Sounder Cab Car 327

This is an open thread.

45 Replies to “News Roundup: Rise and Fall”

  1. What is it that makes passenger ferries so difficult to pencil out? It just seems so easy with almost unlimited, point-to-point grade separation. These plans (like the Tacoma-Seattle one mentioned above) pop-up every so often, and then the numbers come out crushingly bad. In my head, at least, a big, fast hydrofoil sort of thing seems so much cheaper to build and operate than a train.

    1. The trains can carry a lot more people per dollar when full. Increased passenger counts are easy to get without much higher fuel or vehicle costs.

      Boats cost a lot more to maintain, fuel and staff. You also can’t just add an extra cabin to get more passengers on the boat.

    2. Fuel: Ferries use much more fuel per head (water is obviously harder to move through than steel).

      Capacity: Sounder can hold nearly 1,000 per train. Kitsap’s Rich Passage 1 (RP1) holds only 118.

      Crew: Coast Guard regs generally set high crew minima. Each Kitsap fast ferry has as many crew as a Sounder train, despite carrying ~7x fewer people

      Speed: RP1 cruises at 33mph. That’s a full hour from Tacoma over water, the same as Sounder or non-traffic ST Express. Remember it’s not really a straight line…you have to jog east to avoid Maury Island and then west to avoid Alki.

      In general, if there’s a land-based alternative of equivalent distance, a ferry will never win a cost-benefit analysis.

    3. Because unlike passenger trains, boats are capital intensive, expensive to maintain and their operations costs scale nearly linearly with the number of passengers. When you build (say) Link, you spend billions up front to get a thing that can move ~800 people per driver; everything else in the system (fare enforcement, maintenance etc) scales sublinearly. As long as you have enough riders and sufficient bonding capacity, you can make the upfront cost pencil out at a sane level of subsidy.

      By contrast, boats and docks cost a lot to maintain (look at how much the Bremerton fast ferry has been out of service), and Coastguard rules require on-boat staffing to increase as boat capacity increases; you also can’t chain passenger boats together and run them as a unit. To boot, if you’re a public agency, you’re also going to pay maritime union salaries which (with bennies) start well into the six figures.

      Basically, passenger boats only pencil out if there’s no other time-competitive way to make the trip, or you have some external subsidy mechanism (e.g. state subsidy for car ferries).

      1. “From the ‘expensive ways to move small numbers of people,’ department, Tacoma may study a foot ferry to Seattle.”

        2. “Basically, passenger boats only pencil out if there’s no other time-competitive way to make the trip, or you have some external subsidy mechanism (e.g. state subsidy for car ferries).”

        Great combination of paragraphs, Bruce, begging a some questions:

        1. Would you call I-5 in its present rush hour conditions an economical way to (barely) move whatever number of people are trapped out there?

        2. Can you think up a more time-competitive way that could be gotten into motion any time soon?

        3. How would necessary fast-boat subsidies compare with the ones for existing ferries?

        Know same link is getting old. But every time I advocate these boats, I think of this one. Wish I could go back to the Baltic for a ride from Helsinki to Tallinn Estonia on this one.

        Has anybody had a ride on this or one like it? And put it on Flickr? Never seen anything like it here, and very curious. Maybe Tacoma can buy me an Icelandair ticket to the Baltic to bring back a firsthand report.


    4. Big boats are really expensive and not fast. Small fast boats are cheaper (but far from cheap) and don’t carry many people.

    5. What is it that makes passenger ferries so difficult to pencil out?

      What makes you think they don’t pencil out? It really depends on the location. The Staten Island Ferry works really well, as does the North Vancouver to Vancouver ferry. In general ferries work really well when either the geography or the population density are in their favor (or both, as in the examples I gave). In really high demand areas, it works really well. In lower demand areas, it doesn’t. It really isn’t that different than trains, it is just that the up front cost is much lower, but the day to day costs is much higher. Either way you need density and proximity for the thing to pencil out.

