64 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: New Interiors”

  1. Will U-district station open before Northgate, or do we have to wait until 2021 to get the whole deal?

    1. Its all the same line and no part will open earlier than any other part. On top of that, UW statuon has a lot more left to be built than Northate station does.

      If anything, the Northgate station might even be done first since its further along.

      There is some chance that the whole line could open a little early, but that depends on how quicky everything finishes.

    2. I think that it usually is the systems aspects — signals, train control, announcements — that govern the opening date because those things can’t be tested until towards the end. For example, BART Warm Springs was ready last year, but the systems problems kept BART from opening it until just several weeks ago.

      If for some unusual reason a single station has some last-minute problems that keep it closed, I would think that the line could open and the station could remain “closed” until ready. To illustrate, if the U-District station couldn’t open in time, trains could run to Northgate and stop at the platform but the drive would not open the doors. I say this though recognizing that there will be such a lead time required for systems testing that the likelihood of any one station be opened in an interim condition would appear quite small.

  2. I rode one of the Milan heritage streetcars on the F-Market in San Francisco last week. They are gloriously spacious inside, with fully longitudinal seating and no internal obstructions. Unfortunately they lack any handholds in the middle of the car, but imagine how spacious a Link car could really be if they finally removed the transverse seating!

    1. True, Kyle. But what’s max length of that car’s route in Milan? Might be a good idea to have one car with fold-up benches only on every train. Fitted with racks for luggage and bikes.

      And Brent, I think present passenger self-distribution has some interesting lessons. One, subway passengers choose cars for other reasons than available space. For instance, not wanting to break up their group. Or, they’d rather ride at the end closest to their preferred exit.

      Since we’re not either forcing anybody to ride the first two cars, or forbidding them to use the third, why not just enjoy your choice of seats ’til people notice they can fit their whole group into the third car.

      But If group happens to be Manchester United and a couple hundred of their fans, better hope there’s another limited-seat car for Liverpool. And that girl who won the fight that got us present security manpower, on-platform in an English police uniform. Man, what a right!

      And train and station PA reader-board announcements with cautionary messages like: “Ullo, ‘ullo, ‘ullo and wot ‘ave we ‘ere?” And “‘Ere now, wot’s all this!?” And subsequent statements to the media like: “We’re seein’ a lo’ o’ this lytely!”

      But meanwhile, do the two of us a favor: Nothing online, especially Facebook and Twitter, about the empty third car. Or- when you finally can’t get a seat on any car, don’t come blogging to us!


      1. “Ullo, ‘ullo, ‘ullo and wot ‘ave we ‘ere?” And “‘Ere now, wot’s all this!?”

        That would be great. “Next stop, Beacon ‘Ill”. “Tukwila In’ernashnl Bowlivard”. Call it art. The fare inspectors could get in it too. “Good evenin’ ladies and gents. Please ‘ave your tickets and passes ready.”

        Although I prefer a Scottish accent best. “Nayst stope, Mohnt Bayk-air. This is the trayn to Leenwood” (say it properly tense and tight).

        “We’re seein’ a lo’ o’ this lytely!”

        And as artificial intelligence gets smarter, it can accurately say when you go out the door: “We’re seein’ a lo’ o’ people like you lytely!”

      2. And succumb to Spurs — wrong day to complain about unlikely regional accents.

  3. Once again yesterday, the front two cars were crowded, and the third car was spacious, on every trip I took. This is after months of deploying all trains as 3-car consists on weekends. I heard they used 2-car trains on MLK Day, and that was a serious miscalculation.

    Sound Transit is going to have to figure out a service plan that runs all 3-car trains all the time by September 2018, or the third cars will continue to have a marginal impact on the crowdedness of the front two cars.

    In the meantime, if you want a seat, wait at the third between-car barrier. They are now installed at all station platforms outside of the DSTT. The barriers will probably not appear in the DSTT until September 2018.

      1. Nope, they will not be installed in the DSTT stations until after the buses are taken out of the tunnel (September 2018). the barriers may interfere with bus loading and unloading.

      2. Westlake has the floor tiles with the arrows, similar to what many passenger train stations around the world have. They are further back from the platform than I’ve seen anywhere else, but that makes some sense if you are trying to get riders waiting to board to not stand on the arrows that point away from the platform.

        Oddly, I’ve seen a lot of passengers stand on those arrows that point away from the platform. Maybe written instructions would help, such as “Please don’t stand here, so that passengers can exit.”

