A Final Look Back at Ze MV Tokitae

This is an open thread.

95 Replies to “News roundup: this is why”

  1. Martin, thanks for getting up this early, and with such a rich variety of topics. Where to start?

    OK, Federal Way. From my own Downtown Seattle Transit Project advisory days, Value Engineering might have some concerns about an art-piece that high, on such a slender column. All it’ll take is one angry liberal-hater with a giant truck that his lender just repossessed.

    So from some animal-observations on another continent, namely Africa, a real-life alternative that’ll really draw raves. Serengeti Park in Tanzania. High up in a thorn tree by the road, an antelope the size of a cow is literally hanging by its heels.

    Secret is that while a leopard is a relatively small cat, their tree-decorating ability stems from the way their leg-muscles and tendons “insert” into their bones. So meetings where Federal Way and ST blame each other could truly top the charts in a slow, sad season of Entertainment.

    Aerial air-pollution a la West Seattle? Like we did with the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, cast grooves into the concrete so rail can be added date non-specific, and hang catenary that’ll handle pantograph like this:


    And also, to de-mythologize my commentary, drove my quarantine-chamber of a car to fact-find Mercer Island yesterday. Relax. Did not open my window to exhale even once.

    Solution? Turn the bus-fuss over to your pandemicized high school student government.

    These kids are already at their keyboards writing their both own PhD theses and their prospectus for their electric one-wheeler companies. But to finally get serious:

    There used to be a venerable espresso cafe right there across from the buses and it’s out of business now. Geneva Convention says put it back or your first contingent of electric trucks will be carrying UN troops from Sweden!

    Mark Dublin

  2. Also, since Seattle Times says I have to give it ($) to find out why, which I already spent buying flowers for Seattle’s funeral, let me take a guess.

    Since they’re personally responsible for the safety of everybody on their bus, could that possibly be the reason drivers secure every wheelchair?

    Unless KC Metro and ST start employing roving on-call medical teams to deal with both chairs and mask-resisters….if you were in a wheelchair, in whose hands would YOU put your safety? Let alone your life.

    Mark Dublin

    1. “Port of Seattle expected to pay $2 million after passenger’s mobility scooter toppled in airport bus”

  3. Keep in mind that one of the largest advocacy groups behind the shortsighted “repair now and let our future selves deal with the inevitable continuing catastrophic failure” plan, West Seattle Bridge Now, is lead by a West Seattle real estate agent who hired an engineer with no bridge experience to give “expert” analysis.

      1. Isn’t that what we did with the Alaskan Way Viaduct? After the Nisqually earthquake, it was repaired and used for almost 20 more years.

      2. @Sam, iirc the Viaduct damage was structurally insignificant, and was opened as soon as rubble was cleared from its decks. Spot closures were needed as cracked chunks broke off in ensuing months, but replacement was only seriously considered after engineers determined that it only stood due to luck.

      3. @AJ but the Viaduct was still usable except in the case of another big earthquake, so WSDOT could take their time figuring out a retrofitting vs replacement plan. There weren’t necessary repairs to reopen the Viaduct, and the replacement tunnel could be built without closing the road.

        The WSB is unusable now, so spending double (or whatever it ends up being) to make a short-term bridge happen now just to have to build another one sooner rather than later seems foolish. Since it’s already closed, anything we do now should be relatively permanent since the “sunk cost” (my old economist roommate’s favorite term) of closing the bridge is already spent. While the argument of having a bridge open to facilitate faster economic recovery in West Seattle is persuasive, hopefully our city leaders aren’t just looking at what was, but also what could (or should) be with the resources we have.

      4. Although, RossB’s idea of cheap-squeezing another decade or two out of the high bridge instead and letting it go without replacement after WS-B Link is established in 2035 (or 2045, now?) is attractive…

    1. Repair-now seems like the best option. Yes, it means that it will need to be replaced in the future. It is also quite likely that other parts will need to be replaced as well. If we rebuild the bridge, it could mean that we have a small part of the bridge that is good for another 60 years, and huge sections that need replacing.

      It is like dropping a new engine into a 20 year old Buick. Yeah, it will run great for a while. Until the electrical systems starts acting up. Then the suspension. Then the transmission. Better to just patch it up and eventually get a new car. Or in this case, maybe not a car at all — get by with your wife’s car (i. e., the lower bridge) and the light rail.

      1. The problem is that the repair options that both (1) have long lifespans and (2) pass the sniff test, are both similar in cost and construction timing to a full replacement. And even then, like you mention, the rest of the bridge will have to be replaced as well, so basically we’re paying for two bridges.

      2. The low bridge is only usable for buses and emergency vehicles, e.g., cop cars, EMT vans. A lot of people in West Seattle will need a functional high bridge to drive beyond areas that public transit can’t reach just like people in North Seattle and the Eastside. Also, the low bridge, as far as cars are concerned, may not be strong enough to support massive car transit over a long period of time. However, I lean replacement, or at least an option with seismic reinforcement to minimize damage from the inevitable earthquake.

