Last month, Sound Transit broke ground on a long-awaited permanent Sounder station at Tukwila. Currently, the temporary station makes for a pitiful stop for Amtrak riders and the thousand or so commuters who make connections to nearby worksites. The project will construct permanent platforms, rebuild the park-and-ride, and create a new bus loop. Coupled with the impending F Line implementation and lot of surrounding greenfield, an optimist might envision bright TOD prospects in the station area’s future.
Among the many improvements:
The new facility, with a total budget of $46 million, will include two 600-foot-long platforms, two new passenger shelters, improvements to the underpass connecting the two platforms, and a bus transit area supporting better access to King County Metro Transit services, including the future Rapid Ride F line. Parking for transit users will nearly double from 208 to 390 stalls, and a plaza, improved walkways and lighting will offer better pedestrian access to the station. The facility will also house four electrical charging stations, and bicycle storage will increase from 27 to 76 spaces.
By my reading of the Tukwila Station and RapidRide plans, it sounds like the F Line will be coming off of the SW 27th/Strander Blvd extension, into the station via a new access road, dropping off at the bus loop, and circulating back to Strander via the West Valley Highway. According to some Metro planners I talked to, it’s not really being considered a deviation for the time being since the Renton-funded segment of the 27th/Strander project won’t connect all the way to the West Valley Highway.
Once Tukwila gathers enough funding to complete its segment of the roadway extension, however, the routing becomes unnecessarily circuitous, at least during non-Sounder hours when there won’t be a train or bus to connect to, nor any nearby destinations to serve. A deviation is more tolerable in the peak when the benefit for connecting riders will outweigh the cost for through-riders. However, I suspect Metro wants to avoid having multiple route patterns for a frequent branded service like RapidRide.
53 Replies to “What’s in Store For Tukwila Station & RapidRide F”
Since Longacres Way has no bridge over the Green River (unless one is planned), it seems that the current location of the station makes walking to any of the businesses west of the river nearly impossible. Is there any possibility to move the station south to the new street?
Thinking the same thing when looking at the overhead image, it seems like there would be tremendous integration just by shifting the station right under the overpass.
Then they could even develop some nice TOD in the current station location.
It would be undoubtedly better to situate the station at/over Strander, but as a consolation prize, there is a pedestrian bridge planned between Baker and Longacre, at the eastmost bend of the river.
I work in the office building immediately west of the Green River. We received a public notice of a pedestrian bridge to be constructed across the river, just on the north side of the a single family residence hold-out on West Valley Highway. It would connect the Green River trail to Longacres.
“A deviation is more tolerable in the peak when the benefit for connecting riders will outweigh the cost for through-riders. However, I suspect Metro wants to avoid having multiple route patterns for a frequent branded service like RapidRide.”
The only legitimate justification for an all-deviation that I can see is that about 1 in 10 off-peak buses or so will still connect with an Amtrak train, or, possibly a special-event Sounder train on a weekend. Amtrak’s on-time performance is unpredictable enough to make it impractical to designate specific bus trips in advance as connecting with a specific train. And the special event Sounder schedule is extremely erratic.
Perhaps one reasonable compromise might be to only do the deviation when somebody actually wants to get on or off there. In addition to the standard stop-request cord, this would require some sort of signalling system at Tukwila Station that passengers would have to press a button to trigger, in order to tell the next F-line bus to deviate to their stop. I doubt this compromise will ever happen, but if it did, it would save lots of off-peak riders a lot of time, at least on most trips.
Amtrak Cascades’s on-time performance is expected to go upwards of 90% when the Point Defiance Bypass is completed. (The Coast Starlight will still show up any old time, of course.)
Isn’t that the truth! The last time I rode that train, it arrived 90 minutes early.
It doesn’t matter when the Coast Starlight shows up. It doesn’t stop at Tukwila.
Let me see if I have this right. I’m trying very hard to understand the wisdom of this routing.
