As part of the 2008 voter-approved ST2 package, Sound Transit was asked to evaluate high-capacity transit on several corridors. Originally scheduled for study in 2018, we’re getting them 5 years earlier thanks to the efforts of Seattle Subway and the McGinn administration forcing the issue a couple years back. We saw Ballard last year, and now we’re getting our first glimpses at alternatives for West Seattle-Burien-Renton. At this early stage both Bus Rapid Transit and Light Rail options are on the table.


Alternative “A” is a long, L-shaped route from Downtown to West Seattle and Burien and Renton that takes the ST2 study area literally. If Alternative “A5” looks familiar, it’s because it mirrors almost exactly the routing David mapped out in a post on the subject last year, tunneling to about Holden St. and surface-running thereafter. “A3” is a Delridge alignment, elevated South to Delridge and mostly surface-running beyond that, and “A4” is a BRT variant.

Alternative “B” splits the area into two separate lines, with one running from downtown to West Seattle, and another from Downtown, through South Park and straight on to Burien and Renton.  Planners noted that BRT (“B2”) would not be sufficient to meet demand from Renton to Seattle.  Light Rail (“B4”) in this alternative would serve the most riders (over 100K!) but would be the most expensive to construct, with two lines and everything north of Burien either elevated or in a tunnel.

Finally, Alternative “C5” runs mostly elevated light rail from Downtown to West Seattle, and then gives Burien/Tukwila/Renton a BRT route that’s not much different from RapidRide F. Renton-Seattle and Burien-Seattle commuters lose a one-seat ride in this scenario, but given the fiscal realities and other priorities of the South King subarea, that may not be possible anyway.

You can watch the presentation to the ST board at this link, which also includes bits on Lynnwood-to-Everett and I-405 BRT options. The comparison chart is below. Note that the costs* for most alternatives include a downtown Seattle tunnel south of Westlake, probably about $1 billion, but likely needed for a Ballard-downtown line as well.


West Seattle Blog has the full slide deck, which you can also find here. We’ll have more on these options in the coming weeks.

*  “Draft costs shown are conceptual level estimates only and are used for purposes of comparison”

117 Replies to “Sound Transit Presents Options for West Seattle & South King”

  1. It doesn’t seem like Delridge is wide enough for a surface alignment, especially south of Orchard. That would probably mean some liberal use of eminent domain if this option were chosen… anyone have info on how that was handled for Link on MLK?

    1. Delridge is low density and skippable, at least compared to Alaska Junction. It’s flyover territory for regional transit.

      1. Sounds like a great place for the city to build high-density affordable housing across much of the income scale. And that neighborhood could certainly use it.

      2. Yes, Delridge is not dense, but that’s not what I asked. Option A3 calls for a surface alignment on Delridge. South of Holden, Delridge is two lanes wide plus sidewalks. How will that fit? Does it mean using eminent domain? Was this done anywhere on MLK pre-link?

      3. It would absolutely mean acquiring a bunch of new property for ROW. It would be expensive.

    2. The entire length of delridge is zoned LR or better all the way down. It’s only a narrow strip for most of the length, though, reflecting that there’s no “there” there, and it’s outside of any planned growth areas.

      The city’s primarily trying to get new development located in the designated Urban Villages around Alaska Junction, High Point, and in the few blocks closest to White Center against city limits.

      DPD likes to keep density very compartmentalized into its own areas.

    3. Delridge is high ridership and low income though. Or do all the 120 riders come from Burien and White Center rather than Delridge?

  2. Slightly OT, but will we be getting a similar review for the Lynwood – Everett, and the I405/ESR corridor studies?

  3. I’m having trouble reading the map. When I click on it (twice) to enlarge it, I get an image that is very fuzzy and relatively small. I can’t read the labels. The same is true for the external links. It looks as if they just scanned a picture and didn’t do a very good job of it. On the other hand, the chart is just fine. Does anyone have a link to the PDF (I assume they created these documents in PDF format)?

    1. Might have been pulled from the video presentation. I did not see the slides avaliable for download anywhere.

      1. oh there was a slide deck, I missed that. I wonder why the resolution is so bad.

    2. I did manage to download a PDF and it is no better. From the Scribd site you can download the document after you sign in to Facebook (great). But that PDF still has a very fuzzy map. Very sloppy by the folks in charge.

    3. I watched the video last night, and the maps and charts are in the same format ST normally uses for comparisons. So I think these are an early draft of what will be published but they’re not published quite yet. So better-quality copies will surely be coming.

      One of the speakers seemed to say that results for Federal Way and Tacoma were presented in earlier board meetings, but I skimmed the minutes and videos for every month from November to April and couldn’t find them. So have they been presented or did I misunderstand what she said?

      (The earlier videos do have some interesting stuff about ST2 Link operations planning, and post-ST2 operations. They seemed to say that Lynnwood-Redmond would run full time, not truncated at Northgate off-peak as the last schedule said. U-Link will have 4-car trains and more frequent peaks (6 min), but off-peak frequency will remain the same. A full Everett-Tacoma scenario would require 3-minute frequency in the shared segment (Northgate-Intl Dist) to meet demand.)

      1. I think it was the Executive Committee in Feburary that reviewed Federal Way to Tacoma. I watched it, it was fairly cut and dry because there’s really only 2 alignments, I-5 and 99, and I think only 4-5 stations.

      2. Are there enough LRVs to run four-car trains at 6-minute headway for U-Link with the current fleet?

  4. Second Ross’s observation on readability. PDF would be good. But two points:

    1. What would be the route for the proposed tunnel? And what technique- bore, cut and cover, or both? And any recognition that ground south of Jackson is really water with a little dirt in it?

    2. Will the “R” really deserve its place between the B and the T? Because I’m still waiting for the transit community to admit that maybe an “&” would fit better, and an S instead of the T. In commerce, first word is “Bait.” Calling right of way “BAT” is still perfect. Now on, at least same conditions as LINK on MLK or plan is DOA.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I am a bit concerned about this statement from Sound Transit when it comes to BRT. For example, here is one of their “Key Findings”:

      * BRT demand is relatively high but can be difficult to serve with realistic bus headways.

      A bus can do everything a train can do, except for carry as many passengers. If it is difficult to serve people with BRT with realistic bus headways, then it will be difficult to do the same with a train. If I understand that statement, then what they are getting at is that it will be difficult to get a dispersed set of buses that are then funneled into one exclusive path to have consistent headways. That makes sense to me, but alternatives will face the same problem. If buses funnel to a consistently running train, then the chances of hitting that connection without a significant wait are low. The only advantage to a train in that scenario (other than the higher capacity) is that riders next to the train would have consistent headways. But the same can be done with BRT, except only one BRT line (the one that follows the same route as the train would) would be consistent. All the others would arrive when they arrive. For the types of numbers we are talking about here, I don’t think it is a problem. But that assumes that these same buses don’t get stuck in traffic once they are funneled into the same lane. The transit tunnel underneath downtown has served way more buses, and people manage just fine. Unfortunately, that could easily be the case for every BRT proposal so far.

