Thursday Sound Transit’s capital committee endorsed the I-5 light rail alignment for the North corridor transit project. The 3% engineering study completed last month showed when comparing the  I-5 alignment to the SR-99 alignment, the I-5 alignment was quicker, cheaper and had more ridership. Next week, the full board will vote to move forward with the single alignment.

Metric I-5 SR-99
Travel time (segment end-to-end) 14 mins 18 mins
Ridership (daily) 52,000 48,000
Travel time savings 4.6 million 3.8 million
Cost $1.4~$1.6 billion $2~$2.3 billion
Annual Operating Costs $11 million $14.6 million

More below the fold.
In addition to the numeric metrics, the I-5 alignment had significantly more community support, as well as significantly less opposition, mostly because of the construction impacts of putting the light rail line through a heavily-trafficked commercial corridor. In the SR-99 alignment’s favor was the potential for transit oriented development along that segment. However, regional growth centers (as identified by the PSRC’s Vision 2040 program) that the line will serve  – Northgate and Lynnwood – fare better in the I-5 alignment. Bad marks against the I-5 alignment are the highway concerns with WSDOT and the construction along wetlands.

The next step for the North Corridor project is for the competition of the 30% engineering phase, where station location, parking considerations and grading decisions will be evaluated. This work will begin next month and be completed sometime in 2013. The line will open in 2023.

This routing has long been assumed, but the alternatives analysis is required by the Federal Transit Administration to apply for grants, which does strike me as more than a bit inefficient, though certainly not Sound Transit’s fault. Thursday Sound Transit received the FTA’s “letter of concurrence” which enabled the committee to go forward with the vote. One interesting note about this project is that it will likely score extremely well on FTA criteria for a New Starts grant. Compared to East Link – which is not going for a New Starts grant – the North Corridor project has the same number of riders for half the cost.

205 Replies to “North Corridor Update”

  1. So, is it safe to assume at this point that these stations are all park and rides along the freeway? Looking at their page title most promising alternatives, it seems that’s where they’re going with this. I guess I’m having a hard time imagining how a freeway alignment is going to be that inviting for walkable development around the stations.

    1. I think it is, more or less. If you look at where the place holder station locations are now, three of the four are park and rides today.

      1. Yes, good luck getting development there! Thought there is a small park and ride just north of 145th there.

      2. The Lynnwood P&R is in the middle of their new planned downtown. Assuming the land is made available and Shoreline zones appropriately there is potential for building TOD on the old school district site at 185th. 145th (and 130th) is pretty much hopeless and while I know Montlake Terrace has upzoned around the TC I don’t think they are going to see as much new development as they hope.

      3. And as such should we be using light rail for what’s basically commuter service? Or should the Link just stop at Northgate and we have a Sounder type train (but electrified) providing a backbone down I5? We have 200 buses a day from Lynnwood to Seattle and another 60 on top of that going from Everett to Lynnwood either on I-5 or paralleling it.

    2. 130th is a far better station location, and not only because of the golf course. Cross-town service on 125th/130th directly serves Lake City, while there is nothing much at 145th and Lake City/Bothell Way. Lake City is one of the city’s best locations for higher-density housing–no views to block, a location on a major N-S route that is a logical route for future HCT, and an already existing mish-mash of mid-density housing that is calling out for replacement. NE 125th already also has service to the underserved area east of LCW via the 75 (and a short walk to 35th and the 65); none of that exists at 145th.

      NE 145th and LCW could have some of this as well, someday (and it should be encouraged), but it already exists at NE 125th.

      In a more perfect world, of course, there would be a station at each location (and in tunnel at 80th/LCW as well).

      1. Having lived in the area I feel 145th is a better location for the Link station. Shoreline might allow some TOD near the station and bus routes can be adjusted to connect with Link at 145th.

      2. I lived in the area (well, adjacent to) for 40 years. 145th has little developable land in two of the four quadrants of that interchange–the golf course and Lakeside School. 130th only has that issue at the SW corner, where there’s North Acres park. Roosevelt Way also provides a direct diagonal path from 145th/Aurora to a station site at 130th.

        In addition, cross-town service connecting with Link at 145th goes basically nowhere at the east end and there’s not much past Aurora to the west; a crosstown line at 130th is a direct route from Lake City and the end of Sand Point Way, and there is already some mid-density development at Haller Lake to the west.

        Again, I’d like a station at both locations, but I’d choose 130th if I only got one.

        185th for a station seems a little odd as well, in lieu of 175th; I’m not sure what Shoreline’s plan is there but at 175th you are closer to North City and to Shoreline’s community development at Aurora. Perhaps their plans call for a lot of redevelopment at the school site at 185th. 185th does not extend east to 15th NE, though, and there is some development (and the potential for more) at North City.

      3. I think it would be best for stops at 130th and 175th. 130th for reasons sited above, including more potential development east and west than there is on 145th. 175th is better than 185th because, well, the big Shoreline Public Library is on 175th and 5th NE, and the Crest Cinemas is on 165th and 5th NE.

        Also, I would hope that it wouldn’t cost too much more to put rail line ‘inside’ or ‘above’ Interstate 5 instead of taking land along it, except for the actual land needed for the stops. Besides taking less land, it would also be cool to ride above the congestion and give the finger to all of the losers in their cars!

      4. After staring at maps a bit I think I’m coming around to having a station at 130th instead of 145th. It appears the possibilities for E/W transit connectivity are much better than 145th. Jackson Park loses out a little bit, but as a SWAG I don’t think the travel time will be significantly increased by moving the station.

        The biggest downside of 130th may be the City of Seattle. The City has been opposed to any expansion of in-city P&R facilities with the sole exception of Northgate TC. I’m not sure they would allow an expansion of the current tiny P&R to 500 spaces.

        The other question is what is the best way to serve Lake City? The City of Seattle designated corridor is via Northgate Way and Lake City Way (current 75 route). There is using 125th/130th to a 130th Link station (the current 41 route). If the Link station is built at 145th then via 145th and Lake City Way becomes a possibility. I’m not sure which provides the best travel times and reliability, especially during peak. Of course there is nothing that says Lake City can’t have connections to two Link stations, one at Northgate and the other at 130th/145th.

      5. I would assume (well, hope anyway) that the current 41 would turn into a 125th/130th crosstown route hitting both Link at I-5 and RR on Aurora, and the 75 could continue its normal route (or vice-versa with the 75 continuing to and along N 130th and the 41 becoming a Lake City-Northgate shuttle).

        The City’s designated corridor never made much sense to me, as Northgate Way from LCW to 15th would need a lot of work to make it usable on that two lane stretch. I used to live a block from the 75 but would rarely take it to connect at Northgate, since I could drive to the Northgate Transit Center in half the time to catch the 41. Northgate traffic is horrible even when the holiday season doesn’t REALLY muck it up; it’s definitely a destination but I don’t see the utility of making people who don’t want to go there have to do so to make a transfer. I imagine even after Link gets to the North End, most people will be transferring to the train rather than stopping at Northgate as their final destination.

        That would make a 130th station better–if you are going to transfer from your local bus to Link anyway, why not do so in a much faster manner by taking 125th from Lake City? Northgate Way can be reserved for a Lake City-Northgate shuttle (continuing west, perhaps) for local traffic with Northgate or NSCC as a destination. The Sand Point folks can continue through Lake City to Link at 130th, and the LFP/Kenmore/Bothell people can take the 522 to a terminus at the Roosevelt station. Anyone on that route wishing to go to Northgate–probably a small number as the route doesn’t even go there now–has a one-stop ride back north on Link. Lake City itself would then have three options to reach Link: Roosevelt via 522, 125/130th crosstown to Link at I-5, and for those who really want the slow bus to Link, a crosstown Northgate shuttle.

        The utility of using Roosevelt Way as a quick connection from 145th/Aurora to Link at 130th is simply another benefit. There is no corresponding diagonal way to get from 130th/Aurora to 145th and I-5.

        Having driven NGW, 125th and 145th oh, about a billion times each, 125th is the fastest way to the freeway from Lake City, not even simply because it’s the direct route. Northgate Way isn’t even an option to get to I-5…nobody in Lake City or south/east of there would consider it.

        I don’t think a larger P&R is called for at 130th but that’s just me…I think a beefed-up frequent cross-town bus service as I’ve described above would get a large percentage of people to Link without their cars. Putting a large P&R there would seriously affect the walkshed (and doing so at 145th would obliterate it). NE Seattle would have more than one way to access Link, at least until that glorious day when the Seattle Subway reaches it!

      6. Agree completely about 130th over 145th except that it’s Bitter Lake, not Haller Lake. Bitter Lake is west of Aurora and is a designated urban hub with some recent TOD-ish development and a nice little community center and park. Haller Lake is between I-5 and Aurora and is surrounded by single family homes.

        Right now, cross-town bus service from north of 105th/Northgate Way is terrible because you have to go through Northgate to get there. From my house near Bitter Lake, to make the trip to Lake City and 125th, I can either take the 345 (half an hour to Northgate because it takes a bazillion detours to get there) and transfer to the 75 or 41, or I can take the 358 to 105th & Aurora (aka Crackville Station) and transfer to the 75. A bus that runs from Greenwood to 35th NE on the 130t/125th corridor would improve things dramatically.

    3. No, and it’s for the best. Freeway interchanges already have a lot dead space the make them amenable to parking. The bus feeder lines can have all the walkability you want.

      LINK is a parking lot shuttle. And a good one at that.

  2. It really says something about how horrible the land-use patterns are along Aurora, that the I-5 alignment has competitive ridership estimates.

    Sure, keeping it on 99 seems like a good idea at first, until you actually take a look at the area. Theres expanses of parking lots and strip-malls on Aurora, with nothing but low-density in the surrounding blocks. The freeway might cut off half the walkshed from an I-5 alignment, but the half that remains is still stronger than what’s around 99.

    Most of this segment is just a low density, low demand area that needs to be cheaply leapfrogged past, so the line can get to Lynnwood.

      1. No, not compared to the rest of North Seattle.

        But I speak of North Seattle in general, particularly north of Northgate.

    1. Yeah, scary point. I would still argue though that the advantage to a 99 alignment is that the zoning and land use patterns could change around the stations in the long run, whereas with an I-5 alignment, they basically can’t (or, well, at least not as much).

      1. I see that advantage of the 99 alignment. There is theoretical potential in the surrounding land. I don’t see much likelihood of actual development there, though. I wouldn’t bank on any significant upzones north of 100th in the next 50 years; there’s a lot of anti-density sentiment. Just getting lowrise zoning more than 2 blocks off of Aurora instead of SF7200 would be a huge shift.

        Northgate and Lynnwood are already moderately dense, and are slated to be the growth centers for the future, so I think our effort for this project should focus on linking them together, rather than trying to develop a low-density area in between.

        If we lived in a dictatorship, we could just upzone the land and run the rail through. As is, we’re going to be waiting a long time before the corridor has the potential to stand on it’s own the way Lynnwood and Northgate do now. At that point, we’ll probably be considering a second N/S line anyway.

      2. You don’t need to live in a dictatorship to get things done. You just need to be willing to elect leaders instead of hand-wringers.

      3. Lack,
        I believe you are wrong. I think the potential for massive land use changes is there along 99 and many are coming with or without rail.

        125th to 145th is part of the Bitter Lake urban village. There is a forest of apartment buildings stretching West of Aurora to Greenwood and some in the couple of blocks East as well.

        Shoreline has its urban centers at 155th and the 175th-185th area along 99. 99 though Shoreline has undergone tremendous change in the past 20 years with a lot of redevelopment already. Far more so than Woodland park to 145th in Seattle or the first few miles into Snohomish county.

      4. @ Christopher Stephan–

        You’re definitely right, particularly about Shoreline–they seem to be proactive about re-zoning the area on Aurora between 170th and 190th into a medium-density area.

      5. I live near Aurora, and frankly, I’d much rather we had density than the run-down hooker-magnet semi-abandoned-properties we have near us along Aurora. And so would most of my neighbors. So, I wouldn’t say there is really the anti-density NIMBY movement along Aurora north of 105th that people may think there is. I mean seriously, would you rather live and catch a bus by an abandoned car dealership whose parking lot is a great place to pick up a crack whore, or live and catch a bus by a 10-story apartment building with retail on the first floor? It’s not like Bitter Lake is Roosevelt, with nice houses and cute shops already. Redevelopment can pretty much only improve Aurora.

        But I think redevelopment is a pipe dream for Aurora. The city had a big open house thing at the Bitter Lake Community Center a few weeks back with all their grand plans for the Bitter Lake urban hub. But when I asked a couple of the designers there whether it was actually likely to happen, and they explained just how much more economic activity would be required to make the proposed commercial space included in the plan viable, it sounded really unlikely to happen without a catalyst like light rail coming to the area. Which isn’t happening now, so, the city’s grand plan sounds highly unlikely to become a reality.

    2. The one thing that wasn’t put into their study was changes in zoning along the corridor, which is obviously something they don’t have control over. If zoning in that area were pushed in the Aurora corridor to something like you have around Northgate, you’d get some serious density.

      It’s just always been very unlikely.

      1. I know it will never happen, but since many recognize the inseparable nature of land use and transportation, it would be neat if the FTA could tie funding to associated land use changes. This would remove some of the perverseness that Rev. Bruce refers to elsewhere in this thread, and it would encourage municipalities to bring zoning changes to the table when alignments are being looked at.

    3. The study did not really look at land use patterns. Almost every factor in the analysis was premised on the improved speed. As a result, one must wonder whether it would’ve been better just to build a line straight from Northgate to Everett without any stations stops in between. To the report’s credit, it did find that there was more potential for economic development (i.e. TOD), along 99.

      1. I believe the feds would not allow them to consider speculative upzones (Aurora), only committed ones (Northgate, Lynnwood). Because if the line goes on Aurora and the upzones and development don’t occur, it’s “wasted money”.

