Federal Way Transit Extension Study Area

Sound Transit has a 6-minute survey they would like you to take. More information below.

Sound Transit is kicking off the process for working with South King County communities on options for extending high-capacity transit service. The effort will help shape alternatives for building high capacity transit from South 200th Street to Kent/Des Moines, as well as a shovel-ready plan for reaching the heart of Federal Way.

This is the public’s first chance to weigh in on this key regional project. There are several ways to give feedback, by attending and upcoming open house, or by taking our survey by Monday, Nov. 19.

Over the next year, Sound Transit will analyze alternatives to expand high capacity transit from the future light rail station at S. 200th Street in the City of SeaTac to the Federal Way Transit Center.

This project is known as the Federal Way Transit Extension. Right now, Sound Transit is in the early scoping phase of the project and is seeking public input on what alternatives should be studied. This is your first opportunity to comment and become involved in this project. This survey should take approximately six minutes to complete.

41 Replies to “Federal Way Transit Extension Survey”

  1. Preferred Alternative adopted:
    7.4 miles along the W.side of I-5, with stops at.
    Midway/HHCC, elevated Stn, 2.3 mi from S200th on 12 Ac trailer trash site,w/1200 car P&R
    Star Lk P&R, elevated Stn, 2.1 mi from HHCC at current P&R, doubled in capacity to 1000 cars.
    Fed. TC, elevated, offset from bus bays, 3.0 miles from Star Lake.
    Total running, 7.4 miles
    Total Cost, 1.6 Billion
    Estimated Completion Date 2028 in ST3
    Estimated total New Riders 50,000 per day. (which ended up being a lot more than Hwy 99)

      1. I assumed that was the average new users using the system every day. Seems like a good way to look at it. How many riders would a Ballard train get (I know, subarea equity).

      2. Well yeah I think that is the daily average, but it would seem to me like it makes more sense to divide the construction cost out over 20 or 30 years worth of riders, which brings that $32,000 down in a hurry.

      3. No. It makes sense to acknowledge that you’re spending a huge amount of money, pulling an insignificant number of riders in perpetuity, and making no dent whatsoever in nearby traffic congeation (which is derived from trips that BARTLink cannot ever serve). It makes sense to understand that you achieve almost nothing, rather than to live in railtopic delusion.

      4. No one has commented on the cost per mile; I applaud building out your system, but someone needs to look at the cost of elevated track vs say Calgary (West LRT, where elevated/surface plus some cut/cover = $70m/mile). Land acquisition?

      5. For a daily rider for 20-50 years ? Actually, that seems pretty reasonable. Have you ever priced out roads? Do you know, for example, how much a driveway costs (often used by one rider per day)?

      1. It’s probably a lot cheaper. But it would probably also decrease the TOD potential around the stations a lot.

      2. It’s not. An SR-99 alignment would provide better access along the route to local businesses and expand TOD opportunities throughout the entire corridor. However, many vocal old-guard members of the community are anti-urbanity, and have decided that a train going through the lifeline of town would be ugly, not impressive or modern. These are the same voices that railed against the FWTC — a structure that is completely full by 7:50AM four days a week.

        The reality is that the greater community sees the value of modernity, but they simply do not have the voice or cachet that long-time homeowners get. The fact is that aligning light rail along the interstate puts it far from the areas that would receive the highest potential benefit.

        A reasonable compromise, in my opinion, and one that provides maximum value to both transit and commerce, would be to bring it down I-5 to reach Star Lake P&R, then hook it down 272nd and then down SR99 to reach Redondo Heights P&R, also bringing it within spitting distance of Redondo Village shopping center as well as a number of existing residential complexes, and some derelict storefronts that could use some serious upscaling.

  2. I saw something that said that the segment from 272nd St to Federal Way TC would cost around $2 billion. Why would three miles of elevated track along a highway with no intermediate stations cost as much as U Link? Or was that estimate just completely wrong and actually referring to the entire segment from S. 200th to Federal Way?

