Capitol Hill

This is an open thread.

46 Replies to “News Roundup: Analytical Chops”

    1. Ever since Lyft Line I rarely take the bus unless it’s a straight shot. It’s slightly more expensive but not enough to outweigh the horrific inconvenience of Seattle transit in off-peak hours.

      1. Yeah I think off-peak is where ride-sharing really cannibalizes transit. Financially it can even pencil out as a wash if traveling in a group, and it’s often faster outside of peak. If it’s cost competitive with transit & more convenient/faster, then of course people will use it in lieu of transit.

    2. Even if Uber does end up replacing some amount of bus trips, it’s still a tiny proportion of all the cars on the road (maybe, Manhatten is an exception), and until that changes, I don’t see it as cause for concern.

      At least with my personal experience, yes, some bus trips have been replaced by Uber trips, but they’ve amounted to only a small percentage of the bus trips taken, and they nearly always occur during off-peak hours when traffic is minimal. In general, it isn’t worth the extra money for Uber if I’m just going to sit in traffic.

      1. Most urban areas are already at or past the tipping point where even a small amount of new traffic will exponentially increase trip times. Uber is essentially using venture capital money to subsidize non-transit trips. This should alarm anyone who is a transit advocate. Fortunately, the party will have to end at some point. They will need to show profitability eventually, and trip costs are going to go up.

      2. In my view (and personal experience), Uber is a response to many American cities’ failure to develop their public transportation infrastructure, or to meet user needs (late night service, etc.).

        In San Francisco I often travelled between the SoMa and Pac Heights / Marina areas. Bus options are terrible (45+ minutes to go just a couple miles), and there is no high capacity transit. Uber wins.

  1. Rant: The SDOT real-time info and ORCA kiosks downtown are awful. Nearly all of the ones on 3rd Ave have non-functioning displays, even after SDOT replaced them with “temporary” ones over a year ago*. Broken infrastructure just adds to the sad environment of 3rd Ave. And recently, SDOT moved the Columbia/2nd stop to 3rd/Columbia, so the one working screen there says that there are no departures because the display is still configured for the old stop. Why doesn’t SDOT just use the Metro RapidRide displays, which work significantly better?


    1. The one at 3rd & Pine had half of its light tubes out for months, so that you could see the route but you couldn’t see the times unless you strained hard and had good vision. Now it’s off completely. Um, how many Metro employees does it take to change a light bulb?

      1. Is it Metro or SDOT that is responsible for the 3rd Avenue kiosks? SDOT seems to be the ones making all the unfulfilled announcements about how they will be “fixed”.

        The “Rapid Ride” real-time info farther north (Virginia/Bell/Vine) almost always works. Maybe they could install similar displays farther south on 3rd. Yes, they can be a pain when displaying oodles of routes, but “be a pain” is much preferable to “almost never working”.

      2. Metro north of Stewart on 3rd. SDOT for 3rd Ave south of Stewart and also along Westlake Ave is SLU.

  2. Good an open thread.

    First, just so this is out of the way, ORCAleak was unacceptable. It was only right we had a Senate hearing on the matter. I am very busy in other areas – ORCAleak is a cause, not an obsession. But as I’m telling some members of the ORCA Joint Board I think it’s time to document the events publicly, document the cures publicly, learn from the tragedy and move forward. It’s time for the anti-Sound Transit folks to realize the Sound Transit critical 12s want no part of substantive efforts to roll back ST3.

    Second, moving along. Sorta. I’m not real happy with the King County Metro fares app: . The ORCA card seems to be a better deal as the fare I pay on Sounder can be used on buses & light rail for a limited time after I tap on the Sounder. The King County Metro fares app doesn’t seem to give me transfer ability. To “allow transferring between Metro buses only” is a real problem for me. Let’s hope ORCA Next Generation will have an app allowing a transfer between different agencies.