The F Line will be in operation about 19 hours a day. Sounder is operating about 7 hours a day with very infrequent, limited service. But the F Line will have to make an enormous detour and still serve the Sounder Station for about 12 hours per day, even when there’s no train service.
But further north, Metro buses that serve Bellevue College during the weekday, do not enter the college on the weekend, i.e., multiple route patterns).
So what makes sense for a regular Metro bus doesn’t apply to Rapid Ride because of branding concerns?
Please, someone please help me wrap my head around this. I feel, once again, like I’ve fallen through the Metro rabbit hole, and am lost in a sea of confusing logic.
As an international traveler and afficianado of transit, you know darn well that Amtrak could arrive any time of day.
Yes, it reminds me of the 150’s Southcenter routing at night.
So, when I’m coming home from the symphony in Seattle at 10pm, instead of being a quick 30 minute ride to Kent, it makes this gigantic loop and stops scores of stations where there is nearly no one, and then continues on East Valley.
Of course, as the plans to bring more granular use mixture to Southcenter (that is, more residences) get underway, all those stops will be used over a greater range of times of day. The specifics of the 150’s route around there are painful, but… the wages of freeways and all that. The street network just isn’t built for transit.
That’s why we need all day Sounder service…just like the L.I.R.R.
I’m too lazy to look it up, but I think having a bus stay on the street by a park-and-add-several-minutes-to-everyone-else’s-ride, a forced-transfer-center, or a train station, and pick/drop at an on-street stop, is a violation of Metro’s guidelines.
the unfortunate part is that the new Tukwila station is not connected with Strander Blvd. in any meaningful pedestrian friendly way. Having the “F” line serve the station during Sounder hours is vital in my opinion, however off-hours, it might work better if an agreement was made with the Port of Seattle to extend some of their rental-car shuttle buses to the Tukwila Station to serve as a direct connection to the Airport (making a stop at TIBS, of course.
Every other South Sounder station, except South Tacoma has a 1-seat ride to the airport. Why would anyone go to TSS to get to the airport?
Amtrak, I assume.
Lakewood and Sumner don’t.
Lakewood does (574), but Puyallup and Sumner don’t. (My previous comment was written in sleep-deprivation mode.)
Anyone coming from out of town riding north on Amtrak and getting off at TSS would save money getting off at Tacoma Dome Station and taking the 574. Anyone riding south from out of town and getting off at TSS would save money getting off at King Street Station and taking Link. Someone has to be misinformed and/or confused to go to TSS as a way to get to the airport.
The 574 does not serve Lakewood Station.
For Renton->Tacoma trips, taking Amtrak Cascades from Tukwila starts to look intriguing. The connections to the 574 are so awful than even with $15 fares each way, it may be worth it.
Am I missing something?
End game is to have RR-F come and go via Strander and 27th, which is about a straight shot. But even after the two new underpasses are completed at UP and BNSF, the buses have to go north to Longacres to circle through the Transit Center.
This is goofy, since the TC can be built north of 27th and eliminate a lot of wandering around.
But, like everything else, all the plans are done, so it is what it is.
Next station please!
I believe the original intention was to have pedestrian walkways from the Transit Center to 27th. On both sides of the tracks. Which is perfectly reasonable and would solve most of the problems (though it would still be a bit of a hike).
I haven’t looked at the F Line’s proposed alignment to see if there are others, but the stop at the Sounder Station would still be a decent connection to the Interurban Trail.
I have all but given up on the F-line, as it is such a complete and total joke. Yes, there are a tiny handful of trips where the F-line is still useful, in spite of its craziness, for example, downtown Renton to Portland via F->Amtrak, but those represent only a tiny fraction of the trips that anyone makes. Anyone who wants to travel between Burien and Renton will still be able to drive from Burien to Renton, back to Burien, and back to Renton again in the time it will take an F-line bus to complete a single one-way trip.
