SounderBruce (wkimedia)

52 Replies to “News Roundup: Preconceived Opinions”

    1. That’s not the point at all. It is simply a matter of distribution. If you look at something like cell phones, for example, my guess is very few people have two or more. So if you have more phones in use than people (which is the case in the U. S.) it means that very few people lack a cell phone. Likewise with refrigerators. There aren’t that many people who own a dozen refrigerators, for example.

      On the other hand, Taco Bell sells around 2 billion tacos a year, or about six per person. I think it is safe to say that there are a lot of people who don’t eat Taco Bell tacos, which means that a fair number of people must be eating a lot of Taco Bell tacos (dozens upon dozens each year). Cars are becoming more like Taco Bell tacos, and less like refrigerators or cell phones. Some people own several, while more and more people own none.

    2. The only way in which STB is comparing guns to cars is pointing out that both have a small group of owners who are owning more and more of the product.

  1. Regarding the KIRO 7 story: Real-time data and estimated arrival/departure times will be reliable on unchanged segments of the 12 viaduct routes, but become less accurate in heavy traffic and once they are on the 3-5 week reroute pathway through SODO.

  2. Excited about more apartments in downtown Auburn. Right next to the train station, too!

    1. As someone who currently lives there in Downtown Auburn, it’s nice to see that they are finally doing something about the gravel lots next to Auburn Station as it seemed like a lot of wasted land that could be better used for apartments. I likely won’t be living there by the time things finish as I’m moving to Denver later this year, but am very happy about this.

    1. That’s great. I hope they can just keep that new schedule. The old schedule is outdated (traffic is still heavy at 6:00 PM).

      1. The city once asked for public comment on requesting the Feds for extended time. Not sure whatever happened to this. I raised this point of being on the 15x coming home to Ballard, particularly in the summer, for the bridge to go up at 6:01 (usually for a yacht as opposed to a freight ship).

        I doubt we would get an extra hour, but I would be happy with an extra 30 minutes, or even a direction to the bridge operators not to open the bridge when a bus is within X amount (a minute under rush hour traffic?) of the bridge.

      2. Since it involves the feds (can’t remember if Coast Guard or Army Corps or both), it’s probably bogged down somewhere. Federal policy isn’t know for being quick to changes.

        Seattle needs to really press harder on this, because one of the best and cheapest ways of mitigating traffic is to encourage alternate work hours. But nobody wants to adjust their work hours if it means constantly getting stuck when the bridge goes up in the 6 to 7 PM hour.

      3. Yeah, somehow they got the feds to approve a temporary expansion; maybe they can get them to make a more permanent change. As mentioned, the biggest problem is in the evening, and even a half hour (to 6:30) would be a lot better.

    1. Obviously inspired by overhearing me say “I STRIDE ONTO MY CHARIOT LIKE A GOD” when I boarded the bus one day.

    2. How about “I discovered that my own stride is faster than their STride stuck in HOT traffic and then trying to get to the Renton transit stop using a right-handed exit.

    3. It’s better than than the bad alternatives we were afraid ST might choose. It doesn’t have BRT in the name, and while it’s a third frequent-bus brand, the name is clearly associated with ST. It joins a series of whimsical brand names: Sounder, Link, Stride. And even if ST declines to use the STride variation, others will.

  3. This is a Page 2 assignment. Do meandering milk run bus routes still serve a purpose in this age of Light Rail and BRT? This is optional, but I also want you to ride a milk run route from end to end, then write a Haiku poem about your experience.

    1. I think that Uber/Lyft as well as texting to get rides from family/friends has made it so that no one will tolerate more than a 15 minute wait for anything.

      The only way to make “milk run” routes do any better than fulfill a policy promise is to make them driverless, slow-moving vehicles or agree to abdicate them all to an Uber/Lyft format. I’m curious to see if anyone will ever develop a system to create a public version of Uber/Lyft.

      1. Sorry Al – that was for Sam.

        (but not all of us like or choose to use Uber/Lyft – what do you see as a “public version” of this?)

    2. I’m looking forward to your Page 2 article on the subject. Thank you for volunteering, Sam. However, we can’t compare apples and oranges: the number of turns a bus makes has no relationship to the rise of trunk corridor services. The optimal number of turns depends on the geography of the community, the importance of various destinations, and things like that. Main-corridor routes are useless if you don’t live near the corridor, so some kind of coverage routes will still be needed.

      Metro has been making a long-term move away from very long milk runs like the 131’s predecessor to Des Moines, where there was no better alternative to Seattle than the 174, which was another long milk run. Most of these have been replaced with a trunk like Link or ST Express or RapidRide or a frequent 120 or 150, and a feeder to it.

