Paul Roberts

There are a lot of opinions about what Sound Transit should do in Snohomish County, and (in our comment threads) precious few of those opinions actually come from there. To rectify that, I chatted with Sound Transit Boardmember, and Everett Councilmember, Paul Roberts for his perspective of what is desirable and feasible in that subarea. This is Part 1 of 2. (Part II)

Mr. Roberts is a self-described “recovering planner” who has served in numerous transportation and environmental advisory positions, and almost two decades as Director of Everett’s Department of Planning and Community Development, before “failing at retirement” by doing some consulting and serving in elected office.

Thanks for taking the time to chat. What drew you to the Sound Transit Board?

I’m very drawn to infrastructure. I’ve been long involved in transportation planning, including the Governor’s Connecting Washington Task Force. My roots are deep in this stuff. But also, I look forward into the future and see the bigger arc of this urban area. In lots of other urban areas like ours across the nation and globe, transit capacity is something they’ve developed or are trying to develop. A lot of people wish we’d done this earlier, but we didn’t; we’re here. Last but not least, I chair the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and a lot of my technical background is in environmental planning. I can’t think of anything more significant to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions than building systems to give people alternatives to driving.

What do you think is the right vision for high-capacity transit in Snohomish County beyond Sound Transit 2? Why?

paineI’ve been on record for a long time as favoring Light Rail via I-5 to Paine Field (Option A), which I call the “Southwest Everett Industrial Area.” That’s an important distinction. We often talk about Paine Field, which is a big piece. But the zoning and infrastructure capacity of this area is roughly 100,000 jobs. Today there are about 55,000 manufacturing jobs. Boeing is of course the biggest, but there are over 200 companies there, and not all of them are aerospace.

This is the largest manufacturing center in the state, the economic driver of the state. It has a higher economic output than Seatac. It’s not about Boeing, but it’s about manufacturing capacity. If we are going to build a system, we have to build it to connect the job base. To do otherwise would be foolish.

How would any other nation build this system? Would they build one that did not connect their primary manufacturing capacity? I think the answer is no. I don’t think the Sound Transit study [which showed the same ridership for Paine Field and SR-99 alignments] reflected the job capacity of Southwest Everett. The real growth capacity is at Southwest Everett, not I-5. [On I-5] you get nothing that drives ridership in the future.

Lastly, we’ve already talked about integration of the Operations and Maintenance Facility in Southwest Everett. It should be integrated into the system to be cost-effective.

What are you hearing from constituents and stakeholders?

Up here, there is a strong recognition that these connections are important. There have been huge investments made in infrastructure to support this manufacturing base, which is of statewide significance. It’s designated a regional jobs center by PSRC.

Comments from the public have been pretty uniform. “You need to go to Paine Field, and if you don’t do that, why did you not do that?” We have a group here named SCIT (Snohomish County Citizens for Improved Transportation). It’s a sampling of private and public sector, but mainly private. It’s tied to the Economic Alliance up here. It’s big business, small business, transportation providers. When you read stuff in the paper and bloggers who respond to it, they say “why would you build a system and not go there?”

I’ve been hearing very strongly from the voices that say, “connect the jobs center. Connect where we live to where we work.” That’s been just overwhelming. I’m hearing a few folks say “We don’t really want to spend any money, so [I-5] is the cheapest option.” They’re not thinking in terms of ridership or job connections. But it’s two or three or four to one.

There are also people who don’t want to build a system. They don’t want to spend any money. It’s kind of an anti-government element. But the opinion leaders in this community, after a big split on ST2 –ST2 was close in Everett itself –some of the folks who might have been lukewarm, have warmed up significantly, especially in the last year, as they confront commute times that now routinely exceed 90 minutes. And as we look at Southwest Everett as a job center, we see the need for a commute system that works in both directions.

The CEO of the Economic Alliance, Troy McClellan, testified before Sound Transit. Troy has spoken many times about the problems attracting business investment, particularly international business investment, and they look around and say “how do you get here?” The answer is “by car or bus,” and their jaws drop. These companies from Germany and Italy and France and Japan and China are looking at this and saying, “really?” We already know, anecdotally, that’s a problem for us.

One criticism of service to Paine Field is that industrial workplaces are heavily shift-oriented, which makes them a poor candidate for frequent, all-day, high-capacity service. Why not run buses that require less capital investment?

I challenge the premise of your question. It’s not just a shift movement. While the Boeing shifts do drive significant peaks, it may not in the future, the jobs in the future are not just Boeing-centric, and other high-tech and energy industries are already there. It’s the Gretzky quote: “you need to skate to where the puck will be, not to where it is.”

This is the time where we get to say, “are we going to be a region,” or something more balkanized? It’s time to be a region, to connect the basic dots where the jobs are.

As for BRT, we’re pretty proud of the job we’ve done integrating Community, Everett, and Sound Transit on our corridors. We’ve had BRT running along SR99 for 6 years, from Everett to Shoreline, that’s been very successful. It’s not either/or; you have to have an integrated system to make it work. But the reason that BRT will not work as the only system is that the ridership is a little different.  I ride these buses enough to know that they’re operating in a lane capacity that isn’t getting any better. I don’t think you can do it just with BRT or just with fixed-guideway systems.

Obviously, lack of transit lane capacity is a conscious decision by highway and road planners, which could change at low fiscal cost.

You can make that argument. I think it is not compelling to imply that you could do all this work as BRT. I don’t think it holds in terms of traffic patterns, ridership, or future capacity. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to make those systems work better.

Going to HOV-3 has some unintended consequences that make it challenging. It’s a fair discussion and subject for more analysis. There are certainly things you can do to use pavement more efficiently. But what would that do to the overall commute? It’s hard for me to think of a more geographically constrained region; other regions, like Portland, Denver, and Washington, DC, have all struggled with these questions. I believe in stealing good ideas from everyone else. No one has resolved it to the satisfaction of everyone.

There are things we can do with bus priority. But they are not arguments for not building a fixed-guideway spine. It’s time to think as a region. To build basic infrastructure we need. But it won’t replace having to serve that spine with other forms of infrastructure to move people and goods.

Even if there are 100,000 jobs near Paine Field, they’re not going to all be within the walkshed of two or three Link stations. Do the dispersal of those jobs, and the relative unwalkability of many industrial campuses, give you pause about running trains there?

If fixed guideway was the only thing you provided, you couldn’t serve it effectively at all. It has to interface with a circulation process within the job center. I imagine it might also provide a closer connection to Mukilteo and even Edmonds as well, which I-5 couldn’t do at all. The real issue is how you integrate the system with other pieces.

The feeder systems are not enhanced by going to I-5, because those systems would be entangled in the same transportation trouble there. That’s an expensive proposition, and wasn’t a subject of the study.

Tomorrow: Land Use, North Sounder, Parking, and how to pay for it all.

180 Replies to “Paul Roberts Interview, Part I”

  1. Amen. Especially when Paine Field gets commercial service. The last mile connectivity problem to the office parks and factories could be addressed through a ‘station car’ car-sharing implementation in addition to connecting CT routes.

    1. Paine Field is unlikely to see commercial service. The ULCCs that are currently serving unserved airports only go where they are wanted. Snohomish county leadership has made it clear they do not want commercial service at Paine Field.

      With the third runway Seatac has plenty of capacity into the future. The only real issue at the moment is a lack of gates. It is far cheaper to expand the current terminal than it will be to add service to an airport that currently lacks it.

      1. Chris, indeed. There’s a very good campaign to protect Paine Field from commercial service crowding out Boeing test flights, warbird preservation activities, flight school ops and the general aviation community.

        Not to mention Mukilteo’s firm determination to keep commercial service out of Paine Field ;-).

    1. Option A looks identical to a plan I submitted to the RTP/JRPC in the early 90’s, except mine went down 99 to Seattle in center running elevated. Stations were all on Lids over major intersections, about every 1/2 mile, and completely grade seperated.
      I-5 from a land use perspective is fully built out, with mostly singe family tract houses, and a spattering of retail (minus Northgate and Alderwood Malls).
      Paul is spot on with his comments, so far, but I can’t imagine he’ll part with the party line on Sounder North tomorrow. Surprise me.

      1. I would bet Paul doesn’t “get it” Sounder North is unsafe – I mean I’ve gotten e-mail notifications the past few weeks Sounders have had to be stopped at Mukilteo due to slides. At some point, the question has to be asked: When are we just going to pull the plug or is Mother Nature going to put a plug in by putting several hundred effete – thank you Anandakos – commuters into Puget Sound?

    2. This is another reason we should have served Snohomish County (and maybe even anywhere north of Northgate) along 99 instead of I-5 if only Sound Transit weren’t so committed to their idiotic “spine” concept.

  2. While I will stipulate that Paul Roberts is one of the very finest members of the Sound Transit board and an all-around “good guy”, what is missing from this discussion is a scatter map of the residences of current Paine Field workers, from all the businesses there. The routes of the existing CT Boeing express buses and peak hour ET service do not say “Most workers headed to the Paine “workshed” live along the I-5 corridor south of Mill Creek.” They say, “Workers there primarily come from northeast of Lake Washington in King County, from Snohomish County east of I-405 and I-5 and from smaller cities north and east of Everett.” They also say, “Damn few of them bother to ride the bus”.

    None of those areas will be served by Link.

    While manufacturing workers were at one time the “backbone” of transit ridership, those days are long gone to the graveyard, along with the riders. They were culturally left before the unions were systematically broken and “God, guns and gays” became the political totems of white “working class” men. These days, the big diesel pickup truck is manufacturing workers’ status symbol; some of them are even “rolling coal”. They’re not going to drive their prides and joys to a public lot filled with Priuses whose drivers are headed to effete downtown Seattle.

    There is an eleven minute travel time penalty with the Paine Field deviation. Grant that there are three stations along SR99 which might be developed into high-density nodes with all-day ridership. However, the much more productive Aurora alignment through Shoreline was rejected for a four-minute travel penalty, and it would also have had three such potential high-density nodes. Grant that there appears to be that “pot of gold” of 100K potential jobs, as noted above the demographics of the people headed there simply does not support the extra billion dollars to make the jog.

    1. To all of that, I would simply say there are many more jobs than diesel pickup truck driving folks. Plus I would note buses from the suburbs will be feeding into Link. So perhaps, just maybe these truck drivers will park their trucks at a park & ride close to them, get on a bus and transfer to Link.

      Not to mention all the family cars and electric cars I see when I get off of Everett Transit’s bus stop at the Everett Boeing Plant to walk to the Future of Flight. You take a rather dim view.

      Not to mention all the cash-strapped flight school students who could use better transit options to/from Paine Field. There’s quite a few schools on the east side of Paine Field that teach flight, mechanics and even how to build airplanes.

      Not to mention all the aviation geek tourists that will transfer on/off the Link to Paine Field for Flying Heritage Collection, Future of Flight, Museum of Flight Restoration Centre and Historic Flight Foundation. I swear I wish we had transit talk radio, you’d be an enjoyable caller into my show.

      1. Joe,

        “Perhaps, just maybe” is not planning. It’s “build it and they will come” hoping. Snohomish County is doing a very good job building a high quality system in CT, but the transit modal split for ridership to the Paine area is still in the low single digits. If SnoCo officials want to avoid a long-lasting mistake by bypassing Paine Field, let them take some of their billion and a half or so from ST3 and push Link to 128th only. Then use the rest to build the feeder system necessary to make the Paine Field deviation useful. Add bus-only lanes where necessary; improve transfer facilities. Fund the circulator system at Paine. If they “build it” and the coal rollers do come, then complete the extension to Everett via Paine in ST4.


        We software workers are not the same demographic as manufacturing workers. Of course there are some left-leaning manufacturing folks; Boeing has some, for sure. But someone from east of I-405 in Snohomish County is not going to drive to a P’n’R, get on a bus, change to Link and then a distributor to get to work. Not unless they happen to be a transit geek.

        I did something like that for the four last years of my career when I worked at Nike and commuted from Hazel Dell. Mornings were C-Tran express to downtown, MAX to Beaverton Creek, Nike shuttle to the campus if it was raining. Otherwise I’d walk the 2/3 of a mile. Fortunately my last year and a few months were in Tek 58 so I could walk in five minutes from Milliken.

        Going home in the evening was a lot harder, though, especially if I worked later than 6:30. As you know, that’s not unusual for programmers; meetings with the users consume the day so any real work has to happen after they leave at 5:00. By the time I got downtown Portland the Expresses had quit running so I had to take the Yellow Line, then C-Tran’s 4 and change to the 37 or 32. It took four vehicles and an hour and three-quarters to get home because I believe in taking transit.

        The coal rollers would think I’m crazy.

