Intersectional Three Ways 1

This is an open thread.

70 Replies to “News Roundup: New Volunteers”

  1. A LEED Gold parking garage ought to be an oxymoron.

    Glad the station was quality built… too bad density there is too low to make proper use of it.

  2. Tacoma to Seattle Foot Ferry is a terrible idea. What about Tacoma retaining and building its employment base? Not to mention the fact that it would duplicate a route already traveled by bus, heavy commuter rail, and, in a few years, light rail. Tacoma is not and should not be a bedroom community for Seattle. We have a port – a LARGER port than Seattle. We have a downtown. We have thriving craft brewery and coffee roasting industries. We used to have one of the nation’s leading investment firms until Seattle snatched that up. We host large events at both the Tacoma Dome & the Convention Center. Tacoma’s focus needs to be on developing its business community, not on transporting workers to Seattle.

    1. +1, Also, you’d think that any excess transit cash Tacoma can raise would be best spent on Link.

    2. I agree it’s a poor idea, but I’m curious – where would the ferry even depart from?

      1. My guess is that it would depart from a modification of the terminal at Point Defiance, or a new terminal in the nearby Point Ruston development. That would provide a shorter distance to Seattle than somewhere Dowtown, take advantage of a relatively dense and wealthy Point Ruston development that is supposed to have over 3,000 residents when fully built out, and provide some incentive for reverse traffic from Seattlites coming to visit Tacoma’s number one regional destinations of Point Defiance Park.
        That said, it would still be a huge waste of money. I expect more of Council Member Mello. He is heavily involved in PSRC regional government and should know enough about these types of ferries to know they are expensive, not scaleable, and terrible for greenhouse gas emissions. This isn’t even an election year for him when I could forgive him for trying to get a little publicity with an attention grabbing scheme.

    3. “What about Tacoma retaining and building its employment base?”

      It’s already trying as hard as it can to do that. More companies means a higher tax base, higher employment, and shorter commutes. Eventually companies will come to Tacoma as the regional population grows, they can’t find unused land for offices on Seattle or The East side, Tacoma becomes hip, and enough desirable workers live there who refuse to commute so the companies have to come to them. Tacoma believes Central Link will be the catalyst for some of that.The number of people who can fit on this ferry is just a few hundred, not enough to make a difference in Tacoma’s status one way or another. And what will the travel time be? Over an hour? That could scrap the project fight there.

    4. It’s 30 nm by water. The Kitsap fast ferry tops out at 38 knots. So about 50 minutes, unless they use an even faster and more expensive boat. That’s what, 8 minutes faster than Sounder, which is sited at a major transit hub and already has parking?

      Regarding where it would leave from, my guesses would be the Foss Waterway or Point Ruston. Both have hardly any transit service, and Foss has limited parking already.

      In other words, dumb idea. I live in Tacoma and wholeheartedly support transit, but not dumb transit.

      1. +1 as a Tacoma resident this is a really dumb idea. If you really want to fund a study, spend that money to study how to improve Pierce Transit, or study how to attract private employers to Downtown.

      2. Spend that money to make Tacoma Link more frequent so that Tacoma Dome isn’t such a painful transfer, grade-separate the part of north downtown where they’re proposing to run Link in mixed traffic, figure out how to connect central-west and southwest Tacoma to Tacoma Dome better, and get on with Route 1 BRT for southeast Tacoma and 6th Ave. And add a Tacoma Link line to north Tacoma. These would all be more effective than a ferry.

    5. Hey Tacoma city council, fast ferries work for Kitsap because you can’t get there by land.

      How about the city spend that fast ferry money on improving Tacoma’s horribly underfunded bus service?

    6. “Tacoma is not and should not be a bedroom community for Seattle.”

      That seems like a very difficult goal to attain. If that was really the goal, start by shutting down Sounder and ST Express buses to make it more difficult to commute to Seattle jobs.

