Sound Transit
Sound Transit

Thursday night Sound Transit held an open house on the progress of the 1.6 mile South 200th Link extension. Construction of the guideway is approximately 40% complete to date. 50 of the 70 columns that support the elevated guideway have been erected thus far. Construction of the columns should be complete in about two months. Construction of the 1,166 pre-cast concrete segments, which takes place in Enumclaw, is 42% complete. The typical span between columns is comprised of 13 segments.

The most notable part of the presentation was the design of the 1,050 stall parking garage. Harbor Pacific / Graham won the design/build contract earlier this year. The garage will have five stories above ground and one below. The garage is sited immediately west of the station and will be C-shaped to fit around the existing PSE substation. There will be four vehicular entrances to the garage spread among each of the three streets that border the garage. A triangle-shaped piece of land to the west of the garage is being reserved for future TOD and has the potential to house 35,000 square feet of space.

View from Above the Station (Sound Transit)
View from Above the Station (Sound Transit)

The garage was designed with the “environment in motion” theme and will not be a “big plain concrete box”. Lengths of tubular steel will be placed around the perimeter of the garage and plaza to give it a flowing design. The station’s ground level plaza could be used for farmers markets and has provisions for food trucks. The ground floor of the garage will have retail space that will open up to the plaza. 10 spaces will be reserved in the garage for patrons of the retail business.

There will not be a specifically designed bus transfer facility but rather a pair of bus pullouts on each side of S 200th Street. No provisions are being made for bus layovers. A pair of sidewalks and five foot wide bicycle lanes will be installed on South 200th Street connecting to the Des Moines Creek trail 1/3 mile downhill.

Angle Lake station still scheduled to open around September 2016, which was the scheduled opening for U-Link (now pushed up to Q1 2016). There are five months of float in the systems testing phase, so it’s still possible that both extensions could open simultaneously at the end of Q1 2016.

82 Replies to “Angle Lake Open House”

  1. Any studies on how parking garages at remote or regional rail stations increase ridership for areas with ALREADY existing sprawl? Some people I know will disagree but we cannot plausibly “un-make” existing sprawl, and distant rail stations without parking may have less ridership. So logically, to get these people off the highways we need local parking to get them onto rail. That’s the model of my home region, funneling people from all over into NYC and Boston. But out here, I’ve heard political distaste for such park and rides, which seems illogical based on that simple fact that we aren’t undoing existing sprawl.

    What is the science on this?

    1. Did you not see the Downtown New Oz in the artist’s rendering, miraculously springing from nothingness just beyond yon’ poppy forest, in tantalized anticipation of the yellow brick extendable elevated?

      1. Look closer to the photo. See all the drones leaving the detention facility each shift, on the prowl for the perps. TOD is sure to follow in the wake of high security.

    2. TIB has been popular ever since it opened, and people drive to it from the surrounding neighborhoods and as far away as Auburn and Federal Way. I don’t have counts but I know some cases that were not taking transit previously, and I think the majority are like that. TIB did not replace a bus route so there was no mass shift from buses. (The 174 was split into the 124 and A, but that was such a local route it’s a different demographic from these park n riders, and the A’s ridership increase is a different topic.)

      When 200th opens, all those people from Kent and Auburn will drive to it rather than TIB, thus lowering their vehicle miles traveled, which is the point of P&Rs. It will be interesting to see whether TIB parking becomes emptier then, and for how long until others take their place. If Link extends further to Federal Way TC, Auburnites will drive to it rather than Angle Lake, thus lowering their vehicle miles traveled again, and to a more appropriate “last mile” level. (Actually more like three miles, but that’s the natural level for their environment.)

      So, those people are not taking the 577/578 because otherwise they’d be on it already. Which is interesting because it’s probably a faster trip than using the TIB or Angle Lake Link stations. There’s the “train” effect and the “frequent” effect.

      Also note that they aren’t all going to downtown or those other obvious destinations (Seattle Center or the stadiums). Some are going to UW, and some even go to the Vegetarians of Washington monthly dinner at the Mt Baker Club.

      Of course it would be best to have a comprehensive RapidRide grid in the burbs that was enticing enough for everyone to use, but unti we have that, Link P&Rs and the 577/578 P&Rs are a step toward greater transit (i.e., non-driving) usage. How much ST should pay for said garages is another question of course, and how much it should charge for parking too.

      1. Which is interesting because it’s probably a faster trip than using the TIB or Angle Lake Link stations.

        577 is faster than Link from Westlake to SeaTac.

    3. There are different kinds of “political distaste” for P&Rs… and probably a couple kinds that really matter, none of which apply at this station.

