With our extensive and ongoing coverage of East Link planning, we get plenty of confused comments about the background, alignments, and our commentary more often than we’d like.  So I’ve decided to create a “brief” rundown summary on where we’ve gotten with East Link, what is yet to be done and our thoughts on the more transit-friendly (or unfriendly) alignments (with many many links attached).  If you’re already an expert on the matter, you won’t learn much below, but constructive discussion is always welcome in the comments.

East Link, the extension of Link Light Rail to the Eastside to Overlake (Redmond), was passed as part of the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure in 2008.  The extension will run from International District Station east along I-90, across Mercer Island, and north up Bellevue Way and 112th Ave SE into Downtown Bellevue, where it will go east through the Bel-Red Corridor and terminate at Overlake Transit Center.  The entire alignment is divided into five segments, A, B, C, D, & E.  Planning for the segment E extension to Downtown Redmond was funded by ST2, but not construction.

More below the jump.

The B7 route, favored by Bellevue’s council majority, produces low ridership, more noise impacts, greater environmental harm, is less accessible, and costs more.

A large share of our coverage has been dominated by the B and C segments, which constitute the South/West Bellevue area and Downtown Bellevue.  In the original DEIS, there were a number of alignment alternatives (PDF), which has since been whittled down.  As early as 2007, a vocal group of residents, mostly from the Surrey Downs neighborhood of Bellevue, has openly opposed any light rail route in the B segment other than B7, a route which would bypass the South Bellevue Park & Ride, West Bellevue neighborhoods, and instead run along the old Burlington Northern right-of-way next to I-405, producing dramatically low ridership.  This opposition is ongoing and has been increasing, recently culminating in an actual non-profit group just to promote the alignment.

In early 2009, the Sound Transit Board selected preliminary preferred alignment alternatives, based on information in the DEIS.  For the B segment, the Board went with an option called B3 Modified (B3M), which would have ran trains up Bellevue Way from I-90, right at the fork up 112th Ave SE, and then curve away toward I-405 to avoid neighborhood impacts before curving back around to enter the downtown segment.  For the C segment, the Board selected a C4A at-grade downtown route, with a costly C3T tunnel as a backup if the City of Bellevue agreed to identify revenue sources to help fund the tunnel.  A map of these original preferred segments is shown below.

Sound Transit’s original preferred alternatives as of spring 2009

About a month earlier in March, the City of Bellevue also selected preferred alternatives (this is merely a recommendation, not a decision that can override Sound Transit’s preferences), also going with the B3 Modified alignment for South Bellevue, but selecting a C2T tunnel for downtown (see map of the original preferred alternative here (PDF)– note that the northern elevated section of the B segment just south of downtown curves away and back toward 112th).  Bellevue has unanimously and consistently favored a downtown tunnel over time, arguing for its ability to avoid chokepoints, both for cars on surface streets and light rail trains.

A large political shakeup occurred in November of 2009, when the four candidates (two incumbents, two freshmen) running against ST’s preferred route for Bellevue city council were elected.  Many votes were supported by heavy campaigning and contributions from not only the aforementioned B7 supporters, but well-known transit critic and Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman.  All four have strongly favored a B7 alignment and a downtown tunnel, repeatedly citing the need to “protect homes and roads.”  Because the council only consists of seven members, the four councilmembers have had a majority quorum.

Over the past several months, a number of new alternatives have been proposed.  Prior to the November elections, Kevin Wallace, an Eastside developer who was running for city council at the time, unveiled a so-called “Vision Line” downtown alignment that would have led trains to stop at a main station next to I-405, a few superblocks outside of the downtown core.  ST and Bellevue studied this, along with a few other new alternatives, in a concept design report.  Not surprisingly, Wallace’s Vision Line fared the worst in terms of ridership and walkshed coverage.

The concept design report also contained a new tunnel alternative that would be shorter and less costly than the original C2T and C3T tunnels.  Out of all the alignments, we endorsed two in an open letter, the shorter C9T tunnel and C11A, a surface alternative.  The report also identified that the extra costs associated with the tunnel could further be offset by savings with the B segment.  A B2M alignment, which would run up 112th Ave SE (thus eliminating the curve in B3M), would make the tunnel more financially feasible.

Lo and behold, earlier this year, the Sound Transit Board updated its preferred alternative (see map here) to match these preferences.  However, with a new council majority, the City of Bellevue changed its preferred alternative from B3M in South Bellevue to B7, and from C2T in downtown to C9T.  This all despite the fact that B7 would not be financially compatible with a downtown tunnel.  Ironically, the City of Bellevue agreed to a non-binding “term sheet” in which the city ensured its commitment to work with ST to reduce tunnel costs and commit to partial funding.

Sound Transit’s most recent preferred alternative for B & C segments on the left, and Bellevue’s on the right

With B2M as Sound Transit’s current preferred alternative, the agency recently had a lengthy community outreach process on deciding which 112th Ave SE alignment would work best.  A coalition of stakeholders has since come forward in promoting a side-running (west-side) alignment, which became the ST Board’s preferred option just last week.  Still, the four-member Bellevue city council majority has not budged on B7, despite the alignment’s numerous challenges detailed in the city’s own consultant reports.  And even still, the project has been battered by loud and continuous NIMBY opposition along with other legal challenges.

Nonetheless, under Washington State Law, East Link is characterized as an ‘essential public facility’, which allows Sound Transit to avoid such legal and political obstacles in building light rail.  A supplemental DEIS studying the newer alignment alternatives is to be released later this year, and the Final EIS to be released next year, which will inform Sound Transit’s final preferred alternative decision.  Service is slated to start by 2020 or 2021.

190 Replies to “A Rundown on East Link”

  1. As an essential public facility, does east link require permits from the city of bellevue? Is there any recourse if the council majority continues to hold out for B7?

    1. Having Bellevue ‘on-board’ shaves millions of dollars and years off the project, rather than trying to invoke the Growth Management Act.
      “RCW 36.70A.020.
      These facilities, while needed by society, often have real or perceived negative impacts on surrounding communities that may make them undesirable neighbors, and increase the complexity and difficulty of siting new facilities or expanding existing facilities. The GMA requires all local comprehensive plans to include a process for identifying and siting essential public facilities, and prohibits local comprehensive plans or development regulations from precluding the siting of essential public facilities.”
      Bellevue could argue in court for years that they’re not stopping the the siting of E-Link in their Comp Plan process. The law (as I read it), doesn’t differentiate between a good route or bad one, just that the local jurisdiction NOT preclude ANY siting scenario, which Bellevue has not done.

      1. Years? No, maybe a month for a GMB hearing. Bellevue can’t delay much.

      2. The fact is that Sound Transit can prove that B7 does not provide an effective site for a station in S. Bellevue, while Sound Transit’s proposal does. Game, set, and match.

  2. Thanks for all the clarification! It’s been difficult trying to follow the alphabet soup of East Link alignment alternatives. And fun to read the previous articles on STB, watching it morph.

    I’m personally happy to see ST went with the option that has more stations in and around Downtown Bellevue, despite the time penalties it takes to stop at said stations. More TOD chances and opportunities to explore and find new businesses!

  3. i’m not clear on how grade separated the line is… i realize there is a good deal of at-grade running but that may not necessarily have crossings or run in the middle of the street, correct?

    1. One thing that’s kind of funny is that they call the portion on the East Channel Bridge (the I-90 bridge that connects Mercer Island and Bellevue) “at grade” – it’s pretty high up! Then again, there’s already an existing elevated structure (the bridge) on which to build it at grade.

    2. Although much of the line is at grade, most of it follows topography with relatively few crossings along Bellevue Way and the rest of the route.

    3. I believe the portion on 112th Ave SE is crossed by cross streets. There’s no grade crossings from there to Seattle. I’m not clear on where the grade crossings would be east of Bellevue.

    4. I believe the portion on 112th Ave SE is crossed by cross streets, and possibly some of the northern part of Bellevue Way. Those look pretty infrequent.

      There’s no grade crossings from South Bellevue to Seattle. I’m not clear on where the grade crossings would be east of Bellevue. Downtown Bellevue, of course, it all depends on whether it’s a tunnel or not.

  4. I really hope they get the Redmond extension done through some windfall of money, ST3, or whatever. The SE Redmond station looks to me like the first station in the Link system that will have such a huge recreation access potential given its proximity to Marymoor Park.

    1. Yeah it seems like the Downtown Redmond extension, once it is all designed and East Link up to Overlake is under construction, should be a great candidate for federal money. So, too, would be the short extensions north to Alderwood (or maybe Ash Way) and Federal Way Transit Center, especially once the latter has 45-story buildings, as is proposed.

  5. I like the basics of this. Running across on I-90 and hitting the main downtown Bellevue and then Redmond points.

    What I want to see more is the “Renton U” handed where LINK would go from Seattle to Renton and back up to Bellevue.

    Ideally the Renton station would then run a line down along Benson into Kent East Hill.

  6. Having had, at this point, many discussions on Seattle Transit Blog about Central Link, U-Link, and North Link stop spacing — about their obscene and counterproductive refusal to function as an urban transit system — the most shocking thing about that map is the exceeding good urban stop spacing in the intended-but-not-present-density Bel-Red corridor. Solid 1/2-to-3/4 intervals with a single just-over-1-mile exception. Even though suburban East Link, like commuter rail all over the world, is likely to require some people to drive to it, this is wise long-term transportation-building.

    For the unfortunate contrast, let your eyes wander to the left of the lake, and notice the gigantic gap that creates an in city dead-zone identical in length to Bel-Red’s well-served corridor.

    This is so bad in the long run.

    (It just makes me sad, that’s all.)

    1. I would argue that the one place along Central/U/North Link that doesn’t have a station where it actually makes sense to have one is at Graham St. Other than that, all the possible station locations don’t make sense. A Montlake station is infeasible and a station between Roosevelt and Northgate wouldn’t ever get much use. Where else do you want to see a station. I suppose that a Haller Lake station between Northgate and Jackson Park could work, but it’s not great.

      1. 55th St? North Capitol Hill?

        (sorry for the duplicate post, the other one was meant to reply to you…)

      2. Why is there no station in North Capitol Hill, and how feasible is adding one in the future?

      3. If I remember right from another thread the reason there are no other stations between Capitol Hill/Broadway and Husky Stadium is that, given the grade to descend from the top of the hill to the below the Montlake Cut, there wasn’t a place to put a long, flat section for a station. Don’t quote me on that, though. Adding another station in the future would probably be incredibly expensive, since it would have to be mined down to the depth of the tunnel.

        Even if it was feasible for there be a station on North Cap Hill, I’m not sure where it would be. The tunnel map shows it running pretty much straight from CHS to Montlake. Maybe a station at Volunteer Park? Anything north of that is either in the hills in Interlaken or an easy bus ride to the UW station.

      4. See… I’m so glad not to be the only one who feels strongly about this! I think pretty much any transplants from active transit cities agree with me.

        Graham: yes
        North Capitol Hill: yes
        55th: yes
        Between Roosevelt and Northgate: yes… and I can’t believe anyone would argue this “wouldn’t ever get much use” when faced with Bellevue east of 405 as a comparison!

        David, the last version of the tunnel map I saw went directly under 14th & Roy and just behind the Montlake library. So those were examples I have mentioned; I was then told that the routing was changed at a late date and that the city didn’t go to bat for extra stations. Both may be true, but those are explanations and not excuses. It’s indefensible to have decades of “process” and yield such an inferior result.

        “Anything north of that is… an easy bus ride to the UW station.”

        Because people are just nuts about waiting for 30-minute-headway buses to complete the last mile of a journey that would be 5-10 minutes total on a train!

        “…there wasn’t a place to put a long, flat section for a station.”

        This makes me want to both laugh and cry. Perfectly flat or nothing at all? Seriously?

        Functioning well on a steep grade for 104 years (and fully ADA-accessible from both ends as of the past decade):

      5. I know virtually nothing about the engineering of U-Link, so take this with a huge grain of salt.

        Unlike the First Hill station, which was removed for cost-effectiveness reasons, my understanding is that U-Link was never intended to have a NE Capitol Hill stop. Thus, the line was probably designed to take the most efficient, cost-effective route from Broadway to UW.

        If a NE Capitol Hill station had been part of the design, then a different route might have been chosen.

      6. “I think pretty much any transplants from active transit cities agree with me.”

        Bingo. :) Complaining about the T is practically the official Boston pastime, but compared to Seattle… well, there’s no comparison, really. :)

      7. Go look at the preliminary drawings in the North Link SEIS. Appendix J3-1. These are pretty close to what is being built. The tunnel takes a 4% downgrade from the Capitol Hill station all the way until it dives under Boyer (with about 80 feet of clearance from grade to the bottom of the tunnel). To fit in another station, you would need a 400-foot long flat section (or nearly flat; most of the stations are actually on a slight, roughly 0.5%, grade), PLUS you need sufficient space to install the necessary vertical curves. I’m no engineer but I don’t think it is possible to fit this into the alignment without exceeding ST’s limit of 6%. I believe ST prefers to keep any 6% grades as short as possible and not have them for sustained stretches. (The grade on the proposed alignment from the First Hill station to the Capitol Hill station would’ve been 5%, and this was considered quite steep).

        Adding a North Capitol Hill station would’ve required either steep grades or a mined Capitol Hill station. It also would’ve added several hundred million dollars to the project cost. The increased cost combined with increased construction risk probably would’ve killed U-Link.

      8. Aleks,

        I wasn’t here long enough ago to have first-hand knowledge of the early routing either (and alternative-route maps in Jason’s link aren’t loading properly for me). Others have said, however, that the original routing went to the U-District roughly the way the 49 bus does, with stops at Pine, Roy, Lynn, and (one person said) 15th/Pacific.

        If it’s true that the current Denny-Stadium routing was a late choice, it might explain — but not excuse — the late-in-the-game cost-cutting measure of not planning enough stations.

        “Complaining about the T is practically the official Boston pastime, but compared to Seattle…”

        Did you know that I’ve used this exact phrase before? Although I tend to call it “Boston’s favorite civic sport.” Now I tell people back East that King County Metro is my karmic retribution for doubting the MBTA all those years.

        Jason, I ask you again, why do you “need a 400-foot long flat (or nearly flat) section?” Click on my above MBTA link again. That station is on 10-15% grade, seriously! And is 100% accessible to the disabled.

        Maybe Seattle transit engineers need to stop treating everyone like clumsy children! (Same goes for SDOT and pedestrian planning, BTW.) Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good!

      9. And will someone please respond to my original question of why anyone would think it okay to put reasonable stop spacings in the suburbs and unreasonable stop spacings in the city!!?

        I feel like I’ve rehashed all of these other arguments before. But the Eastside stop-spacing contrast is new information — I’d really like to see an explanation!

