Thank you to all the transit workers for providing service to the people who cannot stay home. Meanwhile, Los Angeles has had its longest stretch of clean air in decades and is taking advantage of the drop in traffic to expedite subway construction.

This is an open thread.

92 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Serving Those Who Serve Us”

  1. So the Seattle Times quoted Rogoff to the effect that ST3 projects will be delayed. What remained unsaid was the prospect of cutting representative alignments short.

    I say delay or shorten the ones in the Pierce and Snohomish subareas. We need substantial tax revenue and debt capacity of those subareas for the Seattle tunneling anyway, and less people would be impacted. King County officials control the Sound Transit board, so it seems pretty clear that’s how this will shake out.

    1. Definitely shorten or delay the ones in Pierce and Snohomish since they helped to degrade ST3 by voting for I-976.

    2. I expect everything under construction now to have about a six-month delay, mainly due to work stoppage. I also don’t expect ridership to be what ST forecasted due to how this virus will leave some structural behavioral changes like more work-at-home and school-at-home that the future models don’t seem to adjust for.

      That said, I think the overcrowding problems I’ve been concerned about may not materialize — at least the near-term ones like Northgate opening prior to East Link with its second line or getting train seats in Seattle in the near-term when Federal Way and Lynnwood extensions open.

      Given the recent Downtown Subway tunnel delays under wider streets in San Francisco and Los Angeles (8-11 years of construction AFTER about 6-8 years in final design and environmental and real estate for stations and bid negotiations and construction planning) , I think there is a very high likelihood it will be delayed well past 2035. 2040 is more realistic. ST won’t admit that but any observer about these things can see this is a more likely opening year.

      One final item: there are ways to save money on several ST3 project changes that could be rolled out if funds aren’t there beyond dropping stations. Single track sections for expensive bridges that cross water could save money. Self-propelled EMU’s rather than light rail catenaries would also save lots. A shorter new tunnel Downtown could save money — and let’s face how wildly deep and expensive that second tunnel is.

  2. It’s possible to lend money under sub-area equity rules. But Pierce and Snohomish don’t have spare cash. If projects are delayed the money will go toward more bus service (and keeping Sounder N. on life support). Keep in mind that delay means higher cost in the end, which means more delay, which means higher costs, which… well, you get it.

    1. Financing the ST3 N. King representative alignment always has been based on using tax revenue from, and debt capacity of, outlying subareas. No loans will be involved. That’s consistent with the terms of ST3 subarea equity, because “the people and businesses” of outlying subareas benefit from the Seattle infrastructure.

      1. Yes, there has been some revenue shifting to North King projects because as you say, a light rail line along I-5 in Snohomish County alone is pretty useless. But there are agreed formulas by which the contributions are made, and you can be confident that they have been used to the fullest allowed by law.

        And Snohomish certainly does not benefit from any stations on the Ballard-West Seattle project other than those in SLU and at Smith Cove. They already will have access to all the areas of Downtown Seattle served by the DSTT. There may be three riders per hour between Snohomish County and any of the three West Seattle stations and five to Ballard.

        Pierce benefits indirectly from the new tunnel because without it there would be no extension beyond Highline. ST can’t operate trains from anywhere in Snohomish County all the way to Tacoma, so either the U-Link tunnel would have to be upgraded to two trains per minute and turns at Northgate run for Pierce or the new tunnel has to be dug.

        So if there is to be “cutting representative alignments short” it will be elimination of the West Seattle Stub and Smith Cove to Ballard.

      2. The downtown tunnels are defined as an all-subarea asset. ST’s first proposal was to charge subareas based on their use of the second tunnel, which meant Tacoma would contribute but the other subareas wouldn’t. North King called that unfair because the second tunnel is part of an overall expansion and it’s an administrative coin-flip which lines to put in which tunnel. So ST revised its proposal to charge the subareas based on their use of both tunnels. That’s what’s in effect now.

        DSTT1 can accommodate trains up to 3-minute frequency, which will be filled in ST2. Raising it to 1.5-minute frequency would require capital improvements, and ST decided to pursue a second tunnel instead.

        Truncating Link projects depends on the subareas’ buy-in because they’re the ones insisting on them in the first place. Snohomish has been adamant that it needs Everett/Paine, Pierce has been adamant it needs Tacoma Dome, and East King has been adamant about Issaquah-South Kirkland. They seem more in a delay mood than a truncating mood. Although Federal Way was truncated at 200th after the Great Recession, so there is some precedent. (It was later re-extended to 240th, then folded into ST3.)

        Transit fans can see an alternative where Snohomish is truncated at Lynnwood, 164th, or 128th; Pierce is truncated at Federal Way; and Issaquah-South Kirkland is replaced by a bus. The subarea boardmembers may eventually come around to this, kicking and screaming. It would be easiest for Snohomish and East King because it would neatly match a 50% revenue loss. Pierce would be difficult because without the Link extension it’s not getting much from ST3, its nearest station would be in another county, and it would have money left over it would have to spend on something. It could do a short extension to South Federal Way but that’s still in another county, and going to Fife would cost almost as much as going to Tacoma Dome.

        In Seattle, “Ballard” Link is as much about DSTT2 and SLU as it is about Ballard. Truncating it at Smith Cove would at least be logical and cover the highest-ridership segment. It would kill off the Ballard dream, but that dream is already being maimed by the alternatives at 14th and 15th. In West Seattle, a Delridge truncation could be sort of viable. Without Delridge, SODO wouldn’t make sense.

      3. And Snohomish certainly does not benefit from any stations on the Ballard-West Seattle project other than those in SLU and at Smith Cove

        Yep, which shows how weak ST3 is. Consider how Snohomish County will benefit from some other projects, real and theoretical:

        1) Northgate to downtown. Snohomish County benefits quite a bit, with faster, more frequent (all day) trips to Northgate (via a bus initially), UW, Capitol Hill and downtown. Even Roosevelt is likely to have some riders from the north (although not as many as from the rest of Seattle).

        2) UW to Ballard. Huge improvement for Snohomish County, as the train speeds up the slowest part of trips to Ballard and Fremont.

        3) Metro 8 Subway. Better than the section you referred to. The Lower Queen Anne Station is the same, but the SLU station is in the middle of South Lake Union, farther away from the other stations (thus maximizing coverage). That more than makes up for the Expedia Station (which will not have a lot of riders, given its geography). Depending on how the subway went east (after connecting to CHS) this could serve First Hill or Cherry Hill. Obviously First Hill is a much bigger destination, but Cherry Hill would be significant as well (especially if they added a station there, as that would hasten employment growth in the area). Other stops are relatively minor destinations for Snohomish County residents, but they aren’t like freeway park and ride stations (which are hardly ever destinations).

        The inability to recognize that pattern was a major failing of Sound Transit, and the people involved. Snohomish County should have pushed for Ballard to UW, just as Seattle should have pushed for BRISK. Not only would those pathways have been a better value for people living in those areas, but for people living outside them as well.

      4. Elimination of the West Seattle stub and the Smith Cove to Ballard will not be feasible given their rapid growth and increasing densities. The status quo won’t work anymore. Delay their construction if necessary, for sure, but no elimination without giving these communities right of way options other than dubious schemes of putting buses on rails or streetcars that don’t overcome the 99N bottleneck for West Seattleites or traffic jams on the Ballard Bridge.

