On Tuesday, we have a great opportunity to take the next step building rail transit for Seattle.

The city and Sound Transit have been working together to accelerate basic planning for rail alternatives between downtown and Ballard. Ballard has grown by more than 25% since 2000, three times the city average, and any line to Ballard would improve service to the rapidly growing north end of downtown. With RapidRide expected to be over its peak capacity the day it opens, and bottlenecks preventing faster or more frequent bus service from being effective, this is one of the corridors that most needs a better solution.

You may have read a few months ago that money was budgeted to do this alternatives analysis – but the City Council withheld it with a proviso, requiring that a plan be in place to extend the First Hill streetcar to Pioneer Square before any steps were taken toward Ballard.

Now that plan is in place – and the city council’s Transportation Committee will consider lifting the proviso on Tuesday afternoon. If it’s lifted, planning will begin that will benefit any rail transit to Ballard. The sooner this work is done, the sooner we’ll know the costs of different alternatives.

Whether you support our efforts with Seattle Subway, or support extending the streetcar up Westlake to Fremont and Ballard, this is a necessary precursor to both, and it’s an important partnership between Seattle and Sound Transit that will set the stage for future projects.

Next Tuesday the 26th, at 9:30am, we’d like you to join us at city hall, and show the city council your support – simply saying “We want to get the ball rolling on rail to Ballard and support lifting the proviso” is plenty. Even showing up at all demonstrates interest! Showing the council that there’s public support will help them feel comfortable funding transit – not just this time, but the next, too. Please let us know in the comments if you can join.

92 Replies to “Help Accelerate Rail to Ballard!”

    1. I suppose “best” is a value judgment, so you could really mean anything, but I can’t help thinking you really meant to type, “cheapest and least effective.”

    2. That’s one of many improvements it could use. That’s limited service and only helpful within the western walkshed. Ballard needs HCT to Downtown, UW, streetcar, BRT, and Sounder.

    3. Ballard needs a quick 5-minute trip downtown peak hours and a slow 30-minute trip the vast majority of time? Only drivers would think this, because the only time they’d use transit is to go downtown during peak hours. But if you’re trying to promote less automobile dependence in general, you need good rapid transit at all times and in all directions. Sounder can never do that. Also, the potential Ballard station is a long walk from the center of Ballard, which negates its travel time advantage.

      1. A 5 minute trip downtown from Ballard would necessitate trains going 80mph with no stops – a dedicated express track each way. With modern subway and reasonable stop spacing, you’d get 10 minutes. :)

      2. I was talking about Sounder, which has all those when it’s running (although its speed is somewhere between 40-80 mph).

      3. What about 80-20 rule.

        For people either wanting to get to downtown, or get to downtown and take transit to Eastside.

        Also, having a Sounder station draws people way from the I-5 corridor and lets them make an “end run” so that creates less demand for parking along LINK and so on.

      4. John, I’m thinking a Sounder station might get 50-100 passengers per day. It runs four times. Not four times an hour – four times. It’s not anywhere near the higher density parts of Ballard. People would basically be driving to it in order to take a faster trip than the bus – and they’d have to arrange their schedules around it rather than go anytime like they can with RapidRide or other systems. The reason that high frequency service works best is that the limitations on *when* you can travel with a commuter rail system tend to overwhelm the speed of the actual trip.

      5. Looking at the map, Interbay seems more amenable to a Sounder station than Ballard.

        As for frequency, the very low frequency of North Sounder is due to the line not being double tracked yet (ick). But South Sounder still isn’t that frequent.

    4. As a Sounder rider, I don’t think Ballard is a great idea. I think a Belltown or LQA station would be better (would generate more ridership on the north end, because a lot of people don’t take the train due to its relatively southerly stop downtown.

  1. Let’s just hope that Ballard doesn’t get snubbed true light rail, since we are being gifted a “RapidRide” line.

    1. Let’s not “hope” anything – get involved with Seattle Subway and demand it. :)

  2. The “powers that be” screwed up big time after purchasing property along 15th Avenue NW for light rail, spend other big bucks to develop a plan, then canceled the project. The result was very disruptive and the property owners were uprooted but the city staggers on. Are we to believe thatthis will be any different?

