Essential Trips Only sign on King County Metro bus on Pike Street in Downtown Setatle

This is an open thread.

74 Replies to “News roundup: climbing again”

    1. Honestly, this is a really useless survey. I don’t see how this advances any decision that the City of Seattle must make related to the projects.

      1. It didn’t have anything to do with the specific service. It was all, what do you think about transit, and the respondents demographics.

        There are many worthwhile equity projects, but this survey about light rail headed to well to do areas seems pointless. Seems like something done to check off a box that said “we did equity analysis”.

      2. It’s the same kinds of questions ST and SDOT as at the beginning of every project. The difference is you’re grading them on a 5-part scale online rather than putting sticky dots on a poster at an open house. I like the sticky dots better because it’s just a yes/no: it gives a clearly-visual count of how many people think that item is important.

        I’m not sure how to answer some of them. If I say freight is important, it might be interpreted as favoring the less-useful alternatives on the Ballard line that the port wants but are away from the pedestrian concentrations that Link needs to serve. On the other hand, I don’t think freight is unimportant.

      3. Some of the questions– how close do you want the stop to be close to people places, etc– may help determine if the Ballard stop is at 14th vs. 15th ave.

      4. I’ve grown adverse to 5-point surveys, both re transit and health questionaires. I can’t fit my answers to a 5-point scale because they’re not just one-dimensional. And how I define “3” differs from time to time, and I don’t remember how I defined it last time. That makes me skeptical whether the 5-point results are meaningful. It’s like when physical therapy questionares ask you to rate your pain from 1 to 10. I don’t remember how I defined “5” last time. My perception is how much it annoys me, but that’s affected by a lot of factors beyond how much neural activity there is.

      5. 5 point scales have zero statistical accuracy, yet are commonly used in polling. When a 3 varies not just from person to person, but question to question, the answers become meaningless.

      6. 5-point surveys are so hard to answer accurately that increaslingly I’m leaving questions blank or not submitting the survey.

    1. Until the sell or scrap equipment, I wouldn’t rule out them re-opening at some point in the future. AHR probably wants to focus efforts on the Durango & Silverton this year, so they don’t go bankrupt and close everything they own. I’m hoping that they will either re-open MRSR next summer, or it will move back to local ownership next year.

  1. Rants and raves. Rave to STB for blogging every day, even though they don’t get paid to do it. Rant to Metro, who are paid, who used to blog daily, but are now down to one to two posts per week. Even their tweets are lame, robotweeting the same safety message every day.

    1. Anti-social media (with twitter being the worst offender) is lame by its nature.

  2. Speaking of traffic, I had to drive up to Edmonds about at 4:30 yesterday afternoon, and there was definitely rush hour traffic. It wasn’t horrible, but I was moving at about 30 mph (in the general purpose lanes) from 145th to 220th. I think people are driving more again.

    1. Ross, whether or not somebody likes the “Spine” as a concept, does anybody really think it’s acceptable to settle for 30mph as best people can move at rush hour along any major route in the region?

      While it’s a relief traffic is moving that speed, not least because it means a decreased number of drivers, I’d rather point to a greater number of actual people using that route, made possible by necessary advances in public transit.

      Mark Dublin

      1. I was in a car. Obviously buses were moving much faster. The HOV lane was fairly empty.

        To answer your question, though, 30 MPH is blazing fast for transit.

        It is worth noting that freeway traffic and mass transit have absolutely nothing to do with each other. If you base one on the other, you are bound to create something stupid.

        Anyway, my whole point of this comment was to point out that if yesterday afternoon was any guide, rush hour traffic was back. It went away for a while, but it was there yesterday.

    2. “I think people are driving more again.”

      Oh, for sure. I live on a minor arterial in Edmonds and I hear and see the traffic much more in the traditional morning and late afternoon peak travel hours. A lot of the traffic that passes through this area is from Boeing employees headed to and from the Everett plant.

      Still, driving at 30mph at that time of day thru that particular section of I-5 is pretty good compared to the “before times” when it can frequently be stop-and-go until you get past MT.