      I think it is telling that all of the light rail proposals have a tunnel underneath Seattle, but none of the BRT proposals do. I know this is all just sketches right now, and we can mix and match, but I think that is a stupid assumption. Given that idea, it is no wonder that people in West Seattle really want “light rail”. People get stuck on the terminology. In this city, “light rail” means grade separated rail (except for that one section in Rainier Valley), “streetcar” means at-grade mixing with traffic, and “BRT” means a different colored bus.

      1. Key thing you want to remember Ross: even with identical right of way- Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel is good example, MLK LINK probably better- buses cannot be coupled. (Russians used to do this with 40′ trolley buses- admire the spirit.)

        But some math: When I drove for Metro, regulation following distance was 6 seconds for every 10 mph. My calculator says that to carry same number of passengers as a 4-car LINK train, a busway would need six 60′ buses.

        Platoon of buses same length as train at station: 360′- with usual ten feet or so between buses to allow passing re: breakdown. But at 60, platoon takes up about a third of a linear mile. Somewhat less for city arterial.

        So ideal method would probably be same philosophy as DSTT: light rail-standard trackway, same with signals and stations, start with buses and then joint-ops as area develops. When time comes for rail-only, no sweat.

        My “call”: Anytime any official suggests “BRT”, run above paragraph by them. Any quibbles, say you’ll discuss light rail. Any more argument, walk away.


      2. The other thing to remember is operator costs. If to meet demand you have to hire 4 times as many operators, who all have a union and benefits and a retirement. That can be quite a deterrent when an agency is making really long term plans. Saving a billion now might not really be the best move financially in 30 years.

      3. This would all be highly relevant if the line in question went places with genuinely high or concentrated demand of the sort that requires the carrying capacity of multi-car rail.

        As it is, you’re unintentionally concern trolling.

      4. Ross,

        The way that LRT handles higher capacity than BRT is by making trains. To accomplish this one must plan well when it’s built by building it with what seem at the time like ridiculously long stations to absorb future growth. MAX in Portland faces significant expenses upgrade the east-west line stations should a downtown tunnel ever be built to improve the running time through the CBD and make the line a useful cross-town connector.

      5. The way that LRT handles higher capacity than BRT is by making trains.

        Which is why LRT only makes sense where, y’know, serious demand actually exists. West Seattleites yelling about occasionally not getting a seat on RapidRide, at 5:01 PM, and only when impacted by bunching, is not evidence of this.

        MAX in Portland faces significant expenses…

        A totally separate issue, though it’s a relief to see MAX-boosters admit their system’s painful cross-urban connective failings. But this is also a system with branches running every 35 minutes or worse some times of day. Maybe if they’d been focuses on an urban-demand network rather than a far-flung commuter rail, they’d have been smarter about how they passed through downtown in the first place.

      6. d.p.

        I only mentioned MAX as an example of bad planning. Why does that make me a “MAX booster”? Or is it just because I live in Vancouver now you assume I would be? [By the way, on that topic I think 3/4 of a billion dollars is too much to bring the Yellow line across the river. Way too much for the value it would bring. It would make downtown Vancouver a cool place, but that’s our job, not the rest of the country’s]

    2. “BRT demand is relatively high but can be difficult to serve with realistic bus headways.”

      I took it to mean bus bunching, and an unwillingness to go downbeyond 5-minute headways as some cities do. (Curitiba has 30-second headways on its overcrowded BRT it’s trying to replace with rail, and when St Petersburg has a metro outage (a flood between two stations) it runs buses back-to-back: as soon as one fills up the next one starts loading.) The BRT scenarios would be in partly (mostly?) mixed traffic, so that’s how bunching would occur. For instance, LRT would be in a new DSTT, but BRT would be on 2nd and 4th Avenues.

      1. The key assumption (that buses run on surface streets through downtown) is ridiculous for any bus service calling itself “rapid”. Bus bunching isn’t a problem on the West Seattle freeway, or 99 (assuming they extend the car pool lanes) but it would be on downtown surface streets. Build a tunnel for the buses, unload everyone at a SODO transit center or call it something besides BRT.

      2. Problem with any transit “bunching” usually solved by active hands-on supervision. DSTT is good example for when you’re too cheap or lazy to do it. Even if it means wasting a fortune in equipment bought for this exact purpose. Those control rooms at both portals were not intended for storage. Anybody know their present use?

        In San Francisco, trolleybus routes have a good many turnbacks. At rush hours, supervisors are often stationed there to turn bunched buses back- and have passengers get on another bus.

        And BTW, my memory banks need some more gigabytes. Following distance for 60′ buses was ONE second for every ten miles an hour. Still makes same passenger load a lot longer than on a train.

      3. Thanks for the update on the numbers Mark (as well as other parts of your post). Keep in mind that they want ten minute headways for the light rail. So, if your other numbers are right, then that means 6 buses every ten minutes. You would have to have really bad luck for that to be a real problem anywhere outside a busy downtown street.

      4. Pretending that a bunch of disparate meandering crap-routes, with terrible payment policies and zero effort to set a high standard for driver consistency, combine to represent a “high-quality core bus corridor” is the exact problem to which Ross refers.

      5. Building separate roads for BRT, and bypassing traffic lights, and a tunnel downtown, would raise the cost substantially toward LRT, without providing as much capacity or other benefits.

      6. Check your biases, Mike.

        West Seattle embodies the rare situation where a significant quantity of bus ROW + non-congested existing bus route already exist — amenable to BRT improvements, while non-adaptable to rail.

        Even 10% very expensive from- scratch exclusive ROW — flyovers, tunnels, whatever — is a whole lot less expensive than 100%. Your above platitude is not relevant here.

        $8 billion dollars to our sprawliest quadrant is never going to happen in a million years. ST is either becoming delusional itself, or cruelly baiting the STB railsturbators, to suggest otherwise.

      7. I’m with d.p. here (although maybe not as bluntly). West Seattle is one of the rare places where BRT makes a lot of sense. Specifically:

        1) Dispersed coverage area. I found the numbers for West Seattle to be quite surprising. I am basing my analysis on a map and a chart I found (links below). There are only around 70,000 people in Seattle west of the Duwamish River. That is a huge area without that many people. The most populous region is West Seattle Junction/Genessee Hill, with 18,000. But that is a very big area as well. A large number of the people within even that area would have to take the bus to a train station no matter where they put the stations (assuming you only have one line). Nor is 18,000 a particularly big number. Queen Anne is 35,000 and Ravenna/Bryant is 24,000. Greenwood/Phinney Ridge is 24,000 (and roughly the same size, physically) and probably serves as a great example, because no one is planning a light rail line to the area, even though it is more populous, and more densely populated. In short, not only is 4 billion dollar rail not justified based on the number of people who would ride it (70,000 at most) but because a large percentage of the people would arrive by bus.

