34 Replies to “New Sound Transit Regional Map”

    1. Indeed very nice, but many (most?) of the lines on the new ST map are seven or more years in the future. Perhaps it’s helpful for planning your long-run future residential location, but not for moving around on transit today.

      How about authorities issuing a transit map for right now that highlights the trains and frequent service buses of today, to use while we are waiting for more trains after Airport Link to arrive? King County Metro has a list of its frequent bus lines at http://metro.kingcounty.gov/tops/bus/serv-freq.html, but unlike Portland — http://trimet.org/images/frequentservice/frequentservice.jpg –, does not have a simplified map highlighting the frequent service lines.

      LA Metro has an integrated rail/frequent bus map as well.

  1. Just wanted to ad: They’ve still got the Eastside rail marked on there. I thought that plan was essentially dead?

  2. I like it, but I think a map intended for a general audience should err on the side of having routes actually resemble their geographic locations.

    You know, having lived most of my life north of the Montlake cut, I know that there are lots of well meaning people in Seattle who literally have no idea where Rainier valley is. To these folks, station names like “Othello” are literally meaningless, and I worry that given the layout of the routes on this map, some folks might think that West Seattle is getting light rail.

    Seattle, more than a lot of other cities, is quite geographically ignorant of itself…a problem, of course, that transit helps to fix. :) In the meantime, I think transit maps intended for a general audience (which this one is, right?) should look more like the real thing than a schematic, just from a public-education perspective.

    Am I out of line here? :)

    1. No, you are not out of line. This is a pretty dishonest map. Some of the zigs and zags in Central Link are a mile or two long. Big enough to represented on this map. For example, the hard turn to the east at Forest st. should be represented. So should the one at the BAR. As well as the turn west along 518.

      But they make it a straight line on the map so people won’t realize just how ridiculous the routing is.

      1. This is a Tube-style map. Have you seen the map of the London underground system? It’s simplified and easy to understand, but it massively distorts the city’s geography in the process. That’s OK, though, because the point of such maps isn’t to lay out the geography of the city but to give people a simple and easy-to-understand guide to transit options.

        Every map is a compromise to highlight some information over other information. This map highlights the information that’s important to use the system.

    2. I have to agree with Sam that the routing just looks wrong, even with my favoritism toward simplified diagrammatic maps, there’s plenty of space to put in the Rainier Valley bend and not make Sounder look like it goes under Beacon Hill.

      The latest version of my 2023 map correctly shows the general shape and location of the route while retaining it’s clarity with the route closer to Lake Washington. Going for a true geographic approach can be troublesome when you have a dense network in the core and longer spacing in the suburbs. See my post-ST 3 fantasy map and try reading the central Seattle portion or try fitting it into a handy pocketable size. It’s impossible without resorting to inset maps that are still cluttered and confusing.

      One thing I learned while designing maps, especially diagrammatic maps, is that they should have a unique feature that identifies them with the region they’re in and not completely ignore the local geography. Distorted as it may be the Tube map still has some geographical features in it. The straight line lacks character and fails to orient the user.

      That said, I wouldn’t call the map dishonest though, as it serves a different purpose. This is a conceptual map of Sound Move/ST2 projects. The routes and station locations of many of the extensions haven’t been finalized yet so it’s pointless and misleading to show a preferred alignment.

      The Link maps in the tunnel stations are not in a straight line and resemble the true route. The Link map in the Ride the Wave transit guide and on their website is geographically accurate.

      1. Your post-ST 3 fantasy map is perfect. I’d love to see that system (and be young enough to use it to get around.)

      2. Except for the absence of a Bellevue-Renton light rail line, which I just noticed. Any reason that’s left out of what is otherwise a complete vision of regional light rail?

      3. I guess I could’ve made it light rail all the way (will fix it). I had this idea of DMUs sharing tracks and stations with light rail on the Eastside running as an express service. I contradicted myself with light rail running in the Sammamish River Valley which is closer to my home :).

    1. Sorry Sam but ST has the perhaps quaint notion that light rail transit should be built where the people are and take them where they want to go. Or said another way, we connect the region’s busiest activity centers. Sorry if they’re not on a line straight enough to suit your linear sensibilities.

      1. You’re a cheerleader for ST. I’m not. You agree with everything you’re told and given. I don’t. And that’s okay. Calm down. I think Central Link is a poorly designed line. I’m also saying that on the map, it should be shown as the zig-zagging, meandering glorified local bus route on rails that it is. That’s all. Now go back to your cheerleader.

      2. I’m not a cheerleader for Sound Transit nor part of the “rails are always the best use of money” crowd but the actual detour of Central Link is quite minimal compared to lots of systems worldwide and in general it follows pre-existing rights of way. Something it would not do if it shot straight from downtown to the Airport on 4th. Heck, if it shot straight down 4th it wouldn’t actually get to the airport either, you’d have to force a swing around the northern edge of the airport of about 1 mile.

        For fantasy purposes, let’s assume a routing along the 99 corridor because a pure straight line along 4th is even more fantastic (there’s also the Duwamish crossing to consider) and 509 takes you even further from the airport (assuming this is your goal). This route would go straight south through Georgetown (which has a few thousand residents concentrated along Lucile), the northern edge of Boeing Field (not close to the Terminal) and South Park/Highland Park (assuming a 99 routing that’s about 10,000 within a mile of a station) and White Center (~25k but mostly concentrated AWAY from 99 but let’s be generous). So, generously about 40k people are served before you hit Tukwila and the Airport stations on the current plan. Congratulations, we’ve shaved about 4 miles and 7 minutes off of the trip to the airport and points south.

