Hitch Hiking Holiday Elves

This is an open thread.

89 Replies to “News Roundup: Up for Sale”

  1. I share Niles’ concerns of overcrowding. The same thing happened to LA Metro’s Gold Line as it was extended to Azusa. With expected growth in Snohomish Co and CT’s plans to essentially dump most of its commuter routes (both downtown and UW commuters) into Lynnwood Link, I fear trains will be standing room only once then reach north Seattle.

      1. I think that would actually lower capacity. It would have other benefits, but the current plan is to run trains every three minutes from the north end to downtown, while that plan would have four minute service from the UW to downtown.

      2. I think the 7-line ST3 concept would be a fine solution provided ST can handle the operational complexity, and would be fine at 9 minute frequency per line, with the big exception of the Rainier Valley portion, in which grade crossings would limit the frequency of the entire Link system. In this scenario, a way to enable more frequency would be to build a turnback track after SODO station (or use a spare O&M base track as a few minute layover, where passengers who forgot to exit can wait until the train resumes service in the opposite direction to deboard at SODO). The important thing here is that the layover needs to be able to function with passengers in the train, because at full frequency, there won’t be time to clear the train at SODO before going out of service. Passengers who stay on after the last stop (probably because they got on the wrong train) would only experience the inconvenience of a short delay.

        One other thing that would be helpful in this scenario is a Duwamish Bypass, which would unrestrict southend frequency. In this case, you could imagine 2 lines (@12 minutes) each in the RV and the bypass, with the two RV lines ending at the airport and KDM respectively, and the two bypass lines ending at FW and Tacoma respectively.

        The quickest and easiest solution assuming the I-90 light rail bridge doesn’t have frequency restrictions would be to add two lines, one from S. Kirkland to Ballard, and one from Issaquah to Northgate (this would require an extra track turn connecting the “northbound” Issaquah track directly to the “southbound” Seattle track, basically making a full wye connection south of East Main) This would allow 4 lines in each tunnel and across Lake Washington to Bellevue, 3 lines could be extended to Lynnwood, 2 to Mariner, and 1 to Everett. S. Kirkland gets 2 lines to Bellevue, one going to Seattle and one to Issaquah. Redmond gets 2 lines, one to each Seattle tunnel, and Issaquah gets 2 lines (but only one each goes to Seattle and Bellevue, so riders get 12 minute frequency to each destination). Rainier Valley still gets two lines at 6 minutes apart.

      3. I’ve always liked having a version of this plan.

        Given the horrible transfer environments that appear to be emerging as ST looks to save money so it can keep neighborhood stakeholders happy, some service plan that gives riders the choice of riding now and transferring or waiting a few more minutes and not transferring is better for riders is a good thing.

        Unless this issue is addressed now (the current West-Seattle- Ballard study) with good cross-platform transfers or a different service plan, I predict a major uproar about not having a direct line from UW or Northgate to SE Seattle or Seatac after many years of having one. As 2035 gets closer and closer, the issue will get louder and louder and the solutions will get harder and harder. People easily could lose jobs or elected offices over this.

      4. Not really. Rainier Valley is not politically powerful enough to get people to listen to an uproar, and most of the trips from North Seattle will be to the Eastside rather than to SeaTac or Rainier.

      5. The issue will reverberate everywhere between Lynnwood and Federal Way. It also affects residents of Capitol Hill. 18-25 years is a long time to ride before having direct rail service cut.

        I wouldn’t be so dismissive of political clout either. The Rainier Valley is densifying quickly and the housing costs make the demographics are also more affluent. Finally, grass roots movements can easily be borne from frustration at any level.

    1. I think it is highly likely the trains will be standing room only during rush hour. That is normal — if people aren’t standing at rush hour, you are probably doing something wrong.

      1. Agreed. I grew up in NY and so to me crowded trains at “rush hours” isn’t that big of a deal. Since then, and over the years of traveling for work and pleasure, I’ve been on crush loaded trains in Chicago, Boston, London, Toronto, Paris, Hong Kong, etc. and I’ve always viewed that as a fact of life when using a popular transit system in a major urban center. Can it be annoying losing your “personal space zone” for a commute? Sure. Can it be downright frustrating having to wait a few minutes for the next train because of packed cars (and then being late getting to where you need to be)? Of course. Many times I simply chose to wait and grab the next train and arrived at my destination a few minutes later. Other times I just did what I grew up doing, i.e., pushing my way into the crowded car and going with it.

      2. It’s not just personal space but being able to sit down. I get tired standing for longish periods of time. I ride mostly off-peak or reverse-peak so I rarely have to stand, and even when I do it’s only one station or across the DSTT on game days. Still, I think people expect to stand in high-density areas like Manhattan’s Midtown, central London, and most of Moscow, and Westlake-UW, but they don’t expect it in areas like Roosevelt or Northgate or Rainier Valley, and would get grumpy if they often had to stand through all those.

      3. Yep. “I had to stand for my 11 minute peak train ride to work” is not something a serious transit city treats as a problem that needs solving.

      4. It’s less of a problem to stand for short trips, but it sucks for long trips. I’ve been stuck standing on a peak 577 for almost an hour, but Pierce County riders often stand much longer.

        This is where planned long light rail lines to Tacoma and Everett strike a nice balance, that the father you’re coming from, the more likely you are to get a seat. On the way back, you might not get a seat at first, but most riders will get off before you, and you’ll get a seat. Federal Way does a good job at filling big Sound Transit buses every 10 minutes, but won’t fill 4-car trains every 6 minutes (each car having 1.3 times as many seats as the usual bus).

    2. For reasons Niles stated I have always thought 135th was a unnecessary station. I thought a line from Lake City intersecting at Roosevelt and passing through Fremont would be a better solution for this area. Some variation of this would add many riders but it would also allow many to bypass UW, Capitol Hill and possibly some other downtown stations.

      1. ST’s 2017 SIP suggests ST may keep a peak version of route 522 coming out of Roosevelt Station. I’m not sure what Metro’s plans for route 312 are, but if they both terminate at UW Bothell, having a single more-frequent route would make the most sense to me.

        Having route 312 continue to southeast Greenlake, Wallingford, and Fremont, more-or-less taking over route 26 or the useful portion of route 62, is quite intriguing.

        I’ve never found the arguments for having a Bothell Way route go to 130th St Station to be terribly compelling. Lake City Way has a lot more there there than the single-family neighborhoods and golf course along 125th. If 125th wants frequent all-day service and to justify their station, they need to stop fighting non-SOV lanes, and accept upzones all along 125th.

      2. I was thinking more the lines of a Lake City link line. If only a bus route then most will stay on link and ride through UW and CH.

      3. Metro told a group of Northshore residents that the 312 would become an all-day express. Metro’s LRP has it modified to go to SLU, Boren Ave, and E Cherry Street to 17th & Jefferson. So it would be the “522”. The 372 would be upgraded to RapidRide, so it would be the local route. 522 BRT is not on the map so I don’t know how it affect the 312. But Metro has other places where express routes overlap Link, like Federal Way-downtown, so it’s not impossible that Bothell Way might have four routes.

