The Board Deliberates (photo: Richard Conlin tweet)

Yesterday the Sound Transit Board of Directors unanimously approved a motion to complete high capacity transit planning in time to allow a 2016 Sound Transit 3 ballot measure, if the local political winds are favorable and revenue authority is forthcoming from Olympia.

By 2014, ST staff is to have updated the 2005 Long-Range Plan. They will also deliver High-Capacity Transportation (HCT Corridor studies) as listed on p. 101 of the Draft 2013 Transit Improvement Plan:

  • Lynnwood- SW Everett Industrial Center Everett
  • Overlake Transit Center — Downtown Redmond
  • South Bellevue — Issaquah
  • Redondo/Star Lake — Tacoma
  • Redmond — Kirkland — U-District
  • U-District — Ballard — Downtown Seattle (Ballard — Downtown Segment budgeted separtely [sic] Project 809101)
  • Renton — Tukwila/SeaTac — Burien
  • Downtown Seattle — West Seattle- Burien

ST will decide on an actual ST3 project list from the above in 2015-6. This is all enabled by the Board’s decision to allocate funding for this work last December.

117 Replies to “Sound Transit Board Accelerates ST3 Planning”

  1. “U-District — Ballard — Downtown Seattle” I think they got the order wrong for the Ballard Spur.

    1. Matt, did you ignore the second half of that line of text…? Or was it added after you made that comment?

      1. Meant out of humor. I hadn’t heard of a U-Dist to Ballard to Downtown corridor (seems out of the way?), and I was attempting to form an assumption that they’re talking about studying the Ballard Spur.

        But any time you have to explain a joke, you’re probably telling it wrong.

        The second half of the line of text is clearly the Seattle Subway corridor. But how does UW fit in there?

        I suppose it’s time to actually read the improvement plan.

      2. Ok, I’ve searched for “Ballard” in the document and this is the only mention of U-Dist to Ballard to Downtown. Anyone know the reason for this corridor? I get Ballard – Downtown as a corridor. I get U-dist – Ballard as a corridor. But U-dist – Ballard – Downtown? Skip Ballard and ride Link directly downtown. (yes, endpoints fallacy, blah blah – my point is these are two distinct corridors)

      3. That is a viable line alternative. It would clearly be for Ballard-downtown, Wallingford-Queen Anne trips and the like, not for UW-downtown trips. I don’t think it would be built just to faciliate those trips, but if it happened to also be operationally advantageous, why not. What’s more significant is that the “Ballard – Redmond corridor” we discussed earlier has been broken up to Ballard-UW and UW-Redmond. That clearly reflects the city/suburban split in these segments, and it’s worth studying them separately in case, for example, Ballard-UW has much higher ridership than UW-Redmond, and the Eastside balks at the bridge cost. These studies would allow a UW-Ballard-downtown like, or a Ballard-UW line, or a Ballard-Redmond line.

        However, ultimately I expect downtown-Ballard and Ballard-UW to be separate lines. Mainly because the downtown-Ballard line could naturally be extended to Northgate and Bothell, while the Ballard-UW line could naturally be extended to Sand Point, Kirkland, and Redmond, but not both at the same time. Also, there would be a sharp turn in a downtown-Ballard-UW line, which ST would probably like to avoid.

      4. I think the point is they’re not going to study going much North of Ballard. Whether these are two lines that happen to intersect or a train that actually makes the turn is up to the study. What would make you think that anyone would go UW-downtown using this line?

      5. I get Ballard – Downtown as a corridor. I get U-dist – Ballard as a corridor. But U-dist – Ballard – Downtown?

        What’s so confusing about it? If you are going to build a line from downtown to Ballard, and you are going to build a line from UW to Ballard, why wouldn’t you connect them? Not because anyone would want to take the long way around from UW to downtown, but because there are a lot of people all along the loop who might want to get to other parts of the loop.

      6. If ST had planned a proper system from the start they would be studying much north of Ballard, and probably should anyway. I still say Greenwood would be a great spot for a light rail station. Or is that outside the scope of what ST could do with ST3?

      7. Mars, you probably wouldn’t connect them (of course there would be a transfer, but the line wouldn’t turn), because you limit your ability to go north and west of 15th/Market if you do so. That’s why the city’s transit master plan doesn’t have them connected.

      8. “they’re not going to study going much North of Ballard.”

        Not in this round of studies, but it’s in ST’s long-range plan for a later round.

  2. With Rapid Ride, doesn’t Downtown-Ballard basically have to be light rail to be an improvment? Or would we vote increasingly diminishing marginal-value bus improvements.

    1. RapidRide isn’t even close to being at the point of diminishing returns for a bus route. Headways of five minutes (or better) in the daytime, ten minutes evening/weekend and fifteen minutes late night ’til midnight: that would be the point of diminishing returns. The only place we are close to that in the city is on the U-District-Downtown corridor, where we are building a subway, and First Hill-Downtown, where… well, the less said about that the better.

      Beyond frequency, the biggest problem with RapidRide C/D is the fact that there’s no fast way to get through Uptown, Belltown and Downtown on the surface, and that with the elimination of the viaduct in 2016, there will be no fast and reliable pathway into downtown from the south (i.e. West Seattle & Delrige). If you want to solve a comparatively affordable problem with capital money, build a rail-convertible bus tunnel through Uptown, Belltown and Downtown and put the C/D in that.

