Future Link Headways

With University Link under construction and Sound Transit 2 to follow, service frequency has become a hot topic.

Today, Link operates at peak frequencies of 7-8 minutes, dropping to 10 and finally 15 minutes during off-peak periods and on weekends. With average October weekday ridership of 16,200, today’s peak frequencies meet demand and will likely continue to through the next few years, but U-Link will change that.

The North Link Final Supplemental EIS operating plan summary (PDF), which only covers S. 200th to Northgate, the extent planned for in Sound Move, calls for 6 minute peak headways end to end by 2015, with an eventual increase to 5 minute headways between Northgate and Rainier Beach (referred to as “Henderson” in the document) sometime prior to 2030.

With Sound Transit 2, we’ll essentially get a new line – running from Northgate or farther north to Bellevue. Currently, the East Link DEIS operating plan summary (PDF) suggests four car trains every 10 minutes in 2020, with headways down to every 9 minutes in 2030.

An overall Sound Transit 2 operating plan I saw on paper suggested three 9 minute headway lines – One from Lynnwood to SODO or Rainier Beach, one from Northgate to Bellevue/Redmond, and one from Northgate to Sea-Tac/Federal Way. This would cause three minute headways between every other train south of downtown, and could cause problems in at-grade portions.

There’s another possibility here, though. Sound Transit could operate two lines, one from Lynnwood to Federal Way, and another from Lynnwood to Bellevue. This would keep headways south of the International District more stable, and make Bellevue headways higher overall. Either way, frequency from Northgate to the International District will be down to four or even three minutes with Sound Transit 2.

The limiting factor is largely the uncertainty associated with the MLK portion of Link – missing a light can add a minute or two to a trip, making it impossible to really shoehorn more trains in without degrading quality of service significantly. If we want another line through downtown, it will need to either go on the surface, or in a new tunnel.

Comments

  1. Mike Skehan says

    Ben has done a good job of reviewing the documents. Thanks!
    I would like to offer a different conclusion to his last sentence – that the tunnel is maxed out by 2030, without going into a lot of detail on ridership, throughput, minimum headway spacing, etc. (Ben, Martin and myself have cordially agreed to disagree on this subject, so I’ll be very brief)
    As near as I can tell, the 3 min staggered, 3 line operation of E.link is not an official ST Board resolution. It’s just an idea, like so many others that eventually will get refined as time progresses.
    From the EIS documents, in the year 2030, during peak hours:
    North, U-Dist, Central, Airport and South Link (one rail line in built in segments) will see trains through the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT) no closer that every 5 minutes between N. Gate and Henderson. Half of the trains will ‘turnback’ at Henderson or N. Gate, and the other half will continue on to their respective end of the line destinations.
    E. Link will have trains crossing I-90 every 10 minutes, or so in the peak hours.
    These trains will have to merge with N-S trains in the tunnel, creating a schedule of about 2.5 minute headways each direction, with a 5 minute gap between trains every 10 minutes. In other words, standing at Westlake you would see a S.bound train on the hour then at 5, 10, 15… after the hour. At 2.5 and 12.5 minutes past, you’d see an E.side train, with nothing at 7.5 past the hour. That’s where I disagree with Ben and Martin. The gap slot CAN be used for another line, operating from W.Seattle to Ballard on the same headways as E.Link. (Getting them in and out of the tunnel is not that technically difficult, but a discussion for other times.)
    Dicing up the 2.5 minute headway scheme above into a complex 3 minute scheme to get every third train going somewhere different from the Northend seems inefficient and overly confusing. I can’t imagine a huge ridership from the eastside needing every third train to go out to Lynnwood, that a STEX bus could not do just as easily and faster. Anyway, it’s a long way off, with lots of time to decide things…
    …Unless a Mayor or Council President are looking for a way to make the Green Line work!

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      I think the reason we disagree is that you’re looking at a Sound Move document for the 5 minute headways north, and a Sound Transit 2 document for the 9-10 minute headways east. Sound Transit already replaced the plans in that Sound Move document with the “three line” plan – the two documents we’re looking at here won’t ever apply at the same time.

      Uneven headways like that create crush loads on some trains and waste space on others. There’s no reason to think Sound Transit would operate Link like that when they’ve already published a plan with even headways.

      • Patrick says

        Maybe I am missing something here, but East link is going to have lower ridership then North Link, right. I am not following how some trains would have crash loads and others would not. Wouldn’t lower head ways on east Link be warranted since they would have less riders and wouldn’t having even head ways on North and east link cause under utilization on East link?

      • Adam B. Parast says

        Uneven headways between UW and Downtown will cause some trains to be crush load while other has extra capacity. I think that is what Ben is talking about. Does that help?

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        Adam’s right on. A train 2.5 minutes after the last one won’t have many riders, but a train 7.5 minutes after that will have lots.

      • aw says

        The scheme Mike was talking about would have a maximum gap between trains at 5 min. for the Northgate to ID station segment. Elsewhere, trains would be equally spaced. I don’t see how you got a 7.5 min. gap.

    • Bob Whitbeck says

      I was surprised this discussion went so far into the future. I have questions about near term headways and the current fleet size (pardon me if this has been discussed earlier).

      It seems that today, just between Tukwila and Westlake, there are 12 train-sets needed to cover the schedule when trains are running every 7.5 minutes. This would mean 24 of the 25 cars are in service (not including the two cars I see as hot spares at Rainier Beach sometimes).

      Then when SeaTac is added, I can see maybe 12 or 13 sets at 7.5 minute headways, then 24 or 26 cars are in serve of the 35.

      All fine a good, except if they deem three car trains being needed (after the 194 is cancelled?), then there would be a demand for 36 to 39 cars, past the 35 now in stock.

      Now what happens if the South Line were to go to 5 minute headways.

      With two car trains, I figure 14 trains needed for 28 cars needed, and three car trains would need 42 cars?

      Does Sound Transit have an option priced with the supplier for more cars?

  2. Chris Stefan says

    I think it is also worth taking a long-term look at East Link. I don’t think 10 minute headways will be enough at peak at some point in the future. Especially if there is another branch constructed on the Eastside. Eventually you get to pushing a train across I-90 every 5 minutes.

    In addition it is worth looking at what happens to transit ridership if there is a steep run up in the cost of oil. What does transit ridership look like when gas is $10 or more a gallon?

    I think you can fit a West Seattle Line in the tunnel, but that really doesn’t leave enough capacity for Uptown, Ballard, Fremont, or Aurora (IOW at least one and possibly two additional lines North at some point in the future) if the U District and Northgate are to be served properly. This does mean you could do Conlin’s plan without necessarily requiring a transfer at SODO. Though at the point you build a line out to Ballard you really have to look at building another route through downtown.

    • says

      Stupid question here, but at what point are buses scheduled to be evicted from the tunnel – with North Link and/or East Link? Most, if not all, the current bus tunnel routes are seeing replacement with light rail a good criteria.

      FWIW, why no Federal Way – Bellevue Train?

      Also, we need to be cognizant of upcoming safety standards for surface operation. A comparison of the safety and operational characteristics of surface rail and street car routes to the joint rail/bus mode of the current tunnel is in order.

      An east west link serving Ballard, from a new commuter rail station to the University District, should be on the table.

      Lastly, the possibility of political problems on the Eastside should not be discounted.

      • chh says

        Yes, there should be an east-west line connecting Ballard/Fremont/Wallingford/U-District. But no, there should NOT be a commuter rail station in Ballard. That is a huge waste of money.

      • alexjonlin says

        If there is an east-west line connecting Ballard, Wallingford, and the U District, then the Sounder station in Ballard would no longer be a waste of money.

      • Brian Bundridge says

        Explain to me how you will get people to the Ballard Sounder Station?

        Besides the ever slow bus on that corridor, you will not justify the ridership in Ballard for a new station there. It is pointless when RapidRide will provide a more direct route than Sounder and will be near equal travel time. By adding light rail, nothing will change, the line will STILL be miles away from the Ballard station. I, for one would not waste the 20-30 minutes just to get to the station, wait whatever time for the train to come then bypass Broad Street and the central business core to King Street Station for a bus BACK into Downtown. What is the point of that? You may as well have just waited for the RapidRide bus or bus to light-rail or took the local 15/18.

        Everyone needs to get Ballard off their mindset. There will NEVER be a Ballard Sounder Station. It makes no sense to add this station when connections are so poor, it makes no sense when there are much faster alternatives. There is no point to have one when that money can be used to improve the existing service. I would much rather see a Broad Street station if we are going to be any new station on the North line.

        Use that money to accelerate the construction of Broad Street or adding an additional cross overs to improve service and reliability (not that the North end trains have that issue) or add another train or two.

        It boggles my mind that we continue to discuss a Ballard Sounder Station when we could focus on much more important items.

        Heck, the money used on a Ballard station could purchase some new 3-4 car DMU’s since the ridership on the line remains to be flat. Leave the bi-levels on the South corridor.

      • James says

        Why couldn’t a Ballard/Fremont/Wallingford/U-District line terminate at an inter-modal Sounder/Link station in Ballard?

        It’s not particularly useful for someone commuting Ballard to downtown, and certainly true that there are probably higher priorities. But it would be incredibly useful for someone commuting from Everett/Edmonds to U-District.

      • Adam B. Parast says

        @James

        I think that if you build a E/W line it would make most sense to tie it into a N/S line from Ballard to Downtown. You want a line to connect two large destinations and UW and Downtown are about as good as you can get. This way to have good demand along the whole line in both directions rather having uneven demand.

      • Brian Bundridge says

        James, again, there are faster alternatives from Everett and Edmonds. Both have buses that go directly to the campus. It would be nearly 45 minutes just to get to Ballard from Everett, within that time, you can be walking into your building of choice. The only way the U-District can be served properly is by light-rail and regional bus service. Sounder will never be an effective tool for Ballard or the U-District. End of story.

        If one were to try to use Sounder, you would then have to rely on the Route 44 which will take another 20 to 30 minutes just to get 45th Ave and University Way. If you want to go anywhere else, you have to transfer to a different bus at 15th and Market. That again, just does not make any sense and is more of a hassle than it is worth.

        80% of people prefer a 1 or 2 seat ride. Anything more creates hassle and inconvenience. This is again where a Broad Street Station would be a much more wiser location for a new station, especially if coupled with a transfer center for a waterfront bus or streetcar.

