As many of us think of the possibilities, the downfalls, the errors, the facts, the costs, the myths, of having some sort of commuter rail on the East Side, most tend to look at the walking distance from it’s biggest stop, NE 8th in Bellevue.
What most of these people who are out against the commuter rail option doesn’t like that it won’t be “new” and it wouldn’t be “their” idea. Along comes a private investor, Thomas Payne, widely known for his ups in Canada and his downs in Tacoma with Golden Pacific Railroad and the Reading 2100 4-8-4 Steam Locomotive.
What needs to be mentioned are the people who take Sounder and arrive at King Street Station typically use another method of transportation to get to their office such as buses, taxi, or employee shuttles. The distance from King Street Station to Mid-Downtown is equal to that of NE 8th to Downtown Bellevue, it is easily fixable with transit but the major difference is walking over I-405. A solution would be to instate two feeder buses that would run to various locations within Bellevue. The buses would return to the load/unload zone along NE 8th to await the next train.
While the projected ridership numbers are low, the realistic number could be far greater. This has happened to just about every commuter rail system that has been launched to date. As the system expands to more destinations, more trains are added, more people will come. The possibility of a train or two that originates from Everett Station to Bellevue would take off not only cars off the road but also free up crowded buses. If the service is branched outward to Monroe or even Sultan/Goldbar would greatly improve ridership relieving congestion off SR 522 and Hwy 2.
Ultimately though, this private commuter service will face one thing that people in this region don’t like and don’t want to see or hear about – another transportation entity. Unless the fare structure is some how integrated with the region system, it will have a very rough time gaining it’s ridership on the point of a new carrier but if ST did come in and take over, that would open it’s options to have trains depart Tacoma to Tukwila then over to the Eastside Line but that enters a new problem entirely….
Renton does not want a commuter train running up and down and has been fighting All Aboard Washington tooth and nail to make sure it doesn’t happen. While the the City of Renton did pay for the new bridges between the Seattle/Tacoma Mainline and Renton Boeing for the Next Generation 737’s it still does not want to see an alternative transportation mode simply because it’s “loud”. To Date, the City of Renton is the only City that wishes not to have the system. The City of Snohomish, Woodinville, Maltby, Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond all are in strong support of having commuter rail to help relieve congestion. Maybe it could stop at The Landing in Renton so they don’t have to worry about the train.
There won’t be a return of the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train since the Columbia Winery is moving to Sunnyside, Washington. The Dinner train was the only thing readily supporting the winery at it’s location as the vineyards and such are in Sunnyside.
Could Freight Service be restore as well? It’s really hard to say what exactly will happen but I can see a court battle sooner than later….