Kent Station – Wikimedia
Kent Station – Wikimedia

Two weeks ago Martin wrote at length – and then our readers commented at a far greater length – about Seattle’s ST3 input, featuring a new alignment proposal that attempted to knit together Downtown, SLU, LQA, and Ballard. As Martin noted at the time, the way the Federal Way alignment process played out reiterated how crucial jurisdictional feedback is to the broader politics of transit expansion. So over the next week or two, we’ll take a brief look at every city or agency letter submitted to Sound Transit as a part of the Draft Priority Project List feedback that will inform the System Plan that will shape the ST3 ballot measure that will go before voters next year. Phew, process!

Auburn: Auburn spent the bulk of their letter addressing parking at Auburn Station. Mayor Nancy Backus notes that Auburn has about 1 parking stall for every 2 Sounder riders, or 633 parking stalls for 1,300 daily riders. The city is fearful both of the impacts of 6,000 new Black Diamond residents, and of the coming shift of Weyerhaeuser employees from Federal Way to Seattle. The letter states that Auburn’s support of additional Sounder runs is contingent on the prior provision of new structured parking as consistent with Sound Transit’s Station Access work from ST2.

Mayor Backus also called out Auburn’s financial support of Pierce Transit Route 497, costing the city $300,000 per year and reducing parking demand by 90 stalls per day, while also acknowledging that this expenditure compares favorably to the $4M that would be required to build parking for 90 new cars. She asks for Sound Transit become a “full financial partner” in funding Route 497, similar to Sound Transit’s funding of Route 596 between Bonney Lake and the Sumner.

ST Express goes largely unmentioned except for a request to see more details before promising either support or opposition.

Burien: Mayor Lucy Krakowiak primarily lamented Burien’s possible exclusion from HCT projects in ST3, twice saying that her community’s votes for the eventual plan would be at risk if Burien lacks projects. The letter contains few specifics about what Burien would want, other than stating general support for 2 ideas: “a rib on the spine to connect westward to Burien” and/or the Downtown-West Seattle-White Center-Burien-Tukwila-Renton line that ST included in the recent Long Range Plan.

Des Moines: After beginning by asking for S. 272nd St to be built with existing funds, Public Works Director Daniel Brewer made an emphatic argument for quantity over quality, saying that, “Extending the system south as fast as possible using lower-cost alignments and station locations should be relatively high on the Board’s priority project list…and this should be a higher priority than system expansion north or east or more slowly developing an enhanced system with more stations.” Yet after going all-in on cheap LRT, the letter then says that infill stations should be studied in South King County, despite an I-5 alignment choice that largely precludes such stations, or at least greatly reduces their potential.

Kent: While similarly concerned about parking and access at Kent Station, Kent’s letter struck me as having both a more realistic and broadly transit-supportive tone compared to Auburn. The letter calls for increased Sounder service (especially mid-day/off-peak), supports platform extensions to accommodate 8-car trains, and supports Link through and beyond the Midway area to Federal Way. The letter recognizes that light rail is “just one piece of the puzzle” and calls for more bus service, both local and express, throughout the valley.

SeaTac: Mayor Mia Gregerson’s letter made 5 requests of Sound Transit:

  • More parking at Tukwila International Boulevard Station. The letter claims that hide-and-ride behavior is negatively impacting SeaTac’s residential neighborhoods, and also relays the SeaTac council’s belief that the opening of Angle Lake will only induce parking demand rather than reduce pressure on Tukwila, necessitating further parking there.
  • Building the spine all the way to Tacoma Mall.
  • Expanding feeder service to SeaTac from West Seattle and Burien.
  • Consideration that any West Seattle LRT line be extended to Burien and SeaTac.
  • Building Boeing Access Road Station.

Tukwila: Mayor Jim Haggerton requested the inclusion of 3 projects: Boeing Access Road Station, I-405 BRT from Lynnwood to SeaTac, and an I-405 BRT alignment that serves Tukwila Sounder Station. The city attached their own independent analysis of Boeing Access Road station, claiming it would boost Museum of Flight visits by 25% and that the station would attract 1,400 riders per day, which they note ‘exceeds ridership numbers at other existing stations’.