  4. Any reconstruction of the West Seattle bridge that doesn’t include two lanes for standard gauge rails is folly. The preferred alignment already (mostly) works for it: https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/wsble-west-seattle-draft-eis-alternatives.pdf

    I wonder if anyone’s done the math on what relative dollars Seattle is pitching into ST3 (and whatever the standalone rail bridge would cost) versus what any WSB rebuild is going to cost.

    1. I would be very surprised if it actually saves money to combine them. But yeah, it should be factored in (i. e. someone should do the math).

    2. I’m not a structural engineer but I know enough to say that rail bridges have different design requirements than car bridges too — because the PSI on a rail is much higher. For example, the bedrock may be more suitable for a single-tower cable stayed bridge from a single tower or for shifting the crossing location by hundreds of feet or meters.

      I’d rather any light rail bridge be designed from scratch — if for no other reason than to provide redundancy in case a replacement has problems. The bridge design also may need to vary by alignment. A bridge designed from scratch also allows allows for the bridge design to match the needed span lengths.

      1. I am also no structural engineer, but it seems that if ST can figure out how to make light rail float on I-90 (and WSDOT included capacity on 520 for the same), it shouldn’t be too difficult to beef up the high bridge to support passing four-car trains.

        Although, the argument for redundancy is strong given our history with faulty infrastructure. It just seems that the money saved by reducing property acquisition required for a new bridge would be sizable, especially given the Port wants minimal additional interference.

      2. it shouldn’t be too difficult to beef up the high bridge to support passing four-car trains

        That isn’t the issue. The issue is whether it would actually save any money or not. My guess it wouldn’t, given how little of the bridge would actually be replaced.

      3. Thanks for that point Ross. The center span being replaced is only 600 feet. Plus, the tracks haven’t been designed so it’s hard to define how the tracks would work and how much and where (side or center) structural work would be required fir the heavier load. Also, the current bridge is at a 6 percent grade, which is pushing the maximum grade of light rail so I’m not sure how that would slow down a train loaded with passengers.

    3. I believe the current approaches are too steep in our icy land. Now perhaps a separate approach on both sides could “merge” with the auto structure at the piers on either side of the channel, but LRT can’t be built exactly alongside the approach roadway.

      Grant, the J Church achieves 9% through Dolores Park, it is one unsettling ride down……

  5. Thanks, RapidRider. Can we get a reference for an assessment from somebody who’s got a LOT of experience in bridge analysis? And also maybe a price-quote from somebody who knows their demolitions?

    From what I recall, it didn’t take very long at all for the Kingdome not to be there anymore. Which provably did not leave Seattle forever short on stadiums either.

    Based on that piece of History, end result could be BOTH a bridge for Link (with the scenery we’re blessed with, tunnels are for spoilers) AND major lane-space for those Swedish electric trucks.

    Though no reason Kenworth can’t both buy those power-collectors from Scania AND branch-off a bus division. What we should’ve done at Downtown Seattle Transit Project’s first meeting.

    If Crimea won’t cooperate in getting us the Route 7 Ellensburg, those Swedish pantographs should get our ST 550 ORCA-holders across Snoqualmie Pass goin’ 70!

    Also, because as I recall the East Side has a lot of people from the Slavic lands, no reason a cultural exchange can’t also avail us of smartly-uniformed women tour-guides aboard to point out statues of heroes and monuments to famous battles.

    BUT. What my own career plans most need right now is for as many readers to start writing in immediately avowing that I do not know anything at all about transit! PROOF?

    However bad Marlon Brando’s Sicilian accent was, can anybody believe Don Vito’s proud country could ever produce an accordioned trolleybus with a golf-cart engine for the highway? C’mon, Daniel! You know what that mandatory espresso cafe will do to Mercer Island Park and Ride!

    Mark Dublin

  6. I find it rather offensive that ST hired a New York artist to put an elephant at the top of a sculpture for Federal Way Link. The other artists are also based far away. Are there really no local or regional artists who have proven understanding of our region?

    I can’t think of a more ridiculous animal to use! We have wonderfully beautiful animals to celebrate in our region that seem much more appropriate. Had ST chosen a nearby artist, they would know that. It seems akin to having a local art museum that only houses works from elsewhere.

    The art set-aside should give strong preference to regional artists.

    1. I agree. The whole point of the art set-aside is to employ artists — it makes sense to employ local artists.

    2. I had the same sort of reaction to the story about the STArt projects for the Federal Way Link Extension plaza and station. Were there any local artists considered? What the hell does an elephant have to do with our region? I understand Lipski’s desire to create a very visible, “whimsical” piece, but to me all this artwork (in its presented initial concept) does is remind me of the abuse of these magnificent creatures a la a Ringling Bros. Circus type of environment. Additionally, the whole “diversity” explanation made little sense to me. Frankly, I hate the piece and I hope the feedback is similarly critical so that the local arts commission reconsiders their recommendation to Sound Transit for the artwork. In the bigger picture, I can’t help but wonder if this is yet another dysfunctional process at ST.

