Gig Cars Awaiting Deployment
“Gig Cars Awaiting Deployment”, by Atomic Taco (Flickr)

This is an open thread.

69 Replies to “News roundup: in trouble”

  1. Amazon is recommending all employees continue to telecommute , instead of heading to their Seattle or Bellevue offices, through at least October. Expect transit ridership to be significantly down for all of 2020, and for some of the temporary service cuts to become permanent.

    1. I wonder if this could be net neutral – Metro had to run a number of peak-direction trips even on all-day routes (26, 28, 40 and 62 come to mind) that approach SLU, and that couldn’t have been cheap. If this approach lets Metro keep transit open for more people (not just well-off techies) and still has enough ridership to justify decent frequency on core routes, I would be OK with it.

    2. It’s not that simple. Service changes are in September and March. What happens if trips get cut in September and Amazon tells people to start going back to work in November? Will Metro be capable of ramping up service quickly enough when that happens.

      I suppose they could drive a hard bargain and try to get Amazon to pay for such extra service. After all, while people are struggling, Amazon stock has hit record highs. But, push to far, you’ll get Amazon saying screw it and running private shuttles instead, resulting in a loss for everybody else.

      1. Ah, true, I hadn’t considered the logistics of schedule changes. One thing to keep in mind is that (if I understand my partner’s description correctly) the WFH requirement runs through June 1, but after that becomes a recommendation (obviously all dates subject to change). Hopefully we’ll start seeing a gradual return of office workers (not just Amazon) which will give everyone a chance to adapt. If things get really crowded, hopefully Metro will have the resources to add some peak trips on an off-schedule basis on the all-day routes like they did with the 271 last year, even if some of the peak routes remain suspended.

      2. I don’t think Amazon really knows when WFH will end. June 1 could easily be one of those dates that every two weeks gets pushed back another two weeks.

        If Metro is smart, when people slowly start going back to work, they’ll keep a few bus drivers on standby so that they can be redeployed to real routes on short notice when overcrowding warrants it. But, that, of course, requires money to pay bus drivers to play cards for a few days/weeks until they’re needed. Depending on how dire their cash situation is, they may have to resort to massive layoffs, in which case, that most certainly will not happen.

    3. The transit system won’t be back to normal until there is widespread application of a vaccine, or widespread, measurable, herd immunity. Neither will occur before October.

      This is just Amazon stating the obvious.

  2. If we’re going to electrify buses, shouldn’t we be spending that money electrifying public transportation buses? School buses make at most ~4 trips/day (if they serve 2 schools with staggered times) and have limited hours that they operate (just AM and PM peak). Metro buses operate much more of the day, meaning that changing to electric with no emissions would have a greater climate impact.

    1. We are – Metro has plans to electrify it’s entire fleet by, I believe, 2035.

      That said, school buses, precisely because they run so few trips per day are technologically easier to make electric. The batteries only need to be able to support two trips before recharging, and a 4-5 hour charge time after running those two trips is entirely acceptable. Plus, if it’s only 40 electric school buses, rather than the entire fleet, they can be used on shorter routes, further reducing the required size of the batteries.

      For buses which are on the road all day, the charging problem is much more difficult. They would either have to charge overnight and store enough power to last all day, or recharge in windows as short as 10-15 minutes during layover. While that certainly can be done (and is being done with a couple of test buses today), the slower charging that I presume the school buses are using involves much cheaper equipment and places much less load on the electricity grid.

      And, converting school buses to electric does have an impact. Not only does it help advance the electric bus industry in general, leading to cheaper, longer-range battery-powered buses down the line – it also avoids the need to expose school children to all that diesel exhaust every day, not only while they’re riding the bus, but also while they’re waiting for it to go home, as buses idle their engines in front of the school.

      1. Excellent points. I agree completely.

        I hope that electric school buses can somehow make noise (of some sort). Maybe a low growl would be nice. School buses are pretty noisy, which is a warning both for the kids and the adults. The kids may adapt quickly to a quiet bus, but the adults might not.

      2. I think most large electric vehicles have a sound for this reason. The fact that the sound can be anything and electronically-synthesized raises the possibility of artistic sounds, a kind of ambient music.

      3. Modern electronic sonics make possible a fantastic range of auditory choices that cannot help but grab the instant attention of every creature in hearing distance.

        If it can still hear when you hit the “off” switch.

        Perhaps the combined whistle-blast of a consist of five 150′ long mountain locomotives cresting a pass in either the coal country or the Rocky Mountains.

        Or the stack-attachment of a contemporary of the Titanic? Or, hey, got it got it got it…..a whole squadron breaking the Sound Barrier?

