Last week ST released its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the light rail segment from Northgate to Lynnwood Transit Center, due to open in 2023. Mike Orr wrote up the Draft EIS two years ago (and an update here). The main difference is a formal preferred alternative, although it also refines estimates and describes mitigations in response to various public concerns.
As before, there are three segments. Segment A runs from Northgate to N 185th St. Segment B continues to just south of Lynnwood TC. Segment C is the terminus in Lynnwood. The “preferred alternative” is new since the DEIS, and contains ideas taken from many other alternatives. It has the following stations:
- N. 145th St., elevated with a 500-car garage
- N. 185th St., at-grade with a 500-car garage
- Mountlake Terrace, placed to the east of the existing transit parking garage and therefore quite a bit off the freeway, closer to the planned town center
- Lynnwood Transit Center, where the elevated train would take a very direct route and stop in the northeast corner of the parking lot, the choice closest to Lynnwood’s planned town center. This is the “modified C3” Lynnwood asked for, and arguably best in terms of placing the rail near future development.
There are also two “optional” stations: the much desired N. 130th St.($30-50m), and 220th St. SW ($50m)*, the latter west of I-5. The study says that 130th St. would largely cannibalize riders from 145th. If the study considered the likely faster bus access on 130th, a quick scan suggests it doesn’t say so except to acknowledge stakeholder comments to that effect. In fact, “I-5 access” is referenced as an advantage rather than an impediment.** It’s certainly interesting that the bubble chart above shows that 130th St. boardings overwhelm those on 145th when both are present.
At $730-840m, Segment A’s preferred alternative is cheaper than any other choice. It also projects 12,600 boardings and 13,000 with the 130th St. station. Only Option A-5 (130th, 155th, and 185th St) has more riders, 13,000, and at roughly $100m more in cost.
The Segment B PA is more expensive than most alternatives at $450-510m, and attracts 5,100 boardings (5,300 with 220th added). The added expense pulls the Mountlake Terrace station out of the freeway median, both improving the walkshed and avoiding disruption to bus service during construction. It also switches to the west side of I-5 [north of Mountlake Terrace] rather than running in the freeway median, more expensive but also preserving the option for a 220th Station.
Segment C’s PA is $340-380m and will draw 17,900 boardings, but 17,200 if the two optional stations slow the trip to Seattle. The cheaper options place the station further from future development.
Link should dramatically improve travel times to and from Seattle, although travelers from Lynnwood to Bellevue and Redmond should probably stick with buses on I-405:
Construction on the 8.5-mile extension will begin in 2018. The total cost of the preferred alternative is $1.5-1.7 billion to build, and roughly $16m annually for operations and maintenance. Unfortunately, the current capital budget is $1.322 billion*. If the financial picture hasn’t improved since they produced that figure in 2013, ST may look to reduce scope rather than add additional stations or features.
Within the basic parameters of I-5 alignment, the preferred alternative does a pretty good job of maximizing support for future development in Snohomish County. In Segment A, it’s consistent with Shoreline’s development plans, though not with effective bus service to stations.
* Figures found on page 5-13.
** Page 3-7: “However, the [145th] station would serve several populous neighborhoods in Seattle and Shoreline, and it would have convenient I-5 access. The NE 155th Street Station (A5 and A7) would also displace residences, and add a multistory garage in a mostly residential area, but would lack I-5 access adjacent to the station.”
185 Replies to “Sound Transit Releases Lynnwood Link FEIS”
With upwards of 24k people planned to live within blocks of 145th street’s station, ST’s model looks very commuter oriented as opposed to all day, everyday use. I can’t even take these numbers seriously. It looks like someone did a hack job to discredit other stations along this alignment.
I would take the 145th station more seriously , if Seattle planned to develop the golf course for a mixed income housing development. Otherwise it becomes the “golf course stop”, might as well allow golf cart boarding
Except the entrance to the golf course is on the complete opposite side of the park.
Where are 24,000 people going to live within walking distance of the 145th Street station? Do you know for certain that the golf course is going to be developed? And if you do know that, wouldn’t that also greatly increase the number of people within walking distance of 130th?
(Hint: “Yes, it would, though not to quite the same degree.” is the proper answer).
On another topic, I’m wondering what the plan for getting around the 117th Street bridge is. Does anybody know if the trackway will be squeezed in to the east of First NE or land between First and the freeway and then duck under the bridge? There’s some mighty tight geometry in that two or three blocks.
Seattle isn’t planning to nuke the golf course any time soon.
I highly doubt that ST’s forecasts include the proposed rezone of 145th.
It’s partially predicated on one, but not at all to the degree that the city is considering.
Is Sound Transit still using PSRC’s estimates? The ones that say Tacoma and Everett will double in population in the next 20 years and where Ballard has already surpassed their 2035 estimates?
If so then the findings of the EIS make sense. Otherwise I can’t make head nor tails of it.
I think Sound Transit is still using the utterly worthless PSRC estimates.
This is a serious problem.
…actually, if someone wants to sue to invalidate the FEIS (and I totally would do that if I were in the right position to), this is the weakest point and could probably be used to get the whole FEIS thrown out.
It seems clear to me, if it wasn’t before, that these people have never actually been to NE Seattle. A cursory look at the numbers tells me a few things about their assumptions as it pertains to the 130th St Station: first, they feel that only 1200 trips that would have used Northgate will go to 130th; second, only 500 trips that would have used a 130th St Station will not ride the train if it isn’t built (3400 more at 145th and 1200 at Northgate); third, only 300 trips that would have used a 145th St station if there were both would use 130th St if that was the only one; and fourth, no matter where they place the stations from 185th south there is basically no change in ridership (which seems on the face of it an attempt to make the numbers fit the decision rather than the other way around).
There are several, um, odd assumptions they make in those numbers. They apparently feel that almost nobody who would have caught the train at 145th (300) would make the arduous journey to 130th if that were the only station, but approximately 3400 would do the reverse despite having to travel 20 blocks in the wrong direction from the area’s population center (Lake City) and 15 from Bitter Lake. They must also believe that there are only around 1200 trips from Lake City since they only divert that number from Northgate to 130th despite nobody in their right mind from Lake City/Meadowbrook even considering traveling through Northgate if they can go via 130th. Assuming there is still a 522 in its current iteration, or via Roosevelt Station, they think only 500 people from Lake City (or less, since the figure does not differentiate travel from NE/NW Seattle or people just driving instead) would take it as opposed to backtracking to 145th.
The comment about freeway access is a non-sequitur at best and ludicrous at worst. What the hell does that have to do with the siting of a rail station? Are the buses that are going to serve this station then getting on the freeway for some bizarre reason? Are they expecting a ton of kiss-and-ride passengers to be dropped off while the drivers all then strangely get on the freeway? Are buses from the north going to use 145th as an intercept for some reason despite the fact that both Mountlake Terrace and Northgate would be better termini for that sort of thing (their own numbers don’t indicate that would happen)? Who cares if there is good access to the freeway as a reason to place a rail station there? I would think that the obverse is true—drivers are always going to favor 145th to access the freeway because there are both N and S-bound ramps there. Buses will always be caught in that mess because an auto driver has no other option to go north and will ALWAYS take 145th. 130th is superior for transit because—if nothing else—there is basically no northbound auto traffic on it. Cars can use 145th, buses can use 130th.
The comment on the 145th St station serving “several populous neighborhoods” in Seattle can only apply if there is no 130th St Station and even then is a stretch (unless you count golf courses, small private schools and a large cemetery…okay, you can count the cemetery as populous). Otherwise the statement is beneath comment.
Lake City should have its own station. It was supposed to 50 years ago. Since it will be another 30 years until it does, at best, it should be served as well as possible and that means 130th. This neighborhood is close in to both downtown and the UW, is still reasonably affordable and has a surfeit of developable land in its core. It is going to continue to grow rapidly and needs the transit to support that growth.
I agree on nearly everything, but I don’t buy any neighborhood’s argument any more about potential development, unless the zoning is actually approved. Ask the City to begin upzoning the developable land, in a more than minimalistic way, and those projection numbers could become significantly outdated.
Agreed. This should be as close to a requirement as possible when stations are sited.
Lake City, due to the nature of the populace (renters, low to mid income etc.) are somewhat less likely to go full NIMBY on re-zoning, although there will always be those folks out there/
NE 130th is not about a rezone. It is about bus connections. The area for growth is Lake City, from 125th to 145th. That is growing as we speak, and has grown considerably over the last few years. It is already zoned at a decent level, and already has more people than most parts of Seattle (and way more than any place in Lynnwood). Just look at the census maps and construction maps.
A station at 130th is an area that has some apartments, but has very little potential for growth. That is the only part of this that Sound Transit got right. If this was simply about the number of riders that would walk to the station, then only a few hundred sounds about right. There are parks and a lot of concrete nearby, so even with a rezone you would not see huge growth.. But again, I don’t care. I really don’t care if the neighborhood refuses to add apartment or duplex or townhouse in the area. What I care about is buses. The growth area I mentioned (greater Lake City) is also a hub. Look at a map and you can see that it is shaped like a bottleneck. You have numerous arterials to the south (Lake City Way, Ravenna, Sand Point Way) that funnel into that little section. Meanwhile, you have 522 which goes right through there from the north, with 104 funneling into it. The only way to cut across is 145th, 125th/130th and Northgate Way. But the transit station isn’t on Northgate Way — it is several turns away, making it very difficult to get there. The only logical connection points are via 145th and 125th.
Thus the area is both a hub and a destination. We need both 145th and 130th (while Northgate serves the neighborhood). There are just too many bus routes to funnel down streets that are too crowded right now (that will get a lot more crowded as buses and cars are funneled to Northgate and 145th). That is why you can have a bus map like this (https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=z-ZcpzpzqRA0.k6iH2FJatoUU) with lots of buses going through there, serving 145th, 130th and Northgate. It makes sense to allow Metro the opportunity to provide decent service and having those stations allows them to do so.
My comment (and I think Brent’s response) was regarding zoning and developable land availability in Lake City itself. I don’t think there will ever be more than a handful of developments immediately adjacent to the freeway, at least in my lifetime. Your comments re that are spot on.
Also don’t forget the development near Bitter Lake to the West. E/W buses along 130th and 145th can and should serve both neighborhoods.
@Scott — I agree. But compared to say, Roosevelt, the greater Lake City area starts out with much higher density, and is already zoned higher. There are some areas which could be zoned more aggressively, but the corridor is growing fairly rapidly. From 145th to 125th is one of the most populous areas north of the UW (and is growing). This extends out a bit to around 25th. It fades after that (there isn’t much around 20th) but then picks up again on 15th until a little past Roosevelt. East of the freeway (around Haller Lake) there isn’t much. This is probably the area that could most benefit most from a rezone. But then, as mentioned, the corridor picks up again big time as it reaches Aurora and continues all the way to Greenwood. Even in the few spots that lack people, you still have destinations — for example Ingraham is very poorly served by buses right now, and Northwest Hospital would benefit greatly from connecting bus service. Getting from Lake City to either location requires a very long walk or a convoluted bus ride.