      5. UW to Ballard does not help Snohomish County. Few people are commuting from Lynnwood to Fremont or Ballard. UW to Ballard helps nobody but Ballard and to a lesser extent Wallingford, which is why it is such an awful idea.

      6. Stand at I-5 and 45th St. for 15 minutes, count the number of cars that exit the freeway and turn west instead of east, and then try to continue arguing that nobody up north commutes to Fremont/Ballard/etc. Of course people commute that way. And if you made it easier, more people would commute that way. We just don’t it (at least from a transit perspective) because we’re too conditioned into thinking that transit exists exclusively for travel to downtown and private cars are for travel everywhere else.

      7. Of course people from the north commute to Wallingford and Ballard. But from Snohomish County? Not nearly as many. You’ve also stumbled upon the real issue and solution. The I-5 on and off ramps. I prefer mass transit over personal vehicles myself (I own neither a car nor a driver’s license), but it is easy for even me to see that an improvement to a single intersection (west side of I-5) can completely eliminate the issue. The far west side of the U District and far east side of Ballard are only 2.2 miles away by street (shorter as the crow flies). Building a tunnel for such a short distance to serve three communities is madness. It is a solution in search of a problem.

      8. Not to put too fine a point on if, asdf2 and A Joy, but anyone southbound on I-5 turning right on 45th is either ignorant and won’t do it again, or is headed for central Wallingford. People headed anywhere west of Stone Way will use 50th.

        I realize this is a pedantic position, but it is also the truth.

      9. The short distance is what makes the tunnel economically feasible. A 2.2-mile tunnel costs a lot less to build than a 10-mile tunnel. There’s a lot of people in those 2.2 miles, plus a fair bit of jobs.

        Also, you’ve got to consider the effect that Ballard->UW would have on reverse commuters. If you live in Fremont and work in Lynnwood, a Ballard->UW line helps a lot.

        I’m not going to argue that the Snohomish County subarea budget should be paying for Ballard->UW (it shouldn’t), but every subway line definitely provides residual benefits to other parts of the network, beyond where that line literally goes.

      10. Tom Terrific, I agree with you. At least for the evening commute, from Wallingford to I-5 southbound is the single biggest traffic issue. I can and have gotten off the 44 at Stone Way, walked to 15th, and beaten my bus. After passing the I-5 south on ramp, the traffic just disappears.

        asdf2, short lines are less feasible, not more. You need facilities on one end or the other for basic maintenance. Those are often more expensive than tunnel miles or station miles. And it doesn’t serve as many people as you might think. The two seat ride is much less attractive than the single seat ride, so you can’t count on Lynwood feeding a UW->Ballard line. Ballard is a top 5 size urban core, as is UW. But the traffic pattern really isn’t between the two. In the end, the UW->Ballard line only serves three communities of decent size. It doesn’t play into a bigger system. It is only recently that long range plans dreamed of expanding that line east or west, and I openly question the authenticity of those plans. I feel they’re being used to justify the UW->Ballard stub, and will be dropped the moment that stub is completed. Expansion might also involve needing to move the maintenance bay, adding to expenses.

        I have to question the validity of considering a Fremont->Lynnwood commute, just as I question the validity of a Lynnwood->Ballard commute. Snohomish County is much farther north than I think people might realize. Northgate, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, sure. But Lynnwood? Now you’re talking about a vast minority of commutes. North King County might be coaxed into a two seat ride. Lynnwood? Little chance.

      11. No, and not any more. I was taking light rail and a bus for a routine nonessential medical procedure, but that ended with the stay at home order.

        Pray tell, what relevance does that have to the topics at hand?

      12. If Ballard->UW were built, it would presumably be built with connector tracks to the existing UW->downtown tunnel. Even if rush hour capacity doesn’t permit those trains to go downtown, they could still use the path out-of-service to get to the existing maintenance facilities, without needing to build new ones.

        As to two-seat train ride. As long as everything runs frequently and the escalators don’t make the connection unnecessary onerous (e.g. having to go all the way back up to the surface, wait for a Mercer-style traffic light, then go all the way back down again), it’s not that bad. People do it in New York and in Washington D.C. all the time. And it’s a two-seat ride to South Lake Union anyway, so it’s not clear why a two-seat is acceptable to get there but not to Fremont.

        Nor is it clear why people from Northgate would be more accepting of a two-seat ride than people from Lynnwood. If anything, the further north you’re coming from, the less percentage of total travel time comes from the overhead of the transfer. Thinking in extremes, I would pretty much never accept a two seat ride to go half a mile, as it would nearly always be faster to just walk. But, when you’re going 20 miles, the potential destinations fan out a lot, and it’s not reasonable to expect a one-seat ride to more than a handful of them.

      13. A connector track with UW-Downtown would not be easy. There aren’t many places the two routes could connect. Light rail takes room to turn. That kind of turn would also then exclude any plans for line extension east. It sounds good in theory, but in practice it is less so.

        Two seat rides aren’t popular in the region. Yes, they’re common in other cities and in future local transit plans. Two seat rides still lose ridership on Metro-ST routes. You could argue that needs to change, and you could be right (I’d even agree with you). But we should plan for what transit behaviors are, not what we want them to be.

        Your last point makes no sense to me. The last thing someone who has been on a long train/bus ride wants to do is get on another one. Two short rides is still a shorter amount of time overall, and therefore more preferable. We actually saw this behavior in the original A Line-124 split. Even with the light rail to TIBS, bus traffic briefly decreased. Nobody wanted to sit on a 124/A, then take a train at TIBS, or vice versa.

      14. It baffles the mind that people who obviously don’t understand basic transit design suddenly start raising spurious technical challenges.

        I’ll start with the first point: Bigger isn’t always better. The Santa Clara VTA light rail in San Jose is 42 miles long, and carries about half as many riders as Link (Link is 20 miles long). The entire Turin Metro is 8 miles long, yet it carries 150,000 people a day. The Minatomirai Line in Yokahoma carries over three times the number of riders that our entire light rail system does. It has six stations, and is 2.5 miles long. It is short, and connects well with the rest of the system (as would a Ballard to UW line).

        It is common to find tables that list ridership per mile, because ridership per mile is an important metric. In general, capital cost is related to mileage. There are exceptions — like when you can leverage an old rail line, or run on the surface — but that is a general rule of thumb. From a maintenance standpoint, there is an even stronger correspondence. The more track, the more it costs to maintain. This is why you want high ridership per mile.

        It is also important to consider the overall network, which include all the vehicles and all potential trips. Of course some trips are more common than others, but with few exceptions (Calgary being the big one) a system that assumes everywhere to everywhere trips is more successful than one that doesn’t. BART is less successful than the Washington Metro, because BART doesn’t serve San Fransisco or Oakland outside a handful of spots. Someone in Walnut Creek drives to their job at Highland Hospital (in Oakland) because the transit system just doesn’t work for them. Someone in Daly City drives to their job at the University of San Fransisco, for the same reason. In this second case, a rider could switch to a bus (or tram) but it is extremely slow.

        Which gets me to the next point. Replacing fairly fast service with something a bit faster isn’t going to get people out of their cars. The three miles or so between Ballard and the UW is one of the slowest trips in our system. Improving that connection is essential — not only for people who walk to the station, but for those who are making connections (from bus or by train). This means someone from Phinney Ridge trying to get to the UW, or someone trying to get from Lynnwood to Fremont.