      10. The other alignments have a range of station locations. Here’s the summary for the alignments that made it through the EIS process for the ‘B’ segment, which is the Pine Street stub tunnel to 45th.
        Preferred alternative: Capitol Hill, UW (Husky Stadium), Brooklyn.
        B1A: First Hill, Capitol Hill, Pacific, 45th
        B1D: First Hill, Capitol Hill, Montlake (Rainier Vista), 45th or Brooklyn
        B1G: First Hill, Capitol Hill, SW Campus (optional, at Brooklyn & Pacific), Brooklyn
        B3D: Convention Place (optional), Harrison (Harrison & Eastlake), Montlake, 45th or Brooklyn
        B3G: Convention Place (optional), Harrison, SW Campus (optional), Brooklyn
        B4D: Capitol Hill, Montlake, 45th or Brooklyn
        B4G: Capitol Hill, SW Campus (optional), Brooklyn.
        Also note that all the options involving a Capitol Hill include an option for locating the station under Nagle Place instead of under Broadway.

        There were a whole bunch of other alignments considered, such as one that ran on the surface on Eastlake over the University Bridge, that were eliminated early on. I can’t remember the entire scope of these early alignments.

        Since I don’t work for ST nor am I an engineer, I can’t speak to exactly why they require flat station platforms; I can only speculate. I suspect it is engineering standards and the interaction of federal ADA and state Barrier-Free requirements. There is probably an operational desire to not have trains berthed in stations on steep grades as well. In looking over the preliminary drawings for East Link, I see station grades ranging from 0.2% up to 2.21%, so a station steeper than 0.5% is certainly possible.

        The MBTA Aquarium station was originally built in 1907 and so doesn’t likely meet modern engineering standards, despite being rebuilt somewhat recently. If the station is really built on a 10-15% grade I have no idea how it is ADA accessible; the maximum allowable grade for an accessible route is 5%, although ramps may be up to 8.3% (no more than 30 inches vertical without a level landing to break it up).

      11. 1. Most of the Seattle routing is deep underground. Deep underground stations are very expensive.

        2. It was politically imperative to get to the Snohomish County line, even if it meant skimping on Seattle stations.

        3. Link has objectives besides yours – namely, providing rapid access from the suburbs in direct competition with a freeway.

        Frankly, your tone that everyone in Seattle must be a fool because they don’t exactly share your objectives, and couldn’t possibly be facing real obstacles in winning a regional vote on a shoestring budget, is a bit tiresome.

      12. Thank you, Martin.

        I don’t know if you agree with what I’ve been writing today, but at least you’re not insulting in your writing like others. Even I’ve been drawn down to their level at a point or two.

        I like your 2nd and 3rd points. I truly don’t believe that a large amount of people would want to ride through 24 stops from Mountlake Terrace to downtown Seattle and have it take an hour. That’s in addition to drving from their home(or taking a bus from their home) to get to Mountlake Terrace P&R.

      13. Would a station at 85th have gotten “much use”, in the thick of the Mapleleaf business district, if the line had been run underground near 5th instead of alongside I-5? Link between Roosevelt and 85th is now going to be underground anyway

      14. Martin,

        For the record, Chad started the childish name-calling. Not that I didn’t also partake in it — I’m sorry! His sense of logic failed so thoroughly that I had a minor mental implosion.

        My argument remains that “providing rapid access from the suburbs in direct competition with a freeway” fails if it connects to limited else. To date, no one has even tried to offer a successful counterexample. That’s why I feel the need to keep repeating myself.

        Who cares what’s “politically imperative” if the result is going to by abyssal?

        I’ve said before that the perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good. But it should be the enemy of the miserable.

      15. d.p.

        Feel free to check the record again and you’ll see that you started it with “…you’re wrong for the millionth time, but you’re wrong. Anybody who’s ever lived in a transit city knows you’re wrong. Only Seattleites operating in hypotheticals (and ignorant of the literally hundreds of working examples in the world) think what you think.”

        Sounds pretty childish to me, especially since all I did was *gasp* have a different opinion than yours.

      16. True statements contained therein:

        1. I had indeed explained, in great detail, on multiple threads, the flaws in the very argument you were making.

        2. You seem never to have lived in a transit city. Except maybe Singapore, temporarily. And Singapore itself refuted your argument!

        3. Public debate surround transportation is Seattle frequently traffics in hypotheticals, claims that Seattle is like nowhere else on earth, and general reinvention of the wheel.

        4. Opinions are like….

      17. The closely-spaced Bel-Red stations make sense because they are being built as part of a massive, dense development. An 80th/85th Station would never get TOD, at least to the extent that it would get reasonable ridership, because it is in the freeway ROW, making the location so undesirable for development that even the station wouldn’t make it worth it to build densely there. Secondly, there right now are older single-family houses, which the City is unlikely to want to zone at a higher density because there are plenty of areas of the city where there are lots of vacant/parking lots and/or non-historic low-rise commercial buildings where you can build density while not taking away Seattle’s single-family neighborhoods.
        A 55th Station would be a deep, expensive station in an area that is pretty dense in terms of student housing, but has very little in the way of commercial, and is just a half-mile from Brooklyn and Roosevelt Stations. I don’t think it’s worth it to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build a station that makes it so that a few people don’t have to walk an extra 5 or 10 minutes.
        People have already showed how a North Capitol Hill station is infeasible because it would be at a grade too steep for modern accessibility (and perhaps safety) standards.
        What we need to do is along with Link to completely restructure our local transit service into a grid-style system with fewer routes that offer less one-seat rides but far, far higher frequency. This will serve people in between and far away from stations with high-quality service to get to the stations so that everyone can benefit from Link.

      18. Alexjonlin,

        That is exactly what I was saying in my first posting here that d.p. so eloquently fought against. A correction I would have for myself is that I kept writing ‘circular routes’ when I meant to say ‘loop routes.’ I firmly believe that every LINK station should have multiple loop routes coming off it to take people to/from their home. If that loop route bus came every 10 minutes or less, that would be wonderful, just like it is in Singapore. If I lived in Ravenna neighborhood, I would love to know that a loop route bus would come frequently to take me to 65th and Roosevelt so I could take LINK to Qwest Field.

      19. Actually, Chad, Alex was referring to the streamlining and frequency-increasing of Metro’s route structure as a grid to allow easy perpendicular tranfers from the train.

        See Chicago: http://www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/clickable_system_map/200806C.htm
        (Chicago, of course, still has decent stop frequency to allow plenty of perpendicular transfer options.)

        “Loop routes” are the exact opposite of grids: poorly integrated with one another, limited demand to justify frequency, lack of inherent directional logic, fail to stitch the city together as a city should be stitched.

      20. I’m with d.p. on this one. Grid systems, rather than loop systems, allow for fewer routes, as you just have buses running straight across arterials (of course because of Seattle’s geography it’ll be far from a perfect grid). This makes it so that, with the elimination of routes that wind around all over the place (and express peak-only routes) you can have each one of these straight routes on the grid have very frequent (at least 15 min all the time, at least 10 min peak) service. Although a lot of people lose their one-seat ride, in exchange for that they get a service that they don’t need a schedule for, and since it extends straight across the city, it allows for a lot of easy transfers to other frequent lines. I do, in fact, live in Ravenna, and I dream of a bus from View Ridge all the way down 65th to Ravenna Blvd, then along the 48 route to Loyal Heights that would let me and people who live all along the route get a very easy connection to Roosevelt Station.

      21. This is, by the way, one topic on which I agree with Alexjonlin emphatically!

        But it’s so important that the cross-transit make real and tangible frequency/reliability gains to overcome for the local “one-seat-ride” bias.

        Having recently noticed that Ballard RapidRide will:
        – represent a decrease in service frequency versus the combined 15/18;
        – maintains a couple of notorious service bottlenecks (i.e. boarding and pulling out into traffic at Mercer & 3rd, which remains a “stop” and not a “station”;)
        – and even adds a Broad Street zigzag…
        …I have lost every ounce of my remaining confidence that Metro service improvements will ever be improvements.

      22. Alex, it blows my mind that the 48 doesn’t just travel Sound-to-Lake and leave the north/south service to some other (also through-) route!

      23. Alexjonlin,

        I think we’re saying basically the same thing. I am thinking of routes that start and end at a LINK station and go into neighborhoods to pick up/drop off people who ride the LINK to downtown. Whether they go in a straight route or loop, that’s to be determined later. I just think having bus routes that are maybe 15-20 minutes long that can take people to a LINK station quickly and easily is best. For example, I get off at Northgate TC and take a loop route over to North Seattle Community College. And maybe that route continues over to 100th Street and Aurora Avenue before circling back to Northgate TC. Other routes would go in other directions from Northgate TC to other surrounding areas. If something is farther than that from the LINK station, then either other “straight” routes would go there, or maybe that neighborhood would just take a bus route to downtown.

      24. The problem with having loop routes from each station is that then you end up getting several routes all going different ways into the neighborhoods but each ends up having not-that-great frequency. It’d be better if you have routes in straight lines that eliminate duplicating service and come very frequently. I drew up a conceptual map of a possible grid system in North Seattle that I believe ends up using less service hours than are currently used and has far less routes but still serves generally the same amount of area and the majority of the lines would come every 10 minutes peak, 15 off-peak. It’s at http://tinyurl.com/32u248y.

      25. Interesting map, Alex. I’m amazed you were able to save so many service hours and increase frequency so significantly with fewer drastic changes and cut routes than I would have expected.

        Are any of your frequency estimates based on actual Metro predictions? Or all they all speculative?

        The reason I ask is that you tag RapidRide D as “5 min peak, 10 min off-peak, 15 min after 10,” when I just discovered that Metro’s actual sad, sad, sad estimates are “10 min daytime, 15 min evening, even less after 10” — which is , for the record, identical to current combined 15/18 service (except after 10, when it’s actually less than current combined 15/18 service.

      26. “just discovered that Metro’s actual sad, sad, sad estimates are “10 min daytime, 15 min evening, even less after 10″

        Where did you read that? I haven’t seen much info on anything except Line A yet.

      27. I’m skeptical of the superiority of a grid bus system.

        I have friends who visit here from sprawling, gridded cities (ATL, PHX, etc.) with bus routes that just run straight down the arterials, never turning. They rave about how nice it is that buses in Seattle actually “go somewhere” rather than just barreling blindly northward.

        Zig-zagging and turning to link actual common destinations and population centers seems to be more effective and convenient, even if it does make things a bit confusing for first-time riders. And that problem is something that a few good maps could fix.

      28. Ignoring the fact that Seattle (and metro area) isn’t flat and has things like, oh large lakes “in the way” this holy grail of grids is just plain silly. The London Underground isn’t built on a grid. It was, according to my mother who grew up in north London, designed with the idea you could get to any destination with only one transfer. Worked for us when we were there a few years ago. Rode buses only once. Would have felt cheated if I hadn’t ridden the famed double deckers at all but the tube gets you everywhere you want to go. Of course it’s a bit easier when almost everywhere has something to see or is a major railway terminal! Oh what a millennium or so of growth management planning can do :=

      29. Rapid transit systems (like the London Underground) shouldn’t generally be on a grid! They should serve the most important destinations, cast as wide a net as possible along the corridor in between, and, ideally, make it possible to get throughout the urban area with only one transfer.

        Bus networks, on the other hand, work much better on a grid, because their many routes create massive overlap, inefficiency, unreliability, and confusion otherwise. For buses, grid-running is the very definition of “any destination with only one transfer” — one north/south segment and one east/west segment. (I can get most places in Seattle with only transfer as well… but man are each of those legs infrequent, unreliable, and teeth-pullingly slow!)

        Phoenix might just sprawl too excessively for public transit ever to sell itself. But Los Angeles has been massively investing in its grid-network Rapid system — pulling off every-couple-of-minute frequencies both through new bus hours and pulling hours from circuitous routes of old — and it has actually been paying off in travel times, appeal, and usage.

        More on grids:

      30. Although, on closer inspection, Martin suggests in that post that “the corridor not chosen [24th] will get more [18/18X] service, whichever is applicable.”

        So if that turns out to be true — he doesn’t site that particular statement — it will [phew] mean a net increase in combined Ballard service!

        I had long been under the impression that RapidRide amounted to a consolidation of routes, in which case there would be a net decrease in 15/18 combined frequency.

        (BTW, if they do replace the 15 and still keep the 18, and if the 18 remains through-routed to the 21, 22, 56, and 57, that would mean different downtown boarding points for the mostly-duplicate routes. Which might be counterintuitive if your destination is on the combined portion.)

      31. Sorry for so many consecutive self-correcting posts, but…


        Just saw something here: http://www.kingcounty.gov/transportation/kcdot/MetroTransit/RapidRide/DLine.aspx

        “The D Line will operate on major arterial streets—Third Avenue in downtown and Belltown; First Avenue N, Queen Anne Avenue N, Mercer Street, and W Mercer Place in Uptown; and Elliott Avenue W and 15th Avenue W in Interbay. It will replace Metro routes 15 and 18 on these streets.”

        So that means the 18 will either disappear entirely or will require a Leary-ish transfer to RapidRide. Which I’d be totally in favor of (despite the longer walk) if total frequency were actually improving!

        But according to that first link, the frequency will be identical to the current 15+18 before 10pm and less after 10.

      32. I’ve said before that the perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good. But it should be the enemy of the miserable.

        If you think one of the highest-ridership light rail segments in the country will be “miserable”, that’s your prerogative. But that likely doesn’t have any relationship to reality.

      33. That map that I drew up and the frequencies are entirely conceptual, not based on anything official. It reduces service hours by cutting many routes in half or down to a third of what they used to be, forcing a transfer to get Downtown, but allowing the bus to come very, very often.

      34. …Although I’ve seen such an array of numbers cited — 72,000? 300,000? — that’s it’s hard to know which estimate to use for comparison.

      35. DP, as I said in another post, why not just take Link spacing as a given and build other transit around it to fill any gaps. The Link spacing is not going to change, and voters approved it as-is.

        I think all the gaps can be filled by frequent (5-minute) shadow buses. That already exists from Husky Stadium to 65th, and a route consolidation could even out the headways. We need to hold governments accountable for providing adequate shadow and perpendicular buses for Link, and that doesn’t mean 30-minute headways! Yes, RapidRide is hardly an improvement, and Metro and governments are strapped for cash, but those are our challenges.

        Not surprisingly, I think the Bel-Red stations are too close. Maybe one or both can be deferred until the housing is ready to be built, and that would give Bellevue some extra money for their precious tunnel.