Yes, I agree completely, Chris, that east/west buses along 130th and 145th should exist. But without stations in the middle, I doubt they will. Metro will be too busy making sure that bus routes serve the Link stations. I don’t blame them, but it means that the grid will suffer horribly. Getting from one side of the north end to the other will involve going up to 145th or to Northgate. That is very bad. Someone from Wedgewood trying to get to Bitter Lake would take a bus that goes up to Lake City, then back down to Northgate, then back up to Northgate Way, which then heads south again until Aurora, where the rider will then take a bus up Aurora. This is nuts. If you think I’m exaggerating, consider the outstanding map that David Lawson made (http://a.tiles.mapbox.com/v3/david-l.FNP-Type/page.html#13/47.6988/-122.3458) versus the thing I hacked together (https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=z-ZcpzpzqRA0.k6iH2FJatoUU). Now imagine the trip I described, or just about any east/west trip like that. For just about any trip, my route map is very direct, and very quick. While David’s (as great as it is) requires you to go way out of your way. By my calculations, it is about an extra 2.5 miles — much of it (of course) involving lot of turns on bad traffic. This is terrible, but it is what we will get without a station.
[To be fair to David and his map, his did not consider a station at 145th. There is no question he would have a bus route along there. But that still means a crazy alternative for folks trying to get from one side to the other. Either head south to Norhtgate or north to 145th. A station at 130th would draw in people from various places to the east and west, while providing a logical grid.]
I suppose it’s just Sound Transit stupidly privileging the tiny minority (8.3%) of the 6,000 station boardings they believe will come from the 500 Park & Riders?
That’s a fair point. Of course, not only does that statement then become “stupidly privileging” the minority of station users who will get to park in the garage (true), but implies that the freeway access is important to that garage…which ALSO implies that a large subset of the people using the garage are coming from far enough away that they need to take the freeway to get to the station. If that’s the ST assumption, of course, it puts paid completely to any argument that the station is for Seattle in the least–it’s just another station on the spine for the suburbs.
I generally like to think well of people (and by extension, organizations) as in my own career I’ve found that most are well-meaning if not always informed, but I’m having a difficult time with this one. I lived in that area for 40 years. I commuted to several different areas of the city during 20+ of those years, three of them without a car (in freaking Meadowbrook!). I know how one gets around that section of the city, where people avoid, and how long it takes to get from point A to point B via different routes. It seems as though most people who have posted here on this subject who know and have lived in the area have similar viewpoints.
By access to the freeway…. do they expect people to drive south from Snohomish county to fill the 145th street garage once the other garages are full? Clearly the only benefit the freeway connection provides is access for cars to the garage at 145th since there is no HOV connection there, but anyone who is going to take transit will want to get off I-5 as soon as they possibly can.
Why would anyone suffer through I-5 traffic just to get on a train further south when they could (presumably) just as easily catch an express bus from their starting point and switch at Lynnwood station?
Just to play devil’s advocate, I think the reasoning is based on the enormous stop spacing. So, for example, someone will drive along 175th, then head south, to 145th (instead of north to 185th). That seems a bit of a stretch, though, since it is almost always easier to head against the flow. It is a bizarre thing to mention, since so few people will ever take advantage of the “convenient access to I-5” in that way. One exception would be evening activities (e. g. ball game). I could easily see that — someone gets on the freeway, has no interest in dealing with parking downtown (or by the stadiums) so they park in park and ride and ride Link. During rush hour, it would be much easier to access 155th than 145th by the vast majority of folks that would drive there.
The curious thing is it contradicts ST’s own findings at Northgate station. Everyone assumed the P&R was filled with cars from Shoreline and all over — people coming from I-5. But it turned out that most cars came from east or west of the station (Maple Leaf, Licton Springs), and 3/4 of those residents who responded said they did not want to drive to the transit center; it’s just that feeder buses and bike routes and sidewalks were missing. They wanted ST2 to provide these things instead of a larger P&R.
Looking at 130th and 145th, do we see a similar mistake? Their primary driveshed is 120th to 165th, where I-5 is either irrelevant or almost irrelevant. (it’s hardly worth getting on for one exit — especially in that area which has a good street grid.) Some cars will come from Kenmore-ish but they’re not Link’s primary market and they’re not on I-5. People coming from I-5 are much more likely to park at Lynnwood or Mountlake Terrace or Northgate than here. So who are the I-5 drivers who will use these stations?
People do drive one exit on the freeway — I do it all the time. But we only do it when it makes sense. For example, to get from Lake City Way to 45th is a pretty straight shot and the surface alternatives are much worse. But the thing is, that isn’t the case with the Northgate station. Quite the opposite. I don’t think anyone would use the freeway to get to the Northgate station (except for the two years where it is the terminus). The station is not very close to the freeway ramps; you are better off using the surface streets if you are nearby, and if you are far away you will use a different station (further north).
The same is not true for 145th. So while they have an argument (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/04/07/sound-transit-releases-lynnwood-link-feis/#comment-609193) it is a weak one. I think in general your assessment is correct. Sound Transit is once again completely ignoring the importance (and desire) for good bus feeder service. What do you expect from an agency that somehow manged to forget to connect SR 520 (that has hundreds of buses on it) with Link.
Drivers don’t care if they are from the primary focus when they fill up the station. It won’t be I5 that fills up 145, its north Seattle from East and West of the Freeway. Its a new density forming at 155 and Aurora (Aurora Square/Central-Market) with 750 units and Lake Forest Park at Lake City Way and 145th with 1200 units and everyone from 205 South to 145th that will “find” the station, as well as Bothell Way from at least Kenmore. The graph shows 6500 daily boardings, ST is assuming 700 additional units in walking distance to the 145 station. The station has 500 spots and the surrounding 1/4 mile has another 350 spots (supposedly). Design the bus system to convert the missing 3000 boardings from excess single occupancy cars to wheeled buses? Yes it will be heavily rush hour based.
Home run for Scott.
Thanks–my shout should we ever meet. :)
I agree. I would like to know more about their methodology. For example, what do they assume will happen with the buses? This is critical, and not obvious. At first glance, it appears that a handful of re-routes are in order, while keeping the same basic structure. So, assuming that there is no 130th NE station for example, the 522 goes to 145th, while the 41 gets truncated at Northgate. Fair enough. Except that isn’t acceptable. One of the biggest stops on the 522 is Lake City. If you send those buses to 145th you lose a lot of service. That needs to be made up somewhere.
But that is just one of many problems with the bus re-route assumptions. One of the common ones (which I assume was applied here) was that routes would be modified as little as possible. But we’ve seen that Metro is willing to make some radical changes. The changes that have been proposed because of UW-Link are quite extensive, especially since light rail won’t reach the U-District. Plenty of people (myself included) assumed that Metro would wait for Northgate Link before trying to implement a grid system. But they are willing to do that now, which suggests a willingness to radically transform the bus system.
It is extremely difficult to come up with modeling numbers without knowing what the buses will do. My guess is they didn’t. My guess is these numbers are completely based on walkers and drivers. In which case, they are probably accurate. Those that are willing to drive to 130th will drive to 145th or Northgate. Meanwhile, very few people live close to 130th. So these numbers aren’t crazy from that perspective.
But a bus system that actually takes advantage of Link (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/03/15/north-seattle-bus-routes-after-lynnwood-link/) will have much higher ridership overall. Of course it will. If Metro kept running the 71/72/73/74/41 buses to downtown forever, then Link numbers would never be that great. But as they get truncated, numbers increase. If a major re-route occurs (alternative one) then the numbers increase greatly. That is why these numbers are so misleading. How can you possibly estimate the number of riders without knowing what the bus routes will be like? It seems to me that you can’t, which is why you either:
1) Punt, and just list the numbers based on walk-up riders and drivers.
2) Provide at least two different models. One for if buses try to maximize the use of Link, and one if they don’t.
It should be obvious that the highest ridership would come from a major bus re-route, but I see no indication that Sound Transit bothered to do that kind of analysis. That kind of analysis is a lot more involved — it means working with Metro and actually designing bus routes, then trying to figure out how that will lead to better ridership. They haven’t done that, which is why these numbers shouldn’t carry much weight.
Precisely, Ross. Unfortunately we’ve seen that far too often–the left hand not knowing or caring what the right one’s doing. And, unfortunately, we see even from a handful of commenters here that those numbers DO carry weight because they have the Imprimatur of Leadership.
Credit where credit is due–I agree that Metro has been out front recently in trying to come up with and implement some radical and necessary changes; more are needed but it’s a start. I believe that ST has managed the construction of the lines very well to date. There are obviously good people at both agencies (and at SDOT) who are trying to make things better.
The obvious problem to me is that both Metro and ST (much more ST, who is making the station siting decisions) have been acting in a vacuum since 1996. We still have little feeder activity to South End stations. We have stations like TIBS and Northgate, where a slight re-siting of the station to over the adjacent main road (Tukwila Int’l Blvd, N’gate Way) would have made for a seamless transfer from bus below to train above, but we chose to serve parking lots instead. We don’t have a transfer station or even provision for the possibility of one at 520 (I believe that the Husky Stadium one is necessary also, but 520 would have seemed to have been a no-brainer). We’re told that no real provision was made or even considered for a transfer opportunity at NE 45th despite crosstown transit numbers on that street for 20+ years being high enough to support rail. Thinking more outside the box, nobody made the mental connection that maybe a flat spot at First Hill might be a nice idea just in case a station made sense there someday (like now). These design decisions are no- or low-cost ones that are a fraction of what the system costs are but could have made immense positive impact on the region, but for whatever reason it seems that nobody at ST sat down with anyone at Metro and asked “how can you serve this station best, and if you can’t, where nearby would be a better place?”
We absolutely must insist that this sort of bad design stop now before it results in more poor interconnectivity. I have not seen many signs that the agencies have made this a priority. Yes, there is politics involved–there always are–but pushing good ideas through are what leaders do, and we have seen precious little of that on this vital issue Maybe some of them will scroll down this far….
I agree completely. That is it really. At some point someone will have a meeting to discuss a stop at NE 130th. My question for them would be this:
When you considered station placement, and generated ridership numbers, did you sit down with Metro to design bus routes that would maximize ridership?
I’m afraid we know the answer, which is why I think these numbers are flawed.
I’d dearly love to know how Sound Transit models bus access to rail stations. My best guess based on staring at too many studies an EIS documents is:
1. Truncation of ST Express Routes at the nearest station.
2. Minimal modification of other agency routing with the exception of truncating freeway segments made redundant by Link (41, CT Express routes).
3. Except when they don’t. The only way 185th gets the numbers ST is claiming is if all of the current busses serving the Shoreline P&R and Aurora Village TC are re-routed to serve the 185th station as well. This would primarily be RR E and SWIFT.
4. ST seems to make assumptions about being able to capture a majority of transit traffic over certain screen-lines such as the King/Snohomish county line without looking in detail at origins and destinations as well as routing. It does something similar for assuming it will capture a certain percentage of existing SOV drivers.
Again I’d love to know the actual methodology as I’m very curious where the “we pulled it out of our ass” feel of some of their estimates come from.
Case in point the incredibly high ridership numbers projected for Lynnwood and to a lesser extent Montlake Terrace, 185th, and 145th. At the other end of the scale the relatively low numbers for Downtown/Ballard and UW/Ballard. I don’t think this is simply an issue with the PSRC model and is missing some large hunks of potential ridership.
