This Thursday June 18, Sound Transit and the City of Tacoma are hosting a public meeting about the future of Tacoma Link. They’ll be talking about plans, funding, and how to move forward with extensions. It’s from 6-7pm Thursday at the Tacoma Municipal Building.

Friday, June 19 is the fifth of ten County unpaid furlough days this year.  The buses will still run their normal schedules, but all Metro offices will be closed.

10 furlough days also more or less amounts to the 5% pay cut frequently suggested by armchair budget cutters.

22 Replies to “Tacoma Thursday and Furlough Friday”

  1. Shouldn’t Tacoma LINK be building North toward the eventual linkup with Seattle/SeaTac LINK? Or did I miss something here? I know that the Tacoma cars are smaller but that’s what was in the old Sound Move plan.

    Alternatively, it could keep adding rail toward Point Defiance and try to pick up more riders, although being free, that may be an issue with buses… but it’s only a 1.6 mile line so not much more than the old water front street car for transportation.

    1. ST2 just says “extend the existing 1.6-mile Tacoma Link light rail line beyond Tacoma’s downtown area, with the extension plan to be shaped by the local community.” Obviously getting to the airport is a great goal, but there are also job centers and tourism in the North End (hospitals on Division, Old Town, Pt Defiance) which is also on the way to transit-heavy TCC.

      It’s even possible that Tacoma Link would stay separate, requiring a transfer to big-train Link at Tacoma Dome or something.

    2. I happened to see the Mass Transit Guide from last year while cleaning my room yesterday, and it has the Central Link meeting Tacoma Link at Tacoma Dome Station, which makes more sense than having it cross the bay to meet it at the north end or Point Defiance.

      Oh, you mean building it “north” up I-5 or 99. Right now Tacoma Link fills a very different purpose from Central Link, and unless it’s intended to be the eventual northern terminus of Central Link, it should be kept that way. I couldn’t see it extended any further than Fife, and even then Tacoma Dome Station is becoming too much of a regional transit hub.

  2. There is funding for expansion in ST2.1 as well. Tacoma is serious about TLink expansion this time! For sure serious! Very serious…maybe… :-)

    TLink was designed for eventaul conversion to Regional Link standards. The biggest barrier being the TLink’s voltage, which is lower (but considered the standard) than RLink. Leave it to ST to use non-standard voltages for RLink…

    I hope someone from STB goes down there to get a guage on whats going on!

    1. Is the biggest barrier really the voltage? Can’t ST just plug the whole system into a different wall socket for that issue? In addition to the issues in the comment below, I would think that maybe the one curve in Tacoma Link could be a problem. Also, are Tacoma’s downtown blocks long enough for a 4-car Link train?

  3. Tacoma Link was built with heavier infastructure than a streetcar so that it could A)be converted to Central Link technology later if it ever extended to Tacoma, and B)to test out at-grade light-rail construction before the bigger committment of the Rainier Valley began. The extension plans have been intended to be built with Central Link technology. Sure, it is possible that Central Link could meet Tacoma Link at the Tacoma Dome but not continue on its route, but this is not a good choice for Tacoma. Would Seattle be well-served if Central Link stopped in SoDo, where people would then transfer to a streetcar to go downtown? The one-seat ride from the suburbs is important for Tacoma’s economic future. There are problems with conversion, however. Tacoma Link is single-tracked in places and the platforms don’t have enough room to expand in places to accomodate four-car trains.

  4. This meeting probably will be less about connecting Tacoma to other places (the discussion about connecting Central Link to Tacoma is gravy — either it will happen, or it won’t, and the decision will receive its fair share of attention I’m sure when the time comes) and more about connecting Tacoma to itself. It’s not so easy getting around without a car in Tacoma, and the TLink is a great start to connecting the growing urban core to the rest of the mostly-suburban city. There are simply so many possibilities (TLink to Tacoma General? TCC? What about South and East Tacoma? 6th Avenue streetcar? University Place?), and I would imagine lots of brainstorming will go on to this effect.

    Pending anything that might come up, I’ll probably be there.

  5. Maybe we can convert Tacoma Link to use Kiki-whatever (I can’t speel it or say it right) cars from Central Link—wait a minute—Do the Skoda and Kiki-something cars use the same gauge? If not, we can make a transfer point for Tacoma and Central Link where the two lines meet, on two separate tracks. If they ARE the same gauge, then all that’s needed is the change in voltage.

    1. That’s not all that would be needed. Platforms for Tacoma Link are shorter, and the turn might be too tight for Central Link vehicles.

      I think Tacoma might have trouble with four car trains going through their downtown, too.

      1. Well, all four-car trains could terminate at Tacoma Dome Station, with two-car trains going from SeaTac into Tacoma.

    2. Tacoma Link and Seattle Link are built to the same specs (especially “loading gauge”) , save for the voltage. If the Seattle Link ever meets Tacoma Link (You should live so long) then the Shkoda cars would be parked and the Kinki-Shayro cars (or what ever Seattle Link has migrated to) will run on the same tracks.

      They are both built with standard 1435mm-wide tracks and the same pantograph height. That is why the Tacoma Link cars have that podium on to of the cars and beneath their pantograph, unlike the SLUT or Portland Streetcar.

      Changing the volatage might mean replacing some wire and transformers, but it does not mean putting up new poles or laying new track.

  6. It has been postulated before that T-Link would be extended up along 6th Ave to eventually TCC and to the east down Puyallup ave then south up Portland Ave. These to my mind make the most sense. You would combine a couple of major bus routes that PT runs (namely the 41 and the TCC-10th/Commerce portion of the 1).