You can read all the letters here, and look out for upcoming articles on Snohomish, Pierce, and East King as well.

56 Replies to “South King County’s ST3 Comments”

  1. “More parking at TIBS! Build it to the Tacoma Mall! Build cheaper and worse!”

    Can’t wait to watch ST3 crash and burn. Maybe then we can start building rail where it belongs: absolutely nowhere near South King County.

    1. Most of the people parking at TIBS are driving in from further south. They will very soon have all the free parking they will ever need at Angle Lake Station.

    2. Indeed, people are driving from Auburn and Federal Way to TIB, especially when Sounder isn’t running.

  2. It sounds like they are just asking for a lot of line and stations, and using “whatever works” logic to justify the asks. Its not really surprising.

  3. Regarding Auburn’s feedback:

    Mayor Backus is clearly seeing things from a typical Auburn point of view. This is what she’s been elected to do, to represent Auburn’s electorate. Transit in the mind of Auburn voters is not a true transportation tool, but more of a means of getting people to and from distant jobs in Seattle.

    The Pierce Transit 497 shuttle is well-used and alleviates crowding at Auburn station by providing shared parking at a city park and a church park-and-ride, as well as serving a corridor with a densely-populated walkshed, Lakeland hills. Auburn needs to look for more similar opportunities for shared park-and-rides and corridors with good walksheds, and King County Metro and Pierce Transit both need to fully fund routes that serve these types of areas. There is absolutely no reason why I should be paying taxes to King County while my CITY pays separately for a bus route to my neighborhood that performs well.

    1. Spot on! As auburn resident let me reiterate, basically everyone drives. On our end of town the 186, the bus runs too infrequently to be functional. If you need to take the last train home you’re out of luck. If you want to leave when te train shows up, outta luck. Busses in auburn, except the 180 and 181, provide little to no mobility. Thus everyone drives or is dropped off at the train, it could be better but most people just don’t care. The people I ride with on the train are “choice” riders. Many have free or discounted parking downtown in their buildings but just ENJOY the train experience over the traffic.

      /2cents

      1. Understatement about experience quality, Ak. Twice or three times a week trip from Olympia to Seattle is always Sounder from either Lakewood or Tacoma Dome in.

        Excellent connections with Intercity Transit express buses at both stations. Southbound pm, five minute connection with IT 609- half-hour one stop ride home.

        By schedule and map, ST 592 and 594 are shorter and faster. Though a 60-mile regional ride on a mile a minute interstate shouldn’t take two hours.

        And for truth in advertising, printed schedules should have a furry gray blob with a question mark in the middle for ETA Seattle.

        But main reason for choosing the train it’s a comfortable ride with a bathroom that rarely, instead of always, has to hold for traffic.

        Fact that regional rail has to share track with freight is strongest evidence how what an early stage we’re in as we rebuild the passenger rail of the past, let alone build for the future.

        But compare a walk down the aisle on a train held by freight with one on a bus stuck in traffic. Or even getting out of your bus seat to stretch.

        The most generous break on parking only applies when you get to work. For the time you spend being your own untipped parking attendant from SR101 on north, only break you get is your health and sanity.

        If quality of experience really had no value because it can’t be priced, gentrification would mean South Lake Union would go to the kind, the mannerly, and the generous.

        For everybody else? Hey, if I’ve got to be stuck in traffic, at least I’m on a vehicle three quarters empty where they let me smoke!

        Mark Dublin

      2. Seattle’s ST, Metro and transit agencies nationally, miserably flounder in Old School dictates unwittingly or otherwise. Transit advocates also frame their thinking around concepts obsolete today’s traffic-clogged metropolitan areas. The elements of New Urbanism and regional development are half-baked and transit components overly dependent upon parking and the mythical one-seat ride. No major transit system functions optimally without transfers. Regional cities and bedroom communities remain economically dysfunctional when their residents must daily commute cross-county for work and to meet all other needs. Transit Centers at light rail stations need at least one (short length) transit line operating at frequent intervals to reach important districts nearby. Parking located along the length of such lines more than double their use for purposes other than access to regional rail lines. Peripheral bus lines need only cross such shuttle lines to streamline wastefully circuitous routes to rail stations while reducing trip times overall. Vehicles for such short line shuttles are of the paratransit van variety and can be operated privately as they do not need complex maintenance facilities. Lastly, the development pattern they enable follows the precepts of New Urbanism applied broadly in Regionalism. Seattle area transit agencies serve automobile-related interests: finance, insurance, Shell Oil pigs, parking garage moguls, road construction mobsters, the whores of advertizing and automaton Americans who believe the big lies and nonsense like the ridiculous self-driving car. Seattle is screwed by its own illustrious leaders who are more competent in PR manipulation than in productive transportation services. They want area residents to believe they’re doing their best while doing their worst. If Bertha finishes as proposed, Seattle will collapse in a pile of ruins. The new seawall too will fall as it is top heavy and terrifyingly unbalanced off-center.
        Wsdot department heads have gone insane.