        NW Egg,

        I’d say the same to you as I did to Ross: manufacturing workers are not the same demographic as “young professionals moving to Seattle”. That is not going to change; class mobility is lessening, not increasing.

        And to all of you, who is to say that Boeing and all its suppliers will even still be at Paine Field in ten years, let alone twenty? If Charleston improves its quality (a big “if”, true) all the begging and tax abatements Washington dangles in front of Boeing will mean nothing compared to the ability to squeeze the unions in an RTW state.

      2. Anandakos, so you really have it in for Paine Field?

        I’m not against a spur out to Paine Field linking to the I-5 route. I’m not against bus feeders.

        But transit advocates need to advocate for Paine Field – it’s about more than the Boeing you hate so much and appeasing Snohomish County politicians + avgeeks. Boeing with the 777X has just committed to Paine Field for the next 25-30 years – not 10. The same Boeing that gives a lot in grants to schools and is right now building new facilities at Paine Field – in no small part to support the 777X. Then there’s the 787 program and the KC-45 tanker. Three production lines in high demand, with the 747 line about to come to a (sad) end.

      3. That some group of people isn’t going to drive to a P&R then take a series of three different transit vehicles to get to work isn’t a question of demographics or identity politics, it’s a question of time and cost, just like most practical daily decisions people make. There’s no reason to bring “rollin’ coal” into it. The Prius drivers think it’s just as crazy as the “coal rollers”.

      4. >> “… someone from east of I-405 in Snohomish County is not going to drive to a P’n’R, get on a bus, change to Link and then a distributor to get to work. Not unless they happen to be a transit geek. ”

        Right, but what the hell has that got to do with what he does for a living? If he works in software or welds, either way he is likely to drive. If anything, software engineers are *more* likely to drive. With union wages dropping, and software salaries increasing, they are the ones that can afford to own a car and drive it every day.

        There are a lot of reasonable arguments to be made about the cost ineffectiveness of light rail to an industrial area like this (and Roberts actually admitted one when he said we will need “circular buses”). But saying particular types of workers prefer different commute styles is ridiculous. Hell, lots of software companies located in suburban locations, where the only way to get there was to drive! Think about it. Microsoft could have located in downtown Seattle. Same with Apple or Google (in San Fransisco). But they located in the far flung suburbs — so now we are supposed to assume that all software employees prefer to drive, and will never ride a bus (or train). Ridiculous!

      5. Not “ridiculous” Ross. The shuttles in San Francisco provided by Google, Oracle, Apple, and everyone else big down on the Peninsula are causing huge kerfuffles down there. Have you seen that U-Tube of the bus stop at near the Panhandle where about five tech shuttles come in the time that two transit buses visit the same stop? The shuttles load at least ten times as many riders.

        Those lines and Microsoft’s shuttles in Puget Sound show clearly that software workers demand transit. Amazon located where it did because it believes it’s a competitive advantage attracting minds. We all know it is a lot more expensive to build those towers on downtown land than mid-rises in a suburban office park.

        Nobody representing workers at Boeing has ever asked for anything similar, at least to my knowledge.

        You can get all high horse about “offensive” and blah-blah. You can say it’s “divisive” and paint flowers on the opposition who don’t give a damn about the “feelings” of transit riders, if they even give them a thought. But the truth is that most older white men are tribally anti-transit. It’s part of their self-identification as Republicans.

      6. Anandakos, as to, “the truth is that most older white men are tribally anti-transit. It’s part of their self-identification as Republicans.”

        I’m working on fixing my party. I’d appreciate you and some like you who are the the nattering nabobs of negativism would realize you’re not helping matters for this sorta-“millennial”.

        I do think it’s time IAM 751 and other unions chimed in some support……….

      7. >> Those lines and Microsoft’s shuttles in Puget Sound show clearly that software workers demand transit.

        Oh, Bullshit. All that shows is that the software companies screwed up. They thought that everyone wanted to work in the suburbs, but oopsy,, they don’t. Absolutely brilliant. Meanwhile, for every Google or Microsoft that is trying to wine and dine the best of the best from the tech universities, there is another tech company that basically says, “Whatever. You don’t want to work here, we’ll find someone else”. Hell, sometimes they work right next to each other. Do you think the contract worker at Microsoft can ride that bus? Hell no. He is stuck trying to slog his way to work like everyone else. But Microsoft wouldn’t dare do anything like hire a bunch of temp workers, as a means of avoiding paying them higher salaries would they? Would they? Say it ain’t so?

        Oh, and I wonder why those buses weren’t running back in the early part of the century. Maybe it is because when the tech recession hit, and even the really smart, really experienced guys and gals were struggling to find a job, they didn’t have to. Don’t like the commute to Microsoft? Fine, enjoy your unemployment before it runs out (maybe you can pass the time by writing some open source code (for free)). You can bet your ass that if we get hit by another tech bubble that little freebie, along with every other freebie, will go by the wayside.

        Besides, that misses the point. Of course your average machinist would walk down the street to take the express bus to Boeing if it was offered (but it isn’t because Boeing doesn’t care). If anything, it strengthens my point. Why bother running light rail to Redmond, when the private company (Microsoft) will do it for free? The reason has already been mentioned, because that bus doesn’t serve everyone. People drive or people take the bus based on convenience, plain and simple.

        Hell, I’m no different. Yes, that’s right, I am a software engineer and I drive. I write comments on a transit blog, and I drive. I drive because transit in this town sucks. So do most people. There are a handful that will take the bus on principle, but they are rare. There are also a handful that will endure a hellish, much slower commute because they love their private car, but they are rare. Hell, I would love to see the transit usage numbers on Attachmate, a company that moved from Factoria to downtown Seattle. Do you really think they had absolutely no uptick in bus ridership after that? None? Give me a break, the same workers doing the same work, but in a different location and of course they took the bus. Because no one wants to drive and park downtown. Taking a bus downtown is easy. Anyone, even a rich kid who went to school at Lakeside knew that, but he choose to locate his huge company out in the suburbs, because he figured no one cared. Well, they do. Oopsy!

      8. Personally I think the best option is a 99 alignment. The travel time is nearly the same as for I-5 and 99 has much better potential for TOD and transit supportive land use than I-5.

        Service can be provided to the SW Everett industrial area with bus service providing a connection to LINK on 99.

        Sure the bus service sucks now but there is no reason that needs to continue to be true in the future.

      9. Chris, there’s a large amount of light rail to parallel 99. A swing out to Paine proper is ideal. It seems the final route has been decided in the long range plan however.

      10. There are a lot of factors that go into why someone chooses to live where they do, why they work work where they do, and what mode they use to commute.

        As a general rule as income goes up your choices increase. You are also in much more of a position to do certain things on principle.

        With lower incomes your choices generally decrease and you are forced to do certain things for economic reasons.

        The geography of where you live and work plays a role as well. Someone who lives in Columbia City and works downtown is in a much better position to take transit than someone who lives in Bothell and works at Paine Field. Industry has nothing to do with mode choice but geography does.

      11. @Chris: Industry has something to do with mode choice. Some industries and professions have work sites that change regularly, for example, independent even of the sites’ typical geographic characteristics. Ever see a help wanted ad that specifies applicants must provide their own transportation? That usually means travel requirements that aren’t physically possible except by personal car. It’s no accident that farm workers carpool at much higher rates than anyone else in the US — they make little enough money that the efficiency matters but the work sites are varied and distributed enough that they aren’t going to take a bus or bike there.

      12. Al,

        You are correct. I was mostly thinking of those with more or less fixed.

        If work sites change frequently transit really isn’t as much of an option.

      13. Sure the bus service sucks now but there is no reason that needs to continue to be true in the future.

        There’s no reason that needs to continue to be true now

        Except that Boeing has never given a shit about transit for its real or hypothetical employees.

        Also, Boeing is especially notorious for shifting employees (skilled laborers and engineers alike) from Everett to Renton on a moment’s notice. There’s no way a Boeing employee is going to be able to plan a transit-based life or base him/herself for a car-free commute.

      14. I don’t “have it in for Paine Field”. I “have it in” for wishful planning. No matter how much we may hope that people who work around the airfield will switch to transit, if they live in Edmonds, Lynnwood, Alderwood Manor, Martha Lake, Mill Creek or “The Silvers” they probably won’t. The huge jams on I-5 are only theoretical for them; they see them as they pass over the freeway and maybe suffer a bit if they do so at an interchange, but they don’t sit in them personally.

        They’ll never face “90 minute commutes”. Unless they’re committed to some sort of personal environmental stewardship THEY. WILL. DRIVE. The entire region of southwestern Snohomish County is “dedicated to the proposition” that “all men [and women] are created drivers, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights that among these are Cars, Garages and the pursuit of Commuting Freedom”.

        They will not drive to work at Paine Field until and unless the companies start charging them at least $6 to $8 or more (constant dollars) a day to park. And the companies don’t want the grief that would bring them.

    2. Something else to consider about the locations of Boeing workers residences is the demographic that currently works there. It is a much older workforce, and they live in those locations because they choose to. In 15-20 years when this is finally being built, the workforce will be much different and may live in different places.

      10 years ago young professionals moving to Seattle and working downtown would not have thought of Rainier Valley as one of the first places to find housing, but Central Link being opened for so long has started to change that.

      1. Very well noted. Light rail will change the land use dynamic the way the Mukilteo Speedway has in that area.

        Thanks for the positive attitude.

    3. Based on the manufacturing guys I know, you are wrong. There is a mix. For every guy that would drive his pickup in traffic every day (even if there was a station outside his house and his work) there is a guy who is happy to take the bus, because it saves him a few bucks. The same is true of plenty of other fields. I’ve worked at lots of software companies, and it is really all over the map. If anything, it has more to do with the location of the company, and the corporate culture than it does software in general. A company located in Factoria is more likely to attract folks who don’t mind driving, while Amazon attracts people who take the bus (or walk). Generally speaking, though, people take public transit when it is more convenient, plain and simple. I’m not sure if this will add enough convenience to justify the huge expense, but that is another question.

      1. Well put RossB, you have the correct attitude about this. It’s a bloody shame we have people in the comment threads who gleefully take shots at providing transit service yet want to be transit advocates.

    4. With regards to your last paragraph, this eleven minute penalty assumes that light rail actually goes north from there. Why should it? If it ended on 99, Paine Field or Boeing, then (in my opinion) you could call it quits. Buses from Everett can travel very quickly on I-5 to the northernmost I-5 station. There really aren’t any interim spot to spot stations of note along there. Meanwhile, this would add very fast highway 99 to Link connectivity (via Swift). I don’t think it makes sense to spend billions on Snohomish County light rail, but I think if we do, cutting over to 99 makes a lot of sense.

      1. “If it ended on 99, Paine Field or Boeing, then (in my opinion) you could call it quits.”

        That depends on what role downtown Everett will play in the county. If it’s going to be an urban center like Lynnwood, then it should have a station, and it will be more of an all-day/all-activity/all-transfer station than Payne Field will be. If we’re going to have any extension it should reach downtown Everett.

        If, on the other hand, downtown Everett will remain as-is, with one-story buildings and few destinations and all spread out — not much different than Edmonds or Marysville — then extending Link to it would be less important. In that case, Lynnwood would be the primary station in the county, and Payne Field would be just a tail.

        But I don’t think Everett would agree with that, or Snohomish County as a whole. I think they want to make downtown Everett an urban center, and if not the largest city in the county, then at least as big as Lynnwood. That would argue for the extension reaching downtown Everett and the college.

      2. Exactly and without full light rail to Everett, forget about Snohomish County supporting ST3 & any potential ST4 down the line.

        See the Everett Herald editorial: . Heck by 2036, I could have a raised community college student counting down the days to light rail to her/his school…

        It’s about the strategic long term.

    5. People’s preferences change over time. All the way into the 1960s families usually had only one car, except a few teenagers who saved for one. In the 60s and 70s you started seeing two-car households, and in the 80s and 90s you started seeing households where all members over 16 had their own car (and sometimes more than one). This long struggle to achieve a car affected the working class’s attitudes, and when it did reach the point that everyone had one it became the symbol of the success of the American way. Of course, they needed a car to get around since transit was anemic or nonexistent. But “a car” can be a beater or fuel-efficient compact. SUVs were a cultural/social choice. (Somebody described it as “a manly excuse for a minivan”.) The people who drive trucks from Bothell to Everett (and from Redmond to Renton) are mostly boomers, so they lived through this transition from one-car garage to three-car garage, and thus feel more strongly about having a boss car and driving to work than later generations probably do. Whereas the majority of GenXers and millenials grew up in the car-dependent suburbs their parents moved to, and it felt like a prison in many cases. Of course, many millenials do still value the suburban house and boss car and driving everywhere, but I submit that on average they feel less strongly about it and are more willing to consider alternatives, which in this case means transit to work.

