Potential Approaches for Sound Transit

With corridor studies for rail from Downtown Seattle to Ballard and extension of Link south to Federal Way both moving forward next year, it looks likely that the Sound Transit board will move to accelerate planning work necessary for development of a Sound Transit 3 (or ST3) package. Yesterday, much of the board met at a workshop to answer three main questions:

  1. How aggressively should ST push forward planning work such as corridor studies and the Long Range Plan update?
  2. Should ST continue to focus on the light rail “spine” as their primary goal?
  3. Should ST engage state level transportation funding and authorization issues?

You can see all of the meeting documents here. For those interested in background, I would suggest reading this.

On the first question, there was a general desire among the board members in attendance for a more aggressive schedule than what ST is currently pursuing. Three planning processes were presented to the board:

  • Status Quo – would continue the status quo and take 8-12 years
  • Corridor Study – would initiate accelerated corridor planning followed by the Long Range Plan update taking a total of 6-10 years
  • Jump Start – would incorporate corridor studies in the Long Range Plan cutting the total planning timeline to 4 years

Many board members felt that the more aggressive planning schedule, the Jump Start, was preferable – including WSDOT chair Paula Hammond, who said she’d like to see ST3 as soon as possible so it can be integrated with WSDOT’s planning. Some board members had reservations about shooting for a 2016 ST3 package and felt that a 2020 package was more realistic. Not only would 2016 be a very tight planning window, but it would also mean that voters in the region would be asked to vote ST3 before Lynnwood Link and East Link construction were clearly visible. The tight planning window could also complicate the process of getting additional funding authority from the state (more on that later).

The second question, should ST’s highest priority be completing the light rail “spine”, was a bit of a confused discussion. Board members from the Snohomish, East King and Pierce subareas appeared to take as a given a continued focus on the spine, but board members from the North and South King subareas were more open to revisiting the question. In North King, this discussion needs to continue, as the North King subarea (primarily Seattle) has already fully funded its portion of the spine.

To expand the currently funded Link system to Everett, Tacoma and Redmond will take billions of dollars. Since taxing must be uniform across the Sound Transit taxing district and funds must be used in the subareas where they are raised, the North King subarea will essentially end up spending all of its money on non-spine projects. For context, the Snohomish, Pierce and South King subareas combined will collect about $5.3 billion from 2012 to 2030 while North King will collect $3.3 billion by itself over the same period. Basically, if an extension of the spine to Everett and Tacoma requires an additional $5.3 billion in revenue, North King would generate some $3.3 billion in revenue to be spent on  high capacity transit corridors (or some as yet identified projects).

Mayor McGinn stressed that while Seattle doesn’t plan to “go it alone”, Seattle has a greater appetite and ability to fund high capacity transit than the rest of the region and that needs to be kept in mind.

Implicit in the above discussion was that the present board members see ST3 as another large capital package, not an incremental package that simply extends existing authorization. Existing taxing authority through 2030, if extended by voters, would only be able to support an additional $1.2 billion region-wide. 2008’s ST2, by comparison, was a $17+ billion dollar package, although it will only raise closer to $14 billion now due to the recession.

The board viewed this as a bit of a chicken and egg problem. Sound Transit needs the state to grant additional taxing authority, but many board members felt this was unlikely unless Sound Transit has a clear scope of projects. At the same time, until ST knows how much authority they can ask for, they will have a hard time identifying those projects. Whether they can get authority from the state to ask voters will remain an open question. Either way, the board members present agreed that the best way forward is to accelerate ST3 planning to the middle “Corridor Study” option.

The full Sound Transit board will meet early next year to continue discussing these issues. They will still have time to accelerate to the fastest, “Jump Start” option.

162 Replies to “Sound Transit Board Wants To Accelerate ST3 Planning”

  1. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t do the planning as fast as possible anyways. Taking 8-12 years just to plan something is ridiculous and I don’t think would be acceptable in any other city.

    1. I’m with Zed. Even if the 42016 timeline is “tight”, we should at least be aiming for it.

    2. I agree. Let’s go with the Jump Start. Do the planning, put it to the voters ASAP. If it fails, come back every year until it’s approved. Although, it’s an easy sell. It will pass the first as a standalone measure. And, in the plan, let’s focus on the best possible utilisation of the existing spine for service extensions within Seattle and the North Subarea.

    3. Zed, that’s normal in almost any city. Once you see how many agencies and organizations, from local to federal, have to be involved in that planning, and the processes that are required largely by federal law, it really does just take that long.

      1. By spending money faster. Politicians don’t spend money faster unless they’re under pressure to.

      2. If you decide to approach it that simply, you can’t be effective at working to improve it. Why would you decide to have a semantic argument with me when they’re actually debating this nuance?

      3. I just don’t understand why you would say “it just takes that long,” when it clearly doesn’t have to. Forgive me for daring to not just let your criticism of my comment pass. I’ve been following the planning and building of rail projects across the country since the late 80’s, and it is absolutely not normal for planning processes to take as long as they do here.

      4. Ben, can we say that that speed of planning would not have been acceptable in Stalin’s Russia or Augustus’s Rome or Napoleon’s France, or the US in 1776, or the US in 1860, or any other country *in a hurry*, and leave it at that? :-)

      5. It wouldn’t be acceptable in the US even in the 40s, and it certainly wouldn’t be in some other countries now…but we can do it faster, and still do it better and more safely than say, China.

      1. I think Zed had a valid point about the absurdity of taking “8-12” years just to plan something. I don’t think we should be thinking about ST3 yet anyway – not until we have more of ST2 up and running.

      2. Many of the past projects here have been purely reactionary and based on popularity. Case & Point…the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement. For the longest time, we were waffling between a cut/cover tunnel or a new viaduct. Then…the most expensive option imagined came about and it seemed that just about everyone got on the bandwagon to push the project with no plan forward.

        Additionally, the planning process has drastically evolved from the 90s requiring significantly more analysis from benefit cost based on delay reduction, lifecycle cost and more-recently crash reduction cost benefits. The crash reduction cost/benefits were established in the recently released Highway Safety Manual.

        Transit planning is even more squishy as communities may transition and improve before transit is constructed. Additionally, this may result in NIMBY-ist ideologists which may push alignment changes or derail an entire light rail project. Look how long it took to get Sounder in Lakewood? Look at the complaints of noise in the Valley from Central Link.

  2. If it’s decided that Tacoma doesn’t get a light rail extension in ST3, then there is a lot of Pierce County capacity for “non-spine” projects. I recall the revenue capacity for Pierce simply with ST2 to be over a billion dollars.

    1. Looking at the state of Pierce Transit, extending Tacoma Link until it’s a comprehensive streetcar network (spreading out from the Sounder station) may be the best thing for the city.

  3. This might be a naiive question, but can someone explain why Light Rail as far south as Tacoma and north as Everett is necessary? If it already takes 30 mins to get from the airport to downtown Seattle, how would light rail from Tacoma to Seattle be viable? Would there be express trains? Why not just put more funding into better Sounder service?

    1. There are some institutions in Tacoma that would throw a fit about losing light rail from Sea-Tac to Tacoma – the News Tribune for one, the Chamber of Commerce for the other. However, I agree with you, operationally it doesn’t make any sense. ST Express service is faster (in most cases). Congestion is not proving as much of an issue in impacting that service as the projections from WSDOT said they would. Sounder service does offer an alternative.

      If you ask most people in Tacoma, they’d rather see a significant expansion of our own rail system within the city if the timeline for a light rail connection to Federal Way and Seatac is not viable until the mid 2030’s.

      1. I like that. Tacoma shouldn’t be a suburb of Seattle, it’s big enough and far enough to be its own city. I’d much rather they build up their own urban rail than connect all the way to Seattle.