        I know you think those people don’t exist, but I have to ask — have you worked in Fremont? Because I have, and know several people who made that commute. I asked about taking the bus, and they all said the same thing: The bus from Lynnwood to the UW isn’t bad, but the bus from there is really slow. It takes forever. A subway line from Ballard to UW would change that. It would be faster than driving(!) all day long. How many parts of our system are really like that?

        Now consider the total time. It will take 20 minutes to get from Lynnwood to the UW. With transfer, it would take about 10 minutes to get to Fremont. That means a 30 minute commute from Lynnwood to Ballard.

        It is not just commuting. Let’s say someone in Lynnwood works at the UW or downtown and has to see a specialist in Ballard. What if they want to visit a friend in Wallingford, or go out to a club in Fremont. In all these cases they can catch a cab, or spend half their morning driving, but if the subway is fast (or faster) then they will use that.

        Of course most ridership on the UW to Ballard line would come from inside Seattle, just as most ridership overall will come from inside Seattle. But a new line — one that looks at the contribution to the entire transit network — is bound to attract more riders overall, and thus be a far better value.

      15. … two seat rides aren’t popular in the region …

        This. This attitude, in a nutshell, is our problem. Sure, those things work in other parts of the world, but not here. Here, we are different. We are special. We don’t even have two-seat subway rides here, but I can tell, just by guessing, that we won’t like them.

        That sort of provincial attitude is why we will never come close to the transit ridership we should, despite spending enormous amounts. The provincialism is not only restricted to our inability to mimic systems that work well (and copy systems that don’t) but it also includes various parts of the system. Sound Transit was supposed to reduce this sort of local provincialism — this everyone-for-themselves attitude — but it is clear it hasn’t. Lynnwood doesn’t even pay attention to what is built in Seattle. Seattle doesn’t look at what is being built on the East Side. That is their business. It doesn’t concern us. If the East Side wants to build a subway line from Issaquah to South Kirkland, so be it. Knock yourself out.

        The person who should combat this sort of local (as well as general) provincialism is the head of the largest county — Dow Constantine. At one point he was head of the Sound Transit board, the person with the most power to create a good mass transit system for the entire region. But he didn’t. He played simple, provincial politics, making sure that each area got what it wanted, while making sure that his area (West Seattle) cut in front of the line, and got light rail.

      16. I think the comparison between Santa Clara, Calgary, BART, and WMATA also has to do with land use and jobs density. Silicon valley has a very dispersed employment center, which means even with a major system like the VTA you have low ridership because its very difficult to serve a high proportion of trip pairs. Calagary’s light rail does well because the city has done a good job keeping most jobs in the downtown and not in suburban office parks, not because their light rail routes are particularly clever. BART and WMATA do well serving downtown SF and DC, respectively, but have very anemic ridership to suburban destinations.

        Therefore, I’m bullish on the ST3 suburban extension because even though they are far flung, they are still primarily connecting neighborhoods to job centers of very high density – namely Seattle’s CBD, UW/UDistrict, and Bellevue. Take Snohomish – with or without the Paine Field diversion, most people in Everett heading outside of the city to work (to put aside those with short local commutes) are overwhelmingly heading to Seattle or Bellevue; to get them to take Link, it simply needs to be the best mode. Forcing them into a 5 minute longer ride to spur economic development within Snohomish county doesn’t change the fact that Link will still be the most compelling mode to get in and out of Seattle for most workers.

        I don’t see Ballard-UW drawing much Snohomish ridership because there simply aren’t as many jobs, relatively speaking. Metro 8 connects major job centers, but transferring at Cap Hill vs Westlake to get to SLU seems like a minor improvement (better First/Cherry Hill could be compelling), which suggests Metro 8 is mostly about moving people within the CBD, not in and out of. To echo others, that’s not an argument these are bad investments, it’s just an argument that the benefits of both projects primarily accrue to the North King subarea and will presumably be funded as such.

        Of course, continuing to invest in high quality transit will benefit all riders across the network, and induced demand could cause Ballard to emerge as a regionally important job center. I just don’t see “better connection to that hip restaurant in Fremont” as a compelling use case for suburban communities.

        With ST3, all the subareas have their connections to Seattle/UW/Bellevue. Going forward, each subarea is going to focus on improving internal connections; this will benefit all because of network effects, but the conversation will be more local. I would call this Subsidiarity rather than Provincial, and I don’t see it as problematic. Seattle will have their projects, and other city’s will that theirs, and Sound Transit’s role is to pool financial & technical resources and share risks.

        In NYC, there is a compelling argument for NY/NJ/CT to focusing on access to Manhattan because more capacity is needed. In contrast, LA’s project list is a regional grab-bag because there isn’t one corridor that demands the whole region’s attention. Importance of Crenshaw vs Downtown vs Sepulvada Pass vs Wilshire subways are highly regional, even if some projects clearly serve more riders than others. One approach is not better than another, its just different metropolitan needs. I think post-ST3, greater Seattle’s needs will be much closer to LA than NYC, unless we get to a point where the two tunnels cannot handle regional demand to get in/out/through downtown Seattle.

      17. RossB, you appear to only be reading what you want to see.

        Not all long lines are good, no. Not all short lines are bad. Ridership per mile is an important metric. Capital cost and mileage are related. But so are other factors. Like tunnels and maintenance bays, especially if the latter is under ground.

        Just because you know a handful of people who commute from Lynnwood to Fremont does not that make that a route of significance, even if you include noncommute travel. To respond to one of your examples, somebody working at the UW and needing specialist medical care will likely go to UWMC, as it is right there and full of specialists.

        UW->Ballard is only replacing a slow ride with a fast ride due to a refusal to do anything about the slow ride. The UW is one of my hoods. I’ve spent tons of time there from the mid 90s through today. I have immediate family that lives there now. When not under a stay at home order, I also visit Wallingford. I don’t use a car, so the 44 is my only option. UW->Ballard would be a “fast ride” with the improvement of a single intersection. This makes a tunnel and stub line a really hard sell.

        Especially since it adds practically nothing to the overall network. It replaces service that is slower than it is popular. The 44 may be packed during peak hours, but off peak many busses are mostly empty (less than 1/4 seats full, no standing).

        We don’t have two seat subway rides, no. We do have bus->subway and subway->bus rides. We know how they work in this region. There is no reason to believe that subway->subway transfers will be any different. There’s no guessing involved. Just a simple look at similar existing data.

        I agree, it is a provincial attitude that holds transit back in this region. A “We are special view.” that looks more to our past than our future. But the majority of our neighbors, our community, even in Seattle, hold that small town provincial view. I don’t see that changing, even with our predicted population increases. So whether you like it or not, whether I like it or not, that small town view has to be taken into consideration in with regards to transit planning. Because it will win out. One cannot drag people kicking and screaming into a 21st Century they don’t want. This is the folly of social engineering. We’ll waste billions of dollars going that route.

        Outside of some specifics, especially UW->Ballard, I think we agree more than you might think on general transit infrastructure. Where I think we differ is in your apparent willingness to “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” force projects through in what I see as a vain hope it all works out in the end. I feel I’ve seen the damage that attitude has caused in the past.

