Sources for Erica C. Barnett tell her that the first phase of the latest City of Bellevue study about the two remaining South Bellevue Link alignments basically confirm what previous Sound Transit studies found — a revised “B7” alignment, along I-405, is more expensive and carries fewer riders than Sound Transit’s preferred B2 alternative, which takes surface streets from I-90 into downtown. Sound Transit could equalize ridership by spending even more money on B7.

There’s no word on whether the report will be released to the public, or how this will impact the follow-on phases of the study. There is a total of $3m and up to 2.5 years of further study that the Bellevue Council could authorize if it wishes to explore B7 further. This study follows other independent studies Bellevue commissioned to critique Sound Transit’s analysis of the alignments. The Bellevue Council is supposed to decide on the follow-on phases at a meeting on Monday, May 16th, although the agenda can change at the council’s whim.

Sherwin’s primer on East Link is a good starting point if you’re bewildered by all the alignment codes.

31 Replies to “Report: New B7 Study Reconfirms Past Results”

    1. What is KW up to? Well here’s what. The spin is that the new B7R has the same ridership at the B2, and it’s only $10m more – if you stop at SE 8th. Then, all the costs to go from there to the downtown tunnel (C9T), including buying two major hotel properties, get pushed into the downtown segment. And golly gee, but when you add that $60m to the $150m Bellevue would pay for its share of the tunnel, well, there’s just no way to afford that. No, the only solution that will work for the council majority will be . . . [wait for it] . . . The Vision Line. Funny how that worked out, isn’t it?

      1. Add a butt end station into the transit center and “voila” you have rapid transit to and through Bellevue.

        Mave’s can you ID the TWO hotel properties and how they compare to the hotel and office properties that are otherwise taken in the C section under the B2. Since there is no “study” to review – I thought we might need to fact check here.

      2. Si – works really good for passenger flow in and out. Only draw back is the driver has to take a break or change ends.

        Trains can stop at Bellevue and go back – or bypass bellevue and head to redmond, or just shuttle between Bellevue and redmond.

      3. Well it works throughout the rest of the world.

        A stub end station is all about arrival and departure in your city, while a through station is really about arrivals and departures elsewhere.

        A stub end station is about passengers – a through station is about trains.

        Being almost everyone getting off (the train) in bellevue will be going west in every plan – it only makes sense.

      4. I’m wracked by indecision over whether this is the worst idea I’ve ever heard on STB, or the second worst. I’m currently leaning towards the former — the idea of running busses in the DSTT after North Link is more immediately deleterious to the goal of providing rapid transit, but it’s a mistake, at least, that wouldn’t cost tens of millions to undo.

        Of course, anyone who supports B7 is going in to bat for a many-million dollar mistake to begin with, so it seems consistent in that context.

      5. Bruce,

        Glad you are calling the idea bad and not picking on the person just cause we are from Bellevue like everyone else wants to do — but give us a little justification here, eh?

        Except for the driver changing ends (and who needs those guys anyway) – what’s your beef?

      6. Hey, Conrad Lee suggested a butt end station for South Bellevue Park & Ride.

        It’s an incredibly goody rider-antagonistic idea (especially since many of the riders will actually be going between Seattle and Microsoft), but far from the worst idea ever proposed here.

        Who was it that proposed the DSTT be opened up to private bus services? Isn’t that lady still chair of some transportation committee in Olympia?

        [hijacking]

      7. The point East Link is to provide rapid, punctual transit to and through Bellevue and all other destinations on the line. (If we weren’t looking to aggressively optimize the travel time, we could buy TVMs and signal priority for the 550 and save a couple of billion dollars.) When you include a little padding to ensure schedule reliability, that operator end change can’t be scheduled for less than two minutes — undermining much of the point of “rapid” transit.

        The other arguments you advance for the single-ended station are uncompelling. In normal operations, no trains will bypass or terminate in Bellevue. You say these stations work all over the world. It’s true, they do exist all over the world — in vanishingly small numbers compared to normal stations. The only one I can recall using is Bradford. They’re usually built due to topographical contstraints.

