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This is an open thread.

73 Replies to “News Roundup: Automotive Liberation”

  1. With respect to the Faultleroy ferry, part of the problem is that the Vashon Island bus prioritizes coverage to every corner of the island over simply connecting the ferry to the main town with a reasonable schedule. Ideally, the bus would simply shuttle back and forth between ferry terminal and town (perhaps meeting only every other ferry), leaving the ferry terminal once the passengers walking off have had a chance to get on the bus (which implies waiting for late ferries), and arriving back at the ferry terminal about 10 minutes before the scheduled departure. Those that don’t live within walking distance of the main town would need to drive to the P&R to use the bus.

    Of course, such a restructuring would come with trade-offs. You’d probably have to give up service to Talequah, and WSDOT would have to be willing to hold up the line of cars exiting the ferry to let the bus in when it is ready to leave. I would even be willing to consider replacing Sunday service with more frequent Saturday service that extends later into the evening – because of the overhead of the ferry and the C-line, you currently have to leave downtown Seattle no later than about 5 PM to catch the last bus on the island, which is way too early.

  2. Re: “eco-right”

    Seems to me people are under the impression that hunters, gun owners, and rural Americans can’t be leftists. They’ve been abandoned by Democrats, not the other way around. We need a real labor party in this country now more than ever.

    1. It’s not a rule, but it’s a very good generalization. Most people that seek solitude away from other people align with conservative values. If they supported government intervention and liked seeing their neighbors, they would live in a city.

      1. Give me an example of a conservative value that people who call themselves anything else politically don’t also have. Also, isn’t it true that the emptiest places in the country are all under the control of the Federal government?

        And if efforts to give or sell them to private industry succeed, you’ll soon have either oil wells or shopping centers for neighbors? Exercising their Freedom to make your air dirty and also surround you with subdivisions?

        Also, in nature, a lone anything is generally dying miserably from loneliness and starvation.
        Especially a wolf, who can only eat a mouse without at least a dozen strong neighbors who love each others’ company because it lets them eat venison instead.

        Recommend a movie called “Galapagos”. A civilization-hating German kid and his wife go to only place on Earth guaranteeing solitude.

        To be suddenly joined by another German couple with same motivation. Just before a ne’er-do-well Belgian hotel-builder and all her boyfriends moved in a block away. Don’t remember which one got murdered by which other one.

        Also..which direction do freedom-seeking teenagers run away- to Seattle or Moses Lake? Small-town life is all about spying and interfering, generally for mutual benefit, which young people consider the Gestapo. Communes are worse.

        So more likely is that average escape-motive is being too lazy to fight back against tyranny by joining with your neighbors and thousands of other Americans to help actually run the Government. Including being responsible for its screw-ups and their repair.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Conservative has multiple meanings, but in this thread we’re mostly talking about those that currently dominate the Republican party, a combination of the anti-New Dealers and the “movement conservatives” who came up through Goldwater, Nixon, Gingrich, the Tea Party, and Trump. Not so much the moderate fiscal conservatives or general incrementalists.

    2. Oh please. There are plenty of hunters, gun owners and rural Americans that are Democrats. If you look at who has represented states like Montana, the Dakotas and Iowa over the last 20 years (let alone 50) you will see not only plenty of Democrats, but plenty of leading Democrats.

      The Democratic Party has not changed — if anything it has moved slightly to the right. But George McGovern (from South Dakota) would have no problem fitting in with the new Democratic Party. Bernie Sanders (from Vermont) has repeatedly spoken up for hunters.

      No, what has changed is that Republicans, right wing think tanks and media outlets like Fox News have succeeded in stereotyping Democrats as out of touch urban elitists. Even when candidates are as rural as they come, the Republican win by fear mongering (they are gonna take away all your guns and raise your taxes!). Rob Quist grew up on a ranch, plays bluegrass for a living, had the endorsement of the Sportmen’s Alliance (along with various environmental and labor organizations) but it wasn’t enough, even though the guy he was running against assaulted a reporter right before the election. Gianforte spent millions in an effort to paint Quist as anti-gun, and it paid off. Teddy Roosevelt could run as a Democrat, and the Republicans would find a way to label him as an out of touch Northeast elitist because he was born in New York City.

      1. And in the first decade of the Iraq war, the number of Congressmen and presidential candidates who were veterans and/or had sons or daughters on deployment and had Ds next to their names was remarkably larger than the number who had Rs next to their names.

      2. “The Democratic Party has not changed — if anything it has moved slightly to the right.”

        I’m with you except for this comment. It moved slightly right with the Clintons, but I wouldn’t agree with this statement. (I’m a Democrat, and I think they’ve moved left.)

        I also think that for many issues, party should be a non-issue. (But that’s another discussion).

      3. Many of our Founding Fathers were combat veterans of both the “French and Indian War” and their own recent revolution.

        Somehow I think it was their practice to give the village idiot a corn-stalk for a rifle so the poor lad wouldn’t feel left out, when they all went out into the freezing rain to drill- in as large a group as possible, which in combat is a very good idea.

        Also think that chief agent of Well-Regulation was a sergeant who called them whatever the contemporary slang for “Maggot.” And would look down the barrel of a weapon and say, “Private Ethan, thou art a good lad, but this corn-stalk, I mean musket, does not pass inspection!

        So I think that most accurate interpretation of the Second Amendment is that in order to own a rifle for anything but hunting, you must have a sergeant. And also someplace green and muddy to drill on every week.


      4. @Brad — OK, but consider the great Democratic achievement of the last thirty years: ObamaCare. It is basically the same thing Nixon proposed towards the end of his presidency. But the Democratic Congress rejected it, thinking they could get something to the left of it (a single payer plan). They probably should have accepted the political compromise, but the point being that not too long ago, a majority of Democrats supported single payer. Now, the bulk of the party (including the last three Democratic Presidents, and every nominee going back to Carter) want the Republican proposal (NixonCare).

        Other proposals that were often discussed — such as full employment or universal daycare — have simply dropped off the radar. Financial aid for college has been replaced by privately funded student loans. There is no question that the Republican Party has moved more to the right, but the Democratic Party has move slightly right as well (in part because the Republicans have moved so far to the right).

