This morning we’re at city hall, testifying to the city council to retain money proposed in the Mayor’s budget to advance the Seattle Transit Master Plan. We’re here because in addition to fast, high capacity rail, we need more local rail to connect our core neighborhoods.

The few million in this proposed budget seems like so little compared to the huge Sound Transit projects many of us are used to – but in this case, at this time, it goes a long way.

In the next couple of years, Sound Transit is likely going to put together their ST3 package; sources in Sound Transit say it’s looking more likely that we could see a regional vote in 2016. The primary goals for the next package are to connect Everett, Tacoma and Redmond (and maybe Issaquah) with extensions of Link. This means there will be money in Seattle for projects too, but it might not be exactly the right amount for the big projects we need in the city – it could be too much for one surface or elevated rail line, or too little for underground rail. We don’t know.

The projects on the table right now – major improvements to the streetcar line on Westlake (likely making it more like Link than streetcar), connecting it through downtown to the First Hill line, to Ballard via Fremont, and to the U-district via Eastlake, building real BRT on Madison, and extending the First Hill streetcar to Aloha – are all projects that might fill in those gaps.

Giving Sound Transit more planned and ready projects to choose from means they get more choices to build the most successful possible regional package. And in the event that Sound Transit doesn’t go to ballot in 2016, it gives Seattle more chances to connect neighborhoods too. In both cases, the planning in this year’s budget gives us opportunities for federal funds. We can’t let Portland get all the money!

So this morning we’re taking action – the most powerful thing we can do as individuals, really, bringing our neighbors and friends to let our elected officials know that this is what we want. To those transit supporters who are coming this morning – thank you. And to those who can’t, you’re missed, and we hope you can make it next time!

138 Replies to “Why This Budget Matters”

  1. I hate to be a gloomy Gus in the first comment, but:

    “We’re here because in addition to fast, high capacity rail, we need more local rail to connect our core neighborhoods.”

    Yes, we need a developers’ gimmick because people are too stupid to realize that for all that it rips up city streets it’s basically RapidRide with tighter stop spacing, no “non-station stops”, and no flexibility to change lanes!

    “The projects on the table right now – major improvements to the streetcar line on Westlake (likely making it more like Link than streetcar), connecting it through downtown to the First Hill line, to Ballard via Fremont, and to the U-district via Eastlake, building real BRT on Madison, and extending the First Hill streetcar to Aloha – are all projects that might fill in those gaps.”

    Yes, we need Sound Transit to help fund the idiotic “rapid streetcar” idea that only exists because they haven’t gotten to building rail to Ballard until the very package they’d be funding it in! At least the FHSC was filling a gap in Link service; this would literally be competing with it! The only one of these projects that it makes sense for Sound Transit to help fund (which is not to say it’s the only one that makes sense period) is the Aloha extention.

    1. Morgan, every one of these projects is something it makes sense for Sound Transit to build. It also makes sense for them to build everything in Seattle Subway, and it makes sense for them to do a lot more, too.

      When we have fully grade separated, 80mph rail from downtown to Ballard through Interbay, we will still need rail through Fremont too. When Link is open through Capitol Hill, we will still need rail through Eastlake too. People need to be able to live and work throughout our city, not just in the places we’ve drawn our first lines on a map.

      It breaks my heart every time someone calls surface rail a gimmick. Amsterdam doesn’t think so. Berlin doesn’t think so. Those lines ran in traffic when they started, and now they don’t.

      Do you see anyone writing posts like this, organizing people, and getting funding for bus improvements in these corridors? You don’t. Witness that. People who are getting out there at 7am and *trying* are seeing something valuable here. Instead of telling them what they’re doing isn’t valuable – instead of fighting against the chances we have today, right now!, for some future that doesn’t seem to have a path – I hope you can see that you’re missing something.

      There is plenty of support to build everything we need in this city. I need you to stop attacking opportunities because they’re not your favorite opportunity. If you can help here, you will create relationships that will get you help for the things you believe we need too.

      1. The extant trams in Berlin are a historical accident; they exist only in the former East. And while they can be helpful as connectors and feeders — especially because they come at 5x-10x the frequencies anyone is proposing for the TMP — nobody upon nobody (read: nobody) uses them for the kind of distances Seattle’s plan presumes, much less connects from one streetcar to another or through-routes through the Mitte. (Did I mention that nobody uses the streetcars like this?)

        Amsterdam, meanwhile, is barely 7 miles across by 3 miles wide. In its entirety. You could fit the entire city between SoDo and the Ship Canal. Again, the trams do not exist for long-distance trunk travel. There’s a Metro for that. In fact, the city is plowing ahead full-throttle on the long-overdue Noord/Zuid Line, precisely because surface alternatives are so flipping inadequate.

        Gothenberg, the Swedish city frequently cited as a premiere European streetcar-based network, is so compact that you could fit much of its urbanized area into Capitol Hill. Even the lines to the Miljonprogrammet banlieues like Angered — which are more interurbans than any kind of urban rail — are shorter than the proposed Fremont/Ballard Congestion Line.

        Nobody in cities where people care about having actualtransit that actual human beings will actually use to get around would ever propose what Seattle’s zealots insist on putting on the table. For good reason!

      2. I’ve never been to Berlin, but I have been to Zagreb. Zagreb is about a Seattle sized city with 15 streetcar lines at frequencies of 5 – 10 minutes (they serve 560k people a day) and a ride free area. I don’t know how far these lines run (and can’t find an un-distorted map to check), but it certainly seems like I rode on one for as far as the ones Seattle is proposing.

        It’s a great system, and everyone uses it.

      3. Ah, from my second link: “Trams whisk residents back and forth from the suburbs and also cover central Zagreb which make them a better sightseeing choice than the buses. The one certainty about Zagreb trams is that they’re crowded most of the time.”

      4. Zagreb is absolutely not a Seattle-sized city. There are 600,000 in the very compact urban spine, with almost nobody and nothing to speak of beyond the urban area (total metro population: barely a million).

        People combine usage of the tram system with heavy reliance on the Zagreb commuter rail for longer-distance travel along the city’s east-west urban axis.

        Oh, yeah, and that’s still proving unacceptable:

      5. Comparing Zagreb station names against Google Maps, it looks like the whole system fits in 5 or 6 square miles — roughly Seatle from Mercer to Martinez, the waterfront to 12th Ave.

      6. Ridership of 560,000 in a city of 690,000 with a metro population of 1,100,000 and you call it unacceptable? That’s over half of every man, woman, and child using it every day in the entire metro region.

        Yes, things could be better. There’s traffic since they haven’t traffic-seperated enough of their lines (though the pedestrian zone is awesome). And a metro system would help, if they could afford it. But overall this is a great success story for streetcars. It’s an easy, frequent system that makes the entire city accessable.

      7. It makes the entire VERY SMALL CITY accessible!!

        You missed my entire point, Matt! When your whole city is compact, speed is not your primary imperative. The tram-dominant small-city European experience does not translate to more populous cities requiring travel over much larger in-city distances!

