On December 18, the Sound Transit Board approved updates to the Long Range Plan, last revised in 2005. The corridor map saw 13 additions. There were also several text amendments. Most were uncontroversial, particularly those that were bringing the LRP up to date with other policies adopted since the last LRP update in 2005. Some, particularly those that seemed to have implications for ST3, were more challenging for the board.

I’ll describe the text amendments first, and then the map changes.


Interesting amendments included the adding of a goal to “support vibrant, walkable communities and place-making around HCT stations” (T4); to “consider adding infill stations that were deferred in Sound Move or ST2 as part of a future system plan” (T9); support for “efforts that will maintain speed and reliability for buses using freeway HOV or managed lanes” (T20); a commitment to “favor cities and counties with supportive land use plans” (T13); “integrating the planning and operations of local and regional transit agencies” (T14); affirming that streetcars could be a service included in the LRP if they operated in exclusive or managed rights-of-way (T27).

Two amendments provoked lively discusssion. Text amendment T1 described criteria used to select projects.  Representatives from Pierce County sought clarification that the criteria were not in ranked order (perhaps concerned that ridership was the first item listed?). Staff confirmed the criteria were in no particular order.

Of more consequence, text amendment T18, offered by Murray and O’Brien, would have opened a discussion about funding alternatives for a second tunnel through Downtown Seattle (and other similarly significant regional facilities). This drew opposition from other areas. Some saw it as a distraction from the completion of the spine (to Tacoma, Everett and Redmond). Others were concerned about the implications for subarea equity. Although a tunnel is one option for service to West Seattle, it would also be useful to other regional services, including rail on SR 520, as capacity was reached on the existing tunnel. Therefore, it would make sense for all of the areas to contribute. Despite the implications for West Seattle, it was assumed that a second tunnel would not be built before ST4. That amendment was rejected on an 8-6 vote.

A number of corridors were identified for future study (T23-T26), but not included in the map at this time. Most familiar to readers of this blog is the Northern Lake Washington HCT crossing. Earlier in the process, a Kirkland-Sandpoint crossing was proposed as a map amendment. That amendment was withdrawn. The text amendment defers inclusion of such a crossing on the map, instead suggesting future study of cross-lake options when ridership demand exceeds capacity for existing cross-lake transit options or East Link. Along with the Sandpoint to Kirkland crossing, such a study would include alternatives on SR 520 and SR 522. Other corridors identified for future study run from Issaquah Highlands to Overlake (via Sammamish and Redmond), and along NE 145th from State Route 522 to Link.


Potential map amendments were identified through the public comment process. 47 potential corridors were identified by the public or cities. Of these, 28 were considered as amendments by the board in November. 13 were approved in the December meeting.


Three new corridors were added in North King.

M2 adds Corridor No. 2 from Downtown Seattle to West Seattle and Burien as a Light Rail corridor.

M5 adds Corridor No. 8 (BRT) and 30 (rail) to Downtown Seattle along Madison Street as a High Capacity Transit (HCT) corridor. Board member Earling asked whether Metro should be the provider on this corridor. Member O’Brien defended the corridor, explaining that Metro is building a BRT service, but it might be appropriate to shift operations to Sound Transit in future.

M26 adds Corridor No. 40 from I-5 to SR 522 along 145th St as a Regional express bus / BRT corridor.

Boardmember Earling withdrew an amendment to add Corridor No. 24 from Seattle to Edmonds via Ballard and Shoreline Community College, optimistically suggesting that others might also withdraw amendments for corridors that would not soon be prioritized.


Other than the somewhat unlikely Burien extension to the West Seattle corridor, South King saw no map changes.


M28 adds Corridor No. 42 from Woodinville to Bellevue as a Regional express bus corridor.

M12 add Corridor No. 18 from Issaquah to Issaquah Highlands as a Light Rail corridor. The corridor study identified that a tunnel to Issaquah Highlands would cost $450-610 million, so one might infer this particular investment is improbable.

M7 adds Corridor No. 10 from SR 522 to SR 520, serving Totem Lake and the South Kirkland P&R as a HCT Corridor. Earlier language had not included South Kirkland. An earlier amendment had suggested a Totem Lake-South Kirkland-Seattle express bus. Connectivity at South Kirkland is a priority for the City of Kirkland, but one wonders about the implications of this amendment for the superior service options along the ERC (already in the Plan).


In the Snohomish subarea, just two amendments were offered. Both were at the request of the City of Everett, and were approved. M8 adds Corridor No. 13 from Lynnwood to Everett serving Paine Field and the Southwest Everett Industrial Center.  M3 adds corridor no. 3 from Everett to North Everett.

These seem an effort to influence the alignment of the planned spine extension to Everett. Everett representatives had previously argued that North Everett was always their intended endpoint for the spine, citing ridership at Everett Community College and other nearby institutions. The college is about 1.5 miles from downtown Everett.


Pierce County offered a dozen amendments, five of which were accepted.

M4 adds part of Corridor No. 6 from Downtown Tacoma to Tacoma Mall as a light rail corridor and the terminus of the light rail spine. The original language would have added a longer corridor from Dupont to downtown Tacoma, so the language about this being the “terminus of the light rail spine’ suggests the Board is shutting the door against further southward expansion of Central Link, though not foreclosing expansion of Tacoma Link.

M10 adds Corridor No. 15 from Downtown Tacoma to Tacoma Community College as a light rail corridor.

M19 adds a high capacity corridor from Puyallup/Sumner to Orting. This is an effort to improve access to Sounder for riders from East Pierce County. Despite the HCT designation, Sumner Mayor Enslow envisions this as rail rather than bus. M22 adds Corridor No. 22 from Downtown Tacoma to Parkland as HCT. M17 adds Corridor No. 27 Meridian Avenue to Puyallup as a BRT corridor.


It was confirmed at the meeting that Sound Transit has a bill circulating in Olympia seeking funding authority for ST3. Sponsors are Senator Marko Liaas and Representative Jake Fey. The expectation of the Board is that ST3 authority will be rolled into the transportation package.

Considered Bus and Rail Corridors, with approved corridors highlighted

114 Replies to “Sound Transit Updates the Long Range Plan”

    1. There is an updated map of all the approved corridors at the “corridor map” link in first paragraph (although it doesn’t identify what’s new vs included in the previous LRP).

      1. One interesting note is that Boardmember McCarthy’s amendment defines Tacoma Mall as the end of the spine and that Boardmember Moss’ amendment still calls for light rail from Tacoma Mall to DuPont. Might this mean that potential service from DuPont to points north might still run on the spine alignment, but perhaps end in DTS rather than Everett and/or feature shorter, less frequent trains, rather than requiring a transfer using streetcar-spec Tacoma Link to serve the corridor.

      2. This is Spinal Tap! 30 miles to Tacoma are not a distance for slow light rail but hey, Taco can’t be left out, right?

      3. @mobilitor,

        The idea is that people will take Link between shorter activity center pairs, rather than just everywhere to DTS. Connect a constellation of urban centers rather than just bedroom communities to Downtown.

      4. This “constellation of urban centers” and its hypothetical “shorter activity pairs” can be found just behind that appropriately-scaled model of Stonehenge over there.

      5. >> The idea is that people will take Link between shorter activity center pairs, rather than just everywhere to DTS. Connect a constellation of urban centers rather than just bedroom communities to Downtown.