        From a disk in the dashboard! And tell the kids that whoever causes the least trouble on the ride to school will get to pick the next ride’s sound!

        Tell me this isn’t exactly the kind of thing most likely to emerge from the present run of Covidiation!

        Mark Dublin

      4. Quiet sounds, please. No sonic booms.

        I had a roommate who was a downtempo DJ and I listened to his records, and I found that some fast-paced house music I hate at clubs sounds much better when you play it quietly.

    2. The idea of electric school bus is great. Getting rid of the excessively noise diesel engines is wonderful for the drivers. I don’t think it’s a safety issue but you could play the ice cream truck theme. Or perhaps more apropos to the times, Alice Cooper School’s Out for Summer!

      Here’s link to the Department of Ecology News Release. It has a list of electric school bus grant recipients (an Excel spreadsheet).

      I get spreading out the pork but it would make a lot more sense to concentrate the buses in far fewer districts as they are going to require an entirely different maintenance program and the charging infrastructure being built for a single bus is an inefficient use of funds. One issue is the obvious choices, Seattle, Tacoma and Spokane all contract out their transportation to First Student or Durham School Services.

      Renton and Kent get 5 buses between them and can likely share maintenance. I’d give them the remainder of King Counties allotment so they’d get 7 buses each. Vancouver (23,400 students) gets 3 buses. Thurston County gets 6 for two districts that total 25,500 students. Nothing for Central Valley School District (Spokane Valley) 14,000 students? And what about Yakima, 16,000 students. Seems there would be ample equity divvying up the 40 buses between these four counties. Some of the current selections make no sense; Republic with a total enrollment of 350 students for example. There are high schools with more students than the entire population of this district.

      1. I was thinking about the ice cream truck songs. Please God, no. Alice Cooper would be cool, though (at least for the high school kids).

        It is actually an issue that all electric vehicles are dealing with. So I guess by the time they actually use them (next September at the earliest) all electric cars will have to make noise. Several people have independently suggested a sound like the old Jetsons vehicles. Works for me.

      2. Use ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ in the morning,
        ‘School’s Out’ for the afternoon.

      3. Lol. Love those ideas, Jim C. Guess we’re showing our ages here, but it’s all good in my book. Maybe the kiddies will be inspired to actually google Pink Floyd and Alice Cooper. (Just please, please don’t anyone suggest Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher”.)

  3. Carla’s blog post definitely encapsulates my feelings – thanks for sharing it. Watching the empty buses go by from outside does hurt, as does walking by the indefinitely-shuttered libraries. I hope that we can get to a point soon where riding the bus (and visiting the library) is possible again without endangering other people for non-essential trips, and the uncertainty of what public transit service will look like in months or years definitely is a source of stress.

  4. AG Bob Ferguson’s careful ballot title wording will be used to strike down all of I-976. That ballot title had three whoppers in it. It said I-976 would 1) “limit annual motor vehicle-license fees to $30” (it would not have done that, even if it were fully effective), 2) “except voter-approved charges” (wrong again — some of those would have been reduced or eliminated were the measure have gone into effect “as is”), and 3) “base vehicle taxes on Kelley Blue Book value” (as Judge Ferguson already ruled, it’s unconstitutional to require contracts with private companies that way). Just like when the AG torpedoed I-695 with its defective ballot title, Bob Ferguson rescued us all from I-976.


    1. In politically charged cases like this, each judge will rule in favor of the outcome they want. Then, they’ll find the legal reasoning to justify that outcome. The notion of judges neutrally applying the law on a case like this simply does not exist.

      I don’t know enough about the makeup of the Washington court to say who’s going to win. I would think that those who wanted I-976 upheld would have opposed the injunction, so that’s something.


    Kind of pathetic to think of what would happen if Spokane’s politics of 1917 got time-traveled to Seattle in 2020. Joe Biden’s folks would go sheet-white at the thought of being called “Progressive”. After barely escaping being obliterated by Newt Gingrich who knew how to handle liberals.

    Though throughout the movement’s history, worst Socialist persecution is always from other Socialists. If a Stalinist was pinned down with one round left in his AK-47, he’d be compelled to shoot the Socialist to his left instead of the Capitalist to his right.

    I’m curious this morning as to whether Spokane’s BRT fleet will indeed have left-hand doors. Same question for ours. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Eugene. Has anybody been there lately?

    Because from what I remember seeing there, anybody serious about Bus Rapid Transit, when all Distance has once again become Social, really “worth it” to take Amtrak, or Amtrak plus highway bus, to see Eugene’s single-route busway.

