Improved Brooklyn Station Design (north to the right)

At yesterday’s briefing to Sound Transit’s Capital Committee, a subset of the Sound Transit board, Link staff brought forward an improved design for the Brooklyn subway station. Two months ago, we reported that Sound Transit had chosen a low risk, but less effective, station design – a single entrance halfway between NE 45th St and NE 43rd St on Brooklyn. That plan would have been a poor choice for many reasons, notably reducing station visibility and increasing the surface walking distance for most users.

Sound Transit has now confirmed that they’re moving to this new plan – a north entrance just behind the Neptune theater, and another prominently on the corner of 43rd and Brooklyn. See full presentation here. This design maintains the lower risk that originally caused the one entrance plan – keeping the station box away from UW Tower (the former Safeco building), while significantly improving station accessibility. This is very encouraging – it continues to show that Sound Transit is taking pains to ensure their long-term infrastructure is designed well from the beginning.

96 Replies to “Brooklyn Station Design Improves”

  1. YES. Thank you for listening, Sound Transit. Our concerns were about the entrance, not the station box. Glad to see there’s a way to address both.

    1. This is very good sign!

      They clearly have talented, pragmatic problem-solvers on staff, who are willing to learn from the follies of ST1 and are committed to not repeating them in ST2.

      If only Metro were taking notes.

      1. I think Metro is moving in the right direction. Certainly not where we might like it but they are getting better.

      2. Well that I think is more a matter of money. On the exclusive ROW issues they could do better but besides that the budget is the largest hindrance.

      3. I respectfully disagree.

        On a matter like RapidRide, “lack of money” has everything to do with lack of priorities/lack of vision/failure to learn from your own mistakes.

        If your attempt at a “trunk” line isn’t fast or frequent enough, it’s walkshed does not expand. It fails to draw new riders from other modes, and it fails to divert riders from adjacent non-trunk lines. It fails to relieve you of the need to run inefficient service and non-beneficial overlaps elsewhere.

        Essentially, sub-optimal implementation fails to yield any system-wide efficiency improvements (and the corollary cost savings that would free up the the “budget” to further bolster your trunks).

        Put simply, half-assed implementation has few benefits, builds no momentum or demand for future improvement.

        Metro has no interest in averting this Catch 22.

        And on relatively budget-neutral efficiency matters (interior layout, wheelchair restrains, same ol’ bike racks), they’re shown pretty remarkable cranial thickness as well.

      4. You can’t act on those priorities if you don’t have the money to do it. Only you, d.p., seem to think that Metro doesn’t want to do it right. I don’t know what motive they have to do it “wrong”, other than a small budget. Despite what other governments may think, they can’t spend money they don’t have NOW to possibly save more money in the future. Yes, I know that the likelihood of these changes are almost surefire ways to save money, but in the game of Risk, Business Edition, they are not 100%.

        [d.p.’s disapproval of RapidRide’s] interior layout, wheelchair restrains, same ol’ bike racks

        – Interior layout is different. I don’t know how you could make it much better unless you removed all the seats. There are three doors. Have you still not been on? In all the times I’ve been on, I’ve never seen a wheelchair being loaded or unloaded.

        – Passive restraint wheelchair procurement systems were evaluated (source, page 5). Apparently the evaluation showed more cons than pros. I never saw the report.

        – Bike racks: What exactly do you want? CT’s patented design that takes up the space for 3+ people regardless of whether or not it’s being used? The current design of exterior bike racks means there is capacity for X people regardless of how many bikes are being transported.

      5. Tim, I wish I could link for Jarrett Walker’s dissection of the problem. I think it was in a video/talk (rather than a written screed).

        They don’t have any “motive to do it wrong.” But unless someone lights a fire under their bums, they have every motivation to do it “more or less the way we’ve been doing it,” because that way is familiar and “works well enough.” (This motivation is essentially psychological, as making massive changes to basic operating procedures would require admitting that you’ve been doing something substandard and wasteful for years!)

        We both know that I don’t think the way they’ve been doing things “works well enough.” The majority of “choice” riders don’t think it “works well enough,” and they show it by making the “choice” to avoid Metro (especially for non-commute functions).

        Find the money. Find the money by making bold decisions! Run the new lines at 5 minute frequencies at all times, cut the neighboring services to bare-bones levels, and then positively spin your revised priorities: “Try out RapidRide. You won’t ever want to go back to the old way.” When the improvement is palpable, this works. When the improvement is negligible (as it will be if current 18 riders are forced to transfer to sub-par RapidRide), people rightfully revolt and will no longer trust you. If you can’t even commit to your own flagship, why should they trust you for any of their transportation needs? (Never forget that transportation is a need!)

        I’m not alone in this sentiment; Martin has said the very same thing about’s Metro’s past refusal to make hard Eastside choices to keep RapidRide frequent past 7:30 PM.

        – Passive restraint: Trust me, the urban routes will have disabled riders on them. Passive restraint is used the world over. Metro’s study-and-reject is simply wrong!

        – Interior layout: 2-and-1. 2-and-1. 2-and-1. Side-facing 1, front-facing 1, whatever. Just 2-and-1. Like every other urban transit system in existence!

        – Bike racks: The bike rack thing is like the on-board cash payment thing, little delays that add up to big delays at present and will continue to do so on RapidRide in the absence of committed problem-solving. Add in the inevitable lane-priority compromises, the key intersections that will mysteriously be “ineligible” for signal priority, and the loose definition of the word “frequent,” and you get something essentially doomed to fail.

        All because big thinking and big action isn’t on the table. It should be.

