2018-10-30 4th Ave S

This is an open thread. Happy Thanksgiving!

61 Replies to “News Roundup: To Commemorate”

  1. I hope that in regard to landslides ($) doesn’t mean money wasted. Truth is we’re trying to run trains already a hundred years obsolete over- and through- at least a million years of mud.

    From Canada to California, every stretch of track with an ocean view on one side and anything but solid rock on the other needs to be run with classic passenger cars pulled by great old steam locomotives. And maybe some catenary to remember that age of railroading too.

    But freight has got to run as far east as possible. Maybe lines both sides of the Cascades. Specially designed to avoid running 80 mph across grade crossings, while headed for a curve the State Legislature itself said was dangerous but too ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$) to fix.

    And while we’re at it- separate railroads for freight an passengers. and freight. Meantime, hope the lawyers for the three passengers on Train 501 killed by miserably trained driver get:

    ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$!)

    Money talks, but sometimes it has to raise its voice.

    Mark Dublin

  2. And just to clarify, I meant that for today’s trains, freight and passenger alike, view out driver’s windshield should be nothing but wind. . Also, passenger separated from freight, preferably on different track.

    MD

  3. For emergency and later – nobody knows how long “Maximum” is for , might be best to integrate all public transport on Seattle’s in our public transportation under same minute to minute dispatch and control.

    With separate lanes and signals for each mode. No mystery about falling bus ridership. It’s oveloaded and barely moving at all. Wonder if transit’s main rival isn’t Uber but Nike.

    But wouldn’t worry about the categories The more they’re in each others’ way the better. Don’t think coordination will be a very hard sell for anybody who gets fired if they don’t get to work on time. Wouldn’t worry much about other categories either.

    This has always been the way real Free Enterprise gets Regulated. Buyers and Sellers become unable to Move. Give it a month before everybody that rides a wheeled anything will not only accepting but demanding some organization and cooperation.

    But also: Seattle weather is mild enough that good solution finally will be to leave bikes all over the city. Lost weight and gained muscle tone draw convincing supporters. Other forms of transport , which will all be crowded and motionless, will gain no loyal followers for a mode that leaves them not only enraged But also looking like their chosen vehicle is a couch.

    Mark

    1. I’ve never been a big fan of Alan Levy and his cost comparisons. When he compares US construction cost to international cost he always uses either New York or San Francisco in his comparisons. I would like to see him instead use cities like Seattle, Denver or Portland. I’ve seen these systems come in considerably cheaper than newer sections in NY and SF and on par with European counter-parts.

      I also think he misses a lot of apple to apple comparisons, ie, tunneling under UW research labs cost a lot more than tunneling under Paris sewage systems or a Rio shanty town.

      1. Who is this Alan Levy person? Never heard of him.

        Anyway, sure, let’s compare the Portland Orange Line with at-grade light rail lines on this side of the Pond: it’s 3-6 times as expensive as in France, where I have the most complete tramway cost data. Zurich as I understand it is on a par with the higher end of France, taking into account how overvalued the Swiss franc is.

        And as for Denver, look at how much its commuter rail system cost to set up. They had to build new tracks for it, instead of running on legacy tracks as is common on S-Bahns, because of opposition from the freight railroads, driving up construction costs. When you don’t have to deal with the Class Is, this kind of reactivation should be single-digit millions per kilometer, and not necessarily high single-digit millions.

    1. It has a lot of good observations about who lived in bungalows and who couldn’t, and what contemporaries thought of the new housing type, and how before the FHA mortgages required a 50% down payment so only the upper echelon could get them. But there’s another factor too, outside the control of individual developers and homeowners. Houses, apartments, and office buildings used to be built by local developers with local loans, and they were built to last because the owner expected to keep them a long time and pass them down to their children. Since the 1980s Wall Street money has moved in and changed the incentives. Investors who have never seen the property or even set foot in the state finance the large developments, and allowed them to become even larger (hundreds of houses or a breadkbox building). The investors treat them like stocks and demand immediate high returns (within 19 years). This both makes housing more expensive, and reduces it to handful of safe types that investors are comfortable with. We’ve talked about how eve when cities eliminate parking minimums, mortgagers still require them. Berkeshere Hathaway bought a lot of foreclosed houses after the crash and rented them out as investments, squeezing the homeownership opportunities greatly. (Although I’ve heard Berkeshere has sold some of these recently, which is one reason prices have slowed.) Also, before the Depression reforms there was nothing preventing depressions from being frequent and foreclosures and bank failures from running rampant. After the reforms the Fed started managing the economy to try to smooth those out. I’m not sure how that difference affected the housing types and owners but it must have had some effect.