    4. Is there anything preventing a second north alignment?

      I mean now that we are out of the hills, and on to lower cost, or already owned property, I would expect the construction costs to drift a lot lower…down to the $30M per mile that is typical of most cities.

      Over time, there should be at least 3 north alignments — I5, 99, and a ballard/waterfront line, maybe in conjunction with the amtrak rights of way.

      1. St Petersburg has two lines going north of the center and two going south, and is adding lines beyond that. If people continue driving as they do today, and the planned urban villages and TOD gets established, it could justify a second line in ten or fifteen years. If a lot of people stop driving in the next couple decades, it would return to how it was here in the streetcar era or in Russia now, and you’d need all three lines and then some. In places with few drivers, the transit has to come every five minutes (and every minute peak hours) in order to keep up with demand. The gamble is whether the thing that cases people to abandon cars (high oil prices, climate change, etc) would also make it impossible to build transit lines (implosion of the government and the dollar, climate change, lack of rare earth metals, loss of trans-Pacific shipping, etc).

    5. I have a hard time believing that there are fewer potential commuters living near a street full of businesses and residences the entire length than a Freeway that has nothing lining it’s entire distance. Even if 99 is low density I-5 is zero density. So you have one large P&R in Lynnwood, then a couple more along the way that have 2-3 riders each trip on the 511 and then Seattle anchors the other end. Lynnwood by itself really has more potential ridership then ALL of 99? I think someone wants to run it down I-5 and the numbers will be made to support that no matter what.

      1. Actually it’s even crazier than I first thought. Even the 99 alignment anchors at Lynnwood and stops at Mountlake Terrace. So let’s get this straight, there’s more people getting on at 145th street and 130th street than the three stops on 99 which are actually close to business and people? And why does the 99 alignment go to Aurora Village Park and Ride (admittedly a major one) and NOT stop? I call foul. Somebody’s cooking the books.

        I can see how the SR-99 alignment would cost more and take longer to get to Seattle but I really really doubt there are fewer riders willing to take it. I think it’s more a case of Commuters don’t want to be seen in mass transit on 99.

      2. My issue with Sound Transit’s analysis is that they use 2030 as the Horizon year, and North Corridor Link won’t be up and running until 2020-ish.

        The problem is the development potential beyond that. It’s too short of a time frame for a valid c/b analysis in my opinion.

        I think the I-5 alignment is being brought forward because it is the most expedient, and gets a rail system into South Snohomish County.

        That’s the feedback they got from all the scoping meetings, “We voted for rail, that’s what we want! No BRT, even if you want to call it HCT, we ain’t buying it!”

        I just worry if they’re not being ‘penny-wise but pound-foolish’ going this route.

        If Shoreline was a supportive partner, I’m sure there could be lots of solutions that would make the Hwy 99 alingment the preferred choice.

        But this is the Pacific Northwest, home of the ‘rugged individualists’ which dooms us to these transportation nightmares.

      3. Aurora performs better in its segment than I-5. The ridership gains for the I-5 line are from the additional riders from the north. The Aurora jog makes the segment travel time almost 30% longer. That keeps more riders away than the advantage of using Aurora in the first place.

      4. If the alignment were made to go farther north on 99 into South Snohomish County you pick up more ridership around employment at 99 / 220th – but they assumed a high ROW acquisition cost to go between 99 and Lynnwood Transit Center along 200th or 196th. That’s part of why the 99 alternative turns off at the county line and heads back to I-5. Another part is that there is parking already built at Mountlake Terrace so you credit that without having to include it in the project budget. Finally, they assume all the commuter service on I-5 would end with Link coming, but on 99 the assumption is that Swift and Rapid Ride would continue to operate. That splits transit ridership there so the Link number on 99 is lower. So, the 99 alignment that ends up being “best” is a short deviation, missing some of the biggest trip generators on 99 and is forced to compete with overlapping bus service. It takes commuters away from the straightest line between Lynnwood and Northgate or Lynnwood to Seattle and the time penalty is significant enough on short trips to push people back to driving.
        I have some serious questions about the details in the assumptions because a lot of the market for transit lives west of 99 and buses have serious challenges with access to the I-5 corridor and lack of E-W dedicated ROW or will to provide it.
        I don’t think the numbers are cooked, I just think ST wasn’t very interested in exploring creative ways to make the 99 alignment work. That’s understandable on thier part because all the political force is behind I-5. Shoreline, MLT, Lynnwood and Everett have all pushed very hard for that and Edmonds, which has the most to lose, has not strenuously objected. I’m suspect about whether I-5 is the best choice based solely on the LTC to Northgate segment, but I have no doubt looking out all the way to an Everett extension it will provide the best service for regional trips. Local trips will have to connect in or be served with BRT until the far future when perhaps an additional alignment is justified.

  3. Lower ridership, lower construction cost, lower maintenance cost, slower travel time.

    Faster ride, cheaper, more ridership.

    Really a no-brainer decision here. With that said, I would expect that this alignment could really help to cut down on bus traffic on I-5 and downtown, so ideally these service hours can be re-directed to feeding Link and further improving transit in the SR-99 corridor.

    1. What is funny is that they had to waste time and money studying these alternatives to secure the federal grand, though in the grand scheme of things, a couple hundred thousand and a few months is not a lot on a 12-year, $1.5 billion project.

  4. Sounds like Mr. Wallace got his freeway alignment and Vision Line stations – just in the wrong place.
    It looks like the fat lady has sung, and all we have to do is start the countdown timer. Somewhere around 4,000 days. Wheeee.

  5. The freeway is below grade at both 145th and 185th. Is there any chance of getting the 145th and 185th parking to be built over the highway? That might have neighborhood support (because it should dampen noise as a freeway lid) and potentially make nearby areas more appealing for TOD.

    1. I like that idea. That’s a perfect place for parking – where the cars are. It could also be used as a pedestrian bridge.

    2. Intersting idea. Keep in mind, however, lids are tremendously expensive to build and operate. If they are longer than a certain amount, they classify as tunnels and fire and life safety requirements are steep. The SR520 “lid” at NE36 Street was built as two staggered bridges of limited length to avoid these requirements.

      1. A lid used as a parking lot/transit center needs a lot more structural support than one used as a park.

      2. Unfortunately given very poor east/west transit connectivity people would have to drive to get to such parks.

  6. I gotta say, we have a way of choosing bad alignments in this town. Central Link should have gone down 99 to SeaTac rather than have a painfully slow at-grade segment that still doesn’t have close enough stop spacing to avoid running a shadow bus service (and it should have been built last, not first). East Link should have gone over 520 to get both the U-District and Downtown demand. North Corridor should have gone elevated up 99; the higher ridership on I-5 is mostly predicated on the idea that Lynnwood will upzone the crap out of its station area, and people will line up to live there [insert obscene gesture here].

    I understand that the ST board is responding to external incentives (federal cash for Central Link, regional dithering with East Link), but the outcome is still perverse.

    1. I’m not sure why you want Central Link to avoid all the potential traffic generators in Seattle to make the airport 5 or 6 minutes faster. I agree, however, that it should have been a lower priority than Northgate.

      520 vs. I-90 has been well discussed in other threads, so I won’t wade into that again.

      Lynnwood is planning to upzone around their station. Seattle has no such plans for Aurora. I think it’d be pretty dangerous to just “assume” that Seattle will come along when they have no stated intention to do so.

      Ultimately, though, rail routes are always a result of compromises, and over time people and patterns will adjust.

      1. As you must know, the traffic generators in the Rainer Valley are virtually all on Rainier, and Central Link does almost nothing for Rainier demand, as evidenced by the hoards of people sitting in traffic on the 7. I’m also curious where the 5-6 minutes number comes from.

        Regarding the south, it’s not just the airport, it’s also every point south of the airport. Elasticity with respect to travel time is nonlinear, and I thus really don’t see much point in extending Link beyond S 200th until the RV gets bypassed somehow.

      2. I’m with you on the North Corridor assuming that both Shoreline and Seattle upzoned their station areas. I think that probably wasn’t going to happen, and no one was ever serious about the alternative, they just had to study it to secure federal funding.

        For Sound Transit, this project is an easy win: 50,000 + riders at less than $30 per in capital costs. Why f*&*# up a good thing?

      3. 5-6 is a swag, I’ll admit. Some of the speed advantage is a mile or so less of route length, some of it is higher operating speeds when it’s not stopped, but a lot of it is because there aren’t stops because there’s no demand.

        RV is generating ~12,500 Link trips a day. Those people are coming from somewhere, and it’s not all MLK. There is no possibility of anything like that in the Duwamish. Furthermore, MLK is an explicit bet on development, development that would be much more restricted along the river for several reasons.

        Given the political option to do otherwise, I think it would be perverse to bypass areas in Seattle with high ridership potential to create a glorified commuter rail line to deep South King. Which, I realize, is exactly what’s happening in the North Corridor, for some value of “ridership potential.” But you can’t really have it both ways and say that Central Link is crazy and then say that Link should go over to 99 and then swing back to Lynnwood.

      4. There’s a critical difference between Aurora and MLK: Aurora’s a big fat smelly highway, whose built environment wouldn’t be massively degraded by building elevated along it, which wasn’t the case with MLK. Elevation == grade separation == speed and reliability. While I don’t know what the cost of building south down 99 was, I guarantee it was a ton less than MLK. You may point out that the feds paid for it, but I would call that an external incentive that operated perversely in this case.

        MLK’s contribution to ridership is pretty slim in the overall scheme of the system being built, given the ridership from down south that will be lost, and the shadow bus service we have to operate due to Link’s awkward stop spacing. Columbia City Station is surrounded by mostly townhouses and lowrise, as I recall. Rainier Beach Station is in a powerline corridor and greenbelt, and it’s never going to amount to much. Othello and Mount Baker are the only real urban places on Link in the RV.

        There could have been much better ways to drive ridership in the RV, but it’s water under the bridge at this point.

      5. I’m not sure what your argument is anymore: I have no doubt that with no constraints you could do a better job of routing through the RV. I would have taken elevated in a heartbeat, but is it really that much of a time difference given all the stops?

        Columbia City has lots zoned for apartments immediately adjacent to the station, but yes, Othello, Mt. Baker, and Beacon Hill are the ones with the most potential. IIRC the 2030 ridership is supposed to be around 40K in that segment, which is not that far off from East Link.

        An Aurora segment would also be small in the context of the entire system; it’s a big system!

        The direct route is cheaper in both cases; I’m not sure how that distinguishes it.

      6. Martin, an elevated train with the same number of stops can go way faster than street-running! There are no traffic lights, no safety concerns, etc. There are speed limits for street-running rail that severely impact travel time. If you have a wide enough street like MLK or Aurora, elevated is the way to go.

      7. Degraded? I can only imagine the RV would be highly improved with an elevated line down MLK way.

        I agree that we should have built express to the Airport first. Heck, Federal Way might be on-target now. Rainier Valley will be a huge obstacle eventually if Central link is to become the ‘trunk’ line. These things need to be built properly the first time.

      8. What I have heard at community meetings from city people that is a barrier to light rail on Aurora has all been about trucks trying to turn left. It sounded to me like the concern is that delivery trucks servicing the big box stores along Aurora would have difficulty crossing the tracks. I’m guessing the short-sighted folks at the Aurora Merchants Association are the ones pushing this concern. This would be the same people who oppose basically all transit improvements along Aurora because they think it makes people less likely to drive to their stores. Which just doesn’t even remotely make any sense, like giving up the five street parking spaces in front of Home Depot and its massive parking lot is going to make people less likely to shop there. What the heck. And when I would say to the city people, “Well, run it elevated and the trucks can just go under it like they do the pedestrian bridge at 130th” the city people all looked shocked that someone in the neighborhood would support an elevated option. I feel like, Aurora is an eyesore, so how does an elevated track make it any worse? But apparently that isn’t the feedback the city was getting, because they certainly didn’t push to put light right near the upzone they have been trying to create at 130th & Aurora.

    2. I’m with Rev. Nourish on his interpretation of the transit scriptures. The I-5 corridor is a virtual wasteland if you take all the cars and buses away. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a pedestrian or cyclist crossing an overpass, but I’m sure there out there.
      Riders will arrive via cars, after belching 90% of their crap exhaust in the ‘Cold Start’ phase of operation, or they will arrive in shuttle buses, another fairly low productivity mode out in the hinterlands as efficient transit goes.
      So the politicians will force everyone to the GRAND SPINE in whatever means generates ridership, and call it good.
      Then they will rest.

      1. The 1968 Forward Thrust report pointed out this exact issue. It’s a major reason that the plan then called for an “X” shape, which served the city much better than what we have now (the SW line served the airport, as I recall, and the SE line–basically where Link is now–was aimed eventually at Renton).

        Of course a much higher percentage of the region’s people lived in the city at the time, making the idea more politically palatable. It’s a shame that their funding mechanism required a 60% vote (ah, democracy) rather than the 50% that the first vote beat handily.

    3. Bruce yes and no. I strongly suggest you take a gander at the planning that lead to Central Link being built first and in Rainer Valley, and East Link going via I-90.

      The planning that lead to Sound Move originally had the line South of downtown going via the Duwamish industrial area. Some problems negotiating ROW with Boeing (they have an easement allowing them to move planes from their hangar to Boeing Field across E Marginal Way and pressure from various interests in SE Seattle including then mayor Rice lead to Central Link going into the valley.

      When ST did its alternatives analysis for Central Link, various full and partial routes down Rainier were considered. However they all proved to be much more expensive than an all-MLK alignment due to the need for tunneling. The additional ridership wasn’t enough to offset the increased costs.

      The initial MOS for Sound Move was going to be SODO to NE 45th. When the tunneling bids for the segment under Portage Bay came back far higher than expected (or budgeted) Sound transit decided to build the segment from Downtown to the Airport first and study additional alternatives for what became U-Link.

