Morning Headlines: PIMP your SLUT

I’m sorry, but some days you just have to look past the negativity of the morning headlines to find hope, joy and inspiration in life’s little things. So while others might focus on WaMu laying off 3,150 people (it IS Christmas time, after all), or Port Townsend merchants facing a ferryless future, to say nothing of shivering thousands of homeless people here and all those flood victims from Madison Valley to Chehalis digging out ruined belongings and moldifying homes during this, the season to be jolly. Fa la la…

I say what the hell. It’s not all that bad, folks. Consider, for example, the gathering anticipation, the electrifying undercurrent, the swelling municipal pride and giddiness over the new streetcar system, our very own SLUT. Tomorrow morning hordes of suited dignitaries and eager sycophants will board the cute, colorful trolleys for the inaugural runs from one end of town to the same end of town.

If only Paul Allen could helicopter in from one of his many yachts for the opening festivities, my day would be complete. No wait, the capper would really be all the homeless people in Seattle lining the route, shoulder to shoulder, waving to the passing gentry while holding signs, “Hungry, Broke, Anything Will Help.” Now there’s an image that would really bring me some holiday cheer.

Truth be told, I could not wait till tomorrow to experience the SLUT. A friend of mine and I yesterday walked the entire line, up and back from Fred Hutch, as the blue and orange lines did their test runs (c’mon let’s be honest here, it’s purple, not blue). And knock me over with a feather: It was actually faster to walk the route than it would’ve been to ride the trolley. It took us 21 minutes to Westlake Mall’s stop, about 5 minutes faster than the trolley, whose driver said he was trying to simulate actual operating conditions. Now granted, we tend to walk kind of fast. But even with a stop at Whole Foods for a few groceries, we almost beat the damn thing back to Hutch. And let’s face it, most of the time folks won’t be walking the entire line. To suggest that this farcical amusement park ride will fill any transportation need is like saying a new basketball arena would give us a championship NBA team.

You call this blue?
You call this blue?

Just for another basis of comparison I rode my bike on the line back downtown from Hutch. It took me under 8 minutes, which means I could ride downtown, back to Hutch, and back downtown and still beat the trolley. I figure I could even shave a minute or two off that time by taking an alternate route. The SLUT line, as has been noted, is extremely dangerous to bikes, since the rails run parallel on both sides of Westlake with little curbside clearance, given that cars can park along the route. In fact, there’s not much clearance between the trolley and parked vehicles. You probably want to make sure you’re right up against the curb, and maybe leave the SUV on some other street.

The trip has been compared by the ever cynical press to “riding on air,” and at $1.50 per 1.3 miles (unclear whether 1 ticket gets you both ways) it’s only slightly more expensive than jet travel. The $52 million or so pricetag figures out to just under $8,000 a foot. Now yes, the natterers will point out that you can buy a pretty good used car for that, but the point is getting people out of their cars. So all those drivers who hop in their SUVs to go 4 blocks for a latte will now just take the SLUT instead.

Of course, the above estimates are in 6:12 a.m. Tuesday morning dollars. Our friend John Fox points out that the SLUT cost thermometer just keeps going up — by $1 million since last June alone, to $52.13 million as I write this. The mayor is seeking $3.75 million to cover the SLUT’s rising appetite. (He calls it a supplemental appropriation, I call it PIMP, or Pork Inviting More Pork.) Yes this is the same mayor who told the Madison Park flood victims hey, don’t you understand? We just don’t have an endless supply of cash laying around to fund expanded storm sewers!

SLUT is here to stay, however, providing the inspiration for endless jokes and a little cowboy ditty. Nice try, but I’ll wait for Jim Page’s take. There’s gotta be a companion song for “Paul Allentown” in this.

Comments

  1. 1

    spews:

    Paul.

    There IS an answer to SLUT!

    Actuslly several!

    We should:

    Sell the naming rights! If it works for stadia, why not for a choo choo? Imagine “WAMU SLUT” or “Home Depot’s SLUT”

    Sell annual passes for 10,000 each to the superwealthy who are buying 10 million dollar condoes from Vulcan.

    Sell the whole thing to Starbucks … they can sell coffee from the sides!

    Get Venturi, the architect who effed up the first version fo SAM, to redecorate the thing ad cars falling from the sky with light sabers sticking out all over. Call it art and charge for the exhibit.

    Offer an escort service! Lapdances, anyone? Lets make “Ride the SLUT,” a meaningfuo experience!

    Add special compartments for those willing to pay. Imagine, a luxury car, with silvered windows and escort service!

    Connect it to the fun forest, rework the cars so they rotate uoside down, rename the SLUT .. the Fun Ride. No one under six allowed.

    Sell sleeping space at night. Deluxe sleeping with ESCORT service!

    Oh oh ….

    I just saw the blue SLUT….no bike racks! Isn;t that iullegal in Seattle?

  2. 3

    NEAL spews:

    Free LINK rides just off Exit 133, park in the free municipal garage. Ooooh and awe at the dome, the pink elephant, the University of Washington campus, new convention center and the theater district.

  3. 4

    phh spews:

    Oh, boo fuckin’ hoo. As long as Kemper Freeman and the GMC Sierra Club control our destiny, we’re lucky to get any rail transit at all. Quit whining and hop on.

  4. 5

    I love the SLUT spews:

    i ride the bus everyday. i hate the bus.

    i want a streetcar network. this is the first step. it has, from my understanding, always been the plan of seattle to expand the network to cap hill, u district, etc.

    transportation infrastructure costs money. get over it. and when you quote john fox you lose all credibility. the thing could run on pixie dust and emit hundred dollar bills as it ran and fox would hate it because it is associated with development.

    remember the seattle commons? anyone? thanks for your great work on that, john.