      4. For reasons Niles stated I have always thought 135th was a unnecessary station.

        I assume you mean NE 130th. Anyway, Niles is concerned about *capacity*. If I’m not mistaken, you used to hate 130th because ST had a study suggesting that it wouldn’t add ridership. Now you seem to be concerned that 130th would somehow overwhelm the system. My, how times have changed.

        Anyway, I think you still don’t understand the point of the NE 130th Station. It is actually quite similar to 145th station. Neither will have a lot of riders that walk to the station, but both will save quite a bit of time for those that make a transfer via the bus.

        But let me just back up a bit, and consider what will happen in a few years. After Northgate Link, buses from Lake City (and Pinehurst, and Northgate, and Bothell, etc.) will no longer go downtown. Folks from Lake City will take a bus to Northgate, Roosevelt or the UW and then transfer via Link to get downtown.

        It is very time consuming to get to either Roosevelt or Northgate. Making matters worse, Northgate is essentially a dead end, while Roosevelt is well south of it. 130th is basically due west of Lake City, with Bitter Lake to the other side. Thus the station at NE 130th saves a lot of time for a lot of riders from Lake City and Bitter Lake, while providing a better network (by connecting the two communities).

        Now, I suppose you could see increased ridership because a lot of riders will have a faster trip. But you could say the same thing about every station north of Lynnwood. Regardless, it is silly to purposely cripple the system so that a few riders get to stretch out on a train.

      5. I’ve never found the arguments for having a Bothell Way route go to 130th St Station to be terribly compelling. Lake City Way has a lot more there there than the single-family neighborhoods and golf course along 125th.

        The density per mile or per service hour (which are largely synonymous) is much higher for 125th/130th/Lake City than for Bothell Way. Most of Bothell Way is low density housing, despite some apartments along the highway. It isn’t until you get way out to Kenmore that you start running into significant density. Consider a trip from 145th and Bothell Way, both directions (north or south): https://goo.gl/maps/VzEmRXVjbN22 or this https://goo.gl/maps/jS4kJUKYUW82. The northern route includes the two big population centers of Bothell Highway (Kenmore and Bothell). But in the same distance (actually a little less) you’ve included pretty much all of Lake City, Pinehurst, Bitter Lake, and the Greenwood corridor until Greenwood. Along the way you’ve intersected major connecting transit routes, like Link and the E. It is also *closer* to the city (there is a very strong correlation between proximity and ridership).

        Which is why folks who fret about the 522 BRT line not serving Lake City have it backwards. It will be very hard to justify good midday frequency on Bothell Way. On the other hand, high frequency service on the other corridor is easily justified. An extension of the D, or a re-routed, now RapidRide 40 to serve Lake City is likely to happen. It will end at 145th, right where the density decreases. There are some weak spots along there, but the vast majority of stops are solid. Five block (half mile) spacing will do just nicely. Consider the section you are worried about:

        Lake City Way: High density
        25th: Medium density (to the east)
        20th: Low density
        15th: Medium density
        Roosevelt: Medium density
        Link: Low density, but major connection point
        Meridian: Low density, but next to the high school
        Aurora: High density, major connection point
        Greenwood: High density, another connection point (to the 5).

        The only weak stop is on 20th, really. The vast majority of stops are high quality. You just can’t do that on Bothell Way. You either have to drive for a long time without pickup up anyone (which is not efficient) or you have weak stops along the way.

      6. The density on Bothell/Lake City Way is south of 145th, so if BRT turns on 145th it serves only the edge of it. And 125th/130th certainly has apartments east of (-5.

    3. Niles is playing Goldilocks. He used to complain that ST couldn’t fill up the trains, so they were a bad investment. Now he is complaining that Lynnwood Link will fill up the trains. His solution? Don’t build it.

      Projections (not “promises”, Mr. Niles) showing the ridership is there to fill up the trains is a very strong argument why Lynnwood Link should be built.

      But I’m happy to have Mr. Niles argue against something that is a decided issue.

      His argument is also a standard this-can’t-completely-solve-the-problem-so-it-shouldn’t-be-done argument. It is the same lame argument the tobacco lobby uses to oppose taxing tobacco to fund some health care. It is the same lame argument the oil lobby uses against carbon taxes that won’t single-handedly stop global warming, among other arguments. Sadly, the masses have a way of buying this trope.

      1. I read the article as sincerely asking for an updated load factor analysis. I don’t recall one was done for ST3 or since. Without a more robust effort to analyze and report on the issue, we are all left to speculation. The solution is for the board to ask for an independent report — not to delay or cancel service.

        There is also a difference between standing on a crowded train and not being able to get on one. I read the concern as not being able to even board a train.

        Finally, a case for good urbanism should include rewarding closer-in riders too. Filling up trains with those living further out and making closer-in riders suffer does run counter to rewarding people who live more densely and closer to Downtown.

      2. It is too late to Herbold Lynnwood Link. It is being built. The traincars have been ordered.

        ST has done ridership analyses, using far deeper factors than Niles’ armchair talking points. Maybe they got the numbers wrong, but doing another analysis with the same criteria will get the same wrong answer.

        The solution to trains already full when they get to Seattle is to have short-run service patterns, like Northgate to Redmond, which might be the current plan.

        Whining about having to wait three more minutes for the next train is at the very top of entitlement. (Not that Mr. Niles plans to ever ride the train, mind you.)

      3. He’s raising the same concern that ST staff have raised, that Lynnwood Link might become overcrowded during its target planning window (2040?). This was before ST3, so it didn’t count the Everett extension. This is still a live issue, and why we should have gone with heavy rail. The reason ST chose light rail was because it can run on the surface (“surface, elevated, tunnel: it can do all three”), and at the time ST envisioned a lot more surface track (Mt Baker to SeaTac). All previous American light rails were 95+% surface, with maybe one underground station to go under a mountain or highway. That was key to keep the capital cost low, which was the primary concern, and also John Niles’ concern then.

        Everett won’t make as much difference as it appears because most of the people getting on north of Lynnwood will be people who will in ST2 be taking a feeder express to Lynnwood Station. There will be some new riders, both because of the one-seat ride and because downtown Everett is upzoning, but I assume they will be less than half of the total north-of-Lynnwood riders. Whereas with Lynnwood Link, all the people currently on Snohomish-downtown and Snohomish-UW express buses will be new Link riders, and that’s thousands of people.

        ST should do more load projections and be more transparent about them. If this is a potential problem, the public needs to know now, not just before it opens or when the overcrowding happens.

        We need to hold ST accountable for not ordering open-gangway trains now. That’s one potential scandal, like the escalator fiasco. If ST knows it may need the capacity, why is it ordering capacity-cripped trains that may have to be replaced?