      If Sound Transit hadn’t done this it is very likely the agency would have been killed by the legislature years ago.

      See Why Link Will Cross I-90 First for many reasons why I-90 was chosen over 520.

      Remember at the time the alignments were considered there were no firm plans to replace 520 so using that route would have required a new bridge. Furthermore I-90 had been built with eventual rail or transitway use in mind.

      As a matter of simple geography there isn’t much along the 520 ROW between Evergreen Point and Overlake. Serving Bellevue requires out of direction travel. We won’t even get into the problem of how you get from 520 to Downtown Bellevue without picking an even larger fight than the Bellevue Way/112th SE alignment proved to be.

      With the I-90 alignment you get Mercer Island, South Bellevue as a transfer point for those due East and Southeast, and Downtown Bellevue is on the way to Overlake.

      Operationally the I-90 alignment is simpler as demand North of Downtown is roughly double both East Link and Central/Airport/South Link.

      Finally the University isn’t exactly “cut off” from the Eastside. Once both lines are open you’ll have a single-seat ride via link from UW or Brooklyn (or CHS, Roosevelt, or Northgate) to Bellevue or Overlake. While in many cases there won’t be a major travel time gain Link will prove much more reliable than current bus transit.

    4. That said, I really would rather North Corridor serve 99 between 130th and 205th than going straight up I-5. I suspect we’ll come to regret this decision.

  7. The Highway 99 alignment lost out because either alignment had to reach the fancy Mountlake Terrace freeway stop and Lynnwood P&R. If the Hwy 99 alignment were to stay on Hwy 99, I bet it would have come out better in the analysis than the preferred route. (And ST still doesn’t have all its buses serve that fancy stop, which adds mere seconds to any route that serves it.)

    Will people really want to live in TOD next to a freeway? “Let them live next to the freeway!” Ick.

    Next in line for stations to the north of Lynnwood are Alderwood Mall and the 164th & Ash Way P&R. If we want Link to go to where people might actually want to *live*, we need to start opposing the assumption that people will readily be willing to live next to P&Rs, malls, and most especially freeways.

    While the ridership at Lynnwood P&R is rather high, I have to wonder how many of those riders are parking there, and live closer to 99, and how many actually live closer to the P&R. It really isn’t well-placed to serve the neighboring strip malls, much less any neighborhood.

    1. Take everything I say with a grain of salt — I don’t know anything about anything, but…

      I tend to agree with you about Lynnwood TC. I used to transfer there on my commute. It seems like most people waiting for buses at Lynnwood TC came from other buses or from the parking lot (in that order). If that’s the case, then someone that wanted to run a train down 99 would just pick up Lynnwood TC and move it a mile west of where it is now.

      There is a residential neighborhood north and west of Lynnwood TC, not especially dense. There are small professional buildings in the area, and there’s a fair amount of retail. But it’s mostly FOD: freeway-oriented development. Even the stuff that’s a short walk from transit is an unpleasant walk from transit. That’s true to some degree on 99, but it seems in the abstract like it’s more possible to fix. The only fix for I-5 is removal. On the other hand… what’s possible in the abstract and what will happen in reality are two different things.

      1. The Lynnwood TC is more or less in the center of where Lynnwood has proposed putting its new Downtown. Based on the zoning we’re talking something on the scale of Downtown Bellevue.

      2. Do people just put downtowns places these days? Is that how it works? Is there an example of a downtown springing up next to a freeway based on nothing but zoning changes and a train station? As of yet there’s no such thing as “downtown Lynnwood”.

        To me, the criteria for a downtown existing are walkability and mixed-use. Probably at least a modest increase in density. Increasing real density in a car-dependent place is hard for a lot of reasons, and it will be hard to break car-dependency of this area with I-5 next door. Zoning, which primarily restricts height, is irrelevant. When developing in a car-dependent area your density isn’t limited by height limits, but the need for parking and vehicle access. There’s a significant section in Joel Garreau’s book “Edge City” about this, based on accounts from developers who want to increase density because it would make them more money. Or a local example: there are tall buildings across I-5 from Lynnwood TC (the Cobalt building, for example, wouldn’t be uncharacteristically short in Eastlake, Cap Hill, or the U District… maybe not even in SLU or Pioneer Square). Yet they do not add up to density.

      3. @ Al Dimond

        “Do people just put downtowns places these days? Is that how it works? Is there an example of a downtown springing up next to a freeway based on nothing but zoning changes and a train station? As of yet there’s no such thing as “downtown Lynnwood”.”

        Yes, they do.

        The example of downtowns springing up next to a train station were due to the fact that 100 years ago, the walkshed was the only thing driving development.

        Now we have ‘Drivesheds’, which means the distances are much greater for a given time that a person is willing to give up. If you say the walkshed is 1/2 mile, then that equals about 10 minutes walking time. 10 minutes of driving time allows you to cover 5-6 miles at 35mph.

        This is why towns that were incoporated at the exit ramps of freeways, or off major intersections from roads like Highway 99, look the way they do. The ‘downtown’ is navigated via the auto, hence nothing that really resembles an old style ‘downtown’.

        There are a number of housing developments/strip mall combinations that have grown so much over the years, in order to benefit from local control incorporating gives, they essentially had to invent a downtown, that centers around… surprise!! a walkshed.

        Mill Creek comes to mind, heck they even had to rename a local creek, since “Mill Creek” was the name of the housing development, and there wasn’t any creek named “Mill” in the vicinity.

      4. Well, yeah, obviously downtowns built up around trains when trains were how people traveled farther than they can walk. What I meant was, have we ever actually transformed a place like Lynnwood, that developed as FOD, and turned it into something that’s that’s reasonably navigable on foot? That’s what matters.

        You don’t have to have a downtown to incorporate. I was once looking for an apartment in Santa Clara, CA, and my mom came along to help. Now, Santa Clara has been incorporated since 1852. My mom asked people living and working there where Santa Clara’s downtown was, and nobody could point it out, including people that had lived there their whole lives. There’s a feeling about being downtown, and that doesn’t exist anywhere in Santa Clara (you can look at a map and guess where it used to be, but I can assure you, it’s not there anymore). I’m going to go out on a limb and say that to be a downtown, a place at least has to be reasonably walkable and not entirely residential; there probably has to be a notion of public space, but that’s hard to define. Places that have downtowns include: Seattle; Bellevue (its walkability is marginal, but downtown Bellevue is definitively a place); Wallingford (not a great sense of public space, but very walkable and fairly placey); Champaign, IL; Powell, WY; Paxton, IL (the tallest structure in downtown Paxton is probably a Christmas tree at the moment, but it definitively has a downtown). Places that do not have downtowns include: Santa Clara, CA; Mill Creek (I have been to Mill Creek; even if you hadn’t mentioned Mill Creek I probably would be including it in this list, it’s basically the definition of a place without a downtown); Lynnwood.

        If Lynnwood is going to have a downtown they’re going to have to build one, basically from scratch, on top of existing FOD. If Lynnwood is going to have a half-decent downtown they’re going to have to narrow some roads and cut some parking. Hey, kudos to Lynnwood for being willing to accept growth, unlike so many places in Seattle (this is a rant for another day). But let’s not say it’s going to have a downtown based solely on zoning plans. There are physical reasons that they probably have to break car dependence to have a downtown.

      5. “have we ever actually transformed a place like Lynnwood, that developed as FOD, and turned it into something that’s that’s reasonably navigable on foot? … Bellevue (its walkability is marginal, but downtown Bellevue is definitively a place)”

        You answered your own question. Lynnwood is trying to do what Bellevue did twenty years ago, and it’s hoping it will be as successful and lucrative. I don’t remember exactly when the first highrise went into downtown Bellevue, I’m guessing 1990-ish. But Bellevue made a decision to stop being a sleepy suburb and become a city, and then all the highrises came and the mall doubled in size and the big downtown park got built, and the goal was that people could live, work, and shop downtown, and walk to the transit center and take a bus anywhere. It did wonders for Bellevue’s tax base. Lynnwood kept its head in the sand all this time and is now kicking itself that it doesn’t have the downtown to attract affluent businesses and residents to, so it’s trying to catch up, and it knows it has to make at least the downtown core walkable in order to do so.

      6. The other question would be “What constitutes a ‘downtown’?”

        2 high rises? 3?
        2 major department stores? A mall qualifies. In fact, a mall is TOD, without the transit running through it. Made for walkability.
        City Hall?
        A park?

        Personality !!

      7. A must-serve transit destination would probably have a mall, a few high-rises (commercial or commercial/residential; 10+ stories), and some low-rise residential (3-6 stories in the suburbs given their low starting point). It would also aim for all the daily necessities: supermarket, library, gym, etc. That’s pretty much a “hub”, or large, “urban village” as Northgate and Bellevue are and Lynnwood is becoming. “Downtown” also implies the principle urban center in their area, and the seat of government. Hub urban villages are principle are principal centers by definition, because the cities channel growth to there. “Seat of government” doesn’t apply to Northgate or the examples in DC (Pentagon City, Crystal City, Reston Town Center, and now 16 others), but that’s unimportant (the important thing is that the seat of government if it’s elsewhere “is” walkable).

      8. Lynnwood is one of those places that started out as a suburban cross roads, first where 196th crosses 99, then when I-5 crossed 196th to the east, it grew in that direction. Throw in a mall and other roads and you have a city with no real center, but plenty of traffic. So Lynnwood is trying to create something they never had, which is impressive.

    2. Let’s think too about the future. If development springs up along 99 (Shoreline rezones) we can always add another station. Will development EVER spring up along I-5? In a million years?

      1. The main point is not the emptiness of I-5 vs the moderate opportunities on Aurora. The point is to connect the largest cities in the immediate area, which means Seattle, Bellevue, and Lynnwood. Longer distances require faster speed so the travel time isn’t unreasonable, and to be competitive with cars. Aurora is a shorter distance, so it can tolerate slower transit. Not as slow as the 358, that’s ridiculous, but it doesn’t need the highest-speed service in the region either. Adding stations on Aurora would slow the system down, which would make it less usable for regional transit. And you can’t add enough stations on Link to stop at all the potential TOD nodes; it’s not that kind of system. So some nodes would have to be bypassed, and they’d have to take a bus to transfer to Link. That may not be what’s best for Aurora. On the other hand, a second line (Swift, streetcar, or LR) could make all those stops because it wouldn’t be hauling ass trying to get to Lynnwood as fast as possible. It would just connect to the regional line at two points (say downtown and Mountlake Terrace), so that those going either south or north wouldn’t have to backtrack to reach Link.

    3. If you look at the alternatives analysis doc they did look at alternatives that stayed on 99 until 220th, 208th and 200th streets SW.

    4. Once you’re in a mall it’s a fine pedestrian environment. But suburban and rural malls surrounded by seas of parking are difficult to serve efficiently with mass transit. Little of their activity faces existing streets that efficient transit services operate along, the parking lots are hard to cross, and they’re located away from convenient transit access because that’s where land is cheapest. Furthermore, they’re superblocks that break up the surrounding street grid, which matters a lot for walking-scale trips. A lot of this stuff can be fixed or mitigated (see B-Square), but it takes time and money (much of it public, if it’s for anything desirable), and unless you actually fix car dependence you’re physically limited in density and walkability (see traffic around B-Square, and the amount of space within it that has to be dedicated to parking).

      So… malls, if anything, are oriented away from transit. As transit systems attempt to re-establish themselves in the far-flung suburbs, malls are some of the more attractive nodes of activity out there. Better than big-boxes, cul-de-sacs, and office parks. But unless they face out to the streets they’re expensive to serve well.

      As for what downtown is, high-rises have nothing to do with it. If there’s one thing I hope Lynnwood takes to heart as it grows it’s that. There are plenty of high-rises that essentially represent the failed vision of Le Corbusier, surrounded by traffic-choked freeways and seas of parking instead of park land, and amount to little more density than standard office parks. Downtown, as it is, isn’t necessarily that important anyway. What’s important is walkability. Walkability isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. If it’s more convenient to drive for a half-mile trip than to walk they won’t get where they need to be (and, as often the two modes are opposed, almost anything that benefits walkers at the expense of motorists is worth doing).

      1. Have you been to Alderwood Mall? Community Transit serves it well with 15 minute service on both E and W sides connecting between Lynnwood Transit Center and Ash Way P/R (115/116 and 201/202). Sound Transit serves it with the 535 between Bellevue and LTC. And the pedestrian connections to stops are short and safe. It’s also just off the Interurban Trail. Come shop and see!

      2. We have several trails called the Interurban Trail. I assume it’s because the are all built on ROW that was previously part of the Interurban rail system? The part up by Alderwood is very nice. I only know about it because I met a couple there when I sold our tandem.

  8. When taking into consideration the large number of people in north Seattle that own cars and use them on a daily basis, the natural inclination for these people is probably to continue using their vehicles for their transportation needs. Given that the I-5 routing results in higher speeds, it’s probably the best opportunity to lure them away from their vehicles. And fortunately it’s not completely impossible to have reasonably dense development within walking distance of rail stations located in the middle of highways. Reston Town Center in Fairfax County, Virginia is located directly adjacent to the Dulles Toll Road. It’s a relatively decent mixed used development and reasonably dense in comparison to nearby areas. In the next 5-6 years, a new Metrorail staion will open in the middle of the Dulles Toll Road with a connection to Reston Town Center. So while transit lines located along highways aren’t ideal, I think it’s still possible to encourage denser transit-oriented development in the vicinity of highway transit stations.

  9. I dont understand why people want more density this far up 99. Souldnt we concentrate density closer to the city center? We have plenty of places to build out more before we need to start building this far north. Lynwood has good plans to densify once we get there, and so does Northgate. Inbetween is going to be lower density for a long time. Best way to serve these people is with park and rides. Best place to put park and rides is next to the freeway because road connections are great.

