Christof explains further with photos in his Twitter thread.

59 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Every 12 minutes on a single track”

  1. DMU’s (diesel motor units, motors under the cars, no locomotives):

    Ottawa’s also got some Light Rail:

    I’m noticing that Tacoma Link mostly runs 12 minute headways on single track between Tacoma Dome Station and the Theater District.

    Key to successful single track seems to be absolutely reserved right of way, with every signal preempted so the train stops only at stations. Like the proverb also needs to say:

    To secure a ‘Way’, first necessity is the ‘Will’, politically, instructionally, and operationally, to give transit the priority it needs.

    There was certainly no mechanical reason that ST550 and KCM41 had to leave the Tunnel at the time they were needed most. And even less reason that the joint-operations that the world’s top engineers designed into the DSTT project were left to gather dust all those years.

    But since I don’t live in Seattle anymore, not compelled to join the usual chorus of failing-bewailing over the past. My political side needs a program to take an 18-year-old to dinner in time for this fall’s election, whenever it actually happens.

    And real serious about transit building serious rapport with school-kids. It’s called Constituency Construction. And thanks for the 12-minute chart, Oran. I don’t think Tacoma’s Commerce Street trackway will have any trouble being shared with the 594 and its Rapid crop of offspring.

    Mark Dublin

  2. Single-tracking is tricky but it can be a cost-saving measure that can be rolled out if a rail line segment isn’t carrying more than a few thousand riders (no need for frequent trains) or if there is a short segment (like a bridge or tunnel) that is way more expensive to build with two tracks.

    It likely works best in shorter-line situations where recovery time at the ends can allow trains to keep on schedule. An example: If two trains are operating on a short line that takes a few minutes for a round trip, the only place two tracks are needed is in the middle. That’s how the new Luxembourg funicular works (although they have it built as two single track segments rather than just one).

    The speed at which trains operate on a single-track is key, along with building most or all stations with two tracks. If a train can be held at a station until a track clears, riders don’t perceive the delay as much.

    1. That’s some very precise railroading! When everything is working according to plan, it’s probably an impressive operation. But with 4 vehicles running at the same time, if things go haywire, it would be a real mess.

      The terminals look to be single-tracked with a turnaround time of about 9 minutes. The total length of the line is listed at 8 kms and the chart shows a run time of about 15 minutes from end-to-end. That’s about 32 kph or 20 mph average speed. For comparison, Link goes 20 miles in 48 minutes (25 mph) and the First Hill Streetcar averages about 6 mph.

      The Sugar House Line in Salt Lake City runs every 15 minutes on a mostly single-tracked line. There is a 2 block section in the middle of the line that is double-tracked to allow for passing.

      1. That system is 2 parallel funiculars next to each other. Funiculars always have double tracking at the station, which is the central point along the line or halfway between the two ends. This is important, because the two trains on each segment are connected via a cable. Thus, it is impossible for the trains to collide as their position is determined by the cable length and track geometry.

    1. I tend to agree. We will likely see a death to large denee cities and return to an era that favors suburbanization and private vehicles. Downtowns will return to the indigents and less fortunate of society

      1. Maybe that’s what Trump meant, when he said make America Great Again. It had nothing to do with a strong middle class (the result of unions). He wants to see more urban ghettos.

      2. You know, Sam 2.0, that’s was the deal my Ballard neighbors at Lock Haven neighbors and I made developer John Goodman in fall 2013. In return for the eviction notices he sent us. By law, on a couple of weeks’ short notice. He shrugged and left it to an accompanying employee to reply:

        “That’s not our business plan.” Probably in a hurry, so he packed his papers and left without a single word of explanation whether our indigency-level was excessive or deficient.

        Though for Seattle’s Downtown-Affording class, would a bankruptcy filing this afternoon by either Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk surprise anybody? Of course, same question for the damage to his life compared with any bankruptcy of ours.

        Europe’s older than we are. Meaning that History’s rule puts the rich in the Cit-EE!, more centered the better, and the rest of us in the Bannlieu. Though Gothenburg’s got a nice streetcar terminal at the foot of one. That features a photographic monument for somebody Mediterranean that got murdered not far away.