        The between-car barriers would be in the way of some bus doors if installed in the DSTT. But I think the northernmost barrier position on the southbound platform and the two southernmost barrier positions on the northbound platforms wouldn’t be in the say of any bus doors. ST could easily cut its liability for blind riders walking off the platform in the DSTT between stopped LRVs by half by installing at these positions. And then September 2018 will see the rest installed. I bet the rest could be installed simply by moving the bus stop positions slightly.

    1. At the risk of giving up my nearly empty car, +million
      Remember folks, the third car stops at the station at the same time the first car does.
      Now that the bollards are mostly up, its straightforward to stand where you expect the end of the second car to be. Thentweo cases, walk up; three cars walk down.

  4. WRT the late night bus restructures coming in a few months, what does this mean

    “*Night Owl service on Route 62 would end at Roosevelt Way NE between about 2
    a.m. and about 5 a.m.”

    Does that mean it would only run south/west of there, or only run east of there. It’s a pretty useless description.

    1. I thought that was old draft, that the current proposal adds night-owl service to the 44 and 65, 67, not the 62. (One of the criticisms of the earlier proposal, which the new one sought to address was that Northgate and Lake City were being left out).

      1. It looks like you’re right. So how is one supposed to get to the Green Lake Business District in the middle of the night? It actually has overnight service now. So the entire neighborhood would be losing overnight service.

      2. 67, just six blocks away. How well it has a timed transfer to the 70 or 49 in the U-District will be the keynote. This is a revenue-neutral restructure so you can’t improve some corridors without disimproving others. The choice was to straighten out the routes, get service to the largest urban villages that are furthest from any existing service (Northgate andLlake City), and merge with daytime routes as much as possible. So Greenlake, which is smaller than the other villages and close to Roosevelt, got reduced. There was also a desire to get service on the 5, which I think is a bit redundant (Greenwood is as close to Aurora as Greenlake is to Roosevelt), but it has higher linear density and the corridor has many supporters. Night owl service only exists because the city council is paying for it, separate from Prop 1. Otherwise it would have been deleted in the 2014 cuts. If the council doesn’t raise its contribution. no more hours are available, so Metro can’t activate lower-priority corridors like Greenlake and 65th.

      3. @Mike Orr:

        The 67 is not only a significant distance away, but requires one to cross a wide freeway on foot – a real psychological barrier. That’s hardly good enough.

      4. Yes but we’re splitting a limited pie. The psychological harm of walking across a freeway is little compared to walking 1-3 miles to Northgate or Lake City which will now have service and it will benefit more people.

  5. This looks like a smart choice for now – a hybrid of commuter and subway layout. It’s clear to me that the vehicles for ST3, need to be different, but allowing some longitudinal seating and some traditional seating — a hybrid between commuter and subway layout on theseST2 cars will let people know what they are talking about when they release their ST3 design an it’s open-gangway, longitudinal-only layout to maximize space and utility. Everyone will understand the language, and the tradeoff.

    And before someone cries that the trip from Everett to Seattle is almost an hour — so is the ride from much of Queens to Manhattan.

  6. All they needed to do was make the platform height 550 or 760mm European standard. Which is entirely reasonable given almost all stations are completely segregated except the DSTT. Then they could’ve switched to something like the Stadler FLIRTs i future. End to end open gangways. Top speed 160-200kph. You’d have a real serious line for trains from Marysville (maybe Bellingham in future) through to Olympia. The lost opportunity here really saddens me.

    1. For those sorts of through trains, you’d want to run something like Sounder.

      A Link extension to Marysillve will be nice (eventually), but if I”m trying to get from Marysville to Seattle, I’d much rather transfer in Everett to Sounder than have to ride Link all the way – no matter the type of equipment, that’s a loooong ride with all the stops. So I don’t think that’s a lost opportunity, unless you want to also invest in triple tracking and/or station bypasses.

      1. I believe we should have done a BART/MUNI combination, but if we can satisfy the transit demands of the region with just Light Rail, that’s okay too. What I don’t get is why our trains are so damn slow. Even the Ottawa Light Rail can hit 80 mph, and it’s goddamn terrible. Why did we opt in to choose such slow trains?

        Also, why are we expanding Sounder if Link is going to Everett and Tacoma? Isn’t this going to result in duplicate service?

      2. It’s a weird evolution. We started with light rail, because it is cheap. Then we realized that we wanted it to go very far, so speed mattered. Then we realized that we wanted something that runs in tunnels and above ground (i. e. almost entirely grade separated). So investing in something bigger would have made sense. But it was too late — we had light rail. Slow, relatively small light rail. Like BART, but without the speed or capacity. Two tunnels downtown — with almost the exact same stops! I sometimes wonder if we are building the least cost efficient transit system in North America.