        I’ve also underestimated Link demand in the past, as my replies on this very blog have shown. I may be wrong about UW->Ballard. But I don’t think so. I really think this is a vanity project when compared to many other parts of Seattle Subway’s ambitious plans.

      18. Two words that explain why transferring to a train is better than transferring to a bus. Frequency. Reliability.

      19. I agree, it is a provincial attitude that holds transit back in this region. A “We are special view.” that looks more to our past than our future. But the majority of our neighbors, our community, even in Seattle, hold that small town provincial view. I don’t see that changing, even with our predicted population increases. So whether you like it or not, whether I like it or not, that small town view has to be taken into consideration in with regards to transit planning. Because it will win out. One cannot drag people kicking and screaming into a 21st Century they don’t want. This is the folly of social engineering. We’ll waste billions of dollars going that route.

        You are missing the point. It is provincialism that causes us to think that we won’t like what everyone else likes. That is incorrect. How can I put this:

        We aren’t different! We like what other cities like. End of story. Want to know why bikeshare died in this city? Simple — not enough stations. Study after study said that was the key (https://nacto.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/NACTO_Walkable-Station-Spacing-Is-Key-For-Bike-Share_Sc.pdf). Get enough stations, and you will have enough trips.

        Yet once it failed, everyone made various excuses. The weather here is bad (compared to say, Boston). We have lots of hills (unlike Montreal, a city literally named after a hill). Bull. It was the station density. Like every freaking city.

        Same with mass transit. Every part of our current system is predictable, by looking at other cities. The part of mass transit that will be in the urban core will do really well. The part outside it will not. Yet you are saying that somehow an urban line, connecting a major destination (the UW), offering huge time savings *the entire day*, and connecting extremely well to existing transit lines (both rail and fast, frequent bus service) will somehow fail, despite the fact that every similar line in the world has succeeded. That is just BS. That is provincial thinking.

        You don’t seem to get it. I’m saying the planners are provincial. I’m saying your statements are provincial. It is provincial to call our riders provincial. The riders aren’t provincial. The riders are normal. They take good transit, and ignore bad transit. Like every freaking city.

        The UW to Ballard line would work out well because it mimics successful lines the whole world over. The inability to recognize that suggests bizarre assumptions about riders in the region, or an ignorance of transit systems in the world.

      20. Bikeshare failed because it is a bad idea. All the examples cited in your analysis link are in the US. Provincial much? Citing examples in Canada and Europe wouldn’t be much better.

        “You are missing the point. It is provincialism that causes us to think that we won’t like what everyone else likes. That is incorrect.”

        Umm. We get to say what what we won’t like. That’s pretty basic. The people in our region have a right to state their own preferences. You don’t have the right to deny people that.

        Again with the time savings. The time savings is artificial. The demand isn’t there either. That you refuse to acknowledge that shows your ignorance and bizarre assumptions.

      21. Ross, I’m going to guess you have never actually been to Montreal, as the entire city save the eponymous Mont Royal is basically flat and Mont Royal itself is a plateau. Of that, the vast majority is a park and a cemetery. You’d have been better served using Lisbon, which is hilly as hell and has bikeshare – even though the vast majority of docking stations there are on the Lisbon Plateau and in the valley leading to the Rio Tejo and the old city.

        I concur that we need more cross-town capacity – that has always been a problem in this city no matter your mode of transport, specifically because due to glaciation the valleys and ridges tend to run N-S making E-W surface travel more difficult. I also believe that – like anywhere else – people are as provincial as their circumstances, and will take to new opportunities provided them. Transfers – should they be straightforward – will become a matter of course to many people even with the system we currently are building – and certainly connecting the east and west sides of the city would cause people to transfer who today wouldn’t consider it. This is one of the best-travelled cities in the country and one with a very high percentage of people who’ve lived elsewhere – transferring won’t be an issue if it’s a good one (which of course leaves out much of what ST has already designed, unfortunately).

      22. All the examples cited in your analysis link are in the US. Provincial much? Citing examples in Canada and Europe wouldn’t be much better.

        Good God, man, how often must you be wrong. I don’t mean your arguments are illogical, I mean you can’t even get your facts right. I linked to an analysis that looked at various cities in North America. That includes Canada and Mexico. It even shows Mexico City as an example, but in your zest to call the kettle black, you obviously missed that. In that analysis, it listed a study done in France: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2555671. In case you are not aware, France, Mexico and Canada are not in the United States.

        But that misses the point! Even if every studies were done in the U. S., even if Montreal was in the U. S., it wouldn’t change a thing. I was referring to provincialism, which Dictionary.com defines as:

        concern for one’s own area or region at the expense of national or supranational unity

        Got it? Probably not. Provincialism means looking at your own area, while ignoring other areas. That means that provincialism could be looking at your own neighborhood, and ignoring other neighborhoods. It could mean looking at your own city, and ignoring other cities in the same country. It could mean looking at countries on your continent, or with a similar lifestyle, while ignoring other countries around the world.

        Thus American provincialism is not limited to those who fail to look outside the United States. There are people in the U. S. who ignore obvious examples of other cities *within the U. S.* while being provincial. When you say things like

        Bikeshare failed because it is a bad idea.

        I don’t know what type of provincialism — or just plain ignorance — you are using. There are examples, right here in the great U. S. of A. of very successful bikeshare systems. But please, tell me how all those millions of people using bikeshare — in the U. S. and around the world — are experiencing a bad idea.

        The people in our region have a right to state their own preferences. You don’t have the right to deny people that.

        I’m not trying to deny them anything. You are trying to deny people in this area good transit — as applied in every city in the world — because you think you know what they want. You have no idea what they want, and have not provided one single shred of evidence to support your bizarre theory about transfers.

        Again with the time savings. The time savings is artificial.

        Bullshit. Grade separated transit (e. g. a subway from the UW to Ballard) would have real time savings, in the same manner that the subway from the UW to Capitol Hill to downtown has real time savings. It would take less than ten minutes to make that trip by subway. It takes about thirty minutes now — at noon! Of course you can do things to speed that up, but there are only so many things you can do, which is why people run subways.

        The demand isn’t there either.

        Again, bullshit. Despite some of the slowest trip averages of our entire region, it has ridership that exceeds Bellevue to downtown Seattle. Sound Transit’s own study showed that ridership per dollar spent was better there than on the Interbay alignment, let alone every other project of ST3 (which was much, much worse). Holy cow, man, do some research before you utter such nonsense. At this point — and maybe the entire time you have been on this blog — you are just trolling. At least Sam has something interesting and amusing to say when he trolls. You just utter nonsense.

      23. @Scott — I have been to Montreal, twice. It is a beautiful city, and yes, not especially hilly. I just like the line — one I stole from a friend. Not the best example, but I wouldn’t call Montreal flat. Certainly not Midwest flat. It has a series of plateaus, which make travel around various areas easy, but getting from some places to other places can be a slog, especially if you are on a cheap, rugged, bikeshare bike. You can see by the topographic overlay that there are some trips that would involving some work, even though not as much as Seattle (https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=45.53648,-73.58334&z=14&b=map&o=mbt&n=0&a=cm5)

        I probably should have chosen San Fransisco, since it is a city well known for its hills. But the Bay Area has had its share of issues, most of which have nothing to do with topography. Lisbon sounds like an even better example.

