Trolleybus and streetcar on Jackson Street

This is an open thread.

50 Replies to “News Roundup: The Trouble”

  1. The PSRC travel study requires a password to access it. Is their goal to create an echo chamber where only those they approve can fill it out to create the message in the end they want?

    1. The survey is for large employers as a part of compliance with Washington State Commute Trip Reduction law. I got an email at work fill it out, and I had to use my work email to access it.

      And it’s not a travel study, it’s a survey to collect data for the travel study. If you don’t work for a large employer covered by the study, you shouldn’t be filling out the survey.

      1. Well I work for a large employer that is based on the south end of Snohomish county. We employee 500-600 people at our primary campus and probably a 100 more spread out in King county and Snohomish county at satellite locations. So maybe we’re included but my employer just didn’t send out an email about it.

    2. I am pretty sure this is a random sample survey as opposed to a self selected survey. Random sample will give them a statistically valid sample. They have been doing this for decades.

  2. The Key Arena article also brought up using drones to deliver fans… I don’t know how seriously we can take the rest of the proposal.

    If they do revamp the monorail and improve the payment system, that would be a welcome change.

  3. From the Mercer Island Reporter article:

    The addendum is expected include the change from the assumption regarding Mercer Island SOV use of the R8A lanes contained in the original environmental analysis.

    Can someone provide more context on this “change”? What precisely did the FEIS assume about the configuration of the Island Crest Way ramps (and any other ramps on the Island)?

    Also, I swear when I first read that article earlier this morning, it editorialized about how the MOU granted Mercer Islanders access to the center roadway in 1976, completely mischaracterizing the temporary and transit-deferential nature of the agreement. Did they nix that paragraph after publishing? Did that misinformation make it to print, to be picked up and read in coffee shops around the Island? Or do I just need more coffee before Internetting in the morning?

    1. At the time of the FEIS, the Federal Highway Authority seemed to approve a configuration in which SOV’s on the Island Crest Way-to-westbound-I-90 ramp could enter the (HOV) left lane of I-90. Early in 2016, the FHWA about-faced and said that this violates their rules about HOV lanes, and that they do not have the authority to make an exception.

      Such traffic bound for Seattle would generally have to traverse downtown Mercer Island to an on-ramp at SE 76th and N Mercer Way. A study commissioned by the city predicts significant congestion on downtown streets as a consequence, affecting not only I-90 drivers, but local drivers, bicyclers, and pedestrians.

      I’m a wacko leftwing transit lover by MI standards, and I’m uncomfortable with the city’s lawsuit – but even I think there is truth in this concern, and both ST and WSDOT basically stonewalled the issue. Glad to see some movement.

  4. The state Democrats’ recent budget proposal includes a capital gains tax (to be applauded) and closes many loopholes in existing taxes – but includes no carbon tax. Governor Inslee, who had prominently included a carbon tax in his own budget proposal in December, endorsed the Dems current plan without any mention of the omission.

    The proposal from the Alliance for Clean Energy and Jobs is now a standalone proposed bill (HB 1646). I conclude that the Dems have given up on it and it’s unlikely to go anywhere. Would love to hear info to the contrary.

    1. Really, what else were they supposed to conclude after seeing the farce surrounding I-732. Never forget that we could have had a carbon tax if not for a number of exceptionally dumb environmentalist groups who thought they were playing a zero-sum game.

    2. I disagree with both. The clean carbon tax was a good idea. Many initiatives have failed several times before they finally succeeded, like marijuana legalization and gay marriage. It takes time for the public to understand and get used to a new idea and question their knee-jerk reaction. However, that doesn’t mean Inslee has to include a carbon tax in the education fix — which is itself a huge controversial thing that doesn’t need more controversial things derailing it. A capital gains tax is a good step to getting the rich to pay their fair share.

      1. Mike, I believe the budget in question is the comprehensive biennial budget, not just education funding. Agree that education dominates this session – and my take is that ANY new taxes introduced AFTER this budget is settled will have zero chance, because taxes will already have been raised substantially to satisfy the education shortfall. That’s the reason to bring a carbon tax in now.

