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This is an open thread.

105 Replies to “News roundup: bad news”

  1. Throwing this out to the horde: what year do they think the Ballard station will open under ST3? (You can have a second guess if the Supreme Court allows I-976 to reman on the books)

    1. Never. It will be cancelled and the line will end at the Smith Cove/Expedia station.

      Only way I see it being built in full is if the economy magically snaps back to exactly where it was before all this. Which is very unlikely.

    2. Maybe Jeff Bezos will realize that 50 years of “it’ll trickle down stupid!” tax cuts on the wealthy are in danger and trickle down some pocket change to complete Ballard Link!

      I joke, I joke.

    3. I predict 2044. ST4 will also have to pass in 2028.

      The recent history of actual Downtown tunnel construction is about 11-12 years (Los Angeles and San Francisco), and more money will be needed as ST3 was not enough. I also expect no tunnel under the Ship Canal. Finally, I add a few years to resolve the “unexpected design challenges” like property owner lawsuits, environmental situations and surprises when digging underground (like the 99 tunnel boring delay).

    4. Depends on the abilities and skills of the “They” who’s doing the thinking. Also taking into account that on the time and date of my key-click, nobody can make a “call” like this to an eon, let alone a standard-grade century.

      Me? Best candidate for date, time, and spirit will be when this year’s graduating class- Thank God! finally liberated from the SAT and rapidly getting attention to writing their own syllabus – video and Computer Assisted Design and Manufacture certainly count…..

      And decide it’s time for an Initiative to lower the voting age to 16, push the legislative “flush” lever, and get Ballard back the transportation rights their parents and grandparents got evicted before they could ever see.

      I miss the old Nordic Heritage Museum, now called “Nordic Museum.” But think the institution’s got some prosperous supporters in places that would make excellent streetcar-sister-cities a quick Icelandair flight away.

      Also failing to find where it’s written that Lake Washington Technical Institute is Constitutionally forbidden to have a Ballard branch. Though really, mdnative (Cabin John or Frederick by any chance?) maybe one sentence “says it”:

      Station ribbon will get cut on the day location becomes not our grandfathers’ but our great grandchildren’s Ballard.

      Mark Dublin

    5. I never predict. It depends on how several factors interact and unknown future factors. But the tendency is toward a significant delay, possibly five or ten years or more. Many people are dissatisfied with the bridge alternatives. There’s no third-party funding yet for the tunnel alternatives. And now Covid19 puts a major strain on the budget. Some people might become exasperated as I am at the primary alternatives’ shotcomings, and say “Why bother?” If the other subareas lose their enthusiasm for the Issaquah line, Everett/Paine extension, and Tacoma Dome extension, and seek cheaper alternatives, it would strengthen the Ballard-downsizing hand.

  2. I have no idea who caused the obsession with combining rail and car/bus traffic on the same bridge span. Sure, it may sound like we’re getting a 2 for 1 deal on bridges, but in the case of West Seattle I don’t see this working.

    The span has to be high and there’s no room for it to be terribly wide. A car fire on the span would close rail, a chemical spill would close rail. The rail alignment options are reduced to 1, maybe 2, and the tradeoffs just to combine bridges will probably cost more in the end than two separate bridges.

    Plus, do we think light rail to west seattle is important? (Martin, don’t answer that) If we do think it is, then Link gets its own bridge. And as a footnote, we also need a new mayor.

    1. They don’t necessarily need to be combined in the same structure, but if Two new side by side bridges need to be constructed, cost savings can be achieved with things like better coordination and sharing mobilization costs between the two projects.

      1. So are we delaying the replacement of the car/bus span or are we rushing the rail span?

    2. I agree, I don’t see how you combine them. There may be some efficiencies by combining a bit of work here and there, but we are talking about very little in the way of overall savings. Even if the entire bridge has to be redone, the savings would be minimal, unless they essentially abandon two of the stops (in which case, you would save a lot more by just running buses straight to the junction). Most of the buses *do not* follow the freeway right now, just because they want to pick up more riders (on Avalon). But now folks are saying we can just ignore that, and run the train on Fauntleroy (and what, have a stop here: https://goo.gl/maps/Q7S7xsnCKH6mJMFeA?). The Delridge stop moves from about a half mile from the freeway, to right under the freeway? You would be asking people to sit and wait for a train next to the freeway, when their bus was just about to get them to downtown in no time. That is a ridership killer, for sure.

      West Seattle rail is already a very bad value. There is no reason to make it worse.

      1. There are already serious technical limitations to the current ST3 alternatives which are not being discussed. I have asked ST staff about this at the public meetings. There are technical+political challenges associated with the current plans for the Duwamish crossing and the station locations/routing is limited by whether the light rail bridge is on the north or south side of the current WS bridge. The north side disturbs the port and the south side disturbs an ecologically sensitive area. Building a multimodal bridge or even building 2 parallel bridges that are designed/constructed at the same time in the current footprint of the WS bridge would save a ton of money and make new alignments feasible that are currently not being discussed.

        As for other details of station locations mentioned by RossB, the buses and light rail could easily avoid Avalon if Fauntleroy and the ramp to the bridge were reconstructed as a standard 4-lane street rather than a highway, with sidewalks and connections to the adjacent residential areas. There’s only one Rapid Ride stop on Avalon at Yancy/Bradford and it could easily be moved 2 blocks up the hill to Andover at Fauntleroy near the pedestrian overpass. The 21 can continue to use Avalon. This was always completely off the table because of traffic disruption issues but with that out of the way it suddenly looks much more appealing.

        But now folks are saying we can just ignore that, and run the train on Fauntleroy (and what, have a stop here: https://goo.gl/maps/Q7S7xsnCKH6mJMFeA?).

        There is a proposal for a 500 unit development just to the right of your picture. And all 6 of the alternatives have the light rail station within your picture, essentially right on top of the Starbucks or a block away off Genesee. The Genesee alternatives would require $50-100+ million of property acquisitions and demolition, which is why I continue to advocate for rebuilding Fauntleroy with the light rail along or in the middle of the street. The costs to acquire all of the property in Youngstown would be enormous, especially down the hill off Delridge where there are dozens of new developments that did not exist when the alignment was designed in 2016 (https://goo.gl/maps/i6Wm6BAXXyAY54dr5).

      2. The West Seattle Bridge was built with the materials, techniques, and machinery of 1981, thirty nine years ago.

        Thirty nine years in the future, whatever the wheel-coverings, if magnetic levitation hasn’t out-dated all of them, Model 2059 (Please let it be Made In Greater Puget Sound!) everything could be really light on budget.

        Favor: Give us an emoticon for “hyperaffordable”. How about -$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$<0?

        Mark Dublin

      3. the buses and light rail could easily avoid Avalon if Fauntleroy and the ramp to the bridge were reconstructed as a standard 4-lane street rather than a highway, with sidewalks and connections to the adjacent residential areas.