      2. Between Tukwila (Sounder) and Tukwila Blvd (Link), why not run an elevated circular (gondola)? Instant rail from Sea-tac to Tacoma.

    2. Rail to Tacoma wouldn’t have the super annoying Rainier Valley detour. You’d hit KDM, Star Lake, Federal Way, perhaps Fife/Port of Tacoma, and then you’d be at the dome. From KDM to at least 348th a surface alignment is not feasible, so it would most likely be elevated, and thus able to do 55+ MPH.

      1. Rail to Tacoma would bypass the ridership core of Rainier Valley. You’d start in downtown Seattle, go through SODO, then go straight to Tacoma with just a few random P&R stops in between. Walkability is for hippies, speed is KING.


      2. “Rail to Tacoma would bypass the ridership core of Rainier Valley. ”

        The Section 8 Express!

    3. It’s not naive! You’re just making the endpoint fallacy. Most of the people taking light rail to and from Tacoma wouldn’t be from Seattle, they’d be from Federal Way, Des Moines, Fife, and the airport.

      1. Carl, Ben is making what’s known as the “imaginary midpoint demand fallacy”.

        Reality check: Pretty much no one is using BART to get from San Leandro to Fremont. Just because the line passes through two random places does not mean it serves much use between those two places.

        Chances are that those who do travel from San Leandro to Fremont don’t even use the thing, because both places are mired in sprawl, a tiny percentage of destinations are contained in downtown Fremont, and access to the line is inherently awful thanks to development geometry.

        Des Moines to Tacoma would be exactly the same phenomenon. (And Fremont is actually a bigger city than Tacoma. Yes, really.)

      2. It’s up to Tacoma to create more destinations that people in Des Moines and Federal Way want to go to.

      3. The worst part is that there will be no appetite in our area for $6 one-way fares like BART has for some of its longer trips. Sound Transit will be under pressure to cap Seattle-Tacoma fares at $3.75 or $4. So the money pit will be even deeper.

        And sub-area equity, if I am not mistaken, applies only to revenue by taxation. The agency is free to offset low fares in one area with inflated fares in another.

        I can totally see in-city subway fares being inflated to a very-high-by-the-standards-of-anywhere $2.75-$3 in order to keep long-distance fares artificially low.

        Wasteful regional folly does not exist in a vacuum.

    4. I always get a chuckle out of arguments like this.

      Whenever ST and/or Metro propose improved service or increased infrastructure spending in Seattle they immediately get criticized for being too “Seattle-centric.”

      But as soon as they propose extending a bit ticket item like Link into an adjacent county that project gets criticized for not getting people into and out of Seattle quick enough.

      So what is it? Do people care most about getting into/out of Seattle efficiently? Or do they not want to go to Seattle at all?

      1. People care about finding “problems” with projects so that they can feel good about convincing themselves to oppose accepting taxes.

    5. I think I made a mistake when I said earlier that Link to Federal Way and Tacoma would have a significantly worse travel time than ST Express and Sounder. The airport is 35 minutes, and it’s 1.5 – 3 minutes between stations. Assuming 2 minutes, that would put it in Federal Way in 47 minutes, and (without measuring precisely) Tacoma Dome in a bit over 60 minutes.

      The Rainier Valley detour is ~10 minutes, which is significant for Westlake-SeaTac, but has less overall impact for longer distances. My mistake was believing the 577 took 20 minutes to Federal Way when it actually takes 37+. I must have counted the freeway entrance-to-exit time rather than Pine Street-to-FWTC.

      So Link will probably end up being within 10 minutes of ST Express and Sounder, or maybe like 12 at the worst. We can cover that gap with peak-only expresses and let Link take over off-peak. Thus it is realistic to delete the 577, replace the 594 and 574 with a Lakewood-Tacoma Dome route, and truncate the 578. (That could free up South King hours for a Kent route.)

      1. Also, the DSTT travel time has room for improvement. It takes 10 minutes daytime but I’ve seen it down to 1.5 minutes in the evening (after discounting delays caused by buses). When buses get kicked out, it’ll shave five minutes off the travel times to SeaTac, Federal Way, and Tacoma.

      2. I think the 578 should still go Puyallup-Sumner-Auburn-Federal Way-Seattle, for the sake of connecting Federal Way to the existing south destinations.

      3. Run all the super-expresses and build all the insanely wasteful bypasses you want; you’ll never get Seattle-Tacoma down to a “quick trip” any more than you will SF-San Jose. It’s urban-transit technology, and it just doesn’t do that.

        The supposed need for “spontaneous travel” frequencies for extremely long trips is a joke. A many-billion-dollar joke.

        Meanwhile, it still takes 60 minutes to crawl across San Francisco proper, and it takes 75 minutes to get from Ballard to Capitol Hill. Which makes the above joke that much sicker.

      4. Logically that makes sense, although i’d be careful with over an hour running time downtown-downtown. its been my expiercence when choosing modes what the duration of the trip is, and if its over an hour i tend to drive more (unless im going to downtown seattle).

      5. Ballard to capitol hill is not 75 minutes. It’s slow, but not that slow. Even allowing 30 minutes from Ballard to downtown, you could walk to capitol hill from there and still do better than 75 minutes total.

        The only way Ballard->Capitol Hill could take 75 minutes if if the Ballard->downtown leg takes at least an hour. The only way I could see this happening is if you get caught in a huge event at key arena letting out. In which case you could get off the bus and walk from Seattle Center (or maybe catch an 8 if Denny is somehow moving and you get very lucky) and you’re still better than 75 minutes total.

      6. Poor scheduling, cascading lateness, and a terrible transfer have long made 75 minutes the “necessary scheduled trip time” from Ballard to Capitol Hill any time between 5:30 and 7:30 pm.

        Meaning that if you need to be on the Hill by a certain precise time, you had better be freaking sure to be sitting on a bus 75 minutes earlier.

        That’s even if you intend to spend the last 20 minutes of your journey walking uphill.

        The 40 has actually improved inbound scheduling and reliability a bit, so it might not be so bad in the counter-peak as it used to be.

        On the other hand, your effective return home from Capital Hill is 75-90 minutes or worse:

        – Wait up to 30 minutes; then spend a very long time on a through-routed 43-44; or
        – Walk 20 minutes downtown; take a half-hourly “RapidRide”; walk an additional 10 minutes to Actual Ballard; or
        – Bus downtown; who knows how long you’ll be stuck there.

        Sadly, 75-minute windows for that trip are hardly out of the ordinary.

      7. Based on my wife’s experiences (working on Cap Hill, living in Fremont), d.p. is more right than wrong. If you have to be there you have to leave early.

      8. While I still think you’re exaggerating things a little bit, let’s suppose it actually does take 75 minutes to reliably get between Ballard and capitol hill on a bus. Even so, the bus is not the only way to travel and when you live car-free, one of the things you learn to do is to pick the mode of transportation that is most suitable for your particular trip, rather than pick one universal mode and stick with it no matter how long it takes.

        If the bus really takes 75 minutes to get from Ballard to capitol hill, I would likely look to bike for that trip. Google maps estimates 40 minutes from Ballard to Cap Hill, 33 minutes back the other way. (http://goo.gl/maps/tLTQR). If the difference in time is really that great, it’s much more productive to just bike than to waste time pouting about how slow the bus is.

        I’m in kind of a similar situation in that, where I live (near the U-district), if I want to be downtown by 7:00 in the evening by bus, I need to leave home no later than 6 (that’s for Westlake, allow an additional 15 minutes to get to the stadiums at the south end of downtown). The Link extension in 2016 will greatly improve on this but, for now, it’s what we’ve got.

