Sound Transit double decker bus servicing downtown Seattle on 5th avenue during Covid 19 shut down.
Bless you, PatricksMercy, for posting to the Flickr pool during the pandemic.

This is an open thread.

69 Replies to “News roundup: potentially grim”

  1. I think some of the links got placed in out of order, I couldn’t find the Mountlake Terrace timelapse.

  2. I’m expecting a backlash at trying to make some of the Stay Healthy streets permanent. In particular, there are lots of streets that are jogs in these routes where the streets are closed for only 100 or 200 feet. I think part of the issue is also the use of the term “closed” when there are still people who drive on it for access not only to their own homes but to other homes just a block or two away,

    I think the program has also been way too rushed to make it permanent, it feels very much like the City feels it can close any street it wants on a whim — and people who live near or on these streets have no voice.

    1. Backlash from some residents living on adjacent, unclosed streets maybe, but the closures don’t really affect mobility to the vast majority of residents (positively or negatively). These closures bring back side streets to their intended us for local residents.

      I assume SDOT will be doing traffic studies on adjacent unclosed side streets.

      1. SDOT usually rolls out mailings and has public responses for something as minor as a new crosswalk signal. Now a resident wakes up, gets in their car, turns a corner and finds their path blocked! This level of disruption is fine temporarily but it is dangerously local government overreach as a permanent thing.

        The public deserves a better process for making permanent changes.

    2. Local access for residents, deliveries, and first responders is preserved. This is a complete no brainer. How large is the constituency of people who NEED to drive on side streets instead of nearby arterials?

      Official materials have also frequently used the term “closed to most traffic.” The only people who really think cars are fully banned now are completely brain dead MyNorthwest culture warriors.

      1. The signs just say “closed”. No matter what other materials say, the sign is what seems to be the legal regulation.

        And what is defined as “through traffic” for a 100-foot street closure?

      2. If what’s being closed are side streets instead of arterials, who mostly drives on obscure side streets deep in residential neighborhoods? Local residents. So the same 99% of drivers who used to drive those streets, will still drive on them. These “closures” seems to be more a symbolic PR gesture than anything.

        In a related story, NYC just marked 58 days without a single pedestrian death in the entire city. (Bing it if you don’t believe me). The longest since record keeping. How is that related to the above story? The NYC statistic proves pedestrians are now safer even without the closure of streets.

      3. Actually, lots of people cut through residential streets. I observe it all the time. The problem is that so many people just do whatever their phone says and navigation software thinks nothing of telling people to cut through neighborhoods because some algorithm thinks it’s 10 seconds faster or avoids one stoplight.

        I honestly think even a virtual street closure that just makes the street seem closed to Google, without anything physical on the ground would provide 80% of the benefit.

        There ultimately needs to be laws allowing cities to electronically designate streets as “no through traffic”, and navigation software should be required to respect it.

      4. This blog has gone through thousands of gallons of ink to demonize culdesacs. Won’t closing residential streets turn cross streets into culdesacs?

        (And to those who say ink isn’t used in online blog posts and comments, what’s making the letters black, then?)

      5. Many of the streets In my neighborhood already had new street humps and signage to mark them as greenways. With the physical changes, an outright “closure” seems needless.

      6. Speed bumps don’t stop navigation algorithms, who don’t know they exist, from telling people to cut through. Road closures do.

      7. I am (gulp) at least partly Team Sam on this one. One of the great virtues of classical urbanism over suburban sprawl is that the street grid hierarchy is intrinsically superior in every imaginable way to the cul-de-sac/office park and collector-road model. Which is not to say that you can’t selectively ban isolated parts of that grid to through-traffic to advance other goals (a greenway), but the way you go about it should be deliberate, transparent, and part of some stated overarching policy goal. This is none of those things.

        The idea, separate from these closures but sometimes posited here, that *all* side streets are for local traffic only is utter nonsense, deeply anti-urbanist and anti-environmental, and bad economics. Forcing people driving to work to idle on arterials when there is an accident or closure or traffic jam just so children can treat the right-of-way as a playground is absurd. Walk to the playground and look both ways when you cross the street just like good little city kids the world over. Or ask your folks to find you a house on a nice little cul-de-sac in the ‘burbs.

      8. The idea, separate from these closures but sometimes posited here, that *all* side streets are for local traffic only is utter nonsense, deeply anti-urbanist and anti-environmental, and bad economics. Forcing people driving to work to idle on arterials when there is an accident or closure or traffic jam just so children can treat the right-of-way as a playground is absurd.

        Oh, so it is good for the environment if we have more cars, capable of getting to work faster by using the side streets? Give me a break. Congestion leads to better transit (and other alternatives to driving) which is definitely pro-environment.