      1. Sasquatch sounds like a great idea to me. If the artist/agency wants a sculpture with some significant height, along with some whimsy, then perhaps have a 10′ bronze Sasquatch perched on the cowling of a soaring unlimited hydroplane (painted in whatever colors/pattern Federal Way wants). Maybe they can even get the latter donated, like the artist did with the Prius taxi cab he utilized in his “Spot” work.

      2. We’re missing a prime opportunity for a surfer sasquatch with Cool Shades riding a massive wave here.

    3. This subject has inspired me to ask someone to write a post listing the Top 10 works of transit art in America.

      1. Many of the subway stations in Mexico City have gorgeous murals. Copilco, Insurgentes are 2 stations where you won’t be mad if you miss your train by 30 seconds.

    4. I really dislike how a station named Federal Way shows the symbol of the Republican Party either as promotion or derision. The perfect animal to put on a perch to reference the city ties to the Federal government is a bald Eagle — and they are native to our area!

      1. If you think it’s a reference to the Federal government via the GOP, you probably read too much political news

      2. Shame on you, Federal Way! Because here’s a Republican whom I dare anybody to deride!


        Especially as opposed to the Confederate-loving Dixiecrat Pierce County is hopefully temporarily named after. Whose take on States’ Rights was to jail New Yorkers for not helping to catch escaping slaves.

        “Fugitive Slave Act” of 1850. But like Rufus de Vane King” got traded for Martin, pretty sure we can find either a Black Union veteran or a brave nurse of any ethnicity to restore respectability to millions of people.

        Who carry the proud name of the transit system that will soon include Highway 7 express service all the way to Spanaway.

        In addition to a streetcar-that’s-really-light-rail to the old drugstore in Steilacoom that’s already got a picture of one down the hall by the bathroom. Cue the National Anthem.


        Mark Dublin

    5. The artist, Donald Lipski, has a few other pieces where he likes to put two disparate things together. One is a giant dog balancing a taxi on its nose. Another is wolf on top of a light pole. And another is a horse on top of a giant chair. And now we’re getting an elephant on top of a tree.

      1. In case folks want to see for themselves….

        I’d rather see something more like his “Nest” piece, perhaps incorporating a bald eagle motif, for this location. Obviously it would need to be constructed in such a way to protect it from the elements and destructive humans.

      2. In other words, the concept isn’t even novel — as well as has no geographic context.

        Why not a toucan on a gherkin?

      3. I like the dalmatian and wolf best, and did you see the narrow bus called Jackson? Can we have one of these instead of the Eagle and Waves in the Sculpture Park? The dalmatian balancing a car on his nose would be a great piece for a P&R or the end of car domination. I could just see the dalmatian flinging the car away.

      4. In other words, the concept isn’t even novel — as well as has no geographic context.

        Yep. Sort of like Hammering Man. There are several across the country, and it makes little sense for this region. A big Totem Pole would have much better, and they could have paid any number of local artists to make it.

    6. I like the elephant & castle without the castle. I’d go to Federal Way to see it. It’s the kind of unique art we should have. If you can see it from the train it can also be a landmark. We should aim for the most interesting art, not necessarily local artists.

      “The whole point of the art set-aside is to employ artists”

      I thought the point was to have more than just minimal drab functionalist designs. The law was passed in the 1970s when the cost of living wasn’t as much of an issue, so there didn’t need to be make-work programs for artists. It was a reaction to extreme modernism that threw away all decorations and presented us with blank walls, combined with a minimum-cost mentality that wouldn’t allow decorations to come back unless the law required them.

    7. The standing on one leg is reminiscent of the Kirkland Puddle Jumpers. Five children holding hands who touch the ground at only three points.

    8. I hope the artist at least came out here, and traveled to Federal Way to walk around the location, soaking up the vibe of the city, before deciding what to create for the site. Would anyone be offended if he’s never been to FW, and he’s had the elephant in a tree idea for a while, and was just waiting for an opportunity to do it somewhere?

  7. I’ve always thought that Link should take more advantage of LRT technology to do surface running in the suburbs, to lower capital costs and thereby serve more neighborhoods. This recent post seems to reinforce this idea as good design when branching is combined with surface running. Core services should be fully grade separated, but branched service can be surface running, as lower density on the branches allow for lower frequency, speed, and reliability.

    Looking at Link, I see a few locations for Stadtbah approach:
    – Ballard north of Market – could either have a 2nd N/S route, or branch eastward towards UW (Ballard-UW probably needs to be a tunnel, but then Ballard onwards to north Seattle can be surface running north of a junction).
    – Kirkland (‘branched’ from East Link), and Issaquah (particularly in Central Issaquah if the terminus leaves the freeway ROW)
    – Tacoma, particularly west of Tacoma Dome if there is branching to serve south Tacoma and another destination (TCC?)
    – Paine Field. The truncation of service at Mariner is functionally the same as a branch, allowing for surface running on much of the Paine Field alignment. Mariner is also a good place of a junction for a potential future branch.
    – West Seattle. The entire alignment is a branch and probably doesn’t merit full grade separation in the Junction.