None of my comments above should infer that I’m not impressed with what Shoreline has been doing in their master planning process; they are at least attempting to upzone the areas around potential stations and should be applauded for doing so. They were the ones who wanted the 145th St station and I am certainly not opposed to that either, but I will fight for the idea that in Seattle’s best interest the 130th St station is necessary as well. To anyone who speaks of being Seattle-centric, this entire line in the north end is so suburban-centric that perhaps those folks forget where the votes and revenue (for the line as far north as 205th) are coming from. A Seattle-centric system would have had a line on Aurora and another on Lake City Way, which would have actually served Seattle neighborhoods instead of golf courses and interchanges.
I agree with both points. This really isn’t about whether 145th is better than 130th, or whether 155th is better than 145th. There really is only one very important issue:
We need to serve both the 145th and 125th/130th corridor. Those are the two connecting points to the hub and very populous area that is greater Lake City.
Beyond that, I don’t care that much. I know 155th would have less traffic, but that is about the only advantage. This seems like a fair trade-off, and Shoreline said they preferred 145th, so I’m fine with that.
But 130th is a different issue. Seattle is begging for this, and it would benefit everyone in the region. It really doesn’t do anyone any good if you have major bus bunching on 145th or Northgate (crammed in between hundreds of cars waiting to park in the park and ride). It is especially bad if the only solution is to send people to the other station. To me that is the difference. A station at 155th is a just a variation on a station at 145th. It just happens to be north a bit to avoid the freeway (as the current bus routes do). But the lack of a station at 130th is an omission. A major, system wide omission similar to the lack of a stop for 520. It will cost the entire region mobility, as buses spend way too much of their time going nowhere.
Don’t forget that 130th/145th also serve Bitter Lake as well.
I haven’t, Chris, but I failed to do so here. Here is a quick breakdown of some of the arguments: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/04/03/news-roundup-retiring-hiring/#comment-608126. To me the best set of arguments I’ve made are when I describe a possible route alignment: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/03/15/north-seattle-bus-routes-after-lynnwood-link/ If you look at the associated bus map (https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=z-ZcpzpzqRA0.k6iH2FJatoUU). It is pretty easy to see a ton of trip pairs that would be made a lot faster with that sort of a restructure. But much of it wouldn’t happen without the station. You could run a bus from Lake City to Bitter Lake, but not that many people would ride it. Making matters worse, you have to spend a ton of service hours getting people to Link. The NE 130th station solves both those problems — it saves service hours over the other stations, and enables a much better grid.
I think that is one of the things that is lost on a lot of people,. This station will make things better for everyone even if they never see the station. Why should be have crappy frequency, or kill bus routes because our buses spend way too much time in traffic along 145th and Northgate? That is just nuts.
“They apparently feel that almost nobody who would have caught the train at 145th (300) would make the arduous journey to 130th if that were the only station, but approximately 3400 would do the reverse despite having to travel 20 blocks in the wrong direction from the area’s population center (Lake City) and 15 from Bitter Lake.”
I’d love to see an article on ST’s ridership model some day. I don’t know they’ve ever shared enough for anybody to informedly second-guess what’s in it. But my impression on reading several of the corridor reports is that it estimates ridership by drawing half-mile circles around station locations and doesn’t consider whether it is sending people out of their way to get to a station.
This might be why it seems to be under-selling bus connections.
I also don’t see evidence that the model differentiates between riders who are next to the station and those on the outer edge of the circle. Hence the less than central locations they often come up with. If it’s within a half-mile, it’s good enough.
I think they consider both walk-up riders and drivers. Fair enough. That is a good baseline and it is by far the easiest to measure (draw the circle for the former and assume that a parking lot will be full for the latter). But by ignoring bus travel, they not only ignore the greatest source of riders outside the core (UW to downtown) but they ignore the effect on transit in general. That is glaringly missing, really. So, for example, they could have something like this:
The addition of a station at NE 130th along with subsequent restructures would improve overall transit ridership by 25% (assuming current funding models). Without the restructure, you would see an increase of 5% (based on saved service hours).
That, of course, requires much more complex modelling and perhaps consultation with Metro. Despite what folks say, this isn’t *that* kind of a report. It is not focused on ridership, but on other issues (neighborhood impact, etc.). It is, after all, an EIS.
But if it isn’t the kind of report that considers all that, they either shouldn’t talk about ridership at all or explicitly state “walk-up and drive-up riders.” Anything else is inherently deceptive.
Of course, Sound Transit is probably not legally allowed to consider hypothetical Metro service restructures in making their planning decisions, since it’s an independent agency that is beyond their control. Since no buses of any significance serve the 130th St. station site today, Sound Transit has to assume (as absurd as this may seem) that no buses of any significance ever will.
True the FTA does have rules on the sort of methodology used to estimate ridership. Even if that methodology has flaws Sound Transit is limited in its ability to consider factors neither allowed by the FTA nor required by NEPA and SEPA.
The EIS may not be allowed to, but the board certainly can. It can make a statement when it finalizes the alignment. 130th at least deserves a statement from the board recognizing its importance and saying they’re looking for funds for it. The board could also acknowledge there’s a valid question whether Lake City’s and Ballard’s population have increased substantially beyond than PSRC’s projections and that has implications for ridership and HCT needs, even if it’s not quantifiable enough for the EIS to cite it.
I once caught a model that had a walking “cliff” where it predicted no trips beyond 1/4 miles would be made by walking. It was Florida and the heat is discouraging, but I was regularly walking 3/4 mile to the train. it got fixed, but still predicted 3000 more daily trips with a 400m diversion to a transit center where people were daily making the walk between buses over the 800m length of the facility. This adds 4 turns, delay and conflict, noise, wear & eventual maintenance, etc… but that’s what the model said! divert the line so everything looks close together on a map, rather than purchase the intervening block to create a civilized transfer in a humane urban place with efficient transit operations. You win some, & others just wait for the ocean to rise.
The assumption that adding 2 stations would not significantly contribute to ridership is simply absurd, or an admission that they didn’t put forth a serious effort to engage with those scenarios. The placement of 220th station above the street, which already comes up a significant grade from the interurban trail and surrounding office park, is curious. They may be trying to avoid the cost of extending the bridge deck, but destroying walkability in the process. Driving through there you can see the potential for it to go under 220th. They should have studied (still can) going straight into the hillside at the Mountlake Terrace station and tunneling under I-5 to a point just north of Mountlake Terrace City Hall with an at grade station right after the portal like Bellevue. 220th is less important than 130th now, but it needs to be preserved. If we can’t build it now, at least get it right for a future station. ST3 should include a very early extension to Alderwood and this infill station. It would help South Snohomish tremendously. There are a lot of regional trips to nearby Swedish Hospital (over on Hwy 99) and premera has thousands of employees there. It’s actually denser there than downtown Lynnwood, The growth potential is smaller, but it isn’t insignificant. and if you watch the cars streaming out every PM you can see there will be demand for the station from the next phase north to Ash Way, Mariner and Everett. It has good connectivity to surrounding neighborhoods and into Edmonds. Unfortunately on that front, the missing SR 104 connection to Link is now written in the annals of seattle transit opportunities foregone.
Transportation models are awesome sophisticated tools. I have a lot of respect for and friendships with people who work on them. But always be skeptical. They make predictions based on assumptions. So the ruse is that they are a predictive tool, but in fact, they are a design tool. That actually turns out to be good, because humans have a very mixed record at predicting the future. When we make the effort, we can be incredibly good at design.
Fantastic comment; very well said.
145th Station will still have a strong purpose, but serving populous neighborhoods in Seattle is barely one of them. Yes, there are a few apartment complexes along 145th, for which ridership at the station will depend on the quality of bus connection (currently virtually nonexistent). But the cannibalization projections suggest the frequent bus service on 145th isn’t expected to happen if 130th is built.
The whole projection pattern, on all the alternatives, may depend on bus networking that is, for the most part, outside ST’s control. For 130th Station that is especially true, given that the population centers it would serve are outside of the station’s walkshed. Metro will need to ramp up service in far north Seattle, connecting to the stations. We’ll know within a couple months if Metro is bold enough to rationalize service hours to provide Link connections, and if Seattle will use its Prop 1 funds to backfill old service patterns in neighborhoods that already have Link stations, or use the funds to bridge the gap for neighborhoods that have a 6-8 year wait for their stations.
Thanks, Martin, for doing this post!
Yes, exactly. That is why these numbers are bullshit. Sorry, but unless Sound Transit sat down with Metro and designed bus routes to maximize Link ridership then these numbers are based on false assumptions. Metro is in the process of considering a couple different options. One is a radical change — the biggest change to routes that I can remember. Adoption of this proposal would mean a huge bump in Link ridership. This means their estimates (which did not include the re-route) are suddenly obsolete. But these changes pail in comparison to changes that will happen in the future. Alternative one still has express trips from the U-District, Roosevelt and Northgate that would most certainly go away.
The only way to accurately produce numbers is to actually sit down with Metro, and produce those numbers for those alternatives. Give Metro a list of possible stations, then figure out a route plan similar to alternative one (designed to use Link at its fullest) or alternative 2 (truncate only those routes that are redundant). That means different sets of numbers, which most certainly have not been produced. That is very complicated and expensive (of course) but it is how you get decent numbers.
Metro, in general, is unwilling to commit to restructures that far out and eliminated their long range planning a few years ago.
The net effect is that ST will build what it wants and tell Metro to figure it out. I’m not sure how to apportion the blame for that.
Right, exactly. But that is why putting faith in these numbers is nonsense. You could, of course, come up with alternatives (if Metro did this, you would have that, etc.) but they didn’t bother with that. I don’t blame them. That is a lot more costly. You have to do what Metro is doing right now (come up with bus lines that take advantage of Link) and then try and figure out ridership based on the different alternatives (which is tricky and I’m sure would involve far more complex modeling). As I said below (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/04/07/sound-transit-releases-lynnwood-link-feis/#comment-609274) this is a quick summary based on only two pieces of data (walk-up riders and drivers). If we do things right, then those riders will represent a small subset of the overall transit ridership (outside of the core). If we do things wrong, then hardly anyone will ride the train north of Northgate and overall ridership would suffer.
This is pretty much what I’ve been hearing — that the new ridership estimates would show that adding the 130th St station would add “much less” than the original estimate of 500 riders at a cost of about $40M. Spending that kind of money for no gain in net system ridership will be a very hard sell.
Take the money and spend it on the Northgate Ped Bridge instead….it’s bound to be both cheaper and have a larger impact on ridership.
And what I’ve pretty much been saying before is that I do not believe a single word or digit of any of these ridership estimates. Sound Transit’s estimation department has consistently failed to consider bus transfers. When you take those out, yes, their numbers make sense – but transfers would be the overwhelming majority of the station’s ridership.
Build 130th Station now!
Well….if you “do not believe a single word or digit” of the data, nor of the agency tasked with producing the data, then what do you propose should be used to guide the region when designing LR?
Should we place stations based solely on belief and feelings? Should we call in ex-Monorail experts to develop a better set of data? Should we call in an expert in haruspicy?
Because barring a better method I think we are basically stuck following this data.
Ideally, we model a bus system around the station options and get new data which includes bus ridership and transfers, as well as development changes. That’s a difficult task, indeed, but ignoring it doesn’t make things better any more than ignoring any social problem makes it go away. But Sound Transit’s current model doesn’t even pretend to follow this.
