41 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: 1970s Walking Tour”

  1. Just a reminder: If you want that beautiful monorail to become public transit again, like it was in the 80’s, Comment by Wednesday in favor of accepting ORCA transfers, passes, and the new low-income fare category. We’re just one step away from it actually happening. This is the last time you’ll have to Comment on it.

    Yeah, it will still be a 25-cent up-charge when transferring from Metro (or a free transfer for youth and LIFT payers), but that beats having to pay a full extra fare every time you ride it.

    1. For an ideal day’s travel in Central Puget Sound service area including the Monorail, I’d recommend that everybody carry at least a Day Pass, just in case you decide you want to visit someplace else local…wait a minute, those ARE still available, aren’t they?

      Inspired by Portland airport, would also suggest that arriving airline passengers’ first sight of transit be a counter of a size and style you’d find in a hotel lobby. Not a cold, drafty, noise-distracted wait in line like some other places.

      Airlines, travel agencies, and the Chamber of Commerce also ought to include an ORCA card in every ticket envelope with a Day Pass on it, and plenty of room to add more “products” if the stay gets either longer or repeated. Really special passengers should get a year priced into their ticket packet.

      But above all, possession of every pass should be simple and unquestionable Proof of Payment for a seat over every set of wheels in the system. Not kidding about the Seat Hog’s furry twin sister … Tappy theTapmunk, incarnated as every child’s (and fiancee’s) most powerful lovability, from ubiquitous postings to teddy-bear wannabees for sale at every outlet.

      Fare inspector’s uniform. Expressions from happy to stern to pleading. By her very existence, enlisting every transit system’s most critical electorate: Birth to maybe eight years old. Look around every station, and notice how many children demand to be the one to tap the card on the reader. Women younger than ten tend to be vocally attentive to rules.

      But best of all the right encouragement won’t deliver so much in paid fares and fare inspectors’ time, which will be plenty, but in habitual election victories. A little habit for all of us: every child passenger you see, estimate how many years ’til their eighteenth birthday.

      Somebody good with numbers, can’t we use this math to time revenue votes? Just so we make sure everybody’s Tappy the Tapmunk has an election-reminder button.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Well, at least on the monorail, they have turnstiles, so we don’t have to go through that circular debate. I believe they also have entrances available wide enough for large wheelchairs, but I haven’t ridden it in a long time to know for sure. The monorail is older than me, so I don’t know if power wheelchairs were a thing at that time.

        On the clear-and-obvious proof-of-payment front, that does seem to be at least under discussion thanks to Jesse Hagopian and some politicians who spoke out and thereby volunteered themselves for the hot seat.

    2. As a Chicagoan (once one always one if you ever rode the “El”), I was furious when I could no longer board the Monorail directly above Pine Street. Track-length that also served for turn-back track while loading, whose loss has cost us operating time ever since.

      Maybe worst loss personally was that while the trains passed over it, the Monorail Espresso was a machine on a wagon on the south side of Pine Street. Southbound toward Mt. Baker, I’d engage, lean out my coach window, and pay the Barista. Next trip south, would get handed my coffee.

      Hard to quantify, but soon as the trains abandoned their visible presence above probably Seattle’s most major intersection, Seattle as a whole became a smaller place. A diminishment the passing decades’ packing and crowding has only worsened.

      Be fair, though, Mark. Excellent chance DSTT couldn’t have made it under the footings of those pillars. And the baristas got a fine indoor booth around the block on Pike. But for me truth will always hold that to be considered a city, a place has to have electric trains both to ride inside and to watch go by through the air.

      Especially at Christmas time.

      Thought: maybe a way to convince people in West Seattle that whatever structure they need, elevated rail has its enjoyments too.

      http://railfan.com/25-years-gone-north-shore-line/US

      Our transit industries’ most magnificent last fight for survival in the ‘thirties, ‘forties, and ‘fifties. A hundred foot segmented city streetcar (stopped at stop-signs) that also ran a hundred miles an hour after leaving Milwaukee.

