149 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Northgate Groundbreaking”

  1. Could someone explain to me how Northgate is going to get 15,000 daily boardings nine years after opening, when all four DSTT stations combined currently have only 8625 ons.
    One station at a Mall will be double what four stations in the CBD do now. I don’t buy it for a minute.
    And don’t give me all those buses being intercepted off I-5, cause CT won’t divert theirs, and ST may, but only with tons of angry mobs crying foul. Walkshed sucks, with the freeway nextdoor, minus the ped bridge to NSCC, which is a marginal walk. NO net increase in park and ride seems the order of the day. TOD doesn’t come close to generating that many trips for the DU’s being envisioned.
    SO WHERE DO THEY ALL COME FROM? Truncated Metro routes, mostly? How many is that and which ones?

    1. You don’t get there without spending real money on improving the east/west transit connections. We need a transit/bus underpass of I-5 at 100th st. We need to make 100th st a transit corridor from Holman rd to northgate and 100th/98th from northgate to lake city way. We have to get transit off of 105th/northgate way….

    2. Network effects? By the time Northgate station opens, there will be a lot more places you can get to by light rail. By nine years after Northgate station opens, you can add Lynwood, Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond to the mix, plus whatever south extension gets built.

      It works for the DSTT stations too. The day U-Link opens, there will be a huge jump in redership downtown.

    3. Have you ever been in a city with a real train/subway/light tail system (no not portland). People are starved for a good public transportation system here…the ridership will explode…

      1. (mic) isn’t anti-rail, Doug.

        He’s anti-this prevailing fallacy that you can build something with terrible stop spacing and terrible cumulative walksheds, serve few and disparate destinations, require terribly-executed connections to get most places, and basically violate the operational precedents of every good urban rail system on earth… and somehow get a magic “explosion” in ridership.

        I’ve lived in and been to plenty of cities with “real” train/subway/light rail* systems, and they tend to have very little in common with Link-as-designed.

        *(a “light tail” system would be new to me…)

      2. d.p – please stop complaining about Link’s supposedly terrible stop spacing. 1-2 miles between stops is a very appropriate balance between providing access to the neighborhoods along the line and making the line run fast. Distances in the 1-2 mile range are very efficiently accomplished by non-motorized means and if walking is too slow, that’s what bikes are for.

      3. 1-2mi spacing is stupid when there’s inadequate coverage in between to fill it in.

        And it doesn’t make sense to provide that coverage north of Northgate.

        Nor does it make sense to shorten the distance between stops.

        Therefore, Link should end at Northgate and we should focus on alternative node-based transportation schemes for the suburbs.

      4. 1-2 miles between stops is a very appropriate balance…

        …goes the thinking.

        Unfortunately, there are precisely zero successful examples to back this theory up, and more than a few abject failures with pathetic ridership.

        …that’s what bikes are for.

        …addendum of the wishfully thinking.

        “Instead of making it easy for you to give up your car and get around on transit, we’re going to expect you to give up your car and combination ride-bike for pretty much every type of trip. Also, if you should happen to need any non-rail transit, you’ll be stuck with a front-mounted bike-rack system that fundamentally cannot scale and has a calculable detrimental effect on speed and reliability.”

        How am I perceived to be the unreasonable one here?

      5. Several in my limited travels outside of Kent, WA
        Ah… NY, DC, CHI, ATL, SFO to name a few, then there was Vancouver BC numerous times, Tokyo, Paris, London on longer excursions outside of my narrow little world.
        Yeah, I need to get a better grip on ‘real’ transit like we’re building here.

      6. I don’t know what the effect of Northgate will be, but it’ll be better with the pedestrian bridge. 15,000 does look high; I don’t see what bus routes would be terminated there. The 16?

        By contrast, the Capitol Hill, University of Washington/Montlake and U-District/Brooklyn stations should give very substantial ridership boosts due to providing fast service across natural and artificial barriers (the ship canal and I-5).

    4. “CT won’t divert theirs”

      CT may have no choice if its financial situation continues to deteriorate. Sunday service is gone, Saturday is hourly, Swift’s frequency has been cut into, and the Mukilteo bus is truncated at Ash Way instead of going to the Lynnwood TC (as I learned the hard way yesterday). Also, people’s attitudes can change in ten years. As Lynnwood’s upzones downtown and at Swift stations are gradually built out, they’ll attract people who tend to demand all-day transit rather than Seattle commuters. That’ll affect the balance of interests in Lynnwood.

      “ST may, but only with tons of angry mobs crying foul”

      ST has several incentives to maximize Link use. (1) To raise Link’s ridership numbers. (2) Link is a sunk cost, which doesn’t go up much as riders are added, unlike express buses where every 55-person bus is an operational expense. (3) Parallel buses would hurt ST’s Link-centered marketing image.

      You might point to Tacoma’s parallel buses as a counter example, but Sounder is a somewhat different situation. Sounder is slower than ST Express for Tacoma-Seattle, the station is not in downtown Tacoma, and its fare is higher. But most importantly, I’ve heard ST does not have enough railcars to hold all the people in those buses.

      1. Link to Lynnwood is expected to open just a couple of years after Link to Northgate, so even if CT did truncate their buses at Northgate, Northgate station would only get credit for those riders for two years until Lynnwood Station opens.

      2. Remember, Northgate will only be Link’s northern terminus for a few years. It’s not worth spending a lot on capital improvements needed for less than 5 years.

        CT has no incentive to change their commuter routes when Northgate opens. Instead, I expect that almost all downtown Seattle and U_District CT commuter routes will disappear when the Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood Link stations open.

      3. I suspect that all commuter routes will terminate in Lynnwood. Route 402 would be eliminated (duh!).

      4. I was talking about Lynnwood station, not Northgate station. I don’t see CT buses going to Northgate. Although that does point out the longtime hole in decent transit service between Northgate and Snohomish County. You can get to the U-District or downtown easily, but not anywhere near 105th.

      5. I used to live near Northgate, and would sometimes travel to Lynnwood by running 2.5 miles to the 145th St. station and then catching the 511 from there. Door-to-door travel time was about 40 minutes from home to Lynnwood Transit Center. By contrast, I once ran into somebody in Northgate who was going to Everett via 16->346->CT 101 (Swift did not exist yet). I couldn’t help smuggly thinking to myself that if we was willing to hussle himself to 145th St. and hop on the 510, he could have saved himself at least an hour.

      6. Not only will there be economic incentives for CT to truncate some (most?) of their routes at Northgate, but many of the riders will be clamoring for at least the option of transferring at Northgate.

        Remember, by the time North Link opens all the buses will be kicked out of the DSTT. Thus, not only will Link then be connecting the 3 main transit destinations in the State (UW, DT Seattle, RV), but the ridership experience will be far superior – quicker, more reliable, direct access to the DSTT, more enjoyable overall.

        Being stuck in a diesel bus lurching along on I-5, surrounded by fare evaders from SR520 and with no HOV lanes just won’t be as pleasant as transferring to Link at Northgate. And the bus will still need to navigate DT Seattle traffic on the surface…..also not as pleasant as using the DSTT with Link.