      If Seattle continues to have a booming job market, some Tacoma residents will want to participate. Moreover, Tacoma residents who are working in Seattle still benefit Tacoma’s economy. I’d venture that people spend a lot more money where they live than where they work.

    7. There’s nothing wrong with giving people more options. There may even be some Seattlites who choose to commute to Tacoma.

      1. I commuted from Seattle to Tacoma for a few years, both on the ‘reverse Sounder’ and 594. I was definitely not the only one.

      2. Agreed, commute patterns are pretty bidirectional these days. But that’s an argument for bidirectional Sounder service, not a foot ferry….

    8. You guys want a fight on this one, you’ve got one. You could’ve had a fair case the year I got asylum in Olympia after I got ethneconometrically cleansed out of Ballard. One hour Intercity Transit express bus ride to Tacoma. Coffee and bathroom at the Anthem Cafe on Pacific, streetcar to Tacoma Dome, one hour Sounder to Seattle.

      Gone with the Real-Estate-Speculating Wind that demolished thirty years’ regional planning in three Earth years. My only chance at a morning appointment in Seattle is back roads drive (which luckily is my life’s only sport right now), and park the car either at Tacoma Dome or streetcar territory around Wright Park.

      590 series always been chancy over traffic Southcenter to Spokane Street. 574 to LINK at Sea-Tac, or Rapid Ride to Angle Lake still work- but can get traffic locked-down with no warning from warden or guards. So usually, forced drive classified routes to Angle Lake. After eleven when the structure’s full, Beacon Hill.

      Of course I’m on for every piece of ground transit mentioned. Expect to spend at least next 20 years at least advocating and helping it, whether I live to ride on it or not. But give me the expected time frame on a single I-5 diamond lane before any more negative comparison with the hydrofoils.

      Funding source? Every commercial entity profiting from the activities that have run the middle class out of Seattle can justifiably consider the restoration of a whole regional transit corridor as a cost of doing business. Think there’s something selfish and privilege-seeking living one place and working another, dig a moat and get the Black Death. Or gimme Ballard back at my last rent.

      We do have one chance at a Freeway-Free corridor to the State Capitol- and a lot of Seattle-employed new development between there and Seattle. The day first Amtrak train leaves Freight-House Square for Portland, no mechanical excuse for Sounder to terminate anywhere north of the the Nisqually River. BN operations? Paying for any trouble will be money well spent. Thurston County politics? For three years, Olympia hasn’t been any elected official’s grandfather’s constituency anymore.

      Mark Dublin

    9. I disagree. I think it is a good idea. And it should actually depart the downtown pedestrian waterfront (near the museum of glass). This would provide a direct connection from downtown to downtown. In addition to providing an option for business travel/commute, don’t overlook the potential boon to Tacoma tourism: the 1 million cruise ship passengers that spend one night and one day in a Seattle waterfront hotel won’t bother coming to Tacoma their first time through, but the second time…if there is a catamaran ferry that can take them to the Tacoma waterfront for lunch, museums and shopping and back in the same day, they’ll do it. Also, general Seattle tourists will certainly spend a day or two in Tacoma if they know they have that simple transfer (they won’t take a commuter train that departs from Int’l Dist and ends up at the Tacoma Dome, though — it’s not as simple or beautiful).

      Addressing criticism 1) We already have ways to get from Tacoma to Seattle — response: yes, but this would be another one, and the only one that wouldn’t require any kind of transfer to go from one business district (and one tourism district) to the next. Criticism 2) Tacoma should develop their own business district and have people live and work in Tacoma — response: yes, they should, and are. And some families have two income earners, work in different cities, but want to live together. This will work for some of those people; others as well. Criticism 3) It’s going to be slower than driving, bus or train — response: it depends on destination and time of day. This is why it needs to leave from the pedestrian-accessible downtown waterfront, though. It will provide an option that is faster for some people; that is, faster than making a connection to Sounder at both ends, and faster (and perhaps cheaper) than dealing with traffic and parking on the Seattle end, particularly during commuting hours. Without the extreme wake restrictions imposed on the Bremerton ferry, it can go faster: the fastest large passenger ferry available goes 67 mph and the Clipper goes 35 mph. We don’t need to be the fastest, but a 45-55 mph one is probably do-able, and could get you Seattle Tacoma in under 40 mins. Criticism 4: We should spend our resources elsewhere — response: we should and we are. This could potentially be a fairly low-cost, high-benefit transit service that wouldn’t take away real funds from other possible projects. Business impact fees, tourism promotional funds, and $10 tickets should cover much of the cost.