      When you build (say) Link, you spend billions up front to get a thing that can move ~800 people per driver; everything else in the system (fare enforcement, maintenance etc) scales sublinearly. … By contrast … you also can’t chain passenger boats together and run them as a unit.

      No, but there is a limit to how many trains you can chain together as well. I believe with Link it is four. There are headway limitations as well. With three minute headways, that is 16,000 people per hour (one direction). With some work, we might be able toget to 24,000 (

      But boats scale as well. You just buy bigger boats. The Barberi class ferry that serves Staten Island Carries 6,000 people. So if you ran it four times an hour, that is 24,000 as well. Even though there are various advantages and disadvantages to each mode, some of the basics remain remarkably similar.

      As for high speed ferries, there are plenty of successful systems. I think part of the problem with some high speed ferries is that unlike trains, most organizations don’t buy off the shelf vehicles. They are constantly fussing around with new boats. Some work great, some don’t. I’ve taken the high speed ferry from Vallejo to San Francisco and it works great. It is quite popular, and reliable. I think Australia has a number of high speed ferries as well. I think the problem is that we are just thinking about the idea, and there aren’t many options for buying boats.

      1. Argg. I meant to close that italic. There should be two paragraphs (and only two) in italics: the first one (a single sentence) and the third one (the paragraph from Bruce).

        In general my point is that both boats and train systems have big costs, but they scale. Unlike a freeway system, the more passengers you have, the smaller the cost per rider, and the better the experience. The two big differences are that boats cost a lot more to run and that most ferries are essentially custom made. Link is so generic, the name of the train maker isn’t on Wikipedia. In contrast, just about every ferry run (e. g. SeaBus) quickly points to the maker of the ferries, because just about every one is different (and changes often).

        Another issue is that all ferries have long dwell times. This puts them in an awkward position. It is rare, if not unheard of to have a string of stops, the way that trains do. Even if it does exist, few are likely to benefit from skipping a stop. This makes it very different than a typical subway, where thousands are routinely getting on and off at each stop.

        It also means that even a single stop to single stop connection will take a while. Meanwhile, they aren’t capable of really high speeds (over 80 mph). Basically the geography has to just work out for them to make sense, and there are relatively few places in the world where they do. In that sense, they are like gondolas, even though the dynamics of gondolas are very different (gondolas have extremely low dwell times).

  2. Please place a $ next to Pioneer Arthur Denny’s Capitol Hill notes article. It’s from the $eattle Time$.

    1. Denny’s hotel was on Denny hill, not Capitol Hill which would have been an upper class suburb back then

    1. I was caught in that. I tried to take a 75 southbound and waited 45 minutes. One Bus Away said “Scheduled,Scheduled,Scheduled” but they never came. I assumed there was a ballgame although I was puzzled why it would affect this part of the 75 because it would be rerouted to the U-District. Then two northound 75s came together and a third came and paused so I knew they had been bunched. After a couple minutes I walked across the street and caught the northbound 75 just as it was leaving, because I knew the other buses would take at least half an hour to get to Northgate and back, if they were even coming back. The driver said the Ballard Bridge had been stuck open and he was an hour late. As we approached Lake City I debated whether to transfer to a 372 or 522, but the 522 was twenty minutes away, and the 372 said “Scheduled,Scheduled” and I didn’t want to get caught in that again, plus after my ordeal I didn’t want to ride half an hour to Link, walk five minutes from Stevens Way to the station, and wait ten minutes for a train, just to go one or two stations. So I remained on the 75 till Northgate, which OBA said 41s were actually running. When I got to Northgate the 41s had switched to “Scheduled,Scheduled” and I just missed a 41 leaving. So I waited and hoped another 41 would come, and sure enough it did. So yesterday was not a great day for north Seattle buses.