      7. CT has *financial* incentive to restructure their buses to go to Lynwood and then trail along the future Link route to Northgate. (When Northgate opens.) Eliminating the Northgate-Seattle travel time does save significant amounts of money.

    5. Bus diversion to Northgate: if the effect of the truncated bus route is to free up service hours, increased frequency might just be of interest to the happy mobs…

      1. That’s assuming the riders of those services actually care about frequency. If you drive to the P&R (so schedule alignment between local and commuter service or unreliable local service doesn’t matter) and have a routine down so you leave at the exact same time each day to catch a specific bus, frequency doesn’t really matter except for particular days when there’s something unusual in your schedule.

        And most suburban people, when their schedule undergos the slightest deviation routine, or has the potential to do so, the natural response is to switch to the mode they trust will always be there for them, which means driving the entire way, and if it means paying $10 a day 2 days a month on parking, so be it.

        None of these riders really care about frequency, as long as there’s enough trips each day to provide enough capacity so that they get a seat and don’t have to stand. They might be persuaded to except a truncation to Northgate if traffic on I-5 made the bus->train transfer consistently faster (including in the outbound train->bus direction), but given the bus’s use of the I-5 express lanes, I highly doubt it. Yes, they travel more slowly through downtown than the train would, which would cancel out the transfer penalty, but psychologically, traffic delays downtown is just an inevitable part of traveling downtown and don’t “count”, which transfer delays comprise an annoyance that is specific to the bus system.

        Put differently, transit neophytes have a hard time objectively comparing what their trip would be like under different service scenarios and need simple rules to tell them what’s best, even if people who read this blog know that these rules are not always correct. The simple rule is an absolute hierarchy of modes, which works something like this:

        1) train
        2) bus
        3) bus->train
        4) bus->bus

        In other words, truncating at CT commuter route at Northgate means demoting the service from group 2 to group 3. And in the transit neophyte’s mind, that means the quality of service is reduced. Period. Regardless of whether according to the sophisticated person, the quality of transit is actually reduced or not.

      2. Actually, the quality of service will be increased by a transfer to Link at Northgate.

        That stretch of I-5 from Northgate to DS Seattle is a disaster, and a trip along that route in a bus is not as quick nor as reliable as transferring to Link at Northgate.

        And Link will also navigate DT Seattle in the DSTT — the bus will be stuck on the surface.

      3. Lazarus – rationally, you are completely right and I agree with you.

        The problem is psychologically, people feel different. Remember, we’re not talking about sophisticated transit users here. We’re talking about people who have lived forever with the notion that traveling=driving. We’re talking about people who hardly use a transit system at all, and have probably never, ever taken a transit trip that involved transferring (gasp) – the T-word!!!.

        So, if you truncate Lynnwood buses to Northgate, everyone in Lynnwood’s natural inclination will be that the bus is letting them down and they’re going to have to start driving to Northgate to catch the train. Then, they’ll scream about how ST didn’t build a 10,000 stall parking garage at Northgate to accomodate them all. And Northgate residents will also scream that CT being cheap and truncating their buses is causing the parking, that they believe is supposed to be specifically for them, to become all filled up with people from further north.

        CT isn’t going to take a chance on getting flak like this, especially since in a couple of years, it becomes moot when Link goes to Lynnwood anyway.

        The same issue is also true for EastLink. If we wanted to, we could truncate the 554 (and other routes) at Mercer Island or South Bellevue and double their frequency at no additional cost. But if we did that, everyone in Eastgate or Issaquah would just drive to Mercer Island or Bellevue, since they’re already driving to catch the bus anyway. They would then scream how there’s not enough parking for them and Mercer Island/Bellevue residents would also scream about how ST’s truncating the bus routes is causing people from further east to take all their parking away (including neighborhood streets near the stations, not just the stations, themselves).

    6. Could someone who has been around Seattle for a while explain what thinking led to Northgate being designated as an Urban Center? From what I gather, the decision took place in the early 1990s. As someone who didn’t grow up here, Northgate doesn’t seem like an obvious choice to be an Urban Center.

      Given the presence of I-5, the large suburban-style shopping mall centered in a sea of parking, and low-density surrounding area, it seems unlikely to ever approach the walkability of the Downtown/Belltown/Capitol Hill/U-District neighborhoods. Was it selected as a urban center because it could be upzoned with relatively little opposition, or was there some other logic to it?

      1. As I remember, Northgate’s single-family neighborhoods were promised “preservation” and better traffic control, to allow Northgate and environs increase density. New ramps were built to and from the freeway and traffic was supposed to be tamed. The jury is still out. Thorton Place is a failed project. No one bought the condos because of (IMO) bad location and they were constructed over a spring which gave way and the building failed. After 4 years on the market they were converted to apartments and let the renter beware. Perhaps the development (to be?) north of the shopping center and next to the freeway will bring more density and therefore walkabilty to the mall and light rail station. Time will tell.

      2. The financial crisis had nothing to do with it? Or the fact that the condos were ridiculously expensive?

      3. Everyone who signed up to buy a condo at Thornton Creek backed out when given the opportunity presented by a discovery of settlement of the foundation. They backed out probably because prices had dropped significantly in the meantime, as Mike Orr said.

    7. Northgate station isn’t just about ridership to downtown. For instance, to get from northgate to the U-district today, you have to travel on the slow 66 and 67 buses. There are probably a lot of people who drive that commute today, who would take the train if it existed.

      Then, there’s also reverse direction trips. If we build the bridge to NSCC, some students living in capitol hill might choose to take it to class.

      Also, the walkshed at Northgate isn’t that bad, and the bridge will help in that regard significantly. And the freed up bus hours by not having to operate the 41 anymore will buy a lot of east-west connecting service.

    8. I was hoping for an answer based on logic, but got some wishfull thinking on how ridership may be fulfilled.
      Maybe someone at ST has a detailed explanation of where all these warm bodies are coming from in 2030.
      New Riders?
      Transfers ? from routes ???
      Peds, Bikes??
      Etc.
      Hopefully they all add up to 15,000 or someone should be walking the numbers back.

      1. I think it’s kinda hard for anyone other than ST to give a detailed answer for how to get that number. If you get an answer from them, share it on STB- I’d be interested to hear the answer.

        I assume the 15,000 boardings number is an average, or median. The nerd in me wishes that they’d report the 95% confidence interval.

        If someone wanted to do a back-of-the envelope calculation, they could first estimate the number of boardings that would occur at Northgate Station if it opened today by adding up the existing ridership of the bus routes that might be partially replaced by Northgate Link, then based on the recent rates of increase in Central Link and Metro ridership, expected population growth, and expected growth in transit mode share, they could guestimate the increase in ridership over the next 18 years.

        My guess is that the actual boardings will turn out to be somewhat higher because of network effects. At the very least, by 2030, we should also have East Link, U-Link, the U-District and Roosevelt Stations, and the Lynnwood Extension. Hopefully we’ll also have some additional subway and Streetcar/BRT lines as well. I don’t know how to get started with a good, quick estimate of ridership gained through network effects though. Maybe there’s some research literature on the subject?

