King County Metro

This is an open thread.

39 Replies to “News roundup: by reservation only”

  1. Seems like the Spokane Street Bridge would be a perfect trial run for the brand new camera enforcement law that recently got signed if the law hadn’t been so unnecessarily hamstrung.

    Wonder if Seattle can petition Olympia to allow a camera as an emergency implementation.

    1. Maybe they should make the low level bridge part of Good To Go. You can apply to be an essential user of the bridge. Everyone else will get a fine of $124.

  2. “For Metro, our mission-critical (level 1) employees, such as operators, are considered first responders,” said an operations bulletin March 26 from General Manager Rob Gannon. “First responders who have been exposed to COVID-19, but do not have symptoms, are expected to report to work because of their essential function.”

    “Gannon said Thursday that Metro placed a large order for a variety of protective masks that should arrive soon. That move comes four weeks after the county rebuffed the transit-worker union’s request for N-95 masks, amid health-agency comments only health-care workers needed those, and supplies were limited.”

    Say WHAT!!!!!? Rob Gannon, you’re talking negligent homicide! If reporter Mike Lindblom has this a tenth right, you need to get fired and your whole miserable agency shut down as a permanent public health hazard. Interim, somebody call Intercity Transit down here in Olympia. Their next move is already in place.

    Age-wise I can’t carry passengers, but can probably run operations staff like office supervisors. 2013 Prius gets sixty miles to the gallon on the 2-lanes I always use. Good practice for the worker-owned cooperative twenty years overdue for Seattle and the rest of the region.

    Meantime, ATU Local 587? Jay Inslee just said to tell you to Please Stay Home.

    Mark Dublin

  3. Miss Jessyn Farrell, but pray that everything Essential she writes today comes from Home ’til Jay says otherwise. Though think the gravity-challenged condition of the structure should keep more illegal traffic off the West Seattle Bridge than a world of cameras.

    But this morning’s silence on Mike Lindblom’s piece makes me pray his readership is not only Just Staying Home, but fast asleep as doctors also call Essential. Will even forgive Mike’s name being used for World’s Fakest News. So some quick research, somebody:

    Can we have the contract language where average transit driver’s job description is same as for front-line infantry? Likely same RCW as ORCAdoublebadtapcrime ™. Meantime, have to Wingitbutclarify:

    I’ve been willing to leave literally wartime transit service to the decency and bravery of individual volunteers. But as a command, every suicide mission should leave the yard with the manager who ordered it either at the steering wheel or the train-controller.

    My equipment familiarity ran out in 1995, but new New Flyer trolleys look easier than any Breda. So Rob Gannon, I’ll sanitarywipe my scarf, sit behind you, and get you qualified on the Route 7 Prentice. Survivors will be proud of you. Please, God, make my alarm go off fast!

    Mark Dublin

    1. Love Mason Williams. Tried to learn to play Classical Gas on the guitar in high school. Not very good at it.

  4. Just got off the phone with a Source I more than trust. Its a Space/Time Intergalactic fracture thing. Difference between for years being Outside instead of Inside the continuum I’m commenting about. If it’s a dog, it’s a girl one.

    Mid ’80’s or early 90’s, after a trying day driving one, at shift’s end, told a Metro Council meeting that best way to deal with the new Breda’s level of performance was to not send them back per contract, but keep them so our mechanics could completely rebuild the whole fleet. Mainly feared the Tunnel would be permanently put to ordinary diesel buses but with a big fan at each end.

    Mike Lindblom and more than one of his sources are probably doing the best they can with what they’re being given by events as they unfold. Work is truly volunteer, as I was really pleading for. Embarrassed but very glad to know that Rob Gannon and I are still on the same side regarding Operation TransitCut. ™

    Love the music. Cute singers. Happier times, though, sadly too often quality depends on the Eye of the Beholder. Bad enough what the Russians did to Hungary. Whose present Chief of State picked up a lot from them. Greek dictatorship was ours.

    Though not in Europe, so were Chile and Brazil. Chilean riot police still deliberately blind unarmed demonstrators with their shotguns. And the newly term-limitless present of Brazil still apologizes for spending the 1960’s torturing people he really should just have killed.