      Transit agencies like ST and BART love building P&Rs because they need suburban buy-in (votes and tax money) to build the systems they want to build (or that they’re mandated to build or whatever). P&Rs generate immediate ridership with no land use change (which is always controversial), no operational funds necessary for additional local suburban transit (which always seems hard to come by), and minimal change in users’ routines. They’re fairly popular with suburban residents, who don’t want to change their routines much and envision either using the P&R or seeing less traffic congestion because their neighbors use the P&R.

      One kind of opposition to P&Rs comes from some caricature car-hating enviro-urbanist position that opposes all auto-oriented infrastructure everywhere. But even greater Seattle is part of America; it’s a marginal position that basically doesn’t matter (I hold caricature car-hating enviro-urbanist positions often enough to be basically aware of this).

      A second kind of opposition applies to outlying neighborhood stations by big cities with progressive city-wide land use and transportation goals (and some envy for cities with more older neighborhoods built out around rapid transit). In this region that’s pretty much just Seattle, and it’s a current strong enough to prevent new P&Rs from being built in SE Seattle, Roosevelt, and at I-90/Rainier even though they’d probably be locally popular. It’s strong enough to prevent much parking growth at Northgate but not at 145th. It’s rarely strong enough to result in substantial public parking reductions anywhere even when the case for that is strong (a fact that extends far beyond transit parking). It rarely applies in suburbs (maybe in a sense the Spring District — they’re adding P&R spots where there are none today, but it’s a wholesale redevelopment and ST probably would have built a lot more if they asked).

      Another kind applies to stations in suburban downtowns (Puyallup is the recent example here). Pressure originates with downtown-based suburban businesses trying to hold onto customers, largely facing pressure from highway-based businesses with more parking, lower land costs, sometimes lower shipping costs, and sometimes lower taxes. They wouldn’t mind the city building a parking lot shared among local businesses (some suburbs do just this), but they resent a regional agency building a parking lot to take residents away to do business in other places, adding a bunch of rush-hour downtown traffic that makes their businesses harder to access by any mode (hence support for non-downtown P&Rs, as proposed in Puyallup and implemented in Bellevue). Because downtown businesses are of central symbolic importance in local politics, it’s natural for local political leaders to take up the cause, using a pretty wide variety of rhetoric. I believe these particular pressures are handled more productively when it’s the city’s responsibility to build and operate P&R garages, but that’s just, like, my opinion, man.

      This station isn’t in an outlying neighborhood of a city with urbanist growth goals. It isn’t in a suburban downtown. If ever there were a good place to build a P&R garage this is it. The only complaint will come from people that want the train to get farther south faster.

      1. (The other thing about this station location is that a bunch of its walkshed is condemned for a highway 509 extension that’s on hold. So there’s really not much that’s going to happen there.)

      2. “Transit agencies … love building P&Rs because they need suburban buy-in (votes and tax money) to build the systems they want to build (or that they’re mandated to build or whatever)”

        Who created the transit agencies? Who created the mandate for the line? It’s the same suburbanites. The agency wouldn’t want to build the system if the suburbanites hadn’t asked them to. Especially when the project is subject to those same voters’ approval.

        The way parking comes into it is that in the suburbanites’ mind, parking is a basic part of the facility like bathrooms and electricity. If you’re going to a supermarket or park, it obviously has to have a parking space. So the same for train stations. A supermarket owner pays for its parking lot because it’s the one necessitating the parking, and the same for train stations.

        “In this region that’s pretty much just Seattle, and it’s a current strong enough to prevent new P&Rs from being built in SE Seattle, Roosevelt, and at I-90/Rainier even though they’d probably be locally popular. It’s strong enough to prevent much parking growth at Northgate but not at 145th. It’s rarely strong enough to result in substantial public parking reductions anywhere even when the case for that is strong”

        Some people in Rainer Valley have been asking for a P&R all along, but the city has said no because it contradicts the city’s urban village future.

        Northgate is a very interesting case because the residents themselves said they don’t want a larger garage; instead they want better bus/bike/ped access from the east and west. The reason for part of the garage is ST has to replace the mall parking it’s demolishing. The mall has guranteed the stores a certain number of spaces, so it has to provide them, and ST has to replace any spaces it displaces.

        It remains to be seen whether any other place follows Northgate’s lead.

        145th seems to be traveling on inertia. There was a P&R there, so there will be one. ST told me its main remaining reason for P&Rs in Shoreline is to absorb hide n ride. Not to bring more people to the train, but to mitigate hide-n-ride inpacts on the neighborhood.