    Note how nice the “fit” between Eugene’s busway and the neighborhoods it goes through. And a couple of other fascinating things about it. One, the fleet runs single-track, much more common for street rail.

    And two, to prevent either body-damage or drivers being forced to slow to a crawl to align with platforms, vertical platform edge is shielded with yellow fiberglass for the tires to rub against.

    Left-hand doors, I’ve always considered a waste of seating space, in addition to a more expensive bus, price and maintenance-wise. As has always worked at Bellevue Transit Center, if right of way is as fully reserved as it should be, special signal at the busway’s entrance should be enough.

    Where buses share right-of-way with streetcars, some systems fit the steering axle with retractable a roller to keep the coach centered. Adding cost and complexity- but if it’s carrying heavy enough passenger loads in close enough quarters, maybe worth it.

    More than anything else in transit, Bus Rapid Transit’s success depends on there being a Will to give it the Way its performance demands.

    Mark Dublin

    1. The triple calamity of 1914-1945 (WWI, the Depression, and WWII) caused a significant reduction in inequality and increase in social-support baselines across most industrialized countries. Thomas Pickety in “Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century” says that reversed a centuries-long pattern of rising inequality (because investment income paid more than wage income). The calamity wiped out old fortunes, and bread lines and Hoovervilles made the public demand a structural fix. WWII solders and the home war effort brought classes together for a common purpose, and this mentality persisted in the 1950s and 60s (the “Great Society”, non-polarized political parties, et al).

      This began breaking down in the 1970s in the US and inequality started rising again, and the 2008 recession finally killed it off according to Pickety.

      Covid19 is such a big calamity it could usher in a new age of of focusing on the common good and reducing inequality and non-corruption. (Following the examples of Scandinavia and New Zealand — which have exceptional levels of this — and to a lesser extent Canada, Australia, Germany, and maybe Japan.) However, polarization and right-wing misinformation is so strong that I fear this might not happen.

      1. The potential presidency that could have focused on the common good, reducing inequality, and non-corruption had to suspend his campaign due to lack of support in the primary under some questionable voting conditions, e.g., closed polling places, questionable vote counts, in addition to corporate media bashing and consent manufacturing to his senile opponent. Biden, while arguably not as bad as Trump, he doesn’t, based on past positions, appear to be the second coming of FDR and help bring forth such a needed new age, assuming he wins.

      2. When was the last time that the US had a regular weekly train rider as Biden has been when he was in the Senate? Kennedy? Eisenhower? Truman?

        Wouldn’t be advantageous to transit to actually put in a president who actually has used it regularly as a rider?

      3. The potential presidency Cannaethat would have lost the House

        There, fixed it for you.

    2. I don’t think anyone seriously considered Biden “Progressive”, he’s more of a ‘let’s go back to normal’ type which is conservative by definition. I think of it like blue MAGA.

      Great topic for Mayday. IWW was also the victim of massacres in Everett and Centralia not long after the event in Spokane. I always like to point these out to the right-wingers who feel like their freeze peach is being attacked. It was leftists who fought (and often died) for the right for free speech.

    3. The landscape has gotten more progressive in the past three years and Biden and the other D’s have moved along with it. They’re the first indication that a new cooperative era might come back. Elizabeth Warren’s vision comes closest to it: it’s based on fairness and a level playing field without getting into the identity-politics and anti-capitalist extremes of the far left. To some observers it looks left but it’s really centrist like the countries I’ve mentioned. More people may recognize this over time, or they may not. Both Warren and Bernie have pulled the Overton window left and Biden has followed. He’s more of a 20th century centrist, but that’s a good part of what we need.

      Historical conservatism means supporting incremental reforms rather than violent revolution. It doesn’t mean refusing progress or being reactionary. In that sense, Biden, Warren, Sanders, Obama, and the Clintons all have differing levels of it. The Republicans have become radical reactionaries and grudge-holders. It’s hard to see historical conservatives in there, although it’s probably in lesser-known ones we don’t hear about.

      I don’t know what “blue MAGA” means so I can’t apply it. There’s nothing in the mainstream left corresponding to the racism, xenophobia, and “us-vs-them” mentality of MAGA supporters. The far left has gotten delusional and intolerant in some ways, but it has not affected the mainstream left in the way MAGA has taken over the mainstream right. (With commendable exceptions like David Frum.)

      1. Thanks for bringing up Elizabeth Warren, Mike. The Democrats’ only chance of winning might be to make her, as only the Vice President can be, the Commander in Chief of the Senate.

        Bringing with it her own unparalleled ability to make the banking industry sit on the chair and can the roaring when she shakes her own chair at it and snaps her whip. And attribute that could be positive if she handles it carefully. She used to be a Republican.

