Denny Way bus lane

This is an open thread.

49 Replies to “News Roundup: Beta Testing”

  1. So it’s been said that the reason buses and trains can’t share the zone in the tunnel (e.g., a bus can’t follow a train the way it would cautiously follow a truck, so it can’t even enter the platform area until the train completely exits the block) is because the only way to make sharing the tunnel work is by having a railroad block system where a group of buses pretend to be a train, and have strict block rules like a train even though they’re buses and can stop and go like buses.

    But in downtown Portland, you see MAX trains sharing the road with buses like an actual bus no problem! And the bus behind the train doesn’t need to wait for the block to clear to go; it can go if there’s space, like it’s another bus.

    Why can trains in Portland operate with the flexibility of a bus, when in Seattle, the buses have to operate like trains?

    1. Because it’s a train tunnel? It’s not a street. Even when it was buses only it was designed for train signaling and expected to be upgraded to a full rail line.

      1. Yes, in Seattle it’s a tunnel, not a street. Buses in Seattle run by ‘train’ rules in the tunnel. Trains in Portland are running on streets, running by traffic rules. The busses in the DSTT (Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel) also need to serve certain places on the platform, and the train takes up the majority of the platform if it’s a three-car train, hence they won’t fit. The point is mute because next year (2019) the buses will be removed completely from the tunnel, and it will be trains only. The idea of the separation between trains/buses in the DSTT comes down to safety. YOUR safety. I’m not aware of any bus/train collisions since the two have been operating together in the tunnel.

    2. Off the top of my head, AlexKven.

      1. You can’t steer a bus around a stuck train in the tube.

      2. Think about a line of buses stuck behind a train, having to be towed out backwards, after all their passengers de-board, including wheelchair users.

      3. Train hits a bus- Medic One and county medical examiner will need a semi. Easier to get what’s left of the bodies out if you’re on the street. End of story with the book glued shut.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Mark, the trains go about 10 miles per hour between stations. The bus holds about 60 people, most of whom are reasonably fit. No semi needed.

    3. The reason buses and trains can’t share a platform is that the fire suppression works differently depending on if it is a train or bus is at the platform/bore. There is enough separation between the NB/SB platforms that modes can work side by side in opposite directions but there is to much of a risk of a fire spreading between modes at the same platform/bore. This is due to the enclosed space and the location on the vehicles where fires start and spread. SFD is the driver of this policy to my knowledge.

      1. Thanks, guys, and AlexKven, sorry for sounding nasty. Reason I’ve always “had an edge on” is through Preliminary and Final Design, a dozen of my union members and I sat in with the engineers and helped work out a signal system that would’ve let the towers in the staging area run that tunnel like a computer game.

        We certainly did have the system set up to run in four-bus groups we called “platoons.” Which really were intended to run and load as if they were coupled. A very short time after opening- memory makes it two weeks- was maybe two months- Metro decided since everything that went in eventually came out, better things to bother with. For the next 28 years.

        Still want to see 28 years’ worth of lost operating time on a screen with a + sign for every wasted minute. Probably at least two ST-s’ worth. Only question was which lost us more money- lack of equipment or, more likely, poor or no training.

        Have been told the Agency lost interest when the Metro Council- merger was still being fought over, drawing another fortune in official distraction at worst possible time- decided not to buy half the planned buses. Probably situation that made ironclad the common-sense understanding that trains and buses weren’t to locate in same tube same time.

        Lesson of this whole problem, highly necessary. DSTT good example of a flexible response to rail delayed past expectation- my own guess is that rail came in five years late. But another lesson: transit is team-work- meaning it works by reflex, not orders. Thank you for bringing this up. Year’s most topical [T].

        Mark

  2. “Durkan Releases Summary of Streetcar Study”

    Was there ever any doubt about how this would play out. I’m just surprised she didn’t stall the study for another 6 months so the cost would be another 50 million. I guess she thought the numbers were high enough to ensure Seattle’s aspirations for 3rd world public transportation status would be achieved.