        Puyallup is another interesting place, because I don’t know of any other suburb that hasn’t said, “Yes!!!” to a garage Renton and Burien wanted one and got it. Bellevue’s case is probably accidental. The P&R is very old, from the 70s. The transit center didn’t get a P&R because it was always seen as a transfer point and pedestrian collector. Downtown Bellevue didn’t need more parking, and Bellevue Square has its own parking. It remains to be seen whether any other place follows Puyallup’s lead in sometimes not wanting a garage.

      3. I don’t think it’s a subconscious thing about parking as a basic amenity. I think it’s the way that most current residents envision possibly interacting with the system. The decision to put TOD at a station is a play to direct growth there, maximizing ridership by emphasizing new residents.

        Future residents can’t vote, so it’s politically much more effective to give people dug in to their current homes a way to theoretically use the system. Whether there’s enough parking to actually serve all the people who might be interested is, from this perspective, beside the point.

    4. There have been very few studies on this. Largely because there has simply not been very much infill rail construction in severe sprawl zones. The only examples I can think of were on “commuter rail” (FRA-rules) rather than high-frequency rail.

      In short, I can’t think of a single case comparable to Angle Lake Station. I guess you’ll see what effect it has.

  2. There is no question that in the short-term suburban transit stations get higher ridership by providing copious parking. The debate is over the long-term impact. Those parking lots suppress people’s desire to live or play near the station, reducing the likelihood of transit-oriented development. This is the reason parking wasn’t built along most of Central Link. In this case, the garage will probably dampen the amount of development near Angle Lake’s station but there is presumably an effort to mitigate that impact by not having the garage be “a big concrete box”.

    1. Initially some of the ridership is going to be people who already live there, and are taking a bus in. So no real change in that group — just faster, better quality transit.

      Another group are those who drive all the way into Seattle because they would never get on a bus, but who would not mind riding a clean, smooth train.

      In these cases the sprawl is already there, but you’ve taken cars off the road (which, I guess, might encourage more sprawl using the highways).

      Then there are the true sprawlers — these are people who might have thought of buying a home in Seattle, but found it unaffordable and did not want to settle for a condo.

      Suddenly they might say — hey I can live around Angle Lake and get real house and commute in. But, if this sprawl is based not on them taking a car back into the city, but simply wanting the Seattle lifestyle at an affordable price, is it sprawl?

      It seems to me it comes down to coupling the design at these stations to the building thereof, and not just dense TOD but remaking the residential zones into townhomes and small plot SFH.

      Somewhere between McMansions and Apodments, lies the small plot SFH. The low cost Seattle-ish home that people really want. Fast regional transit can help us get there.

    2. The desire to “live or play” here is suppressed by the area being the established industrial/service nether regions of an international airport. This is the last place one need worry about accidentally dampening any organic placemaking.

      You can try to “program” the plaza all you want, but those smiling people strolling across the rendering really just want to get the heck out of there, in one direction or the other.

      1. There are a lot of problems in the area to be sure, but if the city of Seatac chooses to take the initiative here and rezone around the station to encourage other types of development they might be able to pull something off around this little station.

        It could be a failure, sure, but if they don’t even try to make something happen around the station then it is guaranteed to be nothing more than a park and ride.

      2. I am definitely among the P&R haters, but that is because:

        1. These are usually horrifically ugly structures.

        2. They represent a huge waste because they sit vacant for about 2/3 of the time.

        In this particular case, though, the area into which this structure will be placed seems particularly void of anything especially attractive, and seems to be pretty much 100% auto oriented anyway.

        For the proposed structure and its attachments, my objections are:

        1. It seems like it would be rather nice to have some sort of connection to the bus routes, rather than having to cross 200th on foot, as it sounds like is the plan. Any chance of doing a combined light rail bridge with pedestrian path attachment so that it isn’t quite as necessary to fight traffic? Say, something like:

        2. If the bus routes are just going to be stops on 200th and highway 99, what is the purpose of having the vast, broad, pedestrian entrance? It seems like that is a much broader expanse of concrete compared to what is really needed there, for the kiss & ride area plus the street connection.

        3. Is there any way to make that roof over this vast concrete entry functional in some way or another? It looks like the plan is to just have an artistic frame above this area. Why? If you are going to put a roof over something, why on earth fill it with a vast number of holes? If the concrete plaza serves as a waiting area for those at the kiss & ride location, then figure out how to combine the artists concept with some sort of actual useful covering for this area.

        4. Is there a particular reason why the kiss & ride parking area is on the opposite side of its auto traffic route from the plaza area, where it appears the kiss & ride passengers are supposed to wait? It seems like you would want to set this up so that the passengers don’t have to cross an auto traffic area in order to be picked up.
        The parking slots on the north side of the station are the kiss & ride slots, while the loop of pavement on the south side of the station is the transfer to bus area. To get to the kiss & ride area, you just cross the station. You obviously can’t do this with an elevated station, but it seems silly to make it so that people have to cross the auto traffic when the parking slots could just as easily be on the platform side of the auto traffic route.

