model to the next. You would probably start with the big, popular vehicles. Light rail is the obvious choice (for the reasons given) but next would be something like the Madison BRT. It will be 100% off board payment and level boarding when it starts. It will also run quite often, so the savings are substantial. Do that with similar buses, and then with RapidRide and some of the big haulers, like the 7 or 10. In all these cases, the drivers get pushed to less popular routes (which are in turn are given more frequency). That sort of hybrid system could exist for years without the union complaining about it. It also makes financial sense, as it means phasing out the old buses, instead of just suddenly replacing them. Eventually, though, you run out of work for riders to do. At that point, the riders simply switch to being mobile assistants, riding various buses throughout the day, until they retire.

      That is a very large capital expense, of course, but one that could be phased in, and one that is really nothing compared to Link. The benefits of very good headways all over town would be huge. Transfers become painless, and you no longer check schedules. Instead of bus running less often late at night, you simply have smaller buses (i. e. vans) running at night. I think it will eventually happen, but who knows how long it will take.

    4. 2023 not so likely, but 2035 is long enough that some conversion to driverless feeders might be underway. I don’t see them replacing existing bus routes as much as filling in the gaps, where they can run on a currently-unserved arterial near a station. Most existing bus routes have been through at least one restructure in the past 25 years (such as the southwest King County one circa 2010), and the lowest-volume segments were dropped or converted into vans. So only the lowest-remaining ones would be the most cost-effective and save to convert to driverless in the first round. (Safe in the sense of lower-volume streets with fewer unexpected interactions, since those interactions increase with traffic and high-volume intersections and driveways.)

  9. http://www.npr.org/2016/11/29/503755613/trumps-potential-treasury-secretary-headed-a-foreclosure-machine

    djw, of everybody that comments here, I value your responses the most. Subject literally life and death now. Lifelong, my writing has always been way-out-front strongest skill. And throughout History, hardly ever pays enough to hire an editor.

    Now it’s my only tool left to help rebuild the passenger transit system that’s been my life’s strongest interest since before its death started when I was five. And also my only weapon- combination of an AK-47 and a toilet brush- to get the stink of the present Administration off our country in my lifetime.

    Letter-Sweater remark? Common satirist’s mistake of trying to make unmixed fury funny. Meant to say:

    Suppose that instead of restoring a criminally-run banking system and jailing its officers, what if the first act of the first Obama Administration had been to hire enough workers to repair our country that we, the American people, could have restored our banks ourselves.

    Isn’t it likely that the 2010 Election would have left the Democratic Party in a position to carry not only a successful agenda, but both the popular vote and the Electoral College in 2016?

    And suppose last fall’s Election had been close, as it still never should have been. If three and a half million voters hadn’t stayed foreclosed out of their homes after the Obama Administration “bailed out” the new Treasury Secretary and his colleagues …might not these former homeowners have delivered Hillary Clinton her degree by themselves?

    You’ve lost a war not when you sign your enemy’s Articles and stack your rifles, but when you start to think with his ideas. It was about 1970 when the Industrial Belt began to rust. And the Democratic Party decided that the labor unions which had been its backbone were as obsolete as Pennsylvania’s and Michigan’s rusting machinery.

    And that Ronald Reagan was right that the Government we ourselves owned, was our country’s main problem. Also suggesting that, like it, we were also too big for our own good if we got in the way of the rich. But on this day in 1996, it wasn’t Nancy Reagan’s husband who said “The era of big Government is over.”

    Here’s the whole reference. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=53091. Match Bill Clinton’s context with the present condition of working-class (notice that Democrats dropped that term same time as the word “liberal”) Americans these last 21 years. Government isn’t any smaller. Just the part the exhausted debt ridden MIDDLE CLASS used to own.

    I voted for Hillary Clinton a few minutes before the Thurston County courthouse closed its ballot box. Out of plain human pity for a strong and capable career rewarded with abuse that would’ve brought a life sentence for animal cruelty if inflicted on a dog. But it wasn’t the Electoral College that lost her the 2016 Election at the age of 23.

    dwj, whether I’m right or wrong is as irrelevant as zeppelins, the last clipper ships, and the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. I need to know if I made myself clear. Sincerely, thank you.