        I don’t follow you. Do you mean reconnect Andover, where there is now only a pedestrian bridge (https://goo.gl/maps/hAUAY4qdphKfcctt5)? I’m not sure what that gets you. You could put a bus stop there, but that is a bit of a schlep (https://goo.gl/maps/rnDLhY7UHEHZUhfp7). My point is that despite the detour, the area down the hill is worthy of covering with the bus.

        My greater point is that if you move the stops to the freeway, you make them worse. It may be that it makes sense to water down West Seattle rail, but it will still be a very expensive project, which means getting significantly fewer riders would not be good.

        But now potentially a huge win for transit advocates has fallen into their laps–SDOT’s busiest highway could be transformed into something akin to MLK as it approaches the Junction, connecting two neighborhoods that are currently cut in half by that highway.

        Not the same. MLK sits in between the rest of the system, and was built relatively cheaply. Even if it was the end of the system it is a fairly good value, with four (soon to be five) stops. The surface running part of Link (on MLK) is about four miles. They could easily have 8 stops, and still be nowhere near Paris or New York stop spacing.

        In contrast, the potentially surface running part of Link is at most a mile (from the sign — https://goo.gl/maps/aQdGDUtRGHZVbXa28 to the Junction). The northern part is unlikely to be rezoned, just because no one wants to lose their view (https://goo.gl/maps/CNU53Mu2Rdksq7uA6). (Rainier Valley didn’t care, they had other things to worry about). You really only have two good stops on the top of the hill, one around 35th, the other close to the Junction. Every other stop (assuming you are following the freeway) is in industrial land, which means that only a handful would actually walk to it. That is why there is only one new stop east of Avalon, and it is primarily there to connect to buses that were actually going the same direction anyway (and may continue to do so, depending on what Metro decides to do). From Delridge to SoDo is over two miles — that is two miles of very expensive track that will have no stops at all. SoDo, meanwhile, will be a new stop right next to the old stop, and that stop is the weakest in our entire system.

        Sorry, but MLK was a cheap system, and despite the big flaws (lack of stations, terrible Mount Baker station) is still a good value. West Seattle rail, on the other hand, no matter what they do, will be a terrible value. Even if the entire West Seattle bridge is “free”, it will be a terrible value, as very few will actually save much time over the alternatives. You can’t say that about Link on MLK.

      4. Yes, I’m envisioning reconnecting both Andover, Bradford and Charlestown streets to the WS bridge ramp (mostly for peds/bikes) and developing the vacant land near Charlestown which will be accessible with the addition of sidewalks.

        I’m not going to debate about whether West Seattle light rail is worth the cost or not, it’s been approved and will almost certainly be built. So may as well debate how to do it within the budget.

        I do agree that the Delridge Station is degraded by being next to a freeway. That’s part of why I’m advocating for removing the freeway and overpasses in that area when the bridge is rebuilt. Removing all of the ramps will open up some space for TOD in North Delridge. My other point is that the Delridge station is very likely going to be next to the freeway/Nucor anyway since one the existing Yancy/Andover alternatives appears to be more likely to be chosen.

        The key here is to envision what the Avalon/Delridge areas could look like, not what they look like currently. If ST and the city of Seattle are really as serious about redevelopment around light rail stations as they claim to be, then the Avalon Triangle area should undergo a similar transformation in the 2020s as Roosevelt did in the 2010s.

      5. Yes, I’m envisioning reconnecting both Andover, Bradford and Charlestown streets to the WS bridge ramp (mostly for peds/bikes) and developing the vacant land near Charlestown which will be accessible with the addition of sidewalks.

        Sounds good to me, but I don’t think it would make a bit of difference for transit. Great for those who want to walk around (especially if they want to get in shape), but there is no way Metro is going to run an east-west bus on those streets.

        That’s part of why I’m advocating for removing the freeway and overpasses in that area [Delridge] when the bridge is rebuilt.

        OK, now I’m confused again. Are you saying that there would be no viaduct, and that the current freeway would be a regular thoroughfare, with a street crossing? Or is it more that the various ramps that exist under the freeway (e. g. the westbound exit from the freeway that heads southbound) would go away?

        Removing all of the ramps will open up some space for TOD in North Delridge.

        I suppose, except it is still a very industrial area (hemmed in to the east by the steep hillside) and the closer you get to the station, the closer you get to the freeway (a basic flaw, unfortunately common with much of what we are building).

        My other point is that the Delridge station is very likely going to be next to the freeway/Nucor anyway since one the existing Yancy/Andover alternatives appears to be more likely to be chosen.

        I doubt that, given that it is clearly worse.

        The key here is to envision what the Avalon/Delridge areas could look like, not what they look like currently.

        And I’m saying that a freeway station will still be next to the freeway, with major industry on three sides, and a steep hillside on the other. It isn’t clear where the other station would be. Fauntleroy and 35th is a large car sewer, with hundreds of square feet eaten up by roadway. You might make it quieter, by adding bike paths, and a bit of greenery here or there, but it will be difficult to add too many apartments nearby, with the very wide streets and the awkward angles. Avalon and Fauntleroy really isn’t much better. You are talking about a handful of potential apartment buildings nearby, and that’s it.

        So, OK, I get it. West Seattle rail is a turd — might as well spend as little as possible on it. That’s reasonable. I’m just not sure if West Seattle — having gone this far — wants to make the thing even worse. I suppose it is worth studying.

        (I also don’t think that West Seattle wants to see the street grid reconnected, even if you and I would like it).

      6. “Removing all of the ramps will open up some space for TOD in North Delridge.”

        I just don’t see a whole lot of opportunities for TOD here. I used to work for a company that was located in the small office park on the west side of Nucor. (I lived in Wallingford then and took two buses to get to our offices there. I hated the location as there was little around there to walk to then besides the little retail strip adjacent to us right on Delridge. Thank heaven for Uptown Espresso!) Perhaps if that office park was also condemned by ST as part of a “North Delridge” station with TOD proposal, then maybe there might be some opportunity for what you’ve suggested (??). Still, any such development would be in close proximity to the steel mill. I’m not sure how desirable that would be for a potential developer and the aquisition costs could be quite significant.

      7. I live in the Avalon area and seeing people walking around since the bridge closure suggests that there would be an appetite for more sidewalks and pedestrian connections around the Fauntleroy bridge ramp. But people living deeper in West Seattle would probably be upset about ‘their’ highway being taken away. But the attractiveness of how quiet it is right now without the car noise is definitely resonating with people in this area, so if there was ever a chance to sell a freeway removal this is it.

        It is very difficult both technically and politically to create a new right-of-way in a residential area, even if the station locations are better in the long term. There are a lot of sacrificial lambs in West Seattle who would be giving up their properties to make a new right-of-way along Delridge-Genesee-Avalon and none of them are happy about it. So when a perfectly suitable right-of-way exists already, they should just use it. Or find a way to pay for a tunnel.