    To connect 99 easily just route SWIFT to the Montlake Terrace freeway stop. (I could show you an easy route if you need) That way if you want to go somewhere on 99 you can take link to Montlake Terrace than transfer to SWIFT. It would be great if we could have Rapid Ride E terminate at the Montalke Terrace stop also. Then we have a trasfer hub with two BRT like lines to serve 99 and Light rail for through travel. Seems like a good plan to me.

    1. Souldnt we concentrate density closer to the city center?

      Nobody says we can’t have both. If we’re going to build North Link anyway, why not put it in a place that has a greater potential positive land use effect?

    2. I dont understand why people want more density this far up 99. Souldnt we concentrate density closer to the city center?

      Because we’re cheapskates. Building decent transit in the Center City would require a lot of expensive tunneling. So instead we’ll build fast transit links to far-flung car-dependent suburbs, and let the people in the Center City enjoy taking 30 minutes to go one mile on the bus.

      1. Amen. It’ll still take 45 minutes to go 5 miles on the 48, but I’ll be able to get from Downtown to Lynnwood how fast?

      2. No, it’s because of sub-area equity. If you want to tap Snohomish and Pierce County for tax revenue and and ridership to get Federal grants then this distortion is the price. What I don’t get is why Pierce County wants to make it easier to get to Seattle than DT Tacoma. Ditto for Snohomish and Everett. I’d think they’d want to make their own major cities a more desirable job location that just serving the bedroom interests of Seattle.

      3. When I lived on the Edmonds/Lynnwood border, my commute took just about as long as it does now that I live in Bitter Lake. And when I tell people who live in Madison Park that it takes me 45 minutes to commute from 130th & Aurora to downtown, they shake their heads because they live so much closer and it still takes them a half hour.

    3. SWIFT to Mountlake Terrace P&R. Interesting for about 3 seconds. Had they put the P&R on SR104 you’d have something there. However, the thousands of people who currently transfer at Aurora Village would now have to catch buses or drive to Mountlake Terrace to join the 3 people there currently using the park and ride.

    4. People want density here because these suburbs are now locked in and the only way to grow the tax base is to add infill and raise density.

      Mountlake Terrace doesn’t have capacity to layover 2 BRT lines though it does need a good connection to 99 @ 220th and north where significant employment density exists and is likely to grow. The best thing for tying 99 to the I-5 corridor is to have direct connections with the regional centers at Northgate and Lynnwood. 2 ways to do this:
      1) A new BRT route from Link at LTC west to 99 then south and turn east to meet Link at Northgate. This would overlap with both Swift and RR.
      2) Extend Swift south and turn east to end at Northgate and also, Extend Rapid Ride to 200th and turn west to terminate at Lynnwood TC. Swift and RR would overlap.
      Obviously either of these would require inter-agency agreements like the one covering Swift between CT and ET. and neither KCM nor CT has money for it. But perhaps by the opening of North Link … Swift to Northgate?
      Coming all the way from Everett might be too long of a route and that could make it tough on drivers and prone to difficulties in headway management. Perhaps that gives the advantage to option 1 ?

      I agree directly connecting 99 services with the I-5 corridor is essential. If the two corridors with the highest demand in the area operate independently and are only connected by crossing local buses then that would require people to transfer at both 99 and I-5 to travel from an origin on one to a destination on the other. That would create a significant time penalty and would really hurt ridership of transit in the area in general. Bitter Lake, Shoreline, Edmonds, MLT and Lynnwood would all benefit from better access to regional transit if something on 99 tied into the inevitable I-5 Link alignment.

      1. People want density here because these suburbs are now locked in and the only way to grow the tax base is to add infill and raise density.

        NO it’s not! Increased property values grow the tax base. McMansions, love ’em or hate ’em increase the tax base. Creating successful retail (like Luxury Auto Row in Bellevue) increases the tax base big time. Raising the rate per thousand dollars of assessed value increases revenue. And how do you equate local governments desire to increase the amount taken from peoples wages to “People want density”?

  10. Part of the major costs with building rail systems are the costs of building and maintaining grade-separated stations. Does Sound Transit have any “minimum boardings” per station policy or perhaps a “Sound Transit capital contribution per boarding” policy to force local jurisdictions to upzone the station areas? It could be an enticing benefit to show a jurisdiction that they have to choose between subsidizing station construction with local funds, and generating riders by more strategic adjacent land uses. Maybe there would even been some sort of interest for paid park-and-ride spaces. $4B is a huge public cost, and the cost to operate a system is also huge; maximizing ridership is important as a taxpayer investment, and local jurisdictions need to act within their roles to make that happen.

    I know it’s beyond the realistic cost realm, but I sure do wonder if they could environmentally clear a two-line alternative that recommends the entire I-5 corridor but also has a one-station or two-station spur to SR 99.

    1. It’s much easier to bring the buses from 99 to I-5 then to build a rail spur off the corridor and have to split your operations.

  11. The main presumption of the analysis was that speed increased ridership. The analysis did not consider future TOD or upzonings as a factor for increasing ridership. As a result, we’re building high-capacity transit that will force riders to use a car.

    1. Federal rules prevent them from considering development. Given the experience in getting these upzones done, I can’t say I blame them.

    2. The I-5 corridor currently has very good transit usage with a fair percentage coming off local buses. In the future as Link replaces commuter buses hours will be redirected to provide better local transit connectivity. But, a lot of low density areas of South Snohomish County are not going to redevelop or depopulate or become efficient places to serve with local transit. People there will have to drive to a P&R so they don’t go all the way in to Seattle or Bellevue and take up prime real estate with useless autos. Hopefully it’s an electric car.

  12. As a former Snohomish county resident this is great news..:) Also once this line opens it will make so many commuters lives easier and induce more trips into Seattle. You’d be surprised at the amount of people living up there who never come to the city due to the pain of traffic, parking and the weird street grid..

    This will also score political points with some critics who contend the whole system should be ran down the freeway right of way..

  13. There are always tradeoffs in locating transit lines. It would have been great if there were enough space on Rainier for Link, if I-5 were a 10-minute walk from Aurora, if Southcenter were directly north of the airport, etc. But they aren’t, so the line has to choose which centers to serve directly.

    I hope they add a 130th station but it’s a long shot. That would give better Lake City – Aurora connectivity than 145th. But the 330 would just have to be adjusted minimally to serve the 145th station. Metro actually has pretty good east-west routing in Shoreline but they’re peak expresses. Convert them to all-day shuttles and the job is done. The 330 has several weird turns to reach three P&Rs; these could be straightened out to reach Link instead.

    Shoreline has a large community center at 185th & 1st NE, which is just a couple blocks from I-5. It’s a former elementary school, one story, which the city plans to replace with a 3-4 story complex including residential.

    Shoreline and Seattle have jointly studied TOD nodes at 135th and 185th (Shoreline P&R), and Shoreline is building a “town center” at 175th. Lynnwood has zoned TOD nodes at its Swift stations. So there will be significant improvements on Aurora even without Link.

    The cities have been assuming that the Aurora Village TC will eventually be moved to the Shoreline P&R, and that Swift and RapidRide would meet there, and Link too if it’s on Aurora. Now that Link’s on I-5 I don’t know what will happen to that, but it’s one possible scenario, and the TOD development would make it more than just a P&R.

    The 358 is 38-50 minutes from downtown to Aurora Village (or 20-25 minutes from 85th or 105th to either end), plus a few more minutes for peak. Bringing that down to 30-38 minutes with street improvements would significantly improve the corridor and partly make up for the loss of Link. And it would pave the way for a streetcar or additional Link line later.

    1. Link on 99 and stops at 130th, 160th, 175th and Aurora village makes so much more sense than what they came up with. If in the future the density went up at 185th then put a station in. The density on I-5 will never change.

  14. Classic tale of pramatism versus longer-term vision. I think there are arguments for both (many presented here already). But I still feel like this a was defeatist decision by the board. One that could easily have been predicted. Guess we’ll have to bank on the Seattle Subway to save the 99 corridor.

    Frankly, I think there is plenty of blame to go around for why the corridor was not chosen, aside from just dollars and speed: SDOT/WSDOT mediocre vision for the corridor, lame Metro responses, lack of investment and community organisation along corridor, and land use policy/zoning stuck in the Stone Age. Maybe this should indicate that the City and corridor community(ies) need to get their act together if they really want to see as a truly multi-modal corridor and more than just a horrid parking lot.

  15. ONE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND…. PEOPLE…

    That is how many new residents in the Metro area are expected to arrive or be born in the next 20 years thereby increasing our population and the strain on our region’s resources. That number should be the over-riding principle that shapes our decisions about land use, energy and mobility.

    All this talk about the Aurora corridor being lousy or a poor area to expand is ridiculous. It is the low hanging fruit of opportunity to develop dense neighborhood developments to accommodate large numbers of new residents.

    IIRC, wasn’t this area already identified in city planning documents for this purpose even if it hasn’t been officially zoned as such?

    It makes me sick to think that we allow our transit planning agencies to make plans that require the continued use of SOV’s. That betrays the reality of Climate Change and energy consumption. It appears this is a direct result of having too many sovereign agencies that don’t talk to each other and of decoupling land use planning from transit decisions.

    In the newly formed advocacy group seattlesubway.org, they have depicted a “red line” which is the SR99 corridor. While it is true that the I-5 corridor will benefit Snohomish County commuters more, it seems silly to have two expensive parallel alignments within 2 miles of each other.

      1. Need I remind you that I lived in Chicago so I know that its rail system is more or less a hub system radiating from the Loop. Except for the Purple and Brown lines that share track with the Red Line spine for small portions or limited (peak) times, the lines don’t really run parallel.

        I can also say from my experience that running a rail system down a freeway will not benefit the neighborhoods parallel to those stations unless there is significant, frequent service to/from those neighborhoods and opportunity to transfer between systems w/o having to walk significant distances. Sound Transit seems content to design routes with out these critical elements then seems puzzled when the expected ridership doesn’t materialize.

    1. It’s not SOVs, it’s the huge demand for transit between Snohomish County and Seattle. That’s why the 4-minute difference is getting so much weight. Not to mention the people who still complain that south Link is slower than the 194 was. Downtown Lynnwood will be an urban village (urban village, urban village!), where residents can walk to Link and non-residents can stop downtown for something before hopping on the train. The already strong transit demand will only increase and become more all-day as a 10-minute train is available. We’re lucky that ST2 even passed and the cities are willing to expand Northgate and Lynnwood. Let’s build what the powers that be can agree on, and then we can build something else later.

      1. So Lynnwood is now going to be a metropolis worthy of transit all by itself? No matter what the Lynnwood City Council will tell you that will never happen. In 10 years we’ve gotten an Events center that nobody uses and a new Fred Meyer. That is the extent of it. Well, that and a doubling of crime rate.

        And even if Lynnwood does amount to something some day the SR-99 route still connects with it.

        I think your last sentence should read.
        “Let’s worry about what the powers that be can agree on, and then we can always redo it later”

      2. I just looked at population growth for Lynnwood in relation to the rest of the state. In the last 10 years WA population growth was 14.1%. Population growth for Lynnwood in the same timeframe was 6%. Mukilteo, Bothell and Everett have double the population growth of Lynnwood and Mill Creek is 10x that of Lynnwood. I think Lynnwoods population growth was either gangs or increased police force. Maybe a combination of both.

      3. Grant arn’t those cities, and Mill Creek especially, significantly smaller than Lynnwood?

      4. They are smaller than Lynnwood except for Everett which is about 3x the size of Lynnwood. The Point though is that Lynnwood isn’t going to be a large city no matter what at this rate because it’s barely growing and the cities around it are where people are choosing to move. The SR99 route connects ALL three of the 40-50k cities north of Seattle (none of which are really growing much) whereas the I-5 route only connects one.

    2. Yes, Bitter Lake (130th & Aurora) is a designated “urban hub” that is supposed to get upzoned. The city has been having open houses to show off the plans, which include zoning changes to allow for TOD. But the city seemed uninterested in pushing to have light rail on Aurora rather than I-5, from my interactions with city officials on this issue. I think the Aurora merchants association probably had something to do with that, since they have completely opposed transit improvements along the corridor.

  16. Now that the I-5 alignment has been selected, which was pre-destined, some of the statistics above need to be shot down. Travel time: 4 minutes is nothing, a slowdown in the U-District. A one-seat ride is more important, and this won’t be for virtually everybody, whose total travel time (home to destination) will be longer with this alignment under what’s currently “on the ground.” Ridership estimates: are pie-in-the-sky, no doubt include current bus ridership from Snohomish County and North King County to downtown. Few ever check later how accurate or not they are, but in the case of Central Link, the actual ridership is considerably below their rosy estimates. The most-meaningful statistic above is the estimated cost, and with a $3 billion or so deficit at Sound Transit, I-5 was an obvious choice. Even the City of Shoreline was concerned that one of their stations would get axed if the SR-99 alignment was chosen (due to the added cost). They were also concerned about a wall of concrete on SR-99 vis-a-vis their businesses along there, I hope they have equal concern for the residents along the I-5 alignment, who’ll have a wall and noise to contend with from their new neighbor.

    All that said, the largest city on this route after Seattle, the City of Shoreline (53,000), whose city center is bypassed (while Mountlake Terrace’s (20000) and Lynnwood’s (34000) aren’t), has some major challenges for this, Sound Transit’s first service to its city (the off-peak only bus stations are in Seattle city limits just south of 145th). N. 145th has been a clogged road for at least 3 decades, and this will make it worse. There reportedly won’t be any parking added, so the lone Park & Ride – the undersized, security-challenged lot at N. 147th will have to do, along with street parking along one-lane-in-each-direction 5th NE and NE 185th. Metro service, which was slated to be axed 17%, got a two-year reprieve with the “temporary” $20 vehicle license fee that starts next year. What if the economy hasn’t changed much when it expires? Even so, present east-west service is light in Shoreline: the peak-only #330 and the #348 to Richmond Beach. The city’s hoping to convince the school district to re-develop their property at 1st NE and NE 185th, but what if they’re not interested? Will this line be used for more than just south and east-bound commuters when it will take one, two, or even three transfers to get to Shoreline’s CBD? Meanwhile, those along Aurora will be treated to the glorified #358, as the Rapid Ride E line will be stopping 12 times in the 3 miles in Shoreline, the equivalent number of stops that Community Transit’s Swift BRT makes in its 16-mile journey to Everett.