        The long-term answer to a capacity crunch is to build a parallel line to relieve the pressure. I.e., the Aurora line, possibly as an extension of downtown-Ballard. But that requires 15 years’ lead time, so you have to start 15 years before maximum capacity is reached, otherwise you end up in a situation like the DC Metro where the center is at capacity and demand is increasing. Then you need to increase point-to-point express buses, a streetcar on the side, or something else to get more people around the bottleneck. In that case ST may have to keep or reintroduce ST Express routes. But without HOV lanes, those buses would get caught in the same traffic they are now, so they won’t be very attractive alternatives. So I’m not sure how well that would work out. Alternatively, instead of targeting Snohomish-downtown for express buses, you could target Northgate-UW, Northgate-Wallingford-downtown, something like that. (Although Westlake Avenue would be the most uncongested street, and that requires getting to Fremont.)

      4. Does heavy rail really have an advantage over light rail when considering platforms with the same length, and tunnels with the same diameter? I suspect the tunnels would have had to be larger and more expensive for heavy rail. Plus dwell time would have been longer, increasing minimum headway.

        Regardless, light rail is what is being built. The Siemens LRVs should be able to hold up to 40ish more passengers per car during crushloads. Open-gangway supertrams, with fewer seats, would probably carry about as many passengers as 6 Kinkysharyo LRVs, or 5 Siemens LRVs.

        Lengthening platforms is likely very expensive. Perhaps dealing with bottlenecks to allow lower minimum headway would be a better investment.

        The trains will fill up, in time, further and further outside of downtown. I’m convinced ST will have half the trains turnback somewhere, because the capital (i.e. extra LRVs) and operating costs of running 3-minute-headway service all the way to Everett is not justified. The question is not if, but when, and the topic to really study is the cost of the various solutions to increase capacity.

        BTW, having half the trains turn back at Northgate would certainly be a minor disincentive to living further out where headway would be 10 minutes most of the time.

        You are right, ST should be more transparent about which single element of the line determines minimum headway, and get to work on fixing it. Instead, they are playing a shell game where multiple elements are seen as setting minimum headway, equally, so why bother fixing any of them?

      5. For example, if the I-90 express bridge really can’t run trains more than every 6 minutes per direction because of the vibrational impacts, the solution might be as simple as through-routing East Link to Ballard Link. Failure to build the through-route tracks now may make installing them later an order of magnitude more expensive and far more disruptive.

        If the ability of trains to slog through the DSTT is a minimum headway setter, then having platforms on both sides of each track should be able to subract up to half the dwell time at the busiest station (probably Westlake) from the minimum headway. Or it might take three platforms at all four DSTT stations. The choice to build a turnback track in the middle of ID/C Station, instead of flyover tracks, may haunt future generations. ST should still plan for the flyover superstructure.

        Fixing the ventilation shaft in U-Link? That should be easily doable, if not cheap, and even if it has to wait out landowner Kemper Freeman. But plan for it. That will not just reduce minimum headway, but also total trip time, if by just a few seconds.

      6. Heavy rail can go faster. My understanding of the main difference between heavy rail and light rail is capacity, which is the issue here. Light rail is for moderate-capacity needs. Seattle in the 1980s was an appropriate size for light rail. Seattle approaching 800K and another million each north and south of us and 500K in the Eastside is a lot of people. And if our goal is really to replace the majority of car trips, that implies a lot higher ridership than now.

        “Failure to build the through-route tracks now may make installing them later an order of magnitude more expensive and far more disruptive.”

        Fortunately ST has never done that kind of thing before and is very unlikely to do so now. (Cough, escalators, interior train cabs, Rainier Valley surface, 145th Station at 148th, TIB bus detour, non-revenue turn track at Intl Dist, light rail mode, etc)

        “Fixing the ventilation shaft in U-Link? ”

        The ventilation shaft is not an issue. And I heard Kemper no longer owns the mini-mart land. He probably wanted to focus on opposing Link on the East Side, and getting out of its way on the West Side.

      7. The capacity concerns are overblown. I don’t know where they get the idea that Link has “exceeded estimates” when it is pretty much right on target. The only problem ST has had in the past is that Link has exceeded estimates in the city, and failed to meet them in the suburbs. Lynnwood Link will be mostly suburban.

        Not that I think ridership will be bad. Far from it. It will simply be typical for a system like this. Four car trains can carry a lot of people, and Northgate Link/Lynnwood Link will.

        I find it difficult to find information about peak usage for transit systems. It is pretty easy to find information about yearly ridership, or average weekday daily ridership, but not peak ridership. But I don’t think it is too hard to estimate which systems have a lot of riders during rush hour. There are several factors that can be used to estimate peak crowding:

        1) Total ridership.
        2) Ridership per line, or line segment.
        3) Headways.
        4) Capacity per train.
        5) Peak time orientation (what part of the ridership is people traveling during peak, and what is not).
        6) Single destination focus (is everyone going to the same place, or are people getting on and off at each stop).

        The last two items vary quite a bit. To be clear, every system is busier during rush hour, and every system has lots of people going downtown. But some are more weighted towards rush hour commuters than others. Commuter trains obviously are, but some city systems are as well. One system in North America stands out, in my opinion, in that regard: Calgary. The Calgary Light Rail system (or C-Train) is surprisingly popular. The popularity of a transit system in such a sprawling, suburban city is quite remarkable, leading to plenty of analysis: https://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2014/12/10/calgarys-soaring-transit-use-suggests-high-ridership-is-possible-even-in-sprawling-cities/. As that article explains, much of its popularity has to do with the decision to focus so many jobs downtown. That means that it must score exceptionally well in the last two factors — downtown commuters is responsible for such high numbers . While there is a strong rush hour/downtown focus to our system, it isn’t as large as that found within Calgary. We can already see that a significant number of people are headed to places other than downtown (Capitol Hill, UW, etc.). That means that during a typical rush hour commute to downtown from the north end, you are bound to see people get off the train before downtown (especially at the UW, where much of the office growth will shift in the coming years). Ridership will also be more spread out (as transit is used for more than just commuting).

        With that in mind, it is worth looking at the other factors. Total ridership for C-Train is around 320,000 people per day. This can be thought of as four segments, each going downtown. Calgary just started running four car trains, and each train carries around 200 people a day (similar to ours). That is remarkably similar to our system. Their trains run every 6 minutes, while the north end segment will run every 3. Thus you can think of Calgary as having two combined segments to our one (since we have double the headways).

        For us to match their ridership, we would have to have at least 160,000 riders per day on this segment, or have more of a downtown/rush hour focus. I think both are highly unlikely. There are ten stations to the north of Westlake. For us to get 160,000 riders on this segment means *an average* of 16,000 riders per station. There is not a single station in our system with that kind of ridership. Not the UW (which is both a destination, and a major bus feeder station), not Capitol Hill, not even Westlake, our most popular station. Remember, this is average. For every Angle Lake station (a relatively popular stations, since it is the terminus), we will have to have a station with 28,000 riders. Sorry, I just don’t buy it.

        Link will be crowded at times, just as it is crowded today. But like today, the vast majority of trips will not be crowded, and it will function just fine.