      • says

        The relative merits of an evolving rapid ride system compared to a Sounder/Ballard-UDistrict E/W link is a valid subject for review.

        So too is the comparison of rapid ride to a new light rail line replacing that service.

        My point is that utilizing the Sounder for Downtown service would free up money for an East-West crosstown route and create an overall more robust system.

        Continuing discussions of BRT in this context are totally appropriate.

      • alexjonlin says

        Perhaps at first the Downtown-Ballard line should continue to UW, but once more money becomes available, I think the UW-Ballard line should be extended to a Ballard Sounder station, and the Downtown-Ballard line to the north, arcing over to end at Northgate.

      • alexjonlin says

        I like it ending at Northgate better because it’s good to have cross-town routes. I like the idea of having an Aurora Corridor line continuing up north, maybe by way of the interurban, then turning over to end at Edmonds Station.

      • Chris Stefan says

        I like the idea of a line up Aurora/99 eventually going all the way to Everett Station. Doing the MLK treatment to 99 can’t but help improve it and the ridership on the 358 and CT bus lines Swift is replacing shows there would be more than enough demand to justify rail.

        For a Ballard line I like the idea of going up 15th to Crown Hill, then Holman and 105th to Northgate, maybe eventually to Lake City, Kenmore, Bothell, and Woodinville.

      • Kaleci says

        Alex,
        Going to Northgate is the service Route 75 does now. This route would adequately provide a connection between the two lines. Although if resources were available it should be bumped up to every 15 minutes.

        By having the route go to Lynnwood by way of the interurban right of way, you create a new route that is currently not a one-seat ride and provide new, faster connections between Lynnwood, the Aurora Avenue corridor and Ballard.

        I remember as a child the Metropolitan drivers announcing the transfer at Aurora/155th from Aurora Ave service to a bus serving Greenwood. That connection was lost when Metro took over.

      • alexjonlin says

        You can’t really have a Federal Way-Bellevue line because it would have to turn to the Eastside before Downtown Seattle, which is too big of a market to pass up.

      • Brian Bundridge says

        I am sure in the future (2050s) we’ll probably see a I-405 alignment that will go from Bellevue to the Airport and will be Maglev powered =P

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        I suspect by early 2030s we’ll still be doing Issaquah. East King isn’t THAT big of a tax base.

      • says

        This will be more likely with Commuter rail – however the segment between the southern terminus of the eastside rail corridor and Tukwilla is not resolved.

        At the rate we are going the discussion of maglev for this corridor is not out of the question.

      • alexjonlin says

        Definitely, but not a Federal Way-Bellevue via SODO train, which I think is what Douglas was suggesting.

      • says

        I’m generally committed to getting some sort of direct service to the Eastside from South King and Pierce, this was a brainstorm. Certainly going only to the south end of downtown could work, on an alternating basis – whether it’s worth or not is another question.

      • says

        Transferring at King Street isn’t a huge deal for anybody coming from any direction. I will tell you that when it comes to express bus now though, I drive to Bellevue because there is no direct service – transferring is too much of a burden.

      • Ed R. says

        It’s already faster most days to transfer buses in Seattle — 577 from Federal Way to Seattle, 550 from Seattle to Bellevue — than to take the supposed “express” route 565 Federal Way – Bellevue. Too much poking around Kent and Renton, after a detour to Auburn. I imagine that a transfer from South Link to East Link would be even smoother than 577/550.

        I would drive too if I weren’t in a vanpool: no stopping between Federal Way and Bellevue, HOV lane I-5/405, but only one round-trip per day.

      • lorscara says

        If at some point post ST2, Link was added to the 520 bridge, you could have a Federal Way – Bellevue link route that does go through Seattle. ;)
        This route would be no more of a hasel for the people coming from the south and going to the east side, than the current plans of having East Link use I90 is a hasel for the people on the North end who need to get to Bellevue

        Lets assume Link over 520 in 20 to 30 years, a Bellevue – Seattle Loop line could be built, Seattle acros 1 bridge, Bellevue, across the other bridge, and back to Seattle (running seperate trains in a CW and CCW format). Now we run Link the full distance north to south, and East Link runs Redmond to Issiquah (and beyond?) sharing the ROW with the Loop line in Bellevue.

        How do you join 520 to the Link trunk line? UW station is the common answer, Engineering wise, that may be way to difficult, an easier solution would be to exit the 520 ROW elevated at about Montlake, and turn South, enter new tunels, that joins Ulink before the Capital Hill station. This tunel could also be used to link in a Ballard line if it heads east before going south. the downside of this is that a transfer would need to be made from the Loop or Ballard to get to UW

        Lor Scara

      • says

        A 520 route should serve at least the Husky Stadium station.

        It might be best to take a BRT approach to the 520 design, though personally I’d rather see BRT on I-90 and light rail on 520 – in that order and time frame.

      • alexjonlin says

        What’s the virtue of a loop line? It seems like, based on the shape and travel patterns of our region, that kind of line doesn’t make sense.

      • says

        Conceivably you could do Federal Way to Bellevue via the King Street station and avoid the DSTT – however that does create some design/operation issues in getting from King Street to the I-90 line.

        Those design issues should be looked at now.

      • alexjonlin says

        You would have to do a full turnaround… Given the turning radius of Link and the lack of space, I don’t think there’s enough room for that. Anyways, that kind of line would probably take about the same amount of time to get from Federal Way to Bellevue as it would if you just transfered, as the turnaround and back tracking will add a lot of time.

      • L. Smith says

        How about jsut reversing the direction? You could plan service so there was always an operator change on that train at that station, and the new operator goes into the other cab? Clearly far-fetched.

      • aw says

        “Stupid question here, but at what point are buses scheduled to be evicted from the tunnel – with North Link and/or East Link?”

        I believe that would be when U-Link is done.

      • alexjonlin says

        We thought it was when U Link was done, but recently they’ve been saying that it’ll be when North Link is finished, with a few buses staying in the tunnel between U Link and North Link.

      • says

        Bill Bryant at SDOT. From Sherwin on Oct 20, 2009:

        I e-mailed Bill Bryant at SDOT, head of transit planning, about future plans for 3rd Ave. possibly becoming a 24-hour transit mall. Now that ST2 has passed, we can count on those transit-only hours being maintained or expanded. Here’s what he had to say:

        Our current expectation is that tunnel buses will remain in the tunnel until Link reaches NE 45th, NE 65th, or Northgate in the 2020 time frame. I would consider it likely that the Third Avenue transit-only designation would be extended beyond peak hours when tunnel buses move to the surface.

        It is possible that transit-only hours could be extended prior to that time, although no firm plans currently exist. The City will be updating the Seattle Transit Plan during the next year or so and will likely address that issue in the new plan.

      • says

        The bus/rail joint operation is an important test, and not just from a BRT capital phasing perspective.

        Intelligent transportation systems and platooning are the future of private vehicles and this particular ‘lane’ gives us a chance to work on that tech with pros at the wheel.

        One of the big advantages of joint operation is integrating shorter circulator street car segments into a robust and larger BRT network. I’m trying to make this an issue for the modest ST2 expansion in Tacoma.

        That opportunity does depend on a successful DSTT test – which I am hopeful will exceed the safety record on MLK.

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      Eventually, you will push a train across I-90 every 5 minutes, and south every 5 minutes.

      No, then, there is NOT room for West Seattle trains. Never.

      • Anandakos says

        Ben,

        There is room before “eventually”. We all agree that you’re right when “eventually” arrives. Whether it’s on time in 2030 or a few years later, it will come. But between 2020 and “eventually” there may be a window for using the “every other” Central Link train bound for “SODO or Rainier Beach” to go to West Seattle without the transfer especially if they really are just bound for SODO and are going to turn on the MF rotary anyway.

        Now TOD may take off in the Rainier Valley and it will not be possible. It will be great if it happens. I would be ecstatic to see it, and I expect that we will know by 2015 if it’s actually going to do so.

        But if the Rainier Valley doesn’t gentrify to the degree planners hope and the city would like requiring more service, then there will be available there will be available capacity. Why not through route instead of having two lines terminate at SODO, transferring essentially full trains to one another?

        In any case it will take that long to iron out the hassles of getting Westside Link across the Duwamish and up the hill. The decision whether to build a temporary transfer facility at SODO for Westside Link trains as Conlin suggests or through route them through the rotary at the MF can be postponed until then. Both routes will require a bridge over the main BNSF/Amtrak tracks, either on Lander or Hudson.

        Personally, I think that it’s going to be necessary to have trackage that Links (pun) Central Link and Westside Link, because it doesn’t make sense to duplicate heavy maintenance facilities on WL because of the relatively small number of vehicles it will require. Yes, one could truck cars in need of heavy maintenance from WL to the MF, but it would be “suboptimal”.

        I expect that there will eventually be an “express” shortcut along Airport Way or on East Marginal Way if Boeing decides to stay around. It would be most easily connected to Central Link by using the flying junctions leading in and out of the rotary. The same could be true of Westside Link until it’s built to and through downtown to Ballard.

        In fact, once the downtown and Ballard sections of Westside Link are completed, “X” trains could run once or twice an hour using the Horton Street Link to switch from the north half of one of the routes to the south half of the other. That is, a train from Northgate could take the standard North/University/South link route through SODO, then enter the rotary, exit toward West Link and terminate in West Seattle. At essentially the same time a train would leave the north end of the Westside Link, travel through the Second Street tunnel and down to the Lander Street station, then turn east on the link toward the MF, enter the rotary and exit at the northeast corner on a new connection that would have to built over Sixth Avenue South, connecting just west of the I-5 undercrossing.

        Now this means that once every half hour or hour the “next train” notification in the DSTT would have to let folks bound for South Link that the next train is in the adjacent tunnel, and vice versa for West Seattle bound folks. For the Airport rider, this might admittedly be a problem, but regular riders would quickly get the hang of it and just go to the proper platform. It’s less than optimal, I agree, but adding a reliable single seat ride between West Seattle and the U-Dub and Ballard/Belltown and the Airport — even if relatively infrequent — would be quite popular I expect. That’s because classes start and end at the U on a schedule and people have to be at the Airport at least an hour before a flight anyway.

        The trains would take each others “slots” south of the MF, admittedly with about a minute or two later at each station from there on.

