36 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Hallenstadion”

  1. Free Cup O Joe from Metro
    KC Metro is offering a $5 coffee voucher for completing a survey. You need a USERID which I don’t know how you’d obtain unless it’s mailed to you. No idea where the voucher will be redeemable. Somewhere accessible by bus?

  2. Small incoming rant:

    Recently got back from a trip to Zurich (the video is a commercial for Zurich transit). I used to live there and have been back a couple of times since then. Gotta say, I’ve got some really bad transit blues since coming back. It’s a bit unfair to compare against one of the best transit systems in the world, but Zurich absolutely blows Seattle out of the water in terms of integration, ease of use, and rider experience. The system integrated the city in a way that seems unimaginable here. Getting practically anywhere in the city is always smooth and you can actually plan a trip and expect to make all of your connections along the way.

    Coming back, I’ve been depressed about how little respect and priority our city’s transit needs get. Opening up OneBusAway and seeing all the purple (color coding for delayed arrivals) feels like a punch to the gut. When riding the 44 in the morning, stuck because of congestion caused by cars waiting to get onto I5, I can’t help but feel indignation over the fact that a bus full of people gets no meaningful priority over cars.

    Our city and region are so wealthy, so we have the financial means for great transit, but we can’t (or won’t) come together to make a vital, integrating public service like public transit our top priority. It’s only going to get worse as the region continues to growband I doubt that st3 will do enough to make a significant dent in our transit woes. I just wish we could embrace the Zurich Model in a meaningful way (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zürich_model)

    Can anyone help take my blues away?

    1. Well there’s this: Congratulations to the Seattle Storm on their third WNBA championship!

      And there’s this that won’t be remembered as long: Congratulations to the Seattle Sounders Football Club for breaking the all-time Major League Soccer regulation-time win streak! I was lucky to be at the final game in the streak, where the Sounders won the Cascadia Cup.

      I got to spend the time surrounding the match touring Vancouver, Richland, Coquitlam, and north Surrey via the sky train network. I hope the public officials deciding the fate of light rail paths in Seattle will all take a trip up there before jumping to conclusions pushed by neighborhood associations and other historically transit-unfriendly groups. I will not support spending billions extra to doom riders to the gloom and eyesore of an all-underground ride.

      Those pushing turnstiles ought to check out the sky train entrances, too. The gates that open at a tap of a Compass Card or Compass Pass might just work for Link stations.

      In case you missed it, there is more good news for transit vis-a-vis getting to and from sportsball events: South Sounder trains serving Seahawks and Sounders games will serve a new platform closer to the north end of the stadium. This also means less congestion getting to/from International District / Chinatown Station.

      I liked the experiment the Mariners did earlier this year. I’d like to see the Sounders do similarly, but with a pass that covers all transit modes, including Sounder. If you happen to be a season-ticket member, you can ask for transit day passes to be an included feature of season tickets when you take member surveys. You can also bring the issue up with your ticket representative. You can also ask candidates for the council representing the season ticket members where they stand on transit day passes. There are lots of avenues to make this happen, at least for Sounders fans.

    2. On a recent trip to the UK I had to walk about a hour to the nearest London Underground stop because the buses don’t take cash at all and I don’t have a contactless credit card and as best as I can tell my phone doesn’t support the NFC payment system the buses have.

      So, there are some things Seattle could do if it wanted to be less rider friendly.

      1. Oh yeah, I tried my contactless debit cards on the Compass entry machines. They didn’t work. Fortunately, I was still able to use them as credit cards to buy Compass Day Passes, which worked on all modes.

        My hunch is that the passes don’t have a near-field communication chip, but merely an electronic date stamp that can be read by the card readers. The fact of having so many higher-priced specialty services may be a major hurdle to similar physical day passes here. Of course, we could go with paper day passes, but then Metro would insist on selling them on buses during the boarding process, including on 3rd Ave.

        Unfortunately, US cards are on the standard that uses the gold circuit box symbol. Everywhere else seems to be on the EMV (Eurocard/Mastercard/Visa) standard, which has the soundwave picture. I assume NGORCA will be set up to accept both standards, or it will end up looking ridiculously botched.

        I’ll look into whether various banks and credit unions in the US&A are working toward the EMV standard for near-field communication.