    1. You may be misinformed about what happened. A citizen group got together and won voter approval to build a monorail (not light rail), creating a new transit agency without enough funding. Voters, again, cancelled the plan when the agency that group created asked for more money. That had nothing to do with Sound Transit, an agency that today is building rail ahead of schedule and under budget.

      The monorail project had nothing to do with any ‘powers that be’, except for the voters themselves.

      1. I don’t believe that the monorail ever asked for more money. The last vote was to build a stripped down version of the original plan, something Sound Transit does routinely without a vote.

      2. Oh, you’re right, they just asked for more money per mile. :P Vote 1 was for free, Vote 2 was for a bit more, vote 3 was for the 1.4% MVET, vote 4 was the recall, vote 5 was the 50 year bonds.

      3. We never voted on 50 year bonds. We voted on a shorter line (10.6 miles versus 14). You are right however that the powers that were wanted nothing to do with the monorail.

    2. No they screwed up by not having the foresight to purchase those properties from the failed SMP, and they instead went to developers.

      The funny thing is, some of those lots are directly involved with the increase in population in Ballard.

      1. While at first glance it makes sense that particular properties might be useful for ‘transit’ in general, the properties that would be useful for particular monorail station sites would likely not make sense for a future light rail alignment.

        In addition, the SMP wasn’t authorized to sell them to any particular agency or individual. They had to go to public auction. Sound Transit would have had to take tens of millions out of Link, probably delaying what we have today, to buy property that *might* have *someday* been useful for a line that voters haven’t yet authorized them to build.

        I say this a lot – for the most part, our agencies do the right thing, and we make assumptions about their choices that are incorrect, leading us to frustration we don’t need to have.

      2. Just as well. An underground station at 15th/Market will be superior to an elevated one, and I was a huge fan of the *idea* of the monorail.

      3. I’m a huge fan of fast, grade separated service connecting our neighborhoods. :)

  3. Really? Ballard? I’d say getting rail to West Seattle would be a better rallying cry than Ballard. And it could just connect at the SODO station.

    1. Yep, really, Ballard.

      From the 2000 to 2010 census, Ballard grew 24%. West Seattle grew just a couple of percent. On top of that, there are a thousand apartments under construction in Ballard today, and another thousand expected in the next couple of years. It’s an order of magnitude more growth than West Seattle.

      And, of course, there’s nothing like north downtown between West Seattle and downtown. I put some example links in the piece. Tens of thousands of people will move into Seattle north of downtown in the next few years – we aren’t seeing that kind of growth anywhere else.

      Both neighborhoods desperately need transit – but it’s far, far more cost-effective to build it to Ballard first. Right now, an alternatives analysis would probably find that West Seattle doesn’t rank rail at all (because of the long dead zone between downtown and there). The way to get there is to build a line from Ballard to downtown that goes as far as the stadiums (or farther) to help defray the cost of connecting West Seattle and making rail rank higher as an alternative.

      1. As a West Seattlite, my interest in getting light rail or a monorail lies more in a desire to get to other parts of the city besides downtown without driving. It’s takes a very long time to go to places like the University District and Queen Anne via bus–timely connections are a big problem and getting to the airport without a car lift is expensive by cab–$35 approximate. It’s as if the city assumed that the only reason people in West Seattle need public transit is to commute downtown for work and they don’t have much need for culture in other parts of the city.

        That being said, I respect Ballard’s superior need for rail transit and hope that if they are successful in getting it, it will pave the way for other parts of the sound.

      2. Absolutely – I’m leading Seattle Subway because I want to connect *every* neighborhood. It’s very important to have an achievable way of getting there, and understanding how we’re really going to get each line. The key is making sure that if we can’t build both at once (which is preferred), we set up Ballard rail to make West Seattle the clear next step.