    1. I’ve opined a few times that the Ballard Link segment should be east-west on Market Street with surface median stations at 15th and 22nd. It doesn’t seem a popular idea and ST seems averse to even considering it (in favor of a single elevated or subway Ballard station only at 15th or 14th that orients north-south but still makes everyone riding Link west of 15th have to cross that busy street anyway). The biggest drawback is with eventually extending Link further north — but that’s going to be difficult anyway.

      It remains only as a pipe dream in my head.

      1. I like that idea. So use the 14th ROW for the rail to transition from a high bridge to at-grade, then turn left at-grade surface running across market.
        That’s an excellent idea, and 2 stations in Ballard makes for much stronger transfers to both the D and 40, rather than just picking one. Could even then turn to run up 24th for future extension, plus have a right turn at 14th & market for a route eastward. This is a much better use of existing technology.

        I don’t think it’s a pipe dream. The section north of the ship canal is highly likely to be delayed with the project reshuffling. Keep beating the drum.

        If the station at 15th (or 14th) is elevated, there could still be an east-west at-grade alignment on Market, presumably part of a Ballard-UW line; the in-service ‘junction’ can be fully grade separated, but have a spur to move out-of-service trains between the two lines to avoid a dedicated OMF for the Ballard-UW line; I believe this is a common setup in older systems like NYC and Chicago.

        Alternatively, having the ST3 station be a bit south of Market would still allow for a T or Y junction.

      2. There are certainly lots of variations to site the station. It really depends on how to lay out the bus and pedestrian access.

        The advantage of the east-west platform orientation is that it better matches the east-west orientation of the Ballard commercial strip as well as the denser housing. Finally, it puts enough distance from the canal to land or even trench the tracks if a high 14th Ave bridge crossing is built.

        The firehouse on Market may need relocating. It’s in a terrible spot because of traffic right now so that wouldn’t be a terrible outcome.

      3. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense to me. You could have two, maybe even three stations in Ballard, instead of just the one (which is likely to be less than ideal).

      4. Agreed, Al. So far as the extension north, a junction at 14th and Market can do quite nicely. Yes, you’d have to trench to get over to 15th at some point (maybe using the High School yard), but it would “right-size” service to the north.

      5. Ross, How come when I suggested the same thing last year you pooh-poohed it? I guess the idea is less important than the ideator?

        One thing it would probably require is a two-block four-lane underpass at 15th with left turn-pockets over the through roadway.

      6. I wouldn’t do the underpass of 15th. The idea is to just take lanes for Link to save cost to free up funds for a 2nd station within Ballard, plus an at-grade station is much faster access for pedestrians.

      7. I’ve never pooh-poohed the idea of turning on Market and serving stations there. I wrote a lot about the idea (it would be above ground, then go to the ground between 20th and 24th or maybe it would be above ground the whole way, but single track after 15th). I also suggested a reverse split, with service in Fremont and the UW — this map was written a while ago: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1V7SVqymYwyy29rdVEz5Spw0XZPouoD7y&usp=sharing. So yeah, I always liked that idea, although I doubt ST could pull that off. It is possible you mistook my cynicism of ST as cynicism to your idea — if so, I apologize.

        But just to be clear, if the train doesn’t turn on Market and go west, I hate the idea of a station at 14th.

      8. Operationally, the green time for Market is going to be long because it takes pedestrians quite a long time to get across the street. For that reason, a surface crossing at 15th is reasonable.

        However, the way that riders transfer from buses has to be considered. In that sense, a grade separated station at 15th with entrances from either side of 15th is good. Otherwise, the feeder buses would need to turn off of 15th in one direction to not make transferring riders have to cross a wide 15th Ave.

        If a general concept of turning the tracks west can be introduced, the subsequent design refinements can handle the details.

      9. Aside from the D itself, will there be that many key bus routes on 15th at Market? Seems most routes would be east-west at that point, where they could even share the platform with Link for same-platform transfers (depending on desired Link frequency).

        Yes, a rider on D would have a long walk to transfer to an at-grade Link station on Market, if they are exiting the bus on the side of 15th opposite the Link station. But that seems like a good tradeoff for excellent transfers for pretty much all other routes.

        I would not be opposed to elevated over 15th and then at grade at 24th-ish; I’m just really keen on at-grade station being very cheap and efficient to both build and operate. Avoiding vertical conveyance is good for the rider and the taxpayer.

        When the station is place may end up depending where the other branch is pointing (recalling the original question) … if the branch is a route north on 15th and west on Market (then north of 24th?), then the station probably needs to be east of 15. If the branch is something towards Aurora or Fremont (as Ross proposed), then it’s probably over or west of 15th.

      10. “Aside from the D itself, will there be that many key bus routes on 15th at Market?”

        The D is going away. Metro’s 2040 plan has three routes on 15th: the Fred Meyer to Fred Meyer route to Lake City, a U-shaped route to 32nd Ave NW and Northgate, and a squiggly route in Magnolia to Northgate and Smith Cove. Only two of these will overlap at a time south and north of Market. The closest thing to a D will be RapidRide 40 and the Fred Meyer to Fred Meyer RapidRide.