        All of this is known (and has been repeatedly voiced) to ST which is why the Yancy/Andover alternatives have reappeared. So there has already been an acknowledgement by ST3 that they may have to accept an inferior Delridge station location to the east of Nucor. My feeling is that if they are going to do that, they may as well ditch the Yancy/Andover routing altogether and just stay along Fauntleroy. I acknowledge it is an inferior routing from a purely transit perspective, but there are other factors at play here and as I noted, accepting the inferior route in exchange for getting rid of the highway could be an acceptable trade from a pro-transit perspective.

      8. “There are a lot of sacrificial lambs in West Seattle who would be giving up their properties to make a new right-of-way along Delridge-Genesee-Avalon and none of them are happy about it. So when a perfectly suitable right-of-way exists already, they should just use it. Or find a way to pay for a tunnel.”

        It’s so interesting to me that when it comes to Seattle light rail projects and folks in the impacted neighborhoods suddenly realizing what these projects entail, as far as condemnation actions required for the needed ROW, the discussion quickly turns to tunneling that was never in the original ballot proposal. Additionally, I would caution against taking ST just at their word when it comes to the number of potential parcels needing to be acquired. With the Lynnwood Link project that number grew roughly threefold from what we were originally told by ST staff. Even though that alignment largely takes advantage of the I-5 ROW, the project is currently slated to require the acquisition of 365 parcels and 375 relocations.

    3. I’m open to whatever design the engineers say is more efficient – be it a single bridge or two separate bridges. The point is to study it and choose based on what minimizes the total construction cost, not have separate bridges simply be the default for reasons of beurocracy.

    4. I hope the politicians can be open-minded on the question of whether an automobile high bridge is really needed for getting people into SODO, downtown, and points north and east. (And whether humanity’s remaining carbon budget has room for the ongoing carbon footprint of such a bridge.)

      Obviously, West Seattle Link would have more passengers if the automobile bridge isn’t serving the same destination pairings. How much would it cost to add a bike and pedestrian concourse to the Link bridge?

      As a pedestrian, I’d rather see the foot path added above or below the train line, not right next to roaring, fuming automobile traffic. That concourse may be necessary, anyway, as an emergency exit from the train. If large enough, it also ought to have room for emergency vehicles.

      The next world war (the one we are in now) may be fought best with bikes. Who knew?

    5. A combined bridge is more practical politically than technically. Weight distribution is different for rails and takes special design. Consider how the I-90 bridge refit for Link required years of study and bridge redesign.

      It’s always going to be easier, faster and cheaper to replace than redesign. Anyone who has only remodeled a kitchen or bathroom knows this.

      I expect the eventual rail bridge to have a different design. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s ultimately built off-site and elevated into place.

      Of course, between Youngstown lawsuits and a shortage of cash as well as years of debate about tunneling that results in ST4 (and general a dislike of the interim stub) puts the Link opening back several years. 2030 is likely a pipe dream.

      1. That’s why the at-grade Fauntleroy routing is such an obvious win. Avoid the Youngstown problems, avoid the complaints about an elevated guideway, and take advantage of the closed bridge to tear out a highway and replace it with a regular street from Fauntleroy to Nucor. There is even money to be made selling city property for development that is currently fenced off along that highway ramp. Doesn’t really matter if it is 1 multimodal bridge or 2 parallel bridges built at the same time.

        Of course all of it assumes an infusion of stimulus cash to accelerate the timeline, but I’m not sure how the WS bridge could possibly be replaced without state or federal help.

    6. Does the much of the savings come from combining the same footprint? The current ST3 planned rail bridge will need to do property acquisition, but a rail bridge + 4 lane car bridge could, in theory, fit in the same envelope as the existing bridge. I understood it had less to do with hard construction costs and more with avoiding property acquisition and removing duplicate soft costs.

      1. Yes, exactly. And this was considered unfeasible until recently because West Seattleites would have never stomached the traffic disruptions. But now potentially a huge win for transit advocates has fallen into their laps–SDOT’s busiest highway could be transformed into something akin to MLK as it approaches the Junction, connecting two neighborhoods that are currently cut in half by that highway.

      2. a rail bridge + 4 lane car bridge could, in theory, fit in the same envelope as the existing bridge

        Hmm, yeah, it looks like that is the case. Hard to tell for sure, but it widens to six lanes as it approaches 35th (seven if you count the entrance from southbound 35th). As you move east, it looks like the extra room is just shrubbery (https://goo.gl/maps/n3fEQgkVeCaKWZgC8).

        If they do go that route, it will clearly just show how ridiculous it is to run a train there. Somehow they are going to pay a bundle to get the train to merge into the freeway bridge (over SR 99) and add a stop for Delridge (so those riders can wait next to the freeway for a train), when it would be trivial to add another lane to the Spokane Street viaduct and connect to the SoDo busway. They are going to spend a fortune for something that will cost the average rider extra time (with the extra waiting) and have nowhere near the need for that kind of capacity. All the while, real value added projects (like tunnels underneath Lower Queen Anne) sit waiting and other projects (like a First Hill station) will never get built.

      3. There’s an open question about how Federal funding would count if the tracks across the bridge are built early. We don’t know what New Starts funding will be in the future or how much will be back-credited to the City. Also, building tracks across the bridge would not mean that light rail would open sooner Than 2030 as the switching and connections at SODO would require spending more money and taking property along the viaduct corridor even if rail is added to the bridge early.

        It’s too bad that the closure wasn’t in 2024 when the Link project would be further along in design and Federal support, and that a West Seattle bridge replacement with rail had cleared both environmental and New Starts processes. I don’t see how adding tracks now would get light rail to West Seattle cheaper or faster than the assumptions already made because of the steps needed for Federal approvals and funding. It may save right-of-way costs immediately around the bridge and possibly facilitate construction around nearby closed road segments — but I could see how the need for quick property acquisition, risks with New Starts funding credit and potentially costly design mistakes could easily combine to make it a more costly idea.

      4. If a rail segment is built over a new bridge, build it with panel track so that buses can use it in the interim. If you want higher speeds later rip out the panels.

    7. In addition to the concerns mentioned above, there is another problem in that SDOT does not currently know when a new vehicle bridge will be necessary. If repairing the current bridge is not feasible, no amount of creativity will advance the light rail schedule to the point where it will be ready for construction at the same time as a vehicle bridge.

      Any serious discussion about combining the two seems to be really jumping the gun at this point.

      1. You don’t have to run trains to include the light rail pathway in a new bridge. Just build it with panel track and run buses on it. Then, when complete, either tear up the panel between the rails and remove the flange troughs or leave them and still run buses between trains.

        You can’t go as fast on panel track, so ST will probably want to remove the panels and flange troughs.

    8. If I had to guess, the thinking is that we’re facing huge, currently un-quantifiable budget crises (COVID19, potential of I-976 being upheld, potential of TBD expiration without renewal), so combining funding sources in any way feasible makes sense. It does seem like the engineering and political hurdles might be too great, but given that everything is sort of frozen right now, I don’t see harm in taking a look.