      ST’s alternatives in the pre-ST3 process were a 70′ rarely-opening bridge or a 130′ fixed bridge. The speculation about a lower bridge is just some outside pressure at this point: I’ve seen no evidence yet that ST is considering or favoring it. A 70′ bridge is tolerable in a way that a 35′ bridge isn’t, and remember that “inexpensive” means more money for other aspects of the project or less total taxes.

    2. The Ballard Bridge is actually a great piece of engineering that, like so much of America’s infrastructure, has suffered from decades of neglect and deferred maintenance.

      The ruts in the pavement on the south approach are comparable to what you would experience in Nigeria, in some spots the asphalt is completely worn away and you can see right through. I could observe this first hand while the bridge was stuck and thousands of cars weren’t moving (engines still on of course despite the many no-idling signs) you could walk the bridge.

      The beauty of ST 3 versus MOVE Seattle or Connecting Washington is they actually programmed in sufficient maintenance and rehabilitation costs for their capital improvements.

      1. Southeasterner, you’re absolutely right about maintenance on any piece of machinery. But for rapid transit like LINK or faster, every line will have to be able to function through many business cycles, political shifts, and other reasons that’ll kill any given set of machinery. And people.

        So for surface traffic, or course fix the bridge. But let’s never let a major transit line depend on it staying fixed. In this region, underground is likeliest the safest. And in general the deeper the better.

        Have read that quakes are pretty much like ocean waves- the real destructive motion doesn’t go very deep. Of course nothing works same everywhere. Anything civil underground is a crap-shoot.

        Still- for our railroad, per work hour, and year, safer to work with nature’s machinery than keep fixing humans’ own. Excellent and very sorry examples: BART and DC Metro were build to work literally forever- given constant maintenance. Which since they weren’t are now, in the DC case, killing people.

        Good case that most serious threat to our national defense is a half century of deferred maintenance on all our infrastructure. Have said before that next three thousand casualties will come for another Bhopal, not 9-11 Part II.

        And also think exact same holds for our politics.

        Same causes for both: Originally well-designed things working so well that repairs could wait “’til it breaks”. Especially in the minds of officials who thought that one, they never would, and two, capital projects would please a lot more voters than out-of-sight repairs.

        And double same-same with our political system’s handling of the country in general and our economy in particular. Since the last person who remembered the 1929 Depression died, no living American who isn’t black or First Nations has ever seen a lifelong breakdown bad enough to make their own political participation more important that their jobs or studies.

        Dead serious that to my mind, key to the political revolution this country desperately needs is for people out of heavy-duty civil, structural, sanitary, and other city-saving trades to join or form a party of their own. A lot of them in their most revolution-friendly years are now in trade school.

        With first sustained political demand being that Government at every level start conducing massive and highly public investigation into the real condition of every water main and source, electrical grid, highway, railroad, waterway…for starters.

        The water supply in Flint Michigan was the (Republican) Governor’s fault. But suspect situation nationwide is about equally bi-major-party. First positive side is how much of the so-called Defense Budget will legitimately go to exactly the skilled labor that doesn’t need a lifetime of school and its debt.

        But even more, the certainty of the exact event that’ll give Americans, of all the world’s people, the strongest incentive to organize and really fix this place. Trouble with water, power, or pot-holes, people can gripe and handle. But when sewage plants blow out coast to coast….

        Worst threat to our national defense,and survival, is that since the draft ended and so much work went to contractors, nobody in the country remembers how to use an entrenching tool. Look that up too. Flickr’s full of streetcars.


    3. The West Seattle bridge was stuck open for several years in the 1970s and people had to drive around. That’s what led to building the high-level bridge: West Seattle threatened to secede from the city if it wasn’t built.

  3. Regarding the Rogoff op-ed piece….

    “Second, we take great exception to the suggestion that we were somehow less than competent or fully transparent on the increased cost estimate, or that the updated estimate should or could have been known earlier.”

