Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Broken Monorail Updates

A shuttle, costing 25 cents, will replace the Grey Line. It's got extened hours on New Years Eve, so you can stumbe home safely.

Human error caused the Seattle monorail accident. The inbound [i.e. southbound] driver failed to yield to the other train at the point where the tracks are too close together for passing, officials said Wednesday...

Seattle Police reported Wednesday that drug tests on both drivers by an independent lab showed "illegal substances were not a factor in the accident..."

Investigators found the accident was not caused by failure of the signal system or the trains themselves. The internal review exonerated the northbound driver.
Poor southbound chap.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Mayor Gridlock t-shirts

Due to overwhelming demand, the Stranger made a t-shirt out of their Mayor Gridlock cover art. Get yours while they last.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Seattle: now with even less monorail!

A sideswipe accident between the two trains on Seattle's monorail Saturday night will likely put the system out of service until next year.

The crash at about 7:10 p.m. sent glass flying to the street. It took nearly an hour to evacuate the 84 passengers on board the two trains. Firefighters escorted them individually down fire-truck ladders extended to the trains about 25 feet above the sidewalk.

There were no serious injuries, but two people were taken to the hospital to be checked out, said Helen Fitzpatrick, spokeswoman for Seattle Fire Department.

The two trains scraped against each another, ripping a door off in the process, on the elevated tracks near Fifth Avenue and Olive Way.
Apparently this was literally an accident waiting to happen for almost 20 years
In that area, the tracks start to converge as they approach the station at Westlake Center, leaving insufficient space for two trains at once...

The original system was built for full service from Seattle Center to a large station just north of Pine Street. But the route was shortened slightly in the late 1980s to end on the upper level of the Westlake Center mall, which was just opening. That redesign led to the tracks converging.

The outer track is close enough to allow automatic ramps to extend from the mall onto the outer train, but it's too close for a pair of trains to be there at the same time.
I didn't know the Green Line wasn't Seattle's first disaterous and shortened monorail line.

update: Seattleite Bob Cottrell took a few cameraphone pictures of the crash

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

SMP Catfight

Just when you thought the drama was over.
The actual resolution to terminate the project remains unsigned...On the night the board passed the resolution, there were only four board members present.

[Cindi] Laws [SMP Secretary] says you need at least half the board for a quorum and she says because the board currently has nine members, it takes at least five to make any meeting official.

But the Monorail's legal counsel says in his opinion it only takes four.

"There are eight board members," said Ross MacFarlane, Monorail general counsel.

MacFarlane says the ninth board member has no voting rights, so she doesn't count... Cindi Laws says another problem is that the Monorail board passed the resolution without allowing public comment.

The Monorail staff attorney says the public already spoke at the ballot box.

Friday, November 18, 2005

More on The Stranger

I forgot to mention that the Obit is part of a bigger front-page spread of articles about the monorail and Mayor Gridlock.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Stranger's Poignant Monorail Obit

Yet Another Monorail Obituary, this one from the Stranger. The following paragraph really sums up the monorail's demise
The monorail didn't die because of an error made by a misguided financial analyst; it died because the same grassroots spirit that sustained the monorail idea through multiple elections produced an agency that was secretive, defensive, and unwilling to reach out to other governments for help. Compounding the monorail's problem, those governments didn't trust a transportation agency that came from ordinary citizens, not the political establishment. When the monorail ran into trouble, the city, the state, and Sound Transit had no political or financial incentive to bail it out.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

State Supreme Court Upholds Monorail Tax

Personally, I'd rather be paying a Monorail Tax that goes towards, say, a monorail, but whatever floats your boat, 65% of Seattle!
A vehicle tax needed to retire the debt of Seattle's defunct monorail project is legal, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The monorail's vehicle excise tax - and the governing board that administers the project - were created by a citywide vote in 2002. But critics argued that it was unconstitutional on several fronts.

In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court rejected those arguments. The ruling means the monorail tax can be collected to pare the agency's massive debt, which must be paid even though Seattle voters killed the monorail project in Tuesday's election.

Cute Monorail Obituary

From Pike Place Politics
Born November 4th, 1997

Died November 8th, 2005

Born to proud parents Dick Faulkenbury and Grant Cogswell, the Monorail was a good idea at the right time. The Monorail would have stretched 14 miles through many Seattle neighborhoods, acting as a major transportation asset for at least a hundred years. Many Seattle residents (such as this one) who do not own cars will miss the Monorail. People will always remember the many votes, four to be exact, where voters approved it, but somehow it managed to not be built.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

SMP to sell property

Wanna buy a bridge?
Seattle Monorail Project should quickly sell off its unused station properties and close shop by New Year's Eve, interim Director John Haley said this morning.

"Transit's been killed. It's an execution. But I respect the will of the voters, and they were crystal clear they want this project killed," he said...

The agency will soon shrink itself into a land-liquidation enterprise.

Monorail Project Chairwoman Kristina Hill mentioned a possible auction, while Haley dismissed a suggestion by board member Cleve Stockmeyer to hang onto some $62 million worth of land in case the city proposes a post-SMP transit system for the city's western flank. Land will be discussed at a board meeting tonight.
Here's a press release detailing SMP's shutdown protocol, as agreed upon at tonight's meeting. The full plan is due to be released tomorrow.

Voters reject shortened monorail line

From this morning's PI
After five citywide votes and countless hours of debates in taverns, public meetings and City Hall, Seattle residents finally called a halt to the embattled monorail project.

Election returns showed a ballot measure authorizing construction of a shortened line was being soundly rejected by voters Tuesday.
I'll continue posting updates about transit-related news.

See more election results here

Monday, November 07, 2005


No matter what your personal views on the monorail, don't forget to vote tomorrow! On the eve of election day, the PI has a great overview of Seattle's monorail history, starting with the 1962 World's Fair, and taking us right up to tomorrow's crucial vote on Proposition 1.

The article ends with an interesting comment by John Haley, SMP's executive director, and a mass-transit veteran who worked on projects in Boston, New York and the San Francisco Bay Area before that.
Haley said he's never been involved with a project [that] didn't draw opposition, but has never seen critics at such an early stage so focused on things like total financing costs, ridership projections and the amount of space on the trains.

"There's a certain level of risk aversion that exists here that I've never encountered before," he said. "Other cities would say, 'Getting this infrastructure done is worth it to us, so let's get it done.'"
Does that make Seattleites anal, or people who pay attention to detail?