Be sure to thank your bus driver today and every day.

This is an open thread.

24 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: A Day in the Life”

  1. Angela Wilson seems to like driving buses in MSP but the people I’ve known who worked as a bus driver at KC Metro really didn’t like the work culture here. Is driving a bus a good job in King County? What’s it like to work for King County Metro?

    1. Guy, a driver’s own outlook is an important part of the work culture. Which has different definitions for different people. My own- for people, companies and civilizations: the sum of hundreds of individual habits. Far and away first, how people get used to treating each other..

      Not so much written rules themselves, as what whole workforce makes of them. Good (and crude) analogy: Driving a big vehicle itself. Knowledge. Understanding. Skill. Judgment. Timing. Steadiness. And Authority- meaning readiness to take complete personal responsibility for every single consequence of any order they give,or action they take.

      In every effort in common, people have a personal range of what they like, dislike, or tolerate at all. Wherever a mistake can get people killed, I think absolute worst is not strict orders, but the sense that nobody is in charge at all. Followed close by inadequate training. To me, King County Metro Transit management’s worst failing, especially since most correctable. No capital investment whatever.

      Also, in every represented workforceoutfit, every worker has one tool of first, middle, and last resort. Get active in the union. Any defects- if you think your job is worth fighting to keep, it’s yours at least to attempt repairs.

      The driver in the video? Somebody who can maintain her attitude in the face of one of the most physically and personally hardest jobs in industry- full-time transit driving and normal life like a round square- will be there as long as they can stand the work and like it. Short list of qualified applicants- though, to the top of the company and the Board, longer list also gets hired.

      Incidentally, “T” seems to stand for Boston Municipal Transit Authority. The MTA. Kingston Trio sang a protest against an unfair fare increase. Bet ST could draw the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. In those days, the “Trains” were PCC streetcars.

      Mark Dublin

    1. Thanks, mdnative. No reason we can’t build this line, and good reasons why we should. Would be a mistake to try and make either maglev or wheeled trains to do jobs for which they’re not ideal.

      Good approach could be to build a trackway for both fastest possible wheeled trains with at least several stops between terminals. On right of way also containing separate maglev tracks for what are really quiet fuel-efficient, pollution-free short-headway airliners. Vancouver BC to Portland- one stop in (probably under) Seattle.

      This way, we can run already-available standard high-speed trains for however long it takes to get the maglevs designed, built, tested, and ready for service. And use the standard trains for next level of service down. With yet again separate tracks for local service.

      Just to not build any part of this structure downhill from a subdivision’s worth of swimming pools.


  2. Here’s an article from the Seattle Times.

    All of the down escalators at UW Station were simultaneously broken Friday afternoon leading to massive lines to use the elevators to get to the platform. Sound Transit was unable or unwilling to A) let people walk down the escalators, B) let people access the emergency stairs, and C) flip an up escalator to a down escalator.

    Is this the level of service we’re going to get from the remaining ST2 and ST3 stations? Whether it’s a combination of bureaucracy or butt-covering, I don’t find it acceptable.

    1. Bonnie Todd of Sound Transit was asked what the biggest compliments and complaints she has heard. This was in a Seattle Teansit Blog interview written last week. Her answer was: “We’ve never had a consistent theme of complaints really about anything.”

      Now I understand that ridership complaints and station complaints may technically be different. But I am sure she knows of the ongoing complaints of elevator and escalator failures going on for years. Her answer is just one reason why there seems like there is no priority to fix it. I wish that question was in the interview.
      BTW. The elevator was broken at UW Husky stadium 2 days before. I reported it. Wouldn’t it have been great if it was still broken that day.
      Oh well.

      1. Couple facts leave me somewhat partial to Bonnie herself. I respect the Marine Corps. And she started out on some work with her hands. But also think that for her readers’ sake and also Bonnie’s, Lizz should not have let that answer pass.

        More honest answer would have been: “To the best of my abilities I’m doing what I’m told with the money available.” Fact she would have gotten fired points to the real reason major problems take so long to fix. Perfect example of the “culture” of an agency, and its results.

        My own current conflict with Sound Transit over ORCA-card registration policy? When anybody else cares at all, problem solved. But a few recent exchanges with the Board and individual members, if I can “read” people at all, show me officials who’ve been forced to sign off on something they like much less than I do, and don’t see any way out.

