Metro

The Burien Transit Center, once equipped with a mere 385 spaces, is now up to 505, thanks to Sound Transit 2 and the Federal Transit Administration. Drivers have been enjoying these spaces since Saturday. The best news is that the $20.5m new garage means that part of the old footprint will be available for TOD, enough for at least 80 housing units, 4,000 sq. ft. of retail, and “sufficient off-street parking.” (!) It’s all part of Burien’s ambitious redevelopment plan for the area.

Prior to construction, in 4Q 2009 about drivers utilized 278 spaces, on average down from 354 in 2006.

The celebration is tomorrow at 9.

35 Replies to “Burien Park and Ride Open, Festivities Tomorrow”

    1. At north of $39,000 per parking spot or $166,666 per additional parking spot, you’d think Sound Transit could seriously start considering charging for parking. Just a thought…

      But don’t worry, there’s plenty more where that came from. The King County Library system is spending $11 Million to add 2 levels of parking at the Bellevue regional library. Since I voted for that levy, I guess I’ve only got myself, and the majority of my fellow King County voters, to blame. :(

      I wonder how much transit and how many books all of that money could buy…

  1. (sigh) Can they at least start charging for parking? Oh, the gondola line we could have built for that $20M, serving multiple thousands of people per day, not a fictional 120 cars.

    1. Bernie, I completely agree with you… but why the heck are we building *more* spaces if there are so many empty ones already?

  2. I love the snarky tone to this post. Why exactly are they expanding the number of spaces if usage is going down? TOD is great, but 80 units is not a whole lot compared to all that parking.

  3. $20,500,000 / (505-385) = $170,833 per new (unnecessary) parking space. A poster child for how federal subsides lead to stupid spending. Amortized over 30 years (if every space was used every weekday) that works out to a $21 subsidy per commute not even counting and interest on debt !

    1. You forgot about the large profit they’ll make on the 80 luxury condo units in this hot real estate market.

      Also, Sound Transit can make up for the parking loss at the fare box.

      Wait, where does this pencil out?

    2. Bernie: Silly boy, that’s what a Link ride costs with debt and depreciation. Oh, but rail is immune from having to be cost effective. I keep forgetting that it’s a 100 year venture, whereas parking for cars is bad, bad, bad.

    3. Yo Norman! got that number? $21 per commute subsidy for cars using the Burien P & R. So I don’t want to hear another word about Link cost per boarding again… :-)

      1. Well, not exactly. Nobody is actually using and of the increased capacity. In other words, zero return on investment. The first rider that makes use of the new stalls will be have his/her parking subsidized to the tune of $2,625/day. Of course if you could charge everybody $7/day to park you’d cover that. And $7/day parking + bus fare is a bargain compared to parking in DT Seattle or Bellevue. Moral of the story, if you can’t cover the cost of structured parking with user fees don’t build it! South Bellevue ST, are you listening? East Link tunnel budget covered.

      2. The point I’m making is that our dear Norman has constantly railed (ooo a pun!) against light rail as an expensive boondoggle when it has very definite value to the transportation system as a whole. Critics often use a cost of boarding as a test of relative value of various transportation modes and the false claim that cars support themselves. The example of this Park and Ride is just one more proof that car infrastructure is substantially subsidized.

        Also, as for your suggestion of the marginal cost of that “one additional user” of this facility you failed to consider the original cost of building the facility in the first place and the marginal cost of the 1st user. The costs are likely to be comparable to the additional capacity that has been built. e.g. not trivial.

  4. Why didn’t they run LINK through Burien?

    It would have made more sense than Beacon Hill and it’s boondoggle underground station that cost a King’s Ransom and remains completely underutilized.

    1. Social justice := But seriously, Burien isn’t on the way to the airport unless you used a 509 alignment which I’ve never really heard proposed. However I have suggested that it could be an alternative to any future West Seattle line.