        As was Metro’s founder James R. Ellis. MAGA might just need a change: better resonance is MRRA (sounds like a lion growling, doesn’t it?) Make Republicans Republican Again can hark back to the days of our (last) Civil War when that party’s Radical branch honored the Second Amendment with artillery, repeating rifles, and battleships.

        Joe Biden? By same history, a lot of Northerners, including the Union commander at Gettysburg who founded Bowdoin College and was also a minister, finally took pity on the hardships those horrible Radicals inflicted on the slave owners.

        Achieving a compromise lasting to this day. Keep slavery but rename it the (insert State name here) Department of Corrections. How much more Moderate can you get?

        Mark Dublin

      2. Unfortunately, Mark, the Vice-President has no real power in the Senate except as a tie-breaker. John Adams spoke so much in the first Senate session back in 1788 that the Senate passed a rule that the Vice-President or President Pro Tempore chairing the Senate may not speak to a topic but only rule on motions. Garrulous John ruined it for all following Veeps.

        The chair may cast a vote on a tied item of business.

      3. “There’s nothing in the mainstream left corresponding to the racism, xenophobia, and ‘us-vs-them’ mentality of MAGA supporters.”

        Oh, you haven’t stayed up with twitter in the Great Tara War. The BidenBros (really not about Biden, but about hating the BernieBros) are every bit as vicious and vacuous as people’s worst impressions of the BernieBros.

        The legacy media have certainly tried hard to exercise their free speech rights by staying silent until this week. We, as a transit blog, have a ready excuse to stay out of that mess.

        On transit, Biden is awesome. We said that about a former mayor, and then the preponderance of accusers pushed him out. Durkan is getting better and better, but was a slow start. I don’t know if any other candidates will be better on transit if Biden gets pushed out by his (alleged) past.

        One good thing about this virus: The women doing photo-ops with Biden will get to keep their distance from him.

        Whatever you might think of the credibility of the various groups involved, the #MeToo movement played a role in Metro/ST rolling out their “Report it to Stop it” campaign, a vast improvement over the “see something say something” posters.

  6. Snohomish County Link line and stations: ST provided lemons with a spine in the freeway envelope with reduced development potential and a barrier to pedestrians; now, with the deviation to Everett Boeing, the spine will have scoliosis.

    1. Brian H. Is it by any chance true that after the Supreme Court delivered Tim Eyman’s head on a plate with a lemon in his mouth, the Legislature joined with the Democratic Governor to write his Initiative into law verbatim? Leaving transit and the rest of our State stuck with him a lot longer than we’ll have Covid-19? Lot worse intestinal damage! Prevention?

      And eddiew. Since tracks will be elevated, how much operating time can the Everett Boeing deviation possibly cost transit? But more important, let’s discuss the correct mode of north-south public transportation between Bellingham and- I’m willing to “flex” a few miles- Tacoma or Olympia.

      My own metric is the number of people whose travel speed along that stretch of Interstate 5 is governed by their location in a six-passenger automobile, especially a two story high SUV, listed by KIRO highway reports as going twenty or less. Every. Single. Rush. Hour.

      Based on recent overseas experience in Southern Sweden, I’m now ready to admit that we may need another vehicle type in addition to Link: A very fast electric train a couple of caliber larger. And over the distances in question, especially with an aging ridership, bathrooms being no joke. Let’s hear your reply.

      And Al S: We’ve got no guaranteed protection whatever from a repeat of the 6.8 magnitude earth-quake we experienced 2/28/2001. Next one could be bigger. Perhaps more catastrophic, I’m looking at shame I can’t outlive over the Government this year’s graduating class will inherit from me. At every level. To put it physiologically, Solid Waste Happens.

      What mops, high pressure hoses, and double-bottom tanker trucks full of Lysol are for. But really pertinent historic context:

      Transit history has been through worse.

      Mark Dublin

    2. This is Everett’s attempt at making lemonade from lemons. While some decry the fact that it will take too long to get from Everett to Seattle, that isn’t what subways do. Subways serve urban areas. Give Everett some credit for at least trying.

      The problem is, Everett is too tiny. It is a small, sprawling city, half the size of Spokane. It isn’t much bigger than Yakima. Does anyone think Yakima should build a light rail line? Of course not.

      This is the fundamental problem with “the spine”. It is neither here, nor there. It is, at its best, commuter rail at subway costs. Except that it isn’t, because there are too many stops. This is a desperate attempt to get subway type ridership, even though it runs through an area that should — at best — have frequent buses (even though it doesn’t yet). It is an attempt to merge the two, as if duct taping a claw hammer to a sledge hammer magically gives you both. No, it doesn’t. It give you worthless crap.