      8. @Soto It’s looks like about 7 miles from Dolje to Zaprude, 8 miles from Precko to Dubec. That’s 56 square miles if you’re looking at the whole system. Though most of it runs in a smaller area.

      9. @dp Seattle has 620k people in 143 sq miles. Zagreb has 790k people in 247 sq miles. These are not vastly different. Your point is that Zagreb has a very dense core, and I don’t have data whether it’s more dense than Seattle’s core. But the streetcars run out to the less dense suburbs*, which matches Seattle’s strategy.

        * meaning inner suburbs, withing the city, not the Lynnwood and Rentons we often talk about here.

      10. The Zagreb city limits, as 5 seconds on Google will tell you, encompasses a huge swath of mountainside, farmland, other unpopulated area.

        Those 600,000-800,000 (depending on definition of urbanized boundary) essentially all inhabit the 56 central square miles you just described to Sotosoroto.

        Meanwhile, a self-contained city with no metropolitan area to speak of does not function in the same was as the center of a 2.5-million Metropolitan area.

        Seattle streets are free of suburban commuters in your false equivalency. No one in Seattle ever travels beyond 3 miles from home on a regular basis.

        Yeesh! If you can’t fundamentally understand the difference between the needs of city of a million and a city with 2.5 million in its orbit, then I really can’t help you!

      11. Nah. That’s only the land. The water’s Seattle too. We even have some houses there.

        But I get your point.

      12. Wow. So “we’re different and these are bad ideas because we say so” still rules the day for some of us. Why are you making us fight you? We have room for everything. Be united and we will win all of it.

      13. Sorry, but “no large city can rely primarily on surface streetcars for 5-mile trips” IS the reality check.

        YOU’RE the ones trying to argue that Seattle is “special”, by pushing an on-street transit model that doesn’t exist in any big city in the world for very good reason!

      14. Just one counterexample I’m familiar with: Geneva. (My father lives there, and I’ve spent a lot of time there.) It is a much smaller city than Seattle, but is urban pretty much throughout its reach. The backbone of its city transit system is a set of three tram lines, the longer two of which (12 and 14) cover distances comparable to Downtown-Ballard. They are extremely well ridden and move relatively quickly because of TSP that means business.

      15. d.p. are you serious? Of course streetcars aren’t the only solution, but they are the best solution for local (five mile or less) trips in a dense part of a city. Just like how streetcars do a great job in small, compact, dense European cities, they’ll do a great job serving the core of Seattle, while other modes will do a better job serving the areas farther out from the core.

      16. Yes, I’m serious.

        You won’t find a city even close to Seattle in size where semi-mixed-traffic streetcars serve a core, high-capacity, non-feeder function, over any kind of significant distances.

        That’s why you all keep struggling for examples. Geneva is even smaller than Zagreb — 5 miles from the city center and there’s a pretty good chance you’ve traipsed into France! David is correct that a couple of Geneva tram lines stretch into the relative hinterlands, but these are the outliers proving the rule — the bulk of the Geneva trams’ core function is 2-mile trips or less. Even then, only the extreme frequency makes them palatable for their stated purpose. Near-constant-frequency is not something Seattle intends to do, short line or long!

        (If you do ever find an example of a large city whose “core transit” is romantically dumb streetcars — New Orleans, perhaps — I guarantee you’re looking at a failed transit system and an autocentric burg like ours!)

      17. p.s. And unlike Zagreb, I don’t think Geneva even has a particularly stellar transit mode-share by European standards.

      18. p.p.s. Checked. Most of Geneva’s tram branches are barely 4-5 km (2.5-3 miles) long. The very longest stretches 7 km (4.3 miles) from the city center. Rapid transit these are not.

      19. Even if a streetcar to Fremont is a good idea, I’d much rather make it non-rapid on Dexter and send it up Phinney (in other words, more like the 5 revision than the 40) if not terminate it at the zoo, if not send it up through the heart of Queen Anne Hill – anything but use it to appease people impatient for real rail in the short term while crippling both itself and said real rail in the long term. I’m still astounded that idiotic concerns over parking in the densest, least car-centric part of Seattle effectively resulted in Belltown screwing itself AND Queen Anne over the best streetcar expansion we could have possibly had that might have obviated the need for the 4th/5th connector, RR D’s Uptown deviation, AND the use of permanent infrastructure as a temporary fix.

      1. When is the last time you saw a passenger train on the BNSF line stop in Ballard? Where was the last time you saw a passenger train on the BNSF line stop in Ballard?

  2. Before starting more (which I am in favor of most of these rail projects) I say fix CrapidRide. Start w/ eliminating LQA from the D line.

    1. The problem isn’t the LQA deviation, it’s that the LQA deviation doesn’t work well. With proper TSP it would only add 2-3 minutes over the direct route.

      But instead we have the insane waits at Elliott and Mercer Place inbound, and always miss at least one light on both Mercer and Queen Anne.

      To fix RapidRide, increase the frequency to 10 minutes, and be as aggressive as Link is with TSP.

      1. While what David is suggesting would fix many of RapidRide’s reliability problems — and while I would of course support it fully — I can’t help but point out a prevailing irony in the “need” for the Queen Anne deviation.

        Why is it that when RR misses central Ballard by a full half-mile, with connections that range from unreliable in the daytime to grossly inadequate nights and Sundays, STBers insist that “it’s just a half-mile, no big deal, just walk it at midnight in the pouring rain!”?

        But when anyone suggests, skipping Mercer for a straight-shot down Denny — which are just under 0.4 miles apart, and connected with 4 other routes at all hours, seven days a week — people freak out about Mercer’s “necessity” and the need to serve it “directly”?

        Inconsistency, much?

      2. While I often feel d.p. is excessively negative, he’s put his finger on a pretty obvious, ridiculous, and largely unexplained disparity between the treatment of LQA and Ballard in Seattle transit. It’s actually worse than he suggest, since the LQA is so much closer to the downtown core and has a variety of other transit options linking it to downtown, whereas Ballard has just one other route to downtown, and given the distance, speed/efficiency from Ballard–Downtown seems more important than from LQA–downtown.

        I wonder if it’s just laziness; following the 15 route because it’s always been so. But given how agressively they reorganized Ballard bus service, it seems like that can’t be the answer, at least not the whole answer.

      3. Part of it is the LQA-Ballard connection, which does have significant ridership, and which would become somewhat more difficult (especially southbound) if you moved RR D to Elliott. Keep in mind that Elliott is not easy to cross.

        But, mostly, it’s sheer capacity to LQA. Buses from there are bursting at the seams much of the day. Artics can’t serve the 2/13/inbound 29 because of the downhill Counterbalance and the 2 terminal. They can’t serve the 1 anymore because of the Mt. Baker 14 terminal. Therefore, if you pulled the D out of LQA, you’d have to substantially increase frequency on the 1/2/13 to meet LQA demand. And that would be a good thing. But it would cost money.

      4. Of course we need to fix rapidride. We couldn’t fix rapidride at this morning’s budget hearing, or with the city budget at all. Improving Metro is another discussion entirely, and one we should have. It’s “And”, not “Or”.