      8. Ross, we do have stations that serve over 16,000 riders today. ST only reports boardings, so all of the station data in their reports should be multiplied by 2 to describe general station activity.

      9. I think the capacity issue SoundTransit will most likely run into will have nothing to do with the trains or the intermediate stations,but the lack of tracks at the end stations.

        In Chicago, for example, you have significant storage yards at the end of many of the lines which are used as staging areas when the trains are running very frequently. Even on MAX, when trains are running frequently on some lines they have to make use of all three tracks at some of the end point stations. Three track stations are not going to be easy with Link, and with expansion planned for north and south having a temporary end point staging yard would be an expensive waste.

      10. @Al — Fair enough. But that is a distinction without a difference. For the train to be full of people, this particular section has to have over 160,000 trips, which means 160,000 boardings. For a southbound train, that means an average of 16,000 boardings per station. It means essentially no boardings northbound (just alightings). We have no stations with that many boardings.

      11. Crowding is a directional issue. Clearly few to no people will choose to travel in the opposite direction.

        So let’s say that there are 160K in Calgary going inbound and outbound (ignoring the through trips that actually do both).

        The let’s divide by 2 as Ross says for each line coming into Downtown. That’s 80K.boardings.

        We already have probably 17K riders today (three cars about 2/3 of the time at 6 minutes).

        In 2021, Northgate opens. ST has not shown any recent ridership forecasts but past ones suggest 31K boardings by 2030 with four-minute headway’s back in their 2015 presentations (pre-ST3 plans). That puts us at 47K boardings (existing + Northgate after 9 years of operations). Keep in mind that the only change in supply is adding a few Siemens train sets and running all four-car trains before East Link opens in 2023 (hence the concern of overcrowding after the 2021 opening because ridership will be 150 to 200 percent higher but there will only be a 33 percent increase in capacity until East Link opens).

        Lynnwood Link has been forecast at 74K riders by 2035 in ST’s 2016 pre-ST3 folio, or 37K boardings.

        That makes 84K boardings using pre-ST3 data. Granted these are at different years but it’s clear that it’s already pushing beyond the Calgary numbers shown by Ross.

        Finally, ST has not presented how many riders are forecast on these segments since ST3 was adopted. How many Everett Link riders are on crowded inbound morning trains south of UW? How many local morning trips are added as SLU riders go all the way to Westlake rather than get off the train further north? How much more growth will come from existing station ridership?

        Hence, that’s why people are asking! As long as ST does not disclose any forecasts, everyone is going to speculate how crowded existing trains will be. Regardless of our musings, the lack of new forecasts is apparent after each segment opening.

      12. @Al — You are forgetting that the Link trains will run every 3 minutes. The Calgary trains run every 6 minutes. Each segment in the Calgary system carries an average* of 80,000 riders a day. For the situation on the 3 minute line to be worse, we would have to have ridership over 160,000. I just don’t see it (nor does anyone else, really).

        *The fact that each segment carries an average of 80,000 riders means that one of them probably carries a lot more. It is highly unlikely that the system is that evenly balanced (between lines, and between each part of each line). Given the very commute oriented nature of their system, we would probably end up with well over 200,000 riders a day on the North Link section to match their crowding.

      13. @Ross: If was basing your comments on combining two lines in each direction (your original calculation). 320K means 160K inbound. In each direction entering downtown Calgary, that’s 80K inbound combined. For each line, that’s 40K inbound.

        I agreee that loads are likely imbalanced. However, a check of their 8 AM weekday schedules shows bith lines at some 4-5 minute headways.

  2. With the discussion about changes to the I-405 express toll lanes, here’s an idea: make the speed limit in the express lanes 70 miles per hour.

    It almost seems designed for a higher speed limit due to the quadruple line lane boundary separating the general purpose lanes most of the length. The only other way to enter/exit the express lanes are the direct access ramps, which might be fine with a higher speed limit when there is an acceleration name (NE 124th), whereas in downtown Bellevue where the leftmost lane is exit only, it makes sense to limit the express lanes to 65 or 60 miles per hour anyway.

      1. I’m not sure. I’ve driven next to a bus that is traveling slightly over 60. One thing to consider is that with I-405 BRT being the primary service, the buses used on those lines could be designed with additional sensors to make faster operation safe. In the proposed service concept, the 566 and 532 would still run (taking over stops no longer served by the 560 and 535), so those two routes could use upgraded buses as well. It’s also worth noting that the 566 will need to be out of the future express lanes so it can serve the freeway stations currently served by the 560, so it will already be the slower, higher coverage version of the BRT.

      2. Is there enough separation between the high-capacity lanes and the regular lanes for such a large difference in speed between them? If a car veers out of its lane then blammo.

  3. I wonder who the escalator manufacturer is. I noticed that in Panama City, where they use Otis equipment, there was an escalator repairman stationed at each station. At least there was someone 24/7 to keep the security guard company.

    1. Mike, there are Jersey-barrier systems that literally create a movable concrete zipper. The reserved lane we absolutely need right now certainly will require a wider highway in some places, which is worth every penny it costs.

      But no Holiday too sunny to spoil, is there? Was hoping to stay off this subject, but least I can do in return is make the Humane Society come save the horse quoted here, who richly deserves to feed the Service, Support, and Rescue world soon as I find the can opener.

      “Simply having an ORCA card is not proof of payment for each ride. If you fail to tap on before you ride, you could be fined $124.”

      Little stop-watch test, Matt. Or whoever’s got your job now. Exactly how long on average will it take a passenger to locate that verbiage? Word to the ADA office, not all our fingers can touch-screen a smartphone anymore. We forget a lot too, and don’t like being criminalized for it.

      Now. Toyota’s been telling me I owe them $15,547.22 for the car I just bought. I produce my receipt. Come on, Matt, my attorney’s listening in. Pretend it’s an ORCA card we’re talking about. Just repeat it.
      Since before ORCA existed, I’ve been dutifully carrying a monthly pass on the understanding that its possession is Proof of Payment to the Penny for every inch my every single ride. The law calls it something like “Past Practice,” doesn’t it?

      And my distinguished counsel has just called my attention to fact that I was cited precisely because I did “tap on” as plainly and justly demanded. IDS 6:20 pm, tapped on and boarded southbound. Columbia City 6:30pm, deboarded for one hour supper break.

      7:30pm, reboarded after “tapping on” as repeatedly warned to do. To. Be. Warned. I. Will. Be. Cited. For. Fare. Evasion. Because. I. Had. Not. Tapped. Off. Which. Caused. My. Tap. On. To. Make. My. ORCA. Card. State’s. Evidence.

      A sequence of events mentioned the zipside of nowhere in all the wasted wallspace from Angle Lake to UW and back sideways and tied in a Christmas wreath. With best little belljingle yet to come. My original “Tap On” entitled me to two hours’ use of all LINK for a giant multistation stairmaster with coffee breaks.

      So long as I did not…….guess “Tap”…. How? Those Art Project Playing Cards approaching Beacon Hill have a late ’60’s reference involving a Rabbit, don’t they, Alice? But it’s all the itch of a rabbit-flea bite compared to the real infection.