  5. Re: Tri-Met fare collection:
    When drivers fear assaults from their customers, the problem is far worse than collecting a couple bucks.

    No one has the right to enter a McDonald’s and take a burger without paying for it. It must be made clear that a bus ride, like a burger, has real value. A well-designed educational campaign promoting the value of a ride might make regular paying riders feel better about paying their fare (fair) costs, encourage eligible people to obtain legitimate discount fares, and really get the riding public visibly angry at those who try to board without paying. Overall vocal resistance by the public to fare evaders is just about the only practical (and affordable) means of pressure against those who would like to steal the service, and would give the driver some feeling of having a bus full of people as his back. Flame away!

    1. “really get the riding public visibly angry at those who try to board without paying.”

      This is really something you want – more anger?

    2. +1, and this is why we need to end the paper transfers ASAP. If McDonald’s Burger theft rings operated openly and publicly, without shame and with a facebook page, and McDonald’s simply shrugged their shoulders and made no indication they were the slightest bit troubled by it, I would hardly blame others for adopting a similar attitude.

      I’m not necessarily averse to the idea that we should increase our support for transit such that ridership is free. But until we do, we should treat free-riders with contempt and disdain; they’re stealing from the rest of us.

      1. Safest and most convenient way to handle fare collection would be to collect all fares at TVM’s, transit offices, and co-operating convenient stores, cafe’s, and other popular places.

        And issue passes. Readable at as large a number of fare readers as possible, including every door in the fleet. As San Francisco MUNI does.

        And have fare inspection aboard vehicles, and declare as many zones as possible proof of payment areas. Toronto did that last time I visited. Not sure if they still do.

        Meantime, Metro drivers still get paid- used to be half hour overtime- for filing a five minute incident report. Including about fare evasion- time, location, direction of travel and description of perpetrator.

        Giving a driver action they can take, without “working out of grade.” Or into the hospital, or termination over a fare dispute. If Metro decides it’s being cheated out of enough money to take action- that’s what transit police are for.

        ‘Til fare inspectors can be assigned, which I think would suit the police just fine. Meantime, in my experience in passenger seats and the other one, a professional driver ill at ease with passengers should drive a truck.

        Comfortable includes courtesy and good humor. And knowing answers to frequently asked questions. But also the skill to handle the vehicle efficiently and smoothly.

        Smooth communicates a machine under the control of an operator of same description. Itself a powerful indication of somebody not to mess with. Anybody presently driving…How’s Instruction doing on this one?

        All up and down the system, from driver’s seat to company offices, Fare Prime Directive should be never to set up revenue collection get in the way of operations.

        In addition to saving operating time- we’ll also maximize the collection of generally voluntary fares. From max ridership as well.

        Mark Dublin

  6. Clover Park Technical College now has free bus passed for students, but only for Pierce Transit:

    Bus Pass Program

    The Office of Student Involvement, in partnership with Associated Student Government (ASG) and Pierce Transit, is excited to announce a new bus pass pilot program available to all eligible CPTC students at no additional cost to students. Beginning April 1, students will be able to ride the Pierce Transit bus system within the county by showing their CPTC Student ID card + quarterly verification sticker to the Pierce Transit bus driver. Important: Students must get a verification sticker from the SLSC before riding Pierce Transit for free.

    The SLSC will be open on Thursday & Friday, March 30-31 from 10 am – 3 pm for CPTC students who would like to get their Student ID and verification sticker for the bus prior to the first day of the quarter.

    For more information about this program please visit

    1. It would be nice if all the Pierce County colleges and universities got together to join UW Tacoma’s U-Pass so students can ride anywhere in the ORCA service area for free. Of course, UW would have to expand the program to allow other schools, and students would have to get new ID cards, but it would be very much worth the money.

    2. Everett CC is similar in having its discounted ORCA only apply to Everett Transit and Community Transit. I have two cards handy, just in case I need to go downtown.