      6. As far as I’m concerned, RapidRide is the fancy name for stop consolidation and new buses. It’s more about operational savings than any time savings for riders.

      7. run the new lines at 5 minute frequencies at all times, cut the neighboring services to bare-bones levels…and make it difficult for transit-dependent folks to actually get to the line? I guess that’s one way…

        Trust me, the urban routes will have disabled riders on them. Passive restraint is used the world over. Metro’s study-and-reject is simply wrong!

        I don’t disagree that they’re out there–I just haven’t seen them–yet.
        I find it interesting that you reject their evaluation without actually knowing what it entailed. For all you know, they could have surveyed riders and found that the majority of them disliked them. If that’s actually the case, I’m glad they put the needs of those riders ahead of the needs of an online persona that’s never actually used the line.

        you get something essentially doomed to fail

        So what’s your definition of failure? Less than a 200% increase? You know that ridership has increased, certainly that’s not a failure.

        I’m trying to watch the video, but it’s downloading reaaaaally slow. And I hope you’re not trying to do what a TA did to me once. Just because you have a source does not mean it is the source. Just because someone presents some facts and some opinions to go along with it does not mean we should universally accept it. Jarrett is just one guy with opinions. His ways are not necessarily the right ways. If the video ever loads I’d be happy to debate his ideas further. I’m sure he’ll have some good ones.

      8. Tim, you know that I like you. But you’re returning to your knee-jerk defense of “the way things are done” here.

        >…and make it difficult for transit-dependent folks to actually get to the line? I guess that’s one way…For all you know, they could have surveyed riders and found that the majority of them disliked them.You know that ridership has increased, certainly that’s not a failure.<

        You know that we're talking about the future urban lines, right? I cannot stress enough how different are the needs (and possibilities!) of urban mobility compared to those of long-haul suburban commutes. There is not a suburb on earth that needs Jarrett is just one guy with opinions.<

        Of course. They happen to be opinions with which I agree, and that are well-researched and founded in a great deal of direct interaction with any number of transit professionals, and that are expressed better than I could ever hope to express them.

        I'll transcribe the part most relevant to the "motives to do it wrong:"

        "The line I hear a lot from bus operators is, 'We've always done it this way because it works.' But what do you mean by works? If 'works' just means that nobody has complained, well, that's one definition of 'works,' but it's not the definition of 'works' that gets you anywhere with your city and, by the way, we're complaining now, so that's no longer true."

        But seriously, load it at the lowest resolution and watch the whole segment. I swear it will clear up a lot our the miscommunications between you an me!

      9. [Okay, that’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to me posting on S.T.B. Let’s try that again…]

        Tim, you know that I like you. But you’re returning to your knee-jerk defense of “the way things are done” here.

        >…and make it difficult for transit-dependent folks to actually get to the line? I guess that’s one way…

        I was referring to the walkshed potential of RapidRide. As I’m sure you know, walkshed is psychological as much as geographical. It increases significantly — more than doubles, in fact — when one is able to presume an imminent arrival and a quick ride in making one’s determination of how far to walk. As an ex-UW student, you should know this — doesn’t the daytime frequency of the 71-72-73 attract much further walkers than any other line you can name?

        >For all you know, they could have surveyed riders and found that the majority of them disliked them.

        The majority will always reject the unfamiliar. If we followed polling-derived implementation on all matters, we’d never see any of the systemic changes we need.

        And on this matter, Tim, I happen to have a great deal of personal experience. For every disabled rider who might voice support for the current method in a survey, there’s another person who is loathe to use the bus because he doesn’t want to be held responsible for delaying a busload of people.

        Passive restraint is not in the experimental stage. It is used worldwide, it is effective, it is safe, it helps a bus approximate the real mass-transit experience more than almost any other innovation. There is literally no excuse not to have it on any line making claims of “rapidity.”

        >You know that ridership has increased, certainly that’s not a failure.

        You do know that we’re talking about the future urban lines, right? I cannot stress enough how different are the needs (and possibilities!) of urban mobility compared to those of long-haul suburban commutes. There is not a suburb on earth that needs less-than-10-minute frequencies. But in many urban areas, such service is literally life-changing. (There is a bit on the exponential increase in demand compared to density somewhere in the Jarrett Walker talk as well.)

        >Jarrett is just one guy with opinions.

        Of course. They happen to be opinions with which I agree, and that are well-researched and founded in a great deal of direct interaction with any number of transit professionals, and that are expressed better than I could ever hope to express them.

        I’ll transcribe the part most relevant to the “motives to do it wrong:”

        “The line I hear a lot from bus operators is, ‘We’ve always done it this way because it works.’ But what do you mean by works? If ‘works’ just means that nobody has complained, well, that’s one definition of ‘works,’ but it’s not the definition of ‘works’ that gets you anywhere with your city and, by the way, we’re complaining now, so that’s no longer true.”

        But seriously, load it at the lowest resolution and watch the whole segment. I swear it will clear up a lot our the miscommunications between you an me!

      10. you’re returning to your knee-jerk defense of “the way things are done” here.

        No, I’m just questioning your constant opinion that things “need to change”. We both agree that RapidRide isn’t true BRT. I’m almost positive that we both agree that it should be changed to have 100% off-board payment. I do agree with some changes, but not your knee-jerk “this isn’t the way it should be done”.

        doesn’t the daytime frequency of the 71-72-73 attract much further walkers than any other line you can name

        Not really. South of 45th, we have campus to the east and seven blocks of residential to the west. West of that residential is I-5, which has the 510/511 during some hours of the day, and beyond that you have various downtown services in the form of the 26, 28, 5, 358 and on and on. To the east and slightly south is Montlake. During peak period and peak direction, I bet headways are actually tighter at Montlake than on The Ave. So you’ve basically got people coming from as far east as Pasadena Place (actually from there I would head up to 45th and I-5) or as far east as campus, who might go to Montlake. Not that far.