    I’m sure you do, Mr. Rogoff. However, that doesn’t tell us anything. ST has been stating that the core part of the project (excluding fleet expansion, allocated costs of the OMFE, and financing costs) was estimated at $1.5 to $1.7 billion in YOE$. Thus, a +$517 million variance on this part of the project alone is quite the miss.

    There are many of us who would like to know when these issues first came to light. For example, just last Oct (2016) the executive director for the Lynnwood Link project gave an update to the board indicating that the total estimated cost was $2.2 billion (YOE$). And I believe even earlier that year the estimate had been $2.1 billion.

    Additionally, where’s the baseline for this project if indeed it has reached 60% design and passed thru that phase gate? You know, ST’s standard practice as you’ve indicated in your op-ed.

      1. Yes I’m aware of that delay. But thank you for the reply nonetheless. For what it’s worth, I love that term “value engineering”. Lol.

      2. I think we can safely say that ST is not great at estimating costs. It’s certainly not the only agency (public or private). That said, the constant “revising” means they never technically miss any estimates.

      3. Or that the costs relevant to transit capital projects fluctuate unpredictably. As ST said, a big part of the increase is the state of the economy (lots of competing work, not a lot of idle workers or companies), real estate prices, WSDOT environmental requirements that may have been late WSDOT decisions, and city requirements in negotiation with the cities. ST’s estimates are based on its experience with ST1 and 2, what the costs were, what contingency budget was needed, what the cities demanded and how long negotiations took and how many alternatives ST had to study, how the environment has changed since then, and what the probable future trends are that it’s reasonable to prepare for. At least three of those are outside ST’s control, subject to what other people will decide in the future, and are unpredictable.

      4. Brad. Yes, exactly. The ever moving goalposts is a nice strategy the agency has employed for some time.

  4. Did OneBusAway recently switch to a new data stream? Seems like the new data is less reliable. I’ve noticed that this week there seem to be many more buses that aren’t being tracked on GPS so only have their scheduled times listed.

    Just looking at the 372, 4 of the next 5 southbound and 3 of the next 5 northbound are “scheduled” not “expected”

  5. 1. “We initially estimated the heated real estate market would boost prices 25 percent. The reality is that they increased 44 percent.”

    And also blew away at least 25 years of transit planning. Though 44 probably a stretch. So while I’d like to see he market’s beneficiaries pay 44% more taxes, any kind, to cover the expenses imposed on the rest of us, would settle for 25%.

    2. Tlsgwm, remind me. How long has this project been underway? Fair criticism of costs have to include above information. In addition to technical problems nobody can foresee, inevitable for any effort of this size.

    But past experience also indicates projects like ST-3 deliver benefits many times those expected when the work started. Though really is a fair argument which side of the balance sheet Bellevue falls on. (Just kidding, Claudia.)

    However, very seriously, you’ll do regional transit important lifetime service if you continue to keep careful track of your estimates, constantly compare them with results good and bad, and continue to publish your findings. Your contributions will be read.

    3. But some personal experience with Value Engineering. In addition to my time on the operations planning aspect of the Employee Advisory Committed on the bus-operated beginning of LINK (It’s a total howl how ST people go completely bat-bazooney every time I say that)….

    I also got appointed to a similar committee on the art project. Which still classifies among the world’s first of its kind, and best. Its quality rewarded by complaints about its expense contradicting its percentage of the whole budget, which was one.

    Early on, maybe because of criticism but more likely some real art experience, project officials specified that all artwork be subject to value engineering. Wikipedia says:

    “Value engineering (VE) is a systematic method to improve the “value” of goods or products and services by using an examination of function. Value, as defined, is the ratio of function to cost. Value can therefore be increased by either improving the function or reducing the cost.”

    Not personally being an artist, this my “take” on our use of the method. Improvement wasn’t theoretical. While result of art is always subjective, our result looked lighter less cluttered, and stronger-designed than first attempt.