    2. I have much difficulty understanding what a bungalow”is or a cottage is. My impression is a small house, like the 600 sq ft cottage my grandmother lived in or the similar Brooklyn house a friend grew up in. But I keep hearing large houses called bungalows or cottages so I’ve gotten all confused. The only way I’ve been able to make sense of them is to consider the small-lot houses in Mt Baker, N 80th Street, Greenwood, and Mountlake Terrace as bungalows; and the large-lot houses in northeast Seattle and Rainier View as ranch houses.

      Another thing, what came before bungalows? The article doesn’t say. Was it all row houses and multifamily? Really? No detached houses at all? Where they houses smaller than bungalows? If so, what size were they? The article talks about contemporaries lamenting that bungalows ruined the neighborhood, implying they replaced existing houses of some other type. But I thought most bungalows were greenfield development. There were no existing houses when the small-lot houses in Mt Baker and Greenwood were built. I thought Levittown and other developments were the same. Nowadays you never see row houses or multifamily buildings replaced by a single-family house because it’s a major loss of real-estate value. Wouldn’t that have been the same then?

      1. I read up on it’s architectural definition online, and it appears to be more of a period definition than a fixed style. A good summary is here:

        http://www.antiquehomestyle.com/styles/bungalow.htm

        There aren’t many houses from the 1800’s in Seattle (if any?). I’ve lived in cities with older Victorian houses and learned that those houses were mostly discrete rooms with doors and separate fireplaces for each room. Kitchens were even thought to be dangerous and smelly, and were often shut off from other rooms. It seems odd for us to imagine living in houses designed in the pre-bungalow era so that’s probably why it’s particularly hard to define in our region. Most houses have bungalow-originating elements.

        When the term evolved in American vernacular, terms like “ranch” and “open floor plan” were likely not used. In other words, the term cannot be easily distinguished from newer terms — and primarily only applicable to older ones.

  4. I feel a bit out-of-bounds commenting on the Portland ferry article since I don’t live there, but the ferry idea to Downtown Portland appears pretty silly. Going out of direction so far and navigating a narrower Willamette for such a distance would appear to be wildly fuel-inefficient (anti-green), time-consuming and still require transfers to get to many central Portland attractions.

    If a strategy can’t include an ideal but unfunded and time-consuming Yellow line extension, a ferry service to Expo Center that loops around the island and stops only there and Downtown Vancouver would seem to be a better and potentially faster option.

    I also have to wonder if some sort of cable-technology strategy could be a better strategic option. Say, a gondola from Expo Crnter to a new Janssen beach ferry terminal on the Columbia and quick ferries to several locations on the Washington side of the river. Perhaps a gondola to go all the way across to Downtown Vancouver. I’ve not been too familiar with the decades of discussion and studies on the CRC but there are surely better options if the range of possible technologies are considered.

    1. I doubt a ferry system would do much for CRC congestion. I just don’t see it. The bridge is 100 years old (part of it) and should be replaced.

      The first thing the two states need worry about is trucking. Commerce needs to be taken out of the CRC politics and given its own life. We all suffer when goods don’t move. A couple dedicated truck lanes can go a long way and can also deal with such messes as what exist in St Johns.

      The next issue I would address is Max to Vancouver. Voting showed that, despite Clark County defeating light rail, a majority of Vancouver residents were for it. There is no way in hell Portland will allow additional vehicle lanes into the city without at least adding a Max line.

      As a 3rd issue I would address the dilapidated CRC and its controversial toll funding that Clark County residence so despise.

    2. All of these objections and others were raised the last time this was proposed. My understanding is that Coast Guard regulations make it exceptionally expensive to operate something like the Berlin or London river boat services here.

      The only reason this gets any traction is that certain conservative radio pundits like it, probably because two years of study will delay another light rail proposal by two years.

