The Vision
The Vision

Seattle Subway’s Comments on the Sound Transit Long Range Plan Update Draft Supplemental EIS

This is the final post in a series we’ve been doing related to Sound Transit’s Long Range Plan Update Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (“DSEIS”). The comment period is over on Monday, so be sure to get your comments in to before the deadline comes. This post calls out conflicts between the goals of the LRP and its content.  If you want to skip the wonkiness but agree that we should push for the best quality rail system possible for future lines in the region, you can copy our comments and send them to Sound Transit in support.

Sound Transit uses its Long-Range Plan to identify and select corridors and technologies for future transit packages. We are currently in the comment period for the Long-Range Plan Update, which means there is an opportunity to give feedback to Sound Transit in regards to the big picture. Sound Transit last updated this document in 2005, four years prior to Central Link opening, and it shows. Sound Transit must review decisions that were made in its early days and are still affecting its direction now, as Seattle and the region have changed a lot in the 15 years since Sound Transit’s inception. We will frame our comments in the context of  Sound Transit’s DSEIS’s Goals and Objectives for their Long-Range Plan (page 1-5).

Section 1: “Provide a public high-capacity transportation system that helps ensure long-term mobility, connectivity, and convenience for residents of the central Puget Sound region for generations to come”

  • “Increase the percentage of people using transit for all trips”
  • “Provide effective and efficient alternatives to travel on congested roadways”

Grade separation provides the most efficient and effective way to move people. It eliminates interference from other traffic and maximizes transit’s speed. Grade separation is a true alternative to congested roadways. The higher speed and frequency that a grade separated system enables creates the greatest increase in ridership as well. This, combined with the fact that nearly all of the 55 miles of lines Sound Transit is currently building are grade separated, make the following section of the LRP DSEIS out of place:

Chapter 2, Section 6.1 Alternative Technologies:

-The reason for exclusion of both Heavy Rail and Sky Train is listed as “Requires grade separation” (page 2-32).
Requiring grade separation leads us to the highest quality system and matches the goals of the Long-Range Plan. Different technologies make more sense for new lines in Seattle and the region. We need subway-grade speed and stop spacing to fully realize these goals.

As an additional justification for not studying new technologies, the DSEIS says “Adding new technologies that are not part of Sound Transit’s current operations would require separate new operations and maintenance facilities” (page 2-32).

This justification is either out of date or disingenuous. New lines in Seattle will require new O&M facilities regardless of which technology is used. When weighed against the advantages of driverless and grade separated rail (such as Sky Train) – the minor economies of scale achieved by using the same train sets across lines are not meaningful.

Section 5: “Create a financially feasible system”

  • “Improve Financial Sustainability”

While it’s true that the cost per ride on Link is trending down and will likely continue on that trajectory as it builds out and attracts more riders, it is not true that Sound Transit is considering everything it can that could improve financial sustainability. Vancouver, for example, is able to operate Sky Train at a cost that is less than Link’s fare per boarding. It operates without taxpayer subsidy and even helps subsidize some bus operations. They achieve this by using driverless trains. Funding transit operations is a big and recurring political issue in our region; driverless trains can put a permanent end to that fight while saving the region a lot of money. Sound Transit must study implementing driverless trains in Seattle and the region on the new lines it builds.

Other ways to improve Sound Transit’s Long Range Plan:

1.  Review and update the population model being used in the studies.  The PSRC numbers are clearly inaccurate in their 2035 projections. We discuss this in detail here.

2.  Study the Sand Point Crossing — it’s a better routing and the Trans-Lake Washington crossing study does not exclude this area form being studied. We discuss this in detail here.

3.  Study the highest quality option for Ballard to UW:  The Ballard Spur. We discuss this in detail here.

4.  Study a better Eastside corridor. We discuss this in detail here.

5.  Present an option to the board for West Seattle that is easier to include in ST3. We discuss this in detail here.

The comment period for this study ends on Monday 7/28 — be sure to send your comments to by that deadline.

What to say to Sound Transit in your Long Range Plan Update Comments:

1.  ST should revisit the justification for avoiding study of alternative technologies such as Heavy Rail and Sky Train, considering the current needs of Seattle, the region, and of an infrastructure investment that will be used by generations to come.

2.  Study driverless technology for new rail routes as part of Sound Transit’s efforts to improve their financial sustainability in operations.

3.  Review and update the population models being used to study ridership. The PSRC numbers for Seattle are clearly off.

4.  Study the Sand Point Crossing – it will provide a better rail connection than SR 520 and the Trans Lake Study does not exclude it from consideration as Sound Transit first thought.

5. Study a better option for Ballard to UW.

6. Study a better Eastside Corridor.

7.  Present a better option to the board for rail to West Seattle.

117 Replies to “In Summary: The Long Range Plan”

  1. I find it shocking that ST can simply dismiss Driverless grade separated rail technology as not feasible when there is such a brilliant, successful example of such system right across the border in Vancouver BC.
    I believe not grade separated rail is simply not worth the investment. If we’re gonna build rail, lets build real rail.
    The term “light rail” in my opinion is misleading. LRVs are heavier, slower, more expensive and have less capacity than their BART/Skytrain/Metro counterparts. And the infrastructure is not that much cheaper either.

    1. Light Rail capacity and capital cost are about the same as heavy rail the way we are building it. We like the grade separation – but we want the other advantages (driverless/speed) that we could get from committing to grade separation.

    2. Part of the reason ST chose light rail is it’s generic technology with multiple venders and interchangeable parts. Skytrain is proprietary like all the monorail technologies were, so you’re locked into one vendor and its monopolistic pricing, as we are now with ORCA. Part of the reason Skytrain was chosen in Vancouver was to favor a new Canadian technology and a made-in-Canada manufacturer. That doesn’t apply here. If only Boeing would build good light rail cars! (Their attempt in the 1960s was apparently a disaster.) I don’t know what options are available for driverless light rail but it would probably be cheaper than Skytrain and allow us more choices in the future.

      1. Really only the automatic train control system and maybe even just the software is proprietary. Any manufacturer could build the vehicles themselves (they are mechanically quite simple), and certainly all sorts of contractors and engineering companies work on the guideways. The only thing at all unique about them is the reaction plate and all that is is a piece of metal for which all relevant patents must be long gone by now.

  2. Downtown Kirkland should connect to Bothell which should connect to Lynnwood with stops in between. Thus you would have Lynnwood to Issaquah line and Downtown Redmond to Ballard line. Otherwise, to get to Bellevue from Bothell (lots and lots of families live in Bothell) you would have to travel through Seattle to get there.

    LOVE the addition of the Graham station on the Central Link.

    …still hate another ugly lake crossing, but so be it.

    1. Downtown Kirkland should connect via rail to a station on 520. Bothell should connect via frequent buses (running on HOV lanes) to that same station on 520. There should be no ugly lake crossing. Use the billions and billions of dollars saved to improve the bus service (more frequency, faster service via road improvements, etc.).

      1. Ross – are you saying a bus station or a light rail station? You are pro the 520 rail corridor?

      2. Disagree. Buses get stuck in traffic. Grade separated rail does not. Bothell should be connect to Kirkland by rail.

      3. @ Keith I’m saying the north half of your Eastside C4 option ( from Eastlink to Kirkland. But move the South Kirkland station to the freeway (Mercer Island style). This becomes a transit center (again, similar to Mercer Island). No additional light rail over Lake Washington. But the buses from there will travel more frequently on 520 then light rail does on I-90 (8 minute headways aren’t that hard to beat).

        @Scott — Buses in their own lanes don’t get caught in traffic. Besides, most people using a suburban system will be using buses anyway. In other words, would you rather:

        A) Take a bus, which lets you off by a station, then you wait for a train or
        B) Take a bus directly to your destination.

        Building light rail makes sense if building grade separation for buses costs about the same. In many instances, this is the case. For example, building a tunnel from Ballard to the UW for buses would be silly, it doesn’t cost much more to just have rail. But in this case, the HOV lanes aren’t that expensive, since many of them are already there (adding ramps and stations is expensive, but not as expensive as starting a rail line from scratch).

        Light rail also makes sense if you have really high volumes. Again, this is the case for Ballard. It is not the case for Bothell to Kirkland. To be fair, crossing 520 approaches this level of volume, but isn’t there yet. The big problem is that a crossing will likely prove* to be very expensive (by my estimation) making it simply not worth it.

        * Keith and I both want Sound Transit to tell us how expensive this would be.

      4. @Ross,

        In your “which would you rather” question you eliminate the third option, which is the current choice for nearly all riders in the East and South King County sub-areas:

        C) Take a bus, which lets you off by a station, then you wait for a another bus

        That’s why people in the east and south sub-areas want rail.

      5. My preference is A, B, C. So long as the peak hour travel time goes down.

        Right now my travels are almost always C and involve transfers to or from the 269.

      6. Exactly Peyton. Just to be clear, bus to bus transfer station would only occur if you are not going to Kirkland, or any other place on East Link.

        So, yeah if you are headed from Totem Lake to Redmond High School, you will have to wait for a bus. But that bus will come a lot more often, because the buses to Redmond High School, and the buses to Totem Lake, don’t try to go everywhere — they go to the station, and where they wanted to go.

        Personally, I think that is a great deal. Consider what folks getting from Lake City to Fremont will have to do. Take a bus, then a train, then another bus. Or, if we build the UW to Ballard line: take a bus, then transfer to a train, then transfer to another train, then take a bus. Here is the kicker: It will be way, way, way, better than it is now. Folks in Fremont and Lake City are begging for this. They want light rail even though it won’t directly serve them. Imagine that. Areas that are more populous than just about anything on the east side (way more populous than anything north of 520) and they are willing to support a good system because it is a step in the right direction.