      5. David: So those headed from Real Ballard to Denny can walk the 1/2-mile difference?

        But those headed from Crown Hill to Mercer CANNOT walk the .4-mile difference?

        And those headed from anywhere north of the Canal to downtown get screwed to the tune of 20 extra minutes every day?

        Makes perfect sense!

      6. Come on now. For the LQA deviation to add 20 minutes, you’d have to have some cataclysmic event occur. It’s more like 8-9 extra minutes in the worst case inbound (4 for the light, 2 more for the other two lights you miss, one or two for the busy QA/Mercer stop, and one or two more in case something else goes wrong), and much less outbound.

        I’m talking about LQA to downtown demand. If you took RR D out of LQA, the response of LQA residents wouldn’t be to march down to Elliott or Denny to catch the bus, it would be to loudly and vocally pillory Metro for providing insufficient capacity from Mercer to downtown. The 1/2/13 alone don’t cut it in that corridor. Have a look at Metro’s ridership stats — despite the low ridership on the 1 and 2N tails, the 1, 2N, and 13 are three of the highest-ridership routes in the system. And that’s with the 15 and 18 (now RR D) absorbing a decent amount of the demand.

      7. I’m going to have to side with d.p. here. Maybe we do need that extra capacity from LQA to downtown during the peak, but I highly doubt the 1, 2, and 13 combined aren’t sufficient off-peak. During the peak, having the D serve LQA isn’t such a big deal because the 15X exists as a faster alternative to Ballard. But to say everyone going from Ballard to downtown all-day has to sit through the LQA detour simply so it can get more peak capacity to downtown doesn’t pass the smell test.

      8. LQA demand fills buses during the reverse peak and substantial portions of the midday as well as the peak. It is routine for any bus that stops at Queen Anne and Mercer to pick up 15-20 people at that stop alone. The 1, 2, and 13 are not enough, except at night, for the brief lull in the late morning (10 am-11:30 am), and on Sunday. And I reiterate that it’s a very bad outcome to have the D use different service patterns at different times of day. My conclusion is that if you pull the D onto Elliott, you should do it at all times, and you are going to need to backfill LQA capacity somehow during the day. Increasing 1/2/13 cumulative frequency to 8 or 10 buses an hour would probably do it.

        Again, have a look at the productivity measures on the 1, 2N, and 13. They are some of the most heavily used routes in the entire system, and that heavy usage is pretty much only from LQA and the counterbalance.

    2. It doesn’t have to be either/or. We need to fix RapidRide. We also need more transit.

      1. Throwing out what we have the power to do today because it isn’t our favorite project ends up with us having nothing.

    3. I would sooner eliminate the through routing to/from West Seattle than reroute around Queen Anne. That would fix about 85% of the delays and no shows and allow RapidRide to truly be 15 minute headways.

      1. “and allow RapidRide to truly be 15 minute headways” (sigh) Sad that’s the dream we’re left with.

      2. Well, if we supposedly can’t afford the couple extra buses to duplicate the RR C & D downtown due to decoupling, then we REALLY can’t afford the extra buses to go less than 15 minute headways.

    4. Ha, unacceptable change. Unless you want to create a rapid ride just for LQA. Sorry it’s so inconvenient that we are one of the most dense neighborhoods in the city.

      1. You’re saying it’s a good idea to bog down one of the few direct routs from one of the fastest growing neighborhoods to Downtown w/ a detour in a neighborhood with how many buses that go to DT already all day long? Also eliminating LQA from RR they could just being back the regular 15 if needed. And if RR were to mimic the 15X there still would be a stop in LQA like there always was.

      2. Also, Denny directly abuts LQA! It’s only .4 miles from Mercer. (Again, that’s closer than RR gets to actual Ballard!)

      3. Saddling LQA with the mistake RR made in Ballard doesn’t fix Ballard. It just breaks LQA.

      4. Oh no LQA isn’t being given sole responsibility, there are many little things that make up the RR mess and LQA is one of them. And like d.p. says we wouldn’t be getting rid of LQA, there’s a Denny stop. Delete the LQA leg w/ the improvements you spoke of Matt and all of those will add up to a MUCH more efficient RR. Then when off board payment gets implemented it only gets better. Then add in the stops (hopefully) in Pioneer/SODO when the viaduct comes down and it will be a great line.

      5. Moving the LQA stop down to Denny is a terrible idea for the same reason dp complains about RR missing the Ballard core. It misses the dense areas completely. Some will walk half a mile uphill, but it seems penny wise, pound foolish to me. Drive and pick them up – it isn’t even very far out of your way.

        The real answer is to make this detour fast and easy, not skip one of the most dense areas in Seattle completely.

      6. Matt, how many other routes serve Queen Anne Avenue N from downtown?

        Versus how many other routes serve 15th Avenue NW?

        Lower Queen Anne isn’t dependent on RapidRide. Ballard is.

      7. I have a feeling it works the other way. To get numbers, Rapid Ride is dependant on LQA.

        There are other routes that serve LQA. But we’d like to head toward a corridor model, not a 1-seat-ride to the suburbs model. Taking the 18 and 15 away from LQA makes frequency significantly worse, which is what happens when you serve each neighborhood with its own line rather than combining service.

      8. I have to echo what has already been said. Ridership is very high in LQA, a lot of RR’s ridership comes from there.

        And you have no idea the state of LQA. We lost lots of service with the advent of RapidRide, and now rely heavily on it.

      9. Are we trying to make our transit miss core areas? You complain about it missing Ballard and then want it to miss LQA. Matt says it all, building a system that needs to reinvent the wheel each time it serves a neighborhood is not a very efficient system.

      10. If you’re fighting about “where the bus goes” when there is no path to improve it, but there IS a path to get a train, you’re wasting time.

      11. I wouldn’t say wasting time. Cause while the rail projects and future transit projects are of utmost importance to me, and I am sure others, now also matters. I can’t cash in my life today for 20 years in the future. I have to live now. So they need to make improvements, and we need to fight for the rail above all else… but we still have to argue and fight for the services we have now.

        Man do I love Seattle, but if we have to completely mortgage today to get something 20 years from now then I will probably just move to a city who already has their shit together. I am not buying a car to live in Seattle…. even though it’s so cool to drive your car here…

        But in the end I agree, we are trying to squeeze something out of a bus that just doesn’t exist, not here with our road infrastructure. Grade separation the only thing that will get us reliability and speed that we need and that so many seem to magically think will happen if LQA is not a part of RR.

    5. I’ve always found it ironic that the Denny-Elliott routing is considered close enough to Seattle Center for Magnolia buses but not for Ballard buses. Are Ballardites more likely to go to Seattle Center than Magnolians and Greenwoodites? And I’m pretty sure the Uptown deviation is because of Seattle Center and its extraordinary transit draw, not because of LQA as a whole. If Seattle Center weren’t there, the Ballard bus probably wouldn’t be there either.

      Although, and somewhat contradictory to my previous point, the issue of whether the D should go through Uptown is not just about whether other downtown-Uptown services exist, but also about the Ballard-Uptown connection and how many people use it. I assume it’s a significant number but not overwhelmingly high. One use for it currently is to transfer to the 8, although that may not be true forever.