Yes, but at least RabidRide-F(standing for fucked from 1,000 puncture wounds) (including the asinine tilt-O-whirl ride through the new $46M station in the wrong place) will be ‘predictably’ slow, whereas I-405 could have a major oil or chemical spill, or 9.0 subduction quake rendering the trip longer.
There will actually be good ridership from the Landing. I’ve seen it. But the 560, even with its infrequency, is still a better option for the Burien-Renton trip.
That statement is true for nearly any 2 points in Metro’s system.
F is not an express. It’s necessary connectivity between the otherwise disconnected constellation of transit centers serving these towns. It makes it possible to reliably transfer from a route out of one to a route out of another.
It’s never going to be great, but without a frequent F/140 to facilitate transfers between hubs, this part of the system just falls apart off-peak.
Between Link, the 150, and the 101, I see very few actual trips that require a connection between the F-line and a north/south route, when so much of the area is already a one-seat ride from downtown Seattle anyway. Taking Link->F to go to Southcenter would be much slower than simply hopping on the 150, and taking Link->F or 150->F to go to Renton would be much slower than simply hopping on the 101. Burien to downtown is no faster via F->Link than simply taking the 120. Even trips like Kent->Renton can be done as a single-seat ride on the 169 at least as fast as 150->F
This is not to say that cross-town routes like the 140 (soon to be renamed the F) shouldn’t exist – they should, but they should stick to their purpose, which is to facilitate cross-town trips. In other words, the primary purpose of a route like the F is to connect Burien, Southcenter, and Renton with each other. That’s not to say it’s there aren’t other purposes, such as serving homes and businesses along Southcenter Blvd. near TIBS that would otherwise lack coverage, or for transfers to the A-line to get from, say, Renton to Federal Way, but these are secondary purposes that only happen to work out because adding a bus stop somewhere the bus is already going to go by anyway, while serving it’s primary purpose, costs next to nothing.
Nor will I argue that there aren’t any occasions where one might have to use the F to connect with a north-south trunk. For instance, a few people might want to use F->Amtrak to travel from Renton or Burien to Portland (and the connections to the 594/574 from these points are so bad that a few might even use F->Amtrak to get to Tacoma out of desperation). Or someone in Southcenter waiting for a 150 that OBA says is 30 minutes late might decide to screw it and hop on a F bus that happens to show up to connect with Link at TIBS. There even exist a very tiny number of people who live right next to the I-5/SR-518 interchange for which the F-line and a 1-mile walk are the only options to reach a north/south transit line.
But these situations are, fundamentally all edge cases and, even so, do not require deviations that delay everyone else in order for the connection to be usable. TIBS already has an overflow lot on the north side of Southcenter Blvd., with a signalized crosswalk to reach Link. Why is a delay to everyone else justified simply so the one person making the Link connection gets to wait for the light to cross the street on the bus, rather than on foot? Or, take Amtrak/Sounder, for instance. When the Strander Blvd. extension is complete, can the one person making a F->Sounder connection not simply walk to the station from Strander? Or, for that matter, use the new ped bring they are planning to build to walk from West Valley Highway?
Then you missed my point. If you’re making a long-haul to downtown, you have an option from pretty much every hub. The issue is making cross-valley trips where the origin and destination are on local routes out of 2 different hubs. Without a robust line linking BTC, TIBS, Southcenter, and RTC, you have to either transfer downtown (and pay a 2 zone fare) or drive.
I wholeheartedly agree with you that routing and stop placement in and around transit centers is pants-on-head retarded, though. We can only hope that buses get full signal priority for the left turns onto/off of Strander.
True, but those trips are not common enough to justify delaying everybody else who simply wants to go in a straight line just to save those people what is really a very a tiny amount of walking.
Nor can we make the argument that an extra hundred-feet of walking caused by making the bus staying in a street line is going to induce people to drive. Anyone that is using the F for the middle segment of a 3-seat ride would already be driving (or at least getting some to drive them for the first segment) if they had anyway to do so. The people that are left are not going to be deterred by having to walk 3-5 minutes to make a connection, especially if it’s a 20-minute wait for the connection anyway. On the contrary, needless loop-de-loops that slow things down for no reason will drive people into their cars who have a choice.