      1. “We should spend our resources elsewhere — response: we should and we are.”

        Uh, no, we aren’t. Have you tried getting around on Pierce Transit lately? It’s a skeleton of a system with bare-bones service levels. Until PT gets services levels high enough to induce reasonable ridership of commuters, we don’t need to waste our money on a ferry that serves Amazon. Amazon is welcome to provide a ferry that plies this route, but Pierce County shouldn’t get dragged into the mess that Seattle has.

      2. Running at high speed is super expensive and uses tons of fuel — it’s super expensive because it uses tons of fuel. The boats don’t have the capacity to make up the efficiency with passenger volume. This is, as far as I can understand, a permanent and fundamental constraint on long-distance mass transit over water.

        The Bremerton ferry actually slows down once it’s in open water to save fuel. They had to use special vessels that minimize wake at a particular (high) speed, but the overall constraint on trip time is mostly driven by efficiency considerations, not wake considerations.

    10. Already too late, Engineer. Corina Cafe is my five day workweek office, perfect scenic car commute from Olympia, so even though I’ll fight for hydrofoils, I don’t need them. Even worse, when I go to Seattle, always park either a block from the cafe, or at Tacoma Dome!

      So like the Borg say, “Tacoma has long been as much part of Seattle as Ballard! And resistance is not only futile, but ridiculous. The Puget Sound region requires not only bedrooms, but places of employment which the Prime Directive forbids exclusion of Tacoma.”

      And the whole Vulcan community realizes that idea of threat to Tacoma’s independence is not Logical. Your independence is protected from being seized because who wants it? If Sound Transit wanted a service area of little warring enclaves, we’d move it to Europe.

      As soon as I figure out which weirdly beeping warp system permits me to get across the Nisqually River when I-5 is blocked all the way to Oregon, I shall view “Dunkirk” before my coconut affogato prior to work hours in the ground floor of a ballet school! Have been assigned task of putting Sound Transit colors on our flagship watercraft.

      So, Tacomans, Prosper and you’ll Live Longer when modern employment and technology saves our planet’s atmosphere from that paper mill.


    11. Connecting Tacoma to Seattle via transit does not imply that Tacoma is a bedroom community. They are simply two cities that happen to be close to each other (like Baltimore and DC).

      As for the particulars, there would be four different ways to take transit from Seattle to Tacoma (or the reverse). Three are express in nature, while Link is not. The Sounder train makes stops along the way, but only a handful. Express buses could do the same, if freeway stations were built (e. g. to connect to Link near SeaTac).

      Given the fact that buses are more frequent, substantially faster, and more flexible than the alternatives, investing in our obviously outdated bus infrastructure makes the most sense. Simply changing HOV 2 to HOV 3 would probably be sufficient to make taking the bus superior to other forms of transit all day. But more could be done, such as building the I-5 HOV to SoDo ramp that WSDOT considered years ago (sorry, don’t have the link). If the powers that be still can’t figure out how to change a 2 to a 3, then additional bus only lanes could be built. Building these the whole way would be very expensive (it might even be as expensive as Link) but building it where it is cheap to do so would still lead to substantial speed improvements during rush hour, making if faster than the commuter train (which is much faster than Link).

