Paul Kimo McGregor (Flickr)

This is an open thread. 

28 Replies to “News Roundup: Stress Test”

    1. What type is the board in the ferry terminal at the end of Market Street in SF? Love the noise it makes when entries are changed

  1. Seattle should set up its own transit agency, so we can spend our own money building our own projects focused on our own needs, instead of having to keep throwing money at Sound Transit and then settle for whatever urban connectivity we happen to get as a side-effect of the regional system.

    1. Mars,

      My view on ST4 is that Sound Transit 4 should be Seattle-centric, funded by Seattle and then Seattle hands over its money to Sound Transit to build more of the same successful projects for Seattle only. I think it would be the best of all possible outcomes – Seattle pays for ST4 for Seattle projects built by the great Sound Transit Brand.



      1. I see a lot of advantages of that, such as Sound Transit’s wonderful construction record, but their station design seems to be a compendium of all the worst options. They’ve even managed to spoil 130th St Station by having entrances only on one side of the street! If there’s some way to keep their hands off station design, I’d be all for that proposal.

      2. This hypothetical ST4 is no concern of mine, Joe; at the rate we’re going I’m likely to be dead before it would be complete. I think we can do better and move faster if we reduce the scope of the network, focusing on short, high-value urban connections serving populations who are already sold on transit and already vote “yes” on transit investment by very large margins. I don’t care who operates these lines and I don’t care which logo they paint on the trains; I just want it to happen quickly enough that it can actually make some difference toward dealing with climate change.

      3. Mars;

        #1. We’re not going to contract the ST District to appease Seattle. That’s just not on.

        #2. Our President has made clear he’s a climate change denier – or at least putting climate change deniers in charge of the EPA.

        #3. I agree, “I don’t care who operates these lines and I don’t care which logo they paint on the trains; I just want it to happen quickly enough that it can actually make some difference toward dealing with climate change.” I just said give the money to Sound Transit due to their track record post-2001. Let’s not create another transit agency trying to learn how to build high capacity transit with its own planners, maintainers, receptionists, and yes administrator$. Also office space is at a premium in Seattle – something else to calculate.

        That said, I want ST3 like tomorrow. It’s necessary, it’s voter-approved and it’s the law.

      4. If Seattle hires ST for its own projects, that’s not “ST4” it’s just extra. It probably wouldn’t even need a regional vote since their tax rate is not affected. The main obstacles are Seattle getting the money and ST might think it’s stretched too thin to take on more work given all the ST2 and ST3 projects it’s juggling. It would also have to find qualified engineers and construction firms, and they may be stretched thin too. Metro can’t find enough drivers, I think some buildings or something can’t find enough construction workers, etc.

      5. Joe – I’m not suggesting that we should try to change course on ST3 or that we should reorganize the Sound Transit district. Rather, I’m suggesting that Seattle should set up its own transit district, in parallel with ST, focused on Seattle’s high-capacity urban transit needs. Instead of waiting decades into the future for some hypothetical ST4, with all the suburban compromises and regional funding limitations it will inevitably entail, why don’t we just leave ST to continue with their regional plan while we get started on all the rest of the infrastructure we need?

        If we get going now, 25 years is long enough that we could conceivably get major portions of the Seattle Subway built in time to link them up with the new ST3 infrastructure.

    2. Seattle has a transit agency now. The streetcars are run by the Seattle Department of Transportation. King County Metro provides most of the public transportation within Seattle including many routes which travel exclusively within the city limits.

      I would certainly look to these agencies for any needs that aren’t expected to be met through ST3 rather than waiting for ST4 to form up in the coming decades.

      1. Meantime, probably wouldn’t need any popular vote at all to combine these agencies. Meaning one less source of service interference having nothing to do with machinery or its repair, supervision, and handling.


    3. Mars, many of us have for a long time lived regional lives. Working for, patronizing, and studying at companies and schools that have done the same. Meaning that, cut off within its own city limits, Seattle probably couldn’t afford as good a transit system as it has now.


  2. Link is interrupted again due to an accident

    This happens far too often for the spine of our system, particularly as we are talking about truncating bus routes to require onward connections.

    What can be done to ensure rapid restoration of service, even when there is a Link-involved accident? There are plenty of cameras and it’s not like the train can steer, so how much evidence needs to be collected? Can we establish the principle of send any people in ambulances, push any vehicles out of the way, and resume service asap?

    Otherwise we are really crippling our transit spine.

    1. Carl, there’s a good argument that the buses themselves face more schedule damage from traffic alone than would be lost from train accidents. No question that bus response needs a lot of work. But for investigations- you’ll have to talk to the police. It’s their call.

      If you or anybody close to you got hurt or killed, you, and your attorney, would want to know a lot of information that doesn’t show up on video.

      Undercutting intersections, however and barriers along the trackway are things our systems knows how to do. And probably should.


      1. My wife was delayed yesterday because she said there was a blue-ped fatality on Third that delayed all the buses. I haven’t found a single article on this supposed fatality or the schedule disruption it caused.

    2. Link is hardly interrupted often, and even when it is it’s usually for a short time. We just got a little unlucky this week between the catenary failure and the pedestrian fatality.

      1. Because of a growing demonstration at SeaTac Airport the Port of Seattle has closed the SeaTac Link Station until further notice. Light Rail is serving all other stations.