    2. So we who paid for Seattle Proposition 1 are just suckers and if we’d held out long enough, King County would held the line on all our routes and increased frequency?

      1. If you have a crystal ball to predict what the economy will do. I would not want to depend on that, nor would I want to wait an extra two or three years, plus I think we need more frequency than Metro would likely provide on its own. In any case, these letters are about Sound Transit, which is not going to run more local buses in Auburn. The only bus under consideration is a shuttle to Sounder.

    3. “There is absolutely no reason why I should be paying taxes to King County while my CITY pays separately for a bus route to my neighborhood that performs well.”

      Your King County taxes are paying for the countywide transit network. Like the phone network, it functions best when it serves the most neighborhoods — not just yours. One telephone is useless; two telephones is like your bus route; ten thousand telephones lets you call people all over the county. A car is the best mode for two-point service; a bus or train is the best mode for service throughout the county that can provide an alternative to driving. It breaks down if people are only funding the route from their neighborhoood toward downtown because then nobody is funding crosstown service, or in south King County, east-west and diagonal service. It also needs to run at a level that provides maximum usefulness and ridership, which in south King County means 15-minutes full time on strategic corridors: KDM Road, Benson Road, 320th, etc.

      The county rejected supporting Metro in the recession, while Seattle did support it and is now receiving a dividend of extra service in a “full recovery”/ I don’t know where the full recovery ends; it covers Seattle and the central Eastside, but I don’t know if it covers all of south King County. There’s an interaction of short-term and long-term economic issues. South King County has never had the 15-minute service I’ve outlined, so it’s lower than it should be under every scenario. In Seattle, if the county part of Metro’s taxes went away, it would delete the base of Metro’s service, and the Prop 1 hours would have to be stretched thin into a skeletal network like Metro was in the 1980s only even less than that. That would not even fit the current ridership, much less run 15-minutes anywhere.

      The longer-term economic issues are that every region has a “favored quarter” where the rich people live and most of the good-paying jobs are. In Pugetopolis that’s Seattle and the central Eastside. Those are the last places to fall in the recession and the first to recover. Auburn is a long distance from there, so while it does need some transit to Seattle, the south county needs to work on being more self-contained. so that people can find what they need without going to Seattle or Bellevue. For instance, Federal Way has a new downtown outlined; what’s it going to put there? Kent has a good start with its industrial district that has become a jobs base, but the south county needs a wider variety of jobs, and more concentrated in the suburban downtowns. That’s what the cities can do. Federal Way has a new city center outlined; what’s it going to put there? There needs to be more concentrations of jobs and housing, not sprawling like the “big box city” south of Southcenter mall. It’s bad that a low-income area is so dependent on driving due to skeletal transit and sprawling jobs and housing; it means they’re spending a significant percentage of their income on transportation. Auburnites may think that’s fine and we don’t need transit, but that’s really an internalization of the 1950s “Cars will save us” fever that swept the US. Cars won’t save us and we need an alternative so that people really have a choice.

  4. The cities’ responses are actually fairly consistent with Seattle’s response. Although the population and expectation of a new line to exclusively serve their residents like Seattle isn’t here, each city is being quite frank about what they want.

    The impact of the letters would be more powerful if these cities all could have signed one letter, or coordinated a identical response (even if was only one section in their letters for “core sub-area projects”) that each one could have submitted.