        ST2 Link will serve almost all of the biggest pedestrian destinations in the region. A large percentage of transit riders are going to one of the Link stations between Stadium and Northgate. Indeed, these are precisely where the “transit crowds” occur. Link serves the residential areas that have the highest percentage of transit riders, and opens up a few “future residential” areas. Hundreds of thousands of people will live near a Link station and be going to one of the Stadium-to-Northgate stations. Others will be willing to suffer Metro’s existing service to take Link+bus to/from Wallingford, Ballard, north Greenlake, NSCC, Crossroads, north Bellevue Way, Burien-Renton RapidRide area, east Capitol Hill, etc. If we prod Metro to implement proper frequent circulators, those will be happier riders!

        So I don’t see how you can call Link a failure because it doesn’t stop every ten blocks. It stops where a lot of people want to go, even if it doesn’t stop everywhere. It provides new “one-seat rides” and “train-to-train transfer” rides that previously required long/unreliable bus transfers. The voters looked at the station map and liked it.

        I’m also not concerned about the B7 insurgency, except that it may swallow up construction/litigation costs. Most Bellevue transit riders live near NE 8th/Bel-Red/Crossroads/north Bellevue Way/271 route because that’s where the best existing transit is. The Link stations at BTC and beyond will be just fine for them. The South Belleuve-to-SE 8th stations serve (1) an important but secondary P&R market for areas with little bus service, (2) a very small number of Surrey Downs/112th residents. The P&R may generate impressive numbers, but that’s less important than connecting the bulk of Bellevue and Redmond to Link. And the P&R is not a long-term ideal anyway. The long-term ideal is to get more transit south of Main so that the P&R will no longer be necessary.

      36. Re north Capitol Hill stations, the original Link line was going to run on Broadway/10th Ave to Pacific Street. The only serious proposal for an additional station was at Roy. That route was abandoned due to fears that the ship-canal crossing would be too expensive.

        The current route goes northeast to Husky Stadium, and doesn’t go anywhere near Roy or 10th Avenue. Maybe stations at 15th, 19th, and/or 23rd could have been considered, but I don’t recall any Capitol Hill residents asking for them!

        As for stations like Lynn, that would be the early Eastlake Link proposal which was nixed because it would have bypassed Capitol Hill completely.

      37. D.P.

        I’ve answered your question about stop spacing on Link in another thread: it is that EVERY light rail system in America that survives from the street car era has a “collector” system at its outer reaches, passes through an sub-regional activity center, then high-tails it to the regional CBD. Every one: the South Hills LRT in Pittsburgh, the MBTA Riverside Green Line, the Shaker Heights LRT’s, and SF Muni’s “Metro”. In fact the at-grade frequent stop service along MLK should never have been created as a part of the South trunk line. It certainly has a future as a high-frequency urban tram line, but it’s too much of slow-down for the south end service.

        Now its certainly true that some of the newer lines being built have fairly even stop spacing throughout their length, but most are considerably shorter than North, East, or South Link. If there is ever a Ballard to West Seattle Link, it should certainly have higher density stop spacing than the core system. The longest ride possible on it will be about ten miles, rather than 45 between Federal Way and Lynnwood or 20 some between Redmond and Seattle.

        Basically Link is Seattle’s answer to BART; it just happens to have been built using LRT technology rather than heavy rail. I think that was a good decision because it gives the region the opportunity to have a more-frequent stop collector area for the last five to eight miles and still offer a high level of service to all the people who will eventually access Link by walking.

        There is no reason to have extra stations between Roosevelt and Alderwood Mall, though, because the alignment follows the freeway which is already built up with low-density housing and has half its walkshed truncated by the road. If you want a high stop density service for North Link then a branch from Northgate along Linden/Aurora is necessary. It’s the only undeveloped but potentially high density area in North King County. And there lots of junky old auto-oriented development ripe for replacement.

      38. Anandakos,

        I don’t remember reading your list of specific precedents on another thread. Perhaps I missed it.

        I want to make sure that you are aware that Link’s “at-grade frequent stop service along MLK,” as you call it, entirely involves spacing well in excess of 1 mile (nearly 2 miles in the Columbia City-Othello stretch). Because your Boston and Pittsburgh examples never do that. Not even on their least-dense segments. Not even once.

        Also, your “‘collector’ system at its outer reaches, passes through an sub-regional activity center, then high-tails it to the regional CBD” description only appears to apply to Cleveland. But I want to separately address each example.

        1. MBTA Riverside Green Line: This is the line on which I grew up; it’s safe to say I know it better than you. Riverside station at the very end of the line functions as a “park-and-ride” (in West-Coast Speak).
        Thanks to its pre-existing railroad alignment, the line snakes through parts of Newton that are wholly suburban. Nevertheless, stop spacing averages at just under 1 mile! The longest gap is about 1.5 miles, and that’s very much the exception proving the rule. As soon as the line crosses into Brookline, spacing drops to about 3/5 mile. It may look windy and suburban on the map, but those stops are no more than a 10 minute walk from one another, helping provide full coverage to the area! Then, of course, the line operates as a true (and over-capacity) subway in Boston, and not just in the Seattle-Speak “CBD.”

        Note: I know that it’s a long trip from the Riverside p-‘n’-r. But Riverside station is only used for rush-hour commutes and for Sox games (still beats sitting in traffic or paying $40 for parking) and represents a fraction of usage. The rest of the line gets used at all hours, by all types of people, for all purposes!

        2. South Hills LRT in Pittsburgh: There’s no question that Pittsburgh’s extant LRT is about bringing people from the south suburbs into the city, but it provides very thorough coverage along the way. The eastern alignment is much more “express” than the western one: it’s stops average about 2/3 of a mile and never exceed 1 mile! And as for your “high-tailing to the CBD,” I presume you mean the Mount Washington Tunnel, which is actually only 2/3 of a mile — the about the same distance as Broadway/Denny to 15th/Roy (seriously!).

        3. SF Muni: I’m not sure how this even fits your example, since it is a 100% urban transit network; I presume you are citing the Twin Peaks and Sunset Tunnels as “high-tailing to the CBD.” Admittedly, the Muni light rail lines to a much better job at serving the flat parts of SF than the hilly ones. But these tunnels traverse honest-to-goodness mountain peaks — honestly not comparable to grid-traversable Capitol Hill — and the Sunset Tunnel is still barely a mile, with stations at both ends.

        And, most importantly, the Market Street trunk subway, with its 1/2-mile spacing, is not “the CBD.” It’s runs 3 miles, covers nearly half of the east-west dimension of the peninsula, and puts literally a dozen different neighborhoods in its walkshed.

        4. Shaker Heights LRTs (Cleveland): I don’t know Cleveland’s physical or economic geography well, but I can tell that this fits your model perfectly! Lots of “collector” stops, as you say, in what I take to be a relatively affluent suburb. Then it high-tails it into downtown via industrial infrastructure, serving no inhabited part of Cleveland whatsoever. But whoops, ridership is abyssmal (<9000 daily boardings)!!

        BTW, we agree that Link is "Seattle’s answer to BART," BART being itself more "commuter rail" than metro in many ways. BART's great, but its functionality is very limited, which is exactly what I've been arguing about Link!

      39. P.S. I always enjoy pointing out how wise BART was to expand its no-transfers-required reach with 2 stations in the Mission. I have no doubt that Link’s planners would have said “1 is enough, they should transfer.”

      40. I have two comments to d.p. about the Boston Green lines and the Cleveland Blue/Green lines. In the last few years, the MBTA reduced the number of stops on the B Green line. They had been thought to be too close together. Stop apacing on the underground section through the downtown area to Kendall Square is greater than it is on the at-grade section.

        I was in Cleveland just this weekend and rode the Red Line (heavy rail) from the airport to Tower City. It had a wide stop spacing and seemed to take forever. Any additonal stations would just slow the trip down. From downtown, the Red Line continues east and shares three stations with the Shaker lines (light rail). From there, the red line continues east with a similar stop spacing it had on the west side. The blue and green lines diverge from the red line and have another stop in an industrial area (at a wide stop spacing), then go to Shaker Square where they diverge from each othe and go into a close stop pattern. They are essentially rapid transit and then become local collectors.

      41. I was in Boston when the stop consolidation happened. Everyone was surprised that the stop consolidation didn’t affect any of the BU stops, some of which are really quite close to each other. :)

        Even after stop consolidation, the stops on the B line are still extraordinarily close together. The 500 feet distance I linked above is an anomaly, but not by much; from Kenmore to Packard’s corner, there are 6 intermediate stops (plus the two terminals) in 1.7 miles, for an average spacing of about 1/4 mile.

        The thing about the B/C/E branches of the Green Line is that they’re streetcars. They have tons of grade crossings, and the E line even includes a segment that runs in mixed traffic. So 1/4 mile spacing is exactly what I’d expect. Closer spacing than that is ridiculous even for local transit.

      42. Hi, AW!

        Please note that the above discussion was about Boston’s D line.

        I think we all can agree that stops on the B, C, and E are too close together. And that the T was dumb to base stop eliminations solely on ridership numbers with no regard to stop spacing, thus retaining every stop on the B.U. segment and creating a couple of surprisingly wide gaps near the Boston College end.

        (Sound Transit is equally foolish to base decisions on subjective projections without regard to spacing, though their mistake falls at the opposite end of the spacing spectrum.)

        I just looked at a map of Cleveland. The heavy rail stops seem to be 1 to 1.75 miles apart, which seems far to me (though it’s still less than many Link segments.) I’m completely ignorant of Cleveland geography or its 1950s politics (when the line was built in its current form), so I don’t know the reasons for route or spacing decisions. I am equally baffled as to why it seemed to take forever. Is it possible that the airport was just further from downtown than you expected?

        The heavy rail line, having semi-reasonable stop spacing and serving many urban areas, also has unspectacular ridership numbers. This may just be par for the course in a region that’s lost enough of its population through decades of economic hardship to ensure that road traffic is less than it once was. On the other hand, the heavy rail’s numbers remain double the Shaker Heights light rail, with it’s direct-to-the-suburbs routing and zero urban service (aside from a tourist-and-sports-venue extension built in 1999 at great expense and such a flop that it remains closed 5 days a week).

      43. Too bad the U-Link line doesn’t have a NE Capitol Hill station that would serve the 15th Ave. E business district.

        OR, it could have gone east from the Broadway station to a station at 23rd & Madison before turning north to UW.

      44. From the alignment it looks like a tunnel station at Volunteer Park may someday be possible. (Please, no cruising jokes) The 15th E business district will be served somewhat by the station at Denny & Broadway.

      45. Everyone, there is room for infill stations all along the route in the future…anything is possible and it’s happened all over the world. Look, we have an excellent beginner system right now that is being expanded to 55 miles eventually and best of all, it’s been financed and that’s only two phases.

        I would love a station at Graham…it’s screaming for one there and I am sure one day there will be. ST planned ahead and created 4 car stations and somewhat of a light-metro than a light rail system. Link feels more like Vancouver’s system than Portland’s system and I like that. Much longer station spacing and much faster too. Plus the buses are fed into the rail system here more like Van.

        So we don’t have everything here, but we have a good (if not great start), that will (as Sherwin points out), will only grow and make this region more transit friendly. I really like to see this expansion on the eastside because it will carve a nice niche in the car loving culture of Bellevue.

  7. Thanks for the recap, Sherwin.

    I’m not terribly familiar with Redmond, so apologies for the ignorance, but what does the SE Redmond station serve? Makes for an awfully awkward U-turn into downtown Redmond.

    Also, has anyone taken the time to overlay ST’s preferred alternative onto a real map? Would be helpful.

    1. SE Redmond is mostly industrial with a few small office buildings. I think the plan is to put a sizable park & ride there to intercept drivers coming from further east (along SR-202).

      ST had originally been considering other alignments[PDF] that were more direct but had impacts on property and a lot of elevated requirements to get over 520 and the Sammammish River. I don’t recall the exact reasons for selecting the current alignment, though.

      There are some (outdated and low quality) aerial maps here.

      1. That’s pretty much it except there is one fairly large office building (ADIC I think) and there are apartments or condos on East Lk Sam. Marymoor is a pretty major destination. They host Cirque du Soleil for several weeks each year. Adult soccer leagues play year round. The Velodrome draws a fair crowd, may of which come from Seattle. Plus there’s the ocasional dog show, concert, old fashion religious revival, etc. that draw big crowds. It’s also the most logical location for the planned (but not funded) eastside maintenance facility. The other reason Redmond was pushing this route is because it brings Link through town on the old BNSF ROW which means negligible impacts, sites a station ideally near Redmond Town Center, the huge office buildings there and the most of the new mid rise residential (but missing the stupid parking garage that was built, oh well). This also leaves the line poised to extend someday to Bothell/Woodinville on the Redmond Spur of the Woodinville subdivision. I could see another station along Willows perhaps under the power lines. That would be a short incremental extension that would be relatively cheap.

  8. Remember, the Link routes are not supposed to be like a bus route, with stops every hundred feet or so. They’re supposed to pick you up in a busy area and then drop you off in a busy area, with the fewest stops so if you’re going from say, Mountlake Terrace to downtown, you’re not going to take 45 minutes to an hour to get there. I still have hopes that Metro will utilize some sort of circular bus routes at each stop to go through neighborhoods to pick up/drop off people for the Link stations.

    1. I’m not going to rehash the minutiae of why you’re wrong for the millionth time, but you’re wrong. Anybody who’s ever lived in a transit city knows you’re wrong. Only Seattleites operating in hypotheticals (and ignorant of the literally hundreds of working examples in the world) think what you think.

      Fast train + circulator bus means much longer trip times than medium-fast train + less reliance on bus. Period.

      We’re not talking SLU streetcar here. We’re talking a rapid transit system that you can actually use to get around without needing a bus transfer 100% of the time! It’s not rocket science!

      1. d.p.

        You just don’t get it, do you? Try going to any metropolitan city and you’ll see what I mean. Like in Singapore, you take a circular bus route from your home and ride maybe 5 minutes to the MRT station, then ride that train(like Skytrain or BART) to the stop you want, then either walk or ride another circular route to your final destination. Or, for your simple mind, you take a circular bus route from your home in say, Seward Park, to the Columbia City LINK station and ride the LINK to downtown Seattle and walk to your final destination. That’s what I’m talking about. If you’re mis-reading what I’m writing, then there’s nothing I can do to change your mind. You can’t expect LINK to go everywhere from where you are to where you want to go. The anti-transit people keep pumping that into the conversation as an explanation of why transit doesn’t work. You prefer a slower train? I don’t understand why you want it to take forever to go from Mountlake Terrace to downtown Seattle. Or from Bellevue to downtown Seattle. That’s where YOU’RE wrong.

      2. Chad,

        Being a jerk doesn’t make you any less wrong!

        Where did I say that 100% of the urban and/or metropolitan area would ever be covered with no need for bus transfers?

        I said that the goal shouldn’t be to require bus transfers as much as possible. I said that it’s counterproductive to save seconds in train travel only to potentially add 30 minutes in bus waiting time. More stops mean more trips can be accomplished bus-free — even a slight increase in the number of stops yields exponentially more potential trips. Only in Seattle does anyone think it should be all about downtown/stadium/airport/shopping mall/park-and-ride and nowhere else.