    Pretty same as the “look” of a custom racing car compared to a family sedan from same company. But better comparison is sharpening a knife. Less material, better value.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Art is subjective. I personally find the art ST chooses to not be to my taste. I would rather have that money spent on good wayfinding and signage. But the 1% for art is law. It was a well meaning law, with hopes of beautifying the city.

      1. Brad, we’ve barely started building electric rail. Chances are that solicitations are already in progress, and will be for the rest of your life. So you can fight back in the most meaningful way.

        Start painting, drawing, getting ceramic equipment, welding, sculpting.. list is limitless. And dive in. This is something you can definitely get into, and get moving, through every local trade school.

        Famous artists are known for vicious hatred of each others’ work. Almost as bad as for their own once they’re done with it, think it’s crap (all great artists think that about finished work).

        However, beyond time or money,killer (literally) requirement that you have to work like a dog (actually against the law to treat a dog that way.) While constantly being pelted with savage criticism of your work.

        You’ll definitely die in poverty. But sweet consolation the longer you’ve been dead, the more your work will bring to whoever buys or steals it, even if they just hide it in their closet and never even look at it.

        You’re not by any chance a full-time bus driver, are you?


      2. Brad, why do you think there’s any conflict at all between art and signage. Let alone the idea that anything spent on the art came out to the signage budget?

        Watching Metro’s performance on information and signage over the years, I’m inclined to believe that the artists’ orders included forbidding them to do any way-finding at all.

        To me, the placing, color, letter-height and font of our signage is perfectly suited to the worst of what’s wrong with Seattle itself. Terrible fear of calling attention to anything, second only to the terror of having to decide what to say.

        Least excusable example, probably in the world, is at the bottom of the staircase where the 550 and the third car of an airport train stop, there isn’t a single sign indicating that this is possibly the most important platform length in the city.

        This is where passengers come down from several hotels. But since airport service opened, Metro looks to have been actively forcing people with wagonloads of luggage to ask security guards or other passengers.

        I’ve been tempted to get hold of one of those little cardboard jetliners that Alaska Airlines hands out, put it on a string, which I’ll tape to the mezzanine rail.

        And get video of Metro’s response when I hang another one after they take the first one down. And send it viral, with special copies to The Seattle Times and Bob Hasegawa.

        Been told that every decision depends on something else, which in turn requires something to get even for some even pettier slight. Likely the same in every office and agency in the universe. Just please not in my transit system.

        However…old ill wind rule. Here’s your chance to create affordable way-finding according to your own preference. After I escape consequences of fifth paper jetliner, you can tape something large and obnoxiously visible to the wall at the foot of the stairs.

        Tempted to advocate waterproof glue, but too much effort went into those patterned tiles. Created by a pretty artist about five feet tall, who faced down a powerful charismatic Russian chief engineer likely traumatized by a dressmaker’s needle when he was little.

        Like I said somewhere here, best course is to personally go for a contract to create some artistic wayfinding for the dozens of stations yet to be. As you see, plenty of adventure. But be prepared for a hard, thankless life Punctuated by all the people who don’t like your art.

        Which if you’re really good, you won’t either soon as it’s finished.


    2. “We initially estimated the heated real estate market would boost prices 25 percent. The reality is that they increased 44 percent.”

      Lol. I guess Rogoff and his real estate team don’t talk enough with their finance group.

      Per the 2016 Annual Financial Plan:

      ROW Average Annual Cost Inflation –
      4.5% 2009-2023

      ROW Annual % Change –
      2015 4.65%
      2016 9.6%
      2017 3.86%
      2018 4.01%
      2019 4.0%
      2020 4.0%
      2021 4.0%
      2022 4.07%
      2023 4.0%

      I ask again. Where is Sound Transit’s 2017 annual financial plan normally published in June and put online after board adoption?