      7. Ross, Note that I’m in Sammamish, an area that won’t and probably shouldn’t get rail, and I push for light rail that won’t directly serve me.

        Right now, presuming I want to head to Ballard in the afternoon I have to take something like 3 busses featuring about 45 minutes of waiting for transfers. With a Sandpoint crossing I would go Bus -> Train -> Train and that wait would be 15 minutes or less and it would be faster than East Link connecting to a Ballard-UW line, or if I take a Southbound initial bus it is Bus -> Train directly.

        I view my situation in this case as exactly analogous the your hypothetical Lake City to Fremont trip.

      8. @Peyton — Unfortunately, Sammamish is not very dense, and a long ways away from the city. So, basically, it is somewhat analogous, except for the fact that Lake City is way more dense (there are pockets there that exceed every census tract east of Lake Washington, let alone Lake Sammamish) and Fremont is as well. Fremont takes a big hit in the density department because of all the office buildings and ground level retail (which make it desirable in its own right) but it still manages to be more dense than any location east of Lake Sammamish. The other difference is that Lake City to Fremont isn’t that far, and there are lots and lost of dense, desirable areas in between (I’ve walked from Lake City to Fremont, I’m guessing you haven’t walked from Lake Sammamish to Ballard).

        But as far as a trip is concerned, there is no question that another crossing would speed things up, just as three more tunnels under downtown Seattle would as well. The thing is, those three tunnels would be cheaper, and have way higher ridership than another lake crossing. Plus, even with the flaws within the system as I envision it (chief amongst them 8 minute headways on I-90) it still would be a very big improvement. Transfers aren’t that big of a deal, as long as the buses and trains run frequently. This is why I picked my Fremont to Lake City example — two very big urban centers with a four seat ride, but still a huge improvement. As for the east side, it would mean:

        East Link — Reasonably frequent, and fast.

        Kirkland to Bellevue Link (including a stop on 520 in South Kirkland) — Fast and frequent.

        520 Buses — Fast and frequent. It isn’t clear where the trains go after across 520, but one of the UW stations would be a logical spot. After all, there will still be demand for a 520 crossing, but less for downtown service. Given traffic on Montlake, and the HOV lanes all the way to I-5 (soon) it might make more sense for buses to go to the U-District station (especially if they add a train to Ballard).*

        UW to Ballard Train — Fast and frequent.

        Ballard to the UW is tricky. If the lines don’t interline, then the Ballard train would be synchronized with trains coming and going from downtown. This would be easy to do, since the UW would be the terminus for a Ballad to UW line.

        If the lines do interline, then the Ballard to UW train would be used to increase frequency on the most important, most active section of our system (UW-Capitol HIll-Downtown). In that case, someone who rode East Link would have to wait roughly one quarter the headway of East Link (2 or 3 minutes). It is one quarter, because the UW-Downtown line would be shared with Central Link. In other words:


        So, worse case scenario, you are talking about a 2 or 3 minute wait in the U-District. I know there are a lot of possibilities, but considers some options:

        1) Take a bus to Mercer Island, Wait four minutes for the train. Take the train to the U-District. Wait two or three minutes for the other train (to Ballard).

        2) Take a bus to Overlake or Redmond station. Get on the train and proceed as 1) above.

        3) Take a bus to Overlake or Redmond. Wait a couple minutes for the train, then take it to the Hospital station. Wait another couple minutes for a train to Kirkland. Get off at South Kirkland, and wait a minute for a bus to the U-District. Then wait four or five minutes for a train to Ballard.

        4) Take a bus to the U-District, then transfer from there.

        The first scenario isn’t too bad, and seems highly likely. I believe there are buses that do that right now (and continue on to downtown). Those buses won’t need to continue on to downtown, so they can run more often.

        The second is a bit slower (going all the way around) but it is still much faster (on average) than a typical bus ride (e. g. Ballard to the UW).

        The third scenario seems cumbersome — a lot of transfers. But it is a very direct route, with about a ten minute wait. You will still blow the pants off of anyone driving at rush house, and might even beat a driver in the middle of the day (it takes a long time to drive to Ballard).

        The fourth scenario seems highly likely if you live north of 520. Less so (as in your case) if you live south. But it still seems likely. Frequent buses to the U-District from the east side along 520 will make a lot of sense, especially if Kirkland to East Link is built. It wouldn’t take much for Sound Transit to change one of their 55X buses so that it gets on 520 in Redmond, then goes to the UW. They will have plenty of service hours to work with, as they truncate the buses that go beyond Mercer Island to downtown. I would absolutely, positively, vote for more service hours for buses like that. They do a good job, but are hampered by the lack of good transfer nodes. We will add one, at Mercer Island, and I suggest a second, at South Kirkland.

        * Solving the “last mile” problem in the U-District is tricky. I think we should spend the money to do it. Obviously, an expensive way to do it would be to build a tunnel under northeast Seattle and a bridge across the lake. I think we could solve it a lot more cheaply by building a bus tunnel from I-5 to the station. We could probably solve it even more cheaply by simply designating parts of 45th as transit only, and maybe add an HOV ramp to the mix. The good news is that the last mile problem for the U-District isn’t a mile, it is about six blocks. So, basically, there is a very good chance that you could take one bus from Sammamish, watch it slog through a bit of traffic in the U-District, then transfer to a train headed to Ballard. Not bad at all, in my book. Beats walking.

      9. @RossB
        A few thoughts

        1. I don’t see the need to synchronize the UW-Ballard and Downtown-Lynnwood lines. The average transfer wait both directions is likely to be only a couple of minutes. The same applies for Downtown-Ballard vs the other lines.

        2. The need for people going to Fremont to take a bus depends on what exactly is built next and where exactly they are going. I think we should attempt to place a station in either upper or lower Fremont in the next phase of expansion.

        3. For your 520 station either flyover ramps to the S. Kirkland P&R or an APM between the S. Kirkland P&R and a 520 freeway station would accomplish the same thing (to bad an APM to the grandiose Yarrow Point freeway station probably wouldn’t fly, we might actually get some use out of that Taj Mahal).

        4. I see the real ‘last mile’ problem in the U District as being between 520 and UW Station/Pacific. Even with a bus tunnel or transit lanes along 45th between I-5 and 15th the real bottleneck is I-5 itself. Even with all of the delays between the Montlake interchange and U-District Station it is still likely to be faster via Montlake/Pacific/15th than 520/I-5/45th. There is also the option of transferring to rail at UW Station which is particularly attractive if you are headed to say Northgate. If you want to go to Ballard travel times might be a wash with staying on the bus to U-District station

        The problems I’d like to see solved in the Montlake area for buses are:
        1. Reduce delays for buses between the 520 HOV ramps and Pacific.
        2. Improve the experience for riders transferring between buses and rail at UW station. For both through and terminating bus routes.
        3. Provide stops adjacent to UW station for terminating routes and nearby layover space. (IOW get the UW to give up some more of that giant fucking parking lot for a transit center)

    2. Yeah, long-term vision should include a line that roughly parallels I-405. Using the map above I could see going from 196th SW to Lynnwood (whether South or North), then Bothell, then interline with the route from downtown Kirkland to between South Bellevue and Factoria, branching off and following the existing rail ROW to Renton.

      There’d be a couple of intermediate stops of course between Lynnwood and Bothell and Bothell and Kirkland, but overall, yeah, there should be a N-S passenger rail corridor somewhere on the Eastside.

  3. Not my backyard, but why doesn’t the east side of Seattle (Central District area) get discussed more in the conversation about LRT routes?

    1. We agree – it needs to. Our comments are focused on what might be included in the next regional package. We intend to update our vision map to include the CD (per the Seattle Transit Master Plan) this summer.

    2. As a denizen of the CD, I’d rather that it didn’t so much have a full light rail as an exclusive-lane streetcar. Building a spur off of the FHSC going east on Jackson to 23rd then going north to, as a start, 23rd/Union would be awesome and relatively easy on the area. It would go nicely with the “23rd Ave Action Plan,” a rezone which, it surprises me, I also haven’t seen or heard much discussion regarding.

      That’s a bit off-topic though, so I’ll also point out that it doesn’t surprise me that people don’t talk much about the Central District or, when they do, it’s basically “reeeeeaaaallllyyy east” Capitol Hill, with the exception of Rainier Ave’s East Link station. Very expensive development isn’t happening in the CD and there’s no real advocate for the neighborhood to get HCT. At this point, so many other areas (like Ballard in the near-term and Lake City in the medium-term) need and want HCT that the CD is probably 20 years off because no one has really agitated to get service and funding.

      1. The CD is one of the few areas in Seattle that could be frozen in time from a development standpoint and still make sense for light rail. I really don’t think the lack of development makes any difference (although it may make a difference politically, as you say). If anything, the lack of light rail restricts further development, not the other way around (as with the current kerfuffle over expanding Swedish).

        I think it is far more likely that people either don’t understand the point of light rail, or don’t think that Sound Transit can deliver it effectively. From an overall, regional standpoint, light rail serving the Central Area, as well as South Lake Union, makes just as much sense as serving Ballard to the UW, and way more sense than anything else anyone is talking about (e. g. West Seattle, Issaquah, Federal Way). But people may believe that the point of light rail is to connect wide ranging areas with very widely spaced stations or they believe that Sound Transit will only do that. I’ve seen this before, and it is sad.