      24. Yeah, there are some grades in Montreal, but for those who haven’t been there it’s still pretty darn flat particularly when comparing it to Seattle or San Francisco (one of the benefits of being in a very large river valley). Most places we think of as “flat” anywhere really aren’t – especially when you are riding or walking. I admit to not having noticed it much at all but most of my visits were long enough ago that I would today probably more than notice any tiny rise!

        Lisbon really is a good example but the touristed areas and high-end old parts of town where most people would end up whilst visiting are quite hilly and with the tiny streets Europe is famous (and beloved) for, you see very few cyclists except on the main avenue leading up the valley away from the river. The bikeshare company Gira put its efforts there and onto the plateau, which is newer and easier to get around in (also where much of the business and residential areas are) – and yes, they have e-bikes. It truly is a lovely city.

      25. One mention of Mexico City and a city in Canada on one chart is not significant. I knew you were going to mention it though, as you have fallen into predictability.. I’ll confess to missing the French study, even as I mentioned wanting less “First World” examples (of which France certainly is).

        J understand provincialism well. Where are the bike shares in Africa, Ross B? I was trying to address your provincialism and you didn’t even see it.

        “provincialism is not limited to those who fail to look outside the United States.”

        True enough. But it does include those who fail to look outside the United States. Or occicentric enclaves.

        “I’m not trying to deny them anything. You are trying to deny people in this area good transit.”

        “No, you!” is not a substantive argument.

        “Bullshit.” “Again, bullshit.”

        The route only takes 30 minutes due to substandard street, specifically arterial and freeway, intersection planning. Few nonpeak 44 riders take the 44 from Ballard all the way to UW. While that means Wallingford is a more popular destination than people give it credit for, it also means that this single insufficient demand group will almost completely disappear when Ballard Link opens.

        Please can the “man” comments, as I am not one, and know that further accusations of trolling will be submitted to moderation.

    1. This would have been such a great time to install the Basic Bike Network downtown. Heck, install the Bicycle Master Plan citywide. Just do it provisionally, and make free-parking-advocates fight to uninstall it block by block.

    2. Experts say the amount of remaining traffic also illustrates how much “nonwork” trips contribute to everyday congestion. Even before the pandemic, four out of five car trips in the Washington region were for reasons other than commuting, such as ferrying children and picking up dry cleaning

      I had no idea it was that high. We almost always combine errands with a commute trip. I guess technically that’s two trips. Different story for the other households on our street. Three out of the four have more than one child living at home. Traffic on our driveway is down probably 80% which includes the doubling of delivery vehicles.

      1. That’s been the proportion of work-to-nonwork trips across the board. People don’t notice it because they focus on commuting and don’t realize how the other trips add up. There’s shopping, transporting kids, going to church, attending events, visiting relatives, hauling away trash, getting building materials for maintenance, replacing broken appliances, taking pets to the vet, going to medical appointments, going to catch a flight or pick somebody up from the airport, etc.

      2. Obviously people either don’t think about combining trips or, the way the statistics are formulated a combined trip gets divided which I believe is the case. To me, a trip is when I get in the car and when I get home. It’s still one trip even if I run five different errands (some of which may be walking to different stores in the same location). But yes chauffeuring kids has become a major generator of trips. What I’d really like to know is how many VMT are because of commuting vs errands like picking up your dry cleaning.

        I’m still wondering why dry cleaners are an essential business when everyone but essential workers are to remain home. These essential workers can operate without a mask but must have their clothes dry cleaned? But this decision came down from the experts in Olympia so it must have a sound rational.

      3. I’m still wondering why dry cleaners are an essential business when everyone but essential workers are to remain home.

        I don’t think anyone considers them essential, in the true meaning of the word. It is more that they are low risk and high benefit, which is true of lots of places. For example, why is booze still for sale? It would be relatively trivial to just end all sales of alcohol. Brewpubs that have been hanging on by a thread selling growlers would shut down. Big outlet stores (Total Wine and More) would close. Grocery stores would have fewer people, and checking out would be quicker.

        The same approach could be taken with Amazon. They are obviously really busy, and there have been multiple outbreaks in multiple warehouses. But why can I buy toys & games, electronic accessories, and video games (to name just the top three categories)? Most of what Amazon is selling right now would hardly be considered essential. Yet they still sell it.

        It is very difficult to draw the line, and for whatever reason, dry cleaning was considered essential, even though it obviously is not. You can wear a wrinkly suit, or a fancy blouse with a stain on it for a while.

        My guess is they are trying to balance the economic impact with the public health. Why lay off all those workers, when the public health benefit will be minor? The problem is our national economic approach (as well as our public health approach) has been really poor. We should be paying people to not work. This runs counter to common economic practice, where you want to pay people when they are out of work (so they keep spending) but you want them to get back to work. In this case, we *don’t* want them to work. Staying at home is better for public health, and quite likely better for the economy in the long run. That is the approach we should take, but it is a tough adjustment for a country that used to known for its ability to adapt, but is now as nimble as a freight train.

        https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/04/new-laws-pandemic-economics/609265/

      4. One good reason to *not* stop selling alcohol is so suddenly detoxing alcoholics don’t add to the load on the already overburdened hospital system. Or just flat out die from withdrawal.

      5. @Ness — Yeah, and there are lots of other problems as well. It would create hatred towards the government (they’ve gone too far), and there would be illegal sales. Moral would be lowered as well. For many reasons I wouldn’t do that, even though it clearly is not essential.

      6. It would be hard to ban alcohol sales when the State decided that Pot Shops could stay open. One big reason the State would want to continue sales of both is they are highly taxed! And besides, if they cut of sales of booze people would start drinking dry cleaning fluid :=

        The company my son works for outside of Bellingham that makes mining equipment (~20 employees) got shut down. The nature of the job, mostly welding and cutting has people working with lots of “social distancing” and they are not open to the public. They are currently trying to jump through hoops to be allowed to reopen.

    3. I crossed the 520 bridge on my bike the other day. Traffic on the freeway was extremely light, but the trail was as busy as ever. At around 4 PM, the counter showed over 1,600 bikes crossing the bridge that day, substantially *higher* than a normal (non-pandemic) weekend.

      I didn’t try to actually count, but it was quite possible that the number of trail users when I was there that the number of walkers and bikers on the trail was a non-trivial percentage compared to the number of cars on the freeway.

      Fortunately, there was still sufficient space to maintain 6-feet social distancing.

    1. Sam, if you did not have a six year record of disdaining transit and trolling gleefully, interrupted in the past few months occasionally with a genuinely supportive comment I will admit, then your insinuation that people in Seattle should walk if they don’t have a car might be heard more willingly.

      But you DO have that record, so who cares what you say?

      1. The irony here is that unions (of which I get the sense Sam is not a fan) have been stepping up to procure and provide that PPE. Community Transit is just one example of where that happened.

        I trust my union to look out for me more than I trust the politicians.

        That said, I think Dow and Jay have done an outstanding job blunting the spike in Washington, while using the opportunity to get a lot more people experiencing homelessness into shelter, and setting up ways to get food between food banks and those who need it without recipients having to risk two bus rides to procure food.

        They stand in sharp contrast to Joe Biden, who was asking his supporters in Wisconsin to risk their lives to go vote in person Tuesday, up until the (Democratic) governor of Wisconsin came to his senses and postponed the election in favor of an all-mail primary at a later date.