        The majority will always reject the unfamiliar.

        Maybe that’s why you hate the RFA. And everything else here.

        If we followed polling-derived implementation on all matters, we’d never see any of the systemic changes we need.

        What if people need what they want?

        For every disabled rider who might voice support for the current method in a survey, there’s another person who is loathe to use the bus because he doesn’t want to be held responsible for delaying a busload of people.

        Behold: Paratransit.

        Passive restraint is not in the experimental stage.

        True. But that doesn’t mean that the riders that use it like it. Have you ever tried sitting backwards on a bus, not being able to see where you are going but only where you were, while the operator decided not to make the stop announcements? For this situation, there’s another person who is loathe to use the bus because he can’t easily get to where he needs to go.
        Doesn’t Swift have passive restraints AND tie downs to accommodate rider preference? Seems like the best solution to me. By not allowing a disabled rider to sit forward, you’re forcing your preference for quick boarding over their preference to see where they are going.

        load it at the lowest resolution and watch the whole segment

        Did that, still took forever. Anyway… too much to digest at this time. I think the bigger problem right now is (and I wish I could remember where I read this comment) people that say things along the lines of:
        “Why are we allowing this to pass? [Yadda yadda] transit is at the bottom of the list, [yadda yadda] what are we doing about social equity like mental health [and other yammering]?”
        I think that was on one of the article talking about the $20 car tab tax. d.p., THESE are the most important issues: if we can’t get funding, we’re going to have to cut services–things like “tight” headways we have now. And you can lecture me until the cows come home about what 30 minute headways do.

        But let me entertain your 5-minute-headway-really-big-walkshed idea. I don’t know what number to put the walkshed at, so I’m going to go with a half mile. So we have this mile wide area with a line down the middle that represents some sort of transit line coming every five minutes. So on just our N-S corridors, we’d need about 7 lines going north-south. That sounds really expensive and really redundant. Especially if we give it an operating timespan of 5am to 11pm. That’s 3,024 service units per day. And let’s say it costs $30 (which is REALLY lowballing it) to run a service unit (service unit = operating one trip in one direction) and that’s $90,720 per day JUST for our north-of-the-Ship-Canal N-S routes. Have you learned one of Seattle’s other mottos? “Everybody wants it but nobody wants to pay for it”?

        Am I on the right track there?

      11. >No, I’m just questioning your constant opinion that things “need to change.”

        Tim, things need to change! Median wait times of 15-20 minutes and travel times of 30-40 minutes, with frequent delays of 15-30 minutes, over corridors that take 10 minutes total in a car… that’s how our system is structured. It simply is not defensible!

        >Not really. South of 45th, we have campus to the east and seven blocks of residential to the west.

        Ah, but that’s a half-mile-plus in each direction. And indeed, no one thinks twice about the walk because (during the daytime, at least) a 70-series bus is likely to be arriving soon any time you make it.

        In presently lower-frequency Ballard, few people ever walk between the 18, 15, and 28 — which are also seven blocks apart! Why? Because they’re so infrequent, and so unreliable, that it’s not worth walking out of your way and potentially being stuck for another 20-35 minutes if you just miss it. Most calculate that the least worst option is sitting on their hands for up to 35 minutes until the next bus comes on their own route.

        RapidRide won’t be good enough to alter that calculus.

        But a bus that “just comes” anytime you walk to it. Now that’s worth the walk!

        >What if people need what they want?

        Let’s face it, Tim. Thanks to Metro’s failure to attract choice riders, the majority of its survey-respondents are poorly traveled and have little basis for comparison. North Koreans can’t want what they’re don’t know either.

        >[The majority will always reject the unfamiliar.] Maybe that’s why you hate the RFA. And everything else here.

        I’ve been here 5 years. Metro’s PITA policies and practices are hardly foreign to me. And I’ve been (and lived) enough places to know that there is almost nothing in Metro’s playbook that would make it into a “best practices” manual. You’re barking up the wrong tree here.

        >[…doesn’t want to be held responsible for delaying a busload of people.] Behold: Paratransit.

        I’m going to take personal offense on behalf of my ex-girlfriend here. Do you not see how backward that is? The person who would like to be able to just roll on and off the bus, to get around the city like a functioning human being without causing massive delays to herself or anyone else… you suggest that person switch to paratransit!? But those who insist on milk-routes, stops every two blacks, and full-on tie-downs can do so at the expense of “mass” transit for everyone, including other disabled people? Excuse me?

        >But let me entertain your 5-minute-headway-really-big-walkshed idea.

        I need to stop you right there. Tim, it’s not an idea. It’s a fact. Nobody thinks twice about walking 10 minutes, or 15 minutes, or sometimes even 20 minutes to and from truly fast and frequent transit. This is true the world over, and in much harsher weather than ours. Seattle does not exist in a vacuum.

        >We’d need about 7 lines going north-south. That sounds really expensive and really redundant.

        We’ve got 13 or 14 north-south corridors now, ranging from 10 minutes to 30 minutes and fluctuating wildly throughout the day. Zero of them are reliably. All of them suck in their own way. That’s really expensive and really redundant!

        “We’ve always done it this way because it works.”

        No. No, it doesn’t.

      12. things need to change!

        See, there you go again, not being able to leave anything alone.

        I bet you don’t even like the color that they painted the Space Needle.

        that’s how our system is structured

        No, that’s how transit works. We can’t run express buses from every single point to every other single point.