    9. The politicians should at least give the unified-bridge idea fair consideration, and coordinate with each other enough to not preclude any win-win opportunities. I’m glad Durkan is raising this. That’s the first pro-active thing she’s done for transit so far. (Besides the free student passes, which make transit cheaper but don’t make the transit network better, or are economically more efficient like a unified bridge.) I don’t think armchair activists can evaluate the technical issues for or against; only tranportation engineers can credibly do that. But the politicians should at least look into the possibility rather than dismissing it prematurely.

  3. SDOT closing 2 streets for social distancing–I hope this just the beginning. Seattle started Bicycle Sundays along Lake Washington Boulevard about 50 years ago. Those events were pretty revolutionary at that time, but it’s time to expand and improve Bicycle Sundays across the city. Alki should have Bicycle Sunday, Magnolia should have Bicycle Sunday, Shilshole should have Bicycle Sunday, Sand Point should have Bicycle Sunday, the Arboretum should have Bicycle Sunday.

    Last summer, when I was in Mexico City, they had a very impressive and well supported series of Bicycle Sundays. The main boulevard in central CDMX is closed to cars and the streets are overtaken with bikes. It’s quite an event and a nice change from all the usually auto traffic. Having more Bicycle Sundays in Seattle will encourage people to buy more bikes and they may use them more than just once a week.

    1. I was wondering why West Seattle and the CD? Do they have especially narrow streets and sidewalks? Capitol Hill could use some one too. The number of people walking up and down Pine Street is always more than the sidewalks can properly handle, especially with 6-foot social distancing and people passing.

  4. Milan may have messed up disastrously on the virus, but it is preparing to give more streets to pedestrians and bikes as part of the post-apocalypse transportation plan.

    I’d love to become a biker, if only the safe, wide network existed. (I went vegan a few years ago because the options started appearing on the shelf, in places like Safeway, not just the co-ops.)

    But another wave of doom is coming, next winter, says the CDC Director. The safe, wide greenways-for-getting-places-instead-of-swerving-back-and-forth network needs to become a keystone to the new normal, on business arterials.

    Do that, and transit can focus more on medium- and long-distance transport. Gently-used streets have a much lower operating cost.

  5. Kudos to Shoreline for working on the 148th crossing! That station will be much easier to reach from the west side of I-5. I would even expect some drop off activity for the station from First Ave NE.

    1. I hope people won’t have to go up to bridge level and back down to the station entrance. That’s what killed all the other pedestrian overpasses and underpasses like on Aurora and on NE 12th Street in Bellevue, and to some extent the MLK bridge too. People don’t want to climb up to a bridge and back down when they can just cross on the surface even if they have to wait for a light. The bridge should minimize or ideally eliminate any steep ascents/descents, then everybody would prefer it.

      1. I don’t think bit will be up and down. At a minimum, if the 145th St. bridge is flat, I would assume that this will be flat too, at least on the west approach.

        Hopefully, the bridge will connect to the mezinnine, but it also needs have some kind of ramp that bypasses it. You’re going to have bike riders just trying to get east/west who aren’t riding Link and having to wait for an elevator to carry the bike down 20 feet would be a real drag.

  6. I’d bet a gondola could be built to W Seattle before the bridge band-aid could even be added.

    I’m noticing you can draw a very straight line from W Seattle library to SODO station passing over very few homes, and staying fairly high over the port.

    The library is only a block from California, and buses should be able to connect to it very well.

    Not that this has to be *instead of* light rail, but it would sure be nice to keep people moving for the years it will take to build a bridge.

    1. How much do you think something like that would cost?

      I think the big drawback is the SoDo Station. Most of the riders would be looking at a three seat ride. That isn’t the end of the world, but it is awkward, to say the least. I guess the same is true for the boat, but at least there you would have a lot more two seat riders. The boat (with a bit of walking) also gives you a three seat ride anywhere. With the gondola to SoDo, most people (e. g. someone from Alki) would be looking at a four seat ride to Bellevue (bus, gondola, Link, Link) or First Hill (bus, gondola, Link, Link). There is a minimal transfer penalty with the gondola (since headways are measured in seconds) but it still isn’t nothing (you still have to get off the bus, walk up the escalator, get on the gondola, and then get back down to SoDo). I wouldn’t rule it out — it would be an attraction in its own right, and someone in Admiral Junction would like it (and there are people there, unlike the boat dock), but I think a lot of people would be better off taking the boat, or a regular bus, even if it wasn’t as fast as it was a little while ago.

      1. I’d add that a gondola moves rather slowly. I’m reading that 13 mph is about the best top speed. It also has to slow down when docking. At 2 miles, the ride alone would take about 10-11 minutes. It takes Link 9 minutes to go between Rainier Beach and TIBS and that seems to take a long time.

        A fixed cable-pulled crossing would get that speed to 25-30 mph. The vehicles wouldn’t need to be as heavy as light rail. That would reduce the time to 4-6 minutes.

        Link speeds can reach 55 mph. It’s supposed to take about 2.5 minutes between SODO and Delridge.

        All of this is on top of the transfer hassle and time to switch vehicles.

      2. It would be highly inequitable to have a gondola stop in the Junction and fly over the historically underserved parts of Delridge. Gondolas are only useful when you are going from point A to point B and you don’t want to stop in the middle. That’s not the case here.

      3. Gondola probably only makes sense if it is to be done in lieu of Link for the medium term. If it’s just a stopgap measure, it will still take years. Acquiring extra water taxis and turning the Habour Ave dock into a giant bus transfer hub is a much quicker solution with the same multi-transfer issues as a gondola.

        And I don’t think SoDo will work as a terminus as the Link trains are pretty full. The gondola would need to go all the way to ID or have bus shuttles. If this is a temporary solution, more likely it terminates closer to 1st Ave and riders need to transfer to a “C” route that then runs through downtown. Dumping C, 120, etc. is a ton of ridership that I don’t think Link can handle during peak.

        If we are talking about a 10~15 year solution to be replaced by Link, more likely you run it between the Junction/Delridge to Marginal Way and then have a single frequent bus route running up Marginal Way into Downtown. Buses from the south can converge on this gondola station, while buses from the north converge on the water taxi.

        But all this supposes the lower bridge is closed . If the lower bridge can be opened in the short term, while the bridge above is rehabbed/replaced, none of this is necessary.

      4. @Joe — Delridge would be OK with a bus. The lower bridge can serve Delridge reasonably well. It is the upper and western part of West Seattle (35th, California, Alki, etc.) that would struggle. I’m not saying the gondola idea makes sense, but keep in mind, the train really doesn’t serve Delridge either. Oh, you can take the bus almost the whole way to the bridge (or the whole way, as some suggest) and then sit and wait for the train (right before the bus was about to average 55 MPH — the same speed as the train) but that isn’t really adding anything, except an out of the way connection to the Junction (something the 50 adds just about as quickly). The next stop is SoDo anyway, so that gets that connection. It is a train that only makes sense during rush hour, which is to say, it doesn’t make sense.