      I went from being anti Uptown deviation to being neutral about it. But if it does exist, then yes it should be faster.

      Finally, what we ultimately need is a Ballard subway with a station in Uptown and another under Queen Anne & Boston. That would mop up a lot of the ridership on the 1,2,3,4,13 and D.

      1. Unlike the core of Lower Queen Anne, Seattle Center is easily accessible from Denny Way.

        If the deviation is intended to serve Seattle Center, then there is no reason to perpetuate the deviation.

      2. I should clarify my statements on RapidRide:

        RapidRide should not deviate to serve Lower Queen Anne.

        It should also not make half the stops it makes north of Lower Queen Anne (in particular, it should not stop between NW 85th and NW 65th Streets, and it should not make half the stops on 15th Ave W between Prospect and Dravus).

        It should not be through-routed with the C Line. Or at least a large number of peak trips should turn around downtown.

        The 15 Express should be deleted. RapidRide’s hours should be cut back to 6am–7pm and the 15 local should be restored, complete with LQA deviation.

      3. Kyle S., in other words, you just want the old service but with weekday midday 15 Local trips converted to Express.

        I can’t think of a more horrible idea. That results in completely different service patterns during each of the periods of the day. The whole goal here, which we’re moving towards slowly in fits and starts, is to have predictable, consistent corridors that are easy to understand and use. We can argue over whether RR should serve LQA or not, but it needs to be consistent and frequent during its entire span of service.

      4. Both Elliott and LQA need service along that vague corridor – my guess is that the needed service levels for Magnolia and the more direct route downtown just match up better.

        There -is- now some Interbay overlap with the 32 – that was lacking previously. But at the same time, I’m not sure the Interbay stops are really slowing things down that much compared to people parking in the bus lane or whatever.

      5. And I’m pretty sure the Uptown deviation is because of Seattle Center and its extraordinary transit draw, not because of LQA as a whole. If Seattle Center weren’t there, the Ballard bus probably wouldn’t be there either.

        This can’t possibly be true, can it? It strikes me as wildly implausible. As many have pointed out, LQA is full of people who ride buses. The Seattle center just sits there most of the time, a large chunk of underutilized space with occasional festivals and WNBA games.

      6. I doubt the Center has anything to do with RR, but it’s not empty space that just sits around. There’s a constant buzz of activity there. I was there just yesterday. Went to see the IMAX butterfly movie with family, and met before had to eat dinner.

        Checking out the schedule, just today there’s two theatre performances, an opera, silkscreening classes, a government records convention, and seven museums*. Plus the standard fountain, space needle, monorail, center house, etc. And that’s a light day. You really should check the place out more.

        * science center, EMP, sci-fi, childrens, king tut, video arcade, glass

      7. The only reason the transfer from D to 8 has any potential to make sense is because we’re wasting time on the D to deviate to LQA in the first place. If the D-line went straight into downtown, a transfer there to the 10, 12, 43, or 49 would probably be just as fast as the transfer to the 8 is today, once you consider time spent waiting at the bus stop or sitting in traffic on Denny. In a few years, the transfer from a D-line that goes straight to downtown over to Link at Westlake will unquestionably be faster than a transfer from today’s D-line to the 8.

  3. Nobody put rapid ride money in this city budget. We can build support for that next year if you want to work on it. We have support for these projects now. We have an opportunity now. Keep your eye on the ball.

  4. ST3 cannot win at the ballot box on the promise of ‘Finishing the Job’ as a campaign slogan with trains to Everett, Tacoma and Redmond (BART II). There isn’t a majority of support for those, and the critics will have a field day with empty 4-car trains running to the extremities of the system (which is another reason to go in 2016 before Ulink opens with what could be disappointing ridership numbers initially).
    ST3 needs a healthy majority from Seattle voters to pass.
    Ben has it right. While I could argue the merits of the TMP project list all day, I can’t argue the need to get local pols committed to funding local transit projects and having a pallette of projects for ST3 to choose from.

    1. We can help ST build suburban trains people will ride, in the interest of preserving broad political support for a ST3 package that will help Seattle priorities.

      There is all-day demand and heavy peak demand in the 99 corridor from Federal Way. Maybe the Tacoma extension is too much, but Federal Way can work.

      Instead of Redmond, how about beginning the I-90 line that’s in ST’s long-range plan? You’d get absurdly high peak ridership from Eastgate, at least.

      And it’s time to reawaken the proposal to split Central Link after RBS and go to Southcenter, with extensions in mind to either Renton or Kent.

      Any of the above would garner substantial suburban votes.

      1. There is nothing in Federal Way.
        There is nothing in Federal Way.
        There is no substantial all-day demand from Federal Way.
        There is no demand whatsoever to Federal Way.
        There is nothing in Federal Way.
        There is never going to be anything in Federal Way.
        Even ST’s best numbers show almost no one using the line from Federal Way.
        Very few suburban proposals meet the threshold of “trains people will ride”.
        That’s just fact.

      2. So are RR A and all those full 177/178/577/578 buses just a hallucination?

        There is no downtown in Federal Way. There are still a whole lot of transit users. Some are too poor to drive, while others drive from the nearby suburbs.

        Can Federal Way fill trains by itself? No. Will it be just as well used as other destinations along the line? Sure, especially at peak hours.

      3. No, it will be better used at commuter peaks. Which is, of course, never a good justification to build a full subway line.

        But it won’t be “as well used as other destinations”, because it’s unbelievably far from anything else, and has no counter-commute demand whatsoever.

        That’s like saying Concord BART is as well-used as Berkeley. It’s just false!

      4. ST3 needs to repeal subarea equity and split North King from Seattle. Then maybe we’ll see actual transit improvement in the places where people live.

      5. The ST “North” sub area is 90% Seattle. Shoreline is on Seattle City Light and water. What fundamental difference would pushing it and Montlake Terrace into the East sub area make?

      6. There’s no path to changing Sound Transit’s subareas. Touching the Sound Transit enabling legislation would create a lot of risk of other very bad changes happening at the same time – legislative changes tend to be a tradeoff.

        Subarea equity will remain in ST3, and that means we’re going to have money in Seattle (which is most of North King) to build transit. We’ll need the right sizes of project to fill that gap. We might have enough for grade separated rail, but if we don’t, we need other projects. The TMP is providing those.

      7. I don’t think I could vote for a package that extends Link further into the suburbs, but does nothing for Seattle except produce another a glorified streetcar. A cross-town subway line from Ballard to the U-district, or connecting Ballard->Fremont->Queen Anne->downtown I could vote for. But if it’s simply a matter of blowing another $150 million on another First Hill Streetcar project, I would vote no on the hopes that ST would come up with something better to put on the ballet for a future year.

    2. Meh. I couldn’t disagree more fully.

      Folding all of the silly TMP lines onto ST’s “options table” is a really good way to ensure that the dumb “BART II” plan in the suburban sub-areas is offset with an equally dumb “Streetcar 4 You” plan in the city.