      2. The “gold circuit box” is not merely a symbol, it’s the physical interface to the chip embedded in the card. If you had one for a while, look closely and you’ll see wear marks on the contacts. The chip cards issued in the US are EMV standard which can be contact-only, or also include contactless.

        Does your card have a radio wave symbol on it? If not, then it’s not contactless. I used to have a contactless credit card issued by a US bank ten years ago before they discontinued them because they were way before their time.

      3. Yeah, in Europe those type of credit cards are standard. Here they are less common, but I have one (they aren’t that rare). I think eventually the whole world will move towards that (but I’ve been saying that about the metric system and we were closer to adopting that in the 70s).

    3. The more riders that end up using Link on a daily basis, the more the region’s awareness of user-friendly rail stations will improve. The UW stations are particularly strategically educational, as today’s riding students will be voting on transit funding for decades to come.

      I expect funding hassles will delay ST3 by at least a few years on the big ticket projects. Meanwhile, the Northgate and East Link projects will each educate a new voting block. The Lynnwood, Redmond and Federal Way projects once opened will cement user-friendly public awareness — and hopefully by then the ST3 program will be in final design — maybe not in time to move a line or station but in time to change a station’s design.

    4. @Alex — I think the MoveSeattle RapidRide+ projects were an attempt to build just that. (http://seattletransitblog.com/2015/12/21/rapidride-the-corridors/) I think it could have helped immensely, even though there are bound to be some tough compromises. The big problem, though, is that they failed to allocate enough money (and knew about it, but did nothing). So it will be a while before we can actually fund improvements that make our system more like Zurich’s. We also have plenty of constraints. While people often argue about parking, the big problem is that many of the corridors are also big corridors for biking and driving, and there isn’t enough room to please everyone. For example, for the bus you took (the 44) I think the big challenge is close to the freeway (where typically the parking has already been removed) as opposed to Wallingford. Of course the shops want parking, but eventually, when push comes to shove, the city just takes it. That means the cars still move and the buses move a lot faster. But close to the freeway, I don’t know if the city is willing to squeeze the traffic by taking one of the lanes for buses.

      Anyway, the city is moving forward, slowly, with little fixes. For example the Denny fix (close to the freeway) seems to be working out, and saving a substantial amount of time. Even better, when the SR 99 project is complete, Harrison will go over Aurora, allowing for a nice little bypass for the 8. Third will be much better, although not as good as some people hoped. Madison BRT has struggled getting the required buses (and the feds are being jerks about the funding) but I think that will eventually go through. That will, in turn, lead to a nice restructure in the area, which means a lot better bus routes (https://seattletransitblog.com/2018/09/22/everett-transit-debuts-its-first-electric-battery-bus/#comment-807899). Seattle continues to add more service, which is also really nice. Link is expanding, and Northgate will make a huge difference for folks in that part of town (Northgate to Capitol Hill in about ten minutes — wow). That in turn, will free up some bus service, as we move from 15 to 10 as the new standard for frequency (which is much better than the old half hour runs).

      I think the biggest problem is simply being allowed to fund things, and the natural constraints of our city. The first is limited by the legislature, which is a shame, because Seattle voters definitely want better transit. We have passed the point where people prefer driving over transit (which has more to do with density versus traffic or size). The voters want it, but we aren’t allowed to pay for it (yet). That could change in the next legislative session, so there is hope.

      But some of the constraints will always be with us. For example, the Roosevelt project looked great until folks realized that you couldn’t have car traffic, bus lanes and bike lanes all together on the same street. It just isn’t wide enough. Something had to give, and it was bus lanes. Bike travel will be much better, but buses will still get stuck in traffic in various places (although hopefully in far fewer places than before). It is really hard to solve that problem unless you spend a fortune — and it seems unlikely we will on most of the important corridors.

      1. “The big problem, though, is that they failed to allocate enough money ” If it’s simply a matter of money, just redirect money from the downtown streetcar. Problem solved.

        The problem is that in many cases (like the 44), it really isn’t about money – it’s about not inconveniencing people driving and parking in the neighborhood. When the issue is road space, it doesn’t matter how much money you throw at the problem (unless it’s enough for a full-out underground subway) – as long as we are unwilling to make the slightest sacrifice for people in cars, things cannot and will not get any better.