    3. “Those parking lots suppress people’s desire to live or play near the station”

      Where would they live or play? The TIB station area has 3/4 of its TOD potential unbuilt, and the one corner of apartments that does exist predates Link. West and east of 99 (north and south of the airport stuff) are single-family houses, so not many places available, not very walkable, and nothing to walk to. All of this is dampening the potential for people to live near the station, but it has little to do with Link, it’s mainly about the cities’ policies which can change over time.

  3. Beautiful yet functional design and nice use of the elevated mode.

    We should be able to build LINK stations like this all over the place.

    1. The design is fine, but I certainly don’t want to see Link stations with park and rides all over the place. I would much rather they build little towns around them with space for buses to bring people in from further out in the suburbs.

      These stations are too expensive to waste the opportunity to not redevelop around them in places like this.

      With all of the space devoted to parking lots and car rental companies around here you would think they could zone for some inexpensive office space where a Seattle firm could have a satellite office accessible by link. Just a thought.

  4. [ot], but will the A Line remain on Pac Hwy or will it have to take a detour through Angle Lake Station?

    1. GIven the lake of u-turn plans for buses, it sounds like ST has its head straight on this one. Those who want to access Link from the A Line may very well stay on the bus and transfer at Airport Station or TIBS, and might do just as well as having the bus wait for a left-turn light to get to 28th.

      I assume the 574 will use 28th to get to the airport terminal stop faster.

      I have a feeling Mr. Bailo will be disappointed with no plans to re-route any buses serving Kent to get to Link faster. Re-routing the 181 would remove all service from 188th between SeaTac City Hall and Pacific Highway. Re-routing the 160 would remove the direct service to Highline Community College / Central Washington University at Des Moines.

      1. Guess Mr. Bailo will have to wait until they build a station near Highline Community College then.

      2. By then, ST might be able to cut a better deal with BN&SF, and run South Sounder hourly all day. If the one-time easement cost could come down, adding more runs on Sounder could end up penciling out to much cheaper than building Link all the way to Tacoma (not that I don’t want to see that happen).

      3. NO, NO, NO, a thousand times NO.
        UP, BNSF, HSR, Amtrak, CR, and Freight Rail must acknowledge the fact that there are two rail corridors running between Seattle and Tacoma.
        One goes through the hearts of most of the cities. BNSF
        One skirts the downtown hubs.
        Freights, during busy periods should use the UP (double tracked all the way, of course), and Passenger rail should be using the BNSF.
        Coal and Oil trains should be using the UP all the time for safety sake.
        I’d rather ALL our agencies work together to build the second mainline on the UP, than to keep ponying up $50 million a pop to BNSF every time they want to add a train to the schedule.

      4. See, this is why MetroLink in Los Angeles and a few other transit agencies around wound up purchasing the main lines outright rather than try and negotiate a fair deal with a company that essentially has a monopoly on the traffic route.

        It may be preferable to add a few crossovers and operate the thing as a triple track line. Each track you add to a main line drastically increases its capacity. The Northeast Corridor is four tracks most of the way, and the sheer amount of traffic illustrates just how much capacity is available on a four track railroad.

        A three track railroad does have less capacity than four tracks, but with three tracks operating as a single network you are then in the company of such lines as the Chicago – Aurora line operated by Metra, which has a reasonable number of trains, even on Sundays / Holidays:
        (The weekday schedule shows 47 one-way trips on the line, some of which don’t go the entire distance or don’t stop at certain stations.)

        Then add to that a few Amtrak trains (California Zephyr, Illinois Zephyr, Carl Sandburg and Southwest Chief).

        Then, add about 50 BNSF freight trains per day, and a few UP trains on trackage rights, and a few local freight moves.

        It winds up being about 75 or more trains per direction per day.

        I would also point out that part of the UP line makes for kind of a nice express route as it avoids the freight congestion at the entrance to Tacoma Yard from the BNSF main line. Just continue north from the Tacoma Dome station and across the river on the UP line and you have skipped all that. However, you also have no reasonable way to get back over to the BNSF line and the station platforms until you are around Tukwila.

  5. One thing Seatac is not lacking is parking. I do hope that this station eventually can help encourage more actual livable space since the need for airport parking will likely decrease as link spreads to more areas.

    At least the station will be relatively close to 99 and the park on Angle Lake. The city of Seatac should take advantage of this opportunity to change some of the zoning and encourage more development around the station.

  6. I’m curious about a couple points on service planning: Is the proposal for 6-minute peak headway set in stone? Has Metro agreed to it? If so, do we have some idea which bus routes will be pushed upstairs?