      And that’s a great way to get Seattle voters to oppose an initiative. After having been burned repeatedly with transit initiatives that promised much and delivered little, no Seattle voters will support something that is obviously a poor choice, that will do little to enhance their mobility or provide them a congestion-free option, that they’ll clearly never use because it sucks.

      The “something, anything” voting block is not as large as many on STB seem to think.

      At best, throwing some shitty lines on the table makes it more likely you’ll wind up with those shitty lines. At worst, you’ll end up with nothing.

      1. The only way to win is to make yourself part of the voting bloc of something. Right now it appears that you are in the votin bloc of nothing, because you take issue with everything.

      2. Everyone here would love to build a subway to Ballard and possibly beyond, and do it as soon as possible.

        What we don’t love is coupling it with shitty projects that could undermine that goal just because we have money lying around or because a bunch of people who don’t know shit about transit say so or because we think we need to agree to every transit project someone suggests.

        If we don’t have enough money to build the subway, and there is no way to stretch the money to get remotely close, then maybe we can spend the money on improving RapidRide and improving transit in areas the subway would serve. Maybe that means improving the SLUT, extending it to the U-District, extending the FHSC to Aloha, and upgrading Madison for BRT. Maybe.

        But if we spend too much time talking about “making perfect the enemy of the good”, we’ll never get to the point where we can afford the acceptable. No matter what, money spent on shitty lines is money not spent on non-shitty lines.

        Ideally, we support anything Sound Transit can do to improve transit in North King in ST3 (and by that I mean actually improve transit), and if there’s not enough for real urban rail where it’s needed, then the City of Seattle, if necessary, goes to the polls itself to help fill the gap.

    3. All the suburban extensions will be outside the North King subarea, and most will be outside King County. So it’s really up to the suburbanites to decide how much they want these extensions. And it’s up to ST not to include projects that don’t have sufficient subarea support. There are alternatives to extending Link. Tacoma is already mulling over streetcar lines. Snohomish could have a really good feeder system to Lynnwood station. ST could take over Swift, fill in the frequency lapses and Sunday service, and add another Swift line or two. Snohomish could even consider streetcars in Everett and Lynnwood. The Redmond extension is only a couple miles so no big deal.

      As for Issaquah Link, I doubt construction will be funded but planning might be. There are too many big questions about the routing. It can’t go into the DSTT due to capacity. So would it be a shuttle to South Bellevue? Would it go to Bellevue TC via South Bellevue, or via a new track on 405? One way would prioritize Issaquah-Seattle trips, while the other way would prioritize Issaquah-Bellevue and Issaquah-Eastside trips. Which is more important? Shouldn’t we be discussing this in the context of a transit master plan for the Eastside? Maybe ST should study that first rather than building an Issaquah line in isolation. How would Issaquah Link interact with a future north-south Eastside line? I could see all lines sharing the East Link track between South Bellevue and Hospital (for East Link, Issaquah Link, and 405 Link.) I could also see Issaquah Link extending north to Kirkland until 405 Link is ready.

      Of course, the Eastside could also eschew Issaquah Link in favor of something else, maybe more ST Express between Issaquah, Bellevue, and Kirkland, and let’s not forget Renton. Maybe a streetcar in Bellevue or Bellevue-Kirkland?

      1. If Sound Transit were remotely interested in transit master planning, Link in Snohomish County would never be considered along any route other than 99. The time for planning a Link system was before ST1.

        I could see Issaquah Link going all the way to North Seattle along either 520 or across a new Kirkland bridge.

      2. Actually, if we had sat all the stakeholders at a table a long time ago and laid out a vision for the region’s transit future at all levels, we wouldn’t have the figurehead of the Seattle Subway movement telling us to accept every crap proposal every politician with zero transit knowledge has come up with lest we end up with “nothing”.

  5. Link to Everett and Tacoma seems like the wrong tool for the wrong job … better suited to heavy / commuter rail. Let Sound Transit do what they need to do to get more funding, though. “Seattle for Seattle” in the meantime.

    Agree with your priorities for the city. Thanks for representing transit interests with the City.

    1. Everett commuter rail is abysmal, because it doesn’t go through the urban centers between. Link is probably a good idea. Sure, it’s not as cost effective as it could be, but it’s MORE cost effective – a lot more – than Sounder.

      We’re going to build everything. I appreciate your support! :)

      1. Think about this: you’re going to need Amtrak to Everett and onwards to British Columbia.

        But that coastal route is a bear.

        Maybe it’s worth it to actually find a new Amtrak route to Everett and run Sounder on it? Expensive, but any more expensive than Link?

      2. If we’re already building Link to Lynnwood, it’s not that much further to Everett. And Everett does have a decent population center to justify. It would be a faster and more reliable way to get downtown than the Sounder, so more commuters would ride it too. I could absolutely get behind a proposal to get rid of the Sounder north and use the money saved to fund Link to Everett.

        Issaquah, on the other hand, I think is probably better served with buses, although more frequent buses would definitely be nice.

      3. it’s not that much further to Everett.

        It’s the same distance as Central Link DT Seattle to the airport. Creeping featurism would be the kind way to describe it. Ah, but what’s a few billion.

      4. I looked at the map and I will admit Everett is a bit further north than I thought. Maybe it would be cheaper to just build a 20-story parking garage in Lynnwood (with a direct ramp to the freeway) and let everyone in Everett just drive there.

      5. To be clear, I am joking about this. Link to Everett is far more useful than trying to cram enough parking at Lynnwood for everyone in Everett to drive to.

      6. What about Ash Way? That would bring in the highish-traffic Alderwood Mall, and terminate at an existing P&R with businesses within shuttle distance. Then Everett-heads would “only” drive to 164th, and as a bonus their cars wouldn’t be filling the streets of downtown Lynnwood or crowding its P&R.

      7. “Think about this: you’re going to need Amtrak to Everett and onwards to British Columbia.

        But that coastal route is a bear.

        Maybe it’s worth it to actually find a new Amtrak route to Everett and run Sounder on it? Expensive, but any more expensive than Link?”

        Good luck finding the space for it further inland. Snohomish County near 99 and I-5 is sparse, but not that sparse.

  6. I have questions about ST3. Are we locked in to taxing the same amount for each region? Is this a taxing authority issue (i.e. we are taxing as much as we’re allowed by the state)? Is there any way to strongly increase Seattle’s contribution, to get all the way to a Seattle Subway?

    I personally could care less for the suburban pieces of ST3. If they want it, fine, but it does nothing to help our region. I’d prefer we set the ST3 plans on hold until our region grows, and start over with the Seattle Subway, bringing more service to existing density.

    On a side note, I’m happy to support the streetcar plan. We need to look at these projects as ands, not ors. We need streetcars and real BRT and subways (and gondolas, for that matter).

    1. Seattle can always give ST extra money to accelerate what it wants, as it’s doing now for Ballard rail planning. As to whether the tax rate has to be the same across subareas, I don’t know. I hope not but I have a feeling it might.

      1. The tax rate for ST does have to be the same across subareas. I’m interested in changing that at the legislative level, but we need to get our supporters to stop fighting over everything they can come up with before our signal to noise ratio will be high enough to be effective.