        So, a few weeks ago, I was running late and didn’t get out of the house until 6:15. So, I did what I needed to do – I grabbed my cold-weather gear and hopped on the bike. By 6:45, my bike was locked up downtown and I was in the building and up the escalator right where I needed to be. Had I been busing, by this time, I likely would have been still on Eastlake this time, having just barely cleared the U-district.

        I realize it may sound very strange to a lot of people that when you live car-free, your bike becomes to the go-to option to use when you’re running late and need something quick and reliable, but it’s true.

        Finally, I should note that if you want to make a fast trip from Cap Hill to Ballard late at night when there’s no traffic, there are car services available that will pick you up and drive you for significantly less than the price of a regular taxi. I’ve used the Flat Rate for Hire service several times. Home to downtown is about 6 miles and costs only $11 way way + tip. When there’s no traffic, they can take me door-to-door downtown in as little as 10-15 minutes – getting downtown in a very reliable 10-15 minutes door-to-door is extremely convenient when I’m catching an hourly bus downtown and cannot be late. Cap Hill to Ballard is also about 6 miles, so the price should be about the same. And with no traffic late at night, it should be very fast. If you don’t want to bike and don’t want long waits for the bus on the way back, I highly recommend them.

      9. Listen, I love a good bike ride. Connective trips on the bikeshare systems back East are some of my favorite things ever.

        But I am not going to start biking in the pouring rain and the winter’s dark, or sweating up hills anytime I wish to do anything. And neither is 99% of the population, even in bike-crazy Seattle. That’s not the “suitable” solution you make it out to be.

        I’m also not going to spend a $10-$20 towncar premium every time I want to go anywhere, when I already pay a high-by-national-standards $90/month for purportedly comprehensive public transit, and pay a premium to live in the epicenter of a highly densified urban neighborhood within walking distance of something called “RapidRide”. That is also a fundamentally unsustainable suggestion.

        That’s why I’m obsessed with this. Hour-plus trips with scads of uncertainty miraculously shrink to twelve minutes flat! Comprehensive, frequent gridded connections suddenly become possible, and everywhere-to-everywhere trip times within the urban sphere drastically improve.

        But no. That can’t happen. Because we need to send hundreds of fucking empty trains into the ridership vortex of mid-day Federal Way!!

      10. OK, d.p., I have to recommend that you just purchase a car. You’ve chosen a neighborhood you like even though you think the transit there sucks, which is totally within your prerogative. But then you aren’t willing to contemplate alternative modes for gaps in service, have nothing but vitriol for ALL THREE serious efforts to improve things, and refuse to move to a neighborhood with better transit (of which there are many.) Instead, you sit here and agree all the time with mic, Mr. “Wouldn’t you rather have a bus” himself.

        Just put yourself out of your misery (and ours) and buy a car.

      11. “it still takes 60 minutes to crawl across San Francisco proper, and it takes 75 minutes to get from Ballard to Capitol Hill.”

        Those are separate problems. It’s insane that San Francisco has not addressed its in-city transit for forty years, with the exception of the F and T lines. But the solutions are ones which DP would not like: a BART line to the western city, and/or all-day limited stop routes like the 38L.

        In any case, the existence of slowness in Seattle or San Francisco does not negate the need for better transit in south King County and better connections to Tacoma. They’re separate problems. And with subarea equity, they’re being paid by the people whom each transit would benefit.

      12. As we all know, shitty Link stop spacing and shitty BART in-city coverage have everything to do with the “regional obsession”.

        Subarea equity is an incredibly bullshit justification, when we spend all our money on infrastructure that makes things faster and easier for everyone else, at the expense of our own actual needs.

        Also, read what I wrote about future Link fares — not governed by any sort of equity, as far as I can tell — and the inevitability of high in-city fares subsidizing low long-distance fares.

        a BART line to the western city, and/or all-day limited stop routes like the 38L

        Geary is getting actual BRT, which Bruce says is being quite well planned. And BART should absolutely have included an east-west line within SF. It would have had reasonable stop spacing by necessity, just as it does within the Mission.

        But SF transit has sucked for 40 years because all of the transit-investment energies have been elsewhere… Great exurban hopes with little payoff. Sound familiar?

      13. [Re: subarea equity as a defense. Yes, I’m talking about the 3-mile station gaps, the failure to seriously consider a Rainier alignment, and most importantly the way we’re getting roped into paying for every cent of Link to the shore of Lake Washington and to the Snohomish border. Subarea equity my ass. I will continue to dispute the worth of that defense any time anyone brings it up.]

      14. This is not unique to cap hill. All our crosstown routes are like this. Necessary plan time CD-Ballard or CD-Northgate is 120 minutes.


      15. d.p. – while I wholeheartedly support the idea of the Ballard spur, in the interest of looking at what to do with the infrastructure we have now, let’s take a deep breath and think rationally for a moment.

        First, let’s ask the question of how many evenings a month do you actually go to capitol hill. If you’re going there every other day, simply moving from Ballard to Cap Hill might be the best solution. But let’s suppose for the sake of argument that you spend most of your evenings in Ballard and go to Cap Hill once a week. Let’s also suppose that half the time, averaged of the course of the year, the weather is suitable for biking. (Really, if you’ve got good lights and raingear, it’s more like 90-95% of the time, but whatever). So an average of twice a month, you just bike there. 40 minutes one way, 33 minutes the other way, problem solved.

        Now, let’s consider the two times a month when you look out the window at home, see it’s pouring rain, and don’t want to bike. So you do the 60-75 minute slog of D or 40 to downtown, then 10, 11, 43, or 49 up the hill. Now, it’s look at the return trip. Chance are, whatever you’re doing in cap hill, your doing with other people, rather than alone. Let’s suppose 1/3 of the time, you find someone who lives in Ballard or Crown Hill who drove who’s willing to give you a ride. So that leaves an average of 1 1/3 trips per month left where you need some other option. Let’s suppose you call the hired car service to drive you home each of these times and suppose each trip costs $15, including tip. $15 per trip * 1 1/3 trips per month comes out to be a total transportation expenditure of $20 per month. Of course it won’t be exactly $20 every month. It might work out to be $50 one month, followed by nothing for the next 6 months, but $20 per month is still the long-term impact on your budget. Most car owners spend substantially more than this just on gas, paying an average of $20 per month to avoid a 90-minute bus trek when you’re tired and need to get to bed is well worth it, not something to get riled up about, and certainly not something to buy a car over, which costs far, far more than $20 per month.

        And the $20 per month might even be on the high side. Some of the time, OBA will indicate the thru-routed 43->44 is coming soon, so you might decide to just hop on. In another year, Puget Sound bikeshare will allow you grab a bike a coast down the hill in 5 minutes on the days when the rain has stopped by the time you’re ready to go home. If the timing works out to catch a D or 40 downtown without an unreasonable wait, you could be home quite fast. And once the bikeshare program gets extended to Ballard, you’ll have the additional backup option of riding the bikeshare bike all the way home should you get downtown and find the bus just left without you.

      16. The Ballard-Cap Hill thing isn’t the disease, it’s the symptom. The disease is that our transit lines are slow and unreliable through Seattle because they’re mired in a mess of traffic and stupid intersections. The cure is grade-separated transit where ridership is highest and other sorts of dedicated ROW and TSP at other chokepoints. Our transit system is slowest and least reliable right around our biggest transfer nodes at the north and south ends of downtown Seattle.

        You don’t need a one-seat ride from Ballard to Cap Hill if you can get to and from Westlake Station quickly and reliably.

      17. So whether you like the Ballard Spur or not, the point is that d.p.’s complaint is totally valid. It points to the need to get through our biggest transfer nodes and highest ridership areas faster.