    Also, has ST proposed the starting fare for Angle-Lake-to-UW trips?

    1. I haven’t seen an official fare proposed for this trip, but the ST website says that fares are calculated based on a base fare of $2.00 per trip plus 5¢ per mile, and then rounded to the nearest quarter. It’s roughly 20 miles from the Angle Lake station site to Husky Stadium, so I would guess the fare will be $3.00 or maybe $3.25.

  7. I think the design “theme” here may be “SeaTac Federal Detention Center prison bars”.

    1. Metro can save a lot of gas by transporting prisoners between the downtown jail and the SeaTac jail on Link. That means more security presence on the train. Win-win solution!

    2. But seriously, much as I hate cars, I’m not spiteful enough to want to destroy any views from the top of the garage by covering it with bars in every direction. At least the bars won’t be painted bright orange.

    3. It could be interesting looking, or it could be hideous. I would lean towards the latter, just because the bars don’t do a good job of covering up for the really boring and ugly parking garage. It looks like most parking garages I’ve seen. Then again, I’ll reserve judgement until it is built.

      A quick search of parking garages lead me to this:
      Just about all of those look nicer than this. I think something like this: or this: would not only be nicer looking, but more appropriate for the area. This is a suburban station, not an urban one. Having a bunch of greenery mixed into the building makes a lot of sense (just as the Werhaeuser building in Federal Way fits its surrounding really well).

      1. There is actually a parking garage in downtown Portland that I think is OK. I didn’t even realize that it was a parking garage, until someone I know was giving me a ride somewhere and had to stop by an office in that area. It turns out, it is a parking garage, but with an office building built around its outside so that it looks just like an office tower. It does mean that some of the parking places get used by office workers in the building, but it also means the structure becomes more than a parking structure, but its own mixed use development.

      2. That sounds nice, Glenn (a lot nicer than this). It would actually make a lot of sense for this area, too. In some ways, office space, especially for conferences makes a lot more sense for this area than housing.

      3. Glenn, do you have an address on that garage? We might like to check it out next time we’re down in Portland.

  8. Seatac is running a planning survey connected to the Angle Lake station area redesign here:

    Mostly it looks like they are trying to plan on what to do with the triangle site, but I am hoping they will think outside of the box and encourage redevelopment of the car rental and storage facilities to the north of the station.

  9. Sound Transit is going to take a formerly property tax paying parcel off the tax rolls and it will forever be tax exempt. Will they at least charge for parking? If not, why not?

    1. I expect the increase in property value around the station will more than make up for taking this land off the property tax rolls. I doubt it has been paying much in property tax, anyway. It won’t be exempt from sales tax, income tax, car tabs, or traffic/failure-to-pay citations. I’m not sure it would be exempt from a parking tax, if SeaTac chose to implement one.

      1. Brent, a transit station isn’t Jack’s magic beans. There’s no guarantee it will sprout development or raise property value. Some do, some don’t. Columbia City and Othello increased, but Beacon Hill didn’t. S. 200th is an area filled with pawn shops, prisons, storage facilities, out of business store fronts, convenience store and gas stations. And even if it does increase, gentrification is a zero sum game and the poverty will just get pushed further and further out.

      2. Given that it is owned by ST, I expect it will continue the practice now instated at TIBS, Mukilteo Station, Sumner Station, and Issaquah TC. I also expect the permit program to expand to other ST sites, take over a larger portion of each lot, and go up in cost over time. (Not that the fees will begin to cover the cost of building the garages.)

        If parkers whine enough about the cost, I could see ST creating a low-income permit rate, so they can hike the regular rate faster.

      3. “There’s no guarantee it will sprout development or raise property value. Some do, some don’t. Columbia City and Othello increased, but Beacon Hill didn’t. S. 200th is an area filled with pawn shops, prisons, storage facilities, out of business store fronts, convenience store and gas stations. And even if it does increase, gentrification is a zero sum game and the poverty will just get pushed further and further out.”

        First, it isn’t gentrification unless predominately-minority apartments are demolished or the local homeless camps are closed.

        Second, the lack of wealthy neighborhoods around the station is precisely why it *will* get up-zoned. The only thing that will limit heights is the runway path.

      4. It will be interesting to see what happens here. I think they may wind up having to charge a bit for the station parking just because it is so close to the airport. General parking (not Terminal Direct) at SeaTac is $28 per day or $3 per hour. Any trip to the airport not requiring overnight parking and requiring more than an hour of parking time suddenly becomes subject to a much different set of economics. The park and ride lot now becomes very attractive for a whole group to park, take a 3 minute Link trip, and then walk a distance not too much different than the short term lot.