        This is why West Seattle rail is such a bad idea. It is a textbook example of a suburban trunk and branch system (sometimes ironically called a spine https://humantransit.org/2018/09/dublin-what-is-a-spine.html). There is an existing roadway, and very little demand for trips between the stops of the system, because there are so few. In contrast, consider the section of Link between 65th and downtown (which is about the same distance). Various stops between stations are extremely popular and very fast compared to driving, even during rush hour. So while an express (from 65th to downtown) might be preferable for some, there will be a lot of people getting on and off at each stop, as every combination has significant ridership (65th to UW, 65th to Capitol Hill, UW to Capitol Hill, etc.).

        The train was a solution looking for a problem, and they picked the wrong area.

      5. But all this supposes the lower bridge is closed . If the lower bridge can be opened in the short term, while the bridge above is rehabbed/replaced, none of this is necessary.

        I think improvements to the boat could be a good idea, even if the lower bridge is working. With Delridge, I think you can avoid all the traffic issues (the 120 would be OK). For 35th and Fauntleroy (the C and 21) it is possible that they could improve Spokane Street between Avalon and the bridge (in which case they would be fine). Otherwise, they could follow the 50, using Genesee. But it is the north end of the peninsula, where things could be a mess. There could be a gigantic mass of cars backed up on Harbor Avenue and Admiral Way, trying to get to West Marginal Way. There is no easy way to add bus lanes on those roads.

        That’s where the boat would come in. Lease an extra boat, and run them like they do for SeaBus — every 15 minutes — at least during rush hour. There would be no need to run them frequently the rest of the day. Instead you would run all day versions of the 37 (at least to Alki) or the 56 since that is probably overdue anyway. In any event, the boat could alleviate much of the rush hour congestion issue for the area that matters (the north end of the peninsula).

      6. RossB – without a cost analysis I’d give it in tens of million dollars range. Ski gondolas have been built for less, but land in mountains is cheap.

        The boat is tough. It’s pretty far out of the way and only gets you to the waterfront. Most trips don’t need to get to the waterfront.

        Al S. – Gondola speed isn’t enough to look at. Frequency of less than a minute per car is important too. Waiting for a train or bus has to be added to their trip time. S3 gondola systems can go up to 25mph. Larger less frequent aerial trams are fast but infrequent – that hurts the overall trip time.

        Joe – I’d vote to connect to where the highest potential ridership is and (importantly) where it’s constructable. I can see several routes where this could be the case.

        AJ – The Urbanist wrote an article about connecting straight to downtown. Apparently ST considered this 7 years ago. I’d be open to it to skip the extra steps, but we run into the same issues as the boat ride. If we just drop people at the water, they have to walk up the hill to Link or significant bus routes.

        Ross – Gondolas are good rail extenders, which is why this could work well here. I agree light rail isn’t ideal without significant planned density increases.

      7. If the gondola landed near California and Alaska, it would be over a 15 minute ride to SODO station! It’s just too far of a distance to make a slow gondola practical.

      8. It’s not only “awkward” (about which you are certainly correct) it is also deadly slow. Gondolas have to be slow enough to load the cars at the turn around points and any intermediate stations.

        While I think one between PSS and Harborview would be fantastic — it’s only six blocks — going the two miles between the Junction and SoDo — especially a couple hundred feet over the Duwamish waterway would take an excruciatingly long time.

      9. The boat is tough. It’s pretty far out of the way and only gets you to the waterfront. Most trips don’t need to get to the waterfront.

        Yeah, but for most people, Admiral Junction is out of the way, and while so few are headed to the waterfront, it is at least part of downtown. Thousands of people get off at the dock and walk to work. Yeah, it is often a long walk, but it is just what people do when they are downtown.

        SoDo is nowhere — it is simply a means to the end. There would be plenty of people making a two seat ride using the boat. I only see a few hundred (if that) doing the same with the gondola. This is no slam against Admiral Junction. It is about as densely populated as most “high density” parts of West Seattle. The problem is, the city (and certainly the peninsula) is simply not that “spiky”. Density does not suddenly jump in the “urban villages” to levels commonly found in Brooklyn, let alone Manhattan. New six story boxes may be pretty cool to look at (and nice to live in), but they aren’t extremely dense.

        But again, the biggest problem is not on West Seattle, it is the other end. If SoDo was part of downtown now (like South Lake Union) it would be different. But it is still largely industrial, and will likely remain so.

        The only way you get decent ridership is with three seat rides. For that, it really is death by a thousand cuts. So let’s just play that out, for a trip from the Junction to Pioneer Square:

        1) Wait for the bus. Hard to say, of course, but I think the buses along California could combine for maybe 6 minute frequency during rush hour, especially if the gondola is added. I’ll say a wait of 3 minutes.

        2) Ride the bus. Google puts this at 8 minutes.

        3) Walk to the Gondola platform. It is only a two minute walk to the library. I’ll add another minute for the escalator. So 3 minutes.

        4) Wait for the gondola: 30 seconds (This is the cool part).

        5) Ride the gondola. It is 2.7 miles from station to station. My guess is this is a fair distance for a gondola, which is why Al has a point. I’ll assume 25 MPH, which works out to 6 minutes, 30 seconds.

        5) Get off the SoDo platform and go down to the surface. 1 minute.

        6) Wait for Link. 3 minutes (average wait).

        7) Ride Link to Pioneer Square. 6 minutes.

        OK, that works out to be 31 minutes. That’s not too bad, really. But is it really that much better than a bus, going over the lower bridge?

        My guess is that it roughly equivalent to the boat, which means it really comes down to cost. Is it cheaper to lease (or buy) another boat, and run it every half hour (opposite the existing boat) during rush hour, or is it better to build a gondola. The gondola has aesthetic value, which means it has lasting appeal (more than say, a streetcar) but I’m not sure it is worth the investment. There are areas where a gondola makes a lot of sense. I just don’t think this is one of them.

    2. If it began at Hiawatha Playfield, could run over Belvidere Park and almost completely avoid NOMBY (not over my back yard) problems.

      No matter what options are chosen, there will have to be very frequent transit options along Admiral and California to at least SODO Station once the economy restarts. The roads leading to Highland Park are getting congested even now; the future is going to be very congested. There will need to be a massive transit expansion to and from West Seattle once the economy picks up again.

    3. Matt, I’ve gone on record as being a big fan of the Portland Aerial Tramway. Impressed with location and quality of the cars- they look like what would happen if Airstream built buses with suspension hardware instead of tires.

      But I think we both need to talk less about “Gondola” as a category, starting with a link to these:


      Website says Portland Aerial Tram has gone “Essential”. But I know STB has reader/contributors there. Would anybody like to do a posting?

      Mark Dublin

    4. Matt, with the TBM technology of a decade or two ahead- we’re not breaking ground tomorrow- are we sure there’s no chance both Ballard Library and West Seattle could get subway stations a lot faster and cheaper?