        For me, fixation on “Identity” identifies somebody whose own identity I wouldn’t choose to live next to. My car, my buses, and my railcars are all tools in the same kit. Phillips-head’s for screws, drill’s for holes.

        But have always managed to arrange my work, schooling, and residence so my car’s chief budget-saver is transit. And for college-level, though granted now obsolete….If the State Patrol had problems with my hand-held phone, book or notebook would’ve meant State Pen.

        And are you going to order me to accelerate my depreciation by running my engine all sticky going nowhere? Way I look at life, employed by self or others, my time’s always been billable.

        “The indigents and the less fortunate of society.” Can I have your lender’s permission to see your credit score? Story is that the average working American can be thrown on the street for the unforeseen need of $400. The payday loan that’s gonna leave you a Burien bully’s next chief assault-target…can ‘t deny the man’s right to keep his own community clean.

        So let’s just leave it to what the lady says:

        And be grateful to this exact world cross-section for their real contribution to our country: the creation of a land where the arrogant, the lazy, the sycophantic, the chronically power-worshiping cowards whose chief need is someone weaker to blame their own failure on….

        Can never really feel at home. Let’s rise for our National Anthem.

        Mark Dublin

      3. Hate to break it to you Sam 2.0, spralling suburbs won’t save you from Coronavirus as once you leave your house or car you are just as exposed as someone who rides transit.

        If you think you can isolate yourself forever by avoiding stores, cinemas & other places where large crowds gather & live via streaming services along with orders from Amazon, it’s going to take such a psychological & emotional toll I doubt you could handle it.

    2. Mine? One thing I learned awhile ago: Only thing He hates worse than questions about His whereabouts are demands that He tell us His Name.

      Would’ve been only decency to at least give his card to Moses, whom He was dispatching back to Egypt on a diplomatic mission, knowing full well how many rich, armed and titled nobility were related to that Corrections officer Moses killed for racist Excessive Force.

      “Jehovah” was best a Scot like King James could do with the transliterated Hebrew. Though gotta say that of Europe’s nationalities, the Campbells and the MacGregors and their “ilk” had vengeful, sheep-thieving clan warfare worthy of the Hebrews in their blood. Wrong grammatic tense, though.

      Before the Bush quit burning and blew up, scattering his boss’s sheep and pitching Moses all the way back to Cairo, what God really said was “YOU JUST TELL ‘EM I’LL BE WHATEVER I FEEL LIKE BEING SO SCOOT!!!!!”

      Now, let’s project ourselves to the blessed North Shore of Lake Michigan between Chicago and Milwaukee in The Year Of Our Lord 1953. In the language of the time, nothing in the term “Suburban” meant “Rail Averse”.

      Your electric train, that would do 90 between towns as well as stop-sign governed 30 leaving Milwaukee, carried a restaurant section that would let you sit at a white table-cloth drinking non-instant coffee as it ran the elevated track around the Chicago “Loop.” Post WWII, bistro’s were all still in France. Luckily many Navy trainloads came back to Great Lakes Naval Air Station.

      Tell your keyboard “The Electroliner”, hit “click,” and Divine Truth will turn green and red before your eyes. I’ve been told the Talgo trains are each factory-fitted with space for an espresso machine.

      But for them and Sounder both, anybody know if they’ve got all their toilets working yet? Have encountered otherwise. Rule should return to being “What Stinks Stays In The Yard.”

      God, did I get that Right?

      Mark Dublin

    3. So your saying that Seattle real estate will be affordable again soon? When exactly will this happen?

      1. I just rented out a condo near the UW for $250 more than I got last year, so, even with the pandemic, even with the UW closed, it doesn’t seem like rents are going down.

        The market is saying that, at the end of the day, people value urban living and are willing to pay for it.

      2. My renewal this month had zero rent increase, for the first time since around 2013.

      3. Is it close enough, Ross, just to list that day as the exact date my credit union says I can afford it?

        Mark Dublin

    4. The unanswered question, so far, is how effective is working from home for employers? If the major tech companies and all the smaller firms that have sent their workers to work from home are achieving great results from this experience, then the option to work at home may become more widespread. But if your employer is finding that work is taking longer or it isn’t getting done effectively, then it will be back to the office.