        Which may explain why TIBS has such a high demand for parking as well.

    2. Sam, the post mentions that the triangle-shaped lot immediately west of the garage is being reserved for future TOD–up to 35k sq feet’s worth. Since ST is not in the business of TOD, I imagine this chunk of land would get sold to a third party developer. And a 5 story mixed-use building commands much higher property taxes than a pair of SFRs.

      As to the question of paid parking, that was also brought up in the Q&A. Whether or not paid parking exists at this or any stations (Link or otherwise) will depend on the existing paid parking pilot project you are undoubtedly aware of.

    3. “Sound Transit is going to take a formerly property tax paying parcel off the tax rolls and it will forever be tax exempt.”

      Do you think mobility is no public good? That it’s less valuable than taking those parcels off the tax rolls? How are you weighing the costs and benefits?

      In any case, my understanding is that part of the parking is temporary until Kent-Des Moines or Federal Way stations open. Then it will be changed to TOD, presumably under private ownership, and thus returning to the tax rolls.

    4. It would be nice if Link charged market rate for parking, but I doubt they will. People view parking as a public benefit worth paying for. It is kind of crazy that people complain that Metro should charge more to ride the bus, but never complain about free park and rides throughout the city (not just in the suburbs). I’m with you on this one, Sam — it is a free give away, and no one talks about how much they are giving away.

  10. As Link as extended further and further south, at some point, won’t the paralleling A Line be seen as a duplication of service, and won’t there be talk of truncating it at the Link terminal?

    1. Yes, once th e Link infill stations open at 224th, 216th, 208th, 195th, 188th, 180th, 176th, 170th, and 160th.

    2. Tim, so why won’t hey do it when Angle Lake Station opens? Why won’t they terminate the A Line there and heard everyone onto Link?

      1. Tim, then why isn’t there still a route 42 going down MLK? It made stops that Link doesn’t. Duplication of service is duplication of service, and when you trade buses for trains, there’s going to be less stops and people are going to have to walk a little bit, like they do in the RV. It seems like there’s a double standard going on.

      2. Sam, the route you are missing is the 8. The comparison with the 42 would only make sense if the A Line continued to downtown.

      3. Correct me if I’m wrong Sam, but doesn’t Route 8 parallel Link going down MLK? Shouldn’t you be asking why Route 8 doesn’t terminate at Mount Baker?

    3. Link is specifically designed as limited-stop, like Swift, so it needs a parallel local route. RapidRide was not designed that way, so it is the local route.

      1. That being the case, my assessment of RapidRide (below) is incorrect. It should not be thought of as a substitute for light rail, but as a bus that is painted differently. I assumed there was something about it that made it “rapid” (e. g. fewer stops). I guess not.

      2. The “rapid” part is the transit lanes, evening/weekend frequency, the fiber-optic cable that enables the real-time signs and ORCA readers and headway-based dispatching (and wifi someday?), and the red buses with three doors and a different seat layout.

        It would have been more rapid with stops every half mile, but the cities asked to keep most of the existing stops, so that’s what happened.

    4. I think you are right. As some point, it makes sense to replace a RapidRide bus with a local bus. The point of RapidRide is to provide service that approaches light rail, but with less capacity. With RapidRide, the point is to ride it a long ways, not just to the next train station. But I also think we can let the riders decide. If the RapidRide numbers decrease rapidly because people are taking the train, then get rid of it. If not, then keep it.

  11. One last question. Why a parking garage? Is there anything prohibiting ST from building, or at least leasing out the property to someone who will build a large multi-famility complex? And if you’re going to say something like current zoning doesn’t allow multi-family on that parcel, surely an agency as large and connected at ST, if they really wanted to, could get the zoning changed. Did ST even attempt to see if they could make it residential?

      1. Tim, so there’s the words future TOD in there. My question is different. My question is why are parking garages the first, default light rail station structure? Why can’t someone say, “Here’s an idea. Let’s not build a parking garage. Let’s build a large residential building, instead.” And don’t give me some bullshit answer that ST isn’t in the apartment business or it’s not zoned for it. They can build or have built whatever they want on their property if they really want to. Instead of building a giant parking garage then reserving a piece of land for future TOD, why not build apartments, then reserve a piece of land for future commuter parking?

    1. To answer your question Sam: Because building market rate housing really close to the airport would only benefit the poor. It would push down rents and the value of property in general. People aren’t too concerned about that. Building parking lots, on the other hand, will be popular with rich and poor alike. Now someone who lives in a nice house in the suburbs can pay nothing to park in a big metal parking lot and ride a train to downtown or anywhere else the system will take them. Some of these riders will be poor, or course, but not so poor that they can’t afford a car. Who knows, maybe some of them will be folks who live in their car. See? Everyone wins! (except, of course, the people who would like cheaper rent).