      And crossing the Chicago city line at Howard Street, followed the CTA elevated tracks into the city. One segment being a dining car where you could sit at a white table cloth, drinking coffee from a china cup as you watched Downtown and all its light and energy go by out your window.

      ‘Way beyond plain old “World” to at least Solar System class. And y’know something else, Elon? In addition to the table cloths, probably a lot cheaper than your electric car tunnel too!

      Mark

  2. According to John Levy’s “Contempory Urban Planning”, Urban Renewal (the Housing Act of 1949) ended funding in 1973. Statistics from that era showed some 600,000 housing units were demolished but only ~250,00 units were built on the same sites.

    Was the Seattle Center part of this federal program? Are there other parts of Seattle that were affected?

  3. The escalators at the Seatac Link station are now officially worse than UW’s. Three of the four escalators are shut down for 1 month for drive train overhauls. The overpass elevator was scheduled to be finished on August 17th. It still isn’t done, and ST refuses to update the schedule with a firm completion date. They’ve extended Bellair Airporter’s obnoxious misuse of the Seatac Station’s bus stop, though.

    If this was downtown Seattle or stops North, there’d be protests in the streets and ST officials losing their jobs. But since it’s South of Seattle’s city limits, nobody cares.

    1. That’s pretty bad!

      I don’t think anyone in leadership or management believes in escalator redundancy. They even cut escalators at the last minute (with no community discussion) for the Lynnwood Link project! It’s not just Seattle but a regional leadership failure.

    2. Well, at least the north stairwell is permanently open to the public, for the locals who need to get by the luggage haulers.

      And we have a secret third ORCA vending machine at the north end of the station if we need one, since the tourists only notice the main two queues.

      And we have (clean!) public restrooms a short walk from the station.

      And we have a cartmobile coming every few minutes for anyone who wants it.

      And the main bus route connecting to the station doesn’t have to do an annoying loop-de-loop. (However, those needing the elevator seem to permanently have to access Link at TIBS or Angle Lake Station, thanks to lack of elevator redundancy at the east entrance to SAS … oh, and, the buses don’t pull up to the elevators at TIBS until November. But hey, I’m loving skipping that loop-de-loop on the F Line.)

      And SAS has RTA signs that include the ST routes, while the Rainier Valley stations mostly do not. (Can we spend some TBD money on RTA signage at CCS, OS, and RBS, pretty please, so nobody has to pull out their smart phone and put a target on their back?)

      And it doesn’t have an annoying surcharge just for that station, like other cities do to bilk the tourists, and help convince them to take Uber to the airport.

      And, at midnight, it persistently has a longer traffic jam getting to Arrivals than that scene from Godard’s Weekend, so light rail ends up being a much faster option. That airport freeway parking lot desperately needs a toll. And signage that half the cars in that jam should pick up at the Departures level.

      Of course, we should ban flying until someone invents a way to do it with a much smaller carbon footprint. But 63% of Americans still believe the climate crisis can be beaten without us making significant lifestyle sacrifices, or simply that the climate crisis is a hoax.

      1. There’s multiple Orca kiosks at the North end of the mezzanine level at Seatac. I even telk people standing in line about the other kiosks. Nobody walks the 25-50 feet to use them.

        I’m going to ignore most of the airport related points you bring up. They really don’t help the residents of Seatac any. I’m more concerned with residents as a whole than I am with commuters and tourists.

        Clean public restrooms? They stink of piss more than the Pike Place Market bathrooms.

        The A line in its dominant direction (south) has no loop the loop because it requires passengers to do the loop the loop for it. You have to cross over 99 then use the crosswalk to get back to the West side of 99. If you were going North to TIBS, you would have just gotten off the light rail there. The annoying loop still exists, it is just vertical and pedestrian, not horizontal and MV. No real improvement.

        That surcharge you seem to be happy isn’t there actually annoys Seatac residents by its absence, and has since the 194 days. If you can’t fit your baggage under your seat and in your lap, you need to be taking Uber or a taxi. Taking up passenger space for your suitcases is an obnoxious act on mass transit. If you’ve got three bags per person, you’ve got no business on Link.