        Right, except light rail to Tacoma doesn’t do that. There are no “shorter activity center pairs” along that route until you get close to Seattle. Nor are there any urban centers, other than in Seattle and Tacoma (along that route). Even those in Seattle on that route are pretty small, in comparison to most of the rest of the city. I don’t want to downplay Rainier Valley, especially since it is better than average along there, but none of the destinations in Rainier Valley come close to the UW, Captiol HIll or Ballard. The only thing you have along there that is a reasonable destination is SeaTac, which can be served far more easily by simply moving the next station to the freeway, adding a ramp, and letting all the express buses from Tacoma serve that station and then continue on to Seattle.

        Here is another way to look at it. The 41 is a very popular bus and goes from Northgate to downtown Seattle. It will probably be killed as soon as Link reaches Northgate. Will anyone complain? No. It is obvious to anyone that even if the express bus is faster (and sometimes it will be) that the train serves so many important stops along the way (UW and Capitol for example) that it is worth it. No one will try and save the 41. Now consider what will happen if Link gets to Tacoma. Unless the state continues to be stupid and waste their investment in HOV lanes, a Tacoma bus will be much, much faster. So, will the Tacoma riders simply accept this trade-off, because so many people want to get to Federal Way or Mount Baker? Of course not. They will fight tooth and nail for the bus service. I don’t blame them. I know I would.

      6. It’s not that there’s no “constellation” of destinations in the area broadly between Seattle and Tacoma. There is, and it’s connected together by the roads and highways it was built around. The destinations, and people’s lives, aren’t oriented along a Seattle-Tacoma spine, they’re all over the place and need a comprehensive transportation network to connect them. But many are pretty thoroughly auto-centric and unwalkable, and the overall level of density is just not fertile for the intersection of a realistic level of transit service and an attractive level of transit service. So the plan will be to run frequent service to Seattle along a single route with stop spacing that, over this distance, qualifies as a milk run. An old interurban train, but in a new corridor packed with newer, less walkable building patterns, and with newer, more expensive technology.

        To say there aren’t intermediate trips to be made on such a line is selling it short a little, if only a little: there’s the airport. That’s faint praise, and alternate “trunk” lines would earn much the same. You want to be able to go to the airport and Southcenter and Renton and Kent and Federal Way. There’s a reason the old interurban trains died when mass motorization made this a possible, then an attractive, and now a nearly obligatory lifestyle for so many. It’s tempting to believe land use change will save it, but the land use that formed around interurban service didn’t save the old ones! I guess that means high subsidies will save it, masked by lower subsidies in the more popular parts of the system.

        At the same time I don’t know what would work better. An independent system geared toward shorter trips to complement long-haul service, cheaper and maybe with less peak capacity but with more coverage? That’s what San Jose did without a lot of success, and San Jose is bigger, denser, and faster-growing than Tacoma and Federal Way. It’s tempting to hope that avoiding some of VTA’s puzzling mistakes could save it, but VTA’s most puzzling mistakes have to do with land use, and it’s hard to do any better in most of the area. Real, earnest improvements in the largely existing bus network (which is closer to covering the range of trips people need to make than even the most pie-in-the-sky rail proposal) could make a difference… but for a bus network to save any money over rail it has to rely on public streets, and we have to have more thoughtful designs than we had for the Tukwila Sounder Station and Strander Boulevard extension.

      7. RossB,

        I get why you think the south line should terminate in a freeway station. On the other hand I’m not willing to sacrifice service to one of the few semi-decent station locations for it. The KDM road station area has a community college and some density around it.

        I think a better course might be to find a way for buses to access a station on 99 with minimal delay instead of hiding the station on the highway ROW. The other thought would be to have the rail line cross to the I-5 ROW after KDM and build your freeway station there.

  1. I thought I had read previously that the current downtown tunnel will be at capacity when north and east lines are finished, and that a new tunnel would be necessary in order to build Ballard and West Seattle lines, which of course doesn’t square with not considering a second tunnel until ST4. It seems I misunderstood something. Can anyone clarify?

    1. A new downtown tunnel was studied as part of the West Seattle corridor study and should *very much* be considered for ST3. Its unclear what, other than not separately considering A different subarea split for funding, this corridor failing means.

      1. In principle, you could still see a new tunnel in ST3. But right now, the other subareas aren’t yet willing to help pay for it, although they may want it when it ties to a project that they want. If it is in ST3, North King looks likely to bear the whole cost. That has to affect the calculus for Seattle leaders.

      2. A new downtown tunnel will be necessary once the existing lines fill to capacity, but it should be possible to operate the Ballard and West Seattle extensions for several years before the tunnel becomes necessary. We would get the most out of ST3 if we build Ballard and West Seattle in ST3, and the tunnel in ST4. The Ballard and West Seattle extensions could begin at transfer stations that would eventually become the endpoints of the ST4 tunnel. This would free up $2-3 billion to cover new ground in Ballard and West Seattle before we start constructing additional stations downtown. It will also make a lot more sense to voters, who want the system to expand as quickly as possible to neighborhoods outside of downtown. Readers of this blog understand why a new tunnel will quickly be necessary, but the average voter does not. Asking them to vote for more service downtown, instead of service to new neighborhoods, will make it harder to win votes for ST3.

      3. NKC + Fed money, I’m guessing. I’m unclear on the mechanics of subarea equity in this case. A new DT tunnel, done they way it should be, would be incredibly useful to other subareas. My understanding is that value is enough to justify a subarea split. The “takes focus from the spine” bit is just bizarre – NKC is has funded its part of the spine already – we are moving into the “subway” phase in ST3 – clearly.

        Dave – Its very ulikely that Ballard and W Seattle would be built without a new DT tunnel – there are O&M issues and a new DT tunnel is more important than getting to West Seattle on its own merits. DT to UW via Ballard that terminates at Westlake? Maybe.

      4. Yeah, what Keith Kyle said. It really makes no sense to build light rail to Ballard or West Seattle without a downtown tunnel. Downtown is where the main bottleneck is. OK, Ballard also has a bottleneck over the bridge, but if you wanted to go cheap, then you just build the new bridge and put the light rail down 15th. That is pretty cheap and pretty fast, and basically this plan — https://seattletransitblog.com/2013/12/06/some-thoughts-on-ballard-option-c/. But again, it is useless without a tunnel downtown (and the author mentions that).

        Likewise, you could save yourself billions of dollars by making improvements on the West Seattle freeway to get every bus that travels there to downtown very quickly. But it has to go somewhere once it gets there. This is where a tunnel comes in. Again, it would be really stupid to spend billions on light rail to West Seattle and then ignore the most important, most congested part (downtown).

        Nor can you simply share the tunnel with the other lines. As it is, the line with by far the greatest value (Ballard to UW to Downtown) is being held up because ST folks are concerned about overloading the core (UW to downtown) with too many trains.

      5. The problem is that we don’t have the money to build to Ballard, West Seattle, the Ballard Spur, and a downtown tunnel in ST3. I know we’ll need the tunnel eventually, but we don’t have a bottleneck yet – that’s only going to occur 15-20 years in the future, after ridership matures from Lynwood/Northgate. We can build Ballard/West Seattle extensions in a modular manner, with the intent to plug in the tunnel with the next round of funding.

        The downtown tunnel is not “the most important, most congested” part of the extensions – the most important part of ST3 is expanding the catchment basin of new ridership (and voters) outside downtown. That’s where the new riders are going to come from. And there will be plenty of capacity on the existing trains – folks from Ballard and West Seattle will just need to transfer until ST4 comes online.