        For riders coming from sound end or West Seattle origins, which tunnel the train takes would be of less importance. I expect that both of the Third Avenue stations will be directly linked to the matching Second Avenue stations by escalators so someone from the Rainier Valley who got on a Ballard train would have the escalator to help her or him up to Third.

        Now, for a really lollapalooza benefit, the peak hour extra deep South King County and Tacoma bound trains using an Airport Way express track could originate and terminate at South Queen Anne and use he Second Avenue tunnel, and move directly to and from the express track using the rotary. This would allow more frequent service on the far south end, which is likely to be the area of the county that most benefits from TOD. Call ‘em “Baby Bullets” like on the Peninsula.

        Users of the system traveling between the CBD and points south of the Airport would go to the Second Avenue tunnel to catch an express, leaving headway in the main tunnel for East Link, West Seattle and near by South Link destinations.

        As recently as five years ago there were several examples of peak hour express service operating on a different route than the base service for a particular route in Metro’s existing service, so precedent for such a separation between local and express service to the same neighborhoods on CBD streets exists.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        Central Link ridership projections don’t include TOD. That’s part of why this whole discussion is pointless.

        There is not capacity in the tunnel for another line. You can’t shoehorn in a train every fifteen minutes or something – there’s way too much demand. Remember that the monorail was planning for trains every 6 or even 3 minutes – that’s how much demand there is.

        With East and South/North, we’ll probably already be looking at 9min+6min or 7.5+7.5, which leaves us with these 3-4 minute times between trains. You can’t put more trains between those without seriously jeopardizing reliability – if a Rainier Valley train is 30 seconds late or early, then you’ve got a holdup.

        Do the math here. A train every 5 and a train every 10 (like the base amounts in the EISes) mean you’ve got, say, a South train at 12:00, then an East train at 12:02:30, then a South train at 12:05, then a North train at 12:10, then another East train at 12:12:30. You’ve got room there for a train every 10 minutes (12:07:30, 12:17:30, etc), but that’s not enough for West Seattle at all, and then you are COMPLETELY maxed out – no more East trains, no more West trains.

        If you do 7.5 minute headways, you end up with 12:00 South, 12:03:45 East, 12:07:30 South, etc., leaving you with 3:45 headways. The tunnel can’t even do <2 minute headways if it were perfect, which is what you’d need for another train. 7.5+7.5 is interesting because it assumes today’s service level South.

      • Anandakos says

        Ben,

        Thanks for taking the time to answer in detail. Do you really believe that West Seattle ridership in 2025 to 2030 cannot be served by a four-car train every nine minutes? Using the headways you mentioned in the master post (every three minutes from UW to ID and 1/3 East, 1/3 all the way South, 1/3 turnback somewhere, that means if the “turnback” went to West Seattle it would be every nine minutes. Isn’t the route just supposed to be a replacement for the Fauntleroy bus?

        Are you assuming that people taking the Admiral to Alki and 35th Avenue services would be forced to transfer are you? I think that would raise serious objections from West Seattle people that they were being “picked on” by losing their well-patronized one-seat rides. The other less important routes to the area yes: the one that goes around Alki Blvd, the Delridge corridor and the California Avenue bus that will probably become a streetcar.

        But even if all of those lines were forced to transfer they’d be feeding six and two-thirds four-car trains per hour for a peak direction capacity of about 4000 people. Add up the capacities on all the “forced transfer” routes in the peak and they don’t approach the load.

        And anyway Conlin’s plan will make those folks transfer twice. They will raise unholy hell about that.

        Also I’m not sure you got the gist of the “X” idea, post Second Avenue and Ballard completion. It would be the same trains that are already passing through the DSTT from University and North Link. The ones that are planned as turnbacks would to to West Seattle instead. After Westside Link is completed through the CBD, a few of the trains destined for South Link would still divert at the Maintenance Facility to West Seattle.

        Their place in the South link schedule south from Beacon Hill on south to where ever that particular train was destined, albeit a minute or so later at each station, would be occupied by a Westside Link train diverted to Central Link at the same time.

        Using the link across Hudson for the peak hour deep south King County expresses that will surely come when Link reaches Federal Way and Tacoma actually gives you more capacity in the main tunnel during the peaks and extends its life by putting the expresses in the likely-to-be-underused Second Avenue tunnel or a Second Avenue surface alignment if the city is too poor in 2020 and has to accept surface. Since the expresses would be originating in the CBD the difference in speed on the surface for the “getting out of town” stations isn’t that big a deal. For through riders, yes; but not for originators/terminators.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        The first problem with a four car train every nine minutes is that you probably wouldn’t get one – it sounds more likely that Sound Transit will do 7/7 or 8/8 service, leaving you with 3.5-4 minute combined headways and no room for a third line at all.

        The second problem is that if you assume 9/9/9 (which is the only way you’re getting a train every 9 minutes, you can’t do 6/9 and then get another 9), you’d be decreasing service to Rainier Valley, and you’d block any further service improvements on any of the lines. Sound Transit would just say “no way”.

      • Anandakos says

        Again, thanks.

        First let me admit the cosmic joke just pulled on anyone (i.e. Johnathan Dubman and me) who advocates using the ramps at the Maintenance Facility to access South link from a diverging line. If that had been a revenue train spread across the ROW ST would have had a hole omelette on its face.

        Especially since I was probably typing a post when it happened. Ouch!

        But, in my defense, in the master post you wrote:

        “One from Lynnwood to SODO or Rainier Beach”

        and I stated specifically that it was a concept for using the turnback trains headed to SODO, which will be very nearly empty leaving ID, except occasionally on game days to Stadium.

        If two criteria are met — e.g. the Conlin plan for temporary access to West Seattle is adopted and the South Link trains not continuing to SE 272nd are turning at SODO — through running the two lines until one or the other criteria is no longer supported is almost a no-brainer. Forcing people on the Delridge or Alki Boulevard routes to transfer twice to get downtown would raise a huge s*&#storm.

        OK, I’ve had my say. I’ll drop it until further developments clarify the issue.

  3. alexjonlin says

    I think we could have a Northgate-Overlake line and a Lynnwood-Federal Way line, each going about every 7.5 min. When we start the Issaquah Link we can have that going every 7.5 min as well, combining for 2.5 min headways in the DSTT, which I think I heard somewhere is the minimum. A Green Line could have, say, 8 minute headways in its own tunnel under 2nd Ave, and be joined by a line up the general Aurora corridor sometime down the road. Also, one of those three lines in the DSTT could turn up at Roosevelt or so towards Lake City and Bothell. (And note, all these headways are peak). I don’t really see the point of having some trains turn back at Rainier Beach, as I don’t think that there will ever be that much ridership in the Rainier Valley Corridor that it could fill up a whole 4-car train.

      • says

        Disagree. Though I can’t speak for the southern neighborhoods, Rainier Beach looks like the most suited for massive redevelopment – infill, if you will.

        Ignoring the use of the car might well work in Seattle proper, it definitely won’t work anywhere else. Rainier Beach, though in the City, is far enough out to be part of that demographic and it should be respected.

        And, frankly, distributed park and ride lots are probably the best thing to encourage infill development outside of Capitol Hill and the U-District, where they aren’t appropriate.

      • Chris Stefan says

        There is private pay parking available near most of the Link stations between Stadium and Tukwilla. The rates are cheaper than parking downtown even factoring in the Link fare.

        Even if Sound Transit had put park & ride lots at all of the stations South of Stadium station it is doubtful many would access them from outside Rainer Valley and Beacon Hill. Rainier Valley doesn’t have many commuters who are passing through it on their way to downtown.

        I’d say park & rides would be inappropriate at Beacon Hill, Mt. Baker, Columbia City, and Othello just as much as they would be on Capitol Hill and in the U-District. I’ll agree Rainier Beach is an exception because it is in the middle of nowhere relatively speaking, because a garage/lot wouldn’t really be all that noticeable if it was hidden among all of the industrial property to the South of the station, and because it is in a good location to intercept commuters coming from elsewhere like Skyway.

      • alexjonlin says

        “And, frankly, distributed park and ride lots are probably the best thing to encourage infill development outside of Capitol Hill and the U-District, where they aren’t appropriate.”

        Lol what? Park and ride lots are awful for encouraging development, as they take up the space right next to the station and people really don’t like living next to a parking lot. Parking lots can go at suburban stations where there’s not as much development potential but the more urban locations shouldn’t have them.

      • Bernie says

        520 used to end at 148th and there was a P&R lot. The Redmond TC was a surface lot long before there was the incredible development that’s occurred in DT Redmond. P&R and transit in general really aren’t the major drivers of development. Overlake Village was touted as TOD and was and still is a failure. I don’t know RV well enough to know where P&Rs are or aren’t a appropriate. P&R lots serve as an intercept point and I think one thing that can make them inappropriate is creation of cut through traffic. If there are appropriate places then it should be an economic question. Does the cost of the lot justify the increase or shift in mode of transit use. In general, $40k per stall garages are going to fail on that account.

      • Mike B says

        I use the Mt. Baker park and ride lot constantly because my bus route doesn’t connect to that station. Not all of us in South Seattle live within walking distance of a station.

        Having parking around stations does *not* discourage development. It encourages it because folks can use the local shops before and after their train trips. I now use Mt. Baker shops daily; never did before. I’d take separate trips.

        And parking lots and “development” needn’t be mutually exclusive with good transit planning.

  4. Chris says

    Seattle is so short-sighted. We’re already talking about hitting capacity constraints because we built at-grade? We cheaped out in construction and now we’ll be paying the long-term price of sub-optimal service levels.

    • Sherwin Lee says

      Chris, think about it this way. We would either get at-grade rail in Rainier Valley or no rail at all. Which is the obvious choice?

      • says

        The long term feasibility of TOD in a lower income area is tough. The downtown crew tried to score coup on the neighborhoods at the start of this debate which is only going to make the success of the redevelopment of commercially zoned property on MLK only more difficult.

        Creating dense gang ridden ‘projects’ is not a desirable outcome.

        Here in Tacoma we will face these same questions, as well as the looming safety concerns regarding at grade operation.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        I don’t know if you missed the memo, but the rainier valley has been gentrifying for a while. Columbia City has mixed income housing, sure, and then organic bakeries and yuppie hangouts. I mean, there’s a gym, a yoga studio, an art gallery… not exactly projects.