      Matthew, your employer’s campaign promise was to get the squalling spite of seven jealous turf-wareous little agencies out of the seat facing mine so I can enjoy my train-ride in peace. Now you’ve given them the right to “Tell” on me because your last sane accountant named Bob Cratchit just got sent to Bedlam for burning down Western State!

      But luckily, for a shrinking space of time only, the Charles Dickens provision still applies. We’ve subcontracted with the J.M. Barrie canine support program to place our contentious little nursery under the supervision of their sweetest Swiss operative. Anybody messing with Nana gets tail-whapped, pawed-flat, and slobbered to death before they can grunt.

      Sound Transit, offering you same deal as The Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come offered Scrooge Mutual. A Pass Shall Become the Pass that you Its Creators Intended. Believe me, you have no idea what a World Class Blessing it’ll be to have you grow up into the talented promise that we your creators intended.

      Mark Dublin

  4. Surprise surprise Niles’ answer is to delay the project. Yes, there’s probably a capacity problem between UW-Westlake post ST2, but there are options within the 400′ platform length and without doing a catastrophically expensive retrofit. As Martin alludes to, the current Siemens railcar order goes through ST2. We’ll need another huge procurement for ST3. Open gangways could add 15-20% more capacity, and signal modernization and automation (which even CEO Rogoff has mentioned as a possibility) promise further gains still. 4-car trains at 3 min headways with today’s fleet is probably fine until 2030, and getting down to 90-second headways with automation/signaling could double capacity. Even the supposed hard limit of 6 minutes on MLK may not be true forever, and advances in automated tech may allow for driverless even on MLK. If not, only the Green Line tunnel would be handicapped. The red/blue tunnel could probably be fully automated.

  5. Is there any opportunity to expand the trolleybus network? I hear lots of hype about battery electric buses (which is good!) but seems to me that trolleybuses are probably more efficient since they can use smaller batteries and don’t need to stop to charge. They do have disadvantages of requiring overhead wires, which can’t go everywhere.

    Is there any trolleybus expansion happening?

    1. Trolleybus was the default mode for the Move Seattle RapidRide lines. At a Roosevelt open house SDOT said the initial plan was trolleybus but they’d reevaluate the state of the art when it comes time to make a final decision. Since then, Madison has changed, I think it was first trolley then battery and now diesel? They haven’t indicated a mode yet for the 120, 40, or 44 as far as I know. (7 and 48 will pretty certainly be trolley, because most of the wire is already there, and the 23rd street project is installing wire-holders in the mile gap, and they’d be useless if it doesn’t use them.)

      In the 00s Metro stagnated on deciding whether to renew the aging trolley fleet, dieslize it, or expand it. Finally around 2012 it decided to order new trolleybuses to replace the aging ones, and said it was considering expansion, but no specifics. Then the RapidRide+ plans came out assuming they’d be alectrified. But I haven’t heard of any other trolley expansions. SDOT/Metro had been talking for years about installing wire on Yesler and moving the 3/4 there to avoid the James Street bottleneck, but this year that plan was shelved due to opposition about losing the bus stops at the jail. I haven’t heard of any other specific trolley plans.

      In the 80s there was a poster saying, “Trolley wires are coming to Ballard”, implying the 15/18 would be electrified or consolidated. That didn’t happen. I don’t know why not.

      Metro’s coming East Seattle reorg, and the alternatives people have outlined, will lead to the dieselization of the 2N, 2S, 12, and 47 unless Metro adds wire to fill the gaps. Summit Avenue is pretty much doomed. The successor to the 47 is a 25-like route, which would require 3-4 times more wire than Summit has now, in the lowest-ridership corridors in Capitol Hill. Metro is also talking about making the route two-way on Bellevue Avenue rather than a Summit-Bellevue couplet. So with all these, the trolleybus network could actually contract (not counting RapidRide expansions).

      1. Mark and Mike,

        Of all our mode choices, I think trolleybuses are Seattle’s most reliable, most versatile, and best understood machines. For ruggedness, suggest vendors in either Russia or China, or both. With adjustments to both modes, can share catenary with streetcars.

        No-brainer for Madison. Substations and local wire already there. “Counterflow” to allow center platforms with standard buses is worth the signaling and barriers to make it safe.
        Doubt that Russians still couple 40 footers very much, but we could dispatch platoons of three or four like DSTT was supposed to do.

        Sweden’s got two-wire pantographs for highway trucks, with battery fallback for passing with “pans” dropped. Maybe some useful flexibility for problem-ST-‘s yet to come.

        But got to credit John Niles for his Hallmark ™ copyrighted elegant Signature arguments.

        1. “Light-rail has no effect on congestion.” Except most important one, making participation in it optional.

        2. “Nobody gets a seat.” Starting with NYC’s first subway in 1904, every added car and shortened headway has only created longer more frequent crush loads. Exactly like with freeways and cars, with one exception. As for successful systems world-wide, all LINK’s squashed angry passengers are moving.

        Mark Dublin

      2. For what it is worth, I used to work with a gentleman who worked with Metro about the time of the proposed electrification of the 15/18 line. While that line did not get electrified, the wire loop from Jackson St to Weller St along 8th Ave S was done for a turnaround.

        I’d like to verify that but I can’t find the link to the trolley bus maps that the Google-machine has been able to find for me.

        I’m seeing a number of issues arise, though, in regards to the trolley system. First is the availability of the buses themselves. All the trolley systems in the country have updated their fleets in the past few years (except, maybe, Boston). Almost all have gone to New Flyer. With that, there is likely little to zero need for new buses in the near future. As such, there will probably be no supplier. Combined with the battery bus hype, I think that most agencies will be leaning that way.

        I am hopeful that the 23rd line will still be electrified. There are a number of new poles which were paid for and installed recently. I think it would be a waste of dollars if the City backed away from that. I would be curious if a bus order could be placed and filled by New Flyer. For the remaining RR lines, I’ve heard that the Eastlake-Roosevelt line will be electrified (as mentioned above) but the RR H line will definitely not be electrified due to traveling on both 99 and the West Seattle Bridge.

      3. I suspect the RapidRide expansion will free up a good number of current fleet trolley buses for regular service. The 48 should be getting a number once that goes electric.

        The 44 as electified RR will go to Children’s Hospital where there is an existing bus loop terminus. The 8 would be relatively easy to wire up on Denny Way. The 11 to Madison Park or its successor is an often talked about trolley route. The 70’s RR successor is supposed to be trolley to Roosevelt Station with a future extension to Northgate TC.

        Boston/Cambridge’s trolleys are from about 2004. The dual mode trolleys they run in the Silver Line Waterfront bus tunnel are from about 2006, they may be coming up for replacement in the not too distant future. I understand SF is replacing their 2001 era standard size trolleys in early 2020s. The articulated trolleys have already been deployed.

        Havent heard the latest on Madison BRT, last I heard they were having issues finding a 60′ articulated left & right side door trolley bus, as if such a magical creature ever existed.

