Photo by Martin
Photo by Martin

[UPDATE: A lot of these dates are in flux as we speak.]

[UPDATE: Oops, forgot a couple of things, fixed below.]

Here’s the transit opening timeline: Swift on November 29th, Seatac on December 19th, RapidRide A Line in June 2010, B in 2011, S. 200th St. (assuming the feds come through), RapidRide C, RapidRide D, and Sounder Lakewood in 2012, and First Hill Streetcar and RapidRide E in 2013.  Then, it’s U-Link in 2016.

in 2012, C and D RapidRide in 2013, and E in 2014.  Then, it’s U-Link in 2016.

63 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: the Timeline”

      1. Oh dang… Well I guess if S 200th opens in 2012 then that would space out our rail openings a little more nicely…

  1. If the viaduct is truly coming down in 2012, the C, D, and E lines should really be implemented by then… Would more funding get us these lines more quickly? Fed dollars?

    1. You raise an important, archie – what are the contingency plans for if/when a major quake offs the viaduct, say next Wednesday? No parking on First S and Fourth S w/ left lanes reserved for buses from West Seattle and SW King County? Anything else?

      1. Don’t worry citizen!

        Dan And Kathi will lead us through the confusion.

        The SeaBees will be summoned to construct the long awaited Interstate 605 and all traffic and future development will be diverted onto this new outer beltway through North Bend.

        The Battery Street tunnel will finally be used as the approach to the new cross-sound bridge, thus making WSF redundant.

    2. C’s service hours are coming in 2011, they’re not calling it RapidRide till a year later to avoid tainting the brand with buses stuck in traffic.

  2. Count me in for SeaTac/Airport’s grand opening. I will be testing the distance using both Old Trusty (my manual wheelchair) and my (much newer) power scooter wheelchair over both days (no, it doesn’t have a name yet).

  3. question about Sounder service.

    why was the lakewood station built before service there started? was it built assuming trains would run there by the time it opened? i just moved to seattle a year ago so i don’t know all the trials and tribulations of getting sounder service up and running.

    1. I assume it was because the money was available to build the Lakewood station sooner rather than later. Even without Sounder service the Lakewood station can serve as a park & ride and transit center until the trains show up. That said I’m told hardly anyone uses the Lakewood Sounder station while the SR 512 P&R is quite heavily used.

    1. I’ve seen Link operators speed by 2 mph when they have their shades not drawn. That’s descending from Tukwila along 518, so the thing had some momentum. So if North Link could be sped up, I’m guessing at least by 2 mph, but not officially. Since it’s currently not moving, though…

  4. Whenever I finally get around to them, I’ll be writing the following apps using both Metro’s data and the OneBusAway API:

    – Display multiple routes on a map at the same time
    – Combined timetables between common stops (like this)
    – A slightly less annoying trip planner, including a mobile version. Yes, I know that Google already does this, but try planning a route on Metro’s trip planner and Google’s that involves using a route that is canceled (holidays, UW finals, etc.). Metro’s will reflect actual service, Google’s will not.

    Anything else you want to see?

    1. Tools to help me automate the production of spider maps. Ha ha.

      Automating the production of usable and readable printed timetables at stops.

      Using GIS data to produce better route maps or area maps on demand (like some German transit sites do).

      Finally, create an interactive transit map a la TriMet at

  5. News from rural transit ville, 250 miles from the nearest ST route:

    Obama’s stimulus dollars bought the city 5 new buses to be delivered in 2010, as well as a new transit center on campus, and other transit improvements (like 10 new security cameras on EACH bus). Many of the buses are old, 2nd hand, and the Express routes experience terrible crush loading. Typically, 3 buses will be bunched together (on purpose) to provide adequate capacity, and they still have to cram 60 people on each 35′ foot bus. The bright side is that nobody is getting off between where the bus goes express and campus, so everyone unloads at the same point. IMO, we need a bored subway, but the town doesn’t have enough money to stripe the roads, so its probably a few years off ;-)

    The new transit center is located outside the Old Bookie. (Cougs will know where that is.) It has big covers, a security phone pylon, landscaping, places to sit, and its huge. Additionally, there is 1 2-block-long dedicated transit lane into the facility, and 2 lanes in the TC so buses can pass each other. There is enough room to load/unload 3 buses at once, which already isn’t enough room and buses stack up down the street. But, the drivers usually unload when they stop to wait behind other buses.

