by TIM BOND

Sound Transit held an open house for the S 200th Station on Wednesday evening. This was an opportunity for the public to explore the station features and alignment. Sound Transit had many staff members on hand with over 130 residents in attendance.

South 200th Station will be an elevated station connected to SeaTac/Airport Station by a 1.6 mile elevated guideway. The station will feature off-street parking, a kiss and ride facility, bicycle amenities including racks and lockers, and a bus transfer area (currently the station area is only served by Metro’s RapidRide A Line—which stops a block away). The station itself would span over S 200th Street making it quite visible by those that pass by on International Boulevard.

The station and alignment are still under preliminary design. Sound Transit would like to accelerate construction and move the opening date from 2020 to 2016. The cost of accelerating construction is approximately $40 million (in addition to the estimated $300m for station and alignment construction). This is due to additional financing costs as well as operational costs for starting service four years early. Sound Transit applied for but was not awarded a TIGER II grant. So far, ST has secured or is recommended to receive $15m in grant funding:

  • $7m of CMAQ funding for the right-of-way phase through grant competitions through the Puget Sound Regional Council.
  • ST is recommended to receive a total of $8m (spread over 2 biennia) through the WSDOT Regional Mobility grant competition. The Regional Mobility grants are expected to be awarded by the WA legislature this spring.

There aren’t any open grants at the moment, but when there are, Sound Transit will be submitting applications. Sound Transit is also conducting value engineering to determine if costs of the project can be reduced. More after the jump.

The station and alignment are still undergoing preliminary design. In May, the Sound Transit Board will be presented with a 70% design and will vote on whether or not to proceed with accelerated construction. There are several reasons to accelerate construction:

  • this extension would open at the same time as U-Link, completing all the Sound Move projects by 2016;
  • right now it is a very good climate for ST to solicit bids;
  • adding a station increases ridership, and this station is particularly helpful for those coming from the south end of King County; and
  • opening this station would relieve parking pressure at Tukwila International Boulevard Station.

Alignment

The elevated trackway will connect to the tracks currently at SeaTac/Airport and continue south on airport property. From there, the alignment will continue south along the east side of 28th Ave S. Because the alignment is elevated, the physical footprint on the ground is minimal therefore requiring few property acquisitions. The columns would be placed between the sidewalks and the edges of the existing parcels where possible. Because the guideway would extend over some properties, Sound Transit would need to acquire vertical easements for some parcels. Because the alignment hasn’t been approved by the board, actual work for acquiring property or easements has not yet been authorized.

I asked how running on the east side compared to using the land on the west side of 28th–all of which is owned by the Port of Seattle. An answer was not immediately available.

Parking

Parking is a huge issue for this station. Terminus stations always have the highest demand for parking. The current design calls for a 630 space garage to be built immediately west of the station on the north side of S 200th. Sound Transit’s estimate is that peak demand will be 900 spaces—when the next extension opens, that number would likely drop back down near 600. An important question to ask is whether or not to build the garage for short term needs or for long term needs. Building for the long term means we’re not wasting money that won’t be utilized in the future. Building for the short term allows us to have enough spaces for projected demand as well as surges in ridership for special events. Another important advantage to consider with building a smaller garage is that it encourages riders to use other forms of transportation to get to the garage. For example, riders could use RapidRide A Line to connect to Metro’s underutilized Redondo Heights Park & Ride at Pacific Hwy & 274th or one of Metro’s other Park & Rides.

Another option is to charge for parking. Sound Transit hired a consultant to study paid parking last year. In addition to a capital cost of around $1m, the break-even point for enforcement came out to as much as $3 per space, effectively doubling overall rider costs in a way unlikely to be subsidized by employers. Implementing this would definitely free spaces in Sounder’s parking lots, but it would take ridership with it. Not wanting to kick ridership while its down, Sound Transit instead chose to more aggressively enforce parking regulations and use grant monies to lease nearby lots.

A third option specific to this station is dependent on neighbors. SeaTac Park is a privately owned parking lot whose primary business is serving customers flying out of SeaTac. Their lot is located directly underneath the south end of the station. What happens with this property remains to be seen.

Connecting Bus Service

I also asked about connecting bus service. It is too early to declare any specifics, and Sound Transit can’t say what Metro will do with their bus routes. At the current time, however, there are no plans for Sound Transit to truncate any routes at this station. A representative from Metro was not at the open house.

Continuing updates can be found on Sound Transit’s Airport Link Extension page.

126 Replies to “S. 200th St. Workshop”

  1. This segment continues to follow a strategy of a system searching for an identity.
    Stop spacing generally determines the average speed of all LRT systems nationwide. Our hybrid system of lots of stops close to Seattle(3/10th mile) stretching out to many over a mile or more between (1.6 mi. in this case) which creates a system of ‘Jack of all Trades… but Master of None’
    In the interest of system speed, it didn’t stop at SouthCenter. No stops for access from I-5 commuters to a Park-n-Ride.
    At some distance from the CBD, it becomes forever ‘uncompetitive’ with express buses traveling on HOV lanes, such as from FedWay TC to Seattle. By not stopping more frequently, such as Alaska Airlines HQ, or somewhere short of the 1.6 miles, your target ridership really drops off – No Access – No Riders.
    If Seattle wants a short line LRT, then do it right – stops every 1/2 mile.
    If Seattle wants a long distance line, then quit stopping about 5 miles from Seattle, and haul ass into the city on a direct path.
    In short, pick one and do it right.

    1. Yes Please! I couldn’t have said it better.

      Also, stop with the fancy art. I love art… in fact I’m a bit of an artist myself, but I’m not taking the train for a free art gallery. S. 200th St should just be a pair of tracks raised above the ground with a platform and a flight of stairs.

      1. I really hope someone builds lights into the U-Link tunnel to make it look like the train is traveling at warp speed through space.

      2. I mean actual warp speed-like lights. That would be my art submission. Something akin to the old Windows screensaver.

      3. Or something like the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel in Shanghai that I just rode last week, which is truly one of the most awesome experiences one can have in the whole world.

