55 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Quiet City”

    1. It seems like you have discovered this hypothetical catch-22, and now you can’t let it go. If you do have symptoms, call your medical provider. If you don’t have symptoms, stop torturing yourself with transportation conundrums.

      1. It’s not the case of do I or don’t I have the virus. Rather it’s if I get the virus & need to get tested, how do I get to where ever the testing site maybe without a car & not infect others in the process.

      2. That’s why you can’t get tested without talking to a real person, your health care provider. And the answer is only they will be able to answer the questions you might have. How do I get to the moon if I don’t own a spaceship?

      3. So, let’s say I need to be tested (even without symptoms this should probably be happening as I’m immunocompromised).

        I live in Burien. My GP is in Capitol Hill.

        How do I get there without a transit network? I don’t have a car and can’t afford Lyft.

        And I did try more local physicians but had several extremely bad experiences which made me find one in the city.

      4. Ness, you think you might need a test, even though you don’t have any symptoms, but you haven’t contacted your doctor during this entire crisis. You think it’s best to contact a comment section. And you’re wondering how you are going to get to your doctor if there is no transit, but you know that there is transit. Are you related to Skylar?

    2. I’ve personally been using a bike to get around, and it works great. That said, a quick check online shows that car rental companies are still operating, so if you if you do need a car, you can get one. Enterprise, for example, now delivers the car to the customer, so reaching the rental car location is not an issue.

      If push comes to shove, the cost of a rental car is negligible compared to all those inevitable deductibles and co-pays you have to pay in order to use the medical system.

      1. inevitable deductibles and co-pays you have to pay in order to use the medical system

        Right, I was tested (negative) and although “the test is free” I got hit with a $300 bill from the provider who I spent <15 minutes with on the phone (HDP plan with Cigna).

      2. Yep, I’ve got a bike too, but if I’m sick enough to think I need a test, I don’t know that I would be able to bike. One of the reasons our testing is oriented towards drive-through sites is that patients are well-contained. It wouldn’t be the case for walk/bike-up patients. As for renting a car, I don’t actually have a license, and do we actually want infectious people to be making use of shared vehicles that might not be disinfected well between uses? Metro at least has the ability to disinfect vehicles regularly.

      3. What about blind people? I’m quite sure that when you talk to your health care provider they will address the problem you don’t have. The reason drive through testing is in the news is because 99.9% of people, even blind people, can some how some way get somewhere in a car. FWIW, I could have taken a bus to my test. Of course if the test came back positive I might have killed the bus driver and/or spread the virus across the entire Metro network; but who cares.

      4. Read this segment from City Lab

        What’s the ethical way to get to the hospital if symptoms gets worse?

        You’re home alone and you’ve been having symptoms of the virus. You think it’s time to get to the hospital, but you don’t have a car. How do you get there?

        This was a hard one for the experts. Calling a Lyft or an Uber will put the driver at risk for transmission; hopping on public transit will, too; and if it gets to the point that you need a doctor, Roberts says you likely won’t be able to walk. But ambulances can cost upwards of $1,000 a ride, and most people would prefer not to take one unless their emergency is acute enough. While Cigna and Humana announced they would waive coronavirus-related fees like ambulance costs, and even the uninsured will likely get some financial help with hospital bills from the federal government, relying on that coverage may still be a roll of the dice. As Vuong points out, what happens to that protection if you take an ambulance and it turns out you do not test positive for coronavirus?

        All the public health experts stressed that going to the hospital was the worst-case scenario: If you can isolate at home, you should do so. If you have quarantined for a while only to have your symptoms get markedly worse, the first thing you should do is call your care provider — or an urgent care clinic, if you do not have one — and talk through your symptoms, then ask what steps to take.

        “If you have really, really severe symptoms — which means you can’t breathe, you’re having pneumonia symptoms — call 911,” said Vuong. “They’ll be at your doorstep right away.”

        If you do call an ambulance or a paramedic, Roberts says to make sure you tell them that you think you have Covid-19 so they come prepared with the right personal protective equipment.

        “It really freaking sucks,” said Vuong of the lack of good, affordable options for transportation.