        If the biggest thing we have to show from ST3 is another downtown tunnel, we’ll have built a great foundation for ST4, but deferred the most useful part of the expansion down the road (again).

      6. If Ballard Link takes as long to build as East Link and North Link, that will be pretty close to your 15-20 years until we need a 2nd DSTT.

      7. >> we don’t have the money to build to Ballard, West Seattle, the Ballard Spur, and a downtown tunnel in ST3

        Right. So we build the most important pieces first, and the less important pieces later. That is what most transit agencies do. We seem to be one of the more unusual ones, in that we didn’t build the most important line (UW-Capitol Hill-Downtown) first. Anyway, just because we have built things out of order in the past doesn’t mean we should continue doing it that way.

        So, what does that mean for ST3 in the city? Well, the best line for the money we can build next (by far) is UW to Ballard. If only that was in ST3 it would make it worth it.

        But if money is left over, then you build Ballard to downtown. This should go at least as far as Westlake, so that people can transfer. So, I get your point on that regard — this would be a compromise (no tunnel all the way through downtown — just to Westlake). But I’m not sure that would save that much money, especially since we eventually want it to go further (to SoDo).

        Or maybe you simply build a transit tunnel to compliment the rail we are building. This would be designed from the beginning to handle both BRT style buses and rail in perpetuity. Eventually it could handle rail coming from Ballard; but for now it just handles BRT buses from all over. This would benefit areas outside the city as well (like Tacoma and Burien). I make my case for this here: https://seattletransitblog.com/2014/10/24/lets-build-another-transit-tunnel/

        West Seattle gets what is best for West Seattle, which is bus improvements. For the amount of money you would spend on light rail to West Seattle, you can build the tunnel, add lanes, and allow everyone in West Seattle a single seat (and more frequent) ride to downtown. This means that the vast majority of people in West Seattle would have a faster and more frequent ride to their destination.

        I really don’t have a strong preference after you build Ballard to the UW. But I think a transit tunnel (along with Ballard to UW rail) could prove to be the most popular, since it would improve the transit experience for a more regionally diverse set of riders. It would also, like the existing transit tunnel, mean that eventually it is used for rail. The next piece would be Ballard to downtown rail, but with Ballard to UW rail, it isn’t obvious that it would be needed for a while. A second bridge for Ballard, along with dedicated lanes might be sufficient.

      8. Remember that Ballard-UW and a second DSTT will almost certainly qualify for Federal grants. A strong possibility exists for getting grants for Ballard-Downtown as well. Expecting 40% Federal grant money is not unreasonable.

        There is also a strong possibility of getting additional Seattle money via the monorail tax.

        So to expect SODO-Downtown-Ballard-UW in the ST3 timeframe is not necessarily unreasonable.

        In any case there is certainly money to do Ballard-UW plus a second DSTT in ST3. Those need to be the priorities.

    2. What “funding alternatives” for the second DSTT were discussed? Does this mean additional funding in North King outside the subarea formula? That should be on the table, may be critical for all the Seattle lines, and could possibly get legislative approval in the future. Or does it strictly mean the other subareas contributing to the tunnel? What other “implications to subarea equity” are there, or is this a baseless fear? Does this mean the other subareas are actively opposed to subarea-independent tax rates (beyond an “additional funding source” for North King)?

      If the second DSTT does not get into ST3, then the Ballard line would have to terminate at Westlake, and the West Seattle line would have to terminate at SODO or Stadium or (maybe) International District. I have a hard time seeing approval of light rail terminating at SODO, so that would suggest the BRT alternatives becoming prominent in West Seattle.

      1. I think what is hard about tunnel funding is that it will benefit all areas in some unspecified long time frame, but not everybody at once. So John Marchione (Mayor of Redmond) recognized that the east subarea should contribute in the context of a rail crossing on 520. But, even on the Eastside, it’s simply accepted this won’t be in ST3, and maybe not ST4 either. So how much should the Eastside contribute today for a tunnel that will be useful to them in ST5? What if there is no ST5? If I’m John Marchione, my willingness to give up Eastside dollars today for a tunnel that might be useful to the Eastside two ballot measures out is very low.

      2. Here’s an off-the-wall thought. Didn’t Seattle build the DSTT? It’s my recollection that it did, not Metro. So why not make the suburbanites transfer? Stub end North Link at Westlake and cut the Third Avenue tunnel through the curve at Third and Pine. Ditto at IDS; there’s enough room for four tracks if you move the platforms south a little way.

        Then they’ll vote for ST4 to get their direct station access back.

      3. @Mike, adding to my original thought. Mike O’Brien spoke for the amendment. He didn’t want to characterize what the correct funding mechanism would be, instead preferring to use the amendment to tee up a conversation. It was others who characterised it as abandoning subarea equity for this project, and repeatedly brought up the priority of completing the spine. The subtext, I think, is that some subareas don’t have enough “budget” to do what they want in ST3 AND contribute meaningfully to a new tunnel. But Seattle is worried that they will have to fund all of it because they will be the first user. Then everybody else will free-ride by loading their services into the tunnel.

      4. Here’s a game-changing thought: What about running rail as a surface route on Third Avenue? With all of the extensions proposed here, most of the buses will no longer need to run through Downtown Seattle.

        With the current Link, the Streetcar system, Sounder, and three additional lines from Ballard, West Seattle and the Eastern areas shown on this map, there will be a total of eight to ten lines coming into Seattle from every direction! Any remaining buses can be placed on 4th Avenue or 2nd Avenue, especially since many of the buses that use these streets today will go away if the rail system is expanded; or they can be placed on cross streets, which will no longer feed the AWV so their traffic will be less.

        Boston is an example of a place where most of the core doesn’t have a lot of surface buses. It is easily possible to restructure the network to feed a rail line or two or use a streetcar to get into and out of Seattle.

        The cross-section concept:
        1. Non-stop blocks can simply have the center lanes converted exclusively to light rail. The side lanes are still open for localized traffic or driveway access.
        2. Stop blocks can be closed to all but rail traffic, and the tracks can be spread apart to allow for a center platform stop.

        One surface light rail system scenario:
        Line 1 – Ballard to West Seattle
        Line 2 – Fremont or Lake Union to Georgetown/Renton
        Line 3 – Lower Queen Anne to Third Avenue to a First Hill tunnel for Harborview/Seattle U/Cherry Hill area

        One streetcar system scenario:
        Line 1 – South Lake Union to First Avenue/ID to Capitol Hill
        Line 2 – Pike/Pine to First Avenue/ID to 23rd/Jackson

        I’m sure this concept needs lots of work and study. I’m just laying it out there because there is a way to get surface rail through Downtown Seattle by simply putting people on trains rather than buses.

      5. Even without cars, wouldn’t surface rail on 3rd run into problems with pedestrian traffic, especially during the day?

      6. We could do a lot to optimize bus movement through downtown that we aren’t doing.

        1. Make Third full-time transit only, paint the street red, and heavily enforce the restriction. Perhaps camera enforcement is a possibility?
        2. Heavy enforcement of not blocking the box, including using cameras.
        3. Switch intersections with heavy pedestrian traffic to have a pedestrian-only phase so pedestrians don’t interfere with turn movements.
        4. Further transit only lanes downtown. Paint them red and heavily enforce them. Investigate camera enforcement.
        5. Design bus routes to minimize turning movements in the downtown core (more so than is being done now).
        6. Upgrade downtown traffic signals to a modern centralized traffic management system. It won’t be cheap, but it will still cost less than new transit or road infrastructure.

