After many comments and more digging, and a revised webpage by Metro, here’s what I think we know:
- The streetcar cannot return until the trolley barn is rebuilt, which is probably about mid-2009.
- Whether it opens or not at that time will depend largely on the fate of the Alaskan Way viaduct. If they’re going to have to shut the thing down anyway for construction in 2010, it makes little sense to run it for a few months.
Sorry for all the confusion.
While I’m busy bashing King County today…
Commenter Shotsix asked about the Waterfront Streetcar today. It’s something I’ve been wondering about myself, as it was a nice way to get down to the waterfront on a partially separated right-of-way. My brother-in-law is considering switching to transit to get to work and asked me about it. So I did a little Googling:
It looks like the Streetcar is dead. UPDATE: No it’s not. See below.
What drives me nuts about this is the lack of priorities. The city decides to build a sculpture park, and they have to move the streetcar barn. That’s fine, but a jurisdiction that actually prioritized transit would get the replacement facility constructed first, or at least finalize the plans for that replacement.
With typical skill, our fearless leaders had no such plan. Instead, their vague notions of a replacement got mired in Seattle process, and it’s taken so long they’d now rather wait to restore service until the viaduct replacement is done in the year 2175.
Meanwhile, its replacement, bus route 99, has one-fifteenth the ridership that the streetcar had. (scroll to near the bottom on the link).
UPDATE: Thanks to commenter “Pantograph Trolleypole”, who pointed out a summer post from this very same blog (D’oh!).
That gave me some new search terms, which pointed me to this newer (Jan 2007) article, which suggests that the trolley will return in 2009. Damn you Google!
Of course, that could still be a very short run indeed. If the viaduct rebuild is chosen, the new viaduct would swallow up the streetcar line. I’m no civil engineer, but I suspect the retrofit and surface/transit options could leave the streetcar unharmed.
UPDATE 2: Commenter Brian Bundridge, piling on, gives a more precise date of Summer 2009, just in time for light rail. Mea culpa, mea culpa!
But I don’t want to lose the larger point. Sculpture parks are not high on any citizen’s priority list. Regardless, to get one, they tore down part of our transit infrastructure with no replacement and no firm plan for one in place. These are not the actions of a leadership focused on transportation issues. The fact that they haven’t even started building the barn yet is outrageous.
With talks of the Lakewood line coming online in late 2011, there has been some surface talks among the public of – what’s next? The final three mainline stations will be Lakewood, South Tacoma for the South corridor and Mukilteo for the North corridor but should Sound Transit look further? With Roads and Transit behind us and King County being tax happy, would the public even want additional train service or improves?
With the North corridor ridership less than 53,000 a year it’s time to look at ways to improve this service to make it more viable and attractive to those coming from Everett and Marysville. Could a train leave Stanwood, a future Amtrak station set to open in November 2008? Could we gather additional funding for parking garages at Everett, Mukilteo, and a permanent station and garage improve the overall ridership?
I can only think of two locations that could support having a commuter rail station for the North corridor; Galar Street/Interbay also known as lower Magnolia area and Alaskan Way/Broad Street as a walk-on/off only station. The Galar Street option would have Amgen, Seattle-PI and Louis Dreyfus employees not to mention employees of Pier 90/91. The Streetcar if extended to the future cruise ship terminal at Pier 90/91 it too could use this station. The Broad Street would not have any parking available. It has been too densely developed to allow a parking garage but it does have easy access to many Belltown businesses and quick access to the Seattle Center.
For the South Corridor, a station at Lakeland Hills/South Auburn would be an excellent medium. There is a good amount of users between the Auburn/Sumner corridor that would use a medium station. Many folks use Auburn from Sumner because there is no additional parking available. The Lakeland Hills station would be located at Lake Tapps Pkwy & East Valley Hwy E and could have a parking facility for at least 500 cars easing the load at Auburn while reducing the need of having an additional garage which may end up being needed in the future anyways. I’m not sure of BNSF’s exact plan for triple tracking between Tukwila and Sumner or if that will even happen at all but I can tell that it will be double track from Sumner to Tacoma as Sumner and Puyallup stations does not have provisions to accommodate a third mainline.