        For at least forty years now, people who favor public works have been getting the organic fresh-grown fertilizer pounded out of them with no end in sight. Facing political enemies who deliberately withhold the money needed for minimal decent operations. While at the top of their lungs, blaming the public servants for bad performance.

        From what I’m told a lot more hands past second, through no fault of its own, the Board may be doing best it can with machinery that’ll take a long, expensive time to fix. “Design-Build” might defy major truth: “If you want anything done right, you’re now self-employed.” Which at least leaves you free to set every countermeasure you can.

        Sea-Tac? Written enforced orders to 574 drivers to “PA” passengers to ride five minutes’ farther into the Terminal. Rapid-Ride? Get a lane clear and lose some schedule time same way. Of if can’t…. rent, buy, or build a temporary elevator. Like every construction project on Earth uses.

        UW Stadium? Put some artics under those wires up 23rd and down to Capitol Hill Station. Happens enough, put back the 43. And all info starting with Apps, notify approaching passengers that stairs are still there, but so is ride to next station. And similar approach as events dictate.

        And also, have everything prepped to cut back other service system-wide if there’s no other way to cover the vertical transit repairs. Including some turnovers on the Board- countermeasure could be intensive person-to-person conversations with challengers about what they’re own fate, I mean choices, will be if they win.

        Many years’ worth of “Starters”. But meantime offer Steve O’ban a free rental elevator and a bus bridge home to do as well to keep the Legislature going ’til it gets Re-designed and -Built Contempt-cells are full, and mixing helpless murderers with (name your favorite rep) will get you sent to Mercer Island.


    2. I encountered it Friday and mentioned it in the last open thread. All the down escalators and stairs were blocked off; only the two up escalators were working. Sixty-five people waited in line for the elevators. I was afraid of a long wait so I took the 48. At the time I wished ST would turn one of the up escalators into a down escalator.

      “Many wondered why people couldn’t just walk on stalled escalators as if they are stairs. –Sound Transit prohibits doing so, because of safety hazards, Patrick said.”

      ST talks out of both sides of its mouth because I’ve walked up and down stopped but open escalators many times at UW station. Apparently it depends on the reason for the stoppage; e.g,, did it merely fail or did somebody get a shoelace caught in it?

      “In recent months, UW Station escalators have operated at least 95 percent of the time, meeting goals, he said.”

      That’s true: the escalators are a lot more reliable than they were nine months ago. For the first nine months of U-Link I encountered broken escalators at least three times a week, mostly at UW Station but also at Capitol Hill Station. Then they got much better and I encountered a broken one once every couple months. The past few months they’ve started getting worse again but not as bad as originally; I’ve encountered them maybe three times in the past month.

      1. Even with my criticism of the interview answer, I agree with both Mark D and Mark O.

        1 It is very respectable for Bonnie to have worked on the floor at a young age as part of her career. Very cool.

        2. The escalator/elecator sitiation is improved.

      2. It is absolutely ridiculous that they could not at least convert one of the remaining up escalators into a down escalator. You have to at least have one escalator running both directions.

      3. I suppose the counterargument is that can lead to overcrowding on the platform. That’s why I didn’t feel more strongly about it because I didn’t know if it was a game day and unusual crowds were expected.

  3. Anyone know what’s up with weird park and rides served only by infrequent local buses or even no buses at all, like the one at Center Street by Highway 16 in Tacoma? It’s always empty every time I’ve seen it…

    1. They’re still useful for carpools and vanpools. I’ve occasionally seen groups meet at one to go hiking into the mountains. They work well on weekdays, when the regular park and rides are filled up from people taking the bus.

  4. 1. Seattle City Councilman Rob Johnson. Former CEO, Transportation Choices Coalition. ST Board Member.



    2. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. Former Federal Prosecutor.

    (206) 684-4000

    Address: Office

    Suggest that Jenny ride LINK often as possible, especially rush hour on game day. Because based on her record of putting even harmless innocent kids in jail for contempt ’cause they wouldn’t rat on their friends, Contempt of Taxpayers could reduce ST Board meeting attendance. Till remaining always-absent member fixes the problem.