  3. •Security theater ($) may be coming to American transit systems

    If that doesn’t give you goosebumps and cause a little worry, then I’m not sure what will. All in the name of “security.”

    1. Yeah, I can see it now – a 75 cent TSA-style surcharge on every Link trip to pay for the needed equipment, personnel, and bureaucracy.

      1. I really think the money would be spent on more explosives-finding dogs, often retrievers. They were so eager and happy all the time- suspect they were taught that finding a bomb would make them a GOOOOD dog!

        Also always thought they’d really be great forpublic disorders. Somebody who’s had their legs whacked out from under them with a tail and pinned with huge paws while the dust is getting licked off their face will never riot again.

        Though the dog might feel blue when his new friend doesn’t come back and riot some more so he can play with him some more!

        MD

    2. It’s even worse when you know that the TSA scanners do not take into account people whose bodies don’t line up with their assumptions about gender. This leads to trans people being loudly outed, castigated, and dragged aside as potential threats. Is this the future for transit as well? Are we going to be de facto excluded from transit if we don’t want to submit to being assaulted? It’s nearly impossible to fly now as a trans person without being taken into a room and fondled.

      1. The TSA is a proven farce. It should be abolished, not expanded. The comments on that WaPo article give me faith in humanity but I know this will get shoved down our throats regardless.

  4. Not in the news roundup, but an observation.

    As I get roped into more and more meetings in downtown Seattle by clients, I am learning that midday transit options are bad to non-existent, which is frustrating. Even with the flexibility of a car to get to any number of park & rides, those are generally very full and often only offer 30 minute headways into Seattle from the south end, mid-work day. Even when there is a good option, because downtown Seattle is SO terribly and inefficiently spread out, Lake Union to Pioneer Square, its a total crapshoot as to whether the transit route will efficiently get me to my meeting, or whether I face one or more transfers – again on 15 to 30 minute headways – each of which adds travel time. The bus routes that move at freeway speeds during midday don’t stop at the same locations as the Sounder and Light Rail, so I can’t bus to Seattle and train back. Light Rail moves very slowly relative to automobile at midday, and Sounder doesn’t even run (save one trip) during midday. Ultimately, I usually end up driving, paying for parking, and expensing both miles and parking to a client. It should not be this hard, especially when my place of work is in a major city (Tacoma), and I live near a Sounder station.

    1. Transit is bad from some areas and to some parts of downtown. It’s not across-the-board bad. It would be more useful to discuss specific trip pairs and how to improve them. For instance, Martin lives near Mt Baker station and works in Uptown and says the connectivity and travel time for the northern tail isn’t great. Seattle and the bus network and Link were designed assuming people would travel from Rainier Valley to downtown and from Queen Anne to downtown, not from Raineir Valley to Queen Anne. Now that SLU is becoming part of downtown that’s bcoming untenable: people come from all over the region to SLU, just like they do to First Hill and Harborview hospital. Lower Queen Anne is close enough to SLU that it’s getting some benefit from the service surge there. Long-term, Ballard Link will transform the connectivity of the area, although it’s hard to think of that as relevant now when it won’t open for twenty years.

      1. Every meeting is different. REI area. Pioneer Square. Belltown. Financial District. Westlake.
        Mercer & Aurora. Always coming from and returning to Tacoma and/or Auburn, where there is little to no useful local bus service (1 hour headways), and the garages are always full. Okay, so be flexible… Kent Station: garage full, local buses only heading to Seattle (with local bus speed), but Sounder is available in reverse during rush. Angle Lake: maybe some garage space, but the Light Rail is slower than molasses heading up to Seattle, and heading back south, I’m still stuck in half the distance of stupid traffic. Federal Way: bus only goes to Seatac, then transfer to light rail, and your return bus in the afternoon is stuck in traffic.

      2. Having the 578 go through to SLU makes sense. I have generally advocated for routes to go all the way through downtown to the adjacent neighborhood on the far side.

        However, traffic congestion downtown may throw the buses further off schedule.