It’s all just an idea, but I could foresee the additional stations and parking garages much welcomed to commuters and those that wish to try out Sounder without having to worry about parking on the street or a business’ parking lot that doesn’t allow Sounder use. How would we fund it is really the question?
Finally after a structural design error on the part of WSDOT, the Totem Lake Freeway Station at NE 128th will be opening on November 17th. This direct HOV lane will handle Sound Transit Express buses, Community Transit, and King County Metro buses. The error was covered by WSDOT and an estimated $2-3 million added to the cost of the $85.9 million dollar project.
Sound Transit’s crown jewel is making a lot of business owners in Tacoma red in the face this week. The future extension that will run from Freighthouse Square to Lakewood using the old Tacoma Eastern tracks towards Fort Lewis. The problem? The 1.2 mile missing link that needs to be built from Freighthouse Square/D Street to M Street would eliminate 7 business along the planned route, all located on Pacific Avenue. Businesses want more time on selecting a route hoping it would save their company and hope a petition will delay the project another 2-3 years in hopes for a new, less disruptive design that wouldn’t ‘separate” the district from Downtown Tacoma. Sound Transit isn’t having any of that with a decision to come next month (Meeting with the latest design is November 15 at Freighthouse Square) which the project already 6 years behind schedule.
Read more on the Tacoma News Tribune – Stop or go for Dome District
We’ve spent the last week or so agonizing over how to get the $1.2 billion in 2006 dollars to extend light rail to Northgate by 2018. We’ve spilled many electrons trying to figure out what taxing district is optimal, how the legal arrangements work out, etc.
Well, the King County Council just raised taxes without a public vote yesterday, and if you multiply the projected yearly income by the 10 years it would take to get to Northgate, you get no less than $1.1 billion. That’s a back-of-the-envelope calculation, ignoring inflation (although tax receipts inflate too), but also ignoring the fact that we could pay it off over a longer period of time, and the likelihood that the Federal government would chip in.
Remember this when we’re told there’s no money to get to Northgate (or repair crumbling bridges).
Ron Sims’ swing from champion for transportation to head of the mass transit enemies list is truly startling. Could a Republican County Exec be any worse?
Will at Horse’s Ass does not like passender ferries. Goldy, much like me, is sure that the roads agenda is going through anyway. Thanks a lot Sierra Club!
The Overhead wire has a round-up of the Democratic Presidential candidates’ positions on transit. The Third Rail (a heavy-rail alernative to the Overhead wire? A grade-separated transit blog?) had a round up from about six ago, and even had one for Microsoft’s bus system is doing okay, but it doesn’t seem to have made my 545 ride any less crowded. Anyone else see a difference on the 545?
Did I miss anything? Post it in the comments!
He wants to disband Sound Transit, and he’s not the only person who wants that.
Disband Sound Transit. One less duplicative bureaucracy to fund and maintain. Finish King County’s light rail — since so much money has been sunk into it already we might as well go ahead and finish the thing, then operate it as a laboratory and concrete example of what not to do next time, should the region ever venture into rail again. Then turn it over to Metro. Give the Tacoma light rail segment to Pierce Transit.
Turn the Sounder commuter trains — which always made far more sense than light rail since the rights of way already exist and they move people between towns, a major source of congestion — over to Amtrak and/or the Washington State Department of Transportation (Amtrak already provides contract commuter service in California, Maryland, Virginia and Connecticut, contracts with the state of Washington for support of the Cascades service and provides maintenance services for Sounder). And turn express-bus service over to Metro, Pierce Transit and Community Transit, which should have been running it anyway.
It’s a list of action items without any reason. Why does he want to disband Sound Transit? Because it’s duplicative? What is agency is it duplicating exactly? Because “Metro, Pierce Transit and Community Transit” should have been running it anyway?
He ends with ‘Ban from regional transportation planning anyone who has uttered, or even thought, the phrase, “We’ve got to get people out of their cars.”‘ Yikes.