      2. “Network effects” tends to be dependent on being able to get to a whole bunch of useful places within the urban area. Try as politicians might to spin it — watch for the telltale use of the phrase “all the way to…” — there’s not actually any demand for trips from very near the Lynnwood Transit Center to very near Tukwila International Boulevard.

        (mic) is right… ST’s estimates, while not even all that high, are pretty suspect.

      3. d.p.-

        My bet is that network effects for Northgate will be comparatively weak. It seems likely that people on the Eastside would prefer to shop at Bellevue Square, and people north of Seattle would prefer to shop at Alderwood mall, rather than taking the train to Northgate. Living in Seattle, if Link to Northgate opened tomorrow, I might shop at Northgate 1-2 times a year, instead of 0-1 times a year. When the Northgate Link station opens, I’d be somewhat more likely to rent an apartment in Northgate, but that also depends on the future development of the area.

        Without doing any serious number crunching, my guess would be that there are likely to be notably fewer than 15,000 Link boardings a day at Northgate, but I’m not sure it’s impossibly high.

        My personal feeling about Northgate Station is that if we’re going to build a regional rapid transit system north to Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, and Lynnwood (and on to Everett!), Northgate is a reasonable place to site a station. However, I feel like building a regional rapid transit system with widely spaced stops before Seattle has a more extensive rapid transit system for getting around the city is doing things backwards. If I were King of Seattle, building Link north of the U-District would not be at the top of my transit shopping list.

      4. Phillip,
        Anyone who has ridden the 41 wouldn’t question the need for Link to go to Northgate. Even if the numbers in 2030 don’t end up being what ST predicts, there certainly is enough demand today to justify rail.

        Extending North of Northgate is somewhat more questionable, but it is relatively cheap (compared to building in the denser parts of Seattle), and all of the CT and ST buses show there is at least some demand for such a thing. It is also necessary politically due to Snohomish County’s participation in Sound Transit. Unfortunately suburban service has made for some poor routing and station siting decisions (dropping First Hill and going to Lynwood via I-5 rather than 99).

      5. Politician: “And we’re going to get rail… all the way to Everett!”

        [Cheers, applause from people who will never use it.]

        Seriously, though, I don’t have any problems with Northgate as a high priority. It’s a good endpoint, a good transfer station, and center of activity. The 41 is packed. People really do go to and through there.

        I do have a problem with the design principles that made this an express to Northgate and beyond, with such limited urban utility, in service of incredibly false presumptions about what sort of mobility draws actual people onto trains. The missing First Hill stop. The junctions and connections dismissed out of hand. The routings that could have allowed 3/4-mile stop spacing but were never even considered.

        No matter how many times you claim 1-2 mile stops spacing as an “appropriate balance”, it won’t actually fix physics.

      6. I don’t think a U-District-Northgate segment should never have been built- as you guys have observed the 41 is one of Metros top route, and Northgate is a good transfer point.

        However, I would have preferred using the money we’re spending going from the U-District to Northgate to first build a line from the U-District to Ballard. You could justify having another 4-5 stations after the U-District on that line, instead of the 2 we get going to Northgate.
        On the other hand, land acquisition, station construction, and tunneling costs would be higher than going to Northgate. At this point, this is just playing SimCity though…

      7. “people on the Eastside would prefer to shop at Bellevue Square… rather than taking the train to Northgate”

        Northgate is more than the mall. There are office buildings on both sides of the freeway where people work, and medical facilities where people work, get medicated, and study. Ideally all the workers will live in the same urban village but we know that’s not possible. A lot of businesses are interchangeable between Northgate and Bellevue, but not all of them are or will be. As the urban village grows, people will find more reasons to go in and out of Northgate at all hours. The strongest demand will be from one urban village to another, as we see from the ridership of the 43, 44, 49, 70, and 71/72/73, which outperform most of the other routes and have the potential to go even higher if they were faster/more frequent/more reliable. “From one urban village to another” means Northgate-UW, Northgate-Capitol Hill, Northgate-Bellevue, and Northgate-Lynnwood. (The latter may look farfetched now, but so did Bellevue in 1990.)

      8. Looking at the large number of buses running very slowly from Northgate to downtown, I would suspect that bus truncation is going to be the great majority of it.

        I can’t figure out what King County Metro truncations would actually happen because it’s not clear to me which buses are mostly picking up locals along the way; versus which buses are carrying large numbers of people from points north of Northgate to the U-District and points south of the Ship Canal. That would require a bunch of on-off charts.

        Sound Transit would likely certainly truncate the 510, 511, 512, 513, because Link would provide *equally fast* but *more reliable* transit times south of Northgate. (The contrast is with the Seattle-Tacoma express buses; Sounder is actually slower than those because of the detour to Kent.)

        ST might also truncate the 522.

        Community Transit is hurting for money and would truncate everything (assuming they hadn’t been cancelled yet): 402, 405, 410, 412, 413, 415, 416, 417, 421, 422, 425, 435, 810, 821, 855, 860, 871, 880, 885

      9. dp: The misisng First Hill stop was, as you know, a geological-risk matter. Deal with it.

        As for the rest, yeah, those are real criticisms — but I’ll make another point. When you build a subway these days, stations are an noticeably expensive. The result is that for underground construction, a great deal of effort will be made to increase stop spacing, to avoid sticker shock. This is not the best result, obviously, but it is *typical*. This clearly happened on Link construction, if you look at the spacing of the underground stations.

      10. 1) Geological “impossibilities” at First Hill were speculative at best.

        On a couple of occasions, ST went off-message and admitted in interviews that really, honestly, they were just scared the Bush Administration algorithms about “new riders” would disfavor funding First Hill, where most already use (and will continue to use) terrible transit.

        First Hill disappeared for political reasons, not for geological ones.

        2) Stations are expensive because they’re overbuilt: too deep, too designed, too many land takings, too many entrances, too much everything.

        Quick: name the three truly successful North American subway systems built from scratch since WWII. Here’s a hint: Toronto, Montreal, and Washington, DC.

        What do all of these systems have in common? While they each serve some park-and-ride commuter fringes, and while that was a vital part of their mission, all three make a point to comprehensively serve their respective urban areas. That means true urban stop spacing, and service throughout the urban continuum. And in Montreal and Toronto, it means stations as basic as the late 20th century would allow.

        In a rational world, you don’t spend billions on something that doesn’t work. Look for savings in the cost (size) of the stations themselves, not in the number. Or wind up with a pointless speck of a transit system.

      11. “I can’t figure out what King County Metro truncations would actually happen because it’s not clear to me which buses are mostly picking up locals along the way; versus which buses are carrying large numbers of people from points north of Northgate to the U-District and points south of the Ship Canal.”

        Why is it difficult? The 301, 303, 304, and 308 are peak expresses that remain on the freeway till somewhere north of Northgate. By definition their only express stops are at flyer stations, which the Link stations would approximate. These expresses show an outline of where all-day feeders should go: on 145th and 185th. (The 316 almost fits this category, but it also serves NSCC and Greenlake, which itself suggests a possible Roosevelt-Meridian-Aurora feeder.) The 330 is a peak non-express which outlines a possible feeder on 155th. 175th/Shoreline City Hall/Library is missing but that can be covered by another route. Elsewhere we have prayed for a crosstown route on 130th, possibly by rerouting the 75 or 522.