    In short, there’s a lot of work to be done to make this a viable transit option for those in the city of Shoreline, and even Lynnwood, whose Park & Ride is already saturated with cars. With Shoreline, they need to seriously consider other options to 145th, e.g. 155th, maybe even to 185th (e.g., 175th), street re-design, working with Metro for connectivity to light rail and, more immediately (given its slated start in 2013) to provide underlying local service on SR-99 to enable Rapid Ride E to be the limited-stop service that it’s supposed to be.

    1. Correction: #347 from NE Shoreline and southern Mountlake Terrace should also connect with light rail at the southern Shoreline station.

    2. “4 minutes is nothing, a slowdown in the U-District”

      It’s enough to convince borderline riders not to take transit. It’s just like if you increase a bus’s frequency from 30 minutes to 15 to 10, it attracts riders who wouldn’t have considered it beforehand. The the tradeoff between Aurora and I-5 is losing some riders and gaining others. It’s not just a loss.

      “Ridership estimates … no doubt include current bus ridership”

      Of course they do, the routes are to be truncated. That’s the whole point, to stop using a ton of gas and to free up bus hours for neighborhood service.

      “the actual ridership is considerably below their rosy estimates”

      There was a great recession in 2008 which some call a little depression, and some wonder if we’re out of it yet or will be in ten years.

      “Even the City of Shoreline was concerned that one of their stations would get axed if the SR-99 alignment was chosen (due to the added cost)”

      99 would have one more station than I-5. So if 130th were axed, Shoreline would still have the same number of stations it would in any case. And concern about a station being axed is an argument for the cheaper I-5 alignment, not against it. When I asked the Shoreline planner what the city’s priorities and concerns were, she didn’t say, “It must be Aurora.” She said there were different opportunities with both routings.

      “What if the economy hasn’t changed much when it expires?”

      That has little to do with the Link alignment. The issue is not whether the economy improves but whether the Legislature and County adopt a stable funding mechanism for Metro. If they don’t, say bye-bye to several of your Shoreline routes, if not initially then in the next few years. RapidRide E will continue as long as Metro is alive because it’s the main route in the north end, but the 3xx’s may be reduced. People don’t live just on Aurora, they live all over Shoreline, so they’ll be screwed no matter which Link alignment is built.

      “The city’s hoping to convince the school district to re-develop their property at 1st NE and NE 185th, but what if they’re not interested?”

      I thought it was more certain than that. But it’s not being used as a school now, so how likely is it to be used as a school in the future? And if a school is needed someday, would the district rather have that sprawling complex or something more compact? Attitudes are changing since the school was built.”

      “Will this line be used for more than just south and east-bound commuters when it will take one, two, or even three transfers to get to Shoreline’s CBD?”

      What about Shoreliners going to UW, Capitol Hill, SeaTac, Greenlake, etc? Would they take the slower E and transfer in Seattle? The east-west connections suck but that’s where we can pressure the cities and Metro to make sure they’re improved.

      RapidRide is probably not limited-stop due to Metro’s budget. So a solution would require improving Metro’s funding.

      1. ““4 minutes is nothing, a slowdown in the U-District”

        It’s enough to convince borderline riders not to take transit. It’s just like if you increase a bus’s frequency from 30 minutes to 15 to 10, it attracts riders who wouldn’t have considered it beforehand.”

        You’re correct that going from 30 minute headways to 15 increases ridership. You are not correct in thinking 4 minutes is going to make ANY difference. Nobody will look at the SR-99 Link schedule and say “I’d ride that if it were 4 minutes faster”. That’s just not reality. Fifteen or twenty minutes then you have a point.

        It would be more likely to say that they don’t want to ride Link because it goes down 99 than because it takes 4 extra minutes.

      2. People look at what percent of an hour does it take to get someplace, and they’re willing to give it N minutes, but at N+4 they’ll start looking at alternatives.

      3. Example — Westlake-Lynnwood on I-5: 28 minutes. Westlake-Lynnwood on Aurora: 32 minutes. Psychologically, one takes “less than half an hour”, the other takes “more than half an hour”. With the first one you think, “If I get in and out of the station quickly, it’ll be exactly half an hour.” With the second one you think, “Adding time to get in and out of the station, it’s creeping toward 45 minutes, so essentially it’s an hour because I can’t accomplish anything meaningful in the 15 minutes left over.”

      4. I really really don’t think anyone outside of Norm cares about 4 minutes. I think people start getting picky about the 15 minute level. I think that people care a great deal more about quality of service. It takes me about 10 minutes longer to get to Seattle on the Swift/358 than routing around to the 511 but I usually choose the 511 because the quality of ride is better. The 358 section really can suck so the 511 wins. If they had light rail/monorail down 99 I’d take it even if it still took an extra 10 minutes.

  17. I bet, after the system is built out, that Central Link is going to be the ugly stepsister line…at least in terms of the “big” metrics most people/headlines use to define success. The connection to the airport might mitigate this a bit, at least I hope it does, or maybe it will turn out to be an ugly duckling happy ending.

    As far as I can tell, the RV is going to be the only place in the whole system that can be held up by road signaling – is that right? A Northgate to Seattle CBD ride is going to feel like a full-fledged metro…whereas in the RV you can see what car commuters packed in their lunch bags.

    1. Sounder is the ugly stepsister. Link is the OK but not knockout sister.

      Rainier Valley and SODO will be the only places at grade, at least up to Bel-Red. I’m not sure if the Bel-Red and Redmond alignments have been committed to yet, although I think I heard that the North Corridor and East Link would be completely grade separated. Nobody knows what will happen south of 200th.

      So MLK got the shaft just like they expected they would, and Roosevelt and Bellevue got their tunnels. Part of that was the same thing that happens to most first segments (SLUT, MAX): they cut too many corners afraid that the public won’t support the cost, but when the second segment comes around the community is more behind it and more willing to build it right. MLK was unlucky because the Ship Canal crossing was too risky to do as the first segment. But that’s the way life is.

      1. Er, I mean “grade separated” in the sense of no traffic crossings and no slowdowns. Technically it will partly “at-grade” because running on the ground in the I-5 right of way or at the same level of the freeway is considered at-grade.

      2. I’m not sure if the Bel-Red and Redmond alignments have been committed to yet,

        They haven’t been, but AFAIK all the alternatives proposed are retained cut and/or elevated.

      3. Sounder being 12 minutes between downtown & Tukwila and less than 20 minutes to Kent makes Sounder a potential swan.

      4. Also, MLK really didn’t want elevated, and building a subway through the least dense part of the city would have been silly.

      5. I agree with Charles about Sounder…especially South Sounder. It is the fastest way to Kent and Auburn (maybe Sumner and Puyallup too) during commute times. Actually, I don’t know if you could make it from Kent Station to King Street Station in 20 minutes at anytime of day. It would be cool if the line was electrified, and at least hourly (and bi-directional) off-peak, but it pretty much works now as a great car alternative.

    2. If my memory is correct, with the addition of crossing gates, MLK could be full-speed. But I believe estimates are that it would only save something like 2 minutes? I’m on my lunch break and can’t look it up.

      But that’s all it would take to put the MLK segment on par with the rest of the line, speed-wise. Not a huge investment.

      1. Given that it takes 11-12 minutes to do the entire length of the MLK segment, 2 minutes is a good estimate of how much time could be saved if the train were allowed to reach its optimal speed between the stations.

        If you really want to speed up South Link, a SODO bypass would end up saving about ten minutes (by not running east-west between SODO and Mt Baker, by not stopping at so many stations, and by running east-west again at the south end of Boeing Field.

      2. From my perspective, a 99/Marginal Way bypass would be most justified if/when we decide to extend Link south to Kent/Renton. At that point, you could extend the line southeast from Rainier Beach.

        You continue serving all of the same stations (albeit with a different service pattern and without a direct connection from the airport to the RV), and the only infrastructure you need to abandon is the E-W segment between MLK and Marginal Way. Everything north of there becomes part of “Southeast Link”, and everything south of there gets connected to the bypass.

        I continue to think that this is a low priority — the Seattle Subway is far, far more important. But if we ever get to the point where serving Renton is a worthwhile project, I think that “Southeast Link” is a reasonable way to go about it.

      3. A SODO bypass would also double headways through the rainier valley, compared to the south corridor. I have a hard time imagining a situation where south corridor would need double the headways of the rainier valley.

        Of course, it would not need to be strictly double, it could be one train out of 3 or 4 or 5 or whatever. But it does remove service from the valley.

        Once Link reaches Tacoma, I think adding an express bypass would probably be worth it for a few trains a day. But I’m suspicious about the need for it from Federal Way. I suspect that ridership patterns will primarily be within the south corridor, rather than from south corridor to downtown.

      4. Aleks: I love it. Of course, for any extra lines down there without making compromises, we would need the added downtown capacity of the Seattle Subway.

        I think a Renton/Kent/Auburn line would be great to pair with the construction of a SODO bypass. We could run alternating expresses from both east and west lines, and preserve headways through the valley.

        However, I fear that a SE line will never come to be. The existence of Sounder serves as a convenient excuse for our elected officials to never work for high-frequency all-day rail service to that side of the valley.

      5. Aleks,
        Most likely Renton will be served with an E/W line along 405/518 between Burien, TIBS, Southcenter, Tukwila Sounder/Amtrak, Downtown Renton, and Renton Landing. Essentially the Rapid Ride F route.

  18. Although I disagree with most of Transitrider’s arguments, and though Bruce is making such uncharacteristically little sense that I wonder if he’s suffering from the same fever I have, they’re both right about one thing: those 50,000 ridership estimates are giant, steaming, fresh-baked pies-in-the-sky.

    I don’t care how extensive a planned “new downtown” Lynnwood tries to build, or how generous parking at each P&R station is presumed to be — that number is ludicrous! Have they published any of their source figure and calculation methods, because I could use a good laugh today?

    I-5 to the north is horrible, so this line is necessary to provide a valid alternative. Given the crappy land usage along both corridors, the decision to be as straight and cheap as possible makes a lot of sense.

    But higher ridership than East Link before you even hit Seattle city limits? Puh-lease!

    1. There’s pretty heavy N/S demand for transit in general. The corridor is underserved and the freeway is at capacity.

      A lot of those riders will probably be transfers from CT routes, not people walking to the station.

      1. Ha!

        Community Transit’s entire daily ridership is only 35,000-40,000! That’s for the entire county-wide system. Every single one of those people isn’t going to need to transfer to the train, and I wouldn’t hold my breath that current bus-anathemas are going to start riding clunky suburban feeders.

        Most of Lynnwood Link’s riders will get to the station by car, and I’m fine with that. But there won’t be tens of thousands of parking spaces, there won’t be tens of thousands of new residential units, and the city’s planned “downtown” isn’t magically going to transform into a cornucopia of demand-inducing destinations.

        Whatever numbers Lynnwood supplied to push the estimates (for both routes) skyward are ridiculous on their face!

      2. People still take ST’s ridership projections seriously? Ridership is like property tax assessment. Decide how much you need and then make up the numbers. Vote up or down on what you want but don’t do it believing the statistics on either side of any issue are true.

      3. d.p.,

        You’re comparing 2010 ridership to 2030. There’a ton of growth built into that projection.

        Bernie,

        It’s all nice to have a cynical attitude because some projections has been off, as they always are. Can you show me in the methodology where they’ve cooked their assumptions?

        The biggest driver of ridership projections is economic and population assumptions. Those are notoriously error-prone, so overall numbers have big error bars. However, projections are great for comparing transportation projects and corridors because they’re all based on the same economic baseline.

      4. projections are great for comparing transportation projects and corridors because they’re all based on the same economic baseline.

        So we should just think of ST ridership numbers like airline miles. They are what they are by some unfathomable formula disconnected from actual ridership. Even given that why use bait and switch tactics. In the East Link light rail Project Overview (July 2011) they say “East Link will serve about 50,000 daily riders”. In the East Link Project PSRC Freight Roundtable (March 2009) the say “Projected year 2030 daily ridership is up to 48,000 people”. But 48k was based on an unaffordable tunnel option. The airline miles for what they are building is around 44k; 12% under what they’re still bragging about.

      5. I’m not sure why you’re unable to see the distinction between a prediction with high imprecision and something fundamentally fictional and dishonest. Your rhetoric implies you can’t.

      6. Martin,

        Firstly, I agree with you that such “shared baseline” numbers may still be useful in a general sense for comparing projects. And I happen to agree with them that an Aurora routing would likely wind up a pointless detour with more downside than up.

        But as for comparing today’s usage to 2030? 2030 is only 18 years away, and it should be our job to question ludicrous assumptions:

        1. Lynnwood is not going to build a new downtown Bellevue in the next 18 years. (And how funny is it that downtown Bellevue, a mid-corridor economic center that has a demonstrated ability to generate demand from and to both east and west, sits on a line with lower estimated ridership than this hypothetical New Lynnwood?)

        2. Snohomish is not going to undergo a radical cultural shift in the next 18 years that will have its residents lining up to ride suburban feeder lines to the train. Nor does Snohomish possess the geography to turn its bus system into the kind of gridded/connective system that makes multi-modal trips feasible and appealing to elective riders in city environments.