Again, I am not saying the F-line shouldn’t stop at TIBS at all – I am simply staying that staying on the street is going enough. If nearly everybody on the bus were getting off at TIBS with only 1 or 2 people riding through, then deviating to get a little closer to the station might make sense. But when 1 or 2 people are getting off at TIBS and everyone else is riding through, a deviation into the station does not make sense. It makes far more sense for the one or two people getting off at TIBS to simply be let off on the street and use the crosswalk signal to walk to the station. Similar found the Sounder connection, except we have a 1/4 mile walk instead of a wait for the light.
“Taking Link->F to go to Southcenter would be much slower than simply hopping on the 150, and taking Link->F or 150->F to go to Renton would be much slower than simply hopping on the 101.”
Well, this would no longer be true if Metro truncates the 150 and 101 at Rainier Beach. If fact, RR F could be seen as a prerequisite for that, because the way to make people bitch less about losing their parallel expresses is to put more local transit within south King County so that you’re not waiting 25-55 minutes for a bus, and woe betide you if you have to transfer. (The other part is to create more high-quality destinations in the south county, so that people feel less need to go to Seattle.)
The 140 between TIBS and Southcenter has good ridership throughout the day. I’ve only taken it west of TIBS or east of Southcenter a few times but from what I remember ridership was decent. Faster boarding, more frequent service, all these should help.
As I recall from Metro’s last stat dump ages ago, it’s one of the best performing (the best?) South routes both mid-day and night/evening. In the peak, though, the commuter expresses eat it’s lunch.
Right, but are the people who are taking the 140 really going to TIBS (the station), or are they simply walking to somewhere in the area of the station? If it’s the latter, a deviation into the station could be actually increasing their walking distance, not decreasing it. Considering that Link+140 is an inferior way to get to Southcenter than the 150, whoever is making this connection is not going anywhere near downtown. Which leaves people coming from either the Ranier Valley, the airport, or somewhere along the A-line.
To give you an idea of the absolute best case, SeaTac airport to Southcenter Mall via Link->140 is about 30 minutes (not including the walk through the airport or the Southcenter parking lot itself, actual door-to-door time might be more like 45-50 minutes) vs. 10 minutes in a car or taxi. From Ranier Beach Station to Southcenter Mall, the times are similar. These times are already plenty large enough that:
1) Anyone who either has a car or someone willing to drive them is going to drive
2) Those who don’t have other options won’t visit the mall very often in the first place because it takes so long to get to
3) People who work at the mall and don’t have enough money to afford a car will find some way to avoid making this their daily commute. For example, finding a place to live directly along the F-line or 150, carpooling with co-workers on most days, buying a $500 beater-car that was slated for the junkyard and seeing how long it will last (and saving money by illegally driving without registration or insurance), or simply waking up the reality that transit in south King County is and always will be awful and finding another job that is more accessible.
In other words, even if there were no deviation, having to walk a hundred feet and wait for a light to make a connection is the least of your problems!
You know perfectly well that there is nothing in walking distance of TIBS other than the apartment buildings to the East. But the design of TIBS is a tragedy that only advocates for the disabled even try to defend.
From where? Downtown Seattle? F/140 is not for downtown riders, and Link is totally irrelevant to F discussion. Try starting on RRA. Or anywhere in Fairwood or the Renton Highlands.
To put this in perspective … if it’s anything like the C Line in terms of number of trips per day, the F Line will make about 180 appearances at the Tukwila Sounder Station. And how many appearances will the Sounder make? 18.
Amtrak will make 4 appearances per day per direction, for a total of 8. Plus 2 extra Sounder appearances (1 per direction) on whatever days special-event service is running.
Plus the new Sounder trip being added in September.
Can anyone explain why the station isn’t being built closer to an east-west cross street?