        Ah, but that’s a half-mile-plus in each direction.

        No, it’s 1/3 mile to the west, and ∞ to the east. There are no downtown routes further east than the 71/72/73/74, so of course people are going to walk west to get to them.

        a 70-series bus is likely to be arriving soon any time you make it.

        Unless they bunched before you got there and you end up waiting a half hour.

        few people ever walk between the 18, 15, and 28

        I’m glad you have the time to observe the walking patterns of people at all hours of the day. You really should compile all this research in to a report. That way we can actually take you seriously about this made up fact.

        RapidRide won’t be good enough

        I suppose 10 minutes is pretty much the same thing as 35 minutes if you think about it.

        Metro’s failure to attract choice riders

        I’m a choice rider, and they attracted me.

        I’m going to take personal offense

        Go right ahead. You ended up contradicting yourself anyways.

        Nobody thinks twice about walking 10 minutes, or 15 minutes, or sometimes even 20 minutes to and from truly fast and frequent transit.

        Apparently I’m a nobody.

        Zero of them are reliably

        Source, please.

        “We’ve always done it this way because it works.”

        No. No, it doesn’t.

        Huh, I guess those thousands of people that are riding the bus are doing so because transit doesn’t work for them. Odd that they’d do that.

      13. Huh, I guess those thousands of people that are riding the bus are doing so because transit doesn’t work for them. Odd that they’d do that.

        Good job, you just proved d.p.’s point. “People ride the buses, so we must be doing all right.”

        Ignore the rider surveys that show fewer than half of Metro riders are employed full-time, and 17% are not licensed to drive. Some people ride by choice, but others really don’t have any other option.

        Personally, I think the fact that OneBusAway was developed here says it all: “Brian developed this site after too many late nights in the rain, wondering if the 44 would ever come.” In other cities, buses show up when they’re supposed to. In other cities, transit agencies set up their own real-time information systems to communicate with riders. But here in Seattle, we run a transit system that is so unreliable that its unreliability becomes a grad student’s research area. Just yesterday one of my friends (a choice rider) wrote this on Facebook:

        I love the voice on the OneBusAway call number! “Where is your bus? Let’s find out.” How often do you make a phone call and the other person says exactly what you want them to say? Genius!

        The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem.

      14. Nobody thinks twice about walking 10 minutes, or 15 minutes, or sometimes even 20 minutes to and from truly fast and frequent transit.

        Apparently I’m a nobody.

        I’m going to give d.p.’s obvious response for him/her:

        “No, apparently what you’re thinking about walking to and from ISN’T TRULY FAST AND FREQUENT TRANSIT!!!”

      15. I liked it so much better when we were getting along, Tim! Running in circular arguments with you is so exhausting!

        >No, that’s how transit works. We can’t run express buses from every single point to every other single point.

        Wait… could you possibly be misunderstanding me so completely as to think I’m arguing for any sort of point-to-point? When you defend the status quo, you are the one arguing for point-to-point milk runs. Because that is what we have now. Direct service is the enemy of frequency. Infrequency is the enemy of reliability. Unreliability is the enemy of worthwhile public transit.

        When I say that transit trips, in the current form, can take 5-10 times as long as driving, that’s what I’m talking about. Never once have I demanded point-to-point.

        >Unless they bunched before you got there and you end up waiting a half hour.

        The Ave’s walkshed expands just upon the possibility of a quick arrival. Imagine how much it would grow if quick service were guaranteed! (Note: that is why we’re building that a subway right there, you know.)

        >I’m glad you have the time to observe the walking patterns of people at all hours of the day.

        I have know plenty of people who will take either the 15 or 18 northbound (whichever comes first), because they know the distance they have to walk from each. I have known almost no one who will head to the furthest one in the southbound direction. There are just too many things that can go wrong and leave you stranded!

        10 minutes will expand RapidRide’s walkshed. Except not after 6:00. And maybe not on Sundays. And not if all the other things wrong with RapidRide turn “10 minutes” into “maybe 20+.” Which will be the case, as currently planned.

        >“No, apparently what you’re thinking about walking to and from ISN’T TRULY FAST AND FREQUENT TRANSIT!!!”

        Thank you, Morgan.

        Tim, you are in the minority who would walk great distances for something unreliable and unappealing. The majority, however, will gladly walk to something that is actually appealing. Maybe it’s time to argue for “appealing transit,” rather trying to convince everyone that they’re wrong to be frustrated.

        >The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem.

        Harsh, but à propos.

      16. I think I may have accidentially misled d.p. on Tim’s point. I’m pretty sure Tim was saying he *wouldn’t* walk that far; the point I put in d.p.’s mouth was that that actually backed up his point, since he presumably would walk that far if the service wasn’t crap.

  2. Not sure if this is the right article to post this question, but why do all the stations have to be so elaborate above ground? I don’t get the reasoning to have a huge building above ground that won’t be used for more than anything else than to get people underground. NYC/Philly have stairs in the sidewalk and signage is ample. Our downtown bus tunnel integrates the stairs with existing buildings that are multi purpose. Why are these new stations so… BIG?

    Perhaps the stations in the UD will be different, but looking at the diagrams for the stadium station, it just seems like a huge waste of space.

    1. The blue bit is TOD. ST will sell off the right to develop that land after construction is complete (I believe). The orange bits are the only surface-level station access. It’ll be sort of like the entrances built in to Benaroya or the mid-block entrance on James near 2nd.

      1. Why does it have to run underground…shouldn’t it be able to go on the surface with the distance it takes to get to the University District?

        Why isn’t it just a surface line down 45th ?

