31 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Transit Runner”

  1. Well, Martin, now that Seattle’s got a transit system of which this young woman heartily approves….our work is pretty well done, isn’t it?

    But the video she linked about Copenhagen got me thinking of a couple other things.
    Like Sweden, Denmark’s got military conscription. Sweden also drafts women. So somebody who knows, tell me.

    By physical condition and travel habits, if she’s needed for national defense, Laura’s already saved the Armed Forces some work-hours making a soldier out of her, hasn’t she? And some other budgets to consider.

    To get a driver’s license at all in Northern Europe….you really have to be able to control both an automobile and your own driving habits better than in our case. Don’t you?

    Which should warrant some serious reduction in both insurance and hospital expenditures. The late Paul M. Weyrich, publisher of The New Electric Railway Journal, held some political beliefs that our Country’s survival depends on always outvoting.

    But his firm attachment to basic street rail and its wired-but-rubber-tired cousins the trolleybuses has always been my own definition of the term “Conservative.” So Senators Murray and Cantwell, and all our US Representatives…..

    Next month can we shut down every Federal expenditure on automobile travel if transit doesn’t get its share of at least the Defense Budget?

    Mark Dublin

    1. Yes, it’s surprising Seattle is not the highest and is actually below average. We’ll have to get some more socialists in the city council to fix that.

    2. If you click on the image you get the article. Remember, this is the median, not the average which would be an interesting comparison. The highest median is driven by essential zero cheap housing on Mercer Island; ditto Newcastle and Normandy Park. Seattle by contrast still has large areas that haven’t (yet) gentrified. Another interesting statistic would be the assessed rate. For Bellevue the rate is relatively low; not surprising since they have a high value base and it doesn’t cost more to provide services to rich people than it does the less well off. In fact, when it comes to crime prevention and social services it probably costs less. Plus, schools have fewer challenges and greater support.

      Note in the article that the lead paragraph says:

      King County Assessor Wilson announced earlier this year that property taxes are increasing 16.9% on average in King County in 2018.

      Put that in you vape pen and smoke it those who insist that “property tax increases are limited to 1% per year by law.”

    1. Wipe your glasses, Sam. The First Hill Streetcar is not a cable car or the city’s tourist magnet. Why, there’s one in Portland too.

    2. And the cable car is not that slow by the way. I thought it was but when i stayed at Fisherman’s Wharf and had a conference downtown, there were several different ways to go and I tried several of them: the cable car, the Stockton trolleybys, the Van Ness bus, and the F streetcar. They all took twenty minutes.

    3. And the cable cars have “as good as” exclusive lanes. Whenever they move, all cars around them have to stop by law.

    4. Actually, I think the fate of the streetcars would change significantly if the vehicles were more entertaining. The cable cars are fun because of their outside sections. San Francisco’s historic topless streetcars that are run on holidays are wildly popular.

      The cable car drivers are also hired and coached on how to be entertaining. That makes the interactive experience more fun and memorable.

      It’s been often proven how the rider experience changes the value of time. As a niche service that includes economic development and tourist markets, the streetcar is perfectly situated to offer something distinguishable.

      It only takes overcoming the drab visions of rider experience that pervades our local transit culture and advocacy, and instead create new ones.

      1. Based on reason I won’t set foot on Greyhound a decade after the events- let’s put it this way. Concentrate on just plain driver training, concentrating on smooth acceleration, braking, and turns.

        (Those drivers would’ve got dragged offstage by stage-hands with a giant Vaudeville hook at California Department of Corrections!)

        And also general passenger/captiveaudience relations. Because anybody who’s been a shop steward or a base chief, think for a minute how you’d handle equal-sized piles of “pans” (theater kind, not wiring) and raves.

        And leave the charm and entertainment to the merchants, innkeepers, and street mimes whose work description fits the exercise. Meantime, also, we’ll probably get more even-handed critical reviews for exchangeable open-air wall panels on the eventual FHS-CCC-SLU(Streetcar).

        Mark Dublin

  2. I found myself wishing that the Trailhead Shuttle was running yesterday. At Rattlesnake Ledge trailhead, every parking place was taken at midday, cars were parked everywhere along the parking lot driveways, and probably 100 cars or more were parked on the shoulder of the road leading in from I-90.

    Alas, I suspect it wouldn’t work. Unlike summer, most Saturdays/Sundays this time of year are murky or rainy, and the Shuttles would probably run pretty much empty on such days. And even if running them only on “good” weekend days was operationally possible (assuming such days could be identified far enough in advance), people might not check even if there were some way to get the word out that “yes they are running this Saturday or Sunday”.

    Anyway, I suppose I can dream …

    1. That’s one of the really tough problems with those hiking shuttles. In good weather everyone wants to go there; in bad weather they don’t. That is a very tough problem to solve. It is actually one where an on-demand car pool actually makes sense. The problem with that, though, is no cell phone service in the mountains. (Although Rattlesnake Ledge may be one of the rare hiking destinations with cell phone service)

      1. Trailhead Direct worked great for riders; unfortunately, I’m not sure that operating it is fiscally sustainable, at least until we have driverless buses.