    For route updates, you can sign up for text updates for a specific route. When something happens with the Express 1, you’re sent a text. But not if something happens to the Express 2, Tripper, E, etc. unless you sign up for it. Its rather nice than a Twitter feed with everything.

    There service is mostly paid though a required $25/semester fee tacked onto tuition. Our CougarCard is our transit pass. No scanning, tapping, etc. Just flash it when walking on. The students, after rejecting a transit referendum in 2007, approved a $10 increase in 2008 as gas prices were affecting students. Sadly, this wasn’t able to increase service levels or allow Sunday service (which is a huge complaint). But during the weekdays, and Saturday, the level of transit is superb.

    A short article on what happened to Pullman Transit over the summer

    It may not be KC Metro or Sound Transit, but Pullamn Transit is a model for rural public transportation and carries 1.3 million annually. Their site is really broken, but most people have a schedule book.

  6. A few questions about King County Metro bus operations.

    1. Whenever I hear an announcement from the dispatcher on a bus, they usually start with the time, which is often something like 5:34 and 30 seconds. Do they really need this level of exactitude? Are bus drivers setting their watches or something from these times?

    2. What is the big beep one hears from the driver’s area sometimes? It usually seems to be somewhere near where the route number should change, but maybe I am imagining that.

    1. 1. Probably so operators can set their approved timepiece that they are required to carry.

      2. A 1.5 second beep heard throughout the coach? That just means the PA is entering the ON mode. It could be that the driver turned it on. But because it’s a pain in the butt to turn the PA on and off every time you use it, most drivers just leave it on and then lean into the gooseneck mic. Caveat: any time the operator gets a voice call* the PA turns off. After the voice call is over, the PA goes back into whatever mode it was in before the voice call, so if it was on, you hear the annoying 1.5 second beep. If it was off, it stays off.

      *A voice call is either
      a) the coordinators are making a broadcast announcement (“attention all operators, traffic on 3rd ave sucks badly”)
      b) a coordinator is contacting an operator directly for some reason
      c) the operator requested to talk to a coordinator and the coordinator has accepted

    2. #1: Yes, we do. We are required to have watches and to use them for timekeeping, NOT the radio. The clocks on the radio can be inaccurate. I’ve heard more than one driver complaining about receiving a PR because they used the radio clock, which was off by several minutes. I do use the radio clock but I check it for accuracy throughout my trip. Metro’s time seems to match the “offical” US time found at several locations: is one – I also have a clock at home that sets itself based on a radio signal. FYI: Cell phone clocks sometimes do NOT match official time – my iPhone currently does though.

      #2: A supervisor might have more detail, but I believe the control center can contact each coach in one of 3 ways:

      1. Talk to control center on the handset – You’ll hear a few soft beeps up by the driver when they are calling us – we then pick up the handset to talk

      2. Driver’s overhead speaker – The control center can make general announcements that go out to the speaker over the driver’s head in ALL coaches. This is usually when you’d hear a single beep up by the driver. They can also call just a single coach, in which case there is no beep – we just hear the control center asking us to do something (usually log in or call them back because we aren’t in the system for some reason).

      3. General PA announcement – That’s the one that is REALLY loud and can be heard throughout the whole bus. Metro uses this for rider information announcements.

      There is no sound made to tell us when to change route signs. As far as I know those sounds are just to get human attention. There are sometimes bits of modem-like sounds but that’s beyond my pay-grade to explain that stuff. I’ve not run into any of the radio folks to ask details on how the system actually transmits data.

      1. What sort of things do they communicate privately via method 1 rather than the driver’s speaker method 2?

      2. That’s a long list but usually it’s stuff like reroute information, comfort stations that are down, missing person reports, etc… Things that are of no interest to passengers.

    3. On buses (it seems like just Newflyers) there’s frequently three fairly loud lower tones followed usually by a louder higher tone. I don’t hear any kind of announcement after this. Anyone know what those beeps are?

      1. Three short in the driver’s area and one long in the rest of the coach? That’s what I described in #2 above. It just means that the PA is going into the ON mode.

        And all coaches have the same type of radio (excluding the old Ford vans).