      3. And look at the growth on Dexter, in particular, or potential TOD spaces in Interbay, both corridor options for getting to Ballard!

      4. i understand your points, but comparing percentages can be a bit misleading. if 1 person lived in ballard and it grew to 2 people, that’s a 200% gain. but if 100 people lived in west seattle and it grew to 150, that’s only a 50% gain…even though there were a hell of a lot more people living in and moving to west seattle.

        as for the w. seattlite who wants to visit other places in the city but doesnt want to go downtown…i think no matter what they build, you will have to go through downtown. if there was a rail that went from w. seattle to sodo, you could switch trains and go down rainier to the airport (assuming when they eventually build light rail, they dont take it all the way there anyway) or go uptown to university district or whatevs!

      5. Scott, I completely agree with you that we need to build rail to West Seattle. As you might have seen, I’m running the only organization advocating directly for rail to West Seattle. With that in mind, I hope you strongly consider paying close attention to my comments about the cost and political realities of building rail to various neighborhoods, because we’re working hard on getting there, and need advocates to understand the issues in order to help it happen.

      6. I go downtown for work and I pretty much assumed that any solution for us via rail would go through downtown. Right now downtown via express bus from West Seattle isn’t bad, so its not as much of an issue as it is getting to other parts of the city which is not convenient unless one drives.

      7. As a general note, we need to support the planning and studies now, regardless of people’s disagreements on whether it should go on 15th W, under Queen Anne, along Westlake, under 45th, or under 2nd, 3rd, or 5th Avenues downtown. Otherwise we’ll end up with nothing for 20-30 years. If you have a favorite alignment, the important thing is to get it into the studies and make sure it gets fair consideration. But right now we just need to get the accellerated studies done at all.

      8. And won’t this line service Belltown and LQA anyway? Huge markets for ridership there.

  4. It will be interesting to see what comes of this. There is a world of difference between a streetcar to Fremont/Ballard and grade separated light rail through Interbay and up 15th…

    I also agree that a light rail spur to W. Seattle that joins the Link in Sodo should be a no brainer.

    1. The two Ballard corridors are very separate – we’ll end up building both. Don’t make the mistake of just considering the endpoints! SLU, Uptown and Belltown are all growing fast.

      There are irreconcilable issues with trying to build spurs off Link. We’d need more capacity through downtown first.

      1. Ben,

        I have heard this argument before, and I just find that hard to believe. It seems like they should be able to interweave a train from a second line into the downtown tunnel every 10 minutes or so.

        I could see the Ballard – West Seattle route going through Fremont => S. Lake Union => joining DST at convention center and then heading to W. Seattle via SODO.

        That would be a great line, connecting lots of neighborhoods and giving it some nice exclusive rights of way.(via tunnel, bossibly in FREE-LARD area, and lots of possiblities in SODO)

      2. Trains take time to slow down and speed up, and to board. It also takes time to clear signals – you have safety spacing between trains so you don’t have one coming into a station at the same time another is leaving.

        With a human operator, a train might be 30 seconds or a minute ahead or behind – even in Japan, a minute is not unheard of.

        We’ll have trains every 4 minutes when East Link opens. That doesn’t mean a four minute empty time between trains – into that four minutes has to fit the time of a train entering the station, coming to a stop, loading, and accelerating out of the station, with some buffer between that and the next train. That’s already pretty close – a minute of that four has things happening in it, there’s only probably three minutes of downtime. Then you could have a train a minute behind, and then you only have a buffer of two minutes. You would have to fit another train into that two minutes PERFECTLY not to cause a ripple of inconsistency throughout the system.

        Then what happens when we grow and we need to run East Link and South Link every six minutes each – which is perfectly reasonable, as that was supposed to be Central Link’s original frequency? Then you have trains through the tunnel every three minutes, and there simply isn’t time for another train to go through.

        Maybe we need an animation to show how this works.