        Or ask your folks to find you a house on a nice little cul-de-sac in the ‘burbs.

        The fundamental problem with the suburban cul-de-sac is that it doesn’t allow pedestrian egress (well, that and the lack of urban form). In contrast, look at streets that have been blocked off: https://goo.gl/maps/DLT8gKeLisKQrGWJ7. You can’t go through on East Republican. You can’t go through on East Mercer. Does that make it a suburb? Of course not — it is one of the more urban neighborhoods in the city. There is fairly high density even with plenty of single family homes and you are definitely within walking access of shops, restaurants, grocery stores, etc..

        In Europe it is common to block off access to cars, or make streets one-way to force drivers to use the main throughways. That is why a driving trip looks like this (https://goo.gl/maps/AvLoGD4rLxRVSgRh7) and the same trip by foot looks like this (https://goo.gl/maps/zG2J3qQGzgt9URUV8). This is a reasonable approach, and Seattle should have more of that, not less.

      9. Not refuting anything RossB said, but the claim they made was “Congestion leads to better transit (and other alternatives to driving) which is definitely pro-environment. ” I had not actually seen proof of this claim (or of its opposite) so it made me wonder.

        If anyone else is in the same boat as me, then you may find the following articles interesting:

        https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2013/04/public-transportation-does-relieve-traffic-congestion-just-not-everywhere/5149/

        The headline says it all, in a nutshell – yes, congestion is relieved but not everywhere (specifically, not on the main congested roads).

        https://www.sightline.org/2011/02/25/can-better-transit-reduce-congestion/

        This is a survey, and I did not read the underlying articles yet, but the conclusion _appears_ to be that better transit does not generally reduce congestion (note: this is older than the previous link, so perhaps it is superceded by it – it seemed worth adding here, anyway, since the references are to what appears to be a set of academic studies).

      10. “congestion is relieved but not… on the… congested roads”

        Was this written by Yogi Berra? ;-)

      11. Yes, there is an urbanist ideal that all grid streets should be equal. That disperses traffic on all of them so that none of them are congested. The opposite is a super-hierarchical grid with six-lane arterials with only one entrance to each neighborhood, like Snoqualmie Ridge. Although we don’t have six-lane arterials like some cities have, just Aurora. Seattle is in between, with lower-key arterials and residential streets, and in many neighborhoods the residential streets also go through in a grid, and are only stopped by the cliff and water barriers and freeways.

        Many of the semi-closed streets are existing greenways. The city agreed with the neighborhoods a few years ago that these would be greenways, that they would have long-term ped/bike improvements, and car traffic might be limited. The neighborhoods accepted them because they wanted the greenways, and they chose those residential streets for them.

        Some of them aren’t greenways, like E Columbia Street. But it is a bee-pollinator corridor, and many of the sidewalk strips and front yards are bioswales. That’s a natural place for a bike/ped corridor, even if there wasn’t as much warning about it as the greenways. And it’s not an arterial; the arterial is Cherry Street one block away. So it doesn’t do a lot of harm to make it local-only. Columbia and 25th are the ones I want to see soon; maybe tomorrow.

        So there are two ends of a continuum: all-equal grid streets or hyper-hierarchical. What’s the real impact in a Seattle context, of making the specified streets local-only? How much does it really hinder circulation in those neighborhoods? And also, if we want an east-west bike/ped priority path in the Central District, how else can we do it? We’re not going to build aerial bike freeways, sorry Sam.

    3. I haven’t seen the streets )(the nearest one is a mile away over a hill in the CD), but the reports say local residents and deliveries can still drive in it. I can’t imagine a resident from one or two blocks away would be frowned upon. Because you often have to drive two or three blocks to get to an arterial. Long term these may become like woonerfs or the Bell Street Park Non-Woonerf, a single-lane exit or one way for cars. That would reduce traffic while not causing undue hardships for residents of the surrounding blocks.

      The signs look clunky and it’s probably hard to communicate the exact restrictions, because they’re being installed in an emergency on streets that weren’t designed for them or to look ped/bike friendly. This can be improved over time.

      The concept of a comprehensive network of ped/bike trails and ped-bike priority streets is a good one; that’s what countries like the Netherlands have and I understand New York is much further ahead on. (Maybe that’s why NY has few pedestrian deaths.) I don’t have any specific opinions on which streets should close or what exactly the design should be.

      I like the city’s extension in the CD; it’s more extensive than the initial segment. Counting both closed streets and existing greenways, you can ride on 21st-22nd-25th from north of John to south of Judkins Park, and I assume from Montlake to Rainier Beach. (The maps don’t describe Judkins Park to Holly Street but I assume it goes through.)