        And might your Singapore example be the same Singapore with near-universal 3/4-mile stop spacing on multiple lines? If you were taking a bus on both ends of every trip in Singapore, you’re either extremely stupid or extremely lazy.

        Oh… and you know why it takes “forever” to go to Montlake Terrace? Because it’s really, really far! You moved to the middle of nowhere, and now you want a bullet train? And where’s your evidence that adding five stop would add even 3 minutes to that ride?

        It might save urban users 30 minutes by replacing bus reliance in many circumstance!

        You see, it also takes forever to get anywhere within this city. Despite the fact that we’ve chosen to live close to things and to share our personal space! And Link is taking great pains not to fix that in any way, shape, or form.

        I am right to think that’s a big f-ing problem!! I know how it works in other cities because I’ve lived it. And you have the gall to tell me your that dumb suburban ass that traveled to Singapore once knows better!

      3. d.p.

        Name calling doesn’t make you smarter, does it? You should know.

        So, how many more stops do you want to put onto LINK to make it accessible throughout the city? How about a stop every two blocks like a bus? Add the two minutes minimum for each stop since LINK wouldn’t be able to go very fast. Then you’d have your complete accessability that you seem to want. What I’m saying is that LINK should be what it is supposed to be, the backbone of the transit system with the bus lines branching out from it. You don’t feel like taking a bus from your home to the nearest station? Fine, then waste fuel and drive. And you don’t know where I live. I was using Mountlake Terrace as an example. It’s been said before that public transit has to be relatively close in travel times for people in the ‘outer’ areas to want to use it. If it takes 20 minutes to drive from Mountlake Terrace to downtown Seattle, then it can’t take 90 minutes on LINK, stopping every 1/2 mile or so, or then no one will want to use it.

        When I was in Singapore, I would take a circular bus route #238 from home to the MRT station. That ride would be 7-10 minutes long. The MRT would come within 8 minutes of me arriving and the ride to City Hall would be maybe 10 minutes long. Getting out of the station there, I would only be a 5 minute walk or so to my final destination. Certainly not taking the bus for that, but maybe I was going somewhere else so that I would need the bus to get there.

        Now, see if you can respond with common sense and without idiocy. Doubt it.

      4. I’m pretty sure you’re the one who impugned my “simple mind” because I happen to know what I’m talking about and expressed so emphatically.

        You seem to suffer from that Seattle delusion that all opinions are equally valid and should carry equal weight. Sometimes, in the real world, one has the ability to research analogous examples and draw supportable conclusions that favor one perspective over another.

        In this case, I am right and you are wrong.

        Each station adds “two minutes minimum?”. Where on earth is that the case? I sure hope that isn’t what passes for “common sense” thinking in your circles!

        It can take anywhere from 20-45 minutes to drive the 12 miles to Mountlake Terrace. Even at 1/2-mile intervals (which would be fine in some areas, overkill in others), you’d have 24 stops. I have trouble seeing how this could ever be more than 30-35 minutes on the train. Do you hyperbole much?

        Is U-Link/North Link the most effective transit model? Ridership projections, at their most optimistic, to hover around 100,000 boardings (not passengers) per weekday. We have a city with 6 times that population, and there are millions in the region. How is long-distance-travel-with-no-local-rapid-transit optimal by that metric?

        By the way, way to gloat about the ease of Singapore transit without addressing its 3/4-mile stop spacing. You prove my points so well!

        Chad, is it news to you that Seattle proper is hard to get around? Metro trips can easily be 6-8 times as time-consuming as driving. Link does little or nothing to address this. Refute that — you won’t be able to — or shut up.

      5. As far as the slowdowns for extra stations go, I’ll just point to my earlier comment on the subject.

        Suffice it to say that extra stations certainly do slow down the line (primarily through acceleration/deceleration rather than dwell time), but 2 minutes is a very high estimate. By my estimates, adding a stop to what was otherwise a full-speed (55mph) segment would cost about 80 seconds, including accel/decel and dwell time. If that segment was operating at a slower speed (because of speed limits or already-existing stops), the time goes down.

      6. d.p.

        And what you’re advocating doesn’t solve the time issue at all. You say that riding the bus takes 6-8 times as long as driving. Well, I’m trying to tell you that the more stops you have for LINK, the more time it takes to get to the destination. Now, whether it is a minute or so at each stop(including the slowing down, stopping, opening the doors, people leaving and entering, doors closing, train accelerating), I don’t know. But, the more you stop, the longer the trip. Why would you want anything close to 24 stops on a trip from Mountlake Terrace to Downtown Seattle on LINK? That is a huge waste of resources. You may as well have bus routes instead of LINK and save yourself milions of dollars.

        And, little d.p., you should try not to be so sensitive. Maybe a little maturity on your part and people would be more willing to listen to your opinions. Time to grow up!

      7. Hey, Chad, remember when you started the name calling? Your use of hostile wording and ad hominem attacks has outweighed mine about 2:1.

        Seriously, do you live in Seattle? Without a car? Have you ever?

        60-90 minutes for a 7-mile in-city trip is a standard occurrence. I would kill to be able to go 12 miles in less than 1/2-hour or with only 24 stops!

      8. I think you should clean your glasses and take another look at the thread, little d.p. You’ll see that YOU started with the ‘hostile wording’ and attacks. So excuse me for returning it to you. Looks like you can dish it out but can’t take it, a sure sign of an immature child.

        So, I have not been talking about a 60 minute trip inside Seattle. I’m used to 45 minute bus rides to/from work every day. I have been talking about a trip from the suburbs to downtown Seattle. Very different. The density of Singapore practically demands that the MRT stops be placed where they are. At nearly each stop, crowds of people get off and crowds get on the trains. King and Snohomish counties have nowhere the density that requires LINK stops be so close. So, yeah, stopping at stadiums, shopping malls, and colleges are definite stops for LINK. Plus, those areas already have the parking infrastructure(speaking mostly of shopping malls) to handle the influx of people driving there and taking LINK further along their route. What kind of density is there between 65th and Roosevelt and Northgate TC that would require another LINK stop?

      9. Um, might it not be worth considering why there are such things as 60-90 minute in-city trips before dismissing them as unimportant?

        Surely it’s not because there’s population density there. Or because the streets are crowded with those not using transit because the transit is so poor. Or because the transit that does exist is so inadequate to handle even the small percentage willing to attempt it.

        But none of that is worth addressing because you only want to talk about a suburban trip! How, praytell, do you expect those suburban riders to get around the city once they’ve taken their ultra-fast trip here? That very lack of foresight is among the reasons Link ridership projections are so unimpressive!

      10. You want to know why a bus trip takes 45-60 minutes? Look at previous blog entries…but here’s a few reminders: Bus stops every 2-3 blocks, paying as you board the bus(fumbling with bills, dropping coins, etc), stoplights every few blocks or so, cars trying to parallel park…

        What you’re advocating is that LINK stop every 10 blocks when the density doesn’t require it. Going from Lynnwood to downtown Seattle, I would suggest stops at Alderwood Mall, Mountlake Terrace P&R, Northgate TC, 65th and Roosevelt and whatever else has been designated south of there. Maybe one or two more at perhaps 145th and Interstate 5(or 15th NE). But, I feel there’s not the density (or bus transit possibilities) anywhere else to put a station.

        Someone coming from the suburbs most likely isn’t coming to Seattle to ‘get around’ the city. He’s coming for a specific reason. Coming from Mountlake Terrace to downtown for work. Coming from Factoria and going to class at UW. Going to a Seahawks game. There aren’t a lot of people who are going to come from Edmonds to go to Madison Park, or any of other travel combinations that you can think of. Besides, that number would be so small that it isn’t cost-effective to build LINK to accomodate them. But, you can still have easy bus routes(like #11, maybe?) that will take them directly there, even if it is maybe a 10-15 minute bus ride from Capitol Hill to Madison Park. Now, if there were enough money, sure I’d love to be able to take LINK to Everett Events Center for a performance up there or to Kent for a Thunderbirds game. How about a LINK trip to the Black Diamond Bakery for fresh bread?

      11. Chad, nobody’s misreading what you’re writing. You’re just suggesting a less functional approach to building transit.

      12. Ben,

        Public transit isn’t supposed to go everywhere, or it would basically be like Dial-A-Ride or a taxicab. Espcially since Seattle is playing catch-up with the rest of the world and can’t build everything all at once, Sound Transit needs to build where it can reach a lot of people. And find a way to encourage people to want to take it. But, if it takes forever to get somewhere, then no one will want to sacrifice their cars since they’re already pre-disposed to use them. That would give the anti-transit crowd even more ammunition against transit and for more roads. To me, it sounds like you are suggesting LINK stops every few blocks, which is what a bus route would do. LINK is supposed to take people to a general area faster than a bus route with closely-spaced stops would. Just like SWIFT doesn’t stop everywhere a Community Transit bus would.

      13. Thank you, Ben! Sorry to get all high-horsey at him. It just amazes me when people whose opinions are borne of thin air feel the right to have them treated as wise.

        Link is “light commuter rail” — although, apparently, it will function as real urban transit in East Bellevue (rather in the region’s major urban center).

        My challenge to the Seattle Transit Blog remains: Name one successful “transit city” on earth that follows the Link model (where commuter rail is paramount and urban transit subordinate and sub-standard).

      14. One of my coworkers insists that Bellevue is the future, and in 20 years, it’s going to have more population than Seattle. Maybe the Link planners agree with him? ;)

      15. Chad: There are at least five comments of mine, and twice that many of d.p.’s, in which we clearly state that we are advocating an average spacing of approximately 3/4 mile, or about 10 blocks. Yet you keep insisting that we want the train to stop “every few blocks”. It almost makes me think you aren’t reading our comments.

      16. I still believe that having LINK stops every ’10 blocks’ or so is just too close. You may as well have express bus routes that do the same thing for a fraction of the cost. LINK stops should be much farther apart than that. Not miles apart, but more than just a few minutes’ walk between stations. Since some people like to think that expressing an opinion is beyond my right, may I suggest they go to China or Iran? Some people have such entrenched ideas that they can’t even fathom that someone else disagrees with them. That certainly doesn’t allow for conversation; it makes it more schoolyard bullying.

      17. Bellevue — and all of the development contained therein — is economically homogeneous.

        Your coworker’s growth predictions may be predicated on the pre-collapse expectation that in 20 years everyone will be performing software services for everyone else, and there will be no other valid application of one’s talent or intellect.

        Edge cities will never supplant real cities. Though having real cities that act like real cities (transit et al) doesn’t hurt. ;-)

      18. Chad: It was not my intention to make you feel bullied. If I did, I apologize.

        Now that we agree that I’m advocating 10-block spacing, my question is this: If 10 blocks is too close, how come there are so many examples of cities with successful transit systems that have this spacing or less?

        Take a look at the NYC subway map, for instance. Look at the stop names in Manhattan. 79th, 86th, 96th, 103rd… And since Manhattan has its famous narrow blocks, a 10-block spacing here is really only 2500 feet, or about 1/2 mile. And yet that’s one of the wider spacings! From 23rd and Park to 28th and Park is 5 blocks == 1250 feet, or about 1/4 mile.

        On the Boston green line, which uses similar technology to Link and is in a similar-sized city. Boston doesn’t have blocks, but from Government Center to Park St is 0.3 mi… to Boylston is 0.3… to Arlington is 0.3… to Copley is 0.4… to Hynes is 0.6… to Kenmore is 0.4.

        Could express buses stop in the same places? Possibly. But the Green Line has a daily ridership of 237,700. Trying to cram that many people into buses, and that many buses on the street, would be a disaster. Just ask people what it’s like when part of the subway is down and the MBTA runs a replacement bus shuttle. (As an aside, the joke is that MBTA always says to expect 10-15 minute delays, no matter how bad the damage is. A terrorist could blow up the entire subway and they’d tell people to expect 10-15 minute delays…)

        Your claim, if I understand you correctly (and please correct me if I’m wrong), is that if Link stopped every 10 blocks, it would be useless. My response is that many systems that stop much closer than every 10 blocks are among the most-used systems in the country, if not the world. Why is Seattle different?

      19. Does Seattle look like New York? If it looked like Manhattan from downtown Seattle to Northgate than I would expect closer stop spacing. It’s really not cost-effective to build $50 – $100 million subway stations for single-family neighborhoods that will never be up-zoned. The most important stations are the ones being built in neighborhoods that are designated urban villages, like Roosevelt and the U-District, because they are zoned to absorb and focus growth.

        Boston’s Green Line was built by private companies in the pre-auto era as a profit making endeavor. It wasn’t until the lines became unprofitable after WWII that the government took over operations and turned it in to “public” transit. If the MBTA were to build a new line through Boston today it would probably look something like what’s being built in Seattle, or it would look like the Silver Line, that’s just the reality of public process and funding.

      20. Zed,

        What about Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx, with their surprising range of densities and equally reliable stop spacing?

        Meanwhile, Boston’s Green Line (which serves a few mid-density suburban communities itself, is packed to the gills). The Silver Line (routed for political purposes, just like Link!) is a ghost tunnel.

      21. Zed,

        Thanks for writing, you put it much more succintly than I did. Seattle is not, and never will be overall as dense at Manhattan or San Francisco or Singapore, no matter how people try to manipulate the data with ‘inner city’ this or ‘metropolitan area’ that. So, like you, I say why build a LINK station where it is single-residential homes as far as the eye can see and that most likely will never change? Since we’re building LINK all the way out to Lynnwood, I’m sure those riders going to Seattle don’t want 24 stops slowing their way to work, Seahawks games, or Pike Place Market.

      22. Chad, I’ve given many an example in the past of situations in which people from all over the city, and to a lesser extent from around the region, head to the top/east slope of Capitol Hill or to the intermediate area between 45th and 65th.

        These are trips that will mostly still be taken in cars when all is said and done, because none of those people will take a laborious train+bus trip unnecessarily. And that’s the great failure of Link as you envision it!

      23. Wait a second. The time advantages are one thing. But you guys haven’t talked about geographic coverage. More stops won’t substitute for the riders you miss that live outside the station buffers, especially if there’s a high-density corridor that bisects the line.

      24. Chad: If we’re only going to be focused on the final destination then the 24 stops may be necessary.

        Sure, the majority of people coming from Lynnwood are probably going to downtown Seattle for their jobs and then right back to Lynnwood. But, have you ever thought of the possibility of people wanting to stop on the way home from work at another section of the city to run errands, see friends, attend a night out? How about those coming from Lynnwood who might want to stop somewhere in between the large gap between Cap Hill and UW? Those stops in between may be someone else’s final destination.

        Yes, they may be in the minority, but why discourage it? I think that’s part of the problem – People see that it’s not overly convenient to get from point A to B via public transportation, so why even bother with it?

