24 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Trams on Grass”

    1. I really like the way this looks, but there’s one huge drawback – as far as I know busses can’t share the right-of-way if there is just grass. In a city like Seattle where we struggle to get transit pritorty at all, I think it’s valuable that both the streetcar and bus routes can share ROW. Take Westlake that now has a RapidRide route and the streetcar. If the streetcar was grass then RapidRide C almost certainly wouldn’t get dedicated ROW anymore since there is only 2 lanes in each direction, and it’s much harder to kick out cars entirely than it is to take one lane away (see: 3rd ave).

      I don’t think there is really anywhere in our streetcar network where we shouldn’t have frequent busses too.

      1. Stephen, we’ve really just barely gotten started with our electric rail system, let alone streetcars. Having walked the right of way from South Kirkland Park and Ride to Totem Lake, I think that just exactly these cars would get a positive from majority of homeowners along the route. Or their children.

        Bike trailers are a real problem for buses. Note that for safety, the trailer really needs to lead the train. But tired hikers, skateboarders fleeing the police, baby carriages after driver change (OK, Daddy it’s my turn to push you, get in!) will include home-owners.

        Also, Totem Lake shoppers who want lunch in Kirkland might pass it along to decision-makers that if they don’t get their streetcar, food at Totem Lake’s good enough.


        I was driving trolleybuses in 1983, when planning started on the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. Excellent example of something we might plan to do if ST-3 or its successors hit trouble for LINK’s offspring.

        Knowing that time-frame could be uncertain, we built the full-bore light rail subway we absolutely needed. deliberately planned for a staged progression of modes.

        Through a variety of possible time-frames. Learning a lot, whether we liked it or not. Like fact that if you decide it’s too much trouble to use the hundreds of thousands of dollars after two weeks’ operation, you’ll be whining about Forward Thrust ’til that shoe company takes back its trade-mark.

        Every tool in the kit has it’s use. Soon as we get budget, whole kit’s on sale at True Value. Stay onto this, Steven. Where joint use works, really valuable to know how in advance how and where to do it.

        Mark Dublin

    2. There are a few other drawbacks:

      1. Maintenance. Some agency has to take care of these things!

      2. Safety. Pedestrians and animals may be unaware that these are active tracks. I’m not sure how fast regulatory agencies would let trains go, or how fast operators would risk operating a train.

      In sum, it looks like an amazing design treatment in the right place. Still, nothing currently operating or planned here seems right for grassy rail beds. The closest is perhaps some segments of Tacoma Link.

  1. Clarity, Steven. Unused money I mentioned was for the signaling, communications, and training absolutely intended for the DSTT which for 28 years could have given passengers the unaffordable luxury of a moving vehicle.

    Luckily, the personal care industry is getting ready to market a variety of fragrances, spray and roller, for decision-makers who find the smell of their own sweat offensive. Profits should buy us all the streetcars, trains, easy-adjust lawns and concrete pads, and transit governing board-members every good transit system needs.

    And Martin….



    Somebody tell Chateau Ste. Michelle that those sailors said thanks for the submarine when they loaded it on the bike car on its way to Bangor via Kirkland Corridor. Thanks for not making this [OT]. I owe you ten years worth of postings. Can I have a ticket to Barcelona?


  2. The last time I was in Barcelona, I almost got run over by one of those trams… I didn’t notice the tracks and wrongly assumed it was safe to stand of the grass.

    I wonder what the statistics around trams running people over on these segments are… Trains can’t stop very fast in general.

  3. So if the law says service animals are medical necessities for some people, and people can now bring them into stores, restaurants, movie theaters, the office, etc., then on what grounds could a transit agency forbid a bus driver from bringing his. emotional support dog to work with him? I get that the employer would cite it being a safety issue, but let’s say an employee tested this policy, and brought a service animal to lay beside him while he drove a bus, and then the company punished him, then he got a lawyer, and the company got a lawyer, who would ultimately win, and why? Prisons don’t allow convicts to have them in their cell. It seems like transit agencies don’t allow operators to have them with them. So maybe they aren’t the medical necessity we’re told they are?

    1. Emotional support animals are not equivalent to service animals under the ADA. Service animals are trained to perform specific tasks.

      1. I appreciate both of your responses, but you still aren’t answering my question. Let me put it another way. Let’s say a bus driver has a service dog. Could his transit agency legally prevent him from bringing his service dog to work with him? It’s just that I’ve never seen a service animal next to a public transit operator, ever, and I’m wondering why, since they’re ubiquitous.

      2. In order to drive a bus (or commercial truck), you need a commercial driver’s license, which requires a DOT physical (https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/medical/driver-medical-requirements/driver-medical-fitness-duty). Persons who are blind, deaf, limited in dexterity, or subject to seizures or psychological episodes cannot pass a DOT physical, since that would represent an unacceptable risk to their passengers. One operator at a transit agency in my area had a seizure while off-duty, and the agency was forced to terminate him.

        So, if a person has a disability that requires the assistance of a service dog, that person is probably not able to pass a DOT physical.

    2. Why does it have to be a service animal? If the driver likes his dog, he should be all allowed to bring it

  4. Does anyone know if Metro has sensors to tell at which stops passengers depart? Or do drivers note which stops are more popular?

    1. Some coaches have APC (automatic passenger counters). The older coaches had an APC decal next to the front door. I think there aren’t many of those in service anymore. I think they were able to collect stop-level data, but I’m not positive.

      The newer coaches may have that built-in counters, but I don’t know.

  5. I have an assignment. I want someone to write a post about something I thought up. The best and worst thing about every Metro and ST route in the system, Routes 1 through 992.

    1. That sounds like a good idea for a post, though I think it’d take a special sort of Elder Statesman to have an informed opinion on every single route. I have an assignment too: you write it, Sam!

    2. Yep, that’s definitely the real Sam. Always coming up with work for other people to do, and then insisting they do it.

  6. Parking requirements may be keeping affordable housing back in Bellevue

    – Bellevue has almost seven parking spaces per household. Seattle has five. Midwestern cities have more. But Seattle and Bellevue are outliers in how much of the parking is in garages rather than surface
    spaces. And now Seattle and Bellevue are going different directions, with Seattle eliminating parking minimums near frequent transit but Bellevue not. (It has been said that what keeps Los Angeles from
    having high-density areas is parking minimums.)

    – The cost of parking garages in downtown Bellevue is higher than drivers are willing to pay, so developers spead the cost among all renters. This drives rents up $250/month because of the parking minimum, and discourages developers who would build lower-end units.

    – But parking is arguably what keeps people shopping in Bellevue.

    – People may take transit to work but they want a car when buying several large things. But light rail may be a reason to change the parking minimums. (Will it be easier to carry several large things on a train? Or is it simply that these shoppers would never consider taking a bus?)

  7. Activists in a Baltimore suburb say light rail brings criminals and move to have it shut down or their station closed. They cite a variety of relationships between crime and light rail, most of them at odds with the facts. The line opened 25 years ago. The governor says he won’t shut it down.

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