  7. Several weeks ago there was the incident where a driver went around the down barrier at Holgate Street and hit a Light Rail Train causing significant damage. What is interesting is that the only coverage was on TV but just that evening but no follow up. There was no mention of it at all in the Seattle Times even the morning after which makes you wonder if the driver wanted to commit suicide.

    The reason for the thought that it was a suicide attempt is that the Seattle Times has a policy of not publishing articles on public suicides with rare exception and their reason is that they don’t want to give anyone else any ideas which makes sense. A couple of years ago there was a person who deliberately stepped in front of a light rail train on MLK Way and there was no mention of that either in the media.

    At the time of the incident there were posts made saying that numerous charges should be brought against the driver and suggestions that they be forced to pay for the damage to the train but since there has been no follow up to indicate that charges were filed.

    It is sad that if that was the case that it was a deliberate act that a person be that desperate to go that extreme. It is also interesting since that time the trains now slow down as they pass Holgate Street.

    1. I’m sure there’s some sort of campaign to deter the behavior that you speak about. There may be many reasons to do so, such as the perceived comfort of those who use the service everyday to commute; the city would take measures to ensure that people feel safe about public transportation.

    2. The trains slow down as they pass Holgate because there is still a temporary fix in place for the rail that cracked in the accident. Trains will resume normal operation when the permanent fix (which I think is a rail replacement) occurs.

  8. The NY Times article read like satire to me. Had to look up the author to find out it wasn’t (at least not the funny kind).

    1. Decentralizing federal offices and large employers to suburbs and small cities means putting their employees in areas with little or no transit or walkability, which means they’ll have to drive everywhere even if they don’t want to.

      It would actually be similar to the 1980s and 90s when tech companies and others set up isolated office parks in the Eastside, seemingly the more isolated the better. At the time I just hoped that I could always find a decent job in Seattle so I would never have to work in one of those. Luckily I always did, And then in the mid 2000s the trickle of companies locating in Seattle or places like downtown Bellevue became a flood. Douthat seems to want to reverse this, which means forcing people into isolated environments. Theoretically the suburbs and towns that receive these businesses could act like mini cities and set up walkable districts and good transit for their residents, but in practice they don’t.

    2. Douthat gets MY goat often, including with this piece. I think this was a bit tongue-in-cheek, perhaps even with a touch of troll. Yglesias’ piece, cited by Douthat, is much more constructive. All that said, the rather blithe dismissals I’ve seen here might be making Douthat’s point for him: urban, progressive folks have live in bubbles – maybe better put, have limitations of perspective. That’s become a trite cliche since Nov 8, but it’s still true and there’s value in the effort see things differently.

      1. People thinking Douthat is a clown does not prove that they live in a bubble, it merely proves that Douthat has ideas that sound clownish to them. I will cheerfully concede, as somebody born and raised in a liberal Northwestern college town (hi!) and now living in the dreaded “Vampiric Conurbation” and about to start a federal job (which I guess means Douthat thinks I’m sucking the blood of the taxpayer?), that I am not “in touch” with many parts of the country, any more than they are “in touch” with me—but that doesn’t mean I’m “in a bubble” for thinking Douthat sounds like a clown, because the ideas he proposes have actually been tried before and you could ask Pol Pot how that worked out, except he’s dead and good riddance.

      2. I’ll grant that having a poor opinion of Douthat does not prove on is in a bubble – but casual comparisons to bloodthirsty dictators is a pretty good sign of bubblehood.

      3. Who said it was casual?

        But fair enough, Pol Pot is hyperbolic. Stalin’s five-year plans are more a propos. Seriously his theory is that if we had a more planned economy with forced migration to the countryside, it would solve all of our problems: I will continue to mock that as hyperbolically as I please.

  9. Hourly overnight service is still pretty sparse. Other cities have overnight routes that maintain headways of 30 minutes (or in a couple cases even better) throughout the night.

    That should be the goal.