  6. CTA red line trains are about the same length as Link at 4 car trains. They still use human operators. They have 133,920 riders every weekday on that line, which shares tracks with the brown line part of the time.

    So count me among the skeptics of capacity panic.

    If peak period ever really does get severely crowded, then maybe it is time to send a few more buses to Edmonds and actually make some use of Sounder North?

    1. Link trains are no where near the standing capacity of a crush loaded CTA/MTA train. It’s really apples and oranges. Link trainsets also have several redundant driver cabs that will never be necessary, which take up even more space.

      1. MTA has longer station platforms than the CTA has at most stations.

        The most recent CTA order is a 48 foot long car which has longitudinal seating, so it seats only 34 per car with total capacity of 123.

        Standard capacity on Link trains is 194 per 95 foot car, crush load of 252, with a lot more floor space devoted to seats. Switch to longitudinal seating and you probably wind up with similar capacity, with Link cars being about the same length as a CTA married pair.

      2. Westlake to Capitol Hill at rush hour say around 5:00-5:45 you will definitely find crush loaded Link trains now FWIW.

  7. For WA HSR they should do a CA HSR approach, ie, piecemeal. First authorize 5 billion for Seattle to Tacoma (aka Sounder or Cascade express) with necessary pass-thrus. Once complete spend 15 billion to expand to Olymbia and Bellingham. Follow this up with 20 billion for Bellingham to Vancouver BC and Olympia to Vancouver Wa. Finalize with 5 billion for Vancouver Wa to Portland. Will be painful at first but once Vancouver BC and Portland are connected it will be a lot easier to stomach. Kinda like waiting for University and Capital Hill stations to be connected to the initial highly subsidized Link line.

  8. A few thoughts:

    a) Incoming Sound Transit Board Chairman Redmond Mayor John Marchione and I traded polite e-mail notes the past week. Optimistic with the help of the Project Expansion Chair Claudia Badassuchi the Board will return to a level of decorum and productivity that is to be expected in this time of great transit power competition for projects, people and equipment with Vancouver, BC’s TransLink and the San Francisco Bay Area’s BART.

    b) I agree Sound Transit has really erred in its choice of railcars versus a drivable version of the SkyTrain Mk III (aka the Bombardier MOVIA metro) with open gangways really makes my head shake. The SkyTrain Mk III is the 21st Century rockstar of sexy light rail, period. Heck, SkyTrain is so popular up there that they’re talking about lengthening the platforms!

    c) Congrats to Sound Transit Board & Staff on a 2019 budget. I was in the Boardroom during some of the debates and it was a close run thing due to a passionate, respectful minority of Boardmembers wanting to bank property tax authority & a lack of staff preparedness for that contingency.

    d) I really hope in 2019 to see Mukilteo and Boeing’s Future of Flight a lot more frequently connected to the Seaway Transit Centre. But that’s going to require a new team.

    There you go for the open thread. I’ll check this thread again this evening.

  9. Is there anything preventing new trains being built in the future that have open gangways, more standing room, and slightly higher speeds? Is the way the tracks/catenary were built inherently prevent higher capacity?

    1. Gangways of any sort generally haven’t been available on modern light rail car designs.

      If you have open gangways, then it is difficult to also have a can there. If you don’t have a cab, then why go with multiple short cars in the first place?

      What certain places have done is order much longer cars with 100% low floors, which allows for lots of doors. Witness Budapest having 183 foot long cars.

      Alstom’s Citadis Spirit (built for Ottawa) has a version available up to 194 feet long and maximum speed of 65 mph. A current 4 car Link train would become two cars of the same train length.

      I don’t see what the reason is so many agencies are going with a 55 mph top speed. TriMet did this because that is the maximum speed of the only car design they could obtain at the time. Originally they wanted 70 mph but they couldn’t get that in a proven design in 1980.

      The catenary and all that is the same type as used in much higher speeds elsewhere.

    2. MEDELLÍN’s older(2009) CAF cars could do 62mph, 227 ft long and capacity of 885 riders. In the 4th slide note the orientation of the benches. This makes for a huge capacity gain. However, for long trips one can get pretty tired. Everett to Seattle standing with a heavy bag could be a bit much. Also, when they are at full capacity it is nearly impossible to get out if you’re not near a door.


      1. Yeah, but I doubt that the train will be full, or even standing room only for most of the ride. The ride from Lynnwood to Everett will likely be pretty empty. Lynnwood to Seattle will be about a half hour ride (to the far end of downtown) and there are plenty of standing room only bus rides that long (or longer).

      2. There will be plenty of long segment pairs, not just Everett-Seattle. A lot of people don’t have 20 year old legs and 20+ mins of standing can be a bit much. By the time they add Everett in 3019: 1) Stations like UW, CH and Seatac are going to be seriously capacity maxed. 2) I won’t be around so who cares.

      3. What do you mean for a station to be “capacity maxed”?

        Seatac Station has about half the number of boardings as Westlake Station and its ridership is growing at only about half the rate of Link overall growth rate.

        UW Station will continue to be a popular station, but I expect that some of its current riders will shift to using Roosevelt and U-District Stations when Northgate Link opens in 2021.

      4. Yeah, what Phillip said. I have no doubt that stations like U-District and Capitol Hill will have lots of riders, which means that if you board there, during rush hour, heading south, you will likely have to stand. It is quite possible this “standing room only” section will extend to Northgate, or even 145th. But before that point you should be able to get a seat. Likewise on other stretches. From SeaTac (heading north) there is room to sit down. As the train gets to Rainier Valley, it fills up, so that by the time it reaches Beacon Hill, it is quite possible that riders have to stand. In both cases, though, if you do have a longer trip (UW to SeaTac) you will be able to sit down by the time the train leaves downtown.

        That is the way it works now. If I want to board a 41 in the morning at Northgate, I’m standing. But if I board at Lake City, or even Pinehurst, I can get a seat. In general the train will have short standing sections (shorter than buses like the 41 today). Even if you have to stand from 145th all the way to Westlake, that is still only 16 minutes. On the south end, Rainier Beach to Pioneer Square is only 20 minutes (and I doubt a four car train will fill up when it reaches Rainier Beach).

  10. Regarding crowding on Link, I want to re-up one of my hobby horses: future Link vehicle orders should move to center-facing bench seating, even if it reduces the number of seats.

    2×2 seating works fine during times when the trains are well below capacity, but when Link fills-up- during rush hour, football/baseball/soccer games and other special events, the narrow aisles are bottlenecks that make getting off and on the train slower and more painful than it should be

    1. I think we posted concurrently…see above. I was amazed what a difference center-facing benches make after riding Medellin metro. However, it can be a nightmare trying to board.

      1. Could you describe the problem you encountered in boarding with center-facing benches? I don’t recall this causing a problem for me on the NYC subway.