        The actual route swings west for ~1 mile (under a dense neighborhood) then follows a straight line path through neighborhoods that have a combined population about twice that of those listed above (let alone many more people within walking distance of the stations), then instead of just continuing straight south, there’s a half-mile dogleg to the the deferred Boeing Access Road station (also not near the Terminal) then it follows an easy right of way by the freeway (cheap land) before swinging around to join the fantasy route. Congratulations, we’ve easily doubled ridership.

        There ARE problems with this route but they have to do with things like station spacing being too large and the stupid decision to run at-grade for long stretches (to save money). Anyhow, it also takes people off the freeway and surface roads because, well, the majority of people along the corridor still drive places and it will be faster and more reliable than a bus so more people will use it than use the current parallel bus routes.

      3. Going through Rainier Valley was the right call for Central Link. Past that the line should have either served Southcenter or SR99 between the Duwamish and the Airport.

        But that is mostly a quibble … the lions share of the ridership will likely come from Rainier Valley and Beacon Hill.

      4. A future Burien-Renton line, to be studied under ST2, would likely serve Southcenter with transfers at Tukwila International Blvd and Tukwila Sounder station.

      5. @cjh: station spacing being too large

        Where? Between Henderson and 154th? There’s nothing between there, just highway infrastructure. There was a deferred station at the Boeing Access Road but that was insane because there’s nothing within walking distance of there, so it would never be used unless Boeing ran a shuttle bus to it. (Which they can’t even do to the Renton transit center, BTW.) I’d actually like to take the Othello and Stadium stations out because they’re too close to other stations. In St Petersburg and Moscow, the metro stations are two miles apart in the outer stretches, and that makes a difference when you’re going longer distances (which is what the train is for). In Duesseldorf in contrast, the U-bahn has lots of stations close together, including two at both ends of a bridge, and that makes it as slow as a bus (which defeats the purpose of building it).

        @Chris Stefan, Oran: a Burien-Renton line

        Actually a 405 line. It could continue to Lynnwood, serving Bellevue and Kirkland along the way.

      6. The stations in the Valley are between 1.25 to 1.5 km apart – that is what I’m talking about, not the industrial gap. Generally, you look to have stations 1 km apart (or a bit less) where possible in residential and employment areas as this maximizes walk-up use. SkyTrain in Vancouver actually follows this rule almost perfectly.

        Your Russian example has a lot of problems, but I’ll start at the beginning. First, I think you’ll find that the station spacing on the original sections of the Sokolnicheskaya or Zamoskvoretskaya (for instance) is around 1-1.25 km. This is all stuff that is within the original built up area of the city, the enormous station spacing only starts once you get out into post-war apartment blocks that were built and planned around new stations (or streetcars) so the gap between stations basically didn’t matter. Link is going into similar already built-up territory – it’s not like Othello or Stadium don’t have lot of stuff around them already.

        Also, the U-bahn is way faster than a bus. I mean, really…

      7. Sorry Sam but ST has the perhaps quaint notion that light rail transit should be built where the people are and take them where they want to go.

        I wish that were true. East Link is all about where the developers own property and want to build. Most of the east King residents won’t get a damn thing out of it for at least 20-30 years (if ever). In fact they’re going to reduce service across 520. But hey, if you want to ride Link from Mercer Island to go shop for a new muffler in Bel-Red or maybe a Craftsman tool chest at Overlake “Fashion Plaza” you’re in luck.

      8. Yeah, because no one wants to go to downtown Bellevue, or Microsoft, or Mercer Island. It seems to be serving the only area on the Eastside that isn’t just single-family tract housing.

  3. I think it’s inspired more from my 2023 map than my earlier unfinished fantasy map. Jim Hammond at Sound Transit sent me an e-mail about my 2023 map helping them design a DC Metro-style map although it’s a version different from this one.

  4. Poor choice of colors and shading. Future light rail is a light shade of pink, but future express bus service is a darker shade of blue. The various widths of lines are not explained at all.

  5. I have problems with this map. As a political document to show people what they’re getting, it’s fine. As something to get around the region with, not so much.

    1) I agree with Oran (and Sam) that some sort of dogleg to the East would greatly clarify the true path.

    2) The bus stuff really clutters stuff up without really adding much information. In particular, “future HOV improvements” is not a particularly useful map feature.

    3) Even assuming Eastside Commuter Rail was really going to happen, the line shown here, with no real context of stations, is nothing but graffiti.

    The region’s general dependence on buses to get most places leaves map designers in a bind. It’s unclear which routes deserve to be on a regional map, and you always run the risk of adding too much clutter, and you certainly don’t want to depict routes that run extremely infrequently.

    1. 2) Right, what’s with the Tukwila-Renton improvements? I cannot tell without a project list.
      3) Map graffiti, very funny!

      I agree, creating a good bus map is difficult.

  6. Given that this is not a geographical map, wouldn’t it still make sense to have downtown Tacoma be South of the Tacoma Dome like it actually is? Or am I turned around when I get on Tacoma Link and head away from Tacoma Dome Station?

    1. Downtown Tacoma is Slightly West and then North of the Tacoma Dome/Freighthouse Square area.

      I like the above map, but I think it needs to show that Tacoma-Tacoma Dome and Tacoma-Amtrak are and may remain separate stations with some distance between each other.

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