Newer LED lighting on the right (Sound Transit)

This is an open thread.

56 Replies to “News Roundup: Brighter”

  1. So, if you live near Puyallup and want a free parking permit, what’s to stop you from naming a family member who drives to work and does not ride Sounder as a “carpool partner”? Is the honor system going to be sufficient when we’re talking $720/year here?

    1. The carpool parking pass is tied to your Orca card. They track whether you are riding, and there’s a minimum of something like 3 or 4 days per week on average. A friend of mine had a carpool permit with a family member, as both worked in Seattle. One of them had a work-from-home schedule for a few months over the summer, and when they dropped below the minimum number of rides, they lost their reserved parking. They have since gotten it back, as they are back on the normal carpools schedule. Super-duper fun for them, when work days don’t end at the same time, one of them transfers to a bus and then springs for a taxi, since local transit service in South King completely sucks. Like them, I love paying taxes for services that could be offered to me, but aren’t. I’m in a subdivision that is easily more dense than parts of Seattle, but has minimal, peak-only service, with their definition of “peak” being somewhat narrow. Now, just imagine, living in Pierce County and springing for a regional system that barely anybody can get to without driving.
      I understand the need for managing the parking availability at our transit stations wisely, but until we decide to actually provide local transit service to the taxpayers funding the system, then lay off.

    1. Thanks for the link. It’s a far cry from the old sales tax exemption, but better than nothing. I would think the R’s would be thrilled for using a market subsidy to drive greater EV adoption. The old sales tax incentive was the tipping point for us to buy an EV back in 2014, when our current ride was a Prius.

  2. The Seattle Crimes comments section reads like 4Chan. These hateful people masquerade as our “neighbors”, and that’s true all over the United States. It’s disgusting and terrifying.

    1. They are a group of special people that are very opinionated/”concerned” about Seattle, but don’t appear to actually live or work in Seattle nor visit it on a regular basis.

      If you think they’re bad, I wouldn’t recommend clicking to a MyNorthwest comment section. They make Seattle Time commenters look well spoken and educated by comparison.

      I’d be OK if they stayed in their echo chamber, but they tend to branch out and disrupt intelligent discourse across other comment sections.

      1. “I’d be OK if they stayed in their echo chamber, but they tend to branch out and disrupt intelligent discourse across other comment sections.”


      2. I’ve said it before, but STB’s comment section is the only good one in the region’s local media. Kudos to the mods for keeping it that way.

      3. That’s why I’m here too. STB’s discussions are like the technical chat rooms and users groups I came from, where most people offer productive suggestions and viewpoints and are friendly because they benefit from the other people’s input.

        In other forums like the Times and the Stranger, you get a lot of right-wing extremists and people who are narrow-minded and spiteful and insult others. This is partly because they’re not a “group”: a special-purpose group like STB attracts people with a common interest, while newspapers are read by everybody and each article is effectively a new group. Plus those forums get people who don’t really want to have a pragmatic discussion, they want to lambaste people and show their superiority over them.

        The best explanation of this phenomenon I’ve seen was by an editor of some newspaper who said, these ideological rants and put-downs aren’t new, it’s just that before the Internet they wrote them as letters to the editor, and the editor put them in the special priority box on the floor.

      4. special priority box on the floor

        Poor editor, having to shoulder the burden alone.

    2. As someone who used to hang around a 4chan board (about transportation, in my defense), I regret that I have to give credit to Seattle Times commenters for being comparatively subtle about their desire to see racial minorities forcibly expelled from cities.

      And honestly, before the neo-Nazis started leaking from their containment board, the transportation board /n/ was a genuinely pretty good place full of nerds who were really into bikes, trains, and planes.

      1. In it’s hayday, even /pol/ was mostly full of conspiracy theorists and nerdy libertarians. The Ron Paul “It’s Happening” memes are the last vestige of /pol/ before it went full, unironic Nazi. Moot should have nuked /pol/ when he had a chance – who knows how many lives could’ve been saved.

      2. OK, I’ll cop to exaggerating. The Crimes is not THAT bad. But honestly I don’t care if a bunch of nuts live in Alabama and Texas. That’s expected; they’ve been there since the Reivers came in the early 1700’s and spread south and southwest.

        But whey they start swarming in Northwest media, it’s disconcerting to say the least.

      1. Ok, I’m lost. Tom is disgusted and terrified by all the comments from every story in the Seattle Times? Why? And why is he terrified? Isn’t the average ST commenter a suburban retiree?

