Light rail in Columbia City

This is an open thread.

76 Replies to “News Roundup: The Case for the Subway”

  1. I was pretty pleasantly surprised that Eyman’s initiative failed to get enough signatures in what you would think would have been easy. Maybe the outrage about car tabs isn’t as high as assumed. Or maybe Tim Eyman’s just not very good at his job anymore.

    Regardless, I’m still going to assume that the legislature is going to change the valuation schedule. The question is: Will they make up for lost revenue somehow, or do nothing and let Sound Transit figure it out?

    1. No new ST-bashing bills have been pre-filed for this session, which begins Monday at noon.

      Since the House Dems voted for a bill that would have reduced ST3’s total funding by $2B over the same period, their need to negotiate the issue with a Republican-controlled Senate has gone away. The Senate Dems never voted on that bill. The House Dems listened to then-Rep. Jessyn Farrell. She subsequently came in 4th in the mayor’s race. Perhaps they will re-think how toxic voting to slash ST funding could be with their base.

      I’m sure they are also paying attention to the federal Transportation Department reneging on Lynnwood and Federal Way Link funding agreements. Passing ST-bashing bills doesn’t send a very good signal that the state stands behind these projects.

      1. Farrell’s support of reducing the MVET is the number one reason I voted for Moon in the primary instead of her. I doubt I’m alone here.

        The MVET panic (led by the Seattle Times, of course) is smelling like one of these issues where a small number of people care very passionately, but most people are fine with it and want ST to be left alone to build out ST3. Similar to protecting the character of our single-family neighborhoods, which gets a lot of people yelling at the city council, but never wins – or even gets close – a council election.

      2. It really is sad that so many people don’t understand how politics works. This lack of understanding leads to less and less experienced politicians until you end up with people who have absolutely no experience (like Trump).

        Farrell voted in support of the measure knowing full well that it wouldn’t become law. This should be obvious to everyone, but I guess it isn’t. The governor is a Democrat, and a strong environmentalist. Farrell is a Democrat and was a powerful member of the state house. She had regular meetings with the governor, and even if she didn’t, could easily arrange for one. She knew very well that he wasn’t going to sign that bill. That is the part of this that some people just don’t understand. It was all just political theater. The Democrats and Republicans knew very well that this wasn’t going to become law. But the Republicans could go back to their constituents and talk about how they tried hard to change the law, while the Democrats could appear to be bipartisan. Both would then blame the governor, but only the Republicans meant it. The Democrats (especially Farrell) also knew that by passing the bill this wouldn’t be used as a wedge issue in swing districts (that actually care about car tabs).

        Since this didn’t become law, and the Democrats now control both chambers, and the issue is of course dead, you should be praising the way that Farrell played the game.

      3. “Farrell voted in support of the measure knowing full well that it wouldn’t become law. This should be obvious to everyone, but I guess it isn’t.”

        Depending on bills to fail is dangerous. You may be right in Farrell’s case but I wouldn’t be so confident. It (or anything) may pass anyway, or it may give some people on the D side ideas that lead to something similar in the future. A lot of people voted for Mr T believing he wouldn’t be as extreme as his rhetoric sounded, but it turned out he was serious about a number of things.

      4. Ross, you posted this same train of (IMHO) nonsense last time we went through this. Want to provide any cite this time, or just admit it’s your own idle speculation?

      5. @Steve — It didn’t become a law. That isn’t speculation, that is a fact. Anyone with any sense knew that Inslee wasn’t going to sign it. I don’t have evidence that Farrell knew that (that she had sense that even a casual observer can gather) but given her experience working with the governor, and years in the legislature it stands to reason she did. Meanwhile, does anyone have any evidence, or any indication of the opposite? Did anyone think that Governor “I want a carbon tax” Inslee was going to sign that thing? Seriously? Right before the legislature was going to pack up for the year, Inslee was going to screw up Sound Transit funding, with no alternative? That is just ridiculous.

        Look, if a chess master sacrifices her pawn, but takes her opponent’s queen, does she really have to explain what happened? Apparently to some she does.

      6. I wouldn’t be so confident that these bills are dead. It’s an election year, and the prime sponsor is from the 30th district a very swing district, who may feel that his ability to be reelected is tied to “doing something” about ST. And Farrell isn’t in the caucus to moderate that impulse anymore.