        3. I do think choice riders will want to skip the I-5 mess and use the train; but they’re going to want to drive to it. And there are not going to be tens of thousands of parking spaces at the two northernmost stations, even if Lynnwood copies downtown Bellevue’s auto-centricity (which would undermine its claims of two-way transit appeal).

        The 48,000-52,000 estimate would pretty much require all three of the above: a massive new city, a massive cultural shift, and plenty of excess parking. Those numbers are prima facie ridiculous!

        Frankly, basing route comparisons on such ridiculous Lynnwood presumptions even undermines the credibility of those comparisons, leading one to wonder if they’ve cooked the numbers on Aurora too. I don’t think they have, but a study that goes out of its way to damage its own trustworthiness at the outset is not good for persuading those who disagree with its conclusions.

      7. Furthermore, those estimates never seem to remain “for comparison only.”

        The next time we start talking about branch lines, someone’s going to come in and scream that “the studies guarantee that 67 million people are going to be using the Lynnwood lane per minute” and so “branching is absolutely impossible!!

        Bad numbers in one place can lead to terrible consequences in another.

      8. I keep hoping that someone will reveal that the estimates are supposed to count all of North Link (UW-Lynnwood, inclusive of Brooklyn station boardings and de-boardings). Because then 48,000-52,000 actually makes sense.

        But for just the segment on the map (Northgate-Lynnwood, inclusive only of those who are on the train beyond Northgate), numbers that high need to be proven by those asserting them, not taken on faith.

      9. you’re unable to see the distinction between a prediction with high imprecision and something fundamentally fictional and dishonest.

        If the formulas suffer from high imprecision then they’re worthless. Only if they are precise but suffer from a lack of accuracy (e.g. they are always 2X the real ridership) then are they valid for comparison. I’m giving the benefit of the doubt that it’s the second since otherwise using Tarot cards would be just as valid. Knowing this and still presenting (even exaggerating) ridership is at the very least deceptive.

      10. The only reason for plumping the numbers up are to lower the cost per rider in the FFGA application stage, thereby assuring a ‘very high’ rating with the feds. Finding a consulting firm to do the deed is not that difficult.
        When Airport/Central Link claimed 47,000 riders by 2020 to get a good rating, many just giggled (ref: PSRC grant request). The FTA is blind or stupid or both.
        I’d love to see a breakdown of actual boarding’s for those four stations, by time of day, and mode of access to the station. Instead we’ll get a Univac (TM) printout with the answer on it – sort of like fortune cookies.

      11. They use the same models that are taught in every civil engineering school in the nation. Oh wait, that doesn’t fit in with Mike and Bernie’s conspiracy theory.

      12. Funny how Zed and Martin are the only ones using words like “conspiracy theory”, “cooked their assumptions”, “fictional and dishonest”. A classic attempt at discrediting facts. “Because some projections [have] been off” and “are notoriously error-prone” provide ample reason to be cynical. In fact, if you’re not you’re just not being reasonable.

      13. d.p.
        Given the huge ST, CT, and Metro peak ridership between Snohomish County or Shoreline, and Downtown Seattle or the UW I don’t think the ST ridership estimates for NCT are necessarily unrealistic.

        There are many people not riding the bus now because it is either unreliable or packed. Many of these people would ride a train.

        One other issue driving (sic) choice riders back to their cars is a lack of parking at some of the Snohomish County P&R locations. I’m not sure of the current parking space count, but without 15-20k parking spaces North of Northgate either on the line itself or served by a frequent feeder bus you are correct Link won’t hit these numbers. Sure in some areas people will walk to transit, but outside of some parts of Shoreline, downtown Edmonds, the older part of Everett, and Marysville it probably isn’t a significant chunk of potential ridership.

      14. D.P., Bernie, and MIke,
        ST is using a standard ridership model that other cities have used as well. These models are just as likely to underestimate ridership as in Phoenix or Houston.

      15. Zed:

        Quoting an official source is making an assertion?

        [scratches head]

        It’s the official source that is making the assertion. As in, they are asserting that, by a certain date, a certain routing will attract a certain number of riders.

        Depending on the quality of the methodology used, the assertion may be more accurate or less accurate. Either way, the responsible party is still making an assertion about its findings and how it should be used.

        In the absence of clairvoyance, you can’t cite a future statistic in any other way.

        Christopher:

        Believe it or not, the most wildly successful of those “huge ridership” bus routes from Shoreline and Snohomish actually cap out at 3 or 4 thousand weekday riders. And there are only a handful with numbers like that. It doesn’t add up as much as you think.

        I basically agree with your third paragraph. Lots of people will use the train who won’t take the bus. Precious few of those people are going to start riding feeders. So unless there are plans for literally tens of thousands of parking spaces at the stops, you can kiss those estimates goodbye.

        As for the standard ridership model, I think we can reasonably expect that to fail us worse for Lynnwood than in many other places because it seems to be so dependent on Lynnwood’s dreams of from-scratch city-building. An apples-to-apples comparison would have to involve a leg in Houston or Phoenix to an activity center that literally did not exist (and had only the vaguest of plans) at the time the line was approved.

      16. d.p.
        All of those Snohomish County and Shoreline routes still add up to a fair bit of ridership. But the real rub comes in designing the feeder network. Beyond the ST service hours that is something ST doesn’t really have control over. Perhaps Metro will get better about this in the next 10 years. I have no idea what CT will do. The quality of the feeder network will be important.

        As a guess I suspect the best feeders will be from walkable areas like Everett, the ferry terminals, and Marysville. Based on current transit use Shoreline should do pretty well too. Some of the feeders from P&R lots might work out as well.

      17. Christopher:

        All of those Snohomish County and Shoreline routes still add up to a fair bit of ridership.

        Please beware of noticing a few packed buses and jumping to this conclusion. It’s a gross overstatement.

        Community Transit runs 100 weekday trips to downtown Seattle and about 30 to the U District. A “packed” bus, but suburban-commuter standards, is 50-77 people (latter number is for the double-deckers). Most runs carry significantly fewer.

        So at the very most, CT is carrying a few (2 to 4) thousand people on its Link-replaceable routes. Not astounding.

        For Sound Transit, we’re talking about most or all of the 510-513 ridership. Extrapolating from a quarterly report, and generously presuming nearly all of the quarterly boardings were on weekdays, we still have fewer than 4,000 weekday boardings on the 510 (512 is Sundays only), 4,500 boardings on the 511, and 330 on the 513. (That last number’s not a typo. The peak 513 carries a whopping 165 people on its round trips! Productive!) All ST figures are from the quarter that just ended (2011 Q3), so they include the significant rebounds from the post-2008 drop.

        As for Metro in Shoreline, are there any high-volume routes at all coming from the eastern half of the city (the freeway corridor)? Isn’t that precisely why Aurora was preferred as an (ultimately unappealing) alternative, because it’s the only place in the sprawl with any demonstrated demand?

        As a guess I suspect the best feeders will be from walkable areas like Everett, the ferry terminals, and Marysville.

        Makes sense to me, but again, I wouldn’t overestimate. None of those places are really that walkable; there’s nothing for a pedestrian to do on the other end of the Mulkiteo-Clinton ferry (peak commuters can use Sounder). And all of those places are still far enough that choice commuters are going to vastly prefer driving to the train over taking a bus.

        But the real rub comes in designing the feeder network… The quality of the feeder network will be important.

        What you’re envisioning is not going to happen. Period.

        In a city, the arrival of a fast train with logical, easy-to-use cross-feeders can absolutely convince residents to take a short bus hop to the worthwhile train. This is what many cities correctly refer to as a “transit system.”

        In the sprawl — and particularly in non-gridded, topographically-interrupted sprawl like Snohomish — the feeders will be winding, slow, and unappealing. They’ll seem like they’re taking so long to reach the train that you’ll wonder why you’re even bothering with the train. And that’s if you can even catch a feeder on foot. More likely, taking a feeder will still mean driving to a P&R. And if you’re going to do that, then why not just drive yourself directly to the damned train!?

        Feeders will play a bit part in North Link. Downtown Lynnwood is a giant question mark (with a winking emoticon next to it). North Link will be all about the drive-and-riders, and I’m sorry, but there just aren’t going to be 50,000 of them!

      18. Forgot to mention: I started to realize the fallacy of the “successful express bus route” argument not long ago, in a dumb argument on a different thread in which I had to explain why highway express buses in no way resemble “bus rapid transit” operations.

        “But the 545 transports 7,000 people a day!”, I was told.

        That’s a huge number for a bus, indeed. Yet it’s still a fraction of the ridership of some of the world’s lamest urban light rail lines (Buffalo, NY; Charlotte, NC).

        Packed buses on highways do not impress me, and little useful information can be extracted from their existence.

      19. Wow, this thread got long since I looked at it.

        So let’s look at Lynnwoods current growth speed in the last 10 years and project what it will be like in 2030. At the current rate Lynnwood will almost be as big as Edmonds is now and 20% smaller than Shoreline currently. So if this is what we’re counting to provide 50,000 riders per day I think we’re being a bit wishful. Also if anyone things people from all over the country will drive to Lynnwood P&R they clearly haven’t tried that. I have a student who drives from park and ride to park and ride trying to find a spot so she doesn’t have to drive into the city for work.

      20. *(Aurora was proffered as a Shoreline alternative. Clearly it did not turn out to be a “preferred” alternative.)

      21. …drives from park and ride to park and ride trying to find a spot…

        Yup. And that’s for the CT/ST buses that max out at 11,000-12,000 daily ridership!

        But you’ll note that she still drives from one to another. No way she’s going to be taking feeders to the train!

        Frankly, I support building gargantuan parking garages at every Link terminus, just so that don’t start hearing demands to waste billions extending the line to the next placeless P&R!

        Hey, Martin… You still haven’t explained why I’m so out of line for comparing 2012 numbers to 2030 numbers — only 18 years apart — without swallowing “a ton of growth” claims hook, line, and sinker.

      22. I repeat my three claims for Martin et al, since no one bothered to address them 16 posts ago:

        1. Lynwood = new Bellevue in 2030 = not gonna happen.
        2. Feeder ridership = massive cultural shift = not gonna happen.
        3. High Link ridership = massive amounts of parking = where’s it going to go?

  19. This is what Shoreline planners and leadership wanted. According to them, the lots along Aurora are too shallow for light rail to create real commercial development opportunities, and would actually harm businesses along the corridor.

    The fact is Shoreline’s economic development and smart growth strategy is not where it should be. They’ve made investments in transit and pedestrian/bicycle infrastructure via the Aurora Corridor Project, but even in their town center, they are not doing much to promote truly walkable, sustainable center. In other words, Shoreline is not a particularly progressive suburb when it comes to this stuff, even by Puget Sound standards.

    1. Shoreline’s claims are a load of crap, tbh. A Light Rail line there might harm businesses in the no-man’s land between stops, but it would improve things within each station’s walkshed quite a bit.

      I do think 99 deserves more frequent stop-spacing than the North Corridor HCT could provide though, assuming the goal is rapid transit to MLT and Lynnwood. A separate line…someday. In the meantime, Seattle better get on widening 99 to accommodate a transit lane each direction all the way up to 145th to prepare for RR E.

      1. It is more likely the city will take a lane or parking to create a transit lane for RR E rather than widen the already quite wide road.

  20. If we’re going to have stations along the freeway, we need to at least design the stations to have decent pedestrian access from both sides of the freeway. A good simple example of a station that neglects this is Ash Way P&R. While access from the west is good, access from the east requires a very circuitous and ugly route that involves going south to the 164th St. bridge and then back north again.

    I’ve seen these type of designs time and time again, and it happens in every city. I recently visited a MAX station in Portland where, even though the train ran down the median of I-205, the only access to the train was from the parking lot on the east. So anybody approaching from the west had to go east past the train, then go through the parking lot, then go back west again. The lack of a sidewalk on the arterial street that crossed the freeway necessitated a detour where you go south to get to a bridge with a sidewalk, and then go back north.

    Designs like this are not acceptable and Link needs to do better. Besides making the parking capacity of the lot a hard limit on the number of riders you can serve in a day, you also make the train route almost useless to anyone making a reverse commute, while means you end up with a lot of full trains going one direction and empty trains going the other direction (like Sounder). Connecting buses help, but in suburban areas, they are always going to be too infrequent and sparse to attract more than a handful of people.

    1. I feel your pain at Ash Way. I was biking there from the east side of the freeway for a short time. It was not pleasant. One night it was getting dark and I was tired so I tried just walking over the freeway on the sidewalk, and at one point there’s an uncontrolled crossing of two lanes of turning traffic.

      Also, see Mountlake Terrace Flyer Stop. I think it’s about a quarter-mile walk to get out to the street.

      Getting around a freeway is hard. The only solution is to remove them.

      1. What? No there are plenty of other solutions; they’re just not cheap. But they’re a hell of a lot cheaper than removing a freeway.

      2. Building more pedestrian bridges would be a start. For Ash Way P&R, A simple bridge over I-5 just north of 164th St. would be sufficient. Montlake Terrace needs a sidewalk from the bus platform in the median of I-5 to the neighborhood to the west. Montlake Terrace also needs a bike trail connecting it to Aurora Village so that biking to the bus stop doesn’t require a long detour.

        However, the fundamental problem with all of these proposals is that suburban transportation planning typically treats all the fixed costs of being able to drive somewhere as sunk, including the car, insurance, roads, and parking. And in order for the facilities to support other modes to exist, the entire cost of building and operating the facilities for them has to compete with the marginal costs of driving, which is basically just the gas. Given such metrics, almost any facility for non-car travel, be it buses, bike lanes, or even sidewalks, appears to cost more than its worth. So you spend the bare minimum on such facilities that you can get away with so for someone who really wants to walk, bike, or bus somewhere, it’s at least possible. Hence, we we provide a token sidewalk across 164th St., along with an hourly bus that doesn’t even run at all on Sunday, and consider it good enough for the tiny number people in the area who actually use that sidewalk or bus. While everybody else drives across the bridge every day and doesn’t realize or care about the condition of the sidewalk or bus.

