A case in point: There's a big Safeway grocery store right by the Othello light rail station. If you live a mile or two east of that station, you've got poor grocery shopping choices in your immediate neighborhood, and you'd much rather have access to the Safeway.
But walking a mile with two or three bags of groceries is not going to be a pleasant experience, especially for older people or people in poor health. Getting this new van service at an affordable cost means you can get a lot better food and appreciably cheaper food into your life.
They also have a program called DART  for ordering a pickup or getting pick ups in areas that are not well covered.
Direct pick up for people who need assistance getting to stations and a ride share program where you can essentially rent a van with a group of people  are also options.
But how is that any better than the person just owning and using their own car, driving themselves to the train station? If it is only a mile or two, the van is going to have to drive at least a few miles to get to the person, miles that the private vehicle would not have to drive. Maybe the van can pick up multiple people, but for trips lasting only a few minutes I doubt this would ever be commonplace.
It might reduce the need for parking at the train station, but a parked car is a lesser evil than a van driving around empty to pick people up.
So if you're looking to minimize environmental impact, yes, the van puts a little more carbon in the air than having these people stay home all the time. But it makes their quality of life meaningfully better.
Probably part of the reason is historical, but one problem is the weather in winter. And I'm not sure population of non-drivers is high enough except a couple major cities.
From paragraph 16: one end of the trip must be to or from the light rail station within the service area.
Like every day I have to work a night shift? All sorts of buses are eager to give me a lift when I want to go to work at 1500 (3pm). Where are they at 0230 when I want to get back home? One-way options are not unusual when it comes to realworld transit systems.
It doesn't matter how many people are using this service. What matters is which people are using it. Cities are realizing that most new transit schemes aren't getting people out of their cars. They are leeching people away from other forms of mass transit. Getting someone out of a bus and into a van is not a win.
What is needed is an actual competitor to the private car, something that can truly replace it. The buses in my area stop at 11pm, and the nearest passenger train is a hundred km away. Until that changes, if want to keep my job, I need to keep driving my car. Offering me a shuttle between my door and the bus stop means literally nothing if there is no bus to get.
Second, carbon dioxide (which I assume you were shorthanding as 'carbon') is not even half of the greenhouse-gas/radiative-forcing effect of air travel: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_aviati... So even if this CEO was technically right, he'd still be wrong in terms of what actually matters.
My home town (on an island) is a good example. I could take a direct flight to another city, or drive the 100's of KM by car+boat to the nearest passenger rail. And then I'd have to rent a car and drive several hundred more KM after stepping off the train. In such circumstances the direct aircraft connection is the lower-carbon option.
Well, in the USA, any train that is interstate is required to be built as if it was a freight train, even if it's only carrying passengers 1 mile.
And jet engines get 1% more efficient per year.
So it is possible that a jet airplane will be more fuel-efficient for interstate travel than a train at some point.
The Uber pool model seems to be the most realistic gap filler between mass transit and an individual automobile.
Rather than mass transit buying vehicles specifically to fill this gap, using the spare vehicular capacity of the car driving public seems like an efficiency.
For example, my wife and I, in Las Vegas, now have only one car because Uber fills those rare moments where a second car is absolutely necessary.
And Uber pool is even more cost effective, while also being a higher utilization of the car the Uber driver is driving.
What is needed, to my mind, is a lowered expectation of what a private car is going to be able to do for you in a densely populated city. I got picked up from work Friday to go on a trip and after an hour we'd only gone eight blocks.
I don't know Seattle personally, but in any larger city something like this begs the question: Why not improve the normal public transport service and also provide light-rail or busses to the areas that have "little east-west bus service" according to the article?
There are 27 distinct, voter-approved transit projects in progress:
Seattle is not just making riding transit more convenient. They are making driving more inconvenient.
In programming terms they're ripping out a deprecated interface without having first provided a replacement to transition to. Yes there are park and ride facilities outside of the core city, but they're specced for local capacity. The gateway interface would be much more like replacing several warehouses near the tram line and freeway with GIANT, actively police monitored, parking garages. On the north end something similar probably needs to happen near the northgate mall, and if the extension up through the U doesn't go there it needs to.
THEN after the pre-requisite work is done, they should just ban all cars from the city outright.
Right now in D.C., transit advocates are fighting battles for service that costs $20-30+ per trip (late night Metro service and the streetcar). That's just a waste of taxpayer money when subsidizing Uber/Lyft could allow those same trips to happen for lower cost. Even more generally, rail service is subsidized, on a per-passanger-mile basis, about an order of magnitude more than automobiles. (While roads receive several much more funding than transit, they comprise about 50x more passenger miles of travel.) https://ti.org/antiplanner/?p=15144
Only if you completely ignore carbon emissions and other externalities.