    3. I rode the 522 to/from Lake City a few days ago, and there were more cars on the freeway than I’d seen earlier, although still no traffic jam.

      I’ve noticed the same walking around downtown and Melrose Avenue around the trail. A month ago I’d see one person every other block. Now I see three or four people on some blocks. It’s still less than usual but more than it was between early March and early May.

  3. I hate to break it to y’all, but the future of Link Light Rail service on the Red Line is no better than 7.5-minute headway. Don’t expect trains to be rolled back to 3-car consists just for a few months before the Green Line opens. There is certainly not enough rolling stock to do 4-car trains every 6 minutes, even though it will take a lot more trains than before to have the same capacity while complying with social distance.

    Just to be clear, I agree with ST’s decision to restore fares on the trains, and CT’s decision to restore fares on SWIFT. Some of the details, like encouraging people to get their paws all over the ticket machine each time they ride, are questionable.

    The “non-essential” rider shaming also served little point except to make enemies they did not need to make. But then, ST has had a long-time habit of that, with their policy of warning and fining riders who have fully pre-paid. But this time, they covered themselves in gory for the whole world to see, in a far more tone-deaf approach than what happened with the kids who got accosted by the FEOs on their way to school the first day they were receiving their free passes.

    1. Which lines are you talking about and when? “Red Line” was retired before it was used, and the replacement plan is numbered lines. It’s clearer to talk about termini in the meantime. Are you saying Northgate-Angle Lake will be 7.5 minutes until Lynnwood-Overlake Tech Center opens? That was actually the original plan. The 6-minute headways were a stopgap until Northgate Link opens.

      1. I have a feeling we won’t even see ten minute headways this year. Sound Transit is introducing 20 minute weekday daytime headways in June – but I think at best we will see 15 minute service on weekdays and 20 minutes on weekends , assuming we don’t head into another lockdown.

      2. I agree in general with Alex. We won’t have a vaccine by the end of the year, nor are we likely to replicate the success of countries like Australia and New Zealand. The virus will be with us for a while, as will the low ridership and financial issues which lead to low frequency. That being said, I could see ten minute frequency (especially at peak), although most likely it will be somewhere in the 12 to 15 minute range.

    2. Brent, do you really think that, until we get MLK Link the universal grade-separation it needs, can the whole length of it reliably deliver headways shorter than ten minutes? Any plans still in play for a Boeing Field station, on a line that’ll join the MLK track at Boeing Access for the climb to Tukwila? Or is that so Unwoke it had to be forcibly Canceled?

      Also, while we both share whitened nasal fingermarks over a single certain shameful piece of fare policy, I’m actively looking to get the memory of it gone by my ORCA card’s first “beep.” Fare Inspector’s own instrument carries enough information to straighten out the mistake “In House.”

      Schoolkids and Fare Inspectors, my own years place them both in the same protected capacity. Generationally, we’ve handed them both the West Seattle Bridge written into its own RCW.

      If Bob Lane was still with The Seattle Times, I’d be glad to help Mike Lindblom arrange some pointed interviews involving personnel of the “UNAFFILIATED AGENCY” who REALLY controls the money that like an idiot I thought I was giving Sound Transit! Show me the “U” word on any ballot.

      Verbiage so convoluted it wouldn’t fit over the Sistine Chapel let alone every wall in ceiling of the Sea-Tac mezzanine, given over verbatim to one overworked very young train-rider threaten another one…

      Talk about a character flaw that’s making our trains uninhabitable by decency. Fact that perpetrators all get their fares paid by taxpayers whose majority doesn’t use transit makes it kind of “Free” for them, doesn’t it?

      Hollow threat to go over to Sound Transit’s enemies. They’re mine too. But, literal personal experience again, any official who’d inflict punishment to apportion already received revenue would also force a driver into knee-replacement surgery at the accelerator of a bus that by the contract’s own terms should’ve been spawning habitat off Sicily.

      I trust you, Brent. What’s my next move?