        I live within walking distance of Seatac Airport. I’ll be there at midnight tonight to see these traffic jams at Arrivals. Airport traffic is frequently overblown and used to justify late transit like weekend 560s. I want to see this traffic issue with my own eyes.

    1. Top benefits of 1980 SLU:
      – Affordable apartments
      – Affordable restaurants
      – Affordable commerical space

      Top benefits of 2019 SLU:
      – Shake Shack
      – Tall building blocks harmful UV rays

      1. I was struck by the naked streets ~ no tree canopy yet. Planting street trees didn’t begin until Wes Uhlman became mayor in 1970.

      2. 1980 SLU had hardly any apartments or restaurants. It was decaying industrial warehouses. Rents were cheap because Seattle’s population had fallen 100K since 1960 so the vacancy rate was high, and the buildings in SLU were run down because the city had not committed to any rezoning plan after the destructive builds of the 99 expressway and I-5 destroyed the neighborhood and the existing industries became archaic. The city kept kicking the can down the road for decades until the 1990s when it finally made a decision.

      3. Maybe it’s just as well the rezone didn’t occur in the 1960s. It would probably have been 2-story suburban office parks with large setbacks.

      4. If I could choose my favorite versions of SLU, in order, it would go like this: 1), 1980 SLU, 2), The proposed Commons Park SLU, and a distant 3), 2019 SLU.

      5. Mike Orr, being from Bellevue, might remember this … where Whole Foods Bellevue is, there was a Jafco, and then across the street, where Kaiser Permanente is, was a restaurant called Sambo’s. And there was a DQ where the Bravern is, and a Taco Time where Meydenbauer Center is.

        If I remember correctly, Jafco was sort of a 1970’s version of Best Buy.

        Sam. Bellevue historian.

      6. Yes, I went to Jafco and Dairy Queen. Jafco was like Sears or Fred Meyer, with electronics and a lot of other things, but not clothes or food if I recall. I don’t remember Sambo’s or Taco Time.

        The big Safeway in Overlake wasn’t there; instead there was a smaller Safeway futher east with a Toys R Us next to it. I think it later became Uwagimaya and then Trader Joe’s, across the street from that huge office park lawn. That was our closest supermarket.

      7. Jafco was a catalogue showroom type of retail business model. By the time I arrived in Seattle in the late 1980s it had been sold and rebranded as Best (for Best Products), but my Seattle-born spouse still to this day refers to that location as the old Jafco site. I remember they also had a store down in the SLU area (I think on Fairview?) that we went to a few times, though the Bellevue store was much larger. They sold mostly hard goods for the home (e.g., small kitchen appliances), some electronics, small furniture (pre-IKEA days) and other decorative items for the home. We still have some kitchen housewares, some fold-up chairs and a few other miscellaneous items from Best Products in our home today. Lol.
        I remember how you looked around the showroom for things and when you found something you wished to purchase you filled out the little form and handed it to the staff at the counter at the back and waited for someone in their warehouse area to send it out on the rollers. The process seems so quaint today I suppose.

        I also remember all those places Sam mentioned, as one of my first jobs after moving to the area was at the old Koll Center. I had more lunches at that old Taco Time location than I care to admit.

      8. My Dad pinted out the SLU Jafco was the same building as Guitar Center on Westlake. I found a really old drawing picture to believe that he is correct. He remembere the parking on the roof.

      9. @Jimmy James

        Your dad is correct. The SLU Jafco was indeed on Westlake Ave N (not Fairview as I had guessed earlier), in the building most recently housing a Guitar Center store. Apparently Jafco had that building constructed for them as documented here:
        https://web6.seattle.gov/DPD/HistoricalSite/QueryResult.aspx?ID=2147012412

        Like many of the older buildings in the SLU area, the Jafco building too has now gone the route of the wrecking ball. There are some good photos of its recent demolition here:
        https://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?p=162261756#/topics/1868279?page=40

      10. @Tlsgwm.