    2. Surface running in reserved right of way and with absolute signal pre-emption at road crossings, like Westside MAX along the old Oregon Electric ROW.

      But yes, branching to serve various destinations make both the Green Line in Boston and the MUNI Metro subway in San Francisco smashing successes.

      1. Even with absolute signal preemption, speed isn’t as high as true grade separation and frequency would be limited to not be too disruptive for cross-traffic, so the logic around branching still holds. This is why Caltrain is grade separating major crossing before boosting frequency on the core line.

        Green line is an excellent example. Not sure Muni is a smashing success; some advocate for further grade separation, or just truncating rather branching some of the secondary lines (https://humantransit.org/2020/06/san-francisco-a-forbidden-fantasy-comes-true.html), so I might go so far as to say Muni is an example of branching too early or too often.

      2. The Green line in Boston and San Francisco’s Market st Subway are the remnants of much larger networks rather than anything intentional. And neither of them work that well because of it.

      3. Westside MAX runs pretty quickly west of Beaverton Creek. It typically hits 50 briefly between stations; grant that’s a bit lower than Link’s top end through the tunnels and south of Rainier Beach. But the reason MAX takes an hour between Hatfield and downtown Portland is not the top speed; it’s the number of stations. It’s doing what classic light-rail does: it serves a lot of medium density stations strung along it.

        So far as San Francisco, “some” generally means between five and a dozen people. That sounds like about the right number of those advocating truncating the J and L at West Portal and the M beyond SF State. The folks who live along Taraval, Ocean and up in Ocean View, however, are in a “cold, dead hands” mindset about keeping their service. But yes, inbound the vagaries of street running do cause bunching.

      4. Also, the reason that the M is the heaviest Twin Peaks line is not Ocean View, it’s SF State. Truncating the “S” at West Portal to “keep it in the subway” means that the single largest destination for riders through the Peaks have to ride an M.

      5. I view branching as a complex topic driven by the particular service needs.

        – Two branches work fine and generally seems preferable from an investment perspective . No one seems to expect ST Link to have problems as the main trunk splits to go south and east at ID station, for example. The Downtown Bellevue segment of Link can also be thought of as branched if or when the Kirkland – Issaquah line opens in 20+ years. I view the best future Link branching opportunities being on the single Ballard-Tacoma line (like branches after Ballard or after SLU to the north or a U-turn line south of ID or Beacon Hill to serve First Hill or the CD) and Link north of Lynnwood.

        – Three branches are kind of iffy. Manhattan’s subway trunks are often in three branches. I think it really depends on the loads and frequency of each line being balanced with the other two; if one branch has loads too heavy, it operates like four lines as one branch takes half of the frequency as if it’s two lines. Also, train reversals are often a problem in three-branch lines so that has to be considered.

        – Four or five branches are surely a problem. That’s what BART (4), SF Muni (5), Boston’s T (4) as well as Portland (4) and Dallas (4) have — and each often has operational challenges resulting from that structural cause.

        So I’d simply say two is good, three is iffy and four or more is bad.

      6. The Green line in Boston and San Francisco’s Market st Subway are the remnants of much larger networks rather than anything intentional. And neither of them work that well because of it.

        They still work better than lots of mass transit lines built in the last fifty years. The Green Line carries a lot of people, and complements the subway system. This explains the relatively high use of transit in Boston (compared to similar U. S. cities).

        Likewise, the Muni carries a lot of riders. It does fairly well given the lack of investment in it. They are just starting to look at making minor changes (as AJ’s link mentions). It should have had a lot bigger investment. Instead much of that money went to build BART. While BART did make the key connection across the bay, the rest of it was way too expensive for what it delivered, especially since Oakland has way too few stops. Brooklyn and Oakland are roughly the same size, with plenty of similarities. Brooklyn could definitely use more subway lines (or just better transit in general). But it has 170 subway stops. Oakland has 9.

        San Fransisco has 8 BART stations. If not for Muni, folks in San Fransisco would have to almost completely rely on buses.

      7. BART paid for building the Muni Metro tunnel in the 1979’s too, Ross. It didn’t all go for BART tracks. Before that, Muni light rail ran up and down Market Street on the surface.

      8. Yeah, but Muni is great because of the tunnels downtown and under the hill, not because it has 4 branches. If 2 branches were truncated, service and therefore ridership would be even better, as Walker argues. Levy argues that SFMTA should just give all branches better ROW, but I think the imbalanced ridership demands on the branches suggest Walker is more correct.

      9. Levy argues that SFMTA should just give all branches better ROW, but I think the imbalanced ridership demands on the branches suggest Walker is more correct.

        I also think that it comes down to money. The fact that it has taken this long to even discuss the splits shows what a low budget operation it is. I’ve looked at it, and improving the branches would not be cheap. It isn’t a matter of just taking away parking — you would have to move structures, or bury it — which isn’t cheap.