        There’s nothing about these stations that makes passenger flow any better, nor is there any evidence to suggest that a side platform will be inadequate anywhere on Link.

      8. Lets keep it going.

        The number of people getting on and off at Bellevue by FAR will exceed those heading to microsoft by a major 2-3x factor (EIS). And guess what — they do it all day long – just not day time commuting hours. No eastside stop comes even close (EIS).

        And in fact those folks going beyond Bellevue (those times when they do) will get there quicker – cause the train didn’t horse around through some surface street or tunnel winding through bellevue.

        Those going to Bellevue will have a much more convenient experience as they will walk right off the train and into the transit center without changing sides or grade on foot.

      9. The EIS executive summary* breaks down the ridership on the the preferred alignment** with the downtown tunnel roughly as follows:

        Segment A (Ranier, Mercer Island): 5,500
        B (South Bellevue): 5,500
        C (Bellevue): 8,000
        D (Bel-Red): 6,500
        E (Redmond) [extension]: 3,500

        This data is not consistent with Bellevue being overwhelmingly dominant over the rest of the line. It’s possible that the single Bellevue station might be much better trafficked than any single other station, but there are lots of other stations, and the desire of those riders to get where they’re going without an unwanted two minute layover is legitimate. Even though IDS-Northgate will tower over the rest of Link in ridership, we aren’t going to make through-town riders sit on their hands in the name of slightly better pedestrian circulation in those areas — even supposing it to be true in this case.

        * I can’t be bothered to wade through the whole EIS, as given the (reported) failure of the latest of these independent reviews to find major faults with ST’s analysis, I suspect that B7 advocates are tilting at windmills, and ST will almost certainly prevail in court or at the growth board, should it come to that.

        ** Of course, it looks different for B7, as that alignment would butcher ridership in South Bellevue.

      10. can you ID the TWO hotel properties and how they compare to the hotel and office properties that are otherwise taken in the C section under the B2.

        Just picked up the very end of a replay of the Arup presentation in Bellevue on March 8th where they show the two properties and explain why the diagonal route across them to meet up with C9T would require a buyout. It doesn’t preclude rebuilding hotels but it’s still damn expensive. They also pointed out that part of what they would be looking at is small route refinements that could make the buyout unnecessary.

      11. Read the whole EIS as to when those folks come on line and when during the day they travel and Bellevue becomes even more predominant.

        Stop by stop passenger count is important – especially when the underutilized stops along the way contribute to more waiting time per train than would exist at the largest.

        A 2 minute layover (not required – but go ahead and use it) can only be compared in a vacuum to the vista line stop. If the train gets through Bellevue just as fast as or faster than the ST preferred routing, and is grade separated from traffic for consistent service, it is better for your friends in Redmond.

      12. It’s silly to complain that lots of less-trafficked stops have a larger total delay on the line than one big delay at BTC: where do you think all the off-peak riders going to or from BTC are getting on the train? Those stops have to happen*; the big delay doesn’t.

        I don’t see what the time of day has to do with it. It’s nice if you have all-day demand, but inducing it shouldn’t be at the expense of commuters and through town riders. This is especially true on the Eastside, which is going to exhibit a suburban demand pattern — peaks much stronger than offpeak — for the foreseeable future.

        The main thing you want in a transit route (if you can get it) is directional symmetry of demand, especially at periods of high demand. Treating cross-town riders with the same priority as Bellevue bound riders will get you closer to that symmetry.

        To restate what I’m trying to get at, as we’ve wandered around a lot:

        1) I don’t know enough about BTC to evaluate the claim that a single-ended station would be a vastly better pedestrian interface for those passengers than C9T. I would be surprised if it was, but for the sake of argument, I’ll assume that it’s at least somewhat true.

        2) Installing a single-ended station at BTC dramatically prioritizes riders bound to or from BTC at the expense of everyone else, which in addition to damaging the peak demand pattern, could only be justified by BTC riders being the vast majority of East Link riders, which is not the case.