        You’ll see Othello pick up pretty fast after those market rate apartments go in – and it wasn’t so bad to begin with.

        You should check out the property values down there. $400,000 houses are not really low income.

      • says

        And they’d like them to stay that way. For residentially zoned properties it is their decision, not yours, nor mine.

        Advocating the same only sacrifices your own ability to control your own destiny, not that of anybody else.

      • Chris Stefan says

        I really don’t know what you are talking about. The properties being redeveloped in Mt. Baker, Columbia City and Othello are all commercial or owned by SHA. From what I’ve seen of the plans none of them are exactly going to turn into “projects”.

        For that matter even when single family properties are redeveloped into something else it is because the property owners want it that way. Sure that may not be what the last owner to actually live on the property may have wanted, but they sold of their own free will.

    • Steve says

      Um. We’re not hitting capacity constraints. We’re talking about capacity constraints for one branch 15 years down the road, *if* everything else comes together and ridership is high enough to justify it. Watching for such issues is what planning is about.

      You can argue that at-grade was cheaping out, but I suspect that given that we actually got something built, we’re ahead of where we would be if we required grade-separation through the Rainier Valley. The perfect is the enemy of the good, yo.

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      None of this discussion has anything to do with shortsightedness – except for the idea that we can build another line using that tunnel. THAT would be shortsighted.

      • says

        Perhaps the second light rail route through downtown, likely surface at this point, should be planned now so that the Breda’s can be put to use once evicted from the tunnel?

      • Chris Stefan says

        The Breda’s were evicted from the tunnel a long time ago. The few remaining have had their diesel engines pulled and are used as articulated ETBs. Hopefully they will be scrapped soon.

        The buses currently in the tunnel are New Flyer DE60LF hybrids which are useful even for non-tunnel routes.

  5. Charles says

    I have read that at-grade light rail can never have headways shorter than 6 minutes, or it would completely screw up surface traffic — for example along MLK Jr. Way. Are you saying this is not true? I can’t really follow the above discussion completely. Do you think they will try to have headways shorter than 6 minutes along MLK Jr. Way at some point in the future?

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      I would not say that at-grade light rail can’t EVER have headways shorter than 6 minutes, but we’re unlikely to go below 5.

      If we really want to, in fifty years we can go back and grade separate it.

      • Bernie says

        Wouldn’t it be cheaper and serve more people to just build an express by-pass from Boeing Field to downtown? Then additional stations could be added to the RV segment without the concern of increased travel times from SeaTac south.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        I’d like that express, but I’m not sure where you’d get the trains to go through it.

        Consider north line trains running southbound – you’d need a LOT of north line trains to serve Rainier Valley, Express, and East Link. By the time you had demand for that many north line trains, you’d need too many trains for East and Rainier Valley to justify the trains for a bypass.

      • Brian Bundridge says

        An express route will be nice IF Boeing Field becomes more of a regional airport (like Alaska, United, Southwest, etc moves to KBFI) otherwise it would just serve Georgetown then have 55mph running from there until it hooks back up with the line @ Boeing Access Road

      • Bernie says

        I’m not sure how the ridership breaks down once Link is extended to Federal Way. I was imagining that instead of routing everything (anything?) from the south through RV the trains would go direct to DT. What ever proportion of ridership was from RV would use trains pulled from the south to serve than market. So if the breakdown was 50/50 you’d take your 5 minute headways and turn it into 10 min headways on each line. The trade off would be longer headways but shouldn’t require more trains. The increased headways for the south section would be a wash since travel time would be so much faster. Depending on how ridership breaks down the decreased frequency in RV might be an issue but I’d expect post evening commute all (or most) trains would fall back to the original routing.

      • Warren on Beacon says

        As Brian mentions, a bypass would be worth it if Boeing Field was a regional airport (will not happen over Georgetown’s dead body). Another possible bypass route could serve the west side of Georgetown (4th Avenue), then E. Marginal to 16th Ave S, then over to South Park (Hey, a new drawspan is needed there, so we can incorporate a light rail line as part of a bridge replacement, then use SR-599 ROW to connect to existing line around South Base. Boeing does not want a light rail line around the Development Plant, since when the original line was proposed via E. Marginal, Boeing mentioned that they may need to move planes across E. Marginal Way by the plant and a light rail line would interfere with that.

      • Bernie says

        I think the move to regional airport is a matter of when more than if and, assuming we continue to actually make things around here S. Seattle has a fairly large base of employment. But, I was looking at this more as an alternate to grade separating RV because of the peak capacity need to handle headways shorter than 6 minutes. Certainly building a new section from KBFI to downtown would be a lot cheaper than tunneling in the RV. I expect it would be cheaper than elevating the line and probably a lot less politically charged. Maybe the cheapest option would be to grade separate by reducing cross streets to a minimum and providing over/under passes. That might be the cheapest route but seems like a stop gap measure without any of the benefits.

      • Bernie says

        Boeing mentioned that they may need to move planes across E. Marginal Way by the plant and a light rail line would interfere with that.

        That’s easy enough to deal with. Drop the tracks into a retained cut and build an overpass. It would be a great place for a covered station. At O’Hare they have a set-up like that. It’s pretty strange to be taxiing across a major highway. About the only “fun” part of flying in/out of O’Hare!

      • Anandakos says

        Where you put the trains for the Express line is in the Second Avenue tunnel. Read the full details up about twenty or thirty posts above this one. There’s a long bloviation that is big enough to fill the scroll window when you go by it, so it’s easy enough to find. But it’s worth the read.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        I agree that we’ll eventually do West Seattle + South Express (+ Georgetown, I’d imagine) into a 2nd Ave tunnel. North, it would go Ballard one line, Fremont and 99 corridor for the other line.

      • Anandakos says

        Bernie,

        From what I hear, they don’t have passengers in them when they cross East Marginal….. ;-)

      • Bernie says

        Any planes crossing East Marginal are probably military so they most likely have aliens in them :=

      • alexjonlin says

        I think it would be great to grade-separate the Rainier Valley segment far off in the future. I don’t really think an express bypass would be worth it though. from where Central Link turns off the Busway to where it turns onto E Marginal Way is 5.85 miles by a route straight between the two, and 7 miles on Central Link. That means you save 1.15 miles, which is at most two or three minutes, even if the express route is grade separated and therefore going much faster. I think there should in the future be a route along that corridor, but I don’t think it should be some kind of express, it should turn down at Boeing Access Road towards Renton.

      • Anandakos says

        Alex,

        The difference is not the distance, it’s the number of stations. That’s what makes ‘em “Baby Bullets”. Also, and I know this is a sensitive subject, there are probably quite a few south King County folks who won’t want to ride down MLK.

        I don’t care for such folks either. My “neice-in-law” lives near Columbia City Station and when my wife and I visit we walk all around the neighborhood and take the bus and train. But unfortunately, such folks do exist; I read their ugly outbursts in The Columbian about “Loot Rail” and “Yellow Line Rapists” etc, etc.

        Now people that extreme may never be willing to ride transit period, but there are bound to be some who live deep south King County and work in downtown Seattle who do ride but might be uneasy and are not going to be happy about losing their express buses. Especially if it means they have to stop five additional times.

        Remember that both of the other primary arms of the system have fairly long sections with few stations approaching the CBD. East Link will have just three stations between downtown Bellevue and ID, North Link four between Northgate and Westlake, but South Link will have eight between the airport and ID, an equivalent distance. Nine if Graham Street is added.

      • Anandakos says

        Whoops. I forgot the Rainier Avenue station on East Link. Four stations between downtown Bellevue and ID.

      • alexjonlin says

        So those people who don’t want to go along MLK would be okay with going through Georgetown? And that line would have at least a few stops over that distance, say at Spokane, Georgetown, the Boeing Plant, and the Museum of Flight.

      • Anandakos says

        Why would you want a stop at Spokane? Anyone heading to the west side of Beacon Hill could just as easily take the a main South Link train, get off at Columbia City and take the 39 or get off at Beacon Hill and take the 60, depending where bound.

        Going west from 4th and Spokane … well, one can’t go west without walking over to First South since the 48 no longer links the RV and West Seattle. So why would I need a stop at Spokane? Nobody’s there or going there. The SODO stop at Lander would be just as good as Spokane for people changing to Renton or the Green River valley and is a much more pleasant walk to First South.

        Similarly why have a stop in Georgetown, especially for “expresses”? Georgetown is declining and will certainly decline further if Boeing Field is developed as an in-state commuter airfield as Bernie suggested. Even if Boeing Field doesn’t become a commercial field, its total of about five or six hundred residents really can’t support a transit station.

        So, if Boeing stays around, the airfield isn’t developed commercially and Boeing says “OK, you can trench in front of the plants and build us a bridge” there will be some sort of service to one of the Boeing buildings. But not at the Museum; remember this is a suggestion for peak hour express service, not an all-day line. It just would not work to serve the visitors of the museum.

        Or if Boeing leaves and the airfield becomes Seattle’s “Love Field” it might make sense to have a station at the terminal for business travelers. They would mostly be going and coming to the airfield during the peak hours.

        But with either option that’s just one station each way. That’s five fewer than going through the Rainier Valley if Graham Street is built. Four if not.

        As to the racial issue, I think the people who would worry about that probably would not so much about Georgetown, even if the train did stop. Which it shouldn’t.

      • Bernie says

        Yeah, it wouldn’t really be an express, it would just be a different route.

        Yes, that was the gist of my original idea; it’s an alternate to grade separation to ease headway requirements. Compare the at grade cost/benefit alignment to a south Seattle bypass.

      • says

        If you consider the service disruptions of retrofitting the RV to grade separated a bypass in the Duwamish wins hands down.

        That was a good point about likely express trains from the South skipping some of the RV stations.

        IIRC Tacoma voted for ST2, which does have quite a number of northbound commuters (and Olympia too). Pierce voted against.

      • alexjonlin says

        A station at Spokane would be good to serve the south part of the industrial district, where a fair number of people work, but that’s not at all a pleasant walk from SODO Station. Georgetown is not “declining,” there’s devlopment planned for there and quite a few people already live and work there. And there’s really no way Boeing Field will be turned into a major airport, people in the neighborhoods affected won’t allow it, and there’s no reason for it anyways, as Sea-Tac will be enough for the short term and probably Paine Field will serve as the second airport.
        Maybe your suggestion was for a peak-hour express service, but mine isn’t. I think this line should have a transfer to Central Link at Boeing Access Road then continue down to Skyway and Renton. I really don’t think there’s any point in an express service, as no matter how you do it it will only save a couple minutes.