Suppose that, for some strange reason, Sound Transit’s modeling pretended the University of Washington didn’t exist. We here on this blog could point out their models are wrong, and they should put a station somewhere around the Hub or the UW Medical Center, and we’d be improving the system even though we didn’t have any actual data – because Sound Transit wouldn’t have any correct data either; they’d only have data so incomplete as to be incorrect. The current situation is similar: Sound Transit does not have correct data; they have incomplete data which pretends bus transfers don’t exist. So we’re correcting them even though we don’t have any complete data either. No one does, but we’re at least identifying the factors which need to go into the data and eyeballing what they are.
“If the study considered the likely faster bus access on 130th, a quick scan suggests it doesn’t say so except to acknowledge stakeholder comments to that effect.”
I was one of those commenters, and I made that comment EVERY time I visited an ST Open House. We have known stakeholders, who live on the north end (STasked for an address on their comment slips) and who care enough about transit to ACTUALLY attend and comment on it.
To only acknowledge stakeholder comments then put together some estimated stop use number is almost like saying “who are you going to believe? Me or your own lying eyes?”
That is another key piece of information. We have been arguing that Sound Transit ignored bus data. This is almost certainly true. But let’s assume that they did consider feeder buses. As mentioned, there is no evidence whatsoever that they considered the fact that getting from Lake City to the Northgate Transit Center take a lot longer than getting from Lake City to NE 130th. They didn’t even study it.
Did you follow that Lazurus? That is key. Without that little fact, you can’t possibly come up with an accurate assumption. Basically, we are arguing the following:
1) Some buses will travel to NE 130th instead of the Northgate Transit Center.
2) Those buses will travel much faster.
3) That increase in speed will result in more ridership, which will be quantified.
[There are a lot of other reasons that ridership will increase, but let’s just pause there.]
So, without even studying the time difference (2), there is no number (3). This is just a flawed report. How can you possibly defend it when it has such obvious flaws?
Any study will have “obvious flaws.” They can’t obviously consider everything, even if it were possible to know the bus network in 2035 with certainty. It obviously systematically considered some ridership factors and didn’t consider others. That doesn’t mean you declare it flawed and throw it in the garbage, and return to internet speculation as the basis for decision.
Instead, you use it as the start of an informed conversation, not the end. Understand what the study considers and what it doesn’t, and decide what stations to build based on that information and what you value. I agree that it would be better if Metro had fixed policies for rail integration that allowed the FEIS staff to project the network in 2035, but this is still a better estimation of the alternatives than anything that existed previously.
No, Martin. This is a decent estimate of the walk-up passengers generated by the alternatives. Unfortunately, it’s titled as an estimate of the total passengers. If it’s taken into the conversation as what it actually is, great – but it it’s taken as what it’s titled as, it’ll horrendously bias the conversation.
It’s all in the baseline, and from what I can tell ST followed pretty much standard industry practice in selecting theirs. There is nothing new or unusual in what they did — pretty standard industry protocol.
Ya, you can postulate all sorts of crazy “adjuncts” to add to the baseline to skew the data in whatever way you want, but as near as I can tell what ST generated here was pretty close to a “clean” report.
And if you want to start adding service and infrastructure to skew the results, then lets improve access to the Northgate station. There is infinitely more potential in the vicinity of the Northgate station than there is at 130 St.
… what do you propose should be used to guide the region when designing LR?
Ideally we ask Sound Transit to consider the bus routes, as William suggested. This report is so obviously flawed, that if ridership was a key element for the environmental impact of the route, we could make a legal appeal to make them do it again. But what is the point of that, really.
There is a lot of good information in here, that is of use to the agency. The engineering challenges, for example, are valid and important. But the ridership estimates obviously lack important data (such as bus ridership). So, lacking that, we should simply follow obvious stop spacing to maximize bus ridership. I’m not saying that we should ignore all the data, but override it when there is an obvious flaw (like this) and the effect could be huge (like this). No is proposing that we abandon the whole report, but that we add a station that is so obviously of use to bus riders it is crazy that it was not part of the original plan.
I support 130th too; I don’t see any reason not to appeal to the ST Board to include it for the reasons you describe. And really the thing to hope for is that improving revenue projections allow us to afford 130th. We know that Seattle is behind it, which matters.
Given the projected ridership for Lynnwood, Montlake Terrace, 185th and 145th there is no way those stations are going to generate that kind of ridership based simply on walk-up and P&R passengers. The half mile walk circles don’t have the density and the P&R lots don’t have the parking spaces.
To get those ridership projections Sound Transit has to be relying on transfers from buses. The key question here is what assumptions are they using for their bus transfer model and why it breaks for situations like 130th.
@Martin — Fair enough, but that is not what lazarus is proposing.lazarus is suggesting that we should assume that these numbers have been studied sufficiently, and thus should be the only consideration for building a station there. I have no problem with much of the report, but you and lazarus are building a strawman if you think we should throw away the whole report and just go with our gut.
This is the way I look at it. Hire a dozen outside consultants. Have them look at a map with census data, bus routes and traffic patterns. Study how long it takes a bus to get to the Northgate Transit Center or 145th and the freeway. Now tell them that a train station will be added at both those spots, and that big park and rides will exist there as well. Have them look at the existing zoning regulations within the city, but especially within this region. Then have them look at construction data (where the new buildings are being built). Now, after all that, ask them a simple question:
For the money we are talking about, does it make sense to add a station at NE 130th?
I guarantee you 100% of the people will answer “Yes”. I would bet a bunch of them would explain why. They might begin asking other questions (“Why isn’t there a station at First Hill or why isn’t there a station where the light rail line intersects 520”) but you can ignore those. The point is, this is so obviously a good station that it boggles the mind that folks can ignore it, or claim otherwise based on data that is so obviously incomplete.
There is little to nothing that can be done to improve access to the Northgate station from either Lake Ciry or Bitter Lake for the same cost as the 130th station.
Northgate Station is in a horrible location for rapid access from the NE and NW. The freeway interchange, big box stores, P&R, and mall traffic doom any bus coming from North of the station to a slow plodding and painful trip.
The data shows that for about $40M the 130th St Station generates effectively zero (0) net riders for the system. Why on earth should we expect our elected officials to spend that sort of money for exactly zero benefit? The answer is that we shouldn’t.
But $40M in access improvements for Northgate Station? That will at least get you the ped bridge to North Seattle College, and that will generate more new riders than the 130th St Station ever will. And maybe there will be enough left over for some dedicated bus lanes or signal priority.
Get over it. The data shows that there is no net benefit to a station at 130th St. There are other places that that money could be better spent. Even elsewhere in the north King subarea for example..
Have we forgotten that this $40M could just as well be spent south of downtown too? ST2 and the north king sub area are not synonymous with the postage stamp sized area of north seattle that you guys seem to focus on. Expand your focus.
What the data shows, Guy Whose Dumb Notions Keep Rising From The Debunked Dead, is that if given a choice between 145th and 130th, everyone chooses 130th. It’s a better stop, with better access, for many more people. Period.
You’d have to be out of your mind to intentionally locate the (only) stop where even your own hostile read on the data say everyone would rather not go! You’d have to be doubly insane to think that the better-preferred location would have no accrued long-term ridership benefits beyond those shown by slapdash base model!
Lazarus, for the umpteenth time, the data is wrong. We’ve explained why. Can you present any case in defense of it, besides an appeal to Sound Transit’s alleged authority?
Also, when I say it is flawed, I mean it is flawed in a major way. We are talking “Let’s go invade Iraq” kind of flawed, not “building the 99 tunnel will be easy” flawed. For example:
1) They didn’t consider the effect that a re-route of Metro buses would have on Link ridership.
2) They did not consider the effect such a re-route would do to overall transit ridership.
3) They did not acknowledge that traveling to 130th is substantially faster than going to Northgate.
4) They never considered the service hour savings as a result of that.
5) They never considered the ridership increase if that savings are then applied to transit or other projects (such as the bridge you want so bad, Lazurus).
None of these are minor flaws. They are huge, and any one of them could probably justify the creation of this stop. For example, Metro might save enough money (by having fewer buses stuck going to Northgate) to make up for the station itself (it isn’t that expensive). But they never studied that. Feel free to just blow that off (“Oh well, no report is perfect, lots of reports are similar”) but this is huge, and will have a huge impact on overall ridership. Why on earth would you base a decision on the very things that are likely to increase ridership. That is like studying the bridge, but then saying that it won’t increase ridership because not that many people live on the other side. This is true, but only half the story (there is a college over there as well as offices). You can’t ignore the biggest piece of data (a potential re-route based on Link stations) and then turn around and say the report is just fine.
And again, no matter how bad the inputs used, the report still couldn’t sweep under the rug that, given a neutral choice of stations (and no other significant improvements), everyone still chooses 130th over 145th!
It is fucking crazycakes that anyone wants to build in the worse location only, lest the better location “cannibalize it” by not sucking quite as much!
With a $200 million hole in the Lynnwood Link budget, there is no money to take from 130th to fund the Northgate Bike Bridge. Both projects will depend on some matching funds in the City’s Moving Seattle Forward levy, and on being included in the ST3 capital project list.
I think our best hope is to make construction of both contingent on passage of ST3.
Building light rail to Lynnwood for 1-2 fairly dumb P&R station sites depends on a Seattle taxpayer levy? Are you joking? That makes me want to vote against it.
No, more like putting in one or two elements actually useful to Seattle into the Lynnwood P&R straight-shot depends on a Seattle taxpayer levy.
I thought Sound Transit was going to ask for Federal grants for Lynnwood Link. Or is the $200 million hole after Federal grants?
If there’s a hole in the budget, maybe they can defer 145th Station? :) It will probably be the least-used and least-missed station in the ST1&2 network. Maybe in a few years the board will be more favorable to 130th before of 145th.
There are some really low ridership stations in the full ST2 network, especially in South and East King.
There is a Republican Congress, which means no Federal grants. Listen to Republicans talk, you’d think any dollar spent on anything remotely transit-related is a dollar flushed down the toilet.
I believe at one time Sound Transit may have planned on applying for Federal grants for Lynnwood Link. Supposedly one of the reasons Sound Transit didn’t apply for Federal grants for Northgate Link (other than not so great scoring using FTA criteria) was to improver the chances of getting grants for Lynnwood Link. Unfortunately the political landscape shifted in the mean time.
Hopefully Sound Transit is able to find $200 million somewhere or to “value engineer” it without dumbing things down too much. Deferring a garage or three would seem like a good place to start.
Yes, I’m sure we can come up with more cost-saving measures to help ST out. 145th, garages, …
I also wonder if we should just let the 522 off the hook south of 145th after Link opens and have Metro take over that area. That doesn’t necessarily mean 41 hell if Metro does it right. I don’t believe a one-seat ride from Lake City to Bothell is strictly necessary as long as the transfer is good.
OK, lazurus, do you know the answer to the following question:
When Sound Transit considered station placement, and generated ridership numbers, did they sit down with Metro to design bus routes that would maximize ridership?
If so, why are we only being presented one set of numbers? Metro is in the process of deciding between two different plans that will have an enormous impact on Link ridership. These changes are minor compared to those that could occur as Link gets to Lynnwood. So given that, why didn’t Link produce two sets of numbers — one for an “alternative one” type proposal (a bus route restructure that was dramatic) versus an “alternative two” type proposal (that had a minimum of restructuring).
The obvious reason is they never did any of this work. I see nothing in the documentation that suggests otherwise. This is simply a very rough estimate that ignores the impact that a good bus system could have on Link ridership. Without considering that, it is a flawed estimate.