    3. What? Does Tim Eyman like the state ferries too? I would never have guessed. It must be based on the idea that People Like Us will use it and enjoy the relaxing water views. And because it seems to be a private company proposing to run it, although that gets unclear when they talk about a transit fare structure and ORCA-like card.

      It’s also amusing when it says, “A picture of a water taxi in downtown Seattle taken from the Bainbridge Island ferry’s station in downtown Seattle. That route is one of the busiest routes in the state.” Is that meant to suggest the passenger ferry is the busiest, or that the Bainbridge route in general is busiest, or that the passenger ferry is one of the reasons it’s busiest? It’s busiest because Bainbridge is the closest place in the West Sound to downtown, so people there make more Seattle trips and move there expecting to, and drive to that ferry from other places.

      1. “It’s busiest because Bainbridge is the closest place in the West Sound to downtown, so people there make more Seattle trips and move there expecting to, and drive to that ferry from other places.”

        Yes, it’s all that driving from other places that Bainbridge Islanders have concerns about.

        SR-305 is the beginning of the Peninsula’s version of I-405.

  5. Tim’s in the Initiatives business. So good chance he’ll hire People Like Us to gather signatures for free. Carefully tailored so the State Supreme Court will line a birdcage with it, incentivizing the legislature to pass it by every single vote it’s got.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhEvP_YtkQ0

    Giving his client the irrigation canal network he’s paying both Tim and the Legislatures for- billed as a ferry-boat highway network. C’mon. Tell me you won’t help me gather for free.

    AND: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhEvP_YtkQ0

    Though can just hear the demands for more sections to be added on game day so more people will get seats!

    BUT…..”BREAKER BREAKER GOOD BUDDY STATE PATROL GOT RADAR ON THE CATENARY AT GOLD BAR!

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/45109468425/in/dateposted-public/

    T.S., Tim, People Like Us ™ already got the Skykomish wired to Stevens Pass. “Fire in the Riggin!”

    MD

    1

    1. “Tim’s in the Initiatives business.”

      That’s a theory. I question whether he’d really support a pro-transit initiative even if offered a financial incentive.

      1. Wouldn’t even have to do deal with transit. Once you’ve proven that you can buy or scare legislators into going with you, subject gets irrelevant. Even if it’s not what got you your first victory, skill at making legislators do what you want had wide enough application that cause doesn’t matter.

        And for the subjects you don’t like or want- just trade the work for something that interests, or entertains you more. Don’t they call that lobbying firm?

        But Now that cars aren’t fun anymore, or able to help you not get fired for being late that now, the living patterns that made commuting by car so good an approach now delivered the opposite….

        I really think transit should take some initiative and start showing people some examples of what’s possible with an integrated system of lanes, signals, and vehicle modes. Make it work “Somewhere”, and at least people will have a good mental picture to illustrate the words.

        Maybe main reason I keep talking about the cemetery streetcar lines is that we’d be partners in a really financially profitable industry.

        Mark

      2. Theory? The man has made his living over the last decade by skimming money from his various initiative campaigns for over a decade. He’s under investigation for campaign finance violations. That I think proves the “theory”.

  6. Might want to find out minimum age for average streetcar- hater. Little chance their kids, and especially their grand kids will spend that much effort hating streetcars. Grown-ups tell me that their kids- who’ve already left enough nose-prints on the glass to win a homicide case as you speak- now always like their LINK ride better than whatever the alleged destination is.

    Though really cruel is how many streetcar owners’ last ride- BEFORE they’re dead!- will have steel wheels and eight year old girls loudly listing the million reasons for their brother not to push the button and yell “WHEEEEE” to the driver. Who is doing harmony, but with the shade pulled down.

    But to show some recognition for bravery and persistence in a losing fight, fit one car on every train with chrome door-handles and yellow and white fake-leather seats. Best of all, current “Retro” world will make it easy to revive a lot of music not written by the marketing department. Well we DID trip the light fandango on the A-Train!

    And fitting monuments to the noble but misguided cardefenders will make dignified station artwork to show the kids what Gettysburg really looked like, dagnabbit- NRA cannons and all. Fitting tribute to those whose last car-ride took three hours to go a block, to register complaint about all that money on art.

    “Day is Done.”