        (The 316 is almost in this category, although it also serves NSCC and Greenlake, suggesting a possible Roosevelt-Meridian feeder.)

      12. “a possible Roosevelt-Meridian-Aurora feeder.”

        I meant, a feeder from Roosevelt station to Meridian Avenue and Aurora Village. Alternatively, it could go Roosevelt-Meridian-145th stn, Roosevelt-Meridian-185th stn, or Roosevelt-Meridian-Aurora Village-185th or Mountlake Terrace stn.

      13. d.p.: Washington DC Metro does NOT have true urban stop spacing! Have you ever used it?

        Toronto was running its rail lines as streetcar replacements, which meant closer stop spacing than you get in new build.

        Montreal — OK, I don’t know the Montreal story.

      14. DC Metro stations are also overdesigned. It was the showpiece metro for the capital, after all!

        I do not particularly believe your conspiracy theory about First Hill station, but if you find convincing citations, I’ll consider it. First Hill was removed *after* funds were committed, mind you… the station location was picked… geological surveying had actually been paid for and done…

      15. Oh, and d.p.? Toronto is having to physically enlarge its stations due to overcrowding.

        There is such a thing as underbuilding.

      16. Mike Orr wrote:
        “Why is it difficult?”

        Well, obviously it isn’t difficult for you! :-) I just had trouble, personally, figuring it out from King County Metro’s published information. Thanks for the analysis.

    9. To me, ST’s weirdest ridership forecast is that in 2030, UW Station will have approximately 25,000 daily boardings, but U-District station will have only approximately 12,300 daily boardings.

      1. Agreed. I raised this point last year but a number of UW associated people indicated that they hung out in the south part of campus and that stop would be more convenient to them. Not to mention the thousands that work at UW Medical.

        I still think “U-District Station” will have a much higher usage than forecast and I’m curious if the station will be big enough to handle demand.

      2. It’s not just weird to you.

        It’s incredibly revealing about the troublesome presumptions that ST is relying upon to conjure these numbers.

        People headed to the UW campus or to jobs at the Medical Center are once-per-day commuters and few others. ST, thus far a wholly commuter-focused entity, cannot be blamed for overestimating and overvaluing these trips.

        The U-District station is one of the line’s few true all-day trip generators, a transfer point to other parts of North Seattle’s urban corridor, and crossroads of north-south and east-west. ST has not done this before; they do not get this; they are incapable of quantifying this.

        It is likely that their ridership guess for 45th & Brooklyn skews low. It is just as likely that their guesses for limited-purpose commuter nodes skew high.

      3. Charles,

        Apart from the points d.p., mentioned, once you get north of Drumheller Fountain, you’re closer to U-District Station than UW Station. So for anyone who works or studies on the upper half of the campus, or anyone meeting friends on the Ave for food or drinks after class or work, or going to a coffeeshop to study, you’re going to end up closer to U-District station.

        Moreover, UW station has virtually zero residential walkshed, while U-District station is in one of the densest neighborhoods in the city. All the people going to the Med Center might push UW station boardings higher than U-District station boardings, but I’d be surprised if it was twice as high.

        I agree that 12,300 boardings for U-District station seems like a low forecast.

      4. “ST, thus far a wholly commuter-focused entity”

        What does commuting mean in this context? Going to work at rush hour? I notice that Link is well used for soccer games in the evenings and weekends, and by airport travellers all day. I also notice that the 550, 594, and 510/511/512 run evenings and weekends, and while they’re not as effective as they could be, they do basically tie the region together for all sorts of trips, not just going to work at rush hour. Although I would argue all that is “commuting” too, as in cities that have a system like Metra or PATH, where people use the same system both for work and for other things.

      5. You know that only a pathetic 40,000-ish boardings happen on Sound Transit express buses per weekday, right?

        So in this case, “commuting” means “the ridiculously limited set of needs that Sound Transit is capable of meeting in its current form”. The vast, vast majority of which involve “going to work” and “coming home from work”.

        Commuting: it’s really what Sound Transit does.

      6. Most of my trips on ST Express are on weekends.

        The “pathetic” ridership is partly due to lack of frequency. Because the 550 is half-hourly Sundays and the 511 is half-hourly Saturday and Sunday, people who would otherwise ride it move their trip to another day or drive instead. If they ran every 15 minutes (and we’ve discussed how the 510/511 could be replaced with the 512 for little additional cost), it would attract those riders and others besides. Fortunately Link will fix this silliness, but not for ten years.

      7. Most of my trips on ST Express are on weekends.

        Love ya, Mike, but you are the exception proving the rule, and your protestations suggest you know as much.

      8. So do we delete service evenings/weekends and just give up on it? Or do we strengthen service evenings/weekends to attract more riders?

      9. It isn’t an either or question. Adding service on lightly used routes is a matter of diminishing returns. That is the number of riders you get by changing from 30 min. frequency to 15 minutes won’t come close to doubling ridership on the eastside but it does double the cost. Adding service to the less productive routes not only drags down the efficiency of the whole system but implicitly tells people, “don’t worry about location, we’ll bring the bus to you no matter how far off the beaten track you want to live.” That makes operating a good transit system all the harder.

  2. I’m not sure about the 15,000 but the boardings will definitely be high because 1) University Station will be complete (the highest volume of riders in Phoenix board near ASU) 2) Having quick transport to the airport as opposed to a much longer compute compared to the existing stations. 3) There is a lot of money in the north that likes to be spent on sports. (this is the one of the largest attractions of weekend riders in Phoenix). 4) For this one it is more of a guess but I suspect there are more commuters caught in gridlock in the northend during longer routes to work whereas the current stations are closer to downtown jobs. In essence there will be 4-5 major destinations for this station whereas there is currently only 1 maybe 2 and for the existing stations.

    1. I’m not sure where to find the ridership numbers, but I can think of several route that go through Northgate, for which Link would replace all or most riders:
      – 41
      – 66
      – 67
      – 303
      – 555

      In addition some people that get downtown on routes 16, 316, or even 358 today will walk to Link instead (the I-5 bridge would help a lot with this). And some riders who use 73 or 373 from the east might choose to walk to Northgate station as well.

      And many trips, Northgate to Redmond will become much easier than today. Even for people with luggage to carry, pretty much everyone in north Seattle will have the option of riding a taxi to the nearest Link station and riding the train to the airport, which will be far cheaper than driving to the airport and paying for parking.

      Furthermore, there’s a possibility route 522 could be truncated at either Northgate station or Roosevelt Station, whichever is operationally more efficient.

      1. Go on-line to MetroKC and look up ‘Route Performance Report’ for each route. Figure most of the ons/offs must still be serviced by local buses, then figure how much of the trip can be siphoned over to rail at the few station locations being built. (Stop spacing drives ridership, and I say again, d.p. is spot on. One station on Capital Hill does not parlay into ‘Everyone from Capitol Hill is getting a train… Wheee!) Then grow your ridership by 2.5 percent over 18 years to get to 2030, as ST has done.
        STEX routes have similar data available in the ‘Service Improvement Plan’.
        Metro’s new report for 2011 should be out very soon.
        I’ve tried to get the numbers to pencil out, even being ruthless with route truncation, and come nowhere close to current rosy projections.