      5. Obama proposed RomneyCare because he thought it would appeal to moderate Republcans and gain bipartisan support. But it collided with that Congress’s Republicans’ scorched-earth policy of opposing everything Obama proposed and calling it “the worst, most socialist proposal in American history”, even when they themselves favored it six months or a year earlier. Obama didn’t recognize until too late after several failed proposals that the other side wasn’t negotiating in good faith. If he had recognized it at the beginning of the Obamacare debate, then they probably would have gone with a single-payer plan instead, which they knew would be more effective, universal, and cost less. All they had to do was open up Medicare eligibility to everybody.

      6. Obama was clear during the campaign (for President) that he supported a managed care option, as opposed to single payer. That might have been for political reasons, but it was certainly his position, as well as the position of many within the party. Even if the Republican Party didn’t have a vote — or was somehow absent the discussion — we probably wouldn’t have single payer. So far as I know, the last Democrat who came close to winning the nomination who supported single payer was Ted Kennedy (Bernie Sanders is a Socialist).

    3. The most reliable distinction between liberals and conservatives in the wide sense (all the way to the center) is urban vs non-urban. Democrats and liberals live especially in cities and inner-ring suburbs; Republicans and conservatives live especially in outer suburbs (exurbs) and rural areas. The inner-to-middle suburbs like the Eastside are swing areas. This is becoming increasingly so as people are moving to areas with similarly-minded people. The reasons for this are as Chris I said: left-of-center people tend to favor having people closely around them and working together for common solutions. Right-of-center people tend to value not too many people around them, not to much government or interference, and being in a place where you can fire a gun outside legally. However, it’s not 100%. Every county has both conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, even if one is small and ignored by the media. I thought Texas and North Carolina were all conservative until I went there and found out they weren’t. But the urban/exurban pattern remains the same: Dallas, Austin, Raleigh, Charlotte, and Atlanta are less conservative than their exurbs and surrounding rural areas, and sometimes it even tips over into Democratic majority. And we saw recently that Alabama, the reddest state in the country after Utah, has Democrats too. And the Mormon church, while mostly conservative, has a sympathetic view toward other cultures and immigrants, because so many of its people have been missionaries all over the world and have seen that other peoples and ways of life are OK.

      1. >> The most reliable distinction between liberals and conservatives in the wide sense (all the way to the center) is urban vs non-urban.

        But that comes and goes. During the Progressive Era, that was certainly the case, but with the rise of FDR (and Harry Truman) that was really not much of a factor. The Democrats (the left) were the forces behind the end of the dust bowl as well as rural electrification, and that changed the political dynamic. It is pretty hard to look at the election maps from 1932 to 1968 and see much of an urban/rural divide. There were regional swings, but those had more to do with the candidates themselves (Nixon took California, Dewey took New York). Other than that, the only significant regionalism was the small band of Republicanism that existing in the plain states (but didn’t extend to the Midwest or mountain states) and the South.

        Which brings up an issue that is hard to ignore. You can’t talk American political trends of the last fifty years without talking about race. Originally, the New Deal programs were tailored to provide help primarily for white people. There were specific provisions designed to exclude black people. But as time went on, and there were more civil rights victories, this changed. This had two big effects. One was to flip the parties attitude towards race — Democrats became the party of civil rights, and Republicans the part of segregationists (that still holds true today).

        The other change is that Republicans were successful in painting New Deal and Great Society programs as being primarily for urban black people. This is a myth, of course, but one that has been combined with other myths to form a solid conservative attitude in much of rural America. Both rural and urban areas have plenty of poverty, and both benefit from government programs of various types. Programs like AFDC and SNAP benefit rural areas as much (or more) than urban ones, but that isn’t what many Republicans believe. Programs like that also make up a tiny portion of the federal budget, but that number is often exaggerated. In other words, much of conservative, rural America believes that a big portion of government programs go to welfare queens in the city, which is simply not true. But the myth persists, and leads many in rural areas to vote for tax cuts, believing that the government has nothing to offer them, even though history — even very recent history — suggests otherwise.

      2. I’m talking about now in the 2000s. Before the 1990s the geographical distinction was less clear, just as the distinction between the parties was less clear. And if you go back to the 1950s or earlier, the average US population was more rural and small-town, so many liberals who live in cities now might have lived in small towns then.

        Ignoring everything before 1945, there have been at least two major arcs. After the triple calamity of two world wars and the Depression, and the experience of millions of veterans, most Americans adopted a “Let’s improve things together” attitude. Thus the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson eras, and even Nixon and Reagan were more like this than many politicians today. The one thing left out of “everybody” was non-white Americans, because segregation was still in force in the South, and the rest of the country didn’t win any diversity awards (“white flight” and all that). But in the 1960s Democrats embraced the Civil Rights Act, and that split and realigned both parties, as segregationists switched to Republican and integrationalists tended toward Democrat.

        The other arc is the ideological sorting (“The Big Sort”) that started, oh, sometime in the late 20th century, and accelerated in the 00’s and 10’s. That’s when the “liberal cities, conservative exurbs” really took stark shape. That’s the environment we live in now.

      3. >> I’m talking about now in the 2000s. Before the 1990s the geographical distinction was less clear …

        And what was it that happened during that period? The rise of Fox News and right wing think tanks, of course. The “Big Sort”, as you call it, is a calculated attempt (some would call it a vast right conspiracy) to divide Americans based on race and cultural identity. White working class voters from less densely populated areas (the suburbs and rural areas) are finding it easier to relate to extremely rich Republicans (Bushes, Trump) than they are their economic counterparts from the city. It wasn’t luck, or happenstance — it certainly doesn’t make sense from a self interest standpoint. But it is precisely what the folks in the right wing think tanks (and Murdoch) set out to do.