    MD

    1. Yup – if an emergency happened here with all our road diets, nobody would be able to escape. It is something to consider when reducing the number of traffic lanes on the main thoroughfares through downtown and all Seattle neighborhoods.

    2. And the Interstates are for military troop movements. I like how people use occasional or rare disasters to justify sprawl SOV infrastructure that won’t be used for its emergency purpose 99.99% of the time. That’s how we’ll keep the bungalow lifestyle alive! Reducing an arterial from four lanes to two does not halve the number of cars it can support, because four lanes encourages/forces people to change lanes to turn or pass others, and that slows everybody down and raises the collision rate. Several road diets like Dexter and Roosevelt are working fine. There may be a few that reduced capacity excessively, but not all of them and it’s not a disaster. And why are we depending on SOVs for an evacuation anyway? Plus, Paradise is a lot more wildfire-prone than Seattle is.

    3. “It’s far from clear whether the narrowing of Skyway — the largest of just four routes out of the foothill town — worsened the chaotic delays in getting out.”

      In other words, the road diet may or may not have contributed to the problem, but car fanatics are certain it did anyway.

      “the city decided to narrow a portion of the main road through town from four lanes to two”

      There’s nothing in Seattle like this. This was the only road through an isolated town, like the 101 in Aberdeen and Ocean Shores, the towns on highway 20 through the mountains, or the Snoqualmie Valley towns on highway 202. 35th Ave NE, NE 65th Street, and Roosevelt Avenue are not like that. I was in Aberdeen a couple years ago, and its horrible how the large one-way stroads slash through the center of town and get packed with through traffic. But it’s a difficult problem because it’s the only way to the beach towns.

    4. Paradise is secluded — surrounded by mountains with few ways to get out. It’s more like Bonney Lake or Sultan than anywhere in Seattle.

      Evacuation traffic planning is a real thing. Florida requires it for hurricanes but it’s not as common as it could be.

    5. Probably best way to handle evacuations is to not either issue building permits, write insurance policies, or build cities at all in floodplains, fire-traps, and slide areas. There’s a kind of evergreen in California called a “Bristlecone Pine” Many are 5,000 years old. And cannot germinate ’till the cones are burned.

      But because our lifespans are so short, in addition to not building Ohio-style homes in areas designed by nature to burn up every year, we can also protect ourselves by Nature’s own Controlled Burns. No law says we have to do fire-fighting where the saved trees create even more damage when their expanding foliage makes each succeeding fire even better fueled.

      And also: name me one freeway anywhere whose every added lane doesn’t immediately become another permanently-jammed one in a lot less time than 5000 years. Five weeks, maybe.

      Like in that movie about the time-warped baseball field where a century of winning teams with bad luck emerge from a cornfield: “If you don’ build it they- and you- will not die.”

      MD

  7. The Seattle Times editorial board doesn’t like mileage taxes.

    “drivers may feel comfortable paying the proposed 2.4 cents per mile rather than a traditional gas tax if they know their money will be used to maintain and expand roads we all depend on.”

    “Our state’s DOT is increasingly indistinguishable from interest groups and some lawmakers advocating for more money toward transit and less for roads. To achieve this goal, they want a new tax that does not get deposited into the Motor Vehicle Fund (MVF), a trust fund that is protected by the 18th Amendment to the state constitution. Money in this fund cannot be used for non-highway purposes, such as transit.”

    ” all indications are that every major interest group will lobby the Legislature for the right to spend the money on transit. It will be difficult for the Legislature to ignore them.”

    The horrors!

    How else should we fund transit and other essential services? We don’t dedicate sales tax solely to better shopping experience, or property tax to property infrastructure. We use them to fund all the state’s needs, including those that can’t be taxed directly and would vanish if a general tax didn’t fund them. How should we pay for elections, with a poll tax? Oops, that’s unconstitutional. So why do we give gas buyers a dedicated tax solely for roads? Why does everybody pay for parking spaces except the driver who’s using them?

    1. “We don’t dedicate….or property tax to property infrastructure.”

      Sorry, but that’s just not true. One of the largest components of my property tax bill goes to a dedicated county road fund. I also pay up to $.25 per $1000 assessed value for Sound Transit (ST3).