    What’s now in our possession is the future that’ll follow the present we just got delivered non- returnable. From what I’m seeing, from a lot longer Distance than I ever wanted to, is that people at all levels seem to be going out of their way to be good to each other. Today, my best present is to take the rest of the day off.

    Won’t complain because they’ve still got my fresh coffee beans, but been times when Metro could give my own Cooperative some pointers.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Just an aside, Mark – Brazil’s Bolsonaro is term-limited to two and from what I am hearing from sources there stands a very good chance of not even getting his second term; you may have been thinking of what Putin, Erdoğan , or Orbán are currently working on in their countries. Argentina also had a horrible regime at the same time you discussed, perhaps even more so than Brazil or Chile (although it’s all relative, isn’t it?).

      Santiago at least developed a decent transit system after Pinochet finally got the push – an excellent Metro system greatly expanded since the dictatorship, and a system of buses color-coded by use (neighborhood circulation, inter-neighborhood routes, and express type service). Far different than Buenos Aires’ chaotic system of private buses and odd fares – you tell the driver where you are going when you board and he tells you the fare, which always seems like some random amount – or Rio’s jammed system, where they still use conductors to take your fare and make change before letting you in to the bus via a turnstile!

      If you ever make it to Santiago, I highly recommend the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos, largely about the dictatorship and its downfall. It was fascinating.

      1. Scott, one personal problem. Being college age in the ’60’s and ’70’s. In high school in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak, I loved to take the bus down to Greektown for coffee in the late afternoon. Bouzouki music, still get chills.

        Had read about the Greek civil war after WWII. Had a favorite cafe-owner from Crete, whose people had fought on the left. He always kidded about how his waiter was on the other side. Looked it. I wasn’t big on ideology, but have always thought my Dad and his buddies specifically fought to rid the world of people who governed by death and torture.

        When my Dad again had work in East Africa, we vacationed in Greece a very short time before the generals took over. Returning to the States, the coup made me reroute my trip, that I’d really been looking forward to, to Denmark. Customs official greeted me with a reminder whose country had just helped bring torture back to Greece.

        In 1973, in college up in Lansing, word on the coup in Chile once again spoiled the day’s course-work. My father had a Chilean colleague who was home for the change of government. Dad told me he had two beautiful daughters. He also told me he’d thought they’d be all right. What would you tell your son?

        Brazil became something of mine in post-coup times like the 1980’s, when Metro’s terrific decision to start electric rail with dual-power buses almost got me a ticket to Sao Paulo to see if they’d maybe let me drive an express on their busway. Am I right it’s a beauty? Understand Recife had some too.

        Should probably cut Jair Bolsonaro some slack for his promise that those people he tortured, next time he’d be civilized and shoot them instead. Goes around with his hands pretend-shooting, doesn’t he? And he did tell that girl politician that since she didn’t even deserve it, next time he’d rape somebody else. Am I wrong he’ll pick an indigenous girl from maybe the Amazon?

        But with your real firsthand knowledge and world-perspective, Scott, maybe you can let me get some sleep tonight. There’s no chance I live in a country that with a Federally incumbent political party whose millions of supporters would, as their Chief of State said dead-accurately, elect him if he personally shot people on, what was it, Fifth Avenue? Though considering his signature view of women, to his admirers the rape and torture get added without saying.

        Been told I’m prone to exaggerate, so please do my readers a favor and set me straight. Would like the length of the years between my college years and age 75 to have been good for something.

        Mark Dublin

      2. I like you, Mark, and tend to agree with you. I am also younger than you, so the coup contra-Allende was before I was paying a great deal of attention about such things (let alone the tragic Greek history during and for 40 years after WWII). However, the end of Pinochet’s regime in Chile and the Diretas Já! movement that forced out the ditadura in Brasília did coincide with my more active days in college and so I was far more involved with that (also speaking a bit of Portuguese helped). The thing, of course, that was identical to all three of those countries was the complete involvement of the military in their rightist coups (well, that and the bumbling of the CIA). Here that has not yet become a fear. On the other hand, citizens there to this day are far more likely to hit the streets than here as they still remember those times. When you pop out of the Subté (Metro) in the park across the street from the presidential palace in Buenos Aires you will still see people with displays about their children who were “disappeared” during their dictatorship.