    Perhaps the most interesting thing here is that these cities are generally asking for incremental improvements (better stations, infill stations, new parking strategies, more service) rather than major new initiatives. I think that points out to ST3 needing to be deliberate about providing a notable share of the funding for station improvements as opposed to building more track in South King.

    1. “The impact of the letters would be more powerful if these cities all could have signed one letter, or coordinated a identical response”

      That’s a good point. The cities did all band together to support ST2 in Olympia with a joint letter. It looks like they should have done the same for their subareas. That would have squeezed out the worst parochial items. Although it may have become a laundry list of each city’s favorites (e.g., in East King Issquah wants Link and Kirkland wants Link, so an Issquah-Kirkland line). But if the cities saw all of their requests together — as this group of letters is — it might help them to see common interests and emphasize those, like intra-subarea transit, rather than each city focusing on its parking garage and Tukwila Sounder buses.

      1. The Eastside cities do this to some extent. The letters from Kirkland, Redmond, Bellevue and Issaquah all request a similar set of projects. And the Northshore cities are all very unified in their requests.

      2. Right, I didn’t mean to say the Eastside cities were that fragmented, I was just using an isolated Eastside example, but I should have worded it more clearly.

  5. Federal Way is notably absent from the letters sent to ST. This needs to be prominently noted — especially since the Link extension to Federal Way TC is such a commonly-anticipated project as well as any extension further south with directly affect Federal Way.

    1. They didn’t bother to submit anything, as they are getting their fast LRT between the transit center and the airport along I-5.
      Now they rest.

      1. It may be because Federal Way has already said a lot to ST and expressed their preference for the I-5 routing, that they don’t have anything to more add. Federal Way doesn’t seem to want anything more than that. It’s odd that they haven’t mentioned Link being slower than the buses and therefore wanting to keep the buses. Does Federal Way not care if Link is slower? Or is it assuming the freeway congestion will catch up to it anyway? I hope FW will put some thought into walkability and destinations in the station area.

  6. All I know is that with ST3, we’re about to find out what happens when people stop being polite, and start getting real.

  7. “an I-405 BRT alignment that serves Tukwila Sounder Station”

    That would repeat the mistake of routing the F to Sounder. 80% of the F trips call when there’s no Sounder train and the station is empty. Also, how could 405 BRT get to the Sounder station without a lot of turns on surface streets that would slow it down — again like the F. It would have to be at the end of one of its branches.

    1. Maybe this is about transfers between the BRT and the F? If so, maybe a Southcenter stop would be better? Or some other place where it’s convenient for both routes, or is at least a destination of some kind?

      Either way, the Tukwila Sounder Station could hardly have been designed worse for connecting buses.

    2. If they meant the F they should have said the F, so I assume they meant Sounder. A BRT+F transfer could happen at either Renton TC or Southcenter. If it’s Sounder, again we’d have to look at who would use it from where to where.

      The only trips it could possibly serve are South King/Pierce to the Eastside. But why? Sounder can get to King Street Station faster than a bus can get up 405, and East Link will have more frequency and stations than a bus can have. Are these the hordes of people going from Kent to Totem Lake and Bothell? But the largest destinations are Bellevue and Redmond where East Link is.

      From anywhere north of Tukwila it does not make sense to go south to Tukwila Station to catch BRT to the Eastside, and it’s not even possible because there’s no station between Tukwila and King Street. So again the only plausable transit market is Kent and further south. In that case, why not make the transfer point Kent Station instead of Tukwila Station? There’s already an established ST Express route there. Oh, but that’s outside the definition of “405 BRT”. Well, maybe it needs to be put into it. It would be better to put service hours into that rather than into stopping at traffic lights on the way to Tukwila Station. Has ST seen the congestion in downtown Renton? You want to put the BRT into that to reach the Sounder station?

      1. Mike, you also need to consider that there are Amtrak trains that stop at Tukwila Station. These run off-peak and don’t stop at Kent.

      2. How large of a use-case are the Amtrak trains, though? And why can’t they stop at Kent instead? There was an effort to change the station a few years back, but IIRC it floundered after Amtrak commissioned a study on the idea but mis-defined the parameters so badly that I have to think they were purposefully trying to sink it. (They studied either “stop both places” or “some trains stop one place and some stop another,” but never “all trains stop at Kent.”)