    While these two seem kind of disparate, it makes sense because you are connecting a major section of Tacoma that could use the transit-induced boost (Salishan) to downtown and a really vibrant area of town (6th Ave) to downtown. In a perfect world, I would extend the T-Link all the way to the 72nd St TC in SE Tacoma and all the way of course to TCC.

    TDS is going to become a major area hub whether we like it or not, with the eventual shifting of Amtrak off the current tunnel alignment and moving the station up to Freighthouse Square. Its going to happen. And I for one like it. Even though the bus platforms are kind of far from the train platform, it works. All that having the Links link up in TDS will do is to expand the options available.

    As far as having to transfer at TDS, I think this will actually avoid the bigger issue of a full R-Link train consist of not being able to negotiate the streets of downtown Tacoma. I think that equating it to having to transfer to a Streetcar in SoDo to get into Seattle is erroneous. One of the glaring differences between Tacoma and Seattle is that Seattle has this wonderful Downtown Transit Tunnel that Tacoma does not. Could you imagine the headache of a full consist R-Link train driving up Second Ave? (I know you could point to Portland where they run the Max through downtown, but they planned for that.) The waterfront is an option, but you would still need to catch a bus to get anywhere in downtown or walk up the hill, which i am sure some of our elderly transit patrons do not enjoy.

    Also, in Tacoma I think we have gotten used to the Link the way it is. If you tried to change the cars and add more of them there would be a very difficult time with that. As it is, the Tacoma Link works, and as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. It could use some extending, but beyond that the Skoda cars do fine. we’ll just need more of them when the time comes!

  7. Tacoma Link should stay there but be changed to the Tacoma Streetcar with various extensions to UPS, TCC and other places (see for various possible routes). Meanwhile, Central Link should be extended down to Tacoma with a tunnel from Tacoma Dome to 9th or 10th and stops only at Tacoma Dome, UW-Tacoma, and downtown Tacoma. This would make a one-seat ride from Seattle but would be much faster than going along the surface and avoid all the conversion issues like Tacoma Link’s turning radius, single-tracking, short block-length, and voltage. Also, some of the Tacoma Link stations were very poorly placed. The train goes right through the Commerce Street Transfer Area to stop a block north of there, and the train goes right past the Convention Center but stops a block north of there.

    1. Yeah I thought passing through the bus area was pretty dumb. I suppose though that PT was have a fit if they didnt. I suppose it has something to do with competing agencies, bla bla bla.

  8. According to PSRC documents, a light rail corridor from Downtown Tacoma to Tacoma Community College via 6th Avenue is planned to be in place by 2030. It’s an important corridor, one that’s needed conversion to some form of high capacity transit for the last ten years. I’ve found the talk on STB about conversion to Central Link standards and transit tunnels as tangential to the real goal of improving transit in Tacoma. We need every dollar that Sound Transit has committed to light rail in the Pierce County subarea to make this work. Otherwise we’re going to be spending those dollars on additional parking capacity at Tacoma Dome Station at $40,000 a space – which everyone acknowledges is wasteful and counterproductive to the goal of reducing auto dependence.

    Back in 1938, Tacoma boasted a 125 mile streetcar system. There are a lot of people here who think that a new streetcar system should be part of a transit-bicycle mix in town to reduce automotive travel, leverage pedestrian travel, help feed passengers into the regional system, and stimulate development of urban infill. The Tacoma Link line as planned needs to be completed, extending its current terminus in Downtown Tacoma out to TCC. Tacoma’s “Central” Link can serve as a backbone, with streetcars using some of the same right of way to connect to the City’s neighborhoods and business districts.

    There’s been a lot of work done by City staff and activists – on complete streets, mixed use districts, parking management plans, and streetcar planning. Along with Pierce Transit, which is doing a revamp of their 30-year old system model, I think we’ll be ready to put a master plan and a tax package before the voters in 2010.

    We are very serious about this down in Tacoma, and we’re determined to get it right. It’s wrong to characterize our efforts and intentions as anything but what they are.

  9. Things that need to be fixed to make TL convert to CL.

    Turn from 25th to Pacific is too tight and would need to be fixed. Station would be eliminated or entrance to Chevron/Pink Elephant removed.

    Voltage for TL is 600v, CL requires 1500v

    Platform at Union Station would fit a 4 car long train. Terminal station at Theatre would not.
    I personally would rather CL go to 10th and Commerce via a tunnel and expand the TL system into more of a city wide streetcar system.

    1. I agree – make TL local, leave it using Skoda/Inekon trains. Send CL elsewhere.

  10. So once Central Link reaches Tacoma, would it replace the 59x series of buses?

    Would it render Sounder surplus?

    Also, as far as Tacoma Link is concerned, I think that there should be some system in place to replace the 1 bus route- its horrible. Even at 15 minute headways, the bus is ALWAYS packed on the portion heading south. something needs to be done about that in my opinion, and if Pacific Ave is too steep for a Streetcar, what are the other options?

    1. Sounder would probably still be the faster way to Seattle during the times it is running (though maybe not if you are going downtown include a transfer at King Street/ID). It also not merely a Tacoma to Seattle thing, it serves Puyallup, Auburn, Kent, etc, a totally different corridor than Link.

    2. No more than SR 167 makes I-5 surplus (best of all worlds: CL and Sounder render both highways surplus!

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