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Harry

After Years of Debate, Light Rail Trains Enter Town

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SEATTLE — It takes only a few moments to ride an elevator from the platform of the famous and once futuristic Seattle monorail down to the platform of this city’s new $3.9 billion light rail line. Creating the connection, though, took nearly a half-century.

 

When the mile-long monorail was built in less than a year for the 1962 World’s Fair here, it was proclaimed “the world’s most modern transportation system.” Forty-seven years later and largely a tourist attraction vulnerable to mechanical troubles, it is still chrome-cool evidence of Seattle’s urban ambition.

 

“We thought, by God, we would lick the world,” said Jim Ellis, a longtime lawyer and civic leader here, recalling the optimism prompted by the fair’s success and early local efforts in areas like environmental cleanup. “I said to my friends, ‘Why don’t we try for an overall capital improvement program that will make us the city of the future?’ "

 

Full story: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/01/us/01seattle.html

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Well, looks like they won't need the underground busses anymore.

 

Yes, they will. The transit tunnel is used by both buses and trains that serve downtown Seattle, and there are no plans to eradicate all bus service in the tunnel.

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Well, looks like they won't need the underground busses anymore. Great Job Seattle, :)!

If you look carefully in that photgraph, you would see that there is a diesel on the right hand side.

I've followed this project from its very start. The tunnel was built for light rail use. But buses were used instead. When the project came into shape, they realised modern LRVs could not use the existing tracks and therefore the entire tunnel had to be rehabbed. The tunnel floor was lowered so that it could accomodate the new LRVs.

 

Surprisingly, the bus tunnel still falls in the fare-free section for the King County Metro buses. However, those using light rail must pay, regardless if they are boarding inside the tunnel. KCM and Sound Light Rail are two different agencies and thus have different fare structures.

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The Link Light Rail will be extended to the Airport by December this year, then to the University in the next decade. An extension to the south will bring the line to Tacoma. Finally, a north extension will push the line to Northgate. The line will possibly end in Everett. Finally, there will be an eastern extension to Bellevile, I believe. These lines, with Sounder commuter rail, the ST express bus (and soon BRT), KCM buses, the ferry, the monorail and the Seattle Streetcar will make up Seattle's comprehensive transit system.

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I can't believe their still using buses on that underground line. I gotta a go up there to ride it.

It's a one of a kind, while it is no longer America's only bus tunnel (honour goes to Boston's Silver Line tunnel), it is America's only tunnel where buses and light rail vehicles share the same alignment simultaneously. Maybe the world, too.

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While buses are still running, they are no longer "dual-powered". Before the renovation in 2005, the buses that ran in the tunnel used conventional diesel when outside. When they approached the busway that leads to the tunnel (south of the International District station), they will use overhead wire for electric power. They would run on electric power through the tunnel and at Convention Place Station (not part of Link Light Rail, exclusively for buses) they will switch back to diesel.

After the renovation, it was clear that buses cannot share the overhead wires the LRVs are using nor can they go on diesel through the tunnel. As a result, they put hybrids on the lines that go through the tunnel.

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