        A few years into the great recession, it was obvious to everyone involved that the stimulus package was inadequate (as most economists had warned). The answer, of course, was to have a bigger stimulus. But opponents claimed that raising the deficit was bad, and would ruin the economy. Economic experts were shocked. They couldn’t believe that such an ignorant, wild idea could pass for public policy. Years later, it is obvious that the economists were right, and that we should have had another stimulus. But in the middle of it, people didn’t push hard for a stimulus either because they now believed those that thought the deficit was a bigger issue, or they believed that it was politically impossible. It wouldn’t surprise me if folks on the CD feel this way now about light rail.

      2. LCRider,

        I completely agree, but I don’t think you’ll get a reservation; east of Boren Jackson is only four physical lanes wide, and there is still lots of parking allowed. Given the nature of the neighborhood, that parking is necessary. The apartments along Jackson don’t have much themselves and the cross-streets are already pretty well filled by the residents’ cars.

        Instead, why not have a streetcar with protected stations in the driving lane as on Dexter? It’s much more compatible with the Central District’s character than a light rail line as exemplified by Link and probably wouldn’t be hideously less reliable. After all, street cars are the original light rail. The surviving Pittsburgh, Boston and San Francisco PCC lines were the genesis of light rail in the United States. There are several places where the N uses street right of way — along Irving it doesn’t even have protected stations — and it does OK everywhere except right at Ninth Avenue where it switches to Judah. Muni needs a mini-tunnel from about 7th and Irving to 11th and Judah to make the switch.

        I’m a bit skeptical, though, about turning north of 23rd, simply because the street is too important a north-south arterial. Also, the area is very well served by three east-west lines and the 48, which will be ETB before too long. Once the 3 is switched to Yesler for the trip down the hill from Harborview, the Jefferson/Cherry corridor will be much quicker to downtown than Jackson. The streetcar would be an urban circulator connecting the folks in all those new apartments to activities in Pioneer Square and (hopefully) Belltown eventually.

        If the Mt. Baker bus is dieselized, as the neighborhood oddly desires, it should switch to Yesler and become a limited stop “mini-BRT”.

        Since the streetcar would stop in the middle of the street this would make Yesler the auto thoroughfare to downtown for the eastern CD, Leschi and Mount Baker, instead of Jackson.

        There is one problem, though. Where does it lay over? The cross-streets just east of 23rd are all too narrow I believe, and you certainly can’t lay over in the middle of Jackson. It’s a potential show-stopper.

      3. And again with the “subways are for the peripheries, shitty trolleybuses are for the inner city” crap.

        The Central District is one version of what contiguous aggregate density looks like. It is fucking urban, and it is fucking dense, and it is fucking urban and dense over a pretty fucking large and uninterrupted area.

        Even the C.D.’s single-family slivers, thanks to small pre-war lots, are 2x-3x as dense as any part of West Seattle. But the Central District mostly isn’t single family. Nearly every block boats the sort of mixed urbanity — townhomes and mother-in-laws and houses and small apartment buildings — which the rest of this dumb region thinks must be quarantined and compartmentalized and hamfistedly segregated from one census tract to the next.

        Ross’s density heat maps show this. Transit ridership shows this, despite the Central District network involving the literal worst buses in the metro area, because demand rises exponentially as density rises arithmetically.

        That anyone can call themselves a transit thinker and not understand that dense, centrally located, and multi-faceted places like the Central District are exactly where real transit needs to go is unbelievably galling.

        No more slow-ass mixed traffic streetcars. Never again. San Francisco and Toronto have taken decades of pains to segregate where feasible, and where it couldn’t be done, their networks are plagued with difficulty. Boston has about 5 blocks of mixed-traffic trolleys remaining, and holymotherofgodarethose5blocksawful.

        What is it with Seattle and loving to propose expensive projects that are the opposite of solutions to problems!?

      4. I agree the Central District needs much better transit. It is dense, has high ridership, and it’s in need of investment. I also agree a streetcar/light rail solution would be ideal, not only for the benefits to those particular areas but as part of a more robust network in the city.

        As mentioned, extending the First Hill line east on Jackson to 23rd and then north to Union seems like a good option to me as well, but I think any route on that part of 23rd should connect to the future I-90/Rainier Ave Link station and at least as far south as the Mt Baker transit center, with extensions to Columbia City and Rainier Beach, thus largely covering the 7. The First Hill line could be extended south on Rainier Ave if Jackson is a problem, though I don’t get concerns about lack of space. It could also go east from 14th at Yesler.

        To the north though, I’d like to see it connect to the future Madison BRT, Montlake/Arboretum, UW Hospital/Husky Stadium, and U District/U Village with connections to the future U District extension & Ballard spur, and eventually run it all the way through Ravenna, Greenlake, Greenwood and on to Golden Gardens, much like the 48. Connect it into the Ballard/Fremont lines on the other end to round things out.

    3. Good question Paul. I did. I can’t speak for why other people don’t. Perhaps because people are really cynical and believe that light rail won’t serve the most important, most productive areas. Perhaps the folks in the Central Area just don’t believe that South Transit (or even third transit organizations) care about them). What was the graffiti I saw way back when?
      Light rail for the suburbs, new grates for the homeless
      Yeah, I think that was it.

  4. Wow. I always respected Seattle Subway’s goals (still do) but thought they were a bit too optimistic. This didn’t bother me much, because I figured that they would push for the most important pieces first. I’m not too concerned about getting light rail to connect Northgate to Ballard, as long as we get rail from the UW to Ballard first. But this plan bothers me.

    Among the various pieces on this map are: Two light rail lines to Everett, a light rail line to Tacoma, a very expensive sky bridge to West Seattle, an even more expensive secondary crossing of Lake Washington, a light rail line that runs right next to I-90 (a road which functions quite well with HOV lanes) serving five, count ’em five, stations after Eastgate/Bellevue College (the last station of any merit). In short, this suggests miles and miles of very expensive light rail serving neighborhoods as populous as West Magnolia. I’m not exaggerating, either — zoom for yourself:

    Meanwhile, just for starters, the Central Area gets two stops (Capitol Hill and Judkins Park) both of which were designed and paid for before this map was built. Wow. I just don’t see how you can look at a density map of the area and think that Federal Way should have the same number of stations as Everett has lines — especially when one of those stations is so poor (Judkins Park). It’s not just population density, either — there are hospitals and a university in the area. Put a station next to Seattle U. and you would have triple the ridership than the average new station on this map. Put another station east of there (by Garfield) and both stations would perform much better than most of what is on this map. That’s just one neighborhood. There are plenty of other spots, many of them really cheap to serve (e. g. Interbay) which get left out so that we can have two lines to Everett or two stations for Federal Way. I could understand this if serving the suburbs was really, really cheap. Often times it is fairly cheap (e. g. elevated rail in freeway right of way). But this isn’t. Huge sky bridges — miles of tunnels to deserted locations, and, just for fun, another bridge across Lake Washington.

    If the goal of Seattle Subway is now to validate the bizarre vision of Sound Transit — that the suburbs need way more coverage because they are further away, or will grow faster (a claim that flies in the face of every recent study if not common sense) then congratulations. But that is an unfair critique of Sound Transit. Sound Transit is a political entity that was designed, from the beginning, for a specific purpose. I’m sure there are board members who question, right now, the suburban oriented plans, and the subarea equity funding that it encourages. But their structure is largely set in stone. Seattle Subway is not. You are supposed to provide us with a vision. If this is it, I don’t want it.

    1. The vision map definitely needs an update. We’ve been using this one for nearly two years. I concur about the north lines and the need for more East Seattle coverage.

      Many of your other issues with the lines need to be taken in the context of Sound Transit’s plans and subarea equity. We consider the framework the region is working with when putting this together.

      1. Sorry – I didn’t read your post completely. My comment is similar. We don’t live in a bubble and have enough battles to fight without taking on the entire regional establishment. We think Seattle needs far more rail than far flung suburbs and, given our druthers, the suburbs should be helping pay for them as enjoy proximity benefit.
        Its just not the political environment we live in.

      2. But you are SEATTLE Subway, and this a LONG RANGE Plan. I understand political compromises. I understand working within the system. But as was just said up above ( if you don’t provide a real vision for short and long term light rail, then people will assume you are OK with the current set of plans, as well as the current structure. It is all well and good to say we need to work with Sound Transit’s plans, as well as Subarea equity. But at some point, it should be obvious to everyone, the subarea equity bubble will burst. At some point, the suburban areas will say “enough already — this just isn’t worth it”, because, well, it won’t be. If I lived in the suburbs I would feel that way about this system. The only thing I like about it is the urban pieces, and I would feel that way about it even if I lived in Auburn (“Hmmm, it looks to me like I will be able to get to my job in Ballard by taking an express bus to SoDo, then light rail … not bad”).

        That is the myth of additional light rail to the suburbs — they aren’t getting a good deal either. Look at the density map (I keep saying that, but holy cow, it is obvious when you look at it). Take Kent, for example. For the most part, everything south of Seattle is really low density (same as West Magnolia) with the occasional low density (same as Interbay), but there is one census block down there which is actually medium density (not Belltown/UW density, but Crown Hill style density). Just one, though. It is around 256th and highway 516. This may be a statistical anomaly, but there are some other fairly dense (Interbay style) blocks next to it. Guess what? The train doesn’t go there. So, how exactly are the people in this area supposed to get to the train? For that matter, how is everyone else supposed to get to the train? Remember, there is only high density block south of Seattle in King County, and it isn’t served. The area in general is huge, and dispersed. This isn’t a case where a light rail line goes from Beacon Hill to Downtown, First Hill and the U-District (all very dense spots) while nearby areas have to wait (sorry Eastlake). This is a just a random shot through a very dispersed area. You either have to spend billions and billions on criss-crossing light rail for the region (which might make sense if we were Dubai) or people will ride buses (as they do from West Magnolia). This is my point. Extending light rail further into the suburbs just so we can say we did it does no one any good. The folks down there need a solid, practical way to get to a bus, and for that bus to quickly get them to where they want to go (presumably via a rail station). I don’t see that with this plan. What I see is spending lots of money on the suburbs on projects that will by and large be seen as failures (for the suburban riders) so that we can spend money on worthwhile projects in the city. That seems like a very cynical plan to me.