    2. I disagree. It doesn’t make sense to stop a lot where the expected mode of access is by car. But it does make sense to stop a lot where the expected mode of access is by foot. So link should have frequent stops within DT Seattle and to some degree in walkable neighborhoods. But anywhere they’re going to build 650+ unit parking garages, frequent stops are insane.

      Put another way, a stop every 1/2 mile in SeaTac would make the thing take forever to get to the prime destinations (=> low ridership). A stop every 2 miles in DT Seattle would mean a 1+ mile walk for some sections of downtown (=> low ridership).

      You can argue that the Rainier Valley segment, in particular, is done wrong — it should either have more stops to try to build more walkable neighborhoods around it or cater more to drivers (with garages, more private lots, etc). But that’s a different discussion than whether there should be more frequent stops in SeaTac. That one’s simple — there shouldn’t be.

      1. I would argue that the goal of reaching SeaTac Airport on the initial segment is wrong and that screwed up the segment along MLK. If Sound Transit wasn’t so concerned about Downtown-to-Airport travel times, more intermediate stations could have been constructed, serving more people who are ultimately paying every day for their system.

        And lets not forget, the Link already has low ridership…

    3. I think many of these concerns could be addressed by building a (relatively cheap) bypass through the Duwamish valley. Make it grade-separated with only one or two stops between downtown and Seatac and you have yourself a regional express to the south county, in addition to the Ranier Valley line, which you could then infill at Graham St and maybe another station between TIBS and RBS, giving you an urban line with shorter stops.

      Also, as I’ve pointed out before, ST2 doesn’t even fund a Federal Way TC extension (only to Redondo Beach, and in the current funding climate, that could be more than a decade off), so the debate over 577 commuters is moot until we start discussing ST3. For ST3, West King will need a major project, and a 2nd Ave tunnel along with a Duwamish bypass and West Seattle/Ballard line would make lots of sense.

      Martin apparently has another post lined up about this and I am agog for this discussion, as I think Mike is absolutely right about this in the long run, and ST3 will be a crucial opportunity to set the character of the system in the long run.

      1. We need to build Link in areas that don’t have it before we start adding bypass lines. Ballard, West Seattle, 45th, and Burien-Renton (Southcenter). It’s inequitable to build a super-express to the airport when a larger number of people have 30+ minute crawling bus rides between Ballard-downtown and Ballard-Brooklyn every day.

      2. Good luck convincing all those South King County residents that they should be spending their money on Ballard’s transportation.

      3. Tim, I know that you’re simply restating a political truism, but the truth is that someone from South King is infinitely more likely to use a line to Ballard or West Seattle than I am to ever set foot on a line to South King. Good urban transit serves myriad destinations of use to both residents and those who are drawn into the city from elsewhere (who number in the hundreds of thousands on any given day). They are multi-directional. Hinterlands rail extensions are essentially one-way.

        The equitableness of sub-area equity doesn’t stand up to such scrutiny.

      4. Our current definition of subarea equity is the brace that holds ST together, without which the entire thing would explode in regional squabbling and backstabbing. In return for building marginal projects in South King, we get one leg of a decent light metro system for the urban part of Seattle (from Northgate to the I.D.), and a heavy streetcar that will serve Bellevue, the Ranier Valley and the airport. I can live with that.

      5. d.p., just like Bruce said, we’ll use your money to spend on your projects. I absolutely agree that more people would use a Ballard to X line than a SeaTac/Des Moines to X line, but there are also more people in Ballard to fund that line.

        If we only spent money on the places where it “could” be used now, we’d never spend any money on the ‘burbs and they’ll just get worse and worse. At least Airport Link Extension is a step in the right direction.

      6. Tim,

        But the point I was making is that the urban sub-area funds pay for projects that are used by all, while the south sub-area funds pay for projects that will be used exclusively by people in the south sub-area.

        With the south’s residents using the projects to which they didn’t have to contribute (but not vice versa), it’s not actually equitable… it’s a subsidy!

      7. South residents won’t necessarily use Seattle’s projects, but that is a good point. However, if we don’t connect them to each other, we get a big lecture from, um, you.

    4. By not stopping more frequently, such as Alaska Airlines HQ, or somewhere short of the 1.6 miles, your target ridership really drops off – No Access – No Riders.God forbid those Alaska employees to walk the eight blocks south of the station.

      Take a look at the alignment map and tell me what you see in the 12 blocks between 188th and 200th that deserves its own stop.

      1. Maybe the answer is we shouldn’t continue building there, and instead serve the places where people already live and the infrastructure exists to increase density rather than try to build anew.

      2. Maybe you should’ve been involved in planning, instead of coming in this late in the game after the Board has already chosen a preferred alignment.

      3. Except that now that South King is broke, we have a very valid reason and opportunity to step back and look at whether it makes sense to continue pushing for investment in that corridor.

      4. I see more at 188th than I do at 200th. That 8 blocks is also a 1.2 mile walk from either station to the Alaska Air HQ. That’s well outside what most people are willing to walk. Saying “god forbid they have to walk” in the transit planning process isn’t acceptable.

        Tell us what is at 200th that deserves a stop over 188th. I see a couple bars at 200th. I suppose that’s important since the only reason I ride Link is to get to the Columbia City Ale House. At 188th, I see a major job center, 2 big hotels, more dense housing, more opportunities for development east of the station, and a roadway better suited for frequent bus service to areas west of the Airport.

      5. In the too late to the table category I just can’t help thinking that combining this project with the Port’s rental car facility could have been a win win. Oh well. Then again, given the shear scale of the rental car facility, 3,200 spaces, I can see where a satellite rental car facility could take over any excess capacity of a larger than life garage should transit need be scaled back due to an extension farther south.

      6. Mike–any idea how many employees actually work there? Also, any idea how much it would cost to acquire all the properties necessary to build the station and its associated parking?

        You should probably go look at the Board’s decision. Chances are good that they’re not as retarded as you think they are and made the decision for a good reason.

      7. “we have a very valid reason and opportunity to step back and look at whether it makes sense to continue pushing for investment in that corridor”

        “Maybe the answer is we shouldn’t continue building there, and instead serve the places where people already live and the infrastructure exists to increase density rather than try to build anew.”