  5. 6

    Odyssey spews:

    Faster to walk and bike the same route?? Well, good thing they’re wasting 52 million on this loser.
    I predict it’ll go under in less than five years.

  6. 8

    anna spews:

    Try walking or bicycling the route in business clothes, especially in skirts, heels, and stockings. And a hairstyle that can’t be covered with a knit cap on cold days. But wait this is Seattle where everyone’s allowed to work in pyjamas or exercise spandex, right?

  7. 9

    ArtFart spews:

    I did walk that route (or most of it) for nearly five years when I worked in south Lake Union. Plenty of people have always done so, if they commute on the bus and get on and of in the Stewart/Olive/Bus Tunnel corridor. It used to take me about 15 minutes. Unless I stepped up just in time to catch one of these things, I doubt I’d bother to stand and wait for the next one. Somehow I don’t think all that many other people will either, once the novelty wears off.

  8. 10

    ArtFart spews:

    OK, I asked this in another thread, but it was buried so far down I can’t even find it myself….

    Can someone please tell me what’s the difference between “light rail” and “streetcars”? And…which was the old Interurban?

  9. 12

    Odyssey spews:

    Doesn’t this go against the desire of civic leaders to get more people walking because so many are fat? (I won’t name names). Why would they ask people to ride something when walking (for once) was actually quicker? Can we just admit that the libs leading Seattle have just gone overboard in their zeal here??

  10. 13

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I don’t mean to seem unsympathetic, but mold problems are sort of predictable where people insist on building in flood plains, build levees on the cheap and don’t maintain them, sack public managers for warning this is foolish, and the National Guard is unavailable because they’re in Iraq. Chehalis is, after all, wingnut country where folks think free speech should be regulated and land use shouldn’t be. Now they expect big-city liberal taxpayers to pay for the consequences of their idiocy. It’s business as usual in Wingnut Land.

  11. 14

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    In other news, the Federal Reserve continued its foolish policy of devaluing the dollar and raising oil prices by cutting interest rates to bail out a stock market built on a credit market built on an economy built on a house of cards. It was artificially low interest rates that created the credit mess in the first place, and now artificially low interest rates are supposed to bail out the mess created by artificially low interest rates?

    Well, what do you expect when Donald Duck is president and appoints Mickey Mouse to run the Federal Reserve?

    Following today’s rate cut, the Dow Average plunged 294 points, and crude prices leaped over $2 a barrel back to the $90 level.

    Stay tuned for the next gut-wrenching episode of Wingnut Economics! Coming soon to a bank near you.

  12. 15

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    What this pump priming does, of course, is to postpone — and make more severe — the economic correction that will eventually set everything straight.

    Everybody who’s anybody in the GOP knows damn well the Democrats are going to sweep the ’08 elections, and of course they want the economic shit to hit the fan after a new president is sworn in, so they can blame the natural consequences of their foolishness on her.

  13. 16

    ArtFart spews:

    14 Basically, in spite of the Fed’s actions being demonstrably foolish, the NYSE reacted today with a petulant tantrum over the Fed not having been foolish enough….

    What?????? Only a quarter point? Daaaady, you promised!!!! I wanna HALF!!!!! You’re MEEEEEAN! I HAAATE you! I’m gonna eat WOOOORMS!!!!!!! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!

  14. 17

    busdrivermike spews:

    The #17 does westlake in 4 minutes, the SLUT takes 10. Do the freakin math people. This is a tourist attraction, not serious transportation.

    I can never get used to how trailer park stupid most citizens are when it comes to transit issues around here. Do you realize the operating expenses for the SLUT is going to grab one third of all new funding for North Seattle for the next five years? For what? 1.3 miles!

    But yeah, it is big and shiny. My five year old nephew, and most of the dipsticks in Seattle, will be impressed.

  15. 18

    spews:

    @ 17

    Of course the 17 does it in 4 minutes. Nobody’s riding it. Or if they are, it’s to Ballard, and not to SLU.

  16. 19

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    #17 The streetcar would be more interesting if it was made of wood, had hard seats, and cost a dime … like in the old days.

  17. 20

    Odyssey spews:

    I actually agree with Roger. This whole thing in its current state is really, really lame. No charm; no sense. (just way too many “cents”)

  18. 21

    David spews:

    While I can agree with a good many of the comments here…get a grip folks. Seriously. Every transit system built in the history of the United States had people who bitched and whined that the very very first line didn’t “go anywhere” or provide a “transportation solution”. You think the very first subway line ever built in NY “solved” all of their transit needs at once? God lord folks, it’s JUST 1.5 miles of track. Get back to me when you have 5 lines connecting all the major points (stadium/Pioneer, Cap Hill, waterfront, downtown/West Lake, University, Freemont) and see how it’s working.

    And by the way, NO ONE walks from the Hutch to West Lake.
    Well, I’m sure one person will claim they do, but that’s 17+ blocks. On a nice 39 degree raining day, you really want to walk 17 blocks instead of riding in a street car? Seriously? I used to live in a condo down there on the west side of Lake Union. I wandered down to the ‘old’ south lake union area before the current conversion, and I NEVER saw more than a handful of people in those empty streets…no throngs of ‘walkers’ commuting to downtown. These are the folks who think we should give up and all bike around town. Tell grandma to stop whining and bike up Queen Ann with her groceries and dry cleaning in February…it’s good exercise!

    Look, EVERY mode of transportation (bikes, cars, street cars, buses) have their strengths and weaknesses. No one, none, will every solve all our problems. Sometimes you’ll need a car (fastest mode, carry heavy/large items), sometimes a bus will work (though you’re out of luck if you want to go from Beach Drive TO downtown after 9am), sometimes maybe a streetcar (you have a sore foot and don’t WANT to walk 17 blocks).