      2. I believe the speed of service to downtown and the U-dsitrict is expected to draw some choice riders out of their cars.

      3. And I believe I can lure Greek sailors to their doom with nothing but the sound of my sweet, enchanting voice.

        In reality, though, high-quality transit systems that can get you to, from, and around the places you want and need to go “draw choice riders out of their cars”, while the commuter spindles of the late 20th century that can only get you 2 or 3 useful places tend to draw such a tiny handful of choice riders that you could probably ferry them each downtown by helicopter for less cost.

      4. Not trying to razz you personally, Chris, BTW. Your above post is one of the most reasonable on this thread.

        I’m just trying to keep the standards of logic and evidence as high as possible.

    1. Given enough public funding Aqua Express could have burned cash for just as long. A boat is a hole in the water into which you throw [public] money. 80% of the cost of the new Water Taxi boats is coming from Uncle Sam. Ahoy, no budget crises in Washington DC. Batten down the Orrin Hatches and raise the mizzen taxes!

    1. Let it go folks – we’ll have them for several decades. Design is NOT the priority it once was (in the Art Decop era, e.g.).

      1. Bizarrely the “ugly” control cars were *requested* by the governments ordering the cars. I believe they demanded a flat (not curved) windshield and everything else was a consequence of that. Sorry I’ve lost the reference where I read that.

        I can’t imagine *why* they wanted a flat windshield, but there you are.

      1. This may have already been answered somewhere else but are there any plans for the giant pit on 3rd and cherry?

      2. Something called Civic Square is planned for that pit. It’s supposed to be a combo office/condo tower. It’s on hold and there hasn’t been any recent news on it at all.

    1. SSC Seattle in general is an AWESOME forum. Tons of good information is aggregated there. Be sure to check out some of the other threads for more recent info.

  3. I was wondering about opinions about what is the best TOD in the Northwest (Including Vancouver)? And by TOD I wasnt really thinking just urban neighborhoods right outside downtown like SLU, Pearl District or Yaletown but TOD more along the lines of station nodes.

    1. I haven’t been there myself, but I’ve read several articles on Central City Shopping Centre in Surrey, BC. It’s right next to Surrey Central Station on one of the SkyTrain lines. The complex combines a shopping center, an office tower, and a campus of Simon Fraser University, as well as some smaller educational institutions.

    2. Other Vancouver examples:

      Burnaby’s Metrotown, which started off as a shopping mall next to a Skytrain stop, and is now a high-rise office/residential/shopping district similar to downtown Bellevue.

      Joyce Skytrain station in East Vancouver has an impressive “tower-clump.”

      Columbia Skytrain station in New Westminster has had a burst of development lately.

      South of the Border you have:
      – Mid-rise apartments surrounding the Redmond TC.
      – Mid-rise apartments surrounding the Renton TC.
      – Kent Station shopping & educational complex at the Kent Sounder station.
      – Taco buses and vietnamese shopping complexes at Othello Station in Seattle (plus one new mid-rise apartment building).
      – Orenco Station is a famed “New Urbanist” development along a Max station in Washington County, OR.

  4. Serious questions:

    #1. Could Oregon & Washington State (& BC to a lesser extent) take over Amtrak Cascades if need be say summer 2013?

    #2. How high would fares have to go to cover the subsidy on Amtrak Cascades? Please note I always buy a business class seat.

    Things we need to start planning for, eh?

    1. 1. Yes.

      BC contributes virtually nothing to Cascades: they cover the cost of operating customs service at the CPR terminal, that’s all; they’ve made no capital expenditures to improve the quality of service on that line. This side of the border, existing federal policy has, since 2008, mandated that all state-supported corridors become financially independent of the federal government by next year. Currently, the federal government pays for one round trip a day on Cascades, which amounts to about $5 million out of a $33 million annual budget. That subsidy goes away next October, and WSDOT/ODOT will have to figure out a way to bridge that gap. I don’t know exactly how they plan to do so — they might raise fares, cut back on capital improvement etc; your guess is as good as mine.

      Cascades, like Amtrak California, currently operates as a contracted service, where WSDOT/ODOT own the equipment and Amtrak simply provides the staff. It could be be turned over to another contrator (e.g. BNSF who run Sounder) if needed, but when I asked Paula about this at our last meetup, she said Amtrak’s rates were very reasonable and the state didn’t plan to switch away in the near future. Tea party chest-beating aside, even in the “doomsday” scenario of Republicans “just abolishing” Amtrak, any transition away from a federal Amtrak will, in fact, be orderly; there are too many people, many of them Republicans, in California and the Northeast, who regularly use highly productive rail services, for them to wake up one day without those trains running. So most likely some entity, governmental or not, will inherit the functions of Amtrak for those corridors, meaning the state will likely have multiple entities who would be willing to run Cascades.

      So yes, there are good reasons to feel confident about the future of Cascades, even in the worst-case federal scenario.

      2. Ticket costs covered 66% of operating expenses, under the current accounting methodology. That number doesn’t include capital money spent by the state on track and grade crossing improvements etc. to improve passenger service. Of course capital improvements improve service quality, which increases demand, allowing ticket prices to rise relative to operating costs, reducing the operating subsidy required, so there’s a very good argument that these expenditures are more of an investment than a subsidy. (The state also spends capital money improving rail corridors with no passenger service). One caveat: Amtrak’s current accounting method is rather odd, and makes it difficult to figure out the exact cost of the service very accurately; that method will change next year.

      Much more info here:
      http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Rail/Funding.htm

      1. This is another example of crazy incentives coming from the federal government. What they’re saying to the states is you want one train per day, you pay nothing. You want two trains per day, you pay for the second train and the first train. In other words, the amount of money the state would have to fork over to increase service from one daily train to two is twice what that second train actually costs. Which means the state is incentivized to just choose to have one train instead and pay nothing.

        Fortunately, Seattle->Portland, having four trains per day, is probably relatively safe – I don’t see Washington and Oregon willing to lose three daily trips to get a federal subsidy for the last trip. But if what you’re saying is true, that second daily trip between Seattle and Vancouver costs the state of Washington twice the actual operating cost of that second trip (in order to pay for the second trip, we have to pay for the first trip as well)!

        The federal government should be giving states incentives to increase investments in lines that go through their states, like offering matching funds. Not disincentives that tell states that they will lose their federal subsidy as a penalty for paying for additional service.

      2. That strikes me as a rather convoluted, and not terribly relevant way of looking at it. Very few state supported corridors would be viable services at the federally supported level. You need a certain quality of service for people to use it; one round trip a day on Cascades would consign it to irrelevance.

        I regard it as tough love for medium-haul passenger rail. The federal government, due to its brokeness and political dysfunction, is an increasingly unreliable source of funds. Unreliability of operating funds is anathema to running an effective, high quality transit system, as you need a reliable money stream to provide consistent service and make long-term rolling stock investments (as a different example, Metro is plagued by the variability of sales tax revenue). Weaning us of this federal subsidy is in the long-term best interest of Cascades.