  6. Man, I can’t believe some of the commenters on any Seattle Times article about public transit. One guy actually said he didn’t think very many taxpayers ride Link, the streetcars, or even the bus. WTH? Really? We have that many non-taxpaying working people riding the buses and Link to work every day? It never ceases to amaze me where these people get their ideas.

    1. The Times has long attracted a lot of right-wing commenters who hate taxes and think transit is unnecessary, trains and transit lanes are unnecessary, Link would be better with more P&Rs and that Orting spur instead of Ballard, etc. (I’m exaggerating, Orting was for Sounder or DMUs, not Link.) Maybe they have no other place to go to rant about local issues. It happens at every newspaper. One journalist explained, “In the 20th century all these rants were letters to the editor, so the editor routed them to his special folder (the wastebasket). Now with online comments they’re visible to everyone.”

      For that comment I’d have to see it to be sure what it means. If he means nobody is riding, that’s false because the existing transit is bursting at the seams and growing every year. There have been critical overcrowding and pass-ups, the worst between 2008-2015, although it’s still widespread on some routes mostly at peak times. If he means people from outside the tax district are riding ST and Metro, well, he probably doesn’t mean that or even know who’s outside the district, but in any case it’s a small percent of riders. If he means working-class and poor people pay zero taxes, that’s bogus because everybody buys toilet paper.

    2. I wonder if that commenter was channeling Yogi Berra:

      “That restaurant is too popular, no one goes there.”

      More likely its projection – the commenter (who only uses a car and pays taxes and his social circle who only use cars and pay taxes) got the idea from being in an I5 traffic jam, not realizing that if every car in that jam had only one person in it, the number of people involved was the same as a full Link train. And not thinking that another full Link train runs very six minutes.

      1. Couple things to contemplate, Baselle. Have read that when New York opened its first real subway in around 1904, they quickly discovered that from Day One, as soon as word got around about rapid transit, every additional car on every train would be packed seatless.

        Giving rise to general worldwide truth that if anybody can find a seat, you have to cancel the run for lack of ridership. Some danger here that Olympia’s transit witch-hunters will start blaming seatless trains on Transportation Choices Coalition.

        Tempting to think they’ll then be confronted by volumes of Seattle Times wailing about wasting taxpayers’ money on trains that won’t carry anybody. But sad fact is that if Fake News insists on logic, it’ll be proof they’re mind-controlled into conformity.

        But another interesting conjecture. American travelers always notice that in most of the world, people are actually more comfortable the more of them there are in one place.

        So it could be that reason passengers avoid the car with only one person in it is that they’ll start to feel forlorn and lonely. Or also could have to do with their experience with that particular person.

        But maybe phenomenon can actually be used to put an empty car to useful purpose, as well as add one more job to the economy. Confine seating to wall benches, and add many bike hooks and also luggage racks- weirdly missing on airport trains.

        And give the one person a job loading bags and bicycles. If we give him an official uniform, like with a long coat, epaulets , a visor hat and white gloves, maybe passengers won’t notice who he really is, which would make them and keep their bikes and bags stuffed in the first two cars.

        Thereby making the first two cars even more attractive. But, if people give him enough tips, we won’t have to pay him.


    3. You’re gonna get your naysayers who
      1. Hate government waste and government in general
      2. Don’t understand how public transit works, the value it has to a metro area, and how we are to pay for said service
      3. Just hate anything that resembles a welfare program in their eyes
      In general, all these people who make said type of comments are just making white noise in the grander scheme of things. They throw out hyperbolic claims and nonsense, but there’s not much substance to said claims or comments.
      Along with, Seattle Times leans right so it’s going to attract said crowd to them. Same with MyNorthwest, Dori Monson, and Todd Herman. The thing you can do is just to take what they say most of the time with a very heavy grain of salt and come to your own conclusion.

  7. “From the “expensive ways to move small numbers of people” department, Tacoma may study a foot ferry to Seattle.”