      From my personal opinion, after 2 months of working from home, face-to-face working is more productive for me.

    5. It says “may make suburbs more desirable”, not “is making suburbs more desirable” or “will make suburbs more desirable”. This is just a speculative article. Remember that the suburban transformation took four decades. Construction started in the late 1940s but it wasn’t until the 1980s that the majority lived in suburbs. It takes a long time to move fifty million people. And the environment is different now. Most of the easily-buildable land is built up with low-density houses that are very difficult to upzone. The remaining large empty spaces have insufficient water (intermountain West), or are protected forests (entire West), essential agricultural production (Midwest), or prone to hurricanes/flooding (Gulf Coast, Atlantic Coast). Maybe there’s lots of suitable land in Texas; I’ve only been to Dallas. But Texas’s growth can probably be only moderately accelerated, and its government is difficult to live under (especially voter suppression).

      1. “suitable land in Texas”–see 500 year floods in Texas and how they are exacerbated by a government that is very convenient to live under (if you belong to certain demographic groups).

    6. The suburbs themselves are developing differently than they used to. Central Issaquah has close-together houses. I’ve seen the same in Santa Clara and other places. Snohomish County has six-story tower-in-the-park apartment complexes. Most of the housing in LA and San Jose is of uniform medium density. So even if people flock to the suburbs or exurbs, , what they’ll find available is denser than the 1970s parts of Bellevue or Shoreline or Burien. This theoretically makes it somewhat easier to serve by transit and have more destinations closer to you. Some have argued that the biggest challenge of the next generation is retrofitting suburbia to make it more liveable.

      1. “This theoretically makes it somewhat easier to serve by transit and have more destinations closer to you.”

        Theoretically yes, but in practice the location of the “suburban villages” tend to not make connecting them by transit easy. They are seldom located along a single arterial that a single bus can go up and down, instead, forcing a separate bus route to connect each pair. They also tend to be far enough getting the travel time to even within 1.5x the car travel time requires an express bus down the freeway, which requires yet more bus routes. Sometimes, the freeway express runs only during rush hour, requiring a long slog on the local shadow the rest of time. For instance, outside the handful of trips between downtown Bellevue and Redmond offered by the 232, your choices are to either slog it out for 40 minutes on the B-line, pay for an Uber ride, or go buy a car.

    7. Just read in an article that five sailors on the TR who tested positive a few weeks ago, were a little sick for a while and then tested negative several times are positive again.

      Maybe the immune response is only effective long enough to beat the virus down and then will wane quickly. Or maybe this new “G” mutation can trick the antibodies for the original strain.

      Either way your fascist hero is going down in a flaming pile of bodies this November, autoista.

    8. I think a sleeping issue about work-from-home is employer-site-based taxes and fees as well as other local policies.

      An example: A company may be able to “assign” a Seattle worker to a Maple Valley office to avoid Seattle’s many requirements even if the worker mostly works from home and only comes into Seattle for “meetings” two days a week. It’s going to make it harder for any local government to unilaterally enact more significant worker-friendly policies or generate revenue based on a place of work.

  3. Oh….KAY, if there’s nobody including me up to talking transit this morning, I know that at least one reader can answer this:

    Where’s our Personal Protective Gear?

    The whining, yipe-ing, and fingerpointing have really passed their sell-by date. Incidentally and really pertinent, I remember our martial arts instructor showing us how bad it hurts when an adversary either gets hold of that wagging finger or just flat-hands the tip hard enough to break its every joint.

    Politicobudget-wise, can anybody give me a reason this gear should NOT employ enough of any Congressman’s missile-manufacturing voters to keep him in office for life if he sponsors it?

    By its own Title, the Age of Reason would’ve demanded that the Second Amendment’s framers pair every Musket with a Mask. Hippopotamus ivory was all George Washington needed to eat those apples he wouldn’t share with his brother. And BTW, NRA….

    If Transit needs to kick in its PPE share, I’ll leave systemwide headways at thirteen and a half instead of twelve minutes. But whatever form transit funding takes when the last pesky COVID squawks and goes “Nevermore”….