As folks have said over and over, these estimates are flawed, because they never considered a restructure of bus routes that would come as a result. But putting that aside for a second. Let’s assume you are right. Increased Link ridership is not the only reason to build Link.
The other, obvious reason is that it saves service hours for our bus system. For example, if you believe that adding a station at NE 130th won’t increase ridership, then you would obviously conclude that a Lynnwood station would probably not increase ridership over a Mountlake Terrace station. After all, the time penalty is actually less. An express bus from Lynnwood can get to Mountlake Terrace just about as fast as Link can. But a bus on Lake City will take a lot longer to get to Northgate Transit Center (instead of 130th). So, one would obviously conclude that almost any increase in ridership to Lynnwood Link is simply cannibalizing from Mountlake Terrace. So, one could conclude that extending Link beyond Mountlake Terrace (something that is many times more expensive than a station) is a complete waste of money.
But again, that is only if you consider ridership on Link. But if you consider service hours saved, it is a different story. Snohomish County will now be able to save a considerable amount of money by not having their buses spend nearly as much time on the freeway. This enables the agency to run buses more often, or on more routes, which creates a virtuous cycle or increased ridership. Whether the overall transit ridership increase (not just Link ridership increase) is worth the money or not is hard to say. Extending Link to Lynnwood is very expensive.
But adding in a station at NE 130th is not. I have no doubt that in service hours alone there would be sufficient savings.
In summary, show me the report that says that overall transit ridership will only increase a few hundred riders if a station is added at NE 130th and Metro restructures in accordance with that station. You can’t show me that report, because no one has written it. So you basically are being given half a report, and saying we should base our decisions on that half. Sorry, but that is ridiculous.
Lacking overwhelming data to the contrary (and this is not overwhelming data for the reasons I mentioned — and I could mention more) we should simply apply common, well tested transit principles. This would mean stop spacing intended to maximize ridership and maximize feeder buses. This would mean a stop at NE 130th.
I’d have to agree with many of the posters here. Let’s not obsess about the ridership numbers. There are so many factors that could pull it in a number of directions. They really should be stated as ranges, and at least ST is putting them out in rounded numbers. These models were calibrated to 2000 household survey data, outdated land use forecasts that don’t reflect market realities, and questionable assumptions about park-and-ride capacity, supporting bus networks and artificially generated travel time estimates even in HOV lanes. The forecasts are strictly for documentation that the impacts have been studied. So let’s not obsess over a little wobbly difference between alternatives.
I agree. This is an EIS, not a thorough assessment of station alternatives. Sound Transit shouldn’t treat like it is.
The lot southwest of 220th St SW and I-5 has a big grassy field. Is that sufficient open space to qualify it for a light rail station?
That land belongs to a developer, and it seems likely that it will become some sort of apartment complex. It is the site of what used to be an Edmonds School District elementary school, but they demolished the building some time back and then sold the land a few months ago.
There’s a 220th station alternative that uses some of this land in its design, as well as another 220th station alternative which is built on the WSDOT right of way.
I find it astounding that these stations cost so much to build. The new Amtrak station at Oregon City cost something like $3 million, and it was about $1 million for the part that was a platform and shelter. The expensive part was packing up and moving the historic old station to the site a few years after the platform was built.
Cutting corners irresponsibly can be problematic, but light rail is supposed to be less expensive than full blown metro style construction. It would be interesting to see just what that $30-$50 million is buying.
Here’s an example project:
TriMet complete reconstruction of the Rockwood MAX station, including street redesign, parking reorganization and construction, and giant spiky thingies on the roof of the station:
It was paid for by $3 million from the State of Oregon and $1.95 from the city of Gresham.
Do elevators to street level really add $25 million?
“Do elevators to street level really add $25 million?”
It has to with our soils or something…
The rain is wetter here.
Have you seen our Link stations? They are absolutely massive. I’m pretty sure Roosevelt station will be one of the world’s largest subway stations when it’s complete. Why an underground station needs so much above ground space, I have no idea.
I think the yellow platform strip is painted with gold. Or maybe the elevator buttons are embedded with diamonds.
I’ve seen the Link stations, and used maybe half of them. I would expect the hulking Washington Metro like thing at TIBS to be expensive. The ground level thing at Stadium?
130th is supposed to be in an alignment on the ground. So I would hope to see something like this:
only with elevators instead of a ramp.
It’s only “on the ground” in the sense that it’s not exactly elevated. Any station in the freeway median is going to be closer in design complexity to TIBS than anything along MLK.
The station in the URL I provided is right next to a freeway and elevated above the parallel road. It’s not ideal (no elevator, it has a ramp) but it sure doesn’t seem like a $40 million station.
Should be about $1 million / elevator (very roughly), maybe $2 million. Yes, this seems grossly overpriced.
This admits that 130th is better than 145th without realizing it.
I would still hold that adding 130th would be better than what this study suggests — but if you can only have one, its clear that it should be 130th.
Their figures seem to admit as much, that 130th would be more productive. But for some reason 145th cannot be called into question. So instead of asking the right question, “Which station is better, or should we have both?” the question seems to be “Since we’re doing 145th no matter what, can we justify the marginal expense of 130th?” Their answer seems to be that they think one station with 6,000 riders is better than two stations with 7,700.
Yeah, I wonder on the costs too. Could you do 130th without a 500 car lot (I don’t’ think the city would allow a lot anyways)? Wouldn’t that make it a lot cheaper than 145th?
If you can believe the numbers, replacing 145th with 155th drops system ridership by 500. 155th doesn’t have neighborhood support once the topic of TOD is brought up, so I’m feeling confident 145th is a done deal.
Speaking of TOD, I bet the numbers for 145th come out even better if the parking garage is replaced by TOD and a few stalls for vanpools. Those SOV parking stalls are cannibalizing ST 522 ridership, not just by turning bus trips into slightly faster car trips, but also by inflicting a frequency death spiral on the remaining 522 ridership.
Death spiral? The 522 and 372 are overcrowded in the peak and shoulder periods. They’re not going to run out of riders anytime soon. Ridership is anemic evenings and weekends, but the 522 has always been like that.
A lot of those current 372 and 522 riders would stay on the 372 (which would probably be truncated in the long run), or switch to other local routes accessing 130th, Northgate, or Roosevelt Station. Doesn’t the 522 tend to empty out, by at least half, in Lake City headed northbound?
It won’t be a death spiral, but if this goes in as planned, then it will be terrible. The combination is ridiculous. 145th and Northgate are already crowed right now, without additional buses or cars. But the bigger parking lot (and Link) will send a lot more people to 145th. Meanwhile, the buses will go to either 145th or Northgate, which means the traffic along there will be ridiculous.
I think eventually the 130th station will be built — it is just a matter of time. I don’t think folks stuck in traffic on 145th or Northgate will put up without it. But you might as well build it when Lynnwood Link opens, instead of waiting until everything becomes terrible before folks realize how necessary this is.
I doubt anybody on the ST board is against 130th station or thinks it’s unimportant. 130th dominated the public feedback on the Lynnwood Link extension. The only comparable issue was a 500-person petition regarding one of the Lynnwood Station alternatives. The city council and mayor unanimously endorsed it, and that meant all the Seattle ST boardmembers. The problem is that some suburban boardmembers don’t want to do anything that might delay getting the Everett and Tacoma extensions built, because they believe that’s Link’s primary mandate and justification (a full Everett/Tacoma/Redmond system). The ST planner at the meetup alluded to it: “Every extra dollar spent on ST2 is a dollar not available for ST3.” Meaning it affects ST3’s carryover fund balance, bond rate, and fallback if the legislature sets a low tax cap. That’s what we’re up against. It’s not that the board doesn’t believe a Lake City – Bitter Lake feeder wouldn’t be heavily used and popular and increase transit usage. It’s that they don’t want anything to get in the way of Everett and Tacoma, and that doesn’t mean travel time but construction schedule.
Of course that’s ironic in light of one Lake City commentator, who said some Lake City residents would be less inclined to vote for ST3 if neither ST2 nor 3 includes 130th Station. So you add some votes and subtract other votes. That’s where our leverage is, what leverage we have.
I don’t quite follow your logic because the 130th St. station belongs to a different sub-area. Unless the intention is to completely violate sub-area equity and have Seattle pay for Link to Everett in ST 3, spending North King money on a 130th St. station would have absolutely no impact on the funds available for a future extension to Everett.
And, even if it did, the cost of the 130th St. Station compared to the cost of extending Link to Everett is negligible.
I don’t quite follow the logic either but it seems to be why the board is having trouble getting a majority for 130th. The same ST rep spoke on whether Seattle could fund a line alone if ST3 fails, and he said no. I shouted, “But it’s the same North King money in either case!” He said subarea equity is just a small part of the financing issue. The entire ST district is pledging to repay the bonds, so that makes the bonds less risky and they can command a lower interest rate. If North King alone raises its own bonds, the financing would be more expensive, and that would cut into the money available for the project. Likewise, I assume ST3’s initial assets also affect its credit rating, like how you get better credit if you have a credit card but don’t use it much or if you make a large down payment on a house. At least that’s what I assume he meant by, “Every additional dollar in ST2 from this point on is a dollar not available for ST3.”
I think some suburban boardmembers might want to abolish subarea equity, but I doubt they want it that strongly they’d risk the unforeseen consequences and other legislative action. I don’t think it plays directly into their position on 130th, which assumes the current subarea equity structure. But it may be true that their position is excessively illogical given subarea equity.
Yeah, that is my understanding as well, Mike, in talking to O’Brien. Crazy logic indeed. I really don’t see why improving the system would hurt the overall prospect of a future vote — quite the opposite. For example, I just read about someone who said she takes the bus from Haller Lake to Everett and it is huge pain. Why should she be excited to vote for Link when it ignores the toughest part of her trip (her house to Link). Getting from Lynnwood to Everett will be a breeze once Link gets to Lynnwood.
If push came to shove, Seattle could pay for the station, but it would rather not (even though the people of Seattle pay either way). Doing something similar to what has been proposed for the bridge (ST pays part, Seattle pays part) would be great, in my opinion. What would be most stupid is if the thing is built assuming that a station would not be there, which would end up costing us more money in the long run. Eventually there will be a station (it just makes so much sense) it is just that most people aren’t paying attention (I bet a huge number of people in Lake City have no idea about this issue).
I don’t quite follow the logic either but it seems to be why the board is having trouble getting a majority for 130th.
Amazing how hard it can be to build a well-functioning transit system when the majority of your governing body is actively hostile to the idea of a well-functioning transit system.
This admits that 130th is better than 145th without realizing it.
Totally. In what crazy universe would one put together a chart that clearly shows twice as many people would choose location A over location B — even under data presumptions intentionally hostile to location A — and then conclude that only location B should be built!?
The only argument I can see is that they MUST build some sort of garage somewhere… and that somewhere has to be 145th because… freeway access!
Unfortunately, figures like this make me think I am paying taxes to a garage building organization rather than a transit building organization.
ST’s motivation for park n rides is not to encourage more drivers but to mitigate hide n ride on surrounding streets, which is an environmental impact. So P&Rs are sized to the number of drivers who will come anyway.
It’s also assumed that that number of drivers will possibly shrink over the long term, as local transit becomes more comprehensive and density increases and people’s attitudes change. Then the P&Rs could potentially shrink or be converted to housing.