      4. That’s not what the Big Sort is. The Big Sort is an objective phenomenon where Americans of all persuasions are moving to areas that have the same left/right tendencies that they do. The rise of Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, the Heritage Foundation, etc. is only indirectly related to it. Their effect was more to create an environment that made it intolerable for some people to remain in their hometown. Seattle has long had people fleeing from Florida and the east coast because they’re gay or don’t fit their town’s predominant religion, and in recent years people are fleeing from healthcare deserts and vote-suppression areas. Conversely people are moving the opposite direction to more “moral” places where their gun rights are better recognized. One white nationalist told me he was moving from Seattle to Yakima because “it’s a better place to raise a family”. Another person moved back to Indiana because he found Seattle too immoral for his taste, whatever that means. (Although he was also returning to his family’s dairy farm.)

        There is an ironic alliance between white working-class anti-union people and right-wing plutocrats, but I don’t think that part is geographical: I don’t think the workers are moving to the plutocrats’ town. Many right-wing plutocrats actually live in blue cities like New York because that’s where the business opportunities are.

        The pull of higher-paying jobs complicates this somewhat, because they are mostly in blue coastal cities. That pulls people toward them even if they’re conservative. But with the wonders of suburbs and cars, they can work in a liberal town and live in a nearby conservative or swing town in the same metropolitan area.

      5. @Mike — You aren’t getting it. We both agree on what has happened. The rural areas of the country have become a lot more conservative. The question is why, and why now.

        Yes, I understand the idea of a “Big Sort” — I understood it the first time you wrote it. But that doesn’t explain why it suddenly happened now, and not fifty years ago. Why are people suddenly more concerned about going to a place that represents their political outlook in life. More to the point, what about places that weren’t especially conservative? You are talking about an area becoming more polarized, but not too long ago, most of these areas were middle of the road. You could move to a rural area (or a big city) and find moderate people on both sides. Tom Foley was the Speaker of the House, and he represented the fifth district, which is very rural. Now it is represented by Rodgers. Clinton beat George H. W. Bush by four points back in 1992, and yet Trump won the district by 13%. That isn’t a sort, that is a major move to the right. It has gone from being a fairly moderate, middle of the road district, to being extremely right wing. The district is not alone.

        Rural areas have moved far to the right. Political polarization is much bigger than it was fifty years ago. The Republican Party has move dramatically to the right. Politicians that would be considered extreme — like Paul Ryan — are considered mainstream. There is polarization and right wing extremism that simply did not exist fifty years ago.

        Neither did Fox News. Fifty years ago, the mainstream press was respected. We’ve gone from politicians complaining about the press picking on them (“You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore”) to people calling the New York Times “fake news”. Republicans routinely complain about the main stream media. Not because they fail to cover something they consider relevant (e. g. the situation in Myanmar) but because they are claiming they aren’t objective. The Fox News motto is “Fair and Balanced”, as if to say that CBS, NBC, ABC and yes, PBS, are not! This is an audacious claim, given when it was made. Back then, there was no major left wing media (no MSNBC). There were left wing magazines, of course, just as there were right wing magazines. But no major news organization (TV or newspaper) was considered right or left wing, while all the major news magazines (Time, Newsweek and eventually U. S. News) were considered middle of the road. There was a solid wall between the editorial staff and the reporting at every local newspaper. So when Fox News said they were the ones that were “Fair and Balanced”, it was an attempt to change the way people look at the media. It was a throwback to the press of 100 years ago, when you couldn’t find a middle of the road newspaper, but left and right wing ones. This attitude (that Fox News alone is fair) used to be winked at by right wing politicians, but now is openly embraced. Trump is not the first to question whether main stream, well respected news organizations are fair — he is simply taking it one step further, and questioning whether what they say is the truth. It is one thing to say they are focused on the wrong thing, it is another to say that a fact reported in the paper is not true.

        Fox News (and similar outlets) are not the only factor, but it can’t be dismissed, given the timing. Yes, there is an alliance between white working-class anti-union people and right-wing plutocrats, but it isn’t the least bit ironic. It is exactly what Murdoch and his friends planned all along. He was famous for providing newspapers that appealed to the so called working man (the actual quote is “had lots of tits”) while throwing in plenty of right wing propaganda. It is a very clever approach, and Trump is simply the ultimate manifestation of it. The government is holding you down — making you suffer — if only you get rid of those godless Volvo driving, latte drinking metrosexuals in Washington, your life would be great. Not only will you get a better job, but you will be able to get a hot wife, like mine (and be able to sleep with porn stars to boot!). Portraying the right wing as victims (they can’t get a break — or even fair reporting from the elitist big city reporters) and the rural, white working class as victims of the same forces go hand in hand. It is an attempt to portray the other side as “THEM”, as being incapable of understanding, let alone doing anything about the problems you face.

        It is a divide and conquer approach, and it is nothing new (stirring up racial strife was often used to break up unions). This obviously plays a huge role in whatever “Big Sort” effect is going on. It is one thing to move to an area simply because the representatives will be the type you agree with. I seriously doubt many people do that. But it is quite reasonable to move to an area because you think “your type of people” will be easier to find there. It is modern American tribalism, and Fox News (and their ilk) have played a huge part in it.

      6. Mike,

        they can work in a liberal town and live in a nearby conservative or swing town in the same metropolitan area.

        , which is a very good argument against suburban rail service, LRT or commuter rail. They can work for some oil company in Houston instead.

      7. However, it could be an argument for “home rule” on transit. Allow Seattle, Redmond, and Lynnwood to build a Forward-Thrust like system under their own authority, and allow South King County and Pierce County to not build HCT if they don’t want to.

    4. The bigger thing that happened was the collapse of the Soviet Union and the complete loss of progress of the wing of the Democrats having a cudgel to beat back industrial and banking interests. I’m no fan of communism, but the loss of a far left counterweight has meant politics worldwide have shifted since 89.

      1. France, Britain, and Germany would be surprised to hear that the left is dead. The lack of a mainstream Labor or Socialist party in the US is more of a US phenomenon, and in fact it never had one. There are various theories as to why that is; one is that the US didn’t have a legacy of a rigid class structure as much as Europe did. Another is the predominance of race in the US social debate. It’s hard to underrstand why so many working-class Americans are anti-union when their European counterparts are pro-union, but then you realize that they’re white and they’re afraid that most of the union advantages would go to blacks. People from Brazil, Mexico, and Europe tell me that race just does not have as central a focus in their countries.The closest situation to the US is more like South Africa or a few Caribbean countries.