        We have streets like Elliot Ave (used by the D line) and Aurora Ave. (used by the E line), each of which carry dozens of bus passengers per hour, yet the needs of just a tiny number of parked cars (~3 cars per block) force the bus to wait for an opening and merge into traffic after every bus stop. Our suburban neighbors, Shoreline, Kenmore, and Bothell have managed to carve out bus lanes for the E-line and ST522 as they pass through their cities. It is ridiculous that Seattle is unwilling to do the same.

      2. I don’t think simply transferring money from the streetcar project would do it (as tempting as that is). I think they screwed up worse than that.

        As far as Shoreline, Kenmore, Bothell and Seattle goes, they all take a similar approach. As long as there is enough room, they build bus lanes. If there isn’t, they don’t. Much of Shoreline is wide enough to build bus lanes on Aurora, but as you get into Seattle, it isn’t. This is Seattle at 130th: https://goo.gl/maps/yXoa7gHXw2L2. You’ll notice it is six lanes, which means after they allocate five for the cars, that only gives the buses one (and they wisely give it to the northbound one). Fortunately to the south it gets wider, or there are places where no one turns, and six lanes is enough to create a bus lane each direction: https://goo.gl/maps/qqhRinmoYxk. In contrast, Shoreline is seven lanes wide (and sometimes wider): https://goo.gl/maps/7WGTZWZ4vKx. If I’m not mistaken, Shoreline widened the street as part of the makeover they did a few years ago. Seattle could do the same for the southbound section of 145th to 115th but has higher priorities (like those that were supposed to be funded by MoveSeattle). It isn’t surprising that Shoreline put so much money and effort into Aurora — it is a major part of Shoreline (but a minor part of Seattle). The only part of Aurora that doesn’t seem to follow this rule is the bridge. I’m not sure why. It may be a safety thing. For example, Fremont Way southbound becomes part of the Aurora bridge. At that point, the E is in the middle lane. You could force riders out of that lane (as Seattle does in West Seattle) but that means people changing lanes and merging on the Aurora bridge, which is a bad idea. An accident there could easily spill into oncoming traffic, which would be fatal. I’m just guessing, but that may explain why only a few blocks farther south (as the barrier is built) the southbound lane is bus-only again. Northbound it may be due to traffic concerns. You have to be careful about that sort of thing. It is easy to say we should just “take a lane”, but what if that pushes traffic towards the already crowded Fremont Bridge? Now you have a lot of other buses stuck in traffic instead.

        You will find the same sort of thinking on 522 as well. There are plenty of places in the suburban cities where you lose the bus lane (https://goo.gl/maps/xBjimoxsq1M2, https://goo.gl/maps/93WBaKuWy252) as well as places in Seattle that has bus lanes. Neither city has three lanes each direction and in general there are very few places to park (other than cut outs or places where you can only park outside of rush hour).

        In both instances there are places where it looks like they just need to do a little work, and widen the street a few feet. That costs money, which is what a lot of the ST3 SR 522 project is for.

        But overall I would be very surprised if the suburban cities have reduced the amount of general purpose traffic as much as Seattle. Various places in Seattle have undergone a “road diet”, and it seems like that sort of thing isn’t nearly as common in the suburbs. Big, expansive road projects (that may, in the end, make things more pleasant and safer) are easy to see, but actually reducing the number of lanes seems pretty rare in the suburbs (although I might be mistaken).

      3. I’m mostly referring to the sections of D and E line where Seattle has rush-hour bus lanes which revert to car parking at other times. These blocks are typically not popular places for cars to park – 2-3 cars per block is typical. These parked cars don’t have much impact on travel time for cars because traffic is light enough for the cars to just use the other lanes. But, they have a big impact for buses because the bus *has* to use the curb lane in order to stop at bus stops, every bus stop becomes effectively a pullout, forcing the bus to wait for an opening in the traffic in order to merge in and proceed.

        In Bothell and Shoreline, they don’t do the on-street-parking-in-the-bus-lane thing – the bus lanes are bus lanes 24×7. There is no reason why Seattle can’t do the same. There are plenty of places for customers of adjacent business to park on the side streets, and many of the businesses have their own parking lots, anyway.