      3. There are irreconcilable issues with trying to build spurs off Link. We’d need more capacity through downtown first.

        This is simply false, Ben. While we all agree it would be efficient to have a parallel Link route North/South from Ballard into downtown, there simply, positively aren’t the dollars or political will to make it happen before 2050. I’m not even convinced the city can muster a ballard streetcar plan that would be better than BRT.

        ST has identified the Ballard->Wallingford->Udist corridor to move riders east/west in the city, and this line could be the start regional service to Kirkland and beyond. Such a line has a good chance of being a part of the ST3 vote in a few years. The city of Seattle can fund through council action or citizen initiative the initial engineering of this line in advance of the vote, so if it passes ST can start final engineering and construction immediately. This is the only sound, reasonable, and remotely possible plan I have heard to bring rapid grade-separated transit to Ballard before 2030.

        If after transit riders from Ballard and West Seattle and all of the geographically challenged borrows clog the North/South tunnel then we there will be a mandate for another one.

      4. Jack, the current tunnel will be full of trains in 2021/3/whatever it ends up being. I don’t understand how you can reply to my conclusion and then fail completely to address any of my explanation. It’s just dogma. Stop it.

      5. I’m not going to wade into the minutiae of this for the umpteenth time, but all parties should be aware that Sound Transit’s own East Link documents predict 10-minute peak headways in 2030, 9-minute peak headways in 2040, and less-than-9-minute peak headways….


        (…which makes sense: the numerical demand is not predicted to need greater frequency, and the “intercity” nature of the line negates the type of impromptu trip that demands ultra-high-frequency.)

      6. I do wish to say, though — because I haven’t said it before and because I feel increasingly strongly about it — that regardless of disagreements about routing, I believe that Seattle Subway’s approach to expediting Sound Transit study and thus action is the correct one and I 100% endorse it.

      7. “We’ll have trains every 4 minutes when East Link opens. That doesn’t mean a four minute empty time between trains – into that four minutes has to fit the time of a train entering the station, coming to a stop, loading, and accelerating out of the station, with some buffer between that and the next train. That’s already pretty close – a minute of that four has things happening in it, there’s only probably three minutes of downtime. Then you could have a train a minute behind, and then you only have a buffer of two minutes. You would have to fit another train into that two minutes PERFECTLY not to cause a ripple of inconsistency throughout the system.”

        I don’t know why people think we can’t do what the rest of the world does. Mexico City (we’re talking Mexico here, not France, Japan or Germany) runs metro trains every 60 seconds just fine. We in Seattle think anything tighter than 4 minutes is impossible.

      8. transitrider: You’re flat out wrong. Headway, means exactly that. “How many minutes elapsed between trains?” It includes all those things you talk about. Period!
        The DSTT was designed for 2 minutes between trains, or 30 per hour per direction. (see d.p. ref.)
        Airports land jets a minute apart. Freeways routinely have cars 2 seconds apart. Buses are 4 or 6 seconds apart.
        SF Muni has 6 lines that merge into one track and run far less than 4 minute headways. Our tunnel is so underutilized when compared to other cities, it’s shameful. North and East link at full buildout and operation are still less than 50% of capacity. Merging trains from the North, even at CPS is quite feasible, so don’t start digging quite yet, till the current asset is approaching capacity.
        My analogy in a previous version of this dialog was taking all two lane roads up to 20 lane freeways to get the same effect as the current tunnel ridership compared to full capacity.
        Ben is blowing smoke and knows better on DSTT capacity. That’s why the buses will be there until at least 2021.

      9. Guys, maybe you should come out and actually get involved? If all you do is tell people who are out trying to accelerate things that they’re wrong about things that they’re right about, aren’t you just hurting transit by wasting time and causing arguments among those who are the only people fighting for more? Stop being divisive. Come help.

      10. Ben, as I wrote above, I believe that leveraging in-city money from the council and ultimately from voters to expedite Sound Transit’s study and construction of in-city lines is fundamentally the wisest approach.

        But you do your plea for constructive unity a terrible disservice when you poison it with an accusation that those who disagree with you are “telling people that they’re wrong about things that they’re right about.”