    Third, I really encourage folks who live in the North by Northwest (Snohomish, Island & Skagit Counties) to directly engage with Everett Transit’s strategic plan.

    Everett Farmers Market Drop-In Session
    Date: October 15
    Time: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    Location: Everett Farmers Market, Boxcar Park, 1200 Millwright Loop W, Everett, WA 98201

    Everett Community College Drop-In Session
    Date: October 18
    Time: 12 to 2 p.m.
    Location: Everett Community College, Parks Student Union, 2000 Tower Street, Everett, WA 98201

    Everett Mall Drop-In Session
    Date: October 28
    Time: 4 to 6 p.m.
    Location: Everett Mall, Center Court, 1402 SE Everett Mall Way, Everett, WA 98201

    We’ll also be presenting at other organizational meetings:

    Planning Commission Meeting
    Date: October 17
    Time: 6:30 p.m.
    Location: City Council Chambers, 3002 Wetmore Avenue, Everett, WA 98201

    Bayside Neighborhood Meeting
    Date: October 18
    Time: 6:30 p.m.
    Location: Everett High School Library, 2416 Colby Ave, Everett, WA 98201

    Transportation Advisory Committee Meeting
    Date: October 19
    Time: 8 a.m.
    Location: Public Works Service Center, Spada Conference Room, 3002 Wetmore Avenue, Everett, WA 98201

    Northwest Neighborhood Meeting
    Date: October 19
    Time: 7 p.m.
    Location: TBD

    Council of Neighborhoods Meeting
    Date: October 23
    Time: 4 p.m.
    Location: 2930 Wetmore Avenue, 8th Floor Conference Room, Everett, WA 98201

    Casino Road Stakeholders Meeting
    Date: October 24
    Time: 4 p.m.
    Location: Bible Baptist Church, 805 W Casino Road, Everett, WA 98204

    OK, over to you guys. If I don’t respond right away, I have some major tech support to provide and an airshow to go to this weekend.

  3. I appreciate that there’s always something about Spokane or other parts of the state, now that Bruce is doing the roundup. Thanks!

  4. GenFare has a YouTube video advertising its latest products.

    As best as I can tell, the primary target audience is transit geeks that are also comic book fans.

  5. One small clarification: the MicroTransit program that we are going to pilot in the L.A. area is not definitely going to be in a low-density area. That’s still to be determined although a possibility. Thanks for the interest!

    Steve Hymon
    Editor, The Source
    L.A. Metro

  6. Is part of the Vision Zero plan to improve requirements for issuing driver licences, and if not, why not? This country has pretty lax standards for driver training, and I can’t imagine it’s a non-factor in traffic fatalities.

    1. I think that in order to get, and keep a driver’s license, applicant should have to spend at least an hour behind the wheel, in several different kinds of traffic, with a State Police instructor in the passenger seat.

      Written test? Not sure I’d bother. But after the drive, the officer will have to choices as to what to issue. A driver’s license. Or a transit pass of same duration is the license would have been, good on every surface system in the country.

      Chief among many advantages: Plummeting accidents. Resulting in much lower insurance fees. And best of all, much-improved traffic conditions because cars are both better-driven and fewer.

      All of which should make it easy for transit to reach cooperative arrangements with Uber, Lyfft, and the taxi system so the two modes give current motorists all the advantages of a car, but without the car.

      Mark Dublin

    2. Drivers’ licenses are issued by the state, so Vision Zero which is a Seattle project has no effect on it. I don’t drive so I can’t comment on how good Washington’s requirements are. But the state is much more pro-car than the city, and in most parts of the state there’s effectively no alternative to driving, just some weekday-only bus routes which sometimes help going across town or between counties, so the state wants to keep the barriers to driving low.