        The Soviet Union was never the best example of socialism or communism. I’d call European social democrats more of an ideal and more successful. (Although I’d go more centrist, which would still look left from the American perspective.)

        The Democrats were basically scared by Reagan’s victory and the subsequent multiple sweeps of Republicans into Congress and governorships. They felt they had to become center-right and deregulationist to remain in office. This left a very long legacy, which only started losing ground in 2016 with Bernie and then the Trump resistance.

      2. ???? , the world does nothing but change. Might say that in human history, though, nothing changes but the weapons and the names of the great powers. And, across centuries and spaces, people who earn their living the same way think pretty much alike.

        (Incidentally, if you travel overseas, call ahead to people in your own trade or profession. Transit badge especially great passport. You’ll see things no consultant ever does, or deserves to).



        Promise you won’t be able to put any of these down. But you’ll get a pretty good picture of how change works. And the world. From the time it cooled.

        Good case to be made that whole problem with the Middle East all the way around to Bulgaria, people still haven’t figured out what to do without the Turkish empire.

        Or Eastern Europe, the Austro-Hungarian one. One lesson of them all, that the first thing about being First is that an Empire is the last thing that happens before your country falls apart. Hundred percent. Your leaders’ statues become part of the national pigeon-sanitary-waste utilities.

        Right now, our country right now has two chief political divisions. Easy one, long overdue, and soon to be changed when today’s field-trip passengers vote in 2018 and 2020:

        First order of business, to free themselves from what happens when school-loan and consumer credit lenders collapse. And the Treasury can’t bail them out. Should be best introduction to hands-on politics since the Viet Nam War.

        But the other one- deadly dangerous.


        Good case that our intractable malevolent racial divisions stem from the fact that the Confederates won the Civil War. Military outcomes – temporary. But when the other side starts to think with your ideas, victory’s yours.

        As soon as they’d chased the Union occupation out in the 1870’s’ the Confederate States re-instituted slavery, renaming it the correctional system. The North wouldn’t do that..would they?And blacks’ next election where their votes counted was a hundred years later.

        Woodrow Wilson wrote Washington DC’s first miscegenation law. And the Ku Klux Klan was a major political force in Michigan and much of the rest of the North in the 1930’s.

        But also ominous. Our War for Independence was probably second round of a horrible civil war in England in the 1640’s. The new manufacturing and commercial classes against the old hereditary royalty. Puritan manufacturers went to Massachusetts when they lost. Royalists to Virginia when they lost.

        Where newly-arriving slaves provided them with a permanent pre-stamped peasantry that would never again cut off the king’s head. Certainly not saying that absolutely nothing has changed for the better in 370 years.

        But no question the conditions that birthed our country have always carried some ugly congenital political pathogens. That need constant watching, and a desperate search for a cure. By its age and tenaciousness, this is the kind of fracture that can crack a country to pieces. Luckily, only one with that potential.

        Democratic and Republican Parties? All their core ideas are as obsolete as the title-ridden landscape they spawn. Last thing an “Employer” wants to do is hire somebody for very long. And, both expensive and worthless, an advanced degree very often also a Title of Nobility. Which Constitution forbids, but who cares?

        Republicans bring a lot more energy to their desperation than do the Democrats. Probably because they know what their fellow party members will do to them. Democrat’s own condition in life and politics? Considerable material and professional comfort with which they have no intention of parting.

        Rejuvenate one or both, or form new ones, whatever upcoming generations think works better. Either or both will work. Newcomers’ chief goal- get elected personally to where they can write the law. Starting with the one releasing millions of them from private debtors’ prisons. From what I see of them, won’t be a problem.

        Job at hand, another matter. The battle-flag will have to be a mop with the Stars and Stripes tied to the handle. And a bucket of lysol in the other hand. But one group of true losers. Imagine the Anarchists’ helpless rage when they discover that the outgoing Administration has completely destroyed the Establishment already.

        Mark Dublin

  3. Re: ferries: “Cars will never be spatially-efficient way to move humans” (sic)

    Really? Except when humans need to move across water to get somewhere else.

    Or go to the store, or pick up kids, or support their favorite restaurant that isn’t on a bus line.

    Did the Stranger’s Charles Mudede ghost-write this one?

    1. Are you calling the ferry a “car”? The state considers it a piece of highway infrastructure (i.e., a road). In any case, more people can fit in the space occupied by ten cars if there are no cars than if there are cars. That’s what Bruce meant.

      “Or go to the store, or pick up kids, or support their favorite restaurant that isn’t on a bus line.”

      Why is the store not on a bus line? Or the kids’ activity? Or their favorite restaurant? In Europe they all are, and this was true in the US before WWII. Did the family even try to locate their house near frequent transit, and find a store and good restaurant and school for their kids on bus lines? Or did they just ignore that factor? Should society make special accommodations if they do ignore it (i.e., more car lanes and car ferries)?

      1. Why? Because Vashon is a rural island. It’s incredibly difficult to serve rural areas with mass transit. Vashon would be better served by micro-transit, or simply a single bus line that connects to a series of small P&Rs.

        Automobiles still make sense as the primary form of transportation in sparsely populated areas, such as Vashon. The problem with Vashon isn’t lack of transit on the island, but lack of an easy way for people to leave their cars on the island when they want to ride the ferry.

        “In Europe they all are” – nope, wrong. In cities, yes. In the countryside, no. Comparing Vashon is Paris is facile.

      2. Vashon gets away with it because they have lots of space and few people, so spatial efficiency is less important. Except for when it comes to all cramming on to a boat. So maybe, as AJ says, treat that as the problem and find ways for folks to commute between Vashon and Seattle without bringing their cars with them, while accepting that using a car to get around Vashon might be the most efficient thing within the island context.