      Mark Dublin

      1. The MLK maximum is 6 minutes. It’s been running 6 minute peaks since around 2014 or 2016. It started with the end of the Ride Free Area or something around that time. I think it was before U-Link started. There’s no reason it can’t run 6 minutes all day if ST wanted to.

  4. It’s so much easier to maintain social distancing when people aren’t confined to the sidewalks.

    An easy step to take now would be to declare all the residential streets to be Woonerf-ish. No need to prohibit cars, but just be clear that pedestrians have right of way and cars must yield.

    It doesn’t help with the arterials, but I think it would be a great step all by itself.

    1. In many neighborhoods people are basically doing this right now. I’ve routinely just walked down the middle of the street — although it was a residential street. Doing that on an arterial takes more guts than I possess.

      1. Ross, some people are doing it now (myself included). But some people don’t seem to feel comfortable with it. And I’ve had drivers act like Corona-jerks and blast their horns at me. Making it official would give peds some more confidence and put drivers on notice.

        I agree it would be great to do something on arterials, just not quite sure how.

      2. As a large, imposing, confident male, I have been doing this as well. People who are more easily abused by car drivers are hesitant to do this, and rightfully so. You can’t expect marginalized people, women, and children to face off 5000lb steel objects with sociopaths behind the wheel.

      3. I don’t, not so much because I think drivers are unwilling to stop as that I assume they can’t stop. There’s always somebody who doesn’t see you, underestimates the stopping distance, or doesn’t compensate for rain-slicked roads enough.

  5. I’d like to see a campaign for property owners to clear out the vegetation that obstructs sidewalks. This is basic gardening, and property owners need to step up to the plate.

    Many property owners do a good job, but every block seems to have at least one property with overgrown vegetation.

    1. How many of those are elderly who cannot manage it themselves and cannot necessarily afford to hire someone to do it?

      It’s a rhetorical question but it would in fact be great to know the answer. I suspect that the answer is “some but not all”. Getting a breakdown by age and income level can help target the solutions.

      Part of it could be fixed with enforcement perhaps (though it’s pretty low priority as enforcement issues go), but part of it may come down to better community building. Neighbors could band to help out, the city or non-profits could donate some cash to hire someone. Heck, we here on this board could do the same. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, though, and it will not be fast.

      1. “How many of those are elderly who cannot manage it themselves and cannot necessarily afford to hire someone to do it?”

        That’s exactly the question I would ask as well. Additionally, how many of these properties are rentals versus owner-occupied?

        I wouldn’t say the problem is a significant one, but I think many of us, at some point or another, have walked down the sidewalk past a particular property that had overgrown vegetation, perhaps so much so that it created an obstacle in the public ROW. As you’ve stated in your comment, it’s a pretty low priority for code enforcement. It’s the sort of nuisance issue that one would hope a solution could be found through neighborhood and/or community engagement (and avoidance of other more confrontational remedies). In practical terms, I guess that sort of a more desirable approach to the problem comes down to how close-knit the neighborhood is, whether there is an existing HOA or other type of neighborhood association, and/or whether there are already established community resources/programs that could offer assistance, such as through a community center or local volunteer organization.

        Again, this is a low priority item for a place like the city of Seattle. They need to focus their attention and resources on first completing their sidewalk program.

        This brings me to one of my pet peeves, that being “the gardens” some property owners put in the planting strips between the sidewalk and curb. Some of these are just ridiculous, becoming jungle-like over time and creating safety issues when they block sight lines for both pedestrians and drivers alike. I saw these frequently walking or biking around my old neighborhood of Wallingford, but they exist all over the city.

        I’ll add one final anecdote.
        My 80+ year-old mother-in-law lives on Beacon Hill. The street she lives on got new sidewalks as part of the city’s “Safe Routes to School Program”. That was great. The only downside was that the city insisted on putting in planting strips that most of the neighbors did not want because of course they became responsible for the maintenance of these grass-laid strips*. I bring this up because I think it brings us back to the initial problem being discussed.