        I’m not convinced on-demand carpool is going to all that well, though, even for places like Rattlesnake Lake at Mt. Si, which do have cell phone service. Due to the distance involved, I think any kind of carpool involving a paid driver is going to be too expensive. At best, a group of 4 people could split the cost of an UberX round trip Seattle->Mt. Si for about $30/person. But, that same group of 4 could also just split the cost of a rental car for less. (~$24/person using ReachNow, whose cars include Discover Passes). And unlike pre-arranged carpools, with on-demand carpool, it is very unlikely that you would get 4 people all willing to travel at the same time to fill up a car.

        I think the solution is two-fold. 1) We need to better promote access to trails that are already served by the existing transit system. 2) We need to better encourage people to carpool to trailheads that cannot reasonably be served by transit.

        With regards to 1), Cougar, Squawk, and Tiger Mountain are already reachable via ST 554, but the fact that you can do it is not widely advertised, and many people were actually waiting for the Trailhead Direct to take them home from the East Sunset Way trailhead, even though walking to the 554 may have gotten them home faster (depending on what part of Seattle they live in). The city of Issaquah recently purchased a plot of land that could somebody allow for a Cougar Mountain trailhead right across the street from Issaquah Transit Center.

        With regards to 2), we could have reserved parking spaces at the most popular trailheads for high-occupancy vehicles (perhaps 4+ people per car to park there, enforced by making you upload a selfie of all the passengers standing next to the car). I could also imagine allowing people to rent vanpool vehicles on-demand for hiking trips, during the weekends when such vehicles would otherwise go unused.

      2. I think the solution is two-fold. 1) We need to … 2) We need to…

        No, we need to keep people who can’t even figure out how to get there with their own support group from wandering off on mountain trails. It’s not like there aren’t lots of places you can go for a beautiful walk in DT Seattle. Again, this is (or shouldn’t be) a transit “problem”. Unless of course you think there’s nothing better Metro could/should be doing because things like getting to work are a completely solved non-issue

      3. That is a very tough problem to solve. It is actually one where an on-demand car pool actually makes sense. The problem with that, though, is no cell phone service in the mountains.

        Not so hard to solve. Don’t need cell phone service in the mountains; people are coming from the flatlands. Make your trip plan before you’re in the wilderness. Fact is, everyone venturing out, especially this time of year, should have a circle of friends and know what and when they are doing it. There’s no lack of cars in Seattle and carpooling is something I used in High School (last century, before I could drive and there was not even the concept of an Interweb). Bottom line, going hiking is not transit. Metro has way too much money to spend and public transit must be perfect already if they are considering this as part of their mandate.

      4. @asdf2 — I’m not talking about direct service from Seattle. I’m talking about a shuttle service. Possibly from a bigger parking lot further down the road, or a park and ride (which tend to be fairly empty during the weekend).

        Thinking about it further, it wouldn’t have to be on-demand. It would probably make more sense as simply a service offered based on the weather. If they expect a lot of people, then run a van between the stops. There wouldn’t even be a schedule. Just one van, making a constant loop. This sort of thing is fairly common in crowded hiking destinations (I’ve been on several). The big difference is that you wouldn’t know until the last minute whether the thing is running or not. But there are other last minute service changes based on the weather (school buses, Metro buses on snow schedule, baseball games, etc.). It seems to me that it would be easy to operate. Just make the decision the night before, and then update the website. Someone heading out would then check the website and decide accordingly. Signs at the (overflowing parking lot) would mention that the shuttle is running today, so some drivers would head there after realizing that parking couldn’t be found. Folks without a car would make a transfer (at, say, Eastgate or Issaquah).

        It is more expensive to run a service like this (you would have to pay the driver more) but you are bound to get a lot more riders.

      5. @Bernie — I think you are missing the point. This service exists. It only runs in the summer. In good weather it does a good job or reducing crowding at the trailheads and reducing the number of cars on the road. But in bad weather it just runs back and forth, carrying no one.

        Of course people carpool when they go hiking. Most people are hiking with someone. But if the crowds are that big, then a typical carpool just won’t carry enough people. It is like attending a football game. Carpools aren’t gonna cut it. You need buses.

        There are also plenty of other places to hike. But Rattlesnake Ledge, for example, is a great idea for this time of year (on a sunny day). It is relatively low elevation, so you don’t have to worry about snow (certainly not this year). It is fairly wild, with a fine view. I’m not saying I would want to be there when it is mobbed, but I can understand why so many people want to go there. Given the number of people making that trip, transit is certainly justified. The problem is that they don’t make the trip in a predictable way.