        Besides, you are an advocacy group — you aren’t on the board. Let the board struggle with trying to come up with a plan that makes sense for the region while maintaining subarea equity. It seems to me that your job should be to advocate for better light rail and that includes light rail in areas where it makes sense.

        If you want to come up with a vision for ST3, which is likely the last time that subarea equity has any chance of passing, then fine. But this isn’t it. It seems to me that what makes the most sense for ST3 is to keep it simple. Pick the most important, most cost effective system for Seattle, and work outward from there. This means some light rail for the suburbs, but design that with bus to rail transfers in mind. This also means plenty of improvement in bus infrastructure (HOV lanes and ramps). That is the only proposal that stands any chance of winning. That is the political environment we live in.

      3. Ross, did you read the post, or did the (two year old) map upset you too much? Seattle Subway HAS focused on high quality lines in Seattle. They organized to get the Ballard to downtown, Ballard to UW and downtown to West Seattle studies moved from later this decade to 2013 and 2014. They then packed the planning meetings and got high quality rail pushed through. Now they are pushing for high quality rail in Seattle.

        But because a vision map (that has no ‘built by date’ attached) shows lines you don’t like you flip out? I get that you don’t think that high quality options should be even studied outside Seattle (or at least that is how you come off, slamming Seattle Subway for suggesting it). But should probably step back from the keyboard, take a few deep breaths and realize that in the political environment we live in, with subarea equity and a Mayor like Murray, a ‘fuck the suburbs, they don’t deserve/can’t use high quality rail anyway’ stance is a non starter and is the kind of attitude that will keep Seattle from getting the high quality rail it desperately needs.

      4. RossB, the main point of this post is our comments on the LRP. We fully intend to take all the great suggestions and update our vision map, as we’ve been saying for quite some time. If you want to help with that, let me know, we’d welcome your input, my Seattle Subway email is

        Please remember that part of what we try to do as an organization is help people collaborate with Sound Transit — I say this because you seem to have seen our to-be-updated vision map and have some strong opinions, but I’m very interested in your thoughts regarding the other content in this post.

      5. …there is one census block down there [Kent] which is actually medium density (not Belltown/UW density, but Crown Hill style density). Just one, though. It is around 256th and highway 516. This may be a statistical anomaly…

        This is, hilariously, where Bailo lives.

        It’s pedestrian-hostile and ugly as hell, but it is indeed both cheap and populated.

      6. @Seattleite — Did you read MY comment? Seriously — my biggest paragraph, which is huge and had to be broken from the first one is all about how this plan is simply not that cost effective for the suburbs. I never said ‘fuck the suburbs, they don’t deserve/can’t use high quality rail anyway’ — those are your words. I explained in a very long paragraph (and a half) why this isn’t high quality rail for the suburbs. Again — read my comment. My friends from the suburbs wouldn’t get squat for this. They still can’t get from their bus to the train station very quickly or frequently. Spend half the money sending this down to Fife on road improvements for buses (exclusive lanes) and the suburban rider gets a much faster, more frequent ride.

        But yeah, a LONG RANGE PLAN (how many times must I emphasize that) that has nothing, absolutely NOTHING for the Central Area (beyond one decent station and one crappy one already planned) while it has miles and miles of light rail to suburban areas, grandiose tunnels through low density areas and multi-billion dollar additional crossings makes me wonder what is up with an organization that like you said, has done so much good. Again, read my comments, but as I said, I have nothing against Sound Transit mapping out a strategy of very cost ineffective light rail for the suburbs while proposing very cost effective light rail for the city. What I don’t like is when we suggest this sort of thing for a LONG RANGE PLAN.

      7. This is, hilariously, where Bailo lives.

        I’ve mentioned the density of East Hill Kent as comparable to some areas of Seattle over the past few years and was hilariously downshouted.

        I’ve also pointed out that my neighborhood and its environments is a hotbed for:

        Apartment complexes
        People walking
        People riding bikes
        People taking bus transit at all hours of the day
        People heavily using the Kent station rail transit hub

      8. @Ben — Sure, I’ll take a look at your points.

        Other types of rail — Definitely worth considering, but I wouldn’t consider it very high priority. Of all the mistakes that I think Sound Transit has made, it is probably one of the smallest.

        Items under “Other ways to improve Sound Transit’s Long Range Plan”:

        1) Absolutely agree.
        2) I have no problem with studying something. Measure twice, cut once. I also think that this helps politically. I believe, though, that once we study this, we will find that it is extremely expensive. I also believe that Seattle would get screwed in the deal. I personally, would like to get to Kirkland in a hurry (from Ballard) but the stations to the east of the UW would not be very good ones, and through the magic of subarea equity, we have to pay for those instead of building something better (like light rail serving the Seattle U. area). But that is neither here nor there. Study it, find out how much it costs, then expect folks like me to oppose it.
        3) Completely agree (and have written a post about it). I believe this is the most important corridor that Sound Transit is looking at.
        4) I have no problem with studying that, but I would also study a station at South Kirkland on 520 itself, which would function similar to the one at Mercer Island (very quick transfer for buses to the rail system). I would also study bus lane improvements along the I-90 corridor.
        5) I have no problem with getting a price tag on that (for the same reason I have no problem with getting a price tag on another Lake Washington crossing). But I think it is more important to see how much bus improvements would cost for West Seattle. This include additional HOV lanes, HOV ramps, SoDo station improvements, neighborhood improvements, and yes, a tunnel through the top of West Seattle. My guess is this last item would be expensive, especially if it was designed (as it should be) so that it could be converted someday to light rail. But I would really like a comparison of various pieces from a cost/benefit ratio.

      9. that the suburbs need way more coverage because they are further away, or will grow faster (a claim that flies in the face of every recent study if not common sense) then congratulations.

        That is exactly right.

        We’ve been subject to 20 years of top down urbanization and what are the results?

        Same levels of traffic congestion
        Increasingly unaffordable housing and rents

        Suburbanization, connected by a robust transit system are the answer. It is a way to “make more Seattle” by pushing it outward, rather than building it upward (and microscale).

        It creates liveable housing, at a reasonable density (Kent East Hill) but with lower costs. It provides access to high value jobs so you create a region of well off Middle Class households…rather than a few billionaire fiefdoms surrounded by downtrodden serfs of all castes, left with nothing beyond the rent bill.

      10. @John — This begs the question. What do you think of the plans for light rail (now going on) down there? How will you get to a station, and how could either station placement, or other improvements make that better (faster, more frequent, etc.). I have no idea what traffic is like in that area, and if buses get stuck in it.

      11. By the way, the question for John in my previous comment was only in response to the fact that he lives down there — not his last comment (I hope that makes sense, John).

      12. @RossB.

        Traffic here is impossible all the way from the highways, up and down Central, and Kent Kangley all the way to Black Diamond. We get highway level traffic on these neighborhood boulevards (I’m not exaggerating…using Google Traffic Maps, I saw that the volume on Kent-Kangley at rush hour can come close to I-5 level traffic!)

        For a person on East Hill, the nearest rail is of course Kent Station.

        Angle Lake when open will help, but it will require a bus like the 180, or 168/164 to get people back and forth there. Then there is West Hill.

        Kent is big, so saying these things means trips that could take 15 minutes just to get to the new LINK station, and that’s in low traffic. There are no BRT lanes set up right now.

        Ultimately, if this is going to work, we need a plan like the Seattle Subway where the rail lines permeate the deep suburbs of Kent East Hill, Covington, Black Diamond heck, Enumclaw and all the way back to Tacoma.

        I guess I’m saying the idea Transit system for this region is the L.I.R.R. — not the MTA.

      13. Thanks John,

        It pretty much proves my point. Unless we go whole hog (and we really can’t afford to go whole hog) folks from suburbs like Kent will have to take a bus to the station. That bus, right now, is stuck in traffic. Well, unstick it. Spend the money so that a bus sails right by the traffic. We’ve done it before (on I-5). We saw a huge ridership increase on I-5 from Lynnwood when they added the HOV lanes. No surprise, really. Folks sitting on the bus, up high, laughing at all the poor saps stuck in traffic. Of course, the poor saps are thinking “I’m not going to downtown — I’m going to [Fremont/Lower Queen Anne/Capitol Hill/South Lake Union]. I’ve tried the bus thing, but after the long transfer, it just isn’t worth it.”

        Anyway, I really don’t think there is anyway that most of the suburbs (as you said, Kent is big) can be adequately served by light rail whereby most riders walk to the station. But they can be served by a bus/rail system that could mean very frequent service (since the bus doesn’t have to spend time downtown) as well good coverage. We’ve widened freeways, I don’t see why we can’t widen a few highways. It is a lot cheaper than light rail, which means we can widen a lot more highways (with HOV lanes).

      14. Again, I think the Sounder model is really what works.

        The model where there is ample free parking so people can both bus, and drive to a reasonably situated node, and begin a rapid transit journey to a central destination.

        Forget trying to get them to do a trip that involves or necessitates a car type trip at both ends. They’ll just take the car directly there (as would I).

        That means what we should have been building all along is an extensive spiderweb of rapid rail (similar to Sounder, but high speed and possibly lightweight like the L.I.R.R.) and yes, more highways, wider highways and BRT.

        This vision also adequately supports the future implementation of auto-drive cars, which seems to be a given at this point.