There’s nothing of substance here, but it’s worth noting that Virgin is not alone in his thinking, and we need to be vigilent against those trying to destroy our transit agencies.
After reading this P-I Columnist thoughts on Prop 1, I think I honestly needed my ribs to be replaced from laughing so hard. First of all, I do admire him for some suggestions, such as replacing the 520 and Alaskan Way Viaduct but then he goes on to say to Disband Sound Transit and letting the regional transit agencies take over…. Sure, that’ll be fine in dandy to replace 500+ Sound Transit buses, give Sounder over to Amtrak and/or BNSF or another private venture and give Link over to King County.
If it wasn’t for Sound Transit, there would not be this additional transportation infrastructure that we now have thanks to Sound Transit because King County, Pierce County, and Snohomish Counties couldn’t get off their asses to develop an extensive transportation plan.
We now have an agency that while not near the size of King County Metro Transit but is already at 35+ million passengers in it’s short life span. I don’t see Sound Transit going anywhere anytime soon and with their recent credit approvals. We need to stop looking at Sound Transit who said one thing in 1996 and changed it in 2001 because of increased costs because every other country happens to be developing at a faster rate that the United States is….It is not Sound Transit’s fault for raising fuel costs, concrete costs, steel costs.
If anything, all of our networks need to be under ONE name instead of 4 different agencies (Community, King, Pierce, ST) I would personally would not mind the new Puget Pass/Orca Pass to include the Washington State Ferry System (foot and passenger) on top of all of our other systems. I also wouldn’t mind the Monorail under King County Metro but that would never happen.
So yes, we have a lot of ideas, plans, thoughts, how we would love to get rid of Sound Transit but without ST, we wouldn’t be where we are at today without them and for that, can not thank this agency enough. Central Link Light-Rail is coming to Seattle in 2009, South Lake Union Streetcar in December, Community Transit’s Swift BRT in 2009 and King County Metro’s RapidRide BRT in 2010 and the 2003 Legislative Transportation Funding Package, Nickel fund, and the 2005 Transportation Partnership Funding Package are well under way all over our State to get our roads improved and in a State of Good Repair.
Give it time for everything to come together and you’ll see that our tax money is going to something good but you all need to realize that it takes time to build up the funds to get our roads repaved, repaired, to get our transportation in a condition that meets our needs, and most importantly, keeps our strong employers in our region. Without a effective transportation system, Seattle and the Puget Sound region will fail to be a world leader in trade and our economy.
In the seemingly endless debate of the 520 bridge and highway improvements, it seems the State is going to branch off from RTID and move forward with the project set to start construction in 2012.
A question I’m sure some will raise is where is the money going to come from?? That is what I would like to know. I’m actually quite glad this is going to happen though. This might free up some funds to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
“Last week … the voters said no to Proposition 1, and when they did, I don’t believe that they said no to us having a responsibility to replace the 520 bridge,” Gregoire said. “The replacement of the 520 bridge is essential for Microsoft for it to be able to get its employees, for it to be able to do its business in an efficiently, effectively, safe way …I intend to provide for Microsoft what it needs to continue to grow and be literally the largest corporate campus in the world.”
I do understand the Governors distress about the 520 bridge. Thousands of Microsoft employees cross over both directions each weekday, for meetings, lunch, etc. Not all Microsoft employees have the ability to tele-communicate. For our region to risk loosing Microsoft because we couldn’t get our act together is out of the question and we need to provide a solution to not only 520 but also I-405, SR-167, and the Issaquah-Hobart Road, a popular alternative that is heavily congested now.
There’s a lot of talk about getting some light rail to the ballot next year. As Daimajin points out, I’m not sure that it’s within Sound Transit’s authority to propose that some portion of the ST district be taxed to fund a particular project. Any lawyers out there that can clarify the limits of Sound Transit’s charter?
It’s evident that asking the three-county district to vote on a Northgate extension alone is dead-on-arrival. Another possibility is to revisit the bus/rail extension option that was briefly considered by the board for this year’s ballot, which would have involved only a 0.3% sales tax increase. Although that option was savaged during the comment period in favor of more aggressive rail construction, the kind of person who comments at that stage in the process is likely a wee bit more energized about transit than the rest of us.
