27 Replies to “Podcast Mailbag Time!”

  1. If ST does need to defer projects due to a recession, what do you think will happen, and what do you think should happen?

    1. Also, should they cancel nothing and push projects back as long as necessary to build everything while staying under the statutory debt limit? Theoretically they could do this, it’s just that Ballard may have to wait until 2040, TCC until 2045, and things like that.

      Seems prudent, especially in that leaves a lot of election cycles where they can run a measure to (in part) bring in enough revenue to accelerate those projects closer to on schedule.

  2. If I recall correctly I only get one question so how do you think transit is going to recover from Covid19?

  3. After Covid 19 passes & the financial devastation is accounted for, do you see talks to merge the various transit providers into a single operating agency?

  4. Has anyone at STB been in contact with Sound Transit to ask them what the heck has happened to their ridership reporting, even prior to our current public health crisis?

  5. Should the city of Seattle consider banning private automobile use in West Seattle until the High Bridge is fixed?

    Should the High Bridge even be fixed for automobiles ever again? Should it be repurposed into a transit-only bridge?

    What should the city of Seattle do to dramatically increase transit availability and frequency for residents of West Seattle?

    1. No, they should not. People with private vehicles should be allowed to use them during the pandemic. I don’t own a car, but if I did, I would use it to get around. I would rather be alone in a car than a bus full of strangers that can potentially infect me.

  6. Do you gentlemen have any sources regarding when the actual existence of the United States Federal Government will ever again be legitimately [ON] [TOPIC] for open discussion in these pages?

    Meatime: As wikipedia notes: “The Scottish National Party conference voted unanimously on 27 October 2007 for a policy of reducing the voting age to 16, as well as in favour of a campaign for the necessary power to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

    In September 2011, it was announced that the voting age was likely to be reduced from 18 to 16 for the Scottish independence referendum.[59] This was approved by the Scottish Parliament in June 2013.

    In June 2015, the Scottish Parliament voted unanimously to reduce the voting age to 16 for elections for the Scottish Parliament and for Scottish local government elections. ”

    This Fall, at least for Seattle and its every neighboring transit agency, Martin….at least can you and Frank say give a couple reasons why not?

    Will put my ancient scratched and faded Senior ORCA card in escrow in case an actual high school exchange student from Scotland encounters Fare Enforcement that hasn’t yet gotten the word.

    Stay with it, guys.

    Mark Dublin

  7. New, joint-use rail, ped, bike & vehicle bridges to replace the old ones in Ballard & WS, collaboratively funded by ST, KC, Seattle and Uncle Sam (and other ways conventional debate over ST3 has been turned on its head): discuss

  8. Since this is first and foremost an urbanist blog, it would be great to get your and Frank’s take on articles like this one:

    https://www.inverse.com/article/56019-psychological-benefits-of-nature-mental-health

    Basically, are they out to lunch, are they only partially out to lunch, are they mostly with it? If one of the latter options, how do we redesign transit (and the rest of the city infrastructure) to accommodate such design changes in our home environment?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Nature is profoundly critical and we’re just beginning to understand the scope of it. Humans originated along the border between forest and savanna and seem to do best part-time in one and part-time in the other, or vaguely between city and country or social interaction and solitude. But that doesn’t mean we need to eliminate cities, or that our current cities are the best of all possible cities. We just need to improve our cites, integrate more nature into them, and make sure that ubanized nature is nearby and accessible.

      The book “If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home How” is about a Washington Post reporter who moved his family from their hectic, stressful, long-commute suburban DC life to “the most undesirable county in the US” in far northwestern Minnesota, pop. 1000, where it’s snowy nine months out of the year, because the residents were much more proud of their home and welcoming than other counties he’d written about. Imagine Vashon Island or Orcas Island only with a closer-knit community. He, his wife, and two kids immediately loved it, and said they lost both the conscious and unconscious stress they had accumulated, and their children behaved better when they weren’t cooped up in a small house in a suburb/city but had a large house, barn, and acres of personal and other land to roam in. In a small town like that, brand-name products are less available and there are less social services and medical services, so the residents make more of their own things and share them, like apple cider vinegar, and help each other out informally.

      Similarly, somewhere in Eastern Europe is a large old-growth forest, and a person who visited it said the trees were bigger than anywhere and the atmosphere just felt like he belonged there. This is an inkling of how important nature is to us I think.

      Similarly, lakes and forests produce negative ions, which bind with the unhealthy particles in the arir and in our bodies and neutralize them, so it’s healthy to spend time near a lake or lie down in a grassy/forested natural place.

      This has challenged me because I’m a city lover. But a rural life is not for me because I’d feel isolated without a car and these areas in the US don’t have much transit or community unless you find one of the few lucky places. So I have to look for other alternatives.

      The alternatives are more urban agriculture, more local agriculture (e.g.,King/Snoho/Skagit Counties), more courtyards (like the 1950s/60s small apartment buildings in Seattle), more rooftop gardens and rooftop solar installations, more bioswales and pollination corridors in front yards and sidewalk strips, and more things like the waterfront generation that’s allows/will allow some native plants and critters to return to downtown after being banished for eighty years.

      The Enlightenment and much of 1800s science was hyper-rationalist: man-over-nature and reductionistic. That led to industrial specialization and monoculture farming. But that’s all unbalanced, as 20th-century quantum mechanics showed physicists. What’s important is the gestalt, the whole, man co-evolving with nature. And with that, polyculture local agriculture and urban agriculture.