        Enjoy your stories about East African “transit” as well – I’ve spent some time (not nearly as much as you) a bit south and west of there, but the matatu drivers in Lusaka – despite all best efforts – just aren’t quite as insane as their counterparts in Nairobi! Transit “systems” in that part of the world are such hyper-privatized individual concerns that it is difficult to draw any comparison at all to more westernized places, with few exceptions, but they seem to work for those who know how to use them. I never really got the hang of it!

  5. April 8, 2020. Still no 2019 Q4 performance report (ridership data) from Sound Transit.

    What gives?

    1. I’ve been curious too. It appears to have something to do with ST not sharing these reports unless they are presented in a meeting. The “meeting before release” policy is a truly arbitrary policy, as many other agencies like BART and LAMTA publish their ridership reports without board presentations.

      The 4Q financial report strongly suggests that it was pretty flat. Link average weekday ridership is reported to only grow 2 percent between 2018 and 2019 on Page 6 of 15:

      Of course, it’s all academic moving forward. The virus has fundamentally changed the general popularity of any social gathering situation. The irony of it all is that the “bad news” of ridership that didn’t grow is probably easiest to deliver in the current crisis.

      1. “The irony of it all is that the “bad news” of ridership that didn’t grow is probably easiest to deliver in the current crisis.”

        So true.

        As you stated, ST’s policy of not releasing data publicly until it has a board presentation is completely arbitrary. Frankly I think such a policy is nonsense; the data is what it is. Once those responsible at ST for compiling the data into report form have reviewed the numbers and reached whatever confidence level they are comfortable with, then the ridership info should be made public.

        Ideally, I would rather have the data readily available for retrieval online like the systems other transit agencies in this country have up and running. Long ago it was made apparent by ST’s actions that we would need to accept a lower bar in this regard. Fine. I, along with every other interested party, would have to live with the delay in the monthly ridership reports because of the agency’s chosen, albeit silly, process for public release.

        Then, early last year the monthly reporting suddenly vanishes. Now, for some unknown reason the quarterly reporting is being delayed excessively. This is not acceptable to me. Even taking into consideration the current public health crisis and the resulting working conditions we are all dealing with, this is clearly a task that should be be able to be completed by ST staff in short order. But, alas, here we are.

        In reference to your comments about the flat ridership numbers ascertained from the 2019 Q4 financials, I agree with your assessment on that but would note also that I think the EOY performance report, when we finally DO get to see it, is going to show that the agency missed many of its ridership targets across multiple modes.

        Perhaps we should start a new virtual “drinking game” whereby we take shots every time we hear CEO Rogoff talk about transparency and public accountability. Just call BS and take a shot of your liquor of choice.

      2. That drinking game is tragically funny!

        I’m not sure where the data secrecy is being bottle-necked but it does appear to be driven somewhere in the chain of command. Surely, secrecy about ST data is on the uptick — ironically as the Operations Committee was renamed the Ridership Experience and Operations Committee. They spent several meetings proposing new metrics and dashboards in 2019 — and now we get little or nothing. It could be Rogoff, the Board or some other managerial staff driving the non-disclosure. I’m waiting for a Board member to have the guts to probe the situation more publicly.

        The failed rollouts of the Red Line naming and University Street Station renaming have likely put a huge PR damper on how ST discloses things generally. Still, it generally appears that good news = disclosure and bad news = non-disclosure when it comes to ridership data.

  6. Transit should follow the airlines and reduce seating capacity on all vehicles by 50 percent. No standing passengers allowed and only one sitting passenger per row. Drivers should be instructed to stop passenger pickup when capacity is reached. This policy should be in place until a vaccine is in place.

    1. All the buses I’ve seen have less than eight people on them and they’re spread out a few rows apart. If there are any buses exceeding your criteria they must be a few routes peak hours.