    2. The stadium station is big because it’s got a pedestrian bridge to the triangle. It’s also in the middle of a parking lot, so the above-ground station box is understandable.

      1. Right. The only urban-area station that I think isn’t terribly efficiently designed is Capitol Hill. Other than that, akk the other stations on Link are either in the street, elevated, integrated into the cityscape reasonably well, or in an industrial area. Roosevelt station is the only unknown.

    3. Part of it are the evolving (some would say increasingly paranoid) industry standards regarding tunnel ventilation. It’s worst in the United States, which seems to make no distinction between the constant toxicity to be cleared from vehicle tunnels and an exceedingly unlikely thousand-year fire in a subway tunnel.

      New York’s 2nd Ave is getting some total monstrosities as a result. But the worst outcome of this hyper-caution is that real subways are becoming prohibitively costly to the point of maybe never being built again in this country. Save for the decades-long 2nd Ave and West Side Los Angeles projects, everything else we ever build with be compromised and sub-optimal.

      Despite the intrusiveness of its construction and the complaints of its abutters, the smartest thing Vancouver ever did was to build the Canada Line cut-and-cover. They still were allowed to ventilate with nothing but street grates (Philly/NY/Boston-style), but neither did each station require the NASA-scale wind tunnels we’re stuck with.

      1. That’s “they weren’t allowed” to just use the street grate method of yesteryear. But having all of those surface grates permitted them to avoid excessive supplementary ventilation.

      2. d.p., some of the stations we’re building are incredibly deep or in swampland. If you’ve ever smelled the E platform at 53rd and Lex, you know how bad deep tunnels can be. I’d rather selectively dismiss ventilation concerns at station boxes. :)

        But I’m certainly not psyched about the scale of the 2nd Ave stations (they look 4 tracks wide!).

      3. I don’t disagree with anything specific about that, Kyle.

        But look at it this way: Can you imagine just how much infrastructure we wouldn’t have today if we’d always had this approach to construction? Or if we demanded that anything in use be brought up to the standards at which it would have been built today?

        Sure, we retrofit things for increased seismic security. But we don’t go sealing off old subway grates and replacing them with elaborate ventilation systems on every line. We don’t try to climate-control the old lines as we do the new, and we don’t add platform doors to a thousand pre-existing stops. And new, shallow, single-platform-and-single-stairway-and-single-elevator-per-platform stations are actually far easier to make accessible for the disabled than new multi-level stations or retrofitting old inaccessible ones.

        Why does 2nd Ave even need to be deep bore? In the early 20th century, they still had to re-route utilities, and they dug by closing one lane at a time. It didn’t kill Manhattan then and it wouldn’t kill Manhattan now. (It would arguably have less impact than it did in Vancouver, because the businesses along the way rely even less on auto traffic.)

        Half of modern-day infrastructure-building seems like solutions in search of problems.

  3. This design is much better from a TOD perspective because it is all focused into the mid-block area. The other design has two very small sites that I would guess would be fairly hard to develop into anything significant.

    1. Would they have had a vertical easement over the station entrance, a la Westlake? If so use the two squares on either side of the entrance as the bases to one big tower.

      1. I have no idea. I’m sure they would have some special legal agreements, especially related to the foundation of the building.

  4. Just to clarify, it’s the Sound Transit Capital Committee. There is no North Link Capital Committee, or any committee that is currently specifically tasked with working on North Link.

    It was simply a presentation about North Link at a normal Capital Committee meeting.

    Per ST’s website “The Capital Committee’s areas of responsibility include oversight of all capital projects including scope, budget, schedule, and construction activities. The Committee recommends actions related to the phase gate program, capital-related policies and the capital budget to the Executive Committee and/or Board. The Board has delegated final approval authority to the Capital Committee for capital program transactions that exceed the CEO’s level of authority and under $5 million.”

    http://www.soundtransit.org/About-Sound-Transit/Board-of-Directors/Board-committees.xml

    1. You’re right, I was typing on autopilot and added an explanation for something that was wrong to begin with. The original email we got said North Link Capital Committee and I didn’t even think about it. :)

    1. IIRC from the last thread on this subject, that building has extensive foundations that would complicate matters greatly.

  5. Hallelujah! The station will not only have a better walkshed and be easier to find, but people won’t have to guess where the emergency exits are if there is a stampede. Or rather, the risk of a stampede is drastically lessened, as everyone will know two ways to get out.

    Now (or in a decade), we’ll see if Metro designs the bus routes for ease of transfer.

    If ST can listen like this (and they do seem to be listening to many suggestions on this blog) and make a major change like this station design improvement, it may not be too late to redesign the surface of Husky Stadium Station to have space for buses to drop as close as possible to the elevators without adding substantial travel time to the affected routes. Having the buses drop five minutes away is a huge mistake we will regret for a long time.

    If ST were to purchase some of the parking spots from UW in order to create a turnaround space for buses next to the station, the revenue could help keep the U-Pass program afloat while it seeks a long-term financing plan. In other words, bribe UW to allow Husky Stadium Station to be built right, i.e. with bus connections.

    1. Seems unlikely, given how far along that station is. Also, the importance of UW station as a transfer point is somewhat transient. It will be infinitely easier for Metro and ST to coordinate fast transfers at Brooklyn Station once that enters service.

      1. So if I’m coming on the train from Capitol Hill, headed to Kirkland, I’m supposed to stay on the train at UW/Husky Stadium, proceed to Brooklyn, exit there, then grab a Kirkland-bound bus that will backtrack another mile, stopping every other block, passing through about a dozen traffic signals, right past UW station again on the way to the bridge?