      Germany, which has stricter requirements and you can’t even go to driving school until age 18, has trains and buses between all towns and rural areas so you don’t have to drive to survive. This reminds me of when Siemens came to visit the Everett Industrial Center around Boeing and asked what kind of transit there is for workers, and was shocked that there was no high-capacity transit to the Boeing plant, because that would be required in Germany for the plant to exist. That’s why Snoho is so keen for Link’s Paine Field detour, to attract companies.

    3. I got my drivers license here in WA despite failing the eye test. They took my money, handed me my temporary card and suggested I go to the eye doctor and get glasses. Good thing I rarely drive but unfortunately they are more generous giving out drivers licenses than one gives out Halloween candy. Maybe this lax standards for driving requirements is part of the reason drivers here are so incompetent.

      1. Driver training situation is bad enough. Now the National Rifle Association is lobbying for any firearms training before granting a “carry” to be declared Unconstitutional.

        Though I’ll bet first idiot-drawer file kills more people than the second one. This is why it should be against the law for any school system to make History boring.

        Our country was founded in the Age of Reason which people being people was no Temple of Reason. But at lease the concept got some respect. Many of them veterans themselves, I doubt they saw anything at all wrong with the Captain of Militia (every militia had one) having everybody on a list.

        How else could he drag them out into the rain for Well-Regulation training?
        The other thing I’m sure they all considered necessary was-a Sergeant! If anybody sensed firearms interference with anything he said….

        I’m sure that every community made sure the village idiot got his post and his rank, so the poor boy wouldn’t feel left out. So:

        “Private Ethan!”

        “Yes, Sergeant?”

        “Thou art a good lad and a fine soldier but…..this corn stalk, I mean rifle, is dirty!”

        “I’m sorry, Sergeant sir, I’m so so so Sorry!”

        “Well, I shan’t bury it and make thee dig it up and clean it. However, thou other self made idiots….Get thee down and see thou countest ten pushups, no more, no less!

        Unconstitutional? Ask Mr. Jefferson over there!”


    1. I wonder what sort of arrangement the 200 parking spaces will be in, and what possibilities exist for non-car-owners to convert their parking space into something useful.

      I’m currently looking into the feasibility of “remodeling” my condo parking space through either installing fencing or buying a storage shed off Amazon. Has anybody ever done something similar. The online searches I’ve done so far have been disappointing; it’s as if the concept of adapting a parking space for non-automotive use just doesn’t exist.

      1. Check your HOA covenants. Many are written such that you cannot leave a car in your parking spot that is undrivable (i.e. a junk car), which would imply you can’t leave a non-drivable shed.

        That said, I don’t see why you can’t buy a shed or shipping container that fits in a parking spot & leave it there, assuming your HOA was OK with it. But you’ll need to dot your Is and cross your Ts with your HOA

      2. I second dotting your Is and crossing your Ts. HOAs are a nightmare. That being said, I’m really quite surprised that there isn’t a storage shed to your liking. A typical parking stall is 16 to 20 feet long by 7 to 10 feet wide. Just a quick search on Costco and I’ve found numerous sheds that would fit. None are exactly a full parking space, but many of them would functionally work. Best of luck, hope that it works out. I like your plan.

      3. I’m not too worried about the HOA. I’ve kept an undriveable storage cabinet there for years, and nobody’s complained. Plus, I’m one of the board members of the HOA. I’m looking for more secure bike storage that would allow me to buy a more expensive bike than what I have currently. I also want to be able to get bikes in and out quickly, without needing to spend several minutes locking and unlocking them.

        So far, my searches have mostly covered Amazon. I’m going to try Home Depot and Cosco next.

        I feel 16×7 ft should be enough to have a truly first class bike storage facility. I’m even debating getting an electrical outlet installed for lighting and ebike charging. It should be possible to do all this for much less than the cost of a car, or a home with a private garage.

    2. And that project is going to pumping cars in and out all day onto John Street right at that busy bus stop and next to the station entry.

    3. There are less than half as many parking spaces as units, and a large chunk of them will be reserved for shoppers, so the rest will certainly be leased individually, not bundled with units. Otherwise you’d have “with parking” and “without parking” units.