        *After mowing the planting strip in front of her home for the last few years, our intention now is to let the grass die this summer, lay a weed barrier and mulch the hell out of this 7ft-wide strip. Several neighbors have already either removed or covered their planting strips or taken similar measures to make them low maintenance. I think most are trying to be responsible neighbors and are weighing the trade-offs concerning surface water drainage and long-term maintenance. Unfortunately the city did not install permeable sidewalks for this project (like I have in front of my own house in Edmonds).

    2. I have been known to snap tree branches that block the sidewalk as I walk, especially outside commercial businesses. Most of the owners are just lazy, from my observations. There are obviously some homeowners who are older, and I’ve offered to help older neighbors who can’t keep the sidewalks clear.

      1. “…and I’ve offered to help older neighbors who can’t keep the sidewalks clear.”

        That’s awesome. Well done!

      2. Once I accidentally took out a whole apple tree while running on the sidewalk in the CD. Tried to push the branch out of the way without stopping while running by but it stuck to my arm and almost every apple on the tree went flying off. Felt bad about that one but fruit trees are technically not allowed in planting strips…

      3. On our walks around Ballard, my adorable self-contained energy-source of a wife used to carry a garden shears for the sole purpose of cutting off every branch that approached her glasses and leaving it on the sidewalk.

        Nature definitely does have her own countervailing forces.


    3. Every city’s got “Owner Will Maintain” signs, but is anybody going to call their city council member to get them enforced any time soon?

      Mark Dublin

    4. I’ll never understand why people insist on “aging in place” in homes that no longer fit them – they’re too large after the kids are gone, have too many stairs, or require too much maintenance. There must be a seriously strong tie to a specific place that a lot of people feel, but that I just don’t share.

      1. I’ve only seen “aging in place” referring to people who want to stay in their homes. Different people have different-sized homes: some are large houses, some are small bungalows, some are apartments. To me the issue is how much the house is displacing higher-density units that more people could live in, especially near frequent transit lines. But that’s a larger issue than one homeowner; in most cases the zoning wouldn’t allow higher densities anyway. What burns me up is people living in an excessively large house while simultaneously opposing the zoning changes/transit investments that would allow their fellow citizens to have decent housing in a walkable neighborhood.

        At the same time I’ve become skeptical of nursing homes because I’ve had a relative who had two short-term stays in them, and in both cases the service was mediocre, the staff were not very pleasant, the food was unhealthy (too much sugar, corn syrup, and processed foods), and she ended up sicker than when she went in (due to spreading colds, not allowing the heat to be turned up, not getting punctual bathroom assistance, etc). I’d always assumed a nursing home would be a good last resort for both them and me, even if they are espensive, but now I’m wondering if that’s even true.

        In the end, the issue of whether the elderly should remain in their houses is part of the larger issue: we need much more affordable housing, wider housing types, and all neighborhoods should be walkable, mixed-use, and have frequent transit. That’s a more fundamental issue than whether specific people live in specific-sized houses for thirty extra years.

      2. @steve,

        I am a senior citizen and I have lived in my home for almost 41 years and the reason I continue to do so is that I like it. It is the right size for me as I have 2 bedrooms and 2 baths and allows me to have guests although obviously not at this time. I also like the neighborhood I live in.

        But the main reason I stay is that I can’t afford to move. Sure I could get a good price for my home but where I do go as I can’t afford to buy anything else in the Greater Seattle area as this is where I want to continue live as I have done so for some 60 years.

        I have posted this before and have been told by some posters that I am being selfish by not selling as I am preventing younger people from buying homes in the area but I will remind all of you that you will be getting older and will become senior citizens in the future and think how you will feel when someone tells you that you are being selfish by not selling your home to make room for younger people.

      3. From talking to family members in their late 80’s, I can tell you what they tell me about staying put.

        1. They don’t want to pay rent. That’s true for not only care facilities but also many retirement villages. They have heard lots of stories about seniors running out of money. Even condo fees feel abhorrent to many.

        2. They like privacy. It gives them a sense of safety from theft and now from viruses. They don’t want to be the subject of gossip about them or their family.