    2. Not really. :) Different subtaxes are dedicated to different things, but that’s different than saying categorically that sales tax can only be used to benefit property owners, and any other use would be illegal, unconstitutional, or immoral. The legislature can divert those property tax streams by simply voting, but the Times argument is that the legislature should not vote to spend mileage taxes on anything except roads.

      Also, why do we have an 18th Amendment? It’s partly because the automobile lobby wanted a narrow tax for itself, and it hated trains. But the biggest reason it hated trains was the robber barons: they didn’t want their tax money going into monopolists’ pockets. This situation doesn’t exist anymore except in a minor way on the legacy BNSF and UP tracks.

      1. Sorry but none of that is relevant to your assertion above which, as a reminder, was that “We don’t dedicate sales tax solely to better shopping experience, or property tax to property infrastructure.”

        In regard to the latter, as I pointed out in my comment above, we certainly do. Your assertion just isn’t correct.

      2. We’re talking past each other. What is property infrastructure? The first things that come to my mind is police to arrest trespassers, and electric and water and sewer utilities so that people can live in their property. Not roads or schools because those aren’t property-related, they’re transportation and education related. But you said the largest part of your property tax is county roads. So therefore the property tax is not like the gas tax where it couldn’t be used for that, and not like the Times’ recommendation for the mileage tax.

      3. roads or schools because those aren’t property-related,

        WTF? If you can’t get to/from your property what the hell good is it? And the road ROW is how you get the power/water utilities to the property. Schools are location driven. People move to an area based on the quality of the school district. It is essential to maintaining property values… Some people just think it’s worth paying for… Seattle, not so much. Why is it all the eastside school districts run their own transportation department and treat drivers well but Seattle contracts it out? (Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. Student Last is just fine with me!).

      4. Transportation is a paradox; it intrinsically requires traversing property owned by somebody else,. Everyone must do so, so it requires a collective solution. That’s what makes transportation a very different category from property. As to the attraction of certain schools and its effect on property values, that’s an indirect factor in the minds of the residents, not an intrinsic factor of property. The schools do that because of how our school system is structured.

      5. @Mike Orr
        “We’re talking past each other.”

        Nope. I simply disagree with the premise of your argument.

        “What is property infrastructure? The first things that come to my mind is police to arrest trespassers, and electric and water and sewer utilities so that people can live in their property. Not roads or schools because those aren’t property-related, they’re transportation and education related.”

        Huh? Roads and streets, and by extension, sidewalks and other ROW improvements are not property-related? And not part of property infrastructure? How about the storm drains and conduit that manage our surface water runoff? Are these also not property-related in your mind? Because we pay for those necessary amenities on our property tax bills as well.

        And, for the record, the utility items you mention as how you define property infrastructure, and which of course are paid for through customer user fees and not property taxes, wouldn’t exist without the jurisdiction’s access to established ROW.

        “But you said the largest part of your property tax is county roads.”

        No, I actually said that ONE of the largest components of my property tax bill is my county road fund levy.

        “So therefore the property tax is not like the gas tax where it couldn’t be used for that, and not like the Times’ recommendation for the mileage tax.”

        I’m not totally sure what you’re trying to say here, but, nevertheless, as I stated before the portion of my property taxes that comes from the county road fund levy is indeed a dedicated source of funding for that purpose, is accounted for in its own government fund account and has strict limitations on its use of said funds.

    3. Also, property taxes benefit the general category of residences and business buildings. While it’s ostensibly for homeowners, in practice you can’t benefit homeowners without also benefiting renters, and renters pay them indirectly. So in practice they benefit everyone because everyone lives somewhere. But in this case they want a tax that benefits only car drivers and trucks, rather than the comprehensive benefit of transportation. Buses benefit, but we’re forced into inefficent modes and unbalanced choices because the tax streams are biased toward the most inefficient modes. That’s what prevents us from having a comprehensive transportation solution like Germany or Canada does. And that’s exactly what the Times editorial board wants. It even says “roads we all depend on”. We depend on them because better solutions are blocked or are only allowed minimally.

      1. But in this case they want a tax that benefits only car drivers and trucks, rather than the comprehensive benefit of transportation. Buses benefit, but we’re forced into inefficent modes and unbalanced choices because the tax streams are biased toward the most inefficient modes.