    2. I’d like to echo Keith’s statements here. I’d rather get rail right in Seattle proper before doing anything else on the Eastside. Alas that’s just not how the system works.

      1. If only we had an advocacy group that was trying to change the system. If only we had an advocacy group trying to push for subways in Seattle.

        OK, all snark aside, like I said above, I have no qualms with Seattle Subway proposing grandiose plans for the entire region for ST3 because they feel like it gives us our best chance of winning at the ballot box. I happen to disagree. But who knows how the political winds will blow — maybe they are right.

        But what I don’t like is a long range plan that leave important parts of the city out, while spending ridiculous amounts of money on the suburbs. Let Sound Transit, or some other entity propose that. For the LONG RANGE Plan, we should propose what makes sense for the region, and that means a lot more grade separated rail for the city, and a lot more fast, frequent buses for the suburbs. If that doesn’t fit with subarea equity funding, then let’s change the way that subarea funding works.

      2. RossB, what would you suggest they do to change the system? Until the legislature changes things, Sound Transit is the only agency allowed to build High Capacity Transit in Central Puget Sound. Changing the Senate is a little much for an all volunteer group so for the time being they are focusing on working within the reality of Sound Transit.

      3. Change the nature of subarea equity. We’ve discussed this before. The simple solution is to keep it, but allow each region to spend the amount they want to spend. I’m not saying this will happen before ST3 (it won’t) but it could happen before ST4 (and ST5). But I really don’t see who would object to this. This would allow some regions (Seattle) to spend more than other regions (South King). A lot more. At the same time, each region pays only for their own piece.

        I think the argument for the old system is gone. People who think it is a good idea can now pat themselves on the back and consider the job done. We have light rail to the airport and light rail to Bellevue/Redmond. We might not have had that without the subarea equity system (e. g. South King might have balked about paying for light rail). Time to move on. It makes sense to have one agency run it (Sound Transit) and it makes some sense to have subarea equity (although I don’t like it) but it doesn’t make sense to tie one areas spending amount to another area. That looks like a recipe for failure, sooner or later.

      4. OK, we’re not actively working to fight subarea equity right now, but lets follow this thought through. What is the upside for Seattle if we get rid of subarea equity?

        -More funding? No. Getting rid of subarea equity doesn’t re-direct funds from the suburbs to Seattle. The suburbs wouldn’t like that and would vote against it if we’re talking regional votes.
        -Easier votes? Maybe long term — we’d have to get rid of subarea equity AND convinced the leg to give Seattle funding authority. A huge lift.

        I personally think that a large ST3 vote in 2016 would pass easily with the right projects. I also think that ST4 is too far off to really engage in serious discussion about.

        Something else we are looking for?

      5. We don’t need to get rid of subarea equity, we just need to allow the various subareas to have different tax rates. Right now they all have to be the same rate, and that’s why Seattle’s three subways are dependent on light rail to Everett, Tacoma, and Issaquah. Differential tax rates is what RossB means by “allow each subarea to spend what it wants to spend”. Presumably Seattle is prepared to pay high taxes for its three underground lines, while Snoho and East King say they want light rail but really want something inexpensive. Differential tax rates would allow them all to have that.

      6. Those opposing sub-area equity need to remember that the North King sub-area is outvoted by the other Sound Transit sub-areas both on the board and at the ballot box.

        In other regions the core doesn’t get much in the way of funding once the initial system is built. The likely effect of ditching sub-area equity entirely would be that money from Seattle gets spent on light rail in Fife or Covington.

        Now I get that those of you who want to ditch sub-area equity want to keep the requirement that funds from a particular sub-area fund projects in that sub-area. You simply want the ability to vary tax rates between sub-areas, but given the risks inherent in politics the more likely outcome would be to remove the requirement for funds to be spent in the sub-area they were collected from.

        For ST3 this likely means it would still be focused on “completing the spine” with maybe a token project for Seattle (Graham Street, Ballard streetcar). North King and East King would largely end up footing a fair chunk of the bill for the field of dreams of Pierce, Snohomish, and South King with little in the way of projects of their own.

      7. Total abandonment of boundaries is not what Ross or myself or Mike or pretty much anyone here is talking about. We are all advocating tax rates that vary as appropriate depending on the differing needs of each sub-area.

        And I, frankly, would rid us of region-wide simultaneous balloting and let each project be voted on as a relevant point in time by its relevant funders.

        (Oh, but then Snohomish boosters can’t rely on a Seattle supermajority to pass projects that won’t win on their own merits.)

      8. As I said I think if the pandora’s box of reforming sub-area equity is opened eliminating boundaries entirely is just as likely an outcome as allowing each sub-area it’s own tax rate and project votes.

        I’ll remind you that the Snohomish sub-area passed ST2 while it failed in Pierce and South King. In fact I believe all 4 times ST has gone to the ballot it has failed in South King and Pierce. So while Snohomish and South King envy North and East King’s budgets it is Pierce and South King who rely on Seattle’s supermajorities.

    3. I have to mostly agree with Ross here. A broad-ranging, ambitious vision is a good thing, but it needs to be clearly separated from what is possible in the short term and must build on concrete steps to get there.

      I’d suggest throwing away the map, overlaying the already-existing and approved Link lines and major bus routes on a population density map, identifying the unserved population centers, and building lines that will connect those dense areas in order of number of people served. The lines that connect dense areas will suggest intermediate stops in areas that are not so dense but have potential. The final vision should include every current dense residential and employment area and whatever intermediate stations are suggested by the lines that connect them, including stations that connect to buses.

      Then you propose stages that help you build out to that vision. You start by taking the highest priority Seattle line (Ballard-UW) and figuring what a grade A subway costs. Then figure out how much money sub-area equity gets you in each other area and note the corresponding lines in each area that can be done in that stage. Shade or color that stage so it’s clear what would be done firts. Stage two is the second-highest priority line in Seattle (I’ve been following this closely and I’m not even sure what that is! I suspect it might be something unstudied like LQA-SLU-CD-Rainier. But the way to figure out what it is is to look at the unserved areas of density and draw a line between them. Just as for stage one, you then figure out what subarea equity would get you in the other areas. Shade/color that on your map. Continue in discrete chunks until you have all employment and residential areas of note served.

      Once you do that, you can game out different stages or combinations of them based on different overall cost scenarios. Do polling to figure out what people are willing to pay in 2016. Then go into focused overdrive campaigning mode to get that chunk approved for ST3.

    4. Needless to say, I share Ross’s bewilderment-cum-disgust that the map above lives on in the post-Schiendelman era.

      But clearly, it isn’t just about the map. Clearly, some discourse-dominating faction within the advocacy organization (and honestly, I neither know nor care who that is) has continued to propagate the dangerous and ridiculous total fiction that it is the Puget Sound’s destiny to build more rail, at greater distances and higher costs, to more places that can’t possibly justify it than any other city on earth.

      When the very heart of your strategy involves proposing $5-7 billion in next-wave projects in every sub-area, amounting to $10,000 in direct local tax collections per every human resident, before accounting for debt service, because our region just isn’t all that populous — BUT DON’T WORRY IF WE MISS Y’ALL, BECAUSE THERE’S PLENTY MORE TO COME IN THE NEXT THREE $35 BILLION ROUNDS!! — the intensity of the delusion should become obvious to anyone out of college and in possession of eyes.

      We’re not as populous as the Bay Area (where this very same sprawl shit isn’t working), and we’re not even a wart on the congested ass of Los Angeles (where trains of this length would traverse 100% urbanized cityscape). But we’re supposed to agitate for building more and faster and at 5x the self-taxation level of either of them… and also automatic (for the nonexistent people who need 3-minute service to Everett at midnight)? Come! freaking! on!

      As someone else said above, Seattle Subway is the organization that managed to get pretty good in-city studies done years ahead of schedule, and that is now turning the tide of bureaucratic opinion toward highly effective projects like the cross-45th corridor. Really important advocacy work is being done, and needs to keep being done.

      But this bullshit dilutes that. It isn’t based in “political reality” — the inherent unfundability renders it the precise opposite. It is long past the time for “reality reality” to intervene.

    5. Subarea equity requires 1) a common tax rate and 2) spending revenue raised in one area within that area, but it DOES NOT specify building rail in the suburbs. The money could be used for BRT, regular express bus service, streetcars, aerial trams or just HOV/T lanes or connections – like I-405 to Ash Way direct access ramp. In fact, that’s how a lot of ST’s money is used right now. The suburbs need more transit than what they currently have if they are going to grow more dense nodes and eventually support rail. Perhaps these aren’t the exact lines needed. I would have run one up 405/525 and possibly an E-W line Boeing to Snohomish (I know it’s outside the district. LRP’s should discuss potential annexations). That would have a significant time advantage over the indirect auto routes available. Maybe Seattle Subway should work on a basemap of supporting rapid bus or streetcar lines for corridors or areas outside the city where those are more appropriate. Show lines that could be subsidized if they feed enough riders into the system to make the driverless rail turn a profit like SkyTrain. More lines in the city are a good idea, but excluding the rest of the region will create a dismal failure that is unable to replace much auto travel.
      Feel free to post whatever anti-suburban rant you think necessary, but know that those of us who live, work, play and commute in the burbs are not going to all pack up and move to the city. Why would I move farther from my job? As American central cities regain appeal, our metro areas will start to look more like others around the world, with low-income families (the ones who need transit most) priced out to more peripheral locations. The burbs will never, ever, ever agree to let you spend our tax money on your projects even if we do get some benefit from them. That’s why we have zoned fares. We also are not going to let ST build a commuter system void of opportunities for real TOD to flourish here. I’m happy SS included the 220th station in Mountlake Terrace. We have to build transit in a way that connects and supports all of our regional activity centers so that it will successfully reduce pressure on housing prices and serve more balanced bi-directional loads that efficiently use capacity. Now, can we all just get along?