        3. They don’t want to change. Living a certain way in one’s home for at least 30 or 40 years leads to contentment of familiarity and habit. That’s especially true if the relocation is somewhere else in the US where they know few or no people. Even when the grocery moves milk to a different cooler, they feel frustrated.

        I have even known several seniors that have left for Florida or Palm Springs only to return a few years later. Living in a familiar community is important to remedying senior loneliness since they no longer go to work and their lifelong social contacts pass away one by one.

        The scariest thing many suburban seniors dread is losing their drivers license. Lots of nearby senior villages when homes are sold rather than rented are usually on the edges of metro areas and are more suburban than their current home.

        It really points to the problem with homogenous housing stock in a neighborhood. Homes built for families with little kids don’t translate well to senior life. There is a tendency to segregate seniors and everyone else by lifestyle and it’s often not a good thing.

  6. > According to a press release, “riders taking repetitive trips without apparent destinations” have been “associated in part” with “a dramatic increase in unsanitary conditions, rider complaints and incidents of vandalism after fares were temporarily suspended in March.” In other words: Homeless people riding trains for free have trashed our trains and made other riders uncomfortable.

    Discomfort is not the same as vandalism or unsanitary conditions.

    Need I repeat that?

    Discomfort is not the same as feces on the seats.

    Discomfort is not the same as trash.

    Discomfort is not the same as vandalism.

    These are factual issues, factual problems.

    As far as I’m concerned, this is the right decision, and the next right decision is to put a transit cop on every bus through downtown and Aurora.

    1. I have always figured that “riders taking repetitive trips without apparent destinations” would be the case irrespective of fares, especially since with Orca Lift ect. they aren’t necessarily actually paying fares in the first place. Clearly, this brings in to question the feasibility of free transit, at least for the case of Metro and Sound Transit Link, in light of Seattle’s housing and homeless crisis. Caveat: ridership and I imagine transit policing is way down across the board, so could it also be related to having fewer “eyes on the street,” e.g., the feeling that “nobody’s watching so what’s the point anyway?”

      1. From here on, I’m trying to get this out of category and into practicality. Alone, nearest family distant, I really could walk out of my doctor’s office with paper saying my train ride’s Essentially therapeutic.

        Though also more than willing, on driver’s request, to give my seat-space to someone whose need is greater than mine. Though really think my age and my glasses assure nothing of the kind’s going to happen. Has anyone here seen a situation “come down” this way?

        But pn and Brandon, I’m willing to use my ORCA card’s e-purse to raise my $36 monthly pass to $50 to pay for hiring the personnel I think we need:

        Whatever’s most workable juncture between mental-ward staff and police. No military experience but respect it, so mental picture is somebody freshly-separated at JBLM this afternoon. Would truly appreciate applicable cautions and details from someone who knows.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Even a minimal fare eliminates a lot of antisocial behavior/inappropriate use. You see that in venues that do/don’t have a minimum charge. And even in places like Costco that have a membership fee/qualification compared to Walmart that don’t.

    2. Here is the relevant section of the press release: “The agency saw a dramatic increase in unsanitary conditions, rider complaints and incidents of vandalism after fares were temporarily suspended in March. The issues have been associated in part with riders taking repetitive trips without apparent destinations.”

      This does not say that homeless people have caused a single incident. Guilt by association is a legal fallacy. Rider complaints do not equate to actual issues. This press release is more a response to NIMBYism than it is to homeless individuals.

      1. What did cause the increase in unsanitariness/vandalism/behavior problems then? If it’s not from non-destionational riders, what is it?

      1. I like it. I think it is a huge improvement to have those angles.

        My only complaint is that I think the text is a bit too light. It is OK in parts of the East Bay (e. g. Lake Merritt) where there is nothing in the background, but for places where there is a line underneath (e. g. 16th St. Mission) the text gets a bit lost in the clutter.

        This map is also another example of the value of short names. The names on the Richmond line have been moved to the west, probably because there isn’t enough room to the right. If it wasn’t “downtown Berkeley”, but just “Berkeley” then there might be room to the right, which would then avoid the conflict with the commuter rail line. I’m not saying that is the best choice (maybe just “Berkeley” would be confusing) but agencies really should strive to make the names as short as possible.