        You just can’t resist your need to have the last word. Even when you’re demonstrably wrong.

        Ben, the tunnel is built for 90-second potential service and 2-minute practical service, as the linked engineering document says. Based on your silly “the trains have to slow down” spiel, you’ve clearly never seen such close service with your own eyes, but many of us have used it our whole lives. Get it through your head that you’re wrong on this one issue, and then we’ll talk.

      11. d.p., we WANT Link to be able to run future 2 minute headways, or even 90 second headways, allowing very frequent service in the corridors we’re building, not limit them to 8 or 6 minute headways to the Rainier Valley and Bellevue.

        Don’t mischaracterize what I’m saying – the tunnel can run 2 minute headways (and yes, even 90 seconds someday), but trying to interline trains creates inconsistencies that those 90 second headways wouldn’t be able to handle. You haven’t even considered switching time, but that might block 90 second headways entirely anyway!

        We do NOT want to put a new line into the same tunnel, so that in the future, we’re left with a difficult political fight to say “We need two billion dollars and to rip up downtown for marginal increases in service to places that already have rail.” Or, when we need to do maintenance downtown, suddenly every neighborhood’s rail has to stop at once? Do you see how that’s a losing battle? Getting new right of way when you get a new line is actually something we can win. We’ll just pigeonhole ourselves into the ‘cheap’ solution, exactly as Portland has.

      12. Fortunately, ST doesn’t just bow to Ben’s opinion. The spur ideas should be addressed in the studies, and ST should give a public analysis on how feasable they are. Then we can end this he-says-it-works-he-says-it-doesn’t. In the meantime, I don’t really care which alternative succeeds as long as some non-crippled Link line makes it to either downtown or U District. Ben usually has his facts and ideas right so I’m assuming he’s right in this case, but ultimately it doesn’t matter; what matters is ST addressing the issue directly in its environmental scoping.

      13. Actually having the kind of rapid-transit ridership to declare the tunnel “full” is a problem that this city should love to someday have. But it won’t happen in the next 50 years, even if we added two more lines to the downtown tunnel. That’s just the math talking.

        If we ever get to that point, you’ll be looking at a fundamentally different city: one in which the vast majority uses transit, and one in which political support for a second downtown tunnel will be much easier to come by.

        Ben, Link is already interlining: Central Link and East Link. The “switching” is no different than if you interlined to the north and west. And though Central Link is predicted never to run at less than 7 minutes and East Link is predicted never to run at less than 9 minutes, closer interlining is 100% taken care of in the operational design. That is *precisely* what “90-second design headway, 2-minute operating headway” *means*!!

      14. What I think you guys are missing is that I didn’t make this assertion – I’ve been told by people at ST that they wouldn’t consider adding another line to the DSTT. So… it’s unfortunate that you guys are still talking about it, because you’re not fighting for it anyway, so all you’re doing is making it harder to get transit. Please stop.

      15. Thanks Ben, I was ramping up to add more evidence to the discussion, but now that I know somebody at ST said it will never happen, then I’ll quit worrying about it. You and that ST guy just saved me a ton of research on how not building and 2nd tunnel and using the 2 Bil on other transit measures is a ‘Non-Starter’.

      16. The “Ballard spur” is not about putting another line in the DSTT. I swear, does ANYBODY care about east/west mobility in this town?

      17. Yes. I do. Keith and I spoke to the 36th Democrats about it last night.

      18. “I’ve been told by people at ST that they wouldn’t consider adding another line to the DSTT.”

        I wish they’d put things like this in a scoping document in the Link library.

      19. Why would they? Nobody’s asked them to consider it. You guys just complain about it here, you don’t actually work toward it.

      20. Nobody’s asked them to do anything yet.

        That’s the whole point of Seattle Subway, [ad hominem].

        “Here’s some money…
        Study. All possibilities. Now.”

      21. Dude, that was an important and relevant qualifier.

        It was not an ad hominem by any contortion of the imagination. Please don’t overuse your powers as moderator to inaccurately imply ill will on the part of those who may disagree with you.