        What other ST rail/bus lines would you recommend in South King instead? It’s their money; it can’t be used for lines in Seattle. And how would you organize a revote to change ST’s mandate for South Link? By the time ST3 rolls around, Link will either be extended south of 200th or it won’t be. If it is, it’s too late. If it isn’t, South King won’t have any money to build anything.

      8. South King already doesn’t have any money. I am in fact proposing holding off on building South Link until a revote is held as part of ST3. I’d propose a West Seattle to Renton line, of which the South King taxpayers would be responsible for funding the Burien to Tukwila portion. That sounds like a more responsible investment to me.

      9. The voters already said that this is what they wanted. Basically what you’re saying is that we should re-vote to see if they want to spend money on something else.

      10. Yes, Tim, I thought I was clear that I am proposing exactly that.

        When we voted on ST2, we didn’t predict losing so much tax revenue. We’ve had to delay the S 200th St extension so long, it threatens to overlap with ST3.

        A logical proposal for ST3 would be a line connecting West Seattle to Ballard and Renton. And since the money we thought we would have for the S 200th St extension doesn’t exist, we should consider applying future revenues to the more-useful East-West connection instead of the delayed S 200th St extension.

        And then maybe we can kill this ridiculous notion of sending light rail to Tacoma.

      11. North and East King revenues will be fully committed doing North Link/North Corridor and East Link until 2023 at the earliest. The late 2020’s is the earliest you could break ground on a Burien-Renton line, and the South King contribution isn’t that big, so S 200th St probably won’t interfere with such a line being built.

        Given the choice between sitting on our hands for twenty years and building S 200th St, I vote for the latter.

      12. Kyle S–I’m not really liking the idea of telling voters “you made the wrong decision and now we’re changing it”. If the voters didn’t want it, they wouldn’t have voted for it. And if you’re going to ignore their vote, why have them vote in the first place?

        I don’t know where you’re getting these ideas that “we don’t have the money to build 200th”. If we were way short on money, Sound Transit wouldn’t be trying to accelerate the opening.

      13. Tim, stop putting words in my mouth. I never said or implied that the voters made the wrong decision. I’m saying that given circumstances and information that have arisen since the passage of ST2, it might be prudent to make a new decision to focus efforts on other aspects of the system.

      14. Yes you are. You’re saying that their choice to build this is not a good choice.

        Assuming I was old enough to vote in 1996 and continued to live in the South King area, I’d be pretty hacked if I voted for rapid transit to north Federal Way and then you changed it to serve West Seattle. For 20 years (actually longer than initially promised too) I’d have been adding a few cents to every purchase under the promise that I’d eventually get some rapid transit near me. Now all of the sudden you want to move that to West Seattle, which was never promised anything.

    5. I tend to agree, but I think the frequency and ease of use will still attract plenty of long distance riders to the system, not to mention passengers traveling between Federal Way and SeaTac, etc. Once the line is extended to Tacoma however, I see little use of taking Link all the way from Tacoma to DT Seattle (let alone the U-Dist) and I don’t think anyone would disagree. Luckily though it also stops in FedWay, SeaTac, Tukwilla, etc so Tacoma riders will still have plenty of reasons to take Link.

      Hopefully someday the Sounder will run frequently enough that long distance riders will have several convenient options.

      1. I could see Tacoma-DT Seattle trips on Link being favorable on evenings and weekends when 594 frequency drops to half-hourly.

      2. According to schedule, the 594 takes 45 minutes from Tacoma Dome to 4th and Jackson, while Link takes 30 minutes to get from ID/Chinatown Station to the airport. I’m not sure how long it will take for Link to get from the airport to Tacoma, but if it’s entirely elevated then 30 minutes seems reasonable; that would leave it 15 minutes slower than the 594, assuming that there isn’t any traffic on I-5.

      3. Those numbers are reasonable.

        Let’s say it’s 8:01 and the 594 just departed. You could wait until 8:30 and you’d arrive in Tacoma at 9:15.
        Worst case is that the next Link train isn’t until 8:16, and it’d take 60 minutes to get there, putting you in Tacoma at 9:16.

      4. Assuming your final destination is TDS. Don’t forget that the bus continues through downtown Tacoma while Link would require a transfer to Tacoma Link (I don’t buy the idea that Central Link is going to run on Tacoma Link tracks, especially not initially).

    6. I think they’ve been making the correct choices for the most part. If you look here, they are building a fairly normal light rail system. If you want local service, fight for streetcars.

    7. The problem with Link is they’re trying to be the highest-capacity LRT system in the nation. No other system has the ability to utilize 400′ trains carrying 800 people on 2-minute headways. But LRT isn’t meant to do this. Sound Transit tried to build a metro/heavy rail system but failed. They also tried to build a light rail system, and also failed. It really is a bastard child. It lacks the flexibility of a good, frequent-stop LRT system but still has too much slow stuff to make it a good metro/heavy rail. There isn’t the cute fuzzyness we get with other LRT system, but there isn’t the serious business feeling with a metro.

      Sound Transit also did something that no other LRT system has tried to do: go to the airport first. By doing so, ST totally ignored many useful TOD opportunities (more stops along MLK), build big P&R’s, and go to huge local destinations, as they struggled to meet an objective that so far hasn’t produced the intended results. The worst part is they want to build these monster $200-$400 million super stations. Imagine trying to justify building a $200 million station just for Alaska Air? But if we had cheapo $25-50 million it wouldn’t even be a question. And what on earth was the idea for a small P&R at Boeing access road just to have a Sounder connection? Bizarre. Where was the plan to do something on the 599 corridor? Lots of opportunities for a big P&R and TOD there. Or what about an Orcas infill station? That 1.7 mile gap is really awkward, especially street running. If Sound Transit had not focued so hard on getting to the airport first, they might have thought about building the best damn bulletproof system for the initial segment.

      HOWEVER, this weird heavy rail thing will be great once North Link comes into play, but so many opportunities were lost for Seattle. I’m glad also to see that some people seem to agree that the Link is kinda crappy.