      1. Yes, thanks Bruce, I was thinking of the capital outlays. Yes, you may be able to improve things with more frequency.

        I wonder how much more expensive a rail-convertible bus tunnel isn’t compared to a rail-only tunnel.

      2. Not much, as long as you don’t do the dumb thing they did building the DSTT in the ’80s, and put in inadequately-insulated rails that have to be ripped up and replaced.

        Two things slightly increase the cost: (1) if you bore the tunnels, the bore has to be slightly bigger if you plan to run buses or light rail, because LRVs and buses take up more room than a traditional high-floor third-rail subway car; (2) if you want to use normal coaches (i.e. without doors on both sides), you have to use outside platforms, which might make some of your station boxes slightly bigger than if you had the option of center platforms.

      3. “I wonder how much more expensive a rail-convertible bus tunnel isn’t compared to a rail-only tunnel.”

        That would be my question too. Do the RapidRide coaches even have hush mode?

      4. Wouldn’t using diesel propulsion add costs for ventilation?

        The existing coaches have enough trouble making it through the DSTT without running out of battery power. A tunnel from Uptown to Pioneer Square would be several times as long.

      5. if you want to use normal coaches (i.e. without doors on both sides), you have to use outside platforms, which might make some of your station boxes slightly bigger than if you had the option of center platforms.

        Do the RapidRide coaches even have hush mode?

        New coaches would probably be a fairly small over-all cost of such a large project.

      6. I don’t think the DSTT has any more ventilation than the average underground tunnel of that vintage. Keep in mind it originally used dual-mode buses that ran on trolley wire underground; hush mode was not designed in.

        Battery life is a potential issue, but seems like a problem that could be solved with bigger batteries, for a whole lot less than the cost of laying track from Uptown to Ballard.

      7. “I don’t think the DSTT has any more ventilation than the average underground tunnel of that vintage. Keep in mind it originally used dual-mode buses that ran on trolley wire underground; hush mode was not designed in.”

        True, but it was also closed for two years in between while numerous upgrades were made, including “fire and safety systems,” whatever that means.

        “Battery life is a potential issue, but seems like a problem that could be solved with bigger batteries, for a whole lot less than the cost of laying track from Uptown to Ballard.”

        So another big expensive downtown tunnel, but still bus-lanes-kinda-sorta-sometimes out in the neighborhoods? I love the political optics of that.

        We’re building light-rail subways in this town already. Rather than get Allison to invent “Super Hush Mode” or buying another round of dual-mode buses, let’s just build a light-rail tunnel. I’m sick of half measures.

      8. Bruce,

        They just have to be willing to run the buses on the left for center platform. cross going in and cross going out.

        Please get the diesels out of the tunnels.
        DSTT is really unpleasant, even with hybrids and after all the ventilation upgrades.

      9. “I don’t think the DSTT has any more ventilation than the average underground tunnel of that vintage. ” There are some massive fans hidden in some of those tunnels, as I would expect from any enclosed space with vehicles carrying hundreds of gallons of fuel.

    2. Well they’re studies for HCT, which under state law has to operate “primarily in exclusive right-of-way,” not “bus lanes when we feel like it” a la RapidRide.

      I think the idea is to build light rail, but of course they have to complete an Alternatives Analysis to get federal money.

      1. That’s one of the things that worried me at the open house. Usually at those events they say “well, we have to study all modes, but *wink* *wink* light rail is great,” or “Which modes should we study? While you think about it, look at all these pictures of streetcars.”

        At the Ballard open house there was none of that. Admittedly I arrived late, but all I heard from McGinn was something like, “we’ll study the whole spectrum of options.” I’m hopeful that ST’s involvement will mean exclusive right-of-way Link-caliber light rail, but I can’t help but be concerned.

      2. Hey, can I repeat again that there are two different corridors in study with two different outcomes? Through Interbay, Sound Transit will get four alternatives that are all “in exclusive right of way”, all the way up to full grade separation. Through Fremont, it’ll be streetcar/rapid streetcar/Rainier Valley style light rail.

      3. At the open house they didn’t describe all the details of the EIS process, partly because we’ve seen it already with the Lynnwood Extension among others. This is two studies with two different levels of service, that are just being done simultaneously to get more bang for the buck (to share duplicative costs, leverage the same experts, and show how two lines can complement each other). So any mention of light rail or streetcars mean different things relative to the two service levels. The higher level can be grade-separated LR, partly MLK-style LR, or BRT (like Swift or ST Express). The lower level can be MLK-style LR, a “rapid” streetcar/trolleybus/bus, or at worst just extending the SLUT and pretending it’s rapid.

  3. How in the world do you deliver “high capacity” transit and not mention Kent or Southcenter?!

    1. Because planners don’t suffer from the endpoint fallacy. That’s between SeaTac/Burien and Renton, it’s covered by that corridor VERY CLEARLY.

      1. But there is another very-high-ridership set of corridors (higher ridership than some of the ones on the list) that is completely ignored: Renton-East Hill-Kent and Southcenter-Kent-Auburn.