    5. Alex, maybe it’ll turn your kazoo into at least a saxophone if you remember how few parking lots the terrain around Zurich will hold. Same with interstate- or is it inter-“canton” rights of way. And how few cars can fit alongside a streetcar on any route. Also, how long the Swiss have been at this whole business horse-free transit.

      Good chance when our defense budget goes back to giant rocks to roll off cliffs to replace the Air Force, we can again address our unemployment problem by supplying our whole working population with sharper rocks. But for the really big ones, you just bore a hole, pour water in it, let it freeze and get out out from under the bottom of the cliff.

      Global warming doesn’t look good for that, but then you just heat up the rock for a hundred thousand years or so, ’till early method can be rediscovered. About like street rail itself. Meantime- Swiss rail must have a form marked only “Falling Accidents”. And for settlements- why do you think Switzerland is so famous for banks?

      But also , do your music research. Known Swiss cure for the blues includes those ten foot long mountain horns. Also effective to switch instruments from whining to yodeling. And we’ll also have an ally that really handles whatever Amendment they’ve got for defense and freedom.

      Everybody – don’t know if hey take women yet- is in the army and reports for reserve duty in the mountains every year’til they’re fifty. And actually to take home a full-automatic rifle and enough ammunition to make Swiss cheese out of invading cheddar. Or so I’ve read and fifty years ago. As every woman knew in days before Twitter, men’s magazines had same amount of truth as Mayor Giuliani.

      Rifle barrel and ammo under seal. Report for duty with one little rip in the plastic, and you get a reminder how fast you can dig a latrine in a rock the size of Colorado with a spade. Also, bravely propose this and we get to see how fast the NRA can run, and Congressmen low-crawl out from under their desks leaving every aisle carpet wet and yellow.

      Now THAT’s a Second Amendment the Founders would’ve drunk room-temperature beer to ’til the chickens woke up.

      Mark

    6. Take notes, people. This is how a humblebrag is done.

      “Can anyone help me with my depression? I used to live Zurich …”

      Brilliant.

      1. Congratulations, Sam! You’ve found the only existing copy of that lost Charles Dickens novel “Coach Vault Does Not Accept Ducats”. Only reason it’s not famous is that nobody ever heard of it because the maid removes all the used parchment out the bottom of the parrot cage, and when Charles thanked her, said it was an accident.

        It’s main character is Samuel Humblebrag, whose submissions to “The Daily London Steam-Powered Coal Burning Conveyance Gazette” persuades Oliver Twist, three dozen outraged orphans, their friend Bill Sykes the robber, and Uriah Heep the old-people cheating accountant to dump Sam on a prison ship to Australia.

        But when the Australian prison system gets word, they telegraph London they’ll sink the British Navy to prevent this. Whereupon, since the captain knows that Switzerland is landlocked, his only hope is to give Sam a hand-counterfeited ORCA ticket when they in Bulgaria and put him on same train those English Stakeholders have just used to go get Dracula.

        Who reacts to the word of the new arrival by stuffing his own mouth with garlic, eating a crucifix, cutting off his own head, and nailing his coffin shut from the inside. And after a hundred more adventures which result in his maid almost strangling the bird, we find our hero arriving aboard a paddle-wheeled cuckoo clock freighter into Elliott Bay.

        Where the book ends with him occupying the street corner of First and Marion, where Samuel finishes his days sitting on the sidewalk next to his stove-pipe hat, open end up, with a sign in excellent German Swiss reading…

        “Give it up, Sam, you can’t win!”

        The parrot ripped up the name that used to be here.

    7. Thanks for the reminder of the Zürich model, and the reminder of the heavy lifting that trams can do even when they run at street level.

      1. Trams can do a lot at street level when the street is reserved for transit.

        If you want to read more about the Zurich model I highly recommend Paul Mees’ two books “A Very Public Solution” and “Transport for Suburbia” where he cites Zurich and Toronto as models applicable to dispersed cities like those in Australia and the US.

  3. Where would the Ballard fixed bridge alternatives land? I hard something about a visualization but can’t find it now. I knew they would be far out like the Aurora bridge is, but would they go all the way to Dravus and Market? I also heard about bicycle access on the bridge and that its height wouldn’t be a hinderance (i.e., not having to go way up and way down, which would also mean from a far approach, not near the canal. Would the bridge cast permanent shadows over the land underneath?