        #1 Who doesn’t rely on goods and services delivered by truck. Certainly not anyone that lives in a city. Yet transit riders don’t even have to pay the tax.

        That’s what prevents us from having a comprehensive transportation solution like Germany or Canada does.

        Canada and Germany are alike how? Most of Canada makes the mid-west look like a dense urban development. Remember the smoke this summer? Their forestry practices suck. They’re running trucks on ice roads and extracting oil from sand at the Arctic Circle. Canada is in no way a “friend of the planet”. But their voters are really good at denial and they excel at fake news. Germany’s not much better. They import fossil fuel energy from Russia. They really hate to admit it but their closest bid for clean energy is nuclear from France.Lower the speed limit on the Autobahn to 90 kph (55 mph)… yeah, right, even though Germany is smaller than the state of Montana.

      2. “Who doesn’t rely on goods and services delivered by truck.”

        We wouldn’t need as many lanes if the roads only had to support trucks, buses, emergency vehicles, people transporting bulky things, the disabled who can’t walk to a bus stop, and some extra for moderate choice trips. It’s because people use their cars for everything that we have to accommodate so many all at once and 4-to-3 lane diets are controversial.

        “Canada and Germany are alike how?”

        Their cities. The transit and road infrastructure in practically all German cities, and Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal,Calgary. The areas that show what Pugetopolis could have been and could be.

      3. if the roads only had to support trucks,

        yeah, sorry but the vast majority of roads are just two lanes. When you try to increase capacity then home owners along the route scream bloody hell.

        “Canada and Germany are alike how?”

        Their cities. The transit and road infrastructure in practically all German cities, and Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal,Calgary. The areas that show what Pugetopolis could have been and could be.

        Nope, their cities couldn’t exist without all the roads that lead into there climate warming islands. But still, you;’re avoiding the basic different between Canada and Germany. One is relatively densely populated; one more sparely populated than the United States. German is an industrialized economy and Canada is based on harvesting resources… oil, timber, fish, etc.

  8. Over Thanksgiving I had a chance to talk with someone who commutes to Pill Hill from the Kitsap Peninsula (Squamish). I asked if the new Kingston fast ferry was going to help their commute. Not so much. They said that although the crossing time was 5 minutes faster (actually only 2 according to WSDOT/Kitsap Transit websites) they would have to get to their P&R 5 minutes earlier to catch the bus to Kingston rather than Bainbridge. It also costs $2 more round trip. While the Kitsap Transit website numbers look impressive (80 minutes today vs 33 min via Fast Ferry) the truth is almost nobody actually uses Edmonds/Kingston if they are going to DT Seattle.

    1. “…the truth is almost nobody actually uses Edmonds/Kingston if they are going to DT Seattle.”

      If they are not in the immediate Kingston area they would be using the Bainbridge Island ferry.
      There is a reasonable crowd that gets on/off Sounder in Edmonds, and are walk-ons for the Edmonds-Kingston ferry.
      I haven’t seen actual data, but I have been told (by witnesses), probably around 60 people a day. I wonder if there is ORCA data to support that?

      It will be interesting to see if the fast ferry affects Sounder ridership. The Edmonds lot is full, and there is talk of setting up parking charges for that one, too.

      The disappointing thing about the fast ferry is that improvements need to be made to Kitsap Transit’s bus coverage instead. I know Poulsbo wasn’t in favor of being included in the vote for the fast ferry.

      The SR305 corridor is interesting, since I have co-workers who make that commute to downtown.
      They tell me the Bainbridge walk-on is a real stampede.

      I know Bainbridge Island is not interested in widening SR305. Plus, there’s that pesky bridge over Agate Passage.

      Let the whining begin…
      paradise lost.

      At least they don’t have to embarrass themselves pissing away a viable rail line as they did in the I-405 corridor.

      1. There is a reasonable crowd that gets on/off Sounder in Edmonds, and are walk-ons for the Edmonds-Kingston ferry.
        I haven’t seen actual data, but I have been told (by witnesses), probably around 60 people a day. I wonder if there is ORCA data to support that?