        And if I’m coming from Northgate via light rail, heading for the 48 — Metro’s most popular route — to go south from Montlake, I’m supposed to get off at Brooklyn and go through the U District on surface streets instead of staying on the train for that stretch?

        Both UW and Brooklyn stations will be critical bus/rail transfer points for decades hence, and while the latest design at UW station (going to bid soon) is a better pedestrian/bicycle environment than the previous plans, the bus transfers there will be inconvenient, just like Mt. Baker station is today.

        This new Brooklyn station access plan, however, is a marked improvement.

      2. Bruce,

        A transfer center can be added to a station without major redesign of the station. We’ve got five years to convince UW to allow a few parking stalls that can only be used by a few dozen people every day to be turned into a bus pull-through that will be used by thousands every day. Isn’t it just a matter of ST meeting UW’s price?

      3. I am aware of the 48 and the 43. Read my post. I said “somewhat transient.” For a short time UW station will be a massive transfer point, but not nearly so much after North Link opens; moreover it’s much easier to arrange good bus transfers at Brooklyn because of the street grid there. Given the constrained financial environment, and that I don’t think UW will be as important of a transfer point as Brooklyn, I question to the wisdom of hounding ST/UW/Metro/SDOT/WSDOT to redo the bus access at this late stage.

        All the 7x’s, the 44, 66 and 67 are better off done as transfers at Brooklyn once that station opens; riders inbound or outbound on the north segment of the 48 are similarly better off at Roosevelt. I suspect a lot of 48 riders are going to the UW or the Ave, and Link doesn’t do much for them either way. Link will poach a lot of the 43’s riders altogether. Montlake to Northgate is the worst case scenario of all, and I question how important that is as a corridor compared to the others I’ve mentioned above.

      4. Given that only Eastside-U District bus I can find offhand that even makes it onto the ridership chart is the 271, I’m not particularly concerned with that.

      5. Well, although all the non-271 buses are commuters, it is worth noting that a lot of people on this blog (at least used to) call for WSDOT to build a parallel bridge to the Montlake Bridge if they were going to close the Montlake Flyer Stop, so all the 520 buses could deposit their passengers at UW station.

      6. I’m confused. WSDOT’s SR 520 plan does close the Montlake Flyer bus stops, but what does a parallel bridge have to do with the ability to deposit passengers at UW station?

      7. Bruce, don’t assume that just because the 540 and 542 may not yet have high ridership, that there aren’t UW-eastside commuters on the many buses that still serve the Montlake freeway station.

        They may be less happy with having to catch a bus all the way downtown, if they want frequency, and then backtrack on U-Link, only to find no buses to pick them up at the station and get them to distant stops along Pacific or wherever they are headed. This includes after Brooklyn Station opens.

        With the impending closure of the viaduct, something will need to happen downtown. (Transit-only lanes, anyone?) As much as Metro may love one-seat rides and avoiding making transfering to Link easy, there is only so much street-room downtown. By the time all the local routes are accommodated with transit lanes, the car drivers will probably not tolerate losing half of the remaining lanes to commuter transit lanes for buses that could be accessing Link way outside of downtown.

        If the streets around UW Station can be set up to make the transfer a dead heat with the 1-seat ride, it needs to happen, for the sake of not sending the 545, 255 etc. into the middle of Carmageddon.

      1. Certainly, the tunnel is much more than 30 feet long. Also, one of the entrances will be on a corner, shaving off a few additional steps. ;)

    2. Sound Transit and Metro agree that the UW Medical Center is, by far, the biggest destination near that stop. The Metro stop is in the right place. It’s UW station that’s in the wrong place. Diverting the buses around a loopty-loop to facilitate transfers with a poorly placed train station is a real time-waster, especially when it’s not projected to be a popular transfer point.

      I think the best improvement to be made is a new pedestrian tunnel, which could connect UW station to the existing pedestrian tunnel under Pacific near the bus stops.

      1. Husky Stadium Station is not projected to be a major transfer point because the buses that ought to be using them (especially the SR 520 routes) won’t be serving the station. It’s a catch-22.

        Metro/ST point out that the traffic on Montlake Blvd makes the travel time unreliable once buses get out of the HOV lane. But where is the effort to get HOV lanes continuing on 25th Ave NE? If we had those lanes, buses from Sandpoint Way and further north on 25th would be a very appealing option for getting to a quick trainride downtown.

        Meanwhile the city (as in the council, not the mayor) and WSDOT are still playing chicken over the second bascule bridge. If WSDOT doesn’t get its second bascule bridge, then they won’t build HOV lanes. This is what happens when there are too many carnivorous cooks in a vegetarian kitchen.

  6. Yes, it’s an improvement, but I have to say that spending $400 million dollars to build one station is a horrible investment by any measure.
    What can $400 million buy? Well, it could pay for ALL of King Co.Metro’s operating and facilities costs for one year, with $22 million left over.
    Brooklyn Stn is expected to have 12,500 riders per weekday by 2030, or about 3.7 million riders. That’s $3.78 per rider on a 30 year payback, not counting interest on the debt. Or over a buck per rider on a ‘hundred year system’. How will Link ever pencil out to be cheaper than bus, when all these huge ass facilities are factored in?
    A tax dollar doesn’t know where it will end up: Capital or Operating. Nor will the taxpayer when he/she forks it over.
    When is a project too expensive around here? When all the taxpayers are tapped out?

    1. Your arithmetic and understanding of capital projects have not got better in the last two days I see. Where are you getting the $400 million number from? That sounds more like the construction cost of most of North Link and that includes three stations with expected daily ridership of 36k by 2030.