      2. Specifically the one connected to “Higher fines for HOV cheaters”. But really, as Mike said, “all of them”.

        And yes, since the preponderance of haters versus pragmatic solutionists is about 40:1, that’s terrifying. Democracy can’t function with a large faction of self-important Yahoos screaming louder than people who (at least largely) know what they’re talking about.

      3. I just went to the Seattle Times HOV article’s comment section, and the two most highly rated or liked comments (ST calls it Most Respected Comments), were pro-HOV enforcement/penalty.

    3. The comments on Oregonlive are just the same It’s obvious a lot of them don’t actually read the article, are never satisfied about anything, and the racist links to “crime trains” are nearly always in evidence. Public transit receives a special kind of unfocused hate. It’s best to never read the comment section. This blog is often a rare exception, thank heavens!

      1. Most such comments on Oregonlive are easily traceable to radio shows by Lars Larson and a couple other loudmouths. When Lars rants about something in the paper and gives it a strawman spin, a bunch of dittoheads make the same noise in the comment section. For some reason Lars is particularly pissed off that public transit exists.

  3. HB 1793, where the state will so graciously “allow” Seattle to kind of, sort of use cameras for additional traffic enforcement, appears to have stalled.after a bunch of back and forth between the House and Senate.

    Anyone know the current status?

    1. Found a mention somewhere that it’s dead. Very frustrating that the rest of the state cares so much how Seattle runs itself.

      1. Somewhere, somehow, someone in Seattle might be having a good time.

        That’s what this is all about.

      2. It’s about the freedom to drive. People from outside Seattle will get caught by these cameras if they allow them.

  4. Higher fines don’t help reduce HOV cheaters, a greater chance of being caught does. a 30% chance of paying a token $20 fine will deter more FAR people than a 2% chance of paying a $500 fine, even though the latter has a worse “expected cost” mathematically.

    High but rarely-enforced fines just create a “legal if you’re rich” situation. Nobody expects to actually get caught, and on the rare occasion, a few hundred dollars would devastate some people and be an acceptable fare to others. But if people feel like there’s a reasonable chance of getting caught, even rich people will shy away, even if just from the hassle.

    1. I agree 100%. It is also crazy that folks have been reluctant to allow for automated enforcement, in fear that visitors will be caught. The combination means that someone can pay a really hefty fine for making a one-time mistake, while someone who is just taking their chances will continue to break the law.

  5. It’s sad to see the Battery Street Tunnel being filled when it could been a second life as a short spur line connecting Belltown to ST3 Link. They are basically throwing away a free tunnel that could be used for anything, without any protest from mayor Durkan.

    1. I agree it’s sad, but my understanding is that the tunnel is seismically unsafe, and bringing up to modern seismic standards was judged to be not worth the cost.

      1. It also would have cost a lot more money (and tied up traffic, at least temporarily) to get all the rubble out of there. Having a nearby pit was handy.

    2. I’ve said the same thing for a couple of years; what a short-sighted fiasco. The “seismic standard” thing — e.g. making the lid stronger and reinforcing the walls in half of the tunnel — would be a WHOLE LOT LESS than boring a new tunnel. It could serve as the western end of a Metro 8.

      1. Exactly. Unlike the viaduct, retrofitting the Battery Street Tunnel while it’s completely empty would be relatively low-cost. Building some sort of cheap short streetcar-style line that’s 2 or 3 stops, one near a future light rail station and one or two in Belltown around Alaskan Way would be quite useful. Two cars in service could probably provide five minute frequency. Admittedly it’s a weird last-mile solution that you normally wouldn’t go out and build a subway for, but since the tunnel is already there, that’s a chance to make a low-cost completely grade separated fast connection from Link to a neighborhood that has missed out.

    3. When I was a kid I used to beg my parents to drive through that tunnel. Our ride was from Ballard to West Seattle. We could have gone down 15th to Western to the Viaduct ramp. But my parents went my way. I used to hold my breath all through the tunnel. My dad would mess with me and slow down on purpose to get me to give up. I drove through it one week befoe it closed. My dad did not care that much. He saw it built. I will miss it like I will miss the Viaduct. It was also a child hood memory fro the 70’s But I will have to get over it. The city is changing.

      1. My family has some fond memories of the viaduct. Many years ago we were on the viaduct northbound and a tire blew right before the Battery Street Tunnel.

        At some point you should have your dad hold his breath through the new tunnel, see how long he lasts.

    4. The tunnel doesn’t have an exit on 1st Avenue. The western end would be somewhere around Western. What bus route would want to go from Denny & Aurora to Western? Not an alternate E.