      1. >> but it DOES NOT specify building rail in the suburbs

        Exactly. There are some areas (like West Seattle and the I-90 corridor) that could really use a little work so that they leverage the existing infrastructure. This isn’t cheap stuff, but it isn’t new light rail, either.

        On the other hand, places like Ballard really wouldn’t benefit with much BRT type spending. OK, you could move the Dravus station next to 15th — that would help. But ultimately, you get stuck. You get stuck downtown, you get stuck in Ballard. If you want to go to the U-District, the second biggest urban center in the freakin’ state, there is no thoroughfare. The streets have slow speed limits and dozens of cross streets. Even if you hit all of the lights, you get stuck. You get stuck in Fremont, you get stuck worse crossing under I-5, and you get stuck (of course) at the U-District. I wish it wasn’t so. I would be the first proposing a surface solution, but there isn’t one. The good news is, it isn’t hat far. Unlike a lot of suburban areas, you are not talking about 10 miles, you are talking about 3.

        We should build what makes sense to build for the areas involved. For most of the suburbs (Kirkland being the exception) that means bus infrastructure improvements. For West Seattle, that means the same. For Ballard (and Queen Anne, and the Central Area, and South Lake Union, and Wallingford, and Greenwood, etc.) that means light rail in a tunnel.

      2. Eric,

        You are legally correct that sub-area equity says nothing about modal choice. SoundTransit could never build another mile of Link beyond what’s under construction and be within its charter.

        Politically however, as has been repeatedly shown, rail is the mode that the suburbs think they’re getting with ST, and they will not vote for solutions consisting only of more buses. The folks who are willing to use the bus are already doing so.

        So it’s either buy them off with projects which are a good as can be designed (e.g. Kirkland to Eastgate) or forget about new lines in Seattle. The legislature isn’t going to give the North King sub-area new unique taxing authority all by itself. The seething statewide pot of jealousy toward and ideological hatred for the “hipster” residents of Seattle forbids it.

      3. …Unless three (or four) out of the five subareas recoil in horror at the price tags and the pointlessness of the proposed projects, and the next region-wide measure goes down in flames.

        Which, if the ST Board is so committed to “spine”-ing up to Everett (and relying on Seattle to overwhelm the “no” votes this boondoggle would receive even in Snohomish), seems to be exactly the direction we’re headed.

        Best to start planning for contingencies now, rather than waiting until the inevitable electoral embarrassment. And maybe it’s time for Seattle’s delegation in Olympia to grow a “spine” of its own.

      4. I have no idea why you are so sure that voters will reject suburban rail lines you hate a few years from now, when they heartily approved suburban rail lines you also hate in 2008.

        Moreover, I have no idea what “contingency planning” SS or anyone else should be doing for the vote AFTER the putative ST3 failure. It seems logical to focus on the next vote instead.

      5. Furthermore, even in the boundaries of Seattle I question if your vision of “rail for me and buses ever after for everyone else” is a winner.

      6. Meh on your glib interpretation of my position, Martin.

        I have come to believe that most attempts at “node rail” are fundamentally silly and ineffectual. That including the putative “two lines to Ballard”, the more expensive of which would have poor corridor penetration and poor connections and earn some pretty lackluster ridership for its cost.

        That said, I have tended to begrudgingly endorse commuter bypass corridors as far as Ash Way to the north and Angle Lake to the south. I think Renton may someday justify a higher-quality radial connection to Central Link. And I’m basically okay with the connective potential of the Kirkland-Bellevue-Eastgate segment of the line discussed on Wednesday.

        Furthermore, I think a full subway that connects LQA, SLU, Boren, First Hill, and the Central District would be an astoundingly useful urban long-term project, with any number of network-effect benefits… if anyone around here would bother to educate themselves about what the terms “urban” and “network effects” actually mean.

        (Hey, all of those things I just mentioned are rail!)


        What no one has even bothered to address — and it’s kind of a big-deal issue — is how our tiny little metropolitan area* can possibly expect to build more extensive and more expensive projects than Los Angeles expects to over the next 30 years!

        The Los Angeles Measure R plan is the most ambitious urban rail project attempted in the United States in nearly a century, and Los Angeles is a megacity. And we’re going to build more rail than L.A.? To places without 1/100th of the aggregate density or economic interconnectedness of the L.A. corridors?? By pushing our sales tax well over the 10% mark???

        Yeah. People like the basic idea of rail as a congestion bypass (already approved, already revealing its applied mediocrity). People also like long, impressive lines on maps. What they don’t like is spending $35 billion on what is easily revealed as superfluous crap. That isn’t going to happen.

        *(which is not going to grow 74% from outpost to shining outpost, no matter what stupid flyers Sound Transit put in the mail)

      7. I’m glad to hear you “grudgingly endorse” rail to Ash Way, since all I recall you doing here is bitching about it using the same rhetoric you’re using for the next round.

      8. In fact I’ve never known you to be actually positive about any rail project except U-Link and Ballard-UW.

      9. I wouldn’t be so hostile to Seattle proposals if they weren’t so uniformly absurd, so pathologically averse to the lessons of precedent.

        But when the triumph of the year is getting exclusive ROW approved for a streetcar on an illogical corridor with no coherent relationship to any larger transportation purpose, it becomes pretty hard to find excuses for optimism.

        *(i.e., no one anywhere looks at a map and says, “Oh, that First Ave streetcar is an indispensable part of my efficient journey to my destination!” Which one would think would be kind of a minimum threshold for a significant and highly visible capital project.)

      10. And re: “begrudgingly”:

        It remains both stupid and offensive that Lynnwood will be seeing 6-minute rapid transit service, when dozens of straightforward intra-Seattle trips will continue to take upwards of 5x as long as driving (not counting 15- or 30-minute waits to begin travel).

        That said, I’ve seen the traffic on I-5, I know it’s awful, and I can’t object to the idea that a bypass should be available. Ash Way, just past the 5/405 merger, is the furthest that such a bypass could be effective.*

        Thus, I don’t “begrudge” the idea of such a line. I merely begrudge the prioritization of distance travel, in many cases at the direct expense of urban mobility on or near the very same corridor.

        That’s an important distinction that you’re fudging.

        Now, can we please discuss how in the hell Seattle is going to fund projects 3x more expensive than London Crossrail?

        *(Building to Everett adds nothing, because no matter how many fingers you cross, there is no such thing as bi-directional large-scale demand for travel to small & decentralized edge cities 28 miles away. That’s simply not how high-capacity transit geometry works. Everett would prove a commuter bypass no different from Ash Way, except longer and less efficient.)

      11. I think Martin is right, you haven’t had a positive thing to say about a single rail project in the region with the exception of UW-Downtown and UW-Ballard. I see you making noises about rail for the Denny/John corridor and CD but I wonder how solid that desire would prove once we are looking at an actual study with costs and ridership projections.

        I think you.are very wrong about the merits of both the Central City Connector and the Downtown-Ballard Corridor.

        The Central City Connector connects all three transit nodes in the Downtown Core (Westlake, Coleman Dock, ID/King Street). It extends the reach of both the SLUT and the First Hill Streetcar into the downtown core. By doing so it triples the ridership of the current SLUT and doubles ridership of the Jackson Street segment of the First Hill Streetcar. While you may not think anyone sees the utility of a First Avenue streetcar I suspect that has more to do with you not being one of the target riders and less to do with the real benefits of such a line.

        As for Ballard-Downtown, the study area only extended to Westlake. I believe ridership projections were hurt by poor transfers at Westlake and the lines not penetrating the downtown core to the ID/King Street Hub. I’d like to know what the cost of a second DSTT would be and what the projected ridership of the corridors studied is if the second DSTT or Central City Connector is included (for the two streetcar corridors). I don’t see a single connection served by Ballard-UW that isn’t served by corridor D of the Ballard-Downtown study. If anything corridor D enables more connections by serving Upper Queen Anne, Lower Queen Anne, and Beltown.

      12. I know that it will hurt the STB community’s feelings tremendously, but I don’t really give a damn what people think of my positivity level.

        When the purportedly level-headed “bean counter” blog editor can’t wrap his head around the fact that “next round” proposals more expensive than L.A.’s long-term plans, or more expensive than Crossrail and the Second Avenue Subway combined, are not going to happen in subareas of 700,000 in a notoriously tax-wary region, then reasonable discussion has left the table.

      13. The ability you seem to have to express absolute certainty about the electorate 4 or 8 or 12 years from now is astonishing, to say nothing of the federal funding level at that time.

        I’m honestly not sure how big the package is going to be. I wouldn’t wholeheartedly endorse the SS series – I’d want to see the Sand Point study before saying anything more; Issaquah would be about my lowest priority on the Eastside.

        But your political theory of how this works is simply bankrupt. You think that the suburbs voting for yet more buses is a winner. I think they’ve been told too many times that buses can be “just as good” to buy that again. A small tax for crap will do worse a big tax for something really good, however much it angers you that someone might get something nice.

        For exhibit A, the lines to Lynnwood and Redmond and Federal Way that you have nothing nice to say about did pretty well at getting suburban votes in 2008.

        At the very least, voters need to know that they’re next in line; that means a vision that shows most people they might find it useful for something. Your devotion to the idea that rail is an unconscionable waste outside of a few square miles of central Seattle is more doomed than the most fevered $100 billion long range vision.

        That’s not to say a big package will definitely win; predictions are hard. But if it fails, we’re screwed. It doesn’t mean the electorate gets fired up to pump dollars exclusively into the urban core.