      The biggest problem from a bicyclist’s perspective is getting stopped at a stoplinght every block because you’re on a non-arterial. But bicycles are so slow that even if it’s every block (which is only true in the densest areas), it’s not as often as if you were in a bus.

    4. I visited the Lake City streets yesterday (30th-25th between 125th and 1480th). It’s just signs making a one-lane entrance. The streets have no sidewalks or just on one side, as is common in north Seattle. So the semi-closed streets partly make up for that. All in all it’s a minor change; less than the proponents or detractors have sometomes made out. None of the surrounding blocks are inconvenienced as far as I can tell, except where it jogs on .e.g, 127th or 140th. They may be driving west or east and run into it. But they already know the greenway is there and probably heard about the closure, so they can easily drive around it.

  3. If transit becomes a true lower class choice in NYC & other major cities, it’s probably over for a generation in the US.

    I’ve lived in US cities where transit was for the unemployed, very poor, and mentally ill.

    No one supports it. At all. It exists as a sop to the conscience of the local voters.

    1. Exactly. The amount of money that people are willing to spend for the sake of feeling good at helping the less fortunate is nowhere near what it takes to run a transit system that covers the Puget Sound Region at anything remotely resembling a reasonable frequency or span of service. We need look no further to other cities (including liberal areas, like Silicon valley) to see what kind of transit we’d get. Or what Seattle Transit used to be like, back in the 1980’s.

      In order for people to be willing to vote to pay the taxes required to fund a decent transit system, it has to be something that people of all social classes use, or at least see themselves potentially using/know someone who uses it/etc.

      In the long run, a focus of transit on serving the poor simply results in a terrible transit system for everyone.

      1. If we let public transit become undervalued like you say, I am really worried about its future. Those who truly depend on public transit don’t have radio stations, a chair at a think tank, an influential editorial board, nor a large amount of financial capital to purchase the means to truly be heard. I don’t like our odds against a noise machine like that.

        The best case is we’d be stuck at current taxation levels and fight off substantial tax cuts to the sales tax amount & fare income.

        The worst case is unthinkable. All we hear from our opposition is “automated transportation” and when it’s rail “more buses”. Well where are the automated cars and where were these guys when CT Prop 1 was on the ballot for more buses? Nowhere.

        We need a better narrative. We need to start planning to recruit, retain and reward riders by making transit fun and a place for productivity, adventure and yes, community. Read Paul Comfort’s two books for starters.

      2. “Or what Seattle Transit used to be like, back in the 1980’s.”

        It was already Metro then. I started riding Metro in 1980 so I can’t say what Seattle Transit was like before then. My impression is that frequency was reduced sometime around the 1950s but I’m not really sure.

      3. Seattle Transit in the 60s and 70s didn’t venture beyond Seattle’s city limits and the system was losing money every year. The Blue Streak network was well patronized but most other routes were at 30 minute headways and not very reliable. The trolley system was falling apart, too. The coaches were from WW2 and the overhead system would sometimes fall down if a trolley went through a switch too fast. Metro definitely saved the day.

    2. Cities don’t change that quickly. New Yorkers are used to thinking of public transit and its all-class usage as part of their identity, and compare themselves to peer cities in Europe and Asia that wouldn’t think of treating transit as just for poor losers who can’t afford a car. Seattle has had high per-capital ridership for decades compared to most of the US. Our ridership is higher than Portland’s even with its MAX and grid buses and streetcars. The reason seems to come down to these things:

      1. Downtown Seattle retained 10% of the region’s jobs.
      2. Metro, Community Transit, and Sound Transit have extensive express buses from everywhere to downtown.
      3. Downtown parking is expensive.
      4. Bellevue pursued a dense downtown, and the moderate residents and tech-heavy companies got into it. (There have always been grumblings but no full-scale revolt.)
      5. Transit to UW has been popular, and encouraged by the U-Pass and UW’s other drive-reduction strategies (mandated by the state).
      6. A subset of the liberal population tends toward transit as a collective and efficient solution to mobility.
      7. Metro’s and ST’s investments have made real-world improvements, which intrinsically attract passengers.

      None of these will suddenly vanish either now or in 10-20 years. It takes a generation for a metropolis to reverse its attitudes.

      What we do see is fear of covid, and so fear of riding the bus or having more than 18 people on a bus. This is a major challenge. Rush-hour buses routinely have 55 or 125 people, and even if the number of daily commuters falls by half you’d still need 3-4 times more buses to fit them all, and Metro doesn’t have the buses nor money nor base space nor drivers for that. So what are we going to do? If everybody drives the streets will be full and many cars won’t be able to get onto them. Before the pandemic the streets were almost at capacity even with extensive transit. People point to the vast decrease in traffic, but that’s with transit running at 100% before the pandemic and 50% during it. If the buses weren’t running that would be tens or hundreds of thousands of more people in cars.

