A couple of days ago there was a great deal of discussion about the merits and costs of a Sand Point crossing. There are two things that a study would find out that everybody would like to know; the monetary cost of the crossing and the potential ridership over the connection. Unfortunately I can’t give any insight into those things. What I can to do is provide some tangible benefits based on travel time using Seattle Subway’s previous posts about the Crossing, Ballard Spur and Better Eastside rail.
To make things easier I made a couple of assumptions. First, I assumed the average speed on the line would be 35 mph, second, I assumed dwell time at Stations would be 20 seconds, and third, I assumed it would take 7 minutes to make a transfer (on average based on headways). Distances were measured from this map:
The calculation for a segment is distance * speed (60/35) + dwell time (20/60) and by adding segments together we can approximate times.
We know this is a pretty good estimate because we can use the same method for East Link and get comparable travel times.
International District station to Downtown Bellevue: 19.85 vs 20-22 minutes.
South Bellevue to University of Washington Station: 26.06 vs 24 minutes.
Downtown Bellevue to Overlake TC: 9.8 vs 10 minutes.
|Station A||Station B||Distance (mi)||Time (min)|
|Downtown Issaquah||Gilman Village||1.00||2.05|
|Gilman Village||West Issaquah||0.74||1.60|
|West Issaquah||Lakemont Boulevard||2.39||4.43|
|Factoria||South Bellevue Park & Ride||1.24||2.46|
|South Bellevue Park & Ride||East Main Street||1.55||2.99|
|East Main Street||Downtown Bellevue||0.55||1.28|
|Hospital||South Kirkland P&R||2.01||3.78|
|South Kirkland P&R||Houghton||0.76||1.64|
|86th Street||Downtown Kirkland||0.84||1.77|
|Downtown Kirkland||Sand Point||2.71||4.98|
|Sand Point||Children’s Hospital||1.46||2.84|
|Children’s Hospital||University Village||0.85||1.79|
|University Village||U District||0.62||1.40|
Over all the line looks like this:
|Total:||Distance (mi)||Time (min)|
|Issaquah to Ballard||25.07||49.98|
|W. Iss.||BC||Bell.||Kirk.||Red.||U Dist.||Ballard|
|Bellevue College (BC)||10|
All times rounded to the nearest minute. The Ballard to Westlake times assume that Ballard to Downtown isn’t an option.
So what do those travel time numbers really mean? Some readers will have experience on some trips, but for everybody else the best comparison is to travel times by other methods.
|Drive (In traffic)||W. Iss.||BC||Bell.||Kirk.||Red.||U Dist.||Ballard|
|Bellevue College (BC)||16|
Driving times were acquired using the walkscore professional commute demo and the following addresses:
Issaquah: 1082 Renton Rd, Issaquah, WA 98027
Bellevue College: 14200 Eastgate P&R Acrd, Bellevue, WA 98007
Downtown Bellevue: 600 108th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98004
Downtown Kirkland: 308 Kirkland Ave, Kirkland, WA 98033
Downtown Redmond: 8178 161st Ave NE, Redmond, WA 98052
U District: 4344 University Way NE Seattle, WA 98105
Ballard: 5500 15th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107
Westlake: 4th Ave Pine St, Seattle, WA 98101
A few notable things from the charts. With traffic, the only time driving is faster than the train is from Redmond to Kirkland at +11 minutes. The biggest wins for the rail are enabled by the Sand Point crossing, 36 minutes faster from Kirkland to Ballard, 26 minutes faster from Kirkland to the U District, 22 minutes faster from Ballard to Bellevue and 21 from Ballard to Bellevue College.
What’s more is those are all point to point times. So if parking is a hassle then you might be saving people even larger chunks of their time. Indeed some of the gains are so large that it would be faster to take the train from Kirkland to the U District or Ballard then to drive without traffic.
|ST Proposed Lines||W. Iss.||BC||Bell.||Kirk.||Red.||U Dist.||Ballard|
This chart assumes B2+C2 from U District-Kirkland-Redmond Study, A3 from Ballard-U District and C3 from Issaquah to Kirkland are built. B2 is LRT over 520 and up to Totem Lake, C2 is interlining with East Link at 120th Ave Station after branching at South Kirkland P&R and the ERC, A3 is the Wallingford Tunnel option and C3 is rail to Issaquah via I-405 and I-90.
Using the same assumptions we get the above times, except for the bolded ones, which are from the Sound Transit studies. Since these are point to point I was generous to ST by changing a station location on the chart, to Hospital station, and not including the 12 minutes of walking time to Downtown Bellevue Station that would make them directly comparable or the 14 minute walk from Kirkland Station to the Kirkland Transit Center.
Seattle Subway and I criticized these studies for not including enough stations; so the times on the chart above ought to be faster for lack of dwell time. What you see is this generally hold true. But that the Sand Point Crossing reverses these gains for some trip pairs including Kirkland to the U District (10 minutes faster via Sand Point), Kirkland to Westlake (7 minutes) and Bellevue to the U District (2 minutes, thanks to the need to transfer and the slower East Link alternative, south and around, being uncompetitive).
Other gains come from interlining with East Link through Bellevue over the Mercer Slough and transferring in South Bellevue, 12 minutes faster from Westlake to Eastgate and Issaquah.
The 520 line had it’s biggest advantages where it interlines with East Link, being 13 minutes faster to Redmond, and from fewer stations on I-90 when it goes to Issaquah (8 minutes faster to Redmond and Ballard).
I won’t get to much into buses which are almost always slower and often absurdly so (Ballard to Kirkland in 73 minutes, a 255 to 542 to 44 three seat ride, vs 18 minutes with rail and the Sand Point Crossing). The notable exceptions are the 16 minute 248 trip from Kirkland to Redmond which is faster than both the Seattle Subway’s and Sound Transit’s proposals and the 554 on its 8 minute trip from Issaquah TC to Eastgate Freeway Station.
All bus times were taken from Google Maps trip planning between the addresses above.
This post had two goals. Explain where my estimated times from the Sand Point discussion came from and to compare those times across modes so that we could compare the relative merits of a 520 and Sand Point crossings. I have tried to explain my methods well enough that they could be independently reproduced and criticized fairly.
The Sand Point Crossing would be an enormous win for Downtown Kirkland and surprisingly good one for Bellevue and North Seattle. I don’t know whether it is worth the expense of building, but it is well worth the expense of a study.