    1. I’ll start with an answer to the shadow question: Yes! but it will be a moving shadow for those looking for shade in the summer, and it will be a static shadow for those wanting to hike or walk under the cover of the bridge. That last feature is definitely a feature that should outweigh the shadow trope (which has more to do with tall buildings than a relatively thin arc of concrete).

      The main reason I see for having a pedestrian path next to the bridge track is for emergency egress. So, yeah, it should be there, and not just for recreational reasons.

    2. Next, how to serve stations when the track is a hundred feet above ground level: elevators! Lots of them. And stairwells. Escalators, not so much.

      1. Yes, the vertical change between street and platform needs to be quantitatively described in every alternative – even now.

        I’d suggest that ST simply report the number of steps for each platform proposal. That’s the number of inches divided by 7 (7 inches is one standard step).

      2. Exactly. I expect bored tunnel stations will have a lot more steps to get up to street level than above-grade stations will have getting down to street level.

        Either way, please include center platforms, public stairs at each end of the platform pointed outward to extend the walkshed of the station, including to both sides of 15th and both sides of Market (which I don’t think could be done with an underground station box), and ample elevator redundancy.

      3. 100 vertical feet is about what the escalators in airports do when they go from jetway level all the way down to inter-terminal subway level (see Atlanta among others).

        London Underground Covent Garden station manages to have a big long staircase with the final several dozen feet requiring a bottleneck at a bank of elevators, so I suppose there is always that model.

      4. You have to take both stairs and an elevator at Covent Garden? I’ve seen an elevator-only station, namely Gloucester Road.

    3. In many countries and cultures, soon as the project is announced, people will start a permanent outdoor market. In Ballard’s case, perfect for fresh fish literally right off the boats whose owners will have quietly stopped bad-mouthing the bridge.

      Make the span high enough, and a historic industry could redevelop as Norwegian sailors go swarming up the masts into the rigging as another cargo of lutefisk raises anchor for Oslo. Bet me the Chamber of Commerce is only pretending to oppose this to spite the Swedes.

      Though they both know better to get into it with the Finns. But meantime- what’ve we got to lose by campaigning for this? After all, somebody owes us for the Oriental market that was supposed to go under one of those shelters at the stair-tops it IDS!

      Mark

    4. I think this is the download link you were looking for, Mike: https://wsblink.participate.online/Media/Default/images/AE_0036_17_Visualization_Booklet_20180905_rsz.pdf

      It is pretty vague about height. But based on the diagrams, the high bridge doesn’t result in a really high station at Market. It does look higher in Interbay though (although again, it is still vague). They don’t have any data on the underground ones.

      The surprising thing (that I just noticed) is that the diagram shows the station for the representative project as being on the east side of 15th, just south of Market. This is not good. It should straddle the station, so that you have entrances on both sides of Market. Ideally you also have it in the middle, so that you can access it from both east and west. But if not, then run it on the west side of the street.

      Note: I’ve had some weird problems with comments this afternoon, so my apologies if this shows up twice.

      1. If ST builds the station exactly as shown in the picture, the support posts in the middle of the street would be a major traffic obstruction, similar to the monorail posts along 5th Ave. downtown. I’m not seriously expecting this to happen. But, if it does it is definitely very bad design to go through the trouble of building the station elevated in the middle of the street, yet only have entrances on one side of the street. Unless SDOT dramatically changes their signal timing algorithms, the wait time to cross the street could end up being nearly as long as the wait for the actual train.

      2. If you look closely at the picture, not only do the light rail support posts block a lane of traffic on 15th, but they also nearly completely block the sidewalk on the east side of 15th, leaving maybe a two-foot clearance to squeeze by. It is unacceptable for people walking along 15th to not at least have an unobstructed sidewalk path.

  4. In Sweden and Finland, and maybe Norway too, every single subway station is an air raid shelter. That and Russian casualties in the 1939 war with Finland are probably what causes a certain former KGB chief to put so much of his military budget into money laundering and shady hotels. And be less particular than is customary about the company he keeps.

    Mark

    1. Sam, is that you? What does WWII have to do with Putin’s money laundering? He’s trying to buy back Finland? Can’t he just invade it like he did Ukraine?

