SounderBruce [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

This is an open thread.

61 Replies to “News roundup: not afraid”

  1. “Alex Pedersen Transportation & Utilities.”

    What is Transportation & Utilities? Should this be the Sustainability and Transportation Committee and Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts Committee?

    Alex would be the absolute worst candidate to chair the Sustainability and Transportation Committee. He is the only council member who opposed ST 3 and Move Seattle.

    1. And yes, he would seem to be the worst candidate to lead the transportation committee. I for one am nonplussed.

    2. The only thing worse would have been him in charge of land use, which, mercifully is with Strauss.

    3. How many of you guys are up to lobbying your Seattle Councilmembers to turning this around?

      Because there is this thing called a “no confidence” motion.

      I suggest you give it a test flight. Please.

    1. Ah interesting. Found this chart on page 52 that lays out cause of delays in 2018. Here’s a short top 3 list. The# are total minutes and percentage of totals delay time.
      DSR Slow Order Delays Host 32,966 21.5%
      FTI Freight Train Interference Host 25,848 16.9%
      PTI Passenger Train Interference Host 18,318 11.9%

      1. edit. Also this quote from below the chart. “In 2018, BNSF was responsible for nearly 70% of the delay minutes.”

      2. How can passenger train interference account for 12% of the delay? That’s almost the same as the percentage attributed to freight.

      3. @Bernie From what I’m reading it sounds like BNSF is doing a terrible job with timing. So not only are freight trains trying to use the track the same time as Amtrak but so are Sounder commuter trains.

        Frankly its all boiling down to passenger trains need to be on their own separate tracks. At least in key choke point areas.

      4. It just doesn’t seem plausible that freight train delays would only be 4% more than delays caused by other passenger trains. The Coast Starlight schedule doesn’t seem to conflict at all with South Sounder. The only Empire Builder conflict would be the PM Departure at 4:40PM. In the AM the Empire Builder looks to have more than an hour buffer between Sounder service. Outside of the Tacoma to Everett corridor there are no passenger trains to conflict with Amtrak but lots of freight trains; especially with Stevens Pass being pretty much used to capacity.

      5. Mmm, I wonder if the PTI vs FTI is calculated based on which train is off “schedule”; if freight even has a schedule.

      6. It looks like passenger train interference doesn’t include conflicts with Sounder trains. Commuter Train Interference is a separate category.

        Cascades trains can potentially get in the way of other Cascades trains. For instance, a northbound train may have to wait for a southbound train to leave a station.

      7. Cascades trains interfering with themselves is a significant issue on the single track lines. Say, the southbound train from Vancouver BC gets held at the border. It then has to wait on a siding somewhere in order to get into Mt Vernon or Stanwood, If the conflict happens at Bellingham, they have to back one of the trains up to get it into a stub end siding.

      8. And the long-distance trains are often late, so an hour buffer is nothing. I took an eastbound EB last year that was 10 hours late by the time we got to Spokane.

    2. I got through the first half but it was just so long and I couldn’t find anything about what WSDOT will do in the next decade that I gave up. Is there anything important in it besides that some tracks could be over capacity by 2040? (Especially Portland-Pasco, yawn.)

      1. I’d have to agree that it’s pretty dull and remarkably devoid of quantifiable objectives. It is more of a summary of current conditions and project statuses rather than anything visionary. Given how Inslee is pushing going “green”, it seemingly lacks anything new to help that along.

      2. It says work on a service development plan for Amtrak Cascades is supposed to start this year. Hopefully that will have more details on what could be happening in the future.

        The only thing specific for the coming years is the new equipment and getting up to the 6 round trips between Seattle and Portland we were supposed to get two years ago. WSDOT is evidently still recovering from the derailment.

  2. The first bullet is misleading. WSDOT is not adding a line to Spokane as part of the High Speed Ground Transportation work.

    The Legislature is having the JTC take a look at conventional passenger rail service between Seattle and Spokane. This is completely separate from the HSGT work that WSDOT is doing.