      2. It was actually de-boarding that caused me grief. The Medellin cars width allowed for a couple extra rows of standing passengers. In an at capacity car these extra rows were an added impediment to get to the exit. I don’t have 20 year old legs and found the only empty seats were on the opposite side from my exit. In hindsight maybe I could have strategized better. The two lines of this city carry 1,003,565/day. During peak you best be prepared.

      3. Hopefully better than now where people step on the train, stop in the doorway, wait and look for 10 seconds to find the best seat available while blocking others from boarding. Only escalator standees on the left side are more annoying to a regular Link rider.

    2. The current Kinkisharyos are horrible in this regard; the entire center section of them is nearly a “no-go” zone as – even though it has longitudinal seating – they are set closer to the centerline of the car and so leave almost no room for passing, let alone standing. Even to get to that area there are psychological “pinch points” where the walls are that most people will not pass unless pushed. (A similar thing happens at the stairs at the car ends – same as in buses with them – people resist moving up and standing up there but at least you are still in the open end of the car.) Add that to the fact that they are boxy and ugly both inside and out. Of all the rail transit I’ve ridden throughout the world, the Kinkisharyos we have are by far my least favorite trainsets.

      Regarding capacity – if we get to the point where people are left behind at stations because our cars are designed for a few more seats at the expense of a lot more standees, that would be a black mark on the system. Peak-hour transit will always involve some amount of standing – witness the 11 or 8 or you name the route at rush hours. I’ve stood for 30+ minutes on an 11 many, many times on a weekday afternoon, and my legs have long since seen the back side of 20. Seattle is still one of those places where if you need a seat someone will stand for you – and if not, I’ve never once seen someone who asked for a seat be declined. Generally speaking even in large cities people are getting on and off trains and buses frequently enough that seats become available. Santiago was one of the most crowded metros I’ve ever used, but even there it was possible to get a seat (if you wanted) if you were riding for more than a short time.

      If we ever managed to come up with something like that multiple-line solution posted earlier, with some lines having short turnbacks, we could put the higher capacity trainsets on the more “urban” lines and the older sets with more seating on the lines that in other places would be commuter rail. Obviously they could be used elsewhere if necessary, but it should be a relatively straightforward exercise to schedule the limited-seating cars on lines mostly in-city, putting the seats on the longer runs. If you’re traveling on a segment with multiple lines and you want a better chance at a seat, you can always wait for one of those trains to come along.

  11. Just a thought.

    On the low level portion of the light rail train, each 4 seat section could be changed to sidway facing 3 seat sections. They could be spring loaded like the others to leave up during rush hour service. Each train has 4 of these sections. You would only lose 4 seats. But you would get a wider isle. If they were left up during rush hour, you would gain even more standing room capacity. Later at night pull them down and have a seat. Leave the upper sections and turn table seating alone.

    Or, you could take out all the seats on the last train of a future 4 car train. Nickname it “The Crusher” for crushload capacity and have tourists think we are crazy, but gain about 40-60 extra people per ride.

    1. ST ordered Siemens S70 train cars. Those appear to have only side- facing seats on the low floor section except for the bending middle section (and the first seats next to the middle) as a standard configuration:


      I’m not sure what seat layouts are coming, but most manufacturers can adjust seat configurations a bit at the buyer’s request.

      I have to also mention that some Link riders irresponsibly stand next to the doors rather than move further into cars. It’s particularly bad for those with ear buds and unaware of their surroundings. If more riders would step further into cars, the problem wouldn’t be nearly as bad. When I have to push by them to get out, I have to shout “excuse me” or they won’t get out of the way.

      1. I think the new train car is cool. I was just thinking of a cheap and easy way to reconfigure a car we are going to have for 10-15 years longer.

        I also agree people should move away from the door. I will not blame all of them for being irresponsible. Some are. Some are not. It isn’t their fault if the floor plan is so bad that they can’t get away from the door. There are not enough grab handles or easy ways to stand above the stairs comfortably. Getting out is difficult. That is why I came up with the sideways seat configuration in my statement above. A cheap retrofit for the original Link car set up without a new Link car.

        As far as earbus go, I do not wear them until I can sit down, if at all. I do not want to contribute to the Seattle Freeze. I probably annoy some riders by asking them how there day is, or was, or will be.

        Good link. Thank you.

  12. Glenn, maybe you know. Does an open-gangway car require a wider curve-radius that the cars we have? My own definition of “light rail” includes ability to run street track if need be. See no clear and present danger of that.

    Know it’s probably the name of a bad demon (not a good vampire) in somebody’s video game now, but the Electroliner obeyed more than one Milwaukee stop sign before it channeled its inner Bullet Train at the city line, on the way to Chicago. Well remembered walk to bathroom verifies that open gangway is compatible with streetcar track.

    Same with bathrooms. Just sayin’.


    1. This gets to be somewhat complicated because what counts as a “open gangway” design?

      Let’s take the Berlin S-Bahn. The older cars are sets of 2 cars with a single cab at one end and a wall at the other. It’s open gangway between the two cars, but completely closed off at the non-cab end. The cars are semi-permanently connected, so they can go around curves just fine but they able to do this without having a standard coupler between the cars in the open gangway sections. They dispense with the complication of having a coupler and the open gangway by simply not having the open gangway on ends where there is a standard coupler between cars.

      However, because the cars with open gangways are semi-permanently coupled anyway, you could join them with an articulation joint and wind up with a single Link car, only with a cab at one end.

      it is quite complicated to have an open gangway with a coupler as the ends of each car have a lot more freedom to move relative to each other. The London tube stock and the new NYCTA “open gangway” cars wind up with a pretty tightly controlled joint between cars that makes them semi-permanently coupled.

      Having a cab in that space is nearly an impossibility. The only thing I can think of that comes close to a combination of an open gangway with a fold-up cab in that space or the ability to close it off and make it an end of car is the Danish Flexliner. It just isn’t something that is that common to need. The Flexliner is really an intercity train and not usually used on sharp curves. It was here in Oregon when it was used as a demonstrator in the early 1990s, but it was not used in multiple with another Flexliner through the gangway. I don’t think the open gangway design they have on it would have worked on the sharp curves as the east end of the Steel Bridge in Portland (this is the limiting curve on what equipment can be used between Seattle and Eugene – it was too sharp for the the X2000 demonstrator that came here and alternative routing had to be used).

      So, for the most part, with open gangways on transit equipment (as opposed to longer distance trains that don’t have to negotiate extremely sharp curves) you wind up with semi-permanently coupled cars with some of them having cabs and some of them being center cars.

      If you are going to have one long semi-permanently coupled unit anyway, then why not make it a single long car with articulation joints so that you don’t have to worry about what to do at couplings and how much of the gangway width you loose by trying to accommodate the sharp curves?

      Thus, we wind up with things like the Alstom car for Ottawa, where “open gangway” is accomplished by just having a very long single car, because the alternative on such sharp curves is to wind up with multiple cars that are nearly permanently coupled anyway, without cabs on the intermediate sections. If you are asking if these car designs are able to go around sharp curves, they are designed to accommodate the needs of street railways in Europe, so the minimum curve radius is around 85 feet. This would be really difficult to do with an open gangway between coupled cars as at a coupler the inside edge of the cars gets really close together and the outside edge pulls far apart.