      2. Meh, let them burn. I mean really. What is the potential of development in the Kent Valley and eastern hills? Probably not more than a couple thousand units. Unambitious planning from the land use side really makes any investment perilous. So, let them burn.

      3. Yes, and if we had more money we could study those now. But ST believes Renton-Burien has more potential, as does Metro which is installing RapidRide there. They may be wrong, but they’ve been consistent on this for a decade, and there hasn’t been a huge public push to reallocate it to Southcenter-Kent-Auburn. Plus the fact that Kent and Auburn are already getting much of ST’s South King money with Sounder. They were asked if they wanted Sounder even if it meant they wouldn’t get much else until the rest of south King was built out, and they said Sounder. In any case, these are just studies, not commitments for construction. There could always be a Southcenter-Auburn study before Renton-Burien is approved for construction, especially if the Renton-Burien results come back disappointing.

      4. Ben, what does endpoint fallacy mean? That demand is more one-way (Auburn-Southcenter implies residential-city) rather than two-way (Renton-Burien puts Southcenter and Central Link in the middle)? … Of course, Kent is not just a bedroom community, it’s a significant jobs center, and has all-day two-way demand on the 150,169,164, and west half of the 168, which suggests a Link line would be well used.

      5. “What is the potential of development in the Kent Valley and eastern hills?”

        It completely depends on the city councils’ attitudes. Those change every few years with elections. Long-term trends are going to catch up with them at some point, with an increasing number of non-driving seniors and don’t-want-to-drive young people, and a realization that being able to walk to the store and things is more pleasant than not being able to. In a best-case scenario, the Kent Station area would become.. oh, let’s say, like downtown Bellevue but 1/4 the size and few/no highrises, and East Hill (the commercial part) would become like Rainier Valley (RV’s emerging density). The single-family are between them may get a minor upgrade when/if residents are ready, and the single-family areas east and south of 104th would not change at all. The existing office/warehouse parks would probably not change much, unfortunately, but there would be denser office opportunities around Kent Station. West Hill I don’t know; there seems to be significantly less ridership between Kent Station and 99. I’m assuming it will remain a single-family refuge this round, but could build up in the following wave, especially as Central Link expands south and 99 densifies.

      6. Not casting aspersions on Sounder, but it sounds like the classic case of having the McLaren but not having the gas to drive it!

        Yes, it is great to have a fast exclusive corridor running up and down the Green River Valley, but it doesn’t run all day.

        Then the frequent East-West high capacity lines that would cross it, and take people to Southcenter, Seatac, Renton make sense.

        And yes, Renton-East Hill-Covington are ripe for either a Rapid Ride, or a Trolley.

      7. There’s been consistent direction by the councils that they want suburban development with “Downtown development”, which basically means nothing but more of what’s there. The idea that density and real job growth should be made is about zero. I have no faith that the councils are serious about driving new development of urban qualities that would sustain any significant transit investments. It’s sad to say, but I’ve watched hand sat on for a decade and previous worked for one of the planning organisations. Many great people who are smart and dedicated, but their politicians do not support their work one bit.

      8. John, that’s untrue. A route in Kent to Seattle or Renton may be ripe for enhanced services, but no Covington RR or trolley would be appropriate–likely ever. KCM needs to do a severe and serious restructure of the routes–starting with axing ALL express routes and then working to improve the actual routings, which are generally abominable. KCM tries to create fake span, frequency, and coverage by establishing irrational routes which provide sub-par mobility and super slow services (express routes excluded on the speed aspect).

      9. I’d like to ask you all to step back a bit – Sound Transit isn’t making these corridors up as it goes along. These are the corridors we approved planning funding for in ST2. They can’t just add new stuff.

      10. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to concentrate (this applies to both Metro and ST) on making the 140 corridor into the “blessed” south-end corridor when the near East Hill part of the 164/168 and the entire 169 have more riders.

        I think this may be a case of wanting to please powerful interests (Southcenter businesses, the Port of Seattle, Boeing, Paccar) at the expense of relatively poor residents of East Hill and south Renton.

      11. “this may be a case of wanting to please powerful interests (Southcenter businesses, the Port of Seattle, Boeing, Paccar)”

        This is obviously part of it. There are about five factors in the Renton-Burien corridor: (1) Southcenter wants a “First Hill” consideration for being bypassed with Central Link; (2) the number of cities and council districts it passes through; (3) the clout of those mayors; (4) Boeing and other large companies; (5) predicted ridership; (6) Burien has built “transit-ready” TOD at its station and is willing to expand it, and Renton has made a weak token attempt at it.

        Given that Metro is subject to the county council and the ST board consists mostly of mayors, this is about what we can expect.

        Kent could raise its standing and priority by building medium-density housing around Kent Station. It has a plan which may or may not be realized someday, but it’s too small, and more importantly, construction hasn’t even started yet.