        Don’t count your chickens…..

      7. It’s not an election year for the governor, which is my point. There is no way he is signing anything like this. To be clear, a revenue neutral plan that changes the way that car tabs are calculated could easily pass (with wide spread bipartisan support). But a bill that cuts spending approved by voters won’t be signed by a Democratic governor, especially a guy like Inslee.

      8. RossB, of course it didn’t become law – the Republican-controlled Senate wouldn’t pass it. No one’s disputing that.

        Would Inslee have signed the House bill, had it come to him? No one knows for sure, but I would say probably, yes. Which is not to say he liked the House bill or personally wanted it to be law – he almost certainly did not. But there was a fear that if Democrats didn’t seem like they were fixing this MVET schedule ‘problem’, that there would be a price to pay at the polls, or that an Eyman initiative would be even worse. Would Inslee have stood his ground in face of that political pressure? I don’t know for sure. Neither do you. What I do know for sure is that Farrell did not.

        Chess master… Sheesh.. Get a grip!

      9. Ross – you’re assuming that Inslee gives two shits for Sound Transit (hint, he doesn’t). And if Chopp tells him that he needs to pass it to protect swing district Dems, then I suspect he’ll sign.

      10. The point is that people are assuming too much about what Inslee and the other legislators would or wouldn’t do. We know some of the factors and can estimate the probability, but we don’t know all the factors or how they’ll interplay, and our probabilities may be inaccurate. I have no problem with saying Inslee or the other legislatures “will likely” do something, but saying they “will” do something sounds too uncertain. Inslee is keen for a carbon tax, but MVET is not exactly a carbon tax, and cutting MVET might boost reelection chances. Or at least that has been the conventional view, which said politicians might believe. Now that Eyman’s initiative has failed to get enough signatures, it may be turning around, but we’ll need a couple more confirmations before we can say it’s a definitive trend.

  2. I like Westneat’s idea of reverse tolling the Alaskan Way tunnel during peak commute times. No idea if it will work as intended, but it is a possible way of reducing gridlock when drivers refuse to pay the toll. I’ve never driven across 520 bridge since tolls were set and I won’t take the tunnel either if I must pay.

    1. If one wants to not have tolling, proposing that drivers be paid to use a highway is the way to move the Overton Window as a negotiating tactic.

      So, I would like to propose that everyone who rides the bus during peak get paid 25 cents to do so, as a credit on their ORCA card. I know, it’s a ridiculous idea, but it is where negotiations have to start in order to bring back a Ride-Free-Area on 3rd Ave (but without the pay-as-you-exit that necessitated the previous incarnation’s removal).

      I would also propose that 3rd Ave be painted pink instead of red. And then we’ll settle for red.

      1. Will do you one better, Brent. My $36 senior pass is obscenely cheap. So I’ll be glad to trade it in for a high school kid’s benefit. Several months ago, a fare inspector found that since I’d forgotten to “tap off”, my “tap on” registered as “One more time and it’ll cost you $125.”

        Oh, and Sound Transit doesn’t get any. Whole thing goes to the court, just to punish me and make an example of me. So here’s what I’m offering. Make my monthly pass $125 a month in return for blanket immunity from a theft charge- which the little paper pass I always buy before I board LINK 100% gives me.

        Any quibble about that, I’ll offer $125 cash to Peter Rogoff in front of TV cameras and watch him tell me rules are rules. Bet me. And word to Sound Transit right now. ST Express works fine. So does my car I’ve got an excellent car. Reason I don’t drive every visit to Seattle itself is for most trips motion is necessary.

        Like the mentality that invented it, LINK fare system scares the crap out of me. Like the city it more or less personifies. I’m sorry for every effort of mine in the service of either LINK or Seattle. Now back to the DBT. Put a bus lane in it both tubes, which I’ll gladly pay to ride.

        Mark Dublin

      2. I have long been in favor of tolling under certain circumstances. I would gladly pay a toll to drive I 90 from Seattle to Spokane for example. Tolling, when there is a free alternative literally a few feet from the tunnel is a deterrent to taking the toll route.

