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JN_Seattle
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Rise in the price of gasoline in real dollars matters also, combined with stagnation in middle class incomes. One point to remember -- even if VMT falls ten percent, there's still a hell of a lot of driving going on. Claiming that electronic communications is going to take down travel demand goes back several decades. Nice to see the claim come back. I was once all in, and then went way out. Time to dust off the old research and see what's different now.
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Now I'm waiting for Jarrett Walker to chime in on self-driving vehicles, perhaps with a partial reconsideration of his opening essay at the top of this present increasingly long page loaded with comments. There is some documentation of evolution -- both historical and future -- toward robo-taxis by Princeton University Professor Alain Kornhauser visible at http://www.cs.princeton.edu/courses/archive/fall12/cos402/readings/kornhauser_slides.pdf Further clues to the evolution of self-driving automobility already now underway is suggested in the New York Times of January 12: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/12/science/drivers-with-hands-full-get-a-backup-the-car.html
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I haven't noticed low ridership outside of rush hour on RapidRide D, the time when I usually ride it. In any event, it seems King County Metro has an evolving case study in the service change brought by the advent of the RapidRide C and D lines in Seattle. Bring on the data! Will the data show that service is getting better or worse with the changes brought by RapidRide? Time will tell. The situation is fluid, since adjustments are still being made. Equipment is still being installed at some of the stops. Buses are being added. And patrons are learning that they can speed up dwell times by boarding through the rear doors legally with a transfer in hand, including a smart card that has already been tapped. My driver the other day on D line was training patrons as they boarded unnecessarily at the front door. Picking up on the blog post headline, I claim the opportunities overwhelm the dangers when we think of King County's lite, arterial BRT as "incremental" rather than "incomplete." Whatever will happen, it will happen pretty quickly compared to ... building train lines. And BTW (here I go!), if you want to see "incomplete" and "dangers" in a transit system, consider Seattle's signature system, Central Link light rail. Make that "near-permanently incomplete" as construction and funding woes continue for the next several decades. This is our incrementally forthcoming light rail subway line burrowing northward out of downtown at the price of BART, with operational speed and capacity to be limited by four-car trains and a sharp 90 degree turn under downtown Seattle. Subway builder Sound Transit is forecasting twice the daily rail ridership in 2030 than is forecast by the Metropolitan Planning Organization for 2040. Who to believe? It depends on whether you think Seattle folks in the 2020s and 2030s will show up to pack themselves like sardines into light rail cars.
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I ride the bus described, and I like it. As with all transit rides, it could be better. It's not a subway, nor a streetcar, but it was built faster, and costs taxpayers a lot less. The picture shown above that's reprinted from the front page of the Seattle Times newspaper was I think meant to illustrate a new RapidRide bus "stuck in traffic." But it's not. The positions of the cars in the photo leads me to re-interpret the picture as showing heavy, mixed-mode traffic in motion, perhaps following an opening of the Ballard drawbridge to let a boat through on the Ship Canal that divides Seattle in half. For non-Seattle readers, notice the elevated bridge tender's cabin, the raised gates, and the green lights at the draw span further down the bridge, about halfway across the bridge, but distorted to look further away by the camera perspective. I'm guessing that the RapidRide bus in the picture would move across the bridge at the same speed as the general traffic. Metro planned for nothing different. When the bridge lifts, everybody is stuck. Welcome to Seattle, and please turn off your engine to reduce emissions. Given the daily volume and mode mix on that 1917 bridge, a dedicated lane is not an option that will likely be painted in. Through 1939, the Ballard bridge had tracks of the Seattle Municipal Street Railway on it, part of a citywide network that was completely ripped out and gone by 1941. Now it's just damn busy all day with cars, trucks, and a relatively few buses. Bikes and peds have to use a narrow sidewalk. I live near where the picture was shot, and often make the merge that this bus is shown making as a car driver. Under Washington State law, that bus has the right of way on entry. It is coming off an entrance ramp to the bridge that merges a bus station stop re-entry point with two streams of car/truck traffic. Note the "yield" triangle sign on the bus above the left tail-light in the original picture http://ow.ly/fHCZw. Seattle drivers will let that bus enter. The performance expectations for RapidRide, funding for which was voted in 2006 and talked about ever since, with publicity and hype climbing throughout 2012, were allowed to soar beyond what could be met. There are lots of ways in which this line can be and will be fine tuned into greater speed and reliability over the decade that will pass before a rail line is possibly built to serve some of the points in this corridor. Money matters. The Metro transit agency has to serve the entire county including all of Seattle and Bellevue, and the level of resources limits how much it can do in any one corridor. Finally, the term "BRT" has now morphed in practice to mean many different levels of service, many of which are not very close to "like a train on rubber tires," which was a popular phrase ten years ago. King County Metro doesn't use "BRT" or "bus rapid transit" in its latest web page description of the RapidRide service. Europeans have now introduced the term BHLS, meaning buses with a higher level of service, which I think fits the idea that there are all sorts of ways to improve bus service for more speed and reliability, including boarding through all doors, paying with smart cards, and bus stops further apart. Some of these techniques have been incorporated on parts of the Seattle RapidRide already, with more improvement coming in the future, phased in. I call this approach "incremental BRT" as described generally at http://ow.ly/fHKPi.