And of course--those pollution externalities can be greatly reduced by switching to electric cars.
The $0.10-0.20 per mile calculation of externalities from driving is well supported. For example, the Freakonomics authors calculate $0.10 per mile for externalities: https://www.treehugger.com/cars/pay-as-you-drive-payd-insura...
> With roughly three trillion miles driven each year producing more than $300 billion in externality costs, drivers should probably be taxed at least an extra 10 cents per mile if we want them to pay the full societal cost of their driving.
Meanwhile, the subsidies of public transit systems are easy to calculate from public sources: https://www.transit.dot.gov/sites/fta.dot.gov/files/docs/300...
In 2014 the D.C. Metro spent about $1.35 billion on rail and collected about $600 million, leaving a net subsidy of $750 million. WMATA customers travelled 1.5 billion passenger miles on rail, resulting in a net subsidy of $0.50 per passenger mile. Even without accounting for the pollution externalities of Metro (which are significant, most electricity on the east coast still comes from coal and natural gas), that's a much higher subsidy than for cars.
If a low-use bus route ends up costing the city $25 per ride that's not cost effective to the point that a different transit option would be a better use of resources and still meet the communities needs.
The light rail system needs to be shaped more like a ladder, so you have some options to go cross-town. It’s coming, very slowly, but it won’t be enough.
More RapidRide buses are expected to cover the east west gap though
When the route was finalized a bunch of housing speculators bought up a strip of land all along that corridor and build apartments and townhomes. There's something on the order of a mile of route down near the Central District that is virtually all new construction.
I was curious about the progress of the LR project so I drove the at-grade sections a couple of times during construction and a lot of those properties were for sale/lease about the time they were still stringing wires (and then the city allocated like 8 months for system testing to follow construction prior to launch). So there must have been people buying houses a year before the rail was there.
This doesn't sound sustainable. I wonder how much of this can be reduced.
I'm curious why this would be the case - I'm under the impression the vast majority of the cost of operating a van/shuttle/bus is the cost of the driver.
However in terms of passengers, shorter trips means it’s better to compare passengers per hour rather than the number in a bus at any one time. If they can average 8 passengers per hour the service would be making money on it’s own and 4+ could probably be worthwhile as part of a larger network.
That's why we have taxes...
Of course, the program should be efficient, and there's a discussion to be had about whether it's worth having at all, but it's not a requirement that it be self-sustaining. I guess ultimately it's up to the voters to decide if it's worth subsidizing.
The best way to reduce costs is likely to get more people to use the service, which will result in more trips being shared with more passengers. They could also look at usage data and consider developing fixed, regular routes which if done right will congregate more people into fewer vehicles
Not that a service like this is needed in NYC, since you're never more than 10 feet from a subway or bus stop.
For example, there's a place in San Francisco, West Portal to the top f the hill where Portola meets O'Shaughnessy, where you have about a mile to climb about 220 ft. Google maps bike route, shows elevation profile: https://goo.gl/maps/zmcb8RkBtNGzUqFi7 From there most of the rest of the city is downhill, including all of downtown and the Mission district.
If there was a bike-shuttle service for that uphill, and another from, say, Castro station to Diamond Heights, I think you would get a lot more people commuting by bicycle.
Because of this illusion, women don't want to be seen bare-faced by their coworkers (because society's expectation of what a woman looks like without makeup is actually a woman wearing a lot of makeup so the real no-makeup look is shocking). Now a woman who wants to bike to work has to decide if she'll hope her makeup stays looking good after a bike ride, do her makeup twice, or go without makeup for the bike ride (and risk being seen without makeup going into the office). This doesn't bother all women, but it's no wonder that a lot of us choose not to go through this minefield of issues.
All of these things apply to me too :-) I live by a big freaking hill, 300' up and whenever I ride I have to take a shower. If I had a flatter hill I'd ride my bike the 4 miles to the p&r a lot. Instead I drive my stupid car.
Much of the time I spent on the bike commuting was fucking terrifying.
I would guess commuting on a bike around cars is prohibitively scary for many folks.
Here's the graph: http://seattlecitygis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/inde...
Note that only the red/orangey color (MUPs) and bold blue lines (protected cycle lanes) count; the rest are just paint on roads.
Neighborhood greenway = tons of speed bumps, nominally cars should depart after a block or two; otherwise ordinary residential road.
Sharrow = just a road.