    2. I don’t. Westneat is confusing the fact that we want fewer cars clogging up our surface streets and I-5 with the non-fact that we want more cars taking the tunnel. The is simply no public interest in the latter.

      1. I suspect that once the East link extension launches, ST will fix Mark’s issue, since if you are for example going from Redmond to Kent, you’d need to get off at Chinatown and transfer from the Westbound train to the Southbound train.

    3. I don’t agree with Westneat’s premise that the tunnel will mostly be empty and everyone will instead sit in the gridlock just to save the toll. While there will be some who will never pay toll, the backups in both direction on 520 bridge and the higher than expected toll collections from 405 ETL show that a lot more won’t mind paying for a faster ride.

      1. Of course they will. The reverse tolling idea is tongue in cheek, but his basic premise is crazy. People will pay to avoid traffic (they always do).

      2. If Westneat got his way, anyone with a car could just cruise up and down the tunnel all day, simply to make money. Paying people to drive is just complete garbage.

    4. It’s an interesting idea but Westneat is missing part of the picture, in fact the essential point. He’s focused on traffic, but the toll is to pay for the tunnel. Where will the money come from to replace the revenue and pay drivers? Increase the gas tax, maybe?

      1. Better idea: Just toll more of downtown in general. Fewer toll avoiders and greater funds to fix deferred maintenance.

      2. @Charles B,

        You could toll the entire DT business zone, but if the goal is simply to deal with DBT tolling diversion, then all you really need to do is set up a mid-block tolling screen-line running from the waterfront to somewhere a few blocks on the Cap Hill side of the freeway.

        Such a tolling screen-line would be cheaper to implement (only a single line of hardware, not an entire perimeter) and would more directly be focused on the diversion problem. And it would have less impact on the average person who is actually going downtown. However, people who are actually heading through downtown trying to evade the toll would have more difficulty doing so.

        And, ya, DBT tolling plus a tolling screen-line in DT Seattle would probably divert a lot of people to I-5, but that is the state’s problem. And they could solve that problem easily enough by implementing sound congestion management practices (tolling!)

      3. The toll pays only a tiny fraction of the construction cost and there is question as to whether a toll will even cover ongoing operations of the tunnel. Westneat’s column points out that the only reason tolling is being implemented is because the legislature insisted, I assume as a fig leaf for allocating State funds.

    5. “I’ve never driven across 520 bridge since tolls were set and I won’t take the tunnel either if I must pay.”

      Either your typical trips don’t necessitate crossing the 520 bridge or you value your time at a very low price.

      1. In an Uber or Lyft, it is much cheaper to pay the toll than to pay for the miles and time to drive around. Even in one’s own car, depending on the type of car and price of gas, the extra gas to drive around could end up costing almost as much as the toll.

      2. I routinely go over 520, when headed to the mountains (on weekdays). The choice is arbitrary for me, as I start in the north end (neither bridge is out of my way). I simply choose the best bridge from a traffic standpoint (typically 520 in the morning, I-90 in the evening). Obviously I’m not the only one who pays the toll.

      3. “Actually I live equidistant from both bridges. Travel time, usually, is a wash.”

        There you go. Given equal time, of course choosing the toll-less route is the obvious answer. You’d be surprised how many people, where 520 is clearly the quicker option, choose to fight traffic and waste their time to go either 90 or 522, usually to save a couple bucks on the tolls.

    6. Would you rather pay for these corridors in taxes? I’ve never really liked term “user fees.” Because -like the human circulatory system, a burst or blocked artery anywhere in the body is death if left unattended. Look at a fair tax system- with income being the fairest- as a user fee for the whole system.

      Same, incidentally, for transit. Reason I keep asking for a pass good for at least a month, that counts as no-more-questions-asked prepaid admission fee to the entire system. If Edgar Snowden and Julian Assange hadn’t broken my cover, the world would never know my feelings about the epitome of Government by Punishment.

      But now that secret’s out….see elsewhere. As ST considers adequate notification, there’s a link to the right RCW. But lost the link to the link to the link to where it is.


      1. That assumes the roads are wisely chosen. There are certainly regions where most of the roads and transit go to the optimal places and have an appropriate balance between them, but then there are roads that don’t really have that function, and if we’re making an expensive tunnel for them that may not be a very useful thing.