      3. My experience in Europe has been that even very rural areas have transit or some sort. It might not come very often, but it is still there. A place like Vashon — being very close to a major city — would certainly have bus service along each of the main roads. That doesn’t mean that someone wouldn’t drive a car, but it does mean that not as many would need to.

      4. Countries like Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, and Switzerland have trains throughout the entire country to both large and small towns. In all these countries (although I’m not sure about Amsterdam Schiopl) you can take a train directly from some of the airports to any of these towns, with the usual number of transfers. Duesseldorf airport to the main train station, check. Duesseldorf to Aachen, check. London Gatwick to Reading to Bristol, check. Zurich airport to ski resorts, check. And in Ireland, there are both trains and buses to towns like Carlow, which is about the size of Mt Vernon or Wenatchee. Of course they don’t go to every rural house but they go on the main roads between towns. So people may have a last-mile problem but they don’t have to drive between towns. There is both comprehensive transit throughout the country, and businesses are usually located on it. And large businesses like a factory plant or office/industrial park must have a transit plan for their workers, either using existing high-capacity transit or contributing to an extension of it. And they also wouldn’t locate their plants in very out-of-the-way areas. Small islands are particularly difficult, and I lived part-time on Vashon and know it’s very rural and has little hope of comprehensive transit service, and most of the West Sound is like that except for the immediate downtowns of Bremerton and Bainbridge. So most people do need cars in the West Sound, and either take it on the ferry or park in a lot on the west side. Vashon to its credit has such a lot now (I don’t know whether it fills up quickly), Bremerton has been doing something I think, but Clinton and others have basically nothing. And auto ferries are necessary for supply deliveries, emergency vehicles, and navy bases. Still, the general argument that cars are an inefficient use of space and limit the number of people who can travel through any space remains, and we should work to make non-car options more viable. Kitsap and Island County transit use to the ferries have been increasing and we should encourage more of that. Vashon is in Metro-land, and Metro has been stidying “alternative service” on the island, which could be anything from nonprofit-operated vans to subsidized taxis/Uber or something else.

    2. Do you understand the definition of “spacial efficiency”? Because it doesn’t seem like you do.

    3. I believe what Bruce means is that the geometry of everybody relying on cars (roads and parking) does not scale efficiently in crowded cities. Which Vashon Island is not, but the Seattle side most definitely is. Note: the bottleneck is on the Seattle side, where there is simply less space per person. People can always drive on the Vashon side, and indeed, it is the most efficient way for most people to get around including getting to the ferry docks. However, on the Seattle side the options are limited unless you’re going to downtown Seattle and leaving work by 5 pm. Heck, it’s over an hour with multiple busses just to get to the airport or TIB LINK station. So I would put the focus on the Seattle side more than the Vashon side.

    4. You can carry the groceries (I do), the kids can ride the bus (I did when I was a kid, in Tulsa no less, which certainly had only a skeletal system), and you can walk from the bus line to the restaurant. I lived in Seattle for twelve years with no car with a family, and that was in the 1970’s and 1980’s when the bus service was much less frequent.

      A car is only essential for travel to rural places with no public transportation. Sure, occasionally what you need to haul home is bigger than fits in a backpack. But basically, driving a car in a dense city is a selfish indulgence.

  4. Convention Center article: Every time I read an article about the Convention Center expansion, I keep reading about the additional parking garage. I see nothing ever about the project’s complete lack of great, direct pedestrian connectivity to Westlake. Advocating a protected pedestrian walkway from Boren to Westlake (with escalators and maybe even a moving sidewalk) would be a major investment that would seem to be a better solution than merely complaining about a parking garage.

    I just don’t get why no one in power doesn’t force the issue. In exchange for taking a public transit station away, the public deserves better connections to the next closest transit station. It’s the most obvious mitigation that should be on the table!

    1. The Powers that Be are determined to make that Convention Center happen. My presumption is that it is supported because it will be be work for construction companies and union jobs. Plus, hoteliers stand to make money. Those hotel room guests will pay the hotel tax, which funds 4Culture. What’s not to like from their standpoint.

      I’m glad the folks that are fighting for public benefits are doing that. King County pretty much handed it over no strings attached.

      Can you tell I’m not a fan of Convention Center construction center closing the tunnel early (for no good reason, in my opinion, except the CC folks have money burning a hole in their pocket).

      If only transit could get a revenue stream that doesn’t require constant tax approval (as the Port and Convention Center manage to do).

    2. “I see nothing ever about the project’s complete lack of great, direct pedestrian connectivity to Westlake.”

      It has three flat blocks of urban grid streets to it. Why isn’t that enough?

      1. – Because they are taking a Station away

        – Because Lower Cap Hill deserves better protected station access

        – Because it’s the furthest location from a rail platform of any major convention city in the Western US with urban rail systems. Portland, San Jose, San Francisco (new station in 2019), San Diego, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Houston and Denver have stops right at their convention centers and Los Angeles and Sacramento are just a block away. It’s in the best interest of WSCC to have a great rail connection if they want to compete with other cities.

      2. Conventioneers never used the station named after them much.

        Convention Place Station does not serve Capitol Hill very well, and serves only a tiny corner of it at all. (I am in that corner, and I hate walking across the freeway to it.)

        Three blocks to a station is nothing compared to the fact that Link goes to several neighborhoods which conventioneers might be coming from, and to the airport where most visitors go twice during their trip.

      3. I would put the blame of Convention Place underutilization on two major things:

        1. Terrible design! STAIRS! Outdoor unfriendly. Entrance exposed to rain. Barren, prison-looking aesthetic. Still a block away from the existing convention center entrance. Riders hate these things!