  7. I think Sound Transit’s move on January 1st to do away with issuing transfer tickets for cash fares, and even to no longer accept other agency’s transfers for partial fare, will disproportionately affect the poor, minorities, and immigrants.

      1. Undocumented immigrants prefer to pay cash. This new policy will penalize those who use cash. Therefore, this new policy will penalize undocumented immigrants.

      2. If they’re irrationally using cash instead of an ORCA card that can be bought in many places, most of which you don’t have to show any sort of ID, then that’s not Metro or ST’s problem.

      3. You can get a pre-paid Orca card at a TVM using cash, can’t you? For those that are poor and qualify for a fare discount, I suppose they need to get to a service center to get a fare-reduced card. If these folks can afford to preload $10 on their card, that’s good for a few trips; they would then just need to get to monitor their balance and get themselves to a TVM to reload before they run out of pre-loaded cash.

      4. Of course you can! As far as I know there are no hidden cameras inside the TVMs unlike some ATMs.

        Only Kitsap Transit has a special fare tier for low-income people, the others don’t.

      5. Cash users should be penalized. The overhead cost of maintaining a cash system is huge, and that cost reduces the amount of revenue available for providing transit services. Cash users are penalizing us all by increasing expenses and reducing the amount of transit service. :-)

  8. Just two points from me this week and that is the two ‘e’ letters on the King Street Station sign are not lit at present so it says King Str..t Station right now. Its been that way for a while – I just forgot to mention it before now.

    Anyone know when Phase two of the restoration is starting up – Brian????

    Also, I asked Sound Transit recently what plans they had for improving bus and Sounder service to Sounders FC games next season. I mentioned I felt that they dropped the ball on this one this year. It would have been nice to have seen additional 550 and 554 buses after matches to eliminate all of the standing room only and long waits for post game buses. Sound Transit replied this to my question:

    “Unfortunately as of now, we will not be able to operate special Sounder trains for the Sounders game. The tracks that the Sounder operates on are owned by BNSF and we must negotiate and lease track space in advance. The tracks are dedicated to freight transport. The Seahawks and Mariners special event service is negotiated almost a year in advance with tentative trips on hold for playoff games if needed.

    With the Sounder soccer being a new sport in Seattle, there was no time to set up contracts between the Sounders and Sound Transit, but during the last few Sounders games and during the last playoff games, both Metro and Pierce Transit as well as Sound Transit had extra buses on stand by to accommodate the overflow crowds.

    Hopefully in the near future we can continue to expand our service to accommodate more events around the Puget Sound region. I would also like to recommend the use of the Tukwila International Boulevard Station where we have 600 free parking spaces and access to the new link light rail that takes you to the stadium for only $2.25 each way”


  9. O.K. this is an open thread so I hope someone will answe my question. I currently use pugetpass. I will not be able to use pugetpass soon. I’ve ordered an ORCA card. I know I probially sound stupid for asking this, how do they work. I know how to use them, what I mean is when I pay does it mean unlimited amout of rides for a certain period like pugetpass? Is it like a pre=pay system so I only get what I actually pay? Is it monthly or can it be anytime? If I knew that we were going to all ORCA I would have gotton one a long time ago. I’ve been to the ORCA web page. I could not find any info for these questions. Thank you.

    1. The ORCA card has two components: the E-purse and passes.

      Think of the E-purse as cash. You pay and get a 2-hour transfer. Transfers work the same as paper transfers. If you transfer to a service with a fare equal to or less than the fare you paid, the transfer is free. If it’s more, you pay the difference. Minimum value you can add is $5, maximum is $300.

      You can also load a pass (actually multiple passes if you are a ferry commuter) onto the card. The passes work exactly like and cost the same as the PugetPass. Link and Sounder ticket machines and the ORCA website call them a “monthly regional pass”. If you ride a service with a fare that exceeds the face value of your pass, you pay the difference from your E-purse.

      If you don’t want to worry about reloading the pass on your card every month, set up an Autoload through the website. As long as you have sufficient money in your bank account, you’ll never have to remember to buy a pass again. The system automatically loads a new pass when you use transit for the first time in a month. You can also set up an Autoload for your E-purse so you never worry about carrying change again. When your E-purse balance is going to be zero, it instantly refills your E-purse by the amount you specified ($5-$300). Say I have $1 left and the fare is $2. No worries, I tap and my fare is paid and my card now has $19 on it (I set to autoload $20).