  8. The City of Seattle has determined that maintaining West Seattle Bridge traffic capacity will reduce carbon emissions. I hope it works!

    1. No, they’ve just determined that maintaining car capacity is a minimum criteria and a political necessity. Neither the city nor the county nor state have outlined a way to achieve their lofty emissions-reduction goals. They could start by doubling local transit, but all they offer is tiny measures which wouldn’t do much. So they’re peddling a carbon-reduction vision that’s a fantasy. And Inslee, for all his zero-carbon rhetoric and carbon tax and electric cars, has missed the low-hanging fruit of transit. With state funding and political support we could: increase the local bus fleets 50% or 100%, accelerate Link and Stride construction, buy the BNSF south track and put half-hourly Sounder and faster Cascades on it (moving most freight to the UP track), extend ST Express to Olympia (without necessarily bringing Thurston County into ST), and make the rural inter-county connector buses hourly every day.

      1. Those are all sound ideas. But rather than relying entirely on the carrot, it would be more effective to also use some stick: eliminate parking minimums, toll I5, and… don’t replace the West Seattle Bridge with anything but Link service and a bike path.

      2. I think they’re banking on EV’s. If conversion doesn’t come quickly enough, the State may just tax petrol cars out of practical existence. If gasoline is $7.00/gallon as it is in Europe, it will not be used for idling in commuting traffic jams. Cars will just be for heavy-haul shopping trips and long-distance.

      3. Of course it does in some places. But because so many European cities exclude cars from their centers or charge a high price for entry, there are per capita many fewer such locations.

        Don’t be a tool of the Republicans.

      4. @Tom: Do you have an updated list of these places? The one I can find easily is here:


        But it seems incomplete at best, given your comment that it is so prevalent – the largest city listed there (in Europe) is Venice, which is a clear special case due to the canals, and doesn’t include pay-to-drive places like London and (I think) Oslo.

        Thanks in advance.

      5. @Nathan – right, thanks, I did not think to search for “congestion pricing” as a separate term, good call.

  9. Over these last years, has anybody heard anything about Jack Mackie? First known for his bronze dance-steps in the sidewalk on Broadway, Jack headed up the public art for the Downtown Seattle Transit Project. Lord, was 1983 a long time ago.

    A team from all over the country gave us some serious leadership in the world of public art itself. If it were my call, though, I’d favor local artists. Because looked at one way, it’s the human creator who differentiates one piece of stone or molded metal from all the rest of it in the world.

    Decider is that an artist calls the shots on the final result, not the finance committee. Or the Donor. Or the Chief Engineer, even if he’s six feet tall and the artist about two feet shorter. Those embroidery tiles at Westlake were hers, and she didn’t tell him how to bore Third Avenue, did she?

    Have mentioned, though, that the way we handled “Value Engineering”, the artists all agreed that the process resulted not only a less expensive and stronger physical object, but a better piece of art. I lose track. Has anybody written a book on this?

    But above all, if we’re not already, I think Sound Transit should set itself the goal of being the top Public Artist among all the world’s Agencies. And the natural place to start?

    For potential revenue-sharing, a joint effort between Lake Washington Institute of Technology’s funeral program and it Precision Machining people would be a very good launch-pad. Though the State Legislature should really write, and fund, this Movement into law Statewide.

    Kind of dismissive to say “‘Tis an ill wind”, but a melted Artic will make it possible to send a lot of shapely elegance out of Port of Seattle on a shortcut Around The World.

    And while Kirkland Waterfront’s a shade larger, with a good hand at the helm and Ballard locks-crew at full “Ready,” Mercer Island can “gift” Bremerhaven with it’s grade-school’s sweetest.

    Mark Dublin

  10. Here are three other articles that may be of interest:


    For those who don’t subscribe this article notes rents for low to mid priced apartments are increasing in Seattle, in part because those WFH want more space, and rents for high end apartments are declining pretty significantly, due to high end renters moving out of Seattle due to economic changes and possibly lifestyle changes.


    This is the lead article on The Urbanist today responding to an editorial in the Puget Sound Business Journal yesterday questioning future transit spending. Since most on this blog probably don’t subscribe to the PSBJ I am linking the response on The Urbanist.


    Yesterday an issue was crime and the street scene in Seattle and whether it affects commuters or employers attempting to hire staff from the eastside. For more coverage, I would recommend reading the report linked to above. The author is an attorney; former public safety advisor and special assistant for police reform to the City of Seattle; former senior counsel to House Oversight Committee Democrats; City Attorney general election candidate (and son-in-law of former Governor Christine Gregoire who was a co-sponsor of the recent Cascadia report):

    Finally, re: the posts and discussion re: replacing or repairing the West Seattle Bridge, as I suggested before one of the issues with building a new bridge including light rail is the residents of West Seattle are demanding a new bridge (or repaired bridge) have the same or more car capacity as the current bridge, which creates a bigger and more expensive bridge. I was somewhat surprised by the links to the future development in Bellevue at its pretty modest height considering Bellevue just upzone its town center by 14 stories (which led to several large projects already being permitted under the old code being resubmitted under the new code) and its 1500 parking stalls, which at $85,000 per underground stall is over $100 million for parking if my math is correct, which suggests the city of Bellevue might be upzoning its town center but it is not decreasing its parking requirements.