  7. Breaking News BART cuts service even further! Trains will run every 30 minutes with all service ending by 9pm, daily. Talks are underway to eliminate Sunday BART service.

    1. Awful! Metro should follow muni’s lead and cut 75 percent of all service. Leaving just a handful of lifeline routes running weekdays and Saturdays from 9am to 6pm, every 45 minutes. Eliminate all Sunday Service. Run this revised schedule until June 15th.

      1. He’s back at work, and as of today, Metro is still not providing masks for drivers. They must supply their own. Ordering a driver to drive a bus during a pandemic without providing him a mask, to me, is the same as a construction boss ordering a work a worker to sweep up asbestos without providing him a mask.

      2. Most masks provide very little protection for the person wearing it. They are intended to protect everyone else, by reducing the water droplets that go out of your mouth and into the air. That sort of mask can be made at home. Others have converted a jock strap into a mask. Even a bandana provides some value. It would be a very good idea for everyone to wear a mask of this sort as they board a bus, to protect the bus driver as well as other passengers.

        In contrast, an N95 mask protects the person wearing it, by providing a very tight fit and filtering the air. There is a shortage of N95 masks — they are needed by people in hospitals and clinics. Ideally bus drivers, grocery store clerks, gas station attendants and everyone else in contact with people would have one, but we don’t have enough to go around.

      3. “MTA distributes 250,000 N95 masks to transit employees.”

        While hospitals, medical clinics, and nursing facilities can’t get the masks or staff are reusing the ones they have multiple days against advice or using expired ones. MTA may have gotten a large supply. That doesn’t mean every transit agency can, or should, until the supply is sufficient for healthcare workers.

      4. Mike, do I have these two things right about what you believe?
        1) Metro should continue to operate.
        2) Metro drivers shouldn’t currently be provided masks.

    Office phone: 206-477-1006

    Chair of the King County Council, Sam. And if she’s not your representative, find out who they really are and tell them, not just Seattle Transit Blog. Whose readership tries, but it’s really not our “call.”

    Local 587’s contact information is online. In the morning get in touch with them. Can’t believe somebody won’t have at least a few suggestions to help you, and the other citizens you’ve organized, can do to help. Religious organizations- wouldn’t doubt.

    Bob Dylan’s latest is a masterpiece, and well worth the combined English, history, and political science degree you’ll need to have a clue what he’s saying. But he’s not talking about Metro governance.

    As you pointed out yesterday, more than one of our political parties either committed, abetted, appeased, or has been an active accomplice to Grand Scale World Class Murder Most Foul between the end of World War II and right precisely now.

    Routinely sending refugees back to drug gangs and death squads in league with governments we support would’ve sent Lady Macbeth to a convent.

    Mark Dublin

  9. NYT links.

    Transit Has Been Battered by Coronavirus. What’s Ahead May Be Worse ($) Re plunging ridership and higher expenses.

    Ridership decreases more in wealthier areas ($), as more low-income workers are essential or don’t have other travel options.

    The farm-to-table connection becomes undone ($). Farmers who grow for locally-sourced restaurants and institutions find their markets disappear. Some try switching to CSA boxes to the public, but many find they don’t have the resources to tap that market.

    Two people new to New York look for an apartment ($). It describes three 2-bedroom apartments ranging from $3000-4000, and has a quiz for guessing which one they chose.

    Bodegas come to the rescue during grocery shortages ($)

    CSAs may become an increasing solution to the food-delivery problem. In the 1800s farmers routinely delivered milk, meat, bread, and ice to people’s houses. I haven’t them delivering vegetables deliveries but maybe they did that too. CSA is essentially a modern implementation of it.

    When I was growing up I always New York corner stores being called delis but now they’re called bodegas. How did this change, or have they always been called bodegas? Which stores in Pugetopolis are similar to these, or are there any? It seems like most convenience stores sell mostly beer and unhealthy processed food, and many sell hardly anything else.