  8. Will Sounder and now LINK coming down the Valley, we’ll have two North-South backbones for the Kent Valley and beyond. But that’s only half the problem. What about crosstown, East-West links? The issue is there are commuters who willingly go Car-Train but will never go Car-Bus-Train. Part of that is the long number of stops, and the nature of a commuter train populated by business travelers.

    Why don’t they consider street cars for going East-West. I think there’s a case to be made for a route that goes from Des Moines, up the Kent-Des Moines Road, into Kent Station and then all the way up Canyon Park Drive, Kent East Hill and Covington. Maybe even as far as Black Diamond.

    I would say make it a LINK but I don’t think it could get uphill like a streetcar could. It would not supplant bus transportation, because it would only make major stops.

    1. I think a bigger problem is to get all-day Sounder service, so you actually can have two backbones all day, every day.

      And once that’s done, the next problem would be frequent east-west bus service. An overlay streetcar can come next, once we see there’s significant demand.

      1. YES. All day train service would be a much better investment. And maybe a nicely branded east-west bus service. Rebrand the Kent bus and the auburn-federal way-greenriver college bus too. And a nice grid forms up.

      2. Well that route, up until Covington at least, is significantly wide, and well in need of a road diet.

        Plus it could use calming as it’s a neighborhood street that has been turned into a highway…people trying cross in the middle to get to parks, schools…while cars speed by at 60 mph.

        I would love to see Canyon-Kangley transformed by some form of light rail…taking away the turning lane, adding bike lanes on the sides.

        It would mortify some of the drivers who use it as highway, but since it’s lined with apartments and a natural transit corridor I think it’s a reasonable future for that street.

      3. Bailo is on record now supporting a road diet for KDM/KK Road. Are pigs flying? Are the clouds green? So much for “more highways”. Let’s quickly get transit lanes in there before he changes his mind.

      4. I am for highways…restricted highways like interstates…but not for neighborhood streets that have been turned into highways through overuse due to inadequate building of real highways.

    2. As long as it has exclusive lanes. Mixed-traffic streetcars are useless. But you can start with RapidRide on KDM/KK Road and 320th Streets. And no dilly-dallying on Reith Road. It’s too low density and people don’t take transit. A good place for a coverage route or dial-a-ride, not the main route from Kent to Link and Highline.

  9. Sounder Regional Express is still my goal. I am trying to work up a sample Everett alignment but I think having all day access via rail and then through running including a stop in Westlake would be great.

      1. If you can figure out how to lobby WSDOT to get rid of the I-5 Express lanes let me know. I think it is better to use an RER like system to connect the ends versus LRT.

      2. @Dan H

        If we repurpose the I-5 Express lanes for any kind of rail service, it ought to be HSR/Bullet train, not just a faster sounder…. and it ought to go to many fewer stops (One per county, max) between Vancouver and Portland.

        It would also need effective transit networks at each station to be useful by the time it would be built.

        Also, it would need to be a state level organization (like WSDOT) who would be building this (via the Cascades program perhaps?). Sound transit is too caught up in local politics to be the right organization to be building this.

      3. Charles, I whole heartedly agree. I was wanting not just faster Sounder but purpose it for HSR as well. I have been looking at geometry and looking at about 2500 meters for curve radii, enough to support 270 km/h operation like on Tokaido Shinkansen.

        However, if we are building two rail tracks, intercity rail I would say right now could easily support 2 tph during peak. My bet is commuter tracks with station spacings every 3-5 miles would support 6 tph. My proposal would be to then have Sound Transit operate over these new tracks. It is a double benefit in not only reducing travel times within the region but for intercity travel.

        I do have doubts with WSDOT permitting the express lanes to be closed down without some heavy concessions let alone just an outright refusal given they are more productive than the I-90 ones are.

        I was thinking that construction this as an HSR line would hopefully free up dollars for other purposes such as connecting to feeder bus routes or other regional projects.

      4. @Dan H

        I think we might have a chance to win a debate on HSR on the I-5 corridor when it comes time to replace it. I suspect we will have to do most of that without federal funds next time and making the best use of the transportation corridor possible will have a stronger argument.

