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Old July 9th, 2009, 04:43 AM   #2101
The Mad Navigator
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Nothing quite like the opening of a new line....

I look forward to the opening of Toronto's Sheppard East LRT line in 2012/13. Hopefully it will be much more exciting than the Sheppard Stubway!
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Old July 9th, 2009, 03:39 PM   #2102
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Originally Posted by tritown View Post
To me, I thought that Skytrain would be better because of grade-separation, automated, shorter headways, and the fact that the speed advantage is more obvious, considering that it travels among city neighborhoods and not freeways like some of LINK.

Good arguments about LINK, though.
No problem with that.

I used to have critcisms of LINK, but I looked at plans for the Seattle area, and I have a good sense of why it being built as a metro-like system. It'll work well for the area. I still think a few more stations could be added, but overall, it will do the job it is being built for.
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Old July 9th, 2009, 05:38 PM   #2103
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I think LRT is a good choice for LINK. It's a very big area to cover. The best part of it is that there is a seperate tunnel for all the Downtown stations. Bravo!
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Old July 10th, 2009, 03:02 AM   #2104
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http://www.seattlepi.com/transportat..._drivers9.html

Former bus drivers get light rail on track for opening

By SCOTT GUTIERREZ
SEATTLEPI.COM STAFF



Sound Transit light rail operators John Helm, left, and Annette James show a new train at the operations and maintenance center. Helm and James were both recruited from the ranks of Sound Transit bus drivers to operate the new light rail trains.

(Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect cost for cars on a Sound Transit light-rail train.)

If Seattle-area residents had voted to build a rail transit system 40 years ago, John Helm might not have been a bus driver.

"Oh, I would have been operating trains," said Helm, whose career as a King County Metro driver had just begun when voters rejected the Forward Thrust initiative in 1968 that would have built 49 miles of rail transit.

Instead, Seattle had to wait until 2009 for its first light-rail system. Helm watched the region grow and had to navigate buses through worsening traffic and potholes. After 41 years, Helm jumped at the chance to switch to light rail, becoming one of the first operators on Sound Transit's inaugural Link light-rail line. The line opens July 18 between Tukwila and downtown Seattle.

"I miss the people and I miss driving, but traffic has gotten horrendous and people aren't very nice out there when it comes to sharing the road," said Helm, whose last job was driving an Eastside shuttle route.

"This came at a perfect time for me and my career. I just like the technology. It's kinda neat for a 63-year-old guy."

Selected for having the most seniority and exemplary safety and service records, Helm and 55 other former bus drivers will pilot the new light rail vehicles when the 14-mile line opens. They're now part of Metro's rail division, which contracts to provide operators for light rail and Seattle's South Lake Union Streetcar.

For the past seven months, they've been training and testing the light-rail cars -- starting with short trips in Sound Transit's SoDo rail yard to daily test runs up and down the track between Westlake Center and Tukwila. An extension to SeaTac Airport opens in December.

Helm and Annette James, a fellow bus-driver-turned-rail-operator, said they're excited and feeling rejuvenated with the job change. During a break last week at their central operations center in SoDo, they shared their experiences so far on the $2.3 billion light-rail line, which voters approved in 1996.

Helm said he doesn't want to retire for at least another 7 years.

"My alarm rings at 3 in the morning and usually I'm ahead of the alarm when it rings. I'm anxious to come to work," Helm said.

All the former drivers completed a 6-8 week training course on light-rail operation and had to pass a written exam, plus a performance test out on the rails. Helm was with the first graduating class.

James, a bus driver for 22 years, made the switch in January because she thought it would be exciting. Plus, she wanted to boost the number of female operators on light rail, which right now is at five.

"I was 5 when he started," she jokes, nodding toward Helm.

She moved from the rural 912 and 915 routes around Black Diamond and Enumclaw, where she had few passengers and once had a deer jump out in the road. Her husband, a Metro driver, also was selected.

They no longer have to watch for height or width clearances or hand out transfer slips. But operating 50-ton light-rail vehicles is more daunting than driving a bus, they said. It requires a higher level of alertness, especially since they no longer have a steering wheel, they said.

"You don't drive it, you operate. You can't steer it -- just stop and go. You can't swerve if somebody is in front of you," James said.

That's why so much of their training is focused on safety and rules. They're responsible for safely guiding two-car trains, which cost $4 million per car, through communities that aren't yet accustomed to sharing the road with rail.

"I've always been stickler about (safety) and I think most of our bus drivers were," Helm said. "We had the three S's. Safety came first, then service and then the schedule."