    Would somebody just grace me with a “What’sTheDeal” over why in the United States of America this date year 2020, window supervisors can’t give every driver a mask in return for the ink of their sign-in? And given onset of paper-free schedules, use those racks on buses and trains so passengers always get masks?

    Mark Dublin

  4. Some of the buses I ride for commuting/groceries are starting to see a noticeable increase in riders- especially Route 70 and 65/67. It seems like Metro will need extra runs added back soon if they wants to maintain distance between passengers

    1. Metro’s standard is around 16 people per ariculated bus. Before the pandemic they seated 55, and it was not uncommon to get 100 or 125 with people standing in the aisles. Even if recovery ridership is half that of pre-pandemic ridership, that’s 50-60 people on the busier runs. That would require three times more buses than we have now. Metro doesn’t have the buses, money, base space, or drivers for this. So we’re heading to a collision of more riders than capacity.

  5. What is the point of an ordinance that is not enforced? Doubly so, what is the point of a health and safety ordinance that is explicitly not going to be enforced? Why the fuck aren’t police out there beating the shit out of people too stupid to wear a mask when they go into the grocery store or ride the bus?

    1. Because not having a mask isn’t a crime no matter what message is being sent from health officials or the government.

    2. Because we do not live in a police state, and of police tried to be heavy handed, public support for social distancing would disappear really fast. This is something the public has to buy into, or it won’t work. Heavy-handed policing is *not* the way to get people to buy in.

      I personally try to wear a mask when I shop. But, if I get to the store and realize I forgot the mask, I’m not going to go all the way home again to get it; I’ll take my chances and try to remember next time.

    3. Of the police officers I’ve known and respected, I think they’d all consider an explanation and a request as first step in any matter called “Enforcement.”

      Though in the case of a superior ordering a subordinate onto dangerous duty without Personal Protective Gear, pretty sure his buddies would be sure to lie for him while he did beat the crap out of at least the order’s originator.

      In the case you’re postulating, procedure would also doutbless involve conversation over the ability to obtain the required mask. If shortage lies with an agency or a country rather than a person…..danger immediately comes bubbling out of the absolute lake of excrement produced by the aforementioned pounding.

      But to keep our burdened Emergency rooms clear of Seattle’s every unclean carcass, I must now prevail on the Enforcement officer whose world I’m afraid you’re most likely to dirty. Marine Corps combat veteran. Who tells me that in addition to the paperwork, your suggested mode of enforcement needs attention to this:

      If the beating victim has a friend or relative-Fourth Grade grows up early in CORVIWORLD-due to the availability of lawfully possessed firearms, all the score-settler needs is to be someplace dark, with his target right smack under a streetlight.

      But for raising this issue, here’s help for you: Out of concern for the kindly and intelligent creatures they represent, this website is going to assist you with a list of more appropriate animals to name yourself after while they get their reputation back.

      Leaving me to finish with a youtubian nightmare of my own. Bad enough are the representations of unauthorized immigration turning our country into Mexico and Guatemala. But while both of these countries have excellent street rail and trolleybus, our conversion into a authoritarian combination of Hungary and Brazil could really cause train-procurement problems for our First Avenue Connector.

      Mark Dublin

  6. Sean, my guess is that while they believed in fogs called “miasma’s” and not germs, the generation who wrote our Constitution would have escorted a willful “Carrier” home and locked them “In”. From the “Out” side.

    And to spare the poor kid’s feelings, would’ve made sure the Village Idiot got a corn-stalk so he wouldn’t get left out at maneuvers. With the sergeant….like anybody could Wellregulate a couple dozen young farmers without one!….being sure to yell at him dramatically for having a weevil down the barrel.

    We were, after all, founded during the Age of Reason. And “Common Good” too Common an understanding to even name very much. Bet their favorite Bill of Right was most likely Number Ten:

    “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

    Like the right not to die of something turned loose on one’s neighbors to make a point. Common Law Marriage or Common Property, these people’s chief guarantee of liberty was Common Sense.