  3. Overlake TC bus stops have moved.

    So the old garage is now just called Overlake P&R? Something really should be done to speed up the painfully slow loop-de-loop bus have to go though to access this little used (outside of peak) P&R.

    1. There are (soon to be were) two Overlakes – one is the TC/P&R near Microsoft and the other is just southwest of Microsoft (referred to as just P&R). Both are getting Link, but this article refers to Overlake TC near Microsoft, which is soon being renamed to Redmond Technology Center.

      For the last few years, they’ve been moving the bus stops around and making it progressively harder and more inconvenient to use due to East Link construction. Opening new, sheltered bus stops will be an improvement.

      1. I believe that the old Overlake TC is now officially called the Redmond Technology Center. That “soon to be” name change the linked article talks about has already happened.

    2. In the long run, I don’t envision any thru buses detouring into and out of the transit center. The 245 and B-line already just stay on the street stop on 156th Ave. The 542 already doesn’t do the detour, serving only the freeway station, and with a new pedestrian bridge being built, access to the freeway station will only get easier. The 541 and 545 will likely be replaced with a mixture of Link and more 542 service.

      What’s left is the 249, 566, 567, numerous Microsoft shuttle/Connector routes, and future route 544. These routes end at OTC, so the bus bays make sense as a layover spot. But, the overhead of getting in and out won’t delay thru-riders.

      There is also a good chance of the 566/567 getting truncated to Bellevue Transit Center, once Link over there is operational. Given how bad the traffic is during the limited hours that these routes are actually running, the one-seat ride to Microsoft isn’t actually saving Microsoft commuters any time, and simply having the Overlake tail exist at all makes for unreliable service for people getting on in Bellevue, in addition to increasing costs. Today, the B-line is just too slow going all the way from BTC to OTC for a forced transfer to be viable, but Link is a whole different ballgame (10 minutes via Link vs. 30 minutes via B-line).

      1. The B stop is quite a way’s away from the 545 stop now, around three sides of a block. Will this get any shorter? I sometimes take eastbound 545 to southbound B, and I’d like to more if the transfer weren’t so excessive.

      2. I mean if time isn’t extremely essential for you, I’d wonder if it wouldn’t be worth it to just ride the 545 on to Redmond TC and just cross the street to hop on the B there. It’s usually not more than 10-15 minutes from the Overlake freeway stop to there.

      3. “Rapid” Ride B is the route most adversely affected by looping through Overlake Village. Understand that RR-B was never intended to be a BTC to Overlake/Redmond route. It’s purpose is Crossroads to Microsoft & BTC. Once East Link is extended to Redmond it would be ideal to terminate RR-B at BTC and RTC. Replace the “tail” to Redmond with a bus from RTC that runs the length of 148th stopping just short of 520 and replacing the 249 from there to S Kirkland P&R. The hinter lands portion of the 249 could be replaced with a tiny bus that just connects east Bellevue with Crossroads and RTC. I’m not sure that it’s even worth anything other than peak service thought SF neighborhoods.

      4. “Understand that RR-B was never intended to be a BTC to Overlake/Redmond route.”

        Except that, outside of peak hours, there’s no alternative. You can take the 271 all the way to U district and ride the 542 back out, but that takes even longer, once the wait time transferring between two 30-minute routes is factored in.

    1. Long rides or riding with a friend I prefer the rearmost forward-facing window seat in the upper section. Nobody behind you sniffing your hair or doing something weird to worry about, slightly better view.

      The real best spot though is standing to the left or right of the stairs where there is enough room to flatten against the wall and not block the doors. Easy lean so you don’t have to touch anything and you are still positioned for a quick exit so you don’t get stuck behind a bunch of people picking their nose on the escalator.

    2. When riding Link and the Tukwila station is included in your trip, the best seats are the ones a step higher than the other seats. Get the window seat on whichever side will be on the outside. Also, be facing forward. Then, when leaving the station going north, it’s just like riding the Wild Mouse.