        2. No Link! No new tall buildings nearby! That opinion of yours is now outdated. It’s not 2009 anymore.

      4. I have been to over a dozen conferences in various cities since 2000. In some cities you can take the subway from the airport to the convention center (Atlanta, Chicago Rosemont). Never in any of my trips did I consider the difference between a station in the same building as the convention hotel (Atlanta), a one-block walk (Santa Clara light rail), a three or four-block walk (Santa Clara Amtrak), or a three-block walk (Seattle) to be significant — especially for something I might only do twice or five times in my life. Instead, the contrast I noticed was in Dallas, where I took the TRE train (mediocre) to downtown and the light rail (reasonable) to a suburban station. There I had to wait for a half-hourly bus, which then took me along a stroad 20 minutes to the Galleria. That’s the kind of experience that only die-hard transit fans will put up with. A three-block walk is nothing, especially if it’s in downtown Seattle rather than Santa Clara tower-in-the-park hell.

      5. I use the Convention Center station to get to destinations on Pike-Pine in Cap Hill. The actual Cap Hill station is a bit farther. In theory I could catch a bus/streetcar from Westlake / Cap Hill station, but it’s faster to walk from Convention Center.

        I suppose if the CC powers that be figure out their mistake, they could always convert those parking spaces back into a station, given the Link will still run there. It’ll be wildly expensive, but they seem to have an unlimited budget so maybe they’ll come back in a decade and bring back the station as an infill project.

      6. My prediction is that the WSCC will make a pitch for ST to build a good connection when the closer second Westlake platform (Green Line) is designed and built — probably under Sixth or Seventh Ave. Of course, by that time the big transit giveaway to the WSCC will be forgotten and ST will be forced to pay for it.

      7. When (if) the Green Line Westlake platforms and mezzanine open, it’s likely that there will be an entrance between Sixth and Seventh on Pine. That will drop the distance from the subway to a block and a half.

  5. Current European car ownership and drivership somehow looks suspiciously familiar. And my sister in Africa notes that greatest general environment-destroyer in Kenya is how many people have cars. So my own suspicion is that, being former monkeys, people like being in each others’ close company. Fact that they are in cars just means more comfortable benches to sit on.

    But anybody advocating public transit already has a “counter” to standard anti-transit claim that “Transit doesn’t cure Congestion!” Of course it doesn’t. All it does is provide freedom to actually move for people still living in the remains of the obsolete industrial economy that demands that they be at some actual location.

    Maybe everybody that got podified by The Body Snatchers just got a car. Doesn’t even need to be the initials of anything. Tell me if a “Prius” digs holes or hangs from a branch by its tail? No fair counting POT -not POD- holes.

    Like much of human nature, sort of a pain. But definitely proves that the more cars, the more transit is necessary, especially if people can start buying personal anti-aircraft guns to make Amazon switch from drones to other traffic proof delivery modes called bicycles. Which can also ride trains hanging from hooks. Or on flat-cars with bike racks, like in Germany.


    1. Of course, transit doesn’t cure congestion any more than me quitting smoking wipes lung cancer off the face of the earth! The point for both forms of cancer is that lifestyle changes can hopefully help me *avoid* it in the first place. Lifestyle options that are available in the context of smoking, but unfortunately non existent or not viable for most people in the context of transportation. Much touted “personal responsibility” demands that there first be a choice in the matter.

    2. HCT and transit lanes don’t solve congestion, they gives a way to bypass it. It’s unfortunate that transit agencies and advocates fell into the trap of claiming it would eliminate congestion, because it can do no such thing. Congestion is the tragedy of the commons. But for a few decades we’ve heard that transit will eliminate congestion so that you can drive freely, and it has only been the last few years that agencies like Metro have marketed the accurate slogan. I’m not even sure how much transit agencies and activists themselves actually marketed the inaccurate message, or how much it was just politicians and the larger society that made it a mantra that people believed.

      But there is a converse corollary. While transit can’t make congestion go away for any significant period of time, if you eliminate all the existing buses, that’s tens of thousands of people who would have to drive or wouldn’t be able to get around. That would either cause massively more congestion or it would put a drag on people’s personal economy and the region’s overall economy, because people who can’t get to work or shopping aren’t exchanging money and creating work for others. And people who can’t get to medical appointments get sicker, and people who can’t get to cultural activities get isolated and society loses that activity.

  6. “Seattle’s largest batch of single-family homes in decades” There’s a recently posted 124 single family home proposal for the privately owned greenbelt on the west edge of Beacon Hill south of Columbian Way. There have been a few proposals to develop this site over the decades. One of the main SDCI address for records is 4001 12th Ave S. Beacon Hill neighbors will have some of the same issues as Laurelhurstians have with Talaris but probably no legal team to fight it.

  7. Re: Fauntelroy Ferry –

    Ultimate solution – extension of light rail from West Seattle to Burien passes and stops at the Fauntelroy ferry terminal.

    1. Here’s a better one! Fit ferry car-decks with tracks, and have the boats carry the trains across the Sound. Know they do this in Denmark and a lot of other places in Europe.

      Would either take the tension out of mode-feud for WSDOT, or at least leave car-only forces really rabid because they didn’t see this one coming. Would also be a really fitting way to get streetcars back to the Waterfront.



    Just found this. Did I miss some mention of this report here? Any chance we can get some discussion? Because it seems to me there’s some highly relevant information here. I mean a few weeks ago, hanging off a bridge just south of Dupont.

    Also would appreciate not reading the words “Driverless Transportation” for awhile. Train 501 was as driverless as anything on Earth could be.

    And remember that same management mentality that sent a train eighty miles an hour, toward a curve that could barely handle thirty, with an untrained driver at the throttle, lacking even cab signals on the control console….likely designs, builds, and supervises every Postive Train Control manufacturer in the world. Or at least in the United States.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I’d like to see an analysis of that here, as well.

      But Train 501 was not driverless, by any stretch of the imagination. If it were driverless – or even under Positive Train Control, where drivers are still technically and not just legally required – it would’ve slowed down. As it was, with the human driver’s hand off the break lever, it maintained its speed to fatal consequences.

      1. Thanks for the chance to clarify, William. Term “driverless” was really aimed at whoever trained the man- I think he was quoted as saying that his training gave him one southbound trip.

        But my first quarrel with all the demands for Positive Train Control (does it have a corporate (TM) after it?) is that it is designed, built, programmed and installed by human beings. With same training requirements as those who drive trains. Whose every move is dictated by the most impaired human who touched it last.