      • Anandakos says

        It will save much more than “a couple of minutes”. Link goes 35 to 40 on MLK and would go 55 along the airport. So the seven miles at 40 would take ten minutes and change, while the six miles at fifty-five would take seven. That’s three minutes already. Next, even if you put a station in Georgetown you’ve reduced the stations stops by four or five depending on Graham. At 30 seconds per station that’s two or two and a half more minutes, plus about fifteen seconds slowing and returning to track speed for each station, so call it three and a half minutes more in the stations. That’s a total of six minutes at a minimum, probably more.

        But more importantly, it gives you extra capacity in the longest line of the system. If it ever does get to Tacoma the length will be about 37 miles or so with the various twists and turns north of the airport. There’s a lot of relatively sparsely developed land between the airport and central Federal Way and then another gap to Fife. There’s really nowhere as empty along North or East Link, so if nodal “necklace” commuter rail suburbs are to develop anywhere along Link, it’ll be along South Link.

        Midday, evening, and weekends of course run down MLK to get the best utilization of the trains. But at the commute peak and maybe for big sports games this would be a real addition to the system for not very much money.

        It shouldn’t happen until other stuff is handled, of course. But the city should strive to maintain the right of way between Sixth South and the freeway south of Spokane free of blocking development.

  6. justin says

    is anyone talking about alternating lines? What I mean a train from Bellevue to Lynnwood then the next is Bellevue to Fed Way? Is this at all likely?

    • Brian Bundridge says

      Justin,

      That is most likely what will happen or we’ll see Northgate – Rainier Beach, Northgate – Overlake, Northgate – Federal Way

      It is hard to say however and won’t know for a while how the actual operational plan will go. All we can do is speculate from ST’s documents that this is what may happen but considering we are still 9 years away from Northgate, it is pretty hard to say for sure. It really is a shame that we only have sales tax to build Link instead of having the money at hand right away.

      • Chris Stefan says

        Brian, don’t you mean “Lynnwood” for at least one of those “Northgates”. If the schedule is maintained we’ll see Lynnwood no later than 2023.

    • aw says

      In addition to the reasons stated above, it would require more complicated trackwork. Either a wye that gets northboud Central Link trains onto the I-90 express lanes and westbound East Link trains headed toward Stadium (or SODO?) station, or a crossover and pocket track inside ID station so trains could turn there.

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      You won’t have Bellevue to Fed Way, because the connection into downtown will be northward. But yes, that’s right. That was the whole point of building East Link on 90. :)

  7. Jonathan Dubman says

    If one were to build a light rail spur to West Seattle as Richard Conlin suggests we consider (I’m just speculating here) could the following concept work:

    Run trains from West Seattle into the central line via the maintenance base, serving a new station in the south industrial area, then Sodo and Stadium stations. Run some portion of them through the DSTT at least in the short term.

    Also construct a new loop ramp that gets you to the E-3 busway from the south just to the north of the Stadium station. Interline the remainder of trains from West Seattle to East Link. This would create a West Seattle to Bellevue/Redmond line and would allow additional service across the lake without the capacity constraint of the DSTT. Transfers could occur at Stadium station.

    Longer term, if an additional line is ever constructed downtown (e.g. 2nd Avenue) serving Ballard or wherever, West Seattle trains could feed into that, peeling off the central line somewhere between Stadium Station and the International District Station.

    • Warren on Beacon says

      Jonathan, it might be hard to make the connection between the D-2 Busway (I-90 Bus Lanes) with the LINK south line at Stadium Station, mainly because of the grades between the two lines, and of course the I-90 mainline roadway is also in the way.

      • Jonathan Dubman says

        Continuing the thought experiment:

        You can make use of the existing ramp. Northbound, serve Stadium station, then veer off and swing counterclockwise around the historic INS building, using the S Vermont St. ROW, and 6th Ave. for a short stretch, then along the southwest side of Airport Way, which you’d have to widen and reconfigure in that stretch. Then make use of the direct HOV ramps at 5th/Airport that I presume will no longer be needed when East Link opens, or some portion thereof.

        Or you could target the same ramp with a clockwise loop west of the at-grade line. Or counterclockwise via Royal Brougham to 6th to the same ramp, transitioning to elevated as you head up 6th.

        If you had this connection, you could also route trains directly from Rainier Valley out to Bellevue, if that made sense. On game days at least it would be handy to have direct access from Stadium station to the east and west. Most people are headed to downtown Seattle, because that’s where most of the jobs are, but Bellevue is the state’s 5th largest city and Redmond has about 100,000 employees, so presumably there would be some market for direct service between the Eastside and Rainier Valley and/or West Seattle.

        Not that I think this should be anyone’s top priority, or that there’s a compelling alignment for a light rail line in West Seattle…

      • Chris Stefan says

        Not that I think this should be anyone’s top priority, or that there’s a compelling alignment for a light rail line in West Seattle…

        Actually I’d say heading straight for the Junction is the right way to go. Where to go after that is a matter of debate but a line to the Junction would let people avoid that $&#*@^%! bridge.

    • Chris Stefan says

      I don’t know why you’d want to try to run revenue track through the maintenance base when there is plenty of ROW along busway all the way to Spokane Street. The only good reason for it would be to avoid having to construct a junction at busway. Besides it is very likely you’d want to try to serve SODO center with a West Seattle line which means running the tracks E/W north of Spokane street somewhere.

      Besides the real limit to cross-lake service will be the loading limit of the I-90 bridge. I don’t remember the exact number but there is an upper limit to the number of trains that can be run across the bridge in a given time period. I believe effectively this limits East Link to 5 minute headways max.

      • Jonathan Dubman says

        The point of running revenue track through the maintenance base for this West Seattle to East Link concept would be to avoid constructing about a mile and a half of new trackway running parallel to Central Link, and to connect Sodo and Stadium stations east and west as well as north and south. You don’t have to run through the maintenance base, but the ramps are already there and it’s not really out of the way if you don’t attempt to serve Sodo Center (1st Ave.) directly.

        For West Seattle to Beacon Hill and Rainier Valley, you could transfer at Sodo.

        For West Seattle to East Link or downtown, interline or transfer at Stadium depending on the routing.

        Once again, this is not something I am suggesting we actually fund and build. I am just doing a thought experiment on possibilities here.

      • Jonathan Dubman says

        For the record, I was including the track between the maintenance base and Stadium station in the mile and a half. Unless you use that track, I don’t see how you could avoid building some other north-south track in the industrial area to get light rail to West Seattle. It is certainly possible to build another track, but it would come at a cost and I suspect it would not pencil out to serve Sodo Center with light rail if it required that much new infrastructure.

        You could build a bypass for the maintenance base loop track and still make use of the ramps between the maintenance base and the Central Link revenue tracks. Anyway, all of that is only one approach to the concept of through routing a West Seattle spur to East Link.

        Independent of the specifics of the track configuration, does the basic routing concept have any merit? The concept is, allow through-routing from West Seattle to Bellevue/Redmond rather than West Seattle to Sodo with a forced transfer as the only option until a second downtown line is built.

        If that doesn’t make sense (which it may not, for numerous reasons), then maybe there’s another configuration that does, but if not, it looks to me like West Seattle will be served by buses only for a very long time. I just can’t see where we’d come up with the funds to build a second downtown tunnel for many years out. And if that is the case, then there’s the question of how to optimize West Seattle bus service and how and where it should make a connection with Link.

      • Chris Stefan says

        I think we should fight for Conlin’s proposal for a West Seattle Line first. A second transit tunnel comes later. For that matter since any additional lines are going to be more local transit lines serving primarily Seattle neighborhoods and won’t have the volume the UW/Northgate line will I’d be OK with an at-grade alignment through downtown.

        Also if another tunnel is built I think Fifth is just as valid an option as a tunnel down Second and offers some unique advantages as well such as easy transfers at Westlake and International District and sharing of the segment between Stadium and SODO.

      • alexjonlin says

        Seattle neighborhoods are quite dense and ones around light rail stations will densify further, so I think it will have high enough volumes to warrant a second transit tunnel.

    • Anandakos says

      Right on Justin. I mentioned this a few days ago on the Conlin thread and got no response. Maybe with two of us advocating they’ll take notice. The MF outer track can serve as a “rotary” for trains switching routes.

      One thing I would amend in your post though is that there is a real desire to build up First South around Lander, so once the Second Avenue tunnel is built, the main Westside Link should run up First South to serve Starbucks and the west side of the ball fields. There is a big parking lot north of Qwest that can host the transition from elevated to tunnel for the eventual Westside Link.

      It would have to be elevated for a few blocks past the ball parks, for sure. Waaaayyy too much traffic around there for at-grade.

      I doubt there would be much demand for West Seattle to Eastside trips. And anyway, there isn’t room among all the existing elevated roadways to transition between South Link and East Link.

      • alexjonlin says

        I like the idea of having it go along First before going into the Second Ave tunnel. The MF track idea might work, but won’t it be pretty clogged up once ST2 opens?

      • Chris Stefan says

        I wouldn’t assume a second avenue tunnel is a forgone conclusion. There are advantages to putting a tunnel down 5th instead.

        If a second ave tunnel is used I suspect a West Seattle line would go East of the Stadiums along the BNSF and Third Ave ROW somewhat similar to the monorail alignment. The transition between First and Third could occur say at Holgate

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        There’s no real way to put a tunnel down 5th, as that’s where the BNSF tunnel goes for quite a long way.

      • John says

        The parking lot north of Qwest Field is slated for significant redevelopment, and this time it may actually happen :)

    • ST Guy says

      Looking way into the future. Trains might turn aound at Rainier Beach because in-city ridership is higher than suburban ridership, and this would balance the loads. Also, in the morning peak, we don’t want trains coming into Seattle already full with suburban riders, forcing City riders to either stand or wait for less-crowded trains.

    • Randay206 says

      Seems like ST is expecting this sometime in the future because there is that nice holding track there!

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        It’s actually in the North Link EIS – in the future, we might go to trains every 5 minutes to Rainier Beach, and then only every other train further south.