      3. The Mountlake Terrace Flyer Stop should have been built directly under the fucking cross street, with the cross-buses stopping directly overhead.

        Perpendicular transfers. Why do transit agencies in this backwater have such a hard time understanding them?

      4. From the same engineering school that produces all these nearly infallible ridership models comes the following rule:
        The shortest distance between two points is a circuitous line, designed to look good in artist renderings, resulting in politicians dripping saliva down their chins (Note: cost is not a factor)
        D.P. has it right.

  21. I think this is a very short sighted decision. There is nothing wrong with commuter rail, but that is all this is. I don’t see the I-5 corridor encouraging anyone to change their driving habits outside of those who decide to commute to work on light rail.

    I think this will be a decision that we look back on and ask why. The 99 corridor was a real opportunity to revitalize and redevelop the areas that surround that highway. The economic impacts of this would far outweigh the cost savings seen in constructing the line on the I-5 corridor. Light rail on the 99 corridor would also be more likely encourage people to ride transit for many of their errands in addition to their daily commute. You won’t see that kind of impact along I-5.

    1. I haven’t said it yet but this is what I truly think. Link belongs on 99 and a real commuter rail belongs down the freeway from Seattle to Everett. Call it Sounder if you wish but it’s job is to carry commuters. The rest of the day people could take the longer/slower Link down 99 which would have traffic all day long.

  22. There are two needs here. One is to connect the largest cities in the region with all-day rapid transit. The other is to help Aurora and highway 99 in Snohomish reach their live-and-work transit corridor potential. The I-5 route solves the regional problem, or at least it’s the regional spine that other things can be built onto. You have to get over the big hill and then things become easier, and Link to Lynnwood is the big hill. If Link were entirely on Aurora (bypassing downtown Lynnwood), it would be a local line that wouldn’t really address the regional problem.

    The hybrid “4-minutes longer” route is a compromise between the two, and 4 minutes alone is a reasonable sacrifice. For a while ST was treating Aurora pretty positively because they thought the cost of rebuilding freeway sections might neutralize the price advantage of I-5. But that turned out not to be the case. It’s not just the 4 minutes; it’s the 4 minutes on top of the other factors. And, as I said, that Link would not fully serve the corridor’s potential because it needs more stops than this Link line can provide.

    The ironic thing is that people are lining up on the opposite side of the Rainier Valley situation. There, ST took the slower route and some people are clamoring for a bypass. Here, ST is taking the faster route and people are clamoring for Aurora. Note that the Rainier Valley segment is a net 10-minute handicap on Link service further south.

    Lynnwood is not like Concord or Dublin. It’s like Oakland. Marysville is like Concord or Dublin.

    1. I don’t agree. Our near-term investments should be focused on creating new patterns of development (transit-oriented density that is dispersed along a line), rather than exacerbating current development patterns (people commuting from sprawl to urban centers). Let’s think about where the 1.5 million new people to our region should establish their homes & jobs.

    2. Nice comment. I think people’s varying belief in the important these two problems captures most of the disagreement in this thread.

    3. Mike, you know I love you, but Oakland is a city of 400,000 and a transportation nexus in its own right.

      Lynnwood is nothing whatsoever like Oakland.

  23. In reference to d.p.’s comments, attempting to build 50,000 parking spaces in Lynnwood is a terrible idea.

    First, 50,000 parking spaces take up an enormous amount of land area. Doing this would result in the entire walkshed being nothing but parking lot, which would mean that no one would be able to access the station by walking. For an example of what the station would look like, here are some views of professional sports stadiums that have tens of thousands of parking spaces attached:

    Texas Rangers (Arlington, Texas) – http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Texas+Rangers+B+Lot,+Arlington,+TX&hl=en&ll=32.75173,-97.078757&spn=0.017559,0.033023&sll=47.60621,-122.332071&sspn=0.450451,1.056747&vpsrc=6&hq=Texas+Rangers+B+Lot,&hnear=Arlington,+Tarrant,+Texas&t=h&z=16

    Houston Texans (Houston, Texas) – http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Reliant+Stadium,+Houston,+TX&hl=en&ll=29.684735,-95.406604&spn=0.018138,0.033023&sll=32.75173,-97.078757&sspn=0.017559,0.033023&vpsrc=6&hq=Reliant+Stadium,+Houston,+TX&t=h&z=16

    Even, if much of the parking is in structured garages, the land footprint is still gargantuan. Take a look at the area around Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros:

    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Minute+Maid+Park,+Crawford+Street,+Houston,+TX&hl=en&ll=29.757113,-95.355213&spn=0.009063,0.016512&sll=29.762124,-95.350728&sspn=0.018124,0.033023&vpsrc=6&hq=Minute+Maid+Park,+Crawford+Street,+Houston,+TX&t=k&z=17

    Second, the shear cost of providing 50,000 parking spaces is prohibitively expensive. At $20,000 per space, which is a low estimate for structured parking, your talking about a billion dollars on parking. Providing a billion dollar parking facility would be absolutely insane – you’d be spending almost as much money building parking garages as building the rail line itself! Using that billion dollars to provide feeder service or to extend the line to Everett would be a much better use of funds. A 50,000-stall surface lot would be a bit cheaper, but as the images above indicate, you would completely destroy the city of Lynnwood if you tried to build such a monstrosity.

    Third, when people think of traffic congestion, they tend to focus on freeways. However, traffic jams happen anywhere large amounts of cars congregate. And the traffic associated with 100+ cars going into or out of a parking garage every five minutes would be downright insane. Driving into and out of such a garage during the peak commute period would easily eat up 10-15 minutes each way – longer than you would spend waiting for a reasonably frequent bus, and that’s assuming you have no additional delays circling the garage on foot, trying to remember where you parked. If you think my 10-15 minutes each figure is an exaggeration, it’s not – try parking at Bellevue Square the Saturday before Christmas and see for yourself. And the traffic wouldn’t just people driving to the station. It would clog up the streets, delaying buses and bicycles as well. People making local trips in the neighborhood that aren’t even taking the train would be caught in this congestion as well.

    While I do believe some amount of parking at Lynnwood is impossible to avoid, it is completely unreasonable to expect a free parking space available for every person who could possibly want to hop on the train. Given the characteristics of the area, I think a 1,000-stall garage is reasonable, but it should be paid parking, with the price calibrated to supply matches demand. The money raised from parking revenue can then be used to provide frequent feeder service. Yes, there are some people that live at the end of long cul-de-sacs, for which feeder service would never serve. However, even in Lynnwood and Edmonds, a large majority of people still live within half a mile of an arterial road. Run frequent shuttles up the arterial road and the money saved on parking should be a sufficient incentive to use them. The catch, though, is such shuttles need to be frequent. A shuttle every 10 minutes is frequent. Every 30-60 minutes is not.

    1. Actually we’re not talking 50,000 parking spaces, we’re talking no more than 25,000 spaces spread over at least 4 P&R lots. Probably a bit less as some will arrive at link stations by bus, carpool, or get dropped off. Plus there will be some ridership between the 4 NCT stations.

      Still even at say 15,000 spaces that is a lot of money and land for parking no matter if it is at a single station or spread out over many transit centers and P&R lots.

      1. Hey, I never said it was ideal. And I certainly never said it was something I “wanted.”

        But you know what else is less than ideal?

        A region already populous enough to be traffic-choked yet decentralized enough to lack any obvious or “good” existing alignment for its release-valve rail project.

        An agency that has to cook the numbers just to make the above pass muster, while simultaneously plotting against service of equal quality to the populous, contiguous, and walkable destinations that already exist in the urban area.

        A distance-obsessed transit culture that will probably respond to the maxed-out Lynnwood parking by building even further into the sprawl… where it will attract precisely the same riders, though at slightly improved convenience to them and greatly exacerbated expense to everyone else.

        Eric, there’s nothing there to walk to now. And I have no doubt the “new Bellevue” will be designed with as much pedestrian-hostility as any urban center can muster, just like regular Bellevue. And excess parking for everyone anyway.

        So build a ton of parking for the North corridor. And when it maxes out, start charging for it and build some more. Heck, run some feeder buses, just so you can watch them roam around empty.

        I don’t “want” parking. I want honesty. Those 50,000 estimates may lack both.

      2. And Eric, while you’re on Google Maps, you should really poke around the stations of the Metro North, LIRR, or NJ Transit commuter rails. There’s a rude awakening in store for you.

        Yes, most suburban New York commuters also drive to their trains. Even though the stations are mostly located in towns with historic centers already offering plenty of shops, business, appeal-of-place, and “feeder” transit.

        Doesn’t matter. Suburbanites out of walking reach of rail aren’t ditching their cars anytime soon.

        The lines are many times longer, so fewer cars need to find homes at each individual station. But if New York suburbanites won’t find their way to stations a few miles from home without their cars, what makes you think Snohomians will make half a fart’s effort to do so?

      3. What kind of feeder lines and local transit exist at the NY/CT/NJ stations?

        I know that the PATH Journal Square station has both a regular bus and a PATH bus coming from the east. They use the same stops but the local bus charges a fare and the PATH bus is free. I assume their tails are different. They run until midnight if I remember right.

      4. Connections exist at pretty much every New York-area station. CT transit in Connecticut, Bee-Line in Westchester, Long Island Bus in Nassau, NJ Transit throughout New Jersey.

        None of these are as good as the bus service you get in the five boroughs, naturally, but most of them are better than anything CT or ST will be offering as feeders.

        You’ve lived in Chicago, right? How many people took feeders to Metra? Like, ever? Planning for high suburban feeder usage is just folly!

    2. Providing structured parking adds ~$5-10/day to the cost of a commute (assuming the land was free). Even with the fare for round trip transit that’s a bargain compared to driving and parking DT. I will rejoice when transit agencies actually start charging for parking. Right now they are so desperate for ridership that they’ll hand out free ponies to anyone that will use transit.

    3. D.P.
      You keep accusing Sound Transit of “cooking the numbers”. Please prove these numbers are cooked. Sound Transit is using the same standard ridership models as everyone else does. The input assumptions are coming from the PSRC projections which are used for a heck of a lot more than just transit planning. There was a huge and expensive sewage treatment plant just built based entirely on projected growth in North King and South Snohomish county.

      Should more rail be built in Seattle proper? Yes, but the political realities are that the suburbs are in no way willing to pay for rail in Seattle. This is why ST has sub-area equity. Sure we could have tried to make ST a Seattle-only transit agency but the chances of getting the necessary tax authority and successfully launching the agency would have been much slimmer.

      Snohomish County will be paying for all of Link North of 185th. They will also pay for any extensions further North. Sure further extensions will simply shift some riders down the line, but each extension will attract additional riders as well. The case for extending Link at least to Ash Way or Swamp Creek if not Everett Station is much stronger than for say Issaquah, Federal Way, or Tacoma.

      If you look at ST and CT Snohomish county commuter routes you’ll notice most of them pass right by Lynnwood TC. To make “shuttles” out of them all you have to do is pull into the TC and have the riders transfer to Link. Given the daily delays on I-5 it isn’t even going to be a challenge. This frees up service hours for more frequent service, better span of service, and an improved local route network.

      There are areas of Snohomish county where people are willing to walk to the bus rather than drive to a P&R lot. However like anywhere else people respond to the frequency of service, span of service, reliability, and travel time. Local CT service with few exceptions has really been of little use to anyone other than the transit dependent.

      There are strong local routes and commuter routes that don’t depend on P&R lots in King County outside Seattle. There are areas of Snohomish County that show similar patters of development that would likely show similar transit use if the route network was similar. Even more so if the route offers an easy and fast ride to a rail station providing access to the rest of the region (Northgate, UW, Capitol Hill, Downtown Seattle, Seatac, Bellevue, Overlake).

      1. Please prove these numbers are cooked.

        Current one-way boardings in the mid-10,000s. 52,000 presumes a more than tripling of the pre-Link ridership, plus 13,000 new transit users.

        The second number seems likely to me, but the first is just a lie.

        Sound Transit is using the same standard ridership models as everyone else does.

        Putting shit inputs — inflated existing ridership, inflated development projections, inflated everything — into a good model will give you shit results no matter how standardized the model.

  24. This is a great discussion! Will the Seattle Transit Blog do a follow-up article that flushes out these issues? You should do a Public Disclosure Request to Sound Transit to get the background information on how they did their analysis.

  25. D.P.
    One reason I say the ferry terminals (Edmonds and Mukelteo) are a good source of transit riders has less to do with what is in the immediate area of the terminals and more to do with the cost of taking a vehicle across the water. Vehicle fares for a passenger car are around $30 round trip. Not something most people want to pay if they can help it.

    CT and ST can do an OK job of getting ferry commuters to downtown Seattle from Edmonds and Mukelteo if they work a mostly fixed schedule. But a lot more ferry commuters would leave the car at home if the transit at the terminal ran more often, had better span of service, was more reliable, was faster, and served more destinations. A shuttle to the nearest link station (Mountlake Terrace or 185th for Edmonds, Lynnwood TC for Mukelteo) addresses many of these issues.

    1. I think the idea of giving people a way to get across the Sound and continue on their journey, without the expensive burden of a car, is great. I would be the first to line up to go exploring the islands and the peninsula in that way.

      But the truth is that the only ones who will do this regularly will be commuters, and Sounder is going to serve them much more conveniently.

      For all-day usage, I can see an Edmonds-Mountlake Terrace route working, if it has enough additional demand (e.g. to and from Aurora) to run frequently in spite of the low all-day demand to its ferry-dock endpoint.

      A Mukilteo-Link route is not going to happen. Too far, too winding, too few intermediate points of interest (except Boeing, but that’s shift-work). Just too low demand to serve well. Those people will be using their cars whether you offer a feeder or not.