        All that said a good case can be made for a second DSTT downtown, particularly if it is designed from day 1 for joint bus-rail operations.

        Even with proper management of downtown streets any surface rail alignment is going to suffer delays compared to a tunnel. Not to mention the operational restrictions a surface alignment will put on any rail lines using it forever.

      7. “What about running rail as a surface route on Third Avenue?”

        That’s exactly what MAX does in Portland. It’s very slow, and it’s limited to short trains because of the length of the blocks, and the intersections limit the potential headways, so it caps capacity at a low level.

    3. “Useful to other subareas” means that a lot of people from those subareas would transfer to Ballard or West Seattle. Anyone want to take a crack at quantifying how much that would be, or what is the threshhold that would justify their participation?

  2. I’m curious how long it’s supposed to take for LINK to get to Tacoma Mall. Because it’s hard to take seriously any firm decision on what the system is or isn’t going to do decades in the future.

    Present LINK cars really aren’t configured for rides to Tacoma, let alone Dupont- or farther south. The seats will cease to be tolerable, and it’s a long ride without restrooms. Also, a fair amount of express track will be necessary..

    In Southern Sweden, there’s electric commuter rail from Malmo about sixty miles north, and also east pass Ystad- where all the Kurt Wallander detective stories take place. No reference, though I rode them last year: hundred mile and hour purple streamliners. Bathrooms in every car.

    Sounder caliber. I seem to remember being told that there used to be passenger train service into Olympia, not eight miles away as now. I can’t find a reference for it. Anybody remember?

    But Tacoma Rail has long had freight trains from Tacoma pass the State Capitol a few blocks downhill-easily close enough for a station with an elevator. So it shouldn’t be a big deal for Sounder to handle this.

    Reason I don’t take either present Sound Transit boundaries or subareas per se very seriously is that more people every year are leading regional lives. Hundred percent I-5 traffic jams Everett to Seattle and Olympia to Tacoma prove this.

    There was a time when in Seattle itself, Ballard was a subarea. My guess is that it won’t be long until equity will allotted by corridor. The way an increasing numbers of us live and work.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Mark, I also don’t have a reference for passenger service to Olympia, but my grandparents emigrated from Thunder Bay (then Fort William) in Canada to Shelton in the early 1950s by train. They detrained in Olympia and then I think took a cab from Olympia to Shelton.

      1. Thanks, Skylar. My wife told me about going to Olympia on the train. I’ll check with historical society or the Association of Rail Passengers, if they’re still around after New Years. Also see if I can get a rail map from Tacoma Rail.


    2. The line to DuPont is going to get upgraded to mainline passenger standards. It makes more sense to use something like Stadler GTW between DuPont and Tacoma. The FRA calls them light rail, and could probably operate over the spine as far as TIBS. They can be configured for longer distance service, and I believe some of the versions in Europe have restrooms plus snack bar / lounge (for operating, say, a Cascades type service during times that they don’t have enough passengers to justify a longer train).

      Furthermore, you could start service between Tacoma and DuPont in 2017, or whenever the line is eventually upgraded, and stop running full 10 car Sounder trains to Lakewood. Instead, you have a cheaper alternative that could run full day service.

      1. Not sure of the current regulations, but it used to be that any sort of permanent track connection to the national rail network brought all sorts of goofy FRA regulations with it.

        While running DMU’s between DuPont and Tacoma Dome makes a lot of sense it might not make sense to connect the tracks for through services with Central Link.

      2. You need a waiver. DCTA in Texas is already using European safety compliant cars (Stadler GTW) on a freight line with no restrictions. CalTrain is going the same direction only their waiver requires PTC signaling. PTC signalization is a requirement now anyway, so either way there is ample precident for a waiver. This line has very limited freight service. It’s not like they will be out on the main line with European standard equipment (like CalTrain plans to do on the UP).

      3. PTC on the Tacoma-Lakewood segment is funded today. PTC between Lakewood and DuPont would be funded as part of Pt. Defiance bypass.

        I thought Caltrain’s waiver was only for the San Jose-San Francisco segment, i.e., not the main line. San Jose-Gilroy is on UP’s main line, but it’s not included in Caltrain’s electrification project.

      4. I’ll have to rummage around and see what I can find. I remember their being a bit of hand-wringing among the freight carriers because it looked like the wording of the waiver that was granted would allow them to operate on the UP as well, if they had PTC. However, that was a few years ago, and it could be that the hand-wringing wound up being just that.

      5. I know about the waiver, my concern would be if there is a connection between the Tacoma-DuPont tracks and Central Link tracks. Would all sorts of useless FRA meddling then apply to Central link?

        In any case I’m not convinced interlining is either necessary or a good idea.

        In any case part of the attraction of running DMU between Lakewood and Tacoma is other than the cars and service hours it would be quick and easy to do.

      6. My hope would be that this would be cheaper than the current bus route, since it wouldn’t need to wait for traffic lights at each freeway interchange and thus the service hours per run would be less and a faster trip would create more ridership.

        At some point it would be nice if single operator trains could be used. In Europe those types of cars are used on the mainline with typically a single operator.

    3. Tacoma Mall to Westlake would be around 1 1/2 hours. But trains can’t terminate at Westlake, so they’d have to terminate at Stadium or (maybe) Intl Dist or continue to Northgate.

      Tacoma extensions beyond Tacoma Dome are so far out in the timeline that I think cooler heads will prevail by the time a decision comes, and Pierce may also not have money for “Central Link extension to Tacoma Mall”. A line serving both downtown Tacoma and Tacoma Mall would have to zigzag. In any case, this would presume major job growth and housing growth in Tacoma that’s not currently foreseeable. (Lynnwood, in contrast, is more justifiable, whether or not its downtown growth happens.) At some point there has to be a final transfer between Central Link and Tacoma Link, and I think it will be more likely at Tacoma Dome or downtown than Tacoma Mall. Tacoma Link can also be “upgraded” to greater ROW priority and longer trains without going all the way to Central Link infrastructure.

      1. It will be interesting to see how a connection between Tacoma Dome and Tacoma Mall might be made via light rail and realistically how much that will cost. There’s plenty of right of way on South Tacoma Way to potentially make it to the vicinity of Pine St. There is a substantial grade if you try to move any further south, though.

        My hunch is that the incremental utility of making it to Tacoma Mall after the connection has been made at Tacoma Dome should generally provide a better bang versus the Federal Way to Tacoma Dome segment. I doubt that people will be using LINK to go from Tacoma Dome to Westlake regularly, but South Tacomans would be able to use it to get to Federal Way and Seatac Airport in ways that we don’t accomplish with the existing system today.

        All of this said, if we want to reduce median commute times between Tacoma and Seattle, the answer isn’t light rail – it’s faster commuter rail or express bus with exclusive right of way.

    4. Yes, there was NP passenger service to Olympia. Two of their three pool trains (Portland-Seattle) served downtown Olympia, then took the line to Gate and rejoined the main at Centralia.

      I believe there was also daily service via Olympia to Aberdeen/Hoquiam on the NP and via Centralia on UP and GN.

      1. P.S. The line to Gate is taken up south of about 86th Street southwest of Olympia. The ROW is recognizable to the south, but it hasn’t seen traffic for four decades.

      2. Oh, and also the line between the eastern edge of Lakewood and downtown Olympia is gone and very likely not coming back. It’s a much used bike path along the freeway between downtown Oly and the west end of Lakewood and continues down the middle of Lakewood Blvd, passing through a couple of roundabouts. No trains will tread there again.