        Answer me this though… given that Link is going as far as Lynnwood, and that any extensions happening in Snohomish Co will take it closer to Everett… why do we even need an express sounder?

      5. Wait wait wait wait wait. Shouldn’t a high-speed train station be somewhere with better transit connections and pedestrian accessibility than the middle of I-5? Where in downtown Seattle is the I-5 median a good place to catch a train to Portland or Vancouver?

    1. @Al Dimond

      Not the Median of course, but the express lanes themselves. The station would obviously deviate a bit from this alignment to connect directly (through pedestrian a mezzanine) to existing light rail stations.

      The idea is more about the corridor in general itself rather than a specific immediate concern. At a minimum, we would need a comprehensive rail and bus network in the city to bring riders to such a thing.

      We likely wouldn’t even discuss this until it comes time to consider what to replace I-5 with when the structures in downtown reach the end of their useful lifespan.

      Something like a (mostly) freeway running rail line makes a lot more sense for a high speed rail line than a light rail system. Unfortunately we chose to locate the latter near the freeway instead.

      1. The freeways now resemble the great drainage canals in LA, with concrete noise walls – Our great autocentric sewers of humanity. We’ve elected to put our HCT system down in the sewer with the rest of gear heads for precisely the reason you just gave: “The idea is more about the corridor in general itself rather than a specific immediate concern.”.
        That about sums up the depth of thought when laying out our beloved ‘Spine’, and why station design, access, and bus integration have all been in the back seat ever since.

  10. Let’s hope that since Des Moines is a small jurisdiction their input doesn’t carry much weight. Because it’s absolutely terrible.

    1. You could do exactly what Des Moines wants by just running a downtown to Point Defiance ferry route. It would cost many times more to operate and it would be slow, but it would provide immediate transit service that nobody actually wants.

    2. It’s interesting to compare the side-by-side towns of Burien and Des Moines:

      Burien –
      A letter from the Mayor, advocating service connecting her community to existing urban centers and the main spine.

      Des Moines –
      A letter from the public works director, advocating the cheapest possible system.

  11. Dan, readers need to know we’re not talking about the imitation feline war-cry that the Seinfeld guys use to denote a fight between women. And almost get clawed to ribbons when Elaine hears them say it.

    Which frankly would be better transit-wise than “BRT” (the first pedal-kick on a Harley, or one of those vigilante idiots in Ferguson Missouri pretending to shoot somebody with his AK-47 and ending up like one of Elaine’s victims.

    Regional Express Rail. Malmo, Sweden an overnight Icelandair flight from Sea-Tac. Hundred mile an hour purple trains to the cash machine where Kurt Wallander solved the Crash of 2008. Been there. Rode on that. Want Olympia line yesterday.

    Remembering the decades that this region spent arguing about the tunnel it took us two years to dig, it’s exactly the right time now to start having meetings and making plans.

    Starting with some serious study of the topography and geology for a tunnel deep enough to go under Westlake Station, precise enough to miss everything else down there, and long enough that a hundred-mile-an-hour train won’t sense any slope at all.

    Likely meaning portals at both Everett and Auburn. Which given every morning’s freeway reports, the mayors of both cities will be screaming for louder than an F-18.

    Gentrification sucks- though curable by paying everybody enough to “gentle their condition”, like Shakespeare had Richard Branagh say. But South Lake Union proves that Auburn and Olympia will quit sprawling when the sprawled become the stuck.

    I give it thirty years.

    Mark

    1. Mark,

      It is why I keep posting it up that we need to talk about where we want to go now. I feel waiting until next year to start this discussion is too little too late. Many demand more and better Sounder service and I believe it provides more benefits than an LRT spine for a similar price.

      At the same time, others believe the politics make this a sealed deal. I do wonder if the voters really understand where this is all going and how much in taxes they will pay. Given than sales tax proposals are coming up in Pierce and Snohomish on top of ST 3, this will make it more difficult to pass ST 3.

      I have lived on the other side in Kitsap but I have taken an interest in transit and how it connects. There is definitely a rail bias and I see many use LRT to get to SeaTac. I want to also see successful and useful projects that will be utilized years from now. The political interference of route making I feel is setting up a poor future for rail in the region utilizing sales tax dollars for decades to come just to get a bigger package. There has to be understanding that there will eventually be a certain tipping point on being taxed enough for those who live outside the City of Seattle. They want progress and they want something that will work for them and give them the ability to commute via a reliable transit system. Many do not want to drive into Seattle but are forced to because of options or their employer.