      18. Martin:

        If I bought a car I’d have to move out of the center of the neighborhood that I love so much. The parking rules are arcane; I’d have to be moving it constantly. And that’s when I can even find a spot.

        And there’s the rub. Ballard has crossed the threshold where car ownership is, in fact, an unsustainable proposition for many. Yet we can’t get any entity serious about transit you can actually use. You can’t even get them to call a crappy red-painted spade a spade.

        One day, this will come to a head. And that head will probably be at the ballot box. A crucial Metro vote will go down because nobody trusts them. Maybe we’ll turn into Kansas City, regrettably electing anti-density politicians because people so hate not being able to park and not having any other options.

        I’d love it if Seattle Subway would happen. Unfortunately, it won’t, because Ben is insane. Have you ever actually looked at his numbers? Doubling in population and Manhattan densities from Bitter Lake to Georgetown. And that’s just to justify the ridership for his baker’s dozen overlapping streetcar and subway lines; he still can’t justify the cost. But suggest anything cheaper, and he’ll shout you down. His insanity will screw us over if we let it guide the discourse, just as with the monorail.

        The streetcar plan is dumb. Full stop.

        What’s the third effort? Link? I’ll think of that the next time I need to get to Federal Way. Oh, no, I won’t! Because the closest Link stop will forever be 30+ minutes away on the goddamned bus from hades.

      19. As always, you’re ready to part with Ben because of his 100-year vision, or because his purple line has two stops too many, or some other micro-level BS and ignore the fact that his organization’s entire purpose is to pressure leaders into building light rail, especially to Ballard. But sure, you don’t like his leadership.

        So there’s the streetcar. You’re right to fear too many compromises being made — but rather than resolve to help fight that, it’s dismissed out of hand.

        Well, at least this very post has the news that ST – the agency whose real purpose is traffic separated rail – is bringing forward planning so that ST3 might actually occur in our lifetimes. Anyone outside West Seattle recognizes that Ballard is first in line. Yet the only emotion you can muster is rage that someone else somewhere might get some rail that they want and pay for.

        In other words, you dislike your current situation, but won’t lift a finger to improve it in any way. Moreover, you won’t let getting what you want satisfy you if it also means good stuff for those you find undeserving.

      20. asdf:

        Sadly, the bikeshare policy fails to include Ballard in any of its first three phases. It intends to serve downtown Redmond and Kirkland because it gets to Seattle’s most transit-starved high-density neighborhood.

        That’d be okay if you could at least bike part-way, then take a bus the rest. Unfortunately, that bus is CrapidRide.

        Oh, and politicians have shown no interest in relaxing mandatory-helmet enforcement. So the bikeshare here is screwed anyway.

        Sorry to be a “misery” to Martin and all… but this city can’t do anything right when it comes to mobility, and my 6 years of car-free living here prove it. I’d like to see many of Seattle’s defenders go half as long.

      21. Al:

        Thank you.

        It’s like playing chicken with a brick wall trying to have a non-delusional transit discussion in this city.

      22. Yeah, I noticed that the bikeshare doesn’t include Ballard during the first three phases. This is something that should be fixed, especially if the Missing Link finally gets built. Still, though, the fact stands that the option to quickly grab a bike to coast down Cap Hill in 5 minutes will save considerable time. After 11 PM, the Seattle Center event traffic should be pretty much done – at that hour, I wouldn’t expect the LQA deviation to add more than a couple of minutes.

        And the bikeshare machines are supposed to dispense helmets too, addressing the mandatory helmet law.

        And while the Ballard Spur would be really nice to have in the long term, that’s decades in the future, if it ever gets built at all. If we’re looking for something the city can do today to make car-free trips between Ballard and Capitol Hill faster than easier, (for the price of a few million dollars, rather than a few billion) the best thing the city could do would be to improve the biking infrastructure. This means build the Missing Link, add a bicycle/pededestrian connection between Capitol Hill and South Lake Union north of Denny, and add Ballard to the bike-share plan.

      23. asdf:

        The young history of bikeshare programs offers us dozens (approaching hundreds) of examples of smashingly successful programs, and but a few failures. Features of failed programs include illogical and gerrymandered coverage areas, focus on areas with poor bicycle lanes, superfluous docking stations every half-block leading to uneven demand management, and insistence on mandatory helmets for all.

        Guess which example Seattle’s proposal follows!

        The problem with post-11pm service isn’t the LQA detour. It’s that RapidRide goes 30 minutes (plus the walk), while the 40 goes freaking hourly (and not even staggered from RR in the slightest). That bike leg can’t help much when the second leg is the killer.


        I just switched — only by sprinting was I successful — from a packed-to-the-gills 40 to a RapidRide with nine people on it. Explain to me again why I should go along and get along with the geniuses who orchestrate “improvements” in Seattle transit?

      24. Besides the fact you have no alternative, the people I’m talking about *have* dramatically improved transit. They built Link, and the situation in my neighborhood is 100 times better than the old 42. The one streetcar we’ve built is much better for SLU than what was before, and no one is suggesting that another SLUT would be a success.

      25. “future Link fares — not governed by any sort of equity, as far as I can tell — and the inevitability of high in-city fares subsidizing low long-distance fares.”

        Link’s fares are distance-based. $2 for the first five miles and 25c for each additional five miles or fraction. There’s no sign ST will deviate from this policy with the extensions, so saying it will is pure speculation. Sounder is already $5.25 maximum. Nobody expects a significant number of Link trips from Lynnwood to Tacoma. Lynnwood to Bellevue or SeaTac will be more common, and the latter only because the airport is an extraordinarily popular destination. The purpose of a continuous Everett to Tacoma like is the variety of shorter trips it simultaneously accommodates. Fortunately, the largest city and biggest destination is right in the middle.

        “BART should absolutely have included an east-west line within SF”

        I have never liked the fact that BART covers the East Bay extensively but only a corner of SF. That always seemed backward to me. But it’s that way because of which counties voted for it and which didn’t.

        “If I bought a car I’d have to move out of the center of the neighborhood that I love so much”

        Why not lease a parking space? It doesn’t have to be in your building. You can look for a cheaper space within walking distance or even bus distance.

      26. For reasons mentioned in my earlier comment, if you’re considering getting a car just to get back from capitol hill after 11 PM, leasing the parking space alone is already more expensive than just paying someone to drive you back on days when it’s too rainy to bike andno one is available with a car that’s going to Ballard andOBA indicates an unreasonably long wait for a bus. And that’s before you even consider the cost of gas, insurance, registration taxes, or the car itself.

      27. I assume DP will use the car for more than just Capitol Hill nightlife. Shopping, etc.

        I do have a problem with people living in apartment buildings who park on the street in front of their building. You and the five other long-term parkers on the block are not the only important people in the 60-unit building or 300-unit block. Especially don’t have an SUV that takes up 1 1/2 parking spaces. Other people have short-term visitors, and disabled people need a place to park near their destination.

      28. If he lives in the part of Ballard I think he does, there’s a QFC if not in his building, right next door. For other types of shopping, there’s Amazon.

      29. The routing I’d take from Capitol hill to Ballard would be the 49 to U-District and 44 to Ballard. You’re probably looking at 45 minutes or less.

      30. Charles:

        ROFL. Not laughing at you. Just laughing about how obvious it is you’ve never tried to do the think you claim would take “45 minutes or less”.

        The 44 is a traffic and reliability nightmare throughout the daytime. In the early evening, the 49 goes half-hourly. Late at night, both are half-hourly. The schedules are not aligned in the slightest.

        There is not a single time of day when a 49-44 trip will run you less than an hour.