      3. [Cascades] Ticket costs covered 66% of operating expenses…

        That is actually quite an amazing feat, considering just how reasonable the ticket prices are — about 1/4-1/3 the cost of an ACELA ticket, for a frankly very similar quality of service (if not nearly the frequency).

        Although I take it you had a delay-plagued Portland trip recently. I’ve yet to be more than 10 minutes late in either direction on that leg (Vancouver is a different story).

      4. Weaning us of this federal subsidy is in the long-term best interest of Cascades.

        A system that pours money into the biggest loser is never going to work. Cascades actually has a chance. But it will need subsidies for many more years to get to the brake even point. That’s the big problem with Amtrak. To keep the subsidies coming to projects that maybe might just work you have to plow billions into routes that never will. Solution; make it a low interest loan that States are eventually on the hook to pay back.

      5. Hey Bruce, thanks for this post.

        Everybody else, thanks for your pithy comments.

      6. Since BC contribute little or nothing, and since a Talgo trainset sits in Vancouver all day, perhaps if/when Amtrak funding goes away, the trains from Seattle and south could be turned at Bellingham (again) and we’d have far more efficient use of the trainsets. Once BNSF relaxes a bit (not likely in the near future with coal dancing before their eyes), we could perhaps get a 3rd Bellingham round trip from Portland, and a 3rd Eugene roundtrip from Seattle. Just dreaming…

      7. I thought VAC was the 3rd biggest traffic source / destination. I bought 14 one-way tickets VAC-SEA-VAC last year, using each service each way. Dropping Canada helps shrink the system.

      8. Dropping Vancouver would lose some riders, but it shouldn’t stand in the way of making the rest of the system more frequent if it becomes a growing imediment. Canada has consistently declined to improve its speed north of the border, to the point that a Vancouver-Bellingham thruway bus is worth considering.

      9. Seattle and Portland both approach half a million on/offs per year. Vancouver BC is third but way down at only 150,000 or about 9% of total ridership. Tacoma has almost 100,000. Vancouver WA has over 75,000. Since a rider gets on and off ridership is half of those numbers. I doubt that you could add an additional train for the cost of ending service at Bellingham. The real question is how many riders would be lost for the marginal cost of going to Vancouver BC. Canadians might be willing to drive to Bellingham, especially for a trip to Portland. But I doubt many Washington residents would be willing to use the train for a day/weekend in Vancouver if they were dumped off in Bellingham even if you had Thruway bus service.

        I guess what I’m thinking is that Vancouver BC is more of a destination than an origin but I don’t have any demographic data to back that up.

      10. What I think happened is that tourism to Vancouver and Portland was the initial driver of ridership, but as the years wore on and the speed/frequency south of the border improved significantly, it began to build everyday ridership between Seattle and Portland and from the smaller cities, thus changing the balance with Vancouver.

        When the Cascades started, there were slow areas all along the line. The train slowed down significantly at the Oregon border and crawled for half an hour into Portland. Now Seattle-Portland is essentially full speed the entire way, and is competitive with driving and flying. (“Full speed” in terms of passenger perception, not necessarily technically.) North of Seattle has always had more slow areas than the southern segment; I think they’ve gotten somewhat better but I’m not sure. But the Canadian segment has not improved: how can it possibly take an hour from Bellingham to Vancouver?

        Additionally, there’s the cultural aspects. Americans love to visit “European” Vancouver, and non-American visitors to Seattle often do too. Canadians are more interested in shopping at Bellis Fair and filling their gas tanks than in visiting Seattle, and Amtrak is irrelevant for that. Seattle is a conveniently close destination for a weekend trip, but if you’re going to see “America” you’ll fly to New York or California or a red state instead.

      11. “This side of the border, existing federal policy has, since 2008, mandated that all state-supported corridors become financially independent of the federal government by next year. ”

        Well, sort of financially independent. There was a long argument over what to do with shared costs / economies of scale stuff. If the national Amtrak network were shut down, Cascades would be screwed (having to set up their own reservations system etc.)

        “Next year” == early October 2013, by the way.

        The “states must fund short routes but not long routes” provision from the federal government is pretty crazy; it was a bone thrown to the Amtrak-haters in the otherwise excellent PRIIA. It passed partly because it also mandated an *equalization* of the state support levels; NY was paying nothing and getting the Empire Service, while WA and OR were paying for almost all the Cascades runs.

        The result is that the “state support” provision is targeted squarely at New York (which currently supports only the Adirondack), and to a lesser extent Michigan (which currently supports the Blue Water and Pere Marquette but not the Wolverine) and Pennsylvania (there are some federally supported Keystone runs and the Pennsylvanian, IIRC).

        The amount of support which the other states would have to add is minimal, as most of them were funding all of their short corridors already under the previous law. As noted, one Cascades run is currently federally funded; so are a few Pacific Surfliner runs, and some of the Newport News runs. The respective states can fund these with very small budget increases as they’re already paying for most of the runs in their states.

        There’s also the Hoosier State, but Indiana’s run by particularly crazy Republicans (look up the history of the section 209 negotiations…) and so the Hoosier State will probably be cancelled entirely.

        Thankfully, the farebox recovery on *all* the ‘corridor’ runs has been improving dramatically month over month and year over year, so the budget hit even to New York isn’t looking that bad. Michigan, with its lack of tax base, might have more of a problem, but even Governor “dissolve local governments!” Snyder seems to be interested in preserving Detroit-Chicago service.

      12. Regarding Vancouver, due to status quo bias, I suspect that the existing two trains a day, funded by WA, will remain (allowing day trips in both directions), but there will be no expansion of service unless Canada and/or BC get their act together and start funding improvements.

      13. “Currently, the federal government pays for one round trip a day on Cascades, which amounts to about $5 million out of a $33 million annual budget. That subsidy goes away next October, and WSDOT/ODOT will have to figure out a way to bridge that gap. I don’t know exactly how they plan to do so — they might raise fares, cut back on capital improvement etc; your guess is as good as mine.”

        Amtrak has switched to its new accounting method, mostly. (The synthetic capital charge has not yet been developed).

        Thankfully, farebox recovery keeps improving, due to increased ridership who are willing to pay more. The budget gap may be solvable with very mild fare increases, or the state government may simply be willing to make the 10-20% state subsidy increase by next year — depends who you elect to the legislature, doesn’t it?

      14. there will be no expansion of service unless Canada and/or BC get their act together and start funding improvements.

        What do you mean, the decision by the Canadians to waive the border clearance fee is sort of like funding… in government speak :=

      15. Regarding Vancouver, due to status quo bias, I suspect that the existing two trains a day, funded by WA, will remain (allowing day trips in both directions),

        While it’s true there are only the “Red Eye” (5:30AM) and the 5:45PM train from Vancouver there are in addition four Thruway buses. The 11:30AM bus does the same thing as the 2:50PM bus that only goes to B’ham except it allows for a 2 hour layover to the connecting train. And the 5:00PM bus really seems silly when they’re running the second train back at 5:45. FWIW, as a day trip it’s much better Vancouver to Seattle. Leaving Seattle you only have six hours in Vancouver before heading back (5 if you show up as requested an hour early). Going the other way you get 12 hours in Seattle. Albeit both directions originating in Seattle are via train and your Amtrak experience from Vancouver is entirely by bus. “I paid for a train ride and all I got was this bus shirt!”