        I was just there a recently with my Dad. He worked around downtown for over 40 years, but retired about 10 years ago. When I showed him SLU, recently, his jaw was dropped most of the time. Most of the construction hadn’t started yet in 2009. He said he only recognized a handful of buildings out of the whole area. One was Jafco. He said it was built stronger due to the roof parking and might survive longer. Guess I will have to let him know. It was bound to happen. I believe any business, historical or not, is on a timer to be torn down in less than 15 years. Another old hang out of mine, Beth’s fits that description. Thank you for the photos.

  4. Here is a question about Orca fare enforcement:

    If you are running an errand on Link and it’s only 1 or 2 stations away, do you have to treat it s two trips (second fare payment on return) or will the FEO see that your card is still valid even if you never tapped off and on again after the initial tap, even if you are headed back to the originating station? How long does an Orca card stay live after the initial tap? As Link expands, won’t the system have to allow for very long trips (as long as 2-3 hours) to be made after tapping on?

    1. “If you are running an errand on Link and it’s only 1 or 2 stations away, do you have to treat it s two trips…”

      If the return trip is within 90 minutes, the return trip will count as a free transfer, so just do it. That said, even if you don’t tap back on, I would assume it would still count as one trip if it’s quick enough. Otherwise, if you miss your stop and have to backtrack, you could get dinged by fare enforcement for not going all the way up to the mezinnine and all the way back down again. At stations like Beacon Hill or UW, that feels draconian.

      “How long does an Orca card stay live after the initial tap?”

      I’m not sure. But, if I had to guess, I would say 90 minutes because that’s how long the transfer window is. But don’t hold me to it.

      “As Link expands, won’t the system have to allow for very long trips (as long as 2-3 hours) to be made after tapping on?”

      I’m inclined to say “no”. Very few trips would be affected, and from a fairness perspective, the need for free transfers becomes less and less the longer your trip is. For example, to not give a free transfer when switching from the 65 to Link at UW Station would be outrageous. But, not giving a free transfer to a Community Transit bus to Marysville after riding Link to Everett from Tacoma doesn’t feel so bad. Even paying twice, you’re still getting an overall good deal, considering the distance traveled. In an extreme case, Amtrak, Greyhound, and airlines do not provide free Orca transfers for their services, and nobody complains.

    2. My understanding and experience, Al? Once you “tap on”, I think your single tap stays valid for an hour and a half. Or is it two? Don’t know that, or anyplace to find out right now, which in itself is real bad passenger service.

      But what makes you a Fare Evader is if, trying hard to cooperate with the printed rules, you “tap on”. Which next inspector reads as a “tap off”, making your present ride illegal. Which on last check carries no printed warning anywhere.

      Remedy I’m advocating is that , while it’s fair to check for eligibility such as age or student status, sheer possession of the card should show the inspector that I’ve paid for every conceivable trip, anywhere, any time. To me, my real fear for my short-term memory is grounds for ADA protection.

      When we get a Federal Government back. Meantime, my own present fall-back is that the inspector can always verify my original tap time and location, all guaranteeing I’m within the 90 or 120 minute time, whichever’s legal, that my “any tap” at all should have granted me.

      And also, since the system claims to need it so bad, my precise location at the place I’m being inspected, though it’s frankly nobody’s business, a concept badly needing a coat of polish.

      What won’t “shine on” is my sense that the core motivation behind this smelly little piece of intimidation is the same reason that at SR512 Park and Ride, my Intercity Transit driver can’t call the ST 574 driver one block away and have him hold thirty seconds for me. To save me a half hour restroom-free wait in the dark.

      On the system I’ve worked and fought for all these years, the very expression”Separate Agencies” ought to be considered career-terminating verbal-abuse-to-a-passenger, not blanket excuse for a ruined trip.

      Bringing me to our current vertical dimension of purgatory. Like with the BN tragedy two years ago, whatever the financial balance sheet or the project schedule says, the conversation on passenger treatment needs a somewhat sharper tone right now. If you’re right about Sea-Tac, Al, we’re committing an abuse demanding remediation in keeping with the offense.