      5. To be clear, my question was specifically, does anyone know more about this proposed transit program? It’s clear that city and county leadership are talking about it, and I’m wondering if anyone has details on it. I’m not asking about health care, I’m asking about the transit proposal.

      6. You can hand the correct answer to a chronic worrier, and guess what? They are going to think up new problems and worries, because that’s how they are wired. I’m going to tap out on this one.

      7. “The reason drive through testing is in the news is because 99.9% of people, even blind people, can some how some way get somewhere in a car.”

        True, during normal times, even people who do not have cars almost always have some friend or neighbor they could ask for a ride if they absolutely have to go somewhere and have no other options. But, under a pandemic, is this still true? Consider that driving someone to get tested incurs significant risk of them spreading the virus to you.

        I suppose the least risky option would be to have them drive the car themselves, then return it at a professional car wash (rather than your home) to have the inside and outside thoroughly cleaned before you pick it up. But, even that won’t work if the person if blind, has any kind of disability that precludes driving, or lacks a drivers license.

    3. Testing in U. S. right now is almost useless. I suppose it is better than nothing, but it has done little to spread the disease. That is because there is a lag time between being infectious and being symptomatic. Making things worse, lots of people (young and old) are asymptomatic.

      That is why lots of people in the U. S. have been calling for more testing and tracking, like in advanced countries. Some of have been calling for that for a long time now, but I’ve notice more talk recently. We could also use an anti-body test, to determine whether someone has already had it, and are now immune (we also need to confirm that once you get it, you can’t get it again). Joe Biden called for all of this in his op-ed in the New York Times this morning (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/12/opinion/joe-biden-coronavirus-reopen-america.html).

      So, at some point, you want to test all essential workers. In most cases, it makes sense to test people at their place of employment. Test all the patients and workers at every hospital, nursing home, grocery store, etc. That is what Ida Culver did when it first noticed an infection. They found several patients and staff that were infected (including patients without symptoms) thus saving a lot of lives. For everyone else — for those who do not work in essential companies — it gets a little bit trickier. This is where tracking is very important. The tracking can focus testing on people known to be exposed. Testing via the mail seems like a good way to do that, although there is a bit of a lag time.

      Of course we aren’t close to that right now. Most testing takes place in hospitals and clinics, although there have been more drive-up testing areas. In general, we are only testing people who have symptoms, which is obviously less than ideal; you might as well tell people to self quarantine if they think they have the virus. At worse they avoid spreading a flu (which also kills people).

      1. I’m looking at the same chart, and the U. S. is nothing special in terms of testing per capita. We are about 40th (give or take). Given the money and other resources we have, we should do better (we aren’t the Czech Republic, which has tested more per capita). It is also worth noting that we rank about 15th in deaths per million. Thus we have a lot more reason to test — it is widespread and rampant here. In contrast Australia — with 60 total deaths (or about 3% of ours per capita) — has tested more, even though they haven’t done much tracking either. Even Canada has done a better job testing, even though they have about a third the number of deaths per capita. Tracking and testing is better, obviously, but first we need to start testing.

        Again, to the best of my knowledge, hospitals and nursing homes are not routinely testing. Isolated areas (e. g. islands in Hawaii) are not routinely testing all people who come off a plane. Tracking is useless without sufficient testing. Testing without tracking — or at the very least, mediocre testing — can be very helpful in preventing deaths. It could be as weak as simply asking the person where they have been (along with asking them to self-quarantine). But first we have to do a lot more testing.

      2. It’s great to call for antibody testing; problem, doesn’t yet exist in any form that can be widely used so thanks Joe but might as well say we should just vaccinate everyone.

        Uh, no. They are already testing for antibodies, it is just a matter of ramping up (https://www.sltrib.com/news/2020/04/12/utah-based-arup/). In contrast, they are likely at least six months away from a vaccine.

        Biden’s editorial was sensible, informed and realistic.

      3. I’m looking at the same chart, and the U. S. is nothing special in terms of testing per capita. We are about 40th (give or take).

        Sure, 40th until you look at the top 40 and see that you’re counting places like the Farro Islands. Of the countries that have 1,000 deaths or more we’re 5th. Behind Germany, Italy, Belgium and Switzerland. Tied with Russia , ahead of Spain the Netherlands, UK and France.