      In sixteen years when this line might open, the boomers will be retired and millenials will be a large percent of the workforce. More businesses will have located to the Everett industrial area, and more people will be living in Lynnwood and Everett. Especially if Seattle and Bellevue’s housing prices continue rising rapidly and Lynnwood and Everett build more lower-cost housing and walkable destinations to become a viable alternative.

      1. Thank you Mike. I think that’s the future – we just need to build it. After all, Boeing is going to stay here – but only after weakening the unions’ bargaining power, which means wages will not go up enough to cover rising property values, taxes and boss cars.

    6. “There is an eleven minute travel time penalty with the Paine Field deviation.”

      @Anandakos. It’s actually just a 3-4 minute penalty vs the other SR 99 alternative. It’s 11 minutes vs. I-5. ST believes there’s a lot more ridership on SR 99 vs I-5, though the Paine Field deviation isn’t adding any more net riders to that total. If we think the development potential along SR 99 warrants going that way, then maybe an additional deviation to Paine Field isn’t such a burden.

      I appreciate Mr. Roberts’ thoughts about integrating rail and bus services in the area. If rail works at all in this area, it’s because of the bus connections across the sprawly bits. But I’ll be looking to tomorrow’s comments on “how to pay for it all” to see a path to sequentially building out the system he describes. He’s describing a big system that looks to be beyond the scope of ST3. I don’t think he can get rail to Everett, and SR 99, and Paine Field, and all the bus connections to make it work.

      Will it work when it’s half-built? If the rail won’t go all the way to Everett for many more years (or ever?), does it still make sense to deviate to Paine Field? How many Paine Field workers commute in from the Link corridor south of Paine Field anyway? If, as we seem to believe, a lot of Paine Field workers commute in from the north and east, then how does a line to the SW help them?

      If they go all in on rail, then how do they support the bus connections which Mr Roberts thinks is vital to making this work? Is Snohomish willing to pay for the CT service this would require? (or make a contribution to 405 BRT commensurate with the Snohomish share of ridership there?)

      1. If it doesn’t go all the way to Everett this phase, then maybe it doesn’t matter as much which alignment it is. Any terminus would be an endpoint for express buses to Everett, and maybe by the time the extension is built, whichever alignment we chose in the first phase might be fine.

      2. Well, why was the clearly superior routing via Aurora, which would have placed dense development in Shoreline along Aurora where the infrastructure exists to service it, axed for “travel time” concerns when this section should not be? Is Link just supposed to be a giant N-Judah for suburban riders on virtual 48th Avenues? That sounds like what you’re advocating.

      3. P.S.

        I completely agree with all the rhetorical questions about supporting service and development you raised. They need to be answered, in some detail and with enforceable agreements from the local authorities, before any extension beyond Lynnwood is considered.

      4. P.P.S.

        I do like the idea of cutting over the SR99 for the same reason that I like continuing Link on SR99 south of Midway, assuming that it does continue south of Midway. That reason is that its possible to develop a “string of pearls” form of planned density at the station nodes in ways that simply won’t work alongside a freeway. That makes the huge investment of building a commuter interurban far out into the hinterlands more defensible.

        Of course Ross and d.p. think that any extension beyond the already funded Lynnwood and Midway termini is foolish, and I tend to agree. I would extend north from the Lynnwood Park and Ride to a station at the north side of Alderwood Mall because it would be one heck of a good location for a bus transfer facility as many have noted.

  3. Martin,

    Thanks for interviewing Paul Roberts. Obviously I await his thoughts on Sounder North.

    I also cannot stress enough the importance of transit service to Paine Field as I did to Anandakos. The jobs are at Paine Field and once quality transit service is provided – I’ve documented several times on Page Two such as HERE and HERE the below par status quo, things will pan up. The important thing to remember is rightly or wrongly, partly due to airplane noise, partly due to Paine Field being next to a coastline with land values higher than normal as a result, there is going to be a commute to jobs at Paine Field. So what? Let’s provide the service, quit the whining and make it happen.

    1. It will happen, and should happen, as part of Swift II. Whether it makes sense to spend billions more on light rail to accomplish the same thing is a different matter.

      1. Perhaps. It’ll be a fun ST3 debate, but I come down on the side of providing light rail as it’ll make for a faster commute to a very large job center.

  4. Martin mostly asks the right questions. Paul’s replies, from “any other nation” on down, are earnest but not compelling.

    The international-investors anecdote is a far too pat: no one from Europe, where key industries were rebuilt just outside war-decimated cities, in one fell swoop and with brand-new infrastructure (sometimes rail, sometimes road, sometimes ferry docks), will be surprised to discover that American industry is more arbitrarily located, and its workers far less likely to live a stone’s throw from its primary access route.

    The fact remains that Paine’s primary tenant is a bastion of adversarial capitalism with zero long-term commitment to the well-being of this state and no histoty of expressed in transit. The supporting and surrounding industries inhabit what amounts to a large office park superlatively inhospitable to concentrated forms of transit. Commercial service will never be economically viable at the airport, and employees from downtown Everett and “downtown” Lynnwood will never add up to a hill of beans.

    That’s inconvenient, I know. But it’s truth.

    1. Such a pile of left wing garbage.

      How would you like it if I wrote:

      It makes no sense to spend another dime of state taxdollars or appropriate more tax authority for King County Metro or Sound Transit. King County residents have enough transit as is. Most of the jobs are in downtown Seattle with little to no housing for the worker bees that all love their almighty cars. So what if commutes are 90 plus minutes – screw ’em, we’re only going to build transit for transit-oriented development for Burlington, Mount Vernon & Sedro-Woolley and a few other small exurban communities like Oak Harbor and maybe Bellingham.

      Oh you and everybody else here would be mad – and rightfully so. Either join the transit team or get off. Attitude adjustment please.

      1. Joe, that’s completely non-responsive. D.P. made several substantive arguments about why a significant investment in high capacity transit to Paine Field is in danger of producing a poor ROI. You responded with irrelevant sneering. If you want to be effective at making the case for this project, you’re going to have to do a better job at actually responding to the case that it might be unwise. The attempt to imply that anyone pro-transit must therefore be pro-this particular plan is obvious nonsense (as your own opposition to Sounder North clearly demonstrates). Do better.

      2. Thanks DJW. My “sneering” is quite relevant, thank you. I will just say there sure are a lot of commuter bus routes right now going from Snohomish County into Seattle and I don’t see a lot of complaining over it. But I sure see a lot of whining and sniping when it comes to Paine Field. Yes, we’re going to have to market transit as a viable alternative to driving a bit more – but right now transit isn’t that viable of an alternative to driving to a major job center for the state & the nation. It’s really offensive to me how some people who call themselves transit advocates get up and snipe without putting an alternative plan on the table – hence my fumigation.

        That said, I’m open to a conversation about a light rail spur. I’m open to a conversation about how we provide the service but for some like Anandakos & d.p. to snipe, pitting groups of people against people and the kind of divide & conquer that makes the people who oppose transit happy. I don’t want that, I know you don’t want that, and I just think these folks need to have an attitude adjustment.

      3. I will just say there sure are a lot of commuter bus routes right now going from Snohomish County into Seattle and I don’t see a lot of complaining over it. But I sure see a lot of whining and sniping when it comes to Paine Field.

        Non-sequitur. No one denies there’s demand for those commuter routes. They’re what Sno residents demand from CT, and they’re what they use. I have yet to see compelling evidence that a) Sno residents want Paine field light rail, and b) that they’d use it. As

        It’s also interesting to me that you think d.p.’s position is “left wing”. I think his position is far more in tune with small c conservatism than yours.

        I take his general position to be that significant investment in high speed/capacity transit should be responsive of the living patterns and preferences of people revealed by their current behavior. Government should respond to how people live, rather than try and radically transform it. Conservatives, at their best, identify some very good reasons to be leery of states’ and planners tendency to assume they can (see–the disaster that is Brasilia for a good example. James Scott’s book Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed is brilliant on this subject).

        Your position is that the state should make a massive investment in something there’s very little demonstrated interest in right now, in hope of inducing that interest in the future. That approach may be justified in some cases, but it’s far, far more accurately described as ‘left-wing’ than anything d.p. is saying.

      4. @Joe — I think your attack on d.p. is misplaced. Anandakos was engaging in what many would call classism, or perhaps tribalism. It was, like all similar identity-politics statements, based on nothing. No facts, no data, nothing. I found his statement to be not only wrong, but offensive (although in this day and age, all too common).

        But d. p. made a more straightforward statement. He basically said that light rail to these areas will not be cost effective. He makes the same statements about various projects involving various areas, many of which are probably “his people”, or should I say, “Anandakos’ people”.

        Allow me break it down. First, Boeing is willing to screw over its workers. I would agree with that, and I’m sure most people would. This means that Boeing would close the Everett plant tomorrow, if it thought it could move the share price up a couple points this fiscal quarter (just business, as they say). That is an important consideration. The same thing could happen with Amazon, by the way. But I think most people would say that transferring Amazon’s offices to other companies is a lot easier than it is for Boeing. Manufacturing isn’t dead in this country, but it requires a lot of initial investment, and a lot of what Boeing has built is only of value to Boeing. Even if it was used by a different company, it might be used by a lot fewer workers. This is an important consideration.

        Second, he basically repeated what Roberts said — that the jobs are spread out. It just doesn’t make sense, from a financial standpoint (as I point out below ( to spend billions on light rail in that situation. Nor does it make sense to spend billions on light rail to suburbs that have similar housing patterns. BRT and simply improved bus service, along with some very limited, and very well coordinated light rail could provide better service at a much lower price. d. p. knows that, and has said that, over and over. But he is also the first to say that rail for the sake of rail, or rail that will inevitably lead to spending billions so that cars ride empty every day does no one, not the biggest transit fan in the world, any good.

      5. djw,

        I think the problem is that most people aren’t tuning into transit issues – hence the lack of a public “let’s go get ’em light rail” campaign. Also I admit maybe it’s time somebody asked IAM 751 and SPEEA to support transit to Paine Field – not just the Snohomish County political class.

        I also don’t appreciate the sniping at Boeing, I admit it. Do I like what Boeing did to IAM 751 in return for the long term 15-25 year commitment to stay at Paine Field? No. But Boeing does have a stake in this area, Boeing and its unions do a lot of charitable work & giving, and Boeing deserves better than being run down by certain folks here. Because in the end, we want to provide the maximum transit service possible to the most people.

        I’m open to a spur line conversation instead of a light rail trunk line detour. But at the end of the day, because Paine Field is a major airport and airports are noisy plus located near the coast which poses its own problems for transit to work it’s got to be speedy, high capacity transit back to park & ride and local bus routes.

      6. RossB, I’m open to a conversation about a spur line or BRT. What I do think though is part of the problem is that in order to get ST3 there has to be something big for Snohomish County. Most of the Snohomish County jobs are at Paine Field.

        That means light rail. Remember with light rail coming, Community Transit will deposit its commuters onto light rail which means more riders, a better chance for light rail to break even, and possibly demand for more frequent light rail service from Everett to possibly Tacoma.

        One last thing, and I reiterate, Boeing is going to stay for a long time. There are as of today seven years worth of order backlogs for Boeing jets – with indications that’s only going to grow once the 777X picks up at the end of the decade. It’s important to remember that.

        I’m also for the record supportive of light rail for the Renton plant….

      7. @Joe — Well, if we absolutely have to spend the money on light rail, then some (if not all) of what is proposed is better than a lot of the alternatives. But I don’t buy that. I think that is backwards. Even if you are told “go spend X billion”, I think we can make alternatives work a lot better. Hell, does Snohomish county even have Sunday bus service? Holy smoke, it seems crazy to send light rail all the way up through Boeing/Paine Field before we address the other shortcomings. Swift 2 makes sense. But Swift 2 is not dirt cheap. You still need to cross the freeway, and that could cost some money. What about other cross streets? I have no idea where they are (other than 99) but I’m they’re there, and building a handful of overpasses is way cheaper than a few light rail spots.

        Light rail makes sense when you have capacity problems and when a good BRT solution isn’t much cheaper. That is why it makes sense for Ballard to the UW. That is extremely high demand corridor, and the only way to make that work is to build a tunnel. Once you build a tunnel, you might as well add rail. But for most of Snohomish County, that just isn’t the case. There are lots and lots of relatively cheap things you can do that would save a ton of time for people. These things will be huge in the lives of transit users.

        It reminds me of the Seattle Transit tunnel. Long before it was a transit tunnel, it was a bus tunnel. Well, is saved way more time as a bus tunnel, than as it has a train tunnel. I’m not suggesting anything that big, but I’m saying lots of smaller projects that yes, involve taking a bus, instead of a train. For the same amount of money, you can just have a lot more of them.