      3. The system we have is quite a bit different than what the powers that be envisioned in 1990. A two-level system would have been better but the powers that be rejected that. They wanted a single medium system because they thought it would be less expensive. They chose light rail because it could run on the surface, and that was their key to low cost. The first proposal called for a surface alignment from Mt Baker to SeaTac. I guess nobody realized that this contradicted the concept of light rail to Tacoma, because if it had continued on the surface all the way the trip would have taken two hours.

        But as each segment went through an EIS one by one, the community kept asking for grade separation. Rainier Valley was refused because it was flat, and that’s how ST was thinking at the time. Roosevelt lobbied to move the line east and put it underground with a station in the center of the neighborhood, and succeeded. It was going to surface right after that, but when ST did the enginnering studies it was cheaper to remain underground until 95th rather than weave up and down around around I-5 and hills. Then ST2 came and the same process happened, and all if it was grade-separated at one point, but then they pulled back a little in the Spring District and Redmond in order to afford the Bellevue downtown tunnel that the city insisted on. (Note that surface along a freeway can be grade-separated if it has no level crossings. Lynnwood Link in north King County is all underpasses to avoid crossings, and Des Moines to Federal Way will be the same.)

        The same stops downtown is a feature; it facilitates transfers. And it’s only two stops, Westlake and Intl Dist, which are exactly the ones people want to transfer at or exit at. Madison is a different stop that should have been in DSTT1 but wasn’t. (Either by adding a station or by moving University Street Station south and adding an underground passage from Westlake Station to the 4th & Pike bus stop.) And yes you can increase the capacity in DSTT1 with some engineering, but having two tunnels gives us plenty of capacity for more lines later, which will make it easier to get them because the tunnels will already be paid for.

      4. “I sometimes wonder if we are building the least cost efficient transit system in North America.”

        But much more effective than Portland, San Jose, San Diego, Dallas, etc.

    2. Erentz, let’s change the grammatical tense off of “past.” Major factor in our choice of equipment was that for an unknown number of years, we knew we’d have to build our regional transit system in stages. In a rapidly-changing region.

      Technical points were tight space and expensive terrain. Compared to Portland and rest of the world, Scrooge-stingy heritage of existing acquirable right-of-way. And in the early 1980’s when we started work on what’s now LINK, population heavy enough to jam traffic, but too light to generate either tax revenue or political urgency, I mean desperation, to start building regional rail.

      The two phases of dual-power buses, exclusive and joint-use with trains, were one reason for street-compatible trains. But main reason LINK is here at all. Bellevue, Kirkland, Lynnwood, Bothell, and Federal Way were not going to pay for a subway through Seattle requiring their voters to transfer at Seattle CBD limits. Years of extra work. But not “missed opportunity” one. And over 35 years, none of above places has “bailed.”

      My own working definition of term “Light Rail”, pretty much same as “Interurban.” Capable of intercity speed, but able to handle radii and stopping distances of street track. Though avoiding same much as possible. In Sweden, if it can run general purpose traffic lanes it’s classed as a streetcar. Just shouldn’t act like one.

      Any remaining chance LINK will face “teething” conditions, even temporarily, it’s good we’ve got present fleet, and arriving one. But from here on, we don’t, and shouldn’t have to build in any regrets. Or face an unforeseen delay forany necessary conversion. “Future proofing” should be thing of the past. And past instances, reparable as a broken bone.

      So good kick-off point for future starting now: Anybody here know enough rail equipment design to give us minimum curve radius an open-gangway train can handle?


      1. If I had my druthers we would’ve planned for eventual conversion of the northern and southern segments of Link to using larger EMUs and higher speeds. The stop spacing favors integration of these segments into a more regional network eventually connected by a dedicated tunnel, one that could also conveniently serving high speed rail. Conversion of the DSTT to this purpose is far too late now, but was probably unrealistic at the time, so the DSTT and Link to Boeing Acc Rd or SeaTac (whatever ends up making sense) and to Northgate remains as is. While the sections beyond are connected to this new separate tunnel segment that we’ll need at some point in the future anyway. But all of this of course would entail planning on a much broader scale for rail than we seem willing to do.

    3. Link and Sounder will have the same travel time from Everett — an hour. As i recall the Paine Field detour didn’t add as much travel time as some had expected.

      1. The problem is that both trains are slower than taking a bus and making a transfer at Lynnwood. From Lynnwood to Westlake is 26 minutes via Link. A bus from Everett to Lynnwood takes about 20 minutes. So a bus would save about 15 minutes over a train, not counting the transfer. A transfer adds time and inconvenience, but most people will have to transfer anyway. The stops in Everett won’t have a lot of walk up riders. The only way you get decent ridership is if folks take a bus to the station. That same bus could just as easily (and more quickly) simply keep going in an express manner to Lynnwood.