      1. Actually, Phoenix didn’t, although they’re fixing that now. You still have to take a free shuttle.

  2. “this extension would open at the same time as U-Link, completing all the Sound Move projects by 2016”

    Except for Brooklyn Station.

      1. A station at 45th was supposed to be built as part of Sound Move, Roosevelt and Northgate were additional.

  3. Seatac Park could modify their business model to leverage access to the airport via Link. Park N Fly sort of does this with their choice of the more expensive “Valet” lot vs. the “Self-Park” lot right across the street from the A Line Stop and the pedestrian bridge to the Link station. (Utilizing the access provided by the pedestrian bridge, not Link itself)

    As for this extension, I’m going to channel Bernie here: $340 Million for 1.6 miles of track and a 600-900 stall parking lot? Without some really serious bus connections that make sense, this project seems to feed into the criticisms of the expense of building Link. Can somebody explain how this thing makes sense? Is it simply the most expensive part of the eventual extension to the south?

    $340 Million would buy an awful lot of buses although it probably wouldn’t buy much in the way of HOV ramps or lanes.

    1. Even with the most serious bus connections it’s really hard to justify spending that much money on 1.6 miles of Link. Imagine how far we could stretch the trolley bus network with that money. Or build the entire Seattle Streetcar Network. Or give West Seattle some real transit options.

      It makes little sense. The numbers are really mind boggling. And part of the problem is ST’s fettish for huge, costly, complex aerial stations. Maybe ST should simplify the design to ENCLOSE all the future aerial stations from weather. Standing at Tukwila Sta is nice, SeaTac not so much…

      1. Mike, I think you’re missing the bigger picture here. The point is not to get to 200th, the point is to get to Redondo/Star Lake. 200th is the next piece that gets us there.

      2. No, I do get the point. The point of any major transit system line this is to build an excellent functioning system that best serves the local taxpayers, major destinations and the points in between. The point should not be to get to some distant park & ride, but to make sure everything is served properly and effectively before blowing more money.

      3. And you’re also missing the fundamental point that this is South King’s money and cannot be spent elsewhere. It’s almost universally true that transit money — O&M and capital — would be more better spent (both environmentally and from a butts-on-seats perspective) in the city than in the burbs, but it is politically impossible to do that.

    1. I’m having visions of Federal Detainees as part of a chain gang, boarding Link for the days litter patrol, all swiping their ORCA cards.

  4. While I normally oppose “overbuilding” of fancy stations and transit centers, I hope they make this one really nice, really easy for kiss-and-riders, and really accessible from the highway…

    Because this is as far south as Link should be built anytime in the forseeable future!

    There’s just no good reason to spend billions of dollars on an extension through the auto-oriented hinterlands. If people are going to drive to it anyway, let them drive to the all-around excellent transfer point that S. 200th offers.

    When the far-south ‘burbs can offer any other form of high-frequency-transit-enabling land usage, then we can talk about an extension.

    But having those long-distance extensions even on the table creates a presumptive constituency against reasonable stop spacing in the urban zone. The relatively worthless future transit expenditure therefore works to destroy the infinitely more efficient transit form.

      1. Seattle to Everett has lots of potential for land use shifts.

        We’ll likely see a lot of the parking lots, SF houses, low rise apartments, and crappy one-story commercial structures within 1/2 mile of the Brooklyn station redeveloped. The same thing applies at Roosevelt (where the neighborhood has asked for more density) and Northgate (with plenty of underutilized land and a Urban Center designation).

        While the North Corridor between Northgate and Lynnwood hasn’t been planned Lynnwood wants to build a new Bellevue like downtown near the Lynnwood TC. A highway 99 alignment through Shoreline would offer lots of opportunity for TOD on Aurora. Even if an I-5 alignment is chosen the Shoreline School District site at 185th offers an opportunity for TOD as does Montlake Terrace’s plans for the Montlake Terrace TC.

        For Seattle to Lynnwood Link the daily ridership across the county line is likely to be higher than the entire daily ridership of the South line from Redondo Beach to IDS or even East Link from Overlake to IDS. Transit demand between Seattle and South Snohomish county is huge.

        For ST3 and beyond Link stops being as time competitive with buses or driving past the Ash Way TC. However the difference in travel time compared to the 510 is nowhere near as dramatic as the bus vs. Link difference for Tacoma to Downtown Seattle. Given the amount of congestion on I-5 between Seattle and Everett Link will likely prove much more reliable most of the day and may still beat the bus during peak hours.

        Also remember that a rail line serves trips between any two stations and not just the endpoints of the line. So Link to Everett will serve trips within South Snohomish County and trips between Snohomish County and North Seattle and Shoreline in addition to just Downtown Seattle/Everett trips.

        So in short I support extending Link North all the way to Downtown Everett, East to Downtown Redmond and Issaquah, but don’t think it makes much sense South of Highline CC and certainly not any further South than the Federal Way TC.

    1. Federal Way will most likely start to become a Downtown Bellevue-like edge city in the next 15 years, plus Highline Community College (planned to be one stop down from S. 200th) is a huge destination for people who would be pretty likely to take transit. In addition, each stop will have large park-and-rides, which will well-serve the people in the area, and if we do it right every stop can go in tandem with zoning changes to encourage TOD. Eventually we’ll get down to Tacoma, and it’ll be quite successful.
      And, barman, it’s similar with the north corridor. Lynnwood has indicated that it wants a skyscraper-filled Downtown, and I’m guessing they’ll get it with all the growth that’s going to happen in the next few decades. A couple potential station locations farther up I-5 have been zoned to allow pretty tall buildings, considering the suburban setting, and there are various important destinations up there, like Everett Mall. Then of course there’s Everett itself, which is a big destination. And both of these routes have a huge amount of congestion on I-5 right next to them that’s only going to get worse, so Link could very well be faster than non-stop express buses. And Link allows these people to get to other urban centers like the U District and Capitol Hill without transferring, along with Downtown.

      1. When I went to Highline it was very auto-oriented. So much that all the lots filled and people had to park in the non-existent West parking lot (grassy area next to the soccer field) and the Far East parking lot (Lowe’s).