The operator's main control is a propulsion lever, which either moves the train forward or stops it, depending on whether you push or pull it back. If something happens to the driver and he lets go of the stick, the train stops, which they call "dead man control."

Some skills are transferable between the two professions, but learning light rail undoubtedly requires learning a new system of terms, signals and ideas, said Amanda Nightingale, Sound Transit's training chief.

"All of a sudden you get into this new vehicle, and there are new signals you have to be looking at, and there is a new way to be viewing pedestrians because you don't have the same ability to steer," she said. "To me, what I think is one of the biggest challenges is learning the new language and learning a new way to interact on the streets, particularly with other vehicles and pedestrians."

A 3-mile stretch of track on South Martin Luther King Jr. Way in South Seattle, where trains run in the median at street level, requires the most vigilance, the operators said. Already, there have been three collisions on test runs, the most recent when a car turned left against a light on Myrtle Street and was broadsided. Neither Helm nor James was involved, although Helm said he's had close calls that had him stomping on a phantom brake pedal.

"Personally, when I'm out there, it seems like every trip there is someone out there crossing, at least one time," James said, referring to people who don't obey traffic signals.

The trains travel at the 35-mph speed limit or slower, and drivers are taught to brake or coast through intersections so that they could stop sooner if needed, Nightingale said.

Train crossings have signals and bells, and operators also sound their horn. Traffic signals also cascade so that trains at one intersection can continue through the next crossing without stopping if the intersection is clear. But drivers must always be monitoring one signal ahead and ready to react if the signal turns against them.

"You have to be prepared for everything on MLK," Helm said.

Light-rail cars can't exactly stop on dime. Helm said that during a performance test, he was asked to hit the emergency stop button while at 35 mph in the rail yard. The one-car train slid to a stop after 300 feet in normal conditions, or the length of a football field, he said.

For the past year, Sound Transit has flooded the Rainier Valley with safety messages, meeting with schools, community centers, and mailing information to 67,000 residents on how to interact with light rail when it opens, spokesman Bruce Gray said.

Both operators hope more educating will be done, and that people will pay attention.

"We don't want to live up to their prediction of 29 accidents or whatever it was they were predicting," said James, referring to a Sound Transit environmental-impact study in 1999 that predicted 29 collisions per year in 2020.

The light-rail vehicles safely can reach 57 mph, but only on a straight shot of track through Tukwila. James, however, said she thinks she holds the speed record at 63 mph, which she hit accidentally during a test.

The trains, powered with electricity, run smooth, like "silk," Helm said. Added James: "You could compare it to a lake with no wind or ripples."

Helm, who says his grandchildren find his new job neat, is happy now to have light rail. But he still can't fathom why Seattle turned it down in 1968. The federal money that was slated for Seattle was instead handed to Atlanta's rail transit system.

"That's crazy. Why would you turn down something that is going to pay 80 percent?" he said. "I'm surprised they voted for transit this last time, especially with the economy the way it is. I'm tickled to death they did, of course. People in Seattle are starting to wake up, I think."

Scott Gutierrez can be reached at 206-448-8334 or [email protected].
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Old July 12th, 2009, 02:03 AM   #2105
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http://www.seattlepi.com/transportat...?source=pimail

Saturday, July 11, 2009
Last updated 8:28 a.m. PT
Sound Transit confirms light rail trains are too loud at night

KOMO-TV STAFF

TUKWILA -- It turns out the residents weren't crying wolf.

Sound Transit said noise from the new light rail line in North Tukwila exceeds the federal standards, according to the results of the latest round of tests.

The train's noise level registered at an average of 65 deciels, which puts Sound Transit in violation of the federal limit at night, spokesman Bruce Gray said. The tests did not find the train to be in violation during the daytime, Gray said.

The latest findings will not affect light rail's scheduled launch on July 18.

Results of the noise report were released just weeks after residents on East Marginal Way South complained of what they described as ear-aching noise from light rail's test runs.

The residents said the noise level far exceeds the minimal noise they were promised during the design and building phases.

"The train is louder, a lot louder than we expected and a lot louder than Sound Transit said it would be," said David Shumate.

"It's a higher-pitched squeaking," said Lynn Sires, who claims the noise wakes her up.

Residents are calling for a sound barrier to be installed along the rail, and Gray said that's one of the possibilities Sound Transit is exploring.

"We're going to look at the noise levels and see where we're at in this neighborhood. And based on that, walls may be one option and another option may be insulating -- soundproofing someone's house," he said.