      The commuter train is not very fast. Actually, the problem is that it isn’t very direct. The freeway (the path that a bus takes) is much shorter than the path that the train takes. But the train does serves several cities along the way. This does mean that people can get to Tacoma from those places, and often much faster than via a bus (or even driving). However, the vast majority of those who ride Sounder get on or off in Seattle. In addition, way more people take the buses from Tacoma to Seattle than take the train. It is possible that every Tacoma rider uses the train as a method to get to places like Auburn and Kent, but even if that is the case, there are less than 1,500 who do so.

      The ferry is not without merit. It would likely be the second fastest way to get from downtown Tacoma to downtown Seattle (the bus being the first). It might even be the fastest during heavy traffic, assuming that nothing is done about our dated HOV lanes.

      The ferry would also serve a different part of Tacoma, and a different part of downtown Seattle. For those headed to First Hill, for example, there would be a substantial time savings over the commuter train. Whether the time savings of this ferry and the different destinations served make up for the cost is questionable, but that is why they want to study the issue. In short, like the extension of Link to Tacoma, they may want to choose a technology that is inferior in just about every way, but politically possible.

  3. What really bothers me about pedestrian crossings is that the buttons usually make you wait a whole signal cycle when parallel traffic is green. For example, you run to try to make the next green light, but you miss it by half a second. The intersection doesn’t give you a green light until the next cycle anyway, even when there is enough time remaining in the light for a full pedestrian signal.

    And intersections like 23rd/Madison, where the NB/SB 23rd light will stay green as long as cars are coming to the intersection (and turn yellow when they stop), is smart enough to stay green for cars, but won’t stay green longer if a pedestrian wants to cross. Instead, if you miss it by the tiniest amount of time, they make you wait the whole signal.

    This is particularly a problem when a bunch of people are waiting and no one pushed the cross button because the first person didn’t push it, and no one else did because they thought someone would have already pushed it. When we get a green light and see that no one pushed the button, it would be good to get a walk signal right when we push the button.

    1. Agreed, “dumb” intersection controls irritate me too when they’re not smart enough to recognize out-of-cycle requests. Then again, with these types of safety-critical systems, they probably spend the majority of the design time proving they are safe and meet all applicable Federal / State / Local regulations, which are probably extensive.

    2. I see it all over the place and these beg buttons really have no business in an urban environment (except, maybe, late at night).

      Some tricks I use to deal them include running ahead, when traveling with a group, to get that button pressed before the rest of the group arrives, and pushing the button again, after crossing the intersection, as a courtesy to the person crossing after me. Also, never assume that the person waiting pushed the button for you – always push it yourself, just to be sure (at some intersections, a red light goes on next to the ped button when the button is pushed, so you can skip the press if the red light is already on).

    3. What’s also bad is that buttons quit working pretty easily. Anyone who has been on Rainier Ave at Bayview Street at night knows what I mean. Traffic backs up at 10:30 pm, including Route 7 buses because the broken pedestrian button kicks on and only 3 cars can get through with each cycle per lane.

      San Francisco decided long ago that unless there was a compelling reason, to always have fixed-time signals to benefit pedestrians as well as keep coordinated signals in sync. It would make sense in several areas within Seattle.

    4. What’s especially irksome about that light at 23rd/Madison is that the east-west pedestrian signal, along Madison, gives a walk signal automatically! Why can’t they both be that way?

    5. There are two aspects to beg buttons:

      1) They can signal the system that someone wants to cross, the same way that the induction loop detectors work in cars.

      2) They can change the nature of the crossing by turning on the walk signal (not just the green light).

      The first one makes sense for certain intersections. The alternative would be to either rely on cars to trigger the request, or have all signals be timed, which would be silly for a lot of streets. This is why beg lights will always make sense in areas that have induction loop detectors.

      The second is where there is a problem. It was implemented that way to save a few seconds, since a green light without a walk signal is faster than a green light with a walk signal. However, we should simply accept that minor time penalty, and make sure that once the light turns green, the walk signal will be on, and people will have enough time to walk across the street.