      What you obviously don’t understand in general is that the cost per boarding on Link, once it is built out, will be much less than for Metro busses. Metro’s cost per boarding is around $3.50 in the west subarea. By 2030, I would expect Link’s cost per boarding to be around about a buck. We are spending lots of money up front to save lots of money for decades down the road. That is called “investment.”

      1. How do you come up with a $1 per boarding? Central Link cost per boarding in 2010 came out to $6.78 with daily ridership of around 21,000. If it were magically 36,000 the cost per boarding (assuming no additional cost of running more trains) would be $3.95. When you double the length of the system you double the operating cost. So if ridership doubles the cost per boarding stays the same. Quadruple the ridership, 80,000 per day which is what I’ve heard as an estimate and you’re still in the $4 per boarding range. Add in East Links poor performance and it’ll be north of $5.

      2. For the blatantly obvious reason, Bernie, that U-Link and North Link together with add about 4.4 miles of track, which will extend the length and operating cost of Central Link by about 28% while (supposing we use your mysterious 80k figure) tripling the ridership.

        Jesus, we need better anti-rail trolls here.

      3. Bruce, put some real numbers on it. DT to Montlake 3.15. Montlake to Northgate 4.2 miles. The ST claims 54 miles will will be operational in 2030 and the ridership claims of 36k at the three stations you site are based on the entire north corridor project being complete to Lynwood. Figure out the increased frequency/headway that’s promised. Crank in the almost $700/hr to run two car Link trains. Show me where you can come close to a system cost of $1 per boarding. If we could increase ridership by 36k at only a 28% cost increase it would still come out to $3.20 per boarding. To get to $1 per boarding you’d need well over a half million daily riders. I’ll give you the 36k for North Link and the optimistic 70,000 for Huskey Stadium. Where do you get the other 400,000 people. I think that’s roughly double all of Metro’s daily ridership.

      4. OK, my bad, so 7 miles, a 50% increase in length. Headways probably won’t need to change for North Link, at least until North Corridor comes online.

        If we triple the boardings with U-Link + North Link and our costs are 3/2 of what they are now, that’s halving the cost per boarding. Without knowing way more about Link’s cost structure, those are the best estimates we can come up with on the back of a napkin. At the current $6.50/boarding, we’re down to $3.25, below Metro’s westside cost per boarding.

        That’s a savings to the King County taxpayer AND we’re providing a far higher standard of service that will improve quality of life, make the city far more livable and economically competitive, leading to more tax revenue, and more money to pay your Medicare, Bernie.

        And yes, I know East Link will not be nearly as cost-effective, but bus service on the eastside is far more expensive to run too, for the same reason. That’s the eastside’s problem, not mine.

      5. Actually the number of platform hours is what matters. Doubling length wouldn’t cost any more to run if you didn’t increase the service. Of course you’d double your headways and that’s not going to happen. U Link and North Link represents a large increase in platform hours. The only real economy of scale is running 3 or 4 car trains. That’s huge if the demand is there to run them full. But I only see that happening on the short section between UW and Downtown and only for part of the day. Since the additional capacity will be vast overkill on the majority of the system I’m not sure there’s much to be gained. I’m sure the cost per boarding will go down but I’m not convinced it will be much cheaper than buses. the bus service being replaced is for the most part far better than average in cost per boarding and other routes will have to continue because they serve areas not directly accessible to Link (Eastlake). The reduction in through traffic means either those routes get less frequent service or the cost per rider goes up.

      6. $400 mil source: STB post
        Kyle S. says:
        February 14, 2011 at 4:04 pm

        Tim, I did in fact remain and talk to some of the project staff, as well as other attendees.

        I was particularly taken aback by the staff’s reluctance to discuss the overall project cost in absolute dollar terms. They were quick to point out that Option 2 saved $10 million, but were forced to admit the overall project cost was $400 million.

        This information was withheld from the slides and only emerged during public questions.

      7. Right, Bernie, so we scale up the number of platform hours to maintain our existing headways. Those platform hours are very roughly proportional to system length; thus our costs would (very roughly) go up proportional to the length of the system. And, if we are hopelessly pessimistic, we can expect to get our ridership up to about triple what it is now. And once we get beyond that point, we’re saving taxpayers money which goes to Mike’s question.

        The segment of the bus service being replaced are solid performers but not off the charts like the urban trolleybusses. Average peak farebox for the west subarea is 37%. The 72X is a standout performer at 55%, the rest are in the 40s. Link is replacing an express segment up I-5 or Eastlake that does not generate continuous on-offs.

      8. 3X the ridership and only 2X the cost gets you down to $4.50 per boarding. My guess is that’s going to be pretty close to reality when U Link opens in 5 years. That’s a long way from saving any money and assumes economies of scale are going to make up for the cost of operations for two more underground stations. A 2 car Link train is ~$700/hr to operate. There needs to be about a 5X increase over our current boardings per hour to break even with bus service. Increase platform hours and you have to increase ridership proportionally. That doesn’t happen. Look at Sounder. Every time they add a trip it sets them back years in cost “effectiveness”.

        For U Link to match bus service on a cost per boarding (a lofty goal for a $4B investment) it will need ~80,000 riders per weekday. I know ST claims 70,000 are going to magically appear when U Link opens but they’ve been way off on projections to date. If you factor in the capital costs they about double the cost per boarding.

        Link was never about saving money. It’s about access to high density areas (DT and UW that are severely constrained because of geology. It’s the price of density. Are biggest demands on our transportation system are located where it’s just plain expensive to serve.

      9. What, you mean Bernie pulled a number out of his ass again?

        More generally, I was operating under the assumption that service hours are, at most, proportional to platform miles. Central Link is 15.5 miles, U Link & North Link are 7.5 miles. How does this entail a doubling of costs? The mind boggles.

