Tag Archives: transit

Line 2 Opening Weekend

The spring timetable change was the opportunity for Sound Transit to open a new line.  The troubles with the crossing of the I-90 bridge mean that the Redmond to Bellevue section of what is to be Line 2 is isolated from the rest of the network.  However, it was decided to open it up as a starter line to provide some service for the area pending the completion of the connection to the other side of Lake Washington.  They had a grand opening.  Rather than go on the Saturday when everyone was due to be out, I decided to try out the line on the Sunday.

I drove to the South Bellevue station which has a large parking garage.  It is the southern/western end of the line for now.  Trains run every ten minutes and I hopped on one to ride to the other end at Redmond Technology Center.  This is also an interim terminus as there will soon be an extension into downtown Redmond.  I checked out the route in the trip out and decided I would stop off at a couple of stations on the way back.

Plenty of people were out on the Sunday too.  Many seemed to be like me and exploring the new service.  Sundays aren’t a day to judge utilization of a system, but it will be interesting to see what ridership is like as the service gets going and people find out how best to use it for their purposes.  I hopped off at Wilburton Station to have a look at the platforms and the view across to downtown Bellevue.  I bumped into a guy I know from Sound Transit who was part of the opening support team for the weekend, and we ended up chatting for a while.

I then went to the station in Bellevue itself which is a nicely designed station just at the end of the tunnel that runs under the city.  You get a long view of the trains approaching from east as they come across the bridge while you can hear the trains coming through the tunnel as they approach.  After checking out a few elements of the station, I decided to head back to South Bellevue to pick up the car and go home.  The alignment was pretty good.  Ride quality was good in most areas and the stations seemed nicely put together both operationally and aesthetically.  It will be a good line when it is fully connected but, as an interim step, it seems to be worthwhile.

Riding the E Line in LA

My morning trip to the California Science Center could have involved a quick Uber ride but, since I was in LA to discuss light rail projects, it seemed more appropriate that I take the train down there.  The station wasn’t too far away, and the E Line dropped me off right next to the park.  Whenever I am using some form of transit, I do try to get a photo or two. You never know when they might be useful for a presentation or for adding to a proposal.

Some Heavy Construction Equipment

In a previous post, I showed some construction work underway on a project I am involved with.  This involves building a long span concrete bridge and the first steps are drilling the shafts into which the concrete will be poured to form the base for the columns upon which the bridge will ultimately rest.  Watching this from a distance, you don’t quite get the scale of what is involved.  However, when on site, you really get close to the heavy machinery that is necessary for this type of project.  I thought I would share some shots of this serious gear since I was able to get access to it.

Preparing for a Major Bridge Structure

One of the projects I am involved with includes some significant civil engineering and construction work.  Part of this is to build a long span bridge across a dip alongside an interstate.  The work is progressing quickly so things are changing fast.  By the time this post goes live, there will be a lot more to see on the site.  However, when I took these shots, they were preparing to pour to concrete shafts that will support the bridge piers.  The amount of work in preparing the area to stabilize the ground, drill the shafts, have access to the site and have the abutments at each end is huge.  Here are some shots of the work underway at that point.

Duquesne Incline

At the end of my recent visit to Pittsburgh, I wrapped up my meetings and had lunch prior to heading to the airport.  I did have about 90 minutes spare and was able to slot in a visit that I had thought about before going but that had slipped my mind for much of the visit when I was tied up with work stuff.  This was to check out one of the incline railways that Pittsburgh has.  Originally, there were twenty of these funicular railways on the hills surrounding Pittsburgh but now just two remain.

I chose to try the Duquesne Incline.  My Uber driver told me that this was the better one as the view from the top covered the downtown better, but I won’t claim this was an informed choice on my part.  However, I will take being lucky any time.  The incline was built in the late 1800s to get workers from the industrial lands along the rivers to their homes up on the hills overlooking the city.  There are two cars on individual tracks (not all funiculars are configured this way) with a cable connecting them after passing through the equipment room at the top of the hill.  The weight of the cars counterbalances to a reasonable extent so the power required is only what is necessary to overcome any weight differential and the friction of the system.

At the top of the hill, you can walk down under the station to see the machinery at work.  The sheaves reminded me of a visit many years ago to the Cable Car Barn in San Francisco.  This is on a smaller scale, of course.  Watching the cars heading up and down the grade was pretty cool and the viewing deck at the top provided a great view across the city.  This is all part of the Pittsburgh transit system so you can use the Incline as a connection to your bus journey if you want.  If you find yourself in Pittsburgh and have a little time, do check out either the Duquesne Incline or the Monongahela Incline.  They are quite something.

Elizabeth Line Station

Last year, while we were staying in London, I got to take my first trip on the Elizabeth Line or what was known for a long time as Crossrail.  This is a major addition to the transportation network of the town and appears to have been very successful.  I only took one trip through the core of town and one to the airport.  It was a very quick way to cover a journey that previously was a lot more drawn out.  However, the thing that impressed me most was the stations.  They are huge.  The trains are long from the start, but they have built capacity to have them longer and the platforms are about 250m long as a result.  You need to know which end to get out to make sure you don’t find yourself several blocks from where you intended when you get to the surface.

Birmingham Trams

The tram system in Birmingham was built after I had last been there.  We were staying in the center of the city so I didn’t need to use it to get anywhere but our route from the hotel to the evening’s entertainment took as past some of the route.  I noted this for the following morning when I took a little stroll around the city which was much quieter on a Sunday morning than it had been on a Saturday night.  The tram service was clearly less frequent too.  However, I did see some of them come through and wasn’t going to miss a quick shot while I was at it!

Lots Of Light Rail Trains Ready To Go

I visited the Sound Transit operations and maintenance facility in the south part of Seattle for meeting recently.  This is the original facility but they have added one in Bellevue and another will be built in Federal Way in the coming years.  Plenty of the trains were parked in the storage tracks including the original cars and the new ones getting delivered by Siemens for the extensions due to open soon.  Too good to pass up the chance to grab some shots with my phone.

Federal Way Clock/Log

The city of Federal Way between Seattle and Tacoma is the end point of a project I am working on.  The transit center in the middle of the city is being rebuilt to accommodate the light rail system’s arrival and that includes the parking garage that is currently there.  From the top of the garage, you get a good view of the work underway.  You also get a close up view of a slightly unusual clock.  It is designed to look like it is a giant log with a clock built in.  It clearly isn’t wood but it is a little different!

Sounder In the Fall At Picnic Point

One evening, while up near Everett, I had a bit of spare time on my hands.  I had noticed a park along the waterfront called Picnic Park and had noted that I would check it out at some point.  This was a good time to try finding out what it was like.  The weather was not great but, with time on my hands, I headed down there.  It is a small park along the water and there is a bridge across the railroad to reach it.  As I walked across the bridge, there was a nice view down to where the coast curves around and the trees along the shore had some nice fall colors.

With the sun popping in and out on a regular basis, I thought this would be a good place if a train was coming.  As it happened, the Sounder commuter rail train from Seattle to Everett was not far off so I decided to wait for it to come through.  A few minutes later it came in to view.  There was a family with a young child standing on the bridge waving to the crew and, when I looked at the photos at home, I could see both crew waving back.  It was a pretty short train.  The Sounder North has not been too successful and the commuter rail ridership is well down due to COVID.  I guess there is no need for more cars just now.