        I foresee default-mail-in voting being implemented in a lot more places before November arrives, and then sticking around as the new normal.

      2. Ballard’s new Nordic Museum now puts trolls permanently on-topic. Because the government of Norge (pronounced NOR-yeh) no longer bothers to classify how many rock-fall incidents along their coast highway really result when huge shaggy trolls, chortling and counting the night’s “haul” of gold watches, lose track of approaching sunrise, turn into rocks, and go plummeting into traffic on the E-3. Signature Sam or what?

        But danger to bus drivers isn’t funny. On the subject of a troll-tainted revenue picture, Detroit and all over America, what’s the truth about available money and general quality of counter-measures? Think new National Anthem should be Paul Simon doing “Sound of Silence.” Starting with fact we are the richest country in the world. With world’s worst numbers, for an industrialized country, on income-distribution and social-mobility.

        Recent comment comes to mind about the duty of a civilized society to force homeless people into confinement. How ’bout its duty to compel Washington legislators, whether they like it or not, to raise taxes and get Western State mental hospital’s accreditation back? Let alone protect its staff from attacks by inmates.

        Personally seem to notice that however we’re doing as individuals, command-chains are having hell’s own time getting organized. Fine print from Detroit mentions front-door bus-boarding was still in effect at time of infection, doesn’t it? Is it still? Though, again from somebody who knows….how much difference does that really make?

        But mainly, it’s miles-Past-Time to go lung-top volume on our driver’s world-major reality: Work-life in a country whose politicofinancial rule makers have never more effectively gutted the whole laboring world of its every protection.

        And definitely time for drivers, local, State, and nationwide, to start organizing with this possibility in mind: If drivers cannot be protected, then nationwide public effort, comparable to war because it is one, to deal with the every consequences of service shut down for the duration.

        You’ve got to be out there. I’m not allowed out of the house. So would really like to read the words of those who know first-hand. With any threat or retaliation, a criminal offense.

        Mark Dublin

      3. “I foresee default-mail-in voting being implemented in a lot more places before November arrives, and then sticking around as the new normal.”

        Only in states that are blue. Trump and other Republicans do not benefit from making it easier to vote ( a few have even said this quiet part out loud in the press). Even Ohio, whose Republican governor has done a good job with Coronavirus, postponed the primary at the last second (probably the right decision) but not offering more/ easier to obtain absentee ballots.

      4. @mdnative — I agree, but as more and more (blue) states do it, more and more swing states will as well. Wisconsin voted for Trump, and the governor there is pushing for vote for mail in the primary. If not for a Republican legislature, it would likely happen in the general.

        It is also possible that federal action could require it, as an extension to the voting rights act. That would take a Democratic president and congress. It is unlikely that Republicans would filibuster, but it would be interesting if they did. It is hard to defend absentee balloting (that has trended towards Republicans) and not 100% absentee balloting.

    1. Metro also claims the agency’s “#1 priority is the safety and health” of its “employees and customers.”

      Obviously not!

    2. Thanks for bringing this up.

      Someone from my HR department joked that we have readily available COVID testing devices: thermometers. Checking the temperature of each driver before going on duty would certainly be better than no testing at all. There ought to be a way to do that without invading social distance.

      The problem of decrowding queues has already been solved, more-or-less, at places like grocery stores, credit unions, and even in shelters. Credit union walk-in service is now by appointment only. Grocery stores have six-foot space markings on the floor, for check-out queues. Shelters have taped or painted stripes to demarcate individual spaces.

      Moving furniture can be part of the solution. Don’t be surprised if having chairs next to each where employees are waiting to check in leads to employees sitting next to each other. Move check-in to a larger space, and space the chairs. Tape or rope off a space at the counter so employees approach one at a time. Stagger start times evenly, even if it means changing route schedules. If there are too many employees to give each one their own minute, set up more queues at more counters.

      On buses and trains, marking seats as not available could help, and in particular could show passengers where to sit without reducing the capacity of the bus while following the 6-foot rule. Wait for passengers to sit down before proceeding and play a message to please be seated while the bus is moving, so nobody is hanging onto the bars and straps with their bare hands. The aisles need to remain clear except when boarding or alighting. Also, play an external message asking passengers to wait 6 feet from the door while other passengers are alighting. And then another message welcoming passengers to board, one at a time, keeping 6 feet between each other.

      At stations and major bus stops, tape or paint could be a good reminder of how far people need to stand apart. It could also get the word out to those who have lost their connection to the news now that the libraries are shut down. For stations, use messages like those I listed above. They could be on the station loudspeaker or from the train’s loudspeaker. Pick a new in-house voice for those new messages, so we don’t end up with computerized things like “Saw-daw Station”.

      Also, split up the FEOs to cover more LRVs and make their primary assignment to report when they are seeing riders exceeding the COVID fire limit, as evidenced by using up all the allowed seats. Invert their normal routine to focus on peak period counts.

      Finally, consider cheaper disposable seat covers, and only put them on on the allowed seats, while putting something on the do-not-sit-here sits that makes them impossible to sit in.

      1. I know school buses are set up with easily moveable/removable seating on tracks; similar to what airline cabins use. Maybe just reconfigure the seating to force social distancing.

        Speaking of school bus drivers, here is an out of work group of people that are ideally suited to help the situation. One obvious way is delivering lunches (and here) and other supplies. Districts already know which kids are on assisted lunch programs.

        School districts have lots of small buses they use for special needs and things like half day kindergarten. And all are equipped with wheelchair lifts and restraints. Use this resource to transport elderly or others without private transportation home from the hospital when they are released whether from Covid19 or any other illness. Since the seats can easily be removed (and school districts have lots of storage space right now) employ them as delivery vehicles for food banks. FYI, Washington school bus drivers all have FEMA “Incident Command System” training and are expected to be on call during natural disasters. It’s just everyone thought it would be a volcanic eruption or mega-quake; not the “invisible enemy”.

      2. All the buses I’ve been on or looked through the windows at have passengers spaced a few rows apart even without closed seats. So this crowding seems to be a myth, like the idea that homeless people are filling buses. If there is any crowding and non-distancing it must be peak hours on a few routes, and that can be dealt with directly.

  3. Thanks for getting the discussion started this morning, Brian. But since literally nobody on Earth can have any idea what’ll even be possible, let alone when, I think it’s a damaging waste of time concentrating on making sure somebody doesn’t get something transit-related.

    My own example of much better use of time, which right now is in such depressingly plentiful supply? Couple days ago, sent an e-mail to King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci, a representative I’ve long respected, some plans I’ve been working on for the past several years to add a Totem Lake-Bellevue streetcar line to the hike and bike trail called the Cross-Kirkland Corridor.

    But started by stipulating that she notice the handles I’d attached to the time-frame, for easy retrieval after more years of storage than I may have on Earth. Things like existing railroad right of way and structure have a very long shelf-life. Think the Chicago “El”, for “Elevated” line I rode 65 years ago runs on road-bed a hundred years older.

    Another “Sister City” focus of mine could be Ballard. Including mutual adoption of the fine streetcar and double-articulated bus service in Gothenburg, Sweden. Would take a Force Ten ‘quake or more to make the Ship Canal go anywhere. And Ballard-UW? Know those tunnel section drawings are filed someplace.