        3) Bellevue probably will be a dominant station off-peak, being the only current quasi-urban destination on the Eastside, but the Eastside’s peak traffic problem is much more pressing than its off-peak mobility problem.**

        * Of course, it’s worth noting that B7 will entail building a laughably underperforming stop at 118th, that will hardly be worth the dwell time.

        ** Which is not the case for Seattle, where Downtown-Cap Hill-UW-Northgate exhibits solid demand all day, all weekend and up to about 10 PM. That’s why it makes sense to spend a fortune on a subway to Northgate rather than just heading up the I-5 express lanes to Lynnwood.

      13. Bruce,

        I sense you are coming around.

        After reviewing B7R – the stub end station would solve a number of issues – which make B7R less than appetizing.

        1. No Tunnel
        2. No loss of Hotel Properties
        3. City Property and underutilized streets primarily used
        4. Minimal relocation and disruption of businesses
        5. Same Transit time to Redmond
        6. Better passenger flow (and resultant higher usage) in BTC station
        7. Allows adjustment for demand across the route

      14. Stub end stations on a through rapid-transit line are an incredibly bad idea. I don’t know of one real-world example that works well.

        Look no further than the mess BART made of SFO and Millbrae with that stupid wye.

        Downtown Bellevue needs a through station not a stub on a wye.

      15. I kind of like the idea of a stub end station to serve BTC. If we used the same arrangement to build out to Eastgate P&R (using the money saved by not building a multistory P&R in a swamp) and had the line grade separated between Eastgate and DT Bellevue there would be no reason for the operator to change ends at either station. Eastgate P&R is an infinitely better location for light rail to serve than South Bellevue P&R.

      16. How long can we stare at the Elephant in the room (Bellevue Park and Ride) before we figure out that it has no reason to exist now or in the future.

        If it is a temporary transit hub we need (until full buildout of light rail) build a temporary transit hub.

        In the long run the Light Rail will go East and South on this side of the Lake – let’s not waste the money for 1450 people to park in a enviormentally sensitive area.

        (Buy them limosines and drivers or give them taxi script – its cheaper.)

      17. Stub end stations on a through rapid-transit line are an incredibly bad idea. I don’t know of one real-world example that works well.

        Doing a little hunting around I was reminded of London’s King’s Cross. Being just a hick from Bellevue I was blown away when I visited there.

    1. I imagine it’s too controversial an expenditure for them not to end up releasing the deliverable, but if they were to hold it back I don’t see why it wouldn’t be subject to a public records disclosure request.

  1. Should be rousing slugfest of a meeting, if the last one I watched was anything to go by.

    1. I’ll be busting out the popcorn and beer and connecting the MacBook to the big screen. Should give whole new meaning to “idiot box.”

  2. Read the study. They reduce the cost delta for B7R significantly by not building a trail on the former BNSF corridor and running freight trains on the same line as East Link. Bad idea. And really, BNSF abandoned the line because there wasn’t much freight anymore.

    King County, Cascade and others have been pushing to build a regional trail along this corridor. An eastside Burke-Gilman from Snohomish to Renton with links to the Green River Trail in south county and the Burke-Gilman to the north. Cascade estimates that the total ridership would be over 3,000 a day–roughly equal to the B-G. Remember, bike sheds are much bigger than walk sheds.

    Transit advocates should make sure they don’t just talk about rail. The trail is a key transit link as well.

    1. I did read the study and went back and reviewed the previously released documents. There is no trail on the BNSF corridor and there is no funding for a trail in the B2M plan. Another attempt to make the use of the existing and already paid for by tax dollars BNSF corridor try to look more expensive because it could include this possibility. Where’s the adder for regional bike trail all along B2M? There is already a pretty reasonable connection for bikes that exists south of Bellevue down to Renton that isn’t affected. Have you ever actually ridden the Lake Washington loop on a bike? The portions on multi-purpose trails are the biggest source of conflict for all users.

      There will be no freight trains. What freight are they going to move; furniture to Greenbaums? There’s another savings that should be credited to B7R.

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