        And which, if skipped or shortened for budgetary reasons, can also wreck trains and kill passengers. Though my real fury about these things is the gleeful Moonie on Prozac tone of their public support.
        Because across the board, I think that the main push for wheeled robotics from corporations and agencies desperate to cut labor costs.

        Paired with Management’s steadily-worsening habit of replacing older, experienced workers with ones whose problem is not their age but the amount of experience it leaves them lacking. Often temporary. But their most desirable quality- they cost much less.

        The engineer on Train 501 was 55 years old. With those years and seniority, he should probably never have had that train faster than forty till the rear coupler had cleared the curve. And any discipline, taken up with his union. Does anybody know what speed limit was for those red and white Tacoma Rail freight engines?

        One of the worst culprits was whoever set that speed limit. I pass at least two of those grade crossings frequently. Terrible sight lines either direction, and traffic allowed much too close to the track. Minor traffic jam, or a breakdown, or an accident – crossing gates aren’t that hard to break- and photographs would not have been allowed. For 80 miles an hour, every single grade crossing should have been undercut on first design drawing.

        And plaintiff’s attorney- or more appropriate the prosecutor’s first question: “Did you or did you not have that curve listed as dangerous? If so, why did you not rebuild it before starting high speed service?” Any defendant truthfully saying “Budget” should get the Congressional for bravery on his way to jail.

        Another technical question: Where exactly would you have to start braking to drop speed from 80 to 30? And compare the result, by the stopwatch, with a steady 40 the whole thirteen or so miles from Lakewood. Note arrival time in Portland. Because it looks suspiciously like somebody said Federal money demanded 80. Like the law says: “Appearance of….”

        But most shameful truth of all…David, how much slack would a Metro accident investigator have cut either of us if we’d admitted we didn’t know exactly where are bus was at 40mph. Let alone our top speed of 60? Slack like in noose, not leniency. When Mark Twain was a river pilot in training, he had to learn, the whole length of the river, literally everything that could destroy a moving steamboat in the dark. Author’s point is that human memory can handle. Dupont- full daylight, wasn’t it?

        Forcing the driver to ascertain his location by lettered signs is negligent homicide. What happened trackside lighted railroad signals? Or what about cab signals? A bright red light on the control board and a real loud buzzer. Impossible to read that wrong.

        Can anybody tell me why can’t those locomotives at least have that? Pretty sure LINK already does, At least it’ll serve ’til Positive Train Control arrives. Look, I’m not fighting automatic emergency train control at all.

        But mainly, I don’t want to see it accepted as a permanent routine response to bad railroading.Or really sloppy training. For that particular piece of track, a driver needs to repeat that southbound trip until they can sense their way around it by the feel of the machine under their hands. Speed. Slope. Gradient. Curve. Location. “Become one with your machine”. Less woo-woo: “Pretend you’re bolted on.”

        Also remember: Positive Train Control doesn’t give a gigabyte if it gets killed.

        Mark Dublin

  9. Rode the #2 from Lower Queen Anne yesterday at 4 pm, took 45 minutes to go 10 blocks so I bailed and got a Lime Bike. So, when are we going to eliminate more on street parking for dedicated bus lanes? Its totally ridiculous we don’t have these on every main Rapid Ride route. What’s the hold up?

    1. And I think the BAT lanes they do have are often peak-direction/peak-hour only. The southbound BAT lanes used by RR-D on Elliott Ave in Interbay had parked cars in them while my 32 slogged through SOV traffic.

      Related question – is there anything stopping non-RR buses from using the BAT lanes? Someone getting on the 32 in Interbay asked the driver whether he would take the bus lanes was told “no.” Granted, they were closed in that direction at that time, but does this extend to times when the lanes are open? Any drivers here know?

      1. Non-RR buses can and do use the BAT lanes. But yes, the BAT lanes on Elliott/15th Ave are peak commute only. I assume your 32 was heading southbound in the afternoon, not the morning?

        I think it makes a lot of to make those no parking during commute times in morning and evening. That road generally flows well midday and at night, at which point parking is fine.

      2. Even outside of peak hours, getting rid of the bus lane parking does make a difference. When the bus lane has parking, every bus stop becomes, effectively, a pullout, which means the bus has to sit and wait for somebody to let it in after every single bus stop. Usually, the cars are going pretty fast, so nobody lets the bus in. Get rid of the parking, and when the bus finishes loading passengers, it can immediately get on its way.

        Furthermore, the number of cars actually parking on Elliot is tiny, especially on weekends. But all it takes is just one parked car in front of every bus stop to dramatically slow things down for every single bus. The number of people who pass through Elliot every day on a bus far exceeds the number of drivers who park on the street there. In fact, the local businesses on Elliot all have their own parking, so the street parking is all more unusual cases, like people walking a mile or riding the bus to an event in Seattle Center.

    2. As soon as the City Council and the majority of residents support it. Every time we suggest converting street parking to transit lanes in places like Lower Queen Anne and 45th and Aurora, all hell breaks loose.

    3. >> What’s the hold up?

      Good question. For the most part, it is just the way they like to do it. There is almost always opposition to taking parking, but usually they do it anyway. It is much tougher to take away a general purpose lane. The problem is, either way, in general they need to have meetings, make a proposal, and spend a lot of time discussing the options. It is probably better that way, given some of the proposals (e. g. the initial plan for 65th is horrible).

    4. Or you get Madison BRT where there is support for making it more bus only yet SDOT is the one pushing back

  10. Regarding the article about Portland’s zoning. I’ve been looking more closely at Portland housing lately and their zoning seems light years ahead of Seattle. They have zoning for 2,000sqft, 2,500sqft, and 3,000sqft minimum lot sizes (r2, r2.5, and r3). If you tour some of these neighborhoods they’re great. Probably a lot more of the city needs to be zoned to these minimums, but at least they have them.

    I was looking at a house in Maple Leaf the other day, the lot is 7,200 sqft, with a huge backyard that could easily be subdivided into two 3,000sqft lots and another house built back there, without doing *any* damage to the neighborhood character. The lot is simply way too big for the area, which is walking distance to a future light rail station. But you can’t subdivide, because the zoning is SF5000.