        As mentioned above, NYC is a great example, and I’ll even throw Philly in there with the Blue, Orange, and Green lines. You know, it used to really irk me that the Blue/Green lines stopped at 15th, 13th, and 11th streets, but having those 3 stops no more than 2 blocks apart only added 2 minutes to my overall trip back to West Philly from work [pdf schedule]. This is not what you claim of 2 minutes per stop. Extra stops on a rail line with its own ROW does not increase the overall travel time nearly as much as it would with a bus.

      25. Sherwin, I think this is the major pitfall of picking and choosing “key nodes” with no regard to overall geographic coverage.

        In the city, widespread coverage should be the principal aim. A city is, by definition, a contiguous built-up area; there are points of origin and destination points anywhere therein. (It’s so important to look beyond “residential” catchment alone; Seattle’s fetish for clusters of 6 stories surrounded by single-family will never reach a critical mass for high-volume transit by uni-directional bedroom-to-work usage alone.)

        I keep getting painted as the Negative Nellie here. In fact, I’m optimistic about the impact that a thorough transit plan could have on this city. I’m absolutely in favor of anything that lends to widespread coverage with reasonable and reliable travel times regardless of mode used or transfers required. Link, on the other hand, has represented negligible in-city gains and a reliance on transfers that maximize travel time — just look at the Mt. Baker Transit Center!

        But what do you mean, exactly, by a “high-density corridor that bisects the line?” Are you talking about an intersecting perpendicular corridor that the line fails to serve? Are you talking about a geographic obstruction to the station catchment?

        Either way, thanks for throwing your hat down into this ring! Welcome to the Seattle Transit Blog Tangent Comment Thread Circular Argument(tm)!

      26. Sherwin – agreed. Planning for other areas of the city is going to be imperative. I know it’s been said before, but planning for West Seattle, Ballard, Greenwood, and other areas need to start happening.

        I know people hate this here, but I still think it would be better if we merged some transit agencies… ST is focused on getting those from the burbs into Seattle, Bellevue, and Tacoma. Metro has a focus for intercity travel that also overlaps some of ST’s lines.

        Unfortunately, I have a feeling as long as all of these transit agencies remain separate that we’re not going to see spurs off of the Link to other Seattle neighborhoods… We’ll get street cars, but they offer very little benefit over buses.

      27. Funny how all the people who’ve lived in Northeast cities get how transit is supposed to work. But we get called dirty names if we dare recount our functional transit experience to those who think the opposite (and, not coincidentally, live in transit-dysfunctional cities.)

      28. We don’t need a north capitol hill stop, because it’s all single family homes with people who don’t really use transit, and there’s a fair number of 1-seat bus rides to downtown from the area.

      29. d.p., I spent the first 20 years of my life in Northeastern cities. I’m writing this comment from Arlington, VA, in fact.

        You simply cannot achieve what northeastern cities have in one go, especially at current levels of capital funding. All systems make compromises that don’t seem to make a lot of sense at the time — it’s just that in older systems, the city has grown up around those irregularities so that they seem less glaring.

      30. Cyclist Mike. I think ‘spurs to different neighborhoods’ are exactly what we need to avoid. We need a true network laid out over the city, not a bunch of random spur lines. I know I’ve brought it up before, but I think a Ballard->Fremont->Brooklyn->520->Bellevue(on East Link)->Issaquah line is good example.

        Anyone got some ideas for a decent way to do a West Seattle->somewhere line?

      31. Martin, I read your posts a lot, and I would most definitely put you in the category of “those who get how transit is supposed to work!”

        What repeatedly gets my goat is not the line of discussion that stems from limited available funds and tough political realities — of course the perfect need not be the enemy of the good! — so much as adamant expressions of “ideals and aims” that are incommensurate with all precedent.

        Let’s dissect the comment just before my last snark, for example:

        1. “We don’t need a north capitol hill stop…” is subjective, of course, although I (a non-Capitol Hill resident) can think of hundreds of circumstances in which such a stop would make Link more useful for me and would prevent a bus trip that, under the current design, will be no different from the one I need today.

        2. “…because it’s all single family homes…” — I grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts, so I know this to be a fallacious argument, especially when the neighborhood in question is as close-in as Capitol Hill.

        3. “…with people who don’t really use transit…” — again, they don’t use it now, they might if it weren’t horrible; I know plenty of people who currently drive as default but would use such a stop if it existed, yet who won’t abandon their cars if the new multi-billion-dollar transit line is habitually inconvenient!

        4. “…and there’s a fair number of 1-seat bus rides to downtown from the area” — the one-seat-ride fallacy; didn’t he just mention how these people are averse to current transit…?

        Perhaps it’s a character flaw, but I have trouble letting such anti-logic sit unchallenged. Such misapprehensions make their way into Seattle’s public discourse a lot (see: viaduct, etc.), and when combined the tendency of those in charge to choose parochialism over expertise, the results can be pretty destructive to Seattle’s urban potential!

      32. If I were dictator, there would be more focus on in-city trips than there is currently, so to some extent I agree with you.
        However, the fact that some Capitol Hill trips won’t be served by Link doesn’t amount to a crisis of the system. We simply can’t serve every medium-density neighborhood like NCH with current resources, and the system isn’t poorly designed if it doesn’t.

      33. I’m not an engineer, but many many years in the future if a NCH station were to be put in, couldn’t you just have ramps to the doors if the station can’t be built on the rails grade? Someone earlier said ramps of a certain length were allowed by the ADA. Just have the platform level with the center of the train, with ramps going up on the South side, and cut down to the North.

      34. “how come there are so many examples of cities with successful transit systems that have this spacing or less?”

        They have it in spite of the 10-block spacing, not because of it. It irritates me to have to sit through stops every 10 blocks in NYC.

        Seattle is different because many residents think a “light metro” or “light commuter rail” is just what the doctor ordered, and that other similar-sized cities were foolish to build a slow light rail, which provides no alternative to freeways.

        Your arguments assume there will be no improvements to bus service, and that a 30-minute transfer now will always be a 30-minute transfer. That’s not a given, that’s just a starting point. It’s up to us to make sure that doesn’t happen.

        In any case, Seattle is building something different, and time will tell whether it was wise or not.

      35. Thank you, Mike. That is absolutely what I believe. Taking the bus that I do now, it takes 45 minutes to go to my destination because of the stops every two blocks or so. I understand why, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I really don’t want LINK to be stopping every 10 blocks; there’s no real reason for it because the density doesn’t require it. That’s what the bus system is for. LINK is being built to get people from farther out into the city(Seattle, Lynnwood, Bellevue, etc.) but not necessarily to their final destination. LINK can’t go everywhere and be everything to everyone, no matter what some people on this blog believe. Sure, it would be nice to be able to board once and it will take you to where you want to go, but this region isn’t built like that. Even in Singapore, I would have to take a bus to get to the MRT, and then sometimes a bus after that to get to my final destination.

      36. “Seattle is different because many residents think a ‘light metro’ or ‘light commuter rail’ is just what the doctor ordered, and that other similar-sized cities were foolish to build a slow light rail….”

        Uh oh. It’s the sui generis argument!

        They’ll say it makes oh so much sense… until they start encountering trip after trip for which it doesn’t really help them. Then they’ll get right back in their cars!

        Just you wait!

        (Again, any examples of places where it works “because of” crazy-long spacing, as opposed to unsubstantiated claims that hundreds of cities work “in spite of” short spacing?)

      37. Even in the biggest cities, like New York, London, Singapore, people will choose to drive even with excellent public transportation. You keep trying to make everyone believe that since LINK won’t go everywhere, it will be a massive failure. You should just join your buddy Kemper Freeman and stay in Bellevue.

      38. Um, okay, straw man.

        You keep saying that making LINK remotely urban-transit in scope will turn it into the bus.

        But you also keep saying that the bus is a perfectly okay way to make 95% of medium-distance trips.

        Which makes you Kemper Freeman!

      39. Oh, and some people still choose to drive in those cities. Not most.

        Transit is hardly the minority interest that Seattle seems okay to let it remain.

      40. Time to clean your glasses again, d.p.

        What I’ve been saying is that 10-block spacing between LINK stops goes against what a light-rail system is being built for in the city. If it takes me 45 minutes to ride a bus from Mountlake Terrace to downtown Seattle, riding LINK should be much less than that or what is the reason for spending millions of dollars for it? Stopping every 10 blocks negates the reason for having the rail system to move people from area to area. You keep snickering when you remind me that Singapore has stops at the equivalent of 10 blocks. Have you ever been there? There’s more people there in a smaller area, you know, higher density. King and Snohomish counties don’t have that and never will. As for buses being OK for 95% of medium-distance trips, I say, yeah! Its going to be decades before LINK covers the region properly, so why choke each line with a multitude of stations that make a relatively short ride so long?

      41. “Its going to be decades before LINK covers the region properly, so why choke each line with a multitude of stations that make a relatively short ride so long?”

        Um… as I keep saying: Because lots of bus trips wouldn’t need a bus anymore.

        Sorry, Chad. Removing the need to step on a bus in the first place for many of my trips is actually more important than saving 4 minutes on one of your trips!

        BTW, how does that current 45-minute Montlake Terrace bus work if you want to go anywhere but downtown? Turns into 80 minutes, doesn’t it? So Link (high or low spacing) would actually improve your commute options even if it
        weren’t significantly faster (which it will be, high or low spacing).

    2. Metro’s preferred bus stop spacing is 1/4 mile (1,320 feet), or about 3-4 blocks.

      The spacing that d.p. and I (and others) are advocating, which has been deployed successfully in many cities, is 3/4 mile (3,960 feet), or about 10 blocks.

      I don’t know what bus you’re taking that stops “every hundred feet or so”, but given that an articulated bus is 60 feet long, I’m not surprised that it’s very slow — the stops are almost overlapping! ;)

      1. Stops should be about every 20-50 people because it takes a lot of energy to accelerate a train from a stop. That could be close together, like in the DSTT or it could (should) be miles apart like Ranier -> M.I. The RV has more than enough stops for current levels of density and it will be a long time (decades) before that capacity is reached. I don’t know what it’s like weekdays but I’ve driven MLK on a Saturday afternoon and on a Sunday evening and there was nobody waiting at any of the Stations. The trains had may 25 people on them. Most likely headed from DT to TIB (free parking) or to SEA. I honestly don’t know where they are coming up with the reported weekend ridership numbers unless it’s from a whole lot of short hops between Soho and DT.

        Bellevue is way to heavy on stops. One is being given to Wright Runstad so they can make a fortune developing the old Safeway distribution center even though there’s one within walking distance either direction. The Hospital Station has some validity even though it’s really close to the TC stop. East Main I don’t think will serve anything but hide and ride types. Overlake Village, now that ST came to their senses and is putting it where I suggested on this blog a year ago will serve the south end of the Microsoft campus plus what ever future development is in store for the old Group Health property. Overlake TC will be a transfer point since it’s the end of the line although they could probably do better to just terminate at Overlake Village, sell the TC land to Microsoft and invest in a new transit center at Overlake Village. Overlake TC is fairly small and Microsoft (rightly so) doesn’t want it expanded. I guess the biggest winner with Overlake TC is Microsoft getting dedicated HOV center access ramps to their campus paid for out of ST’s pot of gold.

      2. In Seattle 20 blocks generally equals a mile, so 1/4 mile is 5 blocks, a stop spacing rarely achieved here. Usually it’s every 2-3 blocks, sometimes every 1-2. I agree that generally they should strive for 3/4-1 mile spacing in the city (generally more in the suburbs) but you can’t just say that because there is a longer gap it is bad, as each possible station needs to be evaluated on its own merits. Each station that you have proposed other than the Graham St. one has reasons why it can’t/shouldn’t be built.

      3. Ten blocks is prohibitively expensive in Seattle and wholly unnecessary. You don’t even see that spacing in London and Paris, nor would you want to. The walkshed for a rail stop is at least six blocks, and more for many.

        The additional stops suggested here are all very expensive and well served by buses. Many of these neighborhoods are already dense.

        If you want to look at increasing stop spacing, look at the proposed stops in North King and South King. Many of these are at grade and have tons of development potential. But if your worldview ends at the city limits that won’t matter to you.

      4. Looking at the London Underground lines, I see:

        Bakerloo Line: 14.5 miles, 25 stations. Average spacing: 0.6 mi
        Circle Line: 17 miles, 35 stations. Average spacing: 0.5 mi
        District Line: 40 miles, 60 stations. Average spacing: 0.68 mi
        Hammersmith & City Line: 16.5 miles, 29 stations. Average spacing: 0.59 mi

        In Paris:

        Line 1: 10.3 miles, 25 stations. Average spacing: 0.43 mi
        Line 2: 7.7 miles, 25 stations. Average spacing: 0.32 mi
        Line 3: 7.3 miles, 25 stations. Average spacing: 0.29 mi
        Line 4: 6.6 miles, 26 stations. Average spacing: 0.28 mi

        In fact, I’m having a hard time finding a single Paris line that *doesn’t* have sub-0.5 mile spacing.

      5. And if you ride the Underground you’ll see lots of people getting on and off at every single station. It’s station use not station spacing that matters. London has 10X the population of Seattle. Add 7 million people inside the Seattle City limits and you’ll see sub 1/2 mile spacing. Take the train out to Farnborough and it’s more like 5-10 mile station spacing. That’s more representative of the density in most of Seattle and King County. On my ride in to work I pass a dozen or so bus stops on 124th Ave NE. There’s only one where I ever see someone waiting for the bus. That’s OK because if there’s nobody there the bus doesn’t stop. I could be wrong about this but I’d be surprised if Link blew past any stations if nobody was standing on the platform.

      6. Fair enough. I just wanted to counter the earlier assertion that 10 block spacing was too close for London or Paris, when in fact you actually see much closer spacing than that.

        I definitely agree with you that sub-1/2 is too much for Seattle (especially without express tracks), but do you really think that a stop at 15th and Mercer (or so) would ever go unused? It’s in the middle of an area with 15,000 people per square mile — hardly NYC density, but on par with many parts of Boston that have similar stop spacing.

      7. For some trips in London and Paris 10-block spacing is too close, that’s why Paris built the RER and London maintains a comprehensive commuter rail network. When you visit Paris try going cross-town on the Metro, you’ll be wishing that the stops were more than 500m apart! If you look at only the subway lines built after WWII in London and Paris, the Victoria Line, the Jubilee Line and Line 14, you’ll see station spacing that’s twice that of the older lines.

        The only subway line being built in this century in the US with 10 block station spacing is the 2nd Avenue Subway in New York. Know how much it’s going to cost? $17 billion dollars for 7 miles of subway. Know how much rail transit Seattle would have got if Sound Transit went to the voters in 1996 with a proposal to spend $17 billion on a subway from downtown to Roosevelt and nothing else? Zero. When you’re asking an entire region to pay for building transit the initial investment is always going to be spread out, that’s just the political trade-off that has to be made to get people to tax themselves for something.