  3. I’m more interested in what comes next.

    Do they keep pushing south on that corridor to Tacoma?

    Or should they make a sharp turn and head to Kent Station or Auburn and connect with a (presumably by then more frequently running) Sounder.

    What is the long term plan for Sound by the way?

    Is it always going to be a commuter time run always? Or is there a day when it will be all day long? Or by then will LINK be doing its job on the same route?

    What’s the 30 year plan, in a nutshell?

    1. It makes eminent sense to me that the two Links be connected — or Linked, if you like — but it seems to be a far-flung ST afterthought.

      Of course, there’s the mind-numbing fact that the two systems are incompatible, despite the one having been the proof-of-concept for the other.

      1. No, they’re not related in any way other than name. Completely different systems; different voltages, different rolling stock, etc.

    2. Sound Transit long-range plan (2005).

      “Sound Transit will prioritize its light rail investment funds for the completion of the Everett-Seattle-Tacoma Link light rail system and the HCT system directly connecting Bellevue with that north-south rail spine.” (p. 12)

      The plan for Sounder South is more runs through the mid-day, but I don’t remember the exact frequency or times. I think it’s approximately hourly in the mid-day, with a longer gap in one direction after 10am, and a longer gap in the other direction after 1pm. Essentially borrowing runs from the lowest-use periods to get more runs into the peak. There may have been one evening run but I’m not sure about that. I don’t recall weekends; probably not.

      WSDOT plans to raise the track speed to 90 mph then 110 mph. I assume that would benefit Sounder.

  4. Personally, I think that there should be only 2 stations south of the airport:
    1. Federal Way
    2. Downtown tacoma

    All of the intermediate locations already have frequent transit: it’s called rapid ride. Rapid ride is 24/7, faster than a normal bus, and extremely frequent. Rapid ride is pretty good! It seems like a completely unnecessary over investment to build both a light rail system and a BRT system in the exact same corridor!

    However–we do need a rail system to replace the current 59x,58x,57x busses. They are already paralleling light rail for much of their trip. Getting these riders out of the I-5 traffic would be a much better improvement for a much larger # of riders than improving the riding time of current RRA riders.

    As we all know, Sounder cannot turn into the reliable, frequent connection from Tacoma because of conflict with freight rail. We need a dedicated rail corridor just for passengers between Tacoma, Federal Way, the Air Port and seattle.

    For comparison, RR A has 91 daily trips. The ST Express busses that would be partially or wholly eliminated by a Tacoma -> Fed Way -> Seattle link would be 185. The savings in terms of rider-hours would be far greater. However, if you increase the number of intermediate stations, you increase the travel time and thus eliminate the change you can truncate (or eliminate) all those 185 routes. Or, another way of looking at it: we would be choose to service Highline CC with high-speed, high-frquency rail service at the expense of Tacoma.

    1. Demand for extremely long-distance express rapid transit service is not suppressed by having a handful of extra stops at the total cost of a minute or two.

      Demand for extremely long-distance express rapid transit service is suppressed by the illogic of expecting large numbers of people to make long-distance trips starting at a small and economically troubled city (whose connecting local transit system is about to die), along a corridor with essentially zero pedestrian-accessible destinations or additional points of origin.

      Tacoma needs ten-minute high-capacity long-distance transit of any sort like I need a car elevator in my La Jolla mansion.

      replace the current 59x,58x,57x busses

      …Which all combined draw in a pathetic ridership that barely breaks 6 digits. Hardly an argument for billions in investments at any stop spacing.

      …faster than a normal bus, and extremely frequent. Rapid ride is pretty good!

      You pretty much discredit any other opinions you have on transit here. That said, there should be a commitment to actually making RapidRide what it was promised, so that those traveling medium-to-long distances along the corridor (finite in number as they may be; the corridor couldn’t be any less desirable for foot-accessed usage if it were designed by aliens from the planet Drive-Thru) actually have a reasonable, reliable travel option.