      Some people will go back to driving but it’s hard to believe everybody will do at the level they did in the 1960s.

      Other cities with a lesser commitment to transit — i.e., 90% of the US — already have a “transit is for the poor” bias and that will be reinforced. An international affairs expert I saw on TV yesterday said that covid is accelerating the trends that were happening anyway. That’s probably true in a lot of domestic issues too.

    3. The “ride quality” is important and it refers to a lot more than the suspension. Nobody of means wants to have a wino sitting next to them on the bus. For this reason I can see the ST Express buses remaining popular post Covid19. Albeit reduced service hours because there will be a much larger work from home group as businesses realize the cost savings generated by not having to pay for as much office and parking space.

      Another factor that might help transit use is with the flexibility to work from home I can see a lot of households moving from +1 car per driving age person to 1 car per household. Reducing the car count is a major cost savings. And that surplus garage space might even turn into a home office or gym. But this only works if the “ride quality” is taken seriously.

      1. Wino? Seriously? I’ve been on the busses the most ridden by the local homeless (174/124, night owl runs). Those busses do not stink, and the people on them are more interested in sleeping than being confrontational. They are hardly “winos”, a dated term more than a century old.

      2. Every time I’ve been screamed at on transit was a middle class-looking white guy. Never had a single problem from anyone who looked houseless or drunk.

      3. For whatever that’s worth, on the 271 I’ve seen a few incidents involving likely-homeless (as in, carrying a cart), though the drivers were at highest danger because of the need to uphold the peace. But the worst incident was a dude who was spewing pretty racist stuff at white people and extremely homophobic things, to the point where he almost punched someone whom he suspected was gay. That was a pretty harrowing ride across 520 and into Bellevue that morning.

  4. From the Pierce Transit article, someone called the bus a “40-foot petri dish.”

    That leads me to ask this. Is anyone here avoiding public transit because you think it’s unsafe?

    1. Are you?

      With your brilliant mind, contacts with the most influential politicians in the world, and ability to speak a dozen languages, you should be able to have your dozens of scientific research facilities design a better bus. How about one that hermetically seals the driver, secures wheelchairs automatically, puts clear screens between every row of seats, and has type of not-near-the-driver form of fare payment.

      1. I haven’t been on public transit for almost two months because: 1, I don’t have to take it, I have other options. 2, Currently, I think it’s probably one of the least safe forms of short distance travel. 3, I want to free up space for others that have no other choice but to take it.

    2. I have to be honest.

      I am.

      I can’t justify taking unnecessary trips for hours on end to watch EA-18G Growlers do Field Carrier Landing Practice only to risk bringing home Covid-19 at least until the statewide curve is severely going down.

      I am grateful, truly grateful this crisis has reformed how transit boards are run. A certain hatemonger is now no longer heard from. Comments are e-mailed in and in the case of Community Transit kindly read aloud. Also means no more hours of commuting to address transit issues. Hours. I hope and ask this be the new normal please.

      With that, I hope my decision not to ride public transit for anything but an essential trip is understandable. I can get my groceries and mail by foot.

    3. I’m observing the stay at home order. Obviously that includes transit, since I’m not an essential worker.

    4. Yes.

      I work for UW and commute every day by bus. We are going to be allowed back into our offices probably in the next month or so. I have a UPASS but I’ll be driving until there is a proven treatment or vaccine.

      Riding the bus twice a day, five days a week isn’t worth the risk right now.

      1. @Scottie,

        I am with you as I have no plans to ride transit for the foreseeable future as I am retired and a senior citizen and I am not going to put myself at risk. Before the virus I rode transit and that is both bus and light rail about half the time but the last time I did was in February. Since the virus I have basically driven in my neighborhood other then for medical appointments.

    5. Sam, thanks for the “Thanks For the Memory” thing. For my seventh-grade Science Fair entry, I filled a half dozen petri dishes with jello, which I guess should have been white and flavorless rather than raspberry.

      But when I explained to my father that for my experiment, my jello’s technical name was “culture”, he very wisely said: “So a lot of the people I’ve always considered “cultured”, they’re really just moldy.”

      “Lame?” ‘Til this particular exchange today, I went through undergrad thinking I’d avoided that by staying out of Veterinary. But, just so you can keep your line of description current, I believe the term is “Wine-AUX!” With numerals being not chronological age, but vintage.