    1. Yes. San Francisco and Chicago have half-hourly night owls a mile apart. London has night buses all over the place. Several European cities have night owls to all neighborhoods at least on Fridays and Saturdays. We’ve almost got the geographic coverage with this proposal, we just need to fill in the frequency. But it’s a step in the right direction. Each step is difficult because it costs money, and people don’t want to pay for night service when day and evening service still has holes. But if we want people to get rid of their cars and not miss them, and low-income people to get around to night jobs, then we need to aim for comprehensive night owls like Chicago does.

      1. “We’ve almost got the geographic coverage with this proposal, we just need to fill in the frequency.”

        Not really. There will still be huge swaths of the city that won’t be within walking distance of an overnight bus route.

  10. What huge swaths? There’re a lot of places for which it’d be a really long walk, but IMO it’s still doable everywhere.

    1. Any place that it’s a really long walk constitutes a huge swath. If you have to walk 1.5-2 miles to get to an overnight bus route, you’re in the middle of a huge swath with no such service.

      1. It’s also pretty crazy that there are two routes on the Aurora Bridge before one on the Fremont Bridge. So many areas that are a short distance from a line on a map are actually a long, steep walk from a stop because the stops are up on Aurora. To some degree this is the craziness of the all-day network carried over into the night, but the craziness is a lot more justifiable during the day for a bunch of reasons.

  11. I agree with the criticism of TransitScore. My home has an 85 WalkScore but only 62 TransitScore. Yet from literally next door I can get to UW, downtown, Fremont, Magnolia and Queen Anne by relatively frequent buses.

    It also believes I can drive downtown in ten minutes. The reality of course is that you probably need ten minutes just to get into a garage and then park and get out of it.

  12. Route 7 has overnight headways that reach 75 min according to the posted schedules. I don’t kmow why they aren’t adding a trip to keep headways no more than 60 min

  13. Sure wish I could read the “Sound Transit CEO says agency won’t blow $54B chance for development around transit” article. It’s not in the print edition as far as I can tell and I can’t get it online through the libraries.
    Anyone care to summarize?

  14. Can anyone tell me where to find information on how many microhousing units were built or are being built? I keep seeing comments in other places that “the city doesn’t care about doing such-and-such, they’re too busy licensing microhousing units with no parking all over the city”. And it’s starting to bother me, because I didn’t think that there were that many built, at least not out of proportion to other types of buildings going up.

    1. I forgot to add the words “in Seattle” after “were built or are being built”.

      I suspect this is hyperbole from the same people who like to talk about “war on cars”.

    2. Apodments were banned last year from what I understand. The city set minimum square foot and kitchen requirements that prelude anything smaller than a small studio (220 sq ft I think). This was done in the name of tenants’ “dignity in not having to live like sardines” and “sanitation in having an in-unit kitchen” — never mind that these rules price those tenants out of the city entirely, because larger unit means higher price.

      The existing apodments remain. There aren’t that many of them: I don’t see any block anywhere where they’re the majority of buildings. It was always a tempest in a teapot.

      There might be something in this article and its links.

  15. I don’t see why Seattle would have to sell the Pronto bikes all in one lump. Why not put them on eBay? If they have to sell to a municipality because of the grant money involved then it still makes sense to sell in smaller lots. Heck, Bellevue might set up a limited bike share DT if they could get the right number of bikes for pennies on the dollar. Don’t know but I’d think Small Town USA located in fly-over country might also be interested.

  16. The Austin gondola story is unfortunate. It wasn’t about not wanting the gondola or thinking it was a bad idea, just that their little $15k study didn’t get them much – a real one would cost 10x that. “we don’t have a way to pay for a feasibility study, but we would be really happy to consider one if we could find a way to pay for it”.

    Here’s a link the the report (PDF). It’s pretty good for a $15k report – I assume the $1.5M version would be a full schematic phase design document. They give conservative costs (an order of magnitude higher than those the projects they studied) but still end up at only $0.50 to $1.00 per rider.

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