        It is unfortunate that our commuter trains are relatively slow from both Everett and Tacoma. This explains why ridership is relatively poor from those cities, and pretty good from places like Auburn and Puyallup (where they are competitive with express buses). We just have bad luck with the geography, in that the old train lines couldn’t make a direct shot between the cities (and the freeways could). Unless they build high speed rail. those commuter rails are relatively slow, even when they are an express. The subway is relatively slow to distant cities simply because it makes a lot of stops (like most subways).

        Lynnwood as a north end terminus makes a lot of sense. It has great bus to rail infrastructure — HOV lanes and ramps right to the station. These could easily be improved (it wouldn’t cost much to add bus-only passing lanes along much of I-5).

        Unfortunately, for the south end, there is no logical terminus at this point. The obvious terminus in the south end would be SeaTac, but it takes a while to get there. Once the 509 project is complete, it will be significantly faster, and the freeway (with HOV lanes) will run right next to Angle Lake. What probably would have made the most sense is to build a busway from 509 to SeaTac and turn SeaTac station into a transit center. At that point you just run express buses SeaTac instead of downtown Seattle. It is about 30 minutes from SeaTac to IDS, and roughly 20 minutes from downtown Tacoma to SeaTac (if there was such a freeway/busway). That isn’t quite as fast as the north end but surprisingly similar, given all the twists and turns (and extra stops) at the south end of our system. It is significantly faster than Sounder, and much, much faster than Link.

        Of course none of that will happen, as folks in charge felt that extending rail was the answer, and I doubt anyone had any vision other than extending it. So far as I know, I am the only person who ever suggested that the 509 project be leveraged to provide significantly faster transit service from the south end to both SeaTac and downtown. That is pathetic. Instead we have rail, which will be slower. About the only advantage to rail is that it will have more capacity; although I find it difficult to imagine that it will be needed north of Lynnwood or south of SeaTac.

      2. The 512 is the same hour to Everett at 6am, +/- 2 minutes. At noon it’s the same. At 5pm the 510 takes 65 minutes. And that’s without the extraordinary traffic jams a few times a month that make it take much longer (or you’re crawling at 20 mph not knowing how long it will take). Everett-Lynnwood travel time on the 512 is 25 minutes.

        The north end is different than the south end. The distance of Lynnwood and Everett, combined with the complete grade separation of the Link line, make Link’s travel time the middle of STEX’s range, better than rush hour but worse than Sunday morning. Also there’s a large transit market between Snohnomish County and north Seattle that’s 15 minutes from Lynnwood, 45 minutes from Everett.

        People assume the distance to Tacoma is the same as Everett, and Federal Way the same as Lynnwood, but that’s not true. Lynnwood is the distance of north Kent, and Everett is the distance of south Federal Way. The longer the line, the greater disparity between a 55 mph light rail and a 65 mph freeway. That plus the 10-minute “Rainier Valley overhead” is why Link can match buses to Everett but can’t match buses to Federal Way or Tacoma. And there’s no south end counterpart to the “Snohomish to north Seattle” market: Piercians aren’t clamoring to go to Des Moines or Federal Way. That gets into the general problem of poverty and lack of development in south King County, and lack of cultural destinations and the unwalkability of those that exist, which in turn all comes from the subarea’s industrial history and abundance of north-south highways slicing up the land, and the choice to build the neighborhoods in a car-dependent way.

      3. I understand your point, but I wouldn’t be quite as dismissive about South King County. After all, Tacoma interests want rail to SeaTac, which is a very major destination in South King County.

        I would also speculate that the amount of available land around the future South King rail stations will create a strong interest in high-density development. The stations are in areas where NIMBY’s aren’t particularly strong like in Seattle. The are large parcels of commercial land in places like Federal Way, which could easily become 20 story buildings (keep in mind that Federal Way is as far away from the end of SeaTac runway as Downtown Seattle is). While I may sound a bit too optimistic for station area development in South King today, I think it’s a definite possibility when the stations get close to opening or when the stations actually open.

        Take a look at how so many areas of Northern Virginia transformed once Washington Metro stops were put in place, as an example. Even along MLK, there is a huge amount of recent new residential construction that is primarily spurred by the opening of Link in 2009.

      4. >> Everett-Lynnwood travel time on the 512 is 25 minutes.

        Nonsense! Citation please. Seriously, tell me where you get those numbers.

        It is only 14 miles, If it took 25 minutes to get from Everett to Lynnwood that means an average of 34 miles an hour. It is rarely that congested.