    2. The 577 and 578 get you straight to the middle of downtown, skipping the sodo slog that most Southend buses have to go through. Once there, rides to SLU run far more often than every 10-15 minutes. You’ve got the C, 40, streetcar, and possibly the 62 and 70 to choose from, with numerous more routes going to lower queen anne. In the middle of a weekday, you probably won’t be waiting more than 5 minutes or so. Many times, the bus will be so close you’ll immediately see it coming. Worst case, you can always walk. A brisk walk from 5th and Pine to Westlake and Denny takes about 10 minutes.

      1. Heck if I know, Mark. I just know that it generally doesn’t work. Maybe force shadow bus service for all Sounder stations that is direct, via freeways. That would be a good start. PT needs to triple its service levels as well, at least within Tacoma.

  5. I read up on Tacoma Dome Link options. There doesn’t appear to be any mention of the need for a cross-platform transfer to Tacoma Link anywhere. There is also a tacit assumption that Tacoma Link stops cannot be touched.

    Getting ST to believe in spending a few million of their billions in cross-platform transfers between rail lines is such a logical and needed strategy. I hope other commenters keep making this point! ;)

    1. I thought Tacoma Link’s primary purpose was to bridge the gap between the Sounder station and downtown Tacoma. Transfers don’t necessarily need to be cross-plaform but they should be adjacent. Cross-platform transfers sounds like it would mean TLink and Sounder sharing tracks, which seems problematic given the vast difference in size and speed of the trains.

      1. It’s not the “was” but it is the “will be” that matters.

        Link is supposed to be leaving Tacoma Dome Station about 100 times a day after 2030. Sounder will never ever be anywhere near that frequency; maybe 15-20 trips a day is all that can be expected?

        Finally, Pierce pushed for a link to Seatac. Sounder doesn’t go there. Cross-platform transfers are more important when a rider has luggage.

        Planning for Sounder transfers is clearly at least 5 times less important than planning for Link transfers.

      2. For distance, bridge would be overkill. If they’d put an overpass across the tracks, would be short walk through the station. Maybe I’m missing something, like the underpass at one end. Hope next Administration make the ADA do something about that.

        Mark

    2. I’ll say it again but its crazy to me to serve Downtown Tacoma only by transferring to the Tacoma Link dinky shuttle. Meanwhile the Tacoma Mall will get the mainline trains in the future.

      Rebuild the existing Tacoma Link line for Central Link trains and terminate at Theater District. Have the new Tacoma Link extension (Theater District to Hilltop) be its own line especially since its streetcar anyway.

  6. Regarding this Sound Transit $300 million dollar Kirkland 405 interchange story that just came out in the Seattle Times today, I’m getting a vibe that there’s more to this project than meets the eye. Some devious, long-range, chess game-type plotting and scheming is going on right before our eyes. I think we’re being set-up for a future Sand Point Crossing project. Especially, after they have trains running along the Cross Kirkland Corridor. They’ll tell us that building a third Lake Wash crossing makes perfect sense since it connects with these other Eastside lines and stations.

      1. Wasteful, redundant, unnecessary, superfluous, extravagant, elitist (a connection from one wealthy, low density waterfront community to another). Shaving a few minutes off a commute isn’t a reason to build a new billion dollar tunnel. “But Sam, what about University Village and Children’s Hospital!?!” To that, I ask you, what about Southcenter, probably the largest retail area in the northwest? And what about Crossroads in Bellevue, the densest neighborhood on the Eastside? They don’t have doorstep light rail. If it’s reasonable to expect those commuters to take a bus to connect with Link, it’s certainly reasonable to ask north Lake Wash residents to take one.

      2. “a connection from one wealthy, low density waterfront community to another”

        Link connects urban centers. Low-density communities get added if they happen to be on on the way. 99% of the riders will be coming from some place further than Sand Point to downtown Kirkland or further. Downtown Kirkland has condos, businesses, and one of the top Eastside parks that draws people from around the region.