        At least the evening 43s are through-routed with every other 44, which is why that is sometimes the best route (on-the-fly OBA calculations and dumb luck required, your mileage may vary). Of course, you’ll be sitting on that through-routed bus for anywhere from 35-65 minutes, not counting the up-to-30-minute wait for it.


        No worries about me leaving a car on the street in front of my place forever. That would be illegal, and strict enforcement in downtown Ballard would earn me infinite tickets and eventually a boot.

        In fact, within 5 blocks of me, I can only think of two stretches of road without daytime and/or overnight parking restrictions. Needless to say, those spots disappear quickly each evening.

        I understand Martin’s reasons for owning a car and living in a home with a parking space, and I don’t begrudge him those things in the slightest. But the irony of a transit blog editor who seemingly fails to understand that a personal parking space is not readily available in every corner of his own city is not lost on me. It helps me to understand why some Seattle “advocates” are willing to accept such short-shrift transit “solutions”; the stakes do not seem as high.


        Three block from the QFC. Never shop there. Unwilling to endure their crappy demographic-research-determined selection and price inflation (otherwise known as their Ubiquity Surcharge or People Who Fail To Pay Attention Fee) — 30% above any other mainstream store on conventional items; up to 60% over Ballard Market, PCC, and Whole Foods on organic items (yes, really).

        I’ve walked the 2/3 mile to Ballard Market or Trader Joe’s in some pretty horrendous weather (or timed my checking out to OBA) to avoid setting foot inside QFC.

        But really, how low have our expectations sunk that we would even suggest being wedded to whatever option is closest?

        Mobility = freedom. If true, honest mobility is achieved only with a car, then only a car will be perceived as equaling freedom.

        Should I be a second-class citizen because I live without a car?. Even if I’ve gone out of my way to live in one of the most busiest, most three-dimensionally dense, most concentrated two-way demand-generating, and most pro-transit neighborhoods in the entirety of Washington state?

        Because a second-class citizen is what the current state of affairs makes me.


        If Seattle Subway succeeds, it will be in spite of Ben’s wild machinations and not because of them.

        Meanwhile, many city leaders do continue to offer More SLUTs as the solution to all our problems. If you’re not worried that SLUT City is our fate, then you’re not paying attention.

      31. D.p. – I don’t go to Ballard very often anymore, but I do know that there are plenty of new buildings that would be happy to lease you some parking. I’m not sure why you think I’m unaware that free street parking is rare, given how much I write about it.

    6. Here are a bunch of reasons:
      1. The sounder is a commuter service that shares the track with BNSF, and is therefore limited in how much service it can provide. The sounder stations are also very far apart, making it inadequate for random trips to random locations along the line. No city (except Tacoma) has >1 sounder station. The light rail line, however, would have much closer spaced stops, making it practical. Combine that with RapidRide A line service along some of its length, and you get good access through the south King corridor.

      2. It would free up space on interstate 5. Every morning on I-5 there is something that slows traffic like crazy, and the appeal of the train combined with the frequent headways and all day, two directional service would take cars off I-5 and put more cars in park-and-ride lots.

      3. High capacity trains relieve full 577 and 578 buses from Federal Way, and eliminate the need for 577 altogether.

      4. Could be the only reliable transit provider for the area between Federal Way, Fife, and Tacoma, because, as you have probably heard, Pierce Transit prop 1 failed, and now the Tacoma extension cannot come fast enough. This would be the only transit provider in Fife on the weekends.

      1. It would also allow the 578 to be routed to Kent instead of Federal Way, providing an alternative to the super-slow 150.

      2. It could. It’s not like that there’s that much demand for Sumner service to FW anyway. But then the only ST Express that would serve FWTC would be the 574. I would like to see the 566 extended to Federal Way.

        They could also eliminate the 197 and instead add stops for 586 at FWTC, Kent-Des Moines RD, and Star Lake. I know the concept behind express service, but it seems like a bit of a waste to have 586 go straight from Tacoma to UW while driving right past other areas that want UW service.

      3. I believe the current plan is the for the 586 to disappear in 2016, with riders expected to take a bus downtown and ride the train instead. That should probably happen with the 197 too.

        And, of course, Link from SeaTac to Tacome would effectively render the 574 obsolete as well. Even as things are today, there’s a lot of waste in the 574, 577, 578, and 594, all going down the same I-5 corridor. The result is less frequent buses than we could get using a fixed budget.

      4. Ideally, you wouldn’t. The whole point the 586 is avoid the slow crawl through downtown that takes up to 30 minutes between when the 59x exits the freeway and when the 71/72/73 bus exits downtown. Then, the express lanes are going the wrong way, so you have to slog down Eastlake.

        With Link, you get into, through, and out of downtown much faster than you would with a bus today. And the extremely high peak frequency of the 59x means even during the afternoon commute, the wait time for the bus would be small.

        That being said, there are people who will scream about having to transfer, no matter how quick the transfer is and no matter how much it costs to maintain the redundant service that allows them not to transfer. It’s up to ST to ignore them and make the decision that’s best for the region as a whole, not what’s best for the few individuals that attend meetings and scream the loudest.

    7. This might be a naiive question, but can someone explain why Light Rail as far south as Tacoma and north as Everett is necessary?

      Carl, you shouldn’t be made to feel sheepish or naïve for questioning a political line that is obviously, painfully stupid.

      I hope you noted that the responses you received spoke only of political wants and geometrically unfeasible service plans. No one could speak of ridership prospects supported by actual geographic and statistical realities, but that does not exist!

    8. In the 2007 ST materials, it was estimated that Link would take 72 minutes between Seattle and the Tacoma Dome. Express bus takes 50; Sounder takes 60; and buses would be faster and more reliable with variable tolling; the capacity of Link is not needed in that corridor. South King needs better transit service today.

  4. The agency already has LID authority, it should use it now to accelerate projects. The timelines here are WAY too long.

    1. Gosh yes, Ben!

      RCW 81.112.150

      Local improvement districts authorized — Special assessment bonds.

      (1) An authority may form a local improvement district to provide any transportation improvement it has the authority to provide, impose special assessments on all property specially benefited by the transportation improvements, and issue special assessment bonds or revenue bonds to fund the costs of the transportation improvement. Local improvement districts shall be created and assessments shall be made and collected pursuant to chapters 35.43, 35.44, 35.49, 35.50, 35.51, 35.53, and 35.54 RCW.


    2. But they are authorized to collect an employer head tax of $24/yr with voter approval. That generates a couple of billion towards ‘Jump Start’ if done early. Sub-Area equity would favor Seattle with many more employees, but I don’t have the time to dredge through a bunch of reports to parse the numbers back to ST-Areas.
      Anyone have a feel for how many employees in each sub-area?

  5. North King subarea (primarily Seattle) has already fully funded its portion of the spine.

    There’s a big difference between “funded” and “paid for”. You’ve “funded” your new car when you sign the loan agreement and drive it off the lot. From then on instead of money going toward a down payment you’re saddled with debt and operating costs. Now, if additional revenue is approved that’s a different story but, as you say, it has to be uniform and I can’t see Pierce and Snohomish voting for more than the current .9% even with an OK from Olympia.

      1. Indeed, it narrowly failed in Pierce County:

        Sound Transit Proposition No. 1
        APPROVED 124,856 49.08%
        REJECTED 129,536 50.92%

        It was overwhelmingly approved in Snohomish:

        408/408 100.00%
        Vote Count Percent
        APPROVED 94,748 54.21%
        REJECTED 80,019 45.79%

        And in King County:

        Proposition No. 1 – Mass Transit Expansion

        APPROVED 448497 60.50%

        REJECTED 292867 39.50%

        Pierce and Snohomish combined cast only 429,000 votes. It could have failed 45/55% in both Pierce and Snohomish and only needed to pass 53/47 in King to impose the tax in all of the sub areas.