    • alexjonlin says

      Although, as ST Guy says, there’s more ridership general in the city than the suburbs, I don’t think ridership from south of Rainier Beach or from Rainier Beach up to Downtown will ever be enough to fill up an entire 4-car train. Even at peak times I think a 4-car train from the south every five minutes will still have room in it in the city. Truncating some trips at Rainier Beach would just confuse riders.

  8. Mike Orr says

    Good ideas, everyone. Better to have these problems than no light rail at all.

    A cross shape (N-S and W-E) is the best for generating ridership because it makes trip possible between any two bars of the cross as well as straight. East Link will thus be a good complement for Central Link, and a Ballard-UW line would add significantly more, as will a Burien-Renton(-Bellevue) line.

    The at-grade tracks on MLK are unfortunate, but it was a necessary compromise to get the low-budget crowd to vote for the project. Otherwise there would be no Link. Hopefully they will see in the next 10-20 years that the surface routing was a mistake, and never do it again. That’s what MAX did. The first line (particularly the downtown segment and Gresham segment) are at-grade and have too many stops, but all the later lines were better. Unfortunately they still have to share the downtown segment (but maybe Portland will build a tunnel downtown someday). And at-grade sections can be elevated or tunneled later, and you may not have to wait 50 years. Maybe even in 20 or 30 years the region will be ready to retrofit them.

    A Henderson turnback seems unnecessary; why not use the stadium turnback?

    I’ve heard differing things about when the buses will be kicked out of the tunnel. They were saying University Link (2016); now some people are saying later. I’d hate to be on one of the routes that gets bounced back to the surface, but I guess it’s unavoidable.

    If a 2nd Avenue subway were built, where could it transfer to the 3rd Avenue tunnel? Clearly at University Street and maybe at Pioneer Square. But the Intl Dist and Westlake stations are farther away so that could be more difficult. And Pioneer Square is deep. So maybe only University Street would be feasable.

      • Chris Stefan says

        I’m guessing any Second avenue line would pass East of the stadiums which would allow for a station right next to King Street Station and the Sounder Station/overpass.

        Another possiblity would be to just run down 5th instead which makes for convenient transfers at Intl District and Westlake. It also allows for a direct track connection between Ballard and points south along the airport line or from West Seattle to points north via UW.

    • Jonathan Dubman says

      I’ve heard the DSTT would be closed to buses in 2016, but until Link gets to Northgate (2018, I believe), it may be desirable to maintain dual operations.

      With Link only as far as UW, I don’t know what would become of the 71/72/73/74E series or the 41 if they were booted out of the tunnel. If they end up on downtown surface streets, they would surely take longer and cost more to run.

      Because of this, I suspect we’ll be having dual operations through 2018, but I’m sure others know better than I on what Sound Transit envisions.

      Meanwhile, service using the DSTT that travels on SR 520 (255/256 today) will be booted out around the same time that new HOV lanes open on 520. As it stands, ST 545 is on the surface and goes through about 30 traffic signals. BRT service levels are proposed for Seattle-Kirkland and Seattle-Redmond via 520 in the 520 HCT plan. Given the time it takes to run the length of downtown via bus, some coming from Kirkland to the south end of downtown might prefer to transfer at UW and use Central Link. Certainly if you were headed further south of downtown (or north of UW) that transfer would make sense.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        The DSTT will be closed to buses before 2016. The buses are already causing problems, and it’s very likely that to move up to 6 minute service with any reliability, we’ll be getting rid of them.

        As I understand it, with Link to the UW, the 71/72/73 will terminate at Husky Stadium until North Link, when they’ll terminate at Roosevelt.

      • Bernie says

        I wonder if they’d consider a phased closing. If the evening hour headways still allowed for buses it would be a huge benefit. Not being booted up to 4th at night after Link opened sure is nice. Likewise I’d bet weekend shoppers headed to Westlake would appreciate it.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        Well, build a second tunnel under 2nd Avenue, and use it for buses and West Seattle trains. :)

      • says

        I remember fondly catching the 12:30a 71 from Prefontaine Place on a daily basis. Crackheads smoking in the alcove across the street kept to themselves, save for when they cleaned up for APEC.

      • Chris Stefan says

        As I understand it, with Link to the UW, the 71/72/73 will terminate at Husky Stadium until North Link, when they’ll terminate at Roosevelt.

        That would be really dumb. Pacific/Montlake is a massive clusterf*ck from peak to peak most weekdays. In the time it would take to travel from Campus Parkway to UW station today’s 71/72/73 would be getting off the express lanes at Convention Place.

      • Anandakos says

        Chris,

        Exactly the right description for the Pacific/Montlake intersection! Husky Stadium will never be a good bus interceptor from the northeast Seattle routes, except for Laurelhurst and Sand Point Way routes. Where would they have the 7X’s stop, on Pacific Place?

        For the Roosevelt Station I’m sort of gob-smacked that they put the westbound stop on NE 65th nearside the 12th Avenue light but didn’t put a stair entrance on that side of the street. That means that everyone who gets off to take the train (most commuters) will have to cross busy northbound 12th NE to get to the entrance. Big irritant.

        It’s even worse for folks wanting to catch a northbound bus. The stop is after they turn right from NE 12th on the southeast corner of 65th and 12th. Two streets to cross. Oy-vey! Lots of people will transfer at Brooklyn just to avoid the street crossings.

        The folks who take the 77 (which is the highest level of service in the city with its Lake City Way access) are going to be really torqued when they lose their one seat BlueStreak® ride.

      • alexjonlin says

        I’m guessing they will move the bus stops around so that there are less street crossing, but really, crossing those streets isn’t that bad. I live right by there and always cross there, and the light doesn’t take very long to change and it’s not too dangerous. Besides, I hear they’re considering changing Roosevelt and 12th to being two-way, which would improve the pedestrian experience there even more.

      • alexjonlin says

        And also the 76, 77, and 79 will probably still stay to provide people a direct route to Downtown at peak times.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        And I’m not sure about 71/2/3, either.

        It would work with a new bus ‘station’ if we get one at Husky Stadium.

      • Mike Orr says

        If the 71/72/73 are truncated at Roosevelt, that’ll create a gap in local service from 45th to 65th. Given that it’s a very pedestrian and transit-riding area, I wonder if they’ll extend the 70 to 65th to compensate, or say “Tough beans, ride the 48.”

        I can’t see how 71/72/73 to Husky Stadium would work, but maybe the planners can think of something. It would also help if there’s a station entrance on Pacific Street; then the buses wouldn’t have to cross Montlake Boulevard to get to the station.

      • ericn says

        It would make a lot more sense to have the 71/72/73 go all the way down the Ave to Pacific Street (including a transfer to Link at Brooklyn Station), since there’s a lot of open curb there for bus layovers. Plus, adding a transfer to get to an east-west route at UW would be a bad idea.

      • Anandakos says

        Eric, Mike,

        I’m pretty sure that the 7X’s would continue on down the Ave after serving Roosevelt as Ben has indicated is the plan. They’d probably use Ravenna to shift between the Ave and Roosevelt/12th on the south side of Roosevelt Station and 65th on the north side of the “belly”. While that would add three or four minutes to the trip of someone bound to the Ave, it would make the transfer to Link earlier rather than later.

        In truth, it really doesn’t take all that long to go from 47th to 65th on the Ave and 15th, so maybe they’ll decide that Brooklyn is a better transfer point. But the Ave buses won’t be directly above the Brooklyn station; they’d be a block away.

      • Anandakos says

        Alex,

        I was looking at the diagram of Roosevelt Station when I mentioned the bus stop locations. Let’s hope they review the placement of the stairs.

      • says

        The 71/2/3 should definitely continue through the University District, regardless of where the best transfer point is.

        Consider also the opportunity for additional local utility out of these routes – certainly circling through Campus would make sense (perhaps serving the Husky Link from the Campus access road?)

        Extending the 71/2/3 as east west routes seems very advantageous – or perhaps even to 520 and Bellevue?

      • Chris Stefan says

        I suspect the 71/72/73 will continue to at least Campus Parkway once North Link is open unless there is a streetcar to serve the Ave or the 70 is extended to Roosevelt Station and has both its hours and frequency greatly increased.

        I do object to the idea of routing the 71/72/73 to UW station once U Link opens. It’s out of direction travel down a street with major congestion problems which will only get worse if one of the 520 options that dumps all of the Montlake exit traffic at Pacific is chosen.

        In fact other than maybe reducing frequency a bit on the 43 and 49 I don’t see any way to save many service hours from North Seattle routes from U-Link without massively pissing off and inconveniencing a lot of people.

        However I suspect the U Link service revisions won’t actually be all that bad. The ones done for Central/Airport Link mostly make sense.

        Oh and a big shout-out for the 77! That is my usual bus to/from work. Even with walking to the stop it is faster to my office than driving would be. HOV lanes plus not having to find parking once I’m downtown FTW!

      • alexjonlin says

        Anandakos, I’m saying that the placement of the stairs is just fine. They don’t need to change the station to serve the bus stops if it’s easy to change the bus stops to serve the station.
        The 48 provides service all the time between 65th & 45th, but now that I think about it, it probably would be good to have the 71/72/73 end at Campus Parkway so that people have a one-seat ride to the U District. When U Link opens, I think they should end at a bus station at UW Station. There’s a lot of traffic there but it’s important to connect them to the light rail. 71/72/73 to the eastside is an unnecessary idea, as 271 already goes there very frequently, although I suppose 71/72/73 could turn into 271 in the U District.
        I wonder if headways for those buses will suffer when the UW-Downtown market is replaced with Link, as they get the vast majority of their ridership from the U District? I suppose they could keep the headways but put 40-footers on those routes.

      • Mike Orr says

        They’ll gain a huge ton of service hours by not going downtown. Not to mention the extra 73s which only go to 65th can be eliminated. At worst the U-district will have 15-minute service. The problem is where the routes separate: the 72 comes once an hour in Lake City. That combined with its slowness makes it barely usable. If they can double the frequency of basic 72/73 service, it would make a great addition to the north end.

        Extending the 71/72/73 to the eastside makes me shudder because of the bridge traffic jams. BTW, why are people all talking like the new bridge will be finished soon? I thought it would be done in the 2020s or 2030s. Did they decide on an alignment and we voted on it when I wasn’t looking?