      You need to register your card in order to use Autoload. Registering online is easiest. The biggest benefit of a registered card is balance protection. If you lose your ORCA card, you can get a replacement for $5 and get whatever that was on the lost card back.

      Tip: The fastest way to put money or a pass on your ORCA is at a ticket machine. If you do it online, you have to wait at least 24 hours for processing. You can also check balances at ticket machines.

      1. I used to get a Metro Vanpool pass that credits me $2 for rides on Sound Transit buses, so on the occasions I took a bus (1-2/month) I would deposit 50c and swipe my vanpool pass. So if I add $5 to my E-purse, then when I tap my ORCA card on a bus I suppose it will know I have a $2 pass and take 50c from my E-purse?

        The company that I’m using to pay for my vanpool pass with pre-tax paycheck deduction sent me an ORCA card, with a letter that urged me to tap it “on a device at an entry point of the transit system” within a week. Since there’s no such device on my vanpool, I stopped by the Auburn Sounder station late one night and tapped my card on the platform. It told me I had insufficient funds, which I expected, but the ORCA website shows that my vanpool pass got loaded on to my card at the date and time I tapped it.

        I hope I don’t have to tap the ORCA card every month the week my paycheck is deducted for the vanpool pass. If so, and I also have money in my E-purse but don’t have a need to take a bus that week, how am I supposed to load the pass on to my card without being charged for a trip?

      2. I’m not sure, try checking your card balance at a ticket machine? Someone said that would load value that you added online on to the card (after 24 hrs). If not and you had to tap on a reader, you can cancel the trip and get a refund by tapping the card again.

      3. O.K. This is my big question. Right now I pay 90 dollars and I get a 2.50 pugetpass. That is good on an unlimited number of trips on metro. Is this still true on ORCA or is it like a pre-paid card, I put in 90 dollars I only get 90 dollars worth of transit? This is what I need to know. I will get my card soon. I need to what to do.

      4. Yes, it’s still true. Pugetpasses are good for unlimited rides within a month. ORCA doesn’t change that. Just make sure you choose to load a pass and not value into the E-purse.

        Metro fares are increasing on Jan 1 by 25¢. You will have to get a $2.75 pass for $99 for January onwards. I thought you commute outside of peak hours so why do you need the $2.50 pass?

        How do you plan on getting the pass, online or in person?

      5. You can still buy a $2.50 PugetPass, it will just be loaded onto your ORCA card. This page explains how ORCA works;

        Basically you can use an ORCA like cash with the E-Purse, or you can load a PugetPass onto your ORCA and use it just like you used your old PugetPass.

        Once you get your ORCA card, go to this website;

        From there you can buy your pass and add it to your ORCA card using a credit card. If you need to use cash, you’ll have to use a ticket vending machine at a Link station or go to one of the Metro customer service offices.

        Hope this helps.

      6. Matthew, have you already ordered your PugetPass for December? Starting in December all PugetPasses are going to be supplied on ORCA cards, so if you just buy your PugetPass like you normally do it will come on an ORCA card. After that you can reload your ORCA card with a new PugetPass every month through the ORCA website.

      7. Thank you everyone. You have answered my questions. I plan on filling my ORCA card in person. I’ve had bad experiences purching online, I try and avoid it. Paranoia on my part. Also, I ride to work during off-peak. I go home during peak. To Seattle off-peak. To Des Moines peak. I actually calculate each month if it will be cheaper to buy a $1.75 pass and pay the .75 cents going home or if it cheaper to buy a $2.50 one. If it is less than 5 dollars difference I get the $2.50 for convenience.

  10. Metro says the timeline is
    * A Line—Tukwila to Federal Way in 2010
    * B Line—Bellevue to Redmond in 2011
    * C Line—West Seattle to downtown Seattle in 2011
    * D Line—Ballard to Uptown and downtown Seattle in 2012
    * E Line—Aurora Avenue N in 2013

    Martin says the timeline is RapidRide A Line in June 2010, B in 2011, C and D RapidRide in 2013, and E in 2014.