      2. I’m not “fighting over everything we come up with.”

        I’m just not buying that “everything we come up with” isn’t a horrible, horrible idea. Or that it won’t undermine our real goals.

        Yes, we want a subway, but we shouldn’t delude ourselves into thinking we have to agree to every transit idea cooked up by a crackpot on the City Council to get it.

  7. major improvements to the streetcar line on Westlake (likely making it more like Link than streetcar)

    So why have we never heard of this before?

    Oh, right, because it’s spatially impossible and is not going to happen!

    1. “Link”-like is impossible. Adding real TSP is not, except that the local paper would whine incessantly that giving the trolley priority constituted a “war on cars.” I think with proper TSP you could double the trolley’s average speed.

      1. Absolutely. And in the longer term it can have its own lane. But not until we have incrementally created transit to serve so many people that they are okay with that trade off.

      2. Get the exclusive lane FIRST. Once you let mixed traffic into a lane you never recover your speeds.

        If you have a road with multiple lanes each way, it probably used to have a streetcar in one or two of those lanes anyway. Get those lanes back ASAP. This is more valuable even than signal priority — and it’s also proven *EASIER TO GET* in most cities (look at the extreme difficulty in getting signal priority implemented in Toronto, for sample).

      3. Having a streetcar first share a lane, then given it its own lane in the future means you build the tracks once, then build the tracks a second time off to the side. I’d rather build the tracks just once and get the exclusive lane right the first time.

        There’s still the problem, though, of what to do about the Fremont bridge. Nothing short going tunneling underground is going to get you through that area quickly.

    2. I would like you to stop being negative. You’re impacting our ability to organize to ask for positive things – even things that you want. Saying “you can’t do that” over and over again convinces people who would come out to help that they shouldn’t. It hurts transit, badly. I beg you to stop typing these things – they are not productive. They don’t get you things that you want. They just hurt us.

      1. Thanks, Ben.
        It is clearly somewhat difficult for some readers to understand that excessive negativity about any one mode or route only hurts ALL transit. These decisions are, whether wisely or not, both political and “technocratic” – many want pieces of the pies and few should or can afford to fold their cards and go home if they don’t get exactly what they wish. All that said, our citizens need to participate much more and much earlier in the planning process for proposed changes in transit, and agencies need to increase their responsiveness when things go awry.

      2. Forgive me for thinking that facts and logic should have a place in a discussion of billion-dollar, hundred-year capital projects.

        I originally promised myself I’d stay off this thread. Really, I did.

        But if you keep on peddling false hope after false hope, propping up silly proposal after silly proposal, and continuing to embellish with thin-air suggestions of Link-izing Westlake to make it all work, then at some point reality is going to come smacking you in the face!

        Zealously shrieking that “we’re going to build everything!” — streetcars and subways and express Link and multiple Everett “vision” lines and gondolas and tilt-a-whirls — doesn’t just make you and this blog look un-serious. It does genuine harm to the chance of getting a effective project through when you’ve diluted voter goodwill with a bunch of middle-ground crap. It near-guarantees that crap is all you’ll ever get.

        Listen, I would love it if the Seattle Subway existed tomorrow, or even in 2050. But although you protest your “openness”, you can’t see any of it happening without mega-downtown tunnels and maintenance bases where you envision them. You have so grossly overestimated rail demand in this region that it’s unfathomable to you that 3-minute headway needs to Northgate and 6-minute headway needs to Lynnwood are a side-splitting overreach.

        I don’t doubt your sincere belief that limitless rail demand exists and limitless growth awaits the Puget Sound. You just happen to be wrong.

        And so you set up a false dichotomy between the grossly-par (downtown streetcars that will not move like Link) and the pluperfect (brand new tunnels to everywhere). We’re not getting both.

        I’m not standing in your way, Ben. Reality is.

      3. Hear, hear. I like transit, but I have no plan to vote for ST3 if Seattle just gets a streetcar line that won’t be much (if any) faster than the bus it replaces. That’s just not the best use of capital funds when we could instead be building real grade-separated rapid transit. Once we have Link going everywhere on the Seattle Subway map then I might see a place for building streetcars to replace the busier remaining bus lines, but not before.

      4. Let’s not assume ST will cave to a stupid streetcar until we see the proposal. ST didn’t chase the least-common denominator with ST1 or ST2, so why should it about-face in ST3?

      5. ST didn’t chase the least-common denominator…

        Your words will comfort me the next time I crawl up First Hill.

      6. Be glad it’s not like MAX running on the surface downtown, and going at a snail’s pace across the Steel bridge.

    1. DP -I am keen to see what (specific) suggestions you might have on improving transit in this region. Just to show that you aren’t anti-everything, that you aren’t living in the past, and that you aren’t completely without a vision for the future. Because sometimes, whenever I am reading your posts, I don’t get the sense that you know that Washington state is changing, that it is growing in population, so much so that it just got another congressional district. And in all likelihood, it will grow even more in the future as more people move to the Puget Sound region. We need a transit system that can accommodate all that growth, to steer people to choosing to live in urban areas.

      Do you have any ideas? And don’t give us platitudes.

      1. John & Lloyd,

        I support precisely one form of transit: that which actually works. That which actually makes it easier to get around. That which would convince a rational actor — not just a transit advocate or someone with a strong desire to be car-free, like myself — to use it.

        I won’t apologize for pointing out Seattle’s apparently pathological desire to flout all established principles of good transit service — subways with multi-mile stop spacing, transfer-oriented restructures with pathetic frequencies — or to get irrationally exuberant about projects and initiatives that accomplish nothing. I won’t apologize for having lived enough of my life in places where transit was a no-brainer to be able to spot a dysfunctional proposal faster than you can say “RapidRide is so frequent you won’t need a schedule”.

        I’ve been around this blog for a while, and I haven’t always been so cynical. I would love it if Seattle Subway came to magical fruition, which is why I find it baffling that its figurehead is out there promoting the very substandard streetcars that are going to undercut the subway proposal.

        Before Ben unveiled his “everything to everyone” railflog, I had thought long and hard about how best to achieve tangible and quantifiable mobility improvements without straining the limited tolerance for taxation that this region has shown. I strongly supported a couple of proposals that posited this was the best way to exponentially improve urban cross-transit with only 3 miles of tunneling.

        Unfortunately, certain obstreperous personalities can’t fathom interlining, because Northgate is the next Times Square and totally needs 3-minute service frequencies! The above, economical proposal got co-opted into a Seattle Subway line that’s 50% longer (and more expensive) just to serve another mall and a relatively small hospital. That’s precisely the sort of inflationary plan-creep that destroys your crucial mobility-per-dollar metric.

        I’ve been equally enthusiastic about the branching plan proposed by Mic and others, which looks to take advantage of the existing DSTT junction at Convention Place to somehow run a line under SLU, LQA, QA/Interbay, and Ballard. This would be far more expensive than a North Seattle Spur, yet still avoids shacking our next urban line to a massive new Second Ave tunnel. It’s an incredibly reasonable suggestion, which is why the “DSTT = full” demagogues wish to never see it get explored.