Non-protected Bike lane = debris-filled shoulder, or worse, parked car door zone.
a credible one at that.
I still enjoy cycling in the area in general, but downtown during rush hour is a meat grinder.
still this solution of theirs isn't really worth the money being sunk into it, there is no reason to not work along side ride sharing services to get people between their destinations and light rail or bus stops
For the route you posted, the 48 does exactly what you want.
I'm really glad that they put those bike racks on the buses though.
In fact it was closed for quite a few years pending EU safety regulations approval.
Isn’t that all literally true of riding a bike too?
I don't think this is very different from a "surface lift" used in ski resorts all over the world including the US?
not a bad idea
So far this has cost Seattle $46 dollars a ride.
Now, it looks like we're just 6 months in, so a simple projection would halve that number to $23 per ride after a year, potentially less if they scale up.
Why not just subsidize Lyft and Uber rides? For these short distances, it'd probably be less than $5.
They are already subsidized, by billions and billions of dollars of venture capital.
When you pay less than $5 to get from one side of your city to the other in the middle of rush hour, that's not covering the entire cost of the trip.
so a lot of people are taking the minibus because there are no way to safely physically get to an actual bus stop. if towns were planned around public transportation this would not be a problem. we have planned towns around automobiles for too long. this creates an artificial need for cars.
Moving people on demand is definitely not cheap, but surely it is more cost effective that casting a net of mostly-empty buses around the city for half the day.
This via service is for coverage not ridership that’s why people are comparing the wrong thing.
Many American cities aka San Jose being the most recent example are retooling their bus routes for fewer but more frequent routes at the cost of cutting the coverage routes.
>Rides cost the same as taking the bus: $2.75 for adults, $1.50 for low-income riders with ORCA Lift cards.
Just looked up an Uber ride I took for less than a mile (.7 mile) - that had a cost of $6.45.
Oh top of that the cost is predicable - no surge pricing.
I have however dealt with a lot of oblivious drivers nearly running me off the road.
The new dedicated bike lanes with the reflective pylons are helping (especially the two-way barrier-protected bike lane on 2nd Ave of downtown), but there's still a lot more to improve.
Not agreeing with drivers, just guessing as this does attract a lot of driver rage.
Me? I have a bike and a car in Seattle, but almost always walk or take public transit. It's low stress that way, which I like. At intersections, cars and cyclists both hassle pedestrians in their own way. The cars, because they are too accommodating and make you feel almost obliged to run across the street when they stop for you even though they could have easily kept going without coming close to you. And the cyclists, because a horrible minority of them are totally blind to pedestrians in a way that drivers in Seattle aren't. Most cyclists are fine, but you've got to stay on your toes for the few that aren't.
My commute to work is usually uneventful, about 10 miles mostly on dedicated bike paths along with many other commuters. It’s a few miles longer than it should but it’s definitely the safest route to work.
In plenty of the areas mentioned (Issaquah, Renton, etc.) there isn't much of a shoulder to speak of. When I take a longer loop around Lake Washington+Sammamish, here's one of the roads I go down:
And take the car lane fully not half way.
It's technically illegal to ride on the sidewalk
Also because the bike infrastructure came at the cost of parking or lanes of traffic.
I bike around the city every day and it’s definitely becoming more contentious.
I have seen cases of "improved" cycling infrastructure, for instance, like adding an impractical bike lane someplace, where the real intent is to mop the cyclists out of the way of the motorists.
I have bike commuted all over the US and almost all municipalities get this wrong. When building cycling infrastructure, optimize for the convenience of cyclists and not of motorists and people will use it.
In other jobs (like software engineer or cashier) nobody really cares if woman wears makeup or not (makeup may help, but a lot of other inconvenient things can help men too).
The pressure against women is imaginary in context of biking availability.
Also there’s no need to try to bring the issue of discrimination in completely unrelated discussions.
We detached this comment from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20795013 and marked it off-topic.
What am I missing there?
We need to do all the things to make traffic in Seattle better, light rail, buses, road improvements, last mile transit services. Would we really be better off if we dropped all this "wasteful" transit spending and had really worse traffic? Of course not.
> It would be cool if one side of the route didn’t have to be to a light rail station.
The whole purpose of the program is to get locals interested and used to mass-transit systems - so that would defeat the purpose.
> Or, if the trip wasn’t limited to a two mile area
It's a new program. What do you expect?
>I think it would be cool if you could order a ride on an app,
There is an app....
>a vehicle comes to your exact location and then takes you to your exact destination.
As you mentioned later in your post, Uber does exactly this. If you want to use Uber, then use Uber...