      Mark Dublin

    6. Is anyone here avoiding public transit because you think it’s unsafe?

      Because I think it’s unsafe? No.

      Because I am avoiding all trips except essential ones, as requested by public officials? Yes.

      I have no safety issue with transit, never have. Metro has told us how their air filtration system is capable of filtering out virus particles. There is reliable evidence that longer exposure is needed to accumulate enough viral load (yes, it’s a Twitter link but the person posting is a credentialed physician).

      A trip to the grocery store is likely more hazardous to my health than a trip on a bus with filtered air handling and plenty of air movement and a mask and glasses. My bus is almost certainly less risky than these open-plan offices that were all the rage before this virus turned us all into office-lovers again.

      I have no car; I will continue to not have a car even after we’ve settled into the new normal. All of the reasons to ride transit in January will continue to exist and if we want a planet and a city to live in while we wait out the next 100-year pandemic, we can’t all be in single-occupant vehicles with pavement as far as the eye can see.

  5. Pn and asdf2, I’d much rather concentrate on the UW students who after a half century of blight are finally back in action, planning the return of a miles-wide useless concrete lattice to its former function of being a city.

    Because precisely throughout my college years between 1964 and 1970 in the Detroit area, I watched up-close and first-hand as a transit system that had included both fine PCC streetcars and Marmon trolleybuses, increasingly serve only working people in the process of personally becoming The Permanent Poor.

    As thousands of their blue collar neighbors abandoned its decades of residence, fled five or ten more miles out, to hunker to this day behind a political barrier that would’ve made apartheid South Africa look liberally integrated. State-wide crown jewel of their politics?

    The City of Flint got its water supply re-connected from drinkable to poison when Republican “receivership” saved money by switching to a source that ate residential pipes for dinner and human innards for dessert.

    Sorry, Dems, but it’s permanent points against Barack he didn’t shut down Flint and Federally hospitalize and re-house its every victim. Jail sentence for the Governor, up to the Attorney General, but can think of another Chief of State that would’ve really tried. I hate disgruntled employees too.

    The two of you, individually or combined, what’s the heaviest block of building stone you’ve ever picked up, and how many days in DC summer heat splitting it? And how many night shifts driving for Checker Cab in the aftermath of the Detroit riots?

    And the largest standing transit load in rush hour traffic on anything like KCM Route 7? Because speaking as someone from that very background whose circumstances of retirement do not include a corporate pension, at age 75 I’ve got a question for you:

    Have you got the guts to meet me rush-hour at Sea-Tac Link, summon Fare Inspection, and demand they force me to show THEM the rental agreement folded over my ORCA card to prove I’m not homeless? My car title, same pocket as my bank statement. Ken Cummins, tell your troops to knock themselves out!

    AND you order your legislators to restore Western State Hospitals accreditation, and convince its union workers to withdraw their present universal no-confidence vote against their entire management.

    You want a transit system designed to prioritize workers instead of the poor, you see to it that, in the United States of America, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A WORKER IN THAT INCOME BRACKET!

    Like following 1942’s last Mitsubishi-powered threat to my country’s existence, the Defense Budget should handle the re-build of Greater Seattle’s transit world just fine.

    Mark Dublin

    1. UW students model a lot of urbanist concepts that don’t see the light of day. This one would be nice but until officialdom or an advocacy group gets behind it there’s not much hope for it. The downtown lid is getting some official or at least advocacy consideration. The Montlake lid is in WSDOT’s plan. There’s nothing wrong with the word “lid” for this.

      The picture seems to show it spanning 50th to 45th. I would extend it south to around 40th. The main part of the U-District is 40th to 45th. The second, lower-volume part is 45th to 50th. The third, even lower-volume part is 50th to Ravenna Blvd. I’ve lived both on campus and at 56th, so in the first and third parts. It would be unfortunate if you’re standing on 45th and only half of the freeway sound was muffled, and only in less-important second part. Also, the densest, least-expensive apartments are along the freeway and have that loud freeway noise. It would be nice to eliminate that noise in the high-density area, especially south of 45th.

  6. The MTA is considering instituting a reservation system for the NYC subway. This is the transit system I used growing up in the city and still use whenever I visit family or friends (or just want to spend some time in my old hometown), and I just can’t picture how such a system would work in actual practice. Anyway, this being an open thread day I thought I’d share a couple of (paywall-free) pieces about it.

    https://abc7ny.com/traffic/mta-adds-social-distancing-markers-floats-idea-of-reservations/6178657/

    https://patch.com/new-york/new-york-city/mta-considers-subway-reservation-system-amid-coronavirus-pandemic

    https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/coronavirus-blog/2020/05/15/reserved-mta-seating

      1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh994JcEfkI

        Piece of transit history here that could lead to confusion. When East Coast citizens last had to defend themselves from nickel- pinching Transityranny, Metropolis in question was Boston.