        If having additional stops on North Link within the city was crucial to urban mobility than the city should have stepped up and found a way to help pay for them, but it didn’t. I have no doubt though that future lines that are built entirely within the city, like Ballard to the U-District or downtown to Greenwood, will have closer stop spacing, because they’re not going to be expected to function as suburban commuter shuttles and the city might partner with ST to help pick up the extra cost.

      8. do you really think that a stop at 15th and Mercer (or so) would ever go unused?

        I don’t think it would get enough use to justify the cost. It may have density but it doesn’t have a destination. Adding a second (deep) underground station would be way more expensive than funding the Aloha extension to the First Hill Streetcar and have a lot less utility. I’d even go so far as to say it would be more expensive than building the entire First Hill line.

      9. When you’re asking an entire region to pay for building transit the initial investment is always going to be spread out, that’s just the political trade-off that has to be made to get people to tax themselves for something.

        I don’t mean to make any claims about political utility. What you’re saying is completely true, and I’m completely okay with the decision to spend a larger portion of resources on less-productive service in the suburbs in exchange for having the money to build at all.

        All I’m saying is that, if Link had been planned with more in-city stops, I believe it would have been more useful and more productive, even taking into account the longer trip times for commuters from outside the city. And while there might not have been the money to build the stations now, I believe that it would have been a worthwhile use of money to design routings that could accommodate future infill stations.

      10. Those lines with 10-block spacings in New York also have express trains.

        Perhaps when they infill more stations along Link, they could possibly install express track at the same time. Of course, if this is done, then we need as few center platform stations as possible to better accommodate a local to express train transfer.

      11. “London has 10X the population of Seattle. Add 7 million people inside the Seattle City limits and you’ll see sub 1/2 mile spacing.”

        1/2 mile spacing is fine if there are express trains. It takes an hour to get from Earl’s Court to Tower Hill on the District Line, a medium-sized journey, or almost the width of Zone 1. NYC has express trains but London doesn’t, which makes trips like this a pain if you do them every day.

      12. Well, London has a few expresses. Remember the Picadilly Line runs express on the District Line route for a while, c2c runs express next to the eastern District Line, et cetera. The area inside the Circle line has no expresses, granted.

  9. I really think the non-prof supporting a non-B7 alignment should fund a field trip for the Bellevue City Council to Gresham, OR. 30 years ago, Gresham city council pitched a fit about having the light rail go into downtown Gresham and instead bypassed it by about a half a mile – just far enough to be out of the walkshed.

    Today they are kicking themselves.

    Light rail INCREASES traffic, it does not decrease it. Over time, the disruption is completely overwhelmed by the ridership.

    1. I don’t think there’s any lack of knowledge on the Bellevue City Council. They’re just doing what their election funders told them to.

  10. “a vocal group of residents, mostly from the Surrey Downs neighborhood of Bellevue, has openly opposed any light rail route in the B segment other than B7, a route which would bypass the South Bellevue Park & Ride, West Bellevue neighborhoods, and instead run along the old Burlington Northern right-of-way next to I-405, producing dramatically low ridership.”

    Regarding your low ridership assertion, Sound Transit’s East Link Project Update dated March 25, 2010 shows the City of Bellevue’s B7-C9T preferred route yielding 49,000 system-wide riders per day compared to 50,000 for the B3S/112th/C9T, Sound Transit’s preferred alternative. This small 1,000 difference is insignifant and was modeled excluding any connection from B7 to the S Bellevue Park and Ride. With a connection to the S Bellevue Park and Ride, B7/C9T should emerge with higher ridership than ST’s current preferred alternative. The primary reason is that it would be completely grade-separated and therefore faster than the at-grade Bellevue Way/112th alternative.

    1. Scott,

      As you know yourself, a B7 connection to SBPR is not feasible without the construction of a new facility. I think you were at that council meeting– this is a non-starter, particularly for Enatai residents who’ve signed on the Better Bellevue agenda thinking the trains would be stuck someplace far away.

      The issue here is that you guys have been sticking with East Link-wide boardings, not segment boardings. Those ridership estimates you cite are extrapolated partly from the downtown alternatives concept design report, and partly from the DEIS. I think you remember fairly well that B7 would only yield about 1,000 riders.

      Nonetheless, an 1,000 rider differential on the system-wide level is significant if you know where your riders are coming from. The only reason why that’s so is because of perceived time advantage (which there is none because B7 is longer) and grade separation. So there are more riders coming from Overlake/Redmond as time travel is competitive with cross-lake transit via 520. Just for the record, I like grade separation, but not when it yields poor ridership and poor access.

      So there are two downsides here. You’re stealing existing transit riders from a different corridor, which doesn’t help the argument that we’re trying to move trips from cars to transit. And number two, you’re stunting Bellevue growth by shifting accessibility to Link from Bellevue residents to 1)anyone who can use 405, and 2)segment D & E riders.

      1. Furthermore, by saying “Oh, but look at system-wide boardings!”, you’re completely assuming that every rider is one and the same. Other riders get a marginal benefit at the expense of West/South Bellevue.

      2. System ridership is the goal. Segment ridership is meaningless in comparison. Remember that that 1,000 rider differential is at a cost of building a $30,000 free parking spot for each butt you put on the train. Worse is that the mega-garage is in a swamp, oops I mean wetland, where there is zero opportunity for future development. S. Bellevue P&R was never meant to be a regional facility. Stick a fork in it, it’s done. The bigger question is if East Link is even a viable project. Building multi story P&R lots close to the urban center just to gin up ridership is not only expensive but a complete 180 to what the purpose of an investment in light rail should be, which is reducing the dependency on automobile travel in our urban core. Bellevue north of I-90, west of 405 and south of 520 has as many public parking spots now as it ever should have. Time to put a moratorium on more public parking to bring in more traffic just like the UW did over a decade ago. It works!

      3. Again, every rider is not one and the same. Segment ridership is important if you know who you’re serving or who you’re not serving. 1,000 riders could be 1,000 cyclists or 1,000 pedestrians. This is more evident when B2/B3 have segment boardings 4/5 times that of B7, but the garage has only less than 150% more capacity. The question is, where are your riders coming from?

        A 1,000 stall garage (as with B7’s 118th station), plopped right off I-405 in the boonies, less than a mile from downtown makes a lot less sense.

      4. ST building a multi story lot to provide free parking anywhere in the B segment makes no sense. There are already thousands of parking spaces between SE 8th and Main Street. Why not put light rail where the people are instead of where the frogs are? You’re not generating a 1,000 pedestrians or cyclists with a boondoggle at S. Bellevue. You’re encouraging people to drive farther from the existing lots they are currently using. When the spaces run out, which they will, you hit a hard limit on ridership.

      5. You don’t need to waste your time convincing me to a cause I’ve already pledged to. I hate subsidized parking as much as you do, but know two things:

        One, thanks to the road politicos, a parking “boondoggle” is coming in, whether you like it or not. Where to put the damn thing is the issue.

        Two, the existing SBPR already gives us a good indicator of the car-transit commuting patterns. If I live in Renton, there’s no benefit for me to go 405, I-90, cut off on Bellevue Way, spend 5 minutes parking, and potentially another 9 minutes for a train. Likewise, you’re not going to see an exodus of Eastgate users flock for SBPR when bus service is just as competitive.

        If there are 1,500 cars coming in to use the garage, then who are the other 2,000 riders? Hard limit on ridership? I don’t think so.

      6. 1500 parking spaces is 3000 riders assuming only one per car. They ride back home at the end of the day remember to pick up the car. Spaces will get reused as commuters leave and sports fans take their place.

        you’re not going to see an exodus of Eastgate users flock for SBPR when bus service is just as competitive.

        If bus service is just as competitive why are we building this in the first place? But since ST is in the business of spending billions on light rail to replace buses that are just as competitive I doubt express bus service from Eastgate will duplicate Links 9-15 minute service from Bellevue Way all the way into DT. I would hope that many routes would terminate at either M.I. or S. Bellevue. If you’re on 405 it’s just as fast to get to S. Bellevue as Eastgate plus you get a shorter ride home. Plus once the center roadway is taken it’s not at all clear that a single HOV lane is going to be sufficient ten years from now for traffic to remain free flowing. Riders from Factoria and Newport Hills to Seattle would certainly drive to S. Bellevue if it wasn’t already at capacity and likewise anyone trying to use Wilburton to beat daily parking rates in DT Bellevue. Triple nickle riders from Isaquah TC and Tibbets. I wonder if the 555 will even continue to exist?

      7. Yes, 1,500 spaces means two trips, but I don’t see your point. So what if there are a finite number of spaces? And hold on, 4,500 segment boardings means 4,500 trips that originate in the B segment. Most people getting on in B probably aren’t getting off in the same segment, so the reverse trip they make won’t be considered a B segment boarding. 1,500 cars is probably 1,500-2,000 boardings at most.

        I-90 bus service is competitive, so I’m not that hot on jumping aboard the “build to Issaquah now!” bandwagon. However, 550 will not be competitive with Link. And Link is the whole reason why the Bel-Red plan exists. I don’t think we need to terminate routes yet. Just cut down on Metro peak-only service, and enhance existing ST Express service. You couldn’t end 555/556. At most, you could shorten it to Issaquah-Bellevue.

      8. The fact remains that there is nothing there except the poorly sited P&R to create ridership. There’s a few single family homes up a steep hill. Beaux Arts and Enatai aren’t exactly your target transit demographic. It’s not a very bike friendly location and again there’s no dense population nearby to ride there. It’s completely cut off to the east and the south by the Mercer Slew and with the East Channel being only about a 1/2 mile to the west it’s on the shoreline near the tip of a peninsula of fully built out expensive single family homes. So, all your ridership is either at the cost of building expensive multi level parking to encourage more people to drive there or forced transfers from buses. Since one of the flaws with the location is that it can’t be directly accessed from I-90 you might as well use M.I. or Bellevue TC as the transfer point; both of which have far better connections than S. Bellevue ever will. And if you really want to champion expensive parking west of 405 then Mercer Island is the logical place for expansion. People on this blog love to point out how enthusiastic M.I. residents have been in voting for Sound Move and ST2, I’m sure they’d love another 1,500 stalls on the rock. Btw, the existing two story garage there came in at over $37,000 per parking spot or about $5/day subside for each commute trip.

      9. So which is it? It’s so poorly located that it’s not useful, or it’s so well located that people will flock to it from other park and rides? You seem to be flip-flopping depending on what point you’re trying to make.
        “It’s not a very bike friendly location and again there’s no dense population nearby to ride there.”

        Actually it’s a very bike-friendly location, I used to ride there all the time to catch the 550. It’s right off of the I-90 trail and easily accessible from Lake Washington Boulevard, Richards Road and Coal Creek Parkway.

        “So, all your ridership is either at the cost of building expensive multi level parking to encourage more people to drive there or forced transfers from buses.”

        People are already transferring there from local buses to the 550, so it wouldn’t be a “forced at gunpoint” transfer.

        It’s obvious that you’re not really familiar with South Bellevue.

      10. Bernie, we’ve been over this before. There are already 6 other bus routes at South Bellevue P&R that people could transfer to Link from: 222, 240, 560, 555, 556, and the 211. Having driven 4 of those plus the 550, I can assure you that there are a lot transfers at that P&R and they’ve been increasing in number as long as I’ve been at Metro (3.5+ years).

        The P&R is also at the intersection of 2 major bike routes – The I-90 trail, which you can get to all the way from Issaquah, and the Lake Washington bike route. There are plenty of improvements to be made in the area, but South Bellevue is far more accessible by bike than a Wilburton P&R would be.

        South Bellevue also has good freeway access to 405 and I-90 when compared to either Eastgate or Wilburton.

        I’m with you on the size, though. I’d love to see the money spent on cycling improvements and even better transit service (maybe 15 minute headways on a 240 or some other new route? Hmmmm…). That said, if you’re going to put a “Regional Park & Ride” somewhere along East Link, South Bellevue is the best spot.

        That Park & Ride is popular precisely because of the reasons I’ve outlined, not just because the 550 goes there.

      11. Build it and they will come. I’ve always said that. What you’re missing is that it’s not a good place direct that traffic and a colossal waste of money. It will primarily shunt existing transit ridership away from places that are a better intercept point without shifting enough of the demand that any savings can be realize. Add to that the fact that there is nothing there and never can be. On M.I. at least the station is close to the main business district for the city and serves as it’s transit hub. Why plan an expensive elevated station where there’s no demand other than what you’ve generated by building expensive multi-story parking or transfers that are better much better accomplish at M.I. or Bellevue TC.

        Routes serving South Bellevue: 211, 222, 240, 550, 555, 556, 560

        Routes serving Mercer Island: 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 211, 213, 550, 554

        211 riders will be able to transfer to Link at M.I. The 222, 240 will transfer at Bellevue TC. The 550 will go away. The 555 and 556 will be able to go directly to Bellevue TC via 405; ditto for the 560. South Bellevue can remain as a nice little local P&R for Enatia and Beaux Arts. In fact it can go on a “lot diet” to restore some of the wetlands as mitigation because removing parking from wetlands is a much better use of money than adding more.

      12. Interesting idea. Here are the issues you need to solve:

        . This plan of yours adds 9-22 minutes of extra riding time for the passengers on the 222, 240 and 560 who currently transfer to the 550 at South Bellevue. These also happen to be the routes with the largest number of transfers that I’ve noticed.

        . The 555 and 556 have never used 405 because of afternoon congestion and a lack of ramps to access 405 from Eastgate. Direct access ramps could be built but I think you’d agree that those ramps are expensive.

        . Anybody in the Factoria/Beaux Arts/Enatai area currently have a 2 seat ride to the airport (222 or 240 to the 560). Under your plan we would have a 3 seat ride. (Some route to Link, Link to Downtown, Link to Airport or possibly to the 560) Possible, but probably slower than current service.

        It’s possible but not without radical changes to the buses in that area. I also can’t envision large numbers of folks riding a bus 10 minutes in the *wrong* direction to get to Link. Since the HOV ramps will still be there it’s possible to create a new bus route linking Bellevue and MI, but then you’re just duplicating the old 550.

        For what it’s worth Bernie, I envision you sitting at your computer looking at schedules and route maps and dreaming of how to make things work here. That’s fine, but you don’t seem to give me credit for the fact that live here, bike here, walk here, ride these bus routes, and I drive them at many different times of the day. Some of your ideas make some sense but I’m always looking at it from the perspective of somebody who actually *uses* the system in this area and thus, am always able to poke holes in your arguments. Keep trying though, I do like a lot of your ideas.