      I believe this is what the city is going to implement, for safety reasons. Your example is precisely why. You arrive when the light is green, but there is no walk signal. Rather than wait for a full cycle, you start across. You get two steps away from the curb, and the light turns yellow. You aren’t fast enough to make it across the street, and get hit by an idiot who was too stupid to remember what they taught him in drivers ed class.

      With the change, if the light is green, you either have a walk signal, or a blinking don’t walk signal. With a very big street crossing, it is possible that it would be a full don’t walk, which means that the light will turn yellow momentarily.

      That’s the plan, as I understand, which will be a welcome change.

  4. I think calling for Amazon to pay for extra busses is absurd. Busses are for people to ride, period.

    The below, from the same article, is a big problem Metro (and most other agencies that try to equate everything, and make concessions for certain groups) has. These type of things cause more problems than they actually help, and in the long run, hurt everyone involved.

    “As a transit agency charged with getting cars off the roads, Metro wants to make sure all those new customers keep coming back to use its service, rather than giving up and driving to work alone. But Metro has also made a commitment, through its service guidelines, to serve low-income and minority communities, such as Southeast Seattle. When Metro decides where to add service during its twice-annual service adjustment process, it looks not just at demand but at how well the system is serving the goal of racial equity.

    A few tens of thousands of dollars shifted over to South Lake Union over the summer may not sound like much. But if Amazon’s growth creates the demand for permanent shifts in service, that could put Metro in the position of choosing between racial equity and full buses passing people by.”

    1. It actually makes sense for Amazon to help pay for extra buses- Metro has a limited budget, and spending money on Amazon commuters means that low income communities elsewhere that need extra bus service might not get it. Amazon has a lot of money, after all, while the low income neighborhoods don’t. With Amazon pitching in, we can get better bus service for both.

      1. Amazon does pay for bus service, directly via employee bus passes and indirectly by paying the same taxes everyone else does. The more Amazonians ride the bus, the more fare revenue Metro collects. The bigger Amazon gets, the more in pays in property & sales tax, which funds Metro & basically all other local services.

      2. I too think that asking Amazon to pay for increased service is counterproductive. As AJ said, Amazon pays for bus passes.

        Also, what is the end to the logic? Do we ask every “major” employer in the area to do the same like UW and the medical centers? Do we ask major sports teams and events to chip in for extra transit service? I honestly don’t know the answer, but I would be very surprised if the Mariners or Huskies or Seahawks are being asked to pay for the additional transit service transit runs for their games.

      3. The Seahawks do pay for the shuttle service that operates from 4 different park and ride lots for Saturday and Sunday games. The shuttle service does not operate for any weekday games as Metro does not have the buses to do so on those days.

        The Huskies also pays for the extra service that runs on Saturday game days including shuttle service from the park and ride lots and additional service provided from Ballard and Lake City. They also used to pay for shuttle service from downtown but with the advent of Light Rail to the stadium that was cancelled starting last season. The UW is required to provide and pay for the extra service as part of the agreement to allow them years ago to expand Husky Stadium from 58,000 to 75,000 seats.

        I don’t think there is extra bus service for Mariners and Sounders games.

    2. The risk with setting this kind of precedent is that Amazon decides its money is better spent on private buses.

      1. And what would be wrong with Amazon spending money on its own private buses (unless you’re being facetious?) If the suits don’t like the financial and service limitations of Metro, they should have at it.

        I suspect infrastructure impacts fees on companies that have a large X number of employees that is directed to public transportation would be a good measure to increase our transit capacity.

      2. Because people who receive a privatized service are far less likely to support the public one that someone else uses. This is clearly – though by no means solely – seen in the education systems of the South.

        There are far more nuanced ways to go about getting more money from the Amazons of the regions for needs that they are certainly contributing to. Squeezing them just because they’re there is a golden goose thing, and eventually the goose stops laying or worse yet flies off.

      3. @Scott — Personally I wouldn’t mind if Amazon flew off to California or New York, but it would be more likely they would fly off to a nearby suburb, which would be a disaster for the region. I agree — we shouldn’t pressure them too hard.