      12. “Renton-East Hill-Covington are ripe for either a Rapid Ride, or a Trolley”

        It sounds like we’re agreeing that Kent needs RapidRide Southcenter-Auburn, Renton-Kent, and Kent-Lake Meridian. The Covington Fred Meyer is just a bit further so we don’t need to quibble on whether it should go that far. But not beyond that until Covington can show better ridership. Above that, Kent can fund its own streetcar if it’s inclined to. There needs to be an off-peak Kent-Seattle express, which rerouting the 578 would make an inexpensive start. But light rail to Kent, much as I would support it if people were ready to pay for it, is too much for the near future. Even these mid-level changes would make transit more convenient than it is now and increase ridership, and that would prepare Kent for the next step in light rail.

  4. I like these:
    * Overlake Transit Center — Downtown Redmond
    * Redmond — Kirkland — U-District
    * U-District — Ballard — Downtown Seattle (Ballard — Downtown Segment budgeted separtely [sic] Project 809101)
    * Downtown Seattle — West Seattle- Burien

    I have no strong opinion on these:
    * South Bellevue — Issaquah
    * Renton — Tukwila/SeaTac — Burien

    Don’t like these:
    * Lynnwood- SW Everett Industrial Center Everett
    * Redondo/Star Lake — Tacoma

    As for me…unlikely that we’ll see Northgate – Bothell on ST3. Maybe there’s hope for ST4.

    1. * Lynnwood- SW Everett Industrial Center Everett
      * Redondo/Star Lake — Tacoma

      You can thank sub-area equity for projects like these.

      1. I think you’d be surprised by Lynnwood-SW Everett. It’s definitely more peak-oriented, but SnoCo has pretty good ridership demand.

      2. …demand which existing service has no trouble keeping up with.

        I’m all for improving existing service, adding a stop or two, adding a dedicated Everett-Lynwood peak express line for the times when there is no 512, and improving frequency of the 512.

        I don’t see the ridership there, now or anytime in the remotely foreseeable future, to justify a billion-dollar rail line, especially when there is already pretty fast HOV infrastructure over most of the corridor.

      3. So we need to build on the 512, and truncate it in Lynnwood when Lynnwood station opens. Maybe it could do Edmonds-Lynnwood-Everett to cover more of the county? It’s important to prepare future rail extensions with buses, the way Vancouver did with the airport line, and the way Metro’s route 40 shadows a proposed streetcar. That pre-builds ridership, and the intermediate level can be a reasonable final level if it’s decided the train is not needed or too expensive. The 511, 550, 577, 578, and 594 do not really do this because they fall back to half-hourly too quickly, so they can’t plausably be called rapid transit except in the weekday/Saturday daytime, and that’s not enough to be a real alternative to a car.

        I also like the idea of doing the 512 thing to the 577/594. That would at least be an improvement toward the quality of rail, and a more reasonable final level than what we have now. It would also allow the 578 to serve Kent without Federal Way getting into a hissy fit over losing service.

      4. David, you’ve clearly never seen I-5 in the peak. Many of the buses exceed capacity on a regular basis.

      5. There’s a “-” missing in there. It should be “Lynnwood – SW Everett Industrial Center – Everett,” I think.

      6. Not between Lynnwood and Everett, they don’t. They exceed capacity going to downtown Seattle, and particularly from Lynnwood to Seattle where Link will go. The Lynnwood-Everett corridor would have all the service it needed with a few more express buses.

    2. in regards to the South bellevue – Issaquah cooridor – I think that’s why the I90 reorg is under consideration…too many riders and not enough capacity…additionally, I beleive that Issaquah either just updated or is in the process of creating much more density in the ‘downtown’ area. I wouldn’t toss this one out.

      1. Oh I’m not tossing it out, I just haven’t thought about that one much, hence no strong feelings for or against. I’m curious what mode it would be and where it would go, though. If we build a rail line to Issaquah, does it go to Bellevue? Seattle? Both? And if Seattle, does it stop at South Bellevue?

      2. Mark, this isn’t repeated enough perhaps, but these aren’t corridors ST is picking out of the blue – they were in ST2 as planning corridors, negotiated by the board.

      3. Yes, I know they were planning corridors approved with ST2 – but certainly that fact doesn’t preclude us from discussing their merits, or perceived lack thereof.

        As I pointed out, I like four of the corridors. I could probably be sold on two of the others – but I still think the Tacoma and Everett corridors aren’t a good idea, and the fact that they were part of ST2 doesn’t change my opinion.

      4. It doesn’t prevent us from discussing it, but what’s the outcome? If you really tried to split off a corridor for technical reasons, the political fallout could fracture the ST board.

      5. Even though I live in Seattle, of all the proposed lines, Issaquah is the one I am most likely to actually use. Ballard->downtown is not much use for the part of Seattle I live in and Ballard->U-district looks like it’s not going to happen. Issaquah, however, I would at least use a couple times a month to go hiking.

      6. You shouldn’t even discuss…

        …billions of dollars in pointless waste.

        Could fracture the ST board…

        …the very board responsible for warped priorities, poor implementation, and a slavish belief in a funding structure that ensures waste in perpetuity.

        [Build grade-separated rail]…to go hiking.

        [HEAD EXPLODES.]

      7. And ASDF, your hiking trails won’t be there anymore, once the Subsidized Long-Distance Commute Enabler gives birth to more of this all over the Issaquah hills.