        Yes, Puget Sound is going to grow, and yes, Seattle is going to get denser. But we’re not going to double! We’ll never have the density of San Francisco, we’ll never have the metropolitan population of D.C. or the Bay Area, Eastlake and West Seattle will never look like swaths of Manhattan.

        So to the extent that the “we should have fast rail + slow rail + BRT + local overlays + more rail” True Believers base their visions (and their funding presumptions) on such miraculous growth, you can frankly ignore anything they say on the subject.

        In fact, my frustration with Seattle’s transit-envisioning cognitive dissonance is born of my knowing Seattle will grow: a reasonable estimate of the region’s growth is about 1/2 million new people over the next couple of decades. And yet we pursue transit plans so flaccid that a fully built ST3 is expected to capture barely a couple hundred thousand “new transit trips [one-ways]” in that same time. If our new transit is too fucking useless to absorb even a fraction of the increased demand, we’re setting ourselves up for permanent gridlock. So perhaps we need to question the ideologies used to build such uselessness.

      2. d.p.

        If your argument was that we should focus on Seattle Subway and not these streetcars I could respect that. But while you say you’re hopeful for SS’s success, you’re continuously flailing at it for its perceived defects. This is the problem!

        There’s a pretty advanced movement to build these streetcars. There’s a more preliminary but organized effort to build traffic-separated rail. You’ve chosen to find a problem with both of them, meaning your choice is “nothing.” That’s your prerogative, but it’s a weird way to go about getting good transit. If you’re holding out for a package that builds Ballard/UW and a bunch of buses elsewhere, which is what you come across as favoring, you’ll wait a long time. If the only option you’ll support is the one that ST’s engineers and planners suggest is impossible, whatever the absolute merits of your assessment, you’ll have a long wait.

        Do you really think Ben and the rest of SS would say no to a crosstown line if that’s what the planners and politicians said would work best? Would you rather be right about the viability of a downtown line or have some sort of rapid transit to Ballard?

      3. I have a lot of sympathies towards d.p.’s analysis of all this. I’m a choice rider with the option to drive. Ballard/UW subway is far and away at the top of my list of priorities because that segment is absolutely awful to drive regardless of peak or non-peak. N/S connectivity is comparatively quite good. It wouldn’t -need- to run through the DSTT to be incredibly transformative and useful to the whole area north of the ship canal. Link -actually- runs frequently enough that transfers aren’t an issue. Sure, connect the tracks so you can put a driver in and ship cars to a maint base when necessary, but…

        Most of the streetcar-oriented proposals or even N/S Ballard to Downtown are limited to no added value to me in comparison.

      4. I’ve been reading this blog for a while, and have just recently started commenting. In that time there are few things I’ve noticed.
        1) Thank god I’m not the only transit nerd in this town;)
        2) There are many insightful commentators and robust discussion of what makes transit effective

        However point three worries me.
        3) For some commentators there seems to be a lack of distiction between
        (a)saying “here’s what i think we should do”, and then going and DOING it and seeing if it resonates with residents and the powers that be. and
        (b) saying “here’s what i think we should do”, and then … thinking about it some more. To me this is intellectually dishonest. When someone does this they mean “here’s what i think YOU should do.”

        The difference is between building actual things in an actual city, and building perfect and imaginary things in Sim City 4. Love that game btw.

      5. “There’s a pretty advanced movement to build these streetcars. There’s a more preliminary but organized effort to build traffic-separated rail. You’ve chosen to find a problem with both of them, meaning your choice is “nothing.””

        If there is no way to kill the “rapid streetcar”, then I’m not going to stand in the path of the bulldozers if it weakens the political will to build a subway. I very much doubt that, because the only reason anyone is thinking about the “rapid streetcar” is because there ISN’T a subway, but I’m not going to tell them their short-sighted plan is a short-sighted load of crock, only that with their help we can make it unnecessary.

      6. I have no fundamental problem with a pro-subway, anti-streetcar position. I don’t agree with it, as I think they’re complimentary and mutually reinforcing. But you’d be right to be afraid that the streetcar would be watered down.

        What I have a problem with is transit advocates who slam Link, slam the streetcar, and slam Seattle Subway. That sounds suspiciously to me like anti-rail advocacy, as in “I oppose anything that could possibly be built.”

      7. The “powers that be” don’t know their streetcar ass from their light rail elbow, because none of them uses transit or has the slightest desire to use transit to get around.

        I dare you to put a streetcar plan — one that is honest about speed and frequency and ability to connect to other services and pricetag — before the voters. Rushing headlong into a defeat isn’t a laudable exercise.

      8. Honestly d.p. it sounds like you need to get in touch with the planners at ST. Its a good bet that 99% of the people who read this blog would be happy to support and vote for any plan of yours which addressed the communities transit needs, and was also fiscally and politically viable. Im talking straight to your heart. If you come up with something effective and workable I’ll back you up. So will a lot of folks here. And we will work together to get that done.
        Thats what Ben is doing with Seattle Subway. It might not be perfect, but it might happen. And he is absolutely right to not try to control technology, routing and stop spacing at this point. Telling a politican that you only want his vote and not his input never works. Telling ST you only want thier money and not thier input never works. We need this to actually work.

  8. So what is happening in the suburban subareas? In Seattle there’s Seattle Subway. Is there anyone in the other subareas pushing for more intra-area service rather than expresses to downtown Seattle? The reason there’s such a strong bias for Seattle expresses is that many suburbanites have accepted the idea of taking transit to Seattle to avoid parking fees and congestion, but they haven’t accepted the idea of taking transit for other trips. So Seattle expresses have a large advocacy group, and other destinations get neglected. But there are suburbanites who want more intra-subarea service and would use it if it were there, and would support a movement to implement it. But they haven’t been given that choice. The last CT reorg wasn’t it. The last CT reorg favored Seattle expresses because people didn’t want to lose existing service. But ST3 is about new funds, which could improve intra-subarea service without killing existing expresses. Then there could be a leisurely argument about converting some expresses to feeders rather than slashing-and-burning.

    I know that south Snohomishites are excited about Lynnwood station, not just for downtown commuting but for trips to the airport and other Seattle trips. And really, given Lynnwood’s location and size and relative density along that corridor, it makes sense. But Everett and Tacoma make less sense, and Seattle may be less central on their minds. So if somebody proposes a good alternative in those counties, it may garner some support, enough to give the ST board something to think about. I’ve made some suggestions in an earlier comment, but it really has to be championed by activists who live in those subareas.

    And south King County too. Extending Link to Federal Way is relatively cheap so we might as well do it. But maybe the Burien-Renton line should be postponed, in favor of some other all-day service in Kent and Renton. Have enough people petitioned ST as to why Federal Way gets so much all-day service when Kent is ignored? Rerouting the 578 may be unthinkable, but adding a route in central South King might be achievable.