      • Anandakos says

        Alex,

        Most transit stations above or below a major thoroughfare have stairs that meet the surface on both sides of the major street. Yes, they can move the nearside westbound stop on 65th at 12th to farside and then there’s no crossing required for west and southbound buses. There’s not much room there because of the eastbound to northbound left turn bay, but it can probably work. Maybe a bus cutout will be needed.

        But the people coming out of the station and catching a north or eastbound bus at the southeast corner of 65th and 12th are going to be inconvenienced daily for years into the future. There should be a stair that surfaces on that corner. For the 48, 71, and 72 there is no other choice than to stop on the southside of 65th; the 73 could easily follow Roosevelt and 12th into Lake City Way for a quicker access to 15th north of 80th, but that would deprive 15th of its current fifteen minute midday service between 65th and 80th. For the 48 the stop could be nearside or farside, it’s all the same. For the 7X’s coming from the U-district via the Ave, Ravenna and 12th, the southeast corner is the only choice.

        Now it may just be that it makes the most sense to have the 7X’s follow their current route to 47th and University Way and link at Brooklyn, deviating from the Ave to Brooklyn for a block or two from 47th to 43rd in order to be over the Brooklyn station. That seems like an overall better idea to me, but it will deprive Roosevelt of most of its traffic. I believe than Ben did say that his statement that Roosevelt was to be the transfer point was somewhat tentative so this is all speculation.

        Except the station diagram, which presumably really does express what they plan to do.

      • Anandakos says

        Alex,

        Don’t worry about Eastlake and the 7X’s. Betcha that the ETB’s reign surpreme there once Link comes as far as Brooklyn. The 70 will be a seven days a week early to late operation like the other trolleys.

        The one bad thing about it is it doesn’t go very near Brooklyn Station. Perhaps they’ll bring it over to Brooklyn for the layover loop on 43rd instead of 50th.

        Brooklyn is going to be crawling with buses. “Crawling” perhaps a bit too literally.

      • Anandakos says

        Jonathan,

        How are the 520 buses planned to access the Husky Stadium station? Will they still get off at Montlake and sit in traffic? Yuk!

        If they really plan to do this lollapalooza 520 bridge right they need to bite the bullet and build a trench tunnel under the bay — with rail geometries for future conversion — for buses and carpools to access the U district other than from Montlake. It should be part of the bridge from the git-go.

        Since the current design is to have the HOV in the center that means that after the western low boat span the bridge should spread a little so that HOV ramps can be added in the middle with adequate merge distances (i.e. the bridge should be eight lanes wide for about a quarter of a mile) and then separate and drop down into the tunnel, curve under the westbound lanes and proceed to Husky Stadium station. The carpools can be routed out behind the station through the giant parking lots to the north. They have good access from Montlake Blvd.

        The bridge to the west of the “new bulge….” should tie the HOV lanes into the express lanes to the north and into Lakeview just south of the underpass to the south. Yes, that will require a tunnel, but it’s highway buckos, so the leg should be ecstatic about spending it.

        This preserves the “one general purpose lane to the north and one to the south” design but gives HOV an enormous advantage for commute hour trips to and from the north end of Seattle.

      • Zed says

        “How are the 520 buses planned to access the Husky Stadium station?”

        The design of the Montlake end of 520 hasn’t been finalized yet, you can see the options here;

        http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR520Bridge/brhpdesign.htm

        It looks like they all include improved transit access over today’s interchange, and if you believe the state’s timeline the new bridge should be open before University Link.

      • Jonathan Dubman says

        “How are the 520 buses planned to access the Husky Stadium station?”

        That’s an excellent question and one that I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking through in consultation with many other parties over the years.

        The high capacity transit plan for SR 520 has 3 BRT lines serving the UW and the rail station there (UW-Redmond, soon to start as ST 542, plus UW-Bellevue and UW-Kirkland) and two connecting downtown Seattle to the Eastside via SR 520. All buses to the UW will cross a drawbridge that opens between 10 and 90 (I was surprised too, and I live near it) times a day, unless we bypass that bridge somehow. We’ve looked at both bridges and tunnels over the years to serve that function. It’s a wickedly complex problem.

        The page linked above has a great snapshot of the best thinking for 520 as of about a year and a half ago, with a whole lot of concrete retaining walls. Since then we’ve figured out ways to dramatically reduce the costs (approaching $1 billion of savings) of tunneling under the cut, using an shallower immersed tube instead of deeper sequential excavation. The latest approach significantly reduces impacts in the Arboretum versus all plans shown, a goal (almost) everyone shares. Plan K has evolved into Plan M (not yet depicted on the WSDOT site.) Confusingly, the new revisions will not be in the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement expected by the end of the year, so people will soon be asked to comment on outdated plans we know are flawed.

        At “peak” hour the drawbridge doesn’t go up, but regardless of what WSDOT views as a “peak” period, the real peak period in the area doesn’t really conform to the standard 9-5 office market pattern. There are various institutions (e.g. UW, which is the city’s largest employer, and Children’s Hospital, which seeks to basically double in size) and commercial areas (e.g. U District urban hub, and U Village, a major employment destination, actually) that have their own circadian rhythms. So the drawbridge is an issue for the 500+ buses per day that are expected to be crossing it.

        Regardless of how we address the ship canal crossing (or fail to do so), it is imperative that we make an efficient pedestrian connection between the UW station and both the local and regional bus service that runs near it. State law and city policy both smartly mandate an efficient multimodal connection there. We’ve got a big street right in front of the rail station; there ought to be bus stops on this street, so I can get off a bus in front of the rail station, and walk right in. It can be done; we have the technology.

        It doesn’t require an ounce of change to the rail station that is planned. What it requires is rerouting buses from Pacific St. to Pacific Place, around the north end of the triangle, so they can serve both the rail station to the east and the medical center to the west. And that, in turn, can be accomplished by constructing a transit-only left-turn from northbound Montlake Blvd. to westbound Pacific Place, which could be funded as part of the SR 520 project (not by Sound Transit, UW or SDOT.)

        Sound Transit, the UW and SDOT have been cooking up a new plan for this area which is going to design-build RFQ now. What’s there is good, but it fails to address the bus-rail connection here and the state should fund further improvements to this plan as part of the SR 520 project.

        See the latest UW station area plan for details. Notice the pedestrian bridge has been replaced by an at-grade crossing of Montlake Blvd. The Rainier Vista extension concept is great, and widening and lowering Pacific Place to provide that crossing while expanding bus layover is a smart approach. The issue is, you’ve got to walk 1200 feet in the rain and cross two busy streets when you come out of the rail station and want to catch a bus heading south of east. It’s almost as far to catch a bus headed west or north. This is not acceptable. For $23 billion (ST2 + SR 520) we can and must do better than this. That is among the problems we are still working on for SR 520.

      • Anandakos says

        Thanks very much for the link, Jonathan. It looks to me like any of the three options WSDOT is considering would never support rail replacement on the HOV lanes. The geometries in those “direct HOV access” bullet points are far too sharp, and it would preempt auto traffic in the new improvement.

        So that’s that for rail across SR 520. Any cross-lake rail must exit the SR520 ROW somewhere east of Montlake and penetrate the UW campus area with an initial station threaded above the Husky stadium track level, probably just to the south.

        Since Ben has reported that UW won’t allow passage down Pacific Avenue (interesting that they can control what happens underneath a public street, but they are the State) the line really can’t continue to the west from there. And that’s a shame because there is opportunity to go west then south and give Wallingford, Fremont, and Ballard rail service and through routing to Bellevue and perhaps even ProgrammerValhalla.

      • Anandakos says

        Whoops. Forgot the closing bold cancel. I didn’t really mean to shout that much. Sure wish STB had “Preview”….

      • alexjonlin says

        I really don’t like the fact that they’re not having the pedestrian bridge… That will make it either very inconvenient for pedestrians who would have to wait a long time to cross the very busy Montlake Blvd, or make traffic awful from that light changing all the time to let the huge pedestrian volumes cross.

      • Jeremy Grotbo says

        I realize that this financing plan was created earlier in 2008 (and could be very out of date), but I was under the impression that the plan would consider advanced pontoon construction (in the anticipation of future light-rail) as well as the omission of the addition pontoons for the time being (but would look into the idea later, however at inflation rate price).
        http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/NR/rdonlyres/5C05BD37-2EEB-4DB0-807D-2903622B9341/0/FinancePlan_folio_Jan08.pdf

        I thought that really the real problem wasn’t convincing the state to look into light-rail on 520, but how the hell it would tie into the current system (which has all kinds of implications that we’ve mentioned many times before) or get by UW’s “no rail zone” on Pacific(that Ben previously brought up and Anandakos reminded me of).

      • Anandakos says

        Alex,

        This is the same basic thing as what I wrote about Roosevelt. I am truly amazed that they don’t have plans for escalators up into that triangle across the street between Montlake, Pacific, and Pacific Place. What a perfect place for a bus turnaround! There is lots of space for loading on the southeast side of Pacific Place (northwest side of the triangle). The buses could just go around the triangle in clockwise rotation in bus only lanes. There’s even a “free right” cut at the north corner.

        Does anyone know why this was omitted?

      • Zed says

        There’s already a bus turn-around there, complete with trolley wires, a layover area, and bus only lanes. Directly under the triangle is a big garage for the medical center, which probably limits what can be built in that area. There will be a sky bridge connecting the station to both sides of NE Pacific PL.

        Pictures here;

        http://www.soundtransit.org/Documents/pdf/projects/link/north/UW_Station_Aerial_View_of_Station.pdf

        http://www.soundtransit.org/Documents/pdf/projects/link/north/ULink/mar_09/site_plan.pdf

      • Anandakos says

        Zed,

        I see that you are exactly correct about the bus turnaround and it is in the right direction. They need an escalator or at the very least stairs that cross under Montlake and come up somewhere in the triangle. If there’s a parking lot under it, mores the better. It probably has a tunnel to the Med Center so there’d be direct no road crossing, weatherproof access from the station to the Med Center. Not nice walking in a garage, but it’s not wet…..

        Somebody killed the sky bridge, and it wouldn’t have served the triangle anyway. It was for pedestrians from the campus.

        Now there’s supposed to be a pedestrian walkway across Montlake between Pacific and Pacific Place midblock. That’s certainly direct, but pretty unpleasant and likely to be a huge traffic jam.