      1. For those of us in the “valley” from Tukwila to Puyallup, and even Tacoma and beyond, all day Sounder does make sense. Its my personal belief, that LINK light rail will not be able to offer a high quality service for those past Star Lake and Federal Way. I feel that ridership will outstrip the capacity of the line, and that crowded vehicles and platforms downtown will be an all-too-common problem, not to mention a long and slow ride for those coming from Tacoma and beyond as the train is making every local stop while the car slowly becomes crush loaded the more closer to Seattle it gets. My personal suspicion is that service on the 57x and 59x will be sacrificed to pay the operating costs of the extended LINK light rail line. Sounder on the other hand, will have somewhat comparable travel times to LINK, but offer far more comfort, as it has seats meant for a long journey (not typical hard light rail seats), makes fewer stops, and generally is more pleasant to be on. Politically, the deal is already sealed for a LINK extension to Tacoma (at least how the mayor of Tacoma speaks). Hopefully, under further internal review at ST these shortcomings will be addressed in some fashion (which I think may be under consideration now) and personally, I would hope for an all-day sounder option.

      2. The ugly truth is that Sounder runs on tracks owned by BNSF. Port activity is also supposed to grow significantly in the next decade as cross-Asian trade increases, which means more freight cars and trains. It’s going to be an expensive and tough thing to do because ST has to give BNSF a sole-source contract for rights to use track that is growing in popularity.

        The best thing that ST could do is to figure out a way to own their own commuter rail tracks someday. Of course ST isn’t really very strategic about commuter rail — or they would have already paid for a fully-flushed out option to buy track for Sounder to leave BNSF out of the deal — just so they could bargain more concessions from BNSF in the future.

      3. “I feel that ridership will outstrip the capacity of the line”

        You’re saying that Link in Federal Way will have high ridership? That’s the opposite of what people have been fearing. In any case, if the trains are busy off-peak and overcrowded peak, then it would make eminent sense to have some peak relief buses, as the 59x is with Sounder. Then we can stop this nonsense that Link is an alternative to the 59x and 57x and let it be like the Swift it really is.

  12. Dan:

    http://www.amazon.com/American-Road-Story-Transcontinental-Journey/dp/080506883X. I promise you can’t put it down.

    “American Road”, by Peter Davies, gives a good perspective on the transportation system that we both agree we need. Especially how such ideas are conceived, the forces that advance or hinder them, and above all, the time they take.

    Not only by the clock and calendar, but more for unpredictable events like Depressions, wars, and natural disasters,or bad election results that can suddenly either cripple or accelerate huge projects.

    History’ surprises aren’t all bad. Nobody except the many non-Russians who lived in it expected the Soviet Union to collapse. Just as everybody here in 1960 knew freeways would always mean freedom, urban like South Lake Union and Columbia City meant blight, and transit was dead.

    Regional Express Rail in this region will be a project on the order of the same length of Interstate. Except that I-5 never needed a bullet-train tunnel under the Ship canal and through everything under Downtown Seattle.

    It was 1919 when Captain Eisenhower started having symbolic daydreams of red white and blue shields on green signs while a giant caterpillar tractor dragged his chain-drive Army truck through a state-long hog wallow.

    And engineers saw the I-90 floating bridge crossing a river in Flanders a year or two before that. What the past shows is not that because future things can’t be precisely predicted, progress is beyond our control.

    Or even that the next election or its money is the most important concentration for future ones. Human experience is that whether huge prosperity, war or an earthquake, its likely that unforeseen events will bring us the money we need.

    What past lessons mainly show is that a fast ride from Kent to the Kitsap will most leadership with a working knowledge of how bridges and tunnels are built, how track is laid, and how trains are driven.

    And who can constantly develop fresh ideas underlain by these foundations. Installed by voters of same description. Whichever sculptor gets the one-precent-for-the-arts contract for the Port Orchard station will need to know what the “H” stands for.

    Mark Dublin

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