    1. You and I remember yesterday very differently.

      “Yesterday an issue was crime and the street scene in Seattle and whether it affects commuters or employers attempting to hire staff from the eastside.”

      If you call a single poster’s tangent an issue, sure. I’m not sure I would though, and I butt heads with the STB hive mind on a number of issues myself.

    2. https://changewashington.org/leadership-responsibility/loophole-effectively-legalizes-most-crime-in-seattle/

      I don’t know why that bothers you. Are you bothered by the idea that so many low level criminals are poor, have mental illness, and/or have substance abuse problems? If so, welcome to the club. You are now just a little bit more “woke”.

      Are you bothered that a council member dealt with this long standing problem in a crude manner without any nuance — not unlike right wing zealots with their call for “law and order”? Yeah, OK. But keep in mind, this is nothing more than a proposal. It is not law. Oh, and the thing about laws, is that they can be changed. Just like the drug laws that essentially wiped out a generation of Black men (although in that case, those laws have still not been fully repealed).

      I guess my point is, what exactly are you worried about?

      1. I only posted the article. I didn’t write it. I thought it was well written by someone with legal and personal knowledge. I am glad you read it, and learned something from it (I hope).

        I am not sure why you would raise the 1994 Crime Bill former VP Biden co-sponsored and Pres. Clinton signed that led to the mass incarceration you ascribe to “right wing zealots” (which was repealed by Pres. Trump and a Republican controlled Senate), or why for you every issue is viewed through a prism of class warfare — whether on this blog or The Urbanist —that IMO detracts from any kind of serious point you are trying to make.

      2. “I only posted the article, I didn’t write it.”

        And then some whataboutism.

        I see you don’t want to answer the question. I guess you’re just trying to “start a conversation”?

      3. why for you every issue is viewed through a prism of class warfare

        Wait, you link to an article about crime and you think it has nothing to do with class? Seriously. Holy cow, man, the third point in Herbold’s proposal is about poverty — AKA class. Ignoring class when discussing crime policy is like ignoring race when discussing American history.

        I didn’t raise the 1994 Crime Bill. If you think the increase in the incarceration stated then, you are mistaken. The modern “war on drugs” started with Nixon, and yes, it was racist: https://www.businessinsider.com/nixon-adviser-ehrlichman-anti-left-anti-black-war-on-drugs-2019-7. This set the stage for Reagan. He ramped up the the drug war. That is when you had the beginnings of the prison industrial complex (i. e. the for-profit prison industry). The number of arrests skyrocketed. Laws passed and promoted by Reagan had tougher penalties for crack than for powder cocaine. This was absurd — like having a harder sentence for beer, rather than hard liquor. A better analogy would be to say it penalized malt liquor more than 15 year old scotch — it was aimed at poor black people. By 1994 incarceration rates were skyrocketing*. Clinton’s policies didn’t help. Like so much Bill Clinton did, his attempts at bipartisanship were misguided, as he adopted the worst aspects of the modern Republican Party. To be clear, there were many black leaders and well meaning white leaders who favored “get tough on crime” policies. They were mistaken, while many right wing zealots (Reagan, Nixon, and those that followed in their footsteps) new exactly what they were doing. The similarities between the Military Industrial Complex and the Prison Industrial Complex are striking. Play on the fear of white voters while creating a new industry based on imprisoning poor black people.

        Anyway, worrying about this proposal is silly. So what? It probably won’t become law, and if it does, so what? It likely won’t change anything. Crime doesn’t go up and down much based on punishment. Bigger societal and environmental changes influence crime much more. The fact that very high numbers of low level criminals have mental illness, and/or have substance abuse problems makes that clear. The big drop in crime had nothing to do with our extremely high incarceration levels, but rather, getting lead out of gasoline. To be clear, I think Herbold’s proposal is stupid. But the effect it would have on crime locally would be minimal.

        Anyway, I raised the war on drugs to make the point that laws change. Compared to other laws — that ruined lives if not an entire generation — easing up on the punishment of minor crimes is unlikely to leave long lasting harm.

        * If you look at this chart, you can’t even find the Clinton crime bill — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violent_Crime_Control_and_Law_Enforcement_Act#/media/File:US_incarceration_timeline-clean.svg. In contrast, you can easily find the spike that occurred under Reagan.

      4. OK, I should probably let this go, but you wrote:

        why for you every issue is viewed through a prism of class warfare — whether on this blog or The Urbanist —that IMO detracts from any kind of serious point you are trying to make.

        Look through the set of comments here or on any post. For that matter, look through my Page2 posts. Or look through the history of my comments on The Urbanist. You will find very few that actually deal with the issue of class. It comes up (with issues like housing affordability, which by its very nature is related to class). But for bread and butter issues — where to run the buses or trains — I rarely mention it.