      There are two patterns that explain some apparently-meandering routes. Sometimes two adjacent pairs are through-routed in an A-B-C arrangement, creating an L-shaped route. These are mainly serving A-B and B-C, not A-C. The through-routing is efficient because it doesn’t require twice as many drivers, buses, layover periods, and layover parking space. And it helps the minority riders who do travel through B. Another pattern is to consolidate the highest-volume segments of multiple routes into a trunk corridor route, and string together the remaining parts into a coverage route. That’s why the recent meandering routes were created, like the 226, 249, and 107. The 107 can meander because the 106 is a faster alternative between the major points, and the 249 can meander in Beaux Arts because the 550 is a faster alternative on Bellevue Way. Before those faster routes existed, all routes in the area were slow infrequent milk runs, so your only choice was an infrequent horrible route or an infrequent slightly-less-horrible route. And all of the recent meandering routes are pretty short, like Eastgate to Overlake, not Bellevue to Bothell.

      If you delete those routes, those areas will have no transit service. It’s not a question Link and RapidRide making coverage routes obsolete; it’s about cutting people off from transit service if they aren’t smart enough or rich enough to live near the Link/RapidRide lines. Some of those segments may no longer be justified, but that requires a segment-by-segment assessment, not a blanket mode statement like “The RapdiRide corridors are the only places that should have bus service.” That’s like saying, “If it’s not on Link, it doesn’t matter.” So Greenwood and Lake City don’t matter because they weren’t favored with Link lines? We need to recognize that even though Link and RapidRide cover neighborhoods and corridors, they don’t cover all neighborhoods and corridors that should have bus service.

      Re Uber/Lyft and similar demand-response services, “The worst-performing, emptiest fixed-route buses server more passengers per hour than the best-performing to-your-door van and car taxis.” So says Jarrett Walker (paraphrased). E.g., Is Microtransit a Sensible Transit Investment? has a table of the riders per hour of subways, trunk bus routes, coverage bus routes, micritransit, and others. Coverage routes serve an average of 10-15 people per hour, while microtransit serves 0-3. So Beaux Arts and Sherwood Forest (164th east of Overlake Village) may or may not deserve a route, which will necessarily meander because of where they’re located relative to the nearest commercial centers, but that needs to be decided based on the specifics of Beaux Arts and Sherwood Forest, not on a blanket mantra like “meandering routes are bad” or “RapidRide and Uber solve everything”.

      A service like Uber charging a transit-equivalent fare of $2.75 and accepting transfers would require heavy subsidies. Somewhere in between the $8 subsidy of a bus ride and the $40 subsidy of an Access ride.

    3. Oh, and I did ride the current 226 from end to end, to try out the electric bus on that route. Sorry, no haiku. How about a limerick?

      There was once a troll named Sam
      Who liked to write transit spam
      He was an expert on bus wraps
      And he even rode MAX
      But he didn’t have a sound network plan

    4. Ridership on TriMet’s milk run 72 increased somewhat after the semi-parallel MAX green line opened. Ridership on the 10 decreased a bit, but at the same time the recession was going on and there were cutbacks in service, including the 10. The 99 is an express (in a TriMet sort of way) and it’s ridership tanked after the orange line opened, even though the 99 and the orange line only share several stops. Apparently people prefer the orange line + milk run 33, especially since the orange line allowed for a frequency boost on the 33 since it’s cheaper per passenger.

      It’s a bit like asking if freeways eliminate the need for local streets. For some trips yes. For some trips no.

      1. I don’t think the 72 falls under the Milk Run category. 32, 34, 38, etc come to mind. Or something like the 46, which literally has an out-and-back spur. Or the 5th, which has an out-and-back spur and is a giant loop?

  4. Spoke to my legislators yesterday at a town hall event in Kenmore. Focused on climate change and reducing emissions from the transportation sector. Rep. Pollet said something that I thought was a bit odd.

    I mentioned electric cars and how I believe they are not a complete solution, and that we need to emphasize transit, biking, walking, and changing zoning laws. Rep. Pollet mentioned that if we eliminate parking minimums at new apartments, residents won’t have a place to charge their electric cars.

    I thought that was kind of a weird comment, but unfortunately I didn’t have any time to follow-up on it. I think it demonstrates an assumption that most residents will be car-owners, therefore we should accommodate car ownership. This appears to be a blind spot for many legislators. Is improving walkability even a priority?

    Senator Frockt understood where I was going when he restated that my original point that electric cars are an incomplete solution.