        I expected Link to serve Crossroads but the city’s design has evolved. The Bel-Red corridor is turning out to be one of the right decisions ST made. It runs diagonally so that downtown Redmond will be closer to downtown Bellevue and Seattle, and it’s getting density that nowhere else outside downtown Bellevue is getting. Even if Link served crossroads, it’s unlikely that Bellevue would upzone NE 8th Street in between so it would be another low-density zone. When Bel-Red development is finished the Eastside will have a mirror-h shaped pattern of density, from downtown northeast to Overlake and then splitting north to Redmond and south to Crossroads.

      3. It may be wasteful and redundant now. When the current pile of projects gets done in 30 years, they’ll have to see what looks like it’s important.

        My guess is by that time converting Metro 8 and 44 to light rail will be the next critical need.

        So, maybe by 2070 or so, when the other things are done, maybe this won’t be low density any more.

    1. What a bunch of conspiracy-theory junk. Not many people in power prioritize or even want the Sand Point – Kirkland crossing. The default is 520, which was strengthened to prepare for potential trains someday. There would be a lot of opposition to an east-west train line across historical downtown Kirkland unless it’s completely underground. The 85th interchange is being driven by highway privilege: it’s a major car interchange so it seems logical (to some people) for it to be a major bus interchange too, but BRT must not hinder car thoroughput so it needs several slip ramps for SOVs.

      Also, I’ve rarely been up there because few existing buses go there, but isn’t it a cloverleaf interchange? Those have gone out of style among highway experts so it’s an opportunity to reconfigure the interchange, paid partly by ST. That could also return some highway land at the edges for redeleopment or affordable housing.

    2. What a joke this whole station is. $300 million is a ton of money and they are blowing it all on re-configuring a freeway interchange to squeeze in a crappy flyer stop under an inhospitable triple stack interchange in the middle of nowhere with no rezoning around the station (assuming one would want to live in that giant exhaust cloud). 300 riders in 2024 and 1000 in 2040. A mile from Downtown Kirkland.

      They really need to pull the plug on this NOW.

      1. There’s at least one large project of nearly 800 units + retail/restaurants in planning with the City, just to the east of Costco. That’s at least a thousand residents right there. (IIRC there are a couple of smaller projects in the works in that area as well.) I don’t disagree with your comments regarding cost and the freeway redesign, but there is some effort to encourage projects in Rose Hill and developers wanting to do so. My understanding is that the City of Kirkland does not expect Costco to stay there forever and, should that be the case, will re-zone that property as well.

  7. I’m visiting the Isle of Man this week. 125th anniversary of the Manx Electric Railway. The parallel buses are faster, but the antique equipment is sure popular with the tourist industry.

  8. How is it that Vancouver gets a shiny new (and very expensive) subway line after their transportation levy crashed and burned a couple years ago? They seem to have some weird ability to get subway/metro quality lines rammed through the legislative process in a way that seems fantastical to this Seattleite.

    1. Vancouver doesn’t require voter approval for transit projects. I think the failure a few years ago was an advisory vote.

      It’s worth noting that Vancouver’s system for transit projects is like our system for highway projects. The state requires a public vote for large-scale transit capital projects but not for large-scale highway capital projects. Part of this is due to which tax is used: highway projects come out of the gas tax while transit projects are new taxes. But that’s just another way of saying that transit doesn’t have a dedicated funding stream, meaning it’s treated as a nonessential service. An alternative would be to require votes on highway projects too.

    2. Vancouver and its contiguous suburbs comprises at least 75% of BC’s population. Ergo, what Vancouver wants, Vancouver gets. Seattle? Not so much.

  9. Re: Sounder trips to Puyallup Fair.
    At least Sounder is running two trips out and two trips back. Learning has happened from a few years ago.

    1. I wish the ST 578 bus line would take fairgoers the “extra mile” to the fairgrounds during September. It’s a real bitch walking that boring stretch after a day at the fair.

    2. Does Sound Transit have a place in Puyallup to store the train during the fair, or does the train have to run empty back to downtown Seattle, just to get to a place to park midday?

    3. I rode it a few years ago to the fair and lets just say they needed to get the word out about it. Hope people use it.

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