    And it’s still 3 times as fast as future Link extension to Seattle and 2 times as fast as both bus and Puyallup-deviating Sounder. Turns out ST building everything-to-everyone services that deviate north, south, east, and west on a self-described spine-based system results in people on the ends looking for a faster way. Surprise surprise.

    1. It’s only 20-30 minutes from Tacoma to Seattle? How does that reconcile with Arthur Denny’s comment, “RP1 cruises at 33mph. That’s a full hour from Tacoma over water… you have to jog east to avoid Maury Island and then west to avoid Alki”.

      The foot ferry is not for a faster way, it’s for a more beautiful way.

      1. From the link:
        “The ferry would potentially take off from the old municipal dock on the waterfront and could arrive in downtown Seattle in 28 minutes. “

  8. I have gathered that Mosqueda is the preferred urbanist candidate, but I don’t understand why. Is it just because Grant has unrealistic ideas about the feasible percentage of mandatory affordable housing?

  9. As to Boston’s “super card”…why invent yet another special card for that purpose? Why not just use credit cards? Or cell phones?

    1. Credit cards have high transaction fees compared to bus fares, and transit agencies can’t assume everyone has smartphones.

      1. I would argue for keeping the existing card, adding both NFC-enabled credit cards and smartphones to the mix and calling it good. The vast majority of people will either just tap their credit card or use ApplePay/AndroidPay; the rest can use cash or a legacy transit card as they’ve been doing before.

        As to the transaction fee problem, one solution could be a virtual Orca card that’s linked to your credit card (or NFC-enabled smartphone). Like Orca, you pay the fares in bulk to save on transaction fees, but no need to carry a separate physical card around. Unregistered credit cards could still be accepted for fare payment; just charge the customer an extra $0.50 to cover the transaction fee. If they don’t like it, they can just register their card online and pay in $10 increments, without the extra fee.

    1. I watched the video. Some of it was good, but beware that the author has a strong bias towards anything on rails over buses. He shows charts about number of passenger rail miles today vs. 1890, ignoring buses altogether. And the section at the end about the recent revitalization of public transport in many cities completely talks only about streetcars, neglecting bus/BRT projects completely, as if they don’t exist. He even talked about how great the Portland Streetcar is, neglecting the fact that, including wait time, it’s slower than walking.

      1. Hell, even excluding wait time it’s almost faster than walking (last I checked the west side line schedule, it was about 5 mph).

      2. Nor does the video talk about the SLUT. Like how the streetcar is also not really faster than walking after waiting for most trips. How the C-line follows the streetcar path to SLU, but moves faster and runs more frequently than the streetcar does. Or about the cyclists every year that get sent to the hospital by the streetcar tracks, and how the two flattest, most direct streets between downtown and SLU are effectively off-limits to bikes purely on account of the tracks being there – even when there’s no train.

      3. In 1890 there weren’t many buses. Roads were just beginning to be paved, an omnibus on a dirt road isn’t very efficient, the best thing is to put down rails… and then you have a streetcar. But he definitely misses the boat with modern streetcars. The American definition of streetcar is “sharing a lane with cars”, and that’s very inefficient, completely inadequate as the highest form of transit, and worse even than the 1890s streetcars. In the 1890s streetcars were in the center lanes and had priority over cars, so everything else had to get out of their way, and whenever they stopped everything else had to stop too so that people could walk from the streetcar to the side of the road where they waited. The San Francisco cable cars still have that rule so cars have to stop when it passes and stop when it stops. The First Hill streetcar has to stop-and-go like an SUV, the SLUT does too although now it has a transit lane for part of the way, and the Portland streetcar has shared lanes on the east side if I remember. That’s not the kind of streetcars Europe builds: theirs are more like MLK and thus are more just than a bus-on-rails stuck between SOVs. And as for streetcars generating development. that doesn’t say anything about how well they move people which is their primary job.

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