        Highway 99 is basically where the planners drew the first highway in 1900, when the population was much lower, when highways turned into Main Street in towns, and when running along the shore seemed like a great idea because it the shore useless for anything else. Since then it has become an expressway between NE 73rd Street and somewhere in Tukwila. The main reason proponents use it now and wanted the tunnel was to avoid I-5 traffic. It has been touted as a solution for trucks and long-distance drivers but that’s not really true because you have to traverse city streets between 73rd and I-5. So it’s mainly useful for local drivers living in north Seattle or West Seattle. All that is fine except for the cost of the tunnel, the missed opportunity of the Boulevard+Transit alternative, the way it slashes through Fremont and doen’t serve it well, and to a lesser extent the way it slashes through Queen Anne (although that’s a lesser deal because the steep hillside precludes most other development: viz. how isolated Dexter and Westlake are from each other). But the tunnel is finished now so I guess we might as well use it. But let’s remember that it’s a minor issue in terms of the city’s mobility. The idea of “let’s put lots of buses on it” is ridiculous because the only feasible routes are from the southwest to SLU. So a few routes make sense, but not a lot of routes or all downtown routes. I don’t care much whether the tunnel has a toll or how much it is, although I’m hesitant to break the agreement that “drivers will contribute to the cost of the tunnel” which was a basis of the project.

  3. Where’s the money going to come from to bring the New York subways up to at least Third World standards? The way I look at it, anything a foreign enemy would target, that’s a legitimate defense expenditure. Then somebody tell me there’s no budget for it.

    Mark Dublin

  4. I’m not sure if this was posted in a previous week’s news thread or not but this article in the nytimes last week really gets to the heart of the matter as to why public projects are extremely expensive in the US compared to Canada and Europe.

    A re engineering of the process is sorely needed going all the way from the unions to the politicians to the engineers. They all need to come to the table and figure out a way to do this more efficiently otherwise we are going to bankrupt ourselves constructing these projects.

    1. I caught that article when it was published last week. Excellent piece. Glad you posted about it here on this blog.

      A couple of excerpts…..

      “Consulting firms, which have hired away scores of M.T.A. employees, have persuaded the authority to spend an unusual amount on design and management, statistics indicate.”

      “Public officials, mired in bureaucracy, have not acted to curb the costs. The M.T.A. has not adopted best practices nor worked to increase competition in contracting, and it almost never punishes vendors for spending too much or taking too long, according to inspector general reports.”

      I have some of these same concerns about soft costs and lack of competitive bidding with Sound Transit.

      “Even though the M.T.A. is paying for its capital construction with taxpayer dollars, the government does not get a seat at the table when labor conditions are determined. Instead, the task of reining in the unions falls to the construction companies — which often try to drive up costs themselves.”

      This alignment of stakeholders, by design, is obviously not in the taxpayers’/public’s interest. It’s no wonder that inspector general reports after the fact uncover such incidents of fleecing in such projects.

      Vive la France.

    2. Back in the days when labor unions, and the decent wages and working conditions that had never occurred without them, addressed affordability by paying people, a TV moderator interviewed an associate of Jimmy Hoffa, President of the Teamsters’ union, about his union’s connection with organized crime.

      Answer: “Contract says I have to deal with the representatives Management chooses to send me.” Remember, these are only hearsay and allegations from witnesses wit’ really, really bad memories. But the most corrupt of the unions were known to be the closest allies of the worst management.

      If the people of New York City, who are hardly a minority of anything, demanded a leader in an organized campaign to save their city by doing same with transit…who would accurate poll tell you will be chosen for the job? Fact that present answer amounts to nobody..,it means that nobody yet thinks problem is bad enough.

      But who’ll be chosen for the leader- because leaders are always chosen when people decide to be led- hundred percent certain who’ll get the job. Whoever wants it least.


  5. •Straightening of curve at Amtrak derailment site in Dupont ($) had not been state priority.

    …and anyone who knew about this curve was left scratching their heads as to why it wasn’t improved as part of the project. It was mind-boggling then and mind-boggling now.