      • Anandakos says

        I just found out it does have a tunnel to the Med Center. How could they not have planned to put an exit into this garage???????

      • Zed says

        I hadn’t heard that the Husky Stadium Station skybridge had been axed, where did you hear that? They spent a lot of time and money on the bridge design and it was still included in the last design review. It would be a real shame if it was gone, because the design of the whole station revolves around it.

      • Chris Stefan says

        I too hope the bridge is still part of the design. If not I’d be concerned the signal at the Montlake crosswalk will be timed to favor auto traffic flow which will be annoying and potentially dangerous for pedestrians (as they jaywalk to make their bus connections). If the signal favors pedestrians then it will cause flow problems during AM and PM peak.

        We need to make sure a sane design for pedestrian and transit flow is used for UW station. There will be 35,000 Link riders passing through the Montlake/Pacific area every day in addition to the existing heavy pedestrian traffic, not to mention the additional people who may be using it as a transfer center or as an alternative to the Montlake Flyer stops.

      • Bernie says

        There’s already a bridge across Montlake at Hec Ed. And doesn’t the station have direct access to the parking garage under the triangle? The WSDOT 520 page didn’t have anything new that I saw about Montlake but in some of the plans there was talk of lowering the street and creating a pedestrian plaza. That would be perfect world scenario.

      • Chris Stefan says

        The bridge at Hec Ed is a bit of a hike from the station, especially for someone who just wants to cross the street to catch a bus. Remember this area is already heavily used by pedestrians and the addition of Link will bring 35000 more pedestrian trips a day (17,500 2015 SEIS ridership for UW station with U link) to the area plus however many additional people will be transferring between buses.

        To put it in perspective assuming 1/2 of the Link passengers are using the station during AM and PM peak that is 3000 pedestrians per hour, 50 per minute, or one every 1.2 seconds.

        I don’t think the current plan has direct access to the triangle garage from the station. I’m not sure if routing that volume of people through the garage is a good solution for pedestrian access anyway.

        I agree the pedestrian plaza looks promising, but I don’t know if it is likely to happen at this point. No matter what is done I think there needs to be pressure to ensure the area is done in such a way that it is convenient and friendly for pedestrians, bikes, and transit rather than making everyone else adapt to the cars.

    • says

      Although people in Tacoma might not like me for this, but an East West line from Sea-Tac to Renton, connecting to an all day commuter station in Tukwila, might well be best for connecting Tacoma to the airport.

      But since the long surface route from Sea-Tac to 272nd is already funded, we are half way there on a very low density slog.

      TOD might work on this portion of 99, but it might not either.

      With McGinn in office it is time to start talking about a second dedicated corridor through downtown, probably surface, and perhaps dominated by 2016/18 available Bredas and other BRT.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        I don’t actually know that we can get an all day commuter station in Tukwila – and half hour headways for Sounder mean that light rail from Tacoma would be faster anyway (the average wait for Sounder would make it noncompetitive).

        Sea-Tac to 272nd isn’t surface, anyway.

      • says

        Assumption on my part about Sea-Tac to 272nd – I was assuming a MLK type surface design, for cost reasons.

        Light rail from Tacoma would be quicker, however connecting to SeaTac at either Kent or Tukwila Commuter rail stations is a much shorter distance.

        All day commuter rail is an issue all to itself.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        The Sea-Tac to 272nd will be mostly elevated, with some drops to at-grade where space permits them not to cross streets (there’s some power line r-o-w). It should be pretty much fast and separated.

        I’m not sure what you mean by a shorter distance. From Tacoma to Sea-Tac Airport on light rail would be much shorter distance than using Sounder. Sounder actually turns *south* after Tacoma.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        No, those are South King funds, not Pierce funds. Pierce wanted to spend their ST2 money on Sounder instead.

      • alexjonlin says

        Well we need Link to Federal Way and South Federal Way to Seattle, and it would also be good to connect Federal Way to Tacoma, so we’ll end up with light rail there anyways. I do think it would be cool to have all day Sounder service though. Anyone know if there’s any way to get a couple dedicated Sounder tracks for at least part of the way between Seattle and Tacoma so that that could happen?

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        There really isn’t. We can get more service, but the cost for each additional train is going to go up, because adding more means signaling upgrades every time.

      • Chris Stefan says

        I thought the long-range Sounder/Amtrak Cascades plans added additional track capacity between Seattle and Tacoma?

        Besides aren’t some of those signaling upgrades mandated no matter how many trains a day are run?

    • alexjonlin says

      I hope that you’re right and that they’ll never build significant sections of Link at-grade again. However, compared to other systems’ at-grade segments, Link is great. Signal timing works almost all of the time so you just breeze through, the stations are spaced apart nicely (perhaps too far apart though between Columbia City and Othello), and it really seems like it is the most important thing on that street. Compare that to the at-grade parts of Muni, the VTA light rail, and others, which basically seem like streetcars.
      I think instead of making some trains turn back they should just have all trains go all the way down and make the trains come nice and often.
      I’ve heard that most buses will be kicked out in 2016 and all when North Link opens (2018 if they get some extra federal funding, but otherwise 2020).
      I think transfers could happen at all station of the stations. West Link could cross over from First to the part of the North Lot that’s not going to be developed to start the tunnel, then have its station right next to King Street. A pedestrian tunnel should be constructed from King Street Station to IDS anyways. One entrance to Pioneer Square Station is between 2nd & 3rd anyways, so it would be easy to make a connection there. Same goes for University Street. A pedestrian tunnel could be constructed from the West Link Westlake station to the basement of Macy’s, which is about a block, and although it sucks to have to go through Macy’s, it would get you directly to the Westlake Station mezzanine.

  9. Bernie says

    Is there any possibility of putting a 3rd set of rails down the middle of the DSTT? Since it’s peak capacity that is the issue even if center running trains couldn’t access a downtown station there would still be benefit from “express” trains with surface stops at each end of the tunnel. It would also serve as a bit of a safety valve when there are issues on one or the other of the two primary lines.

      • Bernie says

        But isn’t the limiting factor the stops at the stations? It would be a complicated orchestration to have through trains pass but it might be a way to maximize use of the current investment. Could be at peak you have even/odd trains and each one only stops at half of the DSTT stations. If you’re running three minute headways it’s not that big a deal to wait for the next train.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        The platforms are only long enough for four car trains. When we move past 2 cars, there wouldn’t be passing space.

      • alexjonlin says

        That would be way to complicated and not at all worth it. The time the you save by not stopping (which is really only like 30 seconds per stop) is more than made up for by the time it takes to switch tracks, pass the other train, and get back in front of it.

    • aw says

      There should be room for a third track at the stations, which might allow for some operational flexibility; allowing trains to get around a stuck train (either in a tube or a station). Another case might be possible at ID station, if there were room for another track and another platform; you could have separate platforms for trains headed south or east.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        There’s no room – there’s a track, but not space for a switch, not when we have more than 2 cars.

  10. Kaleci says

    Actually, the transfer from south to east (or vice versa) should be at a center platform at International District Station.

  11. barman says

    In Paris, the RER A line (arguably the world’s busiest rail line) has three branches on one end and two on the other. Trains pass through central Paris on one corridor. During peak hours they arrive every 90 seconds. There are some sections of passing track in large stations, but for the most part I’d say that if Paris can handle traffic of this degree than Seattle can handle a West Seattle / Ballard line through the tunnel.

    If the RER A is 10 seconds late, 15,000 passengers are affected. Seattle will never have numbers like that. Not in my lifetime anyway.

    Of course I’d like to see the line manifest itself as a tunnel under second avenue. I think it’d be better. But don’t pretend like it’s technically necessary.

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      The RER does not carry 15,000 passengers per trip, especially not boarding at one station. If RER A is ten seconds late, you might affect 1000.

      Paris is only four or five times larger than Seattle.

      • barman says

        I got that number from the RATP, who’ve recently started a campaign for RER A service and signal improvements.

        And saying Paris is only four or five times larger than Seattle is hugely misleading. The Paris region is over 20 million people, the largest metro in Europe. Paris itself is also one of the most densely populated cities in the world. I also didn’t say it carried 15,000 per trip: what I said was a delay of 10 seconds affects 15,000 people.

        That means the train is late for connections and transfers, amplifying the effect.

        I understand you’ve got some good ideas but you need to be a little more pragmatic. I think you ignore too many facts. I’ve said nothing controversial. Frankly, there’s no debating the fact that Paris’ RER A line functions quite well with more branches and higher frequency and more capactiy than Seattle will ever need through downtown in our lifetimes.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        Ile-de-France is nowhere near 20 million – it’s 11.7-2 million, based on which measure you use.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%8Ele-de-France_(region)
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_aire_urbaine

        Seattle metro is about 3.5 million – that’s about the same measure, and leaves you with 1/3 to 1/4 the population (I was understating, we’re bigger than I thought).
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattle_metropolitan_area

        As you can see, my facts are straight.

        In 2030, we’ll have 285,000 people per day on Link – our north-south line will carry more than double the RER A. And that’s not including potential increases due to further line expansion in the meantime.

        RATP is well known for being self-important and making big claims about their impact, it helps them with leverage during labor disputes and helps them get money. But that number is pure horse manure, and looks like they just added up the total ridership of all the connections in the next several minutes, not the passengers who’d actually be affected.

      • Zed says

        I’m not sure what the point is of comparing a heavy rail line that runs 5 car double-deck trains to a light rail line, but they are right about the capacity of RER Line A. It’s a well researched and well referenced line in the civil engineering literature. Because it’s one of the only east-west lines through Paris it can be very busy and at peak hours it carries over 60,000 people per hour per direction and routinely sees over a million boardings per day.

        Regardless, it’s the type of train used on RER A that contributes to it’s high capacity, more so than having short headways. The headways of RER A are not much shorter than what is possible with Link, and it’s the headway that limits the number of trains that we can shove through the downtown transit tunnel.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        From barman: “If the RER A is 10 seconds late, 15,000 passengers are affected. Seattle will never have numbers like that. Not in my lifetime anyway.”

        And yet, we’ll have numbers like that before 2030.

    • ericn says

      The RER A is the busiest rail line in Europe with 1,200,000 riders a day, but the Yamanote loop line in Tokyo is the world’s busiest rail line overall, with 3,500,000 riders a day.



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