        The only reason you think my comments are all about class, is because you are the one who brings up the issue. The “Seattle is dying” theme — a subject you and only you routinely mention — is based on race and class. Of course it is. It divides this country into an “us” versus “them” mentality. It is designed to create fear. Fear of the big city, and the lax crime policies the city incorporates. If you follow Trump, you can see that he is simply carrying on this long tradition, with little subtlety. Just consider the history of the term “Law and Order” in politics as described by Wikipedia:

        Both the concept and the exact phrase “Law and order” became a powerful political theme in the United States during the late 1960s. The leading proponents were two Republicans, the governor of California Ronald Reagan and presidential candidate Richard Nixon. Nixon targeted, among others, working class White ethnics in northern cities to turn against the Democratic Party, blaming it for being soft on crime and rioters.

        Sound familiar? Trump ran on that exact idea. He even uses the exact same terms as Nixon (not only “Law and Order”, but “Silent Majority”). You bring up the idea that Seattle is falling apart, and not safe, and then expect us to ignore the obvious political motivations of the idea (whether you are motivated by that or not)? Come on.

  11. Like I’ve said before, Daniel, whether it’s to do with affordability or criminology, where I think the fault lies is in these years’ conversion of “Markets” from an agreement to a religion.

    Under “Jubilation”, though, Scripture gives a lot more line-space to a Nation’s MANDATORY debt-relief than for anybody’s choice of a bed-partner.

    My own people’s Old-Country “take” frugality left many a penny pinched in half. So I’ve a strong suspicion that the Second Amendment’s authors put their own thinking on this one into the Ninth. “Nothing mentioned here cancels any Right everybody already has!” Especially a debtless Life.

    A classically healthy approach has long been to ask, “Are You The Buyer or the Seller?” But today’s REAL pandemic forth this question to an ever-increasing number of people: “Would you rather leave your hook for a skillet, a stew-pot, or the oven?”

    So let’s start by creating a three-section low-floor electric Rapid-ride named Roosevelt with Franklin’s face on the logo, as they keystone kickoff of the Defense-grade Federal works project that’ll wipe out both homelessness and crime-causing desperation with the mark of a marker.

    One of whose earliest effects, whether we’re talking about my former or present home-town, will be to put enough working people legitimately on the streets 24-7 to persuade any malefactor to go home and take it out on their own window.

    My own word across the spectrum, incidentally, is for the leaders of my own local BLM chapter to appear on camera with the half dozen fine young police officers who are somehow all we can afford. And suggest the business community help us afford the twenty or so more we need.

    Because I’m sure that when they jointly arrest the ones who broke two of my friends’ store windows, about ten BLM-hating right-wing “provocateurs” will get taken into custody. Bail them out if you want, Daniel, because the point will be made.

    Mark Dublin

  12. In the linked news release from ST on their new hire for a Chief Safety Officer (or whatever they’re calling it officially), there was this:

    “He is also a former captain of the Indiana State University football team.”

    What, no inclusion of his favorite hobbies?

    Turning serious again, apparently ST wanted to convey something with the inclusion of this part of Mr. Wright’s bio. It just struck me as silly.

    This search seemed to go on for a very long time considering it’s now been more than a year since the NTSB’s final report on the DuPont derailment. Thus, I seriously hope that ST has invested this time wisely and set up this new hire to succeed in his new role.

    1. Yeah, its silly. But that’s fine. I think it is common, and in my opinion nice, to pass on some sort of trivial detail about their life. It is essentially a mention of his hobby (or in this case, former hobby). Being the captain of a Division One football time is a lot more notable than, say, woodworking.

      1. Tlsgwm and Ross, can you clarify what anything about Mr. Wright’s record has to do with the wreck at Dupont?

        Are you suggesting that either he was implicated, or that something about his managerial style could incline him to deliver the kind of judgement or performance that could lead to a repeat of that tragedy?

        Mark Dublin

  13. Memory fades as maybe it should, Nathan D., but because two officials hold special places of esteem in my own heroes-gallery, I’ll leave it at this.

    My recollection is that an excuse offered at the time was that the agency did not realize they had any responsibility for training.

    Ron Tober and Joni Earl would have made it their very intensive business to both know, and make damned sure everybody in their command acted on, that knowledge.

    So I’ll ask Seattle Transit Blog’s readership to welcome Mr. Wright to his new position, and give him all the assistance and support we can. Because character-wise, he’s already ahead of me on one score:

    I’m not sure I’d take a driving job where I so often had to spend so much more time looking in my rearview mirror than forward through the windshield.

    Mark Dublin

  14. Shame on me! All this record verbiage about some serious transit-peripheralities, and not one on the subject of the wonderful lead photograph.

    You can hear that ship’s horn wailing, you can hear those Harley’s roaring, and that crow blowing everybody off the line in a cloud of feathers!
    ‘Cause today Copenhagen.

    And tomorrow, Olympia, Tacoma, Desmoines, Southworth, Fauntleroy, Colman Dock, Edmonds and above all MERCER ISLAND!


    Cue “Born to Be Wild!”



    Mark Dublin

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