        Oh wait, I forgot. It is the 512. Well, that is different. The 512 wastes huge amounts of time stopping along the way. Ash Way itself must take at least five minutes. South Everett is fine — HOV ramp on, HOV ramp off. But Ash Way is a disaster. The simple answer is to do what almost every transit agency in the world does — simply skip that stop.

        The Metro 41 does not stop at Roosevelt. It doesn’t even stop at the UW! Holy cow — the UW — the second biggest destination in the state, and folks on the 41 have to take a different bus. But Sound Transit spends oodles of time connecting Everett riders with Ash Way. Maybe because there are a lot of people who travel between the destinations. Hold on, let me look it up. Yes, there are 33 people who actually get off at Ash Way when the bus is heading south (fewer than that board when the bus is heading north). A whopping 33.

        The bus is slow because Sound Transit has made it slow. Maybe it is by design (“See everyone, only a train can be fast!”) or maybe it is because they haven’t figured out that Ash Way isn’t as well connected to I-5 as it should be.

        Oh, speaking of which, did I tell you that you could easily and cheaply build bus only lanes on most — and I do mean most — of I-5 between South Everett and Lynnwood. It is true. Just look it up if you doubt me. Most of the freeway has a big median, with very few challenges when it comes to overpasses. Oh wait, I did mention that.

        There is no reason that a bus ride of 14 miles from Everett to Lynnwood should take 25 minutes. Not now, not ever. Even if there was horrible congestion (and there isn’t) you could get that bus moving way faster if you simply built a bus only lane in the median. That would be dirt cheap. But we didn’t do that. Because folks wanted a train to Everett, regardless of whether it actually would improve the transit situation for most of the people in the region. Oh well.

      5. >> People assume the distance to Tacoma is the same as Everett, and Federal Way the same as Lynnwood, but that’s not true.

        I made no such assumption. Look at my numbers again. I know, I was a bit surprised as well. Tacoma really isn’t *that* far from SeaTac, and SeaTac isn’t really *that* far (via Link) from downtown. To be clear, Everett (and the north end in general) is closer. But if you build a fast freeway connection to SeaTac (and given the state’s 509 project that would be trivial) then SeaTac could be the southern terminus just as Lynnwood would be the northern terminus. Yes, there are a bunch of stops in Rainier Valley, but their is also a huge gap between Tukwila and Rainier Beach, and that makes for competitive travel times.

        >> After all, Tacoma interests want rail to SeaTac, which is a very major destination in South King County.

        Yet Pierce county voters don’t. Maybe because it isn’t that major. SeaTac gets about 1,200 riders a day (counting boardings and alightings) from the 574. That includes Tacoma, Lakewood, Federal Way, etc. They might get more with light rail, but consider how many Link generates right now. There is about 6,000 riders per day. Why on earth do you think ridership from Pierce County will exceed that, given that Tacoma is much smaller, and there is no direct connection to downtown? Do you really think that Pierce County ridership will suddenly eclipse King County ridership to SeaTac, and 10,000 or more riders will get on the train to the south? If not, then why can’t buses handle the situation? If SeaTac really is a major destination, don’t you think it makes sense to serve it directly, via buses from all over?

        >> Take a look at how so many areas of Northern Virginia transformed once Washington Metro stops were put in place, as an example. Even along MLK, there is a huge amount of recent new residential construction that is primarily spurred by the opening of Link in 2009.

        Yes, and Northern Virginia is still much, much closer to DC than Tacoma is to Seattle. Likewise, MLK construction should be no surprise, since all of Seattle — including places completely void of Link, like Fremont and Wallingford — are growing. The point being that places close to the city are growing fast, everywhere. Every city that has doing well economically has seen huge growth in the central core. Transit plays a very small part in that growth, and when it does, the growth occurs closer to the center, not in distant suburbs or cities.

      6. “I would also speculate that the amount of available land around the future South King rail stations will create a strong interest in high-density development. The stations are in areas where NIMBY’s aren’t particularly strong like in Seattle.”

        Sadly that’s not true, at least at present. Kent owns the east side of 99 and it dutifully zoned for a large urban village. But Des Moines stuck its head in the sand and said no, it wants to preserve the auto-oriented landscape it has because they’re inexpensive storefronts for immigrant businesses. Des Moines killed the north 99 alternative that would have allowed for a future station at 216th & 99 which already has one TOD building and could easily form an urban village in a Safeway plaza and the adjacent corners. Federal Way wanted Link on I-5, which dashes the possibility of Link serving urban villages at 260th and 272nd. And at 316th-320th Federal Way has talked about a large downtown but so far I haven’t seen any movement for it. Has it upzoned yet? Does it have any plans to make the area walkable? Why doesn’t it start now? Then there’s the problem of business interest. Bellevue, Redmond, and Seattle are hot. Lynnwood will be next because it’s closer, centrally located, and up north where the swells are. Tacoma may be second because it has an old-fashioned downtown ready to grow. Federal Way may not attract businesses until all those are filled.