        2) As d. p. mentioned, the BRT is already 90% done. On the other hand, there is nothing in the way of light rail here. Nothing. I understand the general argument about BRT versus rail, but that argument doesn’t make sense in all conditions.

        3) Based on the information above, and Sound Transit’s plans, the BRT ride would simply be better. At peak, they expect 10 minute headways from rail. Again, if this is successful, most of the riders will arrive at a West Seattle train station by bus. There is nothing wrong with this, but if the train only goes every ten minutes, then it is a crappy system. That is an average five minute wait, so whatever time savings you think you got from light rail just went out the window. On the other hand, rail traveling south to SODO or a spot closer to downtown could easily run every five minutes. As it stands now, the rail is already going there.* If a second line is added (as part of the Ballard rail line) then that line could easily just end at SODO (which is only a half mile from the stadiums, an otherwise logical end point). A SODO station could serve other areas of the south end, just as the Northgate station serves various north end neighborhoods. In many ways, a SODO station would be better, because most of the buses would arrive via exclusive lanes that are largely free of lights. So, rather than folks in South Park/Highland Park taking a bus west to the West Seattle train station, they would take a much faster bus to a SODO station (keep in mind, South Park and Highland Park are part of that 70,000 I mentioned). The same is true for areas like Burien and White Center. For all those people, riding a BRT bus would mean a more reliable, faster and more frequent ride to downtown.

        * The train headways are largely limited by the south end. Specifically, they don’t want that many trains going along Rainier. So be it. But adding a turnback station at SODO would solve that problem. Three minute headways from the UW to downtown are certainly justified, so you might as well add the same for SODO (and Northgate). How much would a turnback station cost? I don’t know! That is the problem with these reports. I have no idea what is would cost to provide real BRT to West Seattle. How much would a SODO transit center cost (with easy access to buses)? How about the ramp from 99? How about the extra work on the West Seattle Freeway (most of it has carpool lanes, but not all of it)? Right now, all we know is the cost of the Rolls Royce and the Yugo.

        Here are the links I was talking about: Chart:
        Again, if someone has a better resource for this information, I would appreciate it. The chart is a jpeg, which means that you can’t search it or sort it. Even a plain text file would be better.

      8. I don’t have any particular dispute with the bulk of your comment, Ross, but I simply don’t see how your source corroborates your figures on the population of Seattle west of the Duwamish. As far as I can tell: 17713 (Junction/Genesee Hill) + 7064 (High Point) + 13723 (Fauntleroy/Seaview) + 4787 (North Delridge) + 12392 (Roxhill/Westwood) + 10542 (Alki/Admiral) + 4596 (Riverview) + 3906 (South Park) + 5984 (Highland Park) + 6030 (Arbor Heights) = 86737. For comparison, the population of Seattle east of the Duwamish and south of I-90 (“South Seattle”) is 87609.

        Perhaps a pedantic point, but I think it’s a non-trivial correction.

      9. Thanks sdk. You are correct. I relied on an spreadsheet calculation, and didn’t double check the math. I made a mistake on the spreadsheet, and thus the error. You are absolutely correct, it is around 88,000 (I round the numbers) for that area. That is less surprising, but still puny, when you consider the physical size of the area.

        I also appreciate the fact that you mentioned the relatively small number of people that live south of I-90 and the Duwamish. Basically, the bulk of Seattle, by a very wide margin, lives north of there.

  5. “Planners noted that BRT (“B2″) would not be sufficient to meet demand from Renton to Seattle.”

    Well, yes and no. There will be plenty of demand to ride between Renton and downtown Seattle. The B-path train line won’t fill up with Renton-Seattle riders because the demand to ride from Renton to downtown Seattle via Burien and West Seattle is negligible.

    The 560 has been tried. It is a ridership failure. The 101 gets more ridership, but this study isn’t really about where Rentonites are trying to get to. I would refer ST’s planners to Aleks’ proposal for creating more 1-seat bus rides between the various parts of Renton and Rainier Beach Station. If the connecting buses can’t handle the projected capacity, then a train connection to downtown via a realitively straight path would be in order.

    Expecting Rentonites to shift to a train going through Burien and West Seattle to get downtown would be absurd.

    1. I agree. That statement jumped out at me as well. Folks from Renton can be funneled to Central Link or they can ride more direct buses towards downtown. Either way there are some great bus/rail possibilities because the existing line is relatively close and there is a freeway nearby. I think the same could be said for Burien riders, really. The only real benefit I see to a line that extends to the west to Burien is that connects Burien to West Seattle better. That is nice, but hardly worth spending billions and billions on. You aren’t going to get that many people on that line, which is why a few buses makes sense for it.

      1. I’m am genuinely saddened by the stupidity of some of the assumptions upon which our Sound Transit overlords seem to be basing everything else.

      2. The west side of Burien along Ambaum is where all the high-density residential is. I don’t like all the plans that skirt along the East side of Burien, because the only thing over there is strip malls and SFH.

        They show building a “renton express” would gain 20k daily riders vs. serving the gap through Burien. But in all their projections, they’re running the Burien line straight down Auto Row. Compare 131/132 ridership on that segment to the 120 on Ambaum and tell me if you think that’s a good idea.

        If they examine A5 with option A serving Ambaum in Burien I think could close quite a bit of that ridership gap with B4’s “renton express”.

        To me, what these projections tell me is that Central Link should have gone to Renton instead of Tukwila, and this project should have been the one to go to the Airport.

        B4 would be second

    2. The planners don’t think dowtown-Burien-Renton is great as a single line, but that’s what they were mandated to study first. The speaker mentioned at the beginning that all the other lines have a strong end-to-end peak demand, while the downtown-Burien-Renton line is more an aggregation of smaller trips. Rentonites going downtown would not be eager to detour through Renton to through or transfer at TIB (although they seem to think the latter may be more popular, which may be wishful thinking).

      But Frank’s point –“given the fiscal realities and other priorities of the South King subarea, that may not be possible anyway” — is important. Out of all the suburban subareas, South King needs the most lines, with the most modes (Link and Sounder and ST Express), and has the highest population, but it’s simultaneously the poorest subarea. So it will have to make the most hard decisions between Federal Way, Burien, Renton, and Kent.)

    3. The more I think about this, the clearer it is that this is just an aggregation of two corridors for study convenience. They happen to meet in Burien, so at first glance it would be convenient to interline them, so let’s study them together and see if the other factors support it or contradict it.

      1. I completely agree, Mike. Lumping in areas east of I-5 in this study is completely silly. There needs to be a separate corridor planning effort for the West Valley (SR 167/ SR 181/ SR 515) corridor that has nothing to do with West Seattle and Burien.

      2. These proposals are not a solution for Kent or Auburn in any case. Taking a bus to Renton and transfering to Link is only marginally better than taking a bus to Rainer Beach and transferring, or using the legacy bus routes.