      Western Washington is at the forefront of this in the US along with a few other regions. There are many farmers in Skagit County, Puyallup, and around who practice polyculture and organic farming, research new kinds of flour, and sell them in Pugetopolis. Many people move here because of the nearby mountains and forests. There’s a lot of innovation and creativity (what Jane Jacobs calls the sign of a healthy city). The Bullet Foundation building is passivhaus design, meaning it stays cool in summer and warm in winter via good insulation and window location, etc, so it doesn’t need artificial heating/cooling. We need more of those kind of things. That in particular has a high up-front cost, but we can find similar ways that would be less expensive so more expensive to homeowners and attractive to landlords.

      This dovetails with a well-designed city like Amsterdam or Scandinavia, where the default, easiest thing to do is more healthful and improves our social lives.

      Pollution is bad, of course. Seattle recognized this in the 1960s and cleaned up Puget Sound. We need to do something similar again. Electric cars, if they become the majority, will greatly reduce smog and noise that causes breathing problems and disturbs animals. If people shift more to mass transit, that would reduce pollution too.

      The problem with everybody just moving to the suburbs or rural towns is, our suburbs and small towns aren’t very nature-integrated. People don’t walk to places and support themselves on their farm like they did in the 1800s. They drive sixty miles to Walmart, drive three hours to a friends’ house or show, and spend the same amount of time watching the same TV shows and playing the same video games as their urban counterparts. So it’s like the worst of suburban sprawl. So it’s not just our cities that need to improve. Our suburbs, small towns, and rural areas need to improve too.

      There are a thousand different ideas on how to get there. You can spend a lifetime picking ones you want to pursue.

      1. Thanks! This is a great discussion. I think especially things like polycultures in agricultural settings need to be a lot more prevalent. Also, trying to reduce the length and complexity of our supply chains (in general, but especially for food) would lead to both sustainable growth and more resilience in situations like the current pandemic. So how we could integrate that into cities while preserving overall density seems very important.

        I think it’s also important to note that different people really do strive in different environments. As you mentioned, you tend to do well in an urban setting (and myself as well, having never owned a car). But there are certainly many people who do prefer less dense environments, and even for city-dwellers, some people consider Green Lake or Ballard plenty dense, while others want Manhattan. So how to build that sustainable diversity of environments seems pretty essential in the long run.

        To loop back to my original request, I think it would be great to hear from Frank and Martin on this as well :)

      2. Looking at how clear the skies are today and being able to vividly see Mt. Rainier, the Cascades and the Olympics should inspire a tremendous revulsion to going back to the internal combustion fueled rat race.

        Sorry, just dreaming.

  9. Any chance of re-assessment of routing for WS-B line/Issaquah line after deferment, including possible integration with rebuilds/repair/rehab/replace of WS and Ballard bridges? Truncation of the line(s)?

    With reduced/eliminated traffic as jobs are slow to return and/or remain WFH, do you think transit improvements (e.g. bus lanes, frequency incrs, etc.) will remain (relatively) popular? Has ridership returned in other dense cities upon re-opening (e.g. Korea)?

    What immediate improvements do you think SDOT/ST/WSDOT should/could be doing now that would normally impact business/traffic via road closure, but would be more palatable now?

    How long should transit wait after stay-home is lifted to re-start collecting fares?

  10. Assuming there is a funding shortfall after we regain some semblance of normalcy, would this be the time for Metro and ST to expand charging for parking at popular P&Rs?

    1. Data point: ST’s projections of net parking revenue across their garage network with ST3 built out is ~$20MM/year.

  11. In light of the CoVid Recession and I-976 Supreme Court decision, is it possible or wise to revote ST3 for cheaper options (Ballard to UW, West Seattle BRT on N. King; no second tunnel to save money for other subareas) over the current approved alignments (which may open much later than planned)?

    1. I’m no lawyer, but I think it would be very dependent on the wording of the measure. Specifically, if the new measure failed, ST3 as it stands today would still have to be moved forward. Adding entirely new routes like UW->Ballard after bonds are sold on the current alignment could be tricky.

      1. Also not a lawyer, but a new measure would replace the old measure. So it is possible to just throw out the ST3 and propose something new. But yes, if the vote fails, ST3 remains binding.

        Bonds have financial covenants – which is why the car tabs are a sticking point – but I don’t believe they apply to the alignment. So ST would still be bound by the same financial constraints but could fund a different set or sequence of projects.

  12. Sometimes when I turn off my tv with my master remote, it doesn’t turn off my tv, but it turns off my sound bar. Then when I click off again, it turns off my tv, but turns back on my sound bar. Then I have have to use my Bose remote to turn off the sound bar. What causes this?

    1. Wrong button – you want to hit the Power All button, not the power button, to start the sequence.

      AJ. Remote control expert.

    2. Sounds like your TV, sound bar & remote are out of sink somehow. This will occur if the digital codes for each item don’t match up.

    3. What is this “master remote” of which you speak? When I get sleepy in front of the tv I just have my very smart cat push the power on/off plunger on my 19″ Zenith Chromacolor and call it a night.

    4. I grew up with a 1970s TV where you pulled the volume knob to turn it on and pushed it to turn it off. Sometimes the switch would break and it would turn on and off the sound but leave the picture on, so we had to unplug it to really turn it off. Then we got the switch repaired and it worked again. I think that happened at least twice in the fifteen years we had the TV. My conclusion was that those switches just weren’t very reliable. Maybe your switch is similar.

      Mike, collector of TV Guides and bus schedules from junior high to 11th grade.

  13. I know it’s still pretty early, but are there any data on budget shortfalls for Metro, and what the scale and nature of transit cuts will be in the near term? Frankly, I’m surprised that transit cuts have been so minor so far, but I can’t imagine that they’re running in a sustainable way right now even with the FTA bailout. I’m hoping that Metro can stick to the quantitative route analysis that they’ve used to add frequency, so we’re not stuck with packed and infrequent buses in the city like we were 10 years ago.

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