  4. Here’s a question.

    If a cyclist is riding towards downtown and gets off at the SODO station to stow the bicycle in a locker do they have to tap off and back on again and get charged twice?

    I’m thinking one would most likely ‘get away with it’ regardless because your tap on isn’t tied to a specific train but I wonder what the official policy response would be.

    1. You could away with not tapping at all. They’ll never know that you got off the train, as long as you’re heading in the same direction.

      But you will want to tap off and tap back on. This is because you get transfer credit for the first trip that’ll pay for the second trip. It also splits your trip at SODO into two shorter trips. And since the fare is distance based, it might save you money because you’ll be making two short trips, with the transfer credit from the first paying for the second.

      1. Maybe on Link. I know on buses it only resets when you add money to your transfer (e.g. You take a $2.25 trip and then a $2.50 trip, the second trip would be “xfer + 25 cents” and it would restart your 2 hour transfer window). When the fare structure allowed this, I made a round trip from Federal Way to Seattle once by taking the 181, 578, a local bus in Seattle, and the 179 back to FW. The fares were $2.25 (off peak Metro), $2.50 (ST Express), $2.75 (peak Metro), and $3.00 (Peak Metro 2-zone). Because I always transferred to the next bus within 2 hours after the last bus, I extended the original transfer credit all day and made the whole trip for $3.

      2. I think your time window for Link transfers resets every time you tap off and back on as well.

        If you tap on a second Link trip, and it is within the 2-hour window from tap-on for the first trip, nothing extra is charged. Indeed, you may end up saving some money due to length-of-the-track-you-travelled fares (not to be confused with fares based on how far you are from where you boarded, which is just as easy to calculate and program).

        If you forget, and head in the same direction, it is as if you never got off the train.

        If you remember to tap off, and then forget to tap on again, you will have your picture taken, and warned that the next mistake will result in a three-digit fine. So, it may be to your advantage never to tap off, especially if you have a pass covering the longest possible trip. If you lose count and tap off when you meant to tap on, you’ll hear the double-beep indicating tap-off and can proceed to tap on again.

      3. Yes, these are important points. The only time I ever got a warning wad the last time I forgot to tap off. Several years ago I tended to not tap off if I was riding Link to the end of the line, since it seemed like there was no point (forgetting to tap off charges you too the end of the line anyway).

        The problem came when I got back on the train, and tapped my card. I thought I was tapping on, but I was really tapping off for the first trip, and I was on the train without having technically tapped on. That said, it’s nice that first “offense” is always a warning, and that warnings are gone after a year. I know Metro has (or had?) kept warnings on your record for life, but I feel like one year is a happy medium that keeps enforcement effective while still going easy on genuine mistakes.

      4. I think the tap-on is good no matter which direction you are traveling as long as you don’t tap-off within the time limit on Link. It works like an admission ticket that stays active until you tap-off or the time expires. So dropping off a bicycle at SODO or grabbing an item at a convenience store along the way are legal as long as you don’t tap-off.

        I don’t think the direction matters on the validity but I could be wrong. I don’t see the operators of the fare checking machines changing directions on their readers. I think it’s just flashing green or red by checking the time.

        Which reminds me: Will ST have to extend the legal fare time window when trains go to Lynnwood, Redmond and Federal Way? Surely, Everett and Tacoma lines will necessitate a longer fare time window.

      5. The Link readers don’t say “Northbound” and “Southbound” and ST has never said to tap certain readers at a station. But it’s obvious if you’re traveling toward the station you tapped in at.

      6. Mike Orr,

        I’m not sure if they look or can even tell what station you tapped. If you’re on a southbound train at Westlake and they saw that you tapped at Beacon Hill, I would guess they would ask some questions and remind you to tap off when you deboard. But I don’t think they’d fine you for that.