      8. @RossB

        Personally, I’d like to see a debate around here more buses vs. light rail rather than whether or not to provide service to Paine Field at all.

        My arguments for light rail or a DMU are the density of jobs & museums – two things that most transit users want at the end and subsequent start of their transit usage, the fact it will take around 20 years if we start now (Boeing will be here in 20 years thanks to the 787 & 777X) for light rail to reach Everett.

        It is worth discussing however more Sound Transit bus routes to/from Paine Field…

      9. I’m pretty sure djw is the first person ever to refer to me as any form of “conservative”, with a “c” of any size.

        For what it’s worth, I am absolutely liberal and progressive, inasmuch as I believe that the progress of this human endeavor depends upon providing conditions that liberate human cerebral and creative capacity for the benefit and betterment of all. Representative government, as the elected guardians of the public good, absolutely has its roles to play.

        On the subject of land use and its effect on the human condition, governments both left and right spent the 20th century violating the basic principles of healthy human life and social conditions. The United States actively killed the traditional city and economically incentivized isolating sprawl. The model most closely associated with Soviet architecture bulldozed the human scale and replaced it with monuments to state supremacy. The former was never truly about individualism, and the latter was never about progress.

        djw comes close in his assessment of my position on major transit investments. It’s not so much that investments should follow personal preferences, as much as that they should follow objective and researchable best practices. This tends to discourage far-flung “hope for the best” speculative rail to places with unsuitable geometry.

        It’s not about rejecting “social engineering” — suburban flight incentives proved that social engineering is a real thing, and suggests that better environments could continue to be built under better regulatory conditions. It’s just about rejecting square pegs in round holes (such as a great urban revival in Lynnwood or Totem Lake). Acknowledge the needs of places in ways that are best suited to those places. Nudge ripe places to evolve towards transit-suitability, but don’t plunk down modal anachronisms in whatever random place and then expect something unprecedented and magical to happen.

      10. Well D.P. I appreciate your deep thoughts. Now I’m all for discussing alternatives to this road we’re very near to embarking on where ST3 will to get Snohomish County support have light rail to Paine Field.

        The question in my mind is will there be the feeder bus service to be congruent with that decision and to feed that trunk line?

        Remember I am an aviation geek, I frequent several major aviation attractions at Paine Field.

      11. I know you are, and unfortunately, you have a well-demonstrated habit of projecting your personal interests upon hypothetical masses, and then arguing for billion-dollar investments to “major attractions” that receive only a few dozen visitors per day.

        You know that I have also found fault in your past advocacy to retain our broken state taxation/funding structure, and to keep mass transportation dependent on hyper-local self-taxation, while expecting the statewide public to pick up the tab for any form of fringe transit that specifically serves you.

        You also know that I do not believe Snohomish voters will find enough value in this boondoggle to approve it as part of ST3, and that I take offense to ST’s apparent reliance on Seattle to provide a supermajority (regardless of the quality or usefulness of the urban offerings) to override rejections in any other subareas and to force passage of a massive regional package. Talk about taxation without representation!

      12. Okay D.P., last comment from me tonight. I gotta travel tomorrow.

        “I know you are, and unfortunately, you have a well-demonstrated habit of projecting your personal interests upon hypothetical masses, and then arguing for billion-dollar investments to “major attractions” that receive only a few dozen visitors per day.”

        Only a few dozen visitors per day? Try for the Future of Flight an average well over 700 if every day’s the same (it isn’t).

        I would prefer light rail to buses, but with reservations. I “get it” light rail is a long game and a risky play.

        “You know that I have also found fault in your past advocacy to retain our broken state taxation/funding structure, and to keep mass transportation dependent on hyper-local self-taxation, while expecting the statewide public to pick up the tab for any form of fringe transit that specifically serves you.”

        I have rarely if ever said the state should pick up the tab for “for any form of fringe transit that specifically serves you”. Perhaps I support transit growth and transit services that give mobility to more people to more places – not fringe.

        “You also know that I do not believe Snohomish voters will find enough value in this boondoggle to approve it as part of ST3, and that I take offense to ST’s apparent reliance on Seattle to provide a supermajority (regardless of the quality or usefulness of the urban offerings) to override rejections in any other subareas and to force passage of a massive regional package. Talk about taxation without representation!”

        I “get it” urbanists like you got a problem with these folks called surbanites. I’m not trying to take anything out of Seattle to fund transit for Paine Field. Light rail for Paine Field is subarea equity and serving Snohomish County’s main job creator and if you want Snohomish County to support Sound Transit growth this is the price tag. I’m also calling for the end or at least seasonal cutback for Sounder North because of safety and yes, cost effectiveness. I’m not going to snipe at transit service I don’t use as much as I think somebody should start poking around Sounder South (Seattle-Tacoma)….

        Have a great evening.

      13. – 547 visitors per day, according to its own marketing. Not exactly subway-ever-10-minutes territory.

        – You have, in fact, repeatedly rallied for direct state support for your intercounty mobility enablers, while failing to acknowledge that Washington is one of only 5 states that categorically denies funding for real urban mass transportation systems.

        – I don’t have a problem with suburbanites. Geometry and math have problems with some of the ways rail and the suburbs are proposed to interact.

        – Snohomish county, being suburban, simply cares less about transit than some other places. Specifically, it cares less about billions and decades of debt for something it is so unlikely to find useful as this long, meandering “spine”. There is no consensus to be found for this, much as a few politicians would like to suggest otherwise.

      14. I “get it” light rail is a long game and a risky play.

        Do you? Because throughout this thread, you’ve treated light rail to Paine field, on the main line or via a spur, as a non-negotiable necessary commitment any serious transit advocate must make.

      15. if you want Snohomish County to support Sound Transit growth this is the price tag.

        I’m very curious what the source of this conviction is. What is your evidence that the voters of SnoCo are significantly more likely to support ST3 with Paine field as part of their plan? Are you sure you’re not projecting your preferences on SnoCo voters?

      16. d.p.

        #1 I have access to internal numbers and the website is about to update. But I agree, if light rail extensions were just to a few museums I’d be against it. But ST3 to Paine Field is about over 50,000 jobs, several technical schools, and four museums.

        #2 As to, “failing to acknowledge that Washington is one of only 5 states that categorically denies funding for real urban mass transportation systems” I think now we here get why you snipe negatively at transit for Paine Field. You want more state money for Seattle transit. That’s a valid position but something that’s going to take a dramatic Olympia culture change and resolving the budget-dominator that is the McCleary decision w/ 9 Supreme Court justices threatening to re-write the state budget.

        #3. The fact is Snohomish County leadership wants the spine, wants the connectivity to the jobs that are guaranteed for 20-50 years and likely barring a last minute campaign wouldn’t support an alternative.

      17. djw;

        I think without light rail – or a last-minute campaign to get DMU or its equivalent – out to Paine Field, Snohomish County is not going to support ST3. Its leaders have made that abundantly clear through years of lobbying & public statements.

        As far as the average voters, that remains to be told at the ballot box. But they sure keep reelecting leaders who demand light rail for Paine Field. The fact I like it there only helps the cause.

      18. To echo what d.p. said earlier it is interesting to take a look at where post WWII TOD has been successful in the US. The two cities most commonly cited as examples are D.C. and Portland.

        First lets look at DC. With a couple of exceptions no Metro station is further than 14 miles as the crow flies from the Washington Monument. This is similar to the distance from Seatac to Downtown Seattle. Most of the TOD listed as positive examples are much closer to the center of DC such as Arlington or Crystal City. We’re talking 5 miles or less about the same as the U-District to Downtown Seattle.

        In the case of Portland their system is fairly compact as well. The furthest flung extension is out to Hillsboro at roughly 16 miles. While there has been TOD out at the furthest reaches of the system in places like Orenco Station most has been much closer in such as the Hollywood or Lloyd Center areas.

        What does this mean for the Seattle area? With the huge growth expected for the region we will see much infill development. However much of that development is going to be within a few miles of existing activity centers like Downtown Seattle, Downtown Bellevue, or the University District. Particularly where that development leads to dense walkable neighborhoods. Areas with decent existing conditions (aka good “bones”) and/or good transit service may be able to push this out further from Downtown Seattle. Places like Lynnwood, Totem Lake, Tukwila, Seatac, and Federal Way may see increased density but it is likely to take a very auto-oriented form such as seen in LA or Phoenix. We won’t be seeing anything like the Pearl District or Rosslyn.

        Land use policy and transit are an important part of the mix, but alone aren’t enough to transform a distant greenfield into a dense walkable neighborhood where most residents don’t drive for a majority of their trips.

      19. Joe,

        As far as I can see from the discussion here, nobody is advocating for “more state money for Seattle transit”. Seattle can pay for its own transit, thank you very much. What it needs is the right to tax its citizens in any way and in any amount that those self-same citizens decide is necessary for its economic and cultural health. In other words, taxation with representation rather than extortion from the rural Conservatives-in-Word-Socialists-in-Deed everywhere else in the state.

        King County gets back fifty-two cents of every tax dollar it sends to Olympia. The ratio for Seattle is not available because it’s not a county, but given the enormous B&O tax receipts that the state receives from all those skyscrapers in downtown Seattle plus the huge property tax income from all those Puget Sound and Lake Washington view homes, it has to be considerably lower than 52 cents return.

        Yes, the State spends quite a bit on administrative operations of various Departments and Agencies in Seattle, the University of Washington is an enormous economic activity, although largely self-sufficient these days, and there are doubtless plenty of people on Medicaid or other forms of state funded assistance within the City. But they’re a minor portion of the enormous revenue haul from the City.

        So, “No, Seattle folks aren’t whining for more money from folks in the rest of the State”. The rest of the State, together, only barely exceeds King County as a whole in gross product. It wouldn’t work even if Seattle wanted it.

        So watch out with those straw men. They can catch fire and singe you.

      20. Anandakos, I’m all for Seattle being able to “to tax its citizens in any way and in any amount that those self-same citizens decide is necessary for its economic and cultural health”. That’s why I support ST3, Community Transit local option and the like.

        Let the voters decide. Keep more transit money local.

        As far as those Tri-County Connectors – hey I think they should have fares (only March’s Point-Oak Harbor/Skagit-Whidbey) lacks it, they should have advertising, and be supported as locally as possible. I’m all for basic statewide mobility.

        Gotta run, I got work to do.



      21. But they sure keep reelecting leaders who demand light rail for Paine Field.

        Were competing long range transit visions a significant part of their campaigns? Was this a widely discussed and debated issue in their recent elections? If yes, I’ll grant this is a weak signal. If, as I suspect, the answer is no, it’s not really a signal at all. As you yourself have lamented in this very thread, the public just isn’t paying much attention to this right now.

        Given Boeing’s richly deserved reputation for political influence, I can think of an alternative explanation for elite support for this plan with considerably greater plausibility.

      22. So what if Boeing is suddenly backing transit?

        My response: Welcome anybody to the party. Quit sniping. Play like a team player..

      23. Joe,

        Thank you for supporting local choice throughout the state. So far as Paine Field, if people absolutely believe that nothing short of rail is sufficiently “respectful” of the employment cluster there, then I don’t have a problem with a “doodlebug” like the Princeton Junction shuttle to and from the main stem, whether it be on SR99 or along I-5. But deviating the main service for two stations, one of which will almost never be used and the other of which will be used three times a day is kind of crazy.

        That said, nice BRT buses would do the job every bit as well and for a lot less money since the demand is bound to be “peaky”. Trains are more efficient when there are consistent loads throughout the day sufficient that buses are running on very short headways (say less than four minutes) so that the greater efficiency of a train (multiple cars for one operator) can be provided with headways still in the “frequent service” range (10 minutes or less).

        I honestly can not believe that would ever be true of the Paine Field cluster, so paying for a gaggle of buses and drivers using existing roadways to meet every Link train with multiple routes fanning out over the area at the infrequent shift changes makes more sense, even over a very long time horizon.

    2. It’s not just the long period over which industrial facilities and housing was built without having to rebuild after a blitz. It’s the lassez-faire, no-planning, cars-and-cheap-gas-will-solve-all-access-problems nature of American society. That’s not how factories and housing were located before WWII: they were located along streetcar lines, and walking distance from a station was a selling point for both employers and houses. We could have continued that — even with a transition to cars and highways — but instead we chose the peanut-butter approach of locating things willy-nilly and building them in a car-dependent manner. And now post-Reagan there’s this libertarian belief that all city planning is wrong and socialist. Europeans know these crazy Americans do this (visions of Los Angeles), but the delegations probably assumed it didn’t extend this far to major industrial job clusters. However, on hearing that it does, they probably interpreted it as “more of the American way”.