    1. @GK,

      No head scratching required. It’s called money. There simply wasn’t enough money to do everything else and also straighten the curve.

      And the curve is perfectly safe for any train operating at the posted speed limit — this train wasn’t. Why it wasn’t is the subject of the investigation.

      1. Little early to be using past tense, @GK. Any chance somebody made a mistake about the curve’s safe operability?

        And head scratching can also be called dandruff and fleas. Also negligent homicide charge for whoever decided to let cash available determine amount spent on passenger safety?

        Because other alternatives were always open, including bring speed limit down to what Tacoma Rail freights had always handled without derailing a single oil car headed for the Capitol. Or :

        If BN came out and said openly that passenger trains were in the way of its freights- JP Morgan once said that his railroads needed passenger service as much as a male hog needed mammary equipment, Amtrak could just treat it like a very long land-slide clean up and use buses.


    2. It would have cost $230M, or 1/4 of the total cost of the project for that one curve. They went with smaller incremental changes up and down the line. You can argue with their solution but I don’t think it’s “mind-boggling”.

      1. OK. Mark Y says it would have been only 1/3 more to fix the curve not double, so I presume that detailed engineering had been completed. I’m surprised that the project cost $1 billion. Does that include the original segment for Sounder to Lakewood?

      2. $800 million, and that included track improvements in at least a dozen spots along the line. Bypass tracks, crossovers, sidings, 3rd main lines, and yes, the whole segment from Tacoma to Nisqually. I believe it also included the cost of the new trainsets.

      3. Thanks for the total actual cost totals. I was thinking only of the reconstruction west of Lakewood when I said “it would double”.

        I would assert then that the curve would actually have more than doubled the cost of the Amtrak-only portion west of Lakewood. A large part of the cost of the entire project is the double-track elevated section between Tacoma Jct and the new Sounder station and the station itself.

        Also, I understand that the section up the hill west of Pacific Avenue was regraded and had curves eased as well.

        Since Sounder doesn’t yet continue to Dupont and, honestly, may never do so, it’s only appropriate to assign the costs west of Lakewood to the Amtrak service. I can’t believe that rebuilding five miles of single-track railroad — even including as it did some curve easing through the Fort — could have cost more than about $100 million.

        Then there’s the new Amtrak station which is probably $25 to 30 million, but still that’s less than $150 million that was not going to be spent for Sounder anyway.

    3. It would have roughly doubled the cost of the project. Either I-5 would have had to be depressed or the existing railbed raised beginning somewhere near Center Boulevard in order to overpass I-5 to the east of Mounts Road overcrossing.

      That in turn would have required re-building the Mounts Road interchange to accommodate the trackway on the south side of the freeway.

      And finally, there is nearly as sharp a curve just north of the junction with the main line which there is no plausible way to widen without a large cut or tunnel through the hillside above the trackway.

      Should the bypass ever become a part of an HSR line, these improvements will likely be completed. But reducing speed to 30 miles per hour for the roughly 3/4 of a mile between the easternmost curve and the junction with the main line is not enough of an operating issue if the trains can reliably be slowed to the determined speed limit.

      PTC will do that assuming that it can be made to operate reliably.

      1. It looks like the best way to rebuild it for high-speed would be to build new flyovers down the hill (west) of the existing bridges. This would eliminate both tight curves and replace them with a 60mph sweeping curve. Any speed above this is not necessary, since I believe the switch back onto the mainline is only 50mph. This plan would require the acquisition of some private property on the north side of I-5, west of the existing curve.

      2. Chris,

        Yes, that’s the best way to ease the curvature; make it one long curve.

        But there is some difficulty with the grade change that doing so would require. I-5 is rising somewhere between 2 and 3% from a bit west of the mainline overcrossing. The Bypass has a pretty steep grade from the junction up to the top of the easternmost curve where things flatten out somewhat.

        I guess you could do a sizable cut on the north side of the freeway to accommodate the belly of the curve, but it wouldn’t be cheap.

      3. The speed-limit design may be an issue. If it required operators to notice one sign and make a sharp slowdown, that’s bad design, and in an airplane context it would be fixed so that we’re not dependent on flawless operators. Maybe it can do what managed highway lanes are doing: several signs before it that gradually lower the speed, so it’s unlikely the operator will miss all of them. That will all come out in the NTSB report. Or at least will if they’re as forward-thinking as the FAA. II it doesn’t, we should get that into the public comments.