  7. A term I’ve seen occasionally on the blog to describe bus routes (usually pejoratively) is “milk run.” What are the key characteristics of a milk run, and where did the term come from?

    1. Very frequent low volume stops. Originally from milk distribution. There’s some controversy over whether it refers to home delivery of milk (stop at every house, deliver a few full bottles, pick up a few empties), or the collection of dairy from small farms (stop at each farm, pick up a few gallons of milk, drop off empty churns), both of which have roughly the same character.

      1. http://www.seattlechannel.org/history-in-motion?videoid=x26575

        This absolute treasure of a video vividly illustrates one context of term “Milk Train.” Along with the milk-cans, you’d often see tractor motors inside the wide baggage door that one car of an interurban train often featured.

        At 5:37 and 7:30 frames, script really calls the spirit of this project an “Opium Dream!” An excellent insight into US life and outlook before alcohol Prohibition faded into a permanent police state housing the world’s largest prison population. Incarcerated for mandatory-life over drugs a lot less dangerous than alcohol.

        Film shows living-pattern shift I’ve started advocating. With street-speed and cross-country electric trains integrated into ordinary life as naturally as automobiles are now. Video’s final note is opposite of sorrowful. It shows how naturally patterns change into their successors. Doubt that many people had to be herded off trains into Fords at gunpoint.

        To put it mildly, due to their own numbers cars mean the opposite of freedom and enjoyment. So when current legislating generation reaches the end of Nature’s term limits…hardest thing will probably be converting existing subdivisions that people will be as glad to live in as their grandparents were to live in suburbs.

        We can measure success of new transit-orientation by most honest standard: how many kids run away to it. In electric rail’s case, large percentage of people who are now five.

        Mark Dublin

      2. I believe it’s that back in the day before ordinary homes had refrigerators, people had to to get milk delivered to their homes every day. A “milk run” bus refers to a bus that behaves like the route of an old milk delivery person – stopping at every door, very slow, but will get everywhere, eventually.

        Today, a more modern comparison would be riding in the back of a USPS mail truck.

      3. Glad you’re still here, William, because milk delivery pales in comparison to change in balance of power when Scotland becomes part of same country as France. Their last attempt came to a tentative end when our War for Independence bankrupted France. Along with England and us.

        History of the northern British Isles would make the blood run cold in a well-done beefsteak in the oven. Until 500 years of violence among Comanches with red hair, freckles, and names out of Sir Walter Scott- so much for “White Identity”- came to a ghastlier end than expected: Combatants became the fans of the nation’s football clubs. We say “Soccer teams” at the risk of our lives if overheard.

        In addition to finishing what the Luftwaffe left undone, reason for game you mention in London was last-minute practice. Because a misunderstanding between team-members in a pub somewhere just south of Scotland resulted in both sides taunting each other that they hadn’t the “bottle” (perseverance in the face of inevitable ghastly death while sober) to get on the same field with Hope Solo.

        Any chance we can get her for Fare Inspection?


      4. Actually, William, not “milk distribution” but “milk collection“. And “can distribution”. Local freights would stop at all the little towns along all the little branches in the dairy states and collect milk for transport in those giant coca-cola bottle shaped cans you’ve seen int he movies. They’d take them to a nearby city where the milk would be pasteurized and bottled for sale.

      5. Regarding “USPS is the new milk run”. The Swiss postal service actually runs much of the rural bus service in Switzerland.

      6. Milk deliveries started before refrigerators but they lasted until long after then. When I was a kid in Bellevue in the 70s we had milk delivery. But as time went on more and more people gradually switched to milk from the supermarket, and finally the milk delivery system collapsed.

      7. You can still get it delivered, actually. There are lots of Smith Brothers boxes on porches all over town.

    2. Metro in the 80s had very long local routes with no express outside peak hours: downtown to Federal Way, downtown to Auburn, and downtown to North Bend. If you lived out there, your trip would be an hour and a half. The Bellevue-Seattle routes were also milk runs: they got on the freeway at the very last entrance before the bridge and got off at the first exit. So the large number of people going from downtown Bellevue to downtown Seattle had to meander through Enatai, Beaux Arts, or Medina, three stops on Mercer Island, and north Rainier and Dearborn Street, never mind that hardly anyone ever got on or off in those places. It can also refer to routes like the former 56 (Alki-Admiral-downtown), where you had to take the slowest route to West Seattle because the faster ones didn’t go near your area.