        (I had to look the highways up. SR 181 = West Valley Highway. SR 516 = Kent-Kangley Road. SR 167 = Valley Freeway.)

  6. So obviously B4 is the best here. Also, the amazing thing about B4 is it looks like it can reduce the time from downtown to TIBS by ~10 minutes. Doing this (IMHO) makes it much more viable to truncate I-5 service there.

    Alternatively, they could revise the plan slightly to have the B4 route serve SeaTac (and points south) instead — effectively swapping out the transit spine to go south from downtown via georgetown / south park. The primary advantage of this would be that now link trips from further south get a 10 minute bonus. The drawback is that riders from points east (e.g. Renton) would have to transfer, but now everyone else gains faster airport service.

    Or you could think of even more interesting route configurations, e.g.:
    Line 1: Seattle -> West Seattle -> Whitecenter -> Burien -> TIBS -> Southcenter -> Renton
    Line 2: Seattle -> South Park -> Burien -> SeaTac -> … -> Federal Way
    Line 3: Seattle -> Mt. Baker -> Rainier Valley -> Southcenter -> Renton

    This provides:
    * Fastest service to SeaTac, and points south
    * Direct connection for Renton / Southcenter riders to downtown (albeit on the slower RV route)
    * Cross-town service from Renton through west seattle, and service from west seattle to points south

    1. I noticed that too: the “South Park branch” is backing into the Georgetown bypass that some people have advocated. However, ST did *not* suggest rerouting Central Link through it and making Rainier Valley a shuttle. Maybe that will come up in the future, but I doubt it would happen in ST3.

    2. Sorry, I have to disagree. Somewhere around 8 billion dollars to serve relatively few people is crazy. There are only around 70,000 people in “greater” West Seattle (the parts of Seattle west of the Duwamish). There are about 50,000 people in Burien (which is actually quite large physically now that they expanded). Renton is also physically large, and has around 100,000 people. SeaTac and Tukwila combine for around 45,000. That is enormous swath of land that has only around 250,000 people (most of whom would be a long ways from any train station). That would be like spending 8 billion dollars on a rail system for Spokane. It just doesn’t make sense.

      Furthermore, the areas to the east (SeaTac, Renton, Tukwila) can be, or already is well served by the existing rail system. This a rail system that is no where near its capacity, yet runs right through these areas. There is no need to run another train through SeaTac, we just need to funnel people to that train. Run express buses from Renton to downtown, or from Renton to Rainier Beach. Yes, it would be nice to have fast service from Renton to West Seattle, but there just isn’t much demand for it, nor are there that many people in those areas.

      1. That is enormous swath of land that has only around 250,000 people (most of whom would be a long ways from any train station).

        Burien, SeaTac, Tukwila, and Renton are the only PSRC-designated growth centers of the near-Seattle south end. This is where the infill development will be happening over the next 30 years; everything else is going to stay low-density.

        We’re talking about something that won’t open for decades. It makes sense to at least attempt to serve the growth that will happen between now and opening day.

      2. @Lack Thereof — The four cities of Burien, SeaTac, Tukwila and Renton are less than 200,000 people. Tukwila and SeaTac already have very good rail service. It is ridiculous to run another line down there when they aren’t even close to filling the rail capacity that exists. There are also (surprise, surprise) miles of freeways that can serve them quite well (via express buses). Even with big growth these cities won’t justify the expense of light rail (unless it can be done really cheaply). Take Burien, for example. It has 50,000 people. Let’s say it doubles in size. Great, that’s 100,000 people largely spread out over a very large area. Building rail there would not mean that you would serve all 50,000 people, of course, because the area is so big (just as Seattle is not completely served by one line). That would be like running light rail to the middle of Magnolia, because, well, someday it might get bigger.

        Meanwhile, you have areas that aren’t served by existing roads, will never be served by existing roads, are quite dense, and are growing much faster than Burien or Renton. For example, South Lake Union. Replace the Metro 8 with a subway and it will travel by more people than any single line you can imagine in the Burien, Renton, SeaTac or Tukwila area. It will cost much less (because there are fewer miles of it) and replace a bus that travels at walking speed throughout much of its route.

        The only reason the numbers sound even remotely interesting is because they are grouped together. Yes, Burien + Renton + SeaTac + Tukwila is almost 200,000 people. But again, that is a huge area. That is like saying “Let’s build a light rail system to serve the state of Nebraska. There are almost 2 million people there”. No. That’s crazy. If you break down the various cities (like Burien) into neighborhoods, or better yet, stations, it becomes obvious that even if these cities grow like crazy (which is highly unlikely, since the rate of suburban growth has slowed over the last twenty years) they will never be close to what exists right now in Seattle, and is not served very well by our transit system. Queen Anne, for example, which is by no means the most populous neighborhood in Seattle has around 35,000 people. There simply is no neighborhood in those cities that comes close to that population.

        So, yes, we should plan on serving these areas. The planning should involve spending an appropriate amount given the population involved. That means that we should look at buses and leveraging the existing rail system (which, in that part of town, barely justifies its cost).

      3. It is becoming clear that a non-negligible faction at Sound Transit — the fiefdom bureaucrats and some (hopefully) minority portion of the planners — have bought into the delusion that a zillion-mile sprawl-spanning pan-regional high-capacity system is! what! this! region! absolutely! must! have!

        Never mind lessons from the perpetual operating-subsidy sinkhole that is Bay Area sprawl rail. Never mind that this area’s sprawl is even thinner of demand than that one’s, or that we have little in the way of easily rail-claimable ROW anywhere. Never mind rational cost-benefit analyses. Never mind the pathological aversion by their own constituents to urban forms that aid transit viability. Never mind the $$. The Bailo/Schiendelman/teenage-fantasy-mapper-on-the-internet vision must be pursued!!

        The problem is that, when sober reality inevitably invades the proceedings, it ain’t gonna happen.

        New York’s Second Avenue Subway — whose $16 billion price tag, equivalent to “only” two of ST’s wet dreams, has produced no shortage of sticker shock — will tunnel eight miles beneath the superlative city that is Manhattan, and will carry at least ½ a million riders from the day it opens.

        Boston’s northerly Green Line extensions, which aim to increase the rapid-transit walkshed in the nation’s second-densest municipality of more than 70,000 people from 15% to 85% of the population, and which is being built almost entirely alongside existing main-line railways, is costing $1.3 billion and taking years to come to fruition.

        The $2 billion dollar East Link, which connects arguably the two most prominent — and more importantly, most proximate — economic anchors of the Puget Sound combined statistical area, which bridges a truly intractable bottleneck and which serves an established and inarguable “edge city” success story, nevertheless has geometry and ridership fundamentals so horrible that the Feds were unwilling to kick in a single dime!

        The notion that West Seattle is “rapidly densifying” is absurd. The idea that the nominal existence of a “downtown Burien” puts it in line for an $8 billion high-capacity investment is absurd. The Issaquah spurs and the Sand Point crossings and the cross-Kent Valley whateverthefuckitisthatJohnwants are all absurd. And by absurd, I mean never going to happen.