        But it’s apparent to me that you’d much rather not have service to Ballard than tolerate other people get lines you’re not even paying for. If something big goes on the ballot I hope you enjoy your new friends at the Eastside Transportation Association.

      14. Well how do you think building Ballard-UW and telling everyone else “fuck you, take a shitty slow bus” is going to fly politically? Even more so if you got your way and everything currently funded except for Downtown-Northgate was halted?

      15. As delineated above, that is not what I have said. Not even close.

        Which makes your straw man irrelevant.

        But I’ve pretty much reached the end of my willingness to spend energy on the “rail is magic fairy dust that seeds the countryside with rainbows and prints its own currency” crowd.

        You’ll just have to watch your $40 billion in bullshit crumble at the ballot box.

      16. “No rail except for Ballard” will get heard as “your only alternative to driving is a shitty slow bus”.

        We’re really not all that far off on the dubious cost/benefit for future suburban light rail expansion (including suburban parts of Seattle like West Seattle). Especially between Angle Lake and Tacoma. I do see merit to Lynnwood-Everett and Burien-Renton.

        That said given the current political realities driving any proposed ST3 package I’d like to see any projects proposed be as useful as they can possibly be. That means making the proposal for Kirkland-Bellevue-Eastgate-Issaquah less of a joke and throwing a bone to West Seattle (even if there are better uses for the money). I agree there is no salvaging Angle Lake-Tacoma other than to keep it along 99, but it is what it is.

        BTW the scope for ST3 is in the range of $16-$23 billion, so yes still expensive, but nowhere near what you claim nor in inflation adjusted terms that much more expensive than previous phases.

        Remember not all of the future ST revenues from the current tax authority are spoken for both as a result of bond retirement and funds not needed to pay bond interest or operations and maintenance expenses. It is further likely that at least some of the proposed project would qualify for federal grants. Therefore the entire amount of ST3 need not be paid for in the form of additional taxes. Heck if we’re willing to wait long enough no additional taxes would be needed.

      17. Perhaps, Martin, it’s worth actually reading my statements at (lamenting ST’s suburban-first bias, but acknowledging the real need for commuter-traffic-bypass lines),
        or (endorsing the non-Issaquah and non-Sand Point parts of the line under discussion, despite my growing frustration at the outlandish scale being proposed by Seattle Subway in aggregate)
        before joining Chris on the Misrepresenting D.P.’s Positions Express.

        To repeat myself, Lynnwood has been fast-tracked disproportionate to its need, and oversold on the expectation of a Magic Bellevue 2.0 that won’t materialize, but I have never said it served no purpose with which voters could identify. For you see, voters have been in that traffic, and they can absolutely envision themselves hopping on a train to downtown or to the stadiums so as not to have to deal with it.

        But voters cannot see themselves going out of their way to ride from some arbitrary point in the northern sprawl to some mediocre part of Everett, when any places they ever want to go in either vicinity have no relationship to the trajectory of the line and would be nearly impossible to access using any version of it. There’s also the inherent trouble that a light-rail train, even with limited stops, is much slower over 20+ miles than any route you might drive.

        There’s a reason that BART is a uni-purpose system that fails for the overwhelming majority trips in its own service area, and that is spectacularly useless at its outer reaches. (Reminder: Fremont, CA has well over twice Everett’s population.) Meanwhile, your hometown’s laudable transportation success story is inextricable from its choice to build this and not this. (Crappy urban transit fails even the Lynnwood riders, who aren’t going to bother with Link at all if their last-2-miles at the urban end are a guaranteed disaster.)

        But whatever. Misrepresent away, and then continue being a forum of 50% Fantastical Futurism and 50% apologies for on-the-ground disaster.

        At this point, I’m inured to it.

  5. A long range plan that doesn’t connect South King to the Eastside?

    Holdup! Somethings missing….

    1. John – I agree! We’re planning to update this map this summer and that line will be added to the vision.

  6. May I suggest that you edit the post to set off what is in the DEIS. Either put ST’s words in italics or a different font. It will make it easier for readers to discern what is SS and what is ST.

  7. Connecting suburbs to urban areas does work quit well for rail because if the transit is there the future generations would take it instead of looking at buying cars. So, it is a good idea for Sound Transit and Seattle Subway studying light rail to the suburbs because in the future people will need it and it’s already there.
    Also, buses could connect other cities that don’t have light rail to stations. Light rail could save money for Counties Transit Authority because some buses routes could be delete or re-route to end at stations.

    By the way, if Sound Transit goes with drive less trains properly maintain it because when fails the whole system can go down and cause mass delays to passengers.

    1. There is no place on earth with sprawl trains + awful urban connectivity where transit adds up to more than a statistical blip in how people live or function.

      The Puget Sound is a simmering cauldron of discredited notions and broken groupthink.

      1. Look at SkyTrain we went from Surrey (Suburb) to Vancouver (Urban area) it is doing extreme well in terms of ridership. Even the Richmond (Suburb) to Vancouver (Urban area) has done quite well in the five year period and the ridership is higher that determined. So, your point kinda not valid.

      2. You’ve clearly never been to any of these places.

        Surrey is as close as Bellevue, has 5x the population of Everett, and some parts of it are more urban than Capitol Hill.

        Richmond is even closer, and arguably urbanizing better.

      3. Oh, and Vancouver has a fantastic urban transportation network — including (but not limited to) extensive Skytrain segments arranged on the sort of urban access principles to which Sound Transit seems fundamentally opposed — so the three adjacent cities you mention are knitted together in a way that provides comprehensive access for all.

        Your halfwitted retort is totally not valid.

      4. @ d. p. A bit off topic, but I would love a comparison of west coast cities and their transit systems. Vancouver (BC), Portland, Bay Area, Los Angeles, and San Diego. There are a lot of similarities (other than size). But in the case of the three Northwest cities, not that much difference there. I would guess that Vancouver is doing just about everything right, which means that it would be a great model for us, since they are probably the city that resembles us most.

        I would do it myself but I am shooting from the hip here.

      5. Ross, I’d be happy to assist in evaluating San Diego, since I go to school down there.

        Come to think of it, I should do a Transit Report Card for STB.

      6. @Peyton — That would be great. I know so little about San Diego, so a little background would help as well (always nice to here about a city from a local).

        @yvrlutyens — That is exactly what I’m talking about. I am so tired of folks, including our own city councilmembers, fawning over Portland, when there is a much better model to the north.

        I am also curious about what is being planned for Los Angeles, as well as a critical assessment of BART. I know the quick summary of BART is that it performs really poorly by most metrics (except for the part you would assume does well — East Bay to San Francisco) but I would like to see some numbers. Plus, how well does the rest of the system work, and does they integrate?

    1. Agreed. We already spent millions on a Sounder line to Everett that no one rides. SR-99 should have been the corridor all along but we’re about to go up I-5 instead. Third times a charm? No thanks.

    2. It’s a long-term vision. I was surprised at that too, but it will get built when it’s ready. An interim BRT step may be just what the doctor ordered. Swift is already established; it just needs to restore its evening/Sunday frequency that was cut in the recession. RapidRide E needs to be upgraded; there are several ways to do that, e.g. by extending Swift or another line. Or if the east-west routes are seriously frequent, maybe people can just take Link and transfer. But we should keep the second Link line as the long-term goal because we can’t be 100% sure we won’t need it in thirty years. You need to bargain down from what you really want, not bargain up from a not-enough, because that’s what led to the current underservice.

      1. I agree. The two north lines are cut #1 from the map. We’ve frankly been focuses on other things.

      2. While the two North Lines may seem excessive, I don’t think that between SWIFT and RR E you can deny the demand is there. 99 is also a car sewer with tremendous TOD potential all the way from Seattle to Everett. I believe this has far more ridership and TOD potential than Angle Lake to Tacoma or Eastlake to Issaquah.

        Transit demand from the North is already much higher than from the East or the South.

        Besides if some in Snohomish County get their way the line from Everett to Lynnwood would divert to Paine Field and not serve most of 99 corridor at all save for a couple of stations.

  8. Is anyone else concerned with how long it’s going to take to build the important lines? I’d like to see money spent on the important lines to get them built faster.

  9. Guys, just pretend the map’s not there. Keith said he’s updating it about ten times.

    Then, if we go by Seattle Subway’s suggestions, we’re talking about asking for:

    1) using accurate population numbers that should strengthen the case for routes serving dense, urban areas,
    2) a better Ballard to UW line with more stops
    3) a better Eastside route than has been proposed that goes to more places people actually want to go, and
    4) a starter line to West Seattle that we might be able to afford in ST3.

    Most of us agree with most of these things.

    Oh, and we get to know how much the beaten deceased horse known as the Sand Point crossing will actually cost, so we can all stop arguing about it.

    Good job Seattle Subway.

    1. Thanks Jesse – Appeciate the support. Posting the map was quite the mistake in retrospect. :)

      1. Yeah, and sorry for jumping on it so hard. It didn’t help that it had a caption of “The Vision” (probably not your idea).

      2. No worries Ross — its our vision map so that was a logical title for us. Our bad on that one – we should be more careful about re-posting old content (for this EXACT reason.) :)

  10. One thing to consider is changing “public high-capacity transportation system” to “a public, high-capacity, rapid transportation system”. The inclusion of “high-capacity” and the omission of “rapid” does say something about the goals of the agency. I’m told that “high-capacity transit” has always been the lingo in Portland for non-bus transit. That finds some echo in reality. In Vancouver, “rapid transit” has always been the term used. This map is from a 1970 study:

    While no one pays much attention to these types of mission statements, they are backed by certain values. One is that rail transit is a “solution” to crowded buses. It can certainly be that, but it can also create something entirely new. Link together places that by creating new routes or by shortening travel times.