A sound barrier has already been installed in another neighborhood a mile south of Shumate's. And Sound Transit has already insulated a number of homes in the Rainier Valley. Air conditioning units were added to several homes where noise was likely to interfere with daily life during the open-window months.
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Old July 13th, 2009, 05:50 PM   #2106
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oh my~ big problem....sound barriers come save them...
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Old July 13th, 2009, 07:53 PM   #2107
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Here are some more youtube videos of train testing in the tunnels and elevated sections.





Last edited by seawastate; July 13th, 2009 at 08:00 PM.
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Old July 13th, 2009, 09:19 PM   #2108
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Allen2 View Post
oh my~ big problem....sound barriers come save them...
If you don't have a noise issue, you're lucky. I wouldn't think it fair to pick on people who, through no fault of their own, are now putting up with sound they were promised wouldn't be there. I like mass transit as much as the next guy but if it's going to be loud enough to effect peoples' enjoyment of property and interfere with their peace and quiet you will find future expanion that much tougher.
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Old July 13th, 2009, 10:25 PM   #2109
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Transit is there to improve people's lives. Not to bring about inconvenience.

Last edited by JustinB; July 13th, 2009 at 10:45 PM.
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Old July 14th, 2009, 04:10 AM   #2110
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Billpa View Post
If you don't have a noise issue, you're lucky. I wouldn't think it fair to pick on people who, through no fault of their own, are now putting up with sound they were promised wouldn't be there. I like mass transit as much as the next guy but if it's going to be loud enough to effect peoples' enjoyment of property and interfere with their peace and quiet you will find future expanion that much tougher.
True. Noise should be controlled to the extent possible.

For example, those ******* buses that hydraulically "kneel" and make incredibly loud beeping noises while they do it...
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Old July 14th, 2009, 01:20 PM   #2111
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I have car traffic under my window that's many times heavier than it was when I moved here. I can't complain about that to anybody.
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Old July 14th, 2009, 05:25 PM   #2112
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Do sound barriers work that well? I never lived in a place next to highways or rail lines...but I do know that I can sometimes hear the train pass by at night. (the closest rail line is probably 5-8 miles away?)
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Old July 15th, 2009, 05:54 AM   #2113
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I think a sound barrier would solve the problem. I love trains and transit and would love to live next to them but I would not like to get woken up by them every time one goes by. Why are the trains lounder than expected? I would expect light rail to be quite quiet.

And congrads to seattle for the opening of thier new line!
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Old July 15th, 2009, 09:50 PM   #2114
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^ I think the engineers can solve the problem. They should check the tracks and the wheels to reduce noise and friction. And also adjust the cables for less tension.
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Old July 17th, 2009, 06:38 AM   #2115
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I saw them testing it when I took a morning bus to the airport in the downtown tunnel last weekend...They need to finish the seatac segment already...
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Old July 18th, 2009, 03:26 AM   #2116
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http://www.seattlepi.com/transportat...?source=pimail

Last updated July 16, 2009 11:21 p.m. PT
All aboard: Light rail service starts Saturday

By SCOTT GUTIERREZ
SEATTLEPI.COM STAFF

Seattle, can you hear that train a-comin'?

Thirteen year after voters approved the taxes to build it, Sound Transit's Central Link light rail opens for service Saturday. Trains will run every 71/2 minutes from stations along the 14-mile line between Westlake Center in Seattle and the massive, glass-encased station in Tukwila at South 154th Street and Tukwila International Boulevard.

Passengers can ride for free during the inaugural weekend. Sound Transit officials had no predictions on opening day ridership, but are ready for up to 100,000. Their best reference is Phoenix, Ariz., where the city's new Metro light rail logged 90,000 riders when it opened last December, with some waiting in lines for two to three hours.

Still under construction is a 1.7-mile segment from Tukwila to SeaTac Airport, which is set for completion in December. On Monday, a bus shuttle will begin taking passengers from the Tukwila station to the airport until construction is finished. The shuttle service won't be available on opening weekend.

This week, it came down to final details, including elevators and escalators at light rail stations passing final safety inspections, spokesman Bruce Gray said.

"Light rail is going to be great," said Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, who is Sound Transit's board chairman and a longtime advocate for light rail. "It's going to be a big step forward."

It took seven years to build Seattle's light rail, and several tries over the last century to build a rail transit system in Seattle. The Central Link is the most complex light rail line in the country because it runs in all different types of environments, with tunnels under downtown and Beacon Hill, elevated tracks in Tukwila, and 5 miles of grade-level tracks in the Rainier Valley, said Joni Earl, Sound Transit's chief operating officer.