Because good public policy takes a back seat to half a dozen assholes raising objections to efficient transport every time.
1. Start with the railroads. Effectively there are 3 mainlines between Seattle and Tacoma (1 UP, 2 BN), but the station will be build with an interim platform awaiting a 3rd mainline from BNSF someday. Good policy would add the new mainline to the UP (double tracking it) and put most through freights on that ROW, and leave the BN ROW for passenger trains, locals, or Stampede Pass. But that would make too much sense, so we get another band aid station design and more coal/oil trains rambling through, and fewer slots available for passengers. FAIL
2. Strander/27th will be the main E-W corridor from Tukwila to S. Renton in the future, which is where RR-F will run. The station should span 27th. Cars to the north parcel, and buses to the South parcel. But no. We end up with a rail station in the middle of nowhere at Longacres, a cockamammie multiple turn at slow speed ride to whirl around the new TC in the name of good policy and tack on some more minutes to a slow ride. FAIL
3. A new pedestrian bridge across the Green River will be build as another band aid to hopelessly try to undo all the fatal flaws created by 1 and 2. NICE, BUT SELDOM USED = FAIL
The railroads really were the worst part of the problem. Tukwila suggested consolidating them into a single four or five-track corridor from 43rd St/180th St to Grady Way, but UP would have none of it. Result: each road needs two sets of bridges, one for UP and one for BNSF.
This is a case where thousands upon thousands of F Line bus riders are going to be detoured and delayed every day for the sake of, what, a few dozen train riders? And not only will bus riders be delayed for a few train riders, they will be detoured and delayed even when the train isn’t running.
Someone once said, and I quote, that “the best and the brightest are running ST and Metro.” Can we now agree that is not the case?
Everyone please reread this again:
“According to some Metro planners I talked to, it’s not really being considered a deviation for the time being since the Renton-funded segment of the 27th/Strander project won’t connect all the way to the West Valley Highway.”
In short, this is the only possible route right now. Once the UP bridge over Strander gets built, there will be the possibility of a better route. The coordination problems are obvious.
When-and-if the UP bridge gets built, lighted walkways should be built on both sides of the BNSF tracks leading from Strander to the Tukwila station. It’s 600 feet.
… and then the F line can just use the bus pullouts being incorporated into the design for the UP U-xing and not do the Tukwila Twist into the TC. It’s only 600 feet to the station, which is about half that of the Seatac Airport Shuffle.
But then we’d just be abandoning this nice, new, shiny bus loop built in to our permanent station design! That’s not happening, ever.
The bus loop could be used for other buses. Admittedly there won’t be any others stopping at Tukwila Station immediately after the F line opens. But some of the north-south routes might be usefully redirected into the station — certainly the 161.
Possibly the 150, which is shadowing Sounder already. It does strike me that Southcenter Mall is in an obnoxious location to be served by anything.
The poorly-performing 560 should also be redirected to the station. (What does it have to lose by doing so? At least this way it could provide a connection from Bellevue & Renton to trains heading south). Like the F line, it might be better off following the “direct” route to the south of the station, though.
The purpose of the 560 is to be the only way to get between the airport and Renton in a reasonable amount of time. Admittedly, it doesn’t do this very well due to its low frequency, but it’s something. Adding a time-consuming detour would make the 560 even less useful. And nobody is going to take Sounder->560 to go to the airport anyway – they will take Link instead.
“The purpose of the 560 is to be the only way to get between the airport and Renton in a reasonable amount of time. ”
If that’s the purpose of the 560:
(1) *why does it go to Bellevue*?
(2) *why does it go west past the airport*?
I think the thinking behind the 560 is a lot muddier than that…
Anyway, this was my thinking: At the moment there is no way to get from Renton to Amtrak Cascades or Sounder in a reasonable amount of time without driving, which is actually very similar to the problem of getting people from Renton to the airport in a reasonable amount of time without driving. Hence my suggestion.
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