      1. Very well put. It means we’re going to have to market transit as a service.


        No marketing, no change.

        It’s that simple.

    3. Good observation about Boeing- or any other business with shareholders- being likely to move. But whether by private or public effort- or as in Europe, successfully a mix of both- worst these relocations should men is either vacant real estate and infrastructure, and opportunity. for a new, and more solid economy.

      Idea that a single company, or industry will or should support a region forever is what made Detroit what it is today. Since the Second World War, a concept as obsolete as titled nobility became in the 1700’s, and a major driving force in our war for independence. And the Enlightenment itself, presently in danger of being repealed.

      And one advantage of having to rebuild an economy is the ability to build develop transit as the circulatory system for a renewed and healthier body. Also adding itself to the balance sheet as a fortune in capital. And a major actual- as opposed to Nobility-titled- employer.

      Agreed with one above comment, though: Inconvenient truth about the movie was that associated candidate was unfortunately about same level as the movie. Though as usual, sequel sucked a lot worse.


      1. Mark;

        I don’t think Boeing is going to be leaving Paine Field anytime soon – they’re building a new 777X facility, they’ve got great production lines going, they’re really going to honor their word and dig in here at Paine Field. We need to get past the last recent turmoil and realize Paine Field is more than just a profit center for Boeing – it’s where unionized folks work; it’s a major aerospace education center for future pilots, mechanics & machinists; and got no less than four world-class museums.

        Still want to deny transit service to Paine Field?

    4. Well Boeing is likely at Paine Field until at least the end of the 777X and 787 programs. That said I agree their lang term commitment to the state and Everett is in serious question.

      FWIW CT used to run a lot more Boeing commuter routes in years past than they do now. In part this is due to Boeing needing far fewer workers now than it did 20 years ago, partly due to CT budget, and partly because workers just didn’t use them.

      1. Chris;

        Good points.

        I think it’s worth noting Boeing is going to stay for 20 to 50 years. The problem beyond 20-50 years is now 15-20 years down the road when a new product line is on the table for Paine Field’s facilities. That factory is going to be chock-full of backlogged demand for 787s, KC-45s, 777s & eventually 777Xs for quite some time… especially now that the bugs of the 787 have been ironed out.

        That said, I think it’s time somebody reached out to IAM 751 and other unions to get the worker bees’ representatives at the table to make transit work for them and market transit to the customers. I know I’m getting preachy but I want transit’s rebound to Paine Field & Mukilteo to succeed.

      2. “and partly because workers just didn’t use them.”

        And Chris wins the thread.

        All the “build it and they will come” wishfulness may just that.

        As I said above, if Snohomish County officeholders and planners are worried that they will miss a great opportunity by deciding not to run Link through the Paine Field cluster, then don’t extend Link at least, not beyond Alderwood Mall where there is a natural opportunity for bus transfer, and quality right of way is available to transition over to SR99.

        After all, the vast majority of people now riding express buses to Seattle are not going to be within walking distance of a Link station, no matter what alignment is chosen. To achieve the proposed ridership levels from north of Lynnwood either the Park’N’Ride lots at the Link stations will have to be enormous, dwarfing even Lakewood, or people will have to get on a bus in their suburban neighborhoods and change to Link at the closest station. It isn’t that much of a burden to have that closest station be at the interchange of I-405 and I-5 by the mall temporarily.

        Then use the money not spent on Link to Everett via I-5 to do whatever is necessary to build the ridership to and from Paine, proving that the businesses there can and will do what is necessary to make transit worthwhile. Or not. And if not then push on to Everett along I-5 in the next iteration.

      3. Anandakos is correct, for the same reason that RossB’s scheme for West Seattle is – past a certain point there is no definitive corridor that is an obvious route; potential transit users are scattered widely in a large catchment area that is not easily served by a single high-capacity line.

        Terminating Link north of Alderwood Mall and designing it so that there is a seamless transfer for frequent quality bus service to Paine Field/Mukilteo, Everett and to some extent Mill Creek would not only enable the rail spine to be more accessible but would show quite clearly where any future rail extension should go. (Ash Way isn’t a bad termination except that there is no access to 164th from 525; that would have to be added as well as transit-only lanes between the station and 525.)

        When I say “quality bus service” I mean at least the level of service provided by Swift, preferably even better. Otherwise we’re in the same boat we are in now with choice riders driving to Seattle/Paine Field/wherever, or at best driving to the P&Rs…neither of which give us long-term answers to the routing question.

        (Perhaps Everett itself will never grow as much as projected, but I would point people at Greenville, SC as a town/county with the same approximate size as Everett/Snohomish County that completely remade themselves over the past 15 years. It too was a somewhat depressed mill town that now has a major manufacturing base on its outskirts–BMW, Michelin–and has completely transformed its downtown to the extent where people want to live there and denser housing is being built. They did it in part via parking garages–this is the South, after all, where transit is horrid–but having seen it change over the past 12 years I see little reason why similar ideas couldn’t work in Everett and make it more transit-friendly. The key to success in both places was easy access and mobility.)

      4. Scott,

        Provided station access is done right any station along the line can and should provide bus connections.

        In the case of 525 you simply provide connections at a location with good bus access. You can go further north to Ash Way, 99, or even Everett proper.

  5. Should Link serve the Paine Field area? Maybe.

    Should the main line from Seattle to Everett serve the Paine Field area? No.

    Having the main line deviate to Paine Field away from the current transit/commuting corridor would make Link much less useful for the bulk of people in Downtown/North Everett and places north & east, who are traveling to points south of Everett.

    Most people working in the Paine Field area drive there, and many live in places where there is relatively little to no transit service, such as places north and east of Everett. They’re not going to drive to a park & ride to take Link to Paine Field. They’re also not going to take a bus to a Link station to transfer. They’re going to drive from their homes to their jobs, with a relative few riding the existing commuter buses.

    There are 5 commuter bus routes to Paine Field. CT 227, 247, & 277 each have 2 runs/direction. ET 70 & MT 952 each have 4 runs/direction. That’s a total of 28 runs per day that fan out in every direction from Paine Field, not counting the all-day ET 3 and 12.

    In contrast, the heavily used ST 510 alone has 21 runs/direction, or 42 runs per day. That doesn’t even count the 512, nor every CT commuter route that travels from Seattle to points north & east of Everett (421, 422, 425, 821). All these runs travel together from Everett to Seattle.

    Which do you think is more important to serve with light rail first?

    If the Paine Field area needs Link service, it should be done by a branch or spur line, and not with the main line. Otherwise, Paine Field commuters would be much better served with more commuter buses and park & rides.

    1. I’m open to a branch or spur line discussion. I’d like to see that a lot more. Frankly a spur to Paine Field to the main line along I-5 would be a win-win.

      1. I’ve read a few ideas about having a spur line, and I’ve had my own ideas on serving the Paine Field area with Link without diverting the main line.

        Basically, the line would start at Paine Field and head east to the Everett-Seattle line. Trains could end there and have people transfer to the main line, or preferably trains could continue north to Everett and maybe south toward Seattle. This gets Link to Paine Field, while keeping the main line relatively straight.

      2. Sure, why not?

        This is what Anandakos, dp and some of the others should be pushing instead.


      3. Well, why not have a spur continue east towards Mill Creek and Woodinville and integrate with other Link Lines eventually? Sort of like the Ballard-UW line continuing to Kirkland…

        I think D.P.’s assessment of viability is suspect. 1) Any major employer could fail or leave. We’re building EastLink to Microsoft’s front lawn yet they are not the dynamo they were in the 1990’s. (They still have plenty of potential) That is a risk we’ve already decided to take.

        2) Not all stations along a line are going to be contributing standing room only crowds on train lines. Nor are trains going to be crush loaded all day. Link does a good service for people wishing to go to the Seattle Stadiums. Yet, one of those stations is largely vacant most days of the week save for a few hundred County employees. Should we have not built the station or the line because of that?

        There is also this unspoken assumption it seems that no investment must benefit an area other than downtown Seattle. I think a line linking downtown Everett (where significant dense housing development potential exists) with its industrial area is overall a good investment. And rail lines and stations encourage density. They also free up many thousands of service hours to apply to buses to feed rail lines from less dense areas.

        We should want for the urban parts of Snohomish county to densify and provide for a possible future of life without dependency on cars. But if you don’t make the investment then the car will remain the mode of choice. There are 1.5 Million people coming to this area and a good chunk of them are going to end up in Snohomish County. Do you want them to use their cars or do you want them to have access to grade separated, frequent transit (rail)?

      4. More crayon-scrawled lines on a map. This is why we can’t have nice discussions.

        1) Indeed, any employer, industry, or entire sub-region could wither, fail, or leave. But no one but Boeing has made an entire business strategy of reaching for state handouts while actively and openly holding its workers’ future hostage, while shifting its workers between multiple sprawling plants with little transit amenability, and while never once until this present moment giving the slightest shit about the idea of non-automobile commuting.

        The Overlake area, though Microsoft-centric, now functions as an extended and layered mega-office park. It isn’t urban by any stretch, but it has proven to be well-serviceable from the existing transit center. It’s hardly the greatest node in our already-lackluster ST2 network — which is why attempts to justify a second line terminating there are insane — but it’s just good enough and multifaceted enough to remain viable for an extended period. If Microsoft gradually loses its clout, the area will suffer. But if Boeing picked up and moved to the Deep South, Paine Field becomes a ghost town overnight.

        2) Your stadium comparison is insane. The stadiums are 1,000 feet from downtown Seattle, and their station in question is directly on the way to anywhere southward. Paine Field is 23 miles north and not right on the way to anything! When a Boeing line goes unused 22 hours a day (and underused the remaining two), that’s just lighting resources on fire.

        3) Everett is a small city, and not in great shape. I hope it does better. I hope the regional influx helps it out. But it’s isn’t going to grow 74% (sorry, dumb ST mailer) and it’s not going to be the new migratory hotspot. It’s going to remain the kind of small city where high-capacity rail in, through, or from is just a nonsense investment.

        4) And speaking of nonsense… Mill Creek? Woodinville? What do I have to do to get it through your heads that you can’t just plop down $40 billion worth of map scrawls and suddenly have the world operating like this is Paris? Does nobody understand that BART has done this and it didn’t fucking work!? You want the half million or 1.5 million or 6 billion climate refugees or whatever future prediction is in vogue today to have congestion-free and transit-accessible lives? Then start figuring how to let those people live in places that don’t look like this and aren’t here. Your napkin maps and poo-pooing of buses will only make this worse.

      5. “Everett is a small city, and not in great shape. I hope it does better. I hope the regional influx helps it out. But it’s isn’t going to grow 74%.”

        There’s an interesting piece over on the Urbanist blog just this week looking at residential construction in Everett. Some nice projects are under way, but collectively they are nowhere close to meeting Everett’s growth targets (even at a time when the region as a whole is growing rather strongly).

        There’s a linked document from the City of Everett in the article. It asks how they can get to a 5x acceleration in growth (what it would take to meet their goals). Apparently, light rail is the answer.

      6. So the only thing that would convince 78,000 new people to live in Everett, would be the thing that allowed those same 78,000 people to get the hell out of there (very slowly) roughly 110 times per day?

        Yeah. Good luck with that.

      7. It is an objectively odd model to base development goals on the ability to get out of town (quickly or otherwise). We call those bedroom communities, but does Everett want to be a bedroom community for Seattle? Or even Paine Field?

        Bedroom communities, and suburbs generally, grow through proximity to regional economic centers, but Everett’s a long way from Seattle even with fast transit. Far enough that they’d seem to be better positioned to grow as a sort of Snohomish center. But that would require a completely different transit model (among other things).

      8. Dan, I hate to mention it but Everett Transit is the terminus for a lot of commuters & travelers to Seattle. Including quite a few from Skagit County and points beyond………

        Not to be argumentative. I like you.

      9. That’s exactly right. (there’s a Camano Island vanpool to my office in Factoria – I can’t even imagine that lifestyle).

        But just about everybody I know who’s commuted into Seattle from Snohomish county did so because that’s where they went to get the affordable house with the yard. There isn’t enough buildable land in Everett to do a whole lot more of that kind of growth.

      10. My thoughts on LINK in Snohomish county:

        * LINk should go further North than Lynnwood P&R. How far North is an open question. I feel extending to at least Ash Way should be a minimum. I’d support extending to Downtown Everett or even Everett Community College. I think the ridership potential is there to justify the expense.

        * Paine Field simply does not have the ridership potential to justify the extra cost or time penalty for serving with LINK. Good connecting bus service such as SWiFT routes can serve much the same purpose.