  6. That CAHSR line is such a complex system with such a unreliable piecemeal based financing plan. The French, with a national commitment, spent 50 years getting their system implemented, here California is trying to plan and build a system in a few decades (trying anyway), this in spite of incredible political headwinds. Texas Central Railway is going with JR support which has seismic know how. Their initial estimate was around 8 billion, but now, 5 plus years later, they’re hovering in the 15-18 billion range. Early on CAHSR went with US and European based consultants and came to a 33 billion estimate. Even if they had went with JR they still could have come out way under (California seismic conditions have made cost of HSR structures 25% higher than what is seen in places like Germany). Putting a premature price tag on a project which doesn’t have a final route always creates unrealistic expectations. I see this with ST and the cost increases found in ST3 via Ballard and WS’s potential routing. Magnify ST3’s cost issues over a system that spans over 500 miles. CAHSR is still in the process of solidifying routes. With so much yet to be determined, how can anyone take seriously an estimate that was made over 10 years ago, especially for a project that is of this magnitude.

    1. California’s nominal GDP is slightly higher than France. There are a lot of factors that make infrastructure and construction more expensive in the US but with enough political will there is no reason CAHSR couldn’t be a world-class system.

      1. I just get tired of Ralph Vartabedian reporting. The guy has such a history of disseminating false or misleading information. Somebody should tie him up to a diesel locomotive and run him across a BNSF line for a few hours.

  7. Lights in trains and buses can be bright blue in the morning but they really should shift to dimmer yellowish in the evening to complement people’s circadian rhythm rather than contradicting it. There’s such a thing as too much light. I’ve been on buses and Link in the evening where the light just felt too bright, and some of lights had clear bluish tinge.

    1. Last time I rode the bus at night in Portland, the lights were off. It was a little jarring at first and I’m not sure if that’s the norm. Maybe “lights off” isn’t the safest option but I would definitely support a change in brightness/hue.

      1. The newer TriMet buses operate with all but one interior light off, except when the doors open. It’s so the driver is able to see people at the poorly lit stops that are all too frequent here.

        The very newest buses have more interior lighting when the doors are closed, but go to a dim setting I think.

    2. When I used to take the 578 home most weekday evenings, after the last stop in Seattle, the driver would turn the lights off for the 20 mile freeway drive. There were also small lights above the seat you could turn on if you wanted to read.

    3. All busses have a way to turn off half the interior lights. Some Metro divers do it at night. I like it because I can actually see the city sights through the window instead of a reflection. Maybe someone can request it.

    4. I’m partly asking for a technological solution, lights that gradually change color over the course of the day. A simpler fix is two light switches so the driver can turn off half the lights. (Not all on one side, but alternating sides.) A third fix is a set of dim lights that are always on, and bright lights that are only on in the morning and daytime.

      1. I think those solutions could work well, but I have a feeling that they did it for the electricity and reliability savings. Not , customer satisfaction like they may have said. When I upgraded my place from CFLs to LED’s the savings were immediate. But then I went back and had to buy more expensive natural color lights, because the overly blue lights bug me just like they do on the busses and trains. But turning off some, like you said, seems like the most affordable customer upgrade.

      2. You have to watch the color temperature, which is now shown on light bulb packages. Incandescents are 2400 Kelvin, “warm” yellowish LEDs are 3000 K, cool white is 4500 K, daylight is 5000 K, and anything above that is bluish. The warm colors actually have less electromagnetic energy than the cool colors; that’s because humans associate orange with warm fire and blue with the cool sky. I used to think daylight-balanced light was the best because sunlight must be the most healthful, but that’s actually wrong, it’s bad to be in daylight 24 hours. Blue light signals “daytime, time to wake up” to the body, and in the evening that interferes with getting to sleep.

        Society backed into bluish LEDs because the mass conversion for energy efficiency started before enough people realized the light was too blue. The first LEDs were red, then green, then blue. There’s no white LED so they make white with a blue LED and a yellow phosphor covering, or a combination of blue+green+red LEDs. Either way you get more blue than an incandescent, and with some bulbs much more blue. Brightness is also an issue, because for the first time in history it’s cheap to have really bright light and people think, “Why the hell not?” Bus/train buyers need to be aware of this and choose warm LEDs and not too bright. There’s a perception that more light means safety because do-badders are more visible, but there are also problems with too-bright light.

        I have two red LED bulbs I use in the evening. They’re not bright enough for reading but they’re fine as background light. I first saw them years ago when somebody had them at a party, and since then I’ve learned that red is melatonin-neutral so it doesn’t keep you awake. (And the manufacturer assures me they are melatonin-neutral and contain only red LEDs.)