      1. In 1939, Stalin invaded Finland, thinking he had a tiny country for a pushover. The Russians won, but it cost them bad in both casualties and reputation. Fact that the Finns did so well induced Hitler to think Russia would be a pushover. He thought Russians hated Stalin so bad they’d climb on German half-tracks begging for rifles to shoot Stalin. Hitler’s mistake.

        The air raid shelters show that Sweden and Finland aren’t going to be rolled across- at least not by the Russians. In WWII Germany- different story. Not entirely to their credit. Though they could argue that we’ve got no fingers to point ’til our own choice is collaborate or die. Spoke with young Swede who’d just come out of the army.

        All male Swedes do national service. Most become temporary civil servants- great idea, I think. You have to compete for the army. Young eager civil servants might be good change for us. ALSO…we can finally get defense funds to defend us from lack of money.

        Swedish army “doctrine” is that they’ll hold off a Russian attack ’til NATO comes in. Not that they’ll ever come close to having to. But just to indicate that whatever happens to them won’t be free of charge. Like looking into a line of NATO gun-barrels with dead Swedish soldiers for rifle-rests.

        Killings in Ukraine, crime against humanity. But if Vladimir Putin was a Green Party Pacifist Arctic Fox-petting Socialist, he wouldn’t tolerate a rifle click the direction of Germany. Let alone a NATO that has Germany in it. Or to the east, a Mongolian on a horse pretending he’s going to turn you into a pin cushion with arrows. Wasn’t very funny in the 1600’s, was it?

        Or to your south, people from the Caucasus you scare your children with because they’ll eat them. As far back everybody at the negotiating table can remember. Every language in the world has phrases that start with “They’ll Always…” Like if you turn your back on them.

        What’s always saved us this kind of dread is two giant oceans on each side, and Canada and Mexico on our other two borders. Our whole history is about five thousand years too short to have a serious “Theyllalways!”

        Most recent aerial “Theyllalwayses ” were a 1955 prop-jet blown up over Iowa to get somebody’s wife’s insurance. Or a jet airliner and another propeller plane colliding in midair over NYC. Or a WWII bomber flying into the Empire State Building.

        Al Qaeda? Three thousand civilian casualties on our own soil because a couple dozen guys get box cutters on three planes isn’t an attack. On our part, it was attempted suicide. Wish every war starting with Viet Nam hasn’t had one more “Theyllalways”! referring to their Commander in Chief.

        For Putin and his new best buddy for a business associate, it’s back to world’s oldest way of doing Government. World wide and through all time. Kings, dukes, earls, commissars, and their Business Associates have always been gangsters. Money and hired muscle. Ideology and religion, a quick-remove Velcro badge on a militiaman’s coat.

        Couple easy-reads on two times in recent history that will be reverberating for the rest of our lives. Guarantee you can’t put either of them down. Public Library and Amazon have them both.

        “The Fault Line” by Paolo Ruiz.

        https://www.amazon.com/Fault-Line-Traveling-Finland-Ukraine/dp/0847845427

        “The Berlin to Baghdad Express” by Sean Mcmeekin

        https://www.amazon.com/Berlin-Baghdad-Express-Ottoman-Empire-Germanys/dp/0674064321

        And BTW: Ireland and East Central Europe, Dublin wasn’t an Irish word. In Ireland it was a Viking trading town, straight north-south bearing to Reykjavik. My people were from Galicia, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Where we pronounced it “Due-blin”. But just so happened that most US immigration offices were Irish. Austria also really into tramways, but that’s for later.

        Mark

      2. We’ve been here before. Diblin was a viking town but the name was Irish. Dubh-linn = Black-pool or dark-pond. There may be an Old Norse word that sounds similar, but there’s also an Irish word.

  5. Unbelievable city plans that were never built. Hitler’s world capital. The Trafagal Square parking garage. Le Corbusier’s Radiant City. Downtown airports in New York and London. It would have been terrible if these airports had been built thinking they would benefit everyone, but then only billionaires would be able to use them regularly.

      1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMnUnp0ifgo

        Many more videos, and book references. All must-reads to appreciate one thing. It’s good that Donald Trump and Robert Moses were not in politics in same decade. Because neither Donald Trump nor our country could have survived the outcome of the next Presidential election.

        Mark

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