    3. I don’t buy the author’s argument about “racial equity”. Putting buses where people are riding them, without regard to what race the people riding them are is, by definition, racial equity.

      And the increased service along the route benefits everybody who rides the route, whether working for Amazon or not.

      1. Federal law requires transit agencies to be equitable towards low income and
        Non-white communities. So
        It cannot be as simple as declaring your service colorblind and leaving it at that

  5. Tolls in Oregon article.

    Tolls for roads. I am extremely against this. I would much rather pay more taxes for gas than pay tolls. Paying more for gas will get people out of their cars and on the bus / public transit (statistics prove), not paying tolls.

    The absolute worst idea of all-time is what is proposed about using GPS to track mileage and paying per mile.

    Next would be attach a GPS to people for the cost of sidewalks.

    1. Why wouldn’t tolls have the same impact on discouraging driving? Seems to me higher gas costs, higher parking costs, and higher tolls would all have the same incentives for drivers.

      Also, electric cars don’t pay gas tax. While that might be a worthy policy outcome, tolls more accurately collect revenue from users of roads, rather than an indirect gas tax. A gas tax is more regressive because wealthier people drive electric & hybrid cars.

    2. I suspect the cost to track people’s walking to maintain sidewalks wouldn’t be worth the expense of maintaining the GPS devices and/or apps and the network/big data infrastructure. Might actually lose money.

    3. I think both make sense. High gas tax discourages the consumption of gas, which is a major contributor to global warming, harms the local environment and damages the health of the citizens. Tolling makes sense on congested roadways, as a means to encourage the use of transit alternatives.

      Both are regressive, but so too are tobacco taxes, and it is easy to argue that tobacco taxes are worse. If you want to kill yourself with cancer sticks, that’s your business. But if you poison the air and help contribute to unrest and famine throughout the world, then it is a different matter.

  6. Like the comments from the Kent city staff, acknowledging the very really traffic frustrations of commuters while still being firm in pointing the traffic issue is a freeway issue, not a local roads issues, and that road-widening will not fix the issue.

    1. While this ruling came too late for the historic reactor building since UW decided to raze it and if necessary ask for forgiveness later, it isn’t clear if this ruling would have an effect on transit in or around the campus other than possibly making someone more willing to take UW to court over their unwillingness to work with transit and transportation agencies to make the improvements necessary to realize the potential of the Husky Stadium Station. This means giving up some of what is now at-grade parking to provide access for 520 buses and right of way for transit along Montlake from the north.

      1. One could easily imagine a deal where in exchange for bus stop/layover space adjacent to the station, ST and/or Metro help pay for a garage to actually increase the parking capacity there for events/games. Perhaps in the category of but-that-would-make-too-much-sense. Anyone from UW reading this???

      2. Not likely – at least for the events/games part. One must remember that it’s the medical center that uses those spaces every day save 7 Saturdays/year (not exactly peak commute/parking demand time). Perhaps the medical center would like a garage – best to ask them. As they fund nearly 50% of the UW’s budget, the administration will likely jump at anything they request. The athletic department doesn’t control the parking nor do they have use for it most of the time (there are a couple hundred stalls under the stadium).

      3. The medical center does have a garage – the triangle one that’s directly connected to the hospital. There’s a relatively small sports medicine facility underneath the stadium, but though I’ve been there a few times, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it full. Plus you really don’t need that much space to put in 2-4 bus bays (if you don’t need to worry about layovers).

      4. One opportunity is in the major master plan update which is requesting a redone of all of,the parking lots north of the stadium. The city should allow conditional rezoning contingent on an easement along the east edge of Montlake Blvd to finally implement some transit lanes through that stretch of traffic hell.

      5. Definitely agree, @ChamoisDavisJr. Discussions between the City and the UW about Montlake should have happened decades ago (I’m not sure how much road easement is already there – i.e. how much is UW land and how much is City right-of-way). Transit-only lanes (even BAT as there are almost no “exits” along Montlake) would be a game-changer for much of NE Seattle.