      Was about to demand a lawyer, but that’s not where we’ll find what we need. What I’m talking about is someone in authority who’ll decide on their own initiative that getting those facilities fixed is important enough to put an ST- behind schedule by five years if mechanics and budget demand to fix that vertical conveyance if that’s what the job costs.

      And the fares? Bet somebody reading this has a relative who can make a prototype fare inspection “Tap-munk” , uniform and all, on the same sewing machine they use for their dolls.

      Visible on every station wall and over-seat reader-board. Available at every customer service counter. An ubiquitous furry little presence whose shiny plastic eyes will tear up when they see some meanie go running by the reader.

      Run her for some recalcitrant board-member’s office and a lot will improve. The Dark World knows not to mess with weaponized cute.

      Mark Dublin

    3. Al, my second paragraph should have read like this:

      “But under our present system, what makes you a Fare Evader is if, trying hard to cooperate with the printed rules, you “tap on” when you board, but forget to “tap off” before your next ride.

      Whereupon because you’re one tap short, next inspector reads your intended “tap on” as a “tap off”, rendering your present ride theft of fare. Bad enough that your ticket price already paid for your every conceivable trip.

      But Is there a single specific printed warning on this matter anywhere in the system? Find it and cite it.

      Because as someone else has noted on another comment couple weeks back, Nordstrom’s accounting department is not going to turn you over to the police for paying a bill at the wrong store. ”

      Mark

    4. I can’t guarantee that the FEOs won’t notice you are going toward the station at which you originally tapped, and then book you into the picture arcade. I believe they can see the station of origin with their checker machines.

      If you are using e-purse, the transfer is free within two hours, so you don’t get charged a second time, but you do get protected from a warning if you just tap on again (and make sure it isn’t a tap-off that produces a double beep). There is nothing to gain from not tapping on the second trip, unless it is outside the two hours and you really are trying to evade the fare.

      I’m pretty sure you don’t get charged a second fare if your final tap is more than two hours after your first tap, so long as the last tap-on is within two hours of the first tap-on.

      Tapping onto another service more than two minutes after tapping on to Link will end the Link trip, for ORCA purposes, and charge you the maximum fare you might have paid if you had tapped off at the most distant station. Tapping on to another service within two minutes cancels the Link trip for ORCA purposes, last I checked.

      The longest trip will end up being Tacoma to Lynnwood, until the lines are re-split, and then the longest will be Lynnwood to Redmond (or Everett to Redmond if the Blue Line doesn’t turn back at Lynnwood).

      By then, maybe ST will have some better way to count the distance between Lynnwood and Redmond than counting the length of the track. Charging for the ciruitousness of the trip doesn’t make sense to me.

      But then, I’m not a fan of distance-based fares on a line where one can hop off tap-off, tap on, and hop back on in order to pay a lower fare.

      Moreover, a flat fare would make the issue moot of whether thousands of riders an hour have to tap off and tap back on at the ID/CS stations. ORCA readers would also confuse those who haven’t learned how to navigate the stations. They scream “You are now exiting the station”, when riders are really trying to find their way to the other platforms. But they found it, and are confused why their passage is blocked by dozens of riders trying to get to a couple ORCA readers all at once, so they don’t notice the sign saying “Yes, this is the way to the other platforms”. Or, Creator forbid, the way to the other platforms is an insufficient number of elevators, and half of them are out of service, or (as has happened at BHS) one elevator becoming disabled shuts down all the elevators. But I digress.

      Short answer: The best approach is to just tap-on for each trip and remember to tap off. Thank you for riding Sound Transit!

      1. Truth is, Brent, that I always do the “tap” order I’m supposed to, because I believe so strongly in the system.

        Making an extra anti-tap effort to spite the system gains me nothing except something else to maybe forget. Or not. How long has ORCA been here? Ten years?

        Two warnings means I’ve got compliance in my blood. If I feel defiant, something-like-four-dollar paper ticket gives me something I can tear up at day’s end to somehow make my point by putting shreds in an envelope and mailing them to Board members who haven’t got the faintest idea what I’m talking about.