      1. All cynicism aside, it would probably be difficult to do politically as well as legally. I don’t think Sound Transit is allowed to build an apartment building, or contract out with someone to build one.

      2. There is actually a new upscale quasi-TOD building at 200th & 99, and beyond it garden apartments going at least a half mile up to Angle Lake itself. I took some pictures of these for an STB article but never finished the article.

        The other corners at 200th, 240th, and 272nd are mostly large supermarket plazas or gas stations. The gas stations could easily be redeveloped, and the supermarket plazas could too if the owners wished.

        Kent is moving toward TOD nodes at its potential stations, if the 99 alignment is chosen. It looked at three alternatives, one with moderate density along the whole highway, but it ended up favoring higher density at the station areas and “auto-oriented” development (i.e., the existing zoning) between them.

      3. Up until a year or two ago, ST was neutral on TOD because it didn’t want to get caught up in neighborhood-political-housing battles and be hated by NIMBYs. But after seeing the less-than-ideal outcomes at its early stations, it switched to a pro-TOD stance because it’s a basic transit-best-practices fact. That was too late for basically SeaTac to Roosevelt, but it affects more recent station planning.

  12. I’m no expert on the area, but in general, this station looks like a “might as well add it” station, and nothing more. Not that many people live close by, and this won’t change that. There is a golf course nearby, and plenty of other green space (including a lake). Maybe some of that will change, but my guess is that it isn’t developed for a reason (too close to a creek or just too close to the airport). Nor is this great as a feeder station. Room for two buses ought to do it. Hopefully they didn’t spend too much on this station.

    However, the next station should be interesting. I would be tempted to put a very big transit center right around 516 and 99. This would be a logical end to South Link. Buses could serve Kent, Federal Way and other places to the south.

    Everything after that seems like it gives you diminishing returns. There are only two areas with even moderate density: one in Kent, the other between 272nd and 288th. Dropping down into Kent would probably be really expensive. Extending to somewhere between 272nd and 288th wouldn’t be too bad, but it wouldn’t be great either. Not only is the density mediocre, but the bus situation gets worse. The freeways spread out again, putting 99 well to the west of much of the population (and the other freeways). It gets close again way down in Federal Way, but holy smoke, that is a long ways away. There is also very, very low density down there, so Federal Way would only work as a transit center. In short, I don’t see the point of going beyond Highline Community College. As it is, I think most of the buses that would serve Link could serve that station as well as any. If there are weaknesses within the system (e. g. buses stuck in traffic) then we should spend the money to improve the weaknesses (e. g. build HOV lanes).

    Note: Here is a handy tool for checking out census tracts (with density shading):

    1. I agree completely, Ross. The fantasy of replacing the Seattle-Tacoma Interurban with Link is ridiculous at this time. Perhaps in thirty years, when the entire southwest region of the United States is uninhabitable from lack of water and 130 degree temperatures, there will be enough people south of Midway to justify a Link-style light metro transit link, but not yet.

      Now I do agree that Highline CC should be the actual end of the line, but the bus transfer facility should be at Kent-Des Moines. The extension to HCC can be at-grade in a reservation, perhaps shared with the A-Line, like MLK and Westside MAX. It can even (gasp!) have an MLK style station.

      1. Yeah, I’m not sure about the particulars (Kent-Des Moines versus HCC) but I agree. The key is to build something that will allow people to get from a bus to the train very quickly. The vast majority of riders will be traveling that way.

        I also agree about Tacoma. I like Tacoma, and it is the second biggest city in Washington. It did not grow up as a suburb, and it doesn’t feel like a suburb. Unfortunately, since Russell Investments moved out, it is becoming a suburb. There are very few white collar jobs in Tacoma, and fewer and fewer blue collar jobs anywhere (e. g. the port doesn’t employ nearly as many people as it used to). As a result, there just isn’t that much demand to get to Tacoma jobs. I don’t see the point in spending billions to do so.

        Which leaves Tacoma residents with trying to find a way to get to Seattle. Sounder is pretty slow, but if Link went all the way to Tacoma, it wouldn’t be much faster. I’m not sure why the express buses are so slow, but if we are going to spend money on the problem, that is where I would spend it.

        Spending money on light rail between Tacoma and SeaTac would make sense if there were a lot of people or destinations there. There aren’t. People are really spread out in that area, so there is no way to build rail to the population centers, because there aren’t any. The best bet is to find a nice place for a transit center and let the buses go on HOV lanes to the station.