        @David, I’m very aware that the medical center has the Triangle Garage; I remember when it went in. That said, staff and visitors also use the parking lot on the south side of Husky Stadium as it is quite convenient for anyone going to the east end of the medical center. The athletic department has no need for it except on football game days. I’m a big supporter of STB’s plan for bus layover and routing at the station but I don’t think a garage trade-off for that has as much value to the UW as some might think.

        Google Earth’s current view of that area was taken on Monday 27 June 2016. School was either not in session at all or was in the much reduced summer quarter (note the fact that the big north lot E1/E18 – student parking – is at best half full). UW athletics had nothing going on; it’s off-season except for individually-driven training. Yet the lot south of the stadium (E12) is at least 3/4 full. That’s in effect medical center visitor parking – day use, not permit – and almost assuredly nothing else because there is almost nothing else near there. So, as I pointed out above, get them on board with the need for a new parking garage there and you may well convince the Board of Regents to concur. They are the tail that wags this particular Dawg.

  7. Does anyone know why the Capitol Hill Link station smells so bad? You can even smell it quite easily from the street near the station entrances.

    Being from Boston I do expect there to be some kind of “underground” smell in the subway but this seems surprisingly strong and has not got any better with time. ??

    1. P.S. One thought is that the aromatic compounds related to old books and felines somehow catalyze and amplify each other in underground conditions.

  8. Has anyone ridden the new rideshare bikes? I almost rode one up the Westlake bikepath, but lost the will to do so when their app didn’t have a way to enter the credit card information with the phone camera.

    1. I tried to use Spin today, but after diverting several minutes out of my way and waiting to cross a busy road to get there then hunting down the bike (which was definitely not parked in the “furniture zone”), the app wants my credit card info AFTER I scan the QR code and swipe through the end trip instructions. I gave up in frustration and just walked the rest of the way. Had I known payment info is required to use the $10 promotrial rides (e.g. Like in Lime’s app), I’d have set it up before leaving the office.

    2. I successfully used it twice. I ran into the required payment info too, but it actually makes sense, since they need some way to charge you should you take the bike out of the city for the “promotional” ride and never return it.

      Good: Process for starting and ending the trip was very quick (e.g. 5 seconds to start, 1 second to end). It is also refreshing to have service in the areas long neglected by Pronto. For instance, I see lots of bikes turning up around the Fremont Bridge and SPU. And, I can ride to Montlake freeway station (a place where I would normally be afraid to lock up my personal bike), without needing to walk from the Montlake Triangle. Finally, the seats were comfortable, and was nice to actually have real baskets to put stuff in, rather than those Pronto bunjy cords, which never worked. The pricing is much better than Pronto and, for once, it will actually be cheaper to ride a bike for one mile than to take a bus or an Uber. Exactly how it should be.

      Bad: Gearing is definitely too high. On the Burke-Gilman trail,I primarily used 1st gear and little bit of 2nd, never needed 3rd. Any kind of hill was too much ever for 1st gear, so I just got up and walked. Even on flat ground, I would have preferred a lower gear for accelerating from a stop.

      The app also has its bugs. The map keeps resetting itself to your GPS location every 5 seconds, which makes the app very difficult to use if what your phone believes to be your GPS location is not accurate. Also, my second trip, the bike ended up in a weird state where it unlocked, but the trip had not officially begun. It beeped at me incessantly the entire trip, but I was able to lock it just fine at the end. The trip was missing from my history, which, I guess, means it was a freebie (not counting against the 10-ride promotional credit). I am not sure what I did to cause it to do this.

    3. I’ve ridden Spin twice. Limebike has only had a handful of bikes deployed so I haven’t been able to try it.

      Spin is fine except they need lower gearing. I’m guessing the bikes they deployed are the same ones they use in other cities but Seattle *really* needs lower gears, or at least one really low gear. Apparently Lime has more speeds but I don’t know how low the first speed is.