  8. I think people advocating for a tunnel in in WS and Ballard really misjudge how terrible ST is at surface to underground transportation. The UW escalator problem is almost cliche, but just now I missed a 10 minute Link train by 1 minute because it took two minutes to wait for the slow elevator (and one of them skipped our level). This is in the middle of the day when demand is low. If they build tunnels, I guarantee they will cbeapout big time on elevators for stations that are a mile deep, and this will completely counteract any good bus-rail integration that we may or may not get.

    1. I remember asking about station access and elevator capacity at UW, at open houses, and in written feedback, during the very long gestation period of this project, because it instinctively seemed to me that a station next to the largest stadium, university, and hospital in the region plus the largest transit market after downtown, at a convergence of bicycle trails, with 4 car trains eventually coming every 3 minutes would surely overload a mere two elevators trying to serve 3 levels. Especially when the elevator is way faster than walking and taking 3 escalators (on those occasions when there’s no wait for the elevator.)

      ST responded that they had done an analysis, and it wouldn’t be a problem. I can’t imagine what this analysis consisted of because it was a problem immediately after opening the station, even before the elevators inevitably go down for service, and it’s only getting worse over time. I think they assumed people would choose the escalators, but that isn’t the rational choice, until it is, when the elevator is over capacity. And so we reach an equilibrium in which it’s basically always kind of bad.

      This segment came in $200 million under budget. Seems to me ST over value-engineered ULINK. A fraction of that surplus would have avoided or fixed station access issues at UW. I hope we don’t make that mistake again.

  9. More info on the MAX Red Line improvements here:

    The linked PDF has some rough drawings of the second track design at Gateway TC:

    I get what they are doing, and why they are doing it, but it will be a bit odd, with the westbound Red Line platform now sitting a few hundred feet north of the existing Blue/Green line platform. This change will eliminate all crossover movements and one-way track sections at Gateway.

    They will also be double-tracking near the terminus at PDX airport, as part of a project to demolish and rebuild concourse A. See page 15 of this:

    The other aspect is extending the red line on the west side, along the blue line track to Hillsboro Airport.

    Seems like a good plan overall. The existing single-track at Gateway is painfully slow on the inbound leg, and causes delays to other lines as well. Not sure about the need to double-track by the terminus at PDX. This section is pretty short, and right at the end of the line.

    1. I think that single track at PDX isn’t a problem assuming everything is on time, but if one train off schedule, it causes problem.

      From your link, “MAX Red Line has two single-track sections, near Gateway/NE 99th Ave and Portland International Airport MAX stations, which result in inbound and outbound trains having to wait for each
      other. If any train is off schedule, these wait times can impact the entire MAX system. Adding a second set of tracks in these areas will reduce delays for all riders

    2. The whole thing is going to be really confusing for occasional riders because of the different platform location for just one direction of travel on one line. They’d be better off relegating the cloverleaf line for maintenance use only and put both directions on the new line.

      But, TriMet does stuff cheap.

      1. I was thinking the same thing. And that configuration would also allow for a potential I205 line running from Clackamas to the airport, although that could still be possible with this proposed configuration. A northbound train on this line would use the middle track at Gateway to change directions and depart via the cloverleaf.

        Other than capital saving, keeping outbound on the cloverleaf does have one advantage: no crossover train movements. Hopefully the signage is good for inbound travelers.

  10. Anyone else disturbed by how frequently Lime’s bikes lack good brakes?

    I can’t buy a hot dog on a street corner in this city because Seattle is concerned about the minimal chance I might get a tummy ache. But Lime is allowed to rent bikes on Upper Queen Anne that have no chance of safely stopping on Taylor or 10th (let alone the Counterbalance) with no apparent consequence.

    Someone is going to die a stupid, easily preventable death. Lime is seemingly not motivated by customer service or reputation, so ramp up inspections and fine them at whatever level covers inspection costs and motivates the company to change its behavior.

  11. When ST3, Metro Connects, and CT’s, PT’s, and ET’s long-range plans are built out, and assuming Trailhead Direct continues every year, how close will we be to a European level of transit? What else will we need? (Considering only additions, not subtractions, and regardless of cost.) People will doubtless say all-day Sounder and high-speed rail, but what about also the areas those don’t reach?

    1. One of the primary goals of the most successful cities in Europe has been to try to make travel by transit faster than driving. In Seattle you can’t get there without all day Sounder or similar regional rail service faster than light rail because of I-5.

      Once the goal of Cascades service every half hour is realized, the rest you might get close with ticket policy and capacity adjustments.

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