    1. In regard to your bodega vs deli question, I think you’ll find the following link helpful.

      As a kid growing up in a racially diverse neighborhood in the city in the 60s, we always referred to the places that sold meats, cheeses and prepared foods as delis. Some bodegas sold that kind of stuff too but they sold a lot more general grocery goods (dry goods) as well. We used the term green grocers when talking about the stores that sold perishables like fresh fruit and vegetables. In the neighborhoods that were predominantly hispanic (Puerto Rican, Dominican, etc.), they seemed to use the bodega term almost exclusively.

      I think the first time I ever saw a “supermarket” was when we went to see a relative on LI and stopped at an A&P store. Did that chain ever operate out here?

      1. I haven’t seen it. Although when I went to Tacoma and Spokane a few times in the 80s I saw several brands that weren’t in Seattle or Bellevue: Piggly Wiggly, A&W root beer restaurants, Sawackhammers and Fuddruckers (burger restaurants), Frisko Freeze.

        One thing I heard about but it was never around here until many years later was Walmart.

      2. Oh ok. Understood. I had to learn what a QFC and a Fred Meyers were when I first moved to Seattle some 30+ years ago as well. That’s just the nature of regional retailing (though with the consolidation in that industry it’s become just regional branding). A&P at one time was the largest grocery chain in the country and, IIRC, was the largest retailer overall as well until passed by Sears & Roebuck at some point. Sadly, the latter will probably end up in the same historical dustbin of retailers.

      3. I was talking about the 1960s and 70s. I don’t know what was here in the 1930s. Maybe A&P was here and left.

        Sam’s Club came before Walmart. Costco started in 1983 and I was immediately attracted to the wholesale model but I couldn’t get a membership until a few years later because you had to belong to certain credit unions. In college I’d join my dorm friends’ Costco runs. In the meantime Price Savers opened at 135th & Aurora so I went there. But I really wanted Costco because it had the bakery with muffins. The muffins I don’t buy now because they contain bleached flour. Eventually I had a relative who worked at Boeing so I was able to join BECU and Costco. The Price Savers turned into Sam’s Club. Now it seems to be something else.

      4. The Fred Meyer at 148th & 20th in Bellevue was a White Front in the early 70s. Then it became Valu-Mart, then Leslie’s, then Fred Meyer. Tthe Walmart at 140th & Main Street was a Kmart.

        My friend worked at Kmart and was sent to several different stores. There were several stores in King County including one at 130th & Aurora and one on Delridge. He me stores like when something was out of stock and he’d tell them which stores had it, they were only interested in suburban ones and would go as far as Renton or Lynnwood to avoid going to Seattle because they thought Seattle was unsafe. Meanwhile my friend was in a ministry outreach to street kids in Seattle and never had any problems.

      5. There was an A&W directly across Lake City Way from what now is the Fred Meyer until at least the early 80’s. (The quite good Chinese restaurant located on LCW immediately before entering the freeway entrance tunnel was its competitor, XXX Root Beer.) I don’t recall at all A&Ps here by then, but the little grocery store on 123rd and Sand Point was an IGA. We also had Tradewell and Thriftway, and until recently Albertsons. Safeway and QFC have been around forever; Fred Meyer – at least in Lake City – was a Market Time in the 70s.

        For some reason, today Salt Lake City is the epicenter of the fast food chain – you can go to Hardee’s, In-n-out, Taco Time (the non-western Washington one), and several other regional names. It’s as if they all reach their tendrils out that far and no farther.

      6. There were A&W drive inn style restaurants on Holman road across from Arts and on 45th near Lincoln High School. People used to steal the great big mascot statue at the Holman location and take pictures of it in their front yard. I think it might of been a Ballard High School tradition. I was too young to know why exactly, but our neighbors did it and I used to have a picture of me in one of them when I was about 6. It never got the business Dick’s did.

      7. @Scott Stidell

        Regarding the SLC area’s abundance of fast food outlets, perhaps that is due to all of the interstate and intrastate motor carriers that pass through that transportation/shipping hub city? In simpler terms, maybe all of those hungry truck drivers and warehouse workers enjoy chowing down on that sort of grub. Just speculating here. I’ve been to SLC on work-related trips in the past and it’s a very pretty area of the country in some ways, but boy is it boring at night. Maybe it’s changed in more recent years, but when I was there so many establishments were closed by 9 or 10pm.