    Mark Dublin

  7. It’s going to be interesting watching some confluence of events play out of the next several years, when Seattle politicians try to shake down Amazon for half a billion a year, at the same time the tech giant’s need for office space has diminished, at the same time some new Amazon office towers are being completed in Bellevue, at the same time the Blue Line is about to open. If Seattle plays hardball with the payroll tax, it seems like Bellevue is about to score a new tech headquarter.

      1. I think the assumption is that with corporations like Amazon having employees working from home, it wouldn’t be prudent for Seattle to play hardball knowing these businesses will just jump across the lake. Although that’s exactly what they should do & see if they would make good on such a threat. I doubt they will.

      2. You’re suggesting that even though a certain percentage of work from home will take hold and become permanent, that it won’t reduce the need for office space? Why? Companies will still want to keep office space for people who don’t come in?

        Good article on the cover of today’s Wall Street Journal. Silicon Valley’s Next Big Office Idea: Work From Anywhere.

      3. “You’re suggesting that even though a certain percentage of work from home will take hold and become permanent, that it won’t reduce the need for office space?”

        That is correct – even people that work from home some days out of the week will still need a desk to work in the other days. Sharing desks is not easy when individuals have personalized equipment and don’t want to be constantly lugging that equipment around. While it is possible to work for an hour or two off a laptop screen and laptop keyword, doing a full 8-hour day that way is just too much, and is not good for your eyes or your fingers.

      4. I’m saying that most of those working from home will go back to working at the office. There is a reason why they weren’t working from home in the first place. Those that were furloughed will go back to work as well.

        Come on Sam, think about it. We are talking about Amazon. They spent months of effort, and millions of dollars trying to figure out where to add additional space. They did that because they want to use that space. You are suggesting that during that whole process, no one even considered having people work from home. You think that it never occurred to one of the most technologically sophisticated companies on earth to build a video conferencing network. Sorry, but that is absurd. They didn’t do that, because — as been mentioned many, many times before — it isn’t good for business.

        Nothing has changed. There has been no technological breakthrough in video conferencing. People are using the exact same technology that has existed for years.

        Just out of curiosity, Sam, do you think bars will ever open again? People are really getting used to drinking at home — a profoundly new experience to some I suppose — maybe they will never go back.

        Again, that is absurd. When this thing is over, bars will reopen and be packed. So will offices. Otherwise they never would have been packed in the first place.

      5. Working from home has always had a steep learning curve. A lot of smart but not tech savvy people are still struggling. Companies that never really thought it was a good idea were forced to adapt. Lots of people will be happy to get back to the office. But a good percentage, having gotten over the initial pain have found that extra couple hours a day you don’t spend commuting is priceless. Companies are definitely going to look at the bottom line and if the cost of office space doesn’t equal an increase in productivity they aren’t going to lease it.

        If the stay home period had only been 2-3 weeks then there wouldn’t be much long term change. But now a lot of folks have realized the initial pain was worth the gain. Most of the technology was there but people either didn’t know it existed (Zoom? what’s that) or hadn’t made the effort to implement it optimally. The office of the future is going to have more conference rooms and less personal desk space. I expect we’ll start to see office buildings with shared conference space further reducing the total leased space required.

      6. Companies move to new cities and states when promised just tens of millions of dollars in tax savings and credits, so it’s entirely plausible Amazon would move half of its Seattle workforce to Bellevue to avoid a around a hundred million dollars a year in new taxes.

        Oh, yeah, bars are definitely coming back. Just the other day, NYC mayor de Blasio, after seeing reports of people congregating outside of bars, said he’s going to put a stop to it. Apparently, the bars there offer takeout drinks, and groups of people are hanging around outside the entrance to socialize after buying a togo drink. So yeah, people (esp younger people) are eager to get to patronizing bars.

    1. Now you’ve got my interest tuned in, Sam. The four dollars the young woman just charged me …..did I just get shaken down for three dollars plus a tip for excellent product and service? Gotta learn to lookout for myself, don’t I?

      Mark Dublin

      1. Mark, I’ve got to ask you, since you live in Olympia, when you’re out and about, do you see Intercity Transit vehicles on the roads? Yes, I know it’s a reservation system, and I know they are using passenger vans to transport people, but I’m just wondering how common it is to see one in service.