      1. Good to have you back and firing on all 8 cylinders.
        My initial post was intended as snarky for a)doing the planning years before they can build it, b) making a ridership claim as ridiculous as Lynnwood TC, and c) choosing the alignment – then making the numbers support the finding… and nobody called me on it.
        No fun at all.

      2. No one called you on it because they’re bored of you posting basically the same thing every chance you get. Do you ever voice your opinion at people who really matter? Or just anonymous people on a blog who have little input in to what gets built?

      3. So I don’t know the exact ridership numbers , but they can’t be that bad if they are running 185 trips/day. I’m sure that’s far more than the number that were replaced I’m RV.

      4. @mic: I pretty much figured you were being snarky and voiced my assent in silence.

        @d.p.: I bet RR A is more effective than RR D. At the very least, RR A was a significant increase in frequency compared to previous service.

        When Link starts taking over a bunch of RR A’s ridership, what happens to it? Does KCM really keep spending money for a 15-minute local shadow to light rail in an area that apparently has no interest in walkability? Here’s a BART-tacular analog: San Mateo County doesn’t do that along Highway 82 south from Daly City so if you have to get some place that’s not right at one of the BART stations it’s a long walk down an unpleasant road (the local routes do lots of winding through subdivisions, and really, since they have to serve the BART stations that aren’t on 82, they might as well act like BART feeders instead of a strong corridor service).

      5. (Of course, Highway 82 through Daly City at least has got to be loads more dense than Highway 99 south of the airport — Daly City might be more like the Rainier Valley, where we did some vague approximation of the right thing.)

      6. Stephen:

        You can look up route-by-route ridership in Sound Transit documents, though the numbers are reported as quarterly totals so you have to roughly estimate the number of weekdays per quarter and the percentage of trips taken on weekdays.

        Suffice to say that Sound Transit’s entire express bus network carries less than 40,000 on and average weekday. A huge chunk of that is cross-lake. The 59x series has been reported as totaling 5,000 weekday boardings. The 57x series boards fewer than that. The 586 barely registers. You’d be lucky if all combined break 10,000 one-way boardings on a good day (that’s 5,000 actual riders).

        For all its faults, Link between downtown, the urban Rainier Valley, and SeaTac is on track to eclipse the ridership of all Sound Transit’s other combined offerings. Citing “185 trips” is a little silly, when most non-peak trips have just a handful of riders.


        RR A was indeed a frequency improvement, and I have no objection to offering legible routes with usable frequencies in corridors where they can at least do some potential good. But it has been noted that the 100% frequency bump has been met with a mere 50% (or less) ridership increase.

        Corridors with (as you rightly say) no interest whatsoever in walkability will invariably have hard and immutable demand ceilings. That is the difference between city and suburb. In a city, the sky is the limit: get transit good enough, and it can become the predominant mode. On Pacific Highway, you permanently max out at below 10% modeshare. The geography and geometry just don’t support what is being proposed.


        Mic is just trying to prevent billions of dollars down the drain and the mother of all “told you so”s. It’s not so bad an aim.

      7. To d.p. and mic,

        While I understand your worries, I have to bring up a reality check. I know that you guys basically view yourselves as the “reality check bringers” of this blog so I hope you can keep an open mind about this one. It regards this statement

        “Mic is just trying to prevent billions of dollars down the drain and the mother of all “told you so”s. It’s not so bad an aim.”
        If that is truly what you are trying to do, you are going about it in a totally futile way. And I mean totally futile. That’s the reality check.
        Criticizing STs plans on a transit blog will NEVER influence STs plans in any way shape or form. If you want to save taxpayers money and “save” yourself from having to say “i told you so”, you are going about it the totally wrong way. Your goal actualization is so bad, that I suspect that you are misrepresenting your goals.
        I am suspicious because you are clearly intelligent people, and as such I assume you know that your tactics will never save a taxpayer a single dollar. But they will accomplish something.
        Blog posts like these ALLOW you to say “i told you so” if your dire predictions come to pass. I don’t think you want to avoid that situation. I think you’re looking forward to it. I think that THAT is your goal.
        Ego-stroking is not a mortal sin. But please don’t cloak it with false civic-mindedness.