        If there is to be “Sounder to Olympia” it will have to go via the very roundabout UP line through “East Olympia”, then back north through Tumwater. Slow; very slow.

      3. Actually, the line reaches as far as the east city limits of Lacey. And does anyone take railbanking seriously, or is it “once a trail, always a trail”?

      4. Didn’t there used to be a transfer station at the East Olympia wye with a shuttle train between there and downtown Olympia?

        I’m sure at some point passenger trains ran over the NP line through Olympia, but I thought those went away when NP/GN/UP started running pool trains between Seattle and Portland.

      5. Never mind. I found a NP schedule from 1954 for a Seattle-Hoquiam milk run via Ft. Lewis, Lacey, Olympia, Gate, etc.

        It also appears the East Olympia-Olympia shuttle to/from the pool trains was using a bus by then.

      6. I suspect that if Sounder is ever extended to Olympia it will stop at (or near) the current Centennial station. Not an ideal location by any means but easier than re activating the rail banked sections of the old NP line.

        That said, it is a fairly short distance from the end of the tracks to say Slater-Kinney. While it would be a challenge it appears it might be possible to replace the rails up to that point while still accommodating the street revisions and trail.

    5. The passenger train from Seattle King Street Station to Olympia was run by the Northern Pacific Railway. The train continued on to Hoquiam/Aberdeen. It ceased operations in 1954.

    1. Actually things do get removed. In Tacoma, we lost the Tacoma Link to TCC connection in the past current long range map when the “expansion” to the Stadium and Hilltop districts were approved by the Board. So Tacoma Link to TCC had to be re-added.

      Light rail to Dupont is crazy, as is Orting HCT. Dupont can be better served by commuter rail or DMU’s. But there was no stomaching voting down any additive map amendments because it seems like the Board just wanted a unanimous adoption of the LRP update.

      1. The map is fundamentally unserious. The map is a salivary political visual created with literally zero input from anyone who understands or cares about useful public transit, much less rides it.

      2. dp just like his personal special time alone on his commutes. i’m sure he gets maximum satisfaction then.

      3. Unlike you, I am we’ll into my non-fantasia-based adulthood.

        Never owned a car.

        So please STFU about things you know nothing about.

  3. “This study would examine cross-lake HCT transit options that would be needed when ridership demand exceeds capacity for existing cross-lake transit options or those planned in East Link”
    So what they’re saying basically is that screw you Redmond and Kirkland, if you want to ride Link to UW, Children’s, Capital Hill and etc take the long way. Your time isn’t relevant to ST.

      1. Waaaaaa! I want my billion-dollar toys for stuff that is explicitly unnecessary thanks to the objective excess of nearby capacity! Waaaaaaa!!

      2. And Issaquah Highlands and Lynnwood-Everett are deem higher potential ridership then Redmond/Kirkland to UW? Irregardless if Bellevue has a link to downtown the LR numbers are there. Isn’t that what the study is to show? Just because guys like d.p. don’t use public transit don’t wish your pathetic commute on others.

      3. None of those places/distances can support mega-rail projects either. And it will be just as criminal a waste if billions are spent on empty Issaquah and Everett trains.

        But how dare you accuse someone who suffers this city’s retarded transit situation daily of wanting to “impose” negativity, just because you’re too stupid to understand that Sand Point and a mile of open water are not high-capacity priorities?

        Socially-tolerated dumbassery is precisely why outcomes in this city are so “pathetic”.

      4. Also, “LR numbers are there”, my tochas.

        1/5 of East Link’s mediocre ridership, for only twice the price. Woo! Where can I sign up to go into 50 years of debt for that!?

      5. Pot calling the kettle black? ie, too stupid to realize the difference between a study and actual project. And If you don’t like the area’s moronic transit then pack your bags dude and leave, no one is stopping you. You sound just like the morons of Vancouver that want Portland’s salaries but don’t want their transit system. Stay the hell out!

      6. Or, perhaps, you could consider the possibility that a strategic deferral of Redundancy Rail is not necessarily a “screw you” message to any particular town.

        You want to know why my venom is aimed at you right now? (Not counting, of course, your stunningly asinine suggestion that I’m a road-warrior commuter?) It’s because you reacted like a spoiled child to the basic concept of not building fancy toys until they might actually be justified.

        Look no further than that for an understanding of why Seattle-area transit is fragmented and useless.

      7. Three of them.

        Except no one ever used terms like “light rail”, because people cared more about actual urban integrity than about euphemistically-named cargo cult artifacts.

        And no one anticipated mega-expensive subway projects to Danvers, Schaumburg, or West Orange, either.

      8. i feel perfectly fine with my reaction, sorry if it pushed your buttons but politics are at play and not rational in the STs decisions. ST is going to spend 15 or so billion and, regardless if your pro BRT or LR, a certain percentage is going to LR, and I for one think it asinine to not spend it on the route that has the potential for the lowest subsidized cost. I also think LR should be directed where the most cars and buses can removed off the roads. Universities are notorious for drawing huge transit numbers and anytime there is a population of 100,000+ near a university and other significant amenities then your guaranteed 35,000 daily riders. 35,000+ (kirk/redm) riders tells me 1-2.00/rider subsidies. Bellevue offers its own 40,000 potential riders just to downtown with jobs, sporting events and etc The only line more justifiable is Ballard to UW.

      9. Except that the places you propose to serve bear no resemblance to the sort of places that would source the type of ridership numbers you just pulled from thin air.

        There’s a reason East Link itself is expected to underperform relative to the populations of the areas it “serves”.

        A second crossing-to-sprawl rail is looking at 10,000-12,000 boardings, maximum. Not worth half a billion, never mind $2-$5 billion.

        Sorry. Your skewed presumptions buy into the Cargo Cult attitude I just mocked: “If we build this emblematic thing, which vaguely resembles well-used things elsewhere, the dividends will come. No other factors could possibly be relevant.”

      10. I’d also dispute that a $15 billion package with such questionable investments contained in it would remotely fly at the ballot box.

      11. I’m a bit of a “cargo cult” fan of rail and at this time I believe any further rail on the east side beyond the Downtown Redmond extension is utterly pointless.

        It would be a better exercise to just take the money and set it in fire for all the good it will do.

        A much better plan would be a series of targeted bus improvements to make bus service work as well as is possible.

      12. Chris, it’s probably because I live on the Eastside, but I see it a bit differently.

        First, it makes perfect sense to defer any consideration of a north lake crossing until such time as East Link is in danger of being capacity constrained. ST should not wait until it is at capacity given the decadal time it takes to build LR around here.

        Second, I don’t know if I believe the East Link ridership estimates. Remember, the FTA rules only permit counting new riders and neglecting any future development like in the Spring District or at the Overlake Village station.

        Third, I think there are LR extensions that could be very useful over the near to medium time frame, like a branch from the OMSF site north toward Kirkalnd or beyond via the ERC. Likewise, either an extension in Bellevue either south on the ERC toward Eastgate or from South Bellevue toward Factoria and Eastgate.

        In the far future when a 520/Sand Point crossing is contemplated, maybe a branch on 522 will have already been built and it would may more sense to just use that for additional cross-lake rides.

      13. >> You sound just like the morons of Vancouver that want Portland’s salaries but don’t want their transit system.