Unfortunately, it’s not clear if that option has enough in it for Snohomish County. Snohomish representatives on the Sound Transit board were quite adamant that getting to Northgate did not adequately serve their constituents, to the point of fighting the idea of “loaning” subarea funds to complete the Northgate line. I found this to be shortsighted, but is probably reasonably reflective of the attitude of voters there.
The other alternative, of course, is to abandon going to the whole district altogether, and do a Seattle-only or King-County-only vote. Legally, I’m not sure how this would work out: would the City just deliver a lump of money to Sound Transit? Set up a separate authority to complete the work? Again, calling all the lawyers…
No doubt we can count on the Sierra Club to produce the initiative it looks like we’ll need…
So I asked Ric Ilgenfritz, Chief Communications Officer for Sound Transit, on Goldy’s radio show, about the possibility of a Seattle-only ballot initiative for extending rail to Northgate. Seattle Times ‘perhaps’ endorsed this idea as well in a massively pro-roads editorial today. Sadly, Ric said that Sound Transit would be unable to bring this to ballot, so we may have to start reading into an initiative for our Northgate trips…
Start lobbying your city council members…
Patty Murray is bringing in the federal dollars for Light Rail, according to this Sound Transit Press release, including $24 million for University Link! She also brought in $70 million for Central Link, all but ensuring full federal funding for the line.
The Seattle Times has article of how prop 1 fared around each district. I’m not suprised that it faired so poorly in places like West Seattle or Sammamish where not much if anything was being built. But I am suprised it did badly in places like Federal Way and Auburn, where both rail and roads were planned. What this says about how a transit-only vote would fare, we have to wait and see.
My concern is, if we bring a transit-only vote next year to the whole RTA district and it doesn’t pass, it will kill rail transit for decades. So will it pass? It’s not obvious either way. I don’t want to argue about the sampling accuracy of the Sierra Club’s poll any more, since I’ve already upset a bunch of people, but we can agree on this from the poll: clearly, the transit was more important than the roads for single-issue ‘yes’ voters. They asked the question “What was the main reason why you voted yes? Because of the road projects, or the transit projects, or both?” and 35% said transit, only (!!!) 11% because of the road projects, but 54% because of both the transit and road projects. Now, the question they didn’t ask to the “both” pollees was “if a transit-only package were on the ballot would you have voted ‘yes’?”
On the other hand, taxes were the major problem for ‘no’-voters.
Still 35% is encouraging, and if even Prop. 1 with roads passed in the 43rd, let’s bring a transit-only ballot to at least Seattle in 2008 to extend the thing to Northgate. We’ll get a huge progressive turnout for the presidential race, and that would be sure to pass.
What do you guys think?
There are some good things about this and then there are some bad. I won’t get into totally but I don’t want my tax to be increased to pay for somebody who will keep going back to rehab (Read: Lindsay Lohan) when there are more important things our tax dollars can go toward, like fixing First Avenue South between Royal Brougham and Spokane Street or all of Spokane Street from Airport Way to the lower West Seattle Bridge.
Secondly, it’s about time the Council agrees to increase Metro Transit fares by 25 cents. The last increase was in 2001 and even with this increase, we are still one of the lowest fare transit agency in the Country. This additional funding will cover increase fuel and operating costs. Personally I hoped it would have been 50 cents. The way fuel is going, the extra buffer would be welcomed.
On May 16th, 2007, New Flyer of America procurement for up to a total of 715 60-foot articulated buses from King County Metro (KCM) in Seattle, WA. This order includes a firm order for 22 hybrids with options for up to 493 diesel or hybrid buses for KCM and 200 assignable options for a total value of up to US $514 million, which was included in the order backlog reported in New Flyer’s 2007 First Quarter Financial Report.
This order does not include the New Flyer DE60LF-BRT buses that Metro Transit will be ordering for RapidRide. Community Transit has ordered 15 of these buses with an option for 34 more.