      Mark Dublin

      1. The Ballard library would get a station only if there’s a northwestern extension. The representative alignment goes straight up 15th to 45th, and a longer-term option would extend it to 65th & 85th still on 15th. The Ballard Library is at 56th & 22nd. The 14th Avenue alternative would put it even further from the library. The 20th Avenue alternative (which ST has dropped) was outlined only to 45th, and doesn’t say where it might be extended to. There’s also the secondary possibility of turning east for the 45th Ballard-UW line. However, ST’s intention seems clearly to extend it north to 85th instead of anything else. There would only be two stations, 65th and 85th, because that’s Link’s station spacing tradition.

      2. The Northgate bores took under two years (2014 to 2016). The line won’t open until 2021. I think that pretty much suggests that the time and costs of subway construction can’t be helped much by better boring technology.

    5. I was about to mention a gondola except they’re low-capacity and slow. Still, it alludes to a larger issue. The coronavirus shakeup in potential long-term ridership, budgets, trip patterns, and attitudes toward transportation modes is opening up possibilities that weren’t politically feasible before. A gondola alternative might get more consideration than it previously would have.

  7. Regarding the sssinsight piece….

    Sometimes you just can’t make this stuff up:

    “The bill’s failure by a 6-3 vote seemed to catch the Council members by surprise, including Council President Gonzalez who was presiding over the meeting. She immediately tried to engineer a motion to reconsider the vote, until the Council’s parliamentarian reminded her that under the City Charter a final vote on a bill may not be reconsidered until the following Council meeting.”

    Lol. No point of order motion was even required, thanks to the parliamentarian being on top of his/her game. Come on Council President Gonzalez. Pull out your little guidebook and learn the procedural rules.

    1. My topic here being solidarity with individuals and institutions I strongly support, this morning’s news from Seattle City Council may not class as a “Government in Crisis”, but the chord it strikes at this time and date really reverberates like Bela Lugosi on childhood Friday nights.

      Collectively and as individuals, question every legally official decision-maker must ask themselves, as thousands already do: “Does my agency’s performance in office put me in a position where I can, with force of either penalty or decency, issue Order One and expect compliance?”

      Mask issue has from the onset been ‘way past any tech-school’s 3D printer. We the People are being ordered under threat to wear face-gear we can’t either get issued or buy anywhere. I spray my scarf leaving and arriving. But can see where the official tone can militates right-ward.

      Propelled by people and forces whose bank balance assures they never miss a co-pay.

      Mark Dublin

    1. Chicago L has what? Two + combined bridges (Wells Street, Lake Street, maybe one other?), and Portland’s Steel Bridge has railroad, light rail and road traffic. San-Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge had interurban trains on the lower deck as well before 1958. The Brooklyn Bridge carried one of the Subway lines until 1944. I’m sure there are many other examples.

  8. Today on the Eastside I saw two different routes have “Essential Trips Only” on the outside destination sign, alternating with the route number and destination. I wonder if this is system-wide, and on ST buses.

    1. Pierce Transit has had that on their headsigns for weeks now. Their ST coaches (on the Eastside, they operate the 560 and 566) started displaying the message at the same time.

    2. I’ve seen that on other routes. I think the 512 and a Seattle Metro route.

      The Seattle Times says Metro will limit passengers to 15 ($) on 40-foot buses and 18 on 60-foot buses, and will pass up stops until people get off. That came out apparently too late for the News Roundup. It says the buses will say “Coach full, sorry.”, and when there’s space they’ll revert to their normal “Essential trips only”. So that implies that the “Essential” message is on all routes, or will soon be.

      You should take a bow for advocating Metro should cap the number of passengers, because it’s doing so.

      I’m concerned about passing up people and them having to wait half an hour for the next bus, which may be full too.

      1. Here’s a transit employee who says he regularly sees 50 to 60 sleeping homeless people on his train. He said that continuing to allow the homeless to set up camp on transit will continue to cause more people to become infected, and continue the spread of the virus. I believe him. I don’t think transit should even be running. But, if it has to, it should be for essential trips only. And, unlike some in the comment section, I don’t think letting the homeless hang out all day and sleep on transit is essential, or safe.


        Sam. The proud son of these hills who tended his Father’s flock.

  9. As to,

    Translink to lay off 1,500 workers. Canada not doing squat to bail out transit. For once, we’re ahead!

    Well there are things we can do to help:

    1) Sign here: https://bit.ly/SaveTransLink

    2) Canadians only can go to https://bit.ly/MPSaveTransit and contact their Member of Parliament. That’s their job. Their share of the task.

    Now TransLink Junior Minister Bowinn Ma is going to lead a rescue mission to save most of TransLink in the fall. Most being the operative word. Bowinn can’t do it alone and Premier John Horgan & his team also have to worry about BCFerries & at some point BC Transit + municipalities. Something to keep in mind.

    Abundant Transit BC is doing all they can. To use a military aviation analogy, I’m basically an exchange pilot helping out up there. Getting to see how they fight so we have some experienced, seasoned activists when the storm really starts down here in the Puget Sound. Abundant Transit would happily welcome any help they could get.

  10. When you go to the “bad news” link, the consensus comments seem to be: When SDOT’s emphasis is on bicyles and social justice, infrastructure suffers.

    Sam. The most respected transit journalist in the northwest.

    1. I’m not reading the Times’ comments, which are usually not worth reading. What are you saying? That they think the lower bridge should be open to cars? What does “infrastructure suffers” mean?

      1. I’m not saying anything. I just summarized what the readers of the linked article had to say. And the readers seemed to be saying that the maintenance of infrastructure isn’t the highest priority.

      2. “I’m not saying anything.”
        -Sam, STB commenter extraordinaire

        “So is that a paradox or irony? Discuss amongst yourselves.”
        -Linda Richman

      3. “I just summarized what the readers of the linked article had to say.”

        I just said I don’t understand your summary.

  11. BART has posted updated budget and ridership forecasts in light of COVID19:


    They’re projecting between a 30% and 50% drop in revenue next year, and ridership remaining between 30-60% of pre-COVID19 levels even in a year.

    Any thoughts on whether these projections are translatable to our local agencies? Given that we’re experiencing something similar to the Bay Area, combined with the possibility of I-976 being upheld and a Seattle TBD rewneal failing, I’m starting to worry we might be looking at something even worse.

    1. Thanks for sharing this information with the group here. I wonder if KC Metro and/or Sound Transit have put anything together similar to this for their respective agencies. I know the full ST board is supposed to get a capital program update (and possible realignment) report at tomorrow’s meeting. I assume some preliminary revenue shortfall figures as well as future ridership estimates would be part of that discussion. The question remains of course, how much of this information ST wants to disclose publicly at this point. Hell, ST still hasn’t released its 2019 EOY ridership numbers as the Q4 performance report has yet to be published online.

      Anyone have any inside info on Metro and ST?

    2. Interesting!

      Keep in mind that BART is more of a long-distance operation and it primarily serves work trips. That would mean that Sounder and ST Express would be more comparable, as well as longer express bus routes by CT and a Metro.

      I’m not sure what’s in the cards for shorter transit trips. I could see more of the 1-2 mile trips returning but trips under 3/4 of a mile staying away from transit after this is over.