        Yes, they are ramping up antibody testing. Everybody agrees that’s a good idea. It’s not a policy you can implement by saying, “Make it so.”. You’re clearly interested in playing the blame game.

      4. Sure, 40th until you look at the top 40 and see that you’re counting places like the Farro Islands.

        OK, not counting some islands, we are 30th. Guess what, if you don’t count some islands, our deaths per capita is much worse too. That is my point — in terms of deaths per capita testing we are towards the top, but in terms of testing per capita, we aren’t. You are the one making the claim that we have a high rate of testing, ignoring the fact that on a *per capita* basis, we are nothing special. We are not testing as well as Canada, let alone countries that have actually handled the virus (South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong). There are other countries (much of Europe, as well as poor countries) that aren’t testing well either. That is irrelevant. This disease does not grade on a curve.

        Yes, they are ramping up antibody testing. Everybody agrees that’s a good idea. It’s not a policy you can implement by saying, “Make it so.”

        All I did was mention it was part of the way we can deal with the pandemic. You are the one who claimed that antibody testing doesn’t yet exist in any form that can be widely used and thus is similar to vaccinating everyone.

        Are you rolling that back yet? Do you honestly believe we will vaccinate everyone at the same time we have widespread antibody testing? If so, do you want to put money on that — I’ll give you very good odds.

        I’m simply explaining some key points, as they relate to the topic at hand, such as:

        1) Countries that have handled the crisis well have widespread testing.

        2) Some of those countries also have excellent tracking, but not all of them. Australia, for example, has relied on questionnaires, not cell phones (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-07/coronavirus-explainer-contact-tracers-not-using-mobile-data/12117882).

        3) Tracking is useless without sufficient testing.

        4) We do not have sufficient testing. Obviously that is a value judgement, but you can find numerous examples of experts saying the same thing. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2020/04/02/coronavirus-testing-number-labs-covid/5099458002/. You can also look at the numbers I pointed out above, as well as our very low recovery rate. If very few people recover, and you have a decent medical system (like we have in the U. S.) it suggests that only sick people are being tested. The fact that we still aren’t testing medical workers, patients and grocery store workers or people who suspect they’ve been in contact with someone who has the disease means we obviously are not “testing well”.

        5) Antibody testing can help as well. That should be available relatively soon (weeks, not months).

        You’re clearly interested in playing the blame game.

        Bullshit. I simply repeating what most experts have been saying for a while, and what the former vice-president wrote this morning. You are the one trying to find fault in the statements, when there are none.

        You are also the one that wrote this:

        Of course if the test came back positive I might have killed the bus driver and/or spread the virus across the entire Metro network; but who cares.

        Sounds to me like you are blaming people for riding transit, a spurious and unproven allegation. That sounds like a blame game to me.

      5. @RossB you have lots of time to write irrelevant comments. You’re clearly interested in playing the blame game. Another 1000 word essay please.

      6. Ross destroys Bernie’s argument with well-researched, factual commentary.

        Bernie says “you write too much”. Doesn’t appear to be convinced.

        I love the internet sometimes.

  1. Crossing the street should not be a death sentence,” but we’re headed in the opposite direction of Vision Zero. New Mexico has the highest rate of pedestrian deaths per resident population so it’s not an urban density issue. Here’s the link to the the Governors Highway Safety Association report. For a persective, total Covid19 deaths in the USA is 21,435 (and counting). Total traffic fatalities in 2018 was 36,560 (and increasing every year). And by far the largest percentage increase is in Pedestrian Fatalities.

    1. Keep in mind the number of deaths from Corona virus maybe seriously underreported as deaths away from medical facilities don’t get counted. An ex-husband of a friend of mine passed away on Tuesday, but he was at home not in a hospital. So who knows what the real number is.

      1. While there are undoubtedly deaths from the virus not reported as such also keep in mind that the majority of the deaths involve someone with other underlying conditions and the death rate is highest with people that have a comorbitity condition (meaning they were dying already and the virus may not have changed the outcome). CDC says there are 2,744,248 deaths each year in the US. Reported deaths with the virus are still below the 1% threshold. And of course in hot spots like NYC it has overwhelmed the health care system which likely resulted in non-virus deaths because of the limited access to “normal” healthcare.