    Why the difference for lines C,D and E? Would any of these things change if McGinn’s light rail were adopted?

    1. You’re right – C, D and E are all a year earlier than I said. C got moved back because of the viaduct project.

      Light rail has no impact on the RR timeline.

  11. I rode the Empire Builder to Chicago last week. My navy friend called Saturday morning and said he had a free week, so I literally got on the train that afternoon (4:30pm departure). The ticket was a reasonable $150 each way, which is mid-range compared to airfares, but without the advance-purchase and change-penalty restrictions of airline tickets. I ended up changing the return date without a problem, and could have gotten a refund if I decided to fly home. (I also met a guy who had a 15-day Amtrak pass for $400 or such, and could change his itinerary. He was American but lived in the Cayman Islands, so I’m not sure if he got a foreigners’ discount.)

    The train was much more comfortable than Greyhound or flying. Lots of legroom, reclining seats with footrests (not just the foot bar, although it had that too), electric outlets at the seat (only on the outbound trip), reasonably good meals for $8-12 ($22 for steak), a water fountain (though empty on the return trip), an Empire Builder magazine listing the sights around each station, lots of luggage space, etc. It was also on time, arriving half an hour early both directions. (Amtrak pads the schedule severely for this, resulting in 1+ hour layovers in Spokane etc, but that’s OK. It’s not like Greyhound where you have to get off the bus at refueling stops.)

    The train was 3/4 empty between Spokane and Grand Forks ND (the stop before Fargo). But people got on and off at every stop including the nighttime ones, and 30 people got on in Grand Forks, including one girl who sat next to me. She was from Minneapolis and was visiting a friend at the University of North Dakota. She said the train was the only way to get to these northern cities on highway 2. Another woman I had breakfast with, from Whitefish MT (near Glacier Park), said the train was a lifeline for these small towns. So while one can argue about the rural subsidy (and whether Amtrak could economize by putting on one less car), the Empire Builder line is well used. The emptiness was because it was a low point before the Thanksgiving crowd.

    My last long-distance Amtrak trip was the Coast Starlight 22 years ago. I’m a big rail fan but I was put off by Amtrak’s once-a-day schedule, slowness, and high cost (all worse than both flying and Greyhound). But as I get older, comfort matters more than these other issues. So I will probably do more long-distance trips by train now.

    Sleeping cars start at $105 per night (at least for a 2-night Chicago-Seattle trip). That includes three meals, a newspaper, bottled water, and a first-class attendant. So it compares favorably with a motel. I thought about getting it but decided to wait till another trip.

    I also got a good deal on a hotel in Chicago, the Days Inn on Diversey street. I guess because I asked the price first (“How much would a double room be?”) and looked like a backpacker-youth who would leave rather than paying much, I got a “manager’s special” at $77, which was only slightly more than a private room at the hostel but much better amenities. I guess — again — early November is the time to travel. I always do travel away from the holidays and summer to avoid the crowds.

    1. glad you enjoyed your trip. yes there is padding but we have to be in spokane for that long. we add water, take out garbage, cut the train or add the trains together depending on the direction.

      1. Yes, the schedule has a 45-minute layover. But the train actually stayed in Spokane for 1 hour eastbound and 1 1/2 hours westbound. It arrived early and left on time.

      2. Speaking of which, I’m in Spokane now. Time to get dressed and head to the station to head west on #7.

  12. If the viaduct is torn down less than 2-1/2 years from now, then that means, should the First Hill Streetcar barn have room for the Waterfront Line cars—well, you get the idea.

    But I heard from a Metro driver the other day that one factor in the delay of the Waterfront Line’s re-activation is that Metro is in SERIOUS debt. When does anyone think they’ll be out of debt?

    1. I don’t know about debt, but Metro’s primary revenue stream is so down they’re still talking about 5-20% service cuts next year. The state is not inclined to allow a sales tax increase, so there’s no telling where future expansions will come from, or how Metro will cope with rising gas prices.

      1. Fuel prices have been declining, and metro does get a somewhat better deal than what you would pay “at the pump” however, i dont expect the fuel prices to remain low for long, Get used to $4, 5, and even 6 dollar diesel. Electric Trolleycoaches may quickly come back in to style again. I wonder how many more TwinCoaches can be dug up and put back into service like in the 1970s?

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