  7. I wonder if there is a direct correlation between the traffic fatality increase and our aging population. I’ve heard (NHK) that it’s a growing concern in Japan.

    1. In truck-driving school, our senior instructor, a lifelong over-the-road veteran about 60, had this take on relationship between age and staying alive behind the wheel:

      A younger trucker tend to drive on reflexes. Meaning more fender-benders from confidence that they can drive their way out of close-calls that an older driver could see coming a mile away, and never get into.

      But since the older driver is driving on experience, all his years in the seat might tell him that the pickup-truck approaching the stop-sign a mile away is likely enough to stop that it’s not worth backing off on the pedal. And in 59 seconds, his only bad guess in 30 years is going to end a lot more than a shining safety record,

      My own sense is that we’re having more accidents because the sheer size and, compared to Europe and Asia, emptiness of our country still makes sprawl cheaper and faster to build. And harder both to serve with transit, and also to change direction toward it.

      I think the (literal) killer is that the sheer number of drivers is starting to outpace the functioning capacity of sprawl. Meaning ever more drivers, facing ever worsening driving conditions. Including being forced to drive, in a very bad frame of mind, on unfamiliar roads. To be on time for the same job that was recently a 20 minute ride on the Route 44.

      So we’re at a point where transit (and regional land use too) have first priority of trying to figure out how to both cope with and actively reduce existing sprawl. Couple of bright spots. One, tunneling and elevated structure are getting faster and cheaper to do. And two, your Grandfather’s traffic jam isn’t fun anymore.

      If we put the voting age at 16 (same as trial as an adult) a lot of suburban and out-state districts could change hands. Not just over party ideologically, but because younger hands don’t wear out their fingers by pointing and shaking them while they’re yelling.

      Also, zombies and giant transformers (not going to say not the LINK ones) don’t make same headlines when they get hunted as witches used to.


      Would like to see the states on drivers’ age-related competence. Older people are a lot healthier than we used to be. Also, my bet would be that drivers under twenty do much worse. Not necessarily by carelessness of youth, but serious inexperience with an unforgiving machine in dangerously complex circumstances.

  8. Hi. Here’s a technical question. The last few times I’ve commented on this blog, I’ve definitely checked the notify me of comments box, but then haven’t gotten a confirmation email or any notifications.

    Has anyone else had this problem, and/or know how to fix it? I’ll try to remember to check back here for any answers! :)

      1. Also, the name “David” keeps appearing in my “Website” window. When it starts having “Koresh” show up behind it, we’ve got a serious problem. Remember whatever Haitian French is for “The Dead Don’t Blog!”


      2. Thanks Frank. FWIW, 1) 2 comments today, still no confirmation or notifications; 2) The last notification I got was July 18. I might not have commented for a while, but it was working for me at least until then; 3) I am not experiencing the “David” issue that Mark described…

      3. The “David” thing sounds like something that happened earlier, where the comment name & email were prefilled with the last person who posted. Frank tracked it down to some cache problem at our webhost. That hasn’t happened to me recently, the name field has my proper name, although there’s another “mike r—” below it I don’t recognize. It could be somebody I’ve written to in the past and forgotten about, or it could be tab completion from here.

  9. Possible answer to the LA micro transit? Maybe they’re thinking even smaller?

    Their buses are 27.5, 30 and 35-feet long, which is a niche market for this several year old Canadian company.

  10. It’s now Oct 13, 2017 and Sound Transit has yet to unveil their 2017 Financial Plan. This should not be acceptable.

  11. In my view (and personal experience), Uber is a response to many American cities’ failure to develop their public transportation infrastructure, or to meet user needs (late night service, etc.).

    In San Francisco I often travelled between the SoMa and Pac Heights / Marina areas. Bus options are terrible (45+ minutes to go just a couple miles), and there is no high capacity transit. Uber wins.

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