        “Scollay Square” was the kind of a nudge-nudge-wink-wink neighborhood where not all the red lights were transit signals.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFFlWtlDRqk

        Understand also that, when in 1962 I last I had to leave a little girl in Kingston-town, I had to show not my ORCA card but my Royal merchant marine shipping papers. And convince a Jamaican lady constable with a riding crop that”little” meant “petite”, not under-age.

        Here in Olympia, IT just this minute told me that their two-to-five day Advanced Reservation service presently uses only vans, driven by regular bus drivers. Comparing our service area and population to Seattle’s, what works here might have some problems there.

        I also have IT’s permission to be the one who defines my trip’s “Essentiality”, without reference to any governing authority, including medical.

        So anybody looking to “Weed Out”, might best hit up Monsanto for some Roundup and tell Fare Inspectors you didn’t mean to squirt them.

        If what’s indicated is same order of “Gentlemen’s Agreement” that gave Seattle the legal teeth to not rent to Jews or other reputational non-blondes….

        I’ll leave off with the words of Julius Henry Marx from Germany, also called “Groucho”, who called HIS dad “Frenchie” because he came from Alsace:

        “I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.”

        Too bad KCM’s and ST’s rules still say I have to, but same freedom that gave more than half our Founding Fathers the right to keep slaves will, under current US Supreme Court, could soon also be mine.

        Having just e-mailed Enforcement that my ORCA card’s wrapped in my rent agreement and car title. So Mace, Taser, or side-arm they can Give EssentioDestinality Its Best Shot. Confrontation others say they’ll like, I’m truly gonna love.

        Mark Dublin

    1. That is an old concept I haven’t seen in a while. It has never really gotten off the ground, and you can see why. It is expensive — similar to building a railway or busway. The stations are more expensive, as you need more space so that the little cars can merge into the main railway line. It is fairly low capacity, at only 6,000 people per hour (one direction). Link can do about 16,000. The monorail can handle about 10,000 per hour (without further improvement). it is bound to be luxury transit — extremely expensive for what it delivers.

      1. https://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-relationships-2017-11

        Reason I’ll never invest any money with Elon Musk is that I know he’s too good of an engineer to risk anything as simple as one of his cars to any mechanism as harebrained as the ones he’s pelting his stockholders with.

        Though meantime, I’ll let these kids’ own expressions say it all for both of them. Scripture proved its literal worth when it decreed that the one parted from their money would generally be masculine.

        Mark Dublin

      2. It looks like PRT, which is typically rail-based. The one in Morgantown, West Virginia, has five stations, you choose one when you get on like elevator buttons. Newer concepts envision a grid of one-way square loops a half-mile or mile one each side. This one has a regular road and autonomous cars. So they could be built next to regular streets like bike lanes. I’ve never heard of Oakley so I don’t know what it’s like; its website says it’s a significant way east of Walnut Creek. If it’s like southern Santa Clara (all those office parks), then it could fit on those wide streets that have employer shuttles now. If it’s a small town, then maybe it would only need one corridor.

        These pods wouldn’t scale to large volumes like in central San Jose. But for a peripheral neighborhood or business cluster they might work. Whether it’s cost-efficient compared to BRT or light rail is another question. They should really look at at that and not go “Autonomous cars, kewl, that will solve all our problems and be cheap, because Musk says so.”

      3. The usual argument against lids is they’re very expensive and nobody is willing to pay for them. But for the downtown lid that has changed somewhat. Now they’re saying it’s not that expensive, and the real estate on it would even cost less than the surrounding surface blocks. So we could do something that’s a balanced mix of housing, businesses, and parks. That may not work out in the U-District where the surrounding land is less expensive so there would be less demand on the lid. But we should consider all possibilities, any way to cover I-5 as much as possible, and as much as the politicians might be willing.

    1. Great piece. Thanks for sharing the link. Frankly I’m not too sympathetic to the CC’s financing plight. It was and is an overly optimistic plan based on some questionable assumptions, launched at a time when economists were already warning of an impending recession and financed by bonds backed by tax revenues from a historically cyclical industry.

      1. There are a lot of projects and plans that were destined to fail, but will blame the virus for their demise. Things like private bikeshare and this convention center. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Mariners next season (whenever it occurs) is terrible, and they blame the virus.

    2. Sigh, $300 million could fund a lot of transit, especially in light of the transit impacts that the convention center construction already had in the last couple years.