        But don’t worry, every new development will still have plenty of garages for the cars that residents will use for 100% of non-commute trips and 90% of commute trips to anywhere but Seattle.

        Give me a B! Give me an A! Give me an R! Give me a T!

        [Ah]

      8. d.p. – most of the developable land around Issaquah has already been developed. What’s left is pretty much city, state, or county parks. I do not see hiking in Couger, Squak, and Tiger Mountain going away anytime soon.

      9. A quick search shows that the portions of wilderness closest to Issaquah proper — a.k.a. the areas you would ride the frequent all-day rapid transit to occasionally go hiking in* — actually fall outside of the protected State Park areas.

        Give these hillsides further excuse to sprawl, and sprawl they will!

        *(I seriously can’t believe I even had to type those words)

      10. “If we build a rail line to Issaquah, does it go to Bellevue?”

        This study is just the segment to South Bellevue. A line could go to either Seattle or Bellevue. Beyond Bellevue it could go to Kirkland/UW or Kirkland/Bothell. We could build just a shuttle now and extend it later.

        My hunch is that it would either be a shuttle to South Bellevue, or share East Link’s tracks to Hospital. The “sharing tracks” would look good to tax-limiters.

        I don’t see it going to Seattle because of the DSTT’s capacity and the lack of a turnback between Intl Dist and Northgate. And DP would flip a lid if the “Ballard Spur” capacity in the DSTT were given over to Issaquah. A lot of Seattlites would oppose that, probably enough to squash it. Of course, it could terminate next to Intl Dist, but given suburbanites’ reluctance to transfer I don’t see that happening.

      11. @d.p. – whatever sprawl is going to happen is going to happen regardless of whether the rail line gets built. It’s freeways, not transit lines, that cause sprawl.

        As to a shuttle Link line to south Bellevue, I don’t know how viable that would be. How many people who accept such transfer when driving to South Bellevue P&R exists as an alternative? A few might on weekdays if South Bellevue P&R is regularly filled to capacity, but not enough to justify the construction of a rail line. It ought to, at the very least, connect directly to downtown Bellevue.

      12. “whatever sprawl is going to happen is going to happen regardless of whether the rail line gets built. It’s freeways, not transit lines, that cause sprawl.”

        Yes!!! If rail lines were really causing sprawl, then more than half of the commuters would be on the trains, but it’s more like 2%. That’s because most of them don’t work where the train goes, they work in their own town or another suburb. That doesn’t mean the train is useless because it’s important to those 2% and to keep them from driving, and if it runs all day it allows people without cars or who don’t want to drive to get around the region. That’s the seed that allows a more transit-riding population to grow.

      13. The roads were much cheaper to build than rail lines. It’s expanding the roads, turning them into freeways that turns small farms and timberland into suburban bedroom communities. Without the ferries (technically part of the highway system) Kingston wouldn’t be the nucleus of new housing developments it’s become. Heavy rail is limited in the sprawl it can enable because of the prohibitive expense of going anywhere but current freight ROW and that ROW being near capacity. Light rail plus P&R “fixes” the problem of the last 10 miles so people can buy cheap land in ring suburbs and still have a relatively cheap and easy commute. Every worker that commutes into the cities creates 2-3 spin off jobs out in the hinterlands (building sprawl, working in strip malls, fixing cars, basic services, etc.).

      14. Overdue, but needs addressing.

        ASDF, the East Bay is a living refutation of your claim. Both west of and (especially) east of the Berkeley/San Leandro Hills.

        Through the ’80s and ’90s, BART provided just as much of a public-policy licence to (and massive subsidization of) sprawl as did the highway expansions of the ’50s and ’60s.

        The process is just as Bernie describes: the appeal of cheap land and open road starts to fade as traffic swells and the long, choked commutes grow tiresome. The billion-dollar train then arrives to “fix” the problem, offering the chance to sprawl further while now “only” having to fight traffic to the station. Of course, at such great distances and with nothing else around but sprawl, the train only proves useful for commuting to one of two specific distant points; all other trips and all other activities require a car. And so the outer burbs continue to be built primarily for the car.

        In 2013, Fremont is California’s 15th most populous city, boasting 214,000 people and not a goddamned thing you can walk to. The cross-hills BART lines help out one segment of the commuting popultion — at up to $35 of taxpayer subsidy round-trip — but the parallel roads are backed up once again many hours per day.

        Mike, you can’t claim that outer-suburban Link spindles won’t advance sprawl because only a tiny percentage of commuters will ever use them… and simultaneously claim that such trains are needed. That is a total, unrestrained cognitive dissonance.

        With tolls on the horizon and parking in Seattle getting ever costlier, it is fair to presume that quite a large percentage of commuters to downtown Seattle will one day choose transit, while only a small percentage will ever use transit to commute to other locations or to access Seattle outside of the peak. And I am in no way claiming that people do not deserve reasonable non-driving options along proven demand corridors.

        Fortunately, there are many ways to meet peak-hour demand and to incentivize transit usage, without spending billions in capitol costs and millions yearly in perpetual operating subsidies on a rail corridor that will only further disperse demand into the hills.