I’d be careful about taking present predictions about anything completely seriously. Plan ahead as best we can? Of course. But important not only to be flexibly ready for unforeseen developments, but even more to work to move events in directions we believe in.
Always hated terms like “not gonna happen.” Certainly for anything the actions of ordinary people have any control over. Earthquakes happen. Economic cycles- very large numbers of people make depressions and boom times happen.
But the Interstate Highway system is reaching the end of its design life and starting to fall apart. Meaning the importance on the national scale of I-5 between Seattle and Lynnwood to anything national in twenty years could be very much up to us.
It’s very likely that Seattle and Lynnwood could be well into integration into the same neighborhood of a region from Vancouver BC’s northern suburbs to Portland’s southern ones. And right of way and structure like the I-5 right of way could easily carry more rail than it does rubber.
The architecture and civil engineering that already exist to easily lid I-5 from Southcenter to Lynnwood. In twenty years, work could be a total snap. Speaking of which time period:
The Initiative that crippled transit fifteen years ago- and the forces behind it – did our system a huge amount of damage. But real significance is what we of the transit community, workers and advocates, have been able to accomplish in spite of it.
I-695 was Tim Eyman’s- and his backers’. Precisely because the success of our regional transit program depended so heavily on vehicles and operations directly in the hands of our people- the steady progression from buses to joint operations to light rail is ours.
If events out of our control keep progress as limited and sluggish as it’s been for the last twenty years, we’ll still make strong headway. Including wherever the station just past Northgate gets built. But if the next two decades are as much better as last two were worse- let’s not get taken by surprise.
Once again Lake City, you know that dense urban village in NNE Seattle, gets the shaft. Maybe we should hope for a “fast streetcar” to be built by the 2070s and my grandchildren can wheel me to the curb so I can watch it roll by on its inaugural run before I slip through the curtain to join the Choir Invisible…
Your comments are realistic. If you want rail as a transit option, you’re going to have to move. Same goes for a lot of other people in a lot of other fairly dense places. Rail will arrive more or less never.
It could if Seattle votes “no” on ST3 and then uses the Monorail authority to build Skytrain style automated transit with less-than-palatial stations. Yes, the cars would have to have folded pans and little driver closets in order to use Link trackage to go for heavy maintenance. There’s no place in North Seattle for a big yard. But those sorts of things can be overcome.
Or it could if Seattle votes “yes” on ST3 and then uses the monorail authority anyway. They’re totally separate tax authorities. And if ST3 is voted down, there’ll (rightly) be huge pressure to go to Ballard with the Monorail; if we’re going there already with ST3, then we can use the Monorail to go elsewhere.
First a Ballard/UW line wouldn’t require a huge yard. There is room out In the Ballard/Fremont industrial area for such a thing as well.
Second, while the monorail tax authority might be used for building additional High-Capacity Transit the technology is almost certain to be anything but monorails.
Skytrain IS different from Monorail. It’s essentially smallish automated LRV’s in three- or four-car trains.
I’m aware Skytrain isn’t monorail (though I’d favor traditional automated rail technology similar to the Canada Line). However as William said “go to Ballard with the monorail” I wanted to be clear though the monorail tax authority would be used the technology most likely wouldn’t be monorail.
I hope Sound Transit reads comments like that. To paraphrase — folks in one of the more populous areas in Seattle are basically rejecting Sound Transit because Sound Transit might not have the good sense to put in such an obviously good station. They are willing to try and “go it their own way” even though it isn’t clear they can. That should send shivers down the spines of every rep trying to get approval for ST3. If you can’t get folks in Seattle (lots and lots of folks) to vote for your proposal, what chance do you have of getting the thing to pass? Will folks in Federal Way or Kent vote enthusiastically for a faster ride to Tacoma? Will folks in Everett be willing to spend billions for a slower ride to Seattle? The last thing Sound Transit wants to do is piss off their base of support (Seattle) and that may very well do this if they decide to screw over Lake City and Bitter Lake (and lots of other places).
Thrilled to see ST get serious about moving that Mountlake Terrace station away from the freeway. Now if only we stopped following the freeways where nobody lives with all our mass transit projects and put them, I don’t know where people actually lived. East Link for example shouldn’t follow 520 out to Eastlake and should swing through the Crossroads area but it’s to late for that now.
Definitely. I was never a fan of putting the train platform in the center of the freeway. It would be even better if the station could be in the middle of the Town Center, but if being over 236th is the best we can get, I certainly am not going to complain.
Nobody lives in a golf course either, but we’ll make sure that they have a light rail station there…
Are you referring to the golf course near the 145th station, or the Nile Shrine golf course near the MLT station? :)
Well the Nile Shrine one is private, but the muni course @ 145th is ripe for development…
Gophers do. And demented groundskeepers. ;-)
It’s not “away” from the freeway; it’s only from the median to the side. Still, this will save people 1 1/2 minutes if they’re transferring to a bus or walking to Mountlake Terrace center (or recreating in the wooded park). And there will be frequent feeder buses, right?
It’s on the east side of the garage, so it’s legitimately getting away from the freeway ROW.
I’m so confused. Is it pulling east of the existing garage? And if so, when you say it “switches” to west of I-5, does that mean it crosses the entire highway somewhere further afield?
It crosses the highway north of Mountlake Terrace.
According to the EIS summary doc: http://www.soundtransit.org/Documents/pdf/projects/North_hct/Lynnwood%20EIS/_Front%20Matter_Summary.pdf
It looks like the alignment stays on the east side of the freeway until north of Mountlake Terrace. The preferred “east of garage” alignment would apparently straddle 236th SW, east of the big garage next to the freeway there.
The alternative is to stick the station in the middle of the freeway, where the current express bus loading zone is. Given the structure of the carpool lanes and the way the the express bus runs the existing structure makes some sense. It makes little sense for a train station though.
If we are going to pay to put a train station in here anyway, we should avoid the worst possible alignment. The middle of the freeway would basically ensure that no one but the existing garage users would bother riding. At least straddling 236th, there is half a chance a bus line could feed this station and that people would bother walking to it.
Agreed. The current platforms are a ridiculous distance from anything — the garage, the street, any possible non-circuitous bus approach. They represent as bad a model as anything ST has done in Central or East Link station siting, so I am pleasantly surprised that ST is pushing for a best-practice street-straddling station with easy perpendicular access.
I was merely confused above because both “east of garage” and “west of I-5 alignment” were mentioned in such close succession. It appears that description does, in fact, accurately mirror the design.
d.p., thanks for pointing it out; I’ve added a clarification.
I actually think the existing platforms are just right for a bus station, but like you I’m happy the train will do this deviation.
It does make some sense to put the bus station where it was located given what it was built to do (remove cars from the road in favor of a few more express riders).
d.p. is right that its too far for much of anyone to actually walk or bus transfer to it though. Its a bus freeway station for a different era… one we are transitioning away from.
Its pretty clear we all agree putting the train station there would be a mistake. I am also glad ST seems to agree in this case.
If only we could get them to agree with us on the 130th St station….
Even the bus platforms could have been designed to sit directly below the cross-street, offering similar access from the garage and better access for all other modes, if earlier incarnations of WSDOT and the relevant transit agencies had felt like it.
There’s also the fact that whoever designed the Mountlake Terrace station and parking garage appears to have little to no understanding of how sound travels. The instant you get out of your car, you are immediately bombarded by the roar of the freeway, and it is so loud, just the minute or two it takes to walk from the car to the bus stop is enough to make your ears hurt.
The bus stop itself is a little better, but not by much – you still have to yell just to carry on an ordinary conversation with someone three feet away from you.
Fortunately, I was using the station for a one-off trip, but I can say that if I lived in the area, I would not tolerate it for a daily commute (at least not without ear plugs) and the fact that so much of the parking garage is under-utilized seems to suggest that others don’t like it either.
By contrast, the new freeway stations at Evergreen Point and Yarrow Point, along highway 520, while not silent, are much quieter, so it can be done.
The Mountlake Terrace garage is full every morning. The station design ST cmae up with there is great. It’s closer to the bus connections and redeveloping downtown. The city is also planning to allow dense development on the vacant land south of the station (over 10 stories if anyone will build it). Straddling the street gives much better access to that area. The only issue with the station going east of the garage is that there is a hillside immediately north which will require a tight curve (noise, not much delay because enter/exit to station) That curve is still going to require cutting down a whole stand of native Madrona trees and other vegetation. The environmental impact in the area between 236th and 220th is fairly severe and there are also traffic and transit operations impacts of the I-5 crossing there, The topography of the area is such that it really would have been a good prospect to study for a very short tunnel. I don’t know if that would pencil out on costs, but it certainly has big benefits. Extending the North Link tunnel farther made sense because they were already tunneling, and it avoided a lot of impacts. I don’t know if this is a similar case or if the cost would just be too high. I think the model underestimates how many people in Mountlake Terrace would use those 2 stations just to get back and forth across the highway from the north to south end of town. In general ST’s modeling seems to underestimate short local trips, which is to be expected, because it’s calibrated to be best at projecting regional demand. If we are successful building TOD, then we should expect more short hops of 1-4 stations. 220th would reduce the numbers boarding at Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace *because it’s more convenient* – which makes me scratch my head, because if that station is more convenient then wouldn’t it attract more overall trips to the system. Not to mention that it would reduce the congestion likely to occur at least at LTC. In addition to employees going to the Melody Hill employment area (3rd densest pop+emp spot in SnoCo) and regional trips attracted to nearby Swedish Hospital, There is good potential for dense redevelopment, and Edmonds almost has to put all it’s growth on 99 in order to satisfy the demand to retain views in the “bowl”. I currently catch the 512 at MLTFS because it’s the same distance/drive time from my home as LTC and I get off the bus earlier coming back home. There is heavy demand to the north and as far as I can tell, ST is modeling in isolation of what might happen in the future. That’s bad because the extension to Everett would show much higher demand for another station here. There is already a fairly decent demand from Edmonds/MLT to UW that is only well served for peak times and direction. I drive to UW twice a week (Need better PM bus schedules) and my wife does the same on 2 other nights. We get on the highway at 220th.
As I’ve said before, I think 130th is more important than 220th to build now, but we need to preserve a good option for the infill station with ST3.
They did extend the North Link tunnel from 60th to 95th, not only for Roosevelt’s underground station but because it was cheaper than threading through freeway overpasses. But extending it from 95th to 205th+8 is a whole other ballgame. Snohomish County can barely justify an elevated line, much less the cost of a tunnel, and people are more tax-adverse there. I don’t know if ST missed an opportunity to study a Mountlake Terrace tunnel and downtown station, but that would be similar to concerns about missing Capitol Hill stations.
And what’s up with Mountlake Terrace’s city center? They were going to upzone but it was very minimal (2-4 stories), and then even that was scrapped. Is it going to be revived? MT’s lack of enthusiasm was certainly a factor in not making a compelling case for locating the station downtown.
One other thing. Where the hell do they expect to get 6,500 originations give or take at 185th? Shoreline just punted on the rezone and there is pitifully little potential bus access from the east there. The stupid street dead ends a block from the major north-south arterial in Northeast Shoreline, 15th NE. It is possible to turn south on 10th NE to 180th to get to the cluster of development at 15th and 180th, but there are no buses allowed on those streets today, so I’m skeptical that the neighbors are going to welcome them when Link opens. So that part of the city will continue to be served by a successor to the 377, perhaps diverted to 145th. It ought to be connected to 185th (it’s almost directly to the east), but the road system just doesn’t support doing so.