    2. Fantasy World
      If Amazon decides to re-locate their employees to remote locations, the need for more street infrastructure should decrease. Traffic congestion–solved!
      If someone can work from Walla Walla just as effectively as Wallingford, housing prices might modulate, too. Housing crisis–solved!
      If Amazon finds Bellevue more workable than Seattle (i.e. municipal elections in Bellevue can be bought successfully), then there will be plenty of cheap office space available in Seattle for new start-ups to rent. Office space problem–solved!
      Bellevue–be careful what you wish for!

    3. Amazon isn’t about to move its Amazon Web Services servers without knowing where they move them to has an insanely robust internet infrastructure. Bellevue just doesn’t have the bandwidth Amazon needs. The Seattle payroll tax isn’t even a drop in the bucket for Amazon. Moving would cost much more than staying, even in the long run.

      1. It isn’t just Amazon that would be hit with the proposed tax but so would other companies some of which do not have the financial means that Amazon has.

        Savant calls it the Amazon tax because it makes them and Jeff Bezos sound like a villain as they and Jeff make all of this money and they can afford to pay the tax. But Savant conveniently doesn’t mention the other companies which is her style.

        And don’t discount the possibility of Amazon moving other employees outside the Seattle city limits. Look at how many people they are moving to Bellevue who is welcoming the move which is more then Seattle does when it comes to the business community.

      2. Jeff, are you being snarky with Sawant’s name — if so, it’s funny considering how she acts — or do you just not know what it is?

      3. Right, the big data centers tend to be in remote places like Moses Lake. A big reason is they require giant diesel generators for back-up power and those need to get test run once a week; noisey and stinky! The land is also much cheaper and most of the computer work can be done from anywhere on the globe (and is).

      1. Sam, to answer your question, I don’t think I’ve seen a full-sized Intercity Transit bus on the road for weeks. Pretty sure that ’til further notice, they’re out of service.

        But if heartbreak can bring itself to a head of sheer fury, thanks for your link, Hayden. You know, in Chinese Area Studies back in Michigan at Oakland University in 1964, our professor, a WWII “China Hand” (we’d now say “in-country expert”) named Charlie Hucker, often mentioned the concept the Chinese called “The Mandate of Heaven.”

        Meaning that, over and above separate instances of failure, the people in charge , as a group, just sometimes lose their every right to order their own dog off the couch.

        Bad sign when, like Chiang Kai Shek, any military leader who isn’t in an opera calls himself “Generalissimo.” Having lost his election by three million votes, “President” is also a stretch.

        Officials of ours who led off the response to the virus by deliberately withholding information and safety measures may not deserve to go to jail, though only ethical to warn to their lawyers not to let me in the courtroom, let alone the jury box.

        What I’d like to see out of the US labor union movement, and all the workers it can attract, is a nationwide sit-down strike ’til all 330 million of us have good Personal Protective Equipment both to work in and stay alive.

        And leave no doubt that to any heavy-handed strike-breaking effort out of Government at any level, especially in either the South or Wisconsin, our response will be to avail ourselves of the Tenth Amendment to give us exactly five times the firepower of the Second. In its own right, that gear IS A RIGHT!

        Especially as to buried information, to the extent the duplicity’s gone Presidential, can find no limitation statute on number of impeachments per Perp. Like with mask-compliance, more or less a matter of “Whatever It Takes.”

        If the rule is that “The Ayes Have It”, from now on we have to be sure that The Lies, and their authors, “Get Theirs” too. Though overarching priority goes to us getting the masks we’re getting wailed on for not being able to, in the world’s leading industrial country, even find.

        You the kennels, can you breed us a mask-sniffing Irish setter who knows that six feet means two more than its own four? Who’s a GOOOOOOD boy? Or, of course, girl.

        Mark Dublin

  8. What if Seattle lost population? We were already doing all right before the Amazon boom. Seattle’s population peaked at 550K in the 1960s and then fell to 490K in 1980, and only reached its previous peak in 2000. In 2010 it was 608K on the eve of the Amazon boom. Now it’s around 750K.