      BART has one big advantage: wider cars with seats away from most doors. Six feet may be challenging but four feet of separation is certainly doable.

      1. Yeah, I realized after posting that BART is more like ST than Metro, and the ridership shows too. BART and ST have both lost ~90% of their rail passengers, while KCM has “only” lost ~70% of bus ridership. I don’t know that that’s hope, but I’ll take what I can get these days.

        Another thing about the budget figures in the BART report is that they’re not factoring in federal assistance, although they do discuss the FTA contribution to MTC (I think their equivalent of PSRC?) and subsequent distributions to individual agencies. It seems like FTA is replacing about half of the annual loss for BART, and likely about half of Metro’s. Maybe there’s hope for another round of funding in the phase 4 federal stimulus that’s been talked about? I hope so, either as part of local government assistance or infrastructure spending.

      2. Metro is begining today with mandatory rider limits in buses. Bus drivers will pass up passengers once buses exceed the threshold, which is low. Some riders will be passed at their stops. Given service cuts, you night be waiting 45 plus minutes for your ride!

      3. MTC also got control if part of the bridge tolls. It would be like PSRC got an allocation from HOT lane and 520 bridge and 99 tunnel tolls and could independently assign them to parallel transit service. It’s actually a clever way to fund transit! Of course, Golden Gate Bridge tolls have subsidized parallel ferry and bridge bus service since the 1970’s (and they don’t go to MTC).

        A Bay Area pun: Your paid bridge toll partly goes into an empty sea (MTC).

  12. Closing the West Seattle high bridge before its replacement is ready means the supporters of making it mostly about cars can no longer say finishing its replacement is a public safety emergency. The public safety emergency now, it would seem, is to figure out the exit strategy for the existing bridge, as in, to safely bring it down before it lands on someone under its own weight, and in a manner the preserves the low bridge. Please tell me the engineers actually had an exit strategy.

    I hope Metro is working up a Plan C for West Seattle routes. The 1st Ave Bridge may be a bridge too far, and too slow, with its cheaped-out one-side-at-a-time opening/closing mechanism. At least it has an HOV lane, but I believe cargo ships have no peak-hour restrictions.

    The mosquito fleet of water taxis serving the West Seattle route is looking like a better and better idea by the day. Getting buses to the dock isn’t that hard. Layover space and turning them around may be a larger challenge. Some live loops might make sense for western neighborhoods and business districts as well as all the Alki condos.

    1. A mosquito fleet would require more boats. Argosy has a few, but only a few. It would cost a lot of money to get more boats, and where would they come from? If you order new ones it would take years to get them manufactured and delivered, if they’re similar to buses.

      1. You only need one more. Two boats could give you SeaBus type service. It is quite analogous, in terms of crossing time. That means two boats that meet in the middle. They take about ten minutes to cross, and about five minutes to turn around (for 15 minute headways). Run the buses every 15 minutes as well (timed to allow plenty of time for folks to transfer).

        Assuming the lower bridge is still availabel, I would only run those boats that often during rush hour. The rest of the time, just run buses.

    2. A big question is how long it will take buses to use the low bridge once we return to post-virus normalcy. If the delays to Metro are significant, a restructure with changes to lane designations seem like the fastest and most effective solution to implement.

      I wonder if park-and-ride capabilities should be enhanced as part of that. A Westwood Village lot to SODO shuttle is a example, along with a shuttle between Harbor Ave lot (Terminal 5?) and SODO.

      I wonder if new temporary ferry docks and services could be useful.

      I wonder if it’s possible to park an existing car ferry longways across a channel and just have cars just drive through it. That way, it could be in use several hours a day — and easily moved at the other times.

      1. WSF might look into running a few car ferry trips during peak hours directly from Vashon and Southworth into downtown Seattle. The downtown ferry dock would be pretty busy, but many of the cars tht leave Vashon and Southworth are ultimately heading to downtown Seattle, not West Seattle.

      2. “WSF might look into running a few car ferry trips during peak hours directly from Vashon and Southworth into downtown Seattle. The downtown ferry dock would be pretty busy, but many of the cars tht leave Vashon and Southworth are ultimately heading to downtown Seattle, not West Seattle.”

        I highly doubt it. Those who are commuting during peak hours and still feel the need to drive their car on the ferry and probably not going to downtown Seattle. They’re going to scattered destinations on mainland, such as Renton, Bellevue, Everett, etc. Many such drivers could avoid the bottleneck by detouring south in their cars and taking I-405 around the lake, or meandering east/southeast and getting on SR-509. Such drivers would not be happy at being forced to endure traffic congestion on downtown Seattle streets, just to get between the ferry and the freeway.

        The logistics of adding yet another car ferry to Colman dock also probably wouldn’t work. The ferry is already full with Bainbridge/Bremerton ferries. Plus, with the longer distance of the Seattle/Vashon route, you’d need to either add more boats or cut frequency.

    3. We really need Washington State Ferry sized boats, the capacity of the water taxis is far too small to accommodate the massive numbers of people who will need to get to work downtown in the absence of metro bus use of the low bridge. If we can’t get them from the State, we should consider talking with the State of Alaska–a Western State with one of the large ferry systems in the nation–about scrounging up a few boats if available.

      We would also need multiple docks to launch the boats from–Fauntleroy Terminal for passengers at southern end of West Seattle and Seacrest Dock for those on the northern end. Too time consuming and potentially too chaotic to bring all the passengers to one dock.

  13. Considering how important I think this matter is, I’m sorry to take so long to comment. I’m trying my hardest to put myself in other people’s places, drawing from experiences of my own. Many of which, I’m of more than two minds about.

    And seriously mindful of the times when luck saved my life in types of situations where my fellow workers got hurt. Man whose route I took on the 7 took lifelong brain damage in an 15-perpetrator piece of mob violence a week before my first shift.

    This morning it was really heartening to read that as a Local, ATU 587 is publicly and officially demanding some better protection for its drivers. Shame on everything, everybody, and every agency for letting this take so long.

    Are there any particular officials at any level, especially County, City, and State, that I can contact in support of this cause?

    But I’m also along way from ready to be classed as a violator for failing to wear face-gear that angry merchants have chased me out of the store with a snarl for daring to request. So far No Harm No Foul. My scarf sprayed and hand-wiped is good-behavior at my co-op grocery.

    Whose own customer-handling should be winning it some public praise from the Governor’s office and beyond for its planned, practiced, and studied handling of customer admittance and behavior.

    And being personally quarantine-conscious by the calendar, it’s been weeks since I set foot on a bus at all. Based on its record, Olympia’s “IT” is probably doing right in its “Advance Only” approach to bus service. Though I can imagine real problems with a larger ridership.

    Here’s my problem today. My own close-range passenger-handling days, taxicab and bus, are far in the past. Eric Stark is a hero. He went for the gun that shot him. I owe my life to fear itself, reflex grab on the big flat blade-back of a strung-out addict’s really dull butcher knife.