        Mark

    5. It’s always been ambiguous; I’ve never seen a rule about it. If I’m making a short stop and continuing, or turning around, sometimes I’ll tap out and back in and sometimes not. It all depends on how the inspector interprets it. you’re not “riding without paying” which is the normal reason for citing passholders. ST gets the same amount of credit either way. The fare would only be different at a 5-mile distance boundary or if you backtracked several stations into a different fare zone.

      It’s unclear what will happen when East Link starts, whether people will have to tap out and in to transfer at Intl Disti. Most subways don’t. Chicago doesn’t even though it charges for bus transfers. BART doesn’t; it uses your ultimate origin and destination. Moscow or St Petersburg has inter-line turnstyles at some stations but they’re unlocked. (Some stations have aisles that look like they were for turnstyles that were later removed.)

      I thought the transfer period was 2 hours, not 90 minutes. And it goes from when you paid the fare or surcharge. So if you take a local bus to Link or Sounder or a two-zone bus and pay a 25c surcharge, it starts a new transfer period. I’m not sure how Link tapoffs fall into that. It hasn’t mattered much so far because the longest Link trip is 45 minutes.

      1. Wouldn’t surprise me if long before East Link opens, we’ll get a Board member who is also a Saturday Night Live Roseanne Roseanadana imitator read all the rules out loud for an hour and finish up with ….”Never Mind!” It’s that kind of a problem.

        Mark

      2. It would be very surprising to me if you had to tap mid-journey. It makes no sense to do so and I’ve never seen this required anywhere (save older systems where you might need to leave one line’s station and enter the station for another line – which really isn’t the same thing and stems from different ownership of different lines back in the day). Every possible fare combination will be in the system, so whether you stay on one line or have to change trains the fare will be calculated between your entrance and exit points. This is especially true when you consider that some interline transfers will be made on the same platform – if you are traveling from Lynnwood to the Eastside, you could transfer at any station between Northgate and International District by just deboarding and waiting for the next East Link train. There’s literally no way they are going to make you go up/down to the mezzanine to tap out and then back in again, then return to the same platform you were just standing on. Nobody will do it.

        Very few systems that I’m aware of still use a single-fare payment (New York an obvious exception for reasons that go back a century). Even London with its very complex system is zone-based, and you tap on where you board, off where you exit no matter how many times you transfer.

        The transfer experience at Westlake and ID will need to be clearly thought out and potential transfer paths planned out as part of preliminary design (and ST is giving me little confidence in that at ID) – but the “fare paid” area should begin as close to the entrances as possible and such that you do not need to pass in/out of it at any point at either station unless you are leaving.

    1. $2 in 1970 equates to $12.64 in today’s dollars – still much cheaper than what the Space Needle costs today.

  5. Erica Barnett, I recall that some years ago when ORCA was new, you told us that you’d not only been undeservedly ticketed over a wrong “tap”, but couldn’t fight the citation because you would’ve had to go to Shoreline in person at your own expense.

    I’m a little old for learning to crowd-fund, but my screen-calculator tells me that for $5 each, twenty-five of us could belatedly make $125 up to you. Looking for affordable examples of fixing wrongs in less than a hundred years. And Seattle owes you this much for your service, like just being here.

    Any thoughts?

    Mark

      1. And I see she has once again gotten the jump on a story of another tone-deaf attempt by the Durkan administration to spend money looking like they are serious about pedestrian safety while still only making pedestrian safety worse. Message to pedestrians: It is your fault if you get hit trying to cross the poorly designed freeway entrance ramp, because you weren’t wearing canary yellow. Message to cars: Look out for pedestrians wearing canary yellow. It could be worse.

        Uh, gee, thanks for spending money on something other than fixing crossing.

  6. Question: is car tab fee restrictions and transportation benefit districts two different subjects? Somehow me thinks they are (limiting revenue sources and changing car tabs). Sounds a lot like 695. Too many problems for the initiative to pass court muster. Oh ya and changing the basis for future balllot measures. Way too many subjects.

    1. Does it restrict TBDs? I thought it simply revoked all car tab taxes beyond the $30 base. That would indirectly affect TBDs if they’re dependent on MVET.

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