        Rapid transit is what you build when you reach a critical mass of all-hours demand of a sort that Issaquah will never see in a thousand years. A handful of people using something in the off-hours — and that’s literally how many people you find on most outer BART trains — is not a justification for such an egregious and counterproductive plan. ASDF is just going to have to go hiking some other way.

        (Oh, and I’ve finally looked at Issaqauh’s “urbanizing” upzone. Gigantic eyeroll there. A great sprawling mess of a zone, it seems to be oriented around access to I-90 and Lake Sammamish Parkway. 10-story heights may be allowed, but FAR will be low and “pedestrian friendliness” talk seems to revolve around elaborate, winding, leafy-green pathways rather than anything you or I would recognize as sidewalks, much less actual density. Make no mistake, New Issaquah is about bland office parks in sheep’s clothing. It will be built for cars. There is no there there!)

  5. It’s a happy end to the week! First the State Supreme Court strikes down the supermajority vote requirement for taxes, now this.

    The schlerosis may be abating, ladies and gentlemen.

  6. I think the success of ST3 is going to be in jeopardy unless the agency quits making building new rail corridors the primary focus, and instead makes rail productivity the primary focus. There is enough of a core system built or programmed in the key corridors that adding these new rail corridors won’t be perceived as benefiting large segments of the population. This will mean more tepid support in many areas. ST needs to think of ST3 as maturing the existing system — making second branches of the core lines that serve residents of Seattle and perhaps Bellevue, Shoreline, Kent and/or Renton; adding in-fill stations or (gasp!) strategic park-and-ride capacity; adding more connections and escalators for the DSTT stations; and partnering better with bus operators to incentive feeder connectivity rather than have competing bus operations. Sound Transit is going to be less and less of a “builder” and more and more of an “operator” as time goes on.

    1. I’m not sure I understand your complaint.

      South Bellevue-Issaquah would be a branch from already-planned East Link that would address one of the most crowded commuter corridors in the region.

      Overlake-Redmond would be an extension of East Link.

      Both Star Lake-Tacoma and Lynnwood-Everett (for all their weaknesses) are extensions of already-planned Central/North Link.

      Renton-Southcenter-Burien will already be a “HCT” corridor once RR F starts.

      The only truly new corridors here are Downtown-Uptown-Ballard and Downtown-West Seattle-Burien (both of which would be immensely popular in Seattle) and U District-Kirkland-Redmond.

      1. My complaint is that most of those proposed are single-line extensions or entirely new lines (except for the Issaquah corridor and just a little bit of the West Seattle and Ballard corridors). There is not really any focus on taking advantage of the billions that the tax payer already spent. For example, extending the north-south Link line, won’t benefit anyone in SE Seattle unless they are going south of Star Lake or north of Lynnwood, which are not going to be popular destinations for them. In fact, the overall ridership on the Link line could decrease in productivity, so that those in the MLK segment will experience more crowded trains, and – if budget cuts are needed – those residents might even see a reduction in frequency because the overall line would become less productive on a passengers/hour basis. So what’s pitched to a SE Seattle resident persuasive enough to get them to vote yes? In 2023, there will over half of the Sound Transit District residents (thus a majority of voters) living within 2-3 miles of an existing light rail station assuming East Link, North Link and South Link get built as currently in development. ST3 better having something pretty special to offer them or they run the likelihood that support will be pretty lukewarm.

      2. “For example, extending the north-south Link line, won’t benefit anyone in SE Seattle unless they are going south of Star Lake or north of Lynnwood, which are not going to be popular destinations for them.”

        Welcome to the political reality of subarea equity, where Snohomish and Pierce Counties, more than any other subarea, will vote primarily for capital improvements rather than improvements to existing service, and where both have been adamant about not resting until Link extends from Tacoma to Everett, no matter how insane that may be based on objective analysis, and no matter how much even the way they get there doesn’t make sense (extending a Ballard-West Seattle line through Greenwood and up 99 does a far better job of chasing density and destinations and is better suited for the long-haul trips involved than hugging the freeway an indeterminate distance north of Northgate).

        “So what’s pitched to a SE Seattle resident persuasive enough to get them to vote yes? In 2023, there will over half of the Sound Transit District residents (thus a majority of voters) living within 2-3 miles of an existing light rail station assuming East Link, North Link and South Link get built as currently in development. ST3 better having something pretty special to offer them or they run the likelihood that support will be pretty lukewarm.”

        That’s 2023, not 2016. In 2016, only the U-District, Capitol Hill, and the MLK/Tukwila segment will be near light rail, and a number of those groups are pretty smart about transit and/or vote for transit blindly. Most of the people along East Link would probably vote heartily for a Redmond extention, and ditto with South King, who’s suffered mightily as a result of the loss of tax revenue.

      3. I don’t understand the complaint. We voted to study these corridors. They aren’t doing anything new.

      4. If we want a Graham Station, now’s the time to ask for it in ST3. It should also be studied now.

    2. Al.S reminds us to not get too giddy about drawing new lines on the maps for more of everything, and pay attention to the fact that everything that gets built, has to be run year in and year out.
      Building infrastructure that is less efficient (more costly to operate per unit of service delivered) requires ever increasing levels of operating funds.
      It’s one thing to get voters excited about building a bright new railroad from A to F, and quite another to get them to keep raising taxes to operate it year after year because it’s a dog. Ask Pierce, SnoTran and now Metro how that works.
      The jury is still far from in on how LINK will do, once the plum segment is put into operation. So far, LINK is not performing very well against the bus lines it replaced.
      Like I said, time will tell.