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Where are the results of the best and worst project contest posted?
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I have just checked out the status of a frequent bus service map for Seattle, and for some reason, King County Metro still hasn't published such a map for its entire service region, even though the agency lists its frequent service routes on one page of the web at http://metro.kingcounty.gov/tops/bus/frequency-of-service.html . There is frequent service map for downtown Seattle, aimed at showing how to move around downtown Seattle, at http://metro.kingcounty.gov/maps/downtown-seattle-service.html . To show the way regionally, Seattle-area private citizen and transit advocate Oran Viriyincy in 2008 created a Metro frequent service map, posted at http://www.flickr.com/photos/viriyincy/2611606345/in/set-72157605461561235/ . From scattered conversations with Metro officials, I think the issue may be a desire to keep a public (taxpayer) focus on the evolution of the RapidRide arterial "BRT" service, five years so far in creation with years to go, for which maps of all six lines exist, even though the service does not yet in total exist. See http://www.kingcounty.gov/transportation/kcdot/metrotransit/rapidride.aspx .
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The above pictures of wilderness do not represent the focus of the long-standing Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program! In this study did Brookings do computations and create findings and conclusions that include averages encompassing absurd applications of urban transit, such as travel times from Needles to Riverside in California? I doubt it, but I'll check and be back at some point later.
Toggle Commented May 21, 2011 on great american "metro areas" at Human Transit
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The Brookings report is at http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2011/0512_jobs_and_transit.aspx Study is titled "Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America." Cool interactive maps at http://www.brookings.edu/metro/jobs_and_transit/map.aspx One of the punchlines of the study is, "The typical metropolitan resident can reach about 30 percent of jobs in their metropolitan area via transit in 90 minutes." Brookings researchers think this is not good performance. Comment: The tougher standard earlier used in Seattle by the MPO is the percentage of jobs a typical metropolitan resident can reach by transit in 30 minutes. Why 30 and not 90? 30 minutes is the average commute in Seattle area by car, plus or minus a few minutes, and also in most other cities. I've used the Seattle MPO percentage number several times in presentations as a predictable show stopper. For fraction of jobs reachable in metro Seattle by average resident in 30 minutes, the modeled number is 1% today, and 1% in 30 years with the light rail network completed. Elected officials actually gasp. That percentage job access measure is now no longer used by the MPO, perhaps because the Coalition for Effective Transportation Alternatives kept saying it out loud. Brookings has a point, even with the 90 minute standard they use to keep transit from looking so bad when it competes with the dominant car mode. Think about transit's geographic coverage and support of work trips in case you've read the MPO 2040 Plan and are wondering how Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue-Everett area can't move the SOV mode split off of 43% after spending half of its transportation resources on transit over the next 30 years, according to the big computer model, which takes into account land use shifts. Transit overall around Seattle goes from 3% to 5% market share over 30 years, with light rail assumed to be funded and built even beyond the network that is planned now and short of revenue for completion. Yeah, I know, thing will turn out differently if gas goes to $10 per gallon and even more people and offices than planned move close to train stations with four-car light rail trains. Place your bet. I'm betting on small, cheap EVs and highway automation. Per the PSRC model results, four times more riders will take buses than trains in 2040.
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Is there any work on this question from academics who have more standing as unbiased analysts? PIRG doesn't qualify on neutral predisposition any better than the Heritage Foundation, which has its own report on the question posted here: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2009/06/federal-transportation-programs-shortchange-motorists-update-of-a-usdot-study
Toggle Commented Jan 8, 2011 on do roads pay for themselves? at Human Transit
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This is a good idea for trip planning that is done by hand with multiple timetable web pages. Providing a head start on this task, the King County Metro (Seattle area) trip planner provides semi-equivalent functionality to this idea in that the suggested trip itineraries created at http://tripplanner.kingcounty.gov/cgi-bin/itin_page.pl?resptype=U have hot links to the timetable pages of the particular multiple routes needed for a complete trip if one wants to tweak the suggestion or find fall back times to account for late buses (it happens). Inside the Metro web, one sees crossing bus routes at transfer points on the map, but the route numbers are not "hot" for clicking to jump. But there is a place to enter another route number for a jump at the top of every timetable page. See for example http://metro.kingcounty.gov/tops/bus/schedules/s018_1_.html
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