    1. I think the bigger issue is that apartments with parking that don’t have on-site charging. I have a lot of co-workers who would own electric vehicles but have not place to charge where they live. Adding charging equipment to apartments is really a no-brainer, but landlords will need a big stick (aka regulation) to make them do it.

      1. Even in condos with parking garages (and spaces with an electrical outlet like mine) is tough. I was forbidden by the HOA from using the outlet (and I had offered reimbursement for the electricity).

      1. My guess is the vast majority of electric car users charge their car at home or at work. Very few of them “fill it up”, the way that gasoline car users do. It just takes too long.

        Not that I’m defending Pollet’s statement (it is a typical “Huh??” Pollet statement). What Mike said makes more sense; you need to provide more of a carrot and/or a stick for apartment owners. I would do away with the parking minimums, but require a charging station if you build any parking spots. I would also subsidize the chargers (which is basically the idea behind the governor’s proposal). A lot of apartment owners would just build the parking — there is enough demand, and the chargers (especially if subsidized) are not that expensive. The parking and the chargers are perks for the apartment owners. On the other hand, for small properties that have limited space, developers would just skip the parking altogether (especially in more urban areas).

    2. How are electric cars an incomplete solution? If ICE vehicles are banned, and the electricity grid is carbon free: problem solved. Note that if you live in Seattle, the grid is already carbon free.

      The remaining sources of carbon are industrial and agricultural and don’t have anything to do with vehicles.

      I think we should have public transit for a lot of reasons. I don’t think climate change is really one of them.

      I personally think that climate change is too important of an issue to allow it to be hijacked for other purposes, whether they are worthy or not.

      1. There is still an environmental cost to manufacturing the cars and the batteries they run on, and I have my doubts about whether it’s even possible to convert 100% of our current VMT to cars as we currently use them. And while Seattle runs on carbon-free electricity, it’s not unlimited. Conservation still matters.

        My stance is, switch to electric cars, but reduce our reliance on cars at the same time.

      2. Cars incentivize energy-inefficient land uses (sprawl), regardless of whether they run on gasoline or electricity.

        “Exact same lifestyle as now except electric” isn’t a viable climate change strategy.

      3. Is our carbon free electricity actually limited? My understanding is that electricity use is flat or declining. In any case, we have infinite carbon free energy in the sense that we can always build more.

        I don’t know what’s unrealistic about converting to 100% electric cars. Cars don’t last forever, and people replace them regularly, so it’s not unreasonable to phase out most ICE cars over a 10 year period.

        On the other hand, I don’t see how it’s feasible to get 100% of people to give up their cars, even in rural and suburban areas. Statewide, maybe 20% tops with a dramatic expansion of public transit…

        Again, I think we should have good public transit… I just don’t see it as a solution to climate change. I think we need realistic plans to solve climate change and not to confuse it with other agendas.

      4. “Is our carbon free electricity actually limited?”

        We don’t know but we’re probably somewhere near the limit of what City Light and PSE have access to currently. It’s enough for normal loads but they have to import power on the hottest days of the year. City Light says it’s carbon neutral now so maybe it has enough renewable energy for the spikes. But we shouldn’t assume we can increase use sharply with a million electric cars without checking where the electricity will come from.

        “My understanding is that electricity use is flat or declining.”

        It is flat, because the decrease in per-capita use has equaled the population increase. We can’t assume it will remain that way. People can only exchange 100-watt incandescent bulbs with 25-watt LEDs once. And as electronics have gotten more efficient, people have gotten more of them. And many electronics use power even when they’re off unless you unplug them or put them on an outlet strip with a mechanical switch.

        “In any case, we have infinite carbon free energy in the sense that we can always build more.”

        In the long term, yes, but the utilities can’t just snap their fingers and create a wind farm, apartment dwellers can’t put solar panels on their roof, and homeowners who could put them on their roof won’t necessarily do so but will still expect to charge their electric car every day.

      5. There’s a cost to that carbon-free energy. Salmon runs? Construction materials for turbines and dams. Small per unit of energy, yes, but still an environmental cost. If we can do better, we should. It’s like saying that since my house is run on Tacoma hydropower, I shouldn’t replace my drafty back door, or drafty windows, and can afford to not insulate my ceiling.

  5. SDOT painted a bus lane onto the SODO offramp leading to 4th Avenue, but they failed to put up any signage about it. So this week there’s been a bus lane on a road that is not yet a bus route. So far, some drivers are staying out of the bus lane, while others drive through it (and I think they deserve no blame for doing so).

    The real test starts very soon, and I think it will show that SDOT and the city of Seattle and our slow-to-act mayor are terribly unprepared for this challenge, even after 10 years’ notice. I hope I’m wrong.