      16. But the Canadian segment has not improved: how can it possibly take an hour from Bellingham to Vancouver?

        An hour from B’ham to Vancouver would be wonderful. Train #510 B’ham @ 9:52A Van,BC @ 11:40A. Train #516 B’ham @ 9:00P Van,BC @ 10:50P. The other direction both trains are over the two hour mark. If they cut an hour out of the schedule it would be competitive with the Thruway bus service.

      17. “If the national Amtrak network were shut down, Cascades would be screwed (having to set up their own reservations system etc.)”

        There is the Trailways system which Greyhound and the other bus companies use. Perhaps they’d be interested in handling Cascades’ reservations/ticketing. It would be surprising because the bus companies have always been rivals to rail, but if Amtrak is fundamentally restructured into autonomous regional systems, they may not be able to resist the money in handling reservations.

        Of course, that would expose rail passengers to Greyhound’s customer service, but one problem at a time.

      18. The Greyhound/Trailways reservation system is appallingly dreadful; it appears to be designed to *prevent* people from getting information. I would only use it if forced to.

  5. Does anyone know how deep the SR-99 tunnel will be along 1st Ave? I was wondering if it would be possible to have a 1st Ave light rail tunnel as well.

    1. What’s with all the tunnel envy here when the current tunnel is and will remain at less than half it’s design capacity when ST2 and ST3 are on-line and mature – even in 2040?
      Northgate projections, along with equally wild estimates for Lynnwood give a false sense that we’re nearing design capacity, therefore, need to think about more digging under Seattle.
      Asking hard questions about how our investment is going, like d.p. and others do, is a healthy debate to have. Now is the time to plan for a robust network of stations and connections to free citizens of car dependence. Waiting until 2040 for the system to ‘mature’ as the current ST media spinners are doing is a dis-service for serious discussion about the future of transit in our region.

      1. An issue is the problem of connecting to the existing tunnels. Building underground junctions is difficult and expensive, especially if you need to keep existing service running. By the time you’ve extended your line to meet the junction point and built the junction you may not have saved much over just building another tunnel.

        During peak I can easily see DSTT capacity maxing out on the line North of downtown. While I do question some of the 2030 ridership numbers from ST, I suspect U-District ridership will exceed expectations.

        Even if ridership undershoots projections by the same amount as Central Link the entire Lynnwood to Downtown line will likely be pushing capacity during peak periods.

      2. Except that, really, no.

        By ST’s own design specs (90-second design headways, for 120-second real-world headways), no.

        Platforms are ample. Mezzanines are overkill. Entrances are many.

        There is no maxing out in our 40-year plans. That is not a valid caveat, no matter how frequently you hear it repeated.

        No.

      3. I originally dismissed the logic of a cross-SLU line to take advantage of the Convention Place junction, but there’s just no way a new multi-station Second Ave tunnel wouldn’t cost more.

        There’s just no way that a junction or a transfer at the U-District could cost as much as a new Ship Canal crossing.

        Even after years of living here, I’m just baffled how illogic and poor precendent tend to metastasize into the commonly-held “wisdom”.

      4. So there’s the DSTT, the SR99 tunnel-in-the-making, and don’t forget the old BNSF tunnel. Just how many tunnels can be dug under downtown without undermining the whole area? And how many billions of $$ to build another tunnel? Where will all this money come from?

      5. This is of course hearsay, but when Ben S. and I were chatting with Peter Hahn (head of SDOT) at a social thing, HE (Peter) made a statement along the lines of ‘Now, just so you know Sound Transit is telling us [SDOT] that the tunnel will not have any extra capacity, so you would probably be looking at another tunnel to do all you are talking about doing.’

        Maybe he was lying. Or maybe ST is lying to him, but people here at STB aren’t just pulling the ‘no extra capacity’ thing out of thin air. As I have no reason to suspect mendacity on his or STs part, or on the part of our faithful staff here, I’m going to take their position over the armchair engineers howling to the contrary.

      6. d.p.
        If you build a Ballard to U-district line with no track connection to Link where do you propose putting an O&M base? The only possible places I see for one is in Interbay which means you are back to building a ship canal crossing.

        If the line goes anywhere West of 15th NW I don’t see that happening without a tunnel anyway at which point the canal crossing only really costs what the additional tunnel length costs. (in fact you are probably better off just staying underground the whole way depending on the alignment)

      7. Matt,
        I agree. I’m inclined to believe ST when they say full build out of ST2 puts the DSTT at capacity.

        Besides it really isn’t a fight worth picking if your goal is more rapid transit in Seattle. Sure a second downtown tunnel increases the cost of any future lines by a large amount, but if there really is spare capacity it is better to let ST find it while doing value engineering to bring future lines down to a reasonable budget.

      8. Lightning,
        There are other cities with many more tunnels under their downtowns than Seattle will ever have. Building more won’t “undermine the whole area”.

      9. …out of thin air.

        Link through the DSTT was designed for “90-second design headways, to allow for [real-world] 120-second operating headways.”

        This is unambiguous. I’ll take facts and figures over unsupported brain-farts from inside agency that’s still incredibly new at rapid transit and often seems to woefully misunderstand the basics.

        If you build a Ballard to U-district line with no track connection to Link where do you propose putting an O&M base?

        This is literally the dumbest thing I’ve ever read, and now you’ve written it repeatedly.

        No, nobody’s going to build a new Ship Canal crossing just to reach an O&M base. You either build the real junction that you should build, or you build an easier non-revenue single-track junction. Or maybe you even truck the vehicles in and allow for on-site maintenance for the first few years of operation (not unprecedented).

        But you don’t go factoring in extra billions into your summary dismissal of an idea, just because someone decided Interbay was the place for maintenance. Knock it off with that red herring!

      10. I don’t think that anyone is lying out of malice.

        I think that those who are steeped in current plans get very attached to their internal sense of how those current plans should “look” and “feel” when brought to bear.

        Humans, as a rule, have a very hard time altering such visions, even when they conflict with technical realities or real civic needs.

        See: every architectural animation ever.
        See also: “Just wait until this line can get you all the way from Everett to Tacoma!”

      11. It’s better to maybe have spare capacity in two tunnels than a possibly full single tunnel. With spare capacity, it will be easy to add additional lines. With a possibly full tunnel, any new project has to include the cost of a second tunnel in it. That’s why the DSTT was built years before Link. The thinking was, we get this expense out of the way now, and it’s also cheaper to do it now rather than later due to inflation.

        Our overall transit problem is underinvestment in infrastructure (and frequency). It’s better to overshoot a bit in downtown tunnels (and suburban extensions) to get over this problem once and for all. Get over this hurdle of the trunk infrastructure, and it’ll be downhill from there adding less expensive transit around it.

      12. It’s better to maybe have spare capacity in two tunnels than a possibly full [in the extremely distant future] single tunnel.

        I don’t disagree.

        Unfortunately, better ≠ most cost-effective, or most likely to actually happen.

        Maybe STB needs to invest in a little polling.