      1. There really are not that many more stops than on a regular commuter railroad. Have you ever ridden the BNSF Aurora Line in Chicago (to just grab one out of the air)? It stops about every two or three miles through the inner suburbs and even has four stations in West Chicago. Once you get beyond Downers Grove the stations stretch out, but there are WAY more stations between Aurora and Union Station than there are to be between Everett and downtown Seattle: 23 to Naperville which is 28.4 miles from Union Station. That’s essentially one per mile.

        Link will have 17 for roughly 35 miles or 2 miles per station average.

        So the “commuter train” stops more frequently than the “subway”.

        The north end of The Spine is being built for the future.

      2. There are actually three versions of the Aurora Line. One makes all the stops, one is an express, and one is somewhere in the middle. From Naperville, the express train stops three times before getting to downtown Chicago. This sort of system is common with commuter rail.

        In any event, I really wasn’t talking about the stop spacing. The stop spacing is definitely similar to commuter rail. As a result, it will have similar ridership (poor). I was referring to the “detour” and the fact that in much of Everett, the train does not follow the fastest path to downtown Everett. It moves away from the freeway, in what I can only assume is an attempt to serve neighborhoods. But then again, you have a point. There are only two planned stations between Mariner and Everett Station. One is by a freeway, and the other by the airport. Even if they add the third station (at Evergreen and Airport Road) that is very few stations. Making matters worse, even after the train does all that work to leave the freeway path, it heads right back to it, rather than following Evergreen Way all the way up. That means other than the one station, it is unlikely there will be anything else.

        It really will be the worst of both worlds. Too slow end-to-end to be good commuter rail, and yet it doesn’t serve trips within Everett very well either. But yeah, it resembles commuter rail more than anything, which is why it is ridiculous (who spends this much money on commuter rail?).

      3. That’s an interesting service model. Thanks for the information.

        Essentially they have three “zones” with a targeted service level for each zone. Pretty smart and of course only possible with that sumptuous three track main line and BNSF keeping all but I/M hotshots off it during the peaks.

    3. “This is Everett’s attempt at making lemonade from lemons.”

      Everett and Snohomish County created the lemons. They and Pierce are the ones who pushed the Spine vision that underlies Sound Transit’s creation, their boardmembers voted for light rail technology and Link’s specs to fulfill it, and Everett and Snohomish are the main reason ST3 Link goes to Everett Station with the Paine Field detour rather than terminating at 164th or 128th. They imposed it on ST, not the other way around. So if they’re making lemonade, they’re making it out of their own lemons.

      1. Snohomish seems pretty happy with their projects. Lynnwood should be a smashing successful, with CT orienting service to 185th and Lynnwood TC and all the cities (plus Shoreline) making a good effort at TOD and station access. I don’t see them backing away from the the Paine divergence, it’s central to their long term growth & economic development plans

        Pierce has some regret, with Executive Dammeier making some noise about bus lanes on I5 rather than Link, but I don’t see where they can back away.
        East Pierce: Sounder needs the capacity investment, unless you want to just reject the long term ridership forecasts. Puyallup and Sumner are locked in.
        Tacoma: A city that considers itself a peer to Seattle isn’t going to settle for a bus shuttle to Link long term, even if the service is adequate. Tacoma is certainly all-in on the Tacoma Dome extension.
        Rest of Pierce … not really big enough to matter either way? Route 1 upgrades look promising.

        So while everyone complains about taxes, I don’t see either subarea considering their ST3 projects as lemons.

      2. @Mike — Good Point. This was all Everett’s doing.

        @AJ — They won’t consider them lemons until years after they are built, and hardly anyone uses them. That is the nature of the beast. Nobody drives off the lot with a car and thinks “I just bought a lemon”.

      3. @MikeOrr

        Your post above regarding the “lemons” is full of a bunch of revisionism. I would suggest you go all the way back and read some of the old documents from the early 1990s. A starting point might be the 1993 FEIS to the 1992 Regional Transit System Plan, the proposal that emerged from the work done by the JRPC. Pay particular attention to the second volume’s governmental responses section and you’ll see that Snohomish County and the cities within the county all had serious questions about various elements of the system plan. The table had already been set by the time the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority was formed later that year. Hell, even the light rail concept can be traced all the way back to then King County Councilmember Greg Nickels’ advisory vote in 1988. The ownership of the “lemons” is on these early planning days, which is shared by all stakeholders of that era.