  13. Hobbs’ transportation/carbon tax plan looks weak on climate change- almost half the revenue would go to new highway spending, the carbon tax would stay fixed at $15/ton, and it would increase taxes and fees on bicycles and electric vehicles. I know there’s going to be some give-and-take in crafting legislation, but this appears to concede a lot while accomplishing little.

    1. I think his plan will bring more diverse parties to the table. The fact that California utilizes C&T for grade separation is more universally palatable and a win for auto, freight and transit users. Also, knowing electric car owners are pitching in can only dampen the resentment found with petro users; if you’re going to use roads, vehicle preference shouldn’t decide who pays for them.

      The greater appearance of equity the greater the support.

      1. I understand the symbolic appeal of electric car owners and bicyclists pitching in and dampening resentment- I’d have to see how large the taxes and fees are before passing judgement.

        I’m more concerned about the proposed spending breakdown:

        $5 billion: new highway construction
        $3 billion: culvert removal
        $2 billion: highway maintenance, five new (electric) ferries, freight mobility, transit/bike/ped programs

        The gas and carbon tax will provide some incentive to drive less, but the added highway spending may lead to more driving, while the price of bicycles and electric vehicles will go up, and there will be little new transit/bike/ped infrastructure to give people the opportunity to switch modes.

        This seem a poor way to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector.

      2. The $5 billion for hwy construction includes the CRC. If light rail and a bike lane are indeed part of the new plan then it is a win-win.

        Given a state that has failed to pass multiple green initiatives I think little wins are all that we can expect. Also, I am not so certain these initiatives are in substitute of Inslee’s latest proposals. I think the dems will enact more than what is presented here.

      3. If dems go too overboard they risk losing seats back to republicans. Given some of the conservative districts represented by dems this year I think this is a genuine concern for many of them.

      4. Conversely, King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties account for about half the state’s population, and it sounds like they would not be getting much from this proposal.
        As I said in another recent open thread, I think the “Green New Deal” concept is our country’s best hope for breaking the political deadlock on climate change. Fleshed out into a complete jobs and infrastructure program, it could appeal across a broad swath of people.

      5. Well, yes, but proposals for a green new deal to jump-start depressed parts of the economy have tone nowhere due to political opposition, by which I mean fossil-fuel interests and fear of nanny-state domination.

      6. The CRC project will just fuel more suburban sprawl in SW Washington. I can’t see how this is good for climate change.

      7. Chris,

        It depends how it’s done. The original CRC was to have had one pair of 24/7/365 HOV lanes, three general purpose lanes to replace (and let’s be honest, yes, modestly expand because of lane width) the current bridges’ capacity and a pair of “auxiliary” lanes between Main / Washington and Marine Drive. Then it had the lower deck for transit, bikes, and pedestrians.

        Yes, that would have been about 2.2 lanes’ worth of new capacity but without some significant construction on the Oregon side, it wouldn’t really have allowed that much more sprawl. The truth is that the “alternates” through North Portland are at capacity for two and a half hours in the morning and three and a half in the evening. There aren’t any more places for drivers to escape. It’s simple 3D geometry; the roads are full, full, full.

        This is going to start choking off construction rapidly, even though Ridgefield is gung-ho for growth.

    2. It sounds like symbolic horse poop. The gas tax is a de-facto carbon tax. A true carbon tax would mean mean addressing other sources of carbon emissions. In a lot of states that would be a big deal (other states burn a lot of coal) but not Washington. We get almost all of our energy from hydro. You could address things like beef consumption, but my guess is they won’t. It just sounds like an excuse to increase the gas tax while calling it something “greener”. (Not that I’m against raising the gas tax — I just don’t like BS legislation).

    3. I don’t see Hobbs bill going anywhere frankly. I’d like to read the thing but I don’t see it listed as a 2019 prefiled bill nor do I see it on the senator’s own webpage. It’s funny how he kept silent about this proposal before the election when he was being hammered by the opposition about his voting record on raising taxes. I seem to recall Hobbs even having to run scores of tv ads claiming the opposite (which was quite disingenuous at best), indicating that the opposition’s attacks were working. Frankly I hate this sort of politician, i.e., the type who won’t run on his actual record, and sadly this seems to be the m.o. for far too many centrist Democrats.

      Anyone have a link to Hobbs’ bill? Perhaps I just overlooked a direct link in The Herald piece.

  14. Surprised so little comment on vertical transit. Hope we’re not completely out of ($)’s. Or that their little ($)upplier isn’t out of business for good.

    Kidyounot serious, at UW and Broadway, liability and criminal justice bills following a very likely Elevescalatropocalypse will cost this region its next half dozen ST-‘s. So if it costs our next ST-‘s whole budget to repair and redesign, money never better spent in advance.


    Main problem with this machinery is precisely that it is NOT rocket science! Let alone driverless elevators. My own early ’50’s dream for my Social Security, walnut seat, big brass handle and all. The Eiffel Tower and all its vertical lifts were done in 1887. For a structure that was supposed to be a temporary exhibit at an exhibition.

    The sky both sides of the stratosphere has its own evil six year old little supernatural brothers to bite you in the seat of your flight-suit- WWII pilots called them “Gremlins”. But elevators and escalators answer to a much older demonology. So it’s lucky that their Patron Saint looks so much like a Medieval Sam Zimbabwe.


    As you might expect, though, the Patron Saint of transit tunnels endured a much worse martyrdom. Sworn to confidence, ask anybody at the TBM controls northbound or east if they’ll ever ‘dis Saint Barbara even under their breath? The artillery is sweet on her too. And all the miners. She’s ostensibly valued for her lifelong proximity to explosions.

    But the horrible tortures she endured, all paid for by her father, who finally ran out of budget and killed her himself, rang true in the hearts of every contractor and their workers on the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. As their every plea for a management decision was answered by the single dread dictum: “As we war with the evil King of County, Our attention must be upon Governance!”

    So at this Blessed time, let’s pray to be Delivered From All Our Delivarables That Got Damaged In Shipping.


  15. In regards to any potential crowding problems, our platforms are just plain too short in existing stations right now — but this is still workable. If the tunnel itself can handle longer than 4 car trains, simply designate some cars for one purpose or another and have the train stop such that only certain cars open at each 4 car station.

    This is done commonly on intercity trains and even in some places in SF and NYC on their metro lines. Boom, more capacity by just adding cars.

    (But as others have implied there is lots more room to go by improving seat layouts and altering our small-suburban style mindset that permeates here.)

  16. I almost missed the ST press release name rollout for the 405 and 522 BRT:

    “… new Stride bus rapid transit lines on I-405 and SR-522 and Northeast 145th Street…”

    Let the jokes about being stuck in traffic slow enough to compare to walking begin!

    1. If BRT shared the right of way of the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern with the trail, such as was Kirkland’s supposed plan, then speed would not be in question.

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