    In the 80s the vacancy rate was higher so apartments and houses were cheap and plentiful. The job market was all right; we were gradually diversifying from Boeing-centrism. Housing remained reasonable until 2003 when prices started accelerating. In 2008 the recession caused housing prices to stop increasing and dip a bit, then in 2012 they started increasing again and went into overdrive. So loosing 100K people would not be the end of the world, and would make some things easier. The downside of course is there would be a smaller tax base for transit improvements. But with housing costs causing severe hardships for people, maybe that would be an OK tradeoff.

    1. I don’t think Amazon’s Seattle offices nor the people who work in them are going anywhere. People want to live in the city, and they want to be able to live in the city without a long commute.

      Nor do I think work-from-home is going to be a permanent solution. Sure, it allows work to move forward in the short run, but it also loses the entire social aspect of physically meeting up with your team for lunch, plus a work environment with better equipment without home distractions. Amazon has also invested billions of dollars in real estate and I can’t believe that they would be willing to just walk away from that investment in favor of work-from-home.

      I can see a long-term solution where people are encouraged to work from home once a week to help ease traffic and parking problems, but I can’t see that happening every day.

      1. I’m not so certain – a very large % of Amazon employees relocated to Seattle from elsewhere (whether US or internationally). Sure, some of them genuinely want to live in Seattle, but others are only in Seattle because it happens to be where Amazon requires they live. Released from that constraint, why not move to where you want? Back home, somewhere cheaper, the beach, following your partner’s career, etc. People would scatter.

        Amazon is nothing if not ruthlessly efficient. It would not surprise me if the real estate footprint shrinks by a meaningful percentage over time. Much of the office space it occupies is not owned, but leased – those leases can be bought out or simply not renewed. Working from home means employees pay for internet and utilities. Sure, some people will slack off, but surveys show many people work even longer hours when at home. Amazon can easily enough fire the slackers.

      2. I’m talking about a larger phenomenon than just Amazon. Amazon has 40,000 workers in Seattle; that’s less than a third of the total population increase. We just call it the Amazon boom because Amazon is the largest single company in it.

        Many people did move here for a job and would not stay if they lost their job or had an opportunity to relocate to their hometown or family.

    2. It is possible that Amazon will move. After all, Boeing moved. Amazon has always been infatuated with tax policy, so I could see them moving to Texas if Washington gets an income tax.

      But while losing Amazon would be a huge hit to the region, chances are, companies would backfill their downtown office space. Right now, downtown office space is the most popular in the state, followed by downtown Bellevue (and I’m guessing, the UW). Public transportation has something to do with it, but companies also like to be close to other companies. But prior to the pandemic, companies were essentially pushed out to other locations, because they couldn’t afford downtown prices. I happen to know someone who used to commute to Pioneer Square (by bus/Link) but now he drives to Tacoma every day. The move is really hard the employees, but they couldn’t afford the rent. Most companies don’t move that far. They move to Factoria, Kirkland or Fremont (or they start there). The Expedia location is second rate — I’m sure they would love to abandon that spot, and move to the Denny triangle. If Amazon moves — or if there is a substantial reduction in regional office demand for whatever reason — chances are, downtown will eventually get filled (after the other leases run out) while satellite office space dwindles.


    Jeff Bezos needs to give thanks for combination of time and distance. If this was 1919 or so in Spokane, after the Industrial Workers of the World would’ve ascertained that while buildings that look like glass and steel bubbles don’t burn, you can still etch and spray-paint paint them with a black cat that won’t come off.

    Even worse, they can do a Tweet showing the once-feared cat using your desk for a litter box ’til you learn to appreciate your employees. So somebody remind me to link this one to Jeff:

    Hell, she’s got spirit! Let her run the whole department!

    Mark Dublin

    1. All of it, although the Trillium Line shares with freights. They are embargoed during transit hours of operation, but once in a very blue moon there will inevitably be a derailment or other breakdown which lasts into the transit service window.

      The Confederation Line runs on a previously exclusive busway.

      1. Seems like having a system on one track can only work as effective as Ottowa’s because of exclusive right of way. Signal priority is a good thing, but the more you have the less predictable the coordination of several trains can be on one track.

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