    Mark

    1. >> restoring a criminally-run banking system

      That was done by Bush, not Obama. The bailout was done with the cooperation of Democrats in the House and Senate, and had the support of both Presidential candidates, Obama and McCain. It was a bipartisan effort,, but Obama didn’t sign the bailout. Obama did sign Dodd-Frank, which was designed to stop it from happening again. He also pushed through a stimulus package, but it was way too small (and most economists told him so).

      All of things were politically stupid. It probably would have been terrible if the Democrats agreed with the House Republicans and just said “fine, no bailout — you guys caused this mess, you clean it up”. But at least politically folks wouldn’t think the Democrats bailed out the banks. But worse than that was having a stimulus package that was too small. In an effort to appease the idiots who were whining about deficits during a recession (when you should be running deficits) they figured they would meet them half way. The results were as bad — or as tepid — as expected. The recovery took too long, and still hasn’t reached into many areas of the country (which it could have easily). Obama had the chance to be the next FDR, pushing plans to get folks in industrial and rural America back to work, but because he was overly cautious, and a political neophyte, he made baby steps towards fixing the economy. Then when it was obvious he needed to do more, the Republicans (who managed to paint him a socialist despite being to the right of Dwight Eisenhower) had taken control. Nothing much got done in the last six years in office, and that, unfortunately, made it tough for all Democrats, as voters are too stupid to realize we don’t elect a king every four years, or even a new Parliament (with Obama at the head). Without much to show the last few years, voters were reluctant to support “Obama’s third term”, especially when it would be run with someone less charming.

      1. Problem wasn’t lack of brains for either party. Just a decades-long aversion to a fight on the part of the Democrats, and an inbuilt disregard for both human decency and concern for a balance sheet on the part of the Dixiecrats, I mean Republicans still celebrating fact that they really won the Civil War.

        Also a culture (cool it, djw I’m leaving out the escapees from the losing side of the English Civil War who founded Virginia, and the US Constitution) that anybody who backs, or runs, away from a fight deserves to die after being humiliated.

        One reason for the explosive expansion of slavery as the 19th century began was that since cotton rapidly eats the nutrients out of the soil it’s planted in, if it isn’t rotated with other crops, the farming has to keep moving like a swarm of grasshoppers. But like oil, fastest way to make huge money.

        Needing more slaves, and devastating more revered old Southern land. That’s why truth is to call these people Slavers and Secessionists, as the real Republicans did. “Conservative” is as much a lie as the claim that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery.

        Maybe it’s because honest accounting is boring even with computers and accountants who have black T-shirts, shaved heads, shades, and Ted Talk gigs. but for my whole life I haven’t heard a single Democrat tell the Right to its face that lethally deferred maintenance doesn’t go in the black column.

        No responsible machine shop owner would keep operating dangerously decrepit equipment in the name of saving money (notice the “r” word). Nor would scrap metal prices ever be high enough that his banker would accept his shop for collateral. A good owner’s banker would have the approval papers signed before the machinist even got in his car.

        Knowing that the red ink would soon be rotated over the bar by an ever-heavier tank of black. And consequently have the papers ready for the next loan too. Behavior of both political parties cooperated with the nation’s media, not least the Public part, to give us our present Administration.

        Wonder if the NRA will still consider an AK-47 to be under the Second Amendment if it’s got a toilet brush instead of a bayonet?

        Mark

      2. “Problem wasn’t lack of brains for either party.”

        In “Emil and the Detectives” the smooth-talking thief tells the suburban boy a wild tale about Berlin as they travel by train to that city in the 1920s. He says Berlin has skyscrapers a hundred stories high, and pneumatic tubes that can instantly teleport people from one building to another, and people can pledge their brain at a bank for a 100 mark loan, of course it costs 200 marks to the brain back. One of the other passengers in the train compartment tells him to stop taking nonsense and says, “Clearly you’ve left your brain at the bank.”

    2. Almost everyone agrees we had to inject money into the banking system or it would have been Hoover all over again: the Republicans who said “Let the banks fail” were the same as Hoover saying “Squeeze the rot out of the system”: the problem is that squeezing causes more rot which leads to a downward spiral like cancer taking over a body. People can’t get jobs if there’s nobody to hire or and nobody to buy their entrepreneural services. But injecting cash is independent from restructuring the banks. The feds should have broken up big banks, let their CEOs take a haircut, prosecuted them, reinstated Glass-Steagall, and things like that. Instead we got Chase taking over WaMu, a big bank increasing its market share, and the big banks in general using their increased power to buy even more branches in the most walkable mixed-use storefronts where they displaced other retail. (See 45th & University Way.) I don’t remember how much of that was Bush and how much Obama, but Obama certainly had the opportunity to do it, or to do it later. And yes, we needed a bigger stimulus and infrastructure improvement too.