    1. I really think that extending Link to Everett and Tacoma is a worthy goal. They would act as major anchors at each end of the line, taking care of the problem that systems like BART have with ridership petering out towards the terminus, especially at off-peak times. Tacoma is working on building a streetcar system that would provide excellent feeder service to a Link terminus at Tacoma Dome (although I think a Link tunnel all the way into Downtown Tacoma with far fewer stops than Tacoma Link wouldn’t be unwarranted) and Downtown Everett is quietly starting to grow, with several mid-rise projects under construction and developers claiming that they want to build 20-story buildings there in the next couple decades. Let’s plan our system for the polycentric region that we’re becoming!

      1. Richmond, California is an urban center with a great deal of similarity to Everett (and a near-identical population).

        Fremont, California is sprawl, but its population is nearly double that of Tacoma’s.

        BART ridership still blows.

        But, you know, facts…

      2. (Sorry, I misread. Correcting for the sake of factual accuracy. Fremont, California has a greater population than Tacoma, but not double. It does have more than double Everett’s population, however.)

      3. I agree with this. Extending Link to Everett, Tacoma, and Redmond (including the retirement of Sounder North upon the completion of the Everett extension), combined with the first key segments of the Seattle Subway (i.e. the Red Line) should be the main rail projects in ST3.

      4. I don’t see that Link to Tacoma makes sense — it has very poor ridership projections, because it will mainly be used by Tacoma-Airport traffic, and Sound Transit staff have noticed this. Everyone else will take either the extremely frequent express buses or Sounder. It’s impossible to replace the express buses with Link because it has lots of stops and is indirect. It’s potentially possible to replace them with Sounder, if it goes fast enough…. not that anyone has any plans to do that.

        Extending Tacoma Link to go through more of Tacoma, now that makes sense. Speeding up Sounder South needs to be done anyway, and it needs to run more frequently. There should be frequent Seattle-Tacoma expresses.

      5. Tacoma-Seattle trips are best served by intercity rail. Improvements to that line also improve Cascades and Coast Starlight. Sending light rail to Tacoma is a crock.

      6. The south sub-area should do a similar restructuring to what ST’s planning for the north sub-area and consolidate the 577 and 594 into one route during the off-peak, with increased frequency to compensate for the additional 7 minutes it would take to stop in Federal Way.

        For additional savings, once this happens, we can trim the 574 off-peak to operate non-stop between Tacoma and SeaTac only (don’t go all the way to Lakewood, don’t stop at Federal Way). The rationale here is the combined 577-594 would already cover the Federal Way->Tacoma traffic and the A-line can handle Federal Way->airport traffic (the A-line makes up for the stops along the way with increased frequency over the 574).

        Somewhere in doing this, of course, we would need to think about what to do about the 578 to avoid overserving Federal Way. Rerouting it to Kent and re-invest some of the savings extracted out of the 574 to boost frequency to every 30 minutes, at least as far as Auburn, seems like a reasonable solution to me.

      7. Extending Tacoma Link to go through more of Tacoma, now that makes sense.

        Now that I can get behind. Because Tacoma is precisely the size and span of a city where streetcars could actually work to their best potential, offering dramatic improvement in service quality and route legibility without fighting with big-city traffic volumes.

        This is your demographic analogue for Zagreb!

      8. The problem with Tac Link is the “stakeholders” have turne the route selection into a social justice agenda. I was meeting someone at the Tacoma Mall last weekend and the place is packed! But instead of tapping into the potential to connect people, shoppers even, to the DT core with a posh one seat ride on the rails the plan is to run it the opposite direction and wait, and wait… and wait some more for TOD to change the Destiny of the City.

      9. What did the stakeholders say? A social-justice agenda is the opposite of TOD gentrification. A “social justice agenda” generally means meandering milk runs. The poor know that TOD gentrification means they’ll get priced out of the neighborhood, and that going through an empty industrial area that people “hope” will have TOD in a decade does little for the poor.

      10. I don’t know Tacoma nearly well enough to comment on such specifics.

        My point was a more general one regarding size and form: Tacoma is an on-the-small-end-of-medium-sized, medium-density city where one could conceivably reorganize and improve the transit experience around a streetcar network that would carry the bulk of trunk trips within the urban area.

        Relying on mixed-traffic streetcars to do such heavy lifting in a city of Seattle’s size (post-Model T invasion) is unprecedented and monumentally stupid.

    2. I sent the following to ST.

      1) Support for the 2013 Service Implementation Plan, Link OMSF Plan, and Long-Range Plan.

      2) For Seattle in ST3, a Ballard – downtown subway, a Ballard – U-District subway, and a second downtown Link tunnel.

      3) For the other subareas in ST3, a choice between maximum Link on the one hand, and lesser Link and better intra-subarea transit on the other hand. ST could do this in the planning before the ballot measure. Give each subarea two or three proposals, and see which one gets the most support. Maximum Link would be Everett, Tacoma, Redmond, and Issaquah. Medium Link would be Ash Way, Federal Way, and Redmond. Minimum Link would be no extensions beyond ST2. Lesser Link would mean more of the other projects I suggested above:
      – Good feeders to Lynnwood TC from Everett, Mukilteo, and Edmonds.
      – ST take over Swift and fill in the frequency gaps.
      – Another Swift line or two.
      – Delete Sounder North, replace it with ST Express, and put the difference into accelerating the Lynnwood Extension.
      – Streetcars in Lynnwood, Everett, or Bellevue.
      – ST Express from Bellevue to downtown Kirkland.
      – More Issaquah-Bellevue service.
      – Upgrade the 169 and 180 to RapidRide (with full features), and extend the 169 to Rainier Beach station via MLK.
      – A Seattle-Kent or Seattle-Kent-Auburn ST Express, when Sounder is not running.
      – One or two of the Tacoma Streetcar lines.

      1. I agree with all of this, but I think the point Ben has been trying to make is that we’re not sure there are enough North King funds for even one of the projects in point 2, let alone all three, in a single package.

        Rather, I would support the following frameworks in ascending order of available funds:

        1) A Ballard spur off the existing Link line.
        2) A Ballard-downtown line in a new downtown tunnel.
        3) A Ballard-downtown and Ballard-U-District line, possibly connected to the Eastside to help it happen, depending on what the Eastside chooses.

      2. I’m aware of fund limitations; I’m just stating what I want. ST can decide whether they want it too and how much of it they can fund. I hope there will be funds for at least one complete line, otherwise it may not open for twenty years. (In which case, maybe we’d better get that streetcar now….)

        There’s also an apparent discrepency in cost which may hurt Seattle. Expensive tunnels in Seattle, and relatively cheap freeway-alignment extensions in the burbs. And if the burbs turn Link down and go for the smaller projects instead, that could scale down the total amount they’re willing to pay, making it less likely a Seattle line could be fully funded.

        A Ballard-Kirkland line would certainly help Kirkland’s circulation immensely, and it would fundamentally change Kirkland’s relationship to north Seattle in interesting ways. I find it hard to believe the Eastside would approve it in ST3: a second Lake Washington crossing would be expensive. On the other hand, if Kirkland really wanted it, it would be hard for the rest of the Eastside to say no to the largest city that was left behind in ST1 and 2.

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