  5. There is NO excuse for not running it elevated down 99. That’s what needs to happen for the future, and ST needs to stop acquiescing to neighborhood bitching.

    1. Yeah… it seems like ST goes out of its way to go along with people that don’t actually want transit to succeed.

      The whole point of transit succeeding is that it shapes development. Mass transit has historically always shaped development, and of course so have mass motorization and freeways. Anyone that doesn’t want areas around transit stations to become substantially more walkable honestly shouldn’t have a seat at the table in transit planning. They should discuss whether or not they want to build the thing or not, but once the decision is made to do it, the stakeholders are the people that want it to succeed.

  6. I like this. It would provide consistency in Seattle travel times.
    I live in Federal Way, and go to school at Highline Community College. It takes longer to take transit to Seattle from HCC than at Federal Way. It’s not terrible, just a bit inconvenient. But direct light rail access will make the trip faster for HCC, and maybe a little bit slower for Federal Way (Buses on I-5 can travel at up to 60 mph, although on the morning commute, interstate 5 is a joke. But the light rail can only travel at 50 mph, but that speed is VERY consistent).
    But if the extension gets completed, they can discontinue the 577. The 578 might stay the way it is now, because it provides connections to Auburn, Sumner, and Puyallup.

    1. Good think HCC and the surrounding area are optimized for pedestrian, and are in no way ensconced in a sea of parking lots that it intends to retain in perpetuity, huh?

      1. Maybe HCC can subsidize its education with revenue from leasing parking spaces to commuters. It was probably built with super-sized parking requirements much higher than what the school really needs, especially if it 10% or more of the students take the light rail.

      2. A number of present and former students have popped on STB to assure us all that HCC’s administration, faculty, parents, and students fully intend to run an autocentric campus now and forever.

        The parking moat isn’t going anywhere. 10% of the students are never coming by rail.

      3. Colleges have an interesting tendency to fill their parking lots with new high-rise buildings.

        (This is often actually a bad idea, because it’s part of the tendency to spend all the college’s money on buildings and as little as possible on actual education. But it is a tendency.)

      4. Nathanael,

        For your consideration.

        And the administration’s disinterest in entertaining even a hint of reorientation toward the proposed rail station (lower right corner of the image, next to the gas station) has been well documented here.

      5. I don’t think a 10% transit mode-share if a rail line goes right there is unreasonable. A lot of students don’t have a lot of money and car insurance for a person under 25 is extremely expensive. Even in very auto-oriented cities, the mode-share for transit is usually a fair bit higher for college campuses than the city in general.

        I do agree with you, though, that the transit mode share among faculty and staff is probably going to be a lot less than 10%.

  7. comment on Al Dimond re BART through Daly City – BART seems to have an unwritten rule that stations shall be named for places it doesn’t really take you to. Daly City, South San Francisco, San Bruno are not in the old commercial cores of any of those places. (Same for North Concord/Martinez, Pittsburg/Bay Point, Dublin/Pleasanton). About all you can say is the stations sit somehwere in the uneasy territory between old downtowns and freeway suburbs. Colma serves nearly the same market as Daly City, except for better freeway access. Cemeteries and odd subdivisions make El Camino Real (Hwy 82) a cut-up corridor to begin with, and a lousy pedestrian environment. Plus BART is grade-separated, heavy rail, so isn’t agile enough to go through old commercial cores without disrupting them to death. Though Link trains are much shorter/lower capacity, light rail that can act like heavy rail from time to time is a better approach than what BART does full time.

    If you dissect SamTrans’ schedule for frequent lines 7 days a week, it boils down to just the El Camino Real lines. (Peninsula corridor with more frequent stations and smaller, more frequent light rail might help revive El Camino Real and SamTrans in ways that BART never will. As an old boss of mine said, trying on a new phrase, “that’s all water over the bridge” and has been blogged on and mulled over by transit bloggers smarter than I.

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