    4. Considering that it would have cost $230 million, and likely would have only shaved a minute or two off of the transit time (because there is a 50mph switch just south of the curve), I think it was quite logical of them to not rebuild the bridges. Hindsight is 20/20, of course…

      We can critique their training, or the decision to launch service before PTC was in place, but it’s hard to critique the decision to not rebuild the flyovers. $230 million spent in other areas of the corridor will yield much more time savings.

    5. Somehow “mind-boggling” doesn’t quite “get it” to describe pure, cold fury. What priority, and, whose, knowingly pointed a train straight down the throat of that curve at 80 miles an hour?

      With a man at the controls who should’ve had the training, and union protection, either to refuse to get in the cab, or with his hand on the lever, to hold that train at 30 from Lakewood ’til the trailing locomotive cleared that curve?

      I don’t doubt for a second that events like this are intended consequences for the budget cuts the Legislature is reddening our State’s collar with. But claiming political or administrative pressure as an excuse for killing passengers is exactly what the perpetrators want us to do.

      Steve O’ban’s constituents pull my coffee in Steilacoom. And I have at least one friend in Olympia who ’til recently wore same uniform as the troops who pulled our passengers out of our ripped up wheeled beer cans. Who’d think a lot less like Steve if we’d left him nothing to yell about than money wasted on slow trains.


  6. I have an idea for parking reform that I think might make sense in Seattle. That, require all “big box” stores within 1/3 mile of an HCT station to build housing above their parking lots. It’s a win-win; during the day when the stores need the parking, residents will drive their cars to work. In the evening when sales are lower, parking spaces will free up for the returning residents.

    No, it wouldn’t be 100% perfect; during the Christmas season there might be times when residents have difficulty finding parking right by their particular elevator. But overall it would mean that there could be a bit more than half as much large-scale parking scattered around the city, half of which (the residential) is empty during the day and half of which (the retail) is empty at night.

    1. I like it! Ideally, units would be affordable for employees of those stores, further reducing the number of driving commutes.

    2. It would work great, if it weren’t for the fact that the residents of the building would need parking too.

      Most likely, the residential parking would need to be dedicated spaces behind a locked gate, so the residents get the security of the gate, and the guarantee of always being able to find a parking space at their home. Now, you would need two levels of parking, one for the retail, one for the residential, on top of the housing.

      Construction costs would be expensive. And, the neighborhoods where the housing market would support these prices tend to be the downtown neighborhoods that big box stores don’t want to locate in because land for the store itself (and the parking for the store’s customers) is expensive, and people driving in from the suburbs don’t want to deal with all the traffic.

      1. I think you’re being overly pessimistic about this idea, asdf2. Was just reading a survey of parking policy that specifically discussed this kind of shared arrangement as a growing trend in zoning codes (not required, mind you, but allowed). It didn’t identify specific codes, unfortunately, though that shouldn’t be hard to research. And certainly big boxes are no longer as uniformly opposed to urban contexts as they once were.

    3. A similar idea for, say, the 522 BRT would be for ST to scope out and pay local business with largish parking lots abutting 522 (eg Safeway) for their spots along the outer edge.

      1. The businesses need the parking spots at the outer edge to comply with the municipal parking code, regardless of whether anybody actually ever parks in them.

      2. “The businesses need the parking spots at the outer edge to comply with the municipal parking code, regardless of whether anybody actually ever parks in them.”

        Maybe, maybe not (unless you’re saying you’re familiar with the relevant codes and parking lots along the corridor). Sometimes chains overbuild parking to satisfy corporate policy, not local code. More importantly, baselle merely pitched an idea: even if that idea runs counter to current zoning regs, local parking codes weren’t exactly handed down from the mountaintop carved in stone. Cities amend parking codes all the time, often — of late, at least — for the better. Cities also can and do reduce parking requirements near transit.

  7. Some content thoughts as well I decided to drop in this open thread…

    1) Really great Sound Transit photo. I want to see more photos this year from me and other Sound Transit 12s like that.