        I’m serious about the bike/transit connection idea at South Bellevue. Heck, you just might be able to dream up a system that serves more areas of Bellevue and connects to Link station in Downtown Bellevue *and* Mercer Island.

      13. 9-22 minutes of extra riding time for the passengers on the 222, 240 and 560

        In the case of the 222 and 240, how so? It’s 5 minutes on the 211 from M.I. to S. Bellevue. Going the other direction the 240 is seven minutes from Bellevue TC to S. Bellevue. To get to Eastgate it’s 6 minutes on the 554 from M.I.

        I envision you sitting at your computer looking at schedules and route maps and dreaming of how to make things work here.

        Guilty as charged. I’m sure there’s corner cases but one would expect some reroutes and more frequent local service as feeders for Link. I think the case for that’s become evident with Central Link. And yes, for some portion of the population their commutes will be longer and involve an extra transfer. As for the 560 I see that in much the same way as the 194 124/174. The 560 as it exists today is probably more likely to be a causulty of war if Link follows Bellevue Way (direct shaddow).

        I’m serious about the bike/transit connection idea at South Bellevue.

        The I-90 trail is better than the alterantives (basicly none) but it’s far from wonderful and Bellevue Way I’ve never felt the compulsion to ride along. From the I-90 trail to S. Bellevue don’t you have to go up and over the hill from Enatia? Nobody’s going to access S. Bellevue from M.I., they’d just use M.I. P&R. From anywhere east of 405 and north of 90 Eastgate, Wilburton or Bellevue TC are the obvious choice. Factoria sort of sucks (OK, really sucks) to/from everywhere but Newport Hills isn’t bad. So besides Beaux Arts and Enatia you add what to the bike shed, Newport Yacht Club? And if the BNSF ROW gets converted to a bike trail access to Wilburton will be much better than it is now to S. Bellevue.

      14. In the case of the 222 and 240, how so? It’s 5 minutes on the 211 from M.I. to S. Bellevue. Going the other direction the 240 is seven minutes from Bellevue TC to S. Bellevue. To get to Eastgate it’s 6 minutes on the 554 from M.I.

        Those times are for existing travel times from South Bellevue to BTC where passengers could transfer to Link. If you beef up service on the 211 to connect South Bellevue with MI, you are asking current passengers coming from the south to transfer twice to get to Downtown Seattle – A dubious proposition at best.

        The I-90 trail is better than the alterantives (basicly none) but it’s far from wonderful and Bellevue Way I’ve never felt the compulsion to ride along. From the I-90 trail to S. Bellevue don’t you have to go up and over the hill from Enatia? Nobody’s going to access S. Bellevue from M.I., they’d just use M.I. P&R.

        Ugh… It’s complicated, but here goes: I wasn’t suggesting any Mercer Islanders would come over. MI P&R is a natural fit for Poverty Rock residents.

        South Bellevue is a relatively comfortable ride from virtually all of Beaux Arts and Enatai – some locations hillier than others. 118th *could* be a decent bike route, but it needs improvements. It is also has a larger hill between the I-90 trail at 118th and the P&R. The largest “hill” on the I-90 trail from 118th to South Bellevue is the bridge over the slough – ie. Not very big. South Bellevue is already linked to the I-90 trail by separated bike path except for the small driveway by the Sewage pumping station which is not busy at all.

        The Enatai “hill” isn’t very large. From my house to South Bellevue there’s only a 59 foot cumulative elevation gain/loss – not flat, but about as good as it gets in these parts. The I-90 trail system is accessible from parts of Newport, Factoria, Newport Hills, etc… All of this is dependent on the rider’s location and tolerance for hills. Again, relatively flat for the Eastside. FYI: The elevation gain from the P&R location at Greenbaum to the train tracks at the beginning of the trestle, where the trail would presumably be located, is approximately 100 feet. Add in the fact that little cycling infrastructure exists to navigate between those points, it’s hardly an easy thing to get.

        If you are really interested, the VeloBusDriver biking tour of Enatai, Beaux Arts, South Bellevue, and 118th is still on the table :) We could agree not to argue about B7/B2 and instead focus on how to link either P&R location to cycling infrastructure improvements in the area – many already planned. Contact me via Twitter to arrange…

      15. you are asking current passengers coming from the south to transfer twice to get to Downtown Seattle

        Maybe, but only if they don’t have an option to take a bus to M.I. (or Eastgate) instead of Bellevue in the first place. If there’s significant demand then add or reroute bus service to M.I. The people trying to get to Bellevue will have a much fast ride back into town on Link than they would have on a local bus so it’s wash for them. I’m still not seeing any justification for building the new garage and elevated station.

        South Bellevue is already linked to the I-90 trail by separated bike path except for the small driveway by the Sewage pumping station which is not busy at all… If you are really interested, the VeloBusDriver biking tour of Enatai, Beaux Arts, South Bellevue, and 118th is still on the table :) … Contact me via Twitter to arrange…

        I wasn’t aware of this part of the trail system. I thought the only way was up and over from Enatia. But it’s still no reason build a station there. Multi modal bike commuters are a tiny portion of the ridership. They’ve got the option of loading the bike onto a bus but most would just do the extra 2 miles to M.I. P&R. I think most serious bike commuters are going to ride as far as they can meaning all the way to work if possible. I could ride two miles and transfer to a bus for the last five miles to Totem Lake but why? I need the exercise, when you figure in transfers and late buses it’s not any faster. Even when the weather is snotty once I’ve gone two miles I might as well just ride the whole way. It’s not worth pulling on all the rain gear just to ride two miles.

        I’m too old to know how to use twitter :0

      16. Suffice it to say, all of your ideas to date would make using transit more difficult for me and my neighbors. Sound Transit’s preferred alternative preserves the access we have today and adds even more options since we could ride the train to points further East. It may even improve connections to Issaquah if they decide to route the 554 to SBPR

        I’ve been open to the idea of a MI / Bellevue connector route from day one, especially if followed the routing of the old 226 which would be more convenient than the P&R for almost everybody in Beaux Arts and Enatai. (translation: fewer parking stalls needed) The trouble is with routing buses through this area. You can’t reliably make the left turn from the I-90 off ramps onto 113th during rush hour traffic and WSDOT won’t let Bellevue put a signal in there. And don’t even *think* of driving a bus up 112th across from the park & ride.

        Unless you can give a really good proposal of how to connect MI, Beaux Arts/Enatai, and Bellevue, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

      17. Your examples seem to always point to out of direction riders taking a bus to Bellevue when they want to get to Seattle. Instead of riding the 555-556 they should be taking the 554. 554 Eastgate to M.I. is six minutes, 555 is 7 minutes Eastgate to S. Bellevue and then they have to add on the time to transfer and the travel time from S. Bellevue to M.I. If the 560 changed things might get worse taking trips to the Airport for S. Bellevue users. Currently the 560 is the only eastside express route going to the airport. Almost everywhere else eastsiders get shunted through DT already so a transfer at M.I. or Bellevue TC to Link will be an improvement. It’s not clear the 560 would necessarily change but if it does then there’s winners and losers just like when the 194 route was changed. Beaux Arts/Enatai are single family resdiential and just don’t justify a Link Station. If there was anything around the station or any chance of development in the future then maybe. But there isn’t. All you can do is add parking.

        give a really good proposal of how to connect MI, Beaux Arts/Enatai, and Bellevue

        The local bus service is already pretty good for the level of density Beaux Arts/Enatai represent. To feed East Link a single direction circulator, Eastgate -> S. Bell. -> M.I. might make sense. Sure running a train up Bellevue Way and building a multistory garage with a elevated station will improve transit options for those tiny fraction of people that can walk/bike to S. Bellevue. More parking means another thousand or so people will be able to drive closer to DT Seattle and save a few minutes on their commute (maybe, if they’re not carpooling they might be better off just catching the bus from Eastgate). Certainly the vast majority of commuters that are driving on Bellevue Way are going to be negatively impacted by the extra traffic conjestion the overweight parking structure will bring.

      18. Whatever Bernie. Like I said, your options are to take away the service I and my neighbors currently utilize and you don’t offer anything except saying that an “Eastgate -> S. Bell. -> M.I.” connector *might* make sense. If the 550 stopped at SBPR and that was the only bus that serviced that lot, I might agree with you. But it isn’t and I don’t.

      19. What transfers is it that you see critical that can’t happen better at M.I.? What local service would you want to see? I’m not suggesting the P&R go away. The only routes I see being cut back are the 550 and possibly the 560. It sounds like the main complain is the drop in frequency of direct service to Seattle (loss of the 550) and I think the importance of that for this location is where we differ. You want it to be a full fledged transit center and I see it more as a neighborhood lot deserving of the resources a place like Houghton receives (which incidently acually does have multi family house adjacent to the lot). Initially I thought an Eastgate-S. Bell.-M.I. circulator be single direction after thinking a bit I’d say make it CCW in the AM and CW in the PM to match commuter flow. Time the buses to match Link and you’ve got virtually the same service for Peak commute. Of peak, yeah service to the P&R would be more like what South Kirkland sees. Quite a let down from having the train stop at your door.

      20. “What transfers is it that you see critical that can’t happen better at M.I.?”

        222, 240, and 560 passengers are the most numerous. You are advocating a 3 seat ride into Seattle for these passengers. The majority of passengers on those routes are going into Bellevue (except possibly for the 222) but many do transfer.

        “It sounds like the main complain is the drop in frequency of direct service to Seattle (loss of the 550)”

        Gee, you think?

        “The only routes I see being cut back are the 550 and possibly the 560.”

        The 560 won’t go away. Many folks use it to get to SBPR but many more use it to go all the way into Bellevue.

        “What local service would you want to see? I’m not suggesting the P&R go away.”

        That’s your problem, not mine. I’ve already told you I can’t figure out a good way to create a well-utilized shuttle route. Putting Link at SBPR makes all *existing* bus routes more attractive. Those that become too full, possibly the 240 right off the bat, could go to 15 minute headways. Build it, and they’ll come as you like to say.

        “You want it to be a full fledged transit center and I see it more as a neighborhood lot deserving of the resources.”

        Could you define “full fledged transit center” and “neighborhood lot”? By the nature of it’s location, SBPR is drawing from more than just Beaux Arts and Enatai. IIRC, the scatter map that showed where people came from included large areas to the South and South East.

      21. Ok, here’s a link to >P&R lots and the routes that serve them. S. Bellevue is rather pathetic as a transfer point; especially when you take the 555 and 556 off the table since that’s a totally out of direction transfer much better served by the 554 and service to Bellevue via S. Bell P&R is likely to remain unchanged. The 560 isn’t designed to take people to/from Seattle via I-90 and if Link bypasses S. Bellevue the chance of keeping the 560 there is I think better.. So as transfers go you’re down to the two local routes, the 222 and the 240.

        The 240 is far and away the most productive of the two routes. It scores (2008 latest available data) slightly above average Peak (1.0 where zero is average), well above average off peak (3.3) and slightly above average nights (1.0). The 222 is below average Peak (-1.7), Off Peak (-2.0) and dismal (-2.7) nights.

        I would tend to agree that if the 550 went away and Link didn’t serve S. Bell then 15 min or better headways for would seem reasonable. At least during the day. Actually it would probably be some collection of 240 variants plus increased 211 frequency since that route would terminate at M.I. Evenings I don’t see why S. Bell. should receive more attention than it’s Northern Cousin, S. Kirkland P&R. The two are very similar; nothing there (commuter lots) and close but no cigar when it comes to freeway access. S. Kirkland is even similar in that it’s collection shed is largely cut off to the north and east by the Kirkland Watershed and I-405 and to the south by 520. However, there is still considerably more density around S. Kirkland today and the possibility for future development is orders of magnitude greater than S. Bell.

        Could you define “full fledged transit center” and “neighborhood lot”?

        A transit center has, number one a major destination nearby. Totem Lake has Evergreen Medical Center (plus aparments, business parks and a mall in sore need of “urban renewal”). Bellevue has DT (nuff said), Overlake has Microsoft. Transit Centers also tend to have good access for multimodal transfer. Bellevue’s not great but they do have center HOV access and it’s not too far from 405. Totem Lake is a flyer stop. Overlake will soon have center HOV access (as soon as 520 has center HOV lanes). S. Bellevue has nothing, no destination, no chance for TOD and lousy freeway access for bus transfers (hence the number of routes comparable to leased church lots, aka “neighborhood lot”).

      22. Bernie,
        Sorry to veer off your conversation, but can you point me to the information about Overlake getting center HOV access? I’ve seen the mentioned a couple of times in comments here, but WSDOT’s page only mentions re-striping HOV east of I-405, not any new ramp construction.

        Of course, it also doesn’t mention the W Lake Sammammish to SR-202 project, but other than that I’m not aware of any other 520 projects on the Eastside.

      23. Actually I’m working off of mostly what I’ve heard here; actually in response to questions I’ve asked. WSDOT has most stuff on line but can be hard to access. I’ll look.

      24. OK, can’t find anything. Of course it’s also really hard to find any internet links to Redmonds planned slip ramp construction between 148th and the new 32nd/36th st. overpass either. Talk to any city planner at an open house and it’s like a done deal. Any access to City of Redmond planning is really hard to access. Don’t know if that’s by omission or by design.

      25. Bernie,

        Regardless of what it was “designed for”, don’t you think the 560 will be an important and obvious way for those south of I-90 to access the system?

        I also don’t really understand your comparison to S. Kirkland, aside from the fact that you live near it. I don’t think it’s controversial that if rail were to pass in its general vicinity, we would serve it. I think I agree that it’s a better place to put a station than S. Bellevue, but in this context the I-90 alignment is what we have.

      26. I don’t know what the plan is, or if it’s even been thought about for the 560. It would seem like there are much better options for someone south of I-90 trying to get to DT Seattle than taking an “Express” bus destined for Bellevue. As for the intended purpose (Bellevue to SEA and West Seattle to SEA + Bellevue) it would certainly be a big improvement to stay on 405 all the way to Bellevue TC. It’s currently 45-50 minutes from Bellevue to the airport on the 560. That’s not “Express” for something that’s 20 minutes by car. It will be competitive with light rail since the the decision to tunnel under Beacon Hill instead of continuing to Ranier and using the same track that will have to be built for East Link adds a good 20 minutes travel time to the airport for all eastsiders.

        South Kirkland vs S. Bellevue. Both off the freeway meaning a lack of routes serving them. Compare the number of buses that stop at Yarrow Pt. to South Kirkland Park and Ride and it’s obvious how important direct access is. Both S. Bell. and S. Kirk. are commuter lots meaning virtually everyone using them drives there (nothing withing walking distance, not a good transfer pt.). If eastside rail came across 520, which it should have but the layout is brain dead (see above regarding Bellevue to SEA) it’s not at all obvious that it would or should serve S. Kirkland as it exists today even though South Kirkland has a couple of significant advantages over S. Bellevue. One, it’s not built on fill in a wetland. Two, it’s located directly adjacent to a RR ROW. But I don’t know if it would make sense to jog over from SR-520 to use the BNSF ROW since it doesn’t actually go very far west of S. Kirkland P&R. The other big difference is that it’s easy to sell the land S. Kirkland is built on (it’s develop able, not a swamp) and build a new facility right on the freeway and closer real live jobs, restaurants, etc. That would probably be the best move.