        If you bought a paper ticket from the machine, then it’s really obvious if you stayed on past your stop or are making the trip back on the same one-way ticket.

        For Everett to Federal Way, I do hope they will extend the window, but it may not even be necessary. Taps are different than transfers because they have an on and an off. I think a tap on without a tap off stays on until the end of the day (certainly longer than 2 hours). If that’s the case, than nothing needs to be changed. You could ride from Issaquah to Tacoma Dome and that tap on will stay on until you tap off at the end.

      7. A tapon expires at 2 hours as I understand it. There are no lines 2 hours long. If you ride from Issaquah to Tacoma Dome, the 554 would take 30-60 minutes to Intl Dist, and you would tap onto Sounder or the 594 or Future Link within the transfer window, and then you’d have two more hours to compete the trip, which is twice as long as the travel time. Even if you took the 594 to Lakewood it would only be 1 1/2 hours (and if it reaches two hours with traffic it doesn’t matter because there’s no tapoff on buses).

        ST hasn’t indicated how train-to-train transfers will work. In ST2 a Lynnwood-Federal Way trip will take around 80 minutes (32+50), and a Redmond to Federal Way trip around 100 minutes (40+50+10 minute transfer). Everett and Tacoma Dome Link are a long way’s away so it’s not worth guessing what ST will do and we won’t know until a year ahead anyway. It will require a transfer because ST doesn’t want 2.5 hour runs. So ST could lengthen the tapon-tapoff window, or (unpopularly) require a tap to transfer. (Although how would the reader know whether you’re tapping out or transferring? If you tap twice it will continue the original trip, not start a second one.)

        Another issue is what the fare would be. 65 miles is $5.25. But if you transfer in the middle and get transfer credit, then it would be less? Of course it’s moot because the number of people traveling from Everett to Tacoma is practically zero. Somebody from Everett is 99% more likely to find their destination in Seattle or the Eastside or the airport.

      8. How many people are actually going to ride all that way. 2 hours is a long time – people don’t travel that far very often.

    2. This is probably why they made sure that the ORCA readers at all stations (except in the DSTT) are far away from the platform, to prevent people on the train from jumping out when the doors open, tapping off and tapping back on, and getting back in the train before the doors closed. If they did that, they would pay less money for a longer trip. DSTT was an exception because buses also served the platform, and they wanted to make it so people could seamlessly transfer from buses to trains without running upstairs.

      1. If you tap on for the second trip within the 2-hour window from the first tap-on, you are charged only the fare for the longest trip, $3 in your example.

        If you hang out at the station long enough for the 2-hour window to expire, then you will be charged for each trip.

      2. If you tap on for the second trip within the 2-hour window from the first tap-on, you are charged only the fare for the longest trip, $3 in your example.

        What a weird system. You would think they would simply charge you for the longest trip, regardless of how many stops you take. If I ride Amtrak to New York, it isn’t any cheaper if I get off at Spokane, Milwaukee or Chicago. I’m paying the same (or more). I don’t know what the logic is behind the system — it makes no sense to me.

      3. What’s weird about it? If you transfer from a lower-fare to a higher-fare service, you pay the difference. If you transfer from a higher-fare to a lower-fare service, the first one covers 100% of your second fare. That’s how paper transfers always worked. It’s designed for a system where most services are a flat fare. The way they prevent you from splitting a Link trip in half is that if you tap out at a station and immediately tap in again, it continues the original trip rather than starting a new one. You’d have to wait some 15 minutes before you can tap in to start a new trip at the same station.

      4. What’s weird about it? If you transfer from a lower-fare to a higher-fare service, you pay the difference. If you transfer from a higher-fare to a lower-fare service, the first one covers 100% of your second fare. That’s how paper transfers always worked.

        The difference is that with paper transfers, I always paid the highest possible fare. There was no incentive to transfer. For example, let’s say I took three buses (transferring each time): Shoreline to Seattle, north Seattle to the south Seattle, Seattle to Renton. That is a couple two zone fares, and a one zone fare. I pay the two zone fare. But that is exactly the same fare I would pay if I rode from Shoreline to Renton. There was no “three zone” fare. I just paid the highest amount.