    1. According to the article, they painted it early because it was supposed to rain this week (and it did). The buses are supposed to start using it on the 11th (Friday).

  6. The title of this rant is In My Day.

    In my day, people never drove their car with their high beams on. The only time you would ever turn on your high beams, or see others with them on, is on some dark stretch or rural road, but then everyone would quickly revert back to low beams as soon as an oncoming car was visible. In my day, you could go months before seeing someone with their brights on. These days, I can’t go 5 minutes of urban or suburban night driving beforeI see high beams, which they don’t turn off, btw! Some high-beams are so bright and blinding, that after they pass, if someone up ahead were were crossing in a crosswalk, I wouldn’t see them.

    When and why did this change occur? Are they now teaching it’s ok to drive with high-beams on in driving school?

    1. I haven’t noticed more high beams than before. But LEDs are often brighter than the previous bulbs, and have a more bluish light which may seem brighter.

      1. One thing that people may notice here is the implementation of running lights (on dual market cars designed for both the Canadian and American market) that uses high beams at reduced power.

    2. It’s much easier to accidentally activate the high beams these days. With so many controls on the sticks and stalks jutting from the steering column, it’s incredibly easy to push the high beam lever without realizing it. You need an astronaut’s sense of spacial awareness to not inadvertently press while lifting, twisting, or radially depressing the lever. Then one must recognize and distinguish the high beams indicator light from the headlight, engine temperature light, check engine light, etc. if one is to notice the mistake.

      Backinmyday, we had a simple foot button at the far left of the foot well with only one function – toggle high beams on/off.

      1. Combine this with an aging population of generally inattentive drivers, and we end up here.

    3. Back in the old days, the government regulated headlights.

      It’s why you only had the 2 or 4 round sealed beam headlights, followed up by the square versions of those.

      What regulations were relaxed? Don’t know, but auto makers now designed nicer looking headlight assemblies, and were able to incorporate other options.

      HID (High Intensity Discharge) along with Projector headlight assemblies, as long as cars came from the factory with that option, are legal.

      Projector style are just weird, they might be a focused narrow beam with higher light output, and when meeting someone driving the opposite direction, they aren’t too bad. However, if you happen to be in the direct line of that projector, then they do seem way too bright.

      My method for driving at night is when there are no other vehicles, I’m always using my high beams, until I see another car approaching. At that point I make sure to dim them, which gives a visual cue to the other driver to look and see if their high beams are on.

      I’ve occasionally been guilty of forgetting I have my high beams on, but I try to be engaged in the driving experience, and that’s much of the problem, people are so insulated from the driving experience, via soundproofing, entertainment systems and the ubiquitous cell phone.

      Sure the dashboard has all sorts of lights, but a responsible driver should have the situational awareness.

  7. Councilmember Harrell announcement and District two transit issues: Rainier Avenue South safety and transit flow; South Henderson Street trolley bus overhead to connect Rainier Avenue South with the Rainier Beach Link station; Mt. Baker; the south end of the 23rd Avenue electrification; the structure of RapidRide and routes 7 and 48 and 70; pedestrian facilities on local streets. Could the CCC Streetcar capital funds help with the District two projects?

    1. edie, some problems with flickr temporarily depriving me of links showing streetcars and trolleybuses sharing positive wire on Market Street in SF. Toronto used to do it as well around St. Clair Station before DSTT even existed.

      But having been warned to chill about my Waterfront Streetcar’s return by interests who’ll lay tracks across my grave to get the CCC past Pike Place Market, I’m thinking I could maybe borrow some “pull” to get 23rd electrified into the Rainier Avenue Wire.

      This one’s not an either-or. And why not look at shared – call it “borrowed” wire like this: Proof that if streetcars really are a steel-wheeled waste of space, nobody can claim their removal increased air pollution? We can always donate them to Washington DC, can’t we?


  8. Kind of ticked that National news hasn’t brought this up but will call ST tomorrow morning about volunteering to be on-site for passenger assistance under indecently stressed conditions.

    Maybe I missed where We the People of the United States voted to shut down the services we’ve been paying Federal taxes for, but willing to make up for my mistake by joining the rest of my fellow citizens in seeing how much we can get done ’til we can correct the Electoral mis-step one that caused the problem.

    Wouldn’t say “Volunteer”, because what we’ll be is Government contractors. If we can organize our accounting as responsibility demands, all multiple-millions of us will consider our April 15 communications with the Internal Revenue Service to be not a Return, but a Bill for Services Rendered.

    Mark Dublin

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