      1. Also didn’t help the Democrats any that in addition to returning a publicly repaired banking system to the executives who’d just ruined it, the President’s put health care program program to profit-making insurance companies to run.

        According to the rules of the insurance industry. And without the Public Option that most Americans would have favored, though many would have rather had the Government become the Single Payer.

        Maybe the President could have somewhat saved his own good name by calling the program by its drafter’s real name. Guess “SenatorMaxBaucusCare” is awkward to say, though healthcare companies in his State and elsewhere don’t seem to mind reason it should be used.

        Mark

      2. The argument for saving the banks (injecting cash) was that it would actually save us money in the long run. A lot of those banks had FDIC guaranteed savings, and if they went under, passbook savings go under, too and next thing you know, the U. S. government is actually on the hook for a lot more money. I’m not sure I buy all that, or the other argument, that the situation would have been much worse. I think we hit rock bottom, in that interest rates were zero, banks weren’t lending money, and we were essentially in a depression. The only thing that saved it from getting much worse is that we have a mixed economy (since FDR) and people still get their Social Security checks.

        But the point I’m making is not that anyone did anything wrong from a policy standpoint, but Democrats failed miserably from a political standpoint. The Republican House didn’t. They came out spelling like a rose. Once the House Republicans said they weren’t going to do anything, we should have called their bluff, and made it clear that the Republicans caused the problem (even though it was largely a bipartisan, long standing problem of deregulation of the banking industry). It is no different than getting rid of the ACA. Joe Biden has said we should just get out of the way, as Republicans don’t have anything better, so let them clearly take responsibility for the harm they will obviously do when they repeal it. Don’t try and make things a bit better, just step aside and then pick up the pieces a few years later. I’m with Joe.

        As far as Glass-Steagall goes, most experts say this would have happened even with it. Dodd-Frank is a very good law. We could have broken up the banks, of course, but that is no guarantee of success. If bank after bank is leveraged to the hilt, then it really doesn’t matter if five big banks fail, or 500 little ones fail. Either way we are screwed.

  10. And that was supposed to be “instead of restoring a criminally-run banking system to its officers instead of jailing them”.

    Hunter S. Thompson, also known as Uncle Duke in Doonesbury, would’ve claimed that his editor had lately developed the habit of turning into a giant lizard at 2AM.

    Tragic truth was that both of us spent the 1970’s in rehab for not being on drugs. I’d gotten turned in by a girl I was really sweet on, who put the word out that I was so straight I’d turn people over to the police for their own good if I saw them smoking marijuana.

    I don’t think we had the Clean Air Act yet. But no matter how unstrung out I was, I’d never turn a fire-extinguisher on a girl.
    I
    MD

  11. Open thread, huh?

    How about Pierce Transit use a private loan to build BRT improvements? The case is quite simple – the buses move faster, so we can provide the same service with less buses, and we use the savings to pay off the loan.

    1. It just has to pass the voters. A private loan is effectively the same as bonds. Cities seem to prefer bonds, and it may be easier, cheaper, and more ethical for them to do so rather than to give their business to a single private bank. But the net impact is the same: the agency has increased financial risk for a time, and when it’s built it gets the efficiency benefits. We transit activists have been saying all along that an unobstructed bus is the most efficient bus: it allows more runs for the same service hours, which allows a “free” boost to frequency. More frequency means better mobility for passengers and more satisfied passengers. So just do it.

      Unfortunately it takes a while for this idea to get through the policy and public-opinion circles, so it’s a long-term goal. We can see its impact in cities that put transit first, like Paris. Paris has no hesitation to turn GP lanes into transit lanes on its boulevards, and it has a policy to eliminate a couple hundred street parking spaces per year. Pugetopolis is not nearly ready for that: it failed on Aurora, and we’ll see how Wallingford goes with RapidRide on 45th.

  12. Escalator report, Tue Jan 24 8:30am

    The southern long down escalator at UW station was stopped, but this time a security guard was turning a key in it. I went up the up escalator. The guard came up behind me saying into his radio, “I couldn’t restart it. Escalator 6 something.” At the top another guard was standing in front of the stopped escalator forming a human barrier.

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