In 2003, Metro and Sound Transit ordered 213 New Flyer DE60LF 60-foot Articulated Hybrid buses powered by CAT Diesel and Allison Hybrid Drive.
Another update on getting Link to the University of Washington this evening as State Senator Patty Murray continues her efforts to secure FY 2008 light rail funding.
Sound Transit today lauded Washington Sen. Patty Murray for her efforts to secure $94 million in FY 2008 light rail funding, including $24 million for the University Link light rail extension and $70 million toward completing light rail from downtown Seattle to the airport. The funding is part of a key Congressional funding bill now headed for the White House
This is great news as it ensures that Link continues it’s progress on the 3.15 mile long extension to the University of Washington. It’s just a shame tunnel boring is so bloody slow. Construction will start next year with a completion around 2015 and testing will have the line open for service in 2016. Sound Transit is opting to only use one tunnel boring machine, the Emerald Mole, that is currently boring the second 4,000 foot long Beacon Hill tunnel which is scheduled to come out of the tunnel next month. If a second one was purchased for University Link, the system could open in 2011 but that would double the cost of the operation.
I can see additional Vashon, Bainbridge, Edmonds, Mukilteo passenger only ferry routes but Lake Washington? Seriously?!There is no ‘fast’ route from the Kenmore, Kirkland, Renton, or Bellevue waterfront to Downtown Seattle. You would have to transfer to a bus at either Madrona, Madison, or Leshi. Metro Transit 2 (Madrona), 11 (Madison Park), 27 (Leshi) are the only routes that serve those areas and equally take about 30 minutes to Downtown Seattle.
We shall see….
Mayor Nickels makes a strong point in this article. General Elections during an non-Presidential election turns out much fewer voters. Coming back in 2008 would not only bring more voters but also the younger generation of voters.
Nickels recalled that Sound Transit lost its first attempt to pass a regional package in 1995, revised its plan, then won in the 1996 presidential year.
At this stage of the game, I would say it would be best to bring a much smaller, rails only vote in 2008. Light-Rail to Northgate Mall to the North, Light-Rail South to Federal Way Commons Mall to the South and a Streetcar or Light-Rail in the Bellevue – Redmond corridor, along with funding for a permanent Tukwila Station and Parking Garage. I still believe a new station at Lakeland Hills is needed. A huge amount of people from Lakeland, South Auburn, and Lake Tapps that use Sounder can benefit greatly from this additional station.
When Sound Transit was formed, Lakeland at the time was very, very small and in it’s beginning stages. Between Lakeland and Lake Tapps, a lot of the traffic is divided between Auburn and Sumner stations.
The Elliott Bay Water Taxi blew the old record out the door this year. A total of 161,331 riders used the West Seattle-to-downtown service this summer, as compared with 122,650 riders in 2006. The additional ridership revenues generated allowed King County to operate the water taxi during October weekday commute hours.
The Water Taxi also ran one month less in 2007. Not too shabby.
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Thanks to SeattlePI forum member ‘TCMetro’ for finding this great pdf file regarding RapidRide service in King County. This goes over what routes may or may not become RapidRide BRT routes and changes to current routes that will become RapidRide.
Some Highlights -
The following changes to existing routes are assumed to support the
implementation of RapidRide service (see also Table 1: Transit Now RapidRide
Improvements, page 4):
Aurora Avenue North: Route 358 would be converted to RapidRide
Ballard: Service options would involve combinations of resources
converting some or all of routes 15, 15X, 18, and 18X.
Bellevue-Redmond: Service options would involve combinations of
resources converting some or all of routes 230 and 253.
Highway 99 South: Route 174 would be converted to RapidRide service
between Tukwila/International Boulevard Link station and Federal Way,
and a new local route between Tukwila/International Boulevard Link
Station and downtown Seattle would serve the northern segment of the
current route 174.
West Seattle: Service options would involve combinations of resources
converting some or all of routes 54 and 54X to RapidRide service, and
possible changes to service levels or route structure to routes 55, 56 and
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