      2. I agree that short names are best. New BART station names suffer from “name inflation” just like ST stations do. In fact, several BART stations originally had shorter names but local pressure created the “/ second name” phenomena just like here.

        As much as it hurts feelings to pick one two-word name and stick to that unless there is a strong reason, I think having that kind of principled approach is best for a number of reasons.

      3. The first time I took BART in the mid 80s “Downtown Berkeley” was just “Berkeley”, “El Cerrito Plaza” was “El Cerrito”, “West Oakland” was “Oakland West”, and “Civic Center/UN Plaza” was “Civic Center”. So at some point they added the “downtown” and “plaza” to distinguish Berkeley from North Berkeley and El Cerrito from El Cerrito del Norte. Maybe the old names caused confusion, or maybe somebody was just being verbose.

        (What does UN Plaza mean? Is that something new, or was it there all along but not part of the station name?)

      4. I used to visit a friend who lived near Ell Cerrito del Norte. I asked them whether that was a city name or neighborhood name or just the station name. He said it’s just the station name. “They didn’t think ‘North El Cerrito’ was sophisticated enough.”

      5. Mike, in the early stages of BART, many stations originally had names based on nearby streets (Some examples: Lake Merritt-Fallon St, Bayfair-Hesperian Blvd, Bayfair-Oecan Ave), El Cerrito Del Norte’s original name was Cutting Blvd. As for UN Plaza, it’s the street plaza that’s right above one of Civic Center’s entrances.

  7. Open thread question: Anyone know if parking is free (for 24 hours) at Edmonds Station on weekends? Does it fill up?

  8. What the heck is going on with ST and vertical conveyances at their stations?

    The latest example….

    “Rider Alert Update – Both University Street Station mezzanine elevators to and from 3rd Av continue to be out of service until further notice. Sound Transit sent this bulletin at 05/18/2020 06:00 AM PDT

    “Both University Street Station mezzanine elevators to and from 3rd Av continue to be out of service until further notice.

    “Link riders who require elevator service to or from the street, board or exit at Westlake or Pioneer Square stations instead.

    “Updates will be provided when they are available.

    “Your patience is appreciated.”

    Hasn’t the agency been working on the south mezzanine elevator for weeks now? Doesn’t this sort of work qualify as essential under the governor’s executive order?

    1. Judging by the elevator work done at Seatac Station, overhauls take 1 month longer than scheduled even outside a pandemic. The work may be essential, but the parts may well be delayed. ST still uses Kone, the company that put the broken elevators in to begin with. Until they’re fired and a new company hired to fix the issue, we’re just going to see more of the same.

      1. Thanks for the info. I hadn’t thought about the issue of delays in getting parts tbh.

        So it’s Kone we are talking about here, eh? Ughhh. I’ve heard a lot of negative stuff about their maintenance performance over the years. One of my good friends I met while working in the NY State Legislature who still works for the NY Office of General Services has told me some real horror stories about various agencies in the state and their difficulties dealing with this company. (It’s a statewide contract and hence OGS’s involvement.) Apparently they are very litigious when it comes to any challenges to their service contracts, even in cases where there is a clear indication of non-performance on Kone’s part. They have all of these “liquidated damages” clauses built into their contracts to cover a laundry list of failures to provide services (for which they are being contracted in the first place).

  9. Lately don’t mind at all becoming harshly judgmental when I think prolonged undeserved immunity warrants it, but these last literally years of defective vertical conveyance have got to be brought to an end.

    Is “Kone” a company or a country? But since we’re effectively into War Measures now, if we need to divert an entire “ST-‘s” finances to the purpose, would we not be justified in fixing the damn things ourselves, locally, and sending the bill to the Defense Budget?

    Across the bridge from Sea-Tac Station, there’s plenty enough room in the parking lot beside the elevator tower to assemble and attach a construction elevator, manned if necessary, for the duration?