        Why would anyone in Vancouver want Portland’s transit system? My God, Vancouver has one of the best transit systems in North America (second only to New York and Toronto in ridership per capita). It is exactly what we should build. It looks nothing like the mess that Portland or Seattle is building. It is fast, convenient and works for everyone in the area. Oh, wait, you meant Vancouver WA. Right., maybe that is the problem. You spend too much time looking south, when you have a great example of a very good system to the north.

        Oh, and basically what you are suggesting is a new line from West Vancouver to UBC. Because, you know, there are lots of students there and wouldn’t it be cool to have a big bridge with a train on it (or maybe a giant underwater tunnel). Why don’t you suggest that to them. They will laugh at you, which is what Sound Transit should do, if it wasn’t such a dysfunctional organization. But instead they are trying hard to keep everybody’s transit fantasy alive, even it is really makes not sense at all.

      14. Ross,

        He’s talking about Vancouver, WA and the folks who work out in the Tech Corridor west of Beaverton but live in Vancouver and drive. Like me, except that I took the C-Tran Expresses and change to MAX.

      15. “Three of them. Except no one ever used terms like “light rail””

        In other words, they were built before WWII when it was much easier to get comprehensive urban rail approved, and where the predominant density was already multifamily/row house, and where the suburbs didn’t have the political clout to demand equal service or better service (and, aside from inner-ring suburbs, didn’t exist).

        So let’s try Les’s question again. “Curious to know if you’ve ever lived in a city that has a built out LR system that was built from scratch after WWII?”

      16. @Anandakos — Right, I was making a point, though. Comparing the greater Portland area and their mediocre transit system to ours misses the point. We should be looking at Vancouver.

        Look, if you have an NBA basketball team (let’s say, from Sacramento) do you try and mimic the Milwaukee Bucks, or San Antonio Spurs? The obvious answer is the Spurs, yet people here seem to be infatuated with the regional equivalent of the Bucks.

        Vancouver has by far the best transit system in the region, and by far the best transit system for its size. They have many of the same issues we have (a lot of water, a lot of hills, a fairly recent development pattern often built around automobiles). But unlike us, they are building useful transit, and aren’t infatuated with covering every possible combination with rarely used light rail. There are still plenty of places where light rail doesn’t go (in greater Vancouver) but they have good bus service that compliments the light rail (as well as the commuter rail). Oh, and while I picked the Kirkland/North Vancouver comparison by looking at a map, it is striking that they both are almost the same size (84,000). Despite a much more advanced rail network, there is no rail serving North Vancouver (or West Vancouver).

      17. Who cares, Mike?

        Younger regions don’t actually have different geometric equations, and their residents don’t actually get to have their own facts. I can’t even think of a single good reason for younger regions to have their own jargon, most of which serves only smoke-and-mirrors / lipstick-on-pig kinds of functions.

        Need proof? Try all of those “built out LR systems” that suck at everything they do, suffer piss-ant modeshare, and have had little-to-no impact on all but a sliver of life functions in their respective cities.

        What drove me completely batty about Les’s grousing was his fundamental rejection of Sound Transit’s most reasonable statement of principle in memory: “We shouldn’t pursue an extravagant idea until such time as there is a shred of demonstrable need.” If only the agency applied such basic logic to all extravagances, we might begin to reshape our plans into a truly useful future network!

        But not pursuing extravagances just for the sake of wanting extravagances somehow constitutes a direct affront to the Cargo Cultists and their vision of waking up one day in a miraculous New Paris solely because we built endless shiny rails to everywhere.


        East Link’s expectations are so mediocre that ST didn’t even bother to apply for FTA funding. So I’m not sure the FTA-shaped modeling was used, or is even relevant.

        East Link will provide a very quick and easy trip between its handful of genuinely concentrated destination points, and I frankly do hope it beats predictions. On the other hand, there are just such vast swaths of Eastside trips for which transit in general and East Link in particular can do no good, because the spatial arrangements are simply and so impossibly mass-transit-averse.

        I also share your hope that some Kirkland-Bellevue-Eastgate(?) or similar corridor can be made logical and efficient and multi-modally-integrated enough to be worthy of high-capacity investment, though the specifics (and salable cost-benefit) of such a proposal remain to be found.

      18. I’ve lived on the Eastside, I’ve worked on the Eastside. The fundamental problem for transit is the origins and destinations are just too spread out,

        The bits that can make a good case for transit are largely going to be connected via East Link.

        Kirkland sounds like they are being sensible in planning for additional bus service rather than demanding rail service the population and density just don’t justify.

      19. “Who cares, Mike?”

        I don’t agree with the sentiment that only the northeast should have good transit service because it was built before WWII and has favorable land uses, and the rest of the country should just drive or take Uber or be severely restrained in our mobility. There are limits to what we can or should do, but I think you’re too quick to cut off people or entire neighborhoods from reasonable transit because they don’t meet northeastern standards. We have to build up with what we have, not give up because it isn’t perfect.

      20. Extravagances pushed by fanatics, which literally won’t attract any riders, are by definition the opposite of “reasonable transit”.

        If you desire widespread useful transit in this post-war mediocritropolis, proving that you can comprehend and act upon basic notions of form and function is a crucial first step. Thus far, our agencies and our armchair planners have only rarely demonstrated a seriousness about doing that.

      21. You can’t live the “Let’s build Wet Los Angeles” Wet Dream, Mike, if you don’t think rightly.

        Besides, with the hands of government in our pockets via the gas tax, who’s going to complain?

        The (Washington State) 18th Amendment is a wonderful thing.

      22. That was nonsense even by your standards, Jim.

        I would call it a strawman, except that strawmen are generally concocted to be dismantled. You just wave this one around and fail to notice that your belief in moar trains everywhere!!! turning the Eastside into Wet Paris is no less crazy than the “Wet L.A.” that no one mentioned but you.

      23. What strawman?

        I find certain discussions on this blog quite inspiring.

        The comments here on the STB keep me going, and saves me having to go to $T for the same.

        In fact, I’ve just thought of another angle I can work, so if you’ll excuse me, I’ll stop wasting time and go work on it now!

        Thanks again !!

      24. Ha! Some guy asked d. p. “if you’ve ever lived in a city that has a built out LR system”

        His response (paraphrased) was “Several”.

        Now Mike wants to amend the question to “if you’ve ever lived in a city that has a built out LR system that was built from scratch after WWII

      25. Ha! Some guy asked d. p. “if you’ve ever lived in a city that has a built out LR system”

        His response was (paraphrased) “Several”.

        Now Mike wants to amend the question to “if you’ve ever lived in a city that has a built out LR system that was built from scratch after WWII”

        So now d. p. says (paraphrased) “what difference does it make”?

        Meanwhile, I’m off in the corner, on the same friggin’ thread, discussing a city to the north of us. Don’t want to spoil the surprise for you, Mike (and Les) but is starts with a ‘V’ and ends with an ‘R’. Can you guess it guys? Right:


        Sorry for the caps, but really now. How different is Vancouver? They basically have the same climate, the same development pattern, the same challenging landscape and almost the same size, but they simply kick our ass when it comes to transit. If there is any city in North America that is similar to Seattle, it is Vancouver. But we ignore that, because, you know, they are Canadian (they speak funny up there, eh?).

        Which really begs the question — what would Vancouver do? They sure as well wouldn’t build a “Sand Point Crossing”. That is basically the equivalent of light rail (AKA Sky Train) from West Vancouver to UBC. Not gonna happen. They have more sense up there.

      26. Why is Vancouver different? It has a unified government that puts transit best practices first and doesn’t let other interests derail them, and a single transit agency that implements that vision.