      22. ST absolutely must consider adding an additional line to the tunnel coming from the north.

        It might turn out to be more expensive than a new First Avenue tunnel! Grade-separated junctions are expensive, and an at-grade junction would be painful to operate and could hit capacity limits easily.

        But it should be studied in any case.

      23. Exactly, Nathanael!

        Study it all — independently, in good faith — and then decide what can, can’t, and should be done!

    1. Yes. You can email the members of the city council’s transportation committee and say “Please lift the rail planning proviso next week to help us build rail to Ballard.” Ideally, suffix that with “We also want to ensure that grade separated options are studied, so that we can push for a permanent solution to transportation between our biggest neighborhoods.” :)

      That’s tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov, jean.godden@seattle.gov, bruce.harrell@seattle.gov, and tim.burgess@seattle.gov.

  5. Awesome!!! I’m so psyched at the possibilities of future subway lines. Transit supporters need to be more active like Ben. Ben, you inspire me :)
    There will be a statue of you at king street station in the future.

    1. Because that’s not what ST and the city have partnered to do. If you want a Ballard Sounder stop, organize people to support one!

      1. Therein lies the problem, because ST once again doesn’t want to put a station in Ballard, absolutely crazy. The only way to increase ridership is to implement more stops. Relying on Everett, Mukilteo, and Edmonds alone is stupid, the numbers may grow, but not as fast as adding more stops, in my opinion.

        I have been looking at so many different locations for new stops when I travel home on the 1700s, having one in Ballard at Dravus, then the north end of Blue Ridge comes next. Third location is harder to pin down, but that new(ish) neighborhood just before Pt. Wells on the south side might work as well.

        Which leads me to again ask the question, can’t wooden platforms at a lower cost be put in like they did with the Cascades at the Kent platform?

      2. Anthony, saying things like “the only way to increase ridership is to implement more stops” on a line that has four round trips per day does not strike me as particularly accurate.

        Why on earth is this coming up when we’re talking about regular all day service? How is a four trip per day commuter line part of a discussion about connecting all our neighborhoods?

      3. Sounder North is not limited by its stops. Sounder North is limited by single-tracking and mudslides. There is no practical way to add more stops until those are addressed *anyway*.

      4. Exactly, Nathanael!

        Study it all — independently, in good faith — and then decide what can, can’t, and should be done!

      5. [Yeah, that reply’s in the wrong place, obviously. Regards Ballard Link study options, has nothing to do with Sounder.]

    2. A Sounder stop is a separate issue from a Link line. Sounder and Link are not equivalent. The issue here is accellerating ST’s already-designated studies on additional Link corridors in Seattle. If you want ST to do other things beyond that, you can campaign for them.

      Sounder solves the problem of bypassing traffic to downtown during rush hour. Link does this not quite as well, but it does many things Sounder doesn’t do at all. It goes to UW and Northgate and Roosevelt; it comes every ten minutes; it runs until midnight seven days a week; it’s a shorter walk between transfers; etc. Edmonds and Kent have no all-day limited-stop transit service. That severely limits people’s ability to get around those areas without cars. Ballard at least has more local transit, but it still takes half an hour to go just three miles. Sounder would solve that problem for commuters to downtown but leave everybody else in the lurch.

      1. And not even most commuters to downtown. Just those going to south downtown. It’ll be faster for most Ballard people to take a bus than to travel to the Sounder station and *then* travel again in downtown to their eventual destination.

      2. Er, this shows the purpose of Sounder. It’s for distances that are long enough that transferring at Intl Dist is not the major factor.

        Although this thread has almost changed my mind on a Belltown station. With a good bus shuttle to SLU, it would serve both ends of downtown. But the reason I’m not totally convinced is that it would only work on Sounder north, while the bulk of Sounder’s ridership and future growth is on the south line. The south line can’t really go up to Belltown unless it reverses and goes back to Intl Dist, because there’s no place to layover in Belltown. (Although there may be in Interbay?)