    Word to Dave Turissini, if he’s still chief over routes like ST-574: If you haven’t already done so, post orders for every northbound driver to inform passengers over the PA to stay on the bus all the way to the Terminal, where the elevators still work.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I don’t know if the Seatac Station elevator is currently functioning or not. My transit use is only essential for medical reasons, and with hospitals in pandemic mode routine medical procedures aren’t happening at the moment. However the elevator replacement that took place last year was done by Kone and took one month longer than scheduled.

    2. The Mt Baker station elevators are frequently broken (sometimes both at once) and there is only one elevator going to each side of the platform. The escalators are broken frequently too.

      1. How long have these constant failings with our elevators and escalators been going on? And what are our passengers owed for the inconvenience? Same for the litany of misery the Breda fleet inflicted on our service over many years.

        I’ve been warned by people I respect not to blame Sound Transit for those people killed and injured because somebody didn’t know how to operate their own locomotive in Dupont. But since Sound Transit demoted an individual subordinate employee, its claim that it didn’t realize it had training responsibility has a hole or two.

        We’ve got a habit, and likely a reputation, for just shutting up and living with mistake upon injury upon disaster. So as a palliative, may I suggest we find a way to make a mistake with a card-tap count as “Just One Of Those Things”, have Accounting work around it, and, as far as the passenger’s legal responsibility, Just Let Go?

        Mark Dublin

  10. Oran, it would be interesting to see a sequel to the 1990 Forward thrust map you made, showing the kind of expansions you think might’ve happened in the environment where it was built.

  11. Another piece of good news. I was pleased to discover the other day that the city of Kirkland has now eliminated pedestrian beg buttons within its downtown. This has always felt overdue, glad to see it actually happen.

    Any plans for the city of Seattle to do the same in similarly high-traffic pedestrian areas?

    1. There are a lot of places in Seattle without beg buttons. I think the weird part is not really knowing whether there is a button or not. I’ve walked up to some crosswalks and looked around, only to realize there isn’t a button. Other places I’m surprised there is one.

    2. Some beg buttons are fake, and there was an announcement that more of them would be made unnecessary (and presumably signs would be put up telling people that), but I haven’t noticed any difference.

    3. In downtown Kirkland, they actually have signs at all the traffic light poles telling users that it is no longer necessary to press the beg button.

  12. asdf2, term “Beg Buttons” has always made me want to get with the traffic people and design a graphic of some really cute video animal, maybe a “Tapmunk”, sitting up quivering and bouncing up and down with longing for its turn to cross the street.

    Could be whole series of animals. Maybe a website where kids could invent and send in their own little advocates.

    And Oran, as usual, thanks for a really good posting. But regarding all history’s possibilities, I think a generation including community leaders like Jim Ellis, multiple elected and appointed officials, and the whole membership of ATU Local 587 deserve some really positive recognition for using buses to bring into being in stages what the taxpayers were not prepared to create all at once.

    Sworn to stay future-fixated rather than past from here on, I’ll let the Breda fleet join the vertical conveyances as positive cautionary incentives, and also old fashioned double-entry proof, that the more critical a piece of either equipment or policy, the more crucial it is to design and buy it right the first time.

    Mark Dublin

  13. And also that in basic matters of plain right and wrong, compromise has lasting, ugly, costs.

    Mark Dublin

  14. Just read today that Hertz is declaring bankruptcy. This has me worried that other rental car companies could be next, or, at the very least, with business travel down, that the remaining companies decide to consolidate to a handful of locations with the highest demand (e.g. the airport).

    Somewhat ironically, the pandemic has actually *increased* my use of rental car services. With carpooling now off limits, it’s the only way left to get to hiking trails beyond biking distance.

    I’m curious how Zipcar is doing during the pandemic. On the one hand, I could see demand increasing as people look for short-term alternatives to transit and Uber. On the other hand, people might be avoiding the service out of fear (what if the previous user of the car had the virus and sneezed behind the wheel), or simply because there’s less stuff open to drive to.

    But, if car-rental opportunities go belly-up, that presents one more reason for people without cars to get cars (at least those that still have job income to pay for it), which is one more factor that could make the return to transit all that much more difficult when the pandemic subsides.

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