        Another good comparison is S. Bellevue and Overlake Village. Thank goodness someone in Redmond was able to beat some sense into the ST board and give up on that lost cause. Maybe it’s because we’re rid of Ron Sims and it was his baby and unwilling to admit what a failure it’s been since day one. Direct freeway access matters. Not for the cars but for the bus connections. This is why eliminating the Montlake Flyer stop is such a bad idea. It’s impossible to replace the utility of that stop with extra service to the UW. A mile away but a world apart.

    2. I also don’t like how your group is failing to treat Mercer Park and Brookshire as neighborhoods too. Those signs would start to get real compelling if you put them along 118th Ave SE.

      1. Crossing 118th to build the Furniture Store Station was a dumb idea. Or perhaps crazy like a fox! Massive business displacements with B7. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Stay with the BNSF ROW, cross 405 and make whole our regional trail (send the bill to WSDOT who excavated the tunnel thinking they might someday only have to build a pedestrian bridge (even building a rail bridge they come out ahead over what it would have cost to reroute all lanes of SB 405 to preserve the ROW). There is ample median all the way up to SE 8th which is an easy place to cross back to DT Bellevue since it’s an underpass and provides a much gentler transition to C9T. No right angle corners with attendant wheel squeal and even if there was it’s next to the freeway so nobody would hear it. There might even be mitigation possible in the design that results in an overall noise reduction for Main St. over current levels. Partner with the hotels. Instead of taking their parking for ROW on 112th use the excess capacity in a leased lot model. No expensive multi story parking structure for ST to waste transit money on. Hotels benefit by getting rail service to MS, DT Seattle and SEA thereby decreasing their parking demand while being able to recoup some of the cost of what would otherwise be empty spaces built only to conform with an obsolete city code. Makes a lot more sense than building yet more parking in a swamp.

      2. So no station in B at all? That makes a lot of sense considering ST is just flowing in cash reserves. This just sounds like a huge bastardization of B7. How expensive would that be? All you’re doing is trading “expensive” P&R ridership for expensive freeway guideway.

      3. No, I think the largest demand in the B segment is from the hotels and other businesses from SE 8th up to Main. That’s also the only place where there’s any development potential so that would be the place to put a station. Don’t kid yourself. The additional P&R users from an expanded S. Bellevue lot aren’t going to be folks who previously were driving into DT Seattle. They’re going to be coming from other P&R lots, driving farther to use a system that costs a lot more.

      4. “No, I think the largest demand in the B segment is from the hotels and other businesses from SE 8th up to Main.”

        Then you should support one of the B2M options, since they’re both cheapest and have a station at SE 8th.

        “Why not put light rail where the people are instead of where the frogs are?”

        And where would that be? The line has to get from I-90 to downtown, why not serve an existing transit facility along the way? It makes more sense than spending more money to not serve it.

      5. Cheapest is questionable. Part of the cost for B7 was to buy and bulldoze Greenbaum Furniture. S. Bellevue is too far from the freeway to have an effective transfer point so lets repeat the mistake by finding the most expensive property without the possibility of direct freeway access and maximize the number of lost jobs. The SE 8th station proposed with B2m is in a horrible location. It’s nothing but single family residential to the east. It’s on the fringe of development to the west where all of the office space is literally in a park like setting, it’s exactly where you don’t want to encourage more traffic congestion and has essentially zero chance of any additional development around it.

      6. This is hilarious. Bernie, I hope you know there are NO plans for a park & ride at the B2M SE 8th Station. You said it yourself, if that’s where the biggest demand is, then that station will serve it. We’ll also likely see developments around the new Residence Inn to the east. That station takes all the good from the 118th station and leaves the bad.

      7. Jokes on you. I never said there was a P&R at the SE 8th Station. You imaged that. I said traffic meaning kiss and ride users. “Honey I’m five minutes from the station. Can you come down and get me?” There isn’t any “good” to be taken from the 118th Station. If they’d sited it between SE 8th and Main then it would actually be somewhere where there is all day demand and be a short enough walk that it would eliminate the need for an East Main Station and with a pedestrian bridge connect to the redevelopment along the wasteland previously known as Auto Row. SE 8th is a 1/2 mile from Main Street and virtually all of the DT destinations are north of Main making it easier to just hike over to the TC. ST could lease parking from hotels and other businesses that have been forced by code to build excess capacity which we would hope is even greater when served by light rail that takes guests directly to Microsoft, DT Seattle and Bellevue and with a transfer even gets them back to the airport without having to rent a car and miss their flight while stuck in the S curves.

      8. They should build C11A then, that puts stations where the people are. Oh wait, I forgot we have to “protect roads and neighborhoods.”

      9. I agree that the station locations with C11A are the best alternative I’ve seen. I’d slide the Hospital Station a tad north (which I think is the current ST thinking as well) and the East Main south a bit. If ST had the money to build a bored C11T then I’d be all for it. Running at grade up 108th though is a non-starter. It would be like putting Central Link up on 3rd Ave. Bellevue ain’t DT Seattle but it’s a far cry from RV.

        C9T seems to be the only viable tunnel alternative left on the table. That moves the TC station a bit south making it even more compelling to slide East Main down at least an equal distance toward Wilburton.

  11. So… Could I ask if there has been any discussion on the alignments in Seattle for EastLink? I was surprised that there is no connection to CentralLink until the ID Station. if your commuting from Microsoft campuses and want to go to the Rainier Valley you’ll have to transfer to a local bus at Rainier it seems. Also, there is going to be a large number of eastsiders that will want to go to the stadiums. The alignment shown on the map means they’ll have to double back to get there.

    While it’s a bit out of the way, what do people think of moving the entry point to Mount Baker station and utilize CentralLink’s track from there? People wanting to go south could change tracks at Beacon Hill. Failing that I hope they construct center platforms in the DSTT at least at the ID station.

    1. If you were going to do that it would make more sense directionally to continue the trains to the airport. But that would mean people going between DT Seattle and DT Bellevue would have to change trains and I think most of the ridership is going to be eastsiders commuting to jobs in DT Seattle and Capitol Hill yuppies commuting to Bellevue and the Microsoft Campus. If SB connections were the goal then Central Link could have saved a ton of money by continuing up Ranier and then using the planned East Link route to DT. But ST was flush with money at the time and built an underground art museum instead.

      1. Oh, and it wanted to be able to serve the dense, very-high transit-ridership Beacon Hill neighborhood, the jobs-rich SODO area, and the stadiums. But the underground art museum is another very nice element of that routing.

      2. I’ve read that Beacon Hill is the most used station outside of DT, TIB and SEA but it’s competion is pretty weak. Beacon Hill is dense? Come on, it’s all single family detached houses. If they’d sited next to the VA Hospital or the PacMed Building then maybe; but it’s in an area that’s not only lacking density but is dead set against it.

      3. A lot of North Beacon Hill is low-rise apartment buildings, which add up to a pretty good density. It certainly seems like it is the most used station between International District and Tukwila, anecdotally. It’s not true at all that the area is dead-set against density. Beacon Hill’s neighborhood plan update, along with others in the Rainier Valley, was blocked by just a couple residents acting alone, while it appears that most Beacon Hill residents are excited about the possibility of mixed-use projects around the station.

      4. As someone involve in our neighborhood association, “just a couple residents acting alone” can’t block anything. It’s the same people that have the dedication to show up and testify yes, but they are not acting alone. My reading is most of the Beacon Hill residents like the neighborhood just like it is. That’s why they moved there! Unless you’re a developer looking to cash in nobody really wants change unless things are totally AFU. Hence the idea Seattle could get a “do over” with the RV routing.

        Low rise apartments as they exist on Beacon Hill don’t even come close to warranting light rail. Even if it was at the surface! A tunnel to reach that area was silly. It wasn’t even supposed to be a station, just a necessity of excavation required to reach the MF to possibly be filled in later. If it was thought out the VA and/or PacMed would have been the logical location. The story that it’s better used than the RV stations just points to the fact the route was political rather than practical. It’s better used than stations that aren’t. Mount Baker is the big disappointment. I think that’s got to be a Metro failure to get in sync. Yeah, it may suck if forced transfers are implemented there (or not!) but the decision was made and the money spent. Give it a go.

      5. Bernie I believe the lawsuits in question were filed by individuals and not neighborhood associations.

      6. That is correct. North Beacon Hill council did not file the complaint. An individual who attends the council meetings did.

        As for the Beacon Hill Tunnel, it was not part of the original ST MOVE plan. All the original alignments had the Rainier Valley line continuing up Rainier Avenue and connecting to the I-90 center roadway around Dearborn St (ie. Goodwill). The eastsiders complained about losing their exclusive transitway and the Rainier Velley ROW was more narrow north of McClellan and there were a desire to serve the stadiums and SODO area, so a Beacon Hill tunnel was proposed.

        The original tunnel plan did not have a Beacon Hill Station. At that time, I was on a North Beacon Hill Action Plan committee, and the thought was to see if a station was feasible, since the tunnel went underneath our small business district. ST did some studies and did see it had decent ridership, though the cost of the station was $80M in 1996 YRE (I think). After doing a lot of politicking with Seattle City Council and ST board, we did get a station. There were proposals to just shell out a station and install it later. In any case, a shaft would have to be built regardless if there was a station or not, thus a joke around around was “Beacon Hill was going to get the Shaft” (and I was ready to play the theme song “shaft” at a ST board meeting.).

        Mt. Baker Station actually had a projected higher ridership than Beacon Hill, but had not much housing nearby (and lousy platform transit connections). Also noted, is that Beacon Hill residents tend to be more greener and probably willing to walk a little farther to get to the station. and the transit connections at Beacon Hill station is very good, unlike the Rainier Valley stations.

        Warren – Beacon Hill

      7. ID Station would have done a fine job serving sporting events. A Maginal Way alignment would have done the same thing without the tunnel. So, the cost of the tunnel is really about serving the private owners of the sports teams while still creating the feel good urban renewal of the RV. Beacon Hill just happened to luck out. ST doesn’t think it’s worth paying for a short tunnel in DT Bellevue but if professional Sports are in the mix then full bore ahead. If only we’d bought the Sonics a new arena; we’d have gotten a tunnel for free ;-)

        All the original alignments had the Rainier Valley line continuing up Rainier Avenue and connecting to the I-90 center roadway around Dearborn St (ie. Goodwill). The eastsiders complained about losing their exclusive transitway
        Brilliant. So now, if East Link is built the eastside loses the ROW anyway. I guess that’s why the West Subarea is still on the hook for paying the cost of the track from ID Station to Dearborn [officially known as Rainer Station].

      8. Sigh, as long as STB is the official site for people to complain about not having express bus service from Duval to Yelm that they want someone else to pay for I’m going to whine about the lack of a preview function… which should be paid for by an excise tax on transit fares :=

    2. Well from Bellevue to the west side of Mount Baker Ridge, East Link virtually has to go on I-90. They only way for it to connect down in the Rainier Valley would be for it to turn at Rainier, go down, then meet up at Mount Baker Station for the journey to Downtown. This would increase the distance between Rainier Station and International District Station from 1.5 mi to about 4 miles, and add four more stations that it wasn’t previously servicing. Therefore, it would add at least 7-10 minutes onto an East Link trip, which would just be too much, and I’m not sure the SODO at-grade portion could handle trains as frequently as is planned for Central and East Link put together.
      A streetcar down Rainier from Jackson to Mount Baker Station was included in the Streetcar Network Plan, although it was put as a possible future line rather than an immediate one because it would duplicate Link service in some ways. I hope that once East Link opens we can build that, to connect East and Central Link and provide service to future development along that corridor. Hopefully it could be extended all along the 7 route someday.

      1. Thanks for your responses. Ya, I figured the connection as you described would be impractical. I’m just disappointed that there are not more natural connections between segments outside of downtown. Living in Chicago there are a number of places to connect between the various “L” lines even outside of downtown.

      2. Yeah, someday we’ll have a 405 line from Lynnwood (connecting to North Link) to Kirkland to Bellevue (connecting with East Link) to Renton to Tukwila (connecting to Central Link) to Burien (possibly in the future connecting with West Link).

      3. Yeah, someday. Someday maybe Washington State will build a real bridge across Lk. Washington. My hope that the original idea for doing it on the cheap might never work out is long gone. East Link, fixated on I-90 missed the “boat” for another generation. Sadly, the rebuild of I-90 and 520 will forever be out of sync so….

    3. I think the vast majority of the East Link riders are headed to/from downtown, just like today’s 55x riders. Any change in the route to better serve southbound eastsiders would add a good deal of time to the “typical” rider’s trip.

      The local bus transfer to the Rainer valley is pretty easy anyway, a direct transfer to the 7 with it’s nice short headways. Transfer to the southbound Central line will be easy too; the stretch from Rainer to the ID station is a grade-separated route following the freeway, and it’ll be really quick.

      Even ignoring that, I think trying to take East link down to the Mt. Baker station would pose some engineering difficulties. The valley the I-90 tunnel exits over runs SE with some pretty steep slopes on either side. The track would have to make at least 120º turn in a pretty narrow valley. Then you’d have to find ROW along a densely developed corridor for a couple miles, and execute another 120º+ turn into the Beacon Hill tunnel.

    4. The main problem for east-south trips is the center platform at ID station (and almost all the stations). A northbound passenger will have to transfer to a soutbound train to get to the eastside, and the opposite on the return trip. It may be just as attractive to ride the 7 to Rainier station, but then they’re stuck in traffic on the 7.

  12. Although I disagree with a lot of the ideas for infill stations that people have brought up along North Link, I think each possibility should be considered in a case-by-case basis, so I’m certainly not against having stops that are closer to each other in general. One place along East Link where they should consider another stop is at 51st between Overlake and SE Redmond. It is several miles between those two stations, and so that needs to be broken up. 51st Street at 520 would be a good location because the Microsoft campus and surrounding business parks are sprawling and could best be served by multiple stations. This station would serve the north end of the Microsoft campus, the Nintendo campus, and Digipen, among others, and would make for some good bus connections. It’s a little less than 2/3 of a mile from Overlake Transit Center, which is less than what I would typically want for suburban stop spacing, but this station makes sense.

    1. There are also all those Ewok-village apartment developments on the west side of 148th (1000 feet away). They’re weird, horrible excuses for high-density development, but they do in fact contain a high density of occupants!

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