        * spur lines to Paine Feild are as d.p. says crayon lines on a map. There is simply no reason for this to be rail.

        * 99 should be the preferred alignment over I-5. Serving 99 should not be sacrificed in the name of travel time to Everett or to get further north in ST3.

      11. “does Everett want to be a bedroom community for Seattle?”

        I hope not. But we need to put these Seattle expresses into context. They look like a lot of people and seats, but they’re only a small fraction of the suburb’s population. Most people in Everett doubtless work in Snohomish County. And a significant number work in north Seattle, which does not fit the “downtown Seattle commuter” or “UW commuter” stereotype.

        And by the way, commuting by transit from south Snohomish to most of north Seatle is completely unfeasable now. There are no express buses to Northgate, and the plausable trips are 2- or 3-seat rides taking 1.5+ hours.

        “Or even Paine Field?”

        That makes much more sense. People can’t live in an industrial area, Everett is right adjacent, and Mukilteo is too small-town to allow that much growth.

      12. “But just about everybody I know who’s commuted into Seattle from Snohomish county did so because that’s where they went to get the affordable house with the yard. There isn’t enough buildable land in Everett to do a whole lot more of that kind of growth.”

        The traditional reason was a house and yard. But a growing reason is an affordable apartment. But, we’re not limited to the existing jobs. There will be more jobs in Snohomish County, and we should encourage that. We should also make sure those jobs are located near the main transit lines (meaning Swift, Swift II, 201/202, etc) rather than isolated office parks.

    2. A line primarily for workers commuting in shifts is not a good reason to spend money in light rail. I would recommend looking at DMU options and how to tie them into Link somewhere in Snohomish County, and perhaps continue further to connect other places.

      1. I would add that DMU could allow for single-track sections, would not need the electrical investment that light-rail requires, and could easily be designed for longer trains that could carry more riders per train than light rail. Those are all advantages to provide service to an employer who has major shift changes.

      2. Big problem with WES is that there isn’t enough by it to generate ridership. The trains are frequently single car.

        My thought would be to continue the line down the hill to Mukilteo on the existing Boeing track and do temporal separation of dirsel light rail and freight service. The ferry is every half hour. That is really easy to connect to with a transit schedule.

        It isn’t too much but it is more activity at the end of the line than provided by Paine Field alone.

    3. If by “branch or spur” you mean a line that continues to downtown Seattle, that would halve the frequency on the other branch. I don’t believe any branch should be lower than 10 minutes daytime, maybe possibly stretching it to 15 for Everett. But two branches at 10 minutes each makes for 20 minute headways on each branch, and that defeats the effectiveness of rapid transit, and makes it more into commuter rail where you have to base your life around a schedule.

      Better would be a timed transfer to a shuttle line for the other branch. Of course it would have to use the main track to get to the base, but that’s only twice a day. But I can’t imagine a shuttle line in lowish-density Everett. So it would most likely be a bus shuttle.

      1. You don’t need to run each branch at the same frequency. It might make sense to do that in the peak, but to run the branch to Paine Field at a lower frequncy than the main line off-peak.

      2. aw,

        If you do what you’re proposing with different headways then the frequency on the “primary” branch becomes erratic. There’s a gap in the service where the branch train would be if it hadn’t turned off.

        It’s far better to adopt the Princeton Jct. model and have a doodlebug to which one transfers (e.g. DMU’s) serve the branch. I like Glenn’s idea of extending it down to Mukilteo as well. You would need to branch just before the junction with the main line north of downtown Mulkilteo, bridge over it and add a track waterside to the station for the DMU’s if you want to use Euro stock rather than Budd RDC’s with a pretty skin.

        But a bus might work just as well……

      3. The problem is the bus routing. Something on the railroad could do the trip to the new ferry terminal in a very short time from the Boeing plant north of the airport and the Future of Flight. The road routes are more circuitous.

        I don’t think it would take that much new track with the new ferry terminal. Isn’t it right across the main line from the junction? If so you need maybe 100 feet of track, a platform, and an overhead walkway. Elevators would be expensive but not so much as new track, and you would want an overhead walkway to cross the main line anyway.

      4. The Boeing spur does originate from a third track to the hill side of the main line; that track does continue to just a bit south of the station and there’s room for a platform between it and the hillside, so your solution would certainly work.

        I’d be a bit concerned that the FRA would say that track might be entered by a freight train when the doodlebug was occupying it if one of the switches were set incorrectly so they’d want their crash resistance criteria to apply.

        With an turnout leading to an overpass to a waterside stub track there could be an electrically interlocked derail on the Boeing Spur track section between the turnout to the stub track and the turnout connecting the Boeing Spur to the hillside third track. And of course then the passengers wouldn’t have to cross the tracks on the skybridge.

        I’m not certain, though, that the stub track could descend to the main track level in the short distance available, so the platform might have to be elevated, making the avoidance of the skybridge a moot point.

        Grant that it’s a significant expense.

      5. I’m not sure how they handle the specifics of temporal separation, but there are enough other places that are doing this now (ie, New Jersey RiverLINE has light rail equipment and has after-hours freight service) that there must be a satisfacory lockout system that the FRA is willing to accept.

    4. Nathaniel says “Which do you think is more important to serve with light rail first?”
      A good question, and maybe the correct answer is neither.
      The application of truncating bus routes to serve Link is like night and day between the 3 spine segments originating in downtown Seattle.
      When Lynnwood Station is built 15 miles from DSTT, most buses will end there and make the transfer to Link.
      When East Link is finished, about as many bus riders will be forced to transfer to Link at Mercer Island, or South Bellevue P&R, MI is only 5 miles from Seattle. This would be like expecting all Snohomish bus commuters to transfer to Link at Roosevelt Stn – 5 miles from downtown. Paul would be howling.
      The south segment appears destined to never transfer a single rider to the spine if buses all the way to downtown arrive quicker significantly from Fed Way and Tacoma.
      Most riders I know get cranky being kicked out of their now warm seat, just when the high rises of downtown come into view just for the sake of filling the trains. Counting the transfer time penalty, offset by slower times on 2nd/4th, the trip time is about a push.

      1. “The south segment appears destined to never transfer a single rider to the spine if buses all the way to downtown arrive quicker significantly from Fed Way and Tacoma.”

        You can truncate off-peak buses at least. Link’s frequency will make up for its travel time. It’s only peak hours that the reasonable demand and political clout for faster-than-Link service is overwhelming.

      2. Oh wait, there is a faster-than-Link train already. It’s called Sounder. Sounder is 59 minutes Tacoma Dome – King Street. Link is estimated at 70-75 minutes Tacoma Dome – Westlake if I remember right, but that’s a longer one-seat ride, so we have to chop off 10 minutes for a fair comparison to Intl Dist. That’s actually comparable to Sounder if my estimate is right.

        But let’s assume for argument that Link is 10-15 minutes slower than Sounder. So, what will people at Tacoma Dome do? If Sounder is coming in 20 minutes and Link leaves every 5 minutes and Link is faster to board, then some people will divert to Link. Sounder is as fast as ST Express, so those who insist on traveling fastest can take sounder. Maybe some of the diverted-to-Link riders will leave enough room on Sounder for them, possibly enough to cancel the buses?

        Now, what will people in Lakewood do? Link is non-competitive there so they’ll take Sounder. Perhaps more space will be available on Sounder and ST can delete some express-bus runs.

        Then, what will people in Gig Harbor and other places do? Link is non-competitive, so they’ll continue taking their bus, which PT is partly funding. The Olympia route is an oddball and a pilot so I won’t address it. I don’t see any other Pierce County – downtown Seattle routes except the 578, which is its own separate issue. There is a Tacoma-UW route, aha! That’s where Link’s one-seat ride will be an advantage, especially with grade-separated routing between Intl Dist and UW.

      3. Once again, I lobby for a Boeing Access Road Station to collect South County riders and keep those buses out of the traffic on NB I-5 and Downtown.

      4. S. 133rd would be even better than BAR. The location is a bit further south and offers somewhat easier bus access. Furthermore there is an office park there and some land for possible TOD.

    5. “Having the main line deviate to Paine Field away from the current transit/commuting corridor would make Link much less useful for the bulk of people in Downtown/North Everett and places north & east, who are traveling to points south of Everett.”

      That’s the question. You may be right but it needs more discussion, not just on STB but in Snohomish County. Are there (or will there be) a large number of people in Everett going to Lynnwood or further south who would find the Payne Field deviation too much of a deterrent, and how does that compare to the number of people going to/from Payne Field?

      Earlier Anakandos mentioned the “10 minute” Payne Field penalty, compared to the 4 minute Aurora penalty that doomed that alternative. The difference is that the Aurora penalty affects all of Snohomish County, while the Payne Field penalty affects only those north of Lynnwood (both residents and non-residents). That’s beyond the Lynnwood P&R that represents the largest cunk of Link’s Snoho ridership. On the other hand, the deviation would be welcome to those going to Payne Field or transferring on 99, so that has to be considered too.

  6. Given the existing BRT infrastructure along highway 99, I wonder if we could have Sound Transit run an express bus service along the same route, using the same bus lanes and infrastructure, though with fewer stops than Swift (1/2 the stops) and Rapid Ride (1/3 the stops). The existing services would remain as frequent shadow services of the longer, faster running express route.

    It seems to me that something like this would be a heck of a lot more useful and reliable than the Sounder is now… and would be a much more useful way to provide service while the eventual rail options are being figured out.

    1. Rapid Ride E should be brought up to the same standards as SWIFT. Having ST take over BRT on the entire corridor would make a lot of sense.

  7. How much is Boeing willing to charge employees for parking?

    The same arguments were made to justify the Tasman extension in Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and Mountain View — a line to serve tens of thousands of workers (incidentally not on shifts). The result has been low ridership. A major factor is the lack of employee parking fees.

    1. Why would Boeing charge employees for parking? To score points in the STB comment section?

      They might think about charging employees for parking if they wanted to hire more people but their parking was already at capacity… or if they really needed to expand their manufacturing space and couldn’t find other suitable land. But then again they still might not do it even under severe land pressure. Most cube farm-type employers whose office sites are greatly limited by parking fully subsidize employee parking, including some with reputations for environmental leadership, some without reputations of providing lavish benefits otherwise, and some that spend a lot of money on other sorts of commute-trip reduction programs in order to avoid having to build more parking.

      1. Parking at the Everett plant is insane, and Boeing is enabling the insanity. You can provide incentives for carpooling and transit, but as long as you provide subsidized parking, most employees are going to drive.

    2. That’s the irony of the US: suburban land is so cheap that companies can afford to offer free parking and have sprawling campuses. That’s one reason why suburban businesses and houses are like that — the land is so cheap it can be literally thrown away like that — but the corollary is free parking there and that’s not going to change.

      1. If ST selects the Paine Field route, there should be an agreement between the County and City of Everett to reduce parking requirements in the Paine Field Industrial Center after Link opens, and allow employers to meet some of their parking requirement by instead funding shuttle bus or bikeshare services.

        The big payoff of constructing rail to the industrial center is allowing more land to be used for manufacturing, and less for storing employee’s cars. If the City, County or employers are unwilling to take advantage of the payoff, then if may not be worth it.

      2. Suburban land is cheap and it is the natural economic counter-weight to the cost of living in density. UberCapitalists and their Libertarian pets will say that it is the natural order of things to “create wealth” from land, hence we allow them to create sub-division after sub-division and destroy habitat with reckless abandon.

        I propose that we accept the notion that this is a region composed of micro-economies AND the regional economy not just a singular economic center surrounded by bedroom communities. If we provide 2 way all day/night transit to and from each urban center in the region and encourage density in those urban centers we can give people choices on how and where to live that can be more of a balance between their personal financial circumstances and where they live, play and work and at the same time, creates the needed environmental efficiencies that we are seeking with urbanism.

  8. Great interview. I agree with a lot of what he says, and I think he has a point. Continuing Link up I-5 is crazy. While he dismisses the idea of sending lots of buses to an I-5 station, I think it is essential for his plan. Or at least, essential for anything that would make sense in the area. If the idea is to get to Everett via light rail, then it is nuts to cut over and cut back. That will pretty much kill all through service, which will pretty much kill all service all together. You would still need to run those buses, because commuters will want a faster way to get from their park and ride (or their other bus) to Link. So you will keep running those buses, and you will gain nothing from a service standpoint. Meanwhile, from there to Everett, light rail riders would only get the folks that are doing inner Everett travel (e. g. from Cascade High School to downtown Everett). That is a very small number of people. You just don’t build inner city light rail line for a city of 100,000, especially one as dispersed as this one.