        60 people a day is not going to support the cost of a boat. 600 people a day probably wouldn’t even come close. This has been tried before and I expect this attempt will fail too. At best you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul at a really high incremental cost. The subsidized ferry system is a huge negative with respect to carbon emissions. But, it’s transit so somehow that’s OK?

      2. Not a lot of transit fans support any of the passenger ferries that are running or have been proposed. But we don’t have much choice in the matter because they’re running or being built whether we want them or not. And at least the people aren’t driving the whole way, so there’s that. That could gradually make them more supportive of other non-SOV options too, like more buses in the West Sound.

  9. I suppose it’s a measure of the popularity of this blog that it’s starting to attract clickbait spammers more than previously, so…well done everyone?

    1. Oh, wow! Like they used to say when Clickbait Scammers were top of the charts for the whole 1970’s! You know, named after the alligator-eating giant catfish that got various ratcheted typewriter mechanisms stuck in their jaws.

      ‘Til the Cajun country found out what crawfish pie alamode tasted like. But Louisiana NRA also never forgave Billy De Lyons for winning Stagger Lee’s brand new Stetson hat, forcing him to shoot Billy so bad that one round went right through Billy and broke the bartenders’ glass!

      Clickbait Scammer’s first big hit! But also reason we all have to carry an AR 15 around in our boot. Try and find a single.44 in New Orleans not concealed in a net stocking! When’s your next disc comin’ out, Ness?

      MD

  10. Designing transit around rideshare based on the assumption that current prices stay the same seems profoundly foolish. They’re operating at a massive loss; they’re as cheap as they are because, in their infinite wisdom, venture capital has elected to subsidize our newfangled cab rides, for now. Eventually, they’re probably going to stop doing this, at some point. (It seems foolish to speculate about how long this subsidy will be provided, but “not forever” seems like a safe bet.) If we do our calculations about the needed subsidy from transit agencies based on the current rate of VC subsidy, and the latter disappears, the math may become decidedly less favorable.

    1. (To say nothing of the, er, issues raised with “let’s replace union-wage bus drivers with sub-minimum wage subcontractors.”)

      1. replace union-wage bus drivers with sub-minimum wage subcontractors

        Metro routinely complains about not having enough drivers even though they pay well and have great benefits. I can assure you that it’s not because of a lack of qualified applicants. The hiring process is broken and union seniority rules are another part of the equation. People I know that drive for Uber actually like their job and make substantially more than minimum wage. No benefits but the way it’s structured they are collecting those from their day job. A bigger issue I see is that Uber is bleeding money. They have cash to pay drivers well above market rate based on speculative “investment” in Uber stock. And the only reason Uber stock goes up is because more and more money gets poured into it. It’s like a Ponzi scheme except you don’t have to dupe individuals. Huge amounts of cash flow in because so much money is invested in index funds.

        OTOH, the way transit is run in this region completely ignores market forces and subsidizes sprawl. The most unfortunate consequence is those few areas that could have decent transit are the ones that suffer the most.

      2. “the way transit is run in this region completely ignores market forces and subsidizes sprawl.”

        Transit doesn’t subsidize sprawl; the road and car subsidies and cheap gas are several times larger and dwarf transit. We recently talked about new townhouses in Kingston, and how the new passenger ferry might encourage people to move there and commute to Seattle. That’s really weak because most of their trips would still be driving, to the store and such, so the impact of the passenger ferry is small overall. I’ve heard the same argument that Sounder subsidizes people to live in Southeast Pierce. But do you really think those houses would be empty or wouldn’t be built if Sounder weren’t there? Sounder is a way to cope with the problems caused by the political structure of suburban bias; it’s not the cause of sprawl. Otherwise, why do the vast majority of people, who don’t take Sounder or buses or future Link, live in low-density areas? It’s not because transit has a magic pull on them even if they don’t use it.

    2. The people pushing rideshare as a replacement don’t know this; they think they current price is the market equilibrium. Or that prices will go down as it scales up and there’s more competition from hundreds of thousands of drivers.