    3. Funny thing, the crayon I’m putting together was operating on the assumption that the Convention Center project would stall out and not be bailed out.

  7. [Another] Alex, would give this one a ringing “Second!”

    If, based on operating experience starting 9-15-2000, I thought the responsible agencies would ever spend a either a second or a nickel, whichever’s cheaper, to get bus service to the point it wouldn’t interfere with trains.

    As the world’s top international transportation engineers had billed many a work-hour creating. To be firmly told shortly after commencement that so long as no entering passenger conveyance ever failed to eventually come out the other end, consider the job done and your service-persnickety mouth shut.

    Since Shame gives rise to anti-feminine terms so cruel they always Shame their user, more future-useful to say that from here on, those of us who consider transit our work need to be taking measures to assure ourselves of the elected political support the 41 and the 550 deserved and didn’t get.

    In grammar. “Future Tense” does not mean scared of what’s going to happen.

    Mark Dublin

  8. Because I think it’s as overdue as it is critically important, I really would like to see more attention to the UW students’ address to what are euphemistically called “lids”.

    Like major reconstructive surgery counts as a tummy-tuck? Would finally accept the “War On Cars” analogy in the context of the war the world fought to take the “Nazi” out of “Germany.”

    Billions of dollars wasted revenue, years of lost time, not least human lifetimes spent trapped in traffic to be audibly grinding to one more stop? Truly blessedly, today’s reading is showing me action that can make a hateful little virus just mind its nasty little business.

    That computer modeling software from the other day- which is not the only one of its kind. It’s now possible for beginning students to get a lot of virtual dirt and concrete moved, re-cast, re-shaped, and re-built a lot more than six feet from their nearest co-worker.

    Giving our Community Colleges some real (sorry) “Skin in the Game.” Both for training and for layin’ stone, from sprayed re-bar to Mt. Shuksan’s best. Lake Washington. Seattle Central. West Seattle. South Seattle. Highline.

    All of them already many years into passenger connection via Link, ST, KCM, and whatever’s next. No accident how many of History’s revolution start among those institutions and that age-group.

    As so repeatedly and often unwillingly, they get thrust upon them the responsibility their predecessors can no longer handle. For transit connection, precedent by the kilo: Ages of Auto Shop Past should make Railcar Future irrefutable.

    Between schools and the transit agencies, should be more like an organ transplant. Like I’d advocate following Sweden’s lead to deliver along with small-arms weaponry, Parsons-grade engineering should be what’s meant by a community college math requirement.

    Give it one more “Nevermore” and go back to sleep, little CO”R”VID. This afternoon, none of this concerns you.

    Mark Dublin

    1. “The new directive requires voluntary compliance, and Metro operators will not prevent passengers without face coverings from boarding. “

      Sounds more like a suggestion than a requirement. Requirement == People seen on transit without masks will be shot on sight. It’s not on the driver; the Archie Bunker solution was to arm all the passengers (All In the Family, google it).

  9. Today walked several miles along the Pierce Transit 1 route. Saw an anti-BRT sign on one business, and a reminder about the open house on a shelter. Figured it must be coming right along, and took a look. One map shows the new line running from Downtown to the Parkland Transit Center, but the other two maps show it running all the way to 1’s terminal at WalMart. Left unsaid was what would happen to the Downtown-TCC section of 1, but it will probably be split off into its own route.

    1. It’s going from downtown to Walmart. There’s already plans to split off the northern part. The 1 is moving to Market Street, and the other route will probably remain on Pacific and terminate at Tacoma Dome.

  10. “A Post-Pandemic Reality Check for Transit Boosters”

    The author needs a reality check. So much wrong. Low income households won’t “lose” their car. Used cars are going to be plentiful and cheap. Gas is stupidly cheap. Insurance companies are lowering rates. And locally we have Timmy making driving more economically enticing than wasting hours riding the bus. Basically the whole article is a sham starting with their take on the Spanish Flu.

    1. Gas is stupidly cheap. Insurance companies are lowering rates.

      You’re failing to account for short-term conditions. Gas is stupidly cheap right now because of a massive oversupply caused by a worldwide slowdown in travel and two long-term rivals still pumping oil out of the ground when it’s not needed (and trying to drive US-based oil producers out of the market). Oil is already touching $30/barrel as demand starts to increase, never mind that anything under $50/barrel is “too cheap” for most producers to sustain and OPEC’s two-year goal is almost twice that.

      Insurance companies are in the same boat. They’re temporarily reducing rates, likely by paying themselves money out of their ad budgets, because one company did it first and the rest almost have to in order to avoid defections. The moment risk levels rise, premiums will go right back up along with them. Every good insurance executive learns to never leave money on the table. Premiums will reset and rise back to “normal” even if risk only goes up to 70-80% of “the before times” because the increase can be hidden in the background noise of an overall reset.

