Coverage of Transit Sleuth TV Episode 1 & The Precursor, That Launched Transit Sleuth TV

Al M @alyourpalster¬†at his blog “Introducing Transit Sleuth TV“,¬†Dogcaught¬†“Transit Sleuth TV”¬†care of @steveeshom¬†and Portland Transport’s “Open Thread for the Week of 9/15/13“, thanks @ChrisSmithUS. Also I want to give a big shout out and thanks to Paul Peterson of @EmpteFilms¬†for helping me conjure up the idea to start Transit Sleuth TV. Thanks and cheers Paul, we’ll have to have a beer again soon and plot out a new episode!

In other coverage here’s a few of the tweets. Thanks to everybody for getting the word out on the first episode!

Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail opened a number of years ago. Paul and a crew of friends, transit advocates all, joined forces for a tour of the light rail opening. This was, as you can see if you watch the video, the precursor of Transit Sleuth TV. Thanks to Paul for filming and lighting the fire of the idea to start a project around this. Finally, I’ve got myself in gear and put the first episode together here: “Transit Meet & How to Carry Wine and Gelato“. In the near future Paul and I will probably team up to bring you some more Transit Sleuth TV. Stay tuned, for now here’s the original, from the opening of the Link Light Rail in Seattle.

Questions: Seattle, Light Rail, and Increasing The Standard of Life in the City?

The Negative

I’ve given Seattle (specifically Metro and Sound Transit) a lot of crap over the years. Overall they do an ok job, I do think they spend WAY too much money on what they’re building. For whatever reason Sound Transit just keeps on suggesting these cut and cover, dig and cover, elevated, and tunnel bore type routes which are insanely expensive. They’re building light rail like it is heavy rail, which puts light rail in the heavy rail price range without the carrying capacity. This leaves me perplexed. This also leaves the Seattle area with very little light rail that could be serving hundreds of thousands of riders by now if it didnt’ get stuck¬†every time¬†it is up for vote or pulled off the “build queue” because it is so blasted expensive.

As I’ve said before, there are prime examples of how to use light rail to our south and north of the city. Vancouver BC carries more people on light rail than the entire Seattle Metro System, and it is only a couple of lines. Portland carries over a hundred thousand people a day on its line, with a per ride cost that is vastly lower than Sound Transit Link Light Rails costs now or will ever cost even with additions. All of this amounts to a lot of scary budget problems and other concerns that I have about Sound Transit.

Overall, it looks more like this whole light rail effort of Sound Transit’s is somewhat misplaced, overpriced, and won’t actually serve to create or expand town centers in core areas that it will serve.

The Positive

Looking at the east side line provides a glimpse into an amazing service potential.¬†Uninterrupted¬†by traffic, unencumbered by the inefficiencies of diesel, hybrid power, or even rubber on road concerns Bellevue could be connected 365 days a year through almost any conditions. Cold weather concerns in this area wouldn’t even bother light rail, the destructive nature of chained tires on buses goes away for this route. Increased capacity to move people between Bellevue and Seattle increases by a substantial percent.

Over a period of 30 years of operation, the net cost of light rail, even with some of the above mentioned design cost concerns, would be equivalent to that of similar bus operations with lower capacity.  (Keep in mind this is in comparison to the usual 18-22 years it usually takes for light rail to recoup and become cheaper than equivalent bus service, after which light rail only becomes a smaller and smaller cost compared to equivalent bus service)

Additionally the amount of “choice” riders will increase based on¬†empirical¬†ridership numbers. The town centers that are served (Bellevue and Seattle) will gain foot traffic that, some realize, is vastly more valuable and less costly to service than auto based traffic. The Overlake Transit Center area, pending Microsoft maintains itself as a dominant employer in the area, will become even more intensely utilized. In addition Microsoft itself could probably even woo additional talent from downtown (which it often desperately wants to do – re: Connector).

The Questions

In the end though, will this work? Will Seattle be able to provide the funds for this? Will Seattle get enough support from the Federal Government? Is the potential payoff even worth it compared to a cheaper implementation of light rail? Why is Seattle, at least by action, ignoring lessons learned in Denver, Portland, San Francisco, and Vancouver? Will people really use the system in enough numbers to validate its massive cost per mile? Already auto based transportation is draining this country of monetary resources,¬†inefficiencies, and now we continue to fall into hock to support it. But can we do better with well built transit services? Will we recoup enough efficiencies from this to save so much of our decaying standard of life? Will Seattle’s (via Sound Transit) ongoing attempts to build out light rail actually build up the town centers within this city?

What’s your take? I’d love to know. Please comment! ¬†Cheers ¬†ūüôā

Transit Sleuth Weekly Picture (005)

A little late in the day, but delivered none the less. The Weekly Picture. Enjoy. ūüôā

Light Rail Off to the High Rail Segment Over SODO

Light Rail Off to the High Rail Segment Over SODO

 

 

A Few Not So Great Shots of the Snow

…with of course a transit focused emphasis. ¬†ūüôā

A Little Bit of Commentary

So almost every single bus line is either shut down, on snow routes, or almost non-operational. ¬†Same thing happened to TriMet when it snowed and they got slammed for it. ¬†A few people in the community even ranted and raved about how TriMet had done a horrible job keeping the buses running. ¬†They noted that “Seattle didn’t have this problem and Seattle does way more to keep the buses running”. ¬†I can officially say that is not the case. ¬†The simple fact is, “BUSSES CAN’T RUN DURING THE SNOW!?!?!?!!!!”

Meanwhile in the reality of the realm of physics and serious infrastructure, Sounder and Link Light Rail are running just fine. ¬†There was a small delay on a Sounder run this evening. ¬†Thousands of people used this non-auto, non-bus based transport to get home without¬†interruption¬†or “alternate routes”. ¬†In inclement¬†weather (which it seems we’ll be getting more and more of over the next century) rail absolutely rules. ¬†Rubber on road is an absolutely inferior technology for this type of situation. ¬†Also to add, the streetcar in Tacoma and Seattle are running without¬†interruption. ¬†Seriously, American cities desperately need more rail. ¬†Not BRT, not extended buses, not all wheel drive buses, but rail. ¬†Hard care, large scale, massive infrastructure with trains and light rail on rail. ¬†It doesn’t stop during snow, heat, or otherwise. ¬†It is only minimally hampered in all but the most harsh weather. ¬†But I digress, on to more winter wonderland fun…

…with two last links…

Some news about all the snow on the Capital Hill

…and some sledding/luging down Denny.