        At the RapidRide community outreach event I attended, Metro staff was almost encouraging people to use TIBS, FWTC, and Redondo as P&R lots for Highline. Not worth it (to me) since parking is only $32/quarter. Or it might be worth it until the last day you can get a refund for classes, which is when the parking lots start having open spaces.

      2. Not in 15 years. It took Bellevue 30 years (there was one 12 story building in 1980). Bellevue may never have taken off if it hadn’t been for restrictions on growth in Seattle. I don’t see anything being built in the next five years while demand catches up with the last round of over building. Then there’s plenty of projects already lined up in Bellevue and Seattle. After that where would you rather have a high end condo, SLU, Bel-Red or Federal Way. I really don’t see any hope for Federal Way unless there’s a much greater revival of the Tacoma DT. Losing Russel Investments was big step in the opposite direction.

  5. Check out the stop spacing on the Dubai Metro if you all want to get up in arms about stop spacing…

    Myself who lives in the South end, I don’t see any problem with the stop spacing. There are SEVERAL call centers in the immediate area of South 200th, along with more fruitful development opportunities! Not only that, there are also much more housing closer to South 200th than there is further North of the station. The decision for 200th has always been a favorite of mine.

    Remember, the entire point of RapidRide would be to serve what Link would NOT serve. Those that want to go to the Alaska Airlines (one of many call centers and corporate headquarters along Pacific Ave) can easily walk or transfer to RapidRide at Tukwila/South 154th or Sea Tac Airport Station.

    I have a real hard time understanding why some of us are getting upset over the location of this station when it works out beautifully when you look at the larger picture and use existing services that are already in place.

    My honest opinion is that RapidRide should remain in place and Link terminate at Highline Community College right on its campus. There is no purpose for Link to continue further South for developmental purposes with so many other options that can do a better job of it, faster and cheaper. As others have stated, there is already express bus service, RapidRide AND Link for those that need to get anywhere else. Going to Tacoma? Take the 594 or 574 or the 578… There are plenty of other options rather than blowing the money on Link.

    Keep in mind, this is coming from a “railfan” but we also need to be smart. Federal Way doesn’t make a lot of sense when you have RapidRide AND express buses that serve there…It is a nice thing to have but at what cost when it could go to better/improved services on the 57x buses or even more improved Sounder service…

    1. I agree with your statement about Highline CC. That would make a wonderful terminal with the college as a destination and connections to numerous bus routes from Des Moines and Normandy Park.

      1. As a Normandy Park resident that drives to the Tukwila station every day, I look forward to having a closer station and more parking.

        Bus connections to Normandy Park are only available on 1st Ave which is over a mile away from home and up-hill. While I would prefer not to drive, walking is not a realistic option, and driving to Tukwila station or the future S 200 station beats driving to the Burien TC.

    2. The FWTC area is probably going to become an Edge City with skyscrapers in the next decade or two (the first attempt failed, but the economy will recover and the idea with it). But in order to make it really successful and to get the people who live there to take transit, you need a rail system like Link.
      Tacoma is the second-largest city in the Seattle area and has a large transit dependent population, so I think it is the perfect destination for light rail. Link might take an hour to get from Downtown Tacoma to Downtown Seattle (I think it should get its own tunnel through Downtown Tacoma that would stop far less than the Tacoma Streetcar), but at peak times that’s pretty similar to express buses stuck in traffic, even in the HOV lanes, and traffic is probably going to get a whole lot worse over the years, so Link will look even more favorable.
      Finally, most of the possible routes that you could use Link to take (Tacoma to Federal Way or SeaTac or Capitol Hill or the U District, etc) don’t really have enough ridership on their own to support a very frequent express bus all day, but when you put them all together, you can support it, so then everyone will be able to get to myriad destinations at least every ten minutes all day long.

  6. I’m wondering what 200th St Station adds to Link ridership that Kent-DesMoines Station will not. There isn’t that much neighborhood there (at 200th). There is almost no local bus-shed due to 200th essentially ending at I-5. ST doesn’t plan to truncate Pierce or South King express buses there. And since the station is west of Hwy 99, the truncation pairing of 200th St Station and then the airport south terminal won’t work.

    So there will be 600-900 parking spots there. That’ll fill the first one or two trains of the morning. (I can’t see how 200 people can fit in one car, BTW, unless the seats are removed, which might be an interesting idea in three- or four-car trains.)

    I say ditch 200th St Station, and start the engineering process on the much more useful Kent-DesMoines Station. Also, Redondo Beach Station ought to be reconsidered, as there isn’t much to serve there, either. Save the money for getting to Federal Way TC faster (both in construction and travel time).

  7. Did I read correctly that this 1.6-mile extension of Link will cost around $370 million? LOL

    [hijacking]

      1. That’s not the cost per mile. Recall from the post that the $40 million for acceleration will be used to pay additional financing and operating costs to open the line early. It’ll cost $300 million whether we build it today or five years from now. Actually we don’t know what it will cost, since no bids have been submitted. Bids could come in at, above or below $300m. But assuming it is $300m, we’ll take $300m and divide it by 1.6 and get $187.5m per mile, but this isn’t even the true cost per mile, because that $300m also includes building a station and a parking facility. If you’re Bjork, you could save a couple million by scaling the station back a bit and use bits of cardboard over the platforms to keep people dry, but I’d rather build something that people will NOTICE. You can’t use what you don’t know about.

        Also, part of the reason of the high “cost per mile” is that this project is so short. For the contractor, acquiring the necessary equipment is a fixed cost (they may or may not have a gantry laying around). Then you have to devise a methodology of making the columns and building the guideway and on and on. The more you build, the cheaper it becomes–to a point. Assuming it costs $75m for startup and $20m a mile (I am litterally just making numbers up) we could have a station 3 miles away for just $328m (that does not include the $40m for acceleration).

      2. You don’t count th stations and parking lot? Without stations and parking lots, nobody at all would ride it. Obviously, stations and parking lots are part of the cost of Link light rail.

        And so is financing. If you have to borrow money to build it, then that is part of the cost. $340 million is how much tax revenue is going to be spent on that 1.6 miles of Link light rail.

        [ot]

      3. You’re trying to turn the cost of the project in to a cost per mile. Either call it a $340 million project or find out the cost per mile of trackway.