        But by “conveniently studying” every possible right-scaled actual service need as part of some zillion-mile “combined corridor” with a massive price tag, Sound Transit will doom the cross-North Seattle corridor, will torpedo the needs of Lake City Way, will probably keep West Seattle stuck forever with its RapidRide/DBT deficiencies.

        Opportunity costs are real. This proposal at the top of this page is not.

    3. I’d just point out that in a post a few months back, someone else posted that there is an allowance for an infill station on Central Link at 133rd Street next to SR 599. That could be a logical place to have a transfer to a Tukwila or Renton. Interurban Avenue appears to have plenty of right-of-way for a median LRT operation, and it would likely be cheaper to reach Tukwila and/or Renton this way than by building up the hill to TIBS. Does that pique anyone’s interest?.

  7. I want to see if I am understanding one of the options correctly. So the A5 ST rail line to Seattle will cross two other ST rail lines to Seattle?

    1. That’s probably the best part about that line. Just like the best part of a broken leg is that people can sign your cast.

    2. If you judge all 3 lines solely on their merits as express routes to downtown, then that’s a valid complaint.

    3. Transfers to several other lines can be an advantage. See the 44 or London’s Circle Line.

  8. Am I reading the lower image incorrectly?

    Why is the Downtown to West Seattle segment so much longer for A3, A4 (40 minutes to move 5 miles?), and B2? A3 and A5 don’t even come close to adding up at the bottom in terms of total travel time.

    1. That’s because (from the slides),

      “Does not connect directly to Alaska Junction or Westwood-Highland Park Urban Village”.

      The travel time includes the time to get from Alaska Junction to Delridge.

  9. I do think South King County is getting short-changed in the subarea-equity formulation. Wouldn’t it make more sense to divvy up tax income by population? (and wouldn’t this fix be far preferable to getting rid of sub-area equity?)

    1. I think it would be better if we seceded from King County, let Seattle form it’s own transit agency (as would Renton and Kent, and so on) and then create a Washington State Transit Agency built on top of Sound Transit, which would cover all intercity rail and bus routes with a long term goal of establishing fast land based transit across the entire state.


      1. Unfortunately, if this Washington State Transit Agency had a low enough tax rate to survive a public vote over the entire state, it would have exactly $0 to do anything.

      2. These are separate issues. Splitting King County or Metro is independent of a statewide super Sound Transit. (Evergreen Transit? Apple Express? Wet/Dry Transit?)

  10. I know it is early in the process, but I am really disappointed in this proposal. It makes ridiculous assumptions, and shows a real lack of imagination and clarity. I suppose the light rail proposals are OK, if only to show (as was shown so well previously on this blog) how expensive even marginal light rail is for West Seattle. But the BRT proposals are ridiculous. This reminds me of some of the Ballard proposals. They are essentially offering us the choice of a Rolls Royce or a Yugo. How about a Ford or Honda? Or even a Kia or Lexus? No, sorry; it is between a Rolls Royce or a Yugo.

    There are two ways that BRT could be made a lot better:

    1) Build a tunnel for downtown and run the buses in it. I have no idea how much that would cost, but that is why they study these things.

    2) Build a transit station at SODO. This would require BRT riders to transfer if they are going to downtown. But so what? There are probably some riders that want to go the other direction anyway. Besides, there are plenty of neighborhoods that won’t get a direct ride to downtown. For example, Lake City riders will eventually have to take a bus to a station at either Northgate or 130th. The same is true for Bitterlake. Given the population in West Seattle (which is fairly spread out) most of the riders will have to transfer from a bus anyway. It doesn’t make much difference if you transfer at the junction or transfer at SODO.

    As far as clarity goes, what all is involved with the BRT plans? Will the bus lanes on the West Seattle freeway be extended, so that a bus, once it leaves 35th, travels in an exclusive lane all the way until it on 99? Work would have to be done on a few parts of the freeway, so maybe that is where the money goes.

    1. SODO transit station and required transfer isn’t so great if you’re trying to get to East Link. The frustration of transferring at SODO, getting on a train for – what? – less than 5 minutes? – and then getting on another train to the Eastside? All because the stupid bus from WS won’t just drive up 4th and drop you at ID station?

      1. Read this comment for more details about the advantages of a SODO station served by BRT versus a West Seattle light rail line:
        NOTE: My number are wrong in that post. There are 88,000 people in Seattle to the west of the Duwamish (still tiny, but not as tiny as I said).

        Think about it this way. Here are the two scenarios for the vast majority of West Seattle riders:

        1) Wait for a BRT bus from some spot in West Seattle. Once you get on, it makes it’s way through lovely West Seattle. Once it hits the West Seattle freeway, it zooms past all the other cars until it gets to SODO. Now things get complicated. If Central Link has six minute headways, then you can pick up that train in an average of three minutes. If Central Link has three minute headways (which is possible) then you have 1.5 minute headways. So, basically, if you are heading towards downtown, or the UW, or places north (e. g. the vast majority of locations) you have between a 3 minute and 1.5 minute (on average) wait. But there is also the Ballard line. In this scenario, SODO is a logical stopping point. So, if the Ballard line runs every six minutes, you have (on average) a three minute wait to go to Belltown, Ballard, etc. Of course, if you are just going downtown (or transferring to a train going to the east side) these get combined, meaning your wait should be around a minute or two.

        2) You take a bus to a West Seattle station. From there, you wait, on average, 5 minutes for a train. The literature clearly states ten minute headways, and I can understand why. There just isn’t the demand for more. So, after waiting five minutes, I’ll assume that the train becomes the Ballard line. That would be convenient for the folks that are headed that direction, but useless for everyone else. In other words, if you have to go the UW or the Eastside, then you still have to transfer, which would cost you the same amount of time. So, basically, it works out like this:

        Most of West Seattle to SODO, and all places to the south — BRT wins by around 5 minutes.
        Most of West Seattle to Downtown or the East Side — BRT wins by 2 to 4 minutes.
        Most of West Seattle to Ballard — A tossup, depending on how often the Ballard line runs versus the West Seattle line. Personally, my money is on the Ballard line running more often (which would mean that BRT is the winner).
        Most of West Seattle to Capitol Hill, the UW or places north — BRT wins by 2 minutes.

        So, basically, the only “winners” for rail are those that can actually walk to a train station in West Seattle. But if you look at a census map and a station map, I think you can see that very few people will actually do that. But even for them, the difference is minimal (a minute or two in SODO). For the vast majority of the people, BRT would be faster and more frequent because rail service from West Seattle will never be frequent.

  11. These are the plans the People want and need — Fast, Regional Transit.

    This is what they thought they paid for.

    This is what they did pay for.

    This is what they still want.

  12. Martin we need to run light rail from Enumclaw down Black Diamond/Maple Valley highway on into Renton TC. And then either expand the 268 Metro Service down Kent Kangley on into the Kent Station or build rail. Let’s do ir.