      1. ” So far, LINK is not performing very well against the bus lines it replaced.”

        A 300% increase in ridership in 3 years isn’t good?

      2. “LINK is not performing very well against the bus lines it replaced.”

        That is an astoundingly false statement. You can say Link’s ridership is not as high as it would be in DC, but it’s definitely higher than the 194 and 42 and whichever other routes you have in mind. We didn’t lose ridership. Except for my Save Our Valley friend who refuses to take transit since the 106 restructure destroyed his one-seat ride.

      3. Central Link has netted about 7200 new daily riders for a 2.5 Bil investment. (Before and After Study) That’s nothing to write home about.
        Central Link is currently averaging 50% more per rider in operating cost over the Metro bus cost it replaced, adjusted for inflation. Again, no cigars here. And that doesn’t even count the depreciation on the investment, so add another 62 mil a year divided by 8+ million rides and you add another $7 a rider. If you don’t think things wear out and need replacing, just ask BART how that works.
        It’s a new system, and it will get better, but let’s at least be honest about where ST is at in the grand scheme of things.

      4. Valid point. Of course, we also need to figure benefits to existing riders into the cost-benefit analysis. Plus, the system’s definitely not mature yet – I’d say the real core will be from Northgate – Stadium – so even by the incomplete statistic of new ridership, we’ll probably be seeing a huge upswing in the next ten years.

      5. “Central Link has netted about 7200 new daily riders for a 2.5 Bil investment. (Before and After Study) That’s nothing to write home about.
        Central Link is currently averaging 50% more per rider in operating cost over the Metro bus cost it replaced,”

        That’s assuming the service is completely equivalent to the previous buses. For somebody living in Rainier Valley, Link comes every ten minutes until 10pm, and goes to the airport and Beacon Hill and SODO, plus greater reliability and faster speed. That’s what your $2.5 billion is yielding over the buses. In order to get good transit, you have to spend money. The need is a system that fulfills Seattle’s potential. You can’t start by saying we can’t spend any more than Metro is spending. Metro’s service is legacy and pathetic, and is driving people to their cars.

        “If you don’t think things wear out and need replacing, just ask BART how that works.”

        Steel rails need replacing a lot less often than asphalt. And I’ve heard that electric motors last a long time.

  7. And once again subarea equity raises its ugly head. Star Lake-Tacoma, Overlake-Redomnd, and Lynnwood-Everett make no sense whatsoever for true HCT. The only reason they’re on the list is because of subarea equity.

    Corridors where HCT needs to be considered first are corridors where the bus system struggles to keep up today. South Bellevue-Issaquah, either Ballard corridor are the only ones that qualify. Downtown-West Seattle-Burien might also qualify if “West Seattle” meant Delridge, but we all know it doesn’t.

    1. Typos… sorry! “Redmond” in the first paragraph, and add the missing “and” in the second.

    2. Yeah, pretty much. I will say that Overlake-Redmond vis-a-vis South Bellevue-Issquah isn’t being driving by subarea equity, but rather planning (and of course a bit of politics for good measure).

    3. Without subarea equity there would be two choices. (1) Seattle/Shoreline would have to fund its own transit. You can say they’re already doing this now, and that Seattlites are more open to additional lines than they were ten or twenty years ago. (2) ST3 would not have subarea equity, and most of the improvements would be in Seattle and I-90. That would get voted down as quickly as you can say “Puyallup” and “Mukilteo”. The Eastside and South King would also be suspicious of sending their money to Seattle. So the only alternative to subarea equity is a separate tax district or different tax rate for North King.

      1. The electeds and the endorsers that help make a campaign function know about it. Without it, most of them won’t get on board outside Seattle.

  8. Are there political and/or technological hurdles to building a station underneath the UW campus? I always thought it would be cool to have a station under Red Square or the HUB.

    1. Isn’t there already one being constructed by Husky stadium and another on Brooklyn? That’s probably close enough considering all the tunneling already existent under the university.

    2. IIRC Link was originally planned to run through campus, but it was unacceptable to interrupt physics experiments with ground moving equipment. Still seems crazy to me, and I have a vague memory of there being other reasons as well, but it’s water under the bridge now.

    3. Yes. A station was originally going to be in the drumheller foundtain/HUB area but because of vibration concerns the UW forced ST to move the station toward Husky Stadium and have the tunnel travel across campus away from the science buildings.

    4. The vibration concerns were the only real issue, and that was more about the line being near Eastlake. The rest is just the UW not wanting a station in the middle of campus, which I think is very shortsighted and will look like a mistake in 10-20 years. But the UW is a state institution and ST is regional, so whatever UW wants trumps whatever ST wants.

      1. Agreed. It would be nice to have a station right in the middle of campus in addition to the ones off campus. While it would be a hike for people outside of campus, it will also be a hike for people trying to get to campus, which is a fair amount during peak hours.