      2. Stated another way: with KC voting 60% in favor, the other counties would need a combined vote of more than 70% against to defeat the measure.

        Clearly this isn’t going to happen….

      3. Clearly Pierce County needs to be taught that tax is a part of life, and will forever be necessary, and that they need to be willing to pay the price if they want to remain the 2nd largest county in the state. The Sound Transit results for Pierce County looks freakishly like prop 1 results for 2012.

      4. The no votes for Prop 1 and probably also ST2 came from the more suburban parts of Pierce County, which in the case of ST2 also included areas that aren’t in the Pierce district anymore. Taken that way, it’s no different from East and South King complaining about “subsidizing” Seattle.

  6. Are the 9 HCT corridors already decided, or could the list of HCT corridors to be studied potentially be different?

    1. The 9 HCT corridors are part of ST2 so those will be included but additional corridors could be added.

  7. I think given the fact that ST has no funding authority and must get that from the legislature, it is highly unlikely that they could go to the ballot in 2016. But in the materials you will notice that there is a peak of construction in ST2 around 2020. We will need many more workers to build north, south, and east at that time.

    What makes sense to me is to accelerate planning and design, so that when a ST3 vote happens in 2020, ST is then ready keep building without the long lead in time we are seeing now.

      1. Because I don’t support using the monorail authority for an MVET to do Seattle-only planning when Metro has immediate needs that could result in a 20% cut in service and is looking at the same funding source.

      2. Ah Seattle. “It’s not exactly as I would like, even though it is one of the few legally possible solutions, so I won’t support it.” And we wonder why we can’t get anything done! LOL

  8. One of my big problems with Sound Transit is that they study EVERYTHING to death. They are almost too afraid to make an intellegent decision the first time and go ahead with it. With our local transit systems decaying, I think that ST should move quickly with a smaller plan to expand exisitng bus service, and add new regional shadow routes along major corridors in the RTA (I.E, A ST route shadowing PT’s route 1, extension of the 577 to Puyallup’s South Hill along the busy Meridian corrdor. Included in this would be installing appropraite new facilitys and expanding existing ones. Also, I think Sound Transit needs to seriously look into expanding Sounder (atleast inbetween Tacoma and Lakewood) into a frequent-All day commuter service (like Metrolink, CTA, LIRR, etc.) I’d rather have that instead of LINK light rail to Tacoma, Because without a bypass for the Rainier Valley it will not be time competitive from Downtown Tacoma to Downtown Seattle.

    1. Transit agencies are required to go through extremely extensive study processes in order to be considered for any federal funding, which is the main reason why ST has to study so much. Not to mention, I’d rather spend a few more years studying and end up with a great piece of extremely expensive infrastructure, than start construction quickly and end up wishing we had done it differently a few decades down the road.
      Sounder already takes 60 minutes from Seattle to Tacoma, about the same amount of time that Link would take, except that Link would provide much better frequencies and connect Tacoma residents to far more destinations along the way, and more destinations within the urban core of Seattle as well.

      1. Link already takes 40 minutes Sea-Tac>DSTT i doubt you could get to tacoma in no less than another 40 minutes.

      2. MrZ, it’s kind of frustrating for you to make some assertions, have someone respond and explain (very well) why the agency has to do what it does, and have you *only* choose to nitpick a side issue rather than thank them for what they took the time to explain.

      3. Depends how many stops you make along the way. Between Federal Way and Tacoma, it’s wide open, you might be able to not stop there at all.

      4. Ben, I was simply making a quick comment about running times in relation to that of current service. I’m well aware of the process that these public agencies have to go through to build a major project like that. I’ve been watching Sound Transit go through these motions for years now, some of it necessary, some of it not so much so. I’ve talked to many officials, and heard many presentations, and I’ve been to many ground breakings, and just as many first rides (some at ridiculous times of the morning) and I still think there’s far too much process and not as much progress at Sound Transit.

      5. “I’d rather spend a few more years studying and end up with a great piece of extremely expensive infrastructure, than start construction quickly and end up wishing we had done it differently a few decades down the road.”

        I’d agree with you if that was the actual outcome!

      6. Exactly.

        Study it to death. Then do something totally half-assed an ineffective. It’s the Seattle Way!

      7. “Transit agencies are required to go through extremely extensive study processes in order to be considered for any federal funding, which is the main reason why ST has to study so much. ”

        This is a deliberate sabotage-public-transportation tactic created by Republicans and other anti-rail forces in Congress in past decades. Note that roadways don’t have the same study process, they can go much quicker. (Thank goodness the rules for roads have tightened up over time, but they can still go much quicker.)

      8. “This is a deliberate sabotage-public-transportation tactic created by Republicans and other anti-rail forces in Congress in past decades.”

        Yes, clearly it’s a deliberate conspiracy by the Illuminati to undermine all the forces of light in the world! It couldn’t be because Republicans simply are too used to driving everywhere and it warps their perception of roads vis-a-vis transit!

  9. Not only would 2016 be a very tight planning window, but it would also mean that voters in the region would be asked to vote ST3 before Lynnwood Link and East Link construction were clearly visible.

    True, but a 2016 measure would coincide with the launch of extensions to S 200th and, more imporantly, the U District. There would be a flood of new riders — I’m sure someone has the forecasted ridership increase at their fingertips — that would be a very visible publicity coup for ST. It would obviously be on a presidential election ballot, ensuring high voter turnout (though this also applies to 2020).

    1. I agree. There is really only one thing that will kill the ST plans: construction failures. If there are cost overruns or delays, public cynicism and opposition grows. In the case of 2016, the opposite will happen. There will be a nice big station at Husky Stadium (along with a relatively new stadium). Folks coming in from the south end will be happy to take the new train, while folks in the north end will wonder how to speed things up.

      The biggest complaint I’ve heard about ST is that it is taking too long to build. I was at a restaurant in Roosevelt the other day, and one of the guys mentioned how cool it will be to have the train running there. The guy figured it would be a couple years until it connects with the stadium station. He was pretty frustrated when told it will be 2021 until it is done. People are willing to pay extra if it can speed things up (although in this case, there probably is little that can be done).

  10. Now would be the perfect time to plan for light rail to Kirkland. Kirkland now has the Cross Kirkland Corridor and is working on updating their Transit Master Plan to figure out what to do with it. Seems too perfect of an opportunity to pass up.

    1. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could do that? Double Sound Transit’s revenue and maybe we’d get that. :)

    2. BRT is much more likely in the corridor because currently planning has UW/Downtown to Kirkland transit via 520 traveling in that corridor and since light rail on 520 is far to very far off BRT is much more likely. As you said this would be timely because the sooner the BNSF corridor is used by transit the easier it will be to make it happen.

    3. Kirkland should be discussing with the Sound Transit board what it wants long-term. It’s the largest city being left out of East Link, just as Ballard is the largest neighborhood being left out of Central Link. It may be too early to fund studies for a north-south line but ST and Kirkland should certainly be talking about it. And in the meantime they can discuss how to help Metro double the frequency of the 234/235 and fill in the gaps in the 255.

      1. Well, the two most populous neighborhoods currently left out are Queen Anne and Greenwood, both of which would be best served by a line also hitting Ballard. Besides, the real question to ask involves density.

      2. How do either of you figure?

        According to Mickymse’s link, Greenwood & Phinney Ridge combined contain a population of 24,000.

        The page marked “Ballard” is obviously defined in a ridiculously narrow way (although it should be noted that this densest part of central Ballard grew by 37% just between 2000 and 2010).