    2) Great podcast this time around, but I also recommend if you want to listen to North American transit CEOs opine and talk tech. I’d rather post the link on an open thread at an attempt – perhaps meager – at class.

    3) Thanks for mentioning the Daily Hive interview w/ Desmond. I was going to if you didn’t. Big Skytrain fan here, even bought their model trains.

  8. Re Mahler’s piece on NYC’s subways, could you imagine the head of Sound Transit making a call to Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos asking them to take a first hand look at the state of public transportation in the region? Or could you imagine Gates or Bezos making a call to the leaders in both parties in Olympia asking them to spend the necessary dollars to facilitate the completion of ST3? Could you imagine the noblisse oblige?????

    Does Kemper Freeman want more light rail:)?

    1. Bezos and Gates(?) did make a call to Olympia and asked for a high-speed rail study. And Allen made a call to Seattle and asked for a streetcar. Unfortunately none of the tech lords are passionately concerned about general rapid transit or commuter rail in the region, except right at Microsoft Station. If they were, the possibilities for ST2 and 3 could have been much greater and sooner.

      1. Could be generational prejudice, but really wonder if people whose entire stock and trade is virtual are ever really comfortable with machinery. Maybe it’s been cured over the decades.

        But when the wind-down of the Viet Nam war left Boeing Vertol in need of contract, became apparent that the engineers had no “feel” for dirt, heat, and abuse by either cargo or drivers.

        Since DC3’d were still flying where these factors applied, maybe Boeing could’ve buried the hatchet with Douglas for awhile.

        But unfortunately, no matter how much of a plane could be shot away and still land wheels-down, average freeway noise barrier would’ve been pulverized to concrete dust.

        Meantime, somebody ask Elon whether we can go to Fred Meyers when the tubes need cleaning, or if we have to use top-grade Windex? Incidentally…has anybody asked for details about maintenance at all?

        Because real danger if same firm gets cleaning and maintenance as now work on our vertical square-shaped glass-coated driverless conveyances.



    2. Obviously you meant “noblesse oblige”, eh?

      From the context of your post, were you implying a faster completion of ST3 projects?

      1. Yes I meant “noblesse oblige.” That can happen when you don’t have an edit function:/. I not only implied a faster completion of ST3 projects, but an expectation of stronger support for sound regional public transportation from our local moneybags in line with such pragmatic support from a plutocrat from the past (Rockefeller); support that advocates for serious dollars going into the system rather than some mealy mouthed request for a study or some selfish half measure of a streetcar.

  9. Regarding the Lynnwood Link project budget woes, let’s be sure we get our figures straight.

    FTA New Starts rating from Nov 2015:

    Total capital cost in YOE$ (incl financing)
    $2,345.93 million
    Subtracting out financing costs
    -$194.3 million
    Capital cost only
    $2,151.63 million

    FTA New Starts rating from Nov 2016:

    Total capital cost in YOE$ (incl financing)
    $2,347.72 million
    Subtracting out financing costs
    -$179.3 million
    Capital cost only
    $2,168.42 million

    Finally, as recently reported in the Seattle Times, per ST board motion 2017-162:

    Total capital cost in YOE$ (incl financing)
    $3,069 million
    Subtracting out financing costs
    -$135 million (assumed)
    Capital cost only
    $2,934 million

    Thus, taking this latest figure supplied by ST,
    $2,934M, and comparing it to the 2015 FTA ratings figure, $2,151.63M, one can quickly ascertain that the agency has blown a far bigger hole in the estimated budget for this project than the narrative they have been trying to push since last August.

    $2,934M – $2,151.63M = $782.37M

    That’s a far cry from the figure that keeps getting reported.

    1. While I appreciate the Seattle Times’ transportation writer Mike Lindblom’s pieces and generally think he does an admirable job of covering local issues fairly and accurately, in this particular situation that’s not quite the case.

      The estimated budget miss is some 50% higher than what has previously been reported.

    1. Ice builds up in the flangeways and if you don’t have flange ice cleaning equipment this can happen.

    2. They had freezing rain prior to the snow. This type of event happens in Portland from time to time and it has derailed light rail trains in the past.