    Considering amount of Federal money in the project, while the rest of the Board has gotten one-way ORCA passes to Angle Lake, it’ll be worth the whole thing to see Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Vladimir Putin join Peter von Reichbauer’s usual presence by phone.

    Now 550 passenger. Soon East LINK. Fake News career perfect. Living in Bellevue, she’ll soon be able to use LINK to be at similar events on moments’ notice. And every time she accurately reports an event like this one, public will assume it’s just Steve O’ban in action.

    In “On the Town”, Gene Kelly and Vera Ellen gave NYC “Miss Turnstiles.” Agata Burdonova. Have we got Miss Proof Of Payment for 2018 or what!?


  5. 1) For what it’s worth, I make it a habit to verbally thank my transit operators EVERY RIDE. Then others join in the verbal thank you. It’s a tough job physically & mentally, and one of the few government jobs I believe that should have public sector union protections & representation.

    2) To truly understand what a transit operator does, get this book by “Deke” a Trimet operator: . The Kindle version is currently on heavy sale.


    1. I’ve been wondering about that but figured (A) an article is coming, (B) it’s waiting for the next News Roundup, or (C) STB doesn’t want to overrespond to every Times article — although this seems like an unusually important issue. I have always been concerned that the streetcar is not as cost-effective as either buses or light rail, and it could siphon off operating money that could be used for a greater number of bus routes as the SLU streetcar did, and 1st Avenue is not among our highest-need corridors — it’s just where the streetcar termini happen to be. So I’m concerned about reports that it may cost more than expected and do less than expected. With ST facing a possible loss of federal grants, we could really use the money to finish Madison RapidRide and beef up the C and D. And we could, y’know, but a bus route on 1st Avenue from Seattle Center to SODO.

      1. You are correct.When dealing with millions of tax payer dollars, it is an important issue.

        Concur that operating costs should be directed toward the highest need.

        I hope the review shows some results that could benefit actual needs.

    2. STB is almost entirely run by volunteers. You can’t expect instant results, especially on an issue that is going to require feedback comments from several different agencies.

      I’m also not too surprised by the cost issues. There will now be 3 different streetcar designs operating in the region, with mostly incompatible systems. Skoda (Tacoma Link), two different but similar Inekon designs, and now CAF. All of these are minor players in the USA transit market, and in the case of some of the parts I am familiar with on the Skoda cars in Portland (which isn’t that many) are exceptionally difficult and expensive to get into the USA as there simply isn’t a good supply chain.

      There is much to be gained by standardizing on a single car design. Even more could be gained by running a maintenance track between the First Hill track and ST Link track and using Link cars as single car trains, since that way there is a single parts need, single maintenance facility, single staff need, and single type of car staff have to be familiar with.

      1. Thanks for the link.

        Yet as I asked, how “independent” is a review when members of the review team consist of Seattle Council members and budget office members? Curious…

  6. Since there hasn’t been another open thread since this one on Sunday, I’m posting the following here….

    Congressional Republicons have released their omnibus appropriations bill for FY18 with Friday’s midnight deadline looming. So much for regular order (again).

    Anyway, in regard to the FTA’s appropriations, here’s the relevant section pertaining to the agency’s capital investment grants:

    The agreement provides $2,644,960,000 for fixed-guideway projects, to remain available
    until September 30, 2021, and directs the Secretary to administer the capital investment grants program in accordance with the requirements of 49 U.S.C. 5309 and move projects through the program from initial application to construction. The agreement directs the FTA to use $5,050,000 from unobligated amounts for fixed-guideway projects. Of the funds provided,
    $1,506,910,000 is available for projects authorized under 5309(d), $715,700,000 is available for projects authorized under 5309(e), $400,900,000 is for projects authorized under 5309(h), and $26,500,010 is available for oversight activities. The agreement directs the Secretary to obligate $2,252,508,586 of the amount provided for the capital investment grants program by December 31, 2019. The agreement directs the Secretary to provide updated project ratings expeditiously at
    the request of the project sponsor.<<<

    If you want to read additional details about the THUD piece (Division L) or any other sections of the $1.3 trillion omnibus bill to complete appropriations for 2018, the link below will get you there. Sound Transit should be very concerned.

    The Senate Amendment to H.R. 1625, the omnibus appropriations bill for FY18, which they are calling the "TARGET Act":

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