        Anyway, any common-parlance description of Ballard and its demand-catchment area contains at the very least the entirety of 98107: http://www.city-data.com/zips/98107.html (except perhaps the furthest southest corner of Frelard), plus a decent chunk of 98117: http://www.city-data.com/zips/98117.html

        We’re a city of 35,000-60,000 depending on how widely you draw the boundaries. Significantly more populous than any other singular neighborhood of any density.

        Bigger also than Kirkland — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirkland,_Washington — which had barely 16,000 people in its city proper before it “added approximately 33,000 residents by annexation” in 2011 (mostly sprawl).

  11. Would it be possible for ST to separate the short-planning and long-planning projects, and put those that would fit comfortably in the 2016 window into a smaller ST3 package, and the rest in a 2020 ST4 package? Smaller amounts tend to do better at the ballot box.

    1. But also, measure that provide a lot of clear, tangible benefits tend to do better at the ballot box.

    2. Actually, larger amounts tend to do better at the ballot box. ST2 is a pretty good example of that. :)

      1. Well, Morgan, projects with fewer roads in them tend to do better at the ballot box, too. :-) (This has only been true for the last couple of decades.)

  12. Looking at the planning options, it seems like the smart thing to do would be to front-load all the planning with the intention to go to the ballot in 2016. Worst case, if something comes up in the planning process, the ballot decision can be deferred for four years at a relatively late date. More likely, the planning would produce its own momentum and we’d be ready to go in 2016.

    So then the question is what will voters approve in 2016? Voters in North King will probably approve it regardless, and have no spine left to build, so all the energy is going to be toward getting the scope higher in other areas so there’s more North King revenue to spend on a long list of potential North King projects such as those advocated by Seattle Subway. I think East King and Snohomish will prioritize completing the spine (Redmond, Everett) without a lot of appetite to do more just yet.

    Pierce and South King are more interesting, though. Sounder should probably get as much service as it can in those areas, but there’s tension over Link as I see it. South King feels it deserves more, but will they have enough to build all the way from the airport to the county line? Meanwhile, building in South King doesn’t really make sense beyond 200th unless it’s supporting commutes to and from Tacoma, but my guess is that Pierce would rather extend Tacoma Link within the city or to its exurbs than connect to the airport. (Am I wrong?) That’s where I see a compromise for regional connectivity and subarea equity to win out over local interests (in Pierce County.) On the other hand, I think Tacoma voters might turn against Sound Transit if they don’t get more locally than a fast trip to the airport and more Sounder runs.

    1. South King only has to pay to Federal Way. Pierce pays beyond that.

      The assumption has been that Pierce wants Link first, but there’s a growing movement in Tacoma to get more streetcar lines. So it depends on how persuasive those activists are. The fact that PT is about to become seriously minimal may help the streetcar argument, which would also consolidate Tacoma’s corridors.

      1. The fact that PC is about to loose most of their bus service is another reason i’d like to see ST REX expanded to provide service on major corridors in the county (and even mabye a RR “A” extension funded by ST). One of the benefits of ST REX service, is that you dont have to have a paratransit overlay componet like you do with local service.

      2. How do you end up with metro? Since Sound Transit operates “express” service, they are exempt from having to provide the paratransit componet (note how they do not provide such service to DuPont, Sumner, and Bonney Lake). Now, the ambulatory passengers have no problems riding the express service, and on some corridors it will be quicker than the local service. Also, Sound Transit does make some “local” stops on the 522, 574, etc, so they can provide this kind of service. One of the benefits about it is that its a service that can be up and running quickly, i somehow doubt that voters will want to vote today for something that isnt going to be built until 2035 or some other utterly obscene date. Other cities have built successful public transportation systems in far less time than it takes the seattle area to go through the public process we suffer through here.

      3. I don’t like the notion of Seattle funding or running its own streetcar lines independent of Metro or ST (except for ST funding of the FHSC, which is because of the politics involved) while Tacoma mooches off ST.

      4. “Like Metro” means that the per-passenger cost of Link declines over time while Metro’s costs increase due to fuel prices, the need for an additional bus for every new 50 passengers, frequent road resurfacing due to heavy buses (although Metro doesn’t pay that), and lost travel time by mostly being second-priority to cars as congestion increases.

        I’m not necessarily opposed to extending the A to Tacoma instead of extending Link.

      5. Every part of this region has diffrent needs from Sound Transit. Seattle needs Urban Hight/Heavy Rail, we’re not disputing this. They also need more higher capasity transit (Streetcars, etc.), again we are not disputing this. One of the things i hope that ST takes into account is that theres no “one size fits all” for the region. Pierce County would be better off IMO, with expanded REX Service, and mabye Sounder and expansion of Tacoma LINK. Extending Central LINK to Tacoma would be nice, but without a clear plan to get us to Federal Way before I hit 50 I’m not holding my hopes up. I’d much rather see my money spent for things that can be done quickly and where the need is immediate.

      6. In a sense, the electorate’s being dazzled by “light rail~!” not only hurts the chance of building the light rail system we actually need, but also results in less-than-par investments even in the places that will only vote for transit if it goes to their backyard.

  13. If Jump Start had a Facebook page I’d like it a thousand times and then bug the shit out of all my friends until they liked it.

    This isn’t meant as a bribe, just a statement of fact, but the first ST Board Member to put Jump Start forward gets a $25 contribution into their campaign fund that day. The board member that seconds it get’s $15. Everyone that votes for it gets $5. The only reason I can’t give more is that it is coming up on Xmas time and I am still only partially employed. Once we have positive cash flow and aren’t just treading water I will revisit and thank accordingly.

  14. Thanks for the links. I’d never seen the 522 plan before. It appears it was put together by someone living in south Florida. 145th Street? Completely bypassing the biggest transit center in the Northeast?

    I guess they don’t value credibility or reason.

    1. Which links? In any case, all post-ST2 lines are preliminary concepts. They’ll go through alternatives analysis, at which point a line to Northgate or through Northgate to Ballard can be studied. Then we’ll have a cost/ridership/travel time analysis to compare to the other alternatives. Connecting Lake City and Bothell to Northgate is important, but so is connecting them to the U-district and downtown. Which is most important? It’s up to debate. And remember that with grade-separated Link, it’s not much additional travel time to transfer at Roosevelt and go back north to Northgate; it’ll probably still be as fast as taking a bus from Lake City to Northgate.

      1. This comment is exactly right. The historic route from Lake City to anywhere else was through Roosevelt; nobody drives from LC to Northgate to get on the freeway; they either take the LCW entrance/exit or, depending on their location, across 125th/130th to the SB entrance/exit. You go to Northgate either to shop or because you’re forced to in order to get the 41. Getting to Northgate from Lake City is horrendous at any time of year; try it this month. From LC, it would make more sense to either transfer at Roosevelt as Mike mentions, or take the bus as you have to now. Once Link is extended, a short bus ride to the Link N 130th station will also be a reasonable route to get to NG and points north from LC.

        This NE corridor from Roosevelt through Lake City should be HCT, and has been considered as a route for such since the 1968 vote. It has eventual onward potential to open up NE King County as well.

  15. I refuse to vote for ST3 unless there is something in there for roads. Want a nice ride on your fancy bus? You better look at the condition of the roads. This is yet another tax to fund fancy transit and buses, with no money to fund anything else.

    1. “This is yet another tax to fund fancy transit and buses, with no money to fund anything else.”

      It’s a transit tax! Should the library levy pay for the seawall?

    2. If anyone thinks the condition of roads are bad in the Seattle area, they haven’t traveled much to east of the Mississippi.

      1. I moved here from Charlotte, thank you. I even went to an ITE conference in Mississippi back in 06 as well.

        Roads in North Carolina are well funded. Most large towns have partial/full limited access bypasses where you have large highways approaching them. Yeah, highway 12 on the Outerbanks is rough, but what do expect the state to do with a road that gets washed up every couple of years after a hurricane?