      1. When we moved to this area in the late ’80s, all Metro service I remember were meandering ‘milk runs’: the 226 from Bellevue to Seattle, the 251 that took forever to get from Kirkland to Redmond via the most indirect routing ever, ditto the 253 from Seattle to Redmond, and if you wanted to go from Kirkland to Issaquah you could only do so via downtown Seattle.
        The rubber barons that killed the Interurban deserve a special place in hell.

  8. Think this has been discussed before but don’t recall a conclusive answer: Does anyone know if Metro has seriously considered service between upper Queen Anne and Fremont/Ballard, or what costs would be associated with doing so? Obvious options are extending the 3/4/13 or rerouting something like the 32. So frustrating that this is still a two-seat trip.

    1. There has been discussion in the past of extending the 13 to the south end of the bridge, but apparently nobody wants to pay for the wire. I doubt they’d rehang wire on the bridge itself, though. If a bus goes from the top of Queen Anne through Fremont it will have to be diesel.

      But you really don’t want to run diesels up and down the Counterbalance. They did that for three years during the overhead replacement project during the late 1970’s and it was horrible. It essentially burned up the wonderful “700” fleet which were the only diesels which could make the hill. Coming down was an exercise in daily prayer: the diesels have much less retarding force than the trolleys do.

      So, please, no reroute of the 32, and I doubt that there will ever be enough demand for top-of-the-hill to Fremont and beyond ridership to make a route that terminates up top worthwhile.

      1. Thanks, Richard. That all makes sense. South end of the bridge would be a nice improvement.

      2. They could run trolleys off wire over the bridge. That way they could just build wire on either side but not actually over the bridge.

      3. Basic network design principles say you don’t end a bus route half a mile before a major activity center with serving it. Unfortunately, this conflicts with the operational constraints of where the trolley wire is. Perhaps one possible solution would be to extend the 13 to Fremont, and have it continue to use the overhead wire where it exists, but switch to battery power when the wire ends. We’re talking about just a mile or two on battery power at the most per each trip (depending on where exactly in Fremont, the bus turns around). The bus could theoretically recharge its batteries as it drives the rest of the route, the part with the direct wire connection.

      4. Even though it’s two-seat ride, it would work a lot better with a reliable connection between the 13 and the 32. The 32’s ridership numbers always seem odd to me; when I take it it always seems to be crowded, but at times when Metro probably doesn’t think it should have such ridership (later in the evening and on weekends). It’s treated as purely a UW commute run (so less service when UW is not in session) but seems to be used a lot as a social connection among UW, Fremont, SPU and Queen Anne. If it were more reliable, it would have even more ridership.

      5. Reason I wouldn’t rule out wiring Queen Anne service across the Fremont Bridge is the last four years’ worth of difference between the Ballard I fled from in 2014 and the one I fled to in 1985.

        The world now has smaller major cities. Could trail in to the Route 40, which I also see being wired. Possibly share a reserved transitway and positive wire with a streetcar line on Leary Way. Or use a pantograph, like one of those new Swedish semi’s.

        Might be a tourist draw for the world’s Asperger’s Syndrome community to re-install the mechanism on the Counterbalance. Great coffee-table book called “The Time of the Trolley” mentions it as an example of “the slightly demented mechanism” associated with streetcars.

        If Connector continues the First Hill cars up First Avenue, they could get pulled up the Counterbalance by the weight of the car coming down. The vertical grade will dynamically charge its batteries for a month.


      6. asdf2,

        Running on battery is a great idea, but it does assume that there is some sort of very reliable re-wiring apparatus for the southbound runs.

        I do think there’s another reason that they didn’t extend the wire; after all it’s at Queen Anne and Nickerson, so it’s only about five blocks to Fremont. It’s that the layover loop would have to be on Florentia and there’s currently no left turn onto Florientia from eastbound Nickerson. A bus bay would have had to have been built, and the street doesn’t have a lot of available room. So they never did it.

      7. There has been a lot of discussion about the 31/32, both here and on Page 2. There are weaknesses with the west ends (the parts that split). The 32 is somewhat redundant (with the frequent D). The 31 looks fine on paper, but making a transfer to a bus on 15th (headed either direction) requires a sizeable walk. So much so that if you miss the 32, taking the D and hoping to grab the 31 is not a great option.

        Personally, I would do this:

        I would send both buses over the Dravus Street Bridge to Magnolia. This would mean a frequent and easy connection between the D and the 31/32 (the transfer would occur at Dravus). It also means you serve all those new apartments around Interbay with more frequent service.