        All traffic deaths (36,560) are about 1.5% of the total number of people who die. Influenza and pneumonia account for 55,672. Suicide at 47,173 isn’t far behind and if people start to lose any hope of being able to recover what they’ve worked hard to achieve that rate could rise.

    2. My take, Bernie, is that the worsening clear and present danger is a matter of street design, attitude, equipment, enforcement, and above all, training at the controls of one’s own machinery, car, bike, and Nike-alike. A blind-spot is not a seeing-eye dog who’s also a fox terrier.

      To a large percentage of the driving public, ROW like Rainier Avenue has always been a freeway crippled since its opening by typical tree-huggering hostility to cars, the bigger the more deserving of deference. You’d ticket ’em for pushing a stroller across I-90 near Ellensburg at noon, wouldn’t you?

      For DistractoDeath ™, I blame video game and YouTube lobbyists for shifting the blame to audio handsets. For all my driving years, hand-held “mike” to both PA and Control was transit standard. Bet me that Prosecution can’t call up the fatal footage onscreen. Reason I’ve lately been pleading with STB to leave Russian sex K-12 to their own school system.

      Personal First-line Defense? Yearly hour-long book-free observation run with a State Patrol instructor ridin’ shotgun. Except instead of the Remington, authority to issue you either a renewal or a Payment-Proving ORCA card good all over the US and Canada, Amtrak and airlines included.

      Though also, maybe starting with possible future “All Clear” to travel at all….could Olympia city ordinance deal with omnipresent headlight-less bicycle riders whose uniform is a black wool coat?

      Mark Dublin

      1. I’m not sure what the reference to Russian sex ed is about but what you seem to be saying is the way to decrease pedestrian deaths is by making people better drivers and walkers. There is certainly room for improvement on both sides. PSA’s are one thing that can help. A drivers test more like what they require in Finland (i.e. you actually have to know how to drive before you get a license) would help. Enforcing existing laws can help. But all those things are harder than splashing around some paint and saying “what a good boy am I”.

        Accidents are preventable. Accidents are usually the result of two or more failures. Idiot on their smart phone misses the lamp post but walks into traffic at the same time Idiot texting while driving runs them over.

    3. Again, Bernie, sorry for the sequence but really want your take on this question: Are we anywhere near time and place my question or comment won’t [OT] for misplaced politics for this suggestion:

      “Regardless of sponsorship, could we the American People and our elected representatives, in office or seeking it, can agree on my own heartfelt health-care “Plank?”:

      Kaiser Permanente, just fine. Group Health rejuvenated, would also nondestructively competitive. Gift from my late wife, I still miss Seattle’s Qliance, even though they did close without notice. But as both a patient and a taxpayer, I really think every so-called “copay should come as an invisibly modest blanket “Co-Tax.”

      My transit career has put me in same work-room with Republicans who, along with their other contributions to my field, would sponsor, let alone support, that language. So Martin, today’s [TOPICALITY] is your call.

      Mark Dublin

  2. For the city I lived in and loved for 31 years, appropriately slick epitaph by the slickest ad company its successors could hire. If I really am making you people Strong!-er by staying out, opposite of my intent, but watching my former home town from a distance since I got evicted on illegally short notice eight years ago, truly the pleasure’s all mine.

    Since this is a religious holiday in more than one Faith, subsequent events really do suggest how much of Scripture is literally true. Especially universally Eternal consequences of cities’ acquired habits. My neighbors’ and my removal swiftly precipitated the greatest accumulation of wealth in Seattle history. 100% paired with the largest number of working people forced to live not only on the streets, but out of their cars and under every elevated structure in the city.

    And not local but truly Seattle-pertinent…when’s Western State mental hospital going to get its accreditation back? Or, like frequent physical attacks on undermanned staff by inmates, are we simply talking “What is, is so suck it up?”

    When I graduated college fifty years ago, an eraser was a little pink piece of rubber on the end of a yellow pencil rather than a keystroke. Plagiarism could’ve meant expulsion. Online now, especially since nobody cares, how can anybody tell? So DSA, you’re off the hook for the “Quiet City” you stole from Aaron Copland.