      6. Do Switzerland’s recreational shuttles run year-route or only in summer?

        The 554 option needs to be marketed more and put into the trail-access plans. When East Link starts the shuttles will probably go to South Bellevue instead of Seattle, so that will change the calculation. But part of the reason people don’t take the 554 and transfer unless they have to is that the transfer is uncoordinated so I for instance had to wait twenty minutes in an empty Issaquah TC.

      7. The general purpose for shuttles to trailheads, ski resorts, and other major recreational areas is to eliminate the need for cars, even carpools. In Switzerland and China, transit goes everywhere, to every city, small town, and footpath to a village, so that a car is always optional. That way people won’t keep a car just to go to weekend recreation spots. Walking in a natural woods is important for human health, and is especially important for city-dwellers who don’t have that option nearby. Of course that has to be balanced with cost, other transit needs, and winter weather. But the point is that the US thinks of transit too much as a zero-sum pie, when is should be increasing the pie to at least the average of other industrialized countries.

    2. Old-time hikers will remember using Harvey Manning’s guidebooks, one of these listing all the trailheads in the Issaquah/NorthBend area accessible via Metro 210. This long-ago route was heavily used by Seattle hikers on weekends, even though as I recall, it only ran every two hours. I am not sure whether ST 554 follows the same routing.

    1. “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

      Obviously, as befit educated lawmakers during the Age of Reason, our Founders clearly foresaw this event and wrote accordingly.

      However since relatively few of them were actual gun-smiths, none realized that it would ever be possible to create a repeating hand-weapon weighing less than ten pounds. And therefore legitimately usable as a short, heavy billyclub. After you shot one of the five ruffians attacking you whose survivors knew enough math to count how many shots you had left. Few experienced soldiers could reload that fast.

      But judging by historic pictures, average citizen in many walks of life carried a five-foot or longer staff, often mentioned in Scripture, usable for walking, hill and stair-climbing, holding doors for ladies, repelling dogs both mad and just aggravated, and dropping impudent 55 year old varlets in the coach-aisle with one small adept side-move.

      So while the Second Amendment is sound, it is time for an Amendment listing the above specifics. NRA, dare you to deliver the lines with the regulation goose-quill. Especially your Captain’s right and duty to drag you out of the tavern no matter how deep the freezing mud.

      No reason the STAFF/2019 can’t be hollow with a nozzle in the “crook” for all that Mace (TM).

      Mark Dublin

  3. And besides, nobody on transit payroll trained Eldo Kanikkeberg. So all we can do is appreciate his replacement who-, when-, and wherever they are.


  4. With regards to the topic video, I’ve always been looking for ways where, by mixing a run with a transit ride, I am able to beat the trip planner by eliminating a long connection, or replacing a slower bus with a faster bus. For years, I had a commute routine where I would run 1.8 miles to/from Montlake Freeway Station to get on the 545, rather than deal with the connecting buses. When I was tired, there was no better motivation to get out an run than the fact that, once I got off the 545, it was the fastest way home, and waiting for a connecting bus, things would take considerably longer (and I’d still have to walk 10 minutes or so at the end, anyway). Even if it was cold or rainy, I knew that running would ultimately warm my body up better than standing at a bus stop, plus I’d be out of the cold sooner.

    It feels much more uplifting to know that when I have a a 20-minute wait for a bus, that I can just take off and start running, rather than be captive to when the bus decides to show up.

    1. I wish there was a way to tell trip planners you are willing to walk farther for a more frequent bus, even if it isn’t the quickest way back. If it is a nice day, I’ll walk a half hour to catch a more frequent and faster bus. I also like taking walks in town that involve going one direction on transit, then walking back. Of course using transit in that manner is probably rare — most people just want to get to their destination — which is why the services don’t have that option.

    2. I never use the trip planners, I just go to the maps and schedules, but the recent planners have more options for shortest travel time, fewest transfers, prefer light rail, etc. that the earlier planners didn’t have. If they don’t have “prefer a longer walk to a frequent route”, then they should add it.

      Sometimes I look at the planner to go to an unfamiliar area like north Seattle to south Lynnwood, or Seattle to eastern Redmond, but then I take only the frequent segment and walk the other one.

  5. I used to walk all the time while waiting for busses in the 1980’s. I didn’t explore to many side streets because my purpose was to kill time, not excercise. Busses were every 1/2 hour to an hour at night back then. If I got bored at one stop, I ran to the next. Also there were no bike racks, so you had to choose a mode before leavng the house. You couldn’t ride one way and choose to bike the other.

  6. After riding one of the articulated 8s, I did some math, and it looks like you only need to remove 5 seats between the accordion and the high floor section to significantly increase standing room around the back door. https://scontent-ams3-1.cdninstagram.com/vp/6f389a90eb164806b93a1808983275ea/5CAC9A9C/t51.2885-15/sh0.08/e35/s640x640/43724000_307584543181409_6109074166638278519_n.jpg?_nc_ht=scontent-ams3-1.cdninstagram.com

    It’s a low-cost capacity improvement that we should look at.

  7. Also, does anybody know if Sound Transit employs the people that clean stations, or is that contracted out?

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