        Also, if you bought a car that cost $25k and got a 48 month 6% loan, would you tell your friends the car cost $28,176? No, because the car still costs $25k even though you spent $28k on it. Financing charges change how much is spent, not how much an item costs.

      4. [ot]

        I’m not wild about S 200th St; if I had my druthers I’d build the Central Line and U-Line streetcars with this money instead, which would benefit far more people (commuters, tourists and residents) and provide far more environmental benefits. But within the scope of what’s politically and financially possible in the next few years, this is the best option and I can live with it. It gives Link a high-profile beachhead in South King, relieves the parking situation at TIBS, and if combined with sensible bus restructuring, provides lots of South King commuters with a hedge against high gas prices.

      5. Tukwila Intl Blvd to SeaTac/Airport is 1.7 miles and 3 minutes so the travel time between S 200th and SeaTac/Airport would also likely be 3 minutes. It could be slightly less since this segment is straighter. Also, once S 200th St opens, Tukwila Intl Blvd to SeaTac/Airport travel time could be reduced to 2 minutes since the trains can enter Airport station much faster than they do now.

      6. travel time could be reduced to 2 minutes since the trains can enter Airport station much faster than they do now.

        Why is that? They still have to go from speed to a full stop. Is it a safety regulation in case of a braking failure? As far a airport station numbers I’ll be surprised if they don’t increase since access from the south will be better. Anyone with a monthly pass will be tempted to use the kiss and cry rather than hassle with the airport drive. Also much easier than trying to use the cell phone lot. Just having more parking will help too since TIB can be at capacity it scares off some would be day trip use. A real ridership boost would come from offering rates competitive with the airport garage for overnight/weekly parking.

      7. Trains enter the Airport station slower (from my observations) because 1. they often have to switch tracks, forcing them to slow down as they approach the station, 2. if tracks are switched, operators don’t speed up only to slow down in the short distance to the platform, 3. the tracks end just beyond the platform, speed is reduced for safety, if for whatever reason trains overshoot the platform, there isn’t much track to left to brake.

      8. Also much easier than trying to use the cell phone lot.

        For the driver. The passenger(s) still have to go on that 1/4 mile excursion through the garage!

        A real ridership boost would come from offering rates competitive with the airport garage for overnight/weekly parking.

        We’re not building an airport shuttle system. If people want to park their car for days/weeks at a time near 200th and catch a flight, they can use SeaTac Park or one of the tens of other places closer to the airport.

    1. [ot]

      Link has a different dynamic, but maybe it will be similar when U-Link opens. As of now, Link ridership may be driven by tourist and other summer activities.

  8. What are the projected boardings per weekday at the S. 200th St. station in 2016? In 2020?

      1. As a back-of-the-envelope calculation, if we assume that O&M cost is proportional to track length, and 4.5k boardings were added immediately to Central Link’s average daily boardings, the cost per boarding would be $5.88. That said, it seems a little unlikely that it would be 4.5k out of the gate, being as TIBS + Seatac add up to 5k according to the per-station boarding stats for the first half of 2010.

      2. TIBS will drop when 200th opens. Airport will too, but to a lesser degree. STB will have a post (somewhat) discussing this and more soon.

      3. “4,500 daily riders expected at South 200th Street Station”

        No year. As usual, ST gives a vague number with no specific meaning. 4,500 daily “riders.” Probably means total boardings and deboardings combined at S.200th, which would mean about 2,250 daily boardings.

        Given that ST’s projections for Central Link from 5 years before it opened were about double what was actually achieved, I would say we might reasonably expect around 1,100 boardings per weekday at S. 200th in 2016, many of them people who now board at Tukwila, as mentioned in a post above. And probably the rest of whom would otherwise take the bus.

        All for a mere $340 million. Such a deal.

      4. And probably the rest of whom would otherwise take the bus.

        Don’t be stupid. A big chunk of the project cost is to build the P&R without which (according to your earlier statements) no-one would ride it. Setting aside the 10-15 minutes time saving and improved reliability of Link vs RapidRide, which will absolutely make a difference in ridership, your bizarre attempts at arguments aren’t even coherent: either the P&R has to be there to drive ridership or it doesn’t.

      5. “As usual” my fanny. This is one of the only places where no year is given.

        And nice try redefining the meanings. Rider means person which means 4,500 people. You cut that in half meaning that half those people would ride the train.

        Given that ST’s projections for Central Link from 5 years before it opened were about double what was actually achieved

        Except when they made those predictions, they were assuming Northgate would be coming online. When Federal grant money started disappearing and they chose only to go from SeaTac to Westlake, those numbers changed. As usual, you like to pick the best number to make Link look the worst.

      6. “And nice try redefining the meanings. Rider means person which means 4,500 people.”

        As in 2,500 boardings, and 2,500 deboardings? Which is not the same as 4,500 boardings, now is it? 4,500 boardings would also probably mean 4,500 deboardings, because most people would be making a round trip. So, 4,500 boardings implies about 9,000 riders — 4,500 in each direction.

        So, which is it? 4,500 boardings? Or 4,500 total riders, of which only about 2,500 would be boardings, and 2,500 deboardings? Can you tell by the way ST wrote that which of those two things they mean?

  9. We have to look at the line in the historical context of where South King transit has been and what South King residents want. 99 has had the best transit in South King for decades, and to the extent that people have moved to be close to transit, that’s where they’ve gone. It’s a former US highway, just like Aurora which people really want to put Link on. The auto-oriented businesses may not be there forever, just like Lynnwood is planning TOD islands at its Swift stops. Like all cities in the region, Des Moines and Federal Way will be pressured to accept their share of population growth, and it would be politically easier to put it on a street that already has transit and doesn’t have single-family houses.

    1. That’s not the choice that we face. As you are presumably aware from your diligent reading of this thread, I would much rather spend this money building Link in Seattle where the benefits of rail are vastly more pronounced than in South King.

      That said, given the choice between throwing money at South King bus service indefinitely (providing poorer-quality service at little up-front cost and tremendous ongoing cost), and spending capital money to slowly build out a system that will complement and, in parts, supplant the bus network (at high up-front cost and diminishing O&M cost), whilst also promoting better land use and reducing diesel consumption, I chose the latter.