    2. Really, is that accurate? Are there numbers that show Beacon Hill is underutilized? For myself, I can only reflect on anecdotal evidence: every time I ride Link, Beacon Hill seems to be one of the most trafficked stations. Certainly yesterday, when I stumbled onto one of the runs for the post-game crowd, BH and Tukwila were easily the most popular stations. The train was fairly packed, too. All seats taken, with six or seven people standing in the wells next to the doorways, and occassionally down the length of the car. The only place people weren’t standing was at the top of the steps. I was impressed that there was a healthy crowd even on the return trip from Sea-Tac. By the time we pulled into ID, I don’t think there were more than a handful of seats left, and this was at 5-ish on a Sunday.

      BTW: thanks Mike for the link upthread to Sightline…great discussion in the comment thread over there as well.

      1. Last station count numbers IIRC put Beacon Hill at about 1,200 daily boardings. That’s on par with the Downtown Transit Tunnel stations with the exception of Westlake. At 26,000 weekday ridership all of the Link stations are under utilized. The question then is will ridership increase in proportion with system ridership or will all the growth be SEA, DT and UW? If Link ridership doubles or triples when U Link opens and Beacon Hill only grows to by a few hundred then can be singled out as a bad expenditure. But remember, the real cost was in deciding to tunnel under Beacon Hill to serve RV. I think the hole had to be dug for ventilation and other construction reasons.

    3. Hey, John I resent that remark that BH station is a boondoggle.

      When Sound Move went through several alignments, the original alignment was to have the Rainier Valley be served via Dearborn St/I-90 Center Roadway. The Eastsiders didn’t like portions of the D-2 roadway taken over by LINK, and there was a desire to serve the SODO industrial area and the Stadiums, so an underground tunnel was proposed under Beacon Hill. No station at Beacon Hill was proposed at that time.

      About the same time, North Beacon Hill was doing an Urban Village study at the same time, as being one of the transportation subcommittee, I yelled foul (since the station location just happens to be at the center of our urban village). We asked ST to study if a station was feasible and if there was enough ridership to warrant one. They said yes, but there were fiscal constraints at that time and even a station shell was proposed at that time to put in a station later. So, it was a Station, Shell or Shaft (yes, even if a station was not put in, a ventilation shaft would still have to put in, around 22nd and Lander). Intensive lobbying with Seattle City elected officials and ST board, and we got the station in the final plan (resolution 99-44, I think).

      As one of my late friend said, some BH residents are green and are willing to walk a bit farther to the station, and most of the area is already developed with single family. As Bernie mentioned, I would also be worried when the system gets extended and BH does not gain an significant rise in ridership.

      As for SR-509/Burien Alignment, that was proposed early in the alignment process, but didn’t make the cut.

    4. A Burien-Renton Link line is already under consideration for ST3. A single north-south train can’t go everywhere, not when Burien and the airport and Renton are east-west of each other.

  5. Two questions:

    1) Which buses are the occupants of these 505 spaces expected to use? As far as I know, service from there is a pile of crap, except for a couple of express runs that only operate during rush hour. Maybe some people will treat Burien TC as another long-term parking lot, with the 180 being the free (with monthly pass) airport shuttle. I would guess it would be easier to get away with it than at TIB.

    2) $20,500,000 – (505-385) = $170,833 per space (ok, maybe a little less, when you include the value of the land freed from the old parking lot). How much local bus service in the are could you buy with that money instead? To put the cost in perspective, if everyone lives about 2 miles from the P&R, you could hire a taxi to take them from home to the P&R and back again for the same price. (With a little bit carpooling/ride sharing, you could even up that to 3-4 miles).

    1. The 120 is not crap. It’s six day a week frequent service plus one of the handful of suburban routes with Night Owl service. It wipes the floor with every other West Seattle route in terms of ridership and performance. The 120 was supposed to be the West Seattle RapidRide — it was the staff recommendation — but the north and west parts of West Seattle seem to have a ridiculous amount of pull at the County, and it was overridden by management. Granted that the 120 would have cost rather more than the 54 to give the RR treatment, but the payoff in ridership and time saved for riders would have been much higher. Oh well.

      The 132, while it is admittedly pretty crap, was, if I recall correctly, identified in the 600k restructure cut as the single most underserved corridor in the county according the the RTTF scoring criteria. To the extent that Burien service isn’t good already, it definitely should get better.