    5. The original alignment was under Portage Bay and then up 15th, with stations at 15th + Pacific and 15th + 45th, but tunneling under Portage Bay was not feasible and the UW wouldn’t allow trains that close to the physics building.

      I don’t believe a station in the middle of campus was ever considered, even after the tunnel alignment was shifted east.

      1. Correct. UW would under no circumstances want a station in the middle of campus. The HUB is not a suitable kiss and ride point for an all hours regional transit center. Especially when you consider that students and faculty make up only a small fraction of the ridership and it’s a fairly long hike to anywhere if you don’t have business on campus.

      2. Actually the UW couldn’t really do anything about the 15th Ave alignment as it was under a public ROW. There would have been some mitigation if the line had taken that route but the UW wouldn’t have been able to block it.

        When Montlake was first evaluated ST proposed a station on Rainier Vista between the Triangle and Stevens Way. The UW didn’t want the tunnel under Rainier Vista for a number of reasons including research impacts. They suggested the current alignment including the Husky Stadium station location.

    6. I think what happened is that when ST found a better Montlake alignment, it didn’t reopen the question of stations. This was in a funny time between ST1 and ST2, because it was ultimately leftover ST1 money that went to University Link. If it had been ST2 money, there would have been a revote on the alignment and stations. But because revoting was unnecessary, and there was no public groundswell forcing ST to reconsider how many stations it should have, it just defaulted to what we’re building now.

      1. What are you talking about? There was no left over money from ST1, it didn’t even deliver half of what was promised.
        Sound Move – the ten-year regional transit system plan

        Sound Move includes 25-miles of a starter light rail system with 26 stations within walking distance of major destinations as well as connections to local bus service. Some stations will include connections to regional express buses, commuter rail, the Monorail and the Waterfront Streetcar

        You keep repeating this notion that the project came in under budget when in fact it was a huge boondoggle. ST2 pays to complete more (not all) of the original line and added East Link.

      2. Mike is right, the Sound Move taxes are paying for U-Link, and would have paid for the extension to Northgate if ST2 didn’t pass, it just would have taken a decade longer to get there.

      3. it just would have taken a decade longer to get there

        Thereby turning the 10 year plan to get from S. 200th to the UW into a 30 year plan. It’s not a certainty even that would have been possible as debt on the massively over budget project and the much higher than expected operating cost leaves little to none of the original funding for capital expansion. ST2 doubled Sound Transits revenue. What do you think the balance sheet would look like without it? Sound Move came up a decade late and a billion dollars short.

  9. So fundamentally, is the next vote for ST for future projects a vote for extending taxes that will otherwise expire, or a vote for raising additional taxes on top of what’s levied now?

    The first seems potentially easy, the second very hard.

    1. Both. It would expand ST’s bonding capacity, which would allow it to build more and accelerate projects. The ST2 bonds would still be retired at the same time but the ST3 bonds would continue. Thus, theoretically, we could have an ST4 or 5 that would replace the retiring bonds, the same way school levies tend to be renewed at the same rate. Although at a certain point, you’ll have as much rail as you need, and then most of the expenses disappear because you only have to pay for operations.

    2. Whether it’s more difficult or not ultimately comes down to whether people’s attitudes have changed since 2008. Are they worn down by the can’t-call-it-a-recession with no end in sight? Or do they still believe that good transit mobility is critical for the region’s future?

    1. TBD. First, the board would need to approve a study, then if approved, it would need to go through an EIS which would include scoping and an alternatives analysis. The alternatives analysis will include no-build and a mode choice decision.

      The Downtown-Ballard-UW line has already cleared the first hurdle, but the others will need to stand on their own merits to go forward.

  10. This is totally off topic, but there’s no need to use “[sic]” as some sort of manually-added red spellchecker underline. It’s perfectly acceptable in journalism to correct typos when there’s no ambiguity of meaning. “[sic]” is better saved for quotes like “I ask you to refudiate [sic] this claim”.

  11. How about a ST/Boeing Joint venture? Mukilteo – Boeing/Paine Field – Everett TC – Marysville – Arlington. It may sound wonky a bit deluded, but look the spurts of traffic on these corridors on any given day as the shifts of traffic leave Boeing. Plus, you can then better sell BAT/HOV lanes on Everett Mall/Evergreen Way/SR 99 through Everett and unincorp. SnoCo.

    1. As a candidate for improved bus service, that makes a lot of sense. As a candidate for grade-separated HCT, it makes no sense at all. Demand is not that high and it’s entirely focused at not just the peak hour, but a narrow slice of the peak hour.

    2. My understanding is that, at least at present, Boeing doesn’t really give a shit about employees having any travel options other than driving. I heard they don’t even have shuttles between buildings, let alone a shutting between the Boeing campus and the nearest regularly served ST express stop. Unless I’m totally wrong or Boeing’s management undergoes a drastic change in attitude, I don’t see them contributing one cent towards any light rail that went to their campus.

  12. Speaking of deluded. Look how uninterested Paula Hammond is at that meeting. Does anyone know if Lynn Peterson was present at the meeting?

    1. Notice how close she is sitting to the Emergency Exit doors.
      Coincidence?
      …Falling revenues…rising costs…cracks…broke Uncle Samuel…DBT Tolling…and on and on…

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