        The demonstration is against the Trump administration executive order on immigration.

      2. The SeaTac station has re-opened after being closed by the Port of Seattle because of the demonstrations that have been taking place in the main terminal at the ticket counters and security checkpoints.

        Not sure how long the closure lasted as the notifications from ST were about 10 minutes apart.

      3. So they punished transit riders by closing the transit station? Did they ban taxis and Ubers? Private cars? Or single out transit riders for inconvenience?

      4. The train can bring four hundred protesters every ten minutes. A car can only bring five. Consider it recognition of how efficient trains are. When England has football hooligan eruptions it also does things to train and underground operations, like skipping stations or rerouting trains.

        Link has interruptions, but it’s missing a whole class of delays and unreliability. No cars overcrowding the street or blocking the way. No way for passengers or cars to accidentally cross the tracks except in MLK and SODO (which is where most of the interruptions occur). In contrast, certain bus routes are late 5-10 minutes almost every single day, and are prone to occasional no-shows when the bus is so late the second or third run catches up to it.

  3. Now that I think of it, Mars, the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, absolutely necessary for in-city transit as well as regional, could not have been built without money from the suburbs.

    Reason we had to open with dual-power buses was that suburban governments wouldn’t help pay for a subway their residents couldn’t ride until the system could afford suburban tracks. They settled for rides in pollution-free buses. I was surprised.

    The parts of the region outside Seattle have a very strong argument that the unprecedented housing price increase in Seattle is main cause of jammed traffic that’ll soon reach the Canadian Border and the Oregon state line.

    Fact that chief obstacle to freedom and mobility everywhere in the region pretty much guarantees a pro-transit future. Like any romantic affairs, people’s love for their cars won’t abide a forced marriage.


  4. I got a cupcake today on the First Hill Street Car. The cars were full (3 PM). The rides are free all weekend. Enjoy.

  5. Years ago I heard a proposal about New York moving their train station across the street to their grand post office building. I wonder whatever happened to that idea.

  6. Yikes. Ericksen and Benton both send shivers down my spine heading up the EPA. Benton was awarded the ‘Environmental Dinosaur of the Year’, back when TCC was first starting out. A visionary award for sure.
    Ericksen never met a hydrocarbon he didn’t like – until there were none.
    This is really a sad day in Americas future with ignorant, self-serving hacks now in charge of everything.

    1. Again we can look to Russia now or our own country sixty years ago, to see where this might lead to environmentally. Russia has oil leaks in the far north that have been dripping for years and they’ve never bothered to seal off properly because there are no cities there and they don’t care. Imagine the same in Alaska or the Gulf of Mexico, and the plants and animals affected.

      If anyone is looking for a break from urbanism for a bit, I just read “Rethinking Rural”.by Don Albrecht, published by WSU. It’s about the economic history of the rural American West and how the towns can best position themselves for the 21st Century. He says the west is different from the east because it requires irrigation and other centralized (government/industrial) interventions to make it feasable to live in economically. He identifies three time periods: Isolation, Mass Society (starting with radio and national brands), and Global (globalization). And two philosophies: the Human Exceptionalist Paradigm and the New Environmental Paradigm. The Human Exceptionalist Paradigm was universal in the US until the mid 20th century, and held that the best use of land and water and minerals was for the benefit of man, and what animals wanted was unimportant. The New Environmental Paradigm gradually rose in the Mass Society and Global eras, and holds that the ecosystem and animals’ habitats are valuable in themselves, and that the presence of animal and plant species and clean water have benefits to humans that humans don’t currently understand, and are necessary for human survival. Carbon emissions and climate change is a newer NEP concept.

      The book was written B.T. (Before Trump) but we can interpret the situation of appointing climate deniers and deregulationists to head the EPA and other agencies as a rejection of the New Environmental Paradigm and reasserting the Human Exceptionalist Paradigm. Of course there’s more to it than that, there’s also oil companies’ profits, billionaires’ stock in oil companies, and “deregulation” as freedom for multinational corporations. But the environmental aspects and abstract “deregulation” aspects reflect the values of a lot of rural residents who are suspicious of the New Environmental Paradigm and its supposed elitist dominance of society. And the Russian situation can be interpreted as sticking to the Human Exceptionalist Paradigm the entire time. Of course there are counter-movements in Moscow, but these are similar to the faint stirrings of the NEP in the US in the 1940s and 50s (e.g., organic farmers).

      The book says homestead farming was unfeasable in the west due to lack of water and the landscape, so people in the Isolation era turned to ranching (grazing), logging, and mining. In the Mass Society era they attracted industrial plants. Now in the New Environmental Paradigm there’s appreciation for natural scenery and amenities, and with network technologies people can be connected without living in a city. So he suggests that rural towns should focus on their amenities and connectivity to prosper in the 21st Century, and not try to prop up a mineral and industrial economy that’s dying. In other words, to go boldly into the environmental/global future rather than trying to deregulate the mines and factories back to prosperity. That’s the opposite of what the Trump administration is doing with the EPA. At this point we don’t know how long or extensively the reactionary policies will last, or whether they’ll succeed in generating some prosperity for the towns (as opposed to corporate profits). But it’s something to watch, and if anyone has ties or interest in the rural west they can get involved with it. (And if they move there, affect the voting patterns there.)

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