    So cutting over to 99, at some point, makes a lot of sense. That would integrate the system really well with Swift. But I don’t think he has made a case for going any further. I have no problem with “future proofing” the system, and doing the work necessary to keep going to Paine Field if it ever becomes a regional airport. But as the interviewer said, manufacturing jobs tend to be really spread out. He admits that the only way this will work is with bus to rail service. I agree. But you can do that by just ending the rail at 99. Airport Road has HOV lanes, and from there to just about anywhere north of there is a piece of cake. Someone transferring from Link spends an extra couple minutes on the bus over what they would have spent on the train (if that). Meanwhile, someone transferring from 99 would avoid a three seat ride, and thus suffer an even smaller time penalty.

    I happen to think that it is crazy that Link is already scheduled to go to Lynnwood along I-5. Mountlake Terrace would have made a great ending point (since it has an outstanding bus to rail interface). I’m not convinced that Link should go all the way to 128th before it cuts over to 99. But I do think it makes sense, if Link goes any further, that it cut over. Once it cuts over, I don’t think it should go any further. With the combination of Link, Swift and even competent regular bus service, Snohomish County will have outstanding public transit for the amount of population and employment it has (and distribution of both). Building more rail at that point seems like it would be really cost ineffective. I think you would be better simply improving Swift or improving regular bus service.

  9. Thanks you Paul Roberts for the interview. I’d like to see interviews with other ST boardmembers too. Our discussions usually revolve around our own speculations and ideas, ST’s documents, and conversations with ST staff. But on many of the issues we care about, ST staff can’t publicly express an opinion on and don’t have the authority to decide. So it would be good to learn more about the views of the people who do decide and can express opinions. For instance, are the Snohomish boardmembers 100% against cancelling Sounder North, or 80%, or 50%? I don’t mean to focus on Sounder North because we’ll hear tomorrow about it, but it’s an example of many issues we’re interested in, in all subareas.

    In many cases where ST is going in a different direction than we’d like, the question comes down to, could you (boardmember) foresee possibly changing your mind in the future? What factors are you looking for in deciding whether to reevaluate past decisions? The board’s decisions are well known, but could it be more transparent in its leanings on issues it hasn’t decided yet or that the public has asked for a reevaluation on, and what criteria it’s thinking about as it decides these?

    1. Great points Mike. I sure would like to hear more from Sound Transit Boardmembers….

  10. @ Martin H. Duke

    “There are a lot of opinions about what Sound Transit should do in Snohomish County, and (in our comment threads) precious few of those opinions actually come from there.”

    That’s because they read the comments from the nattering nabobs of negativism.

    1. You know that “nattering nabobs of negativism” was the first volley in the right-wing’s ongoing war against an open, inquisitive media that would be willing to question exceptionalism, triumphalism, and such objective disasters as right-wing foreign policy.

      You do know that, right? That the phrase expresses disdain for those who don’t toe the line to cheerlead destructing and stupid policies.

      Perhaps you should know that.

      1. Look, EVERYBODY here is objectively pro-transit, (whether we’re from Snohomish or not). We read and participate because we care about this stuff.

        It’s not negative to be skeptical of the more ambitious notions that get touted around here. These are objectively complicated problems we’re trying to solve. That’s particularly in places like Snohomish where the cost of high-quality solutions quickly outrun any foreseeable taxing authority, and we have to consider reasonable trade-offs.

        This isn’t about being on the “transit team”. I’ll go sit in the time-out box now.

      2. Good points Dan, there’s no time-out box for you.

        It’s the more tribal, negative, knee-jerk reactions about providing transit service to Paine Field I got a problem with. Your comment was none of the above.

  11. The first problem I see with trying to provide service to Paine Field is the place is a fortress. You can provide transit service to the circumference of the moat, but not through it. A station along 525 or 526 will be a station that served that spot only. The concept of a 1/2 mile walkshed just won’t work there.

    1. Indeed, you’ll have to have a bus network service the light rail trunk. Also there’s the problem of Paine Field being next to a high property value community that is close to the shore and has closed in/encroached on the airport.

      Basically: the good-wage jobs (and museums and flight schools) are there but there needs to be a high capacity link back to the homes & communities of the worker bees.

    2. Well, you could conceivably tunnel under it just as the Metro Blue line goes under the MSP airport.

  12. I’m impressed by Mr. Roberts’ analysis. It’s coherent and realistic and thoroughly thought out. And yet, it strikes me as trying to meet too many different goals with a single rail line.

    What does Snohomish really want?

    (1) Effective commuter service to Seattle and Bellevue.

    (2) Residential and business development along SR 99.

    (3) Economic development and transit around Paine Field.

    (4) Bus service to serve all the places that can’t be served by the rail alignment.

    The first suggests a simple route with few stops. But (2) adds four more stops. Then (3) adds yet another stop, and a couple of miles of track. Collectively (1)-(3) burn through so much money that (4) gets really hard.

    I don’t dislike any of these objectives, but I’m not sure the trade-offs are being addressed. I think what I hear from Mr. Roberts is “let’s take care of (2) and (3) and don’t worry about the impacts on (1) because the time penalty you bought by deviating off I-5 isn’t a big deal. And CT will pick up the slack on (4)”. I’m not sure I share his confidence.

    If getting to Everett is truly non-negotiable for ST3, maybe the better answer is to have LINK go to Everett on I-5, then plough the savings back into bus on SR-99 and Paine Field, and around the county more generally. A billion dollars buys a lot of buses.

    It pains me to say we should send rail up a freeway alignment when there’s a population center on SR 99. But there isn’t really a population center on SR 99 yet. It’s miles of strip malls separated from the highway by acres of under-used parking. It’s nowhere close to exhausting the capacity of the buses out there. It requires a lot of confidence in rail-driven development to say that SR 99 is a smart place to put a bunch of rail stations.

    1. Dan,

      I think the problem a lot of Snohomish County politicians have is they know the average voter isn’t going to vote for light rail to bypass the county’s main job creator, only to say they’ll put buses in via Community Transit – which will require another transit tax levy lift & subsequent public vote.

      I would rather haven seen a spur or DMUs or other alternatives seriously discussed earlier on. Perhaps there still is time to discuss them as I, for one, told the Sound Transit Long Range Plan folks & the Everett Herald, “I wish Sound Transit would not seemingly duplicate Community Transit’s Swift bus route but rather use the Boeing freeway and the Mukilteo Speedway (Highways 526 and 525).” Frustrated this seems to be the plan.

      Of course if I waited for the perfect ST3 package, I’d be waiting for a long time.

      1. All true.

        Within the universe of options that include a rail line to downtown Everett, I don’t hate what Paul Roberts is proposing. I think either the alternative I suggested, or what you describe, are likely to be somewhat better. We’re both proposing a more complete network than we’ll get by having Link be the one fix for everything that ails Snohomish transit.

        No question that rail to downtown Everett and Paine Field is more politically resonant than the alternatives.

        In this framework, CT will have a lot of work to do providing connections to the spine and around Snohomish, and I doubt that is on the radar for most Snohomish voters yet.

      2. Dan, I agree there is a lot of work ahead for CT. Especially as Link can help fix but not completely correct what ails Snohomish transit.

    2. I agree with your assessment, Dan. Joe sees one side of the problem, I see the other. Put it this way, if “getting to Everett is nonnegotiable”, we are in a lot of trouble. Light rail to Everett is simply not very cost effective. Hell, going as far as we’ve gone is not very cost effective. But after Lynnwood, and especially after Ash Way (164th) you really start getting diminishing returns. At that point, if you won the lottery, then yes, cut over to 99 (please). That gives you 99 and I-5 service (via Swift and express buses).

      From there, run buses to Boeing, and every other factory in there. You don’t really need to get any closer, because, as the subject of this interview said, we will need to run a “circulation process” (AKA buses) anyway. Which begs the question, how close do we need to go? Do we really have to get into the middle of it before we send out these buses? Can’t we run it from the outside? Looking at the map, I notice that Airport Road already has HOV lanes. Why can’t the buses run along there from Ash Way and I-5? Isn’t that the plan for Swift 2?

      Now we are back to Swift. Swift is a great system and we should leverage it. Maybe it does make sense to cut over. Maybe if you look at the cost of making Swift a really fast, frequent line, that it will only work if we spend hundreds of millions on ramps and overpasses close to the freeway. Maybe once you do that, you might as well have the train take the hard left, towards 99. Maybe, but I doubt it. But while I doubt going to 99 makes sense, I think it is extremely unlikely that it makes sense to go any further. Run buses from there. That should work.

      I would certainly investigate every opportunity to spend money on other things. Find every bus bottleneck, and see how much it would cost to fix it. As I said, Swift and Swift 2 are good systems, leverage them. Like Dan said, a billion will buy a lot of buses, and it will also buy a lot of road improvements. See how much fixing the 164/Ash Way bottleneck costs. Do the same for every other bottleneck. Build all that before going any further with Link. Do that before going to Ash Way and go to 99 before going to Everett. But if you reach 99, pause and realize that buses can probably take it from there to Paine/Boeing. Let’s hope you have some money left over for the ride.

      1. To all of that RossB, I say I sure wish we had an alternative along those lines presented by you coupling light rail with feeder buses.

    3. That’s a good question, Dan. What are Sound Transit’s goals north of Lynnwood? How well do the various Link alternatives address them, and how do bus alternatives compare?

      We can talk about perfect bus scenarios, but what matters is where ST is leaning and how far it can realistically be convinced otherwise. The Snohomish delegation has made its priorities very clear: #1 Link to Everett, #2 Payne Field deviation. They want this more than South King wants Federal Way, I think. They want it as much as Seattle wants Ballard, maybe. So that answers Dan’s other question: is Everett non-negotiable? That’s a 99% yes. All of ST’s public statements and the county’s public comments (subtracting the anti-transit ones) have emphasized that, and are essentially political promises that can’t be backed down from very easily. So, that raises other questions, like “Does that mean keeping Sounder North is only #3 priority?”

      In that light, there’s only one way ST might waiver from a full Everett/Payne extension: if it hits a financial ceiling, either because the legislature shrinks the request or later cost estimates are higher than anticipated. Then ST might propose a shorter phase toward Everett (164th, Payne, 128th), or even an all-bus alternative. But I don’t see those happening in other circumstances, so it’s somewhat useless to propose alternatives ST is unlikely to accept.

      But as for Highway 99, yes, Highway 99 is the best option everywhere. Northern Aurora, Pacific Highway, Highway 99/Evergreen Way in Snohomish. Even if it’s low density now, it has gigantic potential for infill later, which I-5 doesn’t have. So I have trouble with a “cost-saving” I-5 opttion just to get to Everett right away. Better to build a shorter extension toward 99.

      1. Mike, Link to Everett with the Paine Field deviation is $2.5 – $3.5 billion. What they actually have to play with is $1.6 bn by Martin’s calculation.

        And of course, they can’t go to downtown Everett and go back to Paine Field in a future round. Anyway, Paine Field isn’t that much more expensive than SR 99 without Paine.

        So, I don’t know how they square this. I assume they’ll shave every nickel they can by skipping stations and grade-separation where they can to land on the low end of the cost estimates. And they’ll beg the other areas to help (good luck with that).

        If Everett is non-negotiable, then Paine Field is probably outside the realm of possibility already. On the other hand, I think Paul Roberts might take Paine field over Everett if he were forced to make that choice. But in utility terms, that runs into the traffic patterns that Anandakos talked about.

        In political terms, I don’t know how it works. What do Snohomish voters think “Link to Everett” means? Does the north end of Paine field count?

      2. Dan, those costs are based on LRT. LRT is quite expensive and some would point out that it’s the wrong technology for rail transit in a low-density, free-parking corridor.

        It’s possible to bring the costs down with a DMU approach. A DMU system that has an end of line Link “central station” around a new urban center and major parking facility, a single-track DMU (with passing tracks) to Paine Field (maybe reaching Mukilteo as Glen suggests), and a single-track, short-segment DMU into Everett (maybe with the design to allow for adding a second track or creating extensions northward to Everett or South to Bellevue) may meet ST3 budget limitations, and give Snohomish voters something affordable to get excited about.

      3. For better or worse, I haven’t seen anything to indicate they are interested in commuter rail. Light rail is the expectation that has been set in Snohomish.

      4. Exactly Dan, and that’s the plan to get ST3 passed.

        I have my concerns about this. I’ve voiced my concerns but barring any last minute movement to oppose – and somehow I don’t see a guy calling himself D.P. as the leader of it – light rail to Everett by the 2030s is the plan for ST3.

      5. Al S., I’d be bonzai over that. But I don’t see Snohomish County settling for a DMU.

      6. Dan Ryan, DMU doesn’t neccessarily mean commuter rail. It might alternatively mean light rail vehicles running all day. If it’s single-tracked like Al S., that would limit frequency but it would be lower cost than an electrified double-tracked line.