        I’ll admit SC has some rough roads… …but let’s look at California. The roads are horrible! …and how much does that stake rake in in the form of gas taxes and vehicle fees compared to SC?

      2. Matthew, I have spent quite a bit of time in Fayettenam. Skibo Road, Reilly Road, and All American Fwy come to mind when I think of Fayetteville, NC. Mind you, NCDOT is in the process of building a new bypass…I-295. Of course, that will do little to alleviate the Bragg traffic problem. It’s similar to the JBLM traffic problem. However, unlike Bragg, JBLM has a slew of cross-base (via I-5/SR 507) commuters mixing with the base’s peak period exodus.

        The inbound commute to JBLM usually takes place a little earlier than the civilian peak period, so congestion isn’t nearly as bad. However, afternoon congestion is the pitts because the peak periods coincide…and the JBLM release of traffic is so intense, it floods the freeway. I-5 and the associated interchanges are not able to withstand the flood of drivers.

        If you recall, All American Fwy in Fayetteville simply becomes a parking lot as you drive onto Bragg during the morning commute to base. I simply avoided it in the morning and went to the base mid-morning or in the afternoon when everyone was headed home.

        I spoke with one of the program managers within HQ WSDOT in Olympia. I asked him whether the State would pursue mitigation funding from the DoD to fund interchange and I-5 improvements. He informed me that the intent was to woo military members, families and the associated civilian jobs to infuse the local economy with tax funds. If the State burdened the DoD with demands, the 15,000 troops that were to be relocated (which ultimately came to JBLM), would have been sent to Ft Carson, CO (near Colorado Springs). Instead, WSDOT installed ramp meters on only a few ramps that make little difference in management of traffic in the corridor.

        The problem is primarily capacity. Capacity needs to be improved. Military members don’t use transit, many cannot use carpools or transit, and there won’t be any light-rail options for them. Maybe a carpool lane could be added if an additional general purpose lane is added to both directions of I-5 through the corridor. The problem is, the cross-base highway to Spanaway/Parkland would also help alleviate some of the demand for I-5.

      3. Anytime you have tens of thousands of people traveling to the same place at the same time, there are always opportunities for transit. You just have to have the will. Just because the transit service to the base today is terrible doesn’t mean it always has to be.

        Where are all these people coming from? Where would you need to run buses from to make a dent in the base traffic?

      4. asdf,
        Have you been around the military folks? This isn’t Boeing, Microsoft, or Swedish. This is a completely different mindset. You have guys living in various communities off-base. Some live way out in Centralia; some live close in Dupont. These folks live independent lives and cannot or don’t want to be bogged down by transit.

        There is usually a base shuttle that shuttles troops, civilians, and dependents around base. There is at least one PT bus that goes to JBLM, but it primarily goes to Lakewood TC. …but you’ll be hard pressed to find servicemembers riding transit unless they work at the Pentagon (Arlington VA) with easy access to METRO.

      5. All American Gate got much better when they started double stacking MPs/Security Guards. From where I lived out near Hope Mills even though Reilly Gate was closer I would take AA in.

        That entire city is fucked, and its not just base traffic. Skibo is a fucking disaster 24/7. Poor land use and infrastructure spending means you have a city of never ending sprawl where at 2am it still takes 45 minutes to get from one side of town to another. And that’s IN THE CITY. Throw in Raeford, Hope Mills, etc etc, and you have the worse city I ever lived in that wasn’t a war zone hands down.

        Made me fondly miss my Bellevue Lewis commute.

      6. “but you’ll be hard pressed to find servicemembers riding transit unless they work at the Pentagon (Arlington VA) with easy access to METRO.”

        There’s your problem. The reason people don’t ride transit to the base is because the transit system we have today completely sucks for getting to the base. That’s a solvable problem. For instance, suppose the military were willing to pay for a MS Connector-type service to get employees to and from the base. Just as the MS connector doesn’t carry 100% of MS employees, this wouldn’t either, but done right, I’m sure it could at least make a dent, especially those commuting all the way from Centrailia would would save a lot of money on gas.

        And please don’t say that anyone who rides transit can’t live an independent live. That may be true in places where the quality of transit is sufficiently pathetic but just because transit to a particular place sucks today doesn’t necessarily mean it always will forever and ever. Just 15 years ago, the transit options for getting to Microsoft weren’t that much better than the transit options for getting to the JBLM today.

      7. Asdf,
        Pentagon vs JBLM. Pentagon is the HQ of all the HQs of the military. You have a plethora of suit & tie DoD civilians and relatively high and high ranking military members. JBLM is home to Stryker brigades and even an infantry division. These are your grunts and front-line war guys. Different mentality, sorry.

        As for Microsoft, you haven’t seen the morning backups, have you? The routine eastbound backups that form on the off-ramps from 520 to 148th Ave and NE 40th. …likewise, westbound struggles going up from Marymoor between W Lake Samm to the NE 51st/NE 40th St Interchange.

      8. Matthew, I would agree that Fayetteville has some of the worst land use planning. Cumberland County and its neighbors saw dollar signs, and many folks liked living in spacious subdivisions with 1/4-1/2 acre plots. There was a lot of blight and old retail buildings in town from years ago. …but new stores and homes were built further and further down Raeford Rd.

        Before I knew it, there was hardly a gap between Raeford and the fringes of Fayettenam. …and I did the same driving to Bragg. AA in and Reilly Rd out. …usually after stocking up on goods at the commissary and PX. Though I still go to the Sandhills to visit family, I haven’t been to Fayettenam since 2006.

      9. I just left last March. Don’t plan to ever go back.

        “JBLM is home to Stryker brigades and even an infantry division.”

        The Stryker Brigades ARE the Infantry Division (at least the US components). The 2 in 2-2, 3-2 (Army’s first SBCT), and 4-2, stands for 2nd I.D.

      10. So what is this military mentality? Is it like Rush Limbaugh says, “Drive to express you American freedom”, “Transit is socialist”, etc? Or is it just, “I have too many things to do today, transit would slow me down.”

      11. Ok. I guess it settled then. Since any form of transit is an anethma of everyone who works for the military, let’s go find another 5-10 billion dollars to widen I-5. And cut public education to the bone to pay for it.

  16. ST3 had better do some navel gazing before drawing more pretty colored lines on maps.
    Utter failures of increasing mode share and reducing costs over the conventional bus systems they are trying to replace for the last two decades are not a good resume to run on.
    Token streetcar lines, Commuter Rail, and cannabilizing our current bus networks in the 3 counties all come to mind. Frequent commenters like d.p, Bernie, and Skagitdude are justified in their pointed critiques of current plans and likely outcomes. While I applaude the efforts of Martin and Ben to think long range, they shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss their comments as those of the unwashed. Maybe a quick cleaning of the rose colored glasses and a few less sips of the free wine at Union Station would be a healthy respite from the quick dismissals of ideas not there own.
    STB has been a valuable forum to discuss transit issues of the day, and I hope that can continue.

    1. How about this idea: For ST3, d.p.’s Ballard Spur from the U-District to Ballard via Wallingford and the zoo, coupled with a streetcar (not “rapid”) up Dexter to Fremont and Ballard, then down the line, a connector tunnel through Belltown and Queen Anne to Fremont or Interbay and on to Ballard.

      1. Don’t bother with the streetcar up Dexter. It’s a waste of money and we’ll end up with service no better than the 26 and 28 anyway.

        The Ballard->UW spur should be Seattle’s highest priority for ST3 – even if we get nothing else, the effect of just this would be huge.

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