Transportation headlines, Monday, November 24

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Sound Transit to seek new tax, fees to extend light rail (Seattle Times) 

With traffic growing crunchier in the Seattle Metro area, the agency that runs regional transit says it intends to put a sales tax increase on the Nov. 2016 ballot to fund more rail expansion. Excerpt:

Board Chairman Dow Constantine, the King County executive, said he wants the big numbers out in public long before a 2016 election, when a presidential race should entice young, pro-transit voters.

“People are smart, and they realize that permanent infrastructure that changes mobility in the region requires investment over a number of years,” he said.

A new three-mile subway route is due to open in early 2016 that will extend rail to the University of Washington. It’s opening six months ahead of the original schedule and officials hope that a new tax can be combined with funds from 1996 and 2008 ballot measures.

As regular readers here know, Metro is also considering a ballot measure for Nov. 2016. No decision has yet been made about whether such a ballot measure would be an extension of the Measure R half-cent sales tax increase (which expires in mid-2039) or a new tax. The Metro Board of Directors are expected to make a decision on whether to pursue a ballot measure in 2015.

What a Vermont Avenue BRT line could look like (Streetsblog L.A.)

Metro is moving ahead with a study of a potential bus rapid transit line on Vermont Avenue, one of our area’s busiest bus routes. It’s still very early in the game so to speak, but Joe Linton gathers some nice photos and videos of what BRT could look like (on Vermont or anywhere else), particular the type in which buses run down a center lane. Vermont, of course, is an intriguing corridor as the Red Line runs under part of it and Vermont also intersects with the Expo Line and Green Line.

As everyone knows, BRT is not always easy to build here or anywhere else in the U.S., particularly if BRT lanes mean losing street parking or a general traffic lane. But they’re also a good way to improve bus travel.

BART’s Oakland Airport shuttle gets rave reviews (San Francisco Chronicle) 

The new BART people mover during its testing phase. Photo: BART.

The new BART people mover during its testing phase. Photo: BART.

The first riders of the new people mover between the BART train and the Oakland Airport gave positive reviews to the eight-minute ride, saying it beat paying for long-term parking and riding the old shuttle bus. The driver-less people mover does charge a fare that is included as part of a BART fare. In case you’re wondering, it’s about $10 to ride BART from the Civic Center in downtown San Francisco to the Oakland airport. It’s a lot cheaper than a cab.


9 replies

  1. “In case you’re wondering, it’s about $10 to ride BART from the Civic Center in downtown San Francisco to the Oakland airport. It’s a lot cheaper than a cab.”

    Depends if you’re a single traveler or with a family. The cost of a cab ride is the same whether you have one person on it or four people on it. And most people who visit other cities for vacation do not go alone unless they are a loner; they usually go together as a family. At $10 per person for a family of four, it’s cheaper to go with Uber or Lyft to the airport instead.

  2. I like the Idea of BRT down Vermont, but with its high density and connections to red, purple, expo, and green lines, Why not consider making it a subway? A subway already runs down a portion of Vermont so why not keep the continuity of the subway?The Harbor Transit center can be its Southern Terminus. It could be a branch off the existing lines and it will help with the rising population. Just build it now so it can accommodate the future.

  3. The problem with BART to Oakland Airport is, at a $6 surcharge, it is actually cheaper to take a cab to the BART station if you have three or more people. AC Transit fare is also $2 (with Clipper card) for a ride that may take twice as long, but isn’t that big a deal when twice as long is just 8 extra minutes. At least it’s good to have options, unlike at SFO where the direct bus from Millbrae to SFO was discontinued in favor of a surcharged $4 BART ride.

  4. Here’s a topic: how fast a subway construction can be done. How fast? How about converting a pre-existing above ground station into a subway station in less than 3.5 hours? A great, awe-inspiring video on what can be achieved if everyone worked together:

    Metro should really just hire the Japanese to build our transit projects. The projects that we take decades to do, the Japanese can do it overnight.

    • Wow! ANOTHER round of applause for Asian handiwork. However, I’m not too sure of the project’s longevity. I’m reminded of the Asian products that would be shipped here to the States only to rapidly decompose once put to any use. Asking the Japanese to do what we can do better would be just asking for trouble. Besides, how do you know that there wasn’t a tunnel under the area where they just dropped the tracks and sunk the station? How does anyone know that there has or hasn’t been any planning that may have taken decades to undergo before this project was started?!

      • “Asking the Japanese to do what we can do better”

        You remind me of Doc Brown back in 1955 “No wonder this thing broke, it says here Made in Japan” with Marty McFly saying “what do you mean Doc, all the best stuff is Made in Japan.”

        Yes, we can do better than the Japanese. I mean, it’s only an island country that we bombed to the stone age in WWII which in a matter of few years became an economic superpower, with a magnificent work ethic that can run their transit system like clockwork, withstand a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, able to move tens of millions of people everyday, often touted by many as the best transit system in the world, with transit that actually makes profit, who makes everything all in their own country, complete from their fare gates, trains, seats, ticket machines, tracks, lights, signages, stations, and has been doing so for the past seven or eight decades, right?

        Yes, America, a country that can’t build anything anymore, where manufacturing jobs are non-existent and have been shipped overseas, who has to rely on importing everything from boring tunnels to train sets because no one in the US has the expertise to build or manufacture anything related to mass transit, a place where they can’t even run the trains right let alone have the slightest clue to run it like a business, can do the job better.

        Right. Can I ask where you’re buying the stuff you’re smoking?

    • BTW, thanks for sharing the video. I’ve always admired the Japanese work ethic and this is definitely a video that should be shown to everyone at Metro.

      It’s clearly something that “I want the Kinkisharyo plant here whether they like it or not” union members in LA can learn from. This is exactly why they keep advancing in manufacturing and massive construction projects while manufacturing jobs continue to disappear here. They don’t whine, complain and demand six figure salaries like the unions here. They do their job, take pride of their work, and they do it with great work ethic, great efficiency and high quality. I do not cast any single doubt that the station will last for decades just as much as my old 1986 Honda has and still runs today. Besides, the Japanese are the ones who invented the bullet train way back in the 1960s, while we can’t even build a single line yet!

      As for the idea of hiring the Japanese to build our transit system, I’m all for it but I think they don’t want any of it, not in this business unfriendly environment. They didn’t like the idea of building the Kinkisharyo plant here and Toyota is moving to Plano, TX. Even the Japanese that are in California already are smart enough to realize California isn’t the place to do business.

      The fact that less than 18% of LA County jobs are manufacturing and declining smaller each passing year pretty much shows that LA is not a place for manufacturing jobs. The business environment has to change here first.

      • Right. The IBEW is demanding six figure salaries. You have a source for that tidbit or did you just pull it out of your nose?

    • I like how the last trains come within 2 minutes of each other. One train comes toward the viewer at 0:57 AM and the last train comes at 0:59 AM. Then when all the construction is done, they do a test run at 4:53 AM and the first train arrives at 5:04AM. And the second train comes at 5:06AM.

      I also like rewinding this video to see what everyone is doing. Everyone seems to know their part, one group removing the tiles from the station, others are removing the tracks, their teamwork is magnificent. And if you look closely, they build them in parts so they snap together like lego sets. No wonder they build their projects so fast. And I’m sure they have the highest of all earthquake standards as well; they’re earthquake country just like California is.

      Sigh…why can’t LA be like this?