      3. There absolutely is a place where Sounder could theoretically reverse and lay over in Interbay. If you don’t want to take up any of the massive freight yards, build a siding east of the tracks on the west side of the Interbay Golf Course (no, you don’t have to actually disrupt any of the greens or fairways).

        The harder question is where you’d fit a platform in Belltown. The BNSF corridor is *narrow* between Interbay and the Great Northern Tunnel.

      4. If the proposal is to build a platform within the Great Northern Tunnel… good luck.

  6. @Ben; you are correct, my apologies for posting on the wrong thread. I should’ve waited until open threads to make my statement. I will be more explanatory (hopefully)on the next open thread as to my reasons for expanding the Northline.

    I do emphatically disagree with your assertion of bus vs. train to downtown, the bus being faster. No way. That may have been the case back in ’95 when I lived on top of QA, but not now.

    1. If you want to understand why the bus would be faster, look at origin and destination, not bus and train.

      If I live, say, at 15th and Market, I can step out my front door and take RapidRide every 10 minutes, starting in October. This gets me to the center of the office core in ~30 minutes on average.

      If I want to take Sounder, I either need to drive or bus to Sounder (5-10 minutes), wait for the train (we do leave padding), take the train to King Street (12 minutes? – it’s about the same time as Tukwila because the speeds are lower), and then take Link, a bus, or walk to my destination. Sounder leaves me with inflexible trip times as well, so I have wait time likely spent at home before my trip as well. My total time, excepting that wait time at home, is still about 30 minutes – but I’ve had to use three modes, meaning I can’t just sit and read a book for all of that time, or have continuous Wifi, or any of the other small things that actually impact mode choice when trip time is similar.

      So we would pick up few riders from a stop west of Ballard – and because this would increase trip time from places farther north, we would lose riders to buses at other origin points. There isn’t a clear reason for it. There IS a clear reason to operate rail service from the center of Ballard to the center of downtown, as that trip could be 10 minutes instead of 30.

      1. I don’t actually think that there are any honest-to-god “cons” to adding such a stop. It wouldn’t slow down the train enough to lose riders from Edmonds. It could increase commute flexibility if combined with a stop at Broad Street. South Sounder trains could hypothetically be through-routed as far as Ballard and then backtrack into downtown, adding 4 addition trips.

        But none of these “pros” is nearly strong enough to make the stop a priority. Ben is correct that, in the grand scheme of transit mobility in Seattle, it’s an irrelevant discursion.

      2. I think it would add three or four minutes to the total trip time, wouldn’t it?

        But yeah, it’s more like opportunity cost – there are other things to spend that money on!

      3. Maybe 2. The north line trains are short and light, and stops usually last about a minute. It wouldn’t be an inconvenience for people coming from, say, Everett. What’s 53 minutes vs 51? I’ve long said we need a Belltown or Broad St. area station for the Sounder. This would be a destination stop like King St., not a pick-up station.

      4. Cheesewheels is about right. You wouldn’t be looking at more than an extra couple of minutes between both Ballard and Broad Street. Commuter trains certainly take longer to brake and to accelerate again than rapid transit does, but it is proportional to the cruising speed on the segment, and they’re just not going all that fast through Ballard and Interbay in the first place.

        I was on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor twice last week; one train happened to be a semi-express and the other an all-stops local. For every couple of stops skipped, the first train managed to shave about 5 minutes off of the journey… but only by blazing through those stations at 60-80 mph. Sounder North isn’t going even a fraction of that speed.

        “Opportunity cost” is the right term to use, though. Especially in political terms. Why waste our city’s limited appetite for transit projects on a platform that, even under the best case scenario (added turnback trips) would still be of extremely limited utility.

        If someone else wanted to make it their mission in life to get that platform built, I would not object. There would absolutely be times when I would use it. But it shouldn’t be any sort of priority for those who care about paradigm-shifting, all-hour transport between northwest Seattle and the rest of the world.

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