  10. Typo again besides the double names. Maybe it’s like the Emmylou Harris song about “feeling single, seeing double” . Condition best avoided by always feeling married, especially while driving, since a single man over thirty not happily married is a form of a homeless person.

    But big “miss” was alleging that the DC-3 could howl a highway structure to talcum powder. Or land on its wheels with as much of it shot off as the A-10 Warthog. Might’ve been moot because the “Dakota’s” natural runway was so often mud and grass. But come to think of it, aircraft engineers might’ve helped out with tbe Burlington Zephyr.


  11. Mike, why wouldn’t you use the usual railroad signals to on this line- which I don’t think ever include printed signs? Or better, cab signals that show up on the driver’s control-board, whatever the hour or the weather.

    Also, recent lesson about training should last us awhile when service starts again: Run it for a couple of years with an engineer who knows their location to the individual railroad tie the whole route. There’s a very old transportation precedent.

    In his book “Life on the Mississippi”, Mark Twain details, from personal experience, that with no night navigation equipment but hearing and sense of smell, a steam-boat pilot had to be able to get out of his bunk and take the wheel on a pitch-black night. Even in parts of the river which had no posted signs at all.

    Unfortunately, going though so many suburbs, will be very hard for a BN to discern whether the dog they’re hearing is the one barking at the bridge still standing, or the one that just fell in the Nisqually.


    1. I’m not a railroader so I don’t know what the usual railroad signals are. As it was described in the Times there’s a little speed-limit sign, smaller than the ones on streets. The engineer may have missed it — that’s what the investigation is asking. They’ve already said the training was minimal and at night so they couldn’t see the landmarks and they may or may not have known about the slow zone. I don’t know what other “signals” there are to complement the sign, but whatever they are weren’t effective then. So this particular speed-limit sign may be less visible than other train speed-limit signs, and in any case the sharp deceleration of over 50% is one more factor that can go wrong, and apparently did. So spreading out the deceleration and having multiple signs may help.

  12. And ending the night with a word of welcome and encouragement, ECC. Your comments are ‘way too positive to be a cynic- which our English lit. class learned came from the Greek word for “dog”, connoting lying around whining and growling. Purpose is undeserved self-justification for inaction.

    East Coast “Skeptic” much better, since it suggests a constant need for a lot more information, like a year, under penetrating sustained interrogation, before believing anything. War-cry?: ” Is thaaaat right?” Perfect for PA announcements, Next Bus Away, and cost projections.

    But what Seattle transit scene needs most, second only to fresh newcomers who pronounce “stupid” like it’s got two “o’s” instead of a “u”, is the Patient Self-Confirmatist. Hallmark is single definitive word: “Toldjaso!”


  13. I had another one of those nights coming from from the airport that reminded me of why mass transit is so important. Looking out the window of the Link train as we pulled out of the airport, the line of cars waiting to pick people up was stretched out at least half a mile, and was barely moving. There was an additional line coming out of the main line of cars snaking into the parking garage, which I can only assume is Uber and Lyft.

    Taking Link home, I was on the train and moving just 15 minutes after walking off the plane. Had I ordered an Uber or Lyft instead, I probably would have been stuck in the parking garage for a good 20-30 minutes, waiting for the driver to show up.

    Bottom line: individual cars – driverless or human-driven – just doesn’t scale the way mass transit does.

    1. The only situation when I’m taking Lyft/taxi from the airport is business travel (so I’m not paying) and it is late at night when I’d rather not wait for a transfer on 3rd Avenue to save my company $60.

      I have, however, thought about taking Link downtown and then getting a Lyft/taxi home, which is more like $15-20. The “TNC” pickup zone in the garage is getting to be very annoying and staggeringly inefficient.

      1. Even people going to places like Kent, where Link is all but useless, I suspect, could save a fair bit of time by just walking across the Link overpass and meeting the Uber/Lyft car in the parking lot across the street.

    2. I agree re: your point on scalability, but Sea-Tac traffic flow is the WORST of any airport I have ever seen. It’s as if the airport is trying to make it difficult to drop people off and pick them up.

      As noted, the other great argument for Link v. TNC/cab is direct out-of-pocket cost. I take Link to Mt. Baker and Lyft/Uber from there to home. Total cost = Link ticket(s) + about $10.

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