      10. Wrong. It was $330 per hour in 2010.

        Ha, funny. You guys fell for the ST misdirect. They list cost per revenue car. Two car train (the standard) you double the cost (and the one car train trick evenings and weekends didn’t really save any money). @Bruce, you really should start looking up some of the numbers before you claim $1 per boarding costs are going to save us money. You seem to jump at other peoples numbers but can’t come up with any of your own.

      11. “Ha, funny. You guys fell for the ST misdirect. They list cost per revenue car.”

        Sorry. Try again. For budgeting purposes a “revenue vehicle” is one train, not one car. The cost per revenue vehicle hour is a number derived from the total budget, not the other way around.

      12. I expect once both U-Link and North link open ST will come pretty close to meeting their projected ridership numbers for the line if not exceeding them. The numbers go even higher if NCT to Lynnwood is built. Link will be very fast in this segment due to sepated right of way and the congestion on I-5 north of downtown most of the day. So depending on the ridership the costs are likely to be much less per boarding than current bus service in the corridor.

        Beyond that there is the simple issue of capacity. There aren’t a lot of good ways to get increased peak hour capacity between the neighborhoods in the Link corridor between Downtown Seattle and Lynnwood. For much of the route there just isn’t any road space to put a bunch more buses. Busses may be more “cost effective” but at some point you have to scale capacity beyond what can cheaply be done with buses which puts you in rail’s capital cost territory with higher labor costs than rail.

    2. Metro has capitol costs too. Remember our trolley buses? And how we have to spend more than $200 million to replace them?

    3. No, I’ve worked though the numbers before. A two car train is two revenue vehicles. That the people who actually try to say on top of this are confused I’d have to say this is a deliberate attempt to deceive. You have to go back to the full budget, divide out the hours of service vs operational cost and you’ll see that “per revenue vehicle” does not mean per train.

      1. 2010 Revenue Vehicle Hours Operated: 138,372
        2010 Operating Costs: $45,747,587

        $45,747,587 / 138,372 = $330.61 per revenue vehicle hour

      2. Now look at the headways and there are 124 trips each way on weekdays, 108 on Saturday, 100 trips on Sunday. (5*124+108+100)= 828 times 2 since it’s each way = 1656 trips per week. 52 weeks a year is 86,112 trips. Allow 48 minutes per trip and your at 68,890 hours. Multiple by 2 (revenue cars per train) and you come up with 138,000 vehicle revenue hours. We worked though this when ST announced the “savings” from running one car trains. The only number that is per train is boardings per trip. Reporting for Sounder uses the same methodology.

    4. I agree with most of what Chris has to say. It is more about capacity than economy. If cost per boarding can be significantly lower than bus service in the same corridor then that’s a bonus. However, there is much that can be done increase the capacity of surface transit for a lot less money and perhaps even greater impact on the quality of life. I-5 bus capacity is easily increased by going to HOV +3 and managed HOT lanes. The pay off, besides better transit is less cars downtown which should really be the goal. Otherwise you’re treating the symptom and not the disease (yeah, I know, that sounds like a war on cars but there’s places where, to paraphrase a great american, In this present crisis, more cars is not the solution to our problem; to many cars is the problem. ;*) Downtown capacity can be address with more dedicated transit only lanes and double talls but the big winner is a move away from the hub and spoke paradigm responsible for most of the mess. All of these things should be done in addition to extending Link to Northgate; beyond that I have doubts as to it’s effectiveness.

  7. So, I’ve tried once again to find cost per boarding information for the NYC subway. It’s an elusive beast. What I’ve learned is that the NYC subway is one of the most efficient in the country; not surprising. It seems that the current fare is $2 and, like most big cities it’s $2; rode a bus to get here, great, $2 please. It’s also subsidized to the tune of $1 billion annually. That’s more than a buck a ride. So, I’m guessing their cost per boarding is in the range of $3.37?

      1. That’s some interesting reading. Vancouver claims $1.13 cost per trip on light rail and $2.43 for trips by bus. Adult fares are $2.50 to $5.00 so their transit system must be bringing in money? It’s too bad the subside per trip data isn’t available for the Canadian agencies.

      2. SkyTrain does make a profit, but most people use a pass, so the average fare paid is nowhere near what the cash fare is.

      3. SkyTrain is the one that’s unmanned? It would be interesting to know what the cost per boarding is for the Seatac satellite system. Not that it really has much applicable to public transit systems but labor really does seem to be the major driver of cost and unmanned systems are hardly new technology. I guess the critical thing is that the ROW be completely grade separated. I’d also be interested in how many systems do/don’t give Seattle style transfers when using both bus and rail to complete a trip.

      4. Yes, Skytrain is automated. So there’s no operators for the trains, although there are folks in the control center.

        Does cost per boarding matter for the Sea-Tac people mover? As long as somebody needs to use the system, they will run it, so cost per “revenue” hour would be the important measure.

  8. I’m gong to suggest something rather unconventional. I’m going to suggest that ST acquire space in the storefront facing the Ave that would be lined up with the north entrance to the station, and then run a passage way across the alley to that entrance.

    And yes, there is precedent for this type of design. The 350 Westlake Ave building in the SLU has just such a passage way across an alley to its counterpart building. Also, what is currently the Northern Trust Bank Branch (Formerly the PeoplesBank Main Branch) in downtown Seattle has a through way across an alley to the Red Lion Hotel.

    This increases the walk shed for the station and I think would prove a very popular entrance from the Ave. so that people don’t have to walk around the block to get to an entrance.

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