There’s opportunity for a good line from Richmond Beach and through “downtown” Shoreline to the station from the west, but that’s about it for “bus connectivity” at 185th.
Nearly all of those purported 6,500 riders will be headed south as morning commuters; nobody is going to ride a bus from Shoreline to Link and then get off at MT or Lynnwood. They’ll drive where ever they’re going in Snohomish County. And be certain that anyone who lives in Shoreline has a car — or maybe three for a collection.
Also be certain that almost every adult who lives in Shoreline does work, mostly at 9 to 5 desk jobs, so there won’t be much “all-day” demand.
Add all those caveats and wherefores up and your faced with the reality that after subtracting for maybe 800 to 1000 “walk ups” and “kiss-and-riders” per hour in the peak roughly 1,500 people per hour in the two peak hours are going to have to use that bus line from Richmond Beach. At 50 people per bus that’s thirty buses. The people in west Shoreline will have two minute headways?
I don’t think so.
“you’re faced”, not “your faced”. I HATE that I did that. Ugh!
I thought the 185th rezone went through full-size and Shoreline punted on 145th. It will supposedly come back to 145th later when Seattle will hopefully have a clearer plan for its side.
yeah, the upzone at 185th went through march 16th.
(and note the comment section for a view of the spectrum of public confusion & outrage….)
I’m half tempted to troll by telling people they should expect the black helicopters and blue-helmeted UN troops to forcibly evict residents from their homes at gunpoint any day now.
yeah, just don’t let it slip that this is
actually all a part of
“AGENDA 21” !
I saw a proposal once to extend Swift an extra mile from Aurora Village to terminate at the 185th St. Link Station and, if it happens, it could drive a reasonable amount of ridership. Besides connecting Link to the existing Swift corridor (for which access to Seattle is currently horrible due to the relatively slowness of the E-line compared to the 512), it would also make a huge difference in the viability of using transit for a reverse-commute, especially for someone living near a Link station.
Yes, if Swift and the E-Line are rerouted to the Shoreline Station that would certainly create a larger catchment area for 185th. Let’s hope that happens. However, there is no bus layover space there, so it’s not an easy thing to accomplish.
Actually looking at the station plans it appears there is layover space. If not there is room to easily create it on ST and Shoreline stadium/center property.
Given discussion elsewhere I don’t think ST factored in having RRE and SWIFT stop at 185th in the ridership estimates which makes me wonder where the numbers come from. It surely can’t all be due to TOD in the station area.
I believe that’s Community Transit’s plan, although I’m not sure if it would still serve Aurora Village or if it would go past the Shoreline P&R to 185th & Aurora and then to the station.
My vote would be to have one stop at Aurora Ave. and 200th, within walking distance of Aurora Village (but stay on the street, no deviation), next stop Aurora/185th, followed by one final stop at the Link Station.
This would be roughly consistent with Swift’s existing stop spacing and, given that Snohomish County is paying for it, it makes sense to keep the number of stops in King County to a minimum – the only reason for going to 185th St. at all is to connect south Snohomish County and Aurora Village to Link.
With that, the E-line is probably best just continuing to do what it’s doing, acting as the local shadow for Swift between 185th and 205th, while allowing Swift to provide the crosstown connection between Aurora and Link.
Extending Swift is straightforward because the natural route is obvious: continue south on Aurora and east on 185th. That would also allow same-stop transfers between the E and Swift for people continuing northbound and southbound (e.g., from 85th to Edmonds Community College).
But the ideal E routing is less clear. If it turns east at 185th, it abandons everyone north of there including Aurora Village, and it would also require people to cross the street to transfer northbound and southbound. If the line is merely extended from Aurora Village on Meridian/185th, that would be a longer travel time from the bulk of Aurora to the station and higher operating expenses. But it would preserve same-stop transfers to Swift on Aurora, and it would also give more local crosstown service on Meridian and 185th.
Another issue is the Shoreline P&R at 192nd. A Shoreline planner told me that the cities were expecting Metro might move the Aurora Village Transit Center to there, in which case it would be imperative that both the E and Swift stop there. But that was back when an Aurora Link alignment was still under consideration, so I don’t know if the idea is dead now or just dormant.
Another question is, what level of service is appropriate for Aurora Village itself? It’s a shopping center but a very minor one. Would it be OK to move the E away from it?
I love all of this talk about redeveloping Jackson Park. Hah. Funny Stuff. Not going to happen. Lets focus instead on Up-zoning the surrounding neighborhoods and invest in more connecting bus service.
… and in getting a 130th St Station so the connecting bus service can actually connect without going on hugely roundabout routes.
And we keep Jackson Park-like and quiet so the golfers can do their thing.
First lets think about the ST522 and Metro372 running in from Bothell Way. What is their fastest run to the light rail? There is a comment about busses can run faster to a 130 station, but this is a rather Seattle centric perspective. The city of Shoreline is seriously thinking about implementing the 145th station without wheeled bus service. Given the time frame of these stations there will be considerable number of cars heading to both 130th and 145th and there should be a garage at both. Remember the light rail wipes out more than 100 park and ride spots, so light rail gains less than 400 spots in the Final EIS plans. Have you heard that Lake Forest Park controls the old Eagle lodge just off 145 and Lake City Way and will have 1200 units on it by the time the station opens? Have you heard the Aurora Square lot (and Central-Market) will have 750 units on it? Either 145th goes in as an 800 slot garage or we build out both 130 and 145 or the 145 corridor won’t be worth driving on. If someone wants a free idea, come up with a podment that fits 1-3 car spots and would retrofit garages (maybe specially designed) when cars get less popular. Metro is going to start losing its county funding if it is forced to be so Seattle centric and remember transit follows density. Lets look a little further than the end of our noses and remember these are regional transit initiatives and we want ridership for them to be successful. All the rah-rah is making these trains sound like we are going to have people hanging off the roof. Maybe the lines north of Northgate should have the every other stop solution the way 3rd avenue Seattle was implemented years ago. How many of us able bodied types are planning to sit on these trains on a regular basis?
The recent change to ST’s long-range plan added an HCT corridor on 145th between I-5 and Bothell Way. What future ST route could possibly use this other than the 522?
Thanks Mike, do you have URL for the update?
Long-Range Plan document archive. First item, “Regional Transit Long-Range Plan” (January 23).
Sigh. Long-Range Plan document archive
A station at NE 130th is not just about Seattle, but about the northeast corridor (SR 522) and Metro. The northeast corridor benefits from flexibility. Metro can decide which buses to send where. A few to 145th, a few to Northgate, and a lot to 130th. Why so many to 130th? Because it is faster (a lot faster). Since it is faster, Metro spends less service hours on buses stuck in traffic. Since Metro spends less service hours on buses stuck in traffic, it can either offer more routes or more frequency. Now maybe some suburb somewhere still has service, or some bus route in central Seattle has more frequency. That helps everyone. Someone in Lynnwood can get to Bitter Lake or Aurora or Lake City or Wedgewood or various other places a lot faster. But if they are just going to First Hill, they will get there faster, because Metro will run a bus up Madison more often. That’s why you build a regional transit system. That’s why places like Toronto (big) and Vancouver (small) have kick ass transit systems despite the fact they have fewer miles of subway then we are building.
Parking garages? Parking garages only make sense towards the edges of the system. They don’t make sense for an area like 145th and they certainly don’t make sense for an area like 130th. That will muck it up for everyone. Buses move way more people than an average garage (way more) and if you have thousands of people all converging to a garage, then traffic is terrible, and you are back to a pointless, under-performing system (like we have now). So go ahead and build parking garages in Bothell or Kenmore (where the riders number in the dozens) but a parking garage at 130th would be counter productive (where riders will number in the thousands). That would make traffic terrible, and greatly reduce the ability of buses to interact with Link.
Why is it the Mountlake Terrace Station will be a completely new station when they already have the center aligned Bus Station? Is it not sensible to convert that station from buses to light rail?!
Take a look at the current bus station… and its long, long walk from the entrance on 236th street to where the bus loading zone actually is:
No one is going to walk to a train station where that monstrosity is. No bus connections are going to be made there except for the ones already on the freeway. Putting the station where the freeway bus terminal is currently would be a waste of money. It would attract exactly zero additional ridership than what fits in that garage now, and from what I hear the garage is already full…. so zero new ridership.
Move it east of the garage and you have better bus transfer opportunities, walk on possibilities, and possibly even some development around the station.
The freeway median is the worst possible place to put that station if you want it to be worth spending any money on it.
Upgrading an already constructed station from bus to rail would be a minimal cost, certainly not on the order of magnitude of 30 million for an entirely new station. That is the benefit I see, though I agree with your access points. But a pedestrian bridge from the west could be a difference maker in access.
If we wanted to leave the station as-is, why not just leave it with express buses? There is zero use for extra capacity if it just serves a garage.
Also, unlike areas further south, very few riders would be added by putting a 2nd pedestrian bridge here. There are is only a medium-low density development to the west of the freeway with a very poor street grid. You would add ridership in the tens of people by crafting such a bridge.
1) Replacing the freeway station would require shutting down the existing station
2) Its not going to be “minimal” cost to have heavy construction work running over the top of an existing freeway. There will not be as much cost savings as you imagine.
3) Saving tens of millions on a billion dollar rail project is a pretty poor excuse for putting a rail station in exactly the wrong place. We shouldn’t waste or money by putting stations in bad places along the already bad alignment just because it will save a small percentage off the full price.
Where would those express buses go, though? I’m not particularly familiar with CT, but don’t all buses that stop there continue on to the U District or downtown? Link will go to both those places and usually faster (per ST’s own numbers above–I would submit more by 2035 just listening to traffic reports most mornings now), and I’d assume CT would just love to save those hours to further improve service in the county.
I suppose they could terminate express routes in SLU or somewhere else in King County not served by Link, but it’s hard to see where from that particular location. That southbound platform will be pretty lonely after Link arrives.
(sorry–response meant for CharlesB above)
My point is that it makes little sense to replace a station optimized for freeway buses with a train station in the same location. Moving it off the freeway is superior.
I know the express buses are being replaced by link, but putting the station in the same location in this case limits ridership. Moving the station would allow for better access to an east-west bus route at some point.
If you are referring to this comment:
“1) Replacing the freeway station would require shutting down the existing station”
Then I was referring to the fact that rebuilding on the same site would require that we basically stop use of the freeway station during construction. This means multiple years of not having reasonable access to a downtown express while the train station is being built… and for the purpose of putting in a train station that can’t really serve any more people.
I expect that the freeway island station will no longer be used after the light rail is built….
I’m watching what Seattle is doing and bus routes made redundant by the light rail are getting repositioned further from the highway N/S or actually shifting to E/W on major cross streets, which can link more people into light rail if done with respect to the station. MLT is a good case for going E/W.
I’ve got an idea for the ST522 coming from Bothell Way to 145th (instead of downtown), which would link Lake Forest Park Center, the development at LCW and 145, stores at 145 and 15th, with multifamily density in the area to light rail, continue to Aurora, run with Rapid ride to Aurora Square and north, past the new trader joe, fred meyer and terminate at the park and ride about Aurora and 188th. The reverse would add more riders from the park and ride and Aurora Center densities back to light rail and eventually UW-Bothell. Helps move things to during the day and less commuter based. Links shopping with residential and other transit solutions.