    Thanks to the internet, whose tons of garbage nobody can MAKE me read, I can do learning and planning by the ton. Curious, incidentally: how many cost-free PhD programs are already in place? But my main point, tactical and strategic, is how many future voters, regardless of address, I can have brought to my side when, in its own good time, the time finally comes.

    Give it a try.

    Mark Dublin

  4. With at least another month of “Stay Home, Stay Safe” ST should halt Link operation entirely and shift focus to construction projects that would otherwise have to be done nights or with partial closures and delays. With ridership dropping 83% this is the only strategy that has a hope of keeping promised delivery dates and not creating a budget hole that will be impossible to climb out of.

      1. Anything that involves work on live tracks. Get a head of the curve on any scheduled maintenance. Put in the switches that are going to be needed as new segments come on line. And while they’re at it review all the switch heaters and other equipment designed for inclement weather operation. A complete closure would eliminate the reduced service for months that’s been planned for East Link.

        And accelerate any work that’s going to require street closures. It’s going to be months after the Stay Home order is lifted before traffic volumes return to normal and we are just starting into the prime time of year for this work to happen. Often street closures are held pending the end of the school year. Not so with the current situation cancelling school for the remainder of this school year.

        And all these “shovel ready” projects should be near the top of the list for federal stimulus dollars. Now is the time to make Lemon-aid!

      2. I’d love to see shadow 10-minute-headway bus service replace much of the current Link service if it helps construction projects or eases up the burden on maintenance so they can speed up prepping the new Siemens LRVs. Or increase frequency on routes 49, 106 and others, and maybe divert the 49 to head to UW Med.

        I just don’t know if there are available operators to staff such a shadow service.

        I was also not aware of any further plans to reduce service before East Link opens.

      3. Thanks Bernie. I really want government to understand street closures are disruptive.

      4. What work needs to be done on live tracks? That’s a solution in search of a problem. The East Link turn was installed during Connect 2020. The tunnel between UW and Northgate is done; now they’re working on the stations. Angle Lake has a stub so the extension can be built concurrent with service. The only remaining trackwork in the live segment I see is tearing down the wall at UW, but that will just take a day or so. It may just come off like a door.

      5. How about building the OCS and connecting (with a switch) so that when it comes time to “go live” all they have to do is push the easy button. Houston, we have a problem… 83% drop in ridership, zero fare revenue and a dismal near term outlook for existing taxing authority revenue. I’m looking for a solution that won’t cripple the future of the system for decades to come. But, sticking your head in the sand and pretending nothing’s wrong; that’s another way to deal with it.

      6. What’s OCS?

        It’s an all-coverage transit network now, and service be being reduced appropriately. What we’re learning from all this is that a wide variety of jobs are necessary to keep the city functioning. Stores require cashiers and delivery drivers, hospitals need staff and supplies, apartments need managers, everyone needs electrical and water maintenance and garbage collection. And outside the metropolis, farm workers. Most of these jobs are low-paid, low benefits, and low job security — the people who can least afford to drive or live near work. It lays bare the folly of making society so dependent on low-paid workers,. We’ll have to change that for resiliance and security. Hopefully that will happen, but it could get lost in the culture wars and kleptocracy.

        In any case, we need basic transit, and those who say we don’t, sound like “I don’t care what happens to you” or “I’m going to make assertions even though I have no idea how much transit we need.” First you would need to quantify who is using transit, how essential those trips are, and what alternatives they have. Then you could make a proposal and compare it to that data to make sure you’re not going too far. No armchair skeptic has done that yet. The agencies have approximated it with 15-minute Link and 20-minute Link, which is within accepted coverage principles. If we need further cuts, I trust the agencies more than armchair skeptics.

      7. The “I don’t care what happens to you crowd.” Do you mean the people who want Metro buses to keep running even though Metro isn’t providing drivers with masks?

        Sam. Delivering a steaming, three-coil pile of transit commentary to you, daily.

      8. >> What’s OCS?
        Overhead Contact System (colloquially known as Overhead Catenary System)

        A few OCS foundations and poles could be set in a month but it would be a push. More likely a temporary scaffold would be needed.

        >> those who say we don’t, sound like “I don’t care what happens to you”

        And those who say we do believe it’s worth sacrificing drivers lives for. As you point out there is a, “need to quantify who is using transit, how essential those trips are, and what alternatives they have”. What we do know is that drivers and base workers are catching Covid19 and some are dying from it. Could be as a group they are not following standard precautions off the job but far more likely is it’s because of working conditions which means transit is an establish vector for the disease and extending the economic shutdown harming far more people that transit is serving.

      9. Should we close hospitals because nurses are getting sick? Will you drive all the staff who don’t have cars? I just don’t think people who advocate shutting down transit understand what they’re saying. I may be wrong but I don’t think the result would be viable. In any case, it’s not me making the decision. The councilmembers oversee the emergency plans and have the reports from all the departments so they have more information than we do to make a decision.

    1. Your suggestion that Link should be shut down and to shift focus to construction projects may have two issues.

      The first one is under the stay at home orders all non-essential construction has been halted so what you are suggesting is it essential. You probable think so but under the governors orders which is the bigger picture it may not be essential.

      Second construction workers may not want to work at this time to protect their health as it may not be possible to keep social distances on construction projects.

      The second point may be the biggest obstacle to what you are suggesting and that is the health of everyone who would be working on these projects.

      1. The only ST project that has been shut down is N160. It’s not clear if ST shut it down or the contractor decided to halt work. ST construction and all city road work I know of is in full swing. It remains to be seen if WSDOT resumes work on Road Projects next week. There’s really not that many adjustments to be made on heavy construction sites. You avoid indoor meetings, you mandate that workers drive alone, gloves and eye protection are already std PPE on most sites. And all projects are on a volunteer to work basis. If dry cleaners are essential (why, when everyone is staying home?) then public works certainly are.

      2. Boeing was planning to re-open their production plants this Wednesday but announced this afternoon that they will stay closed for undetermined time so the company didn’t want its workers to put into work situations where their health is at risk. So neither should public works projects put people at risk as they are not critical. Yes completion will be delayed but it is worth doing so to protect people’s health.

      3. Boeing also just had a large cancellation of 737 Max orders and more cancellations across the product line are sure to come as the airline industry is copulated. I’m not surprised they are shutting down production when the federal bailout will pay them to stay closed. That said, it appears from early stories that the company didn’t take basic measures to protect workers at the Everett plant early in the crises. I’ve continued to lose any faith in Boeing’s future since the McDonald Douglas merger.

      4. I agree with your comment about Boeing and their buyout of McDonnell -Douglas. The running joke about that is that McDonnell-Douglas bought Boeing with Boeing’s money as the senior leadership of Mc-Donnell-Douglas could not keep that company running and yet took over Boeing after the purchase and the long after affect that has had on the company.

    2. Fair number of Link stations let passengers wait completely indoors. And maybe far more important, train operators’ compartments free drivers from forced contact with passengers. Railcar size also really favors social spacing.

      In addition to trains’ freedom from of delays from weather. Can only hope “Please Stay Home” cuts number of crashes transit has to dodge, but definite rail advantage there.