    “Because of his leftist views, which had included his support of the Communist Party USA ticket during the 1936 presidential election and his strong support of Progressive Party candidate Henry A. Wallace during the 1948 presidential election, Copland was investigated by the FBI during the Red scare of the 1950s.

    He was included on an FBI list of 151 artists thought to have Communist associations and found himself blacklisted, with A Lincoln Portrait withdrawn from the 1953 inaugural concert for President Eisenhower. Called later that year to a private hearing at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., Copland was questioned by Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn about his lecturing abroad and his affiliations with various organizations and events. In the process, McCarthy and Cohn neglected completely Copland’s works, which made a virtue of American values.

    Outraged by the accusations, many members of the musical community held up Copland’s music as a banner of his patriotism. The investigations ceased in 1955 and were closed in 1975.” -Wikipedia

    “What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.”

    Ecclesiastes 1:9 New International Version (NIV)
    9 done said a mouthful. A peaceful weekend to everybody. Whatever our present address for however long we get to stay there, we’ve got a lifetime of repair work ahead of us.

    Mark Dublin

  3. I’m curious. Is anyone is familiar with Toronto’s messy transit politics? I was taking time to see how other metro areas modernize their transit service and was left perturbed when I looked into the Toronto metro area.

    There is a tendency to think that Canadian cities do nothing wrong when it comes to transit, but it appears that the legacy of transit there has resulted in huge problems with maintenance, safety, transit speeds, overcrowding and under-investment in more rail transit. The province’s, region’s and cities’ roles and funding seem really at the heart of their challenges.

    1. I think Vancouver, BC’s TransLink is a better model. They have two governing boards with overlapping powers as per here – an appointed board and a council of Mayors. So if you vote for a Mayor up there, you vote for your community’s transit board representative. None of the federated… mish-mash roll-the-dice like some WA ST transits I don’t like.

      I also think SkyTrain is a way better means of transport than Sound Transit Link. For starters it’s grade separated. It’s also automated and frequent. It’s just as clean though.

      The only problem is funding. It’s hard for TransLink to get funding to expand their TransLink as they don’t like ballot measures like Sound Transit does to get the authority to go multi-decade and multi-line. Although TransLink learned many of the right lessons from their 2015 referendum defeat and TransLink’s political leadership of Bowinn Ma and yes Selina Robinson are admirable gutsy political leaders; most of the TransLink top staff and political leaders I’ve talked to don’t have the stomach for anything ST3-esque. Therefore, methinks TransLink is just going to caterpillar along in expansion.

      At least TransLink rocks, synergizes buses + ferry/SeaBus + commuter rail + SkyTrain and has a store: https://translinkstore.ca/ .

    2. Canada only has a half dozen cities over a million in population. 4 of the 5 NYC boroughs exceed that threshold. Brooklyn has almost as many people as Toronto, Canada’s largest city by a wide margin. Edmonton is about the same population as the Metro service area and while they report “rides” vs Metro’s “boardings” it appears transit use is roughly half that of King County. And they are only this year introducing any electric buses. Vancouver has gotten better bang for the buck than Sound Transit when it comes to building rail which probably skews the local perception (i.e. Vancouver is just like all of Canada). But is Vancouver really any better as a system over the entire metro area than what we have?

      1. It is worth noting that the Edmonton LRT system is similar size to Link but has higher ridership (around 110k). They consistently run 4 car trains with high frequency. I often compare Link ridership to that of Edmonton, as while Link’s growth has been tremendous, it is important to note there are other (smaller) cities/regions peforming better in terms of LRT ridership.

      2. Before Saturday my last bus ride was three weeks ago and my last Link ride was five weeks ago (while Connect 2020 was still active). Saturday afternoon I rode Link from SODO to Capitol Hill to carry groceries back from Costco. It was a three-car train (I expected four), and there were four other people in my car. The wait was 10 minutes. The audio announcements said Link was running every 20 minutes. The next-arrival display said trains were coming in “31, 41, 51 minutes”. And it kept saying that through my entire wait. Like cold fusion and autonomous cars, they’re always a decade away.