      …which is not to say that building another ~150 free parking spaces is the solution in an ideal world.

      1. The 120 is probably decent enough if you’re just going partway. But taking it all the way from Burien is a bit pushing it. On paper, we’re looking at 43 minutes to downtown, already 3 times as long as driving down 509 and that’s assuming the bus magically keeps to its posted schedule, as things get worse if it falls behind.

        I just can’t see that many people that are already in their cars parking at Burien to use this. Even if one doesn’t want to pay for parking downtown, once you’re already in your car, there are numerous faster options than the 120 from Burien. For example, driving to TIB and taking Link, or driving a few miles north on 509, parking on a residential street, and catching the 120 later on. The park-and-ride under the west seattle bridge is another option, and I’m sure there have got to be residential streets around Beacon Hill/Mt. Baker within a 5-10 minute jog of the Link station that have unrestricted parking.

        One thing I can definitely see people parking at Burien for is to go to the airport, particularly airport employees and travelers who are only going for a day or two.

      2. Maybe you should ask the ~278 people currently parking there? I doubt they’re going to Delridge or to eat tasty Cambodian food in White Center. Never having lived in Seattle’s suburbs, I am not privy to the calculus that leads park’n’riders to use those facilities, but whatever it is, it apparently works for some people.

        My point is that you say service there is crap. It is not. Burien TC has easily the widest span and arguably the best quality of service of any suburban P’n’R other than TIBS which (I’m told) is at capacity.

      3. The 132 is actually the current most popular route between South Park and downtown because it is the only route that doesn’t backtrack through Georgetown. The county should have funded doubling the frequency of the 132 to every 30 minutes on weekdays for the duration of the bridge closure, as mitigation and apology for failing South Park residents. Instead, we got a focus group on why more South Parkers don’t ride the bus. Sigh.

        South of South Park, yeah, the 132 is crapola. It wouldn’t be if it went to TIBS, but I’m hopeful Metro will listen to South Parkers during the West Seattle route reorganization.

      4. arguably the best quality of service of any suburban P’n’R

        I’d put Eastgate for one light years ahead of Burien. Mercer Island too. Redmond TC maybe. Kingsgate perhaps. I don’t know much about South King and Pierce and Snohomish County but I suspect Federal Way is better and maybe Montlake Terrace. And Everett?

    2. During the week, these parkers will be expected to ride the 121/122/123 express downtown. Weekends, the 120.

      But with the impending full closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct in the SODO, Burien parkers would be well-advised to go park at the airport and take the train. It would be nice if the airport could reserve a lot of space for extra Link riders from Burien during the week for the duration of Highway 99’s full closure in the SODO.

    3. How much local bus service in the are could you buy with that money instead?

      With the FTA money? You could buy zero hours of service. In practice, the ST money wouldn’t be used for that either. That said, capital improvements to the Delridge corridor would have been cheaper and a better use of cash, in my opinion.

      1. I agree that few commuters would drive to Burien TC to take a 120 downtown (due to the 43 minute travel time), but they would drive & park to take one of the several peak hour downtown expresses (such as 121 & 122).

        The parking garage, in my mind, is only valuable in as much as it reduces the land area near the TC devoted to cars, and increases the land area devoted to people and businesses near the TC. Burien has made a great start creating a walkable downtown out of an expanse of strip malls. It will take another 10 years minimum before it fills in, but allowing other uses besides parking next to the TC is an important step. Although a step, as the commenters above pointed out, doesn’t make any financial sense today.

  6. You’re all forgetting that Burien TC is the western terminus of RapidRide F Line, scheduled to start in 2013.

    1. and that Route 560 uses this facility. ST tends to build facilities that benefit their own services first, and being a political entity, needs to build facilities in areas that may not make total sense. There was one exception that rule, and I think that was the Newcastle Transit Center (I think originally an I-405 inline stop at Newport Hills Park and Ride was proposed, but was not feasible, and came up with Newcastle TC, which only Routes 114, 240 and 925 serve).

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