        Here’s just one example, taken from volume two of the aforementioned FEIS. This is an excerpt taken from the PSRC’s response, who firmly supported the Rail/TSM Alternative:

        “Rail/TSM Altematlve

        “The Rail/TSM Alternative includes the complete HOV component and bus service expansion under the TSM Altematlve. The Rail/TSM Alternative concept builds on the TSM Alternative by providing high capacity transit linking the region’s major centers with a fixed guideway rail system. An additional 38,000 park-and-ride stalls would be provided at stations to enable commuters to drive to a station and then transfer to rail. The rail component of the alternative includes 124 miles of rapid rail and 40 miles of commuter rail in the three major corridors, linking all three counties. The Rail/TSM Alternative is projected to attract 157 million riders by 2020; a 96 percent increase over 1990 ridership and a 41 percent increase over the No-Build option. About 30 percent of the regional population is forecast to be within a 30 minute transit ride of the regional centers (compared to 20 percent for TSM and Transitway/TSM) and 40 minutes would be the average travel time to those centers (compared to 46 minutes for TSM and 45 minutes for Transitway/ TSM). Based on a comparison of travel times to and from a selected group of regional activity centers, the Rail/TSM Altemative would provide travel-times savings from three to eight times greater than the TSM or Transitway/ TSM alternatives. Rail transit stations would provide a visible and substantial investment in rapid transit service at most of the candidate regional centers. By the year 2020, rapid rail service would link the downtowns of Everett, Lynnwood, Redmond, Seattle, Renton, lssaquah, Burien, SeaTac, Federal Way, Tacoma, and Bellevue as well as candidate regional centers at Overlake, Totem Lake, University District, First Hill/Capital Hill, and Northgate. Commuter rail would link the downtowns of Seattle, Tukwila, Kent, Auburn, and Tacoma. The increased accessibility to these centers would generate significant market potential for compact, high-density employment, commercial, and residential activity.


        “Although a regional transit system would be only one of many transportation and land use planning actions for managing growth, the type and extent of transit investments would have a significant impact on achieving the VlSION 2020 objective of concentrating growth within major regional centers. The Rail/TSM Alternative would support the VISION 2020 centers growth strategy better than the No-Buiid, TSM, and Transitway/FSM Alternative. Under the Rail/TSM Alternative, more candidate regional centers would be served with high-quality, high-speed transit service and the substantial visible commitment to transit would promote compact, high-density growth within major regional centers.”

        I think the “lemons” argument has merit, as does the “making lemonade” from said lemons. But Snohomish County and its incorporated cities did not grow those lemons.

        There’s one caveat here, that being the Paine Field diversion. Snohomish County leadership grew that lemon, but that has been growing for so long that it’s the size of the tree it has been growing on. Not literally of course, but I’m sure you get the point being made and I’m just trying to stick with the underlying metaphor.

        P.S. I find it…. interesting(?) to read that 2020 date in the statement by the PSRC.

    4. I was today just pondering how much more strategic it would have been for the Tacoma and Everett tentacles of Link were instead designed to be for eventual Western Washington high speed rail as initial investment segments. ST could have operated as short train units with transfers until other funding sources get found. The trains could have gone 80 mph rather than 55.

      I don’t think that the spine is a bad concept. It’s just that slow light rail is not the most strategic technology.

      1. You can’t get up to 80 mph with a two mile station separation; it’s a huge waste of energy for not much improvement in transit times.

      2. I imagine Al was writing about using the existing railway path. I think he is right — it is how Baltimore connects to D. C. (Baltimore is twice the size of Tacoma, and way, way more densely populated). There is sufficient distance between several of the stops to get up to full speed. There would also be the ability to skip stops, which means you could have an express (this would be essential for Portland to Seattle high speed rail, since it won’t stop in Puyallup, Sumner, etc.). The point is, you leverage the other work, just like they did on the East Coast.

        Then you complement with bus service, and create a much better network for the South Sound.

      3. It’s certainly possible to build three or four tracks on a line that would allow for different combinations of local, limited and express trains when the right switching tracks are laid. We’re instead building all of Link with just two tracks — which is fine when trains only go 55 mph as a top speed.

        The thing is that we are really limited at having track corridors in our region. That really makes high speed rail almost unattainable without building a new corridor.

        So why are we building a new slower Link tentacle from Lynnwood to Everett or Federal Way to a Tacoma rather than build a core segment that can handle both faster trains with local stops as well as an express train that can grow into a longer high-speed rail system?

        I realize that this is a radical rethinking when it comes to ST3 funding as opposed to other sources. But with ST3 in apparent financial shambles, it’s a way to get broader state support and faster trains and the “spine” operational — and move the region closer to high-speed rail.