    1. You may have to as the population center shifts southeast…

      Tarragon might add apartment complex to Kent Station

      Tarragon, which opened the Kent Station shopping center in 2005, revealed in an April 10 letter to the Kent City Council’s Economic and Community Development Committee its potential plans.

      “We have recently been reviewing a parcel of land as part of our Kent Station development for development of a 150-plus unit wood frame four-story apartment project over a one-story structured concrete podium parking garage,” wrote Kristen Lund, Tarragon development manager, in the letter.

      “The location for the apartments is excellent as it has exceptional proximity to the Sounder commuter rail as well as the convenience of being part of Kent Station, and walkable to downtown amenities, including the library.”

      1. Be still my beating heart. Kent is going to get a 150-plus wood framed four-story apartment project”!!!!!! Sounds like they’re identical to the half-dozen that have gone up on Interstate Avenue in North Portland and the dozen or so in Ballard in the past five years. Ooooooohhhh WOW, Kent is gonna’ be the Next Seattle.

        Not Pasco?

  13. Why is the tunnel running underneath 4th ave and not 2nd? If this tunnel is to continue north to queen anne/ ballard doesn’t 2nd ave make more sense? A forth ave tunnel would have to go under westlake station. Is that good or bad?

    1. I don’t know why 4th, and no reason was given in the presentation. But these are just progress reports, not decision-point materials. They’ll have to give a reason for 4th by the public hearing because it’ll be a widely-asked question. I’m skeptical because 2nd seems more straightforward. But maybe ST uncovered something in the study, or maybe it suggests an eastern preference for the Ballard line.

      But at this stage, each of these studies is in isolation. The current question is whether downtown-Burien and Burien-Renton HCT are worthwhile and feasable. Once that’s answered, then it can be integrated with Ballard, which might mean moving it to wherever Ballard ends up.

    2. I’ll take a stab at it:
      -4th has more demand on top of it
      -4th avoids any construction complications from running near the GWT, as well as the DBT.
      -4th interacts with the existing tunnel, and the overlap station at Westlake makes for a nice transfer point.

  14. Are they expecting this line to become the main Renton-Seattle trunk line (replacing the 101)? That would be a rather indirect route, but the projected travel times are actually quite competitive (38-47 min on the A5 alternative vs. 42-50 min on the 101)…

    1. Are you looking at the travel time from S. Renton P&R to S. Jackson St.? That’s more like 33-35 minutes during peak. The travel time from Renton TC involves back-tracking south to S. Renton P&R before heading north. Enact the Bromfield Plan, and there would be no purpose in having that wasteful backward-head in the 101.

      1. I was looking at the travel time from University Street to Renton TC, which is what I assumed ST was looking at when they said “Renton to Seattle” (as those places are the most central transit hubs in those cities), but I see your point about the detour to South Renton P&R that could be removed.

        Out of curiosity, does it really take 14 minutes to get from South Renton P&R to Renton TC, or is some of that padding? If it really takes that long, then perhaps it would be a good idea to invest in some type of transit priority in Downtown Renton (bus lanes, signal priority, etc.).

      2. My suggestion is to actually ride the 101 for yourself and time it yourself, and see how disparate reality is from paper. It would be worth it to see how those new HOV lanes on Rainier Ave S in downtownish Renton are performing. Also, take a look at Aleks’ proposal if you haven’t yet.

    2. This part of the line is primarily about east-west trips. A one-seat ride to Seattle is a bonus, and is really an accidental byproduct of interlining the N-S and E-W corridors. Sound Transit has no control over the 101. But if this line is really faster than the 101 in spite of its long detour, that would be the death nail for the 101. (But you’d still need local service on the south part of MLK.)

  15. During the video, they describe LINK several times as the core north-south trunk route.

    Pretty much anywhere else outside North America, LINK would be a feeder route and the primary trunk route would be light weight electric multiple unit trains operating on the main railroad line.

    CalTrain is sort of headed that direction already, with a successful effort to have a waiver to use trains that meet international safety regulations rather than USA regulations – and this on a route that on weekdays would have trains on the Union Pacific main line.

    It seems to me that if you could get Sounder to become more of a regional transportation option rather than a rush hour only service, there are a number of things you would want to change with these proposals.

    1. Congratulations, now your Portland-addled mind is just making shit up.

      Pretty much anywhere outside of North America, a transit network would be built with an assortment of situationally-appropriate technologies that cohere to usefully serve places where people and stuff are located. Only in America do we traffic in asinine platitudes and then propose and/or build all manner of stupid, overhyped, ultimately disposable shit.

    2. The distances for a lot of trips in Caltrainland are so great that, indeed, something with its level of stop spacing and speed is necessary to even be a plausible option. However:

      – There’s basically no connection between that and running EMUs on the “main railroad line”. Sometimes the line is in the right place, sometimes it isn’t… and sometimes the notion of what the “right place” is is complicated (hello, Bay Area). In many parts of the Bay Area the fast, wide-spaced service is BART, a heavy-rail metro running on its own tracks.

      – Caltrain and many parts of BART have pitiful off-peak frequency and serve towns where a small fraction of possible homes or destinations are remotely walkable from the station. If you have to make trips among random destinations in Santa Clara, San Jose, Palo Alto, and Sunnyvale on a near-daily basis you’re going to do that by car unless you utterly cannot afford it. If your conception of the city is that spread out, and the roads are built to support this concept, transit as we know it has no chance.

      What’s important is how the cities work, not how the trains work.

      1. And seriously, I’m straining to think of a single “non-North American” example of an urban area whose core transit functions are handled by S-Bahns on “the main line” that everybody else “feeds” into via other forms of rail.

        That’s just not how three-dimensional cities work!

      2. And it’s very important to remember that the Cal-Train line is a very infrequently used freight branch (two trains per day in each direction; one is a switcher and the other a yard hauler). The triple track, reverse signaled co-ordinated line between Argo and Black River Junction is host two both main-line serving the Port of Seattle and handles dozens of freights per day. The BNSF line south of there is somewhat less trafficked because the UP branches to its own line south of there, but there are still at least sixty non-passenger movements a day.

        There is insufficient capacity to build a frequent service without either doubling the UP track and sending a significant portion of the BNSF’s through Tacoma traffic that way or adding a third track to the BNSF all the way to Tacoma. If the UP option were chosen because it avoids the constrictions in the downtowns of the five municipalities through which the BNSF passes, overpasses would have to be constructed through the Green River Valley as they have been on the BNSF. So, either option would cost hundreds of millions of dollars that Washington State doesn’t have.

      3. I should have mentioned that both the switcher and yard hauler run only between 10 PM and 6 AM. It takes two days to deliver and/or pick up a car on the Peninsula Line if it’s not right at Bayshore Yard. It’s one night from Fremont to Bayshore and one night to deliver an inbound car and the reverse for an outbound load, of which there are few.