    There is a really simple move that Seattle needs to make, and should make it right now: create an SF2500 and an SF3000 zone and rezone all existing SF5000 to SF2500 and all SF7200 to SF3000. Done.

    1. I agree completely. It is even worse just a few blocks north of Maple Leaf. My neighborhood is zoned for 7200 (not 5000). There are also plenty of really big, old lots (the area used to be farmland). Here is an example: (you might need to zoom out to get a good feel for it). The lots is around 25,000 square feet, by my estimation. There are a couple houses on it, but only one looks good, and it is relatively small. Once this sells, if the zoning rules remain the same, I know exactly what they will do. They will bulldoze everything, and put up at most three houses. This sort of thing has happened more than once (I don’t have a picture of it, as Google Street View is a bit out of date).

      The point being that you could literally double the number of houses if you simply changed the zoning. In many cases, there might be one more (a 20,000 square foot lot can be split into at most two 7,200 lots, but six 3,000 square foot lots). In none of these cases would anyone object. If anything, it is *more* in keeping with the old character of the neighborhood. Huge houses are more out of place than small houses on small lots. Even row houses would likely be welcome, as folks here are not as uptight about such things. Unlike much more expensive neighborhoods, we didn’t expect this neighborhood to be charming (it doesn’t even have sidewalks). It is affordable (or at least used to be) and that is only reason people moved there.

  11. Bruce’s post is sound.
    Fauntleroy: we could be amused by the parallel capacity issues between transit and the ferry (water transit). The piece focuses on car movement and does not mention pedestrians and bicyclists; they would have an interest in on-time departures. WSF could use a faster fare collection method. The dock constraint is parallel to loading and unloading buses through a single door.
    NE 65th Street: SDOT needs to use a wheel and measure the width of its arterials and sidewalks. The NE 65th Street Link station means that pedestrians and buses need to be prioritized. Perhaps bikes could be provided priority on a parallel street. Note SDOT still plans parallel parking east of 15th Avenue NE. The Roosevelt student’s drawings are not feasible either; streetcar do not climb View Ridge nor turn on a dime.

    1. The streetcar idea is the major weakness of the student’s idea. But other ideas (everyone will freak if they don’t have parking) are also silly. I don’t want to criticize the kid’s ideas — I think it is great that he has done such a good job — but it is by no means an ideal solution. The point that the various blogs are making is that he has managed to come up with a plan that is better than what the city did because the city’s plan are so horrible.

      Personally I agree with you, and feel like bike lanes should be on parallel streets. The corridor is too important for bus travel, and unlike a lot of areas (e. g. Eastlake) there are alternatives. It gets a bit tricky, but you could have bike routes on both sides. Not the entire way, but for the bulk of it (on 68th and 63rd). You would need to add lights or flashing crosswalks in several places, but that is probably a good idea anyway.

      But if the city punts on that idea (and they likely will) then the least they can do is make the right choices on 65th. Having the bus pull out of traffic for each bus stop is crazy, as is narrowing the sidewalk. Get rid of the parking, have at least one lane be bus only (the lane headed towards the freeway) and call it a day. My guess is there is enough room for bike lanes, a bus lane and two general purpose lanes. If you do need the occasional turn lane, then you take it from the bus lane, which means that at least the bus has a skip ahead lane.

  12. Why do the westbound 271 and other eastside to U-district routes skip the “SR 520” stop on Montlake (despite going right past it and being on the right side of the road for it!), and only stop at Shelby street?

    It adds insult to the injury of the already horrible transfer to the southbound 48 (which requires two flights of stairs or three street crossings), after waiting literally 15 minutes just to exit the freeway.

    1. I’m guess the reason is to prevent issues where the bus blocks the bus stop, forcing the bus behind it to wait yet another cycle for the intersection to clear. In any case, you don’t *have* to make the transfer there. You can always just stay on the bus for one more stop and catch the 48 by the UW Med Center (just one flat crosswalk and you’re there).

  13. Have been informed by a source I trust who has actually driven trains- an accordion between sections does not make an articulated bus qualify- that the “cab signals” I mentioned can’t be done with out automated train control.

    Wish editor had more appropriate tool for saving servers since the trees are already gone. Red pencil used to be effective for Ernest Hemingway- reason he finally started writing in half-sentences. Only people who talk like that are fake 1920’s gangsters. Also [CTC] first C for “Cut”, and [CYC] FOR “Check Your Source”]

    Also, will try to limit references to Turkish and Austro-Hungarian Empires to fact that Kaiser Wilhelm actually planned a rail line from Berlin to Baghdad. Though his plan to become the leader of the Muslim world assured it’s never been built.

    Though Austria has always had a lot of streetcars. Vienna is even more famous for streetcars than for coffee-houses. So does Budapest/ Though legend has it that a Polish soldier stole a whole wagon load of beans when the Turks quit shelling Vienna and went home to fight to become the next Sultan. Istanbul also has great street..Damn!

    But still think it’d be great to get around the Legislature’s light-rail ban by reattaching the Queen Anne Counterbalance and also run a real cable around that wheel in Pioneer Square Station. Just like the one in Trieste, which is now in Italy but used to be part of- that other Empire.

    Go see “The Grand Budapest Hotel!”


  14. Can somebody tell me what the thinking was to move the bus stop even farther south at Seatac? I think it’s really low that the people who take the bus to the airport have to be even more inconvenienced now. The previous location was already quite far, especially for airlines at the north end of the terminal (Alaska). Ironically, the stop in its previous location was constantly being blocked by car drivers illegally unloading/loading passengers and the slap-in-the-face solution for the problem was to reserve the area for car-rental shuttles. Ok, rant over.

    One positive is that the smoking area was also moved so at least there’s no more of that nastiness while waiting.

  15. Batteries on electric buses, like those on electric cars, need to be thermally managed to keep them in their happy temperature range. I can’t believe anyone is still making buses without thermally managed batteries, but apparently this is still a problem. What the hell.

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