      1. Cheap gas isn’t a short term condition. Back in the 70’s the “crises” was we’re running out of oil. Yeah, not so much. And for fossil fuels in general (aka coal) never; running out of atmosphere, sure but fuel to destroy it no. For years gasoline has tracked the price of milk (a highly subsidized product). What we really need is a capitalist economy. And that, sadly doesn’t exist in the USA anymore.

      2. Isn’t the reason gas is so cheap right now, that people aren’t driving like they were a few months ago because they’re working from home? Big Oil doesn’t have the capacity to store huge volumes of their product, so they have to get rid of it at whatever price they can, nor can they cheaply shut off and restart production.

        This seems like a temporary condition to me, that will go away the moment people start driving to working and flying on planes like they did before.

      3. One theory is the Saudis are flooding the market in an attempt to “bankrupt” the Russian and US producers. I don’t see that working. If they do achieve a monopoly it just wouldn’t be that hard for other suppliers to ramp up production again. The US, Canada, Venezuela and many others around the globe have gobs of the stuff in the ground. And although gasoline and diesel are convenient they aren’t essential. Hybrid Electric vehicles are becoming hyper efficient. We could fairly quickly convert the trucking industry to natural gas. Brazil uses a large amount of alcohol produced from sugar cane (which makes way more sense than using corn).

      4. Gas is cheap because demand for oil has dropped so far that the oil producers can’t reduce supply fast enough. Saudi Arabia and Russia did agree to reduce prices to drive US shale producers out of businesses, but that was right when the coronavirus shutdowns hit and overtook them, so they can’t prop the price up even by reversing themselves. The US oil-storage facilities are full, and in April the futures contracts went negative because contract-holders who weren’t real oil handlers or didn’t have space panic-sold them. The shale producers can’t stop because they can’t seal the well so quickly, their cash-flow needs make it infeasable, or if they do plug the well temporarily it will change the geology and make it never produce as much or any again. Oil isn’t used just for cars, a lot of it is used for industrial purposes. And those industrial uses have plummeted, like they did in the Great Recession when gas prices went from a record high (over $4 in Seattle, $5 in some cases) to less than $3, only more so.

  11. Problem’s not a matter of running out of either gas or money. It’s about running out of room. Four-car Link or ten-car BART consist, if the people were in their cars instead, single train-load could fill a county, all going same zero mph.

    Reserved bus lane, especially if it’s designed and legally-stipulated for priority, is its own most convincing advertisement to the whole motoring world: “If you’d been on this bus, right now you’d be finishing your coffee at your desk.

    And if seats count, coach-building industry’s been doing three-segment “artics” for years.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=It_D10Tr89o

    Mark Dublin

  12. Can’t resist a question, Bernie: do massive Federal and State subsidies to private industry count “for” or “against?”

    Because I’m pretty sure that Capitalism’s German forebears, as they wrenched economic and political control from inbred morons who were placed on their thrones by both God and scheming untitled henchmen, made generous allowance for Private business to get all the Public money the Earls and Dukes who being congenitally bankrupt were always in some uncommonly rich Commoner’s debt.

    Centuries before our USA was even here! So if you’ve got inside info, though, just for sentiment’s sake, have you got a date for me on Capitalism’s last? Maybe we can dig it up and apply the “paddles”. Though ‘fraid that California’s power and light company has torched its last town.

    Mark Dublin

  13. Is the US giving up on public transporation? Alon Levy argues that capping ridership on buses is unnecessary; what matters is wearing masks. Taiwan has busy trains and buses but few infections because everybody wears masks, and Germany too to a lesser extent. The extreme ridership caps in North America that even transit supporters are falling into send the message that “Transit is dangerous, drive instead”, and it may be very difficult to get public support for transit back for many years. He cites the fact that the New York Stock Exchange is reopening but traders are forbidden from taking transit to it, saying that it should be the opposite (yes transit but no large gathering spaces).

    1. Some of the commenters pointed out that if the windows are open, the virus will dissipate faster, reducing risk for people inside. With the weather warming up, opening the windows of every bus feels like an easy thing to do to control the virus spread.

      Mandatory masks definitely helps too, but you can’t get universal compliance. Some people will refuse, for whatever reason, and you don’t want to put bus drivers in the position of having to kick those people off. There will also be cases where somebody forgets their mask, but doesn’t realize it until they get on the bus, and they’d be late for work if they have to let the bus go by and walk all the way home again, just to retrieve the mask.

Comments are closed.