      1. For some perspective, the population of South King County is LARGER than that of the City of Seattle. (http://www2.uwkc.org/kcca/subregion/SouthCounty/south.asp) It is of course more diffuse. But it is a population that is in need of transit services. So far the consequence of increasing density in Seattle has been astronomical increases in rents and property values. This is untenable for a large percentage of people that live in South King County to even consider moving into Seattle and furthermore, where would you put 700k people? The population of South King County is there and it will benefit by the construction of both Light Rail and more extensive bus services in that region. I think it is reasonable policy to say that growth should be confined to an area in the western portion of the counties bordering eastern Puget Sound and that we should plan our infrastructure to encourage density with an eye towards affordability. Outlying communities allow for low income people to live. Transit systems allow them mobility.

      2. Density does NOT increase rents; quite the contrary. Single family zoning (i.e. forced low density) combined with legal or physical barriers increases rents.

        The problem with suburban bus service is that if it’s done on the cheap (low frequency all-day milk runs), it’s useless for working people, so at best they will drive to a P&R and take Sounder/Link/RapidRide. If it’s done at high enough route and time densities to be useful (lots of direct routes on a grid or to hubs; better than 30 minute headways, 15 minutes on peak) it costs a fortune.

        In principle, I would support blanketing most of the suburban areas of King County in decent quality bus service, in addition to very high quality service in Seattle and the few other productive corridors in the county (RR B, the 120, the 150 and the 180 come to mind.) In practice, I suspect I’m in the small minority of people who’d happily stomach the tax increase required to do that.

        Moreover, Seattle is joined at the hip with the rest of King County, and our revenue sources are maxed out, and insufficient in the long run to even maintain the current levels of service. Because of that, suburban service competes dollar for dollar with vastly more productive and cost-effective urban service.

        Given these realities, I think the best option is one I’ve articulated before: high-quality, high-frequency transit in those areas where it is easily possible to be a fully functioning adult without a car, plus to regional transit hubs and major ridership corridors, and for everywhere else, do high-quality, good coverage one-way peak commuter service modeled on the way Metro serves Sammamish.

        People in the suburbs are not going to give up their cars, nor can they be reasonably expected to, as it’s impossible to live without them, unless bus service were boosted to unaffordable levels. Rather than provide token service all day, get the low-hanging fruit: commuting. Even people who love their cars and love driving hate commuting in traffic; yet for many people, the vast majority of the mileage on their car is commuting. Environmentally and financially, commuter service is the best bang for the buck in the suburbs, and I think it should be more widely considered.

      3. And to throw some specific ideas out there, based only on a couple of drives through South King and eyeballing some maps (don’t kill me if they don’t make sense):

        * Modify the 180 to connect at S 200th. Maybe truncate it there being as RR A + Link will serve the SR 99 corridor much better, RR F will serve the TIBS-Burien section of the 180, and the 560 already provides a Burien-Seatac-Renton-Bellevue express.
        * Investigate splitting the 150 into two routes around S 200th St, one serving Downtown-Ranier Beach-Southcenter-S 200th, the other serving points south.
        * Truncate or reduce the 121/131 at Burien TC maybe? Make people transfer to RR F + RR A to get to Highline? Not sure how big of a riot that would cause.

        Use hours saved from this to create peak-only routes that feed into S 200th St.

      4. 180: You’d lose your only route on Air Cargo Rd (save for the POS employee shuttles). Also, to get to 200th from the valley, you’d either have to make it turn left on International Blvd at 188th–the opposite direction of all the “stuff” or possibly run it up 216th. That’s a pretty steep hill and I don’t know if a 120% load could make it up the hill.
        I don’t know if there’s much benefit in connecting 180 to Link as it’s not really a downtown-Seattle oriented route. If you’re headed Dowtown from any portion east of I-5, you’re better off grabbing route 150 or 578. West of I-5 you’re already in RapidRide A Line’s (and 578) territory to connect you to TIBS or ST/A.

        150: I don’t think connecting this to RB would help at all. I’ve discussed it many times in the past with the Federal Way routes. Even if the truncation would allow you to double headways, it still increases the overall trip duration AND forces a transfer, both of which are ridership anti-boosters. For the southern half, you have the same problem with 180 as to how to get up the hill, and I’m not sure that once you detour around it’d be any faster taking Link to downtown than just staying on the current 150.

        121/131: You’d probably lose half its ridership as that serves Normandy Park and Des Moines. Highline is just the terminal.
        About the only thing you could do is split it in half at Burien. I’m never in that area so I can’t say how many trips that would disrupt.

      5. Density does NOT increase rents; quite the contrary. Single family zoning (i.e. forced low density) combined with legal or physical barriers increases rents.

        That’s not quite correct. Rather, density increases the supply of housing, while single-family zoning and other legal/physical restrictions on dense development reduce the supply of housing. Rents are determined both by this supply, but also by the demand for housing in a particular area.

        The distinction is subtle, but important. Why isn’t Capitol Hill the cheapest area of Seattle? Because, while its housing supply is higher than almost any other neighborhood in Seattle by land area, the demand for housing is even greater.

        That said, your basic point still stands. The high rents in dense neighborhoods can be taken as a clear sign that the market for residences in dense urban areas is undersupplied. The solution is not to eliminate this desirable commodity, but to provide more of it.

      6. As has been observed in most major cities in the world, suburban flight is driven in part by economics of supply. Rents increased in an area that becomes more desirable for all the things we agree here are desirable and people are displaced. Not everyone is a high paid tech professional, Boeing engineer or UW Administrator that can afford the rents for “middle class quality” housing in the city, let alone the average prices for homes. And in this era, even well educated and experienced people are struggling. When the Central District became gentrified, I was surprised to learn (anecdotally) that a number of the displaced residents ended up in South King County most notably in Federal Way.

        What viable choices do you think can be provided for a family of 3+ people making less than $30,000 a year to live in the city in a manner that does not require them to live in squalor or in real and present fear? Yes, they pay for it in their commute costs and time but what choice do they have?