        Your mention of the supermarket chain Tradewell enticed me to do a little googling last night. I had heard of the chain before via discussions with my spouse (who is a Seattle native), but I didn’t really know much about the company. I’m passing along the following link* as I thought it was an interesting read for anyone who might be interested in the history of such retail establishments. The architecture coverage in the piece was appealing to me as well. Mike and Al, you might enjoy reading this as well. It’s chock full of pictures too!

        *it’s a safe site – no issues from accessing it on my phone on Chrome

      8. That link is pretty cool. I remember some of the locations. But my memory is fuzzy. That was a long, long time ago. For whatever reason, I thought there was a Tradewell in Ballard, back to back with a Pay N Save on Market. It became a thrift store fore a short while in the 90’s. Now it is the location of the 15th and Market Safeway. But the building wasn’t cool like that. There was something on 85th and 15th NW in the late 70’s called Prairie Market. It was like a Warehouse grocery store. I don’t think it is the same building as the thrift store there. That was a QFC for a while. I always have to ask my Dad about those things. He is a human historical building memory machine.

      9. Thank you for the link, @Tlsgwm – that is great stuff and brought back memories. The Wedgwood Tradewell was the one I recall best, although not as visually interesting as the Burien prototype – it is still a grocery store (QFC) in the same structure although of course much changed inside over the years. Across 85th to the north – the 71 still lays over between the two, or at least did a few years ago – was a Pay-n-Save (now a Rite-Aid), and one block north of that was a Thriftway, later a Red Apple, the Stroum Jewish Community Center, and finally today an apartment building. In my small child’s memory the Pay-n-Save was definitely superior to the Rite-Aid that supplanted it, although I have no idea why. Perhaps it was going shopping there with my grandmother.

        At one time after a more recent renovation (and maybe still?), the Safeway 10 blocks south on 75th displayed a large rendering of a planned two-story Modernist expansion of their store in the late 50’s/early 60’s – I always thought it was cool although it of course never happened. Also much beloved and missed was the Ernst/Malmo hardware store and nursery in U Village, which had everything before Home Depot/Lowe’s came around.

        (As kids we used to think that the “useless tail” of what now is the 71 was there for my grandfather to use, as he – after starting out with Seattle Transit towards the end of the streetcar days – eventually became Assistant Superintendent at Metro before his untimely death in the mid-70s and lived a half-block from the line’s tail. Certainly the first articulated bus seen in these parts – a German test coach used as a demonstration – ran the 71 as one of its first runs and we got to ride it, so I will credit him!)

        Thanks again for the link!

  10. Scott, before I lose touch with you, one very specific matter about police and demonstrators in Chile. Whatever’s changed about such matters in that country, which I believe once had a reputation for being advanced and civilized, did the police or did they not open fire at close range with shotguns with deliberate intent to blind demonstrators?

    And did the demonstrations in question involve the transit system? Going back “international” wish I COULD forget the name “Bolsonaro”, who seems to share with another chief of state on my payroll a desperate campaign to keep his name, and proud preference for Government by Cruelty, from ever being forgotten by anybody.

    And he only lost in 2016 by three million votes. Maybe it’s precisely because they were so successful that the few remaining German perpetrators don’t need to brag about it anymore- or maybe like some of ours, they’ve all got websites now. Personally, even through the ’60’s, street demonstrations never were my thing.

    Always preferred measures like grassroots electoral politics and graduation-mandatory training for the civil service like I’ve been told Sweden does as part of its universal military conscription. Campaign exchanges much less waste of time.

    And before I’d ever start encouraging the young on my side to start arming to shoot back, I’d need to see the mandatory three enlisted years of combat training we’d all need to survive the first day. I’m certain that’s what Second Amendment’s “Framers” meant.

    Well, let’s stay in touch over the pages. Best or worst, it’s all Yet To Come.

    Mark Dublin

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