    Can still hear him wailing as I fled straight toward the barbed wire fence that really did award me with a half-dozen stitches. “You threw my knife away, man, you threw my knife away!” Also understand that Eric’s personally done some social work.

    By age and health, I doubt KCM would let me drive a base-car. Point being I’m making judgments about a passenger-handling situation others have to face to just earn their living, and I never will again. Bringing in some really unwelcome past awarenesses.

    Obscenity? Somebody multilingual, am I right that US English is probably the World’s wussiest for conveying mortal offense? Everybody else has things they’re forced by law to kill you if you call them. Though Exhibit A for me surely still does have four letters.

    Thanks to editing like STB’s I’m gratefully seeing ever-fewer references to transit’s main purpose of helping the HOMMMMMELESS spread CORONA-15. Leaving my own unstated four letter word as ….. THEM.

    Relatives of mine only hinted at by my parents…for what happened to them, the key four letter word was JUDE! Two syllables, “Y” sound at the front. Though we were far from first in line.

    Original death-machine was an exhaust-modified van-service for people regardless of origin whose mental illness read THEM out of the human race. Apologies to Basil Fawlty, but even worse than complaining about your hotel room, this is EXACTLY the way Nazi Germany got started!

    Whatever it makes me politically, when it comes to crimes against other people, history of every revolution on Earth shows that the more desperate the return of humanity you’re fighting for, the more of your front line needs to be held by brave, decent, intelligent, kindly……PEACE OFFICERS!

    Maybe over-edgy about who-all the Editorial Board of The Seattle Times associates with. “Seattle Is Dying?” Pancake- flat lie. The generous, forward-looking, easy-going assemblage of working America that became my home all those years ago has been dead for at least the last seven.

    Though I’m far from denial that, capital or small “R”, the young people I’m seeing make its Resurrection highly possible.

    Mark Dublin

  14. But also- Lord, but memory’s getting short and fragmented on all fronts these last couple weeks- hasn’t it always been practice across the transit industry worldwide for the operator to unload and “walk through” the bus or train, also picking up trash, and collecting lost items, at every terminal?

    ‘Nother thing we’ve all got to watch out for. Especially on LINK inbound from the Airport, the clear and present danger of getting infected by passengers whose recent plane ride originated where, with connections to or from where-all else? Was last round Tibet?

    Real bitch (universal language for “Justice”) will be discovery that with same aging process as cheese, except also gone virtual, wealth and price themselves will be ferocious vectors.

    Isn’t it really time that, since riches themselves are now vectors (what do you mean their owners have always behaved like that!) we realize our only chance at survival is a public health care system and a steeply graduated income tax?

    Though if it really galls you to watch anybody get something for nothing, law could carefully monitor to be sure somebody isn’t only faking being rich so as to be hit with real Confiscation. Once people start getting away with things, nobody’s ORCA card will ever get checked.


  15. Committee grants Virgin Trains access to tax-exempt bonds

    This isn’t a give away of tax dollars. If Virgin defaults the bond holders are left holding the bag. This seemed like a viable project pre-Covid19. And I expect people will return to Vegas. The question is, can it compete with flying. If oil prices remain low and Boeing/Airbus are giving away planes using government dollars that seems unlikely. However, planes are a notorious germ incubator and trains are a lot more fun. Will be interesting to see how it plays out and similar forces affect the viability of improved PDX to SEA travel.

    1. The big problem with the Los Angeles->Las Vegas train is that it doesn’t actually go anywhere near Los Angeles. It goes only to Victorville, 90 miles to the northeast. That means anyone who rides the train will still have to fight all the LA traffic in their cars, just to get to the train station.

      Comparing with car travel, once you finally get to Victorville, the rest of the drive is all 80 mph open highway, so many will prefer to just keep on driving.

      Comparing with air travel, yes, you do have to fight the LA traffic to get to the airport, but Los Angeles has several airports scattered throughout its Metro area, so for most, driving to the airport will end up being a far shorter drive than driving to the train station. For example, from Santa Monica, why drive 90 minutes to Victorville when you can drive 15-20 minutes to LAX? Yes, security lines can be bad, but they’re seldom *that* bad. Normally, one of the selling points of high speed rail is that you make up for the train being slower than a plane by having the train station be closer to home. Here, it’s the reverse. For most of the LA Metro area, the shorter drive is to the airport.

      Even for those without cars, the train doesn’t look all that attractive. You still need a bus to Victorville, at which point, you may as well just ride a bus from downtown Los Angeles to the Las Vegas strip, a route which Flixbus already runs today, and probably for much lower fare than you’d get by switching to a train halfway.

      That’s not to say the train wouldn’t get any use. There are a lot of people who live in the eastern Los Angeles suburbs for whom the drive to Victorville wouldn’t be too bad, and might decide that 4 hours of gripping a steering wheel is too much. But it won’t be the game changer that many people say it will be, unless the train somehow gets extended into the actual city, at some point in the future (perhaps sharing track with commuter trains at reduced speeds, but still faster than crawling down a clogged freeway in a car).

      1. Good luck going anywhere close to 80mph between Victorville and Vegas on a Friday or Sunday. The appeal here is that people can park (for cheap or free) in Victorville and start their binge weekend two hours early.

        I’ve tried Brightline, and I think they will be successful here. I’d actually love for them to take over Cascades service.

  16. From one of the Translink links:

    He says he still sees many senior citizens with carts on the bus daily performing grocery shopping trips, and urged the public to help their elders so that they do not need to make such trips.

    Seriously folks, neighbors looking after neighbors. We’re currently the old farts on the block and don’t need help. But back when the old lady across the street needed someone to look in daily it got done; no Access van required.

    1. Irony, Bernie: The access vans are a main component of the mosquito fleet taking food to those who want to stay home and can’t afford grocery delivery.

  17. For brevity, I will use the more common phrase “transients” for “non-destinational riders”.

    If they get on the bus to get to places where they can get food, apply for jobs, apply for housing, apply for benefits, have access to restrooms, maybe even have access to showers and laundromats, they are still called “transients”. If they don’t, they are called “campers”. If we have open shelter space for more of them to go to, with facilities to clean up, eat, and sleep, that would be nice. Then, they’d still have to ride the bus to get there.

    I bet most would gladly accept decent shelter over getting on and off the bus all day and night.

    At any rate, does Metro have a program to get even cheap PPE into the hands of riders who don’t have it? That would go much farther than just stigamatizing a portion of the ridership. We are all in this pandemic together, even those who want to re-open things way too fast.

      1. Housing for the poor would require Great Society Federal Government spending to create such housing since private developers have no interest in doing so. However, no such policy is coming forth from right wing crony capitalist conservative executive and legislative branches of government.

  18. Columbia Street between 29th and 12th is one of the streets closed to give more ped/bike space. This is the pollinator corridor I’ve written about a couple times. It’s worth a stroll to see the bioswales and shrubs in the yards and sidewalk strips.

    Another place with the largest bioswales I’ve seen anywhere is Yale Avenue North between Denny and Mercer.

    1. The press conference just wrapped up. The archived video should be available later today on TVW.

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