        Personally, I’d be willing to endure a slower Link service to a high speed train service that begins at new Federal Way or Lynnwood “Union Station” that has trains regularly running rapidly south or north to more and further places.

  7. Jarrett Walker’s post is unsettling but he’s writing the truth. Transit has likely been changed. We don’t yet fully fathom how much or in what ways it has, but it has been changed enough by the pandemic to where we can’t ignore it.

    1. It has been changed, and it’s hard to tell what long-term ridership and travel patterns will be. It will probably warrant reductions in the medium-term and long-term plans. But we must guard against calls to decimate the transit network in the name of lower taxes, unrealistic lack of demand, or social distancing. The network was decimated from the 1960s to the 1990s, and we mustn’t go back to that and have a level of service like Atlanta or many American cities. There needs to be a good baseline so that transit is practical and a viable alternative to driving, and doesn’t shut out the carless from participating in society. In the absence of a formula I go with what Vancouver and other countries have.

      A reasonable focus is to push hard on finishing ST2 Link and enacting some reduced form of Metro Connects, and Community Transit’s and Pierce Transit’s long-term plans. That would give us a good baseline for whatever our travel patterns evolve into. And if it overserves some corridors, well, that’s better than the chronic underservice we’ve had, which is destructive and corrosive to society. I’m less concerned about ST3: even its best alternatives are mediocre, and we can do without it in a pinch. ST and Metro already have pre-ST3 plans that can be dusted off and would be a significant improvement over the status quo.

  8. Closing streets to cars… talk about rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

    It’s great that while we’re all just waiting around to die or face financial ruin that we can go walk or bike in the middle of the street. That’ll make a positive difference.

    How about we don’t encourage people to go out since there is a freaking pandemic ripping through our country?

    1. People need light, air, and exercise, and a way to walk to necessities. This is about a makeshift enlarging of the sidewalks to allow people to maintain a 6-foot distance as they walk and pass each other. Most of our sidewalks are too narrow for that. It also gives protected bike lanes, which is an intrinsic way to maintain distance while traveling and exercising and has a low energy/carbon impact. It’s de facto moving toward the robust bike-trail network that an increasing number of US and international cities have and Seattle is behind on. Even if the changes are temporary, it moves the Overton window in terms of people experiencing and seeing non-car rights of way on the ground and their benefits. Even if they do allow cars for local access.

    2. We’ve already succeeded in flattening the curve on the west coast. Now we need to look forward. How do we safely live our lives? More are working from home, gyms are closed, and long-distance travel is discouraged. We need safe spaces close to home for exercise and recreation. The chances of outdoor transmission is extremely low, especially if social distancing is observed.

      1. You might want to hold off declaring “Mission Accomplished” given WA state’s numbers this past week. We’re not close to being through this yet.

        And while transmission may be lower when outdoors, it ain’t zero.

      2. As a State we’re doing OK. King County however has “succeeded” only in lowering the rate from ~150/day to ~100/day. That’s still a number that boarders on explosive growth with situation normal. It would be nice to see numbers broken down by city. There’s also hot spots like meat processing plants in eastern Washington that need to be treated differently than say Whatcom County. Inslee’s done a good job given there is no manual on how to deal with this. But it’s time to fine tune policy on a more granular level that State wide.

  9. From the Everett Herald piece on
    Snohomish County’s future Link station location planning:

    “The county’s planning department is so far ahead, their submission surprised Sound Transit, which is years from drawing up location preferences to present to its board of directors.”

    Assuming the reporter of this piece got the story straight, gee, perhaps, just perhaps, the folks at ST would’ve recognized that Snohomish County has been waiting in line for a very long time already just for the second expansion phase. Thus, the county wishing to get a jump on the required detailed planning for the third phase that will finally connect Everett (as adopted in ST3, pre-public health and economic crises) is completely understandable and, imo, commendable.

    1. Yes it is commendable!

      It is a stark contrast to those local governments that start TOD planning only when construction has begun and get pushback from recently-arrived residents — or worse obsess mainly about mitigating the “negative impacts” of a station by demanding that stations belong below ground.

      As long as there are arrangements to avoid inflated right-of-way and construction mitigation costs, setting a visionary tone for a station can only improve its value to a community in many complementary ways — both inspiring great investments and quieting opposition to those great investments.

  10. Since this is an open thread day…

    I’m presently in the process of polling my family members to see how many of them have actually received their 2020 CARES Act recovery rebate payments. As of today at 5 PM PDT, my spouse and I (joint return taxpayer) have not received an expected payment date per the IRS’ portal. The same is true for our 80+ and 90+ year-old mothers. (We checked the portal for them as well.)