Plus, Seattle is the only place in the world where passenger rail and buses will share a tunnel simultaneously, Earl said.

"I just hope that when the public rides it -- as the owners of this system -- that they can take pride and feel pride that our region was able to bring this high-capacity transit system into being," she said. "To me, it's a regional pride, not just pride for Sound Transit."

You should know

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you go this weekend:

* Trains will run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Normal Monday-Saturday service, from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., begins next week. Regular Sunday hours are 6 a.m. to midnight.

* Fares, from $1.75 to $2.50 for adults, don't go into effect until Monday. Loading platforms are "barrier-free," so riders pay on an honor system with no turnstiles. Fare inspectors will soon be patrolling trains and platforms for violators. A fare-evasion ticket costs $124.

* Sound Transit will loop bus shuttles between light rail stations Saturday and Sunday for people who don't want to wait to ride. The downtown transit tunnel, however, will not be running King County Metro bus routes in anticipation of large crowds, according to Metro Transit.

* Click here for more information on Metro bus routes that connect with light rail stations. Metro plans route changes in September to better accommodate light rail. Bus transfer slips can be used on light rail until the end of this year as transit officials phase in new ORCA cards.

* The city's Restricted Parking Zones don't take effect around light rail stations until Monday. After that, permits will be required to park for more than two hours within a quarter-mile of stations between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tukwila is the only park-and-ride station with 600 spaces, although most of the space will be occupied this weekend for festivities.

* Sound Transit plans family-friendly music and entertainment at stations this weekend. Plenty of police will be on-hand, as well as volunteers to answer questions.

What you voted for, what you're getting

Link light rail was part of Sound Move, a $3.9 billion, 10-year regional transit package that voters in King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties approved in 1996. A $6.7 billion rail and transit proposal had failed the year earlier. Prior to that, Seattle voters had rejected rail transit three times, including the Forward Thrust initiatives of 1968 and 1970, and a plan in 1912 by city planning director Virgil Bogue to build a rail system with a central terminus in South Lake Union.

Initially, Link light rail's first segment was planned as a 21-mile, $1.7 billion line from the University District to the City of SeaTac. But waning public confidence, and cost overruns and delays nearly derailed the entire project. A $500 million federal grant was temporarily withheld after an unfavorable report from the Office of the U.S. Inspector General.

Sound Transit retooled and brought in new management, with Earl taking over in 2001. The plans and schedule for the first segment were revised to the current 14-mile line and completeion date. Construction of a second phase, a 3.15 segment through twin tunnels to Capitol Hill and the U-District, was put off until this year.

Those were the "dark days," Earl said, although she pointed out that the plan mapped out 8 years ago has since been on time and under budget.

"I don't think we ever lost sight of where we were getting to, but I would say that was our riskiest time. I look back at that as a pretty defining time and it marks my view of how huge this accomplishment is," Earl said.

Nowhere was construction as disruptive as Martin Luther King Jr. Way South in South Seattle, where roads were ripped up and utility lines moved underground to make room for trains to run in the median. Now, the street is repaved and lined with trees.

"We also hope that this will be a catalyst for redevelopment and transit-oriented density. Already, wer're seing some tremendous changes in the Rainier Valley, which is an area that has been under-invested in, in my mind," she said.

She credited the patience of businesses and residents during the construction.

"I'll be forever grateful to the people who still talk to us now that it is finished,'" she said.

Scott Gutierrez can be reached at 206-448-8334 or [email protected].
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Old July 19th, 2009, 01:19 AM   #2117
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Quite a day in Seattle. Light rail. The "Bite of Seattle" goes all weekend at the Seattle Center. The Sounders played Chelsea in front of 65,000 at Qwest. The typical cruise ship crowd (6 shiploads per day either coming or going). The Pike Place Market was packed with a typical summer crowd. Probably half a dozen duck boats go by per hour, always full. I love this place.
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Old July 19th, 2009, 11:42 AM   #2118
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Three self-made photos of today's light rail opening festivities. Lots more posted by our regulars in the Seattle board, check it out there.

image hosted on flickr


image hosted on flickr


image hosted on flickr
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Old July 20th, 2009, 04:33 AM   #2119
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Quote:
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Three self-made photos of today's light rail opening festivities. Lots more posted by our regulars in the Seattle board, check it out there.
Could you please provide an URL link to it?
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Old July 20th, 2009, 04:45 AM   #2120
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Could you please provide an URL link to it?
There you go:

http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showth...516973&page=56
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