        Sam should be proud of me, I walked to Costco rather than taking the 131/132. I estimated it would take 60 minutes from southwest Capitol Hill; it too 90 minutes. But I got a nice lonely walk on 4th Avenue in a nice cool overcast. The worst part was having to cross the street twice because if the freeway entrance and the construction at Lander. And I guess I should have crossed it a third time at the freeway exit because there was no crosswalk, but I was mad that there was no sign warning this at the north end of the block. I could have gone straight down the east side of the street if I had known about these interruptions,. And there wasn’t really an interruption at Lander; I just crossed as preventative measure in case there was. I normally either take the 131/132 from downtown or take Link to SODO and transfer to the the 131/132 there, so I hadn’t encountered the interruptions north of it before.

    3. Jane Jacobs moved to Toronto after hew New York era because it hadn’t made the mistakes other cities had. Toronto has a growing number of subway lines and has a grid network of streetcars and buses, including several 24-hour lines. Ridership puts most American cities to shame. It consolidated the city and six suburbs into one, for better or worse, but it seems to be doing all right in its new configuration. It has made mistakes and struggled with transit decisions, but that pales in comparison to American cities that treat transit as an afterthought or something to minimize. I don’t know how it does on maintenance. Its biggest mistake is probably the Gardinier Expressway along the waterfront.

      Vancouver’s density is well-known. It started in the 1960s with forward-thinking city planners, and was accelerated by Hong Kong immigrants who were accustomed to high density, and was embraced by Canadians who accepted the changes and didn’t resist it. Those who didn’t like density lived on the outskirts and eventually built up Surrey and beyond with their houses. But downtown Surrey is a dense new city built in the mid 90s, so even low-density wastelands get large dense downtowns.

      Halifax is a small city like Spokane. Its transit and density aren’t very remarkable; I’d say they’re similar to Spokane.

      I haven’t been to the other cities, but I’ve heard Calgary is as undense as American cities, yet it has more bus transit and a better-designed light rail network, and that makes its ridership 2-3 times better than its American counterparts. Edmonton sounds like it’s denser. Montreal seems to be like Toronto with more subways. I know nothing about Winnipeg or Regina.

      Canada has lots of problems. Some Albertans are as populist and anti-tax as Texans, and that’s probably true to a lesser extent throughout the country. Vancouver has a huge suburban hinterland of people who don’t like density, and many industrial jobs and other jobs are out there so there’s a huge reverse commute.

      But there’s still a solid majority of Canadians who want good transit, universal healthcare, good social services, corruption-free government, skilled immigration, and diversity, and they consistently outvote the others. That may not last forever — many people didn’t expect Brexit to pass or a separatist to win the last UK election, but they did. Still, I don’t see any signs of that in Canada: no large-scale revolt against transit or density or Medicare or immigration or taxes. Their message to government seems to be, “Keep things working.”

      Their Medicare system was not top-down by the way. Quebec started it, then one by one the other provinces adopted it. Of course, they didn’t start with health-care costs so high the provinces couldn’t afford it, whereas our states are strapped and costs are high, so they can’t afford it without federal cost controls and a Fed-funded jump start.

      1. Vancouver’s density is well-known.

        The biggest difference between Vancouver and a typical U. S. city is that they have very few people living in really low density areas. For example, Seattle has over a million people — or almost half its population — living in areas less than 2k per square km. In contrast, Vancouver has about 200,000 (or 10%) living in those low density areas. Most of the city lives in medium density areas, with only a handful living in really high density areas. Toronto is the same way as is Montreal. All three have a similar pattern, similar to San Fransisco.

        Surprisingly enough, the sprawling cities of Edmonton and Calgary also don’t have the really low density areas. Unlike those other cities, though, they don’t have much in the way of medium to high density though, either.

      2. Having vacationed in Canada more than once while our own Employee Advisory Committee on the Downtown Seattle Transit Project was convened, any fair comparison highlights absolutely major difference:

        Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver BC all inherited, from decades past, what they used to call a King’s Ransom (doubt present US nominal leadership would bring a thousandth as much) in existing railroad right of way, much of it with tracks already in place.