        As I see it, the reality is that urban developers count on density increasing property values and their profits. Economic mitigation of those affected is not considered.

        That being said, I would support policies that encourage smart growth and affordable housing in all of our existing communities. I think mass transit and especially trains are excellent investments to help spur that growth.

      7. And we see why that’s happening in the US. Other European/Canadian cities have more neighborhoods that are walkable and have frequent transit. Even suburbs have comprehensive if half-hourly transit and night owls; and the inner-ring suburbs are often annexed by the city and thus get city transit.

        In the high-priced cities of Europe, you may have to live an hour or two outside the center, but there’s a metro station or full-time commuter rail nearby.

        But here, if you can’t afford Seattle there’s lovely Tukwila and SeaTac, but many parts have only a slow hourly bus or peak-only bus, going only to downtown Seattle, and you may have to walk twenty minutes to reach even that. And the housing just happens to get cheaper the further you are from a frequent bus.

    2. 1.6 miles is not the entire picture. There will be some people that ride from 200th to ST/A, but I’m going to guess that far more will ride further. Some of these people might be using different means of transportation to get to their destination. For example, if you live near Des Moines, you might take 131 to downtown since it is the most convenient. If this route was rerouted or deleted with a new feeder added, you could easily cut the trip time by 30 minutes.

      I’m not sure what Bruce’s intent was, but I think you are stretching his intended meaning. It saves people “30 minutes a day” and not “30 minutes a day between 200th and ST/A”.

      1. Ride the 131 all the way from DesMoines to downtown Seattle? I bet you’ve never actually done that, or you would have noticed nobody else does that.

        The 131 is one of the lowest-ridership bus lines in the Metro system. It’s days may be numbered. On weekdays, anyone wanting to get between Burien and downtown Seattle takes the 121 (or 122 or 123). The 131 is horrendously slower. On weekends, the 120 is a much faster path between Burien and Seattle.

        I still see use in the 131 as a route to connect riders along the 1st Ave S corridor to Link, if it were diverted along the 180 path instead of sending it zig-zagging to downtown Seattle. Making getting to the airport from neighborhoods behind the airport a 2-seat ride is just sadistic. And remember, not everyone taking Link is going downtown.

  10. The answer to your question about running down the east side of the road vs. the west side is not a cut and dry one. The biggest answer is that there are PSE trunk line electrical poles running down the west side that would cost additional millions of dollars and tons of time to replace, as they are extremely high power and serve the airport.

    Another reason is that the Port and DOT are planning on a connection to SR-509 from the 28th and 188th entrance to the airport as seen here: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/I5/SR509FreightCongestionRelief/overview.htm The current alignment is meant to accommodate this future work and running on the east east side of 28th makes the most sense, physically and financially.

    Also, while a lot of the property on the west is Port property, that doesn’t give ST a free pass to run light rail down it. There’s just as many hurdles to acquire Port property as public property.

  11. Though Bruce made an attempt at it, I still don’t see any useful bus connectivity created by 200th St Station. Nor do I see TOD emerging around the station. It will be a parking garage and otherwise still dominated by unwalkable industrial wasteland. (I should know. I used to work in that area, and tried walking it.)

    Skip it. Save a couple hundred million dollars with which ST can get a much better bang for its buck elsewhere.

    Start working on Kent-DesMoines Station, which will at least have some TOD, bike path connectivity, and be a good bus transfer station. If ST can only afford to build one more South Link station as part of the ST2 round, go with Kent-DesMoines.

  12. If the above comment was directed at the comment above it, note that it was in reference to the comment above the comment above it.

  13. Western White Center already has the awesome 120, among others, available for getting downtown. All of White Center (unincorporated part) has the decently-frequent 128 for getting to TIBS and connecting southward. Eastern White Center has the 131/134, but doesn’t make good use of it. It’s probably faster to walk over to the 120 and take it north than to wait an hour for the 131, and take that slow, scoliated route north.

    Combining the 121 and 131 into a route that expresses north after Olsen-Meyer P&R might be a better mid-day and weekend route. The 134 is a bust, waiting to be cancelled.

    The 131/134 used to serve a purpose by sidling over to Georgetown and going up Airport Way. Now, the 60 provides the WhiteCenter-Georgetown connection, with much more frequency. The 106 could easily take over the Airport Way routing.

    Sorry to get so far afield from 200th St. But my point stands that any re-gridding around 200th St Station would probably do better by serving TIBS, Airport Station, or Kent-DesMoines Station. 200th St Station offers zero long-term bus connectivity.

  14. Here’s a couple South King bus alternatives if we truncate Link at SeaTac.

    An ST Express bus from Kent East Hill, going west and stopping at Kent Station and SeaTac, then south stopping at all Link stations to Federal Way, then east to Auburn. (This could be two routes meeting at SeaTac.) It could be extended to Renton or Covington if ridership is demonstrated.

    Second, a Burien-Renton ST Express stopping at TIBS and Southcenter but not SeaTac. (This would be like RapidRide F but fewer stops. It could also replace RR F, helping Metro’s budget problem.)

    If both of these ran every 10-15 minutes, they would provide feeder service to Link, allow Link to substitute for Sounder when the latter isn’t running, and enhance east-west and Pac Hwy mobility. I don’t know what the cost would be compared to a Link extension, but it’s an idea.

    I agree that 240th would be a good southern terminus for Link if it’s decided not to go further. But not on campus because it would need to serve Kent too (Kent-Des Moines Rd is the most natural place for a Kent-Link express). I could see skipping 200th (without having seen the area). But these would be politically challenging to accomplish.

    1. Covington doesn’t pay the RTA tax, so it won’t stop there.

      I’m not chear on why you’re proposing a duplicate of the F line…

  15. It’s not light rail that will spur pedestrian freindly development at S. 200th; it’s the parking garage:

    Garage is hot spot in Miami Beach

    That’s the ticket, just think of parking garages as vertical parks. Open space is defined as a stall that’s not full :=

  16. @Charles I’m not sure how a family of 3+ making $30k a year are going to live anywhere nice, suburbs or city. Squalor can exist at any density.

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