    3. When you (and others) say “build a station at SODO” what do you mean? Create something like a small version of the Port Authority Bus Terminal with covered transfers? The reason I ask is that there IS a SoDo “station” at Lander already, but using it as a high-volume bus transfer facility would be a joke.

      Having such a facility at Lander would be ideal because the access loop at the VMF could be used for “turnback”. If the Lander Street overpass of the BNSF tracks comes to pass it might be feasible to use the east-to-north loop at Fourth Avenue as an access to the busway by creating a bus-only crossing of the single railroad track at Horton. An elevated bus terminal covering the block south of Lander with an elevated connection across Lander to the Link platform would provide for transfers. It might have three two-bus bays, one for West Seattle, one for Delridge/Ambaum and one for First Avenue South bridge buses. Buses would exit to the west of the facility on an elevated structure across Fourth which would join the proposed general traffic overpass as an additional westbound lane in the middle extended west to over-cross First while turning southward. It would land in the block to the south in an exclusive center lane ending just north of start of the ramp up to the First South access to the Spokane viaduct. General traffic would have to merge INTO it, rather than the buses having to merge into the general traffic ensuring priority for the West Seattle Bridge-bound buses. First Avenue South Bridge buses would have to merge into the general traffic but there is not a large amount of it in that area except at game end. A new southbound exclusive lane for buses would be added to First Avenue south of Spokane Street where there is abundant capacity. Similarly, the northbound lane of Fourth South would begin at Michigan.

      1. The existing platforms have no room for turnbacks, and all DSTT capacity is reserved for ST2 and future Everett/Tacoma/Redmond. [1] So a West Seattle line would either have to go into a different downtown tunnel or turn back at SODO. If it turns back, it would presumably have east-west platforms, with some kind of walkway to the other platforms. If it’s BRT, it could probably use the existing north-south bus stops and continue north a couple blocks to turn around.

        All this raises the possibility of turning back at Stadium instead of SODO. Trains are already doing it, and East Link won’t be there. Buses would have to go to Stadium anyway to reach their base, so maybe all runs should turn at Stadium?

        [1] ST estimates 3-minute headway if Everett/Tacoma/Redmond is built. Some people say 2-minute headway is physically possible, but even if it is, ST won’t consider releasing it for a different line until near 2030, or later if Everett/Tacoma/Redmond is approved.

      2. Mike,

        I’m trying to provide covered transfers and grade separated crossings of the rail line and busway if possible. I replied to the wrong post, unfortunately. Someone suggested “BRT to a SODO station” and I was trying to make the transfer more attractive. The platforms on the existing busway are terrible.

        And the loop around the VMF would serve as a perfectly good turnback. You’d probably need to put a siding alongside it for layovers and provide a rest facility there, but it would not be expensive.

  16. Getting back to the Rentonites, who seem to be the step-children in this study, I seriously doubt significant numbers of Renton-to-downtown-Seattle commuters will be willing to spend 20 or so minutes on a bus going circuitously, and in the wrong direction, to catch a train to downtown that takes longer than the direct bus line they already have. Even if the F-Line were to become a train line in 20-40 years, I still don’t think people will be willing to add 20-30 minutes to their commute (each way) just to ride a couple trains.

    Bus 101 is here to stay, at least as a commuter super-express. For the rest of the day, the real speed-up for bus riders comes from reducing the number of transfers. The Bromfield Plan does just that, and in ways that should reduce costs.

    1. I agree, Brent! I’d argue that the entire population in the SR 167 corridor (over 300K people or 15% of the entire County) is written off with these studies. The staff pushing the studies believe that Sounder is enough, even though it is a very infrequent and peak-period only service. It’s no wonder that this part of the County votes no to transit when they are treated like second-class citizens in planning efforts like this.

      1. There will be three more Sounder roundtrips added by 2017 including some mid-day trips. ST3 could include additional train easements to improve service some more.

      2. It’s not a question of “enough”; it’s a question of limited funds.

        1) South King is large and has many transit needs, but it’s also poor and can’t afford all of them. So Link to Kent/Auburn is considered unaffordable at present.

        2) Sounder is expensive to operate, so it’s a large investment in Kent/Auburn. When ST1 was drawn up, ST told Kent/Auburn, “if we put Sounder here you won’t be getting much else.” They said, “We want Sounder.” ST2 does intend to add some mid-day service to Sounder South, not quite hourly but almost. (i.e., a 2-hour gap around 10:30am and 1:30pm.) So that will alleviate the peak-only problem somewhat.

        3) Activists have suggested half-hourly Sounder South. That’s long-term and would require dedicated passenger tracks. WSDOT has outlined future passenger tracks for Cascades/Sounder/Amtrak/future HSR, but those are a few decades away if the legislature funds them.

  17. So my impression is that ERC and 405 BRT are out, and that ST3 is quickly boiling down to LR from:
    -Lynwood to downtown Everett (Snohomish sub-area)
    -Either Angle or Federal Way to downtown Tacoma (Pierce sub-area)
    -Bellevue to Issaquah (East King sub-area)
    -Downtown to W. Seattle and Renton (North King and South King sub-areas)

    A few thoughts:
    -I hope Snohomish doesn’t get cheated by having the entire route north of Northgate run alongside I-5. They should go with the option that juts into Boeing, so you we have a mix of residential and work along the route (not to mention opportunity for upzoning). That will also free up space slightly east of I-5 for an ST4 line down to 405 and B-E HWY, on over to Belleuvue or Redmond. Here’s a WAG: Everett backs down on the request for additional stations downtown, in return for the optimal alignment mentioned above.
    -ST definitely needs a better presentation team for North Link.
    -Is Bellevue-Issaquah actually running from downtown Bellevue, or from I-90?
    -The Tacoma Link area under study (from Angle to Fed Way) is slated for completion in 2023, but apparently doesn’t have funding ringfenced yet. Is there a danger of this slipping into ST3? If it doesn’t slip into ST3, will the final push from Fed Way to downtown Tacoma satisfy the Pierce sub-area bucket for ST3?
    -Amazed by the WS/South King planning. This is a workhorse line, that brings in big ridership numbers, big TOD opportunities, adds the second downtown tunnel, loops in Southcenter Mall, and makes Link directly relevant (and readily positioned for further expansion) in exactly the south 405 corridor where it has its greatest political weakness. Along the way it connects with Sounder, and Central Link near the airport. Wow. Maybe the first piece of art should be a giant bag of chips. While we’re all gunning for our own neighborhood project, this sleeper line just became the centerpiece of ST3.
    -ST4 begins to write itself, starting with a heavy focus on the entire 405 corridor.

    Exciting stuff!

    1. ERC is out with its low ridership and high cost. 405 BRT still seems alive to me.

      Kent-Des Moines (240th) is funded and will open in 2023. 272nd was deferred. So 240th-320th is the unfunded part in South King. Pierce is already on the hook south of 320th. So could Pierce voluntarily fund 240th-320th by declaring it benificial to Pierce? That’s an interesting idea. Piercians’ primary goals Link are to get to downtown and the airport, and this segment is between both. And it would allow heavily-squeezed South King to apply that money to its other needs.