        In addition to sharing, with the rest of Planet Earth, topography 360 degrees flat. To the horizon. Our own inherited legacy, we really had Scrooge for an Uncle. So hearty Thank God from Seattle to whoever invented the Tunnel Boring Machine. Bertha? Not the inventor’s fault she couldn’t cut through the piece of scrap steel the operator knew was there but thought he could shred.

        Still want those conceptual side-on “cut” drawings of the ground between Ballard and UW. Depending on glacial geology, could cross the Lake through the rock from Children’s Hospital, with vertical elevator/escalator shafts up to North Link as she “moled” under Brooklyn Station. Whatever it ends up called.

        Mark Dublin

      3. Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver BC all inherited existing railroad right of way, much of it with tracks already in place.

        I don’t know if that is relevant. Commuter rail in Canada is nothing special (unlike in Europe). The most popular commuter rail in Canada is the one serving greater Toronto, with 200,000 riders a day. The subway carries 1.6 million. The Montreal Exo carries 80,000, while the Montreal Metro carries 1.3 million. The West Coast Express in Vancouver carries only 10,000 (while SkyTrain carries half a million).

        Nor is there anything special in the way of leveraging the rail to build the Metros. In some cases they used them, but often the didn’t. They same is true in the United States, really.

      4. Mark’s point is the right of way. They had railroads going right between population centers. We had railroads that went around Lake Washington and along the Ship Canal and hugged the Puget Sound shore. I gather the first Skytrain and MAX lines were built on existing railroad rights of way. I suspect the Fremont BART branch was too. We threw away our Interurban corridor and built cities where the railroads hadn’t gone, and our other railroads were in useless places like Lake Washington and Golden Gardens, so we had to build new rights of way from scratch in areas that were not only already built up but the land had become expensive.

    4. Perhaps I’m not clear enough on my questioning. The Yonge Street Subway has been at crush loads for decades and only recently has anything been proposed to significantly change that (the Ontario Line). Many streetcar routes still have boarding in front of moving cars in traffic lanes. Certainly, Toronto’s transit productivity is high — but a good transit system depends on addressing many issues.

      Why haven’t these been solved, given years of problems?

      1. The same reason most cities haven’t invested much in their transit system: they have bigger fish to fry. Look how long it has taken New York City to build the Second Avenue Subway. The initial plans started after World War 1, and they just recently finished one little piece. This is for a line with a projected half million in ridership.

        Part of the reason is that building in the U. S. and Canada is extremely expensive. Read Alon Levy for why he thinks why (https://pedestrianobservations.com/2019/11/08/what-is-the-anglosphere-anyway/).

  4. I think everyone is aware that Canada has a lot fewer people than the U. S., including a lot fewer big cities. But they still have some big cities. As measured by metropolitan area, Toronto is the 7th biggest city, while Montreal is 19th. Seattle is 20th, and Vancouver 25th. Oh, and Edmonton is much smaller than Seattle. The greater Edmonton area is 1.3 million, while it is 3.7 million for Seattle.

    The lines for Metropolitan areas are somewhat arbitrary. For example, do you consider Tacoma to be part of greater Seattle? What about Marysville or Lakewood? This makes it tougher to make an apples to apples comparison.

    Furthermore, when it comes to transit, what is more important is density. Areas with high density have higher ridership. This too tends to be hard to measure. The best tool I’ve found is this one, even though I would rather have a big table: http://luminocity3d.org/WorldPopDen/#6/41.968/-83.035. If you zoom into a city, and have the “Interactive Stats” checkbox on, you can see how many people live in a particular density class. This is far more revealing than a single number.

    If you look just at transit ridership as part of modal share, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modal_share) then the U. S. cities sit at the bottom. As expected, the sprawling oil town of Edmonton is the worst Canadian city, but it has transit ridership better than over a dozen U. S. cities, including L. A. and Seattle. Calgary is better than Boston and Chicago. Ottawa is better than D. C.; Montreal is better than San Fransisco. Vancouver has about twice the transit modal share than Seattle. As with all things in the U. S. regarding transit, New York City stands alone as the only place with higher transit modal share than Toronto and Montreal.

    Some of this may be statistical anomalies or overall density. I don’t think that can explain all of it, though. Transit is simply better in Canada than it is in the U. S., although not nearly as good as most of the world.