    I mention this as the grifter-clown in the WH signed the CARES Act into law on March 27th. Today is May 1st. His fellow grifter at Treasury has repeatedly failed to meet his own stated committments to getting these payments into taxpayers’ bank accounts/hands in short order. So here we are a full month later and Treasury is telling us that some 88 million taxpayers* have received their payments/checks to date. I can’t keep from wondering if those taxpayers in swing (and red) states went to the front of the line. My spouse’s siblings here in WA and my own siblings back in NY and NJ, at least the ones from whom I’ve heard back so far, are all still waiting on their stimulus funds. I’m anxious to hear back from my siblings in NC, SC, VA and FL to see what they have to report.

    Anyway, I’m curious to hear about other STB readers’ experiences in this regard.


    For more info on the CARES Act provisions:

    1. Mine showed up the 29th, via direct deposit. Which is rather surprising, given I haven’t filed taxes since 2017 and didn’t find out they have a way to supply direct deposit info without having filed until the second week of April.

    2. Mine got deposited the exact same minute I got my 2019 tax refund on April 15, about 10 dats after I filed.

      A few days ago I also got a bilingual form letter that Trump made the IRS send (abuse of his mail privileges?). He wanted to get personal credit (and not give any credit to Congress for sending the bill for him to sign). I’m expecting Trump to send out lots of form letters to boast about his difficult task of signing bills. That pen is so heavy! Lol

    3. I received it on the 15th via direct deposit. I thought my income was too high to qualify but I got a reduced payment. My local relative who’s on social security and doesn’t file taxes got hers today.

    4. Nothing here, and I am eligible for the full amount. A significant portion of my disabled friends are saying they have received their stimulus funds either. They were supposed to be the first group tended to, as they are by definition most in need.

    5. The only thing that keeps me from being part of the tin-foil-hat crowd concerning this, and believe me that would be an easy jump, (having had my formative years in the NYC metropolitan area), is the state of their IT systems.

      Most of my IT career was as a Cobol programmer, with a number of years working on Washington state systems as a contract programmer. (Y2K was very good to me.)

      So I temper my wariness with a bit of understanding.

      I will have to conduct my survey of my family and friends now.
      (I know of one of my Trump supporting friends has, and I flamed her about it, that it’s why she got hers, and I haven’t.)


        PERFORM Give-Obeisance-To-Trump THROUGH Trump-Is-Re-Elected.

    6. Sincerely, thanks for your feedback, folks. I see at least I’m not the only one who has not reveived my/our advanced rebate payment as of May 1st.

      My own polling results thus far are as follows:

      My spouse’s six siblings, all in WA – only two have responded, both “no payment” like us

      My eight siblings, mostly on the East Coast – responded as follows:
      NY (2) – “no payment” reported by both
      NJ – no response yet
      VA – “payment received”
      NC – “payment received”
      SC – no response yet
      FL – “payment received”
      WA – “no payment” just like me

      I also will reiterate that both my elderly mother as well as my spouse’s elderly mother, both on SS of course, have yet to receive a payment date per the IRS portal. (They are currently both tax filers.)

      1. The pattern I’m coming up with is close to yours Tlsgwm. If your socsecno was issued when you were living in the NY area, as was mine, that prefix is last on the list. (Unless you live in Kentucky, then everyone there was first on the list)

      2. Haha. Yeah I was born and grew up in NYC. Still, so did all of my siblings, so it can’t be the SS# thing. It may just be a fluke but the pattern seen in my limited polling group does seem rather non-random. (Taking off my tin foil hat now.)

  11. In the name of fairness, have to note down here. This afternoon I called King County Metro information and asked how Travel Essentiality is being monitored and controlled.

    Was told that what the sign on the bus is saying is all that needs to be said by anybody. No, drivers are not empowered to “grill” people. Not insignificant that one of our Founding documents is entitled “Common Sense.” Maybe because it’s Nature’s own prevention and cure for hereditary royalty.

    Mark Dublin

  12. Went out biking the other day and rode by Aurora. I saw an E with a “Sorry, Full” sign. That is first and only bus I’ve seen like that. Most of the buses are so empty that the new rules are largely meaningless.

    Anyone else see a “full” bus.

    1. I haven’t seen one but I’ve been on a 131 southbound that became full somewhere around I-90 or Holgate. The E is the most likely route for it to happen. The population along it and its long length man it should be equivalent to two or three routes in the number of buses it has. Limiting ridership to 50 per hour is a lot more problematic on Aurora than on 65th street or where two or more routes overlap for double/triple capacity.

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