        [Addressed to average Seattle voter]:

        “Would you rather have a multi-billion dollar subway line between Ballard and downtown, that absolutely must include an additional billion dollars for a new downtown tunnel? Or would you rather spend a mere $400 million on a streetcar, which we’ll tell you is just as good, even though you secretly know it isn’t and you’ll probably never use it once it’s built?”

        Insisting on “excess capacity” or no subway at all is an extremely good way to get no subway at all.

      13. Could someone clarify what are the exact point(s) of dispute over whether a second tunnel would be needed for a Downtown-Ballard line? e.g. is the disagreement over:

        (1) The minimum possible headway/maximum possible frequency in the DSTT
        (2) Whether adding a line to Ballard (plus the existing planned U/Northgate/East/Lynnwood Link extensions) is likely to require running trains more frequently than (1) allows
        (3) Something else

      14. Still not seeing what motivation ST has for lying about tunnel capacity. As usual all you have offered up is conjecture and opinion. Forgive me for taking the word of experts over that of a rapid commenter.

      15. Right, b/c that is all there is to interlining multiple new lines into a tunnel already going to be near capacity as it is. *rolleyes*

        And you STILL have yet to explain what motivation the experts at ST have for lying. B/c either they have to be lying or your armchair engineering is BS. Personally until I see some evidence otherwise, I am still going to have to stick with the experts.

      16. 1. Yes, in fact, that’s pretty much all there is to interlining. “2-minute operating headways” means what it says. Do I need to buy you a trip to Brussels for you to get it through your head that interlining does not mess with headways?

        2. I haven’t called anyone a liar. I said that sometimes people have trouble adjusting their congealed visions, which may be troubles when you’re dealing with an inexperienced agency that had already made a few pretty big mistakes. Whoever claimed to you that the tunnel was “almost full” is clearly NOT an expert.

      17. Let’s not put the cart before the horse. There is no officially-proposed route for a Ballard line yet. We don’t know whether ST would lean toward a tunnel or not, or how much said tunnel would cost, or whether ST might be willing to review its capacity ceilings in the first tunnel. So the cost of a tunnel would have to come in the next ST ballot or a future one. Let’s wait until we get cost comparisons and a look at the entire proposed line before dismissing alternatives as impossible. That’s why I support both arguing for a new tunnel and asking ST to reconsider its capacity ceiling. Because either of these would be OK if it’s part of the ultimate solution.

        Adding a branch to an existing underground line (at Westlake or 45th) would cost big bucks, which might be better applied to a new tunnel. DP would say it would cost less to add the branch to 45th now rather than later, but that’s not going to happen because it’s not in ST’s current plan, and they’re not going to reopen the plan now in the middle of construction. (What ST is most interested in is showing voters a working North Link, not a branch stub.)

    2. A second tunneled Link line through DT Seattle would go on 2nd Ave and have direct connections to existing Link DSTT stations on the current line.

      1. Tunneling along 5th is also a possibility. Given how preliminary any alignment for a second transit tunnel under downtown is nothing is really set in stone.

        That said I’d say 2nd is more likely, but I’ll be shocked if anything other than 2nd and 5th is seriously considered.

        FWIW the 99 tunnel is deep enough to not really be an issue for any future transit tunnels under Seattle.

      2. Well, there we go, off into “I never met a street I wouldn’t like to tunnel under”. Jeeeze guy, give it a rest.

      3. mic,
        How exactly does speculating that 2nd or 5th are the logical locations for any future downtown transit tunnel mean I want a tunnel under every street?

        Any additional rail transit with the exception of streetcars through downtown will almost certainly operate in a tunnel. Sound Transit says the DSTT is full after the ST2 build out. Hence service to Ballard and West Seattle will need another downtown tunnel.

      4. Sound Transit’s own technical specs say different.

        But I can totally see why you’d rush to spend billions of extra dollars on the basis of a fraudulent “truism” spread by an ill-informed hack.

        That is how you will wind up sticking Ballard with some useless (but cheap) surface streetcar.

      5. I’ll go with ST on this one — adding a new line after the full ST2 buildout will require a new tunnel.

    3. Any additional rail tunnels through downtown would likely go under Second Ave. There are a couple of reasons, but mainly because it would support a large amount of residential buildings through Belltown, and also because it would be easy to link the stations to the Third Ave DSTT stations.

      1. Good luck on closing down 2nd for years while they build a cut and cover tunnel. If you go bored tunnel you’d be roughly 150′ lower than the DSTT; more than 100% grade (i.e. more than 45 degrees). 3rd to 5th is about a 60′ elevation gain. Given the depth difference of the DSTT and deep bore construction you’d be more like just 50′ deeper with a tunnel under 5th; still a 30% grade. I’m not sure but I’d bet utilities like water and sewer would be less of an issue under 5th than 2nd and you certainly have fewer issues with the underground portion of really tall buildings. 5th was actually floated as an alternate to the Nickels Gregoire alignment.

      2. still a 30% grade.

        Scratch that… the distance is doubled so 15% grade or slightly less steep than the sidewalks.

      3. Bernie,
        What reason would a bored tunnel under 2nd need to be so much deeper than the DSTT? For that matter other than going under Westlake station and the grade on 5th there is no real need to go any deeper there than the DSTT.

        Remember the DSTT was bored between stations except for CPS to Westlake. But 3rd stayed open during construction of both the tunnel and the cut and cover stations.

      4. Bernie is saying that a bored Second Avenue tunnel would be significantly lowar than the DSTT because Second Avenue itself is, on average, dozens of feet lower than Third.

        I’m not sure this is inherently a problem. It’s just mega-expensive, which will be a stumbling block any time you try to present this plan to the voters.

        Given your stubbornness about it now, I sadly expect you will discover this only when the voters reject you in favor of the Streetcar of Uselessness.

    4. You can find a visualization of the SR-99 underground route here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWfwnkEbc4Q

      2nd Ave. would be a better choice for a transit tunnel than 1st Ave. The SR-99 tunnel is 200′ feet deep when it crosses 2nd. around Lenora, according to this simulation.

      There are sewer lines and the BNSF tunnel that could get in the way too.

  6. Seattle’s next big neighborhood is…:

    Just when you think you’ve found a Seattle neighborhood that has affordable housing, fabulous restaurants and a safe-to-walk-around vibe, something comes along and ruins everything.

    If I were looking to buy a SF home in the City I’d be looking at Lake City or Beacon Hill if I had to work DT. If I wanted an apartment or condo, well I don’t, but if I did I’d probably focus on Columbia City although Queen Anne is still the place to be and worth the up charge.

    1. Just what Rainier Valley has needed for a long time, a natural-food store that’s not as hard to get to as Seward Park. Bonus that it’s a local co-op rather than an out-of-state chain.

      As for the farmers’ market which currently inhabits the parking lot, it could move to the Mount Baker station plaza.

    2. The wife and I are loving CC so far. Looking at getting a house around here if we can.

  7. d.p.: I’m starting a new org and would like to know if you want to join.
    It’s called Seattle Subway under 4th Ave, seeing as all the other streets have been spoken for.
    The doorman at Union Station whispered in my ear that the DSTT was nearing capacity, so this sounds like a no brainer to me.

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