        The 15 minute rule makes sense, but it just shows how bizarre it is — they have to add a weird rule to stop people from gaming the system. I don’t understand why they just treat a “transfer” as a continuous trip. Let’s say I ride from SeaTac to Beacon Hill, then visit some place for a half hour, then get back on to the train, and go to the UW. I should be charged for SeaTac to UW, not the higher of the other two segments. In other words, a transfer should be treated like you never tapped.

        I don’t understand the reasoning — maybe they want people to get off the train, and stretch their legs. Maybe it is designed to increase business downtown. Spend at least 15 minutes downtown — but not two hours. It is all a moot point — chances are no one is gaming the system, and only a handful accidentally stumble upon a savings, but I think it is bizarre that there is a financial incentive to transfer.

  5. During Connect 2020 “Metro will add 20 buses ($) on five north-south routes, giving people more frequency and options. These are the 7 to Rainier Avenue South, the 36 to Beacon Hill, the 70 through Eastlake to the University District, the 48 that serves both University of Washington and Mount Baker stations, and the 49 to north Capitol Hill.”

    Also, “riders are encouraged to allow for up to 30 minutes delay, in the first few days.” Most of my trips are between UW, Capitol Hill, Westlake, and SODO, and those are short enough distances that I may just avoid Link. (And avoid going from UW to SODO, because 60 minutes on two buses with a possible 20-minute wait in between due to the unreliability of the 131/132 is not to be comtemplated.) The 48 between the U-District and Mt Baker also sounds like it will be popular.

    1. how far will 20 buses go when spread over five routes with short headway (10-12 minutes)? yes, routes 26-28-131-132 are unreliable.

  6. Tonight, at the end of peak, I used Link to get from University St to UW, and it was a four-car train. Two cars was enough to accommodate all the riders, but I was surprised because I thought all trains would have four cars during Connect 2020. Is ST adjusting the train lengths for expected demand, or was this train just an oddball (e.g. because some cars needed maintenance?)

    1. Connect 2020 will have 4-car trains. It has to position them at UW tonight before the DSTT is blocked, so it probably made sense to start the evening shift with them.

  7. Uber and Lyft fares increase in New York after IPOs, reaching airline prices during holidays (Brooklyn-LaGuardia $192). A helicopter is actually cheaper in one case. Part of it is a city surcharge and minimum-wage increase. “Close to 556,000 Uber rides were taken in New York City in March. By October, that number had declined ($) to 468,000.” Peak Uber has been reached.

    However, use remains highest in parts of the Bronx, Brooklyn, and adjacent suburbs that have less public transit, and these areas are poorer than the city average, so lower-income people are making a larger percent of rideshare trips because they have fewer alternatives.

    The article suggests eliminating the cap on rideshare cars north of 96th Street, and switching from a citywide surcharge to a Manhattan-origin surcharge. (i.e., only trips starting in Manhattan).

  8. Would somebody in State Senator Bob Hassegawa’s district enlist his help in seeing to it that nobody gets fined for theft while in possession of a fully-paid ORCA pass that gets “tapped” wrong number of times?

    No way Bernie Sanders would do this to people. Bad “rap” that Elizabeth Warren might do it. Mistake she’s been making is to let people give her any grief at all about her First Nations extraction.

    Book “Little Big Man” (movie was lame) reveals that peoples like the Cheyenne would commonly welcome into the tribe captives who looked able to ride and fight. Starting with being given a strong name- Elizabeth would’ve become “Sleek Fiduciary Panther.”

    Putting her in good position to challenge a modern-day adversary to be similarly adopted. Enabling thereby a character in modern lore to be named “How Long ‘Til His Horse Collapses?”

    Great year, everybody!

    Mark Dublin

Comments are closed.