    3. Well, it would be cheaper if we brought in a lot of guest workers and paid them $3 an hour. But that would contradict the moves to cut off immigration. Note the overlap between those who are anti-bus or anti-train and those who want to stop immigration. But if drivers were paid $3 an hour, they wouldn’t be just gradually losing wealth in car maintenance, they flat out wouldn’t be able to buy rmaintain the cars or put gas in them. So it would require another subsidy — a new kind of tax — to provide and maintain the cars and fuel them. I wonder what it would be. Isn’t a tax to maintain vehicles what we already do with buses? Oh, I forgot, the cars will be driverless, because driverless technology will soon be able to roam all the streets and lanes everywhere without collisions.

      1. cars will be driverless, because driverless technology will soon be able to roam all the streets and lanes everywhere without collisions.

        Uber is betting on this. Or, to be more precise, the investors are betting on this. While I have to admit that the technology is impressive and progressing faster than I’d imagined I don’t see it being financially viable. The electronics in an autonomous car have to deal with a much more complex set of conditions than a commercial airplane.And pilots make more money than Uber drivers. I don’t hear Boeing or Airbus hyping autonomous planes (although they are working on it). But putting that kind of money into a vehicle that’s only going to last 200k doesn’t make sense. Long haul trucks have an easier scenario to deal with, last way longer and could cut transport time significantly (i.e no enforced driver rest periods). I mean how much easier would it be for ST to have autonomous Link vehicles than an autonomous taxi? Even a fixed route bus would be less of an ask and the technology a much smaller percentage of the vehicle cost.

      2. “Uber is betting on this. Or, to be more precise, the investors are betting on this.”

        Yes. The investors are making a long-term bet that that the driver period with its employee/contractor headaches is just a temporary phase. It’s one thing for investors to bet their money on this, but it’s another thing for cities to make their transit infrastructure dependent on a technoligy which may or may not pan out. If it doesn’t, we’ll end up ripping out our transit and having nothing.

        I can see the potential of a driverless bus on a single route. It’s feasible to map out all the hazards likely on a single street, than to make it able to go on every street everywhere. Especially if you have transit lanes to reduce the number of hazards it might encounter.

      3. I think we’re in agreement that autonomous technology has much better technical potential with respect to buses than “taxis”. .I also think it’s hard to argue that unions won’t make it much more difficult to implement. Buses I still think need a real person, for a number of reasons. But that would be improve service not as a driver. It’s a shame that large cities aren’t actively embracing autonomous technology; especially at this point where they could “ride the wave” and get a lot of technological benefit basically for free. But that threatens union jobs so no good.

    4. “They’re operating at a massive loss; they’re as cheap as they are because, in their infinite wisdom, venture capital has elected to subsidize our newfangled cab rides, for now.”

      There’s a lot about the economics of rideshare that we don’t know, and it’s foolish to read a leaked report that Uber is losing money in the aggregate and just assume that means a subsidy to each and every ride. In reality, Uber operates many different types of services in many different markets, and they’re still experimenting to see what makes a profit and what doesn’t. In general, when I pay full price, it is pretty hard to imagine Uber not making money off my trip. But, when they offer me a huge discount (e.g. 40% off), sometimes the pre-trip fare can down to the level where it’s barely more than gas+bridge toll, which means it’s probably a money-loser for them.

      UberPool is an interesting case in its own, as the ability for the service to turn a profit, while providing a non-trivial discount over UberX is dependent on the system’s ability to find good ride matches. That is, passengers making a trip where the amount of distance (and time) carrying both of them at the same time in the same direction significantly outweighs the overhead of “detouring” to where the passengers need to get picked up and dropped off. Right now, my personal experience with Uber and Lyft’s carpool services has been very poor matches that produced only marginally less VMT than separate Uber and Lyft drivers taking each person. At 50% the price of a private ride, but 90% of the VMT (compared to both passengers taking two separate private rides), the result is effectively a subsidy, but what the rideshare companies are obviously hoping for is that if more people sign up, the ride match quality will get better.

      In theory, the profitability of the carpool services can increase dramatically as the service scales up, and the quality of the ride matches improves (which explains why they’re willing to subsidize rides in the short term by offering 50% discounts, even for poor ride matches), but there are fundamental limits that will prevent the fares which enable profitable operation from ever getting down to the level of bus fare.

      At some point, the rideshare companies are going to be under pressure to cut the unprofitable services and the unprofitable markets, but the core service (taxi rides in the middle of large cities, with lots of passengers), I don’t see going away (although the 40% off promos might not last).

Comments are closed.