    1. Oh, and worth mentioning is that in terms of *rail* ridership, Canada blows away most U. S. cities, especially in the all important ridership-per-capita number. Unfortunately, Wikipedia separates “mass transit” from light rail, which means you have to look at two different places, even when the systems are quite similar. In terms of annual ridership for “rapid transit” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_North_American_rapid_transit_systems_by_ridership), Canada ranks 3rd, 4th and 8th in terms of ridership. The U. S. is 1st, 5th and 6th. When you look at ridership per mile, Canada is 2nd, 4th and 10th (Vancouver would likely jump a few spots if they focused on building the line from UBC).

      In terms of “light rail”, it is similar. Canada is once again towards the top, especially in boardings per mile. The distance of a system is a decent proxy for the initial cost, and a very good proxy for the cost to maintain it. In short, their rail systems are much more cost effective, even if they cost about the same.

      1. Aach — I meant to write “ridership per mile” in that first sentence. Ridership per capita also likely favors Canadian cities, but it isn’t as easy to measure.

  5. Bernie, fact the Russian reference is untraceable is major credit to Frank or whosever shift it was on duty when two anonymous contributors just about blew out every smell-receptor in the network. Especially the ones marked “Underage.”

    Importance of hands-on instruction, can’t overstate. But especially with a discreet stretch of street like Rainier Avenue for its whole business-related length, if we can’t elevate or undercut either car or pedestrian territory, we have to signal, train, and enforce intensively. Know I’ve mentioned how, from my Route 7 driving days, between Rainier Beach and Jackson, the layout of the Avenue lends itself to speed.

    In so many ways, Finland is a world in itself. Western part and traditionally upper-class, the place is ethnically Swedish. Like so much of Southern Sweden trends Danish. The Finns themselves- from what I’ve heard and read, possibly extreme western Hungarians.

    20th Century history…Brutal. First World War and sister-civil-war to the one that left Russia Communist, Germany’s closing volley was a German-trained right-wing Finnish officer corps whose treatment of prisoners left neighbor-neighbor hatred palpable when I last saw Finland around year 2007. Look up “Mannerheim.” Horse and all, his statue overlooks a main Helsinki streetcar stop.

    helsinki urban rock quarry – Finland personified.

    Route 7 and sister lines go right by it.

    Like Gothenburg, Sweden, would like to make Helsinki Streetcar Sister City to Seattle. Thanks for the opening.

    Mark Dublin

    1. The tents in the foreground are Audi of Bellevue’s parking lot. The next parking lot (we’re looking north) is owned by ST but I think it’s just for construction staging. One wonders if this is going to remain a fenced off vacant lot for years to come. Work is proceeding on the OMF job site.

  6. Thought so! Any chance the “-Strong” word owes anything to the US Army? Watch it. Good way to get your Curve flattened for good.


  7. I came across this piece over the weekend and thought it was a worthwhile read. It focuses predominantly on the operational costs and the revenue hits transit agencies are now contending with. Thus it doesn’t say much about capital expansion and upgrading programs and the financial impact that these plans will soon be feeling as a result of our current public health crisis and resulting economic downturn. Nevertheless I’d thought I’d share it with the gang here.

    “How will public transit survive the COVID-19 crisis?”


  8. How cities around the world are accommodating peds and bikes during the lockdowns. and how we can improve our cities’ design long-term. The interviewee is an ex urban planner from Vancouver. He notes that most American cities have sidewalks narrower than 6 feet so people can’t pass at the recommended distance. Some cities have turned once-a-week bike lanes into full-time bike lanes, converted GP lanes to temporary bike/ped lanes, or closed streets to cars so people can walk at the recommended distance.

    He makes a long-term plea for wider sidewalks and compact (non-sprawling) cities. There’s a quote by Jarrett Walker, that transit frequency is still paramount. ‘Jarrett Walker has said for years that “frequency is freedom.” Frequency is the key to transit being the alternative to the car. And it’s key for safety during a pandemic — no need to cram a train when another is coming soon.’

    So no more talk about 60- or 90-minute buses or half-hourly trains. Just kidding. :)

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