Why such a negative view about a new alternative? I think you missed the whole point of this project.
Regarding Uber — correct, Uber does solve this problem, so why have a taxpayer funded version of Uber that isn’t even as good as Uber? For the disabled and others with limited mobility/mental capacity, this does sound like a great program however. A system with specially trained drivers to help highly vulnerable people is welcome. But a taxpayer subsidized Uber-light seems like a waste of money. You can already take an Uber Pool to a train station if that’s your thing, so what problem is this actually solving that the market isn’t already solving?
> why have a taxpayer funded version of Uber that isn’t even as good as Uber?
Because that's not the point of the service at all. Its to get you to your next transfer point and that's it. The problem with everyone using an Uber is that it doesn't scale, but public transit does scale.
Yes, it's public transit, you trade money for time, like all public transit. It also lowers road congestion for the city.
By your logic all public transit should be abolished and replaced by cars, right?
We did that. It’s called the entire south. And that’s why cities like New York lose more residents to Phoenix, Atlanta, and Dallas than they get from those places.
The commutes in New York are far longer too, because of public transit. 94% of New York commutes on public transit take more than 30 minutes. https://www.geotab.com/time-to-commute. 29% take more than an hour. Meanwhile, half of all car commutes in Houston are 30 minutes or less, and just 1% are more than an hour.
Don’t get me wrong, I personally love public transit. I get on the train, and I can do work because I’ve got a professional job with flexible work hours and locations. Oh, and I have an au pair to schlep my kids to school, gymnastics, and play dates. For ordinary families, being able to do a quick detour on the way to work to do day dare drop off is a god send.
Are you saying that no public transit would improve the commute times? I think you are discounting all the cars that would take their space cause people can no longer commute without them. And what of the reduction of mobility for the low income group?
The problem is not public transit, it is population density and too many vehicles on the road. NY needs better public transit, not lesser public transit. It's a problem that all cities are trying to solve. As infeasible as public transit overhaul in NY is, making a highway in NY is more difficult.
That's mostly due to those places being cheap to live in. Which implies, as we're a capitalistic society, that people value living there a lot less than they value living in NYC. NYC is full and yet people will pay ever more money to live here.
Taking the bus/train/light rail generally uses less energy per passenger than driving a bunch of cars. Burning less fuel to get where you’re going is definitely a bonus IMHO.
It’s going to take more time, but it’s also a lot cheaper - $3-5 vs $20-40 for an Illegal App Taxi to go downtown or to the airport or whatever.
Also it is a way to get people in the suburbs used to using public transit, so maybe they’ll actually be willing to vote for improvements to it.
Finally even with the subsidy a large amount of money is left to be paid by the user, personally I pay more than twice what it'd cost me to own a car myself and that's limiting myself to only going to and from work.
The solution would be to make public transport accessible and then I'm sure all disabled people would not feel forced but relieved at the opportunity to use them.
I do think however some of the aspects of the uber model could be applied to this situation to mitigate at least some of the problems you cited, namely lousy driver behavior and ride grouping. Even just a simple app to book rides would be light years ahead of the current offering.
All in all, I've found this PAM75 service is a decade late, and has not by any means been affected by the arrival of the uber model, at least compared to how the taxi industry has been afflicted.
I've lived in or spent a lot of time in many large cities in the US, and the only one I can think of where there's room for even a few more cars is Phoenix.
Secondly, I laud Seattle for finding ways to reduce congestion. It can take 45-minutes to go 4-miles by car from Beacon Hill to downtown. Particularly, they are trying to find a solution that is affordable to a large swath of the population, not just the tech-rich.
Finally, all public transit systems are designed to be subsidized, one way or another. To wit, every rider who pays $2.75 on a bus is getting a subsidy of $2.17 (each rider costs $4.92). At what point is the subsidy “too much”?
The article also has plenty of transit advocates stating the obvious- this cost more than even low ridership bus routes, so isn’t a long term solution, and strong fixed route transit solutions are needed.
The subsidy here is large enough that if the investment is worthwhile, then it would also be worth investigating what would happen if we gave small, low cost electric vehicles (bicycles, scooters, or covered variants thereof) to households in the service areas.
I skipped stating my subsidy calculation though- 5 workdays at 40 work weeks at $10/trip is $2000 (I’m factoring in lots of days off and assumptions about not always taking rail to work). Also assuming “rides” translates to “individual rider,” which may not always be true, does seem to translate to individual orca taps.
And now I realize I made a huge error there. I only factored in a one way trip. The subsidy is something like $4000/commuter for round trips (or $3000 if you assume that the fare drop is recovered by the program.)