      7. DMU is diesel. One of the goals of light rail is to migrate away from fossil fuels. Wire-powered vehicles have more options for clean power sources than self-powered vehicles. (Until solar panels on fast-moving vehicles become viable…) I can’t see Link’s power wire being more than 5% of its track cost, and electric motors are longer-lasting than diesel motors. So it’s not really light rail vs DMU, it’s light rail on a new guideway vs DMU on an existing track, where the difference in ROW cost dwarfs the difference in mode cost. So, Is this the BNSF track or another freight track to Payne? Or is this a new track? Does a new mainline track really cost that much less than a new Link track?

      8. Dan,

        I think there is a good chance Lynwood to Everett will be able to qualify for Federal grants in ST 3. This puts a 99 or even Paine Field alignment within the realm of possibility, especially as Snohomish County has the largest amount of unused funds of any sub-areafrom previous Sound Transit measures.

        Assuming the legislature gives the tax authority the cake Sound Transit is most likely to bake will include light rail all the way from Tacoma Dome Station to Everett Station.

        Expect some creative use of sub-area budgets and Federal grant applications to make the numbers work.

      9. Even if federal grants are available, they can’t be gotten until after ST3 is solidified, and really after it’s approved by voters. So if they build a speculative grant into the budget, they have to plan for reducing the project if the grant doesn’t come through.

      10. How would Lynnwood to Everett possibly qualify for federal endorsement and money?

        Between the fairly high price tag, the low overall ridership (even commuters, whom the feds still priority above all else), and most importantly, the nonexistent time savings over existing transit options along that same segment, this is exactly the kind of project that the federal algorithm implicitly rejects now that it is no longer skewed to favor very-long-distance rides.

      11. d.p.,

        High price compared to what? Based on other corridor studies in the region Lynnwood-Everett is relatively cheap. Remember this is about 14 miles of additional line.

        Low ridership compared to what? Again compared to all the other corridor studies the estimated ridership looks fairly good. I know you doubt the ridership estimates for suburban lines but I have nothing better than the ST estimates to go off of. On a cost per boarding basis Lynnwood-Everett is one of the better performing corridors studied.

        I didn’t look at riders per mile but I don’t doubt that Lynnwood-Everett blows away everything except Ballard-UW and Ballard-Downtown.

        As to travel time savings you are right. Though with the transfer penalty the I-5 and SR 99 segments may offer some savings at peak.

        To be honest I’m not entirely familiar with the FTA scoring algorithm. So I don’t know how the various factors are weighted. I do know there were supposedly changes to the scoring from when the routes for U-Link and Lynnwood Link were decided which de-emphasize travel time savings somewhat. In theory had the current algorithm been in place First Hill and SR 99 between Northgate and Lynnwood would not have needed to be sacrificed on the travel time altar in order to secure Federal funding.

        Lastly the fact that Northgate-Lynnwood was able to secure Federal funding makes me believe it is at least a possibility for Lynnwood-Everett.

        My initial feel is Lynnwood-Everett has the fourth best chance of any possible rail corridors in ST3. The only ones with a better chance are Ballard-UW, a second DSTT, and Ballard-Downtown. It certainly has a better chance at getting Federal funding than anything to the South or East of Seattle or even a Downtown-Alaska Junction line.

      12. High-priced compared to East Link, for starters, the entirety of which clocks in at $1.9 billion for a number of riders similar to the most straining of upper estimates for the Everett segment. East Link, notoriously, seemed destined to score so poorly under federal algorithms that ST didn’t even bother to apply. And here we’re looking at similar-to-much-higher costs.

        I’d also remind you that, unlike with East Link, Everett ridership estimates rely on a future growth target that nearly doubles Everett’s population, primarily “because light rail”. It’s a textbook tautology and an abject fantasy.

        The federal algorithm has always prioritized time savings for major high-capacity transit projects (i.e. not “small starts”). The difference is that, in the Bush era, savings were expressed in terms of passenger-minutes rather than in percentages, which of course prioritized very long suburban trip enablers rather than solutions to congested transit at urban distances. Similarly, costs were adjudicated more in terms of passenger miles than total patronage, sending supported projects to the higherlands along freeways rather than attempting to reach the places that large numbers of people actually needed to reach.

        These denials of logic and explicit “fuck yous” to Democratic-leaning urban constituencies have been mostly rectified in the Obama era.

        The algorithm still focuses excessively on “new” (read: rich, white) transit riders, which perversely punishes existing transit users (say, to First Hill) by dooming them to forever suffer whatever terrible transit exists today, but this bias can now be outweighed where ridership is inherently high and percentage time savings whopping (say, to First Hill).

        I have no doubt that Northgate-Lynnwood, at neither the urban or exurban extreme on any of the above metrics, scores exponentially better than Lynnwood-Everett for federal support. For starters, the former segment is half the length and much, much less costly. The ridership estimates, though perhaps dubious for their own reasons, are 20,000-30,000 higher. And with I-5 consistently backed up to crawl (including “express” lanes) well past Northgate, the time savings are quantifiable (if less whopping than on Northgate Link). Beyond Lynnwood, the savings are near-nonexistent.

      13. d.p.

        I was simply comparing Lynnwood to Everett to other corridor studies that Sound Transit has done recently. You are comparing cost and ridership in a FEIS to back of a the napkin corridor study where both ridership and cost are estimate ranges. I’m not sure comparisons are valid in corridor studies other than between alternatives in the study. They certainly can’t be compared to a completed FEIS with a FTA record of decision.

        East Link has a project budget of $3.1 billion in 2007 dollars. The estimates for Lynnwood-Everett are in 2014 dollars.

        Cost estimates for the entire Lynnwood to Everett project range (assuming LRT) from a low of $1.7 billion to a high of $3.4 billion.

        Ridership estimates are indeed closer to East Link (46,000) than I thought with a range of 32,000 to 51,000.

        I’m certainly no expert when it comes to FTA grants and assume ST will apply for grants when there is a good chance of getting them for a particular project.

        As I said earlier I think Lynnwood-Everett has the best chance of getting Federal funding after the 2 Ballard lines and a second DSTT. The numbers for LRT are certainly bad for Federal Way, Tacoma, and any of the east sub-area corridors studied.

        It may be for ST3 there simply isn’t the money to get to Everett even with an I-5 alignment. Certainly that is a likely outcome if the project can’t get Federal grants. We shall see.

        FWIW Sound Transit also decided to skip applying for Federal grants for Northgate Link. Arguably the 3rd most important segment in the entire system after the DSTT and U-Link.

      14. Chris, do you really think that Lynwood – Everett would be more likely to do well in an application for New Starts money than an East Link extension to Redmond? The latter would be fairly short with two stations, one with a large P&R that would attract lots of new riders and the other in an area that’s undergoing lots of new development and has a bunch of new apartment buildings adjacent.

      15. aw,

        Yes I do. The Redmond extension is $750 million in 2007 dollars for only 4000 or so daily boardings.

      16. Is East Link’s final tag $3.1 billion. I’ve found a whole bunch of citations for $2 billion even, and a few as high as $2.9 billion. None over $3 billion. It’s amazing that this shouldn’t be the easiest thing in the world to find on the cover page of ST’s project website.

        Regardless, even at $3.1 billion, the need for this primary lake crossing was inarguable, and the ridership is respectable if not blockbuster. And there wasn’t even the vaguest thought that it might qualify for federal money.

        Everett — no faster, no better, not inherently necessary, and with ballpark ridership predicated on laughable growth targets — won’t get dime one from the feds.

  13. Correct attribution above shows quality academic manners. Fact that you gotta be fifty to have any idea who Spiro Agnew was shows his quality as a political figure. And to know what “nattering” sounded like, you’d need to have been in political discussions with a cracker barrel for a chair.

    But the last time anybody from the Western world ever heard of a nabob was guys in red coats and pith helmets looking after the “Raj” in Ind-jya! and drinking pale ale. Though long after the days when nobody dared say anything negative about the Nabob while he was nattering.

    Spiro wouldn’t have made a worse one than the guy he served. Though to be fair, I don’t think anybody mentioned above ever expressed any idea whether or not light rail should go past Paine Field.


    1. Well, there’s The Nabob bar in LQA, conveniently located on the 3 and 4.

      These comment sections are bananas lately. Not good bananas.

      1. Thanks, Jason. You’re really absolutely right.

        Maybe the editors should limit number of comments to 50- though 30 might be better. But this would mean choosing between comments coming in- which could be impossible to do.

        Also personally wish editors would limit comment length too- as rules do for time at every public meeting I’ve ever attended. I never mind a gavel or a red pencil- really necessary for me. A sharp razor has less steel than a dull one.

        It really is a lot harder to write brief and sharp than long and dull- no matter how good the content. Books in the nineteenth century, especially fiction, took a huge amount of ink and paper. But “Dracula” was a 19th Century TV series- read around the fireplace to kids who thought the fire made it REALLY spooky.

        So Martin, give this a try: In addition to [OT], blank out commentary space with [EDIT] in red. Or: [PSP] for “Please Submit Posting.”

        But meantime, best thing is that if you still want to read past Comment 30, don’t do it really wanting to write anything. Seriously, use the time to write an article.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Sure, maybe Mark Dublin. I think a piece is needed to explain Paine Field’s challenges and opportunities.

  14. Before you do light rail, please do the following.

    Extend the HOV lanes from North everett to Smokey Point.
    Put in dedicated HOV lanes on Hwy 2 from everett to SR9.
    Swift 2 from Bothel to Boeing Everett with full hov lanes.
    Add frequent express commuting hours bus service on these routes.
    Build 12 or more park and rides to serve these routes.
    Engage Boeing to work together to make bus service cost and time effective.
    Note that boeing already has a shuttle system to get people around its campus’.

    Do all of this then start talking about light rail.

    1. What would you estimate the cost of doing that?

      Would you take away general purpose lanes, or build new ones?

  15. After checking the ST study results again, I am in favor of the Paine Field deviation.

    With Paine Field, travel time from downtown Everett to Westlake is 59 minutes. This is within the ball park of Sounder North and peak-period commute buses. And it is much shorter than the Link travel time from Tacoma.

    Rapid transit works best at stringing together a wide variety of all-day activity centers along a single line. Downtowns, hospitals, airports, industrial centers, urban villages, etc. Serving Paine Field or downtown Everett is the same sort of question as serving the U-District or Northgate from downtown. With buses, you have to choose (41 or 71/2/3). With grade-separated rail, you can align the route to do both – so each activity center is “along the way.” This route will serve downtown Everett-Paine Field demand, Lynnwood-Paine Field demand, Everett-Lynnwood demand, etc. A route straight up I-5 would get from downtown Everett to Seattle faster – but it would be much less useful for travel within Snohomish County – basically a single-purpose commuter express.

    1. With Paine Field, travel time from downtown Everett to Westlake is 59 minutes.

      Between the 32-35 mile route, the 20 stops, and Sound Transit’s signature needlessly-long dwell times, that seems… unlikely.

      You also correctly identify the idea of a unified corridor “stringing together” a variety of destinations as the primary driver of successful rapid transit. So… where exactly is that corridor in this proposal?

    2. That is ST’s estimate. 3 minutes from Westlake to Capitol Hill, 8 minutes from Westlake to UW, 12 minutes to U-District, 16 minutes to Northgate, 28 minutes to Lynnwood, and an hour to Everett (I don’t remember if ST said exactly 59 minutes but that sounds about right).

      By the way, that’s the same as ST Express. STEX is faster without traffic, slower with heavy traffic, but the average is about that.

      1. With Lynnwood equidistant from both cities, but with the Seattle half of the line nearly straight and the Everett half now containing a significant detour, and with the Everett half (bafflingly) containing more stops… I don’t see how that’s possible.

        And anyway, bi-directional HOV lanes past Lynnwood already exist and could be made permanently free-flowing with the stroke of a pen. So your traffic-slowed bus comparison is nil.

      2. Yes, that’s 59 minutes based on the original I-5 alternative. So 63 minutes with 99, which is still within the error range of STEX. And 69 minutes with Payne Field. That might give pause but I think not. Unlike Rainier Valley, the “10 minutes” affects only those north of Lynnwood (so no equivalent to SeaTac, Des Moines, and Federal Way), and some people would benefit from the deviation and favor it. It’s really for Everettites to decide, how much does this 10 minute penalty matter to them, when it doesn’t matter to Lynnwood or Mountlake Terrace.

      3. Well, that’s not what Chad tried to claim above.

        You do understand that that the demand for this thing, outside of the commute, is basically nonexistent? You do get that, right? It’s really important.

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