        Also, Vancouver accidentally stumbled into dense urbanism in second half of the 20th century, and it succeeded far beyond the city’s expections. It started because of a willingness to loosen zoning and turn toward density, and the Hong Kong immigrants built the large mixed-use towers they were accustomed to, and Vancouverites flocked to it (as did other Canadians and Americans who wanted a denser/walkable environment, and immigrants who found it similar to home and not objectionable). Those who did object moved to Surrey and Delta, but density followed them to Surrey so they moved to Hope. Again, this happened because the city turned toward density and urbanism and wouldn’t be swayed.

        Trying to replicate that here requires more than a regional transit agency. It requires a unified government willing to stand up to NIMBYs and decentralizers (the freeway interchange/big box power center idealists). Pugetopolis is structured the opposite. Before 1950 suburbs were annexed to Seattle. After 1950, suburbs incorporated to keep local control and to keep density out. The ST board reflects this fragmentation. That’s why nobody is building a transit system like Vancouver’s: not ST, not Seattle, not King County, not the state. Our political structure is designed to hinder that. It would take a united effort by the cities and counties and ST to turn that around, and to convince the state to help. The cities and counties have united on better transit, but what they’ve united on is an ST2-like vision, not a Vancouver vision, and it has just barely gotten support from the legislature (ST funding has come through, but no local-bus funding, and the state won’t actually subsidize either of them, beyond its minor grants programs).

      27. I really can’t think of a US city, particularly one with a post-WWII rail system that has had the transit and land use vision of Vancouver. That said it isn’t all a bed of roses up there. See the debates over the Broadway line and the fights with the politically connected NIMBY’s around Point Gray.

        The closest example is probably Portland but they still have issues with running expensive lines to low-density areas (WES I’m looking at you) and various fights over land use and density. To make it happen Tri-Met was granted a fair bit of authority. That authority doesn’t extend north of the Columbia due to the political boundary. Even if Clark County ever gets MAX service it is unlikely there will be the sort of supportive land use regulations seen on the Oregon side of the river.

        LA is probably the best example of a long-range plan having a more or less sensible vision. Most of their current and near-term investment is in the fairly dense areas West of the LA River. The two most notable bits of silliness are the Foothill branch of the Gold line and the fact that the green line doesn’t go all the way to the Norwalk commuter rail station. (The connection to LAX is scheduled to finally be fixed)

        The foothill portion of the Gold line is a great example of something that should have been commuter rail but was built as light rail. The intent is to extend it at least as far as the county line if not further. The one good thing that can be said is most of the corridor is relatively dense compared to the usuall suburban US transit line this far from the city center.

        LA really hasn’t tied land use to transit. However they really haven’t had to since both current and planned lines pass through areas that are already fairly dense by North American standards.

      28. Just some clarifications about Vancouver in response to Mike Orr’s post. Vancouver does not have a unified government, but it does have unified transit agency (except for one outlier, West Vancouver, that is completely integrated into Translink). There is a regional government, but it is weaker than the county executive in WA, and really acts as a cooperative association of the municipalities for water, sewer and regional planning. (Regional planning is great, but as a “cooperative”, it has little power to actually get the municipalities to follow the plan.)

        Vancouver had dense inner city neighbourhoods before WWII or even WWI, just like Seattle and Portland did, but they didn’t seem to decline as much as in those two cities. Probably not having a freeway right downtown stopped those inner city neighbourhoods from getting bulldozed and also stopped the city from becoming as sprawling. (Metro Vancouver has plenty of freeways, but they don’t go right downtown, nor do they go right into the regional centres like I-405 runs next to Bellevue.) Another curb to sprawl was the Agricultural Land Reserve which preserved farmland around the city. Just from looking at an aerial of Richmond, you can see that the entire island would have been built over without the ALR.

        I would also hesitate to associate particular immigrant groups with certain development patterns. Many of the immigrants from India came from rural areas and have been known to settle in the lower density suburbs, previously Richmond and then Surrey, and also in the farming areas in the Fraser Valley. However, I don’t know whether that pattern has continued much with second and third generations. There are areas with large numbers of immigrants from East Asia, notably Richmond, but I’m not sure that you can associate this group with any particular development pattern. Even the the highrise developments downtown built by Hong Kong based developers, the percentage of people of east asian extraction isn’t much different than their total percentage of the population – about 30%. Metro Vancouver is about 45% foreign born, so every area and type of development has a large number of immigrants.

    1. It shows fiscal conservatism and deprioritizing of Kirkland. Redmond will have East Link and maybe an all-day 542. (The 545’s travel time to downtown is close enough to Link that it can be deleted.) The implication of “when East Link reaches capacity” is that it may never happen, which throws a UW-Kirkland line and a Lake City-Bothell-Kirkland line into doubt. In that case the focus had better shift to a full-time 540 and a more-frequent 522. Kirkland to Seattle would remain slow and subject to traffic, but the city of Kirkland doesn’t seem very concerned about that or eager to have Link.

      1. It tells me that decisions were political and not based on cost and line subsidies. Good luck passing S3.

      2. This is the long-range plan! It’s explicitly not based on cost. It’s based on potential future needs, and politics. It’s not related to ST3, except in the sense that ST3 can’t have anything that’s not in the LRP. Adding corridors to the LRP doesn’t increase your taxes. It just hints at what directions ST4 and 5 might go. But it’s not a commitment to build them.

      3. Kirkland’s stated top priority is Totem Lake. It’s why they endorsed 405 BRT (perhaps before they understood it thoroughly). It’s also why they have gotten behind these weird new corridors linking Totem Lake to the South Kirkland P&R (a secondary priority, but also not something the rest of the region cares about a great deal). Anything to Totem Lake beats useful service that doesn’t go to Totem Lake.

        It also doesn’t help that Kirkland doesn’t have a seat at the table. Bellevue, Redmond and Issaquah are the east area cities on the board. Issaquah is loud and single-minded in its pursuit of a rail project that is at least no stronger on the merits than a Kirkland connection.

        Would they take Link on the corridor from Bellevue? Sure, but ever since they saw the first ERC study, they’ve been convinced that isn’t a possibility.

  4. It’s too bad that the long-range plan still looks like a pie-in-the-sky “builder” approach rather than a taxpayer-focused “operational” approach. The map shows mode but not frequency for example. It shows only one trunk line north of Downtown rather than two that use the same track, which will be the operational setup that most people will identify as our light rail system once the two trunk lines are up and running in 2023. It shows only corridors and not stations. It whitewashes that it’s just not good public policy to serve lower density areas without large parking facilities. It’s not discussing some badly needed long-range user-focused strategies like a new station overhaul at the International District station to allow for cross-platform transfers.

    Given that East Link and North Link won’t be open until well after the vote, the public might go along — but at some point Sound Transit’s long range plan will have to mature, and look more at operational efficiency and effectiveness issues like overcrowding, load balancing from different line segments and track upgrades like grade separations as part of its long-range plan.

    Finally, the anti-ST3 forces could have a field day with this plan map that looks very amateurish — like it comes from the days when maps were made with chart tape and Exacto knives. The public’s expectation on graphics is much higher now that we daily use things like GIS and Google maps. If ST wants to have any hope of not looking like a bunch of children that just want to expand their toy train set, they better develop better graphics.

    1. Yep, I could make a way better looking map in GIS in no time (and by better looking I mean more ledgible, in addition to aesthetics), and I’m not very good. Why are we using shades of gray to differentiate modes?