    1. That’s a good point – speed matters. Our system should be able to move a lot of people – quickly.

    2. That Hastings line might have been preferable to the Lougheed Highway / “prospective commuter rail corridor” Skytrain they wound up building.

      1. A Hastings line would probably get 100,000 weekday ridership. The bus ridership along Hastings is at least half that now. Even as a little kid my transit fantasies included a Hastings line, and apparently this has been in mind from long before I was born. But a Hastings line would be expensive and the Millennium Line was oddly cheap. Less than $100m per km. And Burnaby favoured the Millennium route because there was underused industrial land and mall parking lots along that route that were useful for redevelopment without annoying sfd neighbourhoods.

      2. What is the status of getting some real transit along Broadway to UBC? That would seem to be the next logical priority in the region. It is unfortunate the wealthy SF neighborhoods on the western end of the line don’t want rail anywhere near them and nobody seems to want to pay for even the section between Cambie and the Expo/Millennium line.

      3. We’re getting into o/t bait here, but we can test the censors. I actually think that the prospect of rapid transit to UBC is quite high, it is a matter of when. Certainly I think that extending the Millennium Line to Cambie or Arbutus will be with us sooner rather than later. And this really isn’t a matter of sf neighbourhood opposition. The line will be fully tunneled metro and not surface LRT. People are afraid of a bunch of highrises, but that isn’t going to happen, and I think people will get over that. In any case, all of the station locations are already somewhat built up. There actually are 8 story buildings close to both the Alma and Sasamat station locations and they are the most residential. The hang-up is about cost. And Broadway already does have real transit. Just the 99 bus route has 50,000 weekday boardings, and total boardings on all the buses is around 100,000. Converting this to metro will bring this total up to 150,000 boardings for sure. (The City estimates 200,000, but that might be a reach.)

    3. It’s rather telling that the original metro plans from the 1960s in Seattle ( used the term “rapid transit”, but now Sound Transit seems to be deliberately avoiding that term. One reason for this is that in the United States, “rapid transit’ usually tends to mean completely grade-separated metro/subway systems instead of light rail, even when the light rail basically functions as a rapid transit system with grade separation, long station spacing, etc. As you mentioned however, Sound Transit uses the “high-capacity transit” term as an excuse to study alternatives that are not remotely rapid transit (i.e. streetcar to Ballard), which is a bad thing because it de-emphasizes the system’s primary purpose of improving mobility across the urban region.

      1. I think “HCT” crept in from FTA study language from alternatives analysis. Very much our point in this post. If we are going to build 98% grade separated anyways – lets commit and take full advantage.

  11. Looking at page 2-32, Alternative Technologies, I see that the report splits out monorail, skytrain and heavy rail. Really all of these are the same thing. They are grade-separated rail transit. Formerly all would be operated with drivers but now any new builds would be built with automatic train control. All the other differences that there might be between them, above-ground, on-ground, underground, guideway style, vehicle size are mostly just window dressing or responses to site-specific needs. This is why I have taken to calling them all “metro” systems.

    And I’m not sure what the difference between skytrain and heavy rail is supposed to be. There are two technologically separate systems in Vancouver that are both branded “Skytrain” or actually “SkyTrain”. The last one completed uses completely conventional subway cars with conventional electric motors. The platforms are only big enough to have three-car trains, but that is because Vancouver is not big enough to fill 8 or 10 car trains like New York or Seoul.

    Originally skytrain was called ALRT or Alternative Light Rapid Transit, and the concept was that it would be a subway-lite or a mini-metro with smaller cars and shorter trains. There is real savings in the shorter trains because it makes the smaller stations cheaper, but the smaller cars themselves don’t really change much. As the system got popular the old style cars were clearly getting too small, so a larger Mark 2 car was developed and there is another on the drawing board that is larger still. The original skytrain was also built with linear induction motors (this is the Expo and Millennium lines). That was the real new technology at the time and there was some advantage to them in the early 80s over conventional electric motors (the wheels weren’t powered themselves so traction was a non-issue), but that advantage is mostly gone. Now it is just a different type of electric motor that I don’t believe is any more expensive than any other electric motor.

    1. Yeah, I was wondering about that myself. Its almost like they picked it out specifically to say “no – we’re not building Sky Train.” Which is really too bad in my opinion.

    2. One distinction is monorails, skytrain, VAL, and people mover type systems lock you into a single vendor for rolling stock and often signaling and control systems. With conventional heavy and light rail there are a number of vendors for both rolling stock and signaling/control systems.

      1. As I mentioned above, this isn’t true. Really the only thing that makes the system unique is the automatic train control system. That is a tiny portion of the costs. Even the rolling stock isn’t much and anyone can make that. The real expense is in the ROW and guideway and absolutely all and sundry work on those.

  12. It is unfortunate that some commenters took this post as an opportunity to take shots at our organization and a two year old map (which we just thought was a good image for a summary post) that has been posted, both on this blog and in other media, many times. Seattle Subway will continue to look for ways to work with ST, within the confines of the legislative realities we face as a region and state–like subarea equity. We will continue to look for ways get the public excited about the possibilities, and to focus on getting the highest quality rail built in and around Seattle. We stand behind the quality of this series. If we, as a region, are going to look at rail — lets look at the best versions possible give the public as much information about the options as possible.

    Anyone here who thinks we are missing the mark (or not) and wants to help us do a better job is welcome to come get involved. We’re an all volunteer organization and appreciate all the help we can get.

    Mostly we’ve been overjoyed at the positive response and how many people want to jump in and help – we have more help and success than what we would have imagined in the early days – but obviously, we have a lot more to do. Moving forward we will have a lot to say outside of the confines of the LRP comment period and outside the confines of the Sound Transit process. If that is what you are looking for from us – stay tuned, some of our best ideas are coming soon.

    1. I realize that you are sick of people whining about your map, but for these types of applications, it is often of great benefit to use a map that shows residential and employment density – a heat map of sorts. It helps people understand what will be most useful, and it helps people see the region as it truly is instead of through their own mental map.

      1. Sure – that is definitely a good version to have. Even better – it would be good to do it with projections given the timelines we’re dealing with.

  13. You posters are all on point. I’m so glad you are making a fuss about this. Of course, technically this is merely an environmental impact statement, but these kinds of frozen visions end up as fixed assumptions until there is a last minute change and we get such mediocre projects as the Broadway Streetcar and the AWV bored tunnel replacement. It’s a planning process that is fundamentally flawed, discouraging innovation and vetting out challenges to the planning process. Planning is not mere design engineering!

    I’d also add that there are several other viable technologies which should be discussed along with the ones you have mentioned. One is DMU, which is much better suited to lower-density suburban environments than light rail is. Another viable technology in some instances are cable-pulled connections between two stations. Alternative technologies have been transmitted to ST in scoping comments but they seem to conveniently ignore them. It’s always two modes and end-to-end corridors. It’s pretty offensive and frankly this ST planning process is a major fail.

    1. I’m unaware of DMU technology being used anywhere there wasn’t an existing rail corridor for much of the line. I don’t see anywhere in Seattle Subway’s vision where DMU would offer any advantage. In our area the primary savings would come from not having to install an OCS at the cost of comparability with the current LINK system.

      Usually where ridership is low enough not to bother with an OCS you are probably better off with BRT anyway unless you happen to have an existing rail corridor you can use like SMART or the River Line.

      As for cable pulled systems I’m unaware of these being used for anything more than APMs or parking lot shuttles. Though they are worth considering for ‘last mile’ access when stations are in unfortunate locations.

      1. I’m now speaking as Keith Kyle and NOT on behalf of Seattle Subway (as this is an issue that we have not fully come to agreement on.)

        That said — I think we should be looking at other technologies to serve upper Queen Anne and (long term) places like the Issaquah highlands. Both places require massive costs to serve via subway and I think the cost benefit is somewhat dubious vs, for instance, a gondola that connected to a subway station (considering the demand as well.) If we skip Upper Queen Anne and go for a modified Option A/B for Ballard DT, serving all three corridors Ballard/UW, Ballard/DT, DT/West Seattle is not out of the question in ST3 – even with the middle (rather than high end) option selected for Lynwood to Everett.

        In my opinion, a package for ST3 that included those three corridors would be a landslide winner at the ballot box. Particularly if they can get a more desirable option for the East Side queued up.

      2. Well I agree serving Upper Queen Anne with Link will be expensive. That said I can’t look at Corridor D for Ballard/Downtown without going “damn, I really want that”. It isn’t just me as the public’s preference is clear as well.

        I could live with skipping Upper Queen Anne, especially if there was some alternate way to serve it.

        To that end I see BRT, tram, or gondola as the only real options. Perhaps monorail as well, though I’d rather not open that can of worms.

        Finally I think if lower Fremont doesn’t have a station on the UW/Downtown segment it needs one on the Ballard/UW segment.

      3. why couldnt a tunnel through Queen Anne be dug, with Upper Queen Anne served much like Beacon Hill is?

      4. Chris — I hear you on option D. It would be awesome, but its also pretty high risk so it makes me nervous. The upper QA station would need to be (guess) about 400 feet deep to make it underneath the ship canal. I’m (again guessing, but with some triangulation from the ST studies) thinking it adds about $500M to the estimate.

        Scott — It is possible. Just risky and expensive and time consuming to build. I think the choice ST’s board will have on their hands is: Should we do Option D or do Option A/B Hybrid and get to West Seattle? We’ll have a better idea when we get closer — but that’s the reason we added our contingency notes to our Ballard Spur post… though popular (76% of the public comment wanted Option D) it may get cut.

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