      1. The routes are already basic CT service; they just need to be made more frequent and have fewer detours. (131: Edmonds-Aurora Village, 110: Edmonds-Lynnwood TC, 113: Mukilteo-Lynnwood TC, various peak expresses) I think Edmonds-Lynnwood is going to be consolidated next year if that plan was approved. The Edmonds ferry dock is in downtown Edmonds, and the Mukilteo bus also serves people who live in Mukilteo, so there’s all-day demand right there. But the frequency gets up to 30-minutes at peak and 60-minutes evening; that’s why the buses are so empty.

      2. The high cost of bringing a car on the ferry is a huge disincentive to anyone who needs to do it frequently. Sounder runs only a couple trips during AM and PM peak. Nothing compared to the number of ferry runs during the commute. If the boat is late and you miss your train you are SOL. Besides I’ve had co-workers who commute from Kingston tell me that as nice as Sounder is CT 416 is faster to downtown Seattle and has the advantage of more trips and a greater span of service.

        As Mike points out the routes are already there in the form of both express buses to downtown Seattle and as local CT service. The span of service and the service frequency both need to be increased from today. However not having to run buses to downtown Seattle or the UW means CT frees up a lot of service hours.

      3. I agree, as I said above, that Edmonds may provide a reasonable source of some feeder-ship.

        Mukilteo, not so much.

      4. I’ve had co-workers who commute from Kingston tell me that as nice as Sounder is CT 416 is faster to downtown Seattle and has the advantage of more trips and a greater span of service.

        And why are they living on the opposite side of a body of water that’s been there for thousands of years… because the State decided to take over ferry business because they thought the private sector was over charging for the service provided. At least with liquor we were making money. privatize WSF.

      5. By “peak expresses” I meant within Snohomish. I thought there was an express from Lynnwood TC to Mukilteo, but I was misremembering.

      1. The AA shows 2030 ridership in that segment of 52,000 weekday riders, for the 4 stations. Of that about 13,500 are new to transit, therefore the remainder must be old to transit, or existing riders, right? Existing ridership will grow between now and then, but that’s still a huge increase over existing levels, ‘ASSUMING’ no buses continue to run south of Lynnwood TC in I-5, which is a huge assumption to make. Regional growth maybe gets you 2% a year between now and 2030, but where are the rest of the riders coming from? Certainly not out of SOV’s, as the 1,500 new parking spaces will fill up rapidly. That get’s you maybe 2,000 daily boardings, so how do you get to 52,000 per day?

      2. Why don’t you ask the people who developed the forecast? Then we might learn something useful instead of more endless conjecture.

      3. “‘ASSUMING’ no buses continue to run south of Lynnwood TC in I-5, which is a huge assumption to make”

        The opposite is also a huge assumption. Link provides the ABILITY to truncate the routes. With Link, maybe truncation. Without Link, definitely no truncation. But other factors will also come into play. Namely, CT’s budget situation. If it gets worse and worse, CT will have to truncate. And truncation would provide an easy way to restore Sunday service or double the frequency. Will CT be able to ignore such low-hanging fruit forever?

        ST, of course, can truncate its own routes. Hasn’t it already budgeted that? It wouldn’t make sense to pay for buses when the rail that’s supposed to replace them is running.

      4. To start with we can assume the vast majority of the projected 52,000 riders per day on the Northgate to Lynnwood segment represent 26,000 round trips. Walking the math backward you end up with roughly 19,000 Snohomish County, Shoreline, and North Seattle commuters per day who are currently riding Metro, CT, and ST buses who would transfer to link for all or part of their commute.

        19,000 doesn’t sound unreasonable to me for the portion of current North of Northgate transit ridership whose commutes would be improved by a forced transfer to link at some point in their trip.

      5. Well, I disagree. Riders are boardings, otherwise you have to count everyone multiple times. Is a northbound rider from Seattle counted multiple times in the segments they travel to, or just a single boarding in Seattle and one in Lynnwood, where they started from?
        Doubling the ridership from 26,000 to 52,000 would be a nice trick if the slight of hand works, but if you get to count them for both directions in one segment, then you can’t count them as boarding in Seattle too.

      6. MIke,
        Transit measures things in terms of boardings. You have no real way of separating two people making two one-way trips from one person going to work in the morning and home in the evening.

        So when ST talks of 52,000 riders per day in the segment between Northgate and Lynnwood they mean the 4 NCT stations will have roughly 26,000 daily boardings between them.

        Sure you do count the boardings elsewhere when someone gets off at Lynnwood. But the scoping documents only talk about segment ridership. Given the travel patterns this translates to roughly 1/2 the total daily ridership as segment boardings.

      7. I did a rough estimate of the total I-5 corridor Metro, CT, and ST ridership earlier in the thread. The spectrum I came up with was 12,000-15,000 present-day boardings.

        That’s boardings, not riders. One-way trips. 7,500 actual people at most. Piss-ant.

        How that’s going to get up to 21,000 people / 42,000 boardings before Link even opens, with relatively little expectation of expanded service capacity or span in the intervening years, is absolutely beyond me.

        Sound Transit is using the same standard ridership models as everyone else does.

        The model may work fine with good inputs. But inputs like Lynnwoods’ “chia city” and the 2030 existing-ridership baseline are clear and shameless crap.

  26. If anyone cares here are the estimated 2030 daily station boardings based on data from the ST scoping documents:

    I-5:
    Lynnwood TC: 16,500
    Montlake Terrace: 2,300
    185th: 2,600
    145th: 3,000

    SR-99:
    Lynnwood TC: 13,500
    Montlake Terrace: 1,800
    Shoreline P&R: 4,200
    160th: 700
    130th: 2,300

    To me the numbers for the I-5 alignment do seem a bit high. The numbers for 160th seem very low. Especially considering how close Shoreline CC is to the 160th station (you think if 99 were built that Metro wouldn’t provide some form of connecting service?).

    1. I agree, that’s a huge number of boardings for a suburban TC with limited parking planned. That’s 4 times the current boardings at Westlake and 11 times more than University Stn in downtown Seattle today.
      Another way to look at it would be 16,550 boardings a day, all heading southbound, so at least half board in the AM peak (6-9) or 2,750 per hour.
      That’s a full bus leaving every minute for 3 hours straight. I’m betting on the flying pig before I see 16,500 at Lynnwood TC.

  27. Where are the 16,500 boardings going to come from? If it’s people driving and parking, you’re talking about ten parking garages the size of Eastgate park-and-ride (1,614 spaces each). At $20,000 per space, this amounts to $330 million on parking garage construction. Furthermore, the traffic impacts 45 cars getting into or out of these garages every minute would be insane. Assuming a 3-second following distance, a lane of traffic handle at most 20 cars per minute. When cars are slowing down to turn into a garage or are waiting to merge into traffic to get out of the garage, the effective capacity becomes much less than this. And also, the traffic on the adjacent streets isn’t just people going into and out of the parking garage. Plenty of people will be driving through the area making purely local trips that have nothing to do with the train.

    Simply put, there is an upper bound to how much ridership you can feasibly achieve through parking. At some point, you have to rely on other forms of access, such as walking, bicycling, or feeder routes to really scale.

    1. Only 1,900 spaces are planned for Lynnwood TC. Obviously ST is planning of most users accessing the station by walking, bicycling and feeder routes (lots of feeder routes).

  28. The same conundrum about parking is going to happen all over again on the east side with the construction of EastLink. Today, people living in Eastgate or Issaquah catch the bus at at park-and-ride in Eastgate or Issaquah. When East Link is built, they will want to drive to South Bellevue Park and Ride to hop on the train instead. Land constraints probably won’t allow enough parking at the Link station for every driver who could conceivably want to hop on the train, so Eastgate and Issaquah Park-and-rides will still have a role to play as overflow parking for South Bellevue P&R. However, I expect ridership on the I-90 corridor to fall off a cliff when this happens, especially on weekends, where South Bellevue P&R will have plenty of empty spaces to accommodate everyone who would want to hop on the train and then some.

    What does this mean for someone living in Seattle? For anyone making a reverse commute to Eastgate or Issaquah, I would expect the level of service to go way down, especially on weekends, to something that would match the new ridership. And unless you keep an extra car at the park-and-ride overnight, all that parking capacity will be completely useless to you.

    Similar with the I-5 north corridor. In theory, truncating routes should allow us to have more frequent service to Everett. In practice, because people in Everett will want to drive to the train in Lynnwood, ridership from Everett will go down and political pressure will encourage money that was spent providing bus service to Everett to go towards parking garages in Lynnwood. The result is that paradoxically, service to Everett gets worse, not better. I don’t think service to Everett will go away entirely, but I can definately see it going from a one-seat ride every 30 minutes to a truncated route every 30 minutes, with the saved service hours from the truncation simply disappearing.

    1. The glib answer is to focus your high-capacity transit in places where it can reasonably function as part of a total-coverage network that people will then start to use for more than just commuting.

      Such places are called cities.

      Obviously, though, we need to provide capacity to the suburbs. We just need not to be delusional about how suburbanites will use it. The fact that Eastgate/Issaquah buses all the way to downtown will probably still be necessary (South Bellevue is ill-located and parking will be maxed out; suburbanites won’t ride feeders, especially with diversions) is a pretty gross design failure for that line.

    2. I hate to break it to you but Everett is a real live pre-war walkable city in its own right. Just like Tacoma it has become more of a bedroom community to Seattle in recent years, but it is more of a “real” urban city than any of the postwar sprawlvilles.

      1. And I hate to break it to you, but neither Everett nor Tacoma has ever been or will ever be a populous enough or geographically extensive enough urban area to require or support any rapid transit network with extensive multi-modal connections of the sort I was describing.

        Yeesh. Providence, Rhode Island is 300 years “pre-war” but has never had an extensive enough urban area to support true mass transit either.

        Anyway, we’re not even talking about feeders across Everett to an Everett rail. We’re talking about commuter buses to a commuter train. Which makes Everett’s microscopic urbanism totally irrelevant and the less-serviceable sprawl stretching 7 miles in every direction from Lynnwood totally salient.

        Lastly, your little Everett-Tacoma “gotcha” in no way addresses my point that mass-transit-application potential within Seattle is exponentially greater than the we’re going to get from our glorified commuter rail to the burbs, or to Everett, or wherever.

        Sometimes I am shocked anew at what passes for “logical argument” around here.

      2. ST is in the business of spending money. We have sub area equity so they have to squander money in places like Everett. In exchange Seattle gets to vote in representatives that push the Seattle agenda. Just like 40/40/20 doesn’t matter what is needed in the suburbs; it’s all about the 20% Seattle needs. The rest is gravy that missed the boat.

      3. What an painfully inefficient and awe-inspiringly wasteful way to wind up falling far short of what you need, Bernie!

        Sadly, that pretty much seems to be the case.

  29. I’m really warming up to this ‘Ultra-Garage’ concept for Lynnwood. Ten Eastgates, stacked one on the other would do the trick. To keep the queueing to a reasonable level, we could have 10 exit ramps coming off I-5 (reversible, of course), to feed each 3 story layer.
    Talk about bragging rights at the next APTA conference.
    We could wrap the new trains on the line with:
    Sixteen-Five or Bust

    1. Sound transit is only looking at adding a few hundred additional to Lynnwood TC to bring the total spaces to 1,900. I’m guessing they expect a lot of people to transfer.

      1. I’m guessing employing a great deal of sociological precedent to predict they’re going to be grossly disappointed.

  30. why not improve transit service on both corridors? ST seemed to ask a limited question: what should they do with one mode and one alignment. put Link on SR-99 between North 115th Street and Lynnwood via Seattle, Shoreline, and Edmonds AND improve the regional express service between Everett and Northgate via Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace. Lynnwood Link and Everett bus lines could both have 8-minute headway connecting with 4-minute Link at Northgate. Sound Move already funded great center bus facilities along I-5. Continue to use them and improve the service frequency. toll I-5 so that it runs reliably in both directions. Use Link to provide frequent two-way all-day transit service to Northwest Hospital, the Bitterlake urban village, the Shoreline center, Edmonds CC, Stevens Hospital, and the entire SR-99 corridor, where as other posters have noted, there is much more potential for land use changes and pedestrian activity. instead of building Link to parking garages, ST should minimize its parking investment and maximize its investment in service frequency and use Link to serve pedestrians. Everett is the metropolitan city of Snohomish County. for the course of ST2, it all-day service will be via bus. Shoreline and Edmonds are more dense than Lynnwood. Mountlake Terrace has its center facility already; why elevate it to Link?

    1. Unm, you mean like enhancing the busway past Spokane St, adding a transit only lane to bypass the airport congestion, whilst building a decent streetcar line out Dearborn to follow Rainier out to Henderson?
      A two-fer deal?
      Fast frequent buses down I-5, combined with linear development supported by light rail might actually work. I think you’re on to something there.

    2. ST does not have money to both build Link and increase the I-5 buses. The reason South King is in trouble is it’s funding both Link, extensive ST express, and Sounder. The north end has just a few ST Express routes, half of which will be replaced/truncated by Link. The south end has many ST Express routes, few of which can be replaced by Link. (I.e., Link will probably be too slow to retire the Seattle-Federal Way and Seattle-Tacoma buses, and it doesn’t go anywhere near Auburn, Kent, or Renton.)

      The closest to your proposal is the three-line BRT scenario in the alternatives analysis (Aurora, I-5, and 15th NE). That was scrapped due to inadequate capacity and frequency, and because public feedback overwhelmingly favored light rail. The majority public also favors express-like light rail to Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace.

      A bus-based express spine has four problems: (1) traffic, (2) capacity, (3) time-consuming transfers to destinations that would all be on the Link line, (4) inability to scale up. The public is saying, “Just build the rail spine now and get it over with.”

      I believe the reason the Mountlake Terrace TC gets so much deference is it’s an existing investment. If it’s just abandoned, the money invested in it will appear wasted.

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