      1. Agree with the other comments…the bikes and apps have some issues. I also disagree with the pay model, I think it should be per-minute. There have already been a couple of 5-10 min trips that I passed up because of that. Maybe $0.50 per ride plus $0.03 per minute? An annual membership would also be a plus.

        The exciting thing is that all of the issues have easy solutions and my first impression is that this is a service I will use all the time, especially when there are potentially >10,000 of these bikes all over Seattle. The the Limebikes are expected to be more hill-friendly which might end up giving that service the edge. Having competition between the services will be a huge plus for everyone, Spin will have to respond or lose business.

  9. Questions for fellow transit folks and urbanists. Which mayoral candidate are you voting for? It appears that Cary Moon, Jessyn Farrel, and possibly Mike McGinn could split the transit/urban vote, making none of them get through the primary. Thoughts?

    1. I’ve been worried about this too. I’ve been leaning towards Jessyn Farrel for reasons outlined in the STB endorsement, but I am definitely concerned about the urbanist crowd splitting its vote, forcing us to choose between Durkan and Oliver in November.

      Ideally, we would ranked-choice voting to deal with problems like this. In the meantime, I haven’t sent in my ballot yet, and I could see myself changing over to McGinn, if I thought his chances of making it through were significantly better.

      1. I’m voting for Farrell, and not worrying about vote splitting. The last time people tried to use strategy for picking the mayor, we had a result that was quite surprising, and probably not what a lot of people wanted. This time there are simply too many variables — too many candidates, with very little consensus amongst the alternatives to Durkan. For example, there are people who write for The Stranger who like Oliver — enough for them to right an alternative endorsement. At the same time, there are others who think she would be terrible. Erica Barnett used three paragraphs in an essay explaining why Oliver would be a terrible choice for mayor in an essay that wasn’t even about her. It is rare to have such a split about a candidate amongst people that are very much aligned politically.

        Meanwhile, very few people seem to be rallying around McGinn. I just don’t see him getting many votes.

        I think Moon is the one that could beat Farrell. She picked up the main endorsement from The Stranger. Plus everyone that likes Farrell likes her. They all said much the same thing. If it wasn’t for the lack of experience, then they could vote for Moon. I think she also would get beat pretty handily in the general for the same reason. Durkan will suddenly emphasize her experience — that Mayor of Seattle is not an entry-level job (to quote Barnett). I honestly think that the only person that could beat Durkan is Farrell for that reason.

        I think this is a very weird year, from a political standpoint. I don’t think I’ve ever disagreed with the choices that The Stranger made so much. Not just the mayoral race, but city council as well. I think the political coverage and analysis has gone downhill, while former members of the staff (like Barnett) nailed it like they always have.

  10. Joe here. I’m going to be taking a few weeks until mid-August off of commenting on the blog with a handful of exceptions.

    But quite frankly my transit batteries have just enough juice to help a hero of transit out and I have a lot of aviation stuff going on until mid-August (e.g. airshows, Board of Health meeting & Warbirds News post-show reports to write).



  11. Seatac Link Overpass Elevator is out again. It was out for several months earlier, and it seems like they had just fixed it. does anyone know why it is so difficult to keep the only accessible route to the station in service? The sound transit website doesn’t say anything (like what is actually wrong with the elevator or how long it might be out of service this time)

    1. Escalator issues at both UW station and Capitol Hill yesterday. At UW security was actually letting people go down the first escalator then sending them back up the escalator because the lower ones were both broken, and broken escalators do not necessarily “just become stairs.” Could’ve at least put a sign at the TOP entrance to save people the trouble of going down, then coming back up, then waiting for the elevator queue. Capital Hill one was one of the short escalators with stairs beside them–no big issue there. But multiple simultaneous elevator/escalator breakdowns, including the newest stations, again???

      P.S. I’d love to see those fast escalators like they have in asian cities used here. For the deep stations, the “mall speed” escalators are PAINFULLY slow.

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