        From Dravus, I would send the 31 south to Magnolia Village (regaining its current route). The 32 would go north, to Discover Park via the 33 route (Gilman and Government Way). It wouldn’t go all the way through Discover Park, but end a couple blocks before (where the 24 and 33 converge). Compared to the current routing, all you lose in service is one stop near Fisherman’s terminal.

        With this routing, most of the apartment dwellers in Magnolia have a short walk to a bus that goes to Fremont and the UW. For a lot of them, they have 15 minute all day headways. It also doubles service on both the north and south ends. This means that if you are headed downtown and miss the 33, then taking the 31 or 32 and transferring to the D is a reasonable alternative. Both tails are also fairly fast (no stop lights) which means that service should be fairly cheap.

        For the top of Queen Anne, I would do two things. First I would extend the 13 to Fremont, as folks suggested. That will require running more wire, though. The second thing I would do is run a bus from the top of Queen Anne to Ballard, like so: https://goo.gl/maps/ZgruMM61jWr. This starts where where the old 4 used to end (on top of Queen Anne) and then zig-zags a bit to get to 15th (and on to Ballard). This is more back and forth than I would like, but it is the only way to head west from the top of Queen Anne (the streets simply don’t go through). This would provide the first east-west service on the top of Queen Anne, which in itself is welcome. From the apartments on Gilman right now to the thriving business district in upper Queen Anne, you have either a hefty walk of about a mile, or a ridiculously long set of bus rides (south to lower Queen Anne, then back up the hill). This would solve that problem as well as similar ones (getting from the top Gilman to SPU becomes a lot easier, albeit with a transfer). Of course the key benefit is a decent connection from the top of Queen Anne to Ballard.

        I see both buses as being reasonably popular, as we transition from a downtown centric system, to more of a grid.

  9. Google says that term “milk run” pretty much means the easiest likely conditions for the work at hand. Like a World War II bombing mission where the crew had best possible chance of coming back. But I think the term always carries unspoken “no promises.”

    Example from “Catch 22”. Target considered a milk run. “(Captain Yossarian, book’s hero) came in on the target ….confidently taking no evasive action at all, and suddenly they were shooting the living shit out of him!

    Heavy flak was everywhere! He had been lulled, lured and trapped, and there was nothing he could do but sit there like an idiot and watch the ugly black puffs smashing up to kill him.”

    If you’re a transit operator, you have to suck it up and remember you picked it. Any problem with that, see if Smith Brothers’ Farms needs anybody to deliver milk. You probably won’t have to be trolley-qualified.

    Though on the positive side, Sweden is developing high speed semi’s with pantographs. So especially if you’re on the 7, the 44, the 49, and the 70, your trolley qualification will put you ahead in line, with two added benefits. One, “pans” mean you never throw poles. And cows don’t bother driver with questions, or Customer Service Office with complaints. But better start negotiating contract language for cleaning coaches.

    However: There’s a threat growing likelier as days in the White House speed past a hundred with no tax returns in sight: Russia has long history of delivery trucks with trolley poles. So really ‘Yuge! deal could suddenly put remaining Teamsters aboard 1930’s Russian delivery vans.

    Two-fer: Hat-tip to the coal industry. And presenting dishonest environmentalists with massive electrification whose power source will overrun Seattle with fleeing walruses. Sad. So let’s hope the “milk run” caveat saves us.


  10. Baltimore question. The first time I went to DC in 2000 for a conference I wanted to visit Baltimore and I knew the MARC train went to BWI and Baltimore but it didn’t run on weekends so I never went. Now this weekend a woman in Maryland told me she takes the MARC train to Silver Spring. I said I didn’t know it went there. She said there are four lines now and one of them goes to Silver Spring. So then I went looking at the MARC system maps and that led me to Baltimore transit maps, and I saw that Baltimore has quite a lot of transit, not just a few buses little like I’d assumed.

    There’s a metro subway, two light rail lines, two MARC lines, four “Charm City Circulators”, three “Harbor Connector Routes”, and four water taxi stations in the inner harbor. At the same time I hear that two more light rail lines were vetoed in 2015 by the governor, one that was really needed to connect several black neighborhoods to jobs on the other side of town. And that a bunch of frequent bus routes were introduced in compensation for the loss of the light rail lines.

    This seems like a contradiction. Does Baltimore have good transit or doesn’t it? Was the light rail line really needed? Why couldn’t they get around on the other lines and buses? Are the new bus routes much of an improvement, and how well is the system working now? Do the water taxis go just across the inner harbor (which looks like a few blocks wide) or do they go elsewhere? Are the Charm routes and Harbor Connector routes anything notable?

    Finally, the system map shows the bus routes as rings around the center. Are all the roads really rings or is this a distortion of the map?

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