      Bellevue to Issaquah: I haven’t seen this study yet. I wouldn’t assume LRT is a shoe-in there. It’ll have to compete with 405 BRT, Bellevue-Kirkland, Kirkland-Redmond, and Kirkland-UW (if that has any chance). I could see a scenario with 405 BRT and Bellevue-Issaquah BRT (with deferred LRT).

      Everett: I don’t think Boeing/Payne is a shoe-in either. If I remember right, a 99 alignment has more ridership, TOD potential, and shorter travel time. A shuttle from 99 to Boeing may gain sufficient riders.

      downtown-Burien-Renton: that’s a complicated issue.

      1. I agree with the 99 alignment for Everett. It has not only a lot of existing ridership, but also a lot of room for growth. Highway 99 is littered with large parking lots and empty store fronts that are prime for redevelopment.

        I think the Boeing shuttle idea could work if it also services the surrounding supporting business. Could concentrating frequency around Boeing shift changes help boost the use of this line?

        To me the 405 BRT looked like a strong candidate with the ridership vs cost numbers, but I guess it depends on how much money they have to spend on the east side. If they could afford a few corridors in addition to the BRT, it could be a worthwhile investment.

        I would expect Pierce is not willing to put up with south king not paying for the rest of the king county spine. The board member from Pierce made several comments when the south king line was being shown about how the spine needs to be considered first.

        I suspect we might see just part of the south king line put in while the spine gets finished to Tacoma.

        The east side board member is the mayor of Issaquah, and I believe he has been pushing for LRT to Issaquah for some time. I would be very surprised if Issaquah did not end up in ST3.

  18. Pretty late to this comment thread, but BRT can be a viable option, if:

    – C Line, 21, 120, 131, 132, and 101 buses are upgraded with bus lanes, stations with pre-payment, TSP, etc.

    – Run these routes 5-10 min all day, maybe every 15 for 131 and 132.

    – With LINK extensions in all directions, there will be significantly fewer buses on downtown streets. The West Seattle/Southwest KC bus routes will be more reliable. Perhaps double contraflow bus lanes on 2nd and 4th, similar to those in Minneapolis on Marquette Ave and 2nd Ave?

    1. Not to mention, West Seattle Bridge bus lanes with direct connecting ramps to the Metro Busway, and direct connections from the Busway to 2nd and 4th Ave.

      1. It is so ridiculous that SDOT just rebuilt the Spokane viaduct, and actually managed to make bus connections from the bridge to street level harder.

    2. Studies like this can be used to force riders onto or away from an alternative based on the feeder bus network or parallel routes assumed in the forecasting process. Notice how we don’t know what kinds of overall transit network is involved here? We should be asking for these kinds of details rather than accepting this limited information as enough.

  19. I am amazed that all of these alternatives come with a modal bias – bus or light rail. Shouldn’t we be looking at driverless, separated strategies? If this is going to take 20 to 30 years to build and going to operate for at least 50 to 100 years, I would expect that there would be an interest in some driverless alternatives such as automated people movers. Similarly, if the transit demand is so high, why are we not looking at a higher-capacity strategy like heavy rail? Frankly, the entire effort appears to be a mere “engineering only LRT or BRT” corridor analysis and not really strategic high-capacity planning for the region from either a technological or geographic perspective.

    1. No, we shouldn’t. “Driverless, separated technologies” cost an arm, a leg and a liver. Unless you’re predicting that Silicon Valley is going to move up to Seattle in the next three decades lock, stock, and compiler, this area will continue to be what it is today: mostly SFH spread over dozens of square miles.

      What’s needed here is BRT, express buses using the same busways in the peaks, and the political cojones to make it work properly.

      1. Driverless technologies are getting more and more viable every day. The Oakland Airport connector’s $500M, 3.2 miles system opens this year! Considering that this is a longer distance than from Burien TC to TIBS, the technology could have financial relevance here especially since that segment will be costly to build because there is no easy right-of-way take for surface operations between these two locations..

        By the time they get funding, get design finished, get environmental clearance and begin construction, it will be the preferred choice of high-capacity transit operators. Why? Because you don’t need to hire lots of drivers to operate the system.

      2. Driverless systems for trains are only marginally more expensive than other grade separated options. If you are talking about driverless cars or buses, we just arent there yet.

    2. ST is considering driverless light rail for Ballard, so the same would apply here. However, that in turn would exclude at-grade alignments so it would affect other things too. The main advantage of driverless is that although it costs more to build, it could run at 5-minute frequency without additional operating costs.

      1. Right, Mike. Link could be driverless once the tunnel has ejected the buses if MLK and the busway segments were grade separated.

        But that’s the thing; the reason to adopt Light Rail technology is so that the collector/distributor parts of the system can run on the ground. I agree tr

      2. (continued in sentence)

        true LRT needs separate rights of way, but there are plenty of places in South King County, Pierce County, and Snohomish County where Link could run like Westside MAX: an “interurban” striking out across the prairie but with level grade crossings. One can’t have that with automated technology; it’s only useful on elevated or in tunnel structures.

        That is, in the central city.

  20. I posted the following comment in the Lynwood-Everett post, but it really belongs here. Assuming that when the ST board looks at ST3 plans and tries to put together a package, it will need to trim back things to fit into funding limitations and prioritize projects, it’s quite likely that only parts of all of the plans that they’re studying will be built.

    If you look at the LRT options for West Seattle, that line is entirely grade-separated from downtown to past the OMF. It’s tunneled under 4th Ave downtown and elevated along the busway.

    One wonders if the planner’s intention here was to interline with Central Link here, have a junction or a wye near the OMF and abandon the at-grade trackage and stations. If the 4th Ave. tunnel was intended to join up with Ballard Link, you could have Ballard line trains serving the Rainier Valley and airport. This might be a sensible way to build a stub line that starts to go toward West Seattle, but could be used for RossB’s transfer station in SODO under an interim BRT system to W. Seattle. The stub could continue past the OMF and terminate somewhere in Georgetown.

  21. Thanks for publishing this one and the north end. I hope to see the one for the eastside as well. These were excellent presentations. They were presented at ST’s 5/1/14 Executive Committee meeting, which one can watch online, but here one gets the materials in clearer and static form.

  22. Hmmm… pretty difficult to digest this.

    First up, this: “Note that the costs* for most alternatives include a downtown Seattle tunnel south of Westlake, probably about $1 billion, but likely needed for a Ballard-downtown line as well.”

    1: How much is the downtown tunnel actually adding? Seems like it would be good to know so we can analyse just the West Seattle/South King portion properly.

    2. What is the cost of just the West Seattle like rail segment? Mixing it in with South King is supremely unhelpful. Mostly because South King just doesnt have the money in its subarea to build anything like this.

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