      1. Well, the maps at the bottom are partly my fault (I selectively desaturated ST’s draft corridor maps to show only the approved corridors). I’m not going to claim the originals were a model of clarity though, just a reference look-up (47 potential additional corridors made for a way too crowded map).

      2. Actually Dan, I’m not commenting on your maps for this blog. I’m commenting on the maps featured on the ST web site.

  5. I just read some comments which contributed nothing informational to the discussion and were uncomfortably personal. Is there a moderator for those type of comments?

    1. Really wouldn’t worry about it, Ben. After about the 30th out of 57 or so, nobody reads any comments.

      But if Tim Eyman ever goes back to his frat-watch business, I need to order the one from SFTU. Meantime, will check to see if I can get a hoodie. Wonder if the school mascot is a wombat.


  6. Well, after looking at the map, I don’t know what to think of the process, or Sound Transit in general. I suppose the map is fuzzy on purpose, so that everyone will think they see something that they like. But I see a plan that, at best will be ignored. This won’t effect ST3, and hopefully this won’t effect anything after it.

    I really don’t see how anyone with any understanding of successful public transportation planning could come up with this map. I think if you hired a dozen experts — and a dozen college kids working on their masters — none of them would come up something this stupid. Just look at the existing transportation system, a population density and employment map, and it becomes obvious that this is a really poor design. This is essentially a commuter rail line, without the suburban demand, and all the while calling itself “light rail”. Maybe I’m wrong (like I said, the map is fuzzy). But here a couple things I don’t see:

    1) South Lake Union.
    2) Most of the Central Area.

    That’s just for starters. Meanwhile, we have light rail all the way to Dupont to the south, Issaquah to the east, and Everett to the north (I’m not sure why this doesn’t just continue to Marysville (snark)). I know the Seattle Subway map was derided by some because it seemed way to ambitious, but it would make way more sense as a “long range plan” than this. This ignores huge, heavily populated areas while trying to get to the farthest flung, sparsely populated suburb.

    If this represents current Sound Transit thinking or process, then the system is broken. They need to shake things up, hire a bunch of experts, and listen to what they propose. They will, inevitably, come up with a lot of ideas that upset people (like lots of improved bus service, and very little new light rail). But that would be way more effective at moving people than this, in the short and long term.

  7. Sure it’s moderated. If you look through some threads you will find comments that have been deleted with an explanation, and in others where the comment has been left in place as it adds enough to the discussion to keep it from being removed but the commenter is chastised for the way it was made.

    However, if you also look back two days, you will also see that the staff called the deep bore tunnel a terrible idea.

    When someone things a bad idea is bad, they usually say so.

  8. Following up on my last comment, consider the lack of imagination, and complete lack of understanding in opposing the idea of another transit tunnel. Consider someone from Tacoma who wants to get somewhere in Seattle. Now imagine three systems:

    1) Link light rail all the way to Tacoma. The rider will spend over an hour getting to the south end of downtown, and even longer getting to other popular destinations in the area (the UW, Capitol Hill, Ballard, Bellevue). As a bonus, though, they will have a faster ride to Federal Way, SeaTac, Tukwila and Rainier Valley.

    2) More frequent Sounder service. It takes about an hour, which means it is actually faster than Link. But it does require a transfer to the UW as well as other parts of downtown. As luck would have it, though, it is fairly close to the best transfer spot. Transferring to east side light rail would be pretty easy. It also means that transfers north would be fairly frequent (since both East Link and South Link trains would serve it).

    3) Express bus service from Tacoma, then a bus ramp to the SoDo express way, then a transit tunnel through downtown towards Ballard. Convert all HOV lanes to HOV 3. This would mean that a bus trip from Tacoma to Seattle would take about half the time that Sounder or Link does. The bus would be “BRT”* in that it would have level boarding and off board payments, which means that it could move through the new transit tunnel as fast as a train would. Stops through downtown would be adjacent to Link stops, making transfers easy. Buses could continue to travel every five minutes (or more frequently than Link on this segment). Simply put, this would save a huge amount of time over the alternatives.

    The only drawback to this would be that these buses would not serve SeaTac, or other areas of Link between Kent and Seattle. This problem can be easily solved. Add a Link station in Kent close to the freeway, and add bus lanes serving it. Now run buses from Tacoma (or Federal Way or anywhere else south of, and including Kent) to this station. This would make for a very easy, very fast transfer to SeaTac or Tukwila. It would work for Rainier Valley as well, although in some cases, backtracking might actually be faster.

    Looking at the various choices, it should be obvious that Tacoma should be fighting hard for a new transit tunnel in the long run, and more Sounder service in the short run. They should simply ignore Link (other than getting Link to add a convenient station by the freeway so that buses can serve SeaTac). They should be fighting hard for not only a downtown tunnel, but to make sure that the tunnel can serve buses (from the south). The fact that they haven’t considered it, and are fixated on “the spine” shows just how misguided our leaders are.

    * This would be more like an express bus in terms of service outside Seattle and Tacoma, so this would not meet the general definition of BRT (but it would borrow a couple of its important features).

    1. Exactly. We have a huge controlled access freeway system. Lets use it better. HOV 3, HOT lanes, etc. We should give people options. I support a second transit tunnel along with HOV improvements to our existing road system.

      The answers to our issues is not just rail. Bus based transit done right can be very effiecent and way more flexible that rail.

      One last thing, completing the HOV system onthe west end of SR520 needs to be a priority. This will allow express service from the eastside to reversable express lanes on I-5 and would allow for service to SLU through a dedicated
      HOV lane system. This can be done in the next 5 years not 10 or 20 like light rail will take.

      1. And also a true and prioritized and uninterrupted connection from the Montlake exit to the Link station.

        One could build a solid-platinum version of such a connection, provide service 100x more useful than anything the moar rail crossings people are yelping about, and still spend a tiny fraction of the money.

      2. d. p. beat me to it. This is crucial, and not obvious. I really don’t know the best way to connect 520 and Link, since Link (Doh!) forget to put a station at the intersection. But you could build a tunnel (under the ship canal) and it would cost a lot less than a new rail line. Meanwhile, the UW has oodles of land for a bus to turn around. So, yeah, a tunnel or a bridge would not only be way more cost effective, but it would be way more effective than a second rail crossing. We are nowhere near capacity along there, and with a quick turnaround, we never will be.

      3. Well, the ventilation shaft would be right near where the station would be, so ST could build a station while it’s digging the ventilation shaft. If it acquires the parcel with the convenience store/gas station, it could bulldoze the whole thing and build a station hole (and hopefully a multistory building on top). But how close could the station get to the freeway to be a convenient transfer point from 520 buses, and be walkable for Montlake residents, and not be in the middle of a freeway hellhole like the current Montlake flyer stops are — a very unpleasant transfer point and a long walk from the 43/48 stops?

      4. Note that building a station would interrupt the entire north end service for at least several weekends or weeks. Some of it could possibly be built while trains are running, but they’d inevitably have to break and rebuild the tunnel wall, and they probably couldn’t run trains during that.

    1. Agreed. There are way too many cat turds in the sandbox as it is.
      Saturating the maps with lines to everywhere for everyone is akin to having the ST Board order a pizza. It comes out about 6 ft in diameter, and is 3 inches thick with every topping known to man. In the end, most slices only end up having a couple of bites taken and the rest just sits there getting cold.
      Oh, and you’ll choke on the bill..

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