If Metro372 continued on LCW to 130th (instead of UW) and crossed the freeway and future station, it could overlay like it does now and offer double coverage of Bothell Way and then fan out to bring in more to the light rail.
It provides some alternate paths if one route is shutdown for whatever reason.
All the express buses will go away. Community Transit has said all 4xx will be turned into feeders. ST will truncate the 512 and 510 and eliminate the 511.
I think almost all the 4xx would naturally terminate at Lynnwood, except possibly the Edmonds routes. If those come on 244th rather than 196th, they won’t be on I-5.
4xx and 8xx. The U-District routes start with 8.
there’s got to be some inefficiencies (read “costs”) associated with engineering and operating so that you can temporarily run a system to an intermediate station and turning back. — and there are certainly bonuses to getting LINK further & sooner….. (revenue, PR, etc.)
With all of the Northgate–>Lynnwood work above ground (which is to say, NOT constrained by tunnel-boring scheduling) I’ve been wondering if ST has taken a hard look at moving up the Lynnwood LINK build-out schedule ? (currently slated to begin 2018.)
With NorthLINK scheduled to open in 2021, and Lynnwood LINK scheduled for 2023, it seems potentially possible –now that the FEIS is out– to aim to open it ALL at the same time.
The cash-flow challenge of building Lynnwood on a sped-up timetable would maybe be offset by the savings found in not having to construct the line to function for two years truncated at Northgate, and it would get the revenue flowing sooner.
Northgate station is being built with a pocket track, a crossover, and storage tracks.
Yeah, that’s my point.
they wouldn’t need to build all of that if
the northgate–Lynnwood segment was
ready to go at the same time.
and that seems awfully do-able.
the Lynnwood LINK may be about the easiest &
simplest engineering/building project (per mile)
that ST has tackled in the whole system.
I’d advocate building them somewhere near Northgate anyway, so as to enable short-turn trains sometime in the near future when it becomes clear Lynnwood won’t support ten-minute headways off-peak. Or, maybe, a future branch to Lake City.
But yes, building Lynnwood Link early would be very nice.
The plan has always been to build Northgate as a possible turn-back, either for the South Link or for East Link or if needed by Seattle volumes, for peak trippers. It’s not some disposable cost they’re incurring because of the construction timeline.
Rainier Beach has a pocket track for similar reasons.
So this is one of those things that qualifies as “the literal opposite of true”.
Best worldwide practice, now and for the last half century, has basically involved envisioning a holistic system with lines and station locations best able to provide quality mobility outcomes when completed… and then building the system out piecemeal, beginning with the highest priority sections.
The crux of this approach is to build it right, even if that means building it methodically and gradually. Extending lines just one stop at a time, as funding and construction timetables allow, is exceedingly commonplace elsewhere.
Ironically, that approach has tended to yield faster and cheaper results than our insistence on opening 10-mile segments all at once and kneecapped by many years of process, with fatal compromises both at the molecular level and to the holistic network enterprise.
If you’re advocating for doing something only American capital projects do, you are generally advocating for something exorbitant and wrong.
Iif I were suggesting DELAYING the opening of NorthLINK until 2023 (when LynnLINK is scheduled to open) your critique would absolutely be valid. No reason to handicap/postpone any facet of the system just for the sake of a bigger “grand opening”,,,,, that’d be foolish.
But I’m saying the opposite: set the goals and scheduling of LynnLINK construction to meet the earlier (2021) NorthLINK opening.
and this is entirely feasible. The entirety of LynnLINK is surface-grade or higher, so it can all be constructed at the same time, and simultaneous with the NorthLINK tunneling. (hell, it could start today if the permits and contracts were in place….)
sure (William C.) the switching, turn-back, tail track should still be included __ splitting at Northgate to drop a spur into Lake City is a no-brainer as a most-bang-for-the-buck future improvement.
It may look feasable from a mile above, but if ST could open it earlier I’m sure it would. However, there is one starting point for consideration. Originally Northgate was going to open in 2020 and Lynnwood in 2023. Then Northgate slipped a year due to the recession. That means the indefinite terminus has shrunk to three years and then two. Is it possible ST hasn’t reevaluated Lynnwood’s timeline in light of this? Two years is getting to the point where maybe they can be harmonized. And if the Lynnwood timeline is like the earlier segments, it has a 9-month contingency buffer, which is almost half of the 2-year period.
Still, I assume the primary constraint is money. It comes in chunks every year, and all of it is committed to current projects and debt payment. When University Link winds down, it will free up money for other projects, and that’s what the timeline is based on.
Also, south Link will open essentially one station at a time. 200th in 2016, 240th in 2023. (It’s still unclear whether there will be a 216th station.)
But you’ve missed the main thrust of my critique, Andy.
Everything about the way we plan and schedule and budget — which we invariably do in projects of medium length, planned in semi-isolation, and to be opened in successive “big bangs” — directly results in lengthened review processes, extended construction timelines, inflated costs, and in the end, worse transportation outcomes.
By missing both the forest (a comprehensive yet achievable long-term network plan) and the trees (routing designs and station locations attentive to those long-term aims, and thus designable with enough certitude to make them shovel-ready the moment funds are available), we wind up building more slowly and more expensively.
There’s no reason North Link shouldn’t have been a simple extension of the U-Link contract. It shouldn’t have needed a separate tender. If constructed the way Europeans would, the borers would simply have continued on north, and the station at Brooklyn and 45th might be opening the year after next. Roosevelt perhaps might have been a year later. Then Northgate and so on…
Well, I can see it going both ways. If we built it the way that d. p. suggests, than maybe it would lead to better decision making. For example, once Northgate opens up, you will quickly see people argue for NE 130th station. After all, everyone will be headed to Northgate. Drivers, buses, you name it (along with folks just shopping around the holidays). Expect a mess, which will get a lot of people on the 522 corridor saying “we need something better”. Thus we add NE 130th.
But our system doesn’t work that way. We will simply put up with crap for a few years and promise everyone that 145th will make that crap go away. So, lucky you, Bothell, you get to to 145th (sorry Lake City, Bitter Lake, Wedgewood, etc. you’re just out of luck). It is only after 145th is built that folks will realize that the lack of a station at NE 130th is really bad for everyone. Those folks in Bothell that thought they were going to have a fast ride to 145th are suddenly disappointed. 145th is bad now, imagine what it will be like with a bigger, more popular parking garage.
Then there is Metro. Metro takes a lot of heat for not designing a grid. But they are in the process of designing one years before everyone thought they would. The reason we figured they wouldn’t is because we assumed that they would wait for Northgate Link. But imagine if they had just one more station (in the U-District). Suddenly their forced transfers become a lot more appealing. Just get to the U-District and away you go.
Plus there restructure is no done deal. It is very controversial (to say the least). It is also expensive, and they have made clear that they don’t want to do it very often. So if the entire North King County part of “the spine” could be launched at the same time, it would be much easier for them to restructure everything. That would, of course, require a station at NE 130th. But I think making a change like that is a lot easier from a political standpoint the bigger the change is to Link.
So, while I think the approach you mentioned (station by station building) is ideal, it isn’t the way we are building things (up north), and our bus system, which is difficult to change, does not respond well to it. Better to get the next piece all at once, if it is possible. I’m not sure it is, though.
It’s true that most European or Asian examples would be in places with functional, non-skeletal existing transit networks to grow upon. (Y’know, because the strategic piece-by-piece approach to holistic aims would never involve starting with express trains to low-density fringes with fuck-all for existing modeshare.) So that makes gradually revising surface transit to complement progressive subway openings more obvious and less controversial.
But as you say, we’re getting neither faster nor better results our lesser approach. Any U-Link restructure will leave a lot to be desired for the half a decade before the next stop opens.
It is the “holistic thinking” facet of worldwide best practices that negates your other worries. You would never see, for example, the total failure to future-proof the Brooklyn station design for a connecting route that pretty much everyone with a brain understands will be needed. Again, we are failing to make any provisions for such a connection, even though this need is understood today, and even though not one inch of concrete has been poured at the Brooklyn site. Does everyone understand how crazy that is?
Our transit approach here is all about silos. Not just Metro-versus-ST silos, but segment-by-segment silos. Silo planning never gives good results.
Actually more egregious to me is not dropping the switches and crossover needed for East Link in during the DSTT closure and renovation..
Sure it is only going to take a few weekend shutdowns to put the tracks in, but much hassle could have been saved by thinking ahead.
Agree the system plan and gradual build-out is far superior. In order to do that we need more of the federal funding to come in an apportionment, rather than through new starts grants. The difficulty with that is the dollars get spread around the whole country instead of concentrated in the 10-20 cities actively building transit mega-projects. Perhaps the particulars of the formula could address that.
“because the strategic piece-by-piece approach to holistic aims would never involve starting with express trains to low-density fringes with fuck-all for existing modeshare”
… because such fringes would not exist in the first place, or at least would contain the rich 1% who can most afford cars or rural-minded people who do not commute all the time. And if more space is needed for a rising population and jobs, they would build satellite cities at medium density. But in the US the low-density suburbs contain the bulk of the population, so the primary transit network can’t just ignore it completely. Ignoring it is what created this car-dependent environment where you can barely travel by bus even if you want to.
Indeed. Chicago’s subways were built with flying junctions for future lines that were never built.
Junction in Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway for a proposed subway to replace the Lake Street ‘L’
Junction in State Street Subway. When the Dan Ryan first opened, the CTA through-routed Dan Ryan trains with the Lake Street ‘L’ to create the “West-South Route,” and State Street Subway trains continued on the South Side Elevated. But the CTA underestimated the extent to which the Dan Ryan line would cannibalize ridership from the South Side Elevated, and as a result the two lines had very unbalanced ridership. They re-purposed this junction, built in anticipation of a future Archer Avenue Subway to serve the Southwest Side, and used it to connect the State Street Subway with the Dan Ryan line, creating today’s Red and Green Lines.
I believe that East Link is also opening in 2023. There will be two north Seattle lines. I would think that Lynnwood and East Link would open simultaneously — if not on the first day within a few months of each other.
There are many more operational considerations in opening an extension. There are storage yards to build and coordinate, and new train sets to purchase and test.. I’d think that East Link might need to be somewhat operational — even if not open to revenue service — before Lynnwood could open.
andy’s argument could be used in reverse for East Link. Why is all of East Link scheduled to open at the same time? They’ll be building segment A at the same time their building segment E. Wouldn’t it make a bit of sense to build from IDS to Mercer Island with a crossover and some tail tracks and open it for service early? Then build segment B to downton Bellevue, etc.
The 130th Street station option was/is superior to the 145th option. If the Sound Transit Board members didn’t have their blinders on, they would’ve approved a 130th-155th-185th combination, which was the best spaced and the most sensical alternative, for 130th is and continues to be a better approach street than the traffic nightmare that 145th has been for decades – and will continue to be, due to a lack of forward thinking along with foot-dragging by the politicians, while 155th was a straight shot to Shoreline’s Westminster Square mall redevelopment project, along with being closer to a rapidly-expanding Shoreline Community College.
But, we’ve got what we’ve got, for despite being billed as the board selecting the final stations, this determination was made before the first mailer was sent out, just as light rail was the choice long before they “examined” the alternatives, which were conspicuously missing a dedicated busway being evaluated for fear of it being selected.
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