      But main thing this afternoon- I haven’t forgotten some language a few postings back repeatedly calling homeless people “fixtures” and proclaiming civilization’s duty to confine them against their will. Scorning its real duty to raise the taxes to bring my own nearby local mental hospital back into lawful accreditation.

      Other day Senator Maria Cantwell told us to “hold our nose” about bailouts for the airline industry. Overkill. 2008 bank handover blasted every nerve in mine. Operation Transitcut’s about a message: “If you don’t rate a bail, why help a loser like you hit up your betters for a ride to work?”

      National, State, or local, I’d leave the shut-down call in the hands of the ones with their hands on their lives, in addition to their steering wheels and train-controllers. Operators refuse, shift the money to an active nationwide recovery through an earned income. Finally also joining the rest of the industrial world in insurance-free health care. In the Defense Budget where it belongs.

      Mark Dublin

    3. With the best ROW and most frequent, regular service, shouldn’t Link operation be the last thing that ends? It connects Seattle’s two biggest neighborhoods in the best way, and Capitol Hill isn’t small either. Granted, with sporting events not running and the airport shut down it loses value quickly south of IDS. But what single route can compete, value wise, with the north half of Link?

    4. Besides the general absence of need for track work right now, I can think of plenty of reasons why running Link trains right now is preferable to running replacement shuttle buses.

      1) Running Link is cheaper – with the station placement optimized for the train tracks, buses that can’t use the tracks will take twice as long to serve the station set of the stations. All those extra service hours cost $$, which Sound Transit cannot afford and has no reason to pay for.
      2) Link is better for social distancing due to increased capacity of the vehicles.
      3) Link is safer for the drivers because they’re in a sealed-off, isolated cab.

      Plus, even if there were track work that Sound Transit needed to get in, 20-minute headways is plenty sufficient to run single-track around a work zone, if need be.

  5. Well for those of you who like to dive into the weeds of how a transit agency is handling Covid19, I have a link for you: https://youtu.be/cAM04tZjoBM, the 2 April 2020 Community Transit Board Meeting with time-stamps of what topics were discussed.

    There is also the podcast TransitUnplugged.com for more information. Problem is, the show is heavily CEO-centric.

  6. Major News – san Francisco Muni is terminating service on over 70 bus routes indefinitely. Leaving just a dozen bus routes running. How long before we are faced to do the same?

    1. I don’t know, why don’t we wait until/if the agencies announce it? Metro’s service area is comparable to MUNI plus half of SamTrans and AC Transit. It’s a lot easier to walk to things in San Francisco than it is in Seattle, the Eastside, or South King County.

      1. why don’t we wait until

        More drivers die? Mike, I’m sorry to say it but you are showing what it means to be a transit zealot vs a transit supporter. Your tortured hypothetical examples of why someone, somewhere, might possibly need transit vs the documented impact on drivers lives puts you squarely in the transit uber alles category.

      2. @Bernie — Stop with the bullshit attack. Many people — including truly vital workers — need transit. Your inability to understand that suggests you grew up in a community where owning a car was expected, and still live there. Well, sorry to break it to you, but there are plenty of people in this country who can’t afford a car, or don’t know how to drive, yet still need to get to work. There is a reason why no country other than the autocratic PRC has cut off transit in this crisis. People need it.

    2. How long before we are faced to do the same?

      We have been doing the same. Lots of our routes have been cut, and lots of our routes have been reduced. If you want to do a detailed comparison between cuts in the two areas, be my guest (I mean that sincerely, I would love to read that).

  7. Having used to be one, Bernie, I think there’s a fair chance that as decent human beings, there are indeed bus and train drivers who are willing to keep working at the risk of their lives, so other people can still work to keep their own families alive.

    But also, given the level of capability and attention demonstrated by some of their employers, I’m also wondering why we’re not seeing spontaneous demonstrations mindful of Brazil, Chile, and Europe demanding that service indeed be shut down and drivers compensated for damage already inflicted on them.

    Since that Ballard rent increase that lost me my Sound Transit voting rights going on seven years ago- I joined with my fellow tenants in futilely offering to buy Lock Haven Apartments from the speculator who’d bought them from my wonderful former landlord- I’ve had no electoral control over any transit but Olympia’s Intercity.

    At this writing, if ATU Local 587 issued a public demand to terminate service to save driver’s lives, I’d most likely give them any support I could. Followed closely by a cogent reminder that it’s an Election Year, centered on a concentrated citizen initiative demanding full compensatory measures to drivers and their passengers alike.

    Tonight, that’s not yet my call. Though if you want to take the initiative and make it yours, least of all Mike I don’t see anybody stopping you.

    Mark Dublin

  8. Most of the chain grocery stores are practically begging people not to come into their stores. Go to their websites and a pop-up box asks if you want to shop in-store, do curbside pick-up, or have delivery. Delivery costs $10 + tip to the third-party shopper/driver (which is to say someone who turns off the Uber/Lyft app they should not be using right now, and turns on one of the delivery-service apps).

    Be patient when the site shows the next delivery appointment five days out. Once someone logged in to offer delivery, then the store guaranteed delivery within two hours. If you value saving an hour of your life driving to the store or 2-3 hours of your life busing to the store at worth more than $10 + the tip amount, then this is a bargain. I made it worth it by getting twice the amount of groceries I could normally carry.

    Similarly, drug stores are offering same-day delivery of your prescriptions and anything else you need in the store. My health care provider didn’t quite go that far, but they are pushing people to receive their prescriptions by mail, and talk to nurses and physicians remotely before setting up any in-person appointments.

    By the next pandemic, driverless cars will of course make much of the current work-arounds obsolete. I’m looking forward to their promoters and the think tanks shilling for them claiming that they’ll even make the effort to develop the universal vaccine obsolete. So, stop throwing money away on developing the universal vaccine, and spend it all subsidizing the companies that will develop the driverless cars you will never be able to afford, and that will be programmed to play chicken with you at the crosswalk and with the competitors’ vehicles.

      1. My wife tried grocery delivery and it was a bust. I’m sure Amazon (and maybe some other stores) do it differently, but it essentially involved personal shoppers getting the groceries, and then delivering them. The store (QFC) didn’t have all the things she wanted, so the shopper got alternates. The end result is nothing like what my wife (or I) would have bought.

        From a public health standpoint, its not clear whether it is better. The shopper may have been wearing a mask and gloves the whole time, but it my wife and I do that. It basically just shifted exposure — from my wife or me to the shopper. That assumes that the items we bought aren’t exposed as well. If there were only a handful of professional shoppers, and they were tested regularly, then it would be different. But now — like much of the response to this epidemic — it is a muddled mess.

      1. The Puget Sound Business Journal article was the first piece that I saw to cover this latest development, perhaps being the outlet which was “first to press” in this case. (I have a subscription, fwiw.) Anyway, hopefully you found a source that worked for you, such as RossB’s suggested STimes’ piece. The Bellevue Reporter also did a decent article on the subject matter, answering some of the questions about the activity that is still occurring at various ST construction sites.

        https://www.bellevuereporter.com/northwest/sound-transit-suspends-light-rail-construction-projects-amid-covid-19-response/

      2. N160 was already shut down. ST’s contract with Metro and CT to provide bus service is the only case where Covid19 has resulted in the death of operators and the spread of the disease, but they don’t shut that down? Political correctness run amuck.

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