        Likewise with employment or other destinations. The one exception is SeaTac, but I think it is crazy to spend that kind of money to build light rail to Tacoma just so that someone from Tacoma can have a nicer ride to the airport. Sea Tac may be the biggest destination for that area, but it is puny compared to the other destinations in Seattle. Besides, if that is the goal, then It would make a lot more sense to just put money into buses for that as well. As it is, buses going through Tacoma will get a lot faster once the state finishes the HOV lane work in the area. Once that is done, you will have HOV lanes from Tacoma to Seattle. At that point, the only problem area is getting to the 5th Ave. Busway from the freeway. I’m not sure if spending money to make that any faster is worth it, but if we did spend the money, then lots of people would benefit (not just people coming from Tacoma).

      2. “I’m not sure why the express buses are so slow, but if we are going to spend money on the problem, that is where I would spend it.”

        The 594 is a great route, but the dirty little secret is that it takes the bus the same amount of time to get from Belltown to SODO as it does to get from SODO all the way to Tacoma. Part of that is because the 594 is operated with high-floor buses that don’t even have a back door. And part of that is the unnecessary crawl through SODO to provide a one-seat ride to a small minority of people that the expense of everybody else. The 594 also bogs down within downtown Tacoma, and is often 15-20 minutes late on northbound trips due to traffic delays on I-5 around Lakewood.

        Leaving the issue of whether the 594 should stop at Federal Way for now, these are problems that are easily fixable. For instance, the 594 should follow the 578’s routing through downtown, using the Jackson Street entrance ramp and the Seneca St. exit ramp, no SODO crawl. It should be operated with 2-door buses similar to the other Sound Transit routes. Finally, outside of rush hour, Lakewood simply doesn’t have enough riders to justify giving Lakewood a one-seat ride to downtown Seattle at the cost of frequency and reliability for people getting on in Tacoma. I would truncate the 594 off-peak at Tacoma Dome Station (possibly under the label of 590 or some other route), leaving only the 574 to slog through downtown Tacoma and continue on to Lakewood. Meanwhile, the money saved could be re-invested to run the truncated 594 more frequently, perhaps every 20 minutes instead of every 30. And, unlike the current route, it would actually leave Tacoma Dome Station consistently at the time it’s supposed to. With the 594 running more frequently, the transfer penalty for those continuing onto Lakewood would be less, and anyone who wanted to avoid it could just drive to Tacoma and park in the giant parking garage.

    2. 240th is already funded in ST2, and is slated to open in 2023. The other major stations (for ST3) are 272nd and Federal Way TC. ST is still considering additional stations at 216th, 260th, and 288th (in the Hwy 99 alternatives), but has dropped Dash Point Road, and all the additional stations in the I-5 alternatives. So the stations are already where RossB thinks are best (if the 99 alignment is chosen).

      “Sounder is pretty slow, but if Link went all the way to Tacoma, it wouldn’t be much faster.”

      It would be slower. Sounder is 60 minutes. ST Express is 53 minutes (AM peak)/65 minutes (PM peak). Link is coming in at 55 minutes Westlake – Federal Way, and it must be at least 10-15 minutes further to Tacoma, so that would put it around 70 minutes at Tacoma Dome.

      “it is crazy to spend that kind of money to build light rail to Tacoma just so that someone from Tacoma can have a nicer ride to the airport.”

      We are not spending it. Pierce County residents are spending it, if they want Link that much. If they don’t, that’s fine with the rest of us, just run frequent buses to wherever Link terminates.

      1. Since the line in no way will be a commuter replacement for Tacoma-Seattle trips (and v.v.), if Pierce County wants this badly enough why not build out to Federal Way from Tacoma and leave a gap between, to be connected at some future date if warranted? RR A can serve as a connector for people coming from farther up 99 to the rail system. I can’t imagine commuter demand to DT Tacoma is terribly great once past Federal Way, and as has been mentioned above there are either bus solutions currently available or that could be made available with improvements to meet any such demand.

        The cost of an additional (small) service base would be considerably less than the construction of the line and stations between Highline CC and Federal Way, and if Pierce/South King wanted to fund extensions of this line in the future in different directions that more accurately reflected to-Tacoma commute patterns, they could do that–or they could fund upgrades to the BNSF line for more frequent Sounder service. Who cares if Tacoma and Seattle have “separate” systems if that’s what is desired and is more cost-effective?

        The whole idea of an urban rail transit system serving the distance and population density found between the airport and Tacoma is ludicrous on the face of it (same thing for Seattle-Everett). Pierce/South King sub-equity money could likely be better spent more effectively elsewhere, and I imagine if it were presented in that manner (Link to Fed Way, perhaps hourly or